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

Topics

Documents regarding Afghan detainees
Points of Order

10 a.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order related to a motion adopted by this House on December 10 relating to the access to documents.

The government acknowledges that it is appropriate that decisions on the disclosure of information in these circumstances be reviewed independently from government. This will ensure that parliamentarians will have as full and complete access to government information as is necessary to perform the function of holding the government to account, but no one wants to cause injury to Canada's national defence, international relations or national security.

The security of the nation and the conduct of international relations are fundamental to the constitutional duties of the Government of Canada.

Members will understand that there are matters which governments must keep confidential in order to protect the public interest, even in the freest and most open of societies.

Nonetheless, as I have stated, the government acknowledges that it is appropriate that decisions made by officials on the disclosure of information in these circumstances be reviewed independently from government.

I am pleased to inform the House that the government has engaged an eminent jurist and legal expert to undertake an independent, comprehensive and proper review of the documents at issue, including the information that was proposed to be withheld from release.

The Hon. Frank Iacobucci, former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, needs of course no introduction to the members of this House. He is one of the country's pre-eminent jurists; his integrity is above reproach; and he possesses specific experience and expertise in adjudicating document disclosure in national security cases.

Mr. Iacobucci will report to me on the proposed redactions. He will report on whether proposed redactions genuinely relate to information that would be injurious to Canada's national security, national defence or international interests.

In the case of injurious information, he will report to me on whether the information or a summary of it can be disclosed, and report on the form of disclosure or any conditions on disclosure.

Mr. Iacobucci will prepare a report, in both official languages, that I will table in this House. That report will include a description of his methodology and general findings.

I am sure that all members of the House will join me in welcoming this independent, comprehensive review by such an eminent jurist.

Documents regarding Afghan detainees
Points of Order

10 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, obviously from the perspective of the official opposition, we welcome the remarks that the Minister of Justice has just made. We will obviously want to take some time to consider the content of his statement.

I wonder if the minister is in a position to make available to the House the correspondence between him and Mr. Justice Iacobucci so that we can understand the full formal legal terms of his engagement and the assignment that he has been asked to undertake. The minister has summarized those matters. It would be important for us to know the detail and exactly when the review will be undertaken, and when we can expect the report the minister has referred to.

Documents regarding Afghan detainees
Points of Order

10 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not have with me all the details of this. We are putting this together in our discussions with Mr. Iacobucci. This is something that has just come together in the last little while. I will continue to report to the House and make available any information that I can as quickly as possible.

I welcome the hon. member's comments and I will get back to him.

Documents regarding Afghan detainees
Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the minister has addressed the subject in the House today; had he not, someone else might have.

There are two or three things missing and I think the House should be aware of them. I realize we are not in a debate, but I want to point out to the minister and the government that at no point in his remarks today, as far as I could tell, has the minister acknowledged the power of the House to subpoena these documents, to send for persons, papers, and records. At no point did the minister acknowledge that.

Second, in asking a third party to do the government's work, no one could take objection to that, but I would have thought the government would already have people capable of determining which documents needed protection before or after a parliamentary procedure.

The government has not asked Parliament to do this. The government has not asked Parliament to ask Mr. Iacobucci to do this work. There is a very important element missing in this. I invite the government to come forward with something that has a bit more permanence and is more parliamentary.

From my point of view, the minister's statement this morning does not address the fundamental problem of the government having failed totally to acknowledge the power of the House and its committees. If the third party doing this administrative review of the documents that are in need of protection is not informed of this, and it is not made part of his mandate, members will end up having the same problem during and after the exercise.

I invite the minister even now to rise and acknowledge the full, unabridged power of this House to send for persons, papers, and records, the way it has always been for over 300 years.

Documents regarding Afghan detainees
Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the interest the hon. member has taken in this subject. As a matter of fact, it goes back many years. For a couple of decades the hon. member has taken on this challenge. I have read with interest a number of the comments he has made.

One of the things all members agree on is that nobody wants to do anything that would in any way endanger public security or indeed put in danger individuals who are serving our country, be they in Afghanistan or in another place.

I did rise on the point of order. As I indicated to the hon. member for Wascana with respect to the terms and parameters, I will make those available as quickly as possible.

Again, I believe I am among those who have a clear understanding of the power of Parliament and the responsibilities members have. I believe the hon. member and other members of the House will look at what the government is trying to do.

The government is trying to make information available, but at the same time it recognizes the legitimate interest we all have in the protection of the men and women who serve Canada in Afghanistan and also serve the public interests of the country.

I hope that is of some help to the hon. member.

The House resumed from March 4 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to take note of the remarks made by the hon. member opposite. Members will wait to see the terms of reference. The devil is always in the details and it appears that the government is at this moment working those out; that is, it appears to be improvising.

The Liberal Party notes with interest and with approval the nomination of a man who commands the respect of every member of the House, Justice Iacobucci. We hope that he will be given the terms of reference necessary to do the job, to re-establish the just authority of the House of Commons, which was referred to by my hon. colleague, and that we will get to the bottom of an affair in which the government's behaviour has displayed no credit at all.

The Prime Minister gave Her Excellency the Governor General some 6,000 words. I assure you that I will be briefer today.

We have seen a throne speech and budget that make up in length what they lack in vision.

There is nothing in this budget or in the throne speech that justifies the Prime Minister's decision to shut down Parliament for six weeks. Nothing.

Canadians are not fools. The Prime Minister bet on Canadians' disillusionment and lost. For Canadians, the reasons for the prorogation were clear from the start. The Prime Minister shut down Parliament so that he would no longer have to listen to questions about the Afghan detainee scandal. The minister just acknowledged that he is in an untenable position.

The Prime Minister shut down Parliament to skirt blame for a year of wilful blindness when the Conservatives had credible reports of torture in Afghan jails but did nothing.

We have called on the government to hold a full, independent, public inquiry into the detainee issue with a mandate to examine the whole length of the mission in Afghanistan. We will examine the terms of this proposed inquiry by Justice Iacobucci with interest to see whether it even begins to approximate what is necessary to get to the bottom of this sorry affair. However, the Conservatives had refused up to this moment, and then they shut down Parliament.

It was more than a cover-up; it was an attack on our democracy.

This Parliament is not the Prime Minister's house. It is the people's house. In shutting down Parliament, the Prime Minister threw Canadians out of their house. Canadians did not like that. They know that any prime minister is accountable to Parliament, and not the reverse.

We have put forward concrete reforms to limit the power to prorogue Parliament.

On Wednesday afternoon we asked for unanimous consent to establish a special committee to reform prorogation and prevent future abuse. That motion, which was a modest first step seeking common ground, was shouted down by Conservative members opposite. Shame on them.

The issue here is credibility. Canadians expect it; the government lacks it. It has no credibility on detainees, no credibility on prorogation, and no credibility on its own agenda. The throne speech and the budget let Canadians down. They expected vision and they got gimmicks. They deserved ambition and they got drift. This is a tired government, falling back on its laissez-faire instincts. It has left Canadians to fend for themselves.

Take pensions, an important issue. This budget has nothing to offer Canadians on the pensions crisis. Canada is already in a pensions crisis and it is not just a matter of catastrophic bankruptcies like Nortel.

One third of Canadians do not have enough retirement savings to maintain their standard of living when they stop working. Another third of Canadians have no retirement savings at all and will be totally dependent on what they receive from the government. Too many Canadians have too little savings to retire with dignity. Too often, the savings of those who have managed to save money are not secure. We saw proof of that last year.

Last year this party put forward specific proposals to improve retirement security for middle class families. We called for a supplementary CPP, for the use of the CPP as a pension fund manager of last resort, and for changes to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to protect the most vulnerable pensioners. We called for action. Canadians expected action. What did the Conservatives deliver? They delivered us seniors day. Seniors day will not be much fun and will not have much point if seniors cannot afford to take the day off.

It is not this side of the House that mocks seniors; it is the other side of the House that has done nothing for them.

The same gimmickry is in play in their treatment of veterans.

At the end of January, we organized a round table on veterans. We heard disturbing testimony about the difficulty they have in getting care or assistance to overcome a disability.

One in five veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder will attempt suicide. This is a troubling, deeply disturbing statistic and these great Canadians need our help. What do the Conservatives offer? They offer community memorials and Vimy Ridge Day. I am a firm proponent of Vimy Ridge Day but it is no substitute for concrete help for our veterans. Our families, seniors and veterans cannot live on symbols and gimmicks.

Five weeks ago, the Liberal Party put forward three specific proposals to create jobs and promote innovation and entrepreneurship. We urged the government to offer cash advances to make the accelerated capital cost allowance more effective. This would have helped manufacturers modernize, create jobs and improve productivity.

We proposed temporary financial incentives to make it easier to hire young workers. And we called for new tax incentives to better support our entrepreneurs and innovators in emerging sectors such as clean energy and life sciences.

However, instead of measures to create jobs, this budget has only freezes, cuts and gimmicks.

The Conservatives are also cutting $4.5 billion in planned foreign aid right when our focus in Afghanistan is shifting from military to humanitarian engagement. The government is making superficial tax changes to the universal child care benefit but they are changes that will not help low income families or single parents get the child care they need.

The Conservatives are ignoring the major issues that matter to Canadians. There is nothing for pensions or health care.

Climate change, nothing.

Culture, nothing.

The Conservatives also will try to claim that they are not raising taxes but everyone in the House knows that is false. The Conservatives are raising payroll taxes by $13 billion, a tax hike that will kill more than 200,000 jobs and hurt small businesses when they need help the most.

The government talks a fine game about innovation but it is not credible. It was not credible when it cut $148 million from the research councils last year. It was not credible when it let $160 million in approved spending for the Canadian Space Agency lapse, when it shut down the national science advisor and when it walked away from 50 years of Canadian leadership in nuclear medicine.

Investments in research and development as a percentage of GDP have been consistently going down since this government took power.

We have taken a step back in terms of productivity, Internet connectivity and innovation. And a significant number of government members continue to question the scientific evidence of climate change.

How can we believe this government when it talks about creating the jobs of tomorrow? Last fall, it scrapped the ecoENERGY program, the best Canadian program for promoting renewable energies.

The Conservatives are not credible on job creation because they are not credible on clean energies. Investing in clean energy is key to creating a future for our country's youth.

The Conservatives spend, but they do not invest.

The Conservatives have spent more than $56 billion into the hole but what did Canadians get? What is the return on investment?

If we start counting back, in October 2008, back when the Prime Minister was saying that there would not be a recession in Canada, we find that more than 300,000 Canadians have lost their jobs and are still out of work. Job creation is down, productivity is down, youth unemployment is double the national average and even the jobs the Conservatives promised in this budget will not make up for the ones we have lost.

It did not have to be this way. Where are the landmark investments in clean energy? Where are the investments in green infrastructure that would create jobs for our kids? Canada missed those opportunities because the government chose to ignore them.

The Prime Minister's spending came without a vision. It came with a whole lot of zeros and this budget does not make up the difference. The government, above all, is not credible on getting its record deficit under control. Let us roll the tape back and remember the real story.

The Conservatives make a claim to fiscal competence, which is entirely undeserved. They inherited a $13 billion surplus from this side of the House and what did they do with it? They spent it at record levels through 2006, 2007 and 2008 and they were on the edge of deficit before the recession started. Then they said that there would be no recession. Then they said that there would be no deficit. Then, suddenly, presto the deficit was at $32 billion and then at $50 billion and then at $56 billion. They cannot run a country if they cannot count.

The numbers are not the only problem. The government lacks a coherent plan to regain control over government spending.

The government says that it will freeze departmental spending beginning in 2011 but that is it. It will not tell us which programs it will cut, which services Canadians will lose and where it will find the necessary savings. That is not a plan. It is an empty promise.

The Conservatives say that they will freeze our salaries. Fine, they can freeze my salary but it is not a plan for deficit reduction. It is a gimmick. If the Prime Minister were serious about leading by example, he would start by cutting the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that he is wasting on partisan advertising and polling. He would cut management consultants instead of siding through the hard-working public service of the country. He would cut the size of cabinet. He would ban those ten-percenter mailings outside of MPs' own ridings, as we have called for, and he would stop increasing spending in the Prime Minister's own department.

Canadians and Canadian families are saving money wherever they can. The government should be doing the same thing, and that is the real issue, because the government does not listen to Canadian families. Reading a survey is not listening to Canadians. Dividing Canadians to gain a political advantage is not listening to Canadians.

I spent weeks, over the course of a year, on the road, visiting universities and colleges across Canada and speaking with Canadian families. I listened to young people talk about their worries and their hopes. They told me of their concerns about unemployment, and spoke about the need to protect the environment and fight climate change. I listened to a generation of young Canadians who are prepared to step up, but who have not gotten a chance to do so.

Among their various excuses for shutting down Parliament, the Conservatives said that they were consulting with Canadians. Who did the Prime Minister consult? When was the last time he actually took unscripted, uncontrolled questions from any Canadian at all?

That is what listening is. One cannot lead if one will not listen and the Prime Minister does not listen.

When I listen, this is what I hear. Middle class families are worried about looking after their parents when they retire. They are worried about getting their kids through school and about the jobs that will be waiting for them at the other end.

Canadian families want to know that their government is in tune with the challenges of tomorrow and that it has a real plan to make Canada successful. This budget fails the tests of credibility, vision and ambition. We cannot support this budget.

This budget fails the test of Canada's potential and therefore we cannot support it. We will vote against the budget motion now before us but we, unlike other parties in the House, will do so responsibly. We will not cause an election. Canadians do not want an election. What they are looking for is an alternative and we will provide them with that alternative.

The Liberal Party is taking part in the most open, transparent, inclusive and comprehensive process of public policy renewal of any Canadian party in the history of this country and one that will continue through the conference in Montreal later this month. We are engaging Canadians in a national conversation about the Canada we want and they want in 2017, the 150th anniversary of our federation. I invite all members to join us in that dialogue.

