House of Commons Hansard #32 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question. Of course, both the Liberals and the Conservatives have short-changed Quebeckers. In my opinion, Quebeckers understand that there is only one way to get out of this parliament, which is becoming partisan. The Conservatives are trying to get votes, as we saw in the most recent budget. They are trying to get votes in Ontario by giving more to the auto industry, but they are forgetting Quebec, because they get fewer votes in Quebec.

In my opinion, this is doing nothing for Quebec's social, economic and political development. If we controlled our own economic and political levers, had sovereignty and could use all our own tax revenues, we would not be caught up in this situation, this political squabbling, that threatens our very development.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today in connection with the Liberal Party motion concerning vote 35, that is the interim vote of $3 billion. Let us review the motion itself:

That, due to the extraordinary nature of the spending authority proposed in Treasury Board Vote 35 in the Main Estimates for 2009-2010, this House calls upon the government to table in the House, by April 3rd, 2009, a list of the departments and programs which are likely to require access to this extraordinary authority;

on each occasion that the government uses Vote 35, this House calls upon the government to table in the House, within one sitting day of each such use, a report disclosing:

(a) the name and location of each project to which the funding is being provided (including the federal electoral district in which it is located),

(b) the amount of federal funding,

(c) the department and program under which the federal funding is being provided,

(d) what each project is intended to achieve in fighting the recession, and why it requires recourse to Vote 35 rather than any other source of funds;

that each such report shall be posted on a publicly accessible government website, and referred immediately to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and to the Auditor General.

To begin with, the fact that the government wishes to appropriate the means by which taxpayers' dollars are to be spent is totally unsatisfactory and disrespectful of democracy. Let us start off by acknowledging that the Conservative budget is clearly insufficient and unacceptable for Quebec. I will take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to give you an example of this, since I know you are very attentive to the question.

In the last budget, the forestry industry is allocated an envelope of $170 million, while close to $4 billion in loans are offered to the auto industry. A rapid calculation if we put those two amounts together gives 4% for forestry and 96% for the auto industry. This is unequal and unacceptable.

I am thinking today of the workers at Abitibi-Bowater in Gatineau, who are waiting for another downsizing exercise. This paper mill employed 1450 in 1992, but the figure had dropped to 580 in 2007 and is now less than 400. Abitibi-Bowater, the biggest newsprint producer in the world, is now involved in debt restructuring. Its deadline for announcing its plan is tonight.

It is quite understandable for workers to be holding their breath, because they are wondering, quite simply, whether there will be more job losses. We have to feel for these folks. The budget does not.

We can certainly understand the remarks by Gaston Carrière, the president of section 142 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, which has a membership of some 370 tradesmen at the Gatineau pulp and paper mill. In this morning's Le Droit, he criticizes the federal government's lack of intervention to help the forestry industry while the automotive industry in Canada is getting nearly $4 billion in loans. Pulp and paper in Canada has lost 25,000 jobs in the past two years or so. It is scandalous.

Mr. Carrière went on to say that they had been through streamlining, that the Gatineau plant was among the most efficient and that they had worked to increase productivity and competitiveness. He pointed out that the government helps the automotive industry and the oil industry in the west.

Mr. Carrière is not very impressed by the Prime Minister of Canada and his refusal to help the forestry industry.

In the light of Mr. Carrière's remarks, we reiterate that the Conservative budget is totally inadequate and unacceptable to Quebec. In addition, the Liberal party failed to assume its responsibilities and preferred to have the budget passed, a budget that did not meet Quebeckers' needs.

Out of concern for rigorous management of public funds, the Bloc québécois opposes giving the federal government a blank cheque for $3 billion.

The federal government has been negligent in the past in its management of secret funds, as the sponsorship scandal revealed.

The Liberal party will give the Conservative government the sum of $3 billion, which will not be under the control of Parliament.

The Liberal motion does not alter the fact that the Conservative government will be able to spend the $3 billion however it likes.

The Liberal motion obliges the government to be accountable, albeit minimally, in managing the $3 billion under vote 35.

Despite the passage of this motion, the Bloc will continue to hound the Conservative government to ensure that the money invested from this secret fund will be spent legitimately. The details sought by the Liberal party are a start, for sure, but quite inadequate. On the basis of this principle of accountability, we will support this motion.

After the 2009 budget was tabled, the Conservatives tabled with the main estimates, a request for a vote of $3 billion to be spent by June 2009, this coming June, by Treasury Board. So, 11/12 of this vote will be voted on this evening as interim supply.

The details surrounding this vote are unknown and that is the scandal. In other words, under the pretext of rapidly injecting money into the economy, the Conservatives are asking Parliament to sign over a $3 billion blank cheque.

