House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was recovery.

Topics

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting that the Conservative side is promoting heavily the HST in British Columbia. Conservatives should know that during the recent provincial campaign, the B.C. Liberals actually said that they would not implement the HST. British Columbians are outraged, quite justifiably, because they were essentially told an untruth. They were told that the HST would not be brought in and then the B.C. Liberals, right after the election, have turned right around and are starting to impose it.

The average British Columbian will pay $500 more. Everything from babies' diapers, to funerals, to haircuts will cost more because of this deal with the devil, what we call the Campbell and the name of the Prime Minister, which I cannot use in this House, HST. Most British Columbians fundamentally reject that. In fact, in New Westminster—Coquitlam, which is undergoing a byelection now, the reaction from the public has been very strong against the HST.

I would like to ask the hon. member, will the Conservatives admit that it was a fundamental untruth in the provincial election campaign to say that there would be no HST? Then the provincial government, working with the federal Conservatives, turned around and imposed something that will cost the average British Columbian $500. Will he admit that was wrong and will he apologize?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have never run in a B.C. election campaign, which is good for the NDP because I am a real campaigner.

I must say that when it comes to the HST, this was a decision made by the B.C. government. If people in B.C. have concerns or questions about it, they should talk to their government about it.

Every time we have reduced taxes in this country, members of the NDP have stood against it. They have stood against reductions in the GST, not once but twice. They have stood in opposition to reducing taxes for seniors. Who could oppose tax reductions for seniors? When we removed over 800,000 low income Canadians, predominantly seniors, from the tax rolls permanently, members of the NDP took pride in saying that they voted against it. They personally called for reductions in the GST. It was their party's position. However, when they had a chance to vote in favour of reducing the GST, not once but twice they voted in favour of the GST remaining at 7%.

Canadians want a 5% GST, which is why the NDP is so wrong. For members of the NDP to stand up now and say that they are tax fighters, nobody believes them. They have no credibility on this. There is not a tax the NDP would not raise in any category. Higher taxes make a happier NDP. That is the way it is.

Canadians can count our party to maintain taxes at the lowest possible rate. Tax freedom day is 20 days earlier in Canada under this government. Under the NDP, I do not think we would ever get out from under taxes.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is being a bit disingenuous when he talks about the fact that the NDP voted against the GST. He fails to tell Canadians that it was in the context of a budget bill that stripped the rights for women to file complaints against the Canadian Human Rights Commission on women's equality, it stripped away environmental protection under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and on and on. He has not actually put it into the appropriate context.

I need come back to what is happening in British Columbia with the HST. The member says that it is entirely up to the provinces. I wonder how he would characterize the amount of money that was on page 166 of the budget that was an inducement to the provinces to put in place the HST that the finance minister has had on his agenda now for any number of years.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, in budget 2006, I do not remember any of the measures that the member discussed when it came to voting for a lower GST. In fact, if she checks her records she will find that what she just said is absolutely incorrect.

Members of the NDP had a chance to vote against the lower GST and they did not take it. They had a chance to vote against lower taxes for seniors and they did not take it. They had a chance to vote against lower taxes for small business and they did not take it. They had a chance to vote against corporate surtaxes and they did not take it. They had a chance to vote against lower corporate taxes and they did not take it.

They did not take any chances to reduce the tax burden on Canadians in this country. That is why nobody believes them when they stand up and say that they are outraged about a tax. They love taxes.

The NDP is all about big government and big spending because that is what it believes in. It has zero credibility when it comes to taxes.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to address Bill C-51, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and to implement other measures.

In the few minutes I have to speak, I will try to outline the interests of the various political parties regarding this budget matter, for the benefit of those watching us. The Bloc Québécois, true to its commitment to defend the interests and values of Quebeckers, rises every day in this House in order to do so. I am proud of this, because it allows us to properly assess every bill, motion and budget or budgetary measure brought forward by the government or the opposition parties, in the interest of Quebeckers.

I would like to go over the measures proposed by the Conservative Party in Bill C-51, along with their context. Indeed, since Parliament resumed, all of the decisions made by the political parties of this House, apart from the Bloc Québécois, have been made based on the possibility of an election. Understandably, the members of a party like the Bloc Québécois, who choose to vote every day in the interest of Quebeckers, do not have to worry about saving their seats. We are here to defend the values and interests of Quebeckers. That is what differentiates us from the other parties of this House.