The alternatives in the Canadian political system are becoming clearer by the hour. The alternative the Conservatives offer the country is now very clear: year after year of austerity, cuts and freezes. The message they are sending Canadians is equally clear, “You are on your own, Canadians. Your government will not help you”.

Our vision in the Liberal Party is clear: using a positive, fiscally responsible vision of government to make Canada the best educated, the healthiest, the greenest and the most international society on earth. Those are goals worthy of a great people. Those are goals we can achieve.

We have done it before. I stand on a side of the House proud of the traditions that our party has represented since Wilfrid Laurier. We have done it before and we will do it again.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, after listening to the comments by the Leader of the Opposition, I am astonished at the hypocrisy that the Liberal Party is showing.

The Leader of the Opposition can be forgiven a little because he spent more than 30 years outside of Canada and perhaps he does not know the legacy of the 13 years of Liberal government, a majority government I might add. When the Liberals had 13 years to do every one of the things that the Leader of the Opposition just said that we should be doing, what did they do? They did none of those things. They did nothing to return security to seniors and did nothing to expand the CPP.

This government has made the largest investment in infrastructure in this country in the history of any government. We have made the largest investment in the history of this country in young people so they can learn, get an education and job training, and in helping youth at risk obtain the skills to get jobs.

We have given the largest tax reductions in the history of any government to working Canadians all across this country. We have taken more people off the tax rolls in the history of any government of this country.

What are the Liberals talking about? It is too bad the Leader of the Opposition was away so long because maybe he would know a little about this.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, as someone behind me was saying, “Is that the best they have?”

I was amused by the member's account of my biography. He wants me to apologize for my biography. Perhaps he should ask Michael Fox, Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby to apologize for their biographies. I am proud of my biography as those distinguished people are proud of their biography. The minute we start to question whether someone is a Canadian because he or she lives overseas, our country is in big trouble.

As for the record of the previous Liberal government on the issue that I raised at the beginning of my speech, pensions, he should think about what the former government did on pensions. Facing a very serious structural crisis in the future of Canada's pension plan, the previous Liberal government stood up and did what the present government has not done, which is face the future, re-invest, re-create and put the pensions of Canadians on a sound footing for the next generation. That is the kind of leadership we expected from the government but that is the kind of leadership we did not get.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his speech, the Leader of the Opposition said that he wanted to hold extensive consultations in Quebec. We saw how Quebeckers reacted to plans for the forestry industry. The government will be investing next to nothing, just $100 million in contrast to the $10 billion given to the auto industry last year.

The Conservative government decided to invest a portion of the money collected from Quebeckers in developing the nuclear industry. It wants to create an electricity provider that will compete with Hydro-Québec. Quebeckers are not happy about a lot of these measures. Columnist Jean Lapierre said that this Liberal Party leader is going to end up doing exactly what the former Liberal Party leader did: sit on his hands and do nothing. That is the truth of the matter.

I would like the Leader of the Opposition to convince me that he really is against the budget even though he and many of his fellow Liberals will once again remain seated and allow this budget to pass despite the fact that it is not in Quebec's best interest.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. However, I did not think as highly of his comments.

He is standing up for Quebec alone while I am standing up for a different vision of this country. That means a Canada that includes Quebec and wants Quebec to make a major and integral contribution to Canada, just as Quebec athletes did during the Olympic Games.

Our vision is of an optimistic and inclusive nation with Quebec and its courageous people anchoring team Canada. That is the Canada I am so proud of, and that is the Canada I want the world to know.

My colleague asked about our stance on various issues. I was perfectly clear when I said that his political party does not have the same responsibilities as mine. Bloc members will always be in the opposition because the Bloc Québécois will never be Canada's governing party.

We, the Liberals, have been Canada's governing party, and we will be again. As such, we have some serious responsibilities.

We will create an inclusive alternative that places Quebec at the centre of our vision for a renewed Canada. I am dedicating myself to the task of creating an alternative that Quebeckers can get on board with, that will get them out of the opposition and free them from a party that has nothing to offer them. We will offer them a vision of Quebec at the heart of Canada. When that happens, they will come over to our side.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the leader of the Liberal Party, for his rendition on the budget.

He said that there were two distinct visions in this Parliament. That suggests to me that he may be changing the fiscal policy of the Liberal Party as well. We see what the Conservatives are doing by continuing the corporate tax breaks, continuing the change in the basic revenue-generating capacity of the government onto the people, moving it away from the corporations, the banks and the people who are exploiting our natural resources that create profit.

Does this mean the Liberal leader's vision of the fiscal development of our country is somehow different than the Conservatives, that on the largest item within this budget the greatest difference between those two parties is no difference at all? Is that correct?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the differences are very clear.

We are faced now, it seems to me, with an increasingly clear alternative: a Conservative government that offers us and Canadians nothing but years of austerity, years of repentance for its own errors. Who got the country into this mess? We have seen this movie before.

The previous so-called Progressive Conservatives dropped us into a $42 billion deficit. The current government has dropped us into an even deeper hole of $56 billion. It has done so before the recession began, with imprudent spending that left us no reserve when the rains came, and the rains came. It did not expect nor predict the rains would come. It did not know the weather would change, then the rains came and it was not prepared.

We are now in a $56 billion hole. The investment did not even make us more productive, more competitive, it did not create employment, and we are where we are.

The other party does not have the responsibilities that we have. It does not have the experience of government that we have. It has never run a government at the federal level.

We have cleaned up the deficit left behind by the Mulroney failure. We will clean up the deficit left behind by the Harper failure.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

A little bit of class.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Class, I need lessons in class from the other side of the House?

The choices before this country are clear. They are the choices between a party that has had the responsibility of government, two other parties on the other side that have had no responsibility of government at the federal level and a Conservative Party that offers us a dark and endless downward spiral into austerity cuts, freezes and gimmicks.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, in opening this debate, the leader of the official opposition mentioned the Olympic Games. In keeping with the spirit of the opening ceremonies of those games, we see that Quebec is absent from the budget. Quebec was not present; Quebec does not exist and this is just like the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.

We went on a major tour, a real tour. My colleague from Alfred-Pellan and all the other Bloc Québécois colleagues and I talked to Quebeckers face to face. We did not invite them to meeting rooms or round tables here in Ottawa. We went to see them and not just at chambers of commerce, but at FADOQ, youth groups, unions, community agencies and cooperatives. They gave us their thoughts on a budget that would have helped Quebec.

For example, we realize today that Mr. Dubuc was right when he said in yesterday's La Presse that this government merely showed its lack of talent and interest in innovation, research, development and helping to improve the competitiveness of Quebec companies.

After reading the budget, we must say that Alain Dubuc was right yesterday. Today Alain Dubuc says:

This budget is not very credible at all.

And he goes on to say:

What is more, despite the financial situation, he did not resist the temptation... to distribute a catalogue full of goodies.

For two days in a row, we have agreed with Alain Dubuc. I think that is a first for the Bloc Québécois.

What did we see in social terms? Nothing. Regarding the social aspect, I met with people from FRAPRU. Just like François Saillant, these people are disappointed today that the end of the investments will leave nothing but crumbs for the poorly-housed and the homeless, whose numbers have increased as a result of the economic crisis.

Something incredible is happening with respect to cooperative housing. The end of the agreements between CMHC and cooperative housing is such that those who manage cooperative homes are being more selective in terms of their new tenants. They are saying, but not in writing, of course, that they have to be careful and try to rent to people with higher rather than lower incomes. This goes against the purpose of social housing and cooperative housing. The absence of the CMHC from these agreements will distort social housing in Quebec and elsewhere.

As we have heard, there is nothing for homelessness. As we said yesterday and we are explaining again here today, the problem of homelessness is increasing right now. It does not appear at the beginning of a recession. At first, people start losing hours of work. Then they turn to EI benefits and welfare. This drives up provincial deficits. It is not until later that people find themselves on the street or forced to spend 125% of their income for housing, because they no longer have an income or a place to live.

What did we see yesterday? Nothing. Nothing for the programs to fight homelessness.

As for employment insurance, we submitted our document to the Minister of Finance's office, not just once, but twice, three times even—first by mail, then in person, and a third time at the end of our tour—asking him to improve the EI system. Employment insurance involves a presumption of good faith; increasing the maximum insurable earnings to 60%; eliminating the waiting period; and standardizing the eligibility threshold at 360 hours. It is false to say that two unemployed workers from the same company are different because they live in two different towns. We proposed all of this to the finance minister. Yet, the budget contains nothing for employment insurance.

As for income security, for example, an increase in the guaranteed income supplement, once again there was nothing. Some people in Quebec are being left out in the cold again.

Regarding forestry, on page 259 of this magnificent volume—the government has certainly shown foresight—we see that $9.718 billion was granted to the auto sector, while just $170 million is being spent on marketing and innovation in the forestry sector.

It is shameful. This is like giving $9,718 to workers in the auto sector and $160 to forestry workers. That is how the math works. This situation is unacceptable. I say bravo to the Quebec caucus of the Conservative Party, bravo to the minister from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean: they obtained 57 times less than the ministers from Ontario in this budget. Bravo to the Conservative members of Parliament.

As for tackling the deficit, on page 174, it clearly states that the deficit should shrink to $1.8 billion by 2014-15. That seems clear, but what is less clear is where the government is going to find that money.

On page 180, a table illustrates very well what employment insurance benefits will be. For last year, benefits total $18.4 billion, while on page 176, the employment insurance premium revenues indicated are $26.6 billion. This boils down to stealing $8.2 billion out of the EI account to finance a $1.8 billion expenditure. That is not made clear in the budget. One has to cross-check the information on various pages. In terms of disclosure, the Conservative government scores a big fat zero.

Regarding income tax, the tax reductions are very well illustrated. It would appear that some of last year's tax reductions for Canadians apply this year. Let us take a look at what these tax reductions represent. A family with an income between $100,000 and $150,000 will benefit from tax relief of $1.96 per day, as compared to $0.67 per day for a family with an income between $30,000 and $45,000. And this, at a cost of $3.2 billion to the public purse.

Yesterday, much was made of the universal child care benefit. A very nice table was published in La Presse today, which shows that families with an income of $150,000 or more will receive $140, or 38¢ per day, those with an income of $50,000 will receive $70, or 19¢ per day, and those whose income is less than $30,000 will receive 0¢ per day. This whole thing is a waste of $3.2 billion.

We have suggested that the Minister of Finance check his own statistics. He would see that 324,160 Canadians have a taxable income of more than $150,000. Together, they have earned $52 billion. We have asked him to collect 2% on that income. That would represent $1.56 billion.

Also, there are 189,450 Canadians with a taxable income of more than $250,000. Let the Minister of Finance collect 3% from individuals whose taxable income is greater than $250,000. That would represent $3.1 billion.

Basically, what we are suggesting is that, instead of giving $1.50 to wealthy people, more money should be collected from those who have the most money. This way, $4.2 billion in revenue could be generated, instead of wasting $3.2 billion.

That is the difference between the strategy for distributing wealth put forward by the members of the Bloc Québécois and the Conservative Party's strategy, which distributes wealth among the wealthy.

Why was nothing done yesterday about the outrageous tax bills sent to seniors who had entrusted their savings to criminals? Why was nothing done about that?

The Minister of National Revenue said that he could not change the Income Tax Act. Unfortunately, he was right. Only the Minister of Finance can. Yesterday, no changes were made to the tax position of those poor people who have been fleeced by the Earl Joneses of this world. They could have been allowed to deduct the fraud losses from their income, but there was nothing about that.

A small effort has been made with regard to tax havens. Yesterday, we saw that the government is capable of making small changes with regard to high-income earners who are given stock options. We know very well that someone who receives options cashes them in at some point and the capital gain realized is taxed at 50%.

In the private sector, many people are paid in cash. Therefore, there was a tax loophole and the minister filled that, which is perfect. He showed a certain flexibility but we are asking him to do more.

Corporations have $3 billion in tax havens and banks have $2.3 billion. The minister has all the information. Nothing was done about that. They are going to sign an agreement with Panama to increase the number of foreign subsidiaries and take advantage of the resulting tax haven.

That is shameful.

As for the Quebec securities commission and the Autorité des marchés financiers, why interfere with something that is within the jurisdiction of Quebec, its government and Quebeckers? It affects not only those working for the AMF but also all those professionals who have been trained and who work in lawyer's offices or in consulting offices, as well as all those working in SMEs. Quebec is a hot spot for SMEs.

If the Conservative project goes ahead, what will all those who do business with the AMF do? They will be forced to send emails in English somewhere else in Canada. And yet it is within Quebec's jurisdiction. What is the Conservative government doing? It is ignoring this jurisdiction, it does not care.

The government is going to be hearing from us about to the AMF and the securities commission.

Another example of the government's lack of respect has to do with Hydro-Québec. Hydro-Québec is a subsidiary of the Government of Quebec, and Hydro One is a subsidiary of the Government of Ontario. Why are these two companies treated differently?

In a long letter, the former Minister of Finance of Quebec explained this very clearly to the current Minister of Finance of Canada. Why is Hydro One not treated the same way as Hydro-Québec? Why does this benefit the Government of Ontario and disadvantage the Government of Quebec to the tune of $250 million a year?

Let us turn our attention now to tax harmonization. Yesterday, the Premier of Quebec was a bit embarrassed to say that he was disappointed. I understand how he feels. He is negotiating with someone who has a sledgehammer. The Finance Minister and the Premier of Quebec were being polite yesterday, because Quebec is supposed to be receiving $2.2 billion, but deep down, they are fed up because Quebec has been waiting for the money for 18 years. There is no respect for tax harmonization.

People are asking themselves for whom, how and why this budget was prepared. They should be saying against whom, against what.

We on this side of the House have had it with the government's incompetence when it comes to recognizing Quebec. We do not know where the government is coming from or where it is going, but we know where we are going.

