House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 40th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economic.

Topics

Appointment of Chair
Committees of the Whole

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Before we proceed with orders of the day I have an important matter to deal with.

After my election as Speaker, I consulted the leaders of the recognized parties about the appointment of the other chair occupants. I am prepared to propose for the ratification of the House a candidate for the position of Deputy Speaker of the House and Chair of Committees of the Whole.

Pursuant to Standing Order 7, I propose Mr. Andrew Scheer for the position of Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole.

This motion is deemed moved and seconded.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Appointment of Chair
Committees of the Whole

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Appointment of Chair
Committees of the Whole

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Appointment of Deputy Chair
Committees of the Whole

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to propose for the ratification of the House a candidate for the position of Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.

Pursuant to Standing Order 8, I propose Ms. Denise Savoie for the position of Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.

The motion is deemed moved and seconded.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Appointment of Deputy Chair
Committees of the Whole

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Appointment of Deputy Chair
Committees of the Whole

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Appointment of Assistant Deputy Chair
Committees of the Whole

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to propose for the ratification of the House a candidate for the position of Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.

Pursuant to Standing Order 8, I propose Mr. Barry Devolin for the position of Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.

This motion is deemed moved and seconded. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Appointment of Assistant Deputy Chair
Committees of the Whole

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Appointment of Assistant Deputy Chair
Committees of the Whole

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Appointment of Assistant Deputy Chair
Committees of the Whole

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank all hon. members for their assistance in this matter.

Before debate resumes I see one of my colleagues is here. I congratulate him on his election to the post of Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole and I wish the other two the very best on this happy occasion.

The House resumed from November 20 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate you warmly on your re-election as Speaker in this House, and would like to inform you that I will share my time with my newly elected colleague from Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher.

First of all, I would like to sincerely and warmly thank all of the voters of the riding of Verchères—Les Patriotes for the great honour they have bestowed upon me by allowing me to represent them once again in this chamber. I would also like to thank all of the volunteers from the bottom of my heart. Some of them worked on my re-election—with Lise Lavoie running the team of volunteers and Robert Laurent acting as official agent—but other volunteers stood up for ideas and proposals for each of the political parties that ran in Verchères—Les Patriotes and throughout Quebec.

And now let us turn to the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. We had great expectations for this speech. Analysts, citizens, commentators and journalists all said that the Speech from the Throne would focus on the economy. Our retirees are worried when they see their RRSPs shrinking because of the economic crisis and the financial meltdown in full swing on all of the world's stock markets. Our workers are wondering if they will still have work in a few weeks or months and if the work stoppages, which are currently temporary, will continue much longer. We expected the Speech from the Throne to discuss this. But the Governor General was very vague and very unclear when it came to economic issues. The reality is that anything related to social measures, anything that brings to mind the administration that was ousted on the other side of the border on November 4, and anything that reminds us of the presidency that is coming to an end there, that is all still in the Speech from the Throne. The government is still singing the same tune.

The reality is that the Speech from the Throne mirrors the Conservative Party's election platform, a platform which, I should remind the House, was overwhelmingly rejected in Quebec. Ironically, on page 15 of the throne speech, we read, “Parliament is Canada’s most important national institution. It is the only forum in which all Canadians, through their elected representatives, have a voice in the governance of the nation.”

Those words are ironic because the throne speech does not contain any proposals put forward by all the political parties represented here in the House, and it certainly does not represent the values and interests that are important to Quebeckers. The Conservatives decided to pursue the same path they did during the last Parliament, remaining fixated on their dogmatic positions and their own guiding principles. In fact, common sense, the common good and shared values do not really have a place in those principles. Basically, the law of numbers—and remember, the Conservatives have a minority—does not count. We saw this in the last Parliament. The House voted to adopt the Kyoto protocol. The Senate voted to adopt it and royal assent was given to ensure it was respected and enforced in Canada. This government ignored that fact, and I have a feeling that what it says on page 15 of the Speech from the Throne is nothing more than empty rhetoric to impress certain people who are not aware of what happened here.

In contrast—and this has always been our way of thinking, since 1993—the Bloc Québécois evaluates policies issue by issue and suggests practical, effective solutions for the government to implement. We hoped they would listen to us.

The Bloc Québécois is a sovereignist party, a party whose mission is to prove unequivocally to Quebeckers that the only way for Quebec to develop and reach its full potential in a way that honours its values and promotes its national interests is for it to become an independent nation. Nevertheless, the Bloc Québécois respects the institutions and the democratic process established in this House. Out of respect for the majority mandate we received from Quebeckers, we have proposed a sub-amendment to the Speech from the Throne.

