House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

The House resumed from October 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud, as always, to stand in the House and represent the wonderful people of Timmins—James Bay and to speak to the implementation of this budget bill.

What has become very clear over the last number of years with the Conservative government is a pattern, and a very disturbing pattern, of reckless spending, reckless attacks on the credibility and the institutions of public office in this country and a sense of entitlement that we see again and again of who one knows in the PMO. If one is a buddy of the Conservatives, things happen.

We are looking at the largest debt in Canadian history but, as we would all agree, some of that debt was necessary in order to stimulate a very broken world economy. However, when we look back at what we have after spending the $50 billion, I think future generations will wonder what the Conservative government was thinking.

For example, the Conservatives blew money right across the country on personal pet projects. For instance, in the industry minister's riding, they paid stimulus dollars to heat the seats in the hockey arena so that the derrieres of Conservative voters would not be discomforted while they were watching amateur hockey.

Meanwhile, there is no plan for national broadband across this country. In Australia, under the Labour government, it made a commitment to hook up 93% of Australia by massive broadband implementation, while, in my riding, they are still talking about dial-up as being a standard for duty to serve.

We could have had a massive infrastructure program to retrofit homes across the country so that people could live better. Instead, we again see personal pet projects, like draining a lake in Muskoka, building a fake lake in Toronto, blowing through $1 billion on a weekend, blowing $17 billion on stealth fighter jets to fight a Cold War that has long since past, $17 billion on a single source contract and no justification, and $10 billion for prisons at a time when crime rates are dropping. The latest figure is that the Conservatives will spend $155 million on 570 jail cells, which amounts to $270,000 per jail cell.

Meanwhile, in my communities of Attawapiskat and Kashechewan there are no grade schools and the government says that its pockets are bare. Children in Oxford House First Nation cannot go to school because it has been poisoned with mould. The government says that the cupboard is bare for them.

Again, if one is a buddy to someone in the PMO there is always money to be found.

We need to look at a few glaring examples. I think the Conservatives are sending the signal that if people are one of them, they should put the touch on them and they will look after them. Nowhere is this more glaring than in the fact that, as I raised in the House earlier this week, there is a NAFTA challenge by an American named Vito Gallo who is demanding $355 million from the Canadian taxpayer for the failed Adams Mine project. We have a number of NAFTA challenges at different times between investors in foreign countries and, as much as we have raised problems with chapter 11 of NAFTA, we have never seen anything as outrageous and bizarre as this.

Ten years ago, Waste Management Incorporated walked away on the Adams Mine project because of the issue of liability, in the same way that the second largest waste management company in North America, BFI, Browning-Ferris Industries, walked away just a few years previous to that because of the issue of liability. The deal died and the city of Toronto made it clear that it would never entertain this garbage project again because it was so reckless and so unfounded. It was also subject to a federal EA, so that if anyone even wanted to try to take on this bizarre scheme, they would have to face a federal environmental assessment because it had been identified as a threat of groundwater contamination on the Timiskaming First Nation territory.

Long after that deal went south, a group of Conservative businessmen set up a numbered company in Toronto. They secretly bought the site but they did not do anything with the site. They did not put any money on it nor did they bid on any contracts. It was just a numbered company.

The interesting thing is that Mr. Vito Gallo claims to be the sole owner of this site. He says that he is owed $355 million from the Canadian taxpayer. When we look at who invested in this site, we see connections to the present Conservative Party. It is quite staggering.

For example, on May 8, 2003, the Globe and Mail identified the owners of this numbered company, 1532382 Ontario Inc., as being the Cortellucci-Montemarano Group. The Globe and Mail reported that “A major contributor to...[the] Conservative Party has quietly bought the Adams Mine...in Northern Ontario.... The contributor, the Cortellucci-Montemarano Group, is attempting to buy 2,000 acres” of crown land beside this site.

On May 9, 2003, the Toronto Star reported that Mario Cortellucci had admitted that he was one of dozens of investors. This is not like Vito Gallo, who nobody had ever heard of, claiming to be sole owner. He claimed to be one of dozens of investors.

The article in the Toronto Star is very fascinating. It starts off with the line:

Walking into the Hollywood Princess off of the string of strip malls along Highway 7 in Concord is like stepping into another world. The massive banquet centre is all about glamour, complete with fountains, mirrors and white columns that have served as the backdrop to countless wedding receptions and, perhaps more significantly, dozens of high-priced Tory fundraisers. This is the world of Mario Cortellucci....

The address of the Hollywood Princess restaurant just happens to be the same address that a cheque was written to the Ontario government in an attempt to buy 2,000 acres of Crown land secretly from this numbered company. It is the same address, which is 2800 Highway 7, Concord, Ontario. We see direct money from Canadian businessmen in this numbered company. We do not see any Americans or any mention of Mr. Vito Gallo.

I am sure members are wondering why a guy like Vito Gallo would be so brazen as to think he could hit up the Canadian taxpayer for $355 million for a project that he never put a dime into or bid on any contracts. We would think this to be a spurious claim but when we look at the financial connections between those backers and the government, it is quite astounding.

For example, Mr. Mario Cortellucci gave $5,000 to the federal Conservatives in 2004 and $5,000 to the federal Conservatives in 2006. Ginesia, Nicola and Rosanna Cortellucci gave $5,000 each to the Conservative Party in 2004. Three others, Fabrizio, Nicholas and Sabrina Cortellucci, gave $2,500 each to the Conservative Party in 2004 and then gave the maximum of $5,000 each to the Conservative Party in 2006. Five other Cortelluccis gave $17,500 to the Conservatives in January 2004.

Now, through their numbered companies, which is where it gets interesting, Four Valleys Excavating and Grading Ltd., which is tied to Nina Cortellucci, gave $12,170 to the leadership bid of the present finance minister and then $5,000. Also, $10,000 was given to the leadership bid of the present industry minister.

Eiram Development Corporation, which lists Mario Cortellucci as director, gave $10,000 to the present finance minister. Another company, 1532382 Ontario Inc., the very company that is going after the taxpayer claiming to be an American company, gave $4,000 directly to the present finance minister in his leadership bid.

We have a number of other companies but I will not go through more details.

The fascinating thing about this--

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. While all of us are enthralled by the fact that the member stayed up all night writing this novel, it has little relevance to the issue that is being discussed today. Perhaps he could force himself to get away from his fairy tale and get back on the subject.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I must say that I was wondering myself what this had to do with the budget implementation bill. Perhaps the member could make that clear in his comments so we understand he is addressing the second reading of the bill now before the House.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:10 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was just bringing my point home when my hon. colleague rose. He seems rather impatient, so perhaps he should just sit back and listen to a few more facts. It will all come home.

Vito Gallo has decided to hit Canadian taxpayers for $355 million, which is a staggering amount. One would think the Government of Canada would stand up against such a spurious claim. However, in his statement of claim against the people of Canada, Mr. Gallo has a quote by the federal finance minister who supports his claim against the people of Canada. The minister made the statement when he was running for the leadership of the provincial party and getting direct financial commitments and investments from this same group of investors.

I will go back to what I said at the beginning of my remarks on this. The government is all about who it knows. A man, who nobody has ever heard of, wants to hit Canadians for $355 million. Vito “mysterious” Gallo is now taking claim for a company that was obviously tied to Canadian investors with the Conservative Party of Canada. I do not think he would ever have the nerve to hit on Canadian taxpayers unless he knew he had a lot of good friends. A lot of them hang out at the same Hollywood restaurant that was writing the cheques in an attempt to buy the land.

I will get back to the bigger picture of a government that is based on entitlement and on reckless spending for ideological purposes.

Yesterday, the member for Crowfoot, who was shouting and heckling from the backbenches, was denouncing the concept of an obligation on the part of government to have a national housing plan for seniors. He asked if we wanted the government to buy every citizen a car as well. Senior citizens in rural Timiskaming cannot afford to heat their homes. People living in old farmhouses heat with oil. I received a letter this morning from a woman in Matachewan who has to pay $70 this month in HST for her home heating.

The government has nothing to say to those people. It is not interested in them. It is only interested in big prison contractors. It will blow $10 billion on big prison contractors. Can anyone imagine what $10 billion would do if it were invested by a responsible government? We could put some of that money into our health care system to help people in small communities who are dealing with locums because they have no local doctor. We could put some of that money into a national seniors housing plan, which Conservative backbenchers have denounced as socialism, but it is something we have done in the past and we know that it works.

Crime rates are not going up. What is going up is the number of seniors living in poverty.

For about half of the $1 billion the Conservatives blew on the 24 hour binge in Muskoka, we could have improved the guaranteed income supplement to get every senior citizen out of poverty. That would take $600 million. That is less than any of the prison extensions that the government is going to do. Every senior citizen in this country would have been taken out of poverty with $600 million. However, the government does not have the money for that because it is not a priority.

What were the priorities of the government? It spent $300,000 for bug spray for a 24 hour lark that went to the pork-barrel king's riding of Muskoka. What can anyone do with $300,000 worth of bug spray? I want to know where all that bug spray is. I am sure we could stop malaria in a mid-sized African country with $300,000 worth of bug spray. However, the government blew that amount of money for a 24 hour lark in Muskoka. I imagine there is probably a warehouse full of bug spray somewhere in the PMO that the Conservatives might give out at their fundraisers. This was a priority for the government. It is staggering.

While the Conservatives were nickel and diming our veterans and trolling through their personal financial records, they were at the same time signing a $17 billion single source contract for stealth fighter jets to fight the last Cold War. The best they could come up with was a statement that some of those Russians and those rusty old migs were flying 4,000 miles north of us and that it had to spend $17 billion on fighter jets. It will spend $17 billion on fighter jets and $10 billion on prisons. It will spend $27 billion on two ideological vanity projects. It is absolutely staggering.

Of course, we know what is coming next. The government blew through $13 billion worth of surplus like drunken sailors. It went through massive corporate tax cuts. It knew that we would be in deficit before it even started the stimulus spending. Now it is out blowing the money on prisons, fighter jets, and putting little bum warmers in hockey arenas in Muskoka. It has spent the money on every possible thing it could, except on a national plan to improve this country.

Now the government is going to turn around and say, “The cupboard is bare. Now we have to start cutting. Now we have to start trashing the civil service. Now we have to cut down on the few federal programs that still remain to help people”.

It is reckless, it is ideological, and it is a poisonous way of doing politics, because any civil servant who stood up to the government has had his or her personality trashed and undermined. Very credible international diplomatic people such as Richard Colvin, who had the nerve to stand up, were trashed. The government lied about our chief statistician. He had to resign in order to restore credibility to the office of the chief statistician. This is a government that is based on recklessness, on an ideological pursuit of whatever bizarre agenda is over there.

When we get back to the issue of the budget, it is about making priorities. Rather than spending $27 billion on vanity projects for the defence minister and for the security minister who is running after phantom criminals that they cannot find, we need a national broadband strategy linking all of rural Canada, because we are starting to fall massively far behind. We are looking at 1.5 megabits per second as a standard for rural Canada, if we even get to that, when in Australia they are going to gigabyte capacity. All across Asia they are going to gigabyte capacity, and the government thinks we are going to be able to compete when it is severing off rural Canada. Instead of money on prisons and fighter jets, we need a national broadband strategy.

We need to invest in pension protection. The government said it had thousands of complaints against the long form census, but then when it was asked to produce them, it could not find any, so it said, “We had one complaint. If one complaint is enough, that is good enough for us”. Meanwhile it had tens of thousands of complaints, begging, families from Nortel, families from Abitibi. It did not have time for them and it still does not have time for them. It has no interest at all in pension protection in this country, but that is what a credible government would do at this time. A credible government would say that we need a national overhaul of our pension plan and to improve the guaranteed income supplement so that our seniors come out of poverty. We need to protect the pensions of companies facing bankruptcy, such as Nortel and Abitibi, and find a way so that for the workers of today, the many hundreds of thousands of people who have no chance of paying into a pension, we have a system in place.

That would be a budget plan of a forward-looking government, instead of supporting blindly the pillaging of the tar sands. There is nothing wrong with the development of the tar sands, but what we are seeing is the way they are being developed, the amount of money that is being put in to cover the basic costs of what industry should be covering.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

That would be the oil sands.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:15 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

It is funny how they get so upset whenever we say the words “tar sands”. That is what they are. It is in the tar. They are burning the tar and they are doing it recklessly because they want to make as much profit as quickly as possible, and really, to heck with the rest of the planet and to heck with the rest of the country.

Rather than having a long-term development of the tar sands, we could be putting that money into the retrofitting of every house in Canada and every major business so that we actually start to reduce and we actually start to make life more affordable for Canadians.

It is about choices and the government consistently makes the wrong choice. The one choice it made very clear was that if people know someone in its gang, it is going to look after them. No wonder these crazy, outrageous schemes, such as the Vito Gallo hit for $355 million against the taxpayers of Canada, are being brought up at this time, because they think these guys are going to go along with it. I challenge the government to stand for Canada and say clearly that it will not negotiate with Mr. Vito Gallo, whoever he is, that it will not give a dime of taxpayers' money just because he and his buddies and their numbered company have been good financial friends of the present industry minister, good financial friends of the present finance minister, and good financial friends of the Conservative Party of Canada.

We have to do politics a different way. If we follow the money trail, we always end up back in that cesspool of Conservative backwater corruption.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure anybody watching these deliberations this morning is, at best, getting some humour out of the rhetorical rantings of the member for Timmins—James Bay as he paints his storybook pictures for Parliament today.

I want to make two points. These are actual facts. I say this to the House and to all the people who are watching, particularly those in his riding of Timmins—James Bay and the other NDP ridings.

Fact number one is that when this government presented its economic action plan, which created hundreds of thousands of jobs all across this country, including hundreds of jobs in the ridings of these NDP colleagues across the way, when we presented that action plan to put workers back to work and to keep families together and able to make their payments, that party, that member, those NDP MPs voted against that plan. They voted against putting laid-off workers back to work. They voted against projects in their communities that would help the social and economic structure of their communities.

Fact number two is that the member for Timmins—James Bay talks about brazen acts. Here is a brazen act: a member who goes to his constituents over the years at every election and tells them, “When that long gun registry comes up for a vote, I am going to vote against it because it is useless and ineffective”, a member who says, “Folks, you vote for me and I am going to vote against that registry as soon as I can. I promise you”, and then he stands and brazenly votes to keep the long gun registry that has cost us billions of dollars and is costing us tens of millions of dollars every year and does exactly nothing to fight crime in this country and put the bad guys away.

These are two facts. The NDP voted against the economic action plan, jobs for laid-off workers and families; and the member for Timmins—James Bay promised his constituents during the elections that he would vote against that stupid, ineffective, costly gun registry the first chance he got. What does he do? He stands and votes to keep it.

That is all I want to say.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:25 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, there we go. Look at them. We are talking about the fact that the Conservatives are blowing $17 billion on stealth fighter jets and $10 million on prisons, and seniors in northern Ontario cannot afford to heat their homes. What does he want to talk about? He wants to talk about long guns.

I am a gun owner. The one thing I know, being a gun owner, is that we cannot heat our houses with guns. However, the Conservative Party thinks that is the only thing that rural Canadians are concerned about. Maybe it thinks people are dumbed down. But we are talking about people who are falling further and further behind.

Let us talk about the Conservatives' great action plan.

They continue to try to change the channel on what they did. They came in here at the beginning of the worst recession since the Depression. What was their economic action plan? Spending zero dollars on stimulus. They were not going to run a deficit. They said they were going to attack the right to pay equity of women, because that was the most important thing.

Number two, they said they were going to trash the environmental assessment process federally.

The third thing was that they were going to get their little partisan kick at the other political parties by getting rid of public financing for elections, because we know what they want to do. They want to go back to the good old ways where they got their money in the pocket from people like Vito Gallo's friends. That was their plan. They almost lost government over it, because it was known across the world that if they decided that they were going to turn off the taps for ideological reasons, Canada would have sunk into a depression. These guys panicked because suddenly they thought they were going to lose government. Then they came back, but they did not have a plan. They just started to blow money in all their ridings. That is the truth behind the economic action plan. They only did it, as they always do, to save their own skins. They blew through $50 billion without a plan.