The budget excludes Quebec and treats Quebec as if it does not exist, but Quebec does exist. Quebeckers are not fools, and that is why most of the members from Quebec are sovereignists from the Bloc Québécois. We will not deceive Quebeckers. We will not hide when it comes time to vote. We will not be absent from this side of the House on the day of the vote. We will vote against the budget. We will do that, unless—and I would like to move a motion, seconded by the member for Joliette:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after “That” and substituting the following:

“this House shall not support the government’s budgetary policy unless the government eliminates the tax benefits given to the oil industry, thereby enabling it to compensate Quebec for harmonizing the QST and GST, enhance the Employment Insurance Plan, strengthen the Guaranteed Income Supplement and establish a credible assistance plan for the forestry industry, and unless the government abandons the idea of establishing a national securities commission”.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member's speech should be followed by a 10-minute question and comment period. It being almost 11 o'clock, it may be a good idea to postpone the vote until after oral questions.

Victory in Europe Student Tour
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to honour 58 individuals from Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock. They will be participating in the victory in Europe student tour taking place this May in the Netherlands. This group is the largest custom tour group in Canada attending the 65th anniversary of the victory in Europe and the liberation of the Netherlands.

As part of the program, students will each be representing a soldier from Oxford who fought and died during the liberation of the Netherlands. Each student has undertaken extensive research to learn more about each soldier's life and will be representing them at a candlelight vigil ceremony in Amsterdam.

Together with thousands of Canadian and Dutch high school students, veterans, dignitaries and local citizens, they will celebrate, remember and pay tribute to those who fought for our freedom.

I would like to compliment Melissa McKibbin, a teacher from Huron Park Secondary School, on her work in arranging this trip and working with the students.

Please join me in wishing the students, staff and friends of Huron Park Secondary School a safe and memorable trip.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, nearly a week has passed since the wrap-up of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and yet Canadians are still feeling that exhilaration and pride.

Our athletes represented us with more patriotism, grace and sportsmanship than we could have ever imagined. Their performances, whether on the podium or not, were truly world-class.

The games were not just about sports. They represented something even bigger than the new gold medal world record they set. The 2010 Olympics brought our country together in unprecedented ways. The national pride we demonstrated every day and the way we welcomed the world with open arms and our big Canadian hearts will forever be remembered by all.

To the entire Olympic family, the volunteers and everyone else, congratulations for a job well done. To our athletes, congratulations. They are all winners in our eyes for they made us proud. Their efforts gave us a record golden Canada for so many golden moments. We thank them. Merci.

Roland Janelle
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the performing arts community awarded Mr. Roland Janelle the RIDEAU “Reconnaissance” prize for his work as a passionate networker displaying enlightened leadership within his community and professional environment, an efficient manager, a good communicator, a skilful negotiator, a project designer, and even a society builder.

Mr. Janelle's career has been absolutely remarkable. His talent, determination and leadership have allowed Drummondville to become a key stop on Quebec's presentation circuit. It will be even more so after the cultural centre facilities have been expanded and modernized in the next few months.

Obviously, this honour bestowed on him by his peers is reflected on the entire region. What a great opportunity to draw attention to his significant contribution to the development and promotion of our community.

Congratulations to Mr. Roland Janelle.

Aviation Safety
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians learned that the government has secretly agreed to participate in the U.S. secure flight program. So, before Canadians can board an aircraft in Canada, even if they are flying to another Canadian destination, their private and personal information will be shared with the United States and that country will determine if Canadians can fly on Canadian flights.

In November 2008, just before they prorogued for the first time, the Conservatives assured the House that the secure flight program would not apply to Canadian domestic flights. The government then told the House that the U.S. had indicated the secure flight program would be exempt for countries with a comparable security system. This was in response to a tame question from the government's own benches.

I am not going to suggest there is anything really fishy going on here, but I can assure Canadians that our aviation security system is as good as the one in the U.S. Why the flip-flop? Why was this never brought before the House for debate?

Is the government as contemptuous for the privacy rights of Canadians as it has shown contempt for democracy? Why are Conservatives hiding?

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Richmond, I would like to thank all the Olympic volunteers who guided us through the games. Whether at the Richmond Oval, the Canada Line stations or in the O Zone, their role contributed enormously to the success of these Olympic winter games.

The torch relay alone drew over 35,000 people at Steveston. Another 25,000 welcomed Rick Hansen, a proud Richmondite, as he carried the torch through Minoru Park. During the games, Richmond was packed with athletes, visitors and local residents.

I would also like to congratulate all the Canadian athletes who made it to the podium, as well as all the other Olympians who participated in true Canadian spirit, including Alexa Loo, a Richmond constituent who represented Canada in the snowboard cross event.

As the Paralympics begin next week, I want to extend my best wishes to all who will participate in these games and wish team Canada every success. Go Canada go.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, Vancouver was transformed by the electricity of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. We enthusiastically welcomed athletes, crowds and the foreign languages heard in the streets. We celebrated our host first nations with pride. With all of Canada, we waved our flags and sometimes shed a few tears, touched by the display of human bravery, dashed hopes and triumphs.

And now, the outpouring of passion we saw in Vancouver has been revived by the Paralympic flame, which has started its journey west. It is now shining the spotlight on the Paralympic athletes, and highlighting their extraordinary courage and their achievements.

Sadly, the Prime Minister has moved to eliminate the break week scheduled during the Paralympics. However, I know my colleagues will strive to equally honour our Paralympians so they do feel recognized as they truly are: first-class athletes and a source of inspiration for all.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 2010 games have ushered in Canada's century, bringing together the greatest display of athletic excellence, volunteer spirit and patriotism our country has ever seen.

I am honoured that so many Canadians visited the riding I represent during the Olympic games. With me, they saw 25,000 volunteers welcome the world with the best of Canadian hospitality. They saw our athletes win an unprecedented 14 gold medals. They cheered with me as champions like Ashleigh McIvor from Whistler, and Maëlle Ricker from Squamish took us to the podium and got us singing our anthem. I invite them back to Whistler to cheer on our Paralympians.

As we savour Olympic memories and embrace the Paralympics, we must channel the momentum of the games to move all Canadians toward healthy living. I am therefore delighted that colleagues from the three opposition parties have joined me once again to invite all MPs and senators to accept the 2010 fitness challenge. As stated in our letter to each of them, we call on them to use their influence to promote health and fitness for all Canadians. Go Canada go.

Twentieth Annual Suicide Prevention Week
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 20th annual suicide prevention week was held from January 31 to February 6. Hundreds of events were held throughout Quebec, with the theme of “Have you ever considered it?”.

Over the year, but in particular during this week, organizations and individuals devoted their energies to promoting awareness of suicide among men, women, young people and children.

Unfortunately, for reasons that we all know, we did not have the opportunity to mention this week in the House when the events were going on.

However, today I am reaching out to all parliamentarians in this House, all partisanship aside, so that we can join together to highlight the importance of continuing to fight against this scourge that too often affects our young people, and so that in the future, the answer to “Have you ever considered it?” will always be no.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, budget 2010 implements year two of our economic action plan. It will help create jobs and promote the economic recovery by implementing $19 billion in new stimulus to create jobs now, investing to create jobs and growth for the economy of tomorrow and planning a return to budgetary balance once the economy recovers.

The budget also creates and protects jobs, sustains Canada's economic advantage and lays a strong foundation for the future by extending the enhancements to the work-sharing program, supporting young workers through internships and skills development, supporting innovation, training and research and development to create the jobs of tomorrow, investing in keeping taxes low to encourage growth and make us more competitive, eliminating tariffs to position Canada as an investment and trade friendly country, and cutting red tape to reduce the burden on Canadian businesses.

Canadians can trust our Conservative government to continue to put jobs and the economy first.

International Solidarity
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the earthquakes that rocked Haiti and Chile in the past two months reminded us just how fragile everything is and how it can all be turned upside down from one moment to the next. They also reminded us of the importance of international solidarity in such tragic times.

Natural disasters strike without warning and can be merciless. When we work together, we reaffirm the dignity of human life in the face of nature's brute force.

Canada has a special role to play in helping its neighbours in the Americas, and I would like to take this opportunity to reassure our friends, our Chilean and Haitian brothers and sisters and their family members living here, that they can count on our unfailing support in these difficult times.

We stepped up for Haiti and Chile, and this House will always find a way to set aside its differences in times of crisis because, as a people, we know that there is a time for debate and a time for unity in the face of adversity. Chileans and Haitians know that they can count on our unfailing support.

Take heart; we are standing with them.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, this budget will deliver year two of Canada's economic action plan. It will help solidify Canada’s economic recovery. It will invest $19 billion in order to create jobs now; it will invest in targeted actions to create jobs and stimulate growth for our economic future; and it outlines a plan for returning to a balanced budget.

How will we do it? By improving the work-sharing program; by supporting young workers through internships and skills development; by ensuring innovation, training, education, and research and development; by keeping taxes low; by eliminating tariffs to make Canada a better place to invest and to do business; and by cutting red tape in order to ease the burden for Canadian businesses.

While the Bloc Québécois is trying once again to make Quebec look like the victim and mislead the people, Quebeckers and Canadians can count on the Conservative government to ensure that employment and the economy remain at the forefront of government priorities.

Earthquake in Chile
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians will know that early in the morning of February 27, 2010, an 8.8-power earthquake in southern Chile along with subsequent tsunami coastal flooding turned the lives of more than two million Chileans into a nightmare. While over 800 deaths have been confirmed, the search for bodies and any possible survivors is still ongoing.

After the initial priority to establish contact with family and friends was accomplished, the Chilean community in Winnipeg and elsewhere in Canada has been mobilizing to provide support to the affected people. As always, Canadians can be counted on to support both the immediate aid as well as the longer term rebuilding.

The question many Canadians are asking is, will the Canadian government be matching dollar for dollar the personal donations of Canadians for the victims of the Chilean earthquake and tsunami as it did for the Haitian catastrophe?

Taxation
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is a proudly self-described tax and spend Liberal. He believes the GST should be raised. He brags that he was the first Liberal to tout a carbon tax. If he becomes prime minister, he says he will “have to raise taxes”. The member for Parkdale—High Park even says, “Canadians are prepared to pay more taxes”.

The Liberals want higher taxes for everything: taxes for grandiose uncosted environmental plans, taxes for more Liberal social engineering programs, and taxes for megaproject after megaproject. Tax, tax, tax; that is all the Liberals talk about.

Liberals just do not get it. Higher taxes and unaffordable spending will not create jobs and do not encourage economic growth. These tax and spend ideas are a failed Liberal policy from the past. They did not work then and they will not work now.

Our jobs and growth budget maintains our funding commitments on health care, education and support for seniors without raising taxes. Our jobs and growth budget will help solidify Canada's economic recovery and sustain our economic advantage now and for the future without raising taxes.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the last three Conservative budgets, the interests of Quebec have been ignored. The Conservatives preferred to invest in Ontario's automobile industry to the detriment of Quebec's forestry industry. Their tax and environmental policies favour Alberta's oil industry and the changes to employment insurance have clearly favoured the unemployed in Ontario and western Canada.

The Conservative government's fifth budget, which was brought down yesterday, is no different: it is geared toward the needs of Ontario and Alberta. Whether we are talking about reinstating transfers for education, compensating Quebec for harmonizing taxes, or measures for a strong and sustainable recovery of Quebec's economy, Quebeckers' priorities have not been addressed.

The Conservatives have missed the boat again when it comes to Quebec. That is why the Bloc Québécois will stand up for Quebec and vote against this budget.

Prince Edward Island Athletes
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, over the past month we have had the privilege of seeing Canadian athletes rise to the challenge and inspire our nation.

Today as a proud Canadian and islander, I wish to congratulate P.E.I.'s own superstars in both the Olympics and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

On February 23, during the nail-biting two-women bobsleigh finals at the Vancouver Olympics, Heather Moyse from Summerside and Kaillie Humphries broke records and rocketed past the competition to win gold for Canada.

On February 7, Kathy O'Rourke led her curling team from P.E.I. to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts finals and won silver. These island curlers, Kathy O'Rourke, Geri Lynn Ramsay, Erin Carmody, Tricia Affleck and Shelly Bradley, made us proud on the national stage.

We salute them. With passion and dedication, these athletes have represented P.E.I. and Canada with excellence and professionalism. Congratulations to these exceptional people and wonderful athletes.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the budget yesterday kicks off year two of our economic action plan.

It will help solidify Canada's economic recovery by implementing new stimulus to create jobs now, investing in creating jobs of tomorrow, and planning a return to balanced budgets once the economy recovers.

The Liberal leader does not like these things. He says that he wants an alternative to our tax-cutting, job-creating economic action plan. We know what the Liberal leader means when he suggests an “alternative”: he favours the same failed tax-and-spend policies the Liberals are famous for.

When we deliver a plan that creates jobs and lowers taxes and the Liberal leader calls for an “alternative”, we know what he means. He wants to dig deeper into the pockets of Canadians with tax hikes to pay for his massive spending promises.

Our economic action plan is having a positive effect in communities right across the country, and our government will continue our job-creating plan despite the tax-hiking, job-killing alternative of the Liberal leader.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, millions of seniors are worried because they do not have enough savings for their retirement. Their savings are at risk because their employers are not on solid ground. They depend on old age security and the Canada pension plan, a system that is in crisis. In this budget, all the government has to offer those who fear poverty is a holiday.

Why has the government abandoned the seniors of our country?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the government has done no such thing. We have an unprecedented commitment to support seniors, those men and women who helped build this great country.

Poverty among seniors in this country has fallen by almost 50% since this government came to office, and we are very proud of that effort.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that is not an answer to the question.

The Liberal Party made specific suggestions with regard to pensions: a supplement for the Canada Pension Plan, an emergency fund and increased protection for long-term disability. These proposals would have allowed millions of Canadians to have peace of mind in their retirement.

