House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

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10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by congratulating my colleague, my leader and my friend for putting these remarks before the House and clearly making the case. I note the great principle in which the Liberals espouse and if we do not like their principles, they have other principles. Their number one priorities continue to mount as we get closer and closer to the election.

I noticed last night that there was a feeling of Christmas in the air. The Christmas trees are now up here on Parliament Hill. Everyone is feeling very buoyant, so much so that we saw a red streak rocketing across the sky. I thought it was old St. Nick himself but it was a red Challenger jet with the Liberal logo “entitlement” on the side and the prime minister St. Nick was dropping bags of money across the country, not toys.

We have outlined and my leader has outlined very clearly the reasons for which the government must go. I would like to give him the opportunity to speak more about the federal accountability act which will be the first priority of a new Conservative government to clean up the unprecedented waste, mismanagement and corruption and the legacy of theft left by the Liberal Party of Canada. That will be the first thing this new government and this new prime minister will address.

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10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

The hon. Leader of the Opposition, you have eight seconds in which to answer.

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10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB

Madam Speaker, in eight seconds we will empower the independent officers of Parliament to hold our government responsible. We will end the revolving door that has gone on here between lobbying firms, senior ministers' offices and the bureaucracy. We also will end the culture of entitlement, big money and lobbying that is at the heart of the Prime Minister's government.

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10:50 a.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I rise today to refute the motion before the House and to speak directly to Canadians of the record of the achievements of the Liberal government and the future of this great country.

Whether it is in the House, in coffee shops, malls, union halls, hockey rinks or homes across the country, we are prepared to stand before Canadians with a message of opportunity, a message of equality and a message of compassion.

We want to move Canada forward in confidence and strength. We want to continue to build this country, drawing on the best from Canadians so that this country is among the first in the world in economic opportunity for everyone and fairness and justice for everyone and leadership in a troubled world.

This is the course our Prime Minister is setting and this is the course Canadians want for our country. These are the values of economic opportunity and social justice that bring us together. They are what make Canada the choice of people from all over the world. They guide our government in meeting its responsibility to be the guardian of unity, security and sovereignty.

Let me quote from the remarks the Prime Minister made this fall. He said:

I believe in the good that government can do—that government must be the leader of national undertakings that express our highest aspirations and reflect our deepest values.

I believe that the role of government is to set the national objectives of its time, and then to mobilize the national will to achieve them.

Governing with this minority Parliament has brought its own challenges but, through it all, we have remained fixed on building this country and building a better tomorrow for all.

Let us look at what that determination has brought us: a record of eight straight balanced budgets and a financial and economic position that is the envy of other G-8 nations; the lowest interest rates in a generation for Canadians who are buying homes, Canadians who are starting businesses or saving for their own and their children's future; record job creation with the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years; and economic growth, not just in one part of the country but in all regions.

We have heard the speech from the Leader of the Opposition. The actual words that he used are obviously quite negative in tone but that seems to be the opposition's trademark. The opposition calls our determination arrogance. Canadians call it achievement. The opposition calls it an abuse of public funds. Canadians call this securing a prosperous tomorrow for all our people. Canadians call what this government has provided fulfilling a commitment to the aspirations and the hard work of building a better Canada.

From the very beginning we have been willing to work with the opposition when it is in the best interests of Canadians. For each and every bill that we have passed in the House we have made the effort to build support in the other parties for these priorities. The actual record speaks for itself: budget bills that include the Atlantic accords; the new deal for cities and communities; a national early learning and child care system; bills protecting our children; the civil marriage bill; the health accord; and the veterans charter. These are measures that will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians.

Canada is a parliamentary democracy with core principles that we abide by in this democracy. The alliance of Conservatives, the separatist Bloc and the NDP continue to operate, and we are seeing it again today, not in the public interest but in their own narrow, private and partisan interests by putting forward this motion.

When I look pack to the beginning of this Parliament, the Conservatives entered this minority Parliament, even in the earliest days, calling for it not to work. The threats started right from the beginning with the Speech from the Throne back in 2004. The Leader of the Opposition on September 30, 2004, said, “I will give my caucus a mandate to vote. If that means defeating the government, then that is what will happen”. He said that at the beginning of this Parliament.

The Leader of the Opposition continues to work on private and partisan ambition and not in the public interest. The leader the official opposition has had that narrow, petty view since the beginning of this Parliament, and it springs from an ideology of extreme right wing conservatism. In fact, Ralph Klein agrees. It is what has animated the former Reform and Canadian Alliance parties, their vision of a small Canada, a Canada that would be at the bidding of the provinces. That is the view that the Conservatives and the separatist Bloc bring together under that vision.