We never had a problem with the stimulus spending. What we had a problem with, and it still remains in this budget bill, were the choices as to how they were going to blow that money.

Even after they have blown all that money, they are now going on another spending binge. They are going to spend more than $27 billion, at a time of the biggest deficit in Canadian history, on bizarre, whacked-out, personal ideological vanity projects.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:25 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay has raised a lot of interesting and disturbing points about the spending of the current government. I wonder if he would like to comment a little about where Canada is getting the money that we are wasting these days when we have more regressive taxation, huge tax cuts to big oil and big banks, et cetera.

I know the member is knowledgeable about this. Could he share a few perspectives on the revenue stream?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague raises a great question, because one of the fundamental principles of economics is how we pay for something when we do not have the money. When there was a $13 billion surplus, the Conservatives blew through it as fast as they could and it was not spent on targeted tax investments.

Targeted tax investments play a really crucial role in stimulating necessary elements of the economy. The Conservatives blew it across the board. Big profitable corporations got lots of money, and a struggling forestry company got zero money because it did not make any profits. Now they have put us in a deficit position because we do not have the revenues anymore to sustain major national projects and they are adding to the deficit, which we are going to have to pay for through borrowing.

A great example is Canada's forestry industry, probably the second or third largest industry in this country. What did the government do with forestry? As soon as it was elected, it wanted a quick, desperate deal with the United States, so it signed on to the softwood agreement. Basically, whatever the Americans wrote on the paper, it signed on to, even though Canada had won every single legal challenge under international trade law.

We had won every single challenge, but the Conservatives came in, and with a stroke of a pen, crossed out all those rights. They not only crippled our industry but our access to markets and we have not recovered. Then, of course, we add the crisis in the United States and the fact that our major competitors in the U.S. in the forestry industry are subsidizing their own industry again and again, so our pulp and paper companies cannot compete.

Abitibi decided that it was not going to invest anymore, that it was going to walk away, and Danny Williams stood up to Abitibi and said, which is what should have happened in Ontario, that Abitibi had access to the forests and waters of Newfoundland as long as it was willing to invest. It was an agreement between the people of Newfoundland and Abitibi so that both would benefit.

Danny Williams took the position that if Abitibi was not going to make its share of the investment, then the resources of the people of Newfoundland should go back to the people of Newfoundland.

What did the government do? It sold out the people of Newfoundland and Canada. It said if a big company such as Abitibi wanted some cash, it would give it to it, and not give a tinker's damn for the rights of the people of Newfoundland.

Once again, we have a government that will do anything ideologically, without a long-term plan for the development of its economy. That is a very shameful way to run a country. We see it in its handling of the long form census and in its vicious attack on the privacy rights of veterans who speak up against it. We see it at every single level of the government.

In the United States, we see the poison waters of the Tea Party. What we are seeing here are the poison waters of the “me party”, an autocratic ruler who says it is his way or the highway and has never encountered a piece of reality that has stopped him from pursuing his agenda. He is rewriting the rules on everything. Who knows? When I am walking past the West Block, will I have to walk past construction helmets with “Hells Angels” on the back?

What is happening under the government's watch is outrageous. We need some accountability, transparency and a measure of prudence in the decision-making on how money is being spent.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today. First, I would like to say that I will share my time with my dear colleague from Gatineau.

As many of our colleagues have said, we will support sending this bill and its budget measures to committee to be more closely studied. However, it is clear that the Standing Committee on Finance will have a great deal of work to do in the coming weeks because this bill, which could be considered yet another omnibus bill, contains a number of clauses regarding taxes for individuals, businesses, and different levels of government.

Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, would implement certain measures. It is true that the Bloc Québécois rejected the latest Conservative budget because it was unfair to Quebec. This government gave tax breaks to the oil companies and heavily subsidized the auto industry in Ontario at the expense of the forestry industry in Quebec, which was experiencing a major crisis. For these reasons, and many others, we voted against this budget. Since 2006, this government has done essentially the same thing as the Liberals. Unfortunately, it forgets about the least fortunate members of society.

A close look at these measures makes it clear that the government is still subsidizing industries and banks that are making billions and billions of dollars in profit and putting their money into tax havens around the world without necessarily paying taxes. And what did the last budget do about it? The government brags about cutting corporate taxes and about giving companies tax breaks. At the same time, it continues to steal money that belongs to the unemployed, as it has done for years. That word has serious implications, but sometime words like that need to be used in the hopes of waking the Liberals and Conservatives up. Nearly $60 billion has been pillaged from the employment insurance fund. Yet the last budget contained no help for the unemployed and no employment insurance support for people who lose their jobs.

During the last crisis in my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, a crisis that hit the rest of Quebec and Canada as well, numerous people lost their jobs. Many of them came to our constituency offices because they did not have enough hours to qualify for employment insurance. There were young people who were in their first job. They worked 15 weeks in seasonal jobs. They did not have enough hours to qualify for employment insurance. What can we say to these young people and these workers? In Quebec, we told them to go to social assistance for support because they were not eligible for employment insurance, to which they had been contributing, some of them for their whole lives.

And what about the employment insurance fund? There was a $55 billion surplus. The surplus disappeared with the last budget. The Liberals and Conservatives were complicit because they knew they were both in the same boat. They simply decided to spend the surplus. There is nothing left. They have told the unemployed that they cannot help them. It is shameful to have so little empathy for the least fortunate in our society.

We see the same insensitivity when it comes to the guaranteed income supplement for seniors. Yesterday, the Bloc Québécois presented petitions with thousands of signatures from FADOQ, a Quebec seniors' organization, calling on the government to improve the guaranteed income supplement and pay the people who have not received their supplement. FADOQ is also asking that people be registered automatically for the guaranteed income supplement and that it be paid automatically. It is simple. The government has tax data and could automatically pay low-income seniors the supplement. But there is no will. The government has no money for seniors.

The government is investing billions of dollars in weapons, billions of dollars in oil companies that are making a fortune, and billions of dollars in other initiatives. It is investing outrageous amounts of money in the rich and famous and institutions like the banks that have huge sums of money stashed in tax shelters.

We are talking about people, children and families. Quebec is in the midst of a heated debate about whether health care should be privatized. We need money. Quebec needs larger transfer payments for its health care system.

Yesterday, I listened to the debate, and equalization came up. Quebec was described as a have-not province that needed a certain amount of equalization. But the government is investing $20 billion in weapons and giving oil companies huge tax breaks. This money, which is given away and does not come back as tax revenue, cannot be redistributed. These exorbitant amounts are not factored into equalization.

A sovereign Quebec could control its own tax revenue and its own economic, political and social levers. Yesterday, during a speech here on the budget, one member said that a sovereign Quebec would not be viable because Quebec currently receives equalization. I do not think a sovereign Quebec would choose to invest billions in F-35s. Because of its ideological bent, this government is aggressive when it comes to military spending.

I see a member from Quebec entering the House. I would ask her—and the government members—to think about Quebec's social democratic values when she votes; to think about the people in her riding who need support, especially unemployed workers and seniors. She should be asking her government to increase health and education transfers, instead of investing in budgets dedicated to fighter planes, and in services and tax breaks that only help the wealthiest people in our society. That is the usual approach taken by this government: always reducing corporate taxes, increasing fees and cutting social services that help people in need.

At this time, the President of the United States is making huge efforts. He is aggressively attacking tax shelters. He wants to raise corporate taxes, because nearly 50 million Americans do not have health care. Here, the Conservatives are doing the opposite.

In the last budget, when the government decided to invest money to help the economy, the media and environmental experts alike, and everyone really, said that in addition to helping our workers more, the budget could have also included a green shift, an ecological shift. The Conservatives could have used that money to transform our economy into a green economy. What they did instead was to continue investing in dirty energy and continue more or less with the same old approach, that is, supporting the banking system and corporations. There was no shift.

In closing, I would like to say that Bill C-47, like budget 2010, completely disregards the economic situation Quebeckers find themselves in. It is high time for parliamentarians to address the real needs of Quebeckers and all Canadians.

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10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether the hon. member attended the technical briefing that was available to all of us on Tuesday evening. I attended it and took home a copy of the bill, which I read. I have a question for the hon. member that which puzzles me.

He said in his speech that the government had an ideological bias against the poor and that we were forgetting them. Has the member looked at pages 8 and 9 of the bill which talk specifically about making changes to the Income Tax Act to assist people who are the most vulnerable in our society, the people who are in need of RDSP and the opportunities for their families to make contributions? We have made some significant changes in that. Pages 30 and 31 talk about changes to the Income Tax Act for pensions plans. We have made changes on page 57 for CPP, also item 69 regarding employee benefit plans. Page 66 talks about changes to the act for the registered charities, which are specifically organizations that look to assist vulnerable people in our society.

Given the fact that we have had the support from the CFIB on a number of our initiatives and from the chambers of commerce across the country, my question for the hon. member is this. Has he read Bill C-47?

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10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois has indeed considered this budget bill responsibly. That is why we have said that some measures, those concerning single parent families for example, are a step in the right direction, as the hon. member mentioned. That is why we are supporting the bill.

I agree with the hon. member, but it is not enough. The party must end for the oil companies. It is time to get serious. When companies earn exorbitant profits and do not pay their share of taxes, whether we are talking about the banks or any other company, they are basically taking tax revenue out of the budget. This additional tax revenue would allow the government to create more measures to support the people and sectors in need.

I have spoken at length about the fact that the forestry sector in Quebec is in crisis. If there were more money available, we could provide more support to certain key sectors. We could also support more seniors and increase the Canada child tax benefit.

Indeed, some of the measures are good and that is why we are supporting this bill. However, we can do a lot more for the people in need. We can make sure that Canadian companies that hand out performance bonuses or make huge profits contribute more to the tax base.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:45 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's comments on Bill C-47. Yesterday the parliamentary secretary claimed that the Canada Revenue Agency was cracking down on over contributions to the tax free savings accounts, TFSA, but he said nothing about trying to collect tax on some of the $6 trillion to $10 trillion that are being held in tax havens around the world.

Four years ago the German government gave Canada the names of 106 Canadians with a combined total of more than $100 million stashed in Liechtenstein accounts. So far the Canada Revenue Agency has evidently closed only 26 of those cases. It assessed $5.2 million in back taxes, but has collected nothing, not one cent. However, since 2006, the Germans have recovered some 200 million euros and the U.S. is actively pursuing 150 individuals.

Why is the government unable to collect back taxes from tax haven investors when it has been given the names and the records?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question. It is strictly a matter of the government's political will. Does it truly want to attack the tax havens that so many companies, especially banks, benefit from? We do not have enough tax revenue. We do have enough, but we need more in order to support Quebeckers.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak to Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures. The Bloc Québécois has a lot of concerns about this bill, and about the budget it implements.

The government will continue to treat stock options like capital gains for ordinary taxpayers. The Bloc Québécois deplores the fact that only half the income derived from stock options is subject to the federal Income Tax Act. The Conservative government could show fairness to the workers and collect $1 billion in tax by cutting off this gift. In addition, businesses are not being asked to pay their fair share to increase government revenue, except that they have to make source deductions to ensure that employees with stock options pay their taxes. That is something else that is missing.

This bill also attests to the Conservative government's inertia with respect to the environment and the fight against greenhouse gases. Only one environmental measure is included; it encourages the production of clean energy. A number of things could be put forward.

The government is ignoring the Bloc Québécois' urgent calls concerning equalization payments and increased transfers for education and social programs. $830 million in post-secondary education transfers are still not going to the Government of Quebec. The fiscal imbalance has not yet been resolved. The government is also ignoring recommendations concerning income security for pensioners. Large corporations are filing for bankruptcy and abandoning their employees who are entitled to pensions.

This budget implementation bill confirms the Conservative government's intention to spare rich taxpayers at all costs and have the workers and the middle class pay off the deficit. The ideology of the Conservative Party's neo-Liberal Reform government favours those who are well off. Just think of tax havens. When they were in opposition, the Conservatives were scandalized; now they fully support tax havens.

Yes to oil; no to forestry. It is just incredible what the economies of Quebec and all provinces have had to bear because of the Conservatives' abandonment of the forestry industry. To help the rich, they are refusing to implement a 2% surtax on incomes of more than $150,000 per year. The automotive industry, concentrated in Ontario, received $9.7 billion whereas the forestry industry, vital to the regions of Quebec and all of Canada, only received $170 million. That is incredible.

For all intents and purposes the environment was ignored in the budget. However, the Conservative government put $1 billion towards developing nuclear power, which benefits Ontario, Alberta and the oil companies. The latter already have generous tax benefits. In addition, no new funding was announced for the cultural sector, which is important to Quebec's economy. The neo-Liberal Reformers have refused to acknowledge the need to bolster employment insurance and the guaranteed income supplement for seniors, the most disadvantaged. They also refused to tackle the problems of affordable social housing and homelessness. These problems were completely ignored. The fact that women are the most affected by poverty has not been mentioned, either.

The current Minister of Finance's way of doing things reminds me of one of his predecessors. I hope that my Conservative friends feel somewhat shameful about the fact that it is 2010 and I am comparing their actions to something that happened a long time ago. Not a lot has changed. I am thinking about Alexander Tilloch Galt, who was the largest land owner in Canada in 1867, who also owned the largest textile plant at the time as well as the Grand Trunk Railway Company. He was closely involved with the Bank of Montreal and was the finance minister under John Alexander Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister. Who was he partial to? The wealthy.

He was loyal, a bit like our current Minister of Finance, to one of the sayings of John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada. To paraphrase, Macdonald said that minorities needed to be protected. The rich being the minority, their protection needed to be guaranteed. And he did his utmost to protect them. Then there was the majority, which had difficulty just making ends meet.

We have a similar government here, and the tradition continues. It is shameful. This helps to explain much of the Conservatives' economic vision, the vision of the current Albertan leader. Oil yes; forestry no. Automobiles, yes; affordable and social housing, no. Tax havens, yes; the guaranteed income supplement for our least fortunate seniors, no. I could go on. It is scandalous.

And just to report how things turned out, before Confederation, Alexander Tilloch Galt realized that he could no longer do business with the Americans. As you must remember—perhaps you were there between 1861 and 1865—the Yankees and the people from Dixie were fighting the Civil War in the United States. And who did the British Empire support? It supported the South, slavery and Dixieland. England supported the South, which was secessionist, to the detriment of the Yankees, who were federalists. It was completely backwards. British subjects were not popular with the blue coats from the northern states.

Galt was in a serious bind. So what did he do? This is interesting. He drafted a document to develop the British colony along east-west trading lines because for obvious reasons he could not develop north-south trade. He wanted to join together three provinces: the united Canada—which was divided into Canada East and Canada West at the time—wealthy Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This document was called the British North America Act or BNA Act.

Galt was the father of this act. Why? To make sure it worked. In 1867, he became the first minister of finance of Canada. He had the newly minted Dominion of Canada borrow money from its bank, the Bank of Montreal, to build a railway across the country. What he did was a little like what the Conservatives are doing today. Know who your friends are; they will make you rich. Yes, yes, add to the campaign coffers. The Minister of Natural Resources could tell us something about that, seeing as how he is an expert in the field. So Galt had this big zipper, the railroad, built to pull Canada together. He even sold his own railroad, the Grand Trunk, to Canadian Pacific to further line his own pockets. Does that remind hon. members a bit of what we have been talking about this week?

For the Conservatives, it is useful to be both judge and judged. For the Conservatives, it is useful to favour the rich at the expense of the poor, and that is what we are seeing in this budget. There are things missing. There are some positive measures, but the poor are going to get poorer and the rich, richer. And that is very expensive.

Alexander Tilloch Galt was a member of the Conservative Party. And what was that party called at the time? Listen carefully. It was called the Liberal-Conservative Party. That way, people did not get confused; blue hat or red, it makes little difference, they have a good time and line their pockets. The current member for Pontiac should be happy with that title. He is being touted as the next leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec. It is not just the member for Bourassa. What is happening with the Conservatives makes no sense.

Coming back to Bill C-47, I will conclude on this note. We need to think about the workers at AbitibiBowater. Why does John Weaver get $27 million in bonuses, yet when the AbitibiBowater mill in Gatineau closes, the workers will not get $16 million in severance pay? That is what the Conservatives are doing, and their budget does nothing about this scandal.