Why did they settle for a mere holiday over our pertinent proposals?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the government has brought in pension splitting, something that is benefiting seniors from coast to coast to coast. The government has made significant changes to the age credit. The initiatives the government has taken have seen seniors living in poverty decline by almost 50% in four short years.

We are a government that is committed to Canada's pension system, old age security, the guaranteed income supplement. It is a major priority of our government and we will continue to deliver for those men and women who built this country.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, he should try that with those who put their faith in the Conservatives' income trust promise.

The government promised a plan for the pensions crisis in the last budget. Then the parliamentary secretary said he was holding “consultations”. Then the Prime Minister shut down Parliament in order to recalibrate. Nothing came of any of it. There is nothing in this budget on pensions.

The old Reform MPs, including the Prime Minister, got their pensions. What about Canadian seniors?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has been doing a lot of good work with his provincial colleagues in recent months. He will continue to work on this important initiative.

That is why we are working so hard to ensure that we create an economy that will create jobs so that we will have more hope and more opportunity. A growing economy where we are creating jobs is the best defence against poverty.

The government has made an unprecedented commitment, and I will repeat it today, to ensure that our old age security, the guaranteed income supplement, the Canada pension plan and the additional measures we brought forward will be there for seniors so they can count on them and live a life of retirement they have so richly deserved.

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the basis of the Conservative budget is total fiction. The Conservatives claim that they will not increase taxes, but in reality they have decided on a major increase in payroll taxes. These increases will cut 200,000 jobs.

Why will the Conservatives not admit that they are increasing taxes? Why have they decided on job-killing tax hikes?

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, here are the facts. A year ago, we froze EI premiums. The purpose of this was to encourage employment and to not discourage people. This year, the premiums remain frozen, but we need to get the system back to normal.

What they are suggesting is a system that could not be sustained.

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives always hide behind this uncontrollable arm's-length agency as if it were from outer space, and they pretend that this agency is dictating EI premium hikes and that there is nothing the all-controlling Prime Minister can do about it, even though he has already overruled that agency two years in a row.

Only one person in this country controls EI premiums, as he controls everything else in Ottawa, and that person is the Prime Minister. So why is the Prime Minister killing 200,000 jobs with punitive EI premium hikes?

Taxation
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we froze the premium rates for EI for two years to encourage job protection and job growth. That is going to come at a cost. Next year the arm's-length, independent EI commission will be setting the premiums on a break-even basis for the long term.

What we will not do is use that fund for our political pet projects the way the Liberals did for years. Let us face it: the single biggest threat to raising EI premiums is the proposal by the opposition to bring in a 45-day work year, which would raise premiums astronomically.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, whether we are talking about forestry, aerospace, the environment or culture, Quebeckers' priorities are completely ignored by the Conservative government. This budget, which continues to favour Ontario, the west and the oil companies, is one more sign that Canadian federalism does not benefit Quebec.

How could the government table a budget that is so empty and so detrimental to Quebec?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. This budget targets economic growth, job creation and maintaining our jobs. With regard to forestry, we are talking about $100 million over the next four years to support this sector and develop new market niches. The Forest Products Association of Canada is very happy about that.

We are also emphasizing innovation and the jobs of tomorrow. The opposition should stop their needless fearmongering.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the government did away with the tax benefits for oil companies, it could start compensating Quebec for harmonizing the TVQ with the GST. It could also start improving employment insurance and the guaranteed income supplement for our seniors and introduce a real plan to help the forestry sector, instead of Conservative gimmicks.

Is it not true that this government's choices prove that there is no future for Quebec in the Canadian federal system?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, when we are talking about seniors, we are talking about income splitting; seniors can split income for greater net gain. In addition, the age credit has been doubled. As for tax harmonization, we said so once again in the budget, the commitment is there in black and white. We are negotiating in good faith. For the unemployed, we extended the work sharing agreement by 26 weeks. In small communities, this is paying off, because jobs are being maintained.

Of course, we know that the Bloc voted against all these measures. It is shameful.

Forestry Industry
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, on page 259 of the budget presented yesterday, it says that the auto industry, which is concentrated in Ontario of course, received $9.7 billion, while the forestry sector received a mere $170 million.

However, these two sectors, which are both in crisis, have about the same number of jobs. As I travelled around Quebec, I saw that the forestry industry needs a cash infusion now more than ever if it is to stay alive.

How could the Minister of Finance conspire with Quebec Conservatives to present another budget—

Forestry Industry
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of State.

Forestry Industry
Oral Questions

11:20 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, the Bloc Québécois is up to its usual tricks: disinformation and twisting the facts.

Quebec's forestry industry is governed by an agreement that we signed with our American partners at the request of the provinces and the forestry industry, an agreement that allows us to export wood to the United States.

The Bloc knows very well that the auto sector is subject to an agreement among the United States, Ontario and Canada in a free market. It is apples and oranges. They are trying to make political hay, but we are taking care of workers and we will not sink to the Bloc's level of rhetoric.

Forestry Industry
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, for companies to export wood, they have to be operating and able to produce it.

These businesses are on their knees because they have been left to their own devices since the crisis began. The forestry crisis started long before the recession. Yesterday, the CEP pointed out that without loan guarantees, the measures in the budget will be useless.

Why are they ignoring the needs of Quebec's forestry industry?

Forestry Industry
Oral Questions

11:25 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, in order to sell wood, one needs buyers. Right now, demand for our forestry products—softwood lumber and pulp and paper—is soft. We will continue to develop markets for these products.

As for loan guarantees, it seems to me that they just do not want to see them. Anyone can visit Export Development Canada's website. EDC supports industry across Canada in all sectors. It offers loan guarantees, accounts receivable insurance and access to credit. It has made some $20 billion in financial products available to Quebec's forestry industry over two years. Of course, it is easy to avoid seeing the truth. We are not just talking; we are taking action.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to jobs, the statements of the government certainly do ring hollow.

The government's budget actually predicts that we will have a higher unemployment rate in 2010 than we had last year. Half a million people lost their jobs in the recession, 1.6 million people are out of work and 800,000 people stand to run out of their EI premiums and have nothing to support their families, yet we have the same old policies that have not worked.

Where is the plan to create jobs for Canadians so we can get the economy going for them?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I think I join all members of the House to say that we are pleased to see the NDP leader is still full of energy and fight with respect to his important work here.

The budget we presented yesterday is a jobs and economic growth budget. We are moving forward, full speed ahead, firing on all eight cylinders, with Canada's economic action plan. Since July, we have seen 135,000 net new jobs created. With the economy beginning to fire on all eight cylinders through our economic action plan, we see more jobs, more hope, more opportunity. That is why we are moving forward with more stimulus, more construction and more hope.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the victims of the recession are losing a great deal. The banks are the big winners in this budget.

Choices are made in a budget.

The Conservatives have chosen to make the banks, oil companies and the most profitable companies in the country even richer instead of helping seniors get out of poverty by increasing the guaranteed income supplement benefits, as the New Democratic Party has proposed.

Why has the government chosen to help the banks and oil companies instead of seniors in this crisis?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, long before Canada's economic action plan began to bring real benefits to the economy in the country this government gave significant support to seniors.

Since 1999, the level of poverty among seniors in the country has fallen from 7.9% to less than 5%, thanks to the great efforts of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

This government is committed to pensions. We are committed to the old age security. We are committed to the guaranteed income supplement.

We have taken significant measures with respect to helping those who are unemployed, whether it is long-term worker benefits, whether it is additional measures in training, whether it is the great work on work-sharing. We will continue to do that because we need more jobs, more hope and more opportunities.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the matter of the Afghan detainees, the government has come up with a new stalling tactic. At first it was prorogation, now it is appointing Justice Iacobucci to review the documents relating to the transfer of detainees and torture in Afghanistan. Mr. Iacobucci is supposed to report to whom? He is supposed to report to the justice minister. The House did not ask for that.

Instead of playing games with more delay, why will the government not just come clean and give members of the House access to the documents as it has requested? Why so much contempt for Parliament? Why so much contempt for the truth?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about thousands of documents. Government officials are working diligently, as fast as they can, to make all legally available documents available to members.

With respect to the whole question of redacted documents, yes, the hon. member is in part correct. We have enlisted the help of Mr. Justice Iacobucci. The man is beyond reproach. He is held in eminent esteem by Canadians. He will give advice with respect to those documents.

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government will reduce funding for international development by $4 billion over five years, in particular by cutting CIDA's budget. The most vulnerable people in the world, who are counting on Canada's help for their basic needs, are the ones who will pay for the financial incompetence of this government.

Will the government finally admit that its incompetence is the direct cause of Canada's diminishing influence on the world stage?

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I want the member to know that I totally reject the premise of her question.

The fact is we have doubled aid over the last very short period of time by increasing funding year after year by 8%. We are going to maintain that at the level of $5 billion into the future.

She should be very proud of what this government has done of behalf of Canadians.

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I totally reject the premise of his answer.

The fact is that this government wants to talk about development aid when it might help the Prime Minister's image, but when it comes time to lay the cards on the table, we see that Canada's role on the world stage is not a priority for this government.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he is not at all interested in international development and that his plan for Africa is nothing but smoke and mirrors?

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, again, I reject the premise of the question. The fact is our government doubled aid to Africa a year before any other G7 country even came close to being able to do that.

I am very proud of the people of Canada, the way they have stepped up, for example, on the question of Haiti. I am even more proud of the way our government said that it would match donations dollar for dollar.

We will take no lessons from the Liberals on foreign aid.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, nobody questions Justice Iacobucci's credentials. His appointment confirms, however, that Canadians cannot trust the government to give them the truth and that its stonewalling was wrong.

Why stop at half measures? Why not use Justice Iacobucci's credentials to give Canadians the full story, by presiding an open, public judicial inquiry that will go beyond simply deciding, in private, what documents remain secret? Why are the Conservatives afraid of a public inquiry into this issue?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I think we can all agree on the whole subject of the Canadian armed forces, that they have been conducting themselves honourably in Afghanistan. A transfer agreement has been in place now for three years. If there are any problems with the previous one that was instituted under the previous government, perhaps he should take that up with is colleagues.

With respect to the documents, the reputation of Mr. Justice Iacobucci is beyond reproach. That will be very helpful in terms of looking at these documents, and it should have the support of all hon. members.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, no one is questioning Justice Iacobucci's competence. We are just wondering why the government is using these half measures and adopting ad hoc methods simply to continue to delay things and refuse to release the documents Parliament is requesting.

Why is the government not giving Justice Iacobucci the chance to tell the whole story to Canadians and to chair a formal public inquiry that will finally give Canadians answers? The government is refusing to answer the questions Canadians are asking.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, first, with respect to the subject of redacting documents, these are done by non-partisan public servants. Hon. members are apparently questioning that. In response to that and, again, just to ensure the process is completely open and transparent, we have asked Mr. Justice Iacobucci to have another look at that. It seems to me that should satisfy the hon. member.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the job market continues to deteriorate. For instance, White Birch Paper, which has mills in Rivière-du-Loup, Masson-Angers and Quebec City, is under the protection of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. Despite increasing layoffs, yesterday's budget does not offer any measures to improve access to the EI system. The CSN pointed out yesterday that 50% of unemployed workers still do not have access to the EI system.

Why does the government refuse to improve access to the system for workers who have lost their jobs or will lose them over the next few weeks?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, here are the facts: we have already extended the benefit period by five weeks for everyone. For long-tenured workers, it has been extended by 20 weeks.

We are trying to improve opportunities for training, so that unemployed workers can learn how to do the jobs of the future.

It is worth noting that the Bloc has voted against all our efforts.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the Minister to listen: 50% of unemployed workers do not have access to the EI system.

Not only did the government refuse to improve the EI system and not only did it plunder the EI fund for many years, but it is about to pilfer another $19.2 billion from the fund between 2012 and 2015. That money belongs to the workers and companies that pay into the system.

Why does the government want to steal from unemployed workers instead of helping them?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is very simple. She is wrong. We froze EI premiums at the level they were at two years ago in order to protect jobs. We added five weeks of benefits for people across Canada. It is much easier to get benefits now than in the past. We have protected over 225,000 jobs with our work sharing program, and they voted against it.

Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec is still waiting for $8 billion from Ottawa, including $2 billion for tax harmonization. The unilateral cap on equalization payments by Ottawa last year has caused Quebec to lose $1 billion. The FEUQ has reminded us that we have yet to receive $800 million to completely restore funding for post-secondary education.

What is Ottawa waiting for to make good on its debts to Quebec?

Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, Ottawa is not waiting for anything. Ottawa is taking action. With respect to the FEUQ issue, I should note that $125 million was transferred to students in the form of post-secondary education loans, which was very well received.

In times of fiscal restraint, we need to tighten our belts. Money does not grow on trees, as our colleagues seem to think. It must be earned, and not at the expense of provinces and municipalities. No transfers have been affected. On the contrary, transfers to Quebec will increase again this year.

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Let us talk about the municipalities, Mr. Speaker.

Municipal officials are unhappy about the federal government's inflexibility with respect to infrastructure projects. The president of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités said that, by maintaining the March 31, 2011 deadline, the Conservative government was primarily penalizing the Quebec municipalities that have to wait for administrative arrangements to be finalized before any work can start.

Does the government not realize that, by stubbornly maintaining the March 31, 2011 completion date, it is depriving Quebec of several worthwhile projects?

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's question.

We have accomplished very good work with the Province of Quebec. All the money available for the Province of Quebec and its municipalities has been spent.

We have had a good relationship with the provincial government. In all the regions of Quebec, municipalities are ready to act, and the successes will continue until the end.

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister said that other faith-based organizations would not face the same intimidation and attacks from the government that KAIROS did. That is not the issue. The issue is KAIROS, after advocating for human rights and environmental progress, issues on which the government has shown no leadership, was maliciously and wrongfully slandered as anti-Semitic by a senior minister of government.

