April 27, 2004

LIB

Anne McLellan

Liberal

Hon. Anne McLellan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to table in the House, in both official languages, a document entitled “Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy”.

Since the tragic events of 9/11, the Government of Canada has implemented positive and progressive measures to improve Canada's national security environment.

We have invested more than $8 billion in additional security measures.

We have strengthened our legislative base.

On December 12, the Prime Minister created the portfolio of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to further close security gaps and ensure that our national interests and our people are protected.

Clearly we have demonstrated the leadership Canadians expect of their government, but we also know that more needs to be done.

Today, we are taking another important step forward with the tabling of Canada's first comprehensive national security policy.

“Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy” articulates, with specifics, our national security interests, identifies the current threats facing Canadians, and provides a blueprint for action to address these threats. This new system will be capable of responding not only to the obvious threat of a terrorist attack but also to other incidents of national significance that can undermine Canadians' health and our economic stability, including natural disasters, health pandemics and the activities of organized crime.

The government's national security vision reflects some fundamental principles.

First, it must be balanced, ensuring that civil liberties and individual rights are not unnecessarily compromised in the pursuit of improved domestic security. In other words, it must reflect Canadian values.

Second, to be effective, our national security policy must be integrated across the Government of Canada and with key partners, ranging from first responders to provincial and territorial governments and our allies abroad.

Third, the policy must be flexible so that it can continue to evolve as we learn from past experiences and adjust to emerging threats. The government will invest more than $690 million over five years from the security contingency reserve to implement key measures outlined in this framework.

The tabling of this policy fulfills a commitment in the Speech from the Throne. More important, it directly addresses the core responsibility of any government, which is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens.

The government needs the help of all Canadians to make its approach to security effective. It also needs the support of the House.

I would ask hon. members to carefully review this policy document. I invite them to share their views and those of their constituents with us.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   National Security
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CA

Kevin Sorenson

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC)

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the official opposition, I welcome this opportunity to respond to the announcement by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness regarding the government's national security policy.

Unfortunately, I have not yet had an opportunity to read the document, “Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy”, and therefore cannot comment on the specifics of the government's proposed blueprint.

However, as I stated last month in the House, the flurry of security announcements in the wake of the Prime Minister's announcement of a visit to Washington cannot deflect the Auditor General's most recent criticism. It cannot hide the fact that for over a decade the government has failed. It has failed in its most fundamental role: the protection of its citizens.

On top of Ms. Fraser's revelation that there are significant gaps and errors in our national security, former presidential adviser Richard Clarke said yesterday:

For the last many years, Canada has not been making much of a contribution at all [on the military]...most people in the national security business in Washington think Canada is getting a free ride in terms of military contribution.

This extends, as noted by Mr. Clarke, beyond the military into our policing agencies, the RCMP, and also into the intelligence agency CSIS.

To summarize what was said by this former counterterrorism adviser to the United States, both for President Bush and for his predecessor, Bill Clinton, Canada is not pulling its weight in the war against terrorism. I would therefore once again conclude that the minister's announcement today is too little too late.

As the minister so rightly pointed out, the core responsibility of any government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. For over 10 years, this government has neglected its military, this government has neglected our security, and this government has neglected our intelligence forces, tearing them down to such unprecedented levels that it will take years to rebuild. For over a decade, this government has failed in its most fundamental role: the safety and security of Canadians.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   National Security
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BQ

Yvan Loubier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ)

Madam Speaker, the government's new security policy raises some questions. The first one relates to civil liberties. The minister said that we must ensure, and I quote, “that civil liberties and individual rights are not unnecessarily compromised in the pursuit of improved domestic security”. Does this mean that if, ultimately, this must be done, the government will do it?

Second, the new security policy includes a rather extraordinary number of agencies, committees and groups. However, let us not forget that, in her criticisms, the Auditor General alluded primarily to the exchange of information. Will this proliferation of agencies, committees and groups of all kinds ensure that the exchange of information is more efficient?

