House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Human Trafficking
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

February 10th, 2009 / 10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, we continue to receive numerous petitions from all across Canada, from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario, imploring the government to continue its good work in stopping the trafficking of young children. More and more police agencies, the RCMP and police organizations are being included in these petitions as well as ordinary citizens and especially non-government organizations such as churches, the Salvation Army and people like that. Many advisory councils from schools are also sending in petitions now, so I would like to present these to the House.

Interprovincial Bridge
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of once again presenting a petition signed by the residents of the national capital region concerning heavy truck traffic in the downtown, the very heart of the nation's capital.

These petitioners are worried that the construction of a new bridge will not eliminate this truck traffic. The petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to direct the National Capital Commission to proceed with an in-depth study of a bridge between the Canotek industrial park and the Gatineau airport, which is option number 7 of the first phase of the interprovincial crossings environmental assessment and a position that is now also supported by the governments of Ontario and Quebec.

Transportation of Animals
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, this petition is primarily from residents of the greater Toronto area but also from the province of Alberta. It has to do with the health and safety of the transportation of animals. It says that the undersigned citizens of Canada petition the House of Commons to amend the animal transport regulations under Canada's Health of Animals Act to be consistent with the findings of the EU scientific committee on animal health and welfare, to reduce transport time for pigs, poultry, horses, calves and lambs to 8 hours, and 12 hours for cattle, sheep, goats, and ensure adequate enforcement of the regulations. The petitioners ask that the amendments be passed quickly.

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by literally thousands of Canadians who call upon Parliament to recognize that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known. Yet, Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world.

Canada spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use. Therefore, the petitions call upon Parliament to ban asbestos in all of its forms and to end all government subsidies of the asbestos industry, both in Canada and abroad, and to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos such as the Rotterdam convention.

Income Trusts
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 and as certified by the clerk, I am pleased to present a petition which has about 7,000 signatures submitted so far on the subject matter of income trusts. This petition comes from residents in the areas of Park Royal, Clarkson, Port Credit and Lakeview.

The petitioners continue to be concerned about the problem that occurred in 2006. They recall that the Prime Minister said that there is no greater fraud than a promise not kept. He emphatically promised during the election in 2006 that he would not tax income trusts. The petitioners point out that he did break that promise and imposed a 31.5% punitive tax on income trusts.

The independent experts also point out that the finance committee has shown that the finance minister's decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions, and I remember because I participated in those hearings. The petitioners therefore ask the Government of Canada to admit that the methodology was flawed and apologize to the holders of income trusts, and to repeal the 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from February 9, 2009 consideration of the motion that Bill C-10, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee and of the motion that this question be now put.

BUDGET IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this bill. Because this is the first time I have made a speech since the election, I would like to greet my constituents, who, for the sixth time, gave me a mandate in this House with a wonderful majority. I cannot thank them enough. They can be proud of the job I will do, and I will work very hard for them.

We all know that an economic crisis like the one we are going through affects not only companies and municipalities, but all the men and women in Quebec and Canada. We asked that the budget include exceptional measures that we considered imperative and that all Quebeckers wanted. Instead, the government cut these measures.

The government cut $1 billion from our equalization transfer payments. Imagine how that will affect job creation, assistance for businesses and families and help for our day care system in Quebec. All that money from equalization transfers would have helped carry on all the wonderful work that has begun in Quebec.

But that money has been cut this year, and it will be cut in the years to come. The government is going to do everything it can to chip away at Quebec, in any event. Quebec will always be penalized, and that is unacceptable. The National Assembly had reached a consensus on this. The government has written Quebec off. I cannot wait to see how the Conservative members from Quebec are going to react during the next election campaign and how the Liberal members from Quebec are going to boast about this budget they voted for.

The securities commission is also a priority for the Bloc Québécois. There again, there is a consensus in Quebec. The government wants to create a pan-Canadian securities commission. Once again, they want to duplicate the work that we have already done. We do not need it in Quebec. We already have a solid structure in place; we have our own commission. Henceforth, we will be dealing with a commission to be headquartered where? Probably in Toronto; certainly not in Quebec. That is another budget item.