We have seen that alignment before and we are seeing it again as they join hands. They join hands to ensure that the one government that is responsible to all Canadians is weakened to the point that it cannot act on behalf of all Canadians.

The Leader of the Opposition mused that Canada should become more like Belgium. He once stated:

Giving provinces a greater voice has become more important as our courts have become increasingly activist in the era of Charter challenges.

Contrast that with our Prime Minister, who said:

Our linguistic duality and our ethnic and cultural diversity make Canada a global microcosm, open to the world. We understand that the strength and success of each province or region is to be celebrated, for it makes Canada stronger; recognizing that together, united, Canada is much greater than the sum of its parts.

The Conservatives and the Bloc joined forces just two weeks ago to vote against programs that would attract new people to this country. They opposed help for family reunification, and help to settle newcomers to this country. The negativity of the opposition is a constant and consistent feature that we see every day in this House. We see it in the misrepresentations and the half-truths, and the innuendo they use to tear down people. They do not care, and the leader of the official opposition just got up and restated this, what an independent judicial inquiry found to be the truth. They do not even want to have it complete its work.

Contrast that with the pledge by the Prime Minister that Canadians should have all the results and the response to its findings before a judgment is rendered by Canadians on this Parliament and on all parliamentarians. There is inconsistency in the Conservative position, and we do not have to look very far. It was only in January that the Leader of Opposition said:

Our party expects—and we will settle for nothing less—than the [Martin] government taking every available means to ensure that the Gomery inquiry continues.

What has changed? The opposition parties ignored Justice Gomery's first report which exonerated the Prime Minister and our members from Quebec. The leader of the official opposition was so joyful to quote from Justice Gomery. Justice Gomery was very clear in his report. He stated:

[The Prime Minister], whose role as Finance Minister did not involve him in the supervision of spending by the PMO or PWGSC, is entitled, like other Ministers in the Quebec caucus, to be exonerated from any blame for carelessness or misconduct.

He further wrote:

--a system of government that would impose upon itself a searching inquiry by an independent commissioner, armed...with a far-reaching mandate to investigate and report on matters that could prove to be embarrassing to the Government itself, is proof that our democratic institutions are functioning well and objectively.

However, the findings did not fit with the opposition parties plans and private ambitions. They ignore the fact that the Prime Minister set the inquiry in motion. They ignore the fact that it was the Prime Minister, in his very first act, who cancelled the sponsorship program. They ignore the fact that he fired the people responsible for the program. They ignore the fact that he has ordered lawsuits and recovery of money. They ignore the fact that he turned the report over to the RCMP, that he established an independent Ethics Commissioner, and that he is taking measures to ensure that this never happens again.

The opposition, rather than deal with the truth, would rather deal with misrepresentations, half-truths and innuendoes. Because the Prime Minister acted forcefully, decisively and with integrity, the opposition parties want to end this Parliament.

What are they really saying? They are saying that they disagree with this Parliament in helping the victims of abuse in residential schools. They disagree with helping the men and women who work in the softwood lumber industry. They do not want this Parliament to help older, displaced and disabled workers. They do not want this Parliament to expand apprenticeships and help people obtain the skills to find and keep the jobs. They do not want this Parliament to create a Pacific gateway, which would ensure the future prosperity of British Columbia and the west as the key North American link to the rising economic powers of China and India. They do not want this Parliament to enact new laws to ban street racing, to ease rules for foreign adoptions, to protect the Public Service whistleblowers, and to protect against international trafficking in human beings. That is what they are really saying in putting this motion forward.

Let us contrast what the official opposition is standing for and looking to do with what we want to do in this Parliament. We want this Parliament to work for Canadians. We are continuing to make it work and are focused on their priorities, even as the opposition parties plot to bring an unwanted election over the holidays. They will have to take responsibility and they will have to explain that to Canadians, but that will be left to them to explain.

We have accomplished much in the 17 months that we have been in this Parliament and with the support of Canadians, we want to do much more. The Prime Minister will be presenting an agenda based on helping people, advancing forward-looking policies, investing in our young people, those most in need, and showing economic and social leadership at home and around the globe.

We are focused on the skills and education Canadians need to prosper and on new partnerships with the private sector to deliver goods the world wants and to reach markets in every place on the planet. We are committed to a strong Canadian federation, to universal health care, and to financial discipline. We are committed to individual freedom and strong social foundations. We are committed to calling forth the best in every citizen and offering hope to every citizen.

