House of Commons Hansard #21 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2009
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Saint-Hubert on her speech.

I would like to hear more about the cuts. Filmmaker Jacques Godbout wants to save the NFB. The National Film Board has also suffered cuts and lacks money. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that. That is part of this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, this government knows nothing about what artists need. It knows absolutely nothing. It is not making increases where they are needed. For example, the Canada Council's budget should be increased more. The government has cut money for the arts. It has cut $45 million from programs, which is preventing artists from travelling abroad.

It has given $25 million to a phoney Canada prize when the partners in that prize do not even know about it. The prize was a cut-and-paste job, lifted into the federal budget. The government knows nothing and has slashed budgets that allowed our artists to exhibit and perform abroad.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Madam Speaker, as I rise today, all members of Parliament on both sides of the House understand that Canada is facing a storm of strong economic and financial headwinds, and we are feeling the turbulence of all this.

The impact has been greater and more extensive than originally stated by the Prime Minister during the recent federal election campaign. When we combine this with a more rapid deterioration in global economic growth, it has necessitated a discussion about substantial government intervention.

As industries such as automotive, forestry, mining and other sectors face uncertain times, as legislators we have a responsibility to respond to the concerns of people. It is the right thing to do, since we are dealing with potentially millions of Canadians who could lose their jobs, homes and savings.

These are difficult times and we need to do all we can to improve the present economic situation.

In 1993 the Liberal Party was challenged by what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. We inherited a $42 billion deficit, double digit unemployment, skyrocketing debt and a tax system that was stifling economic growth. The record shows that while we were in office, we successfully eliminated the deficit, paid down the debt, created over three million new jobs and significantly reduced taxes, while we were dealing with externalities such as SARS and September 11.

All this was achieved in partnership and with the support of Canadians. It was a clear illustration of our resiliency as a people.

The present crisis and global economic uncertainty will test us once again. Ideas such as expediting infrastructure, investing in housing, building strong, sustainable and flexible labour markets, as well as training initiatives, supporting traditional and emerging sectors and improving access to credit must all be considered.

I believe we can in fact get through this difficult period, provided we adhere to some well defined principles which will address our short-term urgency without creating long-term negative repercussions.

We must first protect and help create jobs in Canada while respecting the taxpayer's dollar.

Truck drivers, hotel workers, people with small businesses, all Canadian taxpayers will be asked to contribute to proposed bailouts and billion dollar aid packages. Sometimes these individuals will be subsidizing workers whose salaries are much higher than theirs, as well as providing financial support to companies that may have misread and misunderstood the changing dynamics of the global marketplace. As Canadians, we have always shared in the risks and benefits of our common citizenship, however, we need to ask this fundamental question. Is this the best use of taxpayer dollars?

The answer to this question will vary according to the specifics of the proposal. Investments that create and expand opportunities should be supported, while others that offer no reasonable chance of success must be discarded. In evaluating the many options before government, it is important to assess the opportunity costs of the proposed measures.

Government's role must be clear. The priority must be to set up an overall framework that will encourage economic growth and job creation.

Canadians also need to have a sense that they can trust the managers of the economy, namely, the government. This is an issue that has arisen in conversations across the riding as I speak to constituents. Whether in schools or coffee shops, when I visit their factories and places of work, they often comment on the challenge they have when it comes to the Prime Minister's announcement during the election campaign, and they are referring to the issue of the deficit.

In September, the Prime Minister said that there would not be a recession in Canada and that we would be fine as long as we did not do stupid things, such as running a deficit.

In October, he suggested that the market represented some good buying opportunities for Canadians.

In November, his failed economic statement promised a surplus for the next five years. Twelve days later, the Bank of Canada announced that we were in recession.

In December, he admitted that his government would run a deficit of $20 billion to $30 billion.

In January, he said that his deficit would be closer to $40 billion. Once budget 2009 was tabled, we saw that the government was running a deficit in the current 2008-09 fiscal year.

So Canadians are concerned, and rightly so. After all, he is viewed as the leader of this country.

I believe that the federal government, in partnership with other governments, business and labour, must work to attain its economic objectives. As part of setting the framework, we must be committed to fiscal accountability, transparency and responsibility. On the tax front, our system must be globally competitive on both the personal and the business sides. We must encourage and reward work, investment, innovation and productivity.

Finally, no country in this world can survive in the long term without meaningful investment in people. This means providing opportunities for training and financial support during job transitions, as well as investing in individuals such as immigrants and aboriginal Canadians, who are consistently underemployed and whose potential remains largely unfulfilled. When aboriginal Canadians' potential is unfulfilled and when immigrants' potential is unfulfilled, our country's potential is not fulfilled.