These are the two main reasons why we will vote against the budget implementation bill. But that is not all. There are a number of other factors at issue that are of grave concern to me as a woman.

There is the matter of pay equity. My colleagues in this House and I are not the only ones to have fought for it. There are so many groups of women who fought for pay equity. My mother fought so that one day we would have equal pay for equal work. That is not too much to ask. And now we will be unable to appeal to the courts; we will be prevented from having the same salary. In this House, as my colleague said yesterday, men and women receive equal pay. But that is not the case elsewhere. I have been in that situation several times. I have seen cases in my riding. You just cannot imagine. Women come to me to ask what recourse they have. They do the same work as a man but are not entitled to the same wages. Sometimes they have to work even harder.

This is an injustice that should no longer exist and one that the Conservative Party, once again, did not pay any attention to. It is unacceptable to take us back in time, unacceptable for women. With such a position, there will be fewer and fewer women in all spheres of elected activity—I mean municipal government, boards of directors, and at the provincial, even the federal level. Fewer and fewer women will want to get involved, because women are not recognized as equal to men. The battles will begin again, the same ones as 40 or 50 years ago, because our government is moving us back in time instead of ahead.

I can tell hon. members that my recent discussions with some women were in that vein. They were not interested in getting involved, because they would never achieve pay equity. This is an aberrant situation and one we will challenge.

There are some that say that people in the arts are living high off the hog. That is wrong, totally wrong. There is plenty of artistic activity in my riding. There are plenty of musicians and painters, and they do not have an easy time of it. They are really just living on the poverty line. What is more, they have just had funding taken away from them. These people travelled abroad often and I myself have travelled to Japan with a delegation of artists. I did this at my own expense in order to give them a chance to gain recognition and meet with Japanese artists. Now they will not be able to do this any more. Foreign artists will be encouraged to come here but our artists will not be encouraged to travel elsewhere. This is another aberrant situation. Are we going to just close up like an oyster?

There is another point I want to make. This Conservative government is taking a piecemeal approach. It has no vision for the future. There is a budget for two years but the measures it contains will not be renewable. I will not even address the Kyoto protocol. We can see that there is nothing in the budget to encourage sustainable development or the measures already in place.

In my riding, CEVEQ has been conducting studies on electric automobiles for 10 years, which is fantastic. They are studying vehicles from California and electric buses, things that we could eventually use here. The government is showing no willingness to make the environment a priority in this House.

I look at youth today—my daughter is studying architecture and the environment and is looking at the current potential to build green buildings and homes. We have extraordinary possibilities ahead of us, but the government is not doing anything to actually implement them.

Geothermal must also be studied. I was not very familiar with it, but my daughter explained to me exactly what it is. It is the future and so we must seriously consider it. It does not pollute. There are a number of products that do not pollute, such as solar and wind energy. Why are we not investing in these areas instead of, once again, investing in oil companies?

I was reading an article this morning in which the Conservatives said that Bombardier did not need the government's help. Ottawa is saying that Bombardier does not need the government's help. It is unbelievable. They just laid off 1,300 people. Bell Helicopter laid off 600. And yet we are being told that these businesses do not need help. We have to take a serious look at reality and react accordingly. The government has a role to play and it must do so immediately.

To conclude, we are against the implementation of this bill.

BUDGET IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, now that we know the Liberals will support the budget, I would like my hon. Bloc Québécois colleague to explain how the women of the Liberal caucus manage to sleep at night, given that this bill is detrimental to women, that is, to Quebec women and Canadian women alike.

BUDGET IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague for his question. I do not know how they manage to sleep, but they must not be sleeping very well, given the little respect women receive here. They will vote in favour of the bill. The Liberals will vote, with the Conservatives, in favour of the coalition. They formed a coalition and will vote for the bill. So, they have little respect for women.

That is my opinion, it is the opinion of all women and it is the opinion of all the men who will oppose this bill, those of the Bloc and the NDP.

It is both inconceivable and unacceptable to us to lose our rights this way. I will never stop fighting, my life long, so that my children, my daughter, her children, her daughters have the same rights and opportunities as men, one day.

The right to court challenges is vital for women, and it was taken from them. I will never forget that. We will work accordingly to eventually recover that right, which is essential for women facing problems of pay equity.