Yet as the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities himself admitted, the political ministers of each region will be consulted concerning the allocation of the money made available by vote 35. This is what I would call favouritism.

In that regard, I would like to quote from a period of questions in the March 5 meeting of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, that is, 19 days ago. My colleague, the transport critic and member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, asked the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities the following question:

My second question is about community recreational facilities. The Minister of State Responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, [the Conservative member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean], announced that his department was prepared to receive applications, but no forms are available. Earlier you mentioned that the [Minister of Public Works and Government Services, the Conservative member for Mégantic—L'Érable], was also looking after this file. Which [of the two ministers] will manage programs for community recreational facilities in Quebec?

The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Conservative member for Ottawa West—Nepean, replied:

I work constructively with all my cabinet colleagues.

Listen carefully, for all is revealed in his next comment.

The political minister in each region is obviously one of the principal advisers whom I would turn to for advice and counsel. [The Conservative member and minister from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean] works for the Regional Economic Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec. Obviously that might be a delivery agent for one or more initiatives. We'll be coming forward in very short order with some specifics on that.

That is favouritism. Is that not scandalous? The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities will consult his colleagues in each region—the Minister of Public Works and Government Services this time and maybe the Minister of State responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec another time—to determine whether the project is worthwhile rather than examining the quality of the project, all without having any criteria. That is favouritism, that is taking taxpayers' money and doing what they want with it. And to do what? To put up a building here, in a riding that did not win a project last time, or to build a road there, in a riding they want to hold onto in the next election. This is an appalling and unacceptable way of doing things.

I am thinking of forestry workers, the paper mill workers in Gatineau today, who will find out tonight if they are still employed. The federal government has money and what does it want to do with the $3 billion? It wants to hand it out to friends because it is not in the least accountable to taxpayers. That is unacceptable and I understand Quebeckers' and Canadians' outcry and revolt against these types of proposals from the Conservative government.

It is shameful. We should be ashamed and vote against a government that acts in this way. We will support the spirit of the motion by voting for it.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Questions and comments for the hon. member for Gatineau will take place after oral question period.

West Grey Premium Beef
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I want to congratulate West Grey Premium Beef, who just took home the top two prizes at Ontario's finest meat competition held by the Ontario Independent Meat Processors, an organization representing 180 different Ontario meat processors.

West Grey's win for best beef steak was announced as part of their annual conference. This family-owned and operated packing plant uses some of the finest cattle produced in my riding. By doing this, the company is able to guarantee consistently high quality beef based upon its flavour, aroma and appearance.

I want to congratulate Doug Calhoun, George Maxwell and Peter Knipfel, and managers Chet Calhoun and Dave Tedford, who together own and manage West Grey Premium Beef. Their commitment to high quality beef makes them an integral part of our community, worthy of our recognition and appreciation.

We have always known that Canada has the best beef in the world, but now we know that West Grey Premium Beef and Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound has the best of the best.

World Tuberculosis Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Glen Pearson London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is World Tuberculosis Day. TB kills 1.7 million people each year. That is one person every 20 seconds. Many of these are among the world's poorest and most vulnerable populations, particularly women, people living with HIV and aboriginal people.

The tragedy is that we know how to fight this epidemic and treating TB costs as little as $20 per person for the life-saving drugs.

In a time of economic crisis, developing countries are hit hard as they feel the effects of the downturn and a decrease in aid dollars. As fiscal belts are tightened, it is important to note that studies show investing in TB control is one of the most cost-effective public health investments that can be made.

The World Bank acknowledged the economic imperative to treat TB in an impact study that showed scaling up funding to fight TB would not only prevent unnecessary sickness and death, it would be cheaper than maintaining the status quo. Canada has been recognized as a leader in TB control, but we are wavering. Canada's actual spending is down $30 million in 2007.

We know how to fight the epidemic and treat the disease in Canada. I would like to ask all members of the House to fight this--

World Tuberculosis Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

Nancy Leduc
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 2009 Winter Special Olympics were held last February 7 to 13 in Boise, Idaho in the United States. Over 3,000 athletes from 85 countries competed in seven sports.

Ten athletes from Quebec took part in these games, constituting the largest Quebec representation since the event was created in 1977.

One member of this delegation was Ms. Nancy Leduc, of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, in my riding, who participated in the snowshoe race event. Ms. Leduc, with her coach Ms. Johanne Noël, went through a stiff regimen of five days’ intensive training per week to prepare for this competition. Her efforts and perseverance bore fruit, for she returned home with three medals, one gold and two bronze.

On my own behalf and that of the Bloc Québécois, I salute Nancy. She is an example of courage and determination for us all.

Post-Secondary Education
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, post-secondary education is important to northern Manitoba and to Canada.