Will the government reverse these crippling cuts and apologize to KAIROS and the churches it represents for its malicious attacks?

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, the fact is the Liberals came out with a whole potpourri of ways of distributing money. It was without any organization.

Our government has established priorities that were well publicized. KAIROS, along with every other organization, was aware of what those priorities were. Its application was inadequate and insufficient against the priorities of which it was aware. It is that simple.

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. It met those priorities.

In a letter dated January 21, 10 of the most influential national faith leaders from the Anglican, Catholic, Christian Reform, Anglican Lutheran, Presbyterian, Quaker, Mennonite and United churches requested a meeting with the Prime Minister to understand why his government made KAIROS a target for such vicious attacks.

When will the Prime Minister meet with these faith leaders as they requested, offer a full apology for his government's slanderous attacks and restore these politically motivated cuts?

International Cooperation
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, again, it is very interesting that the majority of those organizations he named did take a look at the priorities when they applied. Taking into account the priorities, many of those organizations received funding.

It is simply the case that we will not simply shovel money out the door, as the Liberals would. We want to ensure we get proper results for taxpayer money.

Post-Secondary Education
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget mentions post-secondary education for aboriginal people, but there is no mention of funding and no mention of First Nations University in Regina. That institution is working hard with partners to correct its governance problems. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, the University of Regina and the government of Saskatchewan are all pulling together to help.

Will the federal government fully support these combined efforts to first fix and then preserve First Nations University?

Post-Secondary Education
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we continue to work on options to ensure the affected students complete their academic year. That is our primary concern. As previously stated, we will not be renewing the funding agreement with First Nations University. In terms of discussions with the province the department continues to look at a wide range of options for the funding.

Post-Secondary Education
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, this is about hundreds of aboriginal and non-aboriginal students now at First Nations University and generations yet to come. It is about treaty rights and it is about the federal minister's fiduciary responsibilities. It is about the proper administration of a genuine university and $8 million in federal funding without which a noble vision will get thrown out with the bath water.

Specifically, is that money in fact in the federal budget for 2010-11? Exactly where is it in the budget and will it be directed to the students at First Nations University?

Post-Secondary Education
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the department has been working since 2005 with the university to address longstanding and systematic problems. There have been allegations of mismanagement of funds, audit information handed to the RCMP commercial crimes unit, and politicization of the board on all issues. Meanwhile attendance has been falling. That is why the university was censured by the major teacher's union and it is why the province withdrew its funds as well. We need to be accountable to Canadians as well as first nations.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government's top priority is creating jobs and promoting economic growth. Budget 2010 did just that with $19 billion in new stimulus investment to create the jobs of tomorrow and make Canada the number one location for new investments.

Could the parliamentary secretary please comment on the reaction to yesterday's budget?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to relay some of the positive reaction. Indeed, Canada's economic action plan keeps on working and it is keeping Canadians working. In less than a day we have had applause from all across this country such as from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Construction Association, the Conference Board of Canada, C.D. Howe Institute, Forest Products Association of Canada, Certified General Accountants and Canadian Federation of Independent Business. If I had more time, I would continue on.

Financial Institutions
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the big banks budget day was a great day. Not only did they announce that their profits doubled over the last year, but the government handed them billions more in tax giveaways. Great day for the banks; lousy day for Canadians still trying to cope with the effects of this recession.

Why does the government keep giving money to those who do not need it while ignoring those who do?

Financial Institutions
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the only people in the House who appear to be ignoring the needs and wishes of Canadians are those who have decided, without even reading the budget, that they are going to vote against it. There is something in the budget for every Canadian. There is a plan for going forward.

We need to remember that we are dealing with taxpayers' dollars. We have a plan to exit our stimulus spending to bring us back to balanced budgets. There is something in it for everyone, but apparently not for the NDP. It is voting against it.

Financial Institutions
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is so deep in the pockets of big business it will choke on the lint at the bottom. The billions in tax giveaways to the big banks will not help one senior in poverty and will not create a single new job. The worst part is that we are going deeper into debt to give it to them.

Why did the government help the rich get richer instead of strengthening our economy by creating jobs and supporting seniors who spend their money in our local communities?

Financial Institutions
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it needs to be clarified that not one cent of taxpayers' dollars went to support Canadian banks.

However, we did put money into the economy. We stimulated the economy. We created 135,000 jobs since July of last year. That is the important part. More Canadians working is what matters to this government.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government has allocated billions of dollars to oil companies and the nuclear sector. This government has failed to make the green shift to say the least.

The Quebec economy would benefit from a real plan to fight global warming, and yet the Conservative government prefers to help western oil companies.

Does the government realize that the $800 million allocated over two years to oil companies for carbon capture and storage are nothing more than hidden subsidies to an industry that already has billions?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. Canada is now a leader in the production of clean energy. We will continue our work so that our energy is even cleaner. That will be done through regulation and not subsidies.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that this government does not believe in climate change, and that is obvious from the budget. The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences is bearing the brunt of this denial and is waiting for its research funds to be restored.

Does the government realize that by reducing funding for this foundation it is jeopardizing 20 years of work in developing climate modelling expertise?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, in 2007 it was announced that $1.43 billion was being allocated for clean energy with production of 4,000 megawatts of power by March 31, 2011. To date, 95 projects have produced 4,433 megawatts of clean energy. There are projects underway worth another $124 million.

That is action. We are delivering. It is not just empty rhetoric.

Status of Women
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of State for the Status of Women disgustingly referred to the birthplace of our great country as “a hell hole” and contemptuously called warm-hearted residents of Prince Edward Island “you people”.

Apparently, the Prime Minister condones this contempt for Islanders. Is it because the Prime Minister still believes Atlantic Canadians suffer from a culture of defeat? Does the Prime Minister believe we are less Canadian because of where we are from? If not, why has this minister not been fired and removed?

Status of Women
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, our colleague and our friend, the Minister of State for the Status of Women, has made a sincere apology with respect to this issue. As all hon. members should do, I have accepted it and I encourage everyone to do the right thing.

Status of Women
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, what unbelievable deed does one have to do to lose one's job when one is from among the entitled cabinet?

Several independent officers of this Parliament lost their jobs for doing their jobs by questioning the government. Yet, the minister berates, belittles and bullies the very people that she has been sworn to work for.

Is it the sense of entitlement of the cabinet that they are above other Canadians? Why is the minister still in cabinet?

Status of Women
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, the member opposite should do the right thing, should do the decent thing, and accept the apology of the minister like the rest of us.

Industry
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Finance presented a non-budget that followed a throne speech just as long and useless as the prorogation. What is worse is that we are uncertain about the future of FedNor and the possibility of creating jobs for the future that correspond to the needs of people back home. People from Toronto or Ottawa do not know about the needs of people in northern Ontario.

Why is the government creating uncertainty about FedNor and the kind of regional development that corresponds to the needs of the people of northern Ontario?

Industry
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, indeed, we did have an excellent budget presented here yesterday. We will be voting on it soon. We are just not sure which direction everyone is going to take.

We need to remind all hon. members that because of our economic action plan last year alone we created 135,000 jobs since July of last year. The economic action plan continues and $19 billion more will be rolled out this year creating jobs all across this country.

Industry
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government does not care about the needs of northern Ontario. There is no mention of FedNor in yesterday's federal budget. The community futures program drops from $21.8 million to $8.5 million, and the northern Ontario development program is down $1 million from last year.

Is this the government's definition of commitment toward the people of the north?

In order to better serve the needs of northern Ontario, FedNor needs to become a stand-alone agency. Is the industry minister heading to Sudbury today to deliver this good news, or is he going to tell the people that these decisions about the north will now be made in the south?

Industry
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont
Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that this government gave FedNor stable five year funding in the 2006-07 budget. Let us also remember that it was this government that created the community adjustment fund which is delivering over $30 million toward economic development projects right across northern Ontario.

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget confirmed our government's top priority: creating and protecting jobs. The Minister of Finance confirmed that year two of our Canada's economic action plan will be fully implemented.

Could the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities tell the House how we are working with the provinces, territories and municipalities to deliver job-creating stimulus programs from coast to coast to coast?

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the economic growth and jobs budget presented yesterday by the government is all about focusing on the economy and improving the lives of Canadians to restore more hope and more opportunity,

We will spend a further $19 billion on federal stimulus spending that will be complemented by $6 billion in stimulus funding from the provinces, territories and municipalities.

We can look at what municipalities are saying about this budget. Look at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that is headed up by the mayor of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Basil Stewart. He says:

FCM applauds the federal government for protecting core investments in cities and communities as it reduces the federal budget deficit. These investments will help local governments--

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, the hon. member for Don Valley West.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, documents obtained under access to information clearly reveal that the Minister of Citizenship made a decision to explicitly exclude gay and lesbian people and our history from the new citizenship guide. However, he told a respected human rights group that it was merely an oversight.

Both this decision and duplicity about it go to the character of the government. Is the minister proud of either of these actions?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, the member should not be proud of misleading the House.

The reality is that I specifically decided to, for the first time ever, include content about gays and lesbians in the national citizenship guide. There was zero content in the guide under the Liberal government.

It is true that I also decided not to have a section on marriage in the guide. There has never been a section on marriage of any variety nor is there, I believe, in the citizenship guides of any other pure democracies.

I am pleased that this guide, unlike the one published by the Liberals, includes comments about gays and lesbians, about women's equality, women's voting rights, gender equality, Aboriginal residential schools, Chinese head tax, the whole Canadian story.

Seniors
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, while this budget maintains tax breaks for the oil companies, seniors have been left in the cold. The budget does not propose any measures to help older workers who cannot retrain, and ignores the needs of the poorest seniors by failing to improve the guaranteed income supplement.

How can the government justify the fact that it always finds money for the oil companies but never has money to help older workers who cannot be retrained or our poorest seniors?

Seniors
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, she should have read the budgets for last year and the year before.

We spent money for seniors in several ways. There is pension splitting and there are increased deductions. For seniors and older workers, there are expanded systems to support them and help them return to work.

Each time, her party voted against these measures.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the throne speech reads:

Nowhere is a commitment to principled policy, backed by action, needed more than in addressing climate change.

The government pledged to green the economy, lead in clean electricity, finance climate efforts and reduce emissions in parallel with the U.S. Yesterday's budget shows no such commitment.

The budget slashed the environment department, disembowelled environmental assessment, boosted fossil fuel subsidies, pledged no foreign aid and shortchanged renewables. What happened to principle, action and leadership for a green energy future?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the budget for Environment Canada last year was essentially $1 billion. The budget for Environment Canada this year is $1.1 billion. I calculate that as a 10% increase. I do not know how the NDP does its math, but it might explain to Canadians how that constitutes a massive cut at Environment Canada.

Justice
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians lose faith in the criminal justice system when they feel that the punishment does not fit the crime.

Since the 2006 election, our Conservative government has taken action to crack down on crime and ensure the safety and security of our communities. We passed legislation mandating tougher prison sentences for gun crimes, raised the age of protection from 14 to 16 and strengthened sentencing provisions for dangerous criminals.

Would the Minister of Justice tell the House what he plans to introduce in this session of Parliament to help combat crime and protect our country's most vulnerable citizens?

Justice
Oral Questions

Noon

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his continuous support of our criminal justice agenda.

We will have a very busy time. It is a very important agenda. We will increase the penalties for sexual offences against children, strengthen the sex registry, ensure that life means life for multiple murderers and require that violent offenders serve their time in jail, not in the luxury of a home.

We will reintroduce that drug bill, not the way it was watered down by the Liberals but in its original form.

Those initiatives have the overwhelming support of Canadians and they should have the overwhelming support of the members of the House.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative budget fails to address the needs of new Canadians. The government continues to overlook the fact that improved integration of new Canadians is a much needed step to facilitate Canada's economic recovery. The foreign credentials and qualifications of new Canadians must be assessed and recognized in a timely manner.

When will the government deliver on its long overdue commitment to new Canadians and stop playing with their foreign credentials and qualification needs?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

Noon

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question and the Liberal Party's discovery of this important issue.

The reality is that the Liberal government imposed a $1,000 head tax on all newcomers to Canada that this government cut in half. The Liberal government froze settlement funding for newcomers for 12 years. We tripled settlement funding for language classes and better integration.

The Liberal government did precisely nothing on the critical issue of foreign credential recognition. We created the foreign credential referral office. This budget includes the economic action plan's $50 million commitment to the pan-Canadian framework to streamline foreign credential recognition across the country. We are delivering for newcomers.

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, for the purpose of the debate on Ways and Means Motion No. 1 in relation to budget 2010, Standing Order 84 be amended as follows:

(a) section (4) be deleted; and

(b) section (5) be replaced with the following:

(4) On the third day of the said days, at 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business in such sitting, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and forthwith put every question necessary to dispose of any subamendment and amendment.

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Does the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry also wish to move a motion?

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to adopt the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-434, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (day parole — six months or one sixth of the sentence rule), be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Standing Orders
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There is no unanimous consent.

Child Pornography
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions signed by my constituents of Okanagan—Shuswap.

The first petition calls upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to stop the Internet as a medium for the distribution of child victimization and pornography.

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition requests our government to support a universal declaration on animal welfare.

Canada Post
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present petitions on behalf of the towns of Franklin, Ormstown, Howick, Saint-Urbain-Premier, Saint-Rémi and Saint-Chrysostome, all of which are located in my riding of Beauharnois—Salaberry.

These are in addition to the petitions on the same topic previously received from other towns, which I presented before the prorogation.

These petitioners call on the government to maintain the moratorium on closing rural post offices and to maintain, enhance and improve postal services.

Of course, with yesterday's budget, people are understandably concerned, and I hope that the government will listen to their concerns and meet their needs.

Harmonized Sales Tax
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand a petition signed by families in Vancouver and Surrey, British Columbia raising concerns about the HST that the federal Conservative government is bringing in. They are saying very clearly that with an additional cost of $500 per individual in British Columbia and, for a family of four, an additional cost of $2,000, this tax shift on ordinary families in British Columbia is simply irresponsible and that it is the worst possible timing for the HST.

