House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Sports and Social Association
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 12, the members of the Braves du coin sports and social association held their 35th gala to recognize excellence in both sport and volunteerism.

Today I would like to congratulate the gala organizing committee, chaired by Mr. Jean-François Landry, as well as his many volunteers, who made the evening a resounding success. I also would like to congratulate all the winners—young athletes, artists and volunteers—who have distinguished themselves through their passion and dedication.

The Braves du coin have been involved in the Outaouais community since 1962. Under the leadership of Denis Desjardins, the group's more than 400 members continue to support young amateur athletes through scholarships that enable them to pursue their athletic undertakings.

Congratulations to all and long live the Braves du coin.

China
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP, I express sorrow and concern regarding the tragic and devastating earthquake in China.

We offer our sincere condolences to the victims and families in Sichuan, Beichuan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Chongqing, Yunnan and Henan and other areas that were affected. The loss of life, the suffering of communities and the grief of individual families are deeply saddening.

We extend our deepest sympathy to those who are suffering losses in China, as well as to the Chinese Canadian community, which is coping with this loss and the unknown whereabouts of family and friends in the wake of this terrible tragedy.

All Canadians share this grief and loss and they hope for recovery and support to rebuild the lives of survivors and their communities. We urge the Canadian government to demonstrate its compassion and support by providing any immediate assistance possible.

Our thoughts and prayers are with China and its people.

QFL Solidarity Fund
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 13, the Quebec Federation of Labour celebrated the 25th anniversary of the QFL Solidarity Fund. The theme of the celebration was innovation.

It took the tenacity of then president Louis Laberge to convince the members of his union, and then the government of René Lévesque, of the importance of having a workers' fund and the tax benefits to make it work.

Innovation drove the creation of this fund since the QFL was charting new territory at the time by offering this until then almost non-existent development capital for small and medium-sized businesses.

This was one of the most significant innovations in the business world in the 1980s, a time when Quebec was going through the worst economic recession since the depression in the 1930s.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I wish continued success to the QFL Solidarity Fund, which has greatly contributed to shaping Quebec as we know it today.

Government Policies
Statements By Members

May 15th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, responsible government is the basis of our parliamentary system. It is a principle and practice that requires the federal government to be responsible and accountable to Parliament and to answer questions that are of vital interest to the Canadian people.

In recent weeks, however, we have watched ministers sit on their hands even when their own personal reputations are at stake. While we all know that the Conservatives are simply trying to shield their cabinet members from public scrutiny, this practice denies Canadians access to information that each Canadian has a fundamental right to know.

The Prime Minister promised a more open and accountable government but is now telling Canadians that they are not to be trusted with any information, especially on national defence, where the budget is expanding by billions every day.

Canadians are becoming more and more suspicious of the Conservatives. The question is, what else do they have to hide?

Elections Canada
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Elections Act says that all loans for leadership contestants must be repaid within 18 months and failure to do so is a violation of the act.

The Liberal leader is said to have almost a million dollars in outstanding leadership debts, owed to wealthy elites and powerful insiders. If he does not repay these debts by the June 3 deadline, they become illegal donations over the donation limit.

The only escape is if Elections Canada steps in to protect the Liberal leader with preferential treatment and an extension.

Canadians will watch closely. Will the Liberal leader break the law by accepting illegal donations and, if so, will Elections Canada protect the Liberal leader with preferential treatment?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, when the Government of Canada has a policy on something, it actually writes it down. That was certainly the case with Canada's defence policy in 2005, a detailed 35 page document. It defined how the Canadian Forces would align with overall foreign policy. It was funded with the biggest investment in national defence in 20 years.

On Monday, the Prime Minister swept all of that away in one vacuous speech: no context, no analysis, no details, nothing. Do the Canadian Forces not deserve more respect than such an obvious political stunt?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we announced on Monday a comprehensive long term plan to rebuild the forces, which included the replacement of six major pieces of equipment and an increase in the number of forces. That announcement, and the buildup to it ever since this government was elected, has been very well received by the men and women of the Canadian Forces. They were on the record, receiving it very well and being very glad that the decade of darkness under the previous government was over.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the independent condemnation of the government's so-called defence policy is virtually universal. It took over two years to produce it. It ended up being nothing more than a letter to the editor of 755 words. It was written, obviously, at the rate of one word per day. It cannot give any details and it cannot say whether the cost of the plan is $30 billion, or $50 billion or $96 billion.

How could it take two years to produce a plan with no details and a price tag no one over there can explain?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let me explain it to the hon. member since he obviously did not bother to read.

The $30 billion figure represents the size of the budget of the Department of National Defence at the end of the 20 year period. The $45 billion to $50 billion period represents the capital investments in the military that will take place over that period. Those are the two figures that the hon. member should learn.

However, this is no surprise. Whenever this government announces something for the men and women of the forces, the Liberals always attack it. They always complain. Canadians know their attitude and that is why they elected a government to be for the Canadian Forces.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, it was the Liberal Party that made the biggest investment in national defence in 20 years.

At his news conference on Monday, the Prime Minister made a $10 billion mistake. The reason is now obvious. No one in the government has a clue what its defence policy actually is or how much it will cost. A speech is not a strategy.

The Prime Minister offered no detailed description of what the forces would do or how. Then the second speech that followed his, by the Minister of National Defence, has somehow mysteriously disappeared. It is unavailable now.

If the government's defence policy actually exists, let it table it now.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we will increase the regular force strength to 70,000. We will increase the reserve force strength to 30,000. We will bring in new equipment to replace destroyers, frigates, maritime patrol aircraft, fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, next generation fighter aircraft and a new family of land combat vehicles and systems.

I expect every step along the way the Liberal Party will oppose rebuilding the Canadian military, but it never hesitated to send them into dangerous combat situations. We will give them the tools they need to do their job.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we cannot say that they are choking on the truth.

We already knew that the Prime Minister was trying to create a diversion on Monday because his Minister of Foreign Affairs is a disgrace.

And now two days later the Conservative government's so-called defence strategy is a disgrace as well. Even military personnel are saying that the government has mixed up the numbers.

Taxpayers want to know how much this will cost over the next 20 years, and, above all, who is telling the truth? Is it the Prime Minister, who says it is $30 billion, military officials, who say it is $50 billion, or the journalists, who are now saying $96 billion? Who is telling the truth?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has said, the decade of darkness during the Liberal regime is over. This government is acting as the Prime Minister has said.

Let me make it very clear. The budget by the end of 20 years is going to be approximately $30 billion, but the capital cost acquisition of six major pieces of equipment is going to be around $45 billion to $50 billion. I hope the member understands the difference between capital costs and operating costs.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we need to get one thing straight. In 1993, we inherited a $42 billion deficit and had to clean up the mess they left behind. Starting in 1999, we reinvested in the armed forces and, in 2005, we made the largest one-time investment in the Canadian armed forces. So they have nothing to teach us.

Instead of hiding the truth, especially their defence plan because he is afraid of the consequences, could the Prime Minister be transparent for once and table his strategy? Because his speech is a disaster.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, we are very transparent on this issue. The Prime Minister has stated what our defence schedule is going to be. It is very clear, after the decade of darkness of that party, which sent our troops into harm's way without equipment, that this government will have equipment for our soldiers.

Let me make it very clear. The $30 billion is the size of the budget at the end of 20 years. The $50 billion is for the capital budget for purchasing equipment. It is as simple as that.