BUDGET IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Bramalea—Gore—Malton.

I stand to speak to this budget bill with some reluctance. I have many concerns that this budget may have come too late and may be too inadequate to deal with a rapidly worsening economic recession.

However, there are some positive elements in this budget, such as the infrastructure programs, the child tax benefit increase, funding for universities, housing for seniors and aboriginal people, and the availability of credit for troubled businesses and for some people who may need to look at home ownership or mortgages, and an investment increase in regional development issues. Those elements, which are Liberal elements, prompt me to swallow hard and hope for positive results.

At the same time, I am concerned. I am concerned about pay equity and the bill that would take away access to justice for those people who seek pay equity. I am concerned about promises to provinces on equalization that have been broken. I am concerned about inadequate changes to employment insurance that would not address the escalating job losses. I am concerned about the lack of a national housing strategy when we know that in every municipality in this country there is a huge housing deficit.

I am concerned that this is a lost opportunity to invest in green investments, in new technologies that would bring about green investments. I am also concerned that there is insufficient money for research and development. In fact, there is a cut to the major granting organizations for R and D in this country.

This is not a time to tip Canada's already precarious balance, and it would be irresponsible for us to play politics and call an election now. Therefore, as I said, I am speaking to this budget with reluctance.

I will discuss some of the things that concern me about this budget. This is why we put the Conservative government on notice and on probation. There are many elements in this budget that we are concerned about simply because they were elements in past budgets which never materialized. In other words, promises were made and there was never any money for implementation and none of the things actually occurred. There is also some smoke and mirrors, which is repetition of old programs that have been rejigged so that they sound like new programs but they have not changed at all.

That is why we are going to keep tabs. That is why we are saying that come March, come June and come December, we will not only look at accountability from the government but we will look at outcomes and results. Did the government achieve what it said it was going to achieve? Was this a good enough stimulus package? Did that money flow? Were the investments actually made?

I will give an example to show why I am concerned. There was an announcement in past budgets of $33 billion in infrastructure over seven years. In year one the money never materialized. In year two we only saw $80 million of that money materialize, and 78% of those infrastructure projects were in Conservative-held ridings.

The question is, do we trust the government not to play patronage games, not to pork-barrel in some of the ridings? Is this really helping? Are they good infrastructure projects? What happened to the $33 billion over seven years? Has that gone? Is it being replaced now by something new? We are waiting to see whether this money will flow.

On EI, up front it looks like there is going to be more money for more people to get EI, but is it going to happen? The government promised that it would deal with maternity benefits for women who are self-employed. Now the government says it is going to study it again. We have been studying these things for quite a while. The question is, what are the results going to be and is it adequate enough?

I come from B.C. The three major sectors that are impacted right now are the manufacturing sector, the automotive sector and the forestry sector. Most of the forestry industry in Canada has been hit hard by an American dollar that was lower than we expected, by a softwood lumber deal that left $1 billion on the table and was completely inadequate, and by a recession in the U.S. where building is not occurring so we cannot sell our wood.

There was one other big thing that happened to make B.C. worse off than any other part of Canada with regard to forestry. That is the pine beetle which we could not stop. It is there eating away at 75% of the pine forest. In 2006, the government promised $200 million toward the pine beetle issue, for restructuring, job retraining and new economies. In 2006, the government promised another $200 million. We are talking about $400 million promised over two years. One hundred million dollars of that has been seen. Where is the other $300 million? Now we see in this budget that there is going to be $85 million a year for two years for the whole of Canada. Is that in addition to the $300 million that is missing?

These are the questions we want to ask. What is happening to that money when whole towns and communities in British Columbia are closing down? People are walking away from their homes. What is happening with the B.C. forestry industry? Are we going to do anything to help British Columbia survive? It is losing more jobs than any other province in Canada at the moment.

These are real people that we are talking about who are walking away from their homes, whose kids cannot finish college. This is a real problem.

There is trade and the gateway coming from British Columbia. We saw Mr. Chrétien and the Liberal government build relationships with China and with Asia because at the moment we do 80% of our trade with the United States. This is nice, but who does good business with only one client? We cannot put all of our eggs in one basket, however, we did. Now that our client is in a recession, and we hear the IMF saying possibly a depression, we are losing business. We are not selling. About 45% of our GDP depends upon trade. What are we doing about this?