Third, I hope it is not just to please the United States that, this morning, the government is making this statement on a new security policy. Earlier this week, when the Minister of Finance met his American counterpart, John Snow, and presented this security policy to him, before presenting it to Parliament and to Canadians, Mr. Snow said that he was satisfied and that the United States would be satisfied, because the policy looks very similar to what the Americans themselves are doing regarding national security.

This new security policy is being tabled—and this is my fourth point—in haste without any consultation with Parliament or the public. And they talk about partnership.

Some partnership. This is my fifth point. The policy states that the partners will have to apply measures that are decided here. That is an odd partnership for starting this new security policy. It is quite disconcerting to see in this new policy statement on security, the Canadian government again considering the possibility of participating in the U.S. ballistic missile defence system when we are against it. The majority of Quebeckers and Canadians are against it, but the government is saying that it will continue to consider a policy that no one wants.

Allow me—and this is my last point—to question the cost estimate for these new security and public health initiatives: some $690.4 million. We know that the cost of gun control alone was estimated at $2 million and has now reached $2 billion. We have reason to doubt that for something as broad as security, $690.4 million—which does not include money for health—will be enough.

We have some questions. We asked those in charge of security whether some of the costs involved in marine security, for instance, could be assumed by users. We have been burned in the past by this government in having to share ice-breaking costs in particular.

In conclusion, allow me to say that we will closely scrutinize all bills pertaining to this new public security policy to ensure above all that fundamental freedoms are respected.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   National Security
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NDP

Lorne Nystrom

New Democratic Party

Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Regina—Qu'Appelle, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I want to endorse some of the things said by my friend from the Bloc Quebecois in terms of being concerned that we do not step on individual freedoms, that we have a national security policy and the like.

I want to say from the outset that what I see in the paper from the briefing this morning is that it looks good on paper. It is a matter of how it is implemented and how much money is committed to it to make sure that we have a security policy that will protect the safety of Canadian people. That is paramount.

We need money, for example, for community policing around the country. We need enough money for emergency response. The SARs issue is a good example of that. That is very key in terms of how this policy is actually implemented.

We already have the new Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Now there will be a government operations centre, a national security council and then a parliamentary committee that will be advising on national security. I hope all these things come together and they provide a top-notch security system.

I also want to make the point that I do think in general our security in the country is on par with anywhere in the world. I really wonder sometimes when I hear Conservatives who quote their friends in the United States talking about how superior the security system is in the United States. I am not sure there is any evidence of that except for the odd quote from the odd person in the United States of America.

I want to make one or two other points that I think are important. I have long believed that the best defence against terrorism is peace and dialogue. When we have war, strife and conflict, I think that is when terrorism really thrives.

The Dalai Lama was just here talking about some of the issues and about dialogue. We have to do as a nation whatever we can to promote peace and dialogue in the world and try to bring people together.

I have tried to take a balanced view, for example, of the Middle East in bringing people together in that very complex part of the world. I would say to the minister that we should maintain an independent foreign policy and independent security policy. Yes, we should cooperate with the United States but it is extremely important that we maintain our independence and our sovereignty. I get the message loudly and clearly as I travel across the country.

I am sure the minister is aware of this from any polls she has read that there is a great deal of skepticism in our country about George Bush's administration in terms of its foreign policy. George Bush was wrong in Iraq. He lied to congress, to the American people and to the world about weapons of mass destruction. When there is this kind of unilateral foreign policy by the American president without the consent of the United Nations, it invites and provokes more terrorism around the world.

I think what George Bush has done has been very dangerous for world peace and security. One thing that we did correctly in this country was to stay out of Iraq.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   National Security
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LIB

Roger Gallaway

Liberal

Hon. Roger Gallaway (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present the 24th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning Mr. Bernard Shapiro, the nominee for the position of Ethics Commissioner.

