House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in this spirit of consensus seeking, could the Prime Minister clarify the government’s position in regard to 2011 after the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons was so confused about it yesterday?

Is 2011 a firm date or deadline that will be communicated clearly to our allies and the Afghan government so that they can plan accordingly? Or is 2011 simply an opportunity to prolong a never-ending mission? Is it a recipe for getting bogged down?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government obviously does not want a never-ending mission. We said in the throne speech that we wanted to transfer security responsibilities to the Afghan forces by 2011. We said the same thing in a motion before the House.

I noted as well that the Manley report, by a group of experts appointed by the government, also says that we do not want a never-ending mission.

Once again, we intend to study the proposals made by the Liberal Party.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, for a year, the government made the mistake of not taking seriously February 2009 as the firm end of the combat mission in Kandahar. We see the result today. It is important not to repeat the same mistakes twice. We need to have clear end dates for a mission that allow the government to set clear benchmarks, our allies to have clear expectations and have clarity for our troops.

Considering all these benefits, why is the Prime Minister refusing to make 2011 a firm end date for the mission?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have never suggested that February 2009 is the absolute end date of the mission. It has been our position, looking at the facts, that it would not be likely. On the other hand, I point out the Speech from the Throne in which we indicated the desire of the government to transfer responsibilities for security firmly to Afghan authorities by 2011.

We believe the Canadian contribution is important. We believe our allies, as well as ourselves, should work with the Afghan government in a way that makes a smooth transition toward Afghan responsibility for its own security.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has acknowledged today that Canada must secure a rotation of troops from its NATO partners if the mission in Afghanistan is to continue after 2009. Our party has been saying that for more than a year.

The Prime Minister has finally begun phoning around to secure the additional troops, but I am sure he understands that this process cannot go on indefinitely. Canadians need to know whether help is on the way.

Has the Prime Minister fixed a clear deadline for a conclusion to his negotiations with our allies?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. At the moment we have not fixed the deadline to that. I can report, however, that our government, at all levels, continues to talk to our NATO partners. I think our NATO partners not only take our requests very seriously, but take very seriously the consequences for the mission if NATO does not become more fully engaged and more effective in the mission.

We have had good response to our discussions with allies so far, and at the moment it is our intention to continue that dialogue.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has finally started to look for troops abroad, as he said, but so far he has not received any commitments from our allies. This cannot go on. Canadians need to know who will help us in Afghanistan and when they will do so.

Will the Prime Minister set a deadline for these negotiations with our NATO partners?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, just setting deadlines is not always the best strategy for getting something. We have had good discussions so far with our NATO partners and allies and these discussions are ongoing. We are optimistic about getting the troops and equipment we have requested.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we now know when the next budget will be brought down. In this prebudget period and this time of economic uncertainty, it is especially important to know how the Prime Minister plans to use the surplus. With a $10.6 billion surplus for 2007-08, the Prime Minister has ample resources to respond to our demands. The $10.6 billion figure comes from the Minister of Finance.

Can the Prime Minister tell us how he plans to use this surplus? Will he use the whole amount to pay down the debt?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canada is in a good debt position in this period of uncertainty. Because of sound economic management by the Minister of Finance, we are able to maintain a balanced position with tax cuts, investments in aid and reductions of the public debt. We plan to continue that balanced approach and manage the economy effectively in this period of uncertainty.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, would a balanced position not be to use a third of the surplus—$3 billion of the remaining $10.6 billion—to pay down the debt and use $3.5 billion to address the crisis in the manufacturing and forestry industries and help businesses, the regions and workers, particularly in this time of economic uncertainty, because no one can predict whether next year's surplus will be as large as this year's?

Would the government not be taking a balanced approach if it paid down the debt, but did not use the whole surplus to pay down the debt?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, with the surplus created by the Minister of Finance, we have announced $1 billion for the national community development trust. Moreover, with increased equalization payments, Quebec would receive nearly $1 billion in additional funding.

This year, we have cut taxes, which means $8 billion in tax breaks for the manufacturing industry. Reducing the debt will give this government future flexibility so that it can continue to manage the economy effectively.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Questions

February 12th, 2008 / 2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Raymond Gravel Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, given this year's surplus of $10.6 billion, the government could give seniors back their dignity and still allocate $3 billion to the debt. Since the Conservatives are also indebted towards seniors, they must make the guaranteed income supplement fully retroactive to the tune of $3.1 billion, as they had promised.

What is the government waiting for to pay the debt owed to seniors?

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned seniors. Seniors and workers of all kinds paid a very high price to dig our country out of deficit in the past and the government will not put us back into deficit.

We have been very responsible in ensuring that on the one hand we are providing for seniors by raising the guaranteed income supplement two years in a row. We are providing lower taxes for seniors of all kinds, lifting 185,000 low income Canadians off the tax rolls. These are all measures that the Bloc voted against.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with this year's $10.6 billion surplus, the government must do a 180-degree turn on the environment. For example, the government could create a $1 billion fund to help individuals cut energy use, while still putting $3 billion towards the debt.

What is the government waiting for to invest in technologies for the environment instead of always favouring its friends, the oil companies?