Bill C-51 has been introduced by the Conservatives. Again, as soon as the House resumed in September, the Conservatives had to prove to the rest of Canada, in case there was a federal election, that they do not always introduce unpopular measures. Therefore they decided to introduce Bill C-51. That makes sense when your only objective is to get as many votes as possible, which is what the Conservatives want. In light of an impending election, they decided to introduce a bill to implement what they had already announced in the budget. Analysts were not fooled by this either. Some of these measures did not require a bill in order to be implemented. The government could have handled that itself. This bill is a purely partisan and political tactic.

Bill C-51 proposes the implementation of the renovation tax credit. This is clearly a measure inspired by proposals in both of the Bloc Québécois' stimulus plans. Again, we were the only responsible party that, before each of the government's budgets or budgetary announcements, always submitted proposals, requests and plans to deal with this crisis. The Bloc Québécois has always been responsible and has always worked hard. This week we proposed measures to achieve a balanced budget. Yesterday, our party proposed measures to eliminate the huge deficit the Conservative government is racking up. Other speakers will have a chance to have their say on this in the House.

We proposed these measures during a press conference because we are responsible and because we are probably the most informed party around, and we always represent the interests of Quebeckers. We were the ones who asked for the home renovation tax credit. In the words of the leader of the Bloc Québécois, it would be foolish of us not to vote in favour of the very measures that we proposed.

The second measure is a first time homebuyers' tax credit. In its last platform, the Bloc Québécois proposed a first time homebuyer's tax credit. We did so because Quebec has had programs to support first time homebuyers and they were very popular. They helped Quebec recover from, not this crisis, but the recession in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The Bloc Québécois saw the crisis coming. You will remember that the Leader of the Bloc was the only candidate in the 2008 election campaign to predict a recession and to state that something had to be done immediately.

The first time homebuyers' tax credit was in our election platform. The government decided to implement it. Once again, in the words of the Leader of the Bloc Québécois, it would be foolish to vote against it.

Bill C-51 will also implement Canada's international commitments to the IMF, which were signed in 2008. This agreement has already been signed. It makes sense to ratify it and to have legislation to be able to implement these provisions.

The fourth measure is amending the Canada pension plan. Quebec is excluded as it has its own pension plan. These amendments are based on consultations with the provinces concerned, excluding Quebec. Once again, Quebec continues to be a leader in many, and I would say the majority, of Canada's assistance programs. Quebec is always the leader. We solved the pension problem a long time ago. Once again, we cannot oppose a measure discussed by the other Canadian provinces. For those who accuse us of always opposing what is happening in Canada, we say that if it is a good thing for Canadians, then good for them. We cannot oppose that. Especially since Quebec already has its own plan. No problem there.

The fifth measure will act on the findings of a joint expert panel made up of representatives of Nova Scotia and the federal government to resolve litigation between the parties that has been outstanding since 1984. That obviously affects Nova Scotia. Good for them. They seem pleased. The members from Nova Scotia seem pleased with this measure. We cannot oppose this measure.

That is why we will support Bill C-51. However, I will repeat that this bill was introduced by the Conservatives for purely partisan reasons, because there was a serious chance of an election. They wanted to show Canadians that they had proposed interesting measures in their last budget. But this bill only covers some of them. It only implements part of what they proposed in their last budget, which we were completely against.

I am bringing up our position, because I am trying to understand the Liberals' position. The Liberals supported the last budget, and these measures were part of the last budget. They decided that they were against Bill C-51, again, for purely partisan reasons.

The Liberals did not think about the interests of Canadians and even less about the interests of Quebeckers. After their caucus meeting this summer, they decided that they would no longer support the government. No matter what happened, no matter what the government introduced, good or bad, the Liberals decided they would be against it. We see how that turned out for them. They are in the process of self-destructing. That is a very Liberal way of doing things. They had already started to self-destruct with the sponsorship scandal, and nothing has changed. It is going well. In any case, it is fun to watch. But it is not fun for democracy when there are political parties and members in this House that represent their constituents and think only about protecting their seat.

