House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigration.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Malpeque has equal time.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, that is typical of that party. What I remember most of that member is his saying to hog and beef producers, “money is flowing as we speak” and then we had to pass special legislation to make it flow. The fact of the matter is the Conservatives' plan will cost $65 a tonne, carbon tax by 2018 and no relief for anyone in terms of their plan--

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have one more chance at trying to convince the Liberals, who have just spoken so passionately against the government's budget, to vote against it. If they believe so strongly--

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Dave Van Kesteren

You've got a point.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
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12:40 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Absolutely. Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues said that I have a point. Of course we have a point. How can Canadians understand and comprehend a party whose members stand day after day and speak so vehemently against the government's budget and then turn around and vote with the Conservatives by sitting it out, ignoring the vote and going off and doing whatever they want, except doing their jobs here in the House? How do they explain that?

We share one thing and that is, the Conservative budget is wrong. It is bad and it must be stopped. We are not going to be hypocrites. We are not going to say one thing and do another. We said from day one that if this budget does not deal with the needs and priorities of Canadians, and does not narrow the prosperity gap between the rich and the rest of us, and does not address the big outstanding issues in terms of health care, education, the environment, housing and aboriginal peoples, then we would vote against it.

Why can the Liberals not put their principles on the line? I guess the question is, what principles, when in fact they say one thing one day and do another thing another day and never mean what they say they are going to do. What kind of message does that send to Canadians who are trying to find some reason to have faith in this place again? Canadians have become so cynical they wonder why they should even vote, because they see nothing but politicians promising one thing and doing another, flip-flopping all over the place, never standing up for their principles with conviction and courage.

That is what this place requires today. It is not too late, I tell the Liberals, to stand up with the courage of their convictions, say no to this budget, bring down the government, and let the people of this country decide how we can deal with the big issues of the day and who should have responsibility for that. Canadians know that politics is all about power. It is the route to power. It is about who has the ability to set priorities for this country. It is about whose interests shall flourish and whose shall perish. We know that under the Conservatives that people who struggle day in and day out with a whole of range of issues and concerns are being ignored and left to perish by the government.

There has never been a more urgent situation in this country requiring a new approach, and here we are, the Conservatives are being given a majority. The Liberals are basically letting the Conservatives rule as if they had a majority, without trying to fashion some compromise, without trying to work out some concessions, just handing it holus-bolus to the Conservatives and telling them to do what they want.

They steamed today again about immigration, a concern we all raised. We are all concerned about the arbitrary powers going to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the way in which the government intends to cherry-pick who comes into this country without looking at balancing family reunification, economic skills and humanitarian compassionate issues.

We have those concerns. We are not going to stand idly by and give the government the latitude to proceed down this path. We say no, and we will continue to fight this every chance we get. Canadians out there are wondering what happened to a party that supposedly had immigration as part of its heart and soul; what happened to a party that believed in an open-door policy; what happened to a party that supposedly stands for giving everybody a fair shake in this country. They feel disappointed and let down by the Liberals. Mostly they feel anger and pain at the Conservatives, frustration that a party that talked so much about accountability and transparency, about openness and decency, about respect for everyone among us, has chosen in quite a deliberate fashion to completely ignore those concerns. The Conservatives are turning away from human suffering and proceeding with a budget that will take billions of dollars out of Canadians' pockets and put the money into corporate tax breaks, not into the programs that would actually help people get ahead, give them a hand up, help them to help themselves.

Nowhere is that more apparent than when it comes to health care. I get a little tired of hearing the Minister of Health talk about the great things his government has done. The fact of the matter is the government has done zilch. The budget has nothing in it pertaining to health care. There is nothing in it that deals with the burning issues facing Canadians concerning access to quality health care. Every day that passes, the situation gets worse and worse.

Yesterday in the newspaper there was a clear analysis and statement about the lack of technologists and laboratories to decipher the results of tests, make decent prognoses and help patients get the access to the care they need. Two days ago I was at a national summit dealing with diabetes and heard about the deplorable lack of endocrinologists and other specialists in the field to help those with diabetes get the services they need so they do not become costly burdens on our hospital health care system. In the last few weeks we have heard about patients trying to deal with longer and longer wait times, whether it is in emergency wards or access to prognostic tests.

