Derek Lee needs to be replaced next election!

For anyone who wasn’t watching CPAC yesterday this is the exchange in Question Period in which Scarborough-Rouge River Liberal Derek Lee, during a discussion about border guards, who legitimately left their posts after receiving word that an armed suspect could be en route, referred to these government employees as “wimps”.The matter was again taken up in a “point of order” following Question Period, which I have clipped to the end.

Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—Tecumseh, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, yesterday 60 Canadian border guards were forced to walk off four Canadian border crossings because an armed and dangerous criminal was approaching the border.

Mr. Derek Lee: That’s because they are a bunch of wimps.

Mr. Joe Comartin: Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago guards requested the right to be armed to protect themselves and Canada’s borders. Now the government has said it is going to take an unbelievable 10 more years to accomplish this.

We need to stop the tide of illegal guns coming into this country and our guards at the border need the tools to do this.

Will the government today commit to having every single guard armed in five years or less?

Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, as far as the 10 year comment, my hon. colleague is quite correct. For about 10 years border officers were asking that they be armed so they could deal with situations as happened yesterday. For 10 years they were ignored by the former government.

We have taken the step to announce $101 million to begin the process of arming those border officers. There is training involved. Storage facilities have to be built. We are looking forward to as early as this coming summer to see those first armed border officers arriving in key border locations from coast to coast.

Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—Tecumseh, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, it is not necessary for it to take 10 years. I know the government likes following the Bush agenda and it took 10 years to do it in the U.S. but it does not take that long in Canada.
It will take five more unnecessary years, if the government does not do it in five, where more guns will be smuggled into this country, five more years with dangerous criminals crossing our borders.

There are alternatives. There is another way of doing this. Why not have the government come forward with enough resources for the RCMP and provincial police forces to increase our capacity to train our guards and get them on line in five years, not ten?

Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I will not suggest that my hon. colleague is trying to mislead people by continuing to say it is going to be 10 years until we have armed border officers. If the member will listen carefully, by next summer we are going to see armed border officers at the key locations across the country and that training is going to continue.

This is not something we can do quickly. There are staffing arrangements that have to go into play. There is a three week time period to do the actual training. We want to train the trainers so we are not subject to extra cost. It is going to be carefully done. It is going to be well done. Security and prosperity at our borders is always the goal.

* * * 8>Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, today in question period, when I was responding to a reply about our border officers, the men and women who serve our country at the nation’s frontiers, a member of the Liberal Party, the member for Scarborough—Rouge River, was shouting out and referring to our brave men and women as wimps. We tried to ask him informally to cease doing that.

An hon. member: Fifteen times.

Hon. Stockwell Day: It was recorded at least another 10 to 15 times. He continued to refer to our border officers as wimps.

Yesterday on Parliament Hill we attended a service of commemoration for peace officers who have died in the line of duty. The men and women who serve us on our borders do so without side arms. In any given year many times they must apprehend suspects, seize drugs and there are times when they must attempt to seize illegal weapons. They have been asking for side arms and to be trained for such for 10 years but the Liberals refused to do that. We are moving ahead on that.

Regardless of that debate, it is unacceptable that courageous men and women who serve us every day and night in this country are referred to as wimps. We would like a full and complete apology for that.

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to recognize the strength, fortitude and courage of all of the people who man our borders. I am not referring to our police or to our military. I am talking of the people who man our borders. I commend the courage of all the people who man our borders if they stay on the job.

I was referring to those who walked off the job merely because apparently there was an American who had a firearm. There are over 200 million firearms south of the border. I admire our border service professionals who stay on the job, not those who walk off. We have never had armed border service professionals, not in the entire 138 years of this country. I admire those who stay on the job, not those who walk off.

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker, when the member for Windsor—Tecumseh was trying to ask questions about the safety situation facing our border guards, he was shouted down by the member for Scarborough—Rouge River again and again, to the point where I could not hear the question properly even though I was sitting so close to him.

I feel this is an important issue. It is not just the disrespect to the House or the disrespect to the men and women who are out in the field. This sends the message that there are some people in Parliament who show an absolute contempt for people who put their lives on the line. For those members to stand in the House today and have the nerve to tell us that they respect people who work but call people who stand up for their legal right to refuse unsafe conditions wimps is a disgrace.

I am speaking on a question of privilege because as a member of Parliament I feel ashamed that people like that would even stand in the House and–

The Speaker: I caution hon. members. We seem to have strayed a bit from the rules of the House in relation to order. This appears to be a disagreement about some name calling that may have happened during question period but no one has suggested that anything that was said was contrary to the rules of the House. They may have disagreed with what was said and that is a different thing from a point of order.

I hope that if the President of the Treasury Board is rising on the same point he will confine his remarks to whether there has been something said that was out of order, which is the only thing the Speaker can rule on. I am not prepared to say that a member should or should not have said something. That is not my role. It is my role to decide whether there has been a breach of the rules of the House, and I stress that. I have not yet heard anybody suggest that there has been.

Hon. John Baird (President of the Treasury Board, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the long-standing parliamentary tradition has been for members on all sides of the House to recognize the contribution made by those men and women who work in our public service and who put their lives on the line every day. The very sad reality is that not one Liberal member, including the member for Ottawa South, is speaking up against this disgrace. It is an absolute disgrace.

The Speaker: I think we have had enough debate on this. I would suggest that if hon. members want to continue the discussion, they meet in office of the member for Scarborough—Rouge River and have a very pleasant conversation over a cup of tea. However, this is not a matter of the breach of the rules of the House, which is what a point of order entails, and, therefore, there is no point of order.

A cup of tea, Mr. Milliken? Are you mocking the depth of passion of this discussion? Frankly, I hope the Customs & Excise Union, representing border guards, comes up with an imaginative way of expressing their displeasure to Derek Lee, either in Ottawa or at his constituency office:4800 Sheppard Ave, Suite 119, Scarborough, Ontario M1S 4N5 Telephone: (416) 298-4224 Fax: (416) 298-6035.

Maybe put him on a watch list at border crossings and at airport security…

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