They need to be put in their place, and that place is out of Parliament.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

When debate resumes, there will be five minutes remaining for questions and comments on the speech by the hon. member for Gatineau.

Thanksgiving
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, this weekend Canadian families and friends will join hands around dining room tables to count their many blessings.

On behalf of the Shory family, I wish all Calgary Northeast constituents from Coventry Hills, Harvest Hills, Saddle Ridge, Martindale, Castleridge, Westwinds, Whitehorn, Rundle and Vista Heights to Skyview Ranch, Taradale, Falconridge, Coral Springs, Parkridge Estates, Monterey Park, Pineridge and Temple a happy Thanksgiving.

Our blessings include the many veteran volunteers at the Indian Ex-servicemen Immigrant Association and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 286 in my riding.

This coming Remembrance Day, I ask all constituents to join me for my third year in a row at the Legion in Pineridge to honour those who have sacrificed so much for the same Canadian freedoms and blessings that we celebrate on Thanksgiving.

I also wish all Hindus around the globe a happy Navratri.

78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, for 29 years Bill Livingstone, the first North American to win the gold medal in piping at Inverness, was pipe-major of one of the world's most famous pipe bands, the 78th Fraser Highlanders. Under his direction, the Ontario pipe band won 13 North American championships and travelled to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland for 27 consecutive years.

In 1987, the 78th Frasers won world championship and made the landmark “Live in Ireland” recording, events that are seen by many as seminal in piping.

Livingstone holds the distinction of being the only person in history to have led a Grade 1 band to a world championship and to have won a clasp for piobaireachd at the Northern Meeting, the two pinnacles of pipe band and solo competitive success.

His place in piping folklore is secure with hundreds of professional and solo triumphs. Congratulations on a brilliant, unmatched and unique piping career.

Louiseville Buckwheat Flat Cake Festival
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight the Festival de la galette de sarrasin de Louiseville, which is being held from October 1 to 10. The 32nd anniversary of this festival will be very successful, as thousands of people have already attended.

This festival is a true showcase of the regional municipality of Maskinongé. The festival helps us reclaim our ancient buckwheat culinary traditions, musical folklore, and locally grown products, as we discover local artists and a very welcoming community. This festival is a touchstone and an opportunity to honour our long-standing traditions in this francophone territory in North America. For these reasons, and many others, we call on the federal government to maintain funding and encourage—

Louiseville Buckwheat Flat Cake Festival
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.

Veterans Affairs
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, Sean Bruyea and his wife, as well as veterans across this country are owed an apology by the government and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Instead of being treated with the disdain that they were, they deserve to be treated with the highest of respect.

While I want that, I could not help but notice that the member for Nepean—Carleton decided to breach security at his own will. We have a Prime Minister who rides an ATV down a track. We have former member, Rahim Jaffer, who broke the law.

I just wonder if the Conservative Party of Canada would table in this House all the laws and regulations that do not apply to its members.

Maybe it is good idea the Conservatives are building new prisons, because just like Grant Devine's Conservatives, 17 of whom went to jail, these guys will be filling up the new prisons one day if they keep going on this route.

Status of Women
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, October is Women’s History Month in Canada. It is celebrated across Canada and by all Canadians. The Minister for Status of Women has announced this year's theme, “recognizing Canadian women in business”.

The economy remains on the minds of all Canadians, and this year's theme honours women's achievements, now and throughout history, in Canadian business and within the national economy.

Our government has taken significant action to improve women's economic security and prosperity. We have created new initiatives like the kick-start program that will help give entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their ideas and their businesses.

I therefore call on all members of the House to join with me in celebrating the important contributions of women who have made and who make our economy and our country—

Status of Women
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Laval—Les Îles.

Global Handwashing Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, October 15 marks Global Handwashing Day.

Here in Canada, handwashing is an effective way to protect one's health, but the situation in the developing world is similar to what it was here a century ago: some 3.5 million children under the age of five die of pneumonia and chronic diarrhea, deaths that could be prevented if people had access to clean water.

Handwashing is one of the most effective health interventions for women and children living in poverty. It reduces chronic diarrhea by 50% and respiratory diseases by 25%.

Yet the Conservative government dedicates less than 2% of CIDA's $5 billion budget to building basic sanitary facilities.

On behalf of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, I call on the federal government to abide by the 2005 Paris Declaration and increase Canadian investment in the Global Sanitation Fund.

Shipping Industry
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, on October 1, I had the opportunity to kick off the fall season with an announcement from our government for shipbuilding in Canada. The Minister of Finance and I announced tariff relief for new ships.

The new duty remission will lower costs for the industry by waiving the 25% tariff on imports of all general cargo vessels and tankers. Shipowners will be able to reinvest $25 million per year over the next decade. This will help the shipping industry save money, become more competitive and reduce its environmental footprint.

In St. Catharines, this announcement benefits Algoma Central Corporation directly, as it employs 300 people. Algoma Central Corporation is ready, and it is prepared to meet the needs of its industry, expand our economy and take the lead in the shipping industry when it comes to our environment.

The new duty remission framework will ensure a stronger Canadian economy and a brighter future for the marine transportation service sector. With a global competitive advantage, we can ensure Canada's recovery will mean success in the long term.

Nobel Peace Prize
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would like to acknowledge the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident and non-violent activist for human rights in China.

Mr. Xiaobo became a symbol of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, when he was sent to prison for 20 months without ever being charged. From 1996 to 1999, he served three years in a labour camp for co-signing a letter calling for the removal from office of the then Chinese president and for seeking the release of those jailed in the 1989 movement. In 2009, he was again sentenced to 11 years in prison for having signed Charter 08, which called for an extension of political freedom and the end of communist rule in China.

The Nobel prize committee decided to honour Mr. Xiaobo despite threats of reprisals by Chinese authorities. Because China has become a major economic power, “China's new status must entail increased responsibility”, said the Chair of the Nobel Committee.

The Bloc Québécois commends this courageous activist.

Opposition Coalition
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, unbelievably, this week we learned that the Liberal-NDP-Bloc Québécois coalition is alive and as strong as ever. The Liberal leader has long been in favour of the coalition and has said he is “prepared to form a coalition government and to lead that government”. Yet now, the leader of the Bloc brags that he is the “driving force” behind it.

The fact that the coalition's policies include introducing massive tax hikes to pay for a 45-day work year and other measures that would put our economy at risk is troubling, but most troubling of all is the fact that the admitted driving force of the coalition is led by a party dedicated to the breakup of Canada.

Thankfully our Conservative government, led by the Prime Minister, is committed to a united Canada and to policies that will protect, not kill, our fragile economic recovery.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remind Canadians that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Canada and around the world.

Although much has been done to combat this dreaded disease, it is estimated that in this year alone more than 23,000 Canadian women and an estimated 180 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 5,000 will die from it.

As a breast cancer survivor, I know only too well the trauma faced by the patients and their families, and I understand the importance of early detection. With early detection, today there is a 98% chance of beating breast cancer. I encourage everybody to talk to their doctors about any concerns they may have and to have a mammogram regularly.

I am sure all members join me in wishing those suffering from the disease a speedy and full recovery, and in praying for the day when breast cancer will be completely eradicated and no longer an issue for women and men everywhere.

Opposition Coalition
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a book published this week, the leader of the Bloc congratulates himself not only for being the driving force behind the coalition, but also for secretly scheming with the NDP to create it before springing it on a shocked nation.

Not only is the Bloc a full coalition partner with the Liberal leader and the NDP, but it also continues to be at its very heart.

The Bloc leader, a key player in the coalition with the Liberal Party and the NDP, will soon be promoting sovereignty around the world. This is surprising coming from the person congratulating himself for being the driving force behind the coalition.

While the driving force behind the coalition, the Bloc leader, is touring abroad to promote his ideological agenda, our Conservative government will be working in Ottawa and looking after the real priorities of Quebeckers and Canadians.

Democratic Reform
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am dismayed and embarrassed by MPs heckling and catcalling here in the House. Canadians do not like it. It does not have to be this way. Members should listen.

In Scandinavia I have observed firsthand the way in which proportional representation leads to rational discussion and debate, mutual respect, workable compromise and much better governance than we have here. Our constituents are looking to us for statesmanship, leadership and effective government that represents not just regions and factions but all Canadians.

I have an idea that could help us achieve some of that mutual respect and co-operation that is needed so desperately right now. We could choose to change our seating charts and abandon the hockey-bench blocks of seating in the House by party. We could randomize seating here in the House. Some time spent in the House next to members from other parties would lead to recognition of us all as people with whom we can share ideas with more mutual respect.

Our constituents want better. They deserve better. Let us act now to improve our system and our behaviour.

Foreign Affairs
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, 2010 has truly been Canada's international year. Our government's leadership has reinforced Canada's standing as a responsible international partner. We are delivering on our commitments, from securing international agreement on our maternal and child health initiative to our fulfillment of our pledge to double aid to Africa. Canada is a leader around the globe, be it in Afghanistan and Sudan or our incredible support for Haiti and our swift and generous response to the floods in Pakistan.

Next week, Canada is up for election for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Shockingly, Canada is likely the only country standing for a seat that has one political leader actually rooting against our bid.

With the support of our friends around the world, we will serve the UN in a way that makes Canada proud.

2010 World March of Women
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 17, thousands of women from across Quebec will meet in Rimouski for the final stage of the 2010 World March of Women.

The Bloc Québécois has nothing but respect and gratitude for this march—gratitude for the commitment to eliminating discrimination against women and violence against women, and gratitude for the work that has been done to achieve equal rights for women and men.

There are six main fields of action this year: work, the common good, violence, peace, demilitarization and the treatment of aboriginal women. Women can count on the support of the Bloc Québécois on these issues, as well as on those related to improving the economic status of women, maintaining the firearms registry, fighting for pay equity, and encouraging women to participate in politics.

The Bloc Québécois will continue to stand up to this retrograde government and to defend women's rights in Ottawa—

2010 World March of Women
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

La Revue
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, journalists and the media play a role in political and democratic life. As the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, I want to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of La Revue and pay tribute to the entire team that oversees its production and publication.

La Revue is owned by Médias Transcontinental and is distributed every week in the greater Gatineau area. It owes its longevity to its professional journalists, its diverse news coverage and its ongoing focus on community affairs.

Over the past 50 years, La Revue has published news about Hull, Gatineau and Aylmer, and information about our community. Today, despite new information technology, La Revue still has a place in the lives of the people of Gatineau.

I want to congratulate the entire team at La Revue, including regional director Jacques Blais, editor Martin Godcher and news director Sylvain Dupras.

Congratulations and long live La Revue.

Israel
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberal leader accused Israel of war crimes, Canada's Jewish community knew it had no friend in the Liberal Party.

Yesterday Liberal Party candidate Andrew Lang said Canada needs to stop placating Israel. He said Canada should instead criticize Israel for being insufficiently non-violent.

Israel faces relentless attacks by terrorists who want to drive the Jewish people into the sea. If it were any other country facing that kind of threat, the Liberals would support its right of self-defence. But not Israel. The Liberals want to judge Israel by a different standard, by a harsher standard.

Our government will always defend Israel's right to exist. We will not take a neutral position between democracy and terrorism. We will support our friends and allies. What we will never do, unlike the Liberals, is try to score political points by hectoring it from the sidelines.

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and friends and, above all, to give thanks for the many blessings we share as Canadians.

Today there are over 600,000 family caregivers in this country, and they are no doubt thankful that they still have their ailing loved ones living with them. However, the truth is that many of them wish the government could understand that they need a little help.

When can they expect to get the kind of help that the Liberal family care plan could offer?

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the first comment made by the member opposite. We are all very fortunate to call Canada home and to live in this great country.

I think the single biggest thing we can do to support those whose families are experiencing difficult times with respect to their health is to provide a strong health care system.

That is why this government has increased transfers to the provinces by some 30%, recognizing that health care is an important priority. We are going to continue to do that during the next few years.

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have said that helping Canadians take care of ailing family members could be “reckless”. The same Conservatives are spending $10 billion to build prisons to house the perpetrators of unreported crimes, $16 billion to buy planes without an open competition, which, as Alan Williams said yesterday, means an incredible $3.2 billion is being wasted. Last June, over $1 billion was spent on a three-day photo op.

How in the face of all this can the Conservatives call a tax credit to care for a sick family member reckless?

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the economy is still fragile. We were pleased with the 37,000 net new full-time jobs that were created, as was announced this morning. However, we were disappointed that a number of people lost jobs, particularly part-time jobs.

We remain focused on the economy. The last thing this fragile economy needs is the Liberal plan to raise taxes on job creators. That would kill jobs and do a lot to hurt the Canadian economy.

That is why we are going to continue to have a low-tax jurisdiction in Canada: so that we can have jobs for Canadians and provide good services to people.

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, with January 1 fast approaching, the Conservatives are choosing more corporate tax cuts for the largest companies over the needs of Canadian families.

Instead of telling Canadians to take a vacation day when they need to care for a severely sick relative, why do the Conservatives not join us on the right side of this debate? Why do they not work with us to make the Liberal family care plan a reality before the holiday break, so that 2011 can be a much better year for hundreds of thousands of Canadian families?

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Canadian families depend on quality health care, and Canadian families can depend on this government to provide financial support to the provinces and territories to provide that health care. Whether we are talking about hospitals, cancer care, home-care services, or long-term care, our transfers to the provinces are providing a lot of hope and opportunity to people who must rely on our publicly funded health care system.

At another time, it was the Liberal Party that cut health care transfers by $25 billion. These families that the member speaks of do not need cuts of that kind.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the employment crisis is continuing in Canada. Workers are being dealt another blow. There have been more job losses, particularly in seasonal industries. After eliminating the pilot project that provided five additional weeks of employment insurance to cover the employment gap of seasonal workers, the Conservatives continue to ignore their plight.

When will the government realize the importance of the Liberals' pilot projects and implement them permanently in order to help workers and, above all, their families?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we have taken a number of measures to help the unemployed. If the member was championing the unemployed, he should have supported those five extra weeks, like the long-tenured workers project, like the investments in training and job skills. He did not support those.

We can tell the member this. We will look at the pilot projects and make sure that we get the best results from them. We will have an answer for the member in due course.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, it was the Conservatives in September who cut the five additional weeks, not the Liberals. They must accept responsibility.

These job losses show the urgency of ensuring that the Liberal pilot projects, including the best-weeks provision, are permanently reinstated today.

The Conservatives are subjecting thousands of workers to unnecessary stress by waiting until the last minute to make a decision.

Will the government stop holding all these workers and their families hostage and announce that it will guarantee the continuation of these programs that are so important to both the workers and the industry? Will the Conservatives have some compassion for once?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we will look after our workers. We will look after them through the difficult times, as we have throughout our program. We ask the member to get behind us and support us in this effort.

We are reviewing the programs to ensure that the best interests of Canadian workers are kept in mind, and that job creators will be there for them.

We will make that announcement in due course. I can assure this House that we will always look after the unemployed during difficult times, unlike the party that would rather put a 45- day work year in place and increase the premiums. That would cause job losses, and we will not do it.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources told the House that he never spoke about government contracts during the Conservative fundraiser in January 2009. But the event's organizer, Paul Sauvé, is claiming the opposite. Not only did the minister talk about government contracts, but he also congratulated Paul Sauvé for obtaining a $9 million contract with his department at the time, the Department of Public Works.

Will the minister admit that the event organized by Paul Sauvé was nothing more than a high-priced favour in return for having been given that contract?

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the contract in question was signed on May 30, 2008. I became minister of public works on June 25, 2008. The reception in question was held in January 2009. I hope that the opposition knows how to read a calendar. I never talk about contracts with the individuals involved when I am in public. When they tell me that they are doing business with the federal government, I can congratulate them and say good for them. In this case, as in any other case, I never talk about contracts with any individuals involved.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government awarded this contract to Mr. Sauvé. He was a minister in the Conservative cabinet. He should stop making things up.

Paul Sauvé was not the only one who was returning a favour at that fundraising event. At least two other contractors who had received contracts to repair government buildings were there as well: Norman Glouberman and Julia Gersovitz.

Will the minister admit that the government has a system in which it awards contracts in exchange for political donations to the Conservative Party?

