House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was scotia.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, let us go through a short history of the Conservative Party for my hon. colleague.

Yesterday in Porters Lake, Nova Scotia, there was a class action suit against the Government of Canada regarding SISIP, a program that was part of the veterans first motion moved by the NDP and passed by the Parliament of Canada. When the Prime Minister was in opposition, he said that when motions are passed by the House, the government should honour them. We saw nothing for that veterans first motion in this budget, so now we have put forth a $290 million fix that would correct the problem of over 4,000 injured soldiers in this country.

Yesterday we saw the lowest of the low, with the Prime Minister accusing a party and its members of supporting an enemy over our own soldiers. That was disgraceful. He should apologize to all members in the House for that.

I say to the Government of Canada that it is one thing to say it stands up for the troops, and that is a good thing to do, but it has to support them when they take off their uniforms. When it comes to SISIP disabilities, these 4,000 members and their families are undergoing great financial suffering. For less than 2% of the budget surplus, the government could have fixed that problem once and for all, but now these people have to take the government to court. I would like my hon. friend from Cape Breton to comment on that, please.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way and I are going to end up having some kind of a complex here, because it seems that anything we have championed the government has turned its back on. Certainly veterans are one group that has been left out in the cold in this.

The people of Nova Scotia are getting short shrift in this budget. Another item that my colleague and I have worked on is small craft harbours. This House unanimously supported a reinvestment of $35 million, which is nowhere to be found in the budget. I guess the only advice is that we should split company and try some different committee work.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have a chance to speak to this motion and to try to live up to the performance of my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso.

I want to congratulate my other colleague, the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, for bringing this forward. I particularly want to congratulate my colleague from Halifax West, who was the regional minister in Nova Scotia and who negotiated the Atlantic accord along with Premier Hamm and with the former prime minister of Canada and our former finance minister.

If I may, I would like to preface my comments with a thought. As MPs, most of us come to this place with what I think are the best of intentions. We come here to represent our constituents. We also come here to act in a respectful and honourable manner, but every day at about 2:15 that kind of goes out the window, except on Fridays. Outside of question period, we get along. We travel together. We discuss issues. That is the way it should be.

Every now and then things go beyond question period, and November 4, 2004, was one of those days, when the motion brought forward as an opposition day motion was prefaced by this statement: “That this House deplore the attitude of the Prime Minister of Canada at and following the First Ministers' Conference...”. It was a motion designed so that Liberals could not support it, even though at that very moment we were negotiating the Atlantic accord, which came into being about a month later and was enacted a month after that.

On those occasions, we had allegations. We had charges. As Liberal MPs, we were pilloried for no reason except politics. That is shameful, because at that time the prime minister, with the member for Wascana, then the minister of finance, and the member for Halifax West, who was then the minister of fisheries and oceans, and Dr. John Hamm, the premier of Nova Scotia, a good and decent man who represented his province well, were negotiating the Atlantic accord. We had worked on it for a long time.

Whenever I saw the member for Wascana anywhere in the parliamentary precinct, and I am not alone in this, he would tell me they were working on it and it was not easy. I know it was not easy. We knew that other provinces might say it was not fair. But when it came forward and the Atlantic accord was produced, not only was it adopted by the prime minister, the finance minister and the members from the Atlantic caucus, but I am proud to say that my Liberal colleagues from other provinces, where this accord was attacked, stood with us and voted for the Atlantic accord. It was difficult. It was not easy, but it got done.

Today I stand here with my colleagues to talk about this motion that we have put forward. From my friends on this side we have heard about comments made on that day, November 4, that have backfired on Conservative MPs. We have heard the comments of Danny Williams. We have heard from Rodney MacDonald. We have heard from the premier of Saskatchewan.

I am not going to give members a lot of quotes from other politicians. I want to give members some sense of what the media are saying in Nova Scotia, because they are very unbiased. In fact, most of them in Nova Scotia are not particularly friendly to Liberals.

However, here are some headlines we had the day after the budget: One was that the Prime Minister “wants to keep Nova Scotia a have-not” province.

Another one was, “We need a fighter”, and as well, this article by David Rodenhiser states:

Nova Scotians are left asking themselves: Who's standing up for us?

Right now, the answer is no one.

Certainly not our federal cabinet minister...who's defending Ottawa rather than Nova Scotia on this.

Rodenhiser says that not even the premier is defending Nova Scotia and “is content to pursue process rather than take action”. And that was after the premier had taken some action, at least moderate action, to indicate his displeasure.

Here is another headline: “Note to Rodney: [the Prime Minister] played you big time” In the text of this article, “Message to Rodney”, Marilla Stephenson writes:

[The Prime Minister] has played you like a fiddle.

If any theme rang through the Harper budget...it was that the have-nots are to remain...have-nots.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. I will remind the hon. member that when quoting news articles or other documents, we do not use each other's proper names but ridings or titles, please.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Here is another comment:

They think we're fools, apparently. But we are only the have-nots. We don't carry our weight, and we don't pay our own way. Most of all, we have only a few federal seats.

