House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Democratic Representation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, I will present another petition, this one completely acceptable, from a number of people. The petition concerns Bill C-12, which would reduce Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons. All of the signatories are totally opposed to this bill and want the House to know.

I encourage my colleagues to reconsider this bill, which, in some ways, is seen as unfair in Quebec.

Copyright Legislation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I am proud to present a petition signed by people from Lethbridge, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and other parts of Canada who are concerned about the government's plans for the copyright legislation and, in particular, how it would allow the use of technological protection measures, digital locks, to override the rights of citizens.

Citizens are guaranteed certain rights in terms of access to content that they purchase and use and to be able to make backup copies. However, the technological protection measures would override citizens' rights and it could lead to egregious corporate abuse of their rights. The petitioners are concerned. They refer to the Digital Security Coalition, the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, the Appropriation Art committee, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Library Association and the Canadian Art Museum Directors' Organizations. Thousands of other citizens have signed this petition urging that their rights be protected under the new copyright legislation.

The petitioners call upon the government to recognize the balance that is needed with respect to technological protection measures as these measures cannot erase the rights that are guaranteed through Parliament and through Canada's long tradition of ensuring copyright legislation is balanced for creators, users and educators.

Housing
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today on behalf of residents of Toronto, many of them from Don Valley West, in support of a national housing strategy.

The petitioners urge the House of Commons to ensure that we plan a housing strategy that will look at affordability and accessibility for all Canadians. This comes from an urban perspective but people all across Canada, such as those living on first nations reserves, those living in small communities, those living in rural communities, as well as those in large cities need to have access to affordable housing.

The petitioners point out that Parliament has a responsibility to ensure that we have an aggressive plan to provide accessible housing to all Canadians.

Retrofit Homes Program
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from a large number of Torontonians who enthusiastically support the eco-energy retrofit homes program.

The petitioners note that the United States has invested billions of dollars in home energy efficiency programs. They also note that the U.K. has committed to retrofitting all homes by 2030 and has developed firm interim targets for the next five to ten years.

The petitioners believe that the eco-energy program has proven economic benefits to Canadians and realizes significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The petitioners point out that the decision by the Conservative government, without warning or consultation, to cancel the eco-energy program starting in March 2011 will threaten professionals and renovation contractors all across Canada. These homeowners are asking for the reinstatement of the eco-energy program.

Employment Insurance
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to table in the House a petition from constituents in Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, particularly constituents from the Triton and Green Bay areas, as well as the northern tip of the northern peninsula, the burg called the St. Anthony area.

The petition calls on the House of Commons to maintain benefit duration for at least 50 weeks in all regions of the country for the purposes of employment insurance. It calls on Parliament to eliminate the two-week waiting period. It calls on Parliament to ensure workers can continue to use their best 14 weeks of employment on which to base their claim. The petition also calls on Parliament to continue to allow workers to earn up to 40% of their rate while on claim.

Many of these provisions were temporarily enacted by the government and they are a certain comfort. However, there is a certain anxiety that this is a temporary measure and the petitioners would like Parliament to make this a permanent feature of the employment insurance system.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

November 30th, 2010 / 10:20 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from November 29 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 third time and passed.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The member for Outremont has two minutes left for his remarks and 10 minutes for questions and comments.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, discussion about the budget and the Conservative government's budgetary intentions and orientation takes place in a certain context, just like everything else in this place. Today, there are more very troubling reports in the business press regarding Canada. Reuters is reporting that our performance is one of the worst of the G20 nations. At this point, it is difficult to live with the consequences of the Conservatives' decisions. They have decimated the manufacturing sector and destabilized our previously balanced economy, which we have been building since the second world war. We are now feeling the consequences.

On this side of the House, we have been trying to sound the alarm for a long time. The Conservatives' approach—giving across-the-board, one-size-fits-all tax cuts—had only one predictable result. Companies that needed relief and which often did not turn a profit, did not pay taxes. Hence they did not benefit from tax reductions. The $60 billion in tax reductions went to the companies that needed relief the least, such as banks and major oil companies. Bank profits are being published at this time.

As Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, repeatedly says so well, these decisions have resulted in an economic mess. We are going to record the worst deficit of all time. We have an employment crisis: 1.5 million people are unemployed and another 250,000 will soon join their ranks. Many people have paid employment insurance premiums for years but will not be eligible for benefits because the Liberals and the Conservatives raided the employment insurance fund in order to create tax room and reduce taxes. They never thought about productivity and the jobs of the future, or the quality of jobs.