I do not need to go on about what Canadians are concerned about. They expected some answers from the government to take us into the future of health care renewal. Instead, the Health Council came out with a report yesterday saying the glass, at best, in the most optimistic way is half full. That was a very diplomatic way of putting it. It is saying that the government has done nothing to take its responsibilities seriously and move us forward with the health care accord that we all agreed to back in 2004.

I asked the Minister of Health just the other day where the plan is for home care. That is part of the accord. That has been part of the Conservatives' promises. It has been on the table for years. The Liberals promised it six times over and never delivered. Where is it? What did the Minister of Health say? It is not his priority; it is not his plan; it is something that belongs in the provinces. He told me, in fact, that I should go back to provincial politics.

I moved from provincial politics to federal politics precisely because I knew that unless we had a national health care system which, through innovation, moved forward by ensuring that we had some sort of national drug coverage and some sort of national continuing home care plan and unless we started to deal with the root causes of ill health and sickness in our society, we would be seeing the death of medicare. That is what I am worried about.

While the government sits back and does nothing, privatization forces, the big corporations that want their hands on our $90 billion golden egg, the health care budget, and want to make profits off of people's ill health and sickness are allowed to get a hold over our system. What we are expecting from the government is some leadership, leadership in terms of enforcing the Canada Health Act, leadership in terms of carrying forward plans and programs that move us away from costly hospital, sickness based care to a community based, holistic health promotion and health prevention driven focus. That is not too much to ask.

We have a crisis with the shortage of doctors, nurses, technologists, endocrinologists and other professionals. We have a shortage of all kinds of workers in the health care system. There is nothing from the government, no plan, not a word, not a dollar, not even an indication of a commitment to address the problem.

I would say that if a budget does not deal with the fundamentals of ensuring our health care system lasts another generation, of helping families send their kids to school, of saving this planet, of dealing with the deplorable situation of housing on first nations communities, of dealing with the missing and murdered women on the highway of tears, then it should not be supported. If the government cannot deal with those fundamental issues, it does not deserve the support of the House, and I urge all members to join with the NDP in defeating this budget bill and bringing down the government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about “the evil Conservative government” but she need look no further than three seats to her left, to her leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, as the guy who enabled “the evil Conservative government” to take its place in the House. We have the member to thank for that.

I see the chairman of the human resources committee in the House today. He is certainly doing a great job on that committee, on which I have the great privilege of serving. Should the House continue to operate through next week, hopefully we will table a report on the establishment of a crown corporation to direct the rate setting mechanisms of the employment insurance program, which is a key component of this legislation.

Over the course of four to five weeks, the committee embarked on this study and brought in a number of witnesses. The minister himself appeared on two separate occasions. Maybe the Minister of Transport will thank him for that and let him know that we appreciated his input.

The establishment of the crown corporation is of great concern to all Canadians because it is a fairly significant departure.

We put in all that effort and work at the committee and we hear the leader of the NDP, who appeared before the CLC last weekend, commenting that the government was just barging ahead with this with no consultation. He said that the only attention this received at the finance committee was five minutes by the Liberals and five minutes by the Conservatives. As a member of the committee, I was offended by that comment and the NDP member should be offended as well for the effort that was put in.

We know the current leader of the NDP is certainly no Ed Broadbent or Tommy Douglas but does the member not understand that this work was done by the committee and that those comments were a total disregard for the committee, or was it just blatant politics when it comes to this particular issue?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal member opposite may be offended when we on this side of the House stand up for working people but I make no apologies for my leader or my colleagues, especially the member for Acadie—Bathurst who has been leading the charge on trying to get a responsible approach by the government toward employment insurance.

The manoeuvres by the government, supported by the Liberals, to set up a separate corporation around employment insurance and deny workers even more than they have been denied already because of the collaboration of these two parties is wrong. That is why we oppose the budget. We cannot understand how the Liberals can allow this to go on.

The only thing I can tell from the Liberal comments is that three years in opposition has not brought any of them any humility or moved them away from their position of arrogance. They still think that somebody else caused them to lose government. That is the problem and that is why Canadians are so cynical. The Liberal Party was responsible for many of the ills that led to this position today where Conservatives can build a society that has no safety net and has no fundamental values around care and compassion.