In the big picture, we don't count for much.

Here is another headline: “Federal Conservatives shaft province, once again”.

There is a good one today: “Purves turns on federal Tories”. Jane Purves was the chief of staff to Dr. Hamm, who helped negotiate the Atlantic accord, and who, it was announced to much fanfare a week or so ago, was going to run for the Conservatives in Halifax. She has taken a look at the budget and she is thinking twice.

Jane Purves is an honourable woman. She may decide to run for the Conservative Party, but she is having second thoughts and is saying, “ I think that whether it's understandable or not from a national point of view, I think it puts the province in a really difficult position to choose between the offshore accords and a different equalization formula”.

Here is a good one: “Atlantic Tories running for cover”. I cannot mention their names. This article is by Stephen Maher. It states, “There were signs East Coast Tories were not enjoying the situation”. One of them, who I will not mention, “whom some expect to retire rather than face the wrath of Mr. Williams in the coming election, did not comment...”.

Another statement is that a member who is normally among the most vocal MPs on the Hill “was not available for comment”. Another one “did comment, but not until his office first said he was unavailable”. Then, says the writer, “he struggled to defend the new equalization deal”.

It was not a good day for Atlantic Canadian Conservatives.

Here is another: “Harper stoops to conquer--

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I will remind my colleague again to use riding names or titles.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

I did in most cases, Mr. Speaker, but I missed a couple.

The article was headlined, “[The Prime Minister] stoops to conquer” and stated:

Jeering from the sidelines were the budget's unlucky trio of obvious losers: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan. All are now victims of a calculated insult--the effective federal clawback of resource revenues under the new equalization scheme.

It is not just Liberals and New Democrats who are saying that this is a bad deal for Atlantic Canadians. It is everybody in Atlantic Canada, with the exception of a few Conservative MPs. We have seen hints coming. In the last budget document, the Atlantic accord was questioned. It is stated in this document that:

The February 2005 agreements to provide Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador additional fiscal Equalization...were widely criticized as undermining the principles on which...Equalization...is based.

We saw quotes from the Minister of Finance earlier this year, in fact, from Corner Brook on March 8. Corner Brook is a great part of Newfoundland and Labrador, with great representation. The Minister of Finance told reporters, “I can say, as the Prime Minister has said, that we will respect the Atlantic Accords”.

Another Conservative member from Newfoundland said that the Atlantic accord will not be adjusted. Will not be adjusted? The member said that it is written in stone, it is signed, sealed and delivered, and that this is something that the province need not have any fear of. Clearly that is not the case.

Today we heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance suggesting that the Atlantic accords were gerrymandered and that previous fiscal arrangements were disjointed and knee-jerk. I can tell the House that in Atlantic Canada no one thinks the Atlantic accords were disjointed and knee-jerk.

We have some good guys representing the Conservative Party in Nova Scotia. I like most of them. The member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley is a good person. He is a little too far left of his current crew and I think he has been marginalized. He would not tell us that, but I think he feels that way. He does not have any say in this sort of stuff. He got hammered with this.

The member for South Shore—St. Margaret's is married to a cabinet minister in the Rodney MacDonald government, the government that slammed the deals. How did that conversation go Monday night? I have to wonder.

These guys know that they have been betrayed by a government that does not care about Atlantic Canada because we do not have enough seats.

Today, an article in the Globe and Mail has the headline “Budget bashers displaying regional jealousy, says [the Prime Minister]”, suggesting that those who do not like the budget have a regional jealousy, but that is what we are elected to have. We get elected to come here to represent our people. We do not come to Ottawa to bring the message back to the people. We get elected to Ottawa to bring the message here from the people. That is what we are supposed to be doing here. That is our job.

The people of Nova Scotia expect their MPs to represent them here in Ottawa. In the last election, we were bombarded with Conservative ads. Members may recall them. For example, there was a sign and a car going by honking the horn twice, with a beep, beep, meaning “Stand up for Canada”.

That horn is sounding again and the people back home are saying to the MPs from Nova Scotia, “Honk, honk. Stand up for Nova Scotia”. And they should do that.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the member knows very well that we, as a government, honoured the Atlantic accord. He knows that we kept our promise and that we delivered to the people of Atlantic Canada for all the provinces.

What the member is really trying to do is distract from the Liberal Party's hidden agenda. His party would take away the $1,200 choice in child care allowance. His party would raise taxes on families with kids, by taking away these new tax credits we have brought in for young families. His party would put back in the marriage penalty. His party would raise the GST to 7% from 6%. His party would roll back all the efforts we have undertaken to get tough on crime. His party stands foursquare against the middle class working families that work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules. His party is against all those middle class families that we on this side have fought to defend. He is trying to distract from that fact by making up stories and fantasies regarding the Atlantic accord.