As well, I have the honour to present the 25th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which contains a proposed conflict of interest code for members of Parliament.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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LIB

Serge Marcil

Liberal

Hon. Serge Marcil (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the chair of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, April 19, 2004, the committee has considered Bill C-28, an Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, and agreed on Monday, April 26, 2004, to report it without amendment.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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CA

Jay Hill

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, CPC)

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to present three petitions in the House of Commons.

The first petition deals with the housing for our Canadian Forces families. This petition, signed by people from Montreal, Laval, LaSalle, Verdun and St. Laurent in Quebec, and from Vancouver, British Columbia, notes that housing accommodation does provide military families with a sense of community. It notes that many of the houses on our bases are substandard living conditions. It also notes that soldiers living in accommodations provided by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency have seen dramatic increases in their rent.

Therefore the petitioners call upon Parliament to immediately suspend any future rent increases for accommodation provided by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency until such time as the Government of Canada makes substantive improvements to the living conditions of housing provided for military families in our nation.

I will have a number of those petitions, which are coming from all across Canada, to present in the coming days.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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CA

Jay Hill

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, CPC)

Madam Speaker, the other two petitions deal with the now infamous Liberal gun registry.

The petitioners note that the federal firearms registry has cost Canadian taxpayers well in excess of $1 billion and that six of Canada's provinces have refused to prosecute federal firearms registration laws.

Therefore the petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation to wind up the federal firearms registry and reallocate the spending to frontline policing and effective controls against illegal weapons at our borders, airports and our ports.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Serge Marcil

Liberal

Hon. Serge Marcil (Beauharnois—Salaberry, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I have the pleasure of presenting a petition signed by 210 residents of my riding and other areas who are against the government bill amending the definition of marriage.

They argue that marriage as perceived as the stable union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others pre-exists the state. Because it pre-exists the state and because it is a fundamental element of any society, the institution of marriage should not be tampered with by the charter of rights, the state or any court.

To broaden and amend the definition of marriage to include same sex partners would be discriminatory to families and marriage, which will then be denied the social and legislative recognition as the unique and irreplaceable foundation of our society.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to present two petitions this morning. The first petition pertains to Bill C-436, the once in a lifetime legislation, which is again before the House today for debate.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to take this proposal seriously and to ensure that family reunification is again an important part of the government's immigration policy.

The petitioners acknowledge that nothing is more important than the family when it comes to the health and well-being of our society. They deeply regret that the government has failed to move on a more modern definition of family that allows for aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters to be joined together in one place and to support one another.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP)

Madam Speaker, the other petition deals with the matter of labels on alcohol beverage containers.

The petitioners point out that it has now been three years and three days since Parliament passed, almost unanimously, my private member's bill to ensure that warning labels about fetal alcohol syndrome were placed on all alcohol beverage containers.

They call upon the government to finally enact that legislation to ensure that the will of Parliament is respected. They are very concerned about the way in which the government has disregarded democracy and point out the hypocrisy of a government that talks about democratic deficit but fails to implement the will of Parliament and the wishes of Canadian citizens.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

John Maloney

Liberal

Mr. John Maloney (Erie—Lincoln, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions from my region of Niagara pursuant to Standing Order 36.

Both petitions call upon the Government of Canada to uphold the legal definition of marriage understood as the lasting union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

The petitioners point out that to enlarge and thereby alter the definition of marriage in order to include same sex partners discriminates against heterosexual marriage and the family which are thus deprived of their social and legal recognition as the fundamental and irreplaceable basis of society.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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CA

Gurmant Grewal

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to present six petitions on Bill C-250. The petitioners believe that the addition of sexual orientation as a protected category under sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code threatens the ability of individuals to exercise their religious freedoms and to express their moral and religious doctrines without fear of criminal prosecution.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free and to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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CA