These petitioners from British Columbia are saying very clearly to this Parliament that we need to work to rescind this HST and that we need to bring in a fairer tax system in British Columbia, one that does not penalize ordinary families rather than big, massive corporations and corporate CEOs.

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in support of Canada's commitment to the development of a universal declaration on animal welfare.

With consideration to the scientific consensus and public acknowledgement that animals can feel pain and can suffer, all efforts should be made to prevent animal cruelty and reduce animal suffering. Despite their recognized importance to humans, animals are often significantly affected by natural disasters and yet are seldom considered during relief efforts and emergency planning.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to maintain its support for the development of a universal declaration on animal welfare.

Young Offenders Act
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a second petition on behalf of my constituents who have been victims of violent crimes committed by young offenders.

In support of the family of 15-year-old Baden Willcocks who was murdered on June 19, 2009, the petitioners call upon Parliament to implement the necessary changes to the Young Offenders Act for the benefit of the victims' families whose lives have been destroyed by the violent crimes committed by young offenders.

Firearms Registry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a petition that follows many prior petitions from my constituents in Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. They are asking all parliamentarians to support private member's Bill C-391 to finally get rid of the wasteful long gun registry.

Harmonized Sales Tax
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present two petitions.

Like my colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster, I have a petition from residents and families in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver who are drawing attention to their concern about the HST that is being imposed upon them.

They point out that the GST is charged on more products and services than the existing provincial sales tax and that this is really a tax shift and burden from big business onto families, consumers and community businesses that will have increasing costs on many of the everyday goods and services that people buy.

They call upon the Government of Canada to rescind the Harper-Campbell HST.

Housing
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is also signed by residents in Vancouver who support the need for a national housing strategy that will harmonize the work of all levels of government to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for all Canadians.

They ask that Parliament ensure swift passage of Bill C-304, An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians.

Pensions
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, after a lengthy break, I am glad to be back to present this particular petition, and it is an honour for me to do so. It is on behalf of several pensioners and their families in the Exploits Valley area of Newfoundland and Labrador and it is signed by residents of the communities as well.

It calls upon the Minister of Finance to allow the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and AbitibiBowater, the former mill in Grand Falls—Windsor, to transfer the pension assets to a trust, which would be designed to administer pension fund money and to use realistic interest rates with a view to ultimately protect the full value of the pension.

As the pensioners in the area have lost in value around 30% of their pensions, they are obviously concerned about this. They want the government to take action. They want it to help out in this particular situation with the union and the company.

I would like to personally thank the committee members for doing so much work on this, as more petitions are yet to come. They include: John Hamilton; David Grimes, the chair; Harry Parsons; Junior Downey; Phillip Walsh; Chuck Hopful; Gary Healey; Vic Mercer; George Clooney; Felix Gambin; Kevin Barry; Wade Hollettt; and Winston Ellsworth.

Air Passenger Bill of Rights
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition is a call to adopt Canada's first air passenger bill of rights, Bill C-310. The bill would provide compensation to air passengers flying with all Canadian carriers, including charters, anywhere they fly.

The bill would include measures on compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights and unreasonable tarmac delays. The bill deals with late and misplaced baggage, all-inclusive pricing by airline companies in their advertising.

The legislation is inspired by the European Union law where overbookings have dropped significantly. Air Canada is already operating under European laws for flights in Europe. Why should a Canadian customer receive different treatment in Europe than in Canada?

In addition, the bill would ensure that passengers are kept informed of all flight changes, whether they are delays or cancellations. The new rules would be posted at airports and airlines must inform passengers of their rights and the process to file for compensation. The bill is not meant to punish their airlines. If the airlines follow the rules, they will not to pay one dollar in compensation to travellers.

I encourage the Government of Canada to pass this bill.

Human Rights
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition from constituents in my riding of Mount Royal and vicinity expressing concern about the continuing imprisonment of Dr. Wang Bingzhang, a founder of the Chinese overseas democracy movement, who was convicted eight years ago of terrorism and espionage in a closed door, one day trial without legal representation and which the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined was without any foundation and was in violation of international law.

The signatories join the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and our own foreign affairs committee in calling upon the Chinese authorities to release Dr. Wang, particularly given his seriously deteriorating health in prison and his close Canadian connection. Dr. Wang is a graduate of McGill University. His parents live in British Columbia. His daughter lives in Montreal and is a McGill University student.

Our bilateral Canada-China relationship was founded on adherence to internationally accepted standards of human rights and the rule of law.

The petitioners therefore call upon Prime Minister Harper, the Canadian government and the Parliament of Canada to seek Dr. Wang's release from prison on compassionate grounds so that he may be reunited with his family and friends here in Canada.

Human Rights
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I would remind the hon. member for Mount Royal not to use proper names but titles or ridings when referring to members of the House.

North Korean Refugees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present petitions from dozens of people from Ontario requesting the House of Commons and the Government of Canada to support Motion No. 383 and vigorously participate in the international effort urging the Government of the People's Republic of China to ensure the safe passage of North Korean refugees to South Korea.

Child Pornography
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of a number of my constituents on a matter which has been dealt with sensibly over the past couple of years by an organization called CASE, which stands for Canadians Addressing Sexual Exploitation. This petition deals with the subject matter of child pornography and victimization, which obviously is a very important issue to this honourable House.

The petitioners point out to Parliament that the creation, use and circulation of child pornography is condemned by a clear majority of Canadians, and that the CRTC, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, and Internet service providers have the responsibility for the content that is being transmitted to Canadians, and that anyone who uses the Internet to facilitate any sexual offences involving children is committing an offence.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Parliament of Canada to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to stop the Internet as a medium for the distribution of child victimization and pornography.

Child Pornography
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask for unanimous consent to return to tabling of documents. I missed that part of the order.

Child Pornography
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent to return to tabling of documents?

Child Pornography
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Aboriginal Affairs
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Annual Report 2009.

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.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

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 this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Before question period, we were at the questions and comments stage following the speech given by the hon. member for Hochelaga.

The hon. member for Mississauga South.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the member for Hochelaga to the House. His predecessor was very active in the House and I expect that the member will also be distinguished for his constituents.

The debate on the budget has been somewhat wide ranging, but from my own constituents, I am hearing a bit of concern about putting too much focus on just doing whatever it takes to eliminate the deficit, that even if there are wishes, they have to give people hope. People have also said that to go beyond two years would be guessing. There is no certitude. That is when most of this happens. If the government should happen to be successful in simply balancing the budget again, what condition would the country be in at the end of those five years?

This budget does not have a vision. It does not indicate the shape that Canada is going to be in. It does not anticipate the consequences of an aging society, the impact upon the quality of life of our seniors, our health care system, the opportunities for our youth, our status in the world. These are significant areas which the budget and the budget speech did not address. This is simply a mathematical exercise, hopefully to keep things quiet for a year until the Conservatives can have another election and then do their dirty work.

I wonder if the member would care to comment.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his words of welcome, although I was here in December.

We have spoken at length about eliminating the deficit and this kind of budgetary exercise. If this document achieves the desired results in five years, it will be more likely be due to luck, rather than the science of the finance department.

I used to be a public servant. People used to say that in times of crisis, the only person who is likely to be happy is the economist who predicted the crisis.

Where will Canada be in five years? It is our hope that Quebec will no longer be part of Canada at the end of the period targeted by this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, in his first speech my colleague said that the Bloc Québécois did a tour of Quebec. I can tell him that the hon. members from the Bloc were very discreet when they passed through Chaudière-Appalaches because I did not see them go by.

In addition to consulting, our Quebec caucus goes everywhere in the regions of Quebec to spread the good news, namely that our government is investing in infrastructure—bridges, roads, arenas, multi-purpose centres, community centres and arts and cultural centres. This demonstrates the leadership quality of our entire team in Quebec.

We have also consulted farmers. Cattle producers had a problem related to specified risk materials. We listened. In the budget, on page 98, you will find the initiatives that will allow us to solve a major problem. Our producers need this.

Why did the hon. member for Hochelaga say yesterday that he is going to vote against the budget and against the initiatives for cattle producers who are in great need? How will my colleague explain to all the producers in the regions of Quebec that he voted against these very important measures?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

We have seen how much influence the Quebec caucus has in this government. There is absolutely nothing for the forestry industry, for example.

Let us look at agriculture. I travelled to my colleague's riding where we met with market gardeners and farmers. Some of them said, among other things, that there was nothing about high-speed Internet service. They cannot even submit data on the traceability of their animals and their crops.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

An hon. member

We have them for agriculture.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Yes, but we do not know the distribution. They are just figures.

We toured Quebec and we did not see our colleagues along the way because they were somewhere on strike or locked out.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was really intrigued by the Bloc member's speech and the question by the member for Mississauga South to the Bloc member. He was highly critical of the budget but at the end of the day he did not indicate that the Liberal Party would be voting against the budget. In fact, we know that the Liberals are going to be supporting the budget and keeping the government in power.

Could the member explain the Liberal member's comments and what his actions will be as a result of them?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the question. When Bloc members say they are going to vote against the budget, they have reasons to back up their decision.

We gave the Minister of Finance a number of options—not just two or three—for eliminating the deficit in the long term, for looking after those in need and for developing a recovery plan and a sustainable economy for Quebec.

It is true that those in the official opposition indicated that they were somewhat opposed, or perhaps a little more opposed, to the budget—as though having to decide by picking daisy petals—but not enough to vote against it. We believe that when you make a decision you are either for or against a matter and you follow it to its conclusion.

It would seem that on the day of the vote, a number of Liberals may be tempted to do something else. That is unacceptable because it would allow this government to remain in power and to not implement any measures. We have asked that these measures be implemented for Quebec's economy.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. I was just listening to my colleague, the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, who said that they had toured Quebec and that they were there. Unfortunately, I did not see them in Lanaudière, I did not see them in the Laurentians, and I did not see them in Montreal. In fact, I did not see them anywhere.

Only the Bloc Québécois was able to travel across Quebec to really listen to and take into account the needs of Quebeckers. It is all well and good for the Conservatives to say that they will get out there, but they have to actually listen to people. That is why we presented a responsible plan based on the work done by our colleague from Hochelaga and by all the members. This probably explains why the Bloc Québécois does not just have token Quebeckers as MPs or people who just read from press releases.

Earlier, I heard the speech from my colleague from Hochelaga. He was talking about something very interesting. I know that he is very thorough and professional, and spoke to us about nearly $2.3 billion in tax evasion.

As I was saying, I know how thorough he is, and I would like to know where he got the figure of $2.3 billion in tax evasion.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, who mentioned our tour.

Indeed, we toured extensively throughout Quebec. We met with over 400 people representing 317 different organizations. We met with more than just chambers of commerce, the Conseil du patronat and special interest groups; we met with the entire population.

Indeed, on many occasions, people wondered how the banks got this information, since it was sudden. The answer is very simple: the Minister of Finance, who is responsible for the budget, is also responsible for the Bank Act. The Bank Act requires that all Canadian chartered banks publish their tax statistics once a year in an annual report.

Consider this example. On page 122 of the Royal Bank's 2009 annual report published recently, the Royal Bank states that taxes that would be payable if all foreign subsidiaries’ accumulated unremitted earnings were repatriated are estimated at $821 million as of October 31, 2009. These figures are for the Royal Bank alone, so we can imagine the figures for all the banks.

We simply did the math. We added the figures of the Royal Bank to those of CIBC, TD, Scotiabank and the National Bank, and that was the total.

In closing, I would ask the Minister of Finance to make sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Hamilton Mountain.

Two days after reopening the doors of the House of Commons, here we are debating a budget that leaves out millions more people.

This budget contains nothing new in terms of creating jobs or helping seniors who are living in poverty.

This budget will give billions of dollars to the most profitable corporations, which clearly do not need any help.

We cannot support this budget, not as it is currently written.

I would like to talk about some of the changes that would make it possible for the NDP to support the Conservative budget, a budget that would open doors for Canadians instead of slamming them in their faces.

Opening doors starts with a strategy to get 1.5 million jobless Canadians back working again. That way they can spend their paycheques and contribute to growing the economy. It is not a “can't do” approach that projects an increase in unemployment this year, which is what the budget before us predicts. It is shameful.

The stimulus plan of the government created photo opportunities for ministers, no question about that, but precious few full-time, well paid jobs for Canadians. Now we learn that more a billion of these dollars that were announced in the last budget never even left the federal coffers to be sent out to create work. Renewing that stalled plan is not going to cut it. It is time to retool it to get these funds flowing with a razor sharp focus on creating family-supporting jobs.

Therefore, extend the home renovation tax credit with a new emphasis on energy efficiency. Retrofit and build affordable housing for Canadians across the land. Do something to create the green jobs of the future, rather than the do-nothing approach that we see here.

This budget includes a boost for skills training, and that is something New Democrats can support. What we cannot support is a budget that blames workers' skill levels for its own failure to create quality jobs.

This year, the doors will close on hundreds of thousands of jobless Canadians. Their employment insurance benefits will run out while they search for jobs that do not exist. Jobs that this government and the companies cashing in on this budget failed to create.

Yesterday's budget extends employment insurance benefits for job sharing. The NDP can support that measure.

What we cannot support is a budget that will not extend employment insurance benefits for the nearly one million workers who are unemployed because of the recession.

This budget will not extend benefits. Instead, it will hit all workers and employers with a new tax by increasing employment insurance contributions by $19 billion.

Instead of putting working Canadians first, this budget literally squanders billions of dollars on more tax cuts for banks and big oil companies.

Now do not tell us about competitiveness. Our corporate tax rates are now well below those of our competitors in the U.S. and the G8. Hence, we are now talking about ideology, not about good sense.