The Conservatives say that we want to pick the winners in the economy, while they believe that the market should do that. The problem is that the Conservatives picked their winners a long time ago. They chose to back the banks and major oil companies at the expense of many communities in the forestry and manufacturing sector in Canada. The proof was published today. For that reason, the Conservatives' policies should not be followed.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his intervention on Bill C-47 and more broadly on the underpinnings of our economy. He is quite right. The GDP dropped down to 0.03 from 0.06.

At the finance committee meeting where the minister appeared on Bill C-47, the minister was engaged with regard to the economic stimulus plan, particularly the reports in the press where cities, municipalities and provinces were concerned about the March 31 deadline. Last Tuesday in The Globe and Mail, the minister himself reported that there may be some movement. Yesterday, the member for Ottawa—Orléans was a little more specific about the economic stimulus and that projects were substantially completed.

This seems to be a creeping story about what is happening, but the fact remains that the government is playing coy with Canadians and with the cities and provinces. I wonder if the member would care to comment on whether or not the government has been straight with Canadians and with stakeholders, such as the provinces and cities, about making appropriate plans. It could be a very expensive proposition if the government were to download these costs on the banks--sorry, their backs.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, the Conservatives are not in the habit of downloading costs onto the banks. The costs of the banks are being borne by people who have to give a tip to the bank president every time they use the bank machine.

On the specific topic of the infrastructure program that was put in place that was part of the measures brought in to try to stimulate the economy at a time of grave crisis, the artificial March 31 deadline has been a conundrum for many municipalities. If they realize that that date cannot be met, they could lose their funding and that could put a lot of them in the hole. The date is entirely artificial.

The danger now is that we face the possibility that the Conservatives are going to play the same partisan game they played when they were giving out the money for the infrastructure program. As we know, the Canadian press did great work during the summer to prove that the program was heavily weighted in favour of Conservative ridings. We can imagine that if it now becomes a question of discretion whether or not to extend the deadline, the Conservatives will again play favourites with their own ridings.

Following the rules of natural justice, if we do not want to have discriminatory practices that could later be challenged, the date would have to be changed for everyone. If the date goes from March 31, let us say, until September 30, that would be fine. We could do that and everybody would have those new rules.

If we start adding totally subjective criteria such as whether something is largely completed, and who is going to assess that, whether it will be deemed largely completed if it is in a Conservative riding as opposed to an NDP, Bloc or Liberal riding, those are the types of questions that should not have to be asked.

This was all done in good faith. Sometimes meteorological conditions change everything. Look at the province of Saskatchewan and the severe flooding it has had in the past several months. It is just not in a position to start filling out forms for bureaucrats. That is the type of thing that should be taken into account. A realistic assessment should be made and a new date should be determined and applied across the board so that everybody has the same chance. There has to be a level playing field.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, what is really of great concern to people in the region of Timmins—James Bay is the absolute disconnect in terms of the government's priorities. We see this as a government that has spent billions on prisons and billions on single-sourced contracts for fighter jets to fight the last cold war. Yet in my region, more and more seniors are falling through the cracks. Right across the region people are unable to heat their houses because of the taxes the government is imposing on home heating fuel.

The other real concern is that the government has completely abandoned seniors and working people in terms of affordable pensions and pensions they can live on with dignity.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague why he thinks it is that the government will bend over backward to give the big oil companies and the big banks any kind of break they ask for, while seniors are going to food banks and losing their homes and Canadians are living with a larger affordability gap in our country.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

It is a question of priorities, Madam Speaker, and the Conservatives have been very clear about what their priorities are.

Let us consider one of the examples that my colleague just raised, the $16 billion untendered contract for fighter jets. We know that there is not even a contract stipulating $1 of economic spinoff for Canada. The Conservatives have never even gone to the basics of taking care of that. They cannot even boast about it. Somehow the Bloc Québécois is voting with the Conservatives for this untendered contract for F-35 fighters.

If we took $700 million, in other words, if we took a very small percentage of the $16 billion, we could raise every senior citizen who now lives below the poverty line above the poverty line by adding to the income supplement that is available to them. That would be the right way to help people with taxpayers' dollars. Instead, the Conservatives gave a gift of $60 billion to Canada's richest corporations in the form of a tax cut that they absolutely did not need, that did nothing to produce new jobs.

The real problem, of course, with the Conservatives is failing to internalize the costs of the oil sands. They brought in an artificially high number of U.S. dollars, forcing the loonie ever higher and hollowing out our manufacturing sector.

Before the current crisis hit in 2008, from 2004 to 2008, according to Statistics Canada, we had already bled off 322,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs. Those were often jobs that came with a pension which would allow people to take care of their families now and themselves in the future.

We are not only shovelling onto the backs of future generations the highest debt in Canadian history, but we are shovelling onto their backs the responsibility to take care of a whole generation of people who are going to come to retirement without an adequate pension, and that is a shame.