The member knows full well that we have kept our word. The Conservative Party has delivered.

We have delivered on our promises.

We have delivered for Canadians right across the country and that member is trying to distract. He does not want people to know the real agenda of the Liberal Party, which is full scale attack against middle class families.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is pretty rich. The member can divert one time, as he tried to do with the member for Cape Breton—Canso who then snookered him. However, to go twice in a row and try to change the subject is something else. The reason is he does not know the difference between the Atlantic accord and a Honda Accord. He does not know what this whole thing is about.

He says that we have a hidden agenda and he thinks he knows what we stand for. I will tell him what we stand for. The Liberal Party stands for aboriginal Canadians. We stand for investing in students, in literacy, in the environment, in child care, in Canadians, not only the Canadians who we expect will vote for us, but all Canadians. That is what a good government does. That is what we did. That is what the Conservatives do not do.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member if he thinks things have changed for Canada and for Atlantic Canada? When I was young, there were heroes for Atlantic Canada in this place, Allan J. MacEachen, Roméo LeBlanc, and they led.

The chief minister who represents this region does not seem to hear the editorials. He does not seem to hear the rancour, the disappointment and the frustration that Atlantic Canadians have with the government.

The Prime Minister said that we had a culture of defeat in Atlantic Canada. He still believes it.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the most amazing thing about the budget is this. Even though Canadians were betrayed, even though they were lied to, even though Atlantic Canadians were let down, even though their commitments were broken, most of them were not that surprised. There is a history to which the member referred.

People do not have high expectations of the Conservative government in Atlantic Canada, but that does not give it a reason to let them down even further.

The initiatives we put forward when we were on that side of the House, when the Liberals governed the country, took care of Canadians, especially Canadians who needed help. Even when we were fixing the mess the Conservative Party left, we never forgot the people in need. We brought in the child tax benefit. When the Liberal Party lowered taxes, we did it for the lowest income Canadians.

The Liberal government reduced taxes to 15%. The Conservatives brought taxes back up. They did not have the sense to bring them down in this budget to help all Canadians.

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to correct a small error I made this morning when I said the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley had a phobia of the media and was not talking about this. Apparently the media did find him yesterday, and I apologize for that error. I learned, after my speech this morning, that he had talked to the Chronicle Herald yesterday.

It reports this morning that he spoke up in defence of an equalization plan. He said, “ the important thing is that Nova Scotia can choose to keep the accord or opt into the new equalization system”.

That is not what we agreed to when we signed the accord. The members on that side of the House obviously do not understand the accord. It is not about changing equalization; it is about changing the agreement related to offshore royalties. It is about saying that, as agreed originally, these two provinces get to have the primary benefit of their offshore resources. Members over there do not get it. It is like my hon. colleague says, they do not know the difference between the offshore accords and a Honda Accord.

Would my hon. colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who has been very effective on this issue, comment on that?

Opposition Motion--Equalization
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right. I do not know if he has ever build a Honda Accord, but he was one of the architects of the Atlantic accord, along with the Liberal prime minister, our finance minister, Dr. Hamm, Jane Purves and those folks back home, who worked hard on this.

The Liberals brought in the offshore accords so they could be on top of equalization, not instead of equalization. When we enriched equalization, as we did in government, Nova Scotia got more money and kept the Atlantic accords. It was not one or the other. It was not a Faustian choice. It was a sensible choice for a region of the country that deserves better.

Firefighters
Statements By Members

March 22nd, 2007 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Norman Doyle St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the recent federal budget meets a long-standing request from Canadian firefighters. In particular, the budget approved $500,000 per year to assist firefighters in implementing a hazardous material training program.

Since coming to Parliament 10 years ago, I have met with many firefighters from my riding and with representatives of their local and national organizations. These meetings have always focused on ways that the federal government could positively impact the work and the daily lives of Canadian firefighters.

Dealing with fires that contain toxic substances is becoming more and more an occupational hazard, so it is important to set up and maintain a training program in this area. Hopefully, this $500,000 annual commitment will provide for better trained firefighters and help protect the public from the hazardous materials that are all too much a part of our modern world.

Tuberculosis Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support of Tuberculosis Day.

TB is a disease that kills close to two million people annually. Those with HIV-AIDS are a hundred times more susceptible. TB can be cured for a mere $20. If fully funded and implemented, the TB global plan provides a blueprint for treating 50 million people and saving 14 million lives by the year 2015.

Recently I was in Kenya, where I saw TB's devastating impact first-hand. I visited hospitals and saw TB casualties, the sick and the dying lying head to toe, two to a bed, in overcrowded wards. However, it does not have to be this way. We know that we can cure TB.

Although TB is primarily a disease of poverty, it exists even in the wealthiest of countries, including Canada. Global mobilization is crucial.

The theme of this year's TB Day is “TB anywhere is TB everywhere”. It is time--