More corporate handouts are not going to spark our economy. These have not done so in the past and they are not going to do it now. Building infrastructure produces ten times the stimulus effect on employment as a corporate tax cut. More corporate handouts will not spark innovation. After 10 years of these corporate tax cuts, big business now invests less in innovation, not more. More corporate handouts will not save good manufacturing and forestry jobs. Those employers will not see a cent, because they are not making profits.

What more corporate handouts will do is to pad the profits of the wealthy corporations, as several banks revealed once again yesterday, the same banks that are going to dole out $8.3 billion this fiscal year in executive bonuses. We need to make better choices in this country.

We need to make better choices. By closing the door on tax breaks for big corporations, we can open other doors for Canadians.

Eliminating the next two rounds of tax breaks will save $6 billion per year, which is enough to invest in the creation of a lot of long-term jobs. It is enough to extend employment insurance benefits. It is enough to put women and children first, to improve our health care and education systems, or to make pension funds more secure. It is enough to do what ought to have been done long ago: whatever it takes to get our seniors out of poverty. It can be done.

More than a quarter of a million seniors, who helped build this country and raised our families and fed us and built our communities, are living in poverty now, locked out of the wealth they helped to create. It does not have to be this way.

The Prime Minister could seize this very moment to lift every single senior in Canada out of poverty. He could do it this year by expanding the guaranteed income supplement.

However, instead of investing the $700 million that would be required to do this and bring dignity to seniors, the government is handing out $6 billion more, almost 10 times as much, to profitable corporations that are not going to do anything productive with it. We cannot support choices like that.

The unfettered faith of this budget in unfettered markets shows how little the government has really learned from the economic crisis.

New Democrats have faith too. We have faith in the single mom in Regina who is juggling three part-time positions. We have faith in the auto worker who just lost a job competition at Tim's to his daughter. We have faith in the senior in Shelburne who should not have to go to bed hungry. We have faith that everyday Canadians, the ones who build this country through co-operation and hard work, if given support, will deliver if we have faith in them, faith rooted in our respect for our elders who built this country in the first place.

Let us create these quality jobs and protect jobless workers until then, and give seniors some dignity and shelve the corporate handouts that stand in the way of achieving these worthwhile objectives. Then we will have a budget New Democrats can support.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, once again the hypocrisy of the leader of the NDP is astounding. It never fails to amaze me.

The member and his party are the ones who voted against the economic action plan before they even read it when it was introduced in the last budget.

They voted against the Conservative government making $3.7 billion in loans available to Chrysler Canada to draw on to keep auto workers employed. They voted against a $10.8 billion loan to General Motors to help protect auto workers' jobs. Let us be clear, these loans were needed to mitigate the job threats to the auto industry caused by the global recession. The NDP and their leader voted against these loans.

I need to have an answer from them. Why would they vote against a program that protected 52,000 jobs in the auto sector. Why would they vote against it?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that the government was prepared to do absolutely nothing when facing the oncoming recession.

This is a government whose representatives stood in this House and said we were not even going to go into recession, that there would never be a deficit and that we would never have to take action whatsoever.

I remember when they said if the NDP had its way, we would have to invest up to $30 billion. The Minister of Finance said that.

Then faced with losing their own jobs, the government members finally decided they needed to do something about the jobs of others.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is really a one-year budget. To go beyond what the government has put in the budget, our wish is based on nothing than a bunch of estimates that the government has not justified.

I am particularly concerned about the lack of vision anticipating the implications of our aging society. On the issues of pensions, seniors and health care, we have to understand where Canada is going to be down the road. We cannot just say, “Now that we are here, let us do this,” because the economics of this lag. We cannot address a problem today with the money of today, as it is going to take years to kick in.

Does the leader of the NDP feel that the government can be trusted with regard to controlling expenditures, given that it allowed some $3.5 billion in infrastructure funding to lapse in the last fiscal year? It appears that we are not getting the money out again this year and that we cannot trust the government to get it out next year.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question of trust certainly does cut to the heart of the matter here. Municipalities and communities were counting on funds being transferred. They had, what I thought was, a very good proposal on how that could be done, involving the transfer of funds in a predictable fashion.

Just as an example, we have advocated transferring one cent per litre of the gas tax that is being collected right now to municipalities for public transit. That would allow municipalities all over Canada to begin to introduce investments and service improvements and would keep transit affordable. That is exactly the kind of policy that should be in place.

Unfortunately, we cannot have a great deal of trust in the government to actually deliver the funds. It did not do so last year and we do not really expect it will do so fully this year.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, after reading this budget, the Bloc Québécois will be voting against it. This is a budget that does help the workers who have lost their jobs. As mentioned during oral questions, 50% of unemployed workers do not have access to employment insurance.

There is nothing in this budget for the forestry industry, which is going through a major crisis throughout Quebec. Quebec has been denied the right to be compensated for harmonizing its sales tax.

I would like the leader of the NDP to explain how the Liberals, who have said that they will support this budget, can claim to be an alternative to the party in power while at the same time supporting measures that will harm workers and those who have lost their jobs.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot explain the actions of the official opposition. Such questions should be put to them.

I am not really able to explain the behaviour of another political party. We are simply advancing our propositions. We are saying that if this budget were to be improved along the lines we are suggesting, then we might have some basis for moving forward.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on the Conservative government's budget.

While budgets are always important events in the life of a government, I would suggest that none in recent memory should have been as important as this one.

The Conservatives had a choice to make. Would they continue on with the failed policies of yesterday by tabling a stay the course budget that would include billions of new spending on corporate tax cuts and higher taxes for average Canadians? Or would they finally admit that their free market formula of smaller governments, cuts to social programs, fewer regulations on corporations and tax cuts for the wealthy was precisely the prescription that had brought our economy crashing down on us in the first place?

Sadly, though not surprisingly, the government decided to stay the course and in the process it abandoned hard-working Canadians and seniors. There is no doubt that the innocent victims of the global recession of 2008-09 were seniors and the middle class. A cycle ripped through Canada's job market, leaving over 1.5 million officially unemployed. Of those, 810,000 are poised to run out of employment insurance benefits in the coming months. Thousands already have. Without jobs to greet them, the majority will wind up on welfare rolls or worse.

What should Canadians have been able to expect from their government? A plan to get Canada working again. Clearly, the status quo is not good enough. Full-time job growth has been sluggish at best. Canada's unemployed are competing in an ever smaller job market. Over the past year, Canada added only 55,000 new part-time jobs and 119,000 new temporary jobs.

Without a good job, well paid, with benefits and reliable hours, life becomes harder to plan, mortgages harder to pay, loans harder to diminish and savings harder to tuck away. In short, Canada's job crisis represents a new threat to the sustainability of Canada's middle class.

It is the government's job to get serious about job protection and job creation. Instead the budget freezes public sector operations, creating new job losses in the federal public sector and thereby compromising the food we eat, the health of our environment, transportation safety and the public services on which Canadians rely. In one fell swoop the Conservatives have managed to weaken the economy and hurt Canadians.

The same is true for the government's cancellation of the home renovation tax credit. The HRTC was one instrument that worked. It could have been improved by encouraging renovations that enhance energy efficiency, but it was undeniably successful. It bolstered the crucial housing and construction sectors and it had a huge uptake by homeowners who needed the government's help to maintain their assets during this recession.

However, the Conservatives decided to cancel this program and opted instead to throw good money after bad. Nothing is more egregious in this budget than the government's policy of continuing tax cuts to the big banks and profitable corporations.

Canada's corporate tax rates are already well below those of our main competitor, namely the U.S. Yet the government will continue to enrich its corporate friends.

The Parliamentary Budget Office estimates a $19 billion structural deficit in three years. Fifteen billion dollars of that deficit will be the cost of corporate tax cuts, all of that without a shred of evidence that those tax cuts have led to private sector investments and job creation.

To add insult to injury, since Liberal and Conservative governments started cutting corporate taxes 10 years ago, individuals are carrying 61% of the cost of government programs, while corporations now only pay 15%. It is clearly time to recalibrate.

Instead of spending $6 billion on further corporate tax cuts, the government should have sustained its stimulus spending to create jobs. Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have warned governments that withdrawing their stimulus packages too quickly could trigger another global recessionary dip. By cutting the stimulus package off too soon, the Conservatives are letting the jobless fend for themselves and letting the economy simply drift toward recovery. That is not nearly good enough.

On the contrary, the $6 billion that is currently targeted to further corporate tax cuts should be invested in improving Canada's crumbling physical infrastructure and enhancing its social infrastructure. This would be a win-win. Investments in cities, health care, child care and affordable housing would create jobs and leave our communities more functional and vibrant as well.

Imagine what a boon to the steel and construction industries with serious investment on infrastructure could be. As we replace obsolete infrastructure we can transfer, Canada's economic base to a more energy efficient platform because we would not have to choose between what is good for the economy and what is good for the environment.

To a city like my home town of Hamilton, that is absolutely crucial. The recession has hit through our community with the force of a cyclone, leaving a devastating trail of joblessness in its wake. In a city that was once known as Steel-town, only two of the city's largest 10 employers are now private sector companies.

The impact of those job losses is being felt at every level of our community. First, of course, is the high rate of unemployment, with workers increasingly run out of EI. This places an additional burden on the city's welfare rolls and the city is already cash-strapped.

The companies that are closing their doors are now no longer paying property taxes to the municipality, a loss that cannot be compensated for by the public sector because employers like hospitals and post-secondary schools are exempt from paying property taxes to municipalities. This puts the burden for the cost of municipal services squarely on the shoulders of residential property taxpayers, the very people who are losing their jobs. It is a downward spiral with no end in sight.

The only way to reverse the trend is through a positive intervention by senior levels of government. Regrettably, to date, instead of assisting through stimulus spending, they have shown a propensity to download costs instead. The budget could have redressed that balance, but shamefully, the Conservatives have failed to do so in any meaningful way.

Job creation is not the only area in which the government has failed to show leadership when it comes to transitioning from one of the worst recessions on record into a more sustainable economy that benefits all Canadians. Just ask the over 1.5 million Canadians who have lost their jobs. The Conservatives' first order of business should have been to stave off the crisis awaiting the 807,000 EI recipients who are poised to run out of benefits in the coming months.

I was proud to table a comprehension motion on EI reform in the House on behalf of our caucus over a year ago. That motion was passed by a majority vote of MPs. Yet benefits still have not been extended or expanded in a comprehensive way to help those Canadians who are struggling in this very tough job market. It is absolutely imperative that we act to protect the jobless, and there is no time to waste. The future of entire families literally hangs in the balance.

The same is true of pensioners and seniors. Let me just focus on two issues here: workplace pensions and public pensions. As companies teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, unfunded pension liabilities are being exposed that leave workers, at best, worried, and at worst, completely unprotected after years of contributing what should have been their retirement income security. We must act now to protect workplace pensions so Canadians can retire with the dignity and respect they have earned. The throne speech promised such action on Wednesday, but Thursday's budget failed to deliver. That has got to be a record by any government of breaking its promise to Canadians.

Similarly, the Canadian government failed to expand the ability of Canadians to invest in low cost, secure, predictable public pensions through an enhanced CPP. The NDP tabled a motion to that effect in the House, and like my EI motion, it too was passed. Again, anxious retirees are still waiting for action.

By definition, seniors do not have a lifetime to wait. They deserve action and they deserve action now. That is particularly true of Canada's most vulnerable seniors, those who are receiving the GIS. The rate of seniors living in poverty doubled from 3% in the mid-1990s to 6% in the mid-2000s. The maximum GIS benefit intended for the lowest income seniors was approximately $650 a month in 2009. That is only $50 more than it was in 2005. The maximum annual old age security and GIS benefits are approximately $14,000, which is $4,000 below the poverty line in most cities. We can and must lift Canadian seniors out of poverty by improving the GIS.

I know my time here is almost up, but let me just conclude with one final comment. Like most Canadians, I recognize that in the long term, we cannot spend more than we collect, but budgets are about choices. By putting an end to the corporate tax cuts, we can afford to help those who are the most vulnerable in this economic down. Hard-working Canadians and the seniors who built our country deserve nothing less.

Let me wrap up by trying to be constructive. I move a subamendment to the amendment that is before the House today:

That the amendment be amended by:

(a) adding immediately before words “the oil industry”, the words, “large banks, big corporations; and

(b) adding after the word “supplement”, the words “allow for the full protection of pensions in all cases of corporate insolvency, work for increases to the CPP and QPP”; and

(c) by adding after the word “commission”, the words “the implementation of the harmonized sales tax in Ontario and British Columbia, and eliminates all references in the budget designed to weaken our national commitments to a clean energy future”.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The amendment to the amendment is in order.

Questions and comment, the hon. member for Sudbury.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's speech was fantastic. My community of Sudbury and the surrounding area of Nickel Belt are being hit by a devastating strike. Vale Inco has been on strike for the last eight months, with 3,200 steelworkers being affected. This all relates to the government's plan for foreign investment. We have been calling it foreign takeover. We are seeing more and more of this happening. We are not protecting our Canadian resources. We are losing jobs, not creating jobs. We are losing revenue.

Could I hear my hon. colleague's thoughts on that and how is it affecting her?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. I know that both the member for Sudbury and the member for Nickel Belt have been tireless champions of the steelworkers' cause in their home communities, and I commend them for those efforts.

The member for Sudbury is absolutely right. That issue is not one that is just impacting Sudbury. My home town, as I said earlier in my speech, is Hamilton. Just down the road is Nanticoke, where we have a plant where first, workers were being laid off in March and then the others were locked out just a few months after that. Why?

Stelco is what people thought about when they thought about Steel-town. What happened to Stelco? It was bought out by U.S. Steel, yet another foreign takeover.

The government has said it is going to take U.S. Steel to court. The workers are still locked out. That was months ago. We are still waiting for a decision. What happens if the decision is favourable? First, it will probably be appealed and even if the appeal is denied and the court decision can go forward, we are talking about months and months of legal proceedings that at best will perhaps get the government some fines that the company will have to pay.