For generation after generation, people have come to Canada full of dreams and full of courage to discover new opportunities, to persevere and overcome obstacles, and participate in building this amazing country. They did not ask for miracles. They asked to be treated fairly. They asked to be given their chance to participate. They asked to be treated as equals. All Canadians deserve that promise. All Canadians deserve that chance for their children and their grandchildren to move forward.

It is easy for the opposition parties to belittle progress. It is easy to tear down people with half-truths and innuendoes. It is easy to shut down this Parliament and talk of tearing things apart. When they are so desperate to defeat the government, it is easy for the Conservative leader to say nothing when the leader of the Bloc asserts that sovereignists can ignore the Clarity Act. It is easy to climb into bed with the separatists and months later produce the election the Conservatives so desperately want, to play on fear and insecurities, to foster alienation, and to encourage envy and the regional hurts at the expense of national interests.

It is easy, as they have done over and over again, to blame the person who admits the problems and acts to deal with them. Those things are easy, but those things are not leadership. They do not constitute vision.

We are prepared to meet the challenges of the future. We are prepared to reach out to all Canadians. We believe in the vision and courage of Canadians that will make our economy, our citizens and our country as strong as they can be.

Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, we will work to make the best country in the world even better. The world has seen the meaning of hope and it is Canada. The world has seen the future and it is Canada. We will not let it be turned backward in the name of some right-wing ideology put forward by narrow and angry people. We will not let Canada be torn apart. We believe in thinking and acting in the long term interests of Canadians and this special place, Canada.

Whenever an election is called, we are ready. We are ready to take our vision to Canadians. We are ready to run on our record. We are ready to run on what we have done. We are proud of what we have done. We will fight the negative. We will fight the innuendo and we will go to Canadians. Ultimately, Canadians will decide. That is our democracy and that is their right. We are proud. We are ready. We will fight for Canada and we will ensure Canadians have the brightest future possible.

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11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Madam Speaker, Canadian unity has been imperiled. Unity has been set back 10 years, not by a Canadian scandal of corruption, not be a Quebec scandal of corruption, but by a governing Liberal Party scandal of corruption. Shame on the government. Will the Liberals apologize to Canadians now before the door of the House of Commons closes behind them?

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11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, Canadian unity is threatened by a Conservative leader who remains silent when the leader of a separatist party suggests that separatists do not need to respect the rule of this country, the rule of law, and that they do not need to respect the Clarity Act.

The Leader of the Opposition was nowhere to be the found. He was silent when the unity of this country was being challenged. If there is any challenge to unity, it is because the Conservative Party remains silent and does not work together to build this country. The Leader of the Opposition wants to build firewalls around Alberta. He wants this country to look like Belgium, looking for more capitals in this country.

We believe in a strong central government. We believe in speaking for Canada, for the people of Canada, and we will speak for the people of Canada. We need not take any lessons from the Leader of the Opposition or members of that party who are prepared to isolate regions of this country because they think it is in their own self-interest, their narrow partisan interest.

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11:10 a.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, I rose earlier to question the Leader of the Opposition, but I did not get recognized, so I will question the government House leader instead on the same subject.

We have had a great deal of discussion, quite appropriate discussion, on issues such as accountability and transparency, the possible use of taxpayers' money by political parties, and the actual use in some cases. The Leader of the Opposition failed to mention that the greatest area where we do not have transparency and where we do not have accountability is in the process whereby he became Leader of the Opposition. Nobody knows where the money that was contributed to his leadership campaign came from.

The reason I ask the hon. government House leader this question is that only last Thursday, a week ago today, Mr. Conrad Black, also known as Lord Black of Crossharbour, was indicted by the United States government of diverting some $51.8 million of United States funds in what is called in the United States by the U.S. government, the Canwest fraud scheme. This gentleman, with his two close associates, David Radler and Peter White, has been extremely prominent in the neo-Conservative media and in the neo-Conservative political movement in this country for the last decade and a half.

I think it is important. We are informed by the American government that this money was stolen from Hollinger International shareholders and the Canadian tax authorities. I would like to know from the hon. government House leader whether he is willing, at the request of the Leader of the Opposition, to have an investigation as to whether any of those moneys, which were allegedly stolen from Canadian taxpayers, wound up in the hands of a Canadian political party or in the leadership campaign of any Canadian political party leader?

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November 24th, 2005 / 11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, obviously it is very clear that Canadians know and are aware that the Leader of the Opposition did not in fact disclose the donors to his leadership campaign. I am not sure whether there is something that he might be hiding or not, but that is not for me to answer. That is for the Leader of the Opposition to answer.

The member referred to the official opposition as being somewhat hypocritical. Then again, that is not an uncommon trait displayed by that party over and over again in this House, where it says one thing and does another.