Gurmant Grewal

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I also have three petitions signed by hundreds of people from across Canada.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to immediately hold a new debate on the definition of marriage and to reaffirm, as it did in 1999 in response to the motion from the official opposition, its commitment to take all necessary steps to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Finally, on the same topic, I have two petitions in which the petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Roger Gallaway

Liberal

Hon. Roger Gallaway (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

Is that agreed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 13 minutes.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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CA

John Reynolds

Canadian Alliance

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, CPC)

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, there being a serious democratic deficit in Canada, particularly in the domination of the executive over the House of Commons by providing to the Prime Minister the sole political prerogative to determine when Parliament should be dissolved for the purposes of a general election;

That, unless the Government loses the confidence of the House, general elections should be held on fixed dates; and

That the Government should bring in measures to establish fixed election dates to be held on the third Monday of the month that is four years after the month in which the polling day for the most recently held general election fell.

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with our deputy leader, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

I would also like to congratulate you, Madam Speaker. It is the first time I have had an opportunity in a speech to congratulate you on your election to the great post as one of our Speakers in the House of Commons. I know all our citizens of British Columbia are very proud that you serve in that position.

The last time I personally introduced a motion addressing the democratic deficit was a motion to establish secret ballot elections in committees. The House adopted it on November 5, 2002. Its adoption was a hard fought battle.

Before we began secret ballot elections in committees, every chairman and vice-chairman position on standing committees was controlled by the Prime Minister through his whip. This control was possible because the voting method was open. The method of open voting was very intimidating because the Liberal Party whip would attend each meeting to elect the chairman and vice-chairman and used all kinds of methods of coercion to influence the vote.

The methods used were similar to the methods used in the 19th century to influence votes at the ballot box during general elections. In the 19th century, employers threatened to reduce the wages or even fire those who did not vote for the right candidate. Back in the 19th century, it was common for parish priests to threaten their parishioners with the fires of hell in order to influence the outcome of an election.

The tactics used by the Liberal whip during the election of chairmen and vice-chairmen of committees were not that different. Instead of the fires of hell, the whip threatened members with the fires of the Prime Minister's Office.

While we have put out the fires of strong arm methods to include selections in committees during the Chrétien administration, there are many anti-democratic fires still burning in the Prime Minister's Office today. For example, in my Province of British Columbia, the Prime Minister is making a mockery of democracy within his own party by appointing candidates that he has personally selected. How does that square with his complaint about decisions being made based on “Who you know in the PMO”? The Prime Minister has taken the democratic process from his own party members. His own party is accusing him of being anti-democratic and racist.

We saw how the Prime Minister's heavy, anti-democratic hand brought a candidate in Burnaby—Douglas to tears on national television. In fact, I was watching that and thought it was quite interesting. My party is the only party that has a candidate in Burnaby—Douglas who has not cried on national television.

The Liberal Party has become so undemocratic under the current Prime Minister that many other Liberal candidates, Liberal members and Liberal supporters are saying that they do not even recognize their party any more. In his Winnipeg speech in March, the Prime Minister boasted about the democratic reforms that have been taken by his government. He said:

Upon taking office, December 12th last, we wasted no time in fulfilling that promise. Members of Parliament now matter in a way they haven’t mattered for decades. Free votes in the House of Commons are now a matter of course.

What free votes? The Prime Minister would not let his members vote freely on funding the gun registry. His staff swarms the public accounts committee, influencing every word. At one meeting, despite the initial wishes of the committee to report the conduct of a Liberal member of the House for leaking information from an in camera meeting, the committee made an about face and voted not to proceed with the matter.

This decision came days after Liberal members were making charges of contempt in the House for the publication of leaked information from the Ontario caucus. When it is embarrassing for the government, the Prime Minister orders his members to cry contempt, but when it suits the Prime Minister's election planning, he orders the matter swept under the carpet with the rest of his democratic dust bunnies.