The Conservative government is building on a system, whether we are talking about EI, immigration, health care, education or the environment, that was slowly dismantled by the Liberals over 10 years. The Conservatives are now in a perfect position to execute the agenda they have had all along, which is to move any barriers to the profit making abilities of large corporations and to level the playing field, regardless of human consequences.

It is the Liberals who must bear the responsibility for the mess we are in today. If they are so concerned about what “the evil Conservative government” is doing, as the member just said, then why do they not stand up, oppose the budget and defeat the Conservative government?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-50. I will dedicate most of my comments today to addressing the issue of the so-called immigration reforms or changes that the Conservative government is proposing within the bill.

First we need to ask ourselves a question. Why are the Conservatives introducing immigration changes or amendments to the immigration act within a budget? It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is not a budgetary matter. This is a policy matter that should have been introduced as a separate bill where the policies could have been discussed extensively, where the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration could have completed its study and examination of those proposals and offered its opinion, and then it could have been voted upon.

However, the Conservatives have chosen, under the cloak of $20 million, to introduce it within the budget bill. Many Canadians are asking why immigration changes have been introduced through the budget. That is a very good question that needs a real and honest answer.

The fact is that the Conservatives have been misleading Canadians and making things up about these changes because they are unable to explain their purpose. They claim that these changes will help reduce the backlog, which is now around 900,000 applications. However, if we were to actually read the proposed changes we would see that these changes will not take effect until February 2008. These reforms will not address the 900,000 applications that are already in the backlog. They will still need to be dealt with using the existing rules.

The government claims that the minister will not use this power, which the bill would give her, to limit the number of applications the government receives. How can the government draw that circle when it says that it will expedite economic immigrants but that it will not slow down family reunification? It also says that it will cut the backlog, that it will be transparent and that it will do everything by the book, but that it is important to give the minister unchecked discretionary power in order to implement these changes.

The fact is that if the government tries to expedite economic immigrants and keep the target of immigrants the same, this will happen at the expense and on the backs of family reunification, and that is of concern to many Canadians.

Many Canadians are keen that we attract economic immigrants who address our economic needs. Nobody is arguing against that. Also, nobody is arguing that the immigration system needs reform. However, to assume that the only way to fix these issues is to give the minister of immigration these powers, regardless of who the minister is or which party is in power, is a shortsighted solution and it will not help. In fact, it will only introduce powers where a lot of questions can be asked when they are applied.

What we need to do is fix the immigration system in a systematic and comprehensive way. We need to see where the issues are and apply more resources. We need to be wise and thoughtful about how and when we process our immigration applications.

This disingenuous proposal that by giving the minister unchecked discretionary power we can solve the backlog problem, does not stand up to scrutiny. The reality is that this is an ill-advised, ineffective, short-sighted proposal on which it makes it very tempting to bring down the government. I would like to see the Conservative government go yesterday before today. I do not believe it has the best policies for this country nor do I believe it is able to come up with thoughtful, reasonable, practical and pragmatic policies.

However, this is the choice we have. Let there be no doubt that we disagree and oppose these immigration changes. The question that remains is when should we have an election. I know the Conservatives will not like it, but we will choose that timing.

I am quite disappointed with the NDP. If it had been up to the NDP, we would have had 17 elections by now, even though it is the party that claims it wants Parliament to work. The NDP is the reason that we lost the child care agreement with the provinces and the reason that we do not have a Kelowna accord.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Because you are a bunch of crooks and the Canadian people threw you out.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

The NDP is the reason that we had a Christmas election.

We will choose when the election takes place and, when it does take place, the NDP will need to explain to Canadians why, if it is such a progressive party, it did not work with the Liberals on criticizing and holding the Conservatives in check. The NDP appears to spend most of its time criticizing the Liberals because it knows they are--

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am fascinated by what the member has to say but I cannot hear him very well over all the noise coming from the New Democrats. I wonder if they could keep it down.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Is the hon. member for Halifax rising on the same point of order?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

June 6th, 2008 / 1 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, actually I was going to rise on a point of much greater importance and ask the member a question, but I will wait my turn.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Mississauga—Erindale still has three minutes and if we are all patient we can ask questions of him afterward . There will be five minutes of questions and comments and if we keep our questions short we can get more questions in.