That is what the Conservatives were doing with this measure. The Liberal strategy has been to bring down the government at all costs. They should have thought about this a little more carefully. The political parties each have their own way of doing things, their own pollsters, analysts and focus groups. It is all very complicated now. I have the good fortune of being the Bloc's chief organizer in Quebec, and I must say, engaging in politics has become a real science. In that regard, the leader of the Liberal Party will definitely not pass the test. He may have studied at Harvard, but he did not study politics. That is politics 101. The way things are done on the ground, he definitely has not done that. Nevertheless, the Liberals have decided to vote against Bill C-51.

As I have already said, they voted for the budget and these measures represent the best parts of the budget that was passed. It is impossible to understand the Liberals. They do not understand themselves, and that is a serious problem.

As for the members of the NDP, they opposed the budget. They have now decided to support this measure, probably for the same reasons we did. That is fine for them, except that they changed their minds because they decided to support this government at all costs, since opposing the budget. Once again, it is only to serve their own personal interests, since they realize they probably would not have too many seats left if an election were called. Naturally, they are doing everything they can to save their own skin.

So they decided to support all of the Conservatives' proposed measures. I can understand why they would support this one because it is the best one.

The employment insurance measure, however, is terrible. I was here, waiting patiently. People know that I am often in the House of Commons. The Conservatives were at least honest about the bill to amend employment insurance, whose goal is clearly to help Ontario's auto sector. Of that there can be no doubt. What the people from Ontario said was right. They defended the auto sector.

Let us review the measure in the new employment insurance bill. Long-tenured workers who have not collected more than 35 weeks of employment insurance benefits over the past five years will get 15 to 20 weeks of extra benefits. That is the new measure. The forestry sector will obviously not be covered by this measure, which will only help people in industries that were doing well before the crisis. That does not include the forestry sector, which has been in crisis for five years now. The Conservatives have abandoned forestry workers to their crisis and their misery. They chose to invest their money in the auto sector instead.

The NDP may have decided to forget about Quebec and the Maritimes and concentrate on Ontario by supporting this employment insurance bill. Not only are they supporting it, but worse still, they plan to support all government measures until this bill goes through, which will probably be in the spring. The NDP will most likely try to stretch out the process for this bill until the next budget is introduced.

That is how the other parties play politics, but that is not how the Bloc Québécois does things. We have always been very respectful of the voters. We stay in touch with our constituents every day. We know that if the Conservatives had put as much effort into helping the forestry industry, which has been in crisis for five years, as they have into helping the auto sector, the forestry industry crisis would be a thing of the past and the sector would now be supporting the entire Canadian economy.

The Conservatives probably did not concern themselves with that because the bulk of the industry is in Quebec. It is a political choice.

However, it is hard to watch Conservative members from Quebec day after day staunchly defend the Conservative Party plan. They stand up and defend the plan. The last report tabled by the government shows that $9.6 billion was spent in the automobile sector, while $70 million was promised to the forestry sector, of which $57 million was spent. They are all pleased. They applaud all that like good soldiers. It is easy to see why their numbers will not go up in the next election. They wonder why. They need only to look in the mirror to understand that they are not defending the interests of Quebeckers in the House. They are defending Canadian interests, as they like to say.

Nonetheless, they forget that the forestry industry existed long before the oil industry. They are denying their own origins. It is true: the forestry sector built the Canada of today, starting with Quebec. Those Quebeckers never hesitate to deny their origins. It is quite extraordinary, but there you have it. It was one of our ancestors who opened the door to the English on the Plains of Abraham. That is a daily occurrence these days. It is hard to watch Quebeckers from other political parties put their personal interests above the collective interest.

I think it is quite honourable of the Quebeckers in the Bloc Québécois to never hesitate, day after day, to put their seat on the line. They do not do so for their own interests, but for the interests of Quebeckers. It is so simple and it confounds the political experts: why is the Bloc Québécois so popular in Quebec? Because it is the only party that does not deny its origins. We try, day after day, to defend the interests of Quebeckers. We are transparent. You can read us like a book. Our leader, Gilles Duceppe, is doing an excellent job. He never hesitates to stand before any crowd, anywhere in Quebec, and even in the rest of Canada—

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I must interrupt the hon. member. We do not use proper names, but riding names or titles.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry.

The Leader of the Bloc Québécois is always willing to appear at events and gatherings, where he is received with all the respect Quebeckers owe him as a man of integrity who defends them day after day.

Clearly, it is to the advantage of Quebec, the Bloc Québécois and all Quebeckers to have a leader with a team of members, men and women who come into this House every day not to defend their own interests or the salary they make, but to defend the interests of their constituents.

