House of Commons Hansard #46 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aboriginal.

Topics

HIV-AIDS among Aboriginal people
Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

February 7th, 2008 / 10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair has received a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Vancouver East. I will now hear her submissions on this point.

HIV-AIDS among Aboriginal people
Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I submitted a letter to you under Standing Order 52(2) for an emergency debate.

I am applying for an emergency debate and appealing to you because of the very grave situation in my community, Vancouver East, particularly in the downtown east side, where recent reports showed a very deepening crisis, an alarming situation.

The HIV infection rate for aboriginal people is twice the rate of the infection rate for non-aboriginal people, which in that community is already much higher than where it is elsewhere in the population. We are facing a very severe health crisis.

We have seen no response from the government and no action. There are aboriginal people who are living in very desperate situations, who are living in poverty. I do think that this is very noteworthy.

It is something that we should be deeply concerned about, that we should be debating, and we should be taking action. We should be calling on the government to respond to this emergency in the downtown east side that is affecting the lives of so many people. Many lives have already been lost to this crisis of HIV-AIDS, particularly among injection drug users.

I put forward my application on that basis, but I would like to make one additional point. As you know, Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of requests for emergency debates that you have not approved based on your interpretation of the Standing Order and you know that we have tried valiantly to have take note debates as well. In fact, the government has not been forthcoming on that matter.

We have not had take note debates for over a year. This is a lost opportunity for members of Parliament to have a thorough debate in the House on subjects that are of concern to local communities or of national concern.

The fact is that we have the avenue of emergency debates that seems to have been cut off and now we have the avenue of take note debates that has been cut off arbitrarily by the government.

We feel that this has left us in a very difficult situation where our ability to bring forward issues and express points of view, and to draw attention to some of these situations, such as the forestry industry and what is happening in local communities, and the impact of lost jobs.

One of my colleagues also brought forward an application dealing with emergency services for aboriginal people on reserve. So, all of these issues, I do believe warrant attention.

On this particular issue today concerning HIV-AIDS among aboriginal people, I do believe that this is something that the House should debate forthwith.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for your consideration of this and I would ask you to consider the broader context in which we find our ourselves and respect the will, I think, of Parliament to make sure that these issues are addressed and we have an opportunity to bring this forward, to press the government, and to make our points of view known.

HIV-AIDS among Aboriginal people
Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair has considered the submissions of the hon. member for Vancouver East and has heard her arguments, and read the letter, of course, that she forwarded to me on this subject earlier.

I think that the request is reasonable and accordingly, I am prepared to allow for an emergency debate, but as she knows it will not happen forthwith. It will happen later this day at the adjournment time of the House. Accordingly, there will be a debate on this subject this evening.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

moved:

That this House take note of the pre-budget consultations undertaken by the Standing Committee on Finance.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to allow for two 10 minute speeches as opposed to the 20 minute speech that had originally been slotted.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to allow the hon. member to in effect split his time into two?

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understood from what my colleague said that he is prepared to have two 10-minute speeches rather than split the unlimited time in half. If we are talking about two 10-minutes speeches, then there is no problem.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There will be two 10-minutes speeches, 10 minutes for him and 10 minutes for another member, each followed by a five-minute period for questions and comments. Is it agreed?

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Agreed and so ordered. The hon. member for Peterborough then has the floor for 10 minutes.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Burlington.

I will begin by thanking the groups that came forward, the individuals and the businesses in Canada that came forward and made their presentations to the finance committee for our prebudget consultation. Quite frankly, the quality of the presentations made before the finance committee this year were outstanding and that is reflected in the report that has been put forward by the Standing Committee on Finance.

I should also state that while our party, the Conservative Party, is largely supportive of the recommendations made in the prebudget consultation document, there are certain aspects of the prebudget consultation document that we did not agree with, so we did prepare a supplementary report that is also within the prebudget consultation, which clearly outlines the direction that our government sees for Canada moving forward.

When I speak about the direction of Canada moving forward, I thought it would be fitting to begin today's debate by again outlining Advantage Canada.

The government came forward with Advantage Canada in November 2006. It was presented by the hon. member for Whitby—Oshawa, the Minister of Finance. He came forward and submitted a blueprint for Canada's economy moving forward and for Canada as a whole.

It was something that has not been done before. In fact, often in days past, governments would come out with budgets and there would be an awful lot of surprises. Canadians did not know what the direction of government was and business could not count on what the future direction of government would be. With Advantage Canada, the government sought to provide a level of confidence and to provide business with a good road map to where the government was going.

Therefore, I thought that the best way to start would be to outline and to remind the members of the House what Advantage Canada spoke of.

Advantage Canada was focused on creating five Canadian advantages that would help improve the quality of life and help Canada succeed on the world stage.

