House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was education.

Topics

Opposition Motion--The Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I listened quite closely to the comments made by the hon. member. He continued on at great length about the commitments that the Liberals were going to make. I hope members will forgive me if I do not hold my breath waiting for any Liberal commitment that will ever be delivered after the last 13 years.

When we think about what has happened over the last 10 to 13 years, we had continual cuts to our health and social transfer, the dedicated education transfer was cut. While the Liberals might talk about this tuition thing, they was treating a symptom. In fact, one of the reasons tuition has gone up so much is because of deferred maintenance on the buildings at these universities.

Could the hon. member to comment how that band-aid would help and why he did not come up with real programs over the last number of years when the Liberals had an opportunity to deal with that deferred maintenance problem?

Opposition Motion--The Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, during the last two years that I have had the privilege of being a member of the House, the development of the policies that the Liberal Party came up with and took into the last two elections, related to the commitments we made and the actions we took, were based on consultations and discussions with the various institutions.

For example, I sat for a year on the finance committee. We heard very clearly from those representing the institutions of higher education, post-secondary education, on what they needed and, more particular, what they needed in terms of assistance to students in the areas of tuition and scholarship programs. It was that area to which we felt a high priority to respond. Those were the programs and the commitments we made. In fact, our fiscal update indicated exactly what we were going to do.

Opposition Motion--The Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for North Vancouver when he identifies education as a key issue in developing an economy that takes us into the 21st century. I also agree with him when he says we have to do more as parliamentarians and as a government.

However, the problems we face today in education were in large part created by the Liberals. We are dealing now with a decade of cuts to education, starting with the 1995 budget when his government took $7 billion out of transfer payments. That had a huge impact on post-secondary education, and we still have not caught up to that point.

The suggestion by the Liberals to pay for part of the tuition costs in year one and year four is interesting, but it is an awfully small step given the serious situation. Four out of ten university students are unable to graduate on time because they have to drop courses in order to work. Sixty-six per cent of students are working an average of 19 hours a week. Three out of ten students resort to private bank loans or family loans because of inadequate government aid, and the stats go on and on.

The member cannot make up for past history, but is he at least prepared to commit his party now to reinstating the $1.2 billion which would take us back to at least 1993 when the cuts began under his government?

Opposition Motion--The Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I both sat on the finance committee. I think we heard the same entreaties to government to respond in these areas.

I was not a member of the previous governments at that time, but I know by reading and studying the history that they were faced with the problem of a huge and growing national debt, with growing annual budget deficits. A determination was made that, to provide the healthy economic basis for the social programs, such as education, which were necessary, it was important to get the fiscal house in order, and the Liberal government did that.

Yes, some difficult measures had to be taken to have that come about, but that laid the groundwork for ongoing reductions of the national debt, eliminating the deficits and having eight years of surplus budgets. In fact, we are the only country in the G-8 to do so, a record of which we can be proud and for which we are envied.

I cannot speak for my party, but from discussions I have had with my colleagues, their commitment, as is mine, is to do all we can to ensure, as we indicated in our previous programs, to support a very healthy education program, as we do with health and as we do in a number of areas.

Opposition Motion--The Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this motion today.

When I started reading the preamble of the Liberal motion, I found it interesting because it states:

That, in light of the rapid increase in the value of the Canadian dollar, high global energy costs, the overhang from huge budgetary and trade deficits in the United States of America, the rise of new economies such as China, India and Brazil—

These are all important aspects of the new economic reality. I was hoping there would be proposals at the end that would allow us to push this government that chooses not to intervene in anything and allows the market to function.

We even heard the Minister of Industry say that with the tax cuts, small businesses will be able to pull through. In reality, in today's competitive market, even if we reduce the taxes of a company that does not pay any because it does not make enough profit, then we are not really helping.

In the Liberal motion, the analysis at the start of their depiction of the situation is very interesting, but their recommendations show that they still have the same old bad habits. They make recommendations affecting provincial responsibilities in the areas of labour force training and post-secondary education. It is too bad that they include this kind of recommendation. That will force us to vote against the motion. The Liberal Party still wants to interfere in matters that are none of its business. It is too bad because the greatest danger we face today is the Conservatives’ laissez-faire approach to the economy.

I want to share my time with the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé, who will have the last 10 minutes.

Opposition Motion--The Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

So we have two good speakers.

Opposition Motion--The Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Thank you.

So I had reached the greatest danger currently facing the Quebec and Canadian economies: the laissez-faire approach of the Conservatives. There has never been such a fine demonstration of this as the minister’s appearance before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. He came to tell us that many issues in different sectors will be decided by the market. The government has policies to lower taxes, but it does not want to do anything else.

I was at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology just a few minutes ago, where we were being told once again that the aeronautics industry needs assistance programs, like the old Technology Partnerships Canada, to help industry do basic research or commercialize its advanced research. But all we heard today was silence.

