House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was drugs.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, on the subject of employment insurance for self-employed workers, I want to remind the House that we wanted to extend EI benefits by five weeks. The Bloc voted against that.

We wanted to relax the work sharing rules; they also voted against that. We increased the amounts for workforce training; they also voted against that.

We wanted to add 5 to 20 weeks for long-tenured workers; they also voted against that. And they are getting ready once again to vote against what we want to do to help self-employed workers.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, the Conservatives did everything they could to prevent the former chief actuary for the Employment Insurance Commission from testifying, because they knew that, like us, he was going to condemn the injustice being done to self-employed workers in Quebec, who will be paying three times what they should into the plan.

The government should stop saying the same thing all the time and tell us how it can possibly defend such blatant inequity.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, people know that group insurance costs less than private insurance.

As a government, we made a commitment to provide special benefits for self-employed workers, and we took the situation in Quebec into account. The contribution rate for workers there will be $1.36 instead of $1.73, which is affordable. Self-employed workers had been asking us for special benefits for a long time, and they will receive those benefits thanks to us, the Conservatives.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government continues to pay lip service to accountability. It is time to put its money where its mouth is.

There is clear evidence that the Minister of Natural Resources violated the Conflict of Interest Code. The Ethics Commissioner has written that the evidence clearly shows an inquiry is warranted.

Will the government stop covering up the minister's misconduct and ensure that a full investigation is conducted without government obstruction?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this matter is currently before independent officers of this House. I think it is best to allow them to do their work independently, free from political interference.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives seem to think that they are above the law. Transparency, honesty and accountability are words that they do not seem to understand.

Will the minister step down while officials try to get to the bottom of this? That would be the proper thing to do.

If the minister refuses, will the Prime Minister assume his responsibilities and relieve her of her duties?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this government has brought forward the most comprehensive anti-corruption legislation in Canadian history.

We raised the ethical bar. We banned big money from politics and political campaigns, and eliminated entirely the role of corporations and unions in donating to political parties. We gave added independence to the independent officers of Parliament so they can properly and independently do their job, and we will allow them to continue to do that.

Federal Properties
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, recent media reports have alluded to mysterious and secretive investigations at the Department of Public Works and Government Services.

Could the minister confirm, one, that an investigation is indeed currently under way and, two, that it relates to suspected irregularities in the government's sell-off of federal properties?

Federal Properties
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, Public Works and Government Services is aware of these investigations, and I can make no further comment at this time.

Federal Properties
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, but that was not an answer. We need an answer. If an investigation is currently underway, we need details. I specifically asked if the investigation was linked to suspected irregularities in the sale of government assets.

Federal Properties
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, under our government, the new laws we have established and the criteria for accountability and transparency are clear. We will continue along that road.

Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, provincial taxation is a provincial responsibility and the provinces should choose what suits them best. The previous federal Liberal government allowed three willing provinces, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, to harmonize new value-added taxes with the federal one. We believe that all provinces should have the right to make their own tax decisions.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please update the House what we have done to respect provincial tax choice?

Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, out of respect for provincial autonomy, we will facilitate any province's decision to switch to a harmonized value-added tax. This requires legislative changes to provide a framework that will be equally available to any province that chooses to fully harmonize value-added tax. Any framework of this sort does not affect federal revenue or federal spending, and therefore is not a confidence measure.

Next week we will ask Parliament to confirm the right of provinces to choose a harmonized value-added tax.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the national round table on the environment and the economy says northern communities will need lots of help to adapt to the effects of climate change. Storm surges are threatening Tuktoyaktuk. Permafrost is melting causing roads and infrastructure to fail. Wildlife, such as caribou, is being threatened by changes to its ecosystem. All of these things are threatening the economic and human development of the north.

Does the government have a plan to help the north deal with the rapidly spreading effects of the changing climate?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal approach is to add a massive carbon tax on the north. Our government understands that, as a northern country, Canada is particularly vulnerable to climate change. That is why the Mayo B hydro project in Yukon was the first project to receive federal funding of $71 million for the new green infrastructure fund. Since 2007 the federal government has invested over $85 million to help Canadians adapt to climate change, $21 million of which was specifically directed to communities in the north. There is the massive expansion of Nahanni, and on and on. We are getting it done for the north.