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is the one that brought the Federal Accountability Act—some very strong legislation—to the House of Commons. Our government follows all the rules. That is absolutely essential, after all those years of Liberal scandals. Government officials, not Conservative ministers, look after contracts.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us review the timing with the Minister of Natural Resources.

In addition to three businesses that won contracts for Hill renovations, Joseph Broccolini also attended the Conservative fundraising activity in January 2009. And we know that after the fundraising cocktail party Broccolini Construction won at least three contracts totalling $600 million to build federal buildings.

Will the Minister of Natural Resources, who attended this fundraiser as the public works minister, admit that under Alfonso Gagliano, government suppliers were expected to fund the party in power? Back then, it was the Liberals, now it is the Conservatives.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it was our government that brought in the Federal Accountability Act, the toughest anti-corruption legislation in Canadian history, in response to years of Liberal scandals.

Let me be clear. The Minister of Natural Resources, both in his current job and his former one, has always acted in an ethical fashion. He is an example of ethics and accountability in this government, and the Canadian people are lucky to have him working on their behalf.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about that model. In December 2009, the Minister of Natural Resources, who was then the public works minister, revealed in the House that an internal investigation was being conducted regarding the awarding of Parliament Hill renovation contracts. Ten months later, the results of that internal investigation have still not been made public as the minister promised.

By hiding this report, is the minister not proving that there is something to hide, like a kickback system benefiting the Conservatives?

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear: there is no big money in federal politics in Canada. We eliminated big money. We stopped unions from donating to political parties. We stopped businesses from donating to political parties.

There are two separate issues, completely different. The mention of an investigation made by the then minister of public works in the House on December 8 was not in reference to the RCMP inquiring into the work on the West Block. It was in reference to a public service investigation of a proactive disclosure of wrongdoing in the workplace, which was unrelated to both the West Block and the Sauvé contract.

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is more bad news for families today. There were 6,600 net jobs lost in September. While full-time employment has inched up for the first time in memory, we need more than a little pause in the shift from full-time jobs to part-time work. Since the start of the recession, 250,000 full-time jobs are gone. That is the bottom line.

In light of this full-time job crisis, will the government come to its senses, change its position, and continue the stimulus program so that Canadians can get back to work?

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we were pleased to see 37,000 new full-time jobs. We are concerned when we see the number of part-time jobs going down. That is why we remain focused on jobs and the economy. But there are two distinct visions: our vision of low taxes that attract business, attract investment, and create jobs; and the vision of the coalition members opposite, who want to raise taxes that would kill jobs. That is the choice that Canadians have before them in this debate on the economy.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, anyone who criticizes the Conservatives' decisions has his or her name dragged through the mud. For instance, the Prime Minister said yesterday that lives would be in danger if we do not buy the F-35s.

When will the Conservatives stop insulting our intelligence and the intelligence of Canadians concerning the F-35s, and stop intimidating people who criticize the government's decisions on this file?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is not about anything of the sort. We have the responsibility to ensure that our men and women in uniform, those in the air force, have the equipment they need to do their jobs. We cannot ask these men and women who serve Canada so bravely to get into planes that were designed in the 1970s. In 2020 and beyond, we will need new aircraft so that these men and women can keep Canada safe and protect our sovereignty. That is why the previous government was involved in this contract, and that is why this government is seeing it through.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, we have $16 billion on untendered contracts for fighter jets without 16 seconds of debate in the House. Yesterday, former assistant deputy minister Alan Williams contradicted the Prime Minister, whose panicked statement that lives are at risk is totally without merit.

The joint strike fighter program does not require us to buy this jet to get Canadian work. The program does not prevent competition. People are being misled by the government. It will not even release a statement of requirements, so that we know what we need. We have no real idea of the total cost.

Why will Conservatives not come clean and tell us what is really behind this deal?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the F-35 program was started many years ago under a competitive process that was initiated by the former Liberal government to equip the Canadian Forces, the air force, with the best technology available, which is fifth generation technology. It was initiated to provide thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in work for Canadian industry.

It is not just a next generation fighter; it is the next generation industrial capability for Canada. We are at the leading edge of that capability, which is going to take our industry and our military capability to the next 40 years and beyond. It is a great program and all Canadians should get behind it.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians finally heard the truth about not holding an open competition for the stealth fighter deal from Alan Williams, the former head of defence procurement. Under this deal, the Pentagon will decide what the Canadian Forces need. Under this deal, there will be fewer industrial benefits for Canadian companies. Under this deal, there will be a wastage of $3.2 billion, all borrowed dollars.

Now that we have the truth, when will the Conservatives hold an open competition?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, what we heard yesterday was not the truth; it was numbers pulled out of the air, that are completely unsupported, to allow some people to jump to conclusions. It was the former Liberal government that signed the memorandum of understanding for the joint strike fighter. It is illogical that the opposition members are now saying that we can participate in the program to develop the plane, but we will not buy that plane.

With respect to participation in industrial benefits, the impact on industry is clear. The MOU stipulates in 7.3 that only those industries that are in nations of participants procuring the JSF air systems will benefit. The execution of industrial activities outlined in industrial plans are contingent upon Canada's buying the aircraft.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, Alan Williams was in charge of Canada's defence procurement for seven years. He has written a reference book on procurement. He testified yesterday that competition for Canada's replacement fighters should be an open competition. Yesterday, the Prime Minister sloughed off his advice and misquoted Mr. Williams.

How low will the Prime Minister go to prove his point? Who do Canadians believe, a defence expert or a defensive Prime Minister?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Australia, Israel and others have all come to the same conclusion. There is only one fifth generation fighter out there today which will meet our challenges for the air forces of the free world for the next 40 years or more.

We are in this deal together with those partner nations. We are getting the best deal for Canada because of the strength of that partnership. Membership does have its privileges and it is being exercised to good effect for the Canadian air force, for the Canadian people and for the Canadian industry.

Member for Nepean—Carleton
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister is the subject of an RCMP investigation after a serious security breach on Parliament Hill. He barged through a security checkpoint before his car was inspected and before he was even identified, a clear violation of security rules. Apparently it is not just the Prime Minister who thinks he makes the rules.

The member pretends to be tough on crime. Why does he think the law applies to all Canadians except him?

Member for Nepean—Carleton
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I do not share the premises of the question of the member opposite. Let me be very clear. The member in question has apologized. I think we should move on and discuss the real priorities of Canadians, such as the economy and keeping Canada safe.

Member for Nepean—Carleton
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, the member only apologized after the Conservatives attempted to have the media conceal the story. Apologies do not seem to mean anything to the member. He has a history of being forced to apologize for offensive language, offensive gestures and, most disturbing, for insulting every aboriginal Canadian. When are the Conservatives going to understand that yet another apology is not going to work?

The member has clearly demonstrated that he is unfit to be the Prime Minister's personal representative. Enough is enough. Will the Prime Minister fire his parliamentary secretary?

Member for Nepean—Carleton
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, for the member opposite, for whom I have a high regard, the people in his constituency and mine sent us to Parliament to work on their behalf. They sent us here to focus on things that are important, like jobs and the economy. They sent us here to make Canada safer by getting tough on crime and terrorism.

Let us focus on the priorities of the people of Canada and not these trivial matters.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Privacy Commissioner has slammed the government for its handling of Sean Bruyea's medical records. Mr. Bruyea is a former soldier who has been very critical of the Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Instead of pointing fingers at public servants, can the government explain to us why it did not take action as soon as it learned that the former soldier's psychological records had made their way to the minister's desk?

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Greg Kerr Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, all members of the House, indeed all Canadians, not only were shocked, but angered by the information we had confirmed yesterday, and that was the invasion of privacy that took place within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As the minister assured the public yesterday, we will do everything in our power to ensure that this terrible incident is not repeated and that all the actions necessary are taken so this will not happen in the future.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government's position is inconsistent. On the one hand, it invokes freedom of choice and the intrusive nature of the long form to justify eliminating the mandatory census, and on the other hand, it has no problem poking around in soldiers' confidential files.

Is the use of personal information for political purposes not similar to the tactics used by totalitarian regimes?

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Greg Kerr Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, the sense of outrage and frustration is there. Our government is committed to deal with this matter that has been under way for some time.

All I am saying for members of the House is that we have to follow the absolute proper procedures to ensure we deal with this within the fullness of the law and the fullness of our authority to ensure these very important veterans do not have their privacy hurt in the future. We are prepared and committed to do just that.

Census
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the former industry minister uses imaginary complaints from the public to justify the elimination of the long form census, hundreds of very real complaints, many from Conservative ranks, have been sent to the Prime Minister's office denouncing this ideological decision.

Will the government listen to the people, the National Assembly of Quebec, francophones living outside Quebec, women and aboriginal peoples, and reinstate the long form?

Census
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, as we have said all along, we do not believe Canadians should be threatened with jail time, fines, or both should they choose not to answer private and personal and intrusive questions.

That is why we have made the long form census voluntary and why we have committed to introduce legislation to eliminate the threat of jail time for all mandatory surveys.

Census
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the long form questionnaire was eliminated for purely ideological reasons. The proof: the member for Beauce, the libertarian guru, is gloating. He is even suggesting that all Statistics Canada surveys no longer be mandatory.

Will the Prime Minister put an end to this folly and reinstate the mandatory long form census questionnaire so that we have access to reliable data?

Census
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, the inconsistencies and the hypocrisy of the opposition is absolutely alarming. On the one hand, when it comes to locking up offenders who have committed arson, auto theft or assault, the opposition does not want to jail them, but when it comes to people who do not want to tell the government how much time they spend doing yard work, how many rooms they have in their house, how many hours they spend with their children each week, the opposition wants to throw them in jail. It is ridiculous.

We will continue to defend the legitimate rights of all Canadians.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, two days ago, the Minister of Natural Resources said about the famous cocktail fundraiser, “At no time was there any discussion about government business.”

Yet the contractor who organized the cocktail party and from whom Conservative organizer Gilles Varin extracted $140,000 confirms that they did talk about the $10 million contract.

How much longer will this charade go on? When will the Conservatives release the findings of the government inquiry into this contract, as the minister promised 10 months ago?

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there is so much in that question to which I have to respond. Let me be crystal clear. The minister did not discuss the awarding of the contract with the individual in question. When the individual in question told the minister that he had won a federal government contract, as the minister would on any number of cases, he congratulated him. That does not constitute a discussion on a contract.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is very hard to believe.

Paul Sauvé was told to organize this cocktail party because it was the thing to do when you won a construction contract from the Conservatives. At the party, the minister himself congratulated Mr. Sauvé on his big $10 million contract. That was not a very subtle nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

The kickback is obvious, and we do not even know who benefited from the $140,000 pocketed by organizer Gilles Varin.

Will the minister tell us who in the Conservative government had their palms greased?

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. The member calls this Varin fellow a Conservative organizer. She is wrong. That is not true and the member opposite knows it is not true. The individual has never been a member of the Conservative Party. He has never been an organizer in the Conservative Party.

I do know that the member for Bourassa received campaign contributions from the individual when he was sitting in a very powerful position around the cabinet table.

Potash Industry
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, given its sheer size, the possible sale of the PotashCorp of Saskatchewan is effectively the sale of the entire Canadian potash industry, especially if the Canpotex marketing system is demolished and other players like Agrium and Mosaic are pushed aside.

Billions of dollars in provincial revenues are hanging in the balance. The implications for more than a million Saskatchewanians are huge.

Again, what does the government consider to be a net benefit from any such transaction? Saskatchewan certainly has a right to know.

Potash Industry
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, we consistently have said in the House that as a government we will be looking at the net benefit to Canada for any prospective sales. We take that responsibility very seriously.

Potash Industry
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, BHP Billiton is the public bidder going after PotashCorp, but there may be others, including some from China.

Will the government confirm that it has before it right now certain inquiries from Chinese representatives? Do they represent the Sinochem Group or some other agency like the China Investment Corporation? Are they proposing an active or a passive investment? Would the government of Saskatchewan receive a golden share in any such transaction to protect the public interest? Saskatchewan people deserve answers.

Potash Industry
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has raised six or seven hypotheticals. Our government will review any case that falls under the purview of the Investment Canada Act. As I said before, I can assure members that in all cases the net benefit to Canada is of paramount importance.

Israel
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberal leader accused Israel of war crimes, Canada's Jewish community knew it had no friend in the Liberal Party.

Yesterday, Liberal candidate Andrew Lang said that Canada needed to stop placating Israel. He says that Canada should criticize Israel for being insufficiently non-violent.

Israel faces relentless attacks by terrorists who want to drive the Jewish people into the sea. Does the government House leader agree with the Liberals that Canada should lecture Israel on the need to be less violent?

Israel
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, no, I do not. We completely reject the Liberal candidate's view. It is the latest attempt by the Liberal Party to try to hector the State of Israel and make political points on it.

Let me very clear. Israel is Canada's friend and ally. Our Conservative government supports Israel in its daily struggle against the anti-Semitic death cults that the Jewish people face each and every day, terrorism wanting to drive them into the sea.

Like all countries facing armed terrorist attacks, Israel has the right of self-defence, and our government will always support Israel in the exercise of that right.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, everybody in Canada knows how tightly controlled the Prime Minister's and the Privy Council offices are of their ministers and deputy ministers. Four years ago, Daniel Shaw, a policy adviser in the Prime Minister's Office, received correspondence regarding the Sean Bruyea case and his information being scattered through the department like confetti.

My question is quite clear. Four years ago, the Prime Minister's Office and the government knew what was happening. Why did they take four years to act on something on which the Privacy Commissioner said the department broke the law?

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Greg Kerr Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, the fact is this matter came to a head yesterday and made clear to all of us that it had to be dealt with, and it is being dealt with. We are working absolutely and completely with the Privacy Commissioner. Whatever suggested changes, audits and actions are necessary will be done to ensure we protect the privacy of our important veterans.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister himself signed the so-called bill of rights that says veterans have a right to be treated with respect, dignity, fairness and courtesy and that their privacy will be protected under the Privacy Act. Sean Bruyea did not get this. Hundreds of veterans across the country are now filing freedom of information requests because they suspect their information was scattered throughout the department like confetti.

That signature means absolutely nothing. What the government needs to do is apologize to Sean and the veterans of Canada and call a public inquiry.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Greg Kerr Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the volume from the member for inconsistency across the way is not going to change the outcome.

The reality is, yes, the Prime Minister has said that this issue must be dealt with fully and that the veterans must be protected. That is our commitment. I can only hope the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore has the courage and audacity to support the government when we clear this issue up.

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister maintains that those who dare question his government's strategy for procuring the F-35s are putting jobs on the line. However, it is the Prime Minister himself who is jeopardizing jobs in Quebec's aerospace sector by refusing to demand spinoffs for the industry.

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that the best way to keep jobs in the aerospace sector is to require economic spinoffs from Lockheed Martin?

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel Minister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague said earlier, a competitive process took place between 1997 and 2001 under the previous government. Since then, the project has moved forward with nine partner countries. I will read a quote from Claude Lajeunesse, a Quebecker and president of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada: “We are calling on political leaders from all parties to support the government's decision. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past, because they will surely be more costly than ever before for our industry, for our military, and ultimately, for the nation” and for Quebec's aerospace sector.

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister had been firm during the procurement of the F-35s by demanding our fair share of the economic spinoffs, we would have obtained $9 billion in contracts.

The government can make promises of possible spinoffs to the tune of $12 billion, but the reality is that it has obtained no guarantees, and we may end up losing out on major spinoffs.

Why is the government refusing to defend Quebec's aerospace industry?

Aerospace Industry
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel Minister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's entire aerospace industry supports our government on this. Let us stop playing politics on this issue, even though it may be hard to resist.

I will read the quote from Pratt & Whitney president John Saabas that my colleague was referring to earlier: “The Canadian industry is ready to step up, but a decision needs to be made now. If we miss the boat, two years from now we will have a hard time making up lost ground...and recovering lost jobs.” Some people may not understand this, but people in the aerospace industry do.

Poverty
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, Thanksgiving is just days away and it is important to remember that many Canadian families will not enjoy even a basic Thanksgiving meal. Food bank use is up 21%. Many more Canadians are falling below the poverty line and current programs only maintain the status quo.

The best way to help our economy is to lift people out of poverty. Why is it so difficult for the Conservative government to put the needs of millions of Canadians who need help first?