There was a tax advantage, which spoke of reducing taxes for all Canadians and establishing the lowest tax rate on business in the G-7.

We also spoke of Canada's fiscal advantage and eliminating the government's total net debt in less than a generation. We spoke at the time of 2021 and I believe we are actually ahead of that target.

We spoke of the entrepreneurial advantage. We wanted to reduce regulation and red tape and lower taxes to unlock business investment and try to build a more competitive business environment so that our small businesses could succeed.

We spoke of the knowledge advantage that we wanted to build in Canada to create the best educated, most skilled and most flexible workforce. We are already seeing the results of this. A statistic released this morning said that university enrolment in Canada is up by almost 23%. In fact, it is up by 25% for women and 21% for men. These are real successes for the government.

We also spoke of the infrastructure advantage, whereby we will work to create a modern, world-class economic infrastructure that helps ensure growth and helps ensure prosperity so that Canadians can have a better life.

Then, of course, to support these advantages, we had principles, and that is very important. What were the principles that were going to guide Advantage Canada? The first principle was to focus government, and I cannot emphasize how important that is. The government remains focused on what it does best. It is responsible in spending, efficient in its operation, effective in its results and accountable to the taxpayers. This is a principle, quite frankly, that all governments should aspire to, but which our government holds very dear and very close to its heart.

We want to create new opportunities and choices for people. When we speak of that, we want government to create incentives for people to excel right here at home. We want to reduce taxes and invest in education. These are the principles that the Conservative Party holds very dear. We want to invest for sustainable growth.

When we talk about investing for sustainable growth, we are not talking about one time ad hoc payments that pick winners and losers. We are talking about fixing the fundamental flaws in the economy and setting the environment right so that all businesses can flourish and prosper, which creates more employment.

We are seeing results of this already. We know that in the month of December a record number of Canadians were employed, 17 million. That has never happened before in this country. The government has created almost 700,000 jobs in two years. That is an incredible record and Advantage Canada is the blueprint by which we have set that underway.

Following up on Advantage Canada, we had budget 2007 which made a significant number of investments that were important to Canadians. I believe the record of budget 2007 speaks for itself.

I think it would be fitting to remind Canadians what budget 2007 accomplished: $39 billion over seven years to restore the fiscal balance. I am from Ontario. The province of Ontario received $3.8 billion this year in the fiscal balance transfer, plus per capita transfers for things like post-secondary education where we increased that budget by 40%, plus provided per capita spending.

What did the Premier of Ontario have to say about budget 2007? Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is claiming a hat trick of significant victories. On March 21, 2007, in the aftermath of the federal budget, he stated, “Ontario has scored three significant victories when it comes to our fight for fairness. This federal budget represents real progress for Ontarians”. I am proud of that.

I came here to Ottawa to fight for real progress and fairness for Ontario and for Peterborough but also to fight for fairness right across the country because, ultimately, as federal politicians we should strive for a government that does not discriminate between regions and that views and respects all Canadians equally.

I could speak to the budget for hours but I have requested that my time be reduced to 10 minutes so I can share my time with my colleagues who are also very proud of the government's economic record.

I would also like to talk about the economic statement. Perhaps one of the most interesting things that I read following the economic statement was written by Sheila Copps, a former Liberal member, when she said:

The finance minister's decision to ignore the naysayers was brilliant politics. A cynical observer might question his timing, overshadowing....

Blah, blah, blah.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

An hon. member

That's exactly that, blah, blah, blah.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

I am sorry. Forget the economists, forget the professors. Most who trash the GST cuts also oppose tax deductible transit passes, notwithstanding the obesity epidemic.

The former minister, Sheila Copps, was very proud of the government's decision to reduce the GST and reduce the tax burden on Canadians. I think that is tremendous.

Jayson Myers, of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, came forward and called the tax cuts in the economic and fiscal update very important. He said:

Canada is going to have a very attractive tax environment to retain and attract business investment. ...this keeps us in the game of international investment.

When we speak of manufacturing, the government has provided more than $8 billion in tax relief, $33 billion over seven years for infrastructure and $1.3 billion in annual support to the provinces to improve access to skilled labour.

We are supporting many aspects. I could go on at length about the measures that we have taken but I will defer to questions from my colleagues.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat amused by the hon. member's speech. I wonder whether he could sort of zero in on some facts about the way his government spends money around here.

In Table 1 of the Department of Finance statements for September 2007, the total program spending for the Liberal governments between 1992-03 and 2005-06 was 2.3% and direct federal spending was 3.2%. That was on an average per year.

Meanwhile, in the two years that your government has been in office you've spent in total program spending at a rate of--

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The hon. member knows that he should be referring to his government. I am not aware of having a government at any time.