It is sad that there are Quebeckers in the other three political parties in this House who think only of their own interests, with no thought to the interests of their constituents and their fellow Quebeckers. It is sad, but it is a fact. One day, history will catch up to all the parties, because these successive minority governments will be analyzed. In my opinion, we have not seen the last of minority governments.

Last week, we were looking at the situation in Germany, the most powerful economy in Europe, which once again elected as chancellor a party leader who will have to forge alliances in order to be able to govern. Canada is lagging behind once again because too many members of this House think only of themselves and never spare a thought for their constituents. That is the reality.

Bill C-51 contains two measures that are important to the Bloc Québécois. These measures were among our demands when we presented our recovery plans to the government. Moreover, the Minister of Finance congratulated us and told us that we were the only party in Ottawa that dared to table its plan. He even rose in the House to call on the other parties to follow the Bloc's example. We had called for a renovation tax credit, and our most recent election platform included a tax credit for first-time home buyers. Obviously, we are pleased that these measures are included in Bill C-51.

As the leader of the Bloc Québécois said, we are not foolish, and when we ask for something, we are prepared to support it. When we do not like something, and when Quebeckers do not like something, we will not support it, and we will never hesitate to vote against a budget like the last one, which was not in the interests of Quebeckers, quite simply because it focused on the automotive industry and ignored the forestry industry. It was the same story when the Conservatives introduced the last bill on EI reform, which focused on the automotive industry, and did absolutely nothing to help the forestry sector and part of the Quebec economy.

When the government talks about full-time workers and has the audacity to describe as “long tenured workers” people who have not received more than 35 weeks of employment insurance in the past five years, the government is being very hard on workers in the agriculture, forestry, tourism and fishery industries, who are also long tenured workers and who have given their lives to develop the economy.

The forestry, fishery and agriculture sectors existed long before the oil sector. This is what happens. The Conservative government gives guarantees and assistance to the oil industry. Oil is a non-renewable resource. What will happen when we run out? In Quebec, there will still be forests.

Once again, Quebeckers are happy that members from Quebec in the House of Commons did not all support what the Conservatives proposed, which was to diversify the economy and to get rid of the entire forestry sector, by trying to transfer these workers to other sectors.

The Conservatives even had the gall to propose assistance to have these workers transferred and trained in other regions. I know that the oil sands industry needs workers, but I dream of my constituents not having to work in western Canada. I hope that I will once again be responsible and respectful towards my constituents by demanding that they be able to stay in their regions, where they were born, and that their children and grandchildren have that same opportunity.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I noted from my colleague's comments that he is saying that, considering the number of small opposition parties in a minority government, coalitions are now becoming more of a reality.

Given that the Bloc Québécois will never form a majority government on its own, with which other parties would it seek to form a coalition after the next election should a majority government not be formed?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems as though the Conservative member has a crystal ball. What she suggested is likely exactly what will happen. There will probably be another minority government after the next election.

The Bloc Québécois has been very conscientious. First of all, we would never be part of a coalition, but we might choose to support a coalition, as we did last time, made up of the parties that had adopted the economic recovery plan proposed by the Bloc Québécois. Thus, we will be there to support all political parties that are willing to work in the interests of Quebec. If an agreement must be signed, as we were prepared to do with the two other parties last time—no matter which parties, as long as they have Quebec's interests at heart—we will be there.

Of course, it is not easy to do when the time comes. We managed to negotiate an agreement. It did not work. Some people were very unhappy about it. The fact remains that the Bloc Québécois was the only responsible party. We have always been responsible, from the very beginning. We know what is happening around the world right now with coalitions. As I was saying, Germany, the strongest country in Europe economically, has a coalition government. That will happen in Canada one day. As long as Quebec's interests are properly defended by a coalition, the Bloc Québécois will be there.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is showing grave disrespect for all Quebeckers who did not vote for the Bloc, for the two-thirds of Quebeckers who voted for other parties running in Quebec. The member is attacking everyone. He says that people who represent other political parties in Quebec are not true Quebeckers.