Poverty
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we are indeed very interested in helping those who are in need. We have taken a number of initiatives in that regard. We have passed a number of tax measures to ensure there is more money in people's pockets to help them through difficult times. In fact, by reducing taxes, the average Canadian family will have an additional $3,000 in its pocket that it would not have had under the tax and spend policies of the Liberal Party.

Poverty
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, why is the government willing to spend millions of dollars on American-style megaprisons and give huge tax breaks to corporations instead of addressing the issue of poverty? Why has the government not listened to the 74 recommendations made by the Senate subcommittee on ending poverty and homelessness?

Poverty is an issue that will not simply go away for millions of Canadians unless something is done to help ease the burden. Why does the government insist on ignoring this problem?

Poverty
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we obviously sympathize with anyone who does not have a job, but the best way to get people out of poverty is to provide jobs for them. We have provided a number of initiatives under our economic action plan. We have created 430,000 jobs. Additionally, by work sharing, we have preserved over 255,000 jobs.

The leader of the member's party, the Liberal Party, would rather impose taxes, increase the GST and put taxes on business, which would cause a loss of over 300,000 jobs. That is the difference between us and them.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, each new day brings new revelations about the former public works minister.

The minister should know that attending an event organized by an entrepreneur who just won a $9 million government contract was not a good idea. But he went anyway. He and Mr. Sauvé discussed the contract for 10 minutes. He even congratulated him.

Do there need to be more revelations before he resigns? Why is the minister still in the cabinet?

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I think we have addressed this in previous questions. What I can say is that the minister has given great detail with respect to the issues involving the individual in question.

I can say that this government's first order of business was to pass the Federal Accountability Act, tough ethics reform, tough anti-corruption measures. We eliminated the role of big money in politics; we eliminated corporations, unions and $5,000 donations. Now we have a more open, transparent and ethical campaign finance system.

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing new about monkey business at the Department of Public Works, but the former minister makes Roch LaSalle smell like a spring day: tampering with access to information requests, rigging government contracts, shady kickbacks to grateful contractors. It was his department, on his watch and he is responsible as the minister. The buck stops with him.

The member for Simcoe—Grey was politically executed for the flimsiest of innuendo. Why is the minister still in cabinet when he was caught red-handed?

Government Contracts
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the fury and bluster of the member opposite, while entertaining, is not factual.

Let us be very clear. We brought in the Federal Accountability Act. It imposes tough obligations on a variety of people in government and outside government. If there are any issues that are of concern, people who break the rules should face the full force of the law because that is how it is in this country.

Canadian Forces
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a disturbing video running on the Internet. It calls our Canadian military “canon fodder”. This video has outraged Canadian military families, particularly those who have lost sons and daughters. They have considered it an insult and disrespectful of the careers chosen by their children.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence tell us what he thinks of this video?

Canadian Forces
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I proudly wore the uniform of the Canadian Forces for over 30 years and I can tell members it is an honourable calling and career.

Our men and women fighting in Afghanistan are performing incredible work under difficult circumstances. They are fighting to bring security to the Afghan people. They are fighting so that young girls can go to school. They are fighting so that women can see a doctor for health care.

This video is outrageous fiction by irresponsible individuals who should be ashamed of themselves. I know Canadians are proud of our brave and courageous members of the Canadian Forces.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, in 2005, a crab management plan for crab fishing areas 23 and 24 was put into place that fishers felt would bring long-term sustainability and stability to the area.

A fifty-fifty sharing mechanism was to be triggered when the total allowable catch reached 9,700 tonnes. However, once that number was reached, the minister chose not to honour this agreement and maintained the 60-40 formula which favoured 40 fishers while disadvantaging over 700.

Will the minister commit today to honouring the original agreement?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I welcome my colleague to his new role as the fisheries and oceans critic.

The decision he refers to was made after considerable discussion with a number of stakeholders, all stakeholders in fact. Various sharing options were considered. This one was implemented based on the principle of equity. The process was fair and open. The majority of participants support this decision, and this is the decision that we are staying with. Changing this decision would destabilize the industry, and we do not plan to do that.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois's Bill C-395 was adopted at second reading by a majority in this House. It aims to correct an aberration in the Employment Insurance Act in order to ensure that the weeks of a labour dispute are not used to calculate benefits. The workers at Lebel-sur-Quévillon would have benefited from this bill.

Does the government intend to grant a royal recommendation to this bill so that it continues on to the Senate?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, of course we would take an impartial position with respect to the bill. The government does not interfere in specifics like strike action and capping those days. Both employers and employees contribute to the program. It would be improper for us to involve ourselves in that area.

Member for Nepean--Carleton
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, like most members of Parliament, I am very proud of the hard-working police on Parliament Hill. They maintain a respectful balance between national security while maintaining an open public space for Canadians. Yet yesterday, the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary thumbed his nose at the police and committed a major flagrant breach.

The government seems to think rules are for other people: zero tolerance for citizens; queue jumping for ministers.

We know the member was caught and publicly spanked, but will the government take responsibility and send a clear message that it does not tolerate that abusive attitude from its ministers?

Member for Nepean--Carleton
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP officers on Parliament Hill work hard. They have a difficult responsibility and they do an outstanding job. They deserve our full support.

The member in question has spoken to this. I should point out that the member is a hard-working member. He delivers for his constituency. He makes an excellent contribution to this place and is a big asset to the government.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal public safety critic continues to side with criminals. First he talked about dramatically cutting sentences, and now he wants to delay our legislation to eliminate accelerated parole with a cost analysis.

Victims already know the true cost of crime. When will the Liberals do what is right and commit to keeping criminals behind bars?

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety please update this House on our efforts to keep criminals behind bars?

Public Safety
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her hard work on this very important file.

The Liberal public safety critic continues to ask the wrong questions. It is becoming ever more clear that he is more concerned with a cost analysis than a justice analysis.

This is about right and wrong. We believe it is right for victims' rights to come first. We know it is wrong for criminals to be released after only serving one-sixth of their sentence.

We call on the Liberals to finally put justice first and support Bill C-39.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the crab plan was developed by an independent expert panel and signed off by a former minister of fisheries, Loyola Hearn.

It has been learned through access to information that DFO staff recommended reconvening this panel for a day in order to offer its interpretation of the rule and settle this issue once and for all.

I ask today, in order to bring peace and stability to this area and to this issue, will the minister act on the advice of DFO and agree to reconvene the expert panel for its final interpretation?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

Noon

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, this decision was made very carefully by the previous minister.

All stakeholders were involved in this. The process was fair and open. The majority of participants supported this decision where an equal share of the quota would go to all licences.

This was a decision made in equity, and in our opinion and as the minister has reviewed this decision, it is our conclusion that reconvening a panel would accomplish nothing and would destabilize the industry.

The Environment
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, fall is here and heating costs are becoming a big concern for seniors and families across our country.

The eco-energy home energy retrofit program helped a lot. It created jobs. It cut greenhouse gas emissions. It reduced home heating costs. The government admitted that it worked and then it killed the program.

Will the government come to its senses and bring back a national home energy retrofit program to help Canadians this winter?

The Environment
Oral Questions

Noon

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we were clear in our last Speech from the Throne that we would review the entire suite of programs, and this is what we are doing.

I would add that $300 million is still flowing until the end of the calendar year for the home retrofit program.

We will get things done. We will do what we said in our last Speech from the Throne.

Justice
Oral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the crime rate is going down, but the government insists on imposing its repressive version of justice that will cost Quebec and the provinces billions of dollars just to expand the prison system.

Instead of being blinded by his ideology, should the minister not invest in the targeted, rational, prevention-based measures that have been much more effective in fighting crime than the minister's elementary, partisan approach?

Justice
Oral Questions

Noon

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to keeping law-abiding Canadian families safe in their homes, on their streets and in their communities. That means keeping dangerous criminals behind bars where they belong.

Our Conservative government is proud to be on the right side of the issue, the side of law-abiding Canadians and the side of victims who want justice.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of a Canadian parliamentary delegation concerning its official visit to Ecuador and Chile from May 16 to 21, 2010.

Foreign Affairs
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, under section 32(2) of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, the treaties entitled: Exchange of Letters concerning an amendment of Annex V to the Agreement between the European Community and the Government of Canada on sanitary measures to protect public and animal health in respect of trade in live animals and animal products, done at Brussels on March 22 and April 16, 2010; Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of India for Co-operation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, done at Toronto on June 27, 2010; Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Canada Contributing Resources to the United Nations - African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), done at New York on July 9, 2009; Exchange of Notes between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America constituting an Agreement extending the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America providing for Coordination of the Icebreaking Activities of Canada and the United States on the Great Lakes, done at Ottawa on December 5, 1980.

An explanatory memorandum is included with each treaty.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(b) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-580, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Firearms Act and the Contraventions Act (long guns).

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House of Commons, representing the people of Timmins—James Bay, seconded by my colleague from Nickel Belt, and representatives of the rural caucus of the New Democratic Party, to introduce a bill that we feel will finally end the poisonous, divisive politics around gun policy in this country.

Specifically, the bill lays out a way to start moving forward with gun policy that respects the cultural rights of rural citizens. It ensures that rural citizens are not left to feel like criminals and it contains audit processes to ensure that Canadians are getting accountability for the dollars that are being spent. But also, and this is very important, we need to have gun policy in this country that ensures that guns are not able to get into the country and end up on the black market, guns that should never be classified as sports hunting guns, which are now getting in through some of the loopholes in the system, a gun such as the Ruger Mini-14. That is not something that a legitimate duck hunter or farmer would need.

We feel that unless we come together as parliamentarians to address gun policy in this country, we will continue to leave citizens at risk while creating further and further frustration in rural Canada.

We are very proud to present the bill. We are interested in working with our colleagues. This is the beginning, I believe, of a long-term consultation to move us off the politics of fear and move us towards the politics of developing good gun policy that respects Canadians and ensures that we have a progressive policy for guns in this country.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition in support of Bill C-544. It is signed by hundreds of people from across Ontario.

The petitioners supporting Bill C-544 are concerned about the use of horse meat. They point out that horses are primarily kept for sports and companions and are not being raised primarily for food production. The petitioners also point out that, as part of the maintenance and keeping of horses, drugs are used and may complicate things when horses are in fact slaughtered and used for food production.

The petitioners are asking the House of Commons and Parliament to bring forward and adopt Bill C-544, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act, thus prohibiting the importation and exportation of horses for slaughter for human consumption, as well as horse meat products for human consumption.

Multiple Sclerosis
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the thousands of MS patients throughout the country. In Newfoundland and Labrador alone we have 1,100 of these patients. They are asking the Government of Canada to take a leadership role in trying to ensure that the liberation treatment that is showing to be so helpful to MS patients be made available throughout the country.

Right now we find that, in different provinces, different approaches are being taken. Some provinces are doing a hands-off type of approach, while provinces such as Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan are in fact playing a leadership role, but again, offering a different type of approach.

We need some consistency for our MS patients. They need to know that they can avail of this liberation treatment, which tends to show that it is not a cure but a treatment that enables MS patients to lead better and more productive lives.

The point here is that time is not on the side of MS patients and waiting for more study is not helpful to them. We need to offer the liberation treatment simultaneously with research so that MS patients can avail of this treatment and move on with their lives.

Passport Fees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition calls on the Canadian government to negotiate with the United States government to reduce the United States and Canadian passport fees. The number of American tourists visiting Canada is at its lowest level since 1972. It has fallen by five million visits in the last seven years, from 16 million in 2002 to only 11 million in 2009. Passport fees for an American family of four can be over $500.

While 50% of Canadians have passports, only 25% of Americans do.

At the recent Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, attended by myself and over 500 elected representatives from 11 border states and three provinces, a resolution was passed unanimously, which reads:

RESOLVED, that [the Conference] calls on President Barack Obama and [the Canadian Prime Minister] to immediately examine a reduced fee for passports to facilitate cross-border tourism; and be it further

RESOLVED, that [the Conference] encourage[s] the governments to examine the idea of a limited-time two-for-one passport renewal or new application;

To be a fair process, passport fees must be reduced on both sides of the border. Therefore, the petitioners call on the government to work with the American government to examine a mutual reduction in passport fees to facilitate tourism, and finally, promote a limited-time two-for-one passport renewal or new application fee on a mutual basis with the United States.

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first petition is on the same subject. In fact, I think it is the identical petition to the one presented earlier by the member for York South—Weston in support of Bill C-544. He went into considerable detail explaining what it is about, so I will not take up the House's time with further information on that petition.

Cattle Industry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is something that has not been presented today. This is a petition from a number of concerned citizens, many of them farmers, who ask us to cast our minds back to the shutting down of the U.S. border and other borders to Canadian beef in 2003 and the period of time during which a tremendous financial hardship was suffered by beef farmers and the beef industry in Canada as a result of the BSE crisis. The evidence that the petitioners point out strongly suggests that the agriculture department did not adequately take protections in advance to defend their interests.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the government to appoint someone like Justice Frank Iacobucci, who served as a mediator in a similar case of government neglect, to serve as a mediator to facilitate a settlement between the Government of Canada and cattle farmers with respect to the costs that were imposed on the industry by the inappropriate actions of the agriculture department at the time.

Child Access Agreements
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to present a petition signed by 75 people in my riding of Red Deer and surrounding area. The petitioners believe that the family justice system is failing children and their families. Therefore, they call upon the House of Commons to work with the provinces and territories to ensure that decision-makers, including parents and judges, consider a list of criteria in determining the best interests of the child in access agreements.

Multiple Sclerosis
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to table a petition today. This is the fourth such petition, following up also on the one tabled by my colleague from Random—Burin—St. George's. It is signed by a number of people from the National Capital Region, mostly on the Ottawa side.

They call on the Minister of Health of the Government of Canada to convene a meeting of the ministers of health of the provinces for the purpose of discussing allowing hospitals, private clinics and individual doctors to test for and treat CCSVI in all Canadians who so desire testing and treatment; and secondly, to plan and implement a nationwide clinical trial for the evaluation of venography and balloon venoplasty for the treatment of CCSVI in persons diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.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

12:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Gatineau has five minutes remaining for questions and comments.

The hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his excellent speech on Bill C-47. He spoke about some inequalities experienced by workers at AbitibiBowater in the Outaouais. The government is pleased that the senior managers received huge bonuses when the plant was shut down, while the workers are having difficulties getting their pensions.

I would like the member for Gatineau to explain this situation a little more.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, my Bloc Québécois colleague, the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé, has asked an excellent question.

A few years ago, AbitibiBowater handed out $60 million in bonuses to its managers when it was under Companies' Creditors Arrangements Act protection and $6.8 billion in debt. One individual alone, John Weaver—let me say his name loud and clear—received $27 million.

In the meantime, workers are losing their jobs because AbitibiBowater is under CCAA protection. They are not getting severance pay. They may not even get their pensions if they are not 55 since older workers are not being offered any adjustment measures. The Conservatives are not doing anything or introducing any legislation to address this inequality.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the parliamentary secretary claimed that Revenue Canada is cracking down on people who made overcontributions to the new tax-free savings accounts, but he said nothing about trying to collect the tax on some $6 trillion to $10 trillion in tax havens around the world, Canadians who are investing in those things.

Four years ago the German government gave the Canadian government the names of 106 Canadians with a combined total of more than $100 million stashed in Liechtenstein bank accounts. So far, the Canada Revenue Agency has closed 26 cases, assessed $5.2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties, but has not collected one dime from these tax evaders.

Since 2006, the Germans have received 200 million euros from the people investing in tax havens. In fact, the United States government is chasing its own taxpayers.

The question is, why is the government not trying to get this money back? Who is it trying to protect?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague very much for that excellent question.

When the Conservatives were in opposition, they would rant and rave about tax havens. Now that they are in power, they are letting tax havens be. They even want a Canada-Panama agreement, even though Panama is known as a tax haven. There are tax havens in Switzerland, yet the government is not doing anything to ensure that Canadians and Quebeckers who put their money there pay taxes here.

Before and during his tenure as prime minister, Paul Martin, the owner of Canada Steamship Lines, put his money in tax havens and avoided paying $105 million in taxes. That is scandalous.