We could have continued the relationships that Mr. Chrétien started. We could have built the gateway that Mr. Martin talked about under Liberal governments. That has not happened. Now we find that the relationship has gone backward because the Prime Minister of Canada has instead actually created negative relationships with China.

We are putting money into tourism. The biggest middle class today that is spending money as tourists are the Chinese. Canada is not a most preferred destination because China and Canada have lost a relationship that was so strong dating back to Bethune, and this Prime Minister has created a problem in the relationship.

What are we really going to do here? How are we going to make a difference?

I want to talk about arts and culture. This is an industry that brings $84.6 billion into the gross domestic product. This is an industry that creates 1.1 million jobs. This is an industry with $5 billion worth in trading and cultural products. Instead, we see smoke and mirrors again.

The minister did put in new money. The minister put in money for cultural spaces, which is a one-time boost of $30 million a year. We see him put $25 million into awards, which is a new program, and we see him put new money into festivals, but that is not all that arts and culture is about.

We see him repeat the things that are already there. He called them something new but it is not new money. It is the same thing reiterated in this budget, for instance, $100 million to the Canadian Television Fund. That has been there forever. There is $15 million for magazine publishing. That is what we have been putting into that every year for the past 10 years. There is $15 million for the Canada music fund. That has always been there.

We are wondering about the smoke and mirrors. We are wondering whether the government will do something about the cancelling of the trade routes program because for every dollar lost in those programs, $5 is lost to the GDP in Canada, and thousands of jobs have been lost.

Let us talk about some of the things that will cause an economic stimulus.

Finally, there are jobs, jobs, jobs. This is the saddest cut of all.

I came into politics in 1992 as a physician because I had no pill to help the people who came to see me who had just lost their jobs or their homes. There was the 55-year-old man who had no other job but the one he had worked at for 30 years and did not know what to do. He had to take his kids out of college. There was the young couple who overextended themselves to get a mortgage and now have new baby. One of them lost a job and they do not know what to do.

These are real people. We are told that there were 71,000 jobs lost in December and 129,000 jobs lost in January alone. That is a nice statistic. That is a scary statistic, but real people are hurting. It is real people who have nowhere to go.

It is at this time when government should come to the rescue of its citizens. It is when citizens have to depend upon their government to be there for them. When I came here in 1992, the government had abandoned its people. I am suggesting now that we cannot stand by and watch government abandon its people again. Those real people are somebody's kids and somebody's parents.

This is why this party is putting the government on notice. We are watching it. We are monitoring its results. We are making sure it does what it said it was going to do. We are going to see if it makes a difference. We are going to see if instead of reacting constantly, there is a proactivity, there is a keeping track of what is happening, and there is change made so that we can help real Canadians to get back to work and to move this economy again.

BUDGET IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech on the needs of people in an economic crisis, and I asked myself a question.

We are probably at the dawning of another election campaign. When the Liberals were in power, they plundered between $50 billion and $55 billion from the employment insurance fund and took money from the old age guaranteed income supplement fund. So they owe income money to seniors.

Should the Liberals be next in office, could the money from the old age guaranteed income supplement—money taken from seniors, the $55 billion or $56 billion taken from the unemployed over the years they were in office—be returned to these people, since they seem to be very sensitive to persons in need?

BUDGET IMPLEMENTATION ACT, 2009
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to answer the part first and foremost about the GIS. The Liberal government put money into GIS in the last two budgets before we stopped being government.

I want to talk about employment insurance. It used to be, as we well know, unemployment insurance. We had to deal with changing it to meet the needs of people who were no longer in for six months collecting unemployment but for whom unemployment had become a way of life under the last Conservative government. We had to shift the way the program worked.

I think there is more than just putting money into employment insurance right now. We need to look at whether employment insurance as it stands today will meet the needs of a totally changing job structure, a totally changing reality in terms of job losses and in terms of new jobs. We need to be able to be progressive in terms of meeting the needs, not only of people who work in the employer-employee type of work but people who are self-employed, people who do not know what to do when they can no longer find clients.

We need to rejig the whole employment insurance system and make it work for people.