House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the false statements and exaggerations of the Leader of the Opposition do nothing for the Liberal Party's image of being fiscally irresponsible.

I have listened to the comments of the leader of the Liberal Party and his members for the past two weeks. Their only priority for government expenditures is obtaining more money for the Liberal leadership convention in Montreal. This is not the priority of Canadians or of this government.

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the cuts by this minority government show its lack of awareness of social issues and reveal its true nature. We now see the real values of the Conservatives. They have chosen to abandon women, youth, aboriginal peoples, minority groups, and those who fight illiteracy and crime.

Why has the Prime Minister chosen to abandon those Canadians who need their government, when there was no reason to do so?

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, we believe as a government that we have a very important responsibility to ensure that every taxpayer dollar is spent effectively, is spent responsibly and is spent accountably.

The real concern is that the priorities of the previous Liberal government, the previous defeated Liberal minority government, were not being addressed. That is why this government in our budget has chosen to make new investments into health care, new investments into making communities safer, and new investments to ensure that we provide tax relief to seniors on pensions.

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada would be quite a different country without the invaluable contribution of thousands of volunteers.

The minority Conservative government cuts have hit the voluntary and community sector with full force. Obviously the social values of the government are not the same as those of Canadians.

What does the Prime Minister have against those who give of their time and energy to build a better Canada?

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I think all of us would agree that the Government of Canada and all parliamentarians support the good work that volunteers do in our communities, but it is important that we look at the priorities of Canadian families, the priorities of health care, the priorities of ensuring that our communities are safe, the priorities of ensuring that there is really meaningful tax relief for senior citizens and working families throughout this country.

The previous prime minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard said, “Do I think it is possible to make cuts in spending? Yes. Do I intend to make cuts in spending? Yes. Do I believe that we can hold spending as a percentage of GDP? Yes”. Did the Liberals do that? No.

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we had an illustration of the old methods of the “new” government. A $13 billion surplus is going toward the debt, without debate. A billion dollars in cuts will be made to various programs, without debate. In order to save $5.6 million, the government cut the Court Challenges Program of Canada.

Does the Prime Minister realize that this program allowed Franco-Ontarians to challenge in court the decision to close the Montfort hospital? Does he also realize that this very program allows Acadian communities to challenge the closure of their schools and that they will no longer be able to do so in future?

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government intends to behave in a constitutional manner. We do not intend to adopt unconstitutional legislation. We intend to respect the Constitution, including the division of power between the federal government and the provinces. We do not intend to pay Liberal lawyers to challenge unconstitutional laws.

Nonetheless, the decisions we announced yesterday were made according to our budget, which the Bloc Québécois supported.

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the budget was also supported by the two other parties, who were afraid of triggering an election.

That said, the Court Challenges Program of Canada also served the gay and lesbian community to challenge certain measures that infringed upon their rights.

Does the Prime Minister realize that through his ideological persistence he is in the process of considerably reducing access to justice to an entire sector of the population that does not have the means to assume the costs of such challenges?

Does this government think justice is reserved for the very rich?

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, again, this government is not acting in an unconstitutional manner. We do not intend to pay lawyers; we intend to direct the funds in the interest of the taxpayers.

The leader of the Bloc is acting like a defender of francophone minorities in this country. Well, they want a strong Quebec in a united Canada.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the $13 billion surplus includes over $2 billion from the employment insurance fund surplus. It is deeply unfair socially to make Canadians, especially unemployed people who are denied benefits, pay $2 billion of Canada's debt.

Does this unacceptable situation not compel the government to immediately set up an independent employment insurance fund where contributors' money will serve contributors' needs instead of swelling government surpluses?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the hon. member is aware, we have a new procedure in place with a tribunal, with an EI commissioner and actuarial advice that will set new EI rates based on expected claims.

We had a better economy than we expected last year. That is something to celebrate. That is why the rates came down last year. That is why we expect them to come down this year.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the employment insurance fund surplus is enough to make a substantial improvement in the protection of the unemployed.

How can the government refuse to improve employment insurance for the sake of those who need it, when the plan still has a huge surplus, as we saw yesterday?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, when the economy is good, jobs are good. We do not have as many unemployed. We are proud of that.

What we want to do is make sure that going forward we have EI revenues with the claims. We hope those claims are low because then we can reinvest in Canada.

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has a $13 billion surplus and it cut funding for literacy; $2 billion for fighter jets in Afghanistan and it cut funding for women's programs; over $1 billion going to its friends in the big oil and gas companies and what does it do, it cuts funding for aboriginals and young people. Total arrogance, no consultation, no debate.

Does the Prime Minister believe that with these record surpluses, the ordinary Canadians who benefit from these programs are merely fat to be trimmed?

Government Programs
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, despite all the hot air down there, the reality is that the new spending that this government has introduced in all of those areas far dwarfs any reductions the government made yesterday. The fact of the matter is we have made sure that we are spending money effectively to benefit these groups and that the money of the taxpayers is used properly.