Today, the Conservative government, which has the support of the NDP and the Bloc Québécois to abolish tax havens, is doing nothing, even though the Conservatives condemned tax havens when they were in opposition. That is scandalous. Tax havens must go, because they take money away from the government, money that should be paid by all taxpayers to help improve living conditions for the less fortunate in this country.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise and speak on Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures.

For the sake of bringing people up to speed on why we are even discussing such an unusual bill with a strange title, it is simply due to the fact that once the annual budget is presented, parliamentarians debate and then vote on the major overlying principles of the budget that is tabled. However, in order for the items presented in that particular budget to come into force, bills need to be presented so that the necessary provisions of the budget can be written into law.

Therefore, Bill C-47 is simply a technical bill that implements certain provisions of the last budget into law. As usual, a technical bill has turned into a possible reason to call an election. In the time I have been here, I have never seen more suspense surrounding technical bills than during the term of the Conservative government, simply due to the unusual way the government handles its parliamentary affairs when it comes to implementation bills. The budget says one thing and the bills say another.

For example, in a previous implementation bill tabled in the spring, the government included items to amend that had nothing to do with the budget. It requested amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, introduced an airport security tax, proposed changes to the Employment Insurance Act, changes to the Canada Post Corporation Act and changes to allow for the sell-off of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. All this occurs because of the secret nature of the government, which tries to sneak divisive items into legislation through the back door in order to avoid public input or any type of parliamentary oversight. In this way, all decisions made by the government can be made under a shroud of secrecy to advance the Conservatives' secret agenda.

The budget for the year ending March 31, 2011, is expected to cost Canadians over $238 billion this year alone and add almost $25 billion to our national debt. The government likes to misrepresent itself by saying it is fiscally disciplined, but this is simply not true. The Conservative government has been the highest-spending government year after year for the last four years, and every year it has been in office it has broken the previous record for spending. Never in the history of Canada has any government spent as much money as this one has.

The government also likes to misrepresent itself by saying it does not raise taxes, but this is simply not true. To pay for its out-of-control spending spree in the last six months, the Conservatives are finding ways to increase taxes. The new airport security tax proposed by the government is in fact a tax increase. The government can call it anything it wants, but everyone in the chamber knows that it is a tax. Ordinary Canadians will feel that the government is reaching into their pockets whenever they have to travel, and they will know it is a tax.

In addition to the air travellers tax, this January coming, the government will charge Canadian workers, entrepreneurs and companies a payroll tax increase. The economic recovery is weak and fragile, and this latest tax hike will put countless small and medium-sized enterprises out of business. It will put thousands upon thousands of hard-working Canadians out of a job, and it will certainly cause a great amount of suffering in homes across Canada.

The Conservatives like to sprinkle money around on pet projects, they like to have their pictures in local newspapers holding giant novelty cheques and they like to fly the Prime Minister all over the country at the Canadian taxpayers' expense to make spending announcements, but the fact of the matter is that for all the spending the government has done, we have not seen any progress.

The budget 2010 stimulus package just is not working. National groups from different sectors of industry have all said that the stimulus is not doing what it is intended to do. As part of prebudget consultation hearings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, of which I am vice-chair, groups that have testified as early as this week have time and time again said the stimulus was appreciated but was not working. They say “appreciated” because they get intimidated by the government. However, when they say “not working”, they mean that the program was implemented, but with no consultation and vision for the future, how effective can the program be?

Canada's unemployment rate is 2% higher today than it was 18 months ago. Still, this number does not tell the full story. Too many full-time jobs have been replaced by part-time work. The government likes to claim that the stimulus package has helped to recuperate lost jobs, but replacing a high-paying full-time job with a low-paying part-time job is like a bad trade for a sporting team, and we all know how that works out in the long run.

Canada's economy shrunk in July, and this includes a downturn in the construction industry during what should have been the height of the construction season.

Just this morning, it was confirmed that the Canadian economy lost 6,600 jobs in the month of September, while expectations were for 10,000 additional jobs to be created. This is because the government has been slow to approve projects and has concentrated spending on pet projects in areas where the Conservatives hope to score political points rather than spending fairly and intelligently by listening to local officials who know what their communities need.

Consumer confidence has declined four months in a row. In this period of supposed recovery, Canadians are not feeling the benefits, and that is because the recovery is a lie. When unemployment is high, that is not a recovery. When people cannot get enough hours at work to make ends meet, that is not a recovery. When Canadians have to decide whether to fill up their gas tanks or buy groceries this week, that is not a recovery. When construction equipment idles while Conservative ministers take credit for a spending announcement, that is not a recovery. It is a photo op.

Household debt is at record levels. The average Canadian owes almost $42,000, which is among the highest levels of all the OECD countries. Canadians are trying to keep their heads above water, and all the government has to offer them is tax increases, billions in spending on prisons we do not need, jet fighters that have not gone through the proper bid process, and millions of dollars in advertising for Conservative propaganda. The only people to come out ahead during this recovery are the folks who make the economic action plan billboards.

Canada's monthly trade deficit is at a record high of $2.7 billion, and this is a warning sign for a country that depends upon trade for jobs and prosperity. Not long ago, we used to run a trade surplus in this country. Canada used to take in more money than it spent compared to trading competitors, but since the government has taken power and crippled our economy, we have seen revenues fall relative to expenditures.

When the Conservatives took power, Canada was running trade surpluses, unemployment was low, taxes were low, the government had a $13 billion surplus and the economy was growing steadily. In the last five years, its economic mismanagement has undone all of these accomplishments and Canadians are paying for its failure. The numbers are in and there is no hiding from the facts. The government has lost jobs, depleted our finances, increased our debt burden and raised our taxes.

This year's budget was critical because it needed to be bold enough and effective enough to stop the bleeding brought by three years of Conservative economic mismanagement. Budget 2010 failed to address the real economic challenges facing Canadian families, such as record household debt, the rising costs of education and home care, pension security and the loss of 200,000 full-time jobs in just the last 18 months.

The Conservative record of waste and mismanagement does not reflect the priorities of Canadians. The borrow-and-spend Conservative government has wasted Canadians' money with a record $130 million on shameless, self-promoting advertising; $1.3 billion for a three-day G8-G20 photo op, with spending on everything from a fake lake to glow sticks; $10 billion to $13 billion on American-style megaprisons to lock up unreported criminals, as the crime rate declines; $16 billion on a bad deal for stealth fighters, awarded without competition or guaranteed jobs for Canadians; and $20 billion in corporate tax cuts that we cannot afford.

The deficit has reached a record high of $54 billion and is projected to go even higher. The $156 billion of new debt that the Conservatives plan to borrow between 2009 and 2014 will cost taxpayers $10 billion in interest payments each and every year for decades to come. We have to pay $10 billion every year before we can even put a dent in repaying the debt.

What makes this even worse is that the government chooses to deflect criticism away from its pitiful record by creating divisions in this chamber and throughout the country by trying to stifle meaningful debate and oversight.

During a debate, we share ideas. I know that some issues are complex and can be emotional. But this government has gotten into the habit of constantly introducing bills that create divisions. Because of its rigid right-wing ideology, it does not want to put forward its ideas in separate bills.

Bill C-47 is a wasted opportunity by the Conservative government. Instead of offering meaningful help to Canadians in this time of economic uncertainty, the Conservatives have provided us with a mixture of taxes on ordinary Canadians, crippling deficits and recklessly ineffective spending on non-priority measures.

The Liberal Party of Canada would prefer we spend our time debating and implementing priority measures that benefit all Canadians.

These are difficult economic times, which means that governments must choose. The Conservatives choose tax breaks for corporations. We choose to help Canadian families.

That is why the Liberal Party has announced the Liberal family care plan to help people with the cost of caring for sick or aging loved ones at home.

Here are some statistics. There are approximately 2.7 million family caregivers in Canada. These people are responsible for 80% of home care services in Canada, providing more than $9 billion in unpaid care each year. More than 40% of family caregivers use their personal savings to survive. More than one-quarter of family caregivers miss one or more months of work to provide care, and 65% have household incomes under $45,000. Canada's population is aging; one in five Canadians will be 60 by 2020, and by 2017, Canada's 150th birthday, it is estimated that the number of seniors with chronic conditions requiring home care will increase by one-third.

Canadians want choices when it comes to caring for their families. Providing care at home allows our loved ones to live in dignity as they face their health challenges with their families. Making family care easier will also help to contain health care costs in the long run.

To enhance care for our parents, our grandparents and our sick loved ones, a Liberal government will invest $1 billion annually in a new Liberal family care plan to help reduce the economic pressure on hundreds of thousands of struggling Canadian families.

Our Liberal family care plan reflects the real value of family caregivers in our society—their value to our economy, our health, our families and our communities.

Canadians trust the Liberal Party to safeguard public health care. The fact is, the Canadian population is aging, and most Canadians expect to be responsible for the care of a very sick family member at home in their lifetime. The Conservative government has not shown any leadership on this issue, which is an important priority for Canadian families. One Conservative minister even suggested that family caregivers could use their vacation time to take care of their loved ones.

I would like to take a few moments to explain the Liberal family care plan in detail, in order to avoid any confusion.

The plan includes two measures: a new six-month family care employment insurance benefit and a new family care tax benefit.

The six-month family care employment insurance benefit, similar to the EI parental leave benefit, will allow more Canadians to care for gravely ill family members at home without having to quit their jobs.

For extended benefits, we will replace the six-week compassionate care provision with a new EI benefit lasting up to six months.

To make benefits more accessible and build more flexibility into the program, we are proposing changes to the nature of the required doctor’s certificate. At present, a doctor must sign a form confirming that a family member is “gravely ill with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks”. We will work with the medical community to relax that definition with a form confirming that the family member requires a great deal of care because he or she is gravely ill.

With regard to the flexible sharing of benefits, we will make the program more flexible by allowing the six months to be split up into blocks of time over a one-year period and by allowing eligible family members to share this time in order to provide care.

The new family care employment insurance benefit will cost approximately $250 million per year and will give support to 30,000 caregivers. A Liberal government will not increase employment insurance premiums to fund this measure.

The Liberal plan will also establish a new monthly tax benefit for family care. This new benefit will be applied in the same way as the Canadian child tax credit and it will be offered to all caregivers.

This new benefit will consist of a monthly tax-free payment, for a total of up to $1,350 per year.

The benefit will be gradually reduced based on family income starting at $41,000 and will be available to families with annual income under $106,000.

To qualify, families will have to produce a doctor's certificate confirming that a sick member of their family requires significant care and assistance to carry out daily or critical life tasks.

The new family care tax benefit will give support to approximately 600,000 caregivers at an approximate cost of $750 million per year.

We talked to Canadians. We know that more of us need to provide long-term care for our loved ones. The Liberal Party will do whatever it can to ease this burden. The choice is simple: stand with Canadians or stand with special interests. We will stand with Canadians.

Canadians are feeling the crunch of personal debt and they are worried that they will not be able to save enough for their retirement. Pensions are a priority concern and the Liberal Party has proposed pragmatic solutions to help out ordinary Canadians.

To further promote saving, we, the Liberals, are asking the government to consider our pension reform projects: creating a supplementary Canada pension plan to help Canadians save more and providing employees who lose their pension funds as a result of bankruptcy with an opportunity to increase their pension income through the Canada pension plan.

To allow Canadians to further invest in our national pension plan, on which we can rely, the Liberal plan proposes that the government work with the provinces, retirees, unions and the private sector to develop and implement a supplementary pension plan.

The Liberal Party will do whatever it can to help Canadians help themselves, which is why we have proposed a simple, pragmatic solution that will allow Canadians to save for their retirement.

The choice is simple: stand with Canadians or stand with special interests. We will stand, like I said before, with Canadians.

Budget 2010 fails, not only to address the real challenges facing Canadian families but to recognize that those challenges even exist.

When Canadians need their government to stand with them, the Conservatives have chosen to stand with special interests. Bill C-47 is just the latest example of the Conservative government's failure to stand with Canadians. As a Liberal, I have always stood with Canadians and will continue to do so by voting against Bill C-47.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, in the interest of parliamentary debate, things rattle back and forth, and I find it always advantageous when a position is based on facts. In painting a picture of a devastated Canadian economy, I wonder if my colleague across the way has reflected on some statements made by those outside Canada in evaluating Canada's economy.

The International Monetary Fund affirmed again yesterday that Canada's economy leads all industrialized nations. The OECD has said, “Canada's economy shines”. The Economist Intelligence Unit says that Canada's economy is an economic miracle. The World Economic Forum has said that Canada's financial system for the third year running now is the strongest in the world.

The job numbers posted today, although they show a drop in part-time jobs, they show an increase of 37,000 new full-time jobs.

In light of my colleague's unfactually based assessment of Canada's economy, would he be willing to say that the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the World Economic Forum and the Economist Intelligence Unit are all wrong or are they simply fabricating their evaluations?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it a bit hilarious to hear a statement like that from a minister of the government. However, I will try to address a few of those questions.

He asks why Canada is coming out as one of the leading countries in its economic status. It is because of the Liberal government, let us face it. We had a German delegation and it understood that. A minister of the state who was an international minister and has been able to speak to people abroad should be the first one to understand that. The President of the Treasury Board has not been able to grab hold of the funds. He should be worried about why he is continuously spending more money than any government in the history of Canada. I think that is what he should be worried about.

The fact that the Canadian economy has been in such a positive light is because of the Liberal government, which is what everybody has been saying, except for the Conservatives.

When it comes to jobs, 6,600 jobs were lost in the month of September when the government expected 10,000 jobs to be created. We are missing out on 16,600 jobs. We can cut it as we wish, part-time or full-time, but we are missing 16,600 jobs, without including all that money we spent on stimulus funding.

With regard to the question concerning the OECD, I will try to answer that question later.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, other than Senator Percy Downe, I have not heard a Liberal in this House talk about the necessity of trying to collect taxes from people who are hiding money in tax havens.

We have a case here with the parliamentary secretary just yesterday talking about a crackdown on people who have overcontributed to the TFSAs, the tax free savings accounts, but not one mention was made of all the money the government should be trying to recover from people who invested in tax havens in Liechtenstein four years ago. As a matter of fact, the government was given the information that 106 Canadians had a total of more than $100 million stashed in Liechtenstein accounts. So far, Revenue Canada has collected not one dime of that money. However, in Germany, since 2006, it has recovered 200 million euros in back taxes from people investing in tax havens.

I would like to know why the members opposite are not pressuring the Conservatives to be more active on that file to collect those back taxes.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I first want to know where the member is getting this information from because I am having trouble getting information on my own tax return from CRA. He must have some inside information. If he is able to get all these statistics, I think he should be put in charge of CRA and try to go after that money. I do not think there is anybody here who is against going after that money. However, he must have some great contacts if he is able to determine that there are 40-odd people where the file has been closed. They cannot even find my file.

That is part of the problem. The government has not taken any leadership to go after the taxes owed by Canadians who put their money into offshore tax havens. What it is doing is going after people who have decided to put a couple of bucks into an account called the tax free savings account. It is a gimmick that the Conservatives decided to put together and I think less than 1% of Canadians have decided to utilize it.

Yes, the government has decided to go after the people who have not even offended.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I note that many quotes have been attributed to economists. I am reminded that when people come to my office they are actually looking for accountants to help them. They do not go to economists. I am trying to find those who can answer their questions with respect to taxes and so on and so forth.

My friend from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel is an accountant and is also a vice-chair of the finance committee. I would like to ask him a question with respect to the contradictions in the budget. For example, I think we would all agree that it is a good thing to concentrate on the accelerated capital tax allowance for green energy that encourages the production of green products. However, the real job creation is through consumers buying those products.

The contradiction I find in the budget concerns the accelerated capital tax allowance, which is good, but then we see the discontinuation on the consumer side of the eco-energy program which would in fact allow people to buy those green products.

From a strategic fiscal planning perspective, does the member not think that is a good example of the contradictions in the approaches taken by the government? Could he give any other examples of that?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my seat mate is one of the best MPs in the House and one of the best looking and he represents his constituents with a lot of hard work and devotion to his riding. I commend him for all the work he does, because I see it personally.