In answer to the hon. member's question, certainly taxpayers would be interested in knowing that the Leader of the Opposition has refused to provide that information. I can only surmise there is something that perhaps he does not want to disclose. Again, that is not for me to answer. That is for the Leader of the Opposition to deal with. I can imagine that he will continue on his course, continue to not disclose, because again, he believes that it is in his own narrow partisan self-interest.

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11:15 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech by the government House leader. I now understand just how far and disconnected the government is from reality and what is actually happening on the main streets across this country. I have a series of questions for the hon. member.

Where was the government when we found out this year that we now have a record number of poor children in this country? There are 1.1 million poor children in this country.

Where was the government when from 1989 through to this year we have seen 60% of Canadian families experience a drop in real income? Why is that? Because of a failed trade policy. We see more and more part time jobs and temporary jobs. Statistics Canada tells us that most jobs do not even come with pensions any more.

Where was the government when we see that for most Canadian families it is harder and harder to make ends meet?

Where was the government when we found that greenhouse gas emissions have risen? Those greenhouse gas emissions have not gone away. There is a worsening environmental crisis and the government has done absolutely nothing about it.

Where was the government when we now see record levels of for profit privatization in health care, which the government has refused to respond to?

Where was the government with the increasing chaos in the citizenship and immigration system? Decent law-abiding citizens and their families are being rejected by the immigration system that no longer functions because the government has not made the required investments.

Where was the government when it sold out to George Bush on NAFTA? The government refused to stand up for our rights on softwood lumber. There has been no action since August of this year, not one action, aside from a phone call. The government has given away our leverage by selling out Terasen over the backs of British Columbians. Thousands upon thousands said no to that sellout. Terasen is just one of 11,000 companies that have been sold out by the government with its rubber stamp process on foreign investment. We know that 97% of foreign investment comes in to take over Canadian companies and take jobs south.

Where has the government been on all of those files? The Liberals have done absolutely nothing for 12 years and are trying to make up for it in two weeks.

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11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, I hope you will allow me some time because my list is quite long in responding to the hon. member.

With respect to the first part of the member's question, one only needs to look at the child tax benefit and helping the working poor, which the Minister of Finance had in his economic statement. There is the heating rebate which has been passed through this House.

Let us be clear that in dealing with poverty, the best solution to poverty is a job. We have the lowest unemployment rates in this country in 30 years. We have made investments in affordable housing that are working their way through communities and partnering with municipalities.

With respect to health care, benchmarks have been set. In fact, when we were sitting down with the NDP to work through to protect health care from privatization, that party walked away. The NDP walked away to join hands with the Conservative Party and the separatist Bloc party to do what? To drag Canadians back to the polls during the holiday season.

A half-measure motion was put forward suggesting that we could have the election some time in February. I must say that the opposition did not understand what our democratic principles are and how this democratic institution runs. The opposition parties did not understand it then and they do not understand it now.

I would have to say that while the hon. member and the NDP traditionally do a very good job of ranting and raving at the top of the mountain, when it comes to delivery, they deliver nothing.

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11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During the remarks of the hon. government House leader, the member for Victoria made an allegation that the hon. Leader of the Opposition had not complied with the election finance law with respect to disclosure of donors.

It is out of order to impugn illegality on the part of a member. That is what the member for Victoria did. It is what the government House leader did. I would ask that you bring those members to order for having impugned illegality, because the record clearly shows that the hon. Leader of the Opposition is in all respects in full compliance with the election financing law with respect to his leadership campaign.

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11:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

In response to the hon. member, I must say that we were all listening very carefully. We will consult the blues. From what we have heard, it seemed that there was no direct reference and connection made, but we will verify this. If it is necessary to do so, we will return.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.

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11:20 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Madam Speaker, people know that when they elect a New Democratic Party member of Parliament, he or she will work night and day to get results for people. That is what we have done in this Parliament.

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11:20 a.m.

An hon. member

Sure. With the separatists.

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11:20 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

This spring when Liberal corruption and arrogance created a crisis in this Parliament, it was New Democrats who got results by stopping the corporate tax cuts that the Liberals never told anyone about during the election, and invested the money in people in the first NDP budget ever adopted by the House of Commons.

By virtue of the fact of a minority government, Canada was kept out of George Bush's dangerous missile defence plan. Also, the NDP presented ways to get more results for people: a green car strategy for jobs and a cleaner environment; democratic reform through proportional representation; pension protection for workers; a Kyoto plan that works; protecting public health care from creeping Americanization.

We came here to work and we have gotten results. We have succeeded despite having a Parliament stained by Liberal corruption and arrogance and despite having a Prime Minister who says one thing and does another.