In northern Manitoba we have one of the youngest populations in Canada. People in the north tell us that post-secondary education is key to our future. As a former researcher and instructor at the University College of the North, I have seen the issues firsthand. Canadian students need support.

Aboriginal students across Canada have been calling for adequate funding for their studies and the need for the federal government to respect that education is a treaty right. In terms of research, students, researchers and academics across Canada have decried the cuts and ideological earmarking of research funding. The refusal to see commitments to all research as integral to our economic recovery is damaging to us.

Finally, we need a comprehensive approach to support post-secondary education. We need a long-term commitment to support our institutions, researchers and students in terms of infrastructure, programming and access.

A plan for a strong economic recovery ought to place a priority on post-secondary education.

Human Trafficking
Statements By Members

March 24th, 2009 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, March 25, will mark the 202nd anniversary of the enactment of the Slave Trade Act by the British Parliament. While this monumental act led to the end of the Atlantic slave trade, there are more humans enslaved today than at any given moment throughout history.

Human trafficking is a modern day slave trade that holds over 27 million men, women and children in captivity, and generates more revenue annually than Nike, Google and Starbucks combined.

Dr. David Batstone, co-founder of the Not For Sale Campaign, has led modern day abolitionists to combat human trafficking. I am pleased to commend Dr. David Batstone, Professor Benjamin Perrin and the students of the University of British Columbia Human Trafficking Working Group as well as the Canadian Religious Conference for launching the website, slaverymap.ca last week, a tool to track human trafficking cases in Canada.

I would invite hon. members and all Canadians to visit the website and help end slavery once and for all in our nation.

Vincent Massey Collegiate
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, the Manitoba Association of School Trustees 2009 Premier Award for School Board Innovation was won by Vincent Massey Collegiate in Fort Garry, in Winnipeg, given for its alternative energy array project.

Guided by a student-led sustainable development committee, the school made alternative energy and sustainability a priority for learning and action. After establishing a weather station on the roof of the school and collecting data for nine months, student research determined what energy sources should be focused on and what type of equipment was required to meet those needs.

The goal was to establish a small-scale wind turbine, solar cells, a green roof and a greenhouse. The wind turbine was launched in the fall of 2008. The green roof and solar cells are to be launched in the spring of 2009 and 2010.

Their goal, as stated in their application for the award, is to create a learning environment where—

Vincent Massey Collegiate
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am afraid the hon. member's time has expired.

The hon. member for Edmonton Centre.

Military Spouses
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the military spouse.

While the military member is thousands of miles from home, it is the military spouse who manages the home front.

Whether it is taking the kids to lessons, getting maintenance done on house or car, dealing with bills, attending parent-teacher interviews, taking a sick kid to emergency, tucking in the kids and telling them that daddy or mommy will be home soon, whether it is waiting for the phone call or email from halfway around the world or controlling the gnawing fear when it does not come as expected, whether it is being there for a friend who has lost his or her mate through service to Canada, or living in fear of the black staff car in the driveway, or putting on a brave face when his or her spouse returns early to Trenton, it is the military spouse who bears the burden of service every bit as much as the military member.

It is the military spouse who deserves a medal, because he or she is every bit as heroic as those who wear the maple leaf.

As poet John Milton wrote in the 17th century:

They also serve who only stand and waite.

Truer words were never spoken, and we should all remember the military spouse in our thoughts and prayers.

Kevin and Vince Nells Papatie
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate Kevin and Vince Nells Papatie of the Algonquin community of Kitcisakik on the production of their respective short films L'amendement and Petit Prince. Young filmmakers crossed Canada in a mobile recording studio, Wapinoki Mobile, allowing young people from aboriginal communities to express their culture through film by means of video and musical productions.

L'amendement by Kevin Papatie, which concerns the loss of the Algonquin language, won the award for best film in an aboriginal language at the imagineNATIVE 2008 festival in Toronto, as well as a prize at the FILMER A TOUT PRIX festival in Brussels, Belgium. The short film by Vince Nells Papatie, Petit Prince, will be screened at the Native American Film + Video Festival in New York later this week.

I join with my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois in extending our congratulations. Kevin and Vince can be proud.

National Black Engagement Days
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, today marks the beginning of National Black Engagement Days. In this historic event, the leadership of the national black community will be meeting with ministers, other members of Parliament and senior government officials.

This event highlights our government's strong commitment to Canada's cultural communities. By engaging in dialogue with these pioneering men and women, we are laying the foundation for strong and powerful relationships with one of Canada's most vibrant communities.

I am honoured to have this chance to participate in National Black Engagement Days as it gives me the chance to better understand the intricate fabric that makes up this beautiful country.

Please join me in honouring the delegation that is in Ottawa today. They are all an inspiration, and I hope this is only the beginning of a new phase of engagement with Canada's black community.