An example is quite easy. The Conservative government loves the corporate stuff. That is why it gives out all the candy to the corporate people and nothing is left for individuals. A perfect example is the corporate tax. Corporate tax deductions will be in effect in two months, but what is their for you and I, Mr. Speaker? Very little. That is the perfect example and that is the biggest difference between Conservatives and us.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, you will have to forgive me if I am just a little skeptical when I hear of yet another tax and spend Liberal program. We have heard of a national daycare program being part of the Liberals' creation since 1993. We never saw anything come of that one. That is the very reason why we put in place the child tax credit to allow parents the options for choosing their own child care.

I was pleased to hear him say, however, that he agrees with us that the economy is still weak and fragile and that our economic recovery still needs to be handled with great caution.

When I look at that and see the Liberals vote for a 45-day work year after their leader has said that it is fiscally irresponsible, I have to scratch my head. We know the projects in the economic action plan have created jobs across the country. It has created jobs in every jurisdiction of our country. I do not know how many projects are going on in the member's province.

Since these projects are a demonstration of three levels of government working together to create jobs, which constituents would the hon. member want to tell that they should not be working?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to address one aspect before I address the question. The hon. member said something related to the Liberal Party being a tax and spend party. At least she caught 50% of what I said, and that is we will spend on family care when we are in government, but I am not sure where she got the part about the tax. Perhaps she can table the document where it says the Liberal Party will tax. I am sure she has a copy of our newest announcement on the long-term care family help, so I do not need to table that for her.

However, in answer to her question, as I stated in my speech, as a member of the finance committee, we have been going across Canada, listening to Canadians. Different Canadian organizations are saying that the stimulus program is not working. There are deficiencies. There is money being spent, but the projects are not being done, or are not being completed and there has been overspending on certain projects because they have been overbid and they have all been rushed to get these jobs done before the deadline.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the sustaining Canada's economic recovery act.

Before I address economics, I must first pay tribute to the people of Etobicoke North and the community in which I was born and raised and pay tribute to my constituents, many now friends and many now family. I am humbled to serve my constituents each and every day.

I must also honour a new constituency I serve, namely the veterans of Canada. In our country's short history not every generation was called upon to defend our freedom, but every generation that responds does so with courage and conviction. It was 65 years ago that World War II veterans were among the members of a generation that saved the world from tyranny and it was 60 years ago that our veterans were dispatched to Korean waters.

Since then, our veterans have been among members of combat and peacekeeping operations to protect freedom, human rights and justice around the world in places such as Bosnia, Cyprus, Haiti and Iraq.

Our veterans' legacy of bravery and commitment to the leadership is continued by a new generation of Canadians serving tour after tour in Afghanistan. We must therefore invest, protect and defend the rights and legacy of our veterans.

Sadly, the government's 2010 budget failed to take action to really help veterans, including much needed housing and supports for operational stress injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder. To be fair, Veterans Affairs recently announced $52.5 million for temporary housing, wheelchairs and other help for seriously injured soldiers on September 28.

However, Canadians must ask, where is the vision? Where is the budgeting for our veterans? Responding to crisis with piecemeal announcements is no way to run a department. Our veterans deserve better.

Moreover we learned during the summer that the government was considering recommendations to cut spending at Veterans Affairs, even though a report found the number of new veterans was expected to increase. A cut to the Veterans Affairs budget means less support to our veterans once our mission in Afghanistan comes to an end.

Lest we forget Canada's most precious asset is human, our serving men and women, and our defence commitments must include serving the men and women of our armed forces when they return home.

We also learned during the summer that the government would forge ahead with a sole-sourced military aircraft contract worth up to $16 billion, an enormous expenditure once the House of Commons recessed, with no transparency and no guarantee that Canadians would get the best value for their money.

While budget 2010 claims to recognize the significant efforts of veterans who helped build our country and make it strong, it does not ensure that our proud veterans are shown the dignity and respect they deserve. Coming home, for example, should not be the beginning of another battle, a battle for compensation, a battle for support, a battle for treatment.

Budget 2010 offers $1 million per year for the community war memorial program to partner with communities across our country that wish to build memorials to commemorate the achievements and sacrifices made by those who served our country.

Remembrance is a touchstone of Canada's identity in Canadian society. Canadian veterans, however, want their country to honour the covenant they entered to take care of them when they come home injured and to take care of their families when they do not return and that their government not break a sacred trust with veterans and their families.

Veterans want a change in culture at Veterans Affairs and a change in philosophy from the current insurance policy climate to a return to the social contract of the past. Veterans need real investment, investment that comes in the budget and not in response to criticism. Veterans want action on long-standing problems.

While the United States dramatically increased funding for veterans health care across the board, Canadian Forces members badly wounded in Afghanistan were shortchanged. On September 19, after four years in power, a task force and advocacy by the veterans ombudsman, the government finally took action, boosting aid to soldiers wounded in Afghanistan with more changes promised to come. Unfortunately the package is far from satisfactory and numerous questions remain.

Veteran Paul Franklin, who lost both legs in a 2006 suicide bomb attack in Kandahar, said that the announcement was good but that more needed to be done. He said that the changes were nice but it was not enough. He said that they would support the right decisions if they put vets first and not Treasury Board or budgets.

Franklin suggested boosting payments to the most seriously injured, overhauling the insurance payments to soldiers who lost limbs and making many of the payouts tax-free. He said that those were pretty cheap commitments to take care of people who had laid their lives on the line for Canada in our missions.

When will the government come forward with legislation for compensation for veterans suffering with ALS, which research shows that veterans are more likely to develop the devastating disease? Americans came forward in 2008 with compensation.

At most, injured veterans who are unable to ever work again can claim a lump sum payment of up to $276,000. Few Canadian veterans have ever qualified for the maximum. In the United Kingdom, total disability carries compensation of $850,000.

There are questions regarding the announcement. Will the monthly boost be retroactive? Will the extra $1,000, which is not very much, particularly when added to 75% of a private's pre-injury salary, be available only to the most severely injured and how will that be defined? Is the pension clawback issue being addressed and if not, what are the real dollar figures?

While President Barack Obama is making it easier for about 200,000 Vietnam veterans who might have been exposed to agent orange and who now suffer from three chronic diseases to get the health care and benefits they need, Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran reports that Canada has yet to pay out half of its agent orange claims. Moreover, only those who were still alive on February 6, 2006, the date the Conservative government was sworn into office, are eligible to receive compensation for exposure to agent orange. Widows of those who died prior to this date justifiably feel left out. Additionally, the list of eligible illnesses is much more restrictive in Canada than in the United States and other countries.

The quality of life for our veterans must be a top priority for Canada and we must keep faith with our newest veterans returning from Afghanistan; that is we must offer more of the economic, familial and work supports and counselling needed to transition back to civilian life.

We must offer real support for post-traumatic stress disorder. No one should have to suffer with the hopelessness, the nightmares that keep coming back and the rage that strikes suddenly. Too many of our veterans are taking their own lives. We need investments in awareness, outreach and suicide prevention, hiring more mental health professionals, improving care and treatment. Once veterans have a diagnosis, we need to make it easier to get the support.

We must uphold Canada's pledge to all who serve by pushing for targeted investments to improve the quality of life of our veterans and their families.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member's speech. She spoke with great passion about the need to support our veterans, and our party believes very strongly in that. However, I have a memory that goes back prior to 2006.

I remember a previous Liberal government that slashed veterans programs, that eliminated benefits for allied veterans, that fought veterans every step of the way. I am proud to be part of a government that has extended a veterans independence program to more than 12,000 veterans, more than the Liberals did.

What really cuts me to the bone on this is the Liberals stand in the House and impugn this government and expect that people have absolutely no memory of what they did when they were in power and how they turned their back on Canada's veterans.

I think Canada's veterans do remember the Liberal government record and they also remember its record in rusting out the army, in sinking the navy and grounding the air force. That is the Liberal record.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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1 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are addressing their budget. I would like to bring up the issue of atomic war veterans.

In 1957, 44 Canadians were exposed to five nuclear tests in Nevada during Task Force Warrior. Canadian troops were exposed to twice as much radiation the American troops. High-dose radiation exposure can cause cancer. Twenty-seven of forty-four soldiers have passed away. Ninety-seven per cent of the deaths were caused by cancer. Seventeen soldiers are still alive and three of them are cancer survivors. One soldier has just been diagnosed with leukemia.

In the United States, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act was passed in 1988, and the United States awarded its veterans $75,000. In 2008, the Government of Canada awarded veterans $24,000.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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1 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know that every single member in this House cares about our veterans, but what I take great exception to is the politicization of it.

The member needs to know, as my friend from the riding of Peterborough mentioned, that they actually took World War II veterans off the veterans list. What she did not mention was that the defence minister, the chief of defence staff, received an award last year from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, because of the work we have done on post-traumatic stress disorder. What she left out was the fact that the previous Liberal government cancelled a helicopter contract, costing the Canadian taxpayers over half a billion dollars, and we got nothing for that. Now we have to go out and buy those aircraft at almost double the cost.

She refers to agent orange, which her government never did anything about. At least we did something about it, so I implore every member of this House, specifically that member, to stop politicizing our veterans and work with us to make their cause better.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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1 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will not be dragged into politicizing the issue of people. Instead I will address a real issue.

The Canadian Forces have made enormous advances in recent years in addressing mental health issues. But despite their best efforts, military culture retains a stigma against admitting psychological problems, and this interferes with getting an early PTSD diagnosis. Since symptoms may not appear until long after the initial trauma, it can be difficult to establish that they are service-related.

Many of our veterans are suffering with PTSD. Some are anxious, confused, and depressed, and we need new programs. To be fair and effective, the method of identifying and aiding veterans who deserve benefits needs to become more flexible.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have this opportunity to join in the debate on Bill C-47, the budget implementation act.

As the government operations vice-chair, much of my 13 years as an MP has been spent in an environment where budgetary restraint were the operative words. They were key. In fact, it was a period of cutting, hacking, and slashing in a way that we often criticized as going too far.

In the Liberal years, when they tried to balance a budget, they did so in such a way that they were not just trimming the fat from government programs but had gone through the fat and were into the bone. Some of those cuts have never healed. In fact, some of the Liberals' cutting, hacking, and slashing bordered on cruelty in that they seemed to take no notice of the human consequences associated with their deep, reckless, and irresponsible cuts.

That was the environment in which I spent most of my political career, trying to direct spending to social spending and to bring an element of reason and compassion into the slashing that was going on. I contrast that now with the position I find myself in as the vice-chair of the government operations committee, the oversight committee for estimates.

When I contrast the experience of yesterday with that of today, I see billions of dollars flying out the door at breakneck speed, with virtually no oversight, model, projection, or yardstick to measure progress by. This is irresponsible and cavalier, almost reckless.

Granted, this spending was called for by other OECD nations. We all knew we had to get some money into circulation. But surely with some prudence and probity, we could have designed a way to get money into circulation with some yardstick to measure progress by, with goals and objectives that could be stated, observed, measured, and then evaluated.

We in the committee asked for that type of participation. But we were given none of it. In fact, it has been incredibly frustrating. For instance, we asked for the projected job creation associated with this spending initiative, and we got nothing to go by. This is my frustration as a member of Parliament. I am finally given the opportunity at this late date to speak to the budget implementation bill. Yet I recall that, at every step along the way, I tried to speak to the issues associated with this massive windfall of spending. And every step of the way, I was stymied.

Instead of the government coming to Parliament and allowing members to test the metal of its policies through vigorous debate and informed participation, it has put a shroud of secrecy over what it is doing, as if policy can be discussed only behind closed doors and drawn curtains. It seems we have no right, according to the government, to know what the stimulus spending is doing, where it is going, and how it is being allocated.

Whether the Auditor General will ever be able to do a thorough analysis of these billions of dollars of stimulus spending remains to be seen. In any case, if such an analysis were to occur, by that time things would likely have gone too far. We will be into another political cycle and presumably another election will have taken place.

It would be disingenuous to allow the Canadian people to think that we have weathered this economic recession relatively well owing to the strong financial stewardship of the government, but that is the illusion the government is trying to create. In every speech Conservatives make in public on the international scene, they say Canada has weathered the recession a lot better because they did what was right. Let us remind ourselves that, if we had actually run with the Conservative budget in late 2008, a catastrophe would have ensued.

The budget we are seeing today is in fact a coalition budget, a budget that we forced the Minister of Finance to entertain. In November 2008, remember, he was in full denial that an economic crisis existed.

The government considered that it was just business as usual. It did not worry about the economy, suggesting that the crisis would pass. We said no. The rest of the world said no. All of the members on this side of the House said no. We told the government that we would not let it drive the bus over the cliff, so we stopped it, and it is a good thing we did. We scared the government straight, as it were, because it had to regroup, pull back, and withdraw. It came out with a stimulus package that has helped us overcome the economic challenges of the last few months.

The Conservatives did not listen to advice, though. With what has been called the biggest economic crisis since the great depression, one would have thought there would have been some effort to reach across the aisle and co-operate. When the country is at war, a war cabinet is pulled together. When the country is in crisis, one would like to think that the government would approach opposition parties and say, “Look, in light of this crisis, we need an unprecedented level of co-operation, because we have to be paddling our canoe in the same direction to get out of these dangerous rapids”.

None of that happened. In fact, the Conservatives ignored all the advice proffered. Surely, they cannot think that they have a monopoly on common sense and reason, financial responsibility and experience. There are talented people on this side of the House, too. We put forward good ideas to the Conservative Party, but those members ignored virtually every one of them. I will talk about only one or two.

I fully supported getting money into circulation as quickly as possible to stimulate the economy in a Keynesian way. But we suggested ways to achieve secondary objectives at the same time. Yes, get the money into circulation. Yes, public spending is the way to do it. Yes, get it into people's hands. But we could have done transformative things with our economy, if we had set out mind to it.

I heard a speech recently by Van Jones, who was an adviser to President Obama in the United States. Two important U.S. objectives in its stimulus spending were, first, to wean society off the carbon-based economy that was dragging the country down, and second, to bring in the new green economy of the future. A stated objective in the U.S. stimulus spending was to do things that were environmentally smart to wean the American people off imported energy from questionable sources. That was smart. That was making lemonade out of lemons.

There will never be a flurry of public spending like this again in our lifetime. It is rare. As I said, my entire political experience of 13 years has been in an era of budgetary restraint, cutbacks, spending less, and getting government out of things.

When we got into a crisis, we decided as a people that government needed to get into this. But I do not think we are going to see it again. It is a wasted opportunity. We could have used this economic downturn and this blitzkrieg of public spending to transform ourselves from a carbon-based economy into a more sustainable one.

A nationwide, comprehensive energy retrofit program would have put money into circulation immediately. The country would have been put back to work and people would have renovated their homes.

The government offered a paltry home renovation program, but it did not have an adequate energy component. One could get the home renovation stimulus money of $1,300, not a great deal of money, to build a sundeck, for instance. That grant should have been available only to homeowners who wanted to energy retrofit their homes, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I understand that, if a homeowner wanted use the program to put in windows, this would be an improvement in energy efficiency. But there was nothing mandated about that. That was a mistake.

The government could have done something else in home retrofitting. It could have set up a comprehensive asbestos removal program, so that people could rid their homes of harmful asbestos, especially Zonolite insulation.

I cite that specifically because the federal government subsidized and promoted the installation of Zonolite asbestos insulation in 350,000 homes across the country and a countless number of public buildings through CHIP, its Canadian home insulation program. People's homes were devalued and made unsafe by virtue of a government program.

When UFFI, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation, was put in and a few people started getting irritation from it, I think it was André Ouellet at the time who started a massive, nationwide removal program to take all that foam insulation out of the houses, which the government had just paid to put in.

While UFFI is irritating to some people, asbestos is deadly to everyone. Yet there is no corresponding removal program. This would have been a perfect opportunity to implement a nationwide asbestos removal program to help homeowners whose homes have been devalued and made unsafe by the government's own home insulation program from 1977 to 1984.

We believe another way we could have stimulated the economy and get money into circulation immediately, plus achieve important secondary objectives at the same time, would have been to increase the old age security payments to Canadian pensioners. Instead of a $1.50 per month increase, anti-poverty groups tell us that an increase of $100 per month would have elevated hundreds of thousands of Canadian seniors out of poverty to the poverty line. This would not make them wealthy by any means, but it would at least elevate them to the base minimum level of poverty that we identify with the low-income cut-off.