For me, the bottom line is not those fines. The bottom line is this. What is happening to family-sustaining jobs in communities like Hamilton, Sudbury and, indeed, in communities right across the country? Workers are losing their jobs. They are being locked out. I defy the government to demonstrate to any member in the House where the net public benefit is of such actions. It is the government's job to protect that net public benefit under the Investment Canada Act.

The government has failed to stand up for workers. It has failed to stand up for them in foreign takeovers and it is has failed to stand up for them in this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way from Hamilton Mountain for her speech on the budget. I will refrain from putting too many adjectives in there.

There was a lot of negativity in her speech and at the end I hoped she would get to something positive, because there are a lot of positive priorities set out in the budget. I am still troubled by the fact that the NDP has said that it will vote against this budget. We all know that it voted against last year's budget.

She has talked a lot about jobs. The jobs of the future will be from our young people. In last year's budget, the New Democrats voted against 500 new, prestigious Vanier Canada graduate scholarships and 1,000 permanent Canada graduate scholarships.

I would like a very simple answer to this question. Are those members now going to vote against post-doctoral fellowships of $70,000 each, which is $45 million over five years to the granting councils? Are they going to vote against all of—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, no caucus has been a stronger advocate of post-secondary education than the NDP caucus, both with respect to grants and, of course, extended loan programs for graduate students so that they can continue to do their work, and not just graduate students, I would point out, but undergraduates as well, who are not mentioned at all in the budget.

I find it ironic, though, that the member opposite talked about the jobs of the future. I have to say that the jobs of the future do not feed the families of today. There are 1.5 million unemployed in this country and 810,000 Canadians are going to run out of EI benefits in the coming weeks. Yes, if we have to make choices, we will stand up for those families. They deserve a job, they deserve a paycheque and the government has chosen to abandon them so that it could give tax cuts to the big banks.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to speak to budget 2010, year two of Canada's economic action plan. This is the third straight budget that I have had the privilege of working intimately on with the Minister of Finance in my role as parliamentary secretary. I thank both the minister and the Prime Minister for that great opportunity.

Working closely on budget 2010 also meant taking part in many consultations in preparing this substantial document. I literally travelled either with or without the minister right across this great country, this in addition to hearing many witnesses in numerous hearings that I attended as part of the finance committee's prebudget consultations.

Before moving on, I would like to highlight a few of the consultations that I attended and how that feedback helped shape budget 2010.

First, I took part in a very interesting prebudget round table in beautiful British Columbia with my colleague, the member for Richmond, whom I need to applaud for being such a strong advocate for her constituents. Second, I joined the Minister of Public Works and Government Services in Edmonton for another similar round table, and likewise salute her for her efforts and hard work.

These are just a couple of examples among many of how we went out to speak directly with Canadians before preparing the budget and not just a select few special interest groups here in Ottawa. We travelled to them. As the Prime Minister said previously, consulting with Canadians outside of Ottawa is never a bad thing.

Along with my caucus colleagues we went from coast to coast to coast to hear from businesses, public interest groups, not for profit organizations and industry associations. Most important, we heard and spoke to everyday Canadians, men and women who are the backbone of this great country and who trust Parliament to spend their hard-earned tax dollars wisely after, and only after, careful consideration.

While we heard a lot of different stories from these Canadians, we heard one common theme when it came to their shared view with respect to what they wanted to see as Parliament's number one priority: the economy.

Focusing on the economy did mean different things to different Canadians across the regions. However, it all boiled down to basically staying the course on stimulus now to help protect jobs in the short term and laying the groundwork for long-term economic growth and the good high quality jobs that come with that.

That is exactly what budget 2010 seeks to accomplish. It builds on the work done in year one of Canada's economic action plan to stimulate our economy from the depths of the most severe economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. At the same time it helps to ensure Canada's economic advantage into the future.

Last year we launched Canada's economic action plan. Its short-term objective was straightforward: stabilize our economy, help families, and save jobs from a then worsening global recession. It worked, and it helped to ensure our country weathered the global recession better than all other major industrialized countries to date. The plan, including provincial and territorial actions, is expected to create or maintain approximately 220,000 jobs by the end of 2010.

Some in the opposition intent on tearing down Canada's economy and its workers at every turn shamefully mock the claim that Canada's economic action plan is working. I say to them, do not take my word for it. I ask them to look at the recent Statistics Canada report that announced our economy grew 5% in the fourth quarter of 2009, the strongest quarterly rate of economic growth in about a decade.

If they do not have faith in Statistics Canada, what about independent economists, like RBC economist Patricia Croft who said, “I think in the aftermath of this crisis, Canada is emerging as a winner. Indeed, we may be owning the podium in a kind of different way”.

What about HSBC Canada economist Stewart Hall who said,“While the economy entered 2009 like a lamb, it's exiting like an Olympic champion”.

What about CIBC economist Warren Lovely who said:

Simply put, highly rated, Canada offers safe harbour in today's global debt storm … Few advanced economies boast stronger real GDP growth prospects-a view endorsed by our (CIBC's) economics department, a broad cross section of private sector banks, the Bank of Canada, the IMF and … the OECD.

I could go on. However, I think all would agree that the global recovery is not firmly established. We all share the view that too many Canadians have lost their jobs. As I mentioned previously, that is why budget 2010 looks to support the recovery and jobs while sustaining Canada's economic advantage for generations to come. It takes action in three broad areas to achieve these goals.

First, it delivers $19 billion in new federal stimulus under year two of Canada's economic action plan. It includes over $3 billion in tax cuts, $7.7 billion to modernize infrastructure and improve housing, $2.2 billion to support industries and communities, and much more.

Second, it invests in a limited number of new targeted initiatives to build jobs and growth for the economy of tomorrow, harness Canadian innovation and make Canada a destination of choice for new business investment.

Third, budget 2010 outlines a three point plan for returning to budgetary balance once the economy has recovered.

Budget 2010 is a pretty extensive document running over 400 pages and there are many good job-creating and pro-economic growth initiatives that should be highlighted. As this debate continues, I am sure my colleagues will highlight many of those. I would like to focus on a few in particular that will play an important role in positioning Canada to attract the high quality, long-term jobs of tomorrow.

Our Conservative government believes one of the best ways to build a more competitive economy is simply to create a pro-growth environment that allows the large and small private sector businesses and entrepreneurs who employ the vast majority of Canadians to succeed and expand, not an anti-growth environment that stands in the way of their success with high taxes and endless needless red tape.

How do we do that? First, unlike the opposition, we understand that a competitive economy requires competitive lower taxes, not hiking business taxes, not imposing a job-killing carbon tax. Lower taxes support businesses by providing them with the freedom to grow and invest. This creates the foundation that will over the long term bring sustained economic growth and increased employment.

Since 2006, our Conservative government has implemented bold tax reductions to create that competitive business environment, an environment that encourages new investment, growth and job creation. This is quite a significant change from the days of the old former high tax Liberal government.

In fact, due to our Conservative government's leadership, Canada will have the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the entire G7. Importantly, this rate will also be below the average of the OECD countries. What is more, we are also committed to become the jurisdiction with the lowest business income tax rate for the G7 by the year 2012.

As the Canadian Council of Chief Executives pointed out yesterday:

--these tax changes, combined with responsible fiscal policies and unwavering support for open markets and trade liberalization, send an important signal to the rest of the world … as the economy improves, the renewed commitment to fiscal discipline promised in (Budget 2010) will enable Canada to position itself as a leading global destination for business investment and talented individuals.

Indeed our Conservative government fully recognizes that competitive taxation not only protects jobs now, but attracts investors to create new jobs for Canadians today and tomorrow.

When Tim Hortons reorganized itself as a Canadian company after decades as an American one, a National Post editorial declared:

This is good news. Tim's is as Canadian as maple syrup...we take even greater satisfaction in the “why” of Tim's return. Canadian corporate taxes are falling so significantly...that Canada has once again become attractive as a site for corporate headquarters and plants.

Without a doubt, the tax relief our Conservative government has advanced is positioning Canadian businesses to emerge stronger and better than ever before. In budget 2010, we build on that record with the groundbreaking elimination of 1,541 tariffs on productivity-improving machinery, equipment and other manufacturing inputs. This makes Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturing.

I am proud to say that Canada will be the first country among our G7 and G20 partners to be able to make this claim. This means that Canadian manufacturers will be able to import goods for further production in Canada by Canadian workers without the red tape and paperwork of tariffs, and the costs of complying with discouraging customs rules. This will give our manufacturers from across this country a competitive advantage in the global marketplace by lowering production costs, increasing competitiveness and enhancing innovation and productivity.

The House will recall that last fall we launched an open and public consultation process when we sought input on such a proposed measure. During that consultation, we heard loud and clear that eliminating tariffs would help Canadian manufacturers. They told us this action would assist them to maintain and increase production and employment while expanding their exports. Moreover, using standard economic modelling, it has been suggested that 12,000 jobs could be created over time by this one action alone.

Another key benefit for this pro-growth action is that it also assists in diversifying Canada's trading patterns, complementing our efforts to provide new trade advantages to Canadian business, which include the negotiations with the European Union, exploratory talks with India, and the implementation of recently concluded free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Jordan.

Even though the tariff-free zone for manufacturing initiative was only unveiled less than 24 hours ago in budget 2010, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Here is only a small sampling of what we have heard from industry associations, business leaders and economic commentators. First, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters said:

We worked with the government directly to reduce tariffs for manufacturing and I believe this is an important cost-savings mechanism for companies...it is a bottom-line boost to cash flow for manufacturers at a time when it is needed the most.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce said:

--certainly manufacturing has scored there. It's really a jobs and growth budget.

The Belleville and District Chamber of Commerce said:

[It] is a positive step...to allow manufacturers to be competitive. Our local manufacturers work on global competitiveness. They have to be competitive and this will allow that to happen.

The Royal Bank's chief economist Craig Wright called the initiative the “real gem” of the budget, and said that it builds on the country’s attempt to attract foreign investment.

The list goes on. The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council noted:

This will mean reducing manufacturers' input costs and therefore improve their productivity and competitiveness because they either improve their profits or they can lower their final price.

Finally, I implore all members to listen to the words of Finn Poschmann at the C.D. Howe Institute. He said:

Eliminating all tariffs on inputs is an absolutely brilliant move. Tariffs are just plain dumb in imposing costs on businesses. It certainly it inhibits productivity growth and the ability to compete. And it is a superb message…in terms of attracting investors but also in taking a leadership role in establishing an agenda aimed at trade liberalization and broad-based economic growth.

Again, that was only a small sampling of early positive feedback to this groundbreaking job-creating initiative.

In budget 2010 we also built on that record with another move that will help attract investment in Canada and fuel new, good quality employment. The ability of new businesses to access capital to finance their growth and to invest in innovation is critical to their success. Venture capital is a vital and necessary tool for providing new startup firms with the tools to introduce new products or services or technologies, invest in new capacity and most importantly create new jobs.

Budget 2010 took a major step in reviving Canada's venture capital market by proposing to modernize the definition of taxable Canadian property thus eliminating the job-killing red tape tax reporting under section 116 of the Income Tax Act for many investments. This will enhance the ability of Canadian businesses, including innovative high-growth companies that contribute to job creation and economic growth, to attract venture capital.

Again, even though this announcement was only made less than 24 hours ago, we have seen a huge, positive reaction. Here is a quick sample. Noted technology entrepreneur Terence Matthews heralded it this way:

At a minimal cost to the government, this amendment will have an immediate, positive and direct impact on Canada's ability to grow a robust Canadian technology industry. By sending a clear message to international investors that Canada is “open for business”, the government will make Canadian companies more attractive to foreign investors overnight.

Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association stated:

The CVCA has long requested the elimination of Section 116 as it pertains to the venture capital and private equity industry and we wish to congratulate the federal government for taking action…Its removal provides an important signal to foreign investors that Canada welcomes their contributions to growing companies and employment.

Eliminating tariffs to support manufacturers and improving Canada's venture capital market are only two of the many positive pro-growth and job-creating measures in budget 2010. There are many more similar items in the budget to improve Canada's economy over the long-term that I had to omit due to time constraints, items that I know my colleagues will highlight in this debate. I hope to speak to some of these in later debate on the upcoming budget implementation bill.

I strongly recommend to all members of the House, especially the opposition, to read the budget document and recognize that staying on course for year two of Canada's economic plan is key to our success as a country. Thanks to the leadership of this Prime Minister and this finance minister, we are on the right track.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am looking at page 98 in the budget book which is supposed to be the place where there is something comprehensive on agriculture.

I just cannot understand it. How can this parliamentary secretary, this member for the rural riding of Macleod, this former farm leader, stand in his place and support this budget that does not have one new dime in it for farmers who are in tragedy in this country?

We are losing the hog producing industry. The industry is going down the tubes and production is being replaced by American production. There is nothing in this budget for hog producers.

There is nothing in this budget for the potato producers in Prince Edward Island and Manitoba who had their processing contracts cut.

There is a wee bit of money in here for beef farmers, but it is not the proposal that the beef processing industry and the producers asked for which would be a per head payment to deal with the uncompetitive position we are in as the result of SRM removal.

Worse yet, the money that is announced in this budget to deal with that problem in a half-mannered way comes from AgriFlexibility. So that money that is going to go to the SRM removal, to the processing plant, actually comes out of current funding for Agriculture Canada through AgriFlexibility and in fact is goring other farmers in the process.

My question is simple. Does the government just not care about farmers in this country? Will the parliamentary secretary now admit that there is absolutely nothing—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, that reminds me of my days when I was in a leadership role in several of the largest agricultural organizations across this country, back in the dark days, if I can refer to them that way, when we used to sit and listen to Liberal budgets that actually cut funding to agriculture. When there were droughts in western Canada, a Liberal never represented anyone in western Canada and how do you