House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

7:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, DASH-L, the operator of the Saint-Hubert de Longueuil airport, is promoting a major partnership project with Pratt & Whitney Canada, which will require public funding in order to proceed.

The plan is to redevelop the current landing strip in order to allow Pratt & Whitney to continue its flight testing with a new higher-performance engine and therefore new heavier planes, since the focus of Pratt & Whitney's research and development is on larger turbine engines.

Pratt & Whitney is currently at a crossroads: either the company moves its flight testing abroad, to a factory that already has all the airport facilities to accommodate its activities; or it concentrates its flight testing in Saint-Hubert, where it is nonetheless essential to proceed with major improvements; restoration, widening and lengthening of the main runway, upgrading the tarmac and building a hangar and terminal.

In light of its affordable operating cost, Saint-Hubert is the preferred location. Pratt & Whitney's deadline is May 2007.

These new facilities and this new economic activity by Pratt & Whitney—in fact, it is not new activity, but renewed activity since Pratt & Whitney already has facilities at the Saint-Hubert airport, currently employing several hundred people—would have a very significant economic impact on the south shore of Montreal.

Partner investments would be in the range of $25 million from the City of Longueuil for work related to infrastructure, $130 million from Pratt & Whitney Canada, $27 million from a Saint-Hubert consortium made up of DEV-YHU/DASH-L and other investors, $18 million from the Government of Quebec, and $70 million from the Government of Canada, and that is what we have been asking for from the federal government for some time.

Of course, all the other investors, besides the Government of Canada, are waiting only for Ottawa's commitment before the project can get started. Additionally, other subcontractors, which I have not mentioned, and other financial stakeholders are also looking into how they can become involved in this project.

It is clear the that Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec has an envelope of only $220 million to allocate in total, to this project as well as all the other requests for funding that are coming in from across the country.

Furthermore, another program, the infrastructure program under the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, is not ideal to carry out an airport development project because an airport clearly falls under federal jurisdiction, while the Bloc Québécois has always believed that it should be the Quebec government that decides how money from that program will be allocated.

I also know that the airport capital assistance program, ACAP, cannot cover the full cost. There is only $38 million in this fund for this year and the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities recently announced that $33 million has already been paid out to 28 different airports.

And yet, this is the program that the Conservative government should use to provide the funding to help this outstanding project, which has no equal in Quebec or Canada. I must say that I would not be able to understand it if the government did not wish this project to proceed.

The runway has to be rebuilt, in any case. It must be restored because the subgrade is not solid enough to support the weight of larger aircraft. It will take years. It is an exceptional aeronautical project. There are many investors, including Pratt & Whitney, which has committed $130 million. The economic spinoffs are estimated at $200 million in the first year. The annual recurring investment by Pratt & Whitney Canada will be about $28.5 million.

7:30 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity to address this question.

I confirm that on March 22, 2007 the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities did meet with representatives of the City of Longueuil, the City of Longueuil Saint Hubert Airport Development Corporation, DASH-L, and indeed Pratt & Whitney that presented a proposal for the runway enlargement and expansion, as well as other improvements for the Saint Hubert Airport.

The planned investments are in the order of $140 million, as has been confirmed by my colleague, which includes rebuilding and enlarging the main runways and increasing the bearing capacity. The proposal also includes construction of an air terminal and a hangar for Pratt & Whitney aircraft.

In 2004 when the airport was transferred, Transport Canada allocated $3.2 million to cover the operating deficit and the cost of major maintenance projects.

The Saint Hubert Airport has met the eligibility criteria under the airports capital assistance program since June 2006. The purpose of ACAP is to assist eligible applicants in financing capital projects related to first, safety; second, asset protection; and third, operation cost reduction.

Eligible projects must meet the following evaluation criteria. They must be essential to maintain or improve safety, protect the asset, or significantly reduce operating costs. They must meet acceptable engineering practices. They must be justified on the basis of current demand. Projects which result in an expansion of the facilities will only be considered where it is demonstrated that the current facilities negatively impact safety.

The funding available under ACAP is $190 million from April 2005 to March 2010, or an average of $38 million per year. Because of the limited budget envelope for this program, projects submitted for funding are prioritized on an annual basis.

There is a large demand for these projects from all across the country. That is why we have to be fair. Priority for funding is established on the basis of first, safety related airside projects; second, for heavy airside mobile equipment; third, for air terminal building ground side safety related projects; and fourth, asset protection, refurbishing, refilling, relifting or operating cost reduction projects.

In this context it is currently impossible for Transport Canada to fund under ACAP the entire project submitted by Pratt & Whitney and the City of Longueuil. The purpose of ACAP is to improve the safety and security of our regional airport facilities for Canadians and travellers. Economic projects are not eligible.

The member may rest assured that our department will carefully review all eligible components of this project and refer to other components that the member has spoken about to other departments and/or programs which may make them eligible. Let me reassure the member that there is high demand for these funds. We have to be fair to all Canadians across Canada from coast to coast to coast.