Our party costed this out, and for the 300,000 individuals involved, it would be a total cost of $700 million. It is a lot of money, and I am not trying to downplay that, but one could guarantee that the money would be in circulation immediately. A dollar in a poor person's hand is spent that day, in their home community, and it would be in circulation. We all know that every dollar spent gets re-spent four times before it finds its natural state of repose, usually in some rich man's pocket. However, that would have been one way to guarantee money in circulation immediately and solve a serious social objective of senior citizens living in poverty, for a relatively low price tag.

These ideas were put to the Minister of Finance during the brief, paltry, and now we find useless, consultation process. We made these arguments. Frankly, it would have been very smart politically and I think the government would have looked pretty good in the minds of the general public if the senior citizens living in poverty were brought up to at least the poverty line, for one-fortieth of the stimulus spending that went on.

Those are some of the ideas that I find myself frustrated with as an opposition MP and as a member of the government operations committee, now that we are finally asked to discuss the budget implementation bill.

I would also like to discuss in the context of Bill C-47 the enormous crippling deficit that we now must address collectively. I doubt there will be a great deal of consultation associated with that either. Perhaps there will be an election following the next budget and there will not be anymore Conservative budgets after that. However, we strongly suspect that the next budget will be a bad-news budget.

We can anticipate the Conservative government trying to balance the books, and I am afraid that it will try to balance the books along ideological lines. The Conservatives will be trying to achieve secondary objectives and goals as sort of a neo-conservative wish list of things they would like to do.

During the time that I have been an MP, deficits were about as popular as a hooker with a chipped tooth. Now we are faced with a serious issue of deficits.

One of the things we predict through the Conservatives' law and order agenda, the legislation they are putting through, is a very predictable increase in prison construction, an unavoidable increase in prison construction because virtually every one of the bills they are pushing through has mandatory minimum sentencing, which will result in more people in prison.

We have just had the Parliamentary Budget Officer to our government operations committee giving us a projection of what this will cost, and it will cost billions and billions of dollars. Mark my words, the Conservatives will look at privatization of prisons, and there will be some company like Onex or Halliburton that will come into Canada and say that it costs Canada $147,000 to house a prisoner in a federal penitentiary and they can do it for $125,000, and these guys will jump on it like a dog on a pork chop. They will just leap for that.

There is a point in law, and my colleague from St. John's East and I were talking about it. It says a person can be assumed to have intended the predictable consequences of his or her actions. They can be presumed to have intended the predictable consequences of his or her action. The predictable consequences will be stacking up prisoners like cordwood in our penitentiaries. The Conservatives will end up locking up a whole generation of young aboriginal kids, because from now on, if some kid steals a loaf of bread, he or she will wind up in prison, according to the agenda of the Conservatives.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

What about all those white collar criminals?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

No, no, rich people do not go to jail because the jail is too full of young aboriginal kids. There is no room for them. They can go to the country club and play golf.

Now we have a member of the board of directors of Onex Corporation as the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister. We can just imagine the kind of bugs that are being dropped into the ear of the Prime Minister behind closed doors and under the shroud of secrecy that the Conservatives like to create. They can help us solve our deficit problem. They can privatize the prisons, privatize this and contract out that and get government out of all of these areas, which has been, as I said, the dream objective of the neo-conservatives since their beginning.

We have another contradiction or irony here that I do not think the public will be very pleased about. It will come up on the doorsteps in the next federal election, but in the context of Bill C-47, the budget implementation bill, it contemplates corporate tax cuts to the extent of $6 billion or $7 billion.

The astounding thing is the reasoning that goes into this. It is not as though we are in a surplus situation where we will be sharing some of the bounty through private sector tax cuts, personal tax cuts and corporate tax cuts. We are not in that environment. We are in a $50 billion deficit situation. To give this $6 billion or $7 billion more in tax cuts, we have to borrow that money. We will be borrowing money on the open market to give tax cuts to profitable corporations.

The irony about giving tax cuts in this way is that it rewards the most successful businesses. It does not give a hand up to a struggling business that is about to close its doors. They are not paying any income tax anyway because they are struggling. So this is not some kind of initiative to assist small and medium-sized enterprises. I could support that to ensure that we avoid plant closures, et cetera.

This will reward those most profitable businesses in the country, the very people, maybe the only people in the country, who do not need our help right now. It is the struggling small and medium-sized businesses that actually, legitimately need assistance to get them through these turbulent economic times, but by some convoluted pretzel logic, the Conservatives have decided to hand over this massive transfer of wealth to corporations instead of an option that I suggested, raising the old age security by $100 a month and bringing seniors out of poverty.

I wish I had more time to go into the tax-motivated expatriation, which is actually sleazy, tax-cheating loopholes that exist within our tax system, but the Conservatives have decided to leave that money on the table and not go after it, even though we are in a $50 billion deficit situation.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address a question to the hon. member across the way. I have indicated that when the member leaves this place I would like to put an offer in on his thesaurus. I think he is amongst the better deliverers of lines in the House. I would not mind getting a copy of that when he has done. Perhaps he might even write it in a memoir for me.

I did want to mention a couple of points on his speech. I know he has companions in the Liberal Party who in last election indicated that they were going to cut corporate taxes farther and faster than I would cut them. Now they have skipped across, and they have apparently taken the 2008 NDP campaign platform and are running with that.

I am sure the member is actually happy about that in some regards, but at the same time I am sure he sees that it is not likely a truthful position from the Liberal Party since they have supported our reductions in corporate taxes. Good for them to this point, although most people believe that they actually supported it to save their skin.

I would say to the hon. member that this bill contains some key measures, including on the working income tax benefit. There are some key measures to help the working poor to climb and claw their way up, assisting them to get to middle class.

Has the member considered those measures in Bill C-47 and if he supports them?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is an old saying that even a broken watch is right twice a day. There are measures in this bill that we support. There are some gestures toward that.

Overall, it is the tone and the big picture of this massive undertaking that we are critical of. We feel it is a missed opportunity. Well, it ranges from a missed opportunity in one regard, in that I believe we could have done something truly transformative with that massive outpouring of billions of dollars of stimulus spending instead of just the old bricks-and-mortar projects, which I am not criticizing.

It ranges from that missed opportunity to the sheer perversity of borrowing $6 billion or $7 billion to give corporate tax cuts at this point in time. I appreciate my colleague's pointing out the flip-flop perversity position of the Liberals, too, who do sound an awful lot like New Democrats when they are in opposition, and as soon as they get into government they sound an awful lot like right wing neo-conservatives.

In fact, with respect to the cutting and hacking and slashing that took place under their watch, in my riding at least, we still have not recovered from the consequences of the virtually cruel actions of that party.

Let me give one example. The cuts to the EI program in my riding alone resulted in $20 million a year less federal money coming into my riding. We cannot bounce back from that very readily. We could not afford a Liberal government much longer, in my view.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague raised many points, and I would like to take up a couple of them. He mentioned that important employment insurance pilot projects have been cut. I would like to hear a bit more on this topic because we know perfectly well that the economy is not in full recovery mode. I am thinking in particular about my riding, where there have been significant cuts to the aerospace and trucking industries. The entire industrial sector has yet to fully recover, but we are hearing from the other side of the House that they are creating jobs. People need employment insurance programs, but the government is not doing anything.

With respect to seniors, as my colleague mentioned, they have been given nothing. They are living at the poverty line right now and they are being kept there. The government does not want to improve their lot in Canada and Quebec despite the fact that they have contributed enormously to the development of Canada and Quebec's economy, monetarily as well as in terms of time and values. It is important that we remember them.

Why is this government still forgetting seniors?

The final point that I would like to raise is that they are telling us they have created jobs. But, in terms of the F-35 fighter jet contracts, the government has not received any guarantee that jobs will be created.

What does my colleague think of this?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's contribution to the case that we are making, which is that this particular initiative falls short of meeting the goals and objectives that we could have achieved with this massive spending.

The one thing I will comment on is the EI system. We squandered the fiscal capacity to have a healthy and robust EI system when they took the $57 billion surplus from the EI system. By legislation, they ripped that money right out of there. Now that we are in an economic crisis where we need EI, the cupboard is bare.

Again, they had no right to take that money. That money was employer and employee contributions. Not one penny of that was federal government money and yet they took it and misused it for other applications.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from September 21 consideration of the motion that Bill S-215, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to Bill S-215. The subject of the bill in various iterations has been with us now for the last five years, which is hard to believe. In 25 years of having been in elected positions provincially and federally, I have never run into a situation where there is all party agreement and unanimous support for a bill and yet after five years we are still debating it.

Only a few months ago, in June, when the issue of pardons came up dealing specifically with Karla Homolka, it took Parliament a day or two days to pass a bill at all stages. It is somewhat of a mystery that a bill that would be agreed to by every member and all parties in the House would still be at the stage it is after five years.

The member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar has had more than one occasion to introduce this legislation. I read with interest her comments regarding the bill. She pointed out that the bill's title is an act to amend the Criminal Code, which is identical to Bill S-205 that was passed in the Senate on June 10, 2009. It was debated at second reading in the House in November 2009 and was then referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on November 29 and died on the order paper in December when her own leader, the Prime Minister of the country, prorogued the House for the second time since 2008. That adds to the saga of this particular bill.

Senator Grafstein was one of the initial drivers behind this bill and a strong supporter. He has retired now but I believe he will be very pleased when this bill makes it through. I honestly believe this will be the last time we will be debating this bill and that it will actually make its way through the final procedures to become law, and none too soon, I might add.

The bill seeks to explicitly include the act of suicide bombing within the context of the Criminal Code definition of “terrorist activity”. Suicide bombings have resulted in terrible consequences to thousands of people over the years and shows the utmost contempt for human life. Suicide attacks are committed with the intention to kill and maim innocent people and inflict excessive property damage, with the attackers prepared to die in the process.

We have seen over the last number of years some very substantial damage caused by suicide attacks, such as the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City in which 3,000 people lost their lives. Most of the suicide attacks over the years have dealt with smaller numbers of people dying. Nevertheless, each death is a very important discussion point because it causes untold misery for the families of the victims, as well as the families of the suicide bombers.

We should not kid ourselves. The people who are involved in these suicide bombings are, in many cases, poor people whose families are being paid and the people carrying out the bombings are, oftentimes, not willing participants but are doing it because it is a way of getting their families out of poverty.

Suicide attacks are becoming more common and statistics show that there are more happening now, not less. I will get into some of the history in a few minutes, but the fact is that this type of activity has been going on for literally hundreds of years.

In July 2005 there were the London bombings. In 2008 there were attacks in Mumbai, India. There have been bombings recently in Moscow and Afghanistan. Essentially populations that have absolutely nothing to do with the problem are being terrorized. How could a young child in a market in any way be blamed for issues that are going on in the world?

The definition of “terrorist activity” is currently in paragraph 83.01(b) of the Criminal Code. Bill S-215 seeks to amend section 83.01 of the code by adding the following after subsection (1.1):

(1.2) For greater certainty, a suicide bombing is an act that comes within paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition "terrorist activity" in subsection (1) if it satisfies the criteria of that paragraph.

The first part of the definition of “terrorist activity” incorporates in part criminal conduct as envisioned by the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, one of the United Nations counter-terrorism conventions. Many speakers have pointed out that this particular legislation is supported by several former prime ministers of Canada and some well-known people in this country.

Distinguished Canadian criminal lawyers have told the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that explicitly covering suicide bombing in the Criminal Code could help to prosecute and punish the organizers, teachers and sponsors of suicide bombing. There were some observations and comments made in the past that this type of activity is already covered under the Criminal Code. It is a very important distinction to know that what we are trying to do here is to prosecute and punish the organizers, teachers and sponsors of suicide bombing. They are not the people who go out and blow themselves up and kill other people indiscriminately in the process. They are not the people who go out and do it. They are the ones who organize it. They are the ones who finance it. They are the ones who teach and brainwash the people who actually do it. They are the ones we want to prosecute, lock up and get off the street and away from doing what they are doing.

This legislation would be the first in the world. In many respects it would be a beacon to other countries to follow suit. We are dealing with an issue that has not been a big problem in Canada, but it certainly could be. It could develop that way over time. By doing this we are showing leadership as a Parliament to indicate to other countries what is possible, what should be done, where they should be moving.

By including suicide bombing in the definition it would also serve to denounce this horrendous practice. It would also educate the public and draw attention to the issue that suicide bombings are repugnant to Canadian values. In addition to passing the bill, we would be showing some international leadership by being the first nation in the world to adopt this reference in the legislative definition of “terrorist activity”. In that I see no downside.

I am very surprised that before I even get to the history of suicide bombings, my time for debate has almost run out. I am sure members would be very interested in knowing that as far back as the 17th century injured Dutch soldiers were fighting for control of Taiwan and in 1661, they used gunpowder to blow up themselves and their opponents rather than be taken prisoner. During the Belgian revolution a Dutch lieutenant detonated his own ship in the harbour at Antwerp to prevent being captured by the Belgians. A Prussian soldier died blowing up a hole in a Danish fortification in 1864. We see that this activity has a long, long history going back many years and did not start just in the last couple of years.

Retraction of Statements
Points of Order
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, in an interview broadcast on CTV Newsnet on March 5, 2008, I made certain statements regarding Chris Froggatt, then chief of staff to Canada's environment minister, and communications between Mr. Froggatt and the Ontario Provincial Police.

I have since determined that my concerns regarding Mr. Froggatt were unwarranted. I apologize to Mr. Froggatt and retract the statements that may have caused him and his family grief.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-215, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill S-215 and I am very pleased to hear that the hon. member from the NDP will support it as well.

The bill proposes to specifically include suicide bombing in the definition of terrorist activity in the Criminal Code. The bill would add a “for greater certainty” clause after subsection 83.01(1.1) of the Criminal Code, which would specify that suicide bombing would come within paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition of terrorist activity when committed in the context of a terrorist activity.

The bill has a lengthy history. It was originally introduced as Bill S-43 on September 28, 2005, reintroduced as Bill S-206 on April 5, 2006, reintroduced yet again as Bill S-210 on October 17, 2007, and reintroduced a fourth time as Bill S-205 on November 20, 2008.

Previous versions of the bill all died on the order paper. The present version was introduced on March 24. It was reviewed by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, reported without amendment and passed without amendment.

I recognize that the current definition of terrorist activity contained in the Criminal Code already implicitly encompasses suicide bombing when committed in the context of terrorism. If we look at the definition of terrorist activity in section 83.01(1) of the code, we see that it incorporates criminal conduct as envisaged by the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, one of the United Nations' counterterrorism conventions, while the second part of the definition includes terrorist activity, which intentionally causes death or serious bodily harm or endangers a person's life.

It is also true, however, that the words suicide bombing are not expressly mentioned in the present definition of terrorist activity, and there is considerable support for the specific criminalization of suicide bombing as part of the terrorist activity definition in the code.

Canadians Against Suicide Bombing, a Toronto-based group led by a former judge, has been particularly supportive of the objectives behind Bill S-215 and it established an online petition in support of the bill. Many prominent Canadians from all walks of life have also signed an open letter of support.

In my view, this bill merits support. The bill would come into force on the day to be fixed by order of the Governor-in-Council, thereby providing an opportunity for any needed preparation time to facilitate its implementation.

No other country is known to refer specifically to suicide bombing in its definition of terrorism and terrorist activity. Therefore, Canada would be the first to signal its abhorrence of these cowardly acts by adopting such a reference in its legislative definition of terrorist activity. Suicide attacks are intended to kill and maim innocent people and inflict extensive property damage. As the hon. member who spoke just before me said, it is the innocent people for whom we are most concerned, the innocent lives of men, women and particularly children who are affected.

Attackers are often prepared to die in the process. We all know about the attacks of September 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people in the World Trade Center in New York City. We also remember the July 7, 2007 London bombings and the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India. Anyone who reads a newspaper, listens to the radio or watches television knows that suicide bombings occur on an alarmingly regular basis.

Bill S-215 gives Canada the opportunity to show international leadership by specifically denouncing suicide bombing and expressly prescribing suicide bombing as a type of criminal activity.

I invite all members in the House to support this bill.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Is the House ready for the question?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

It being 1:47 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, October 18, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 1:47 p.m.)