Today is Friday, and as the meeting begins, I would like to read it to you. We proposed that the following be added:

that the House recognize that the Speech from the Throne is unanimously decried in Quebec because it reflects a Conservative ideology that was rejected by 78 per cent of the Quebec nation on October 14 and that as a result the House denounce the fact that it does not respond to the consensus in Quebec respecting, for instance, the legislation on young offenders, the repatriation to Quebec of powers over culture and communications, the elimination of the federal spending power and the maintenance of the existing system of securities regulation.

That being said, allow me to now put on my hat as Bloc Québécois health critic to review what the throne speech had to say about health.

Since it was first elected in 2006, this government has been saying that it respects the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. On page 13 of the throne speech, it says that the government will take creative measures to tackle major heart, lung and neurological diseases. That kind of activity falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. Do I need to point out that Quebec and the provinces are responsible for health care? I will keep pointing it out in committee and in the House as long as I am here. Quebec and the provinces are perfectly capable of setting up programs that support our citizens' health and wellness. The federal government's job is to enable Quebec and the provinces to discharge that responsibility properly through social transfers.

The throne speech also implies that the government will once again introduce the Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act. I would remind the government that there is still a great deal of work to do on this. Many witnesses were ready to appear before the committee when the government decided, of its own volition—because the Prime Minister felt like it—to call an election. Before the election call, individuals and interest groups were ready to testify before the committee. Of course, we still have some reservations, as I mentioned in my speech in June.

Progressive licensing, the government's proposed registration process and the whole issue of inspectors and inspections will have to be reviewed and clarified.

In the bill he introduced in the last parliament, the minister gave himself a great deal of discretionary power. I believe that there will need to be some clarification as to what he intends to do with that discretionary power.

The throne speech also addresses the Consumer Product Safety Act. During the holiday season, consumers buy many products with no way of knowing whether they are safe. Just a few days ago, RCMP teddy bears were recalled because of lead in their belts. As long ago as 2006, the Auditor General said there were problems. The government dragged its feet and did not introduce Bill C-52 until April 2008. We were prepared to examine it in committee. Once again, though, the Prime Minister decided to put an end to all that and call an election, leaving consumers in limbo.

Rather than taking up his responsibilities in this chamber and making progress on the issues, he decided to put his ego first.

I would also like to have spoken about the listeriosis crisis but, given that my time is up, we must simply remember that we need inspectors in every plant and we should not rely on self-regulation. I believe that the government wants to cut inspections and that is not the way to go.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to wish you and all my colleagues a good session.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I am on my feet in the House since the election, so I want to thank the good people of Ottawa Centre for having their trust in me and sending me back to the House of Commons to work on their behalf.

We heard from the government in its Speech from the Throne. We heard from a member of the Bloc today about some of the concerns Canadians have about the economy, about their priorities and essentially what government can do. One of the troubling aspects is that on the one hand the government is saying it is going to provide stronger regulation on things like food safety and health products, which is what Canadians want, yet on the other hand it is going to freeze programs. We hear today that there are in fact fewer people working in the public service now than there were a couple of years ago.

What are the member's views on a government that says it wants to provide stronger regulations for Canadians, but has fewer people in the public service to do it?

We have seen in the last five years an explosion in the federal government's hiring of temporary help agencies to do the work that public servants should do, which is more expensive. This cost has risen from $100 million in the national capital region six years ago to almost $300 million.

I would like his impression about how the government is going to provide better regulation to Canadians, yet it is going to freeze job hiring and likely cut jobs or not fill jobs.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Ottawa region for his question. It ties in with what I wanted to say about the listeriosis crisis. In the throne speech, the government told us that it wants an independent inquiry to get to the bottom of things.

As the NDP member was saying, we should bear in mind that the government intends to cut staff at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In the listeriosis crisis, self-regulation was a factor at the company in question. Rather than assuming the role of regulator and assessing the quality of what is on the market, the government has decided to make cuts to what is in my mind its most important responsibility—ensuring that products coming onto our markets are of good quality and are safe.

There is a discrepancy between what is said and what is actually done. We have heard it said that the government does not walk the talk. That is often the case with this government, which proposes one thing and does the opposite.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Verchères—Les Patriotes on his appointment as health critic. He will be an excellent critic.

I know that my colleague could have gone on about the flaws in this throne speech, in particular, the fact that it did not provide for the reinstatement of cultural programs. Yesterday, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages even admitted that yes, he had taken money, and cut cultural programs to give money to the Olympic torch relay program, once again, at the expense of Quebec culture.

I would like to hear what my colleague thinks about this.