If we take a closer look at the Bloc's history in the House, we see that there have been many times when the Bloc Québécois did not defend Quebeckers' interests. On the contrary, the party supported sellout agreements, such as the softwood lumber agreement. The NDP was the party that said no to that agreement because it was not in Quebeckers' best interests. We were the ones standing up for Quebec workers. We were the ones who said that the agreement would be catastrophic for the industry in Quebec. Unfortunately, it is now clear that we were absolutely right. Quebec has lost thousands of jobs because of the Bloc Québécois' support for this terrible sellout softwood lumber deal. Mills have closed, and now Quebec taxpayers will be forced to pay another $70 million because of the Bloc Québécois' irresponsibility.

Will the member apologize to all Quebeckers for having supported this sellout deal that cost thousands of Quebeckers their jobs?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my answer is no and I will even elaborate. I just want the NDP member to realize that he does not understand Quebec at all.

Every politician, every political party in Quebec, together with the unions and the owners, agreed that the softwood lumber agreement had to be signed. The entire industry and all the politicians moved on. The problem with the NDP is that it is still hung up on the old softwood lumber agreement. All the politicians, all the managers, all those who work in the forestry sector have moved on. What they want to see is a loan program, an assistance program, a modernization program. Once again, it is unfortunate for him, but the NDP is lagging five years behind.

Forestry is a poor example for the NDP. All leaders were actually in favour of signing the agreement. However, after the agreement was signed, they wanted the industry's recovery to be spurred by loan guarantees and modernization assistance programs. The Conservatives did not implement such measures and they were not supported by the other parties in this House, except for the Bloc.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government has forecast a $56 billion deficit in the near future. The Bloc has suggested that the taxes of oil companies and banks be raised and that funding for the military sector be cut. Instead, the Conservative government, with the support of the NDP, is preparing to implement a bill that will not help the unemployed, seasonal workers or forestry workers. In addition, we have seen that the Conservatives, propped up by the NDP, will continue to pillage the EI fund, just as the Liberals did for a number of years.

I would like to hear my colleague explain how the Bloc Québécois intends to continue defending the interests of Quebeckers with the proposals it has made and helping workers with the proposed comprehensive reform of the EI system.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé for his question. He is doing an excellent job in his riding. He summarized the situation very well. First of all, we are, once again, the only party in the House to have proposed a plan to reduce the deficit. That is what we did yesterday.

I would just like to remind the members about something. Yesterday, I listened as the Conservatives boasted that Canada would be the first country to emerge from the crisis. Why is Canada not as deeply mired in the crisis as other countries? Because of our banking system. When I came here as a member in 2000, the first lobbyists I met with in my office were from the banks. They wanted to merge so that they could acquire American banks. The Bloc Québécois decided to fight bank mergers in every committee that addressed the topic. I would say that we were the ones who saved the Canadian economy because if the banks had merged in 2000, 2001, or 2002 as they wanted, they would have acquired American banks and then been rotten to the core just like their American counterparts. That is the truth.

Once again, my colleague is right, the Bloc is a visionary party for Quebeckers and also for Canadians. If our House colleagues take advantage of that and draw on our good ideas, both Quebec and Canada will be much better off.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member talks about Conservatives having a crystal ball. All members in the House know the Bloc, and we can predict one thing for sure, that the Bloc will continue the politics of division in this country.

We have a very strong auto industry in Oshawa, but what the member conveniently forgets is our support for the aerospace industry in Quebec. He also forgets that the auto industry is huge in Quebec. The auto parts industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in Quebec that employs thousands of people.

With his comments today, what we have seen for certain with our crystal ball is that the Bloc does not support auto industry workers in Quebec and, by extension, it does not support auto industry workers in Ontario or anywhere else across the country where the industry sources parts. Again, it is a sad day. These politics of division are pitting one area of the country against the other, one industry within Quebec against another.

I want him to answer this very simple question. For all the years the Bloc has been in Parliament, can he name one thing the Bloc has actually delivered to industry in Quebec or to anyone in Quebec?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to correct one thing the hon. member said.

The only thing the Bloc is asking for—and I said this in my speech—is that the Conservatives put as much effort into the forestry sector as they have into the automobile industry. It is not complicated. The crisis in the forestry sector started five years ago and the Conservatives have been in power for four of those years. That is what we have always asked for: that the same effort be made. When I provided the figures earlier, I compared both industries. The hon. member is from Oshawa. He is quite pleased that the automobile industry received $9.6 billion. I am from Quebec. The forestry sector, which represents 25% of Quebec's economy, was promised $70 million, but it only received $56 million. That is all we wanted to point out.