The Conservative government has quietly decided to allow the old program to end, without anything to propose in its place. We have no right just to let people wait. We need some news today because the investments made by multinationals and companies in these large industrial sectors are decided years in advance. In addition, the branch plants of the parent company in each country compete with one another and need the kind of clear messages that are nowhere to be found in the positions of the current government.

This is all the more the case in view of the fact that a two-tier economy is beginning to develop in Canada. There is the economy of the world of energy—the world of oil—where profits are very high and rising prices generate economic activity and even impact the value of the dollar.

Mr. Dodge, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, admitted in his presentation before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology that the factor that is making the dollar rise most at present is the pressure on energy prices. When we have as we do today a dollar that is up to 90 cents, people like Laurent Beaudoin, of Bombardier, and Perrin Beatty, of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, tell us that we must stop the rise of our interest rates because they are crippling the manufacturing industry in Quebec and Ontario, where these industrial sectors are the most concentrated.

The current non-interventionist attitude of the Conservative government will have its consequences. When the increase in energy prices slows down—this may happen in months or in years—it will be disastrous. The manufacturing sector will have disappeared. There will be a series of warehouses where people can go and get products made in the emerging countries and then distribute them. I can assure you, however, that a salary in a distribution company and a salary in a manufacturing company are not comparable. In the medium term, this will reduce buying power and will above all create unemployment among people who have dedicated 20 or 30 years of their lives to the economic activity of healthy businesses, and who earned their living from them.

And from one day to the next, they no longer have a job. We do not necessarily have proper training to offer them so that they can be reintegrated in the labour market. Often they can no longer be placed in other jobs. This is the situation facing us today. The Conservative laissez-faire industrial policy is the worst thing we could have in the present situation.

This sort of behaviour has been seen within the Quebec government, and the federal government should draw some conclusions from this. In fact, the Liberal Party of Quebec has adopted the same sort of attitude. It came to power three years ago, and decided to take the ideological approach of non-intervention. We saw private investment drop and we will see the same thing occur throughout Canada, if the Conservative Party continues to take the same tack.

In the coming days and weeks therefore, the government will have to listen to the demands of the manufacturers and the unions representing employees in the manufacturing sector. According to all the opinions we have, we must make sure that the Bank of Canada realizes that continuing to raise interest rates does not make any sense. It cannot be ordered to do so; it is not up to the government to order it.

The federal government also has to assume its responsibilities in other sectors and offer businesses an assistance plan, such as accelerated depreciation. For example, when they buy equipment, they could obtain a depreciation tax credit. That way they would have a chance to be competitive, develop their competitiveness, and continue their operations in the markets.

We also need measures that would allow small and medium-sized businesses to organize so they can deal with the export markets and win clients there. We could also see if there are markets that are worse off under the new global competition and make use of the tools available—and why not?

We note that the government has decided to take no action in the bicycle sector, where the Minister of Industry himself is accepting the loss of jobs in his own riding, in Beauce.

He also accepts that jobs at Raleigh will be lost in the same way. That is totally unacceptable. We were not asking the government to impose these measures permanently; we were asking it to put them in place. The Bloc Québécois, the unions, the employers and the managers of these firms want action from the government in this direction. The government must use all of its economic development tools, instead of hiding behind a laisser-faire policy that is doing profound damage to the economy of Quebec and Canada.

This is the more tragic in that there will be a major impact on employment and available wages. People who want to support their families now no longer have the means to do so. The federal government must recognize the importance of taking action. It cannot hide behind Canadian growth, in the broad sense. Basically, that growth is being generated by the energy sector; it leaves behind, in the background, a whole range of industrial sectors that are needed in Quebec, in Ontario and in Canada.

For all of these reasons, we are asking the federal government to intervene, to act and to change its attitude so it can create the framework that our businesses need for their development. This is not a matter of engaging in extreme interventionism. It is just a matter of seeing that there are certain basic conditions that need to be established. And right now, we are not seeing this.

The Liberals’ motion cannot achieve this objective. However, you may rest assured that the Bloc will move forward and continue exerting pressure to ensure that jobs in Quebec’s manufacturing sector can be maintained.

Opposition Motion--The Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There will be time for questions and comments following the hon. member's speech when debate resumes later today.

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but the time has come for the Statements by Members.

Health
Statements by Members

June 8th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, again this year I had the privilege of attending the Camrose Schizophrenia Society Walk and Run. This annual event is an important exercise for our community. It is heartwarming to see so many people showing their support. I found encouragement to bring their message to this House today.

I urge all MPs to promote awareness and understanding of mental illness. We can search the Health Canada website for the term “schizophrenia”. We can get the information to share and assist Canadians who are confronting ailments that challenge us as individuals, families and communities, and even nationally. We can see the book written by Canadian families who contributed the benefit of their own experience and counsel.