7:30 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would say that the parliamentary secretary provided an intelligent answer to my questions. However, the main question, and the key point is as follows: does this government truly have the political will to see this project go ahead and to help it go ahead?

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. I can assure the member that this is a very important project, as are all development projects of this nature. This in particular helps the greater Montreal area and as such, the government would assess such a request as part of other funding arrangements that can be made. We are hopeful that the project will go ahead and she will be successful in that.

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this House this evening on behalf of my constituents of Don Valley East and debate on one of the most pressing issues facing the planet today, global warming and climate change.

A short time ago during question period I asked the environment minister if the federal government had a plan to develop a competitive and truly global marketplace for carbon emissions. I asked this question because Canadians and Canada committed to such a trading system when it signed the Kyoto protocol in order to reduce our country's greenhouse gas emissions.

Canadians are well aware, however, that when the current Prime Minister was the leader of the Canadian Alliance party, he publicly scoffed at the Kyoto agreement by calling it “a socialist plot to suck money out of developed countries”. It is therefore difficult to accept the Prime Minister's sudden conversion to the environment, especially when his clean air act was soundly rejected by Canadians when it was first introduced last fall and he was eventually forced to fire his environment minister.

Since that time, the clean air act was sent to a special all-party committee to develop a bill that would at least partially meet our international obligations under the Kyoto protocol.

Although all members in this minority Parliament have committed to work together for the benefit of Canadians, the Conservatives have thus far refused to reintroduce the bill as amended by opposition parties. In fact we are hearing rumblings from the environment minister that the bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gases is dead in the water. If so, the Conservatives risk being caught on the wrong side of history, science, and most of all, the wrong side of Canadian businesses.

Despite the doomsday prediction by the environment minister, many businesses see a great deal of profit in going green. In fact the head of the Toronto Stock Exchange, Mr. Richard Nesbitt, recently informed the government that the TSX would welcome a competitive global marketplace environment for emissions trading. According to Mr. Nesbitt:

TSX is in a unique position to work with Canadian companies to offer trading solutions for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

He went on to say:

TSX believes that the market-based mechanisms can significantly help society achieve its emissions reduction goals through more efficient resource allocation....TSX can support absolute caps or intensity-based caps, with or without sector-based adjustments....TSX can support markets that are domestic-only or those that are linked within North America or globally.

Certainly with that kind of support from the private sector, plus the overwhelming support from the general public, why on earth is the Conservative government not taking action on global warming?

I am aware that the parliamentary secretary will have some notes prepared after the minister's speech was accidentally leaked last night, but aside from spin control, perhaps the hon. member could answer one simple question. Will the government take up the offer from the head of the Toronto Stock Exchange to create a truly global marketplace for emissions trading?

7:35 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate every opportunity I have to share with the House and with Canadians the incredible job this government is now doing on the environmental file, and I look forward to answering the member's question.

Tomorrow our government will release the details of our short term regulatory targets for greenhouse emissions and air pollutants. These targets will drive real action on climate change and air pollution. We will see emission reduction projects in Canada, including the deployment of innovative cutting edge Canadian environmental technologies. This will result in the emergence of a green economy in Canada and will allow us to export our experience and technology around the world.

We believe Canada needs to turn the corner on our greenhouse gas emissions. We need to do a U-turn because of 13 years of inaction and empty promises by the previous Liberal government. Canada has been going the wrong way on the environment.

In the October notice of intent the government indicated that we would explore emission trading systems as part of the regulatory framework for both air pollutants and greenhouse gases.

There is certainly much interest among the various exchanges across Canada in emissions trading, including Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg. For the details of the plan, I encourage the hon. member for Don Valley East and all members of the House to wait for the announcement tomorrow to hear all the good news about our plan on the environment.

Our government has already taken many steps to combat climate change. We are providing financial and tax incentives to encourage Canadians to buy and drive eco-friendly vehicles. We are supporting the growth of renewable energy sources such as wind and tidal power. We are providing incentives to Canadians to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Through budget 2007, we are investing $4.5 billion to clean Canada's air and water, to manage chemical substances, to protect our natural environment and to reduce Canada's emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants. This investment, when combined with over $4.7 billion in the previous investments, adds up to over $9 billion that is being invested in the environment.

We are excited about our plan to turn the corner for real greenhouse gas reductions across Canada. Our government is already taking action. The Liberals failed, but we will get the job done.

7:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I asked a very simple question, which would have been of interest to the business community in Canada and to all Canadians. I simply asked if the Conservative government had a plan that would meet the Kyoto targets in conjunction and with the cooperation of the companies belonging to the Toronto Stock Exchange. All I heard was nothing but the repetition of the minister's diatribe.

Yesterday, the Conservative voted on the absolute reduction as provided by the Kyoto protocol. How can Canadians take them seriously when they keep on flip-flopping every time?

The fact is the Liberal Party is way ahead of the government and has already published a plan. Let me ask the question another way.

After pledging to work with the opposition parties to make this minority government work for Canadians, when will the Conservative government reintroduce the newly amended clean air and climate change act?