During these times, we need to make the safety net more responsive and flexible to the changing nature of the labour market. This will guarantee that our human resources will be maximized.

All this must be done without sacrificing spending in areas such as research and development. Such a cut is shortsighted, due to the immense opportunity this area offers in modernizing the economy and providing stimulus for new ideas, new products and new services.

Tempting as it may sometimes be to look inward during difficult economic times, Canada must look at and place a high priority on expanding trade, which forces firms to specialize, to become more productive and to modernize. While recent events have put into question the regulatory framework of financial institutions in economic systems worldwide, I believe it would be ill-advised to impose on Canada's private sector and financial institutions a regulatory regime that would impede growth, innovation and job creation.

On the issue of infrastructure, infrastructure investments are also necessary to address the major deficit in this area. This is an example of smart investment, which will enhance the abilities of our cities, our communities and our country to compete and to maintain an economy that functions well, one in which goods and services move freely and efficiently.

On that point, I believe the government needs to release the funds for these infrastructure programs and not let the funds lapse, which would create a larger deficit for many of the communities that we proudly represent in this House.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech given by my hon. colleague, whom I knew in the past as the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance when Mr. Martin was the finance minister. Today he is telling us that a good securities commission system is needed. He is not specifying exactly what kind of organization is needed.

Does this mean that he finds the current system to be effective, as the OECD has said? The OECD ranked our system as second in the world in terms of efficiency. There is a consensus in Quebec to the effect that the existing securities commission should continue its work. That is the unanimous consensus of the three parties in the Quebec National Assembly and the entire business community.

Does he not find it inappropriate that this federal government decided to include the creation of a centralist approach to securities regulation in a budget implementation bill? Will the path of non-participation, the voluntary choice of companies, not simply nullify the jurisdiction of the Commission des valeurs mobilières du Québec as it currently exists and as desired by Quebec society as a whole?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Madam Speaker, I thought the hon. member was paying careful attention to my speech, but perhaps he was not, because I did not address the issue of the national regulator. What I said was that I believe we need to have the most efficient labour market system that we can, including a financial system that speaks to allowing greater investments within Canada.

The focus of my comments was to outline clearly that certain principles are needed when one is creating a new environment to bring about and spur on economic growth. They include having a plan to eliminate the deficit, which is absent in the present budget; having a plan to invest in human resources; a clear statement in respect of taxpayers' dollars; a competitive tax system that rewards work, innovation and productivity enhancement in an economy; and investments in infrastructure.

I was commenting on this particular issue as it relates to the fact that the present government has lapsed money while communities are looking for funding to improve their quality of life and the economic efficiencies of their own local economies. I do not understand why there is such a government lag on this particular issue.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I know my colleague is intimately aware of research and innovation in Canada. One of the concerns we are hearing increasingly about the budget is that it has provided cuts to the research community.

In my own community, Gerry Johnston from Dalhousie very quickly sent me a note, even while the budget was being unveiled, to say that we are losing money on the tri-councils, and all the research investments made by the Liberal government to make Canada such a research magnet and to reverse the brain drain are being reversed. Cuts to the tri-councils have caused real hardship and will cause much more.

I wonder if my colleague could comment on the cuts to research and innovation.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour really cares about that question, because I see him working very hard with our caucus on this particular issue of research and development.

We Liberals understand that research and development is really an engine for new ideas, for new systems of thinking and for the type of innovation that brings about economic growth, usually creating high-paying jobs and thereby increasing the income levels of Canadians.

The field of scientific research and development is one of the fundamental points that the government opposite needs to get its head around. We cannot be cutting in areas that create economic growth while we are facing a recession. It is not smart policy for the present or for the future.

Carly MacNeil Bunyan
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 23, 2009, Carly MacNeil Bunyan of Cape Breton passed away.

Carly was an amazing young woman who attained many remarkable accomplishments in her 26 years of life. She graduated from high school in 2000 as female athlete of the year and went on to study at the University of Maine. During her second year of study, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to take a break from her studies. However, as she expressed in her own words, “Giving up means you have to quit. I decided not to give up”.

Staying true to her words, Carly went on to graduate in 2006. Carly participated twice in the Canada Games and still holds provincial records for the triple jump across four age classes. She was involved in many different sports in her lifetime and was an inspirational speaker at various events.

One year ago, Carly's brain tumour returned and eventually the cancer overtook her, but she made a gallant fight. Through it all, she was always more concerned with others than herself.

On behalf of all members of the House, my condolences go out to Carly's family and friends.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, nearly four years have passed since the previous Liberal government came to an agreement with the United States on the matter of Devils Lake. At the time, the U.S. agreed to put a high-quality permanent filter in place and build an advanced biota treatment facility for the outlet.