It could be said that the anti-democratic actions of the Prime Minister are worse than his predecessor, and that is saying something. Jean Chrétien waited a year and a half before he moved his first closure motion as Prime Minister and managed to last five months before he rammed his first piece of legislation through the House using time allocation. The current Prime Minister waited six days to use closure and followed up with time allocation just about immediately in the Senate.

On February 8, 2001, the opposition leader moved a motion that would have the House adopt a policy from the Liberal red book, one that called for a truly independent ethics counsellor. The Prime Minister voted against it. He rejected his own policy. That was a parliamentary reform action promise. He is back to his old tricks, making election promises with no intention of following them through.

In the Edmonton Journal on April 6, 2004, the Prime Minister's senior Alberta minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, said:

My own view is that it's unsustainable to have an unelected upper house of whatever kind at the beginning of this century. I would like to think that the government of Canada might take the initiative to come up with a bold Senate reform proposal and then put that in play, offer it to the premiers.

It was a popular thing for her to say in Alberta; however, her statements directly contradict those of her own boss, the Prime Minister. The Calgary Herald reported the Prime Minister saying on May 2:

I don't think the timing is right for a huge constitutional discussion. I just don't think that piecemeal reform is the way to go.

That was a little different from what he said during his campaign for leadership.

During the battle to establish secret ballot elections in committees and also the battle to reform private members' business, the Chrétien government used the exact same excuse with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and during debates in the House of Commons. This is a standard Liberal excuse to do nothing.

While the government argues that piecemeal reform is not the way to go, it introduced a stand-alone reform. The first reform that was brought in after the last election was to restrict the ability of members to move amendments at report stage, a decision that still hampers members today by impeding their ability to represent their constituents.

The reform that we are introducing today is one of many that we have introduced in the past. For a party in opposition, we have more success with the adoption of parliamentary reform than the government itself.

I mentioned earlier, secret ballot elections in committee. The new rule that addresses late answers from the government to Order Paper questions was taken from a reform package drafted by the official opposition. It has significantly reduced late answers from the government. The government adopted one out of three time allocation proposals from that same package.

The House has established a half hour question and answer period following the moving of the closure or time allocation motion. Questions are directed toward the minister who is sponsoring the bill under debate, or in exceptional circumstances, an acting minister.

The office of the Clerk of the House of Commons is central to the functioning of the chamber. Before the House adopted its new procedure, the government, through an order in council, made the appointment of the Clerk. While the recent incumbents have been exceptionally qualified individuals and above reproach, the principle that the House of Commons be involved in the appointment process was important because the Clerk serves the entire House of Commons and all its members, and must have the confidence of this House. This can now be demonstrated by a vote in the House regarding his or her appointment.

The House created an estimates committee to monitor and review the estimates and supply process on an ongoing basis. This was an idea that was developed by a study that was initiated by the opposition. While the creation of the estimates committee made up only a small part of the recommendations from that study, it was a small step in the right direction.

The fact that more committees are televised is a direct result of initiatives and pressure from the official opposition. The idea of a committee review for the appointments of officers of Parliament came about because of pressure put on the government by the member for Langley--Abbotsford when he was the House leader of the official opposition.

The reforms to private members' business making all items votable came about because of the member for Yorkton--Melville. He had two supply motions on the subject and finally, after 10 years, the measures were adopted, although only on an interim basis.

One minor reform that I am particularly relieved is in place today is the change that prevents the government from amending opposition motions. I say this because of the current mood of the Prime Minister, demonstrated by his meddling in certain ridings and his treatment of Liberal members non grata. I would not want my motion subjected to an amendment from the Prime Minister by deleting certain words and changing the outcome of my motion from the establishment of fixed election dates to the establishment of fixed elections.

The former Prime Minister was criticized for not respecting the wishes of the House. The wishes of the House with respect to the definition of marriage and the terms under which the Kyoto protocol would be signed were a few examples--

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

On a point of order, the hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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April 27, 2004