Anthony Holler, president of the Camrose Schizophrenic Society, emphasizes that people afflicted often become marginalized by society. It is important for us to tell our constituents that it is not a preventable disease, that it is not about just passing through a difficult phase or time, that there is no cause for shame, and that it can be easier to deal with when we have the available information. Let us get the message out.

Trade
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is fast tracking a Canada-Korea free trade agreement that it wants signed and in place this year. It is absolutely essential that this agreement contain terms and conditions that protect Canadian industry and Canadian jobs.

We have a huge trade imbalance with Korea, especially in manufactured goods, and particularly in the auto sector, where the ratio of imports to exports is 150 to 1 in its favour. Eliminating tariffs will not give us greater access to Korean markets that are protected by relationships among their government and the manufacturers and banks. It will in fact increase this imbalance and mean the loss of more Canadian jobs.

Our auto industry is facing difficult challenges related to the Canadian dollar and the financial crisis of North American automakers. We have lost 20,000 assembly and parts jobs in the sector since 1998.

We should only proceed with this bill if it includes absolute assurances of equality in both the value and the nature of goods exchanged between Canada and Korea.

René Boucher
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to a great man from Laval who has done a great service for his community and recently retired from his position as carnival director for the Laval figure skating club: René Boucher.

The ice carnival he directed was recognized across Quebec and Canada and enjoys an excellent reputation. The best skaters in the world performed in this ice carnival. Brian Orser, Tracy Wilson, Toller Cranston and Karen Magnussen are but a few of the athletes who have thrilled fans and taken part in this famous ice show at the Laval Coliseum.

Mr. Boucher directed his last show on April 22 and 23, as part of the 40th carnival. I wish to thank those who worked closely with him, as volunteers like him, without whom, as he put it so aptly, there could have been no show.

The Bloc Québécois salutes him and says, “Thank you, Mr. Boucher, for the great job you have done”.

Citizenship and Immigration
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House today to speak against serious discrimination faced by many people who emigrate to Canada. Our country has signed reciprocal agreements with dozens of countries to make qualified new immigrants eligible for old age security immediately when they arrive in Canada.

If an immigrant comes from a country like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or one of the many other countries that have not yet signed reciprocal agreements, they are forced to wait 10 years before becoming eligible for their pensions, even after they become Canadian citizens. This practice is unfair and unjust. Eligibility for old age security should be based on logical criteria, criteria that do not treat people differently based on where they come from.

I plan to introduce a motion in the House next session calling for an end to the discriminatory 10 year waiting period applied to some new Canadians. I hope all hon. members will join me in showing their support.

Automobile Industry
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise in the House today, as the General Motors No. 2 plant in my riding of Oshawa topped the J.D. Power and Associates survey of automotive plants in vehicle quality.

For the second straight year, Oshawa No. 2 has topped this prestigious list, confirming its place as a world leader in the automotive manufacturing industry. It gets better. Not only did the plant win the gold award, Oshawa No. 2's production of the Pontiac Grand Prix was ranked in the same survey as having the highest quality production in the large car segment.

I would like to personally congratulate every assembler and manager at Oshawa No. 2 plant. This is a wonderful accomplishment for all the employees and General Motors and a proud day for Oshawa. I would like all parliamentarians to join me in congratulating every person at Oshawa No. 2 for their hard work and world leading manufacturing.

I thank Oshawa No. 2 for making everyone in Oshawa proud.

Citizenship and Immigration
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada has an estimated 800,000-person backlog in our immigration system and the wait time for citizenship in urban centres is close to a year. Not only is this important for my riding of Richmond, but it is also very important to the rest of Canada.

The previous Liberal government designed a multitude of efficient and effective immigration policies, allocated $700 million over five years to reduce the application inventory, signed a $920 million Canada-Ontario immigration agreement, and invested over $2.4 billion in immigration policies in 2005 alone. It was a government working for Canadians.

The Conservative government has pledged that it would improve Canada's immigration policy, but instead it has cut the $700 million in funding to reduce the backlog, has failed to formally ratify the Canada-Ontario agreement and has failed to allocate funds for the other eight provinces' immigration strategies. Shame.

Atlas of Canada
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I draw the attention of the hon. members of this House to the fact that the Atlas of Canada is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2006.

Over the past 100 years, the Atlas of Canada, which is produced by Natural Resources Canada, has provided snapshots of Canada's society, economy and environment.

The Atlas helps Canadians understand a variety of concepts, issues and decisions set in a geographical context, both locally and nationally.

Since an online edition of the Atlas was launched in 1994, there has been a thousandfold increase in the number of Canadians who have visited the www.atlas.gc.ca website to view maps.

I invite the hon. members of this House to join me in congratulating Natural Resources Canada and the Atlas of Canada staff on this important milestone in the remarkable history of an institution that has been inextricably tied to the advancement of Canada as a nation.