To date the American government has failed to honour its part of the agreement. Every spring the State of North Dakota opens the gate. Last year the outlet continued to operate with a grossly inadequate gravel filter, causing the flow of foreign species into Canadian waters, compromising Manitoba's fresh water supply and threatening Lake Winnipeg's ecosystem.

Despite this, the government does little. The regional minister denies the existence of the agreement and sees little problem with the current situation.

Spring runoff is around the corner. Once water levels start to rise, the gates will open with a faulty filter. The government must request the new Obama administration to take urgent action. The Conservative government must move rapidly to resolve this very important transborder issue.

Quebec City Chamber of Commerce
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year the Quebec City chamber of commerce is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its founding. The purpose of this organization is not only to support business people but, above all, to make a significant contribution to the social and economic life of the provincial capital which has transformed itself from a trading post to a modern city recognized by UNESCO.

It has also contributed to the development of the capital by supporting various projects crucial to the development of transportation: the port, the airport and the proposed high-speed train. It was an innovator in the development of tourism when it launched the Quebec Carnival in 1954. It has supported the expansion of the high technology industry in its seven research centres.

The Bloc Québécois congratulates the Quebec City chamber of commerce on its 200th anniversary and encourages business people of the Quebec City area to continue their constant, dynamic development.

International Women's Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to acknowledge the upcoming International Women's Day. March 8 will be a day to teach, to honour women and to share the stories of women around the world. In my riding of Halifax, an inspiring array of events is planned to recognize International Women's Day, including a public panel discussion called “Get Caught Up in the Action! Women's Movements and Change”, hosted by Oxfam.

I will also be pleased to take part in a conference on women and leadership hosted by the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, this coming weekend. As we continue to fight for the rights of women in this very chamber, I want to acknowledge Nova Scotians who have taken a lead in honouring the struggles of women worldwide. Happy International Women's Day.

Retirement of Red Deer College President
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to highlight one of the real treasures in my riding of Red Deer.

There are members in the House who have either taught at or were enrolled at Red Deer College. They know that Red Deer College is a jewel in Alberta's crown. RDC is a sports juggernaut in volleyball and hockey. It also boasts one of the finest academic teams. RDC is now preparing for its next phase, the centre for health and the centre for sport and wellness.

I would like to take the time today to honour the president of Red Deer College, Ron Woodward, who will be stepping down this year after 10 years at the helm. When Ron began as president of Red Deer College, there were about 3,500 credit students. Today there are nearly twice as many. Ron is a giant in our community. Generally speaking, if something is going on in Red Deer, the name Ron Woodward is attached to it.

His contributions are appreciated, and his leadership will be missed. We wish him the best for the future, and I thank him.

Gang Violence
Statements By Members

March 2nd, 2009 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with some dismay that many citizens of my riding of Newton—North Delta have seen over the past few weeks the issue of gang violence suddenly being redrawn along partisan battle lines.

I hear from my constituents and even my fellow members on the other side of the House that this state of emergency requires we put aside all our partisan brinkmanship and work together on real solutions to address the problem of gang violence right now.

I want to thank B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal and B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen for coming to Ottawa last week to build support. I urge the government to act on their recommendations for a serious action plan on gang violence.

Aurorasaurus
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, paleontologists need only travel as far as Aurora, Ontario to find dinosaurs rising out of the earth.

For its second year, the Aurorasaurus community event took place last weekend on Bigwin Drive. Steve Taylor, the unsung hero behind this colossal endeavour, arranges to have 80 tonnes of snow delivered to his front yard in mid-February. Out of this, with days of his time invested, Steve created a 50 foot long, 20 foot high dinosaur complete with a mouth full of teeth. It is a sight to behold.

Steve, together with a very special group of neighbours and friends, invites Aurora to attend the event and to make a contribution to the Children's Wish Foundation.

This year Steve and his volunteers and helpers raised more than $3,000 in cold cash for the Children's Wish Foundation.

Our community and the many children who will benefit from his efforts thank Steve, his family and the Bigwin neighbourhood for their generosity. Aurora is a better place because they live there.

Forestry Industry
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the president and CEO of the Quebec Forest Industry Council, Guy Chevrette, recently addressed the members of the Standing Committee on Finance. He attacked the falsehoods perpetuated by the Conservatives to the effect that, because of the softwood lumber agreement, loan guarantees cannot be given to the forestry industry.

That is false, utterly and completely false. Loan guarantees provided at commercial rates do not contravene the softwood lumber agreement. The Conservatives have not been able to point to the section of this agreement that would prove otherwise.

It is high time that we helped this languishing industry, which is the lifeblood for several Quebec regions, including Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. The $170 million allocated for marketing and innovation is not enough. The Conservatives must stop treating this Quebec industry and its workers with contempt.