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is taking real action on climate change and clean air. As I stated, we will be the first Canadian government to introduce national regulations on greenhouse gases and air pollutants. The short term targets, that is, the targets that will come into force during the 2010 to 2015 timeframe, will be included in the regulatory framework to be officially released tomorrow.

As the government indicated in the notice of intent, we are exploring self-supporting market mechanisms such as domestic emissions trading systems for both air pollutants and greenhouse gases as part of the regulatory framework.

Where the Liberal Party did not get it done, we are getting it done.

7:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, in true testimony to the innocence of Dr. Cheryl Everall and Ms. Kimberley Kim, they trusted in the Canadian government to act in their defence. This for a full eight months before coming to me for help.

They had been suffering horribly with malicious accusations in the Mexican media, all the while believing that the Minister of Foreign Affairs was being active in clearing their names.

After meeting with the minister last fall, they truly felt his reassurances were sincere. Can members imagine their despair and disillusionment when they discovered that absolutely nothing had been done to help them?

In a series of documented evidence, I have step-by-step undertaken to ask the questions the minister has failed to even attempt. These are clear and would be what each and every one of us would expect from a government whose duty is to care and protect its citizens.

I ask everyone watching this telecast or reading this in print: “Do you not expect your government to go to bat for you with sincerity and using the full weight of the law especially if you are falsely accused in a foreign country?”

These women are innocent. So, I ask very clearly: Why have their names not been cleared?

Why has the Prime Minister not spoken in their defence to counterbalance the Mexican president's accusations? Why has the minister not verified their innocence? Why has the minister not ensured their names are removed from any international watch list? Why does the minister have to be subpoenaed to appear as a witness at the foreign affairs committee?

These innocent victims came to me for help. One would think the minister would have told them that the government would do everything possible to help. Canadians need the reassurance the government will protect the innocent.

Why must these women continue to be forced to live in fear and uncertainty? Why will the minister not tell Canadians that a priority for him is to help the innocent?

7:45 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, this case has been a priority for the Government of Canada since the Ianieros' brutal murders in February 2006.

On March 3, the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke to Anthony Ianiero to offer his condolences and to reassure the Ianiero family that we would continue to monitor developments closely. We have kept that promise.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade has also spoken to Anthony Ianiero on three different occasions and has reassured him that this case continues to be a priority.

The foreign affairs minister met with Ms. Everall and Ms. Kim in December 2006 to hear their concerns. These concerns included issuing a travel warning for the Mayan Riviera region of Mexico. I can assure the hon. member that our travel reports, including our report concerning Mexico, are reviewed regularly to provide Canadians with the most current and accurate advice to ensure safe and secure travel.

Ms. Everall and Ms. Kim have also asked the minister for his assistance in clearing their names. The minister reassured them at that time, and I can assure the member again today, that we have not been made aware of any arrest warrants issued by the Mexican authorities for either Ms. Everall or Ms. Kim.

As the hon. member knows, we cannot control what the media chooses to report, nor can we control statements by foreign authorities. It would be inappropriate for the Government of Canada to comment on any ongoing police investigation, particularly one that is not in our jurisdiction.

We do not take crimes against Canadians lightly whenever they occur, but Canada cannot investigate these crimes abroad. Investigations must be done by the responsible local authority.

In the Ianieros' case, the Mexican authorities did request technical assistance from the RCMP and this assistance is being provided. That being said, this request for assistance does not give the Canadian government the right to intervene in that investigation.

The Prime Minister and senior officials have on many occasions raised this case with the most senior levels of the Mexican government, including the Mexican president. We have reiterated that we expect a full, thorough and fair investigation, and we have received those assurances from the same Mexican authorities.

If there are no charges laid against Ms. Kim and Ms. Everall, there should be no reason for their names to appear on a no fly list of any country.

7:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, if that were so, then the minister should announce in this House that they are no longer prime suspects in Mexico and that they are truly innocent.

How seriously can Canadians take the response when the parliamentary secretary does not even have an office in the Department of Foreign Affairs?

When we asked the parliamentary secretary to list the accomplishments, these women still remain prime suspects and the facts confirm that there has been no follow-up from the minister's office since December. If they are not on a no fly list or a watch list, why has nothing been told to them in the past year?

The hon. member mentioned that Mr. Ianiero was contacted. The record will show very clearly that he was only contacted the day before W-FIVE aired its show.

So, when I ask what has been done, I ask very specifically: What questions were asked of the Mexican government; what pressure has been put on it; and who was approached and talked to? This is what these innocent women need to know and what has to be clarified.

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, as I have stated in my speech, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State have all contacted the Mexican authorities, including the Mexican president, who have assured us they are investigating this case according to their laws.

As no arrest warrants have been issued for these ladies, there is nothing we can do. We cannot control whatever speculation is in the media. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor this situation. Should anything occur or if they are charged, we will then stand up to ensure they are protected under Canadian law.

I want to reassure the member, again, that they have not been charged. We have taken this matter to the highest authorities, including the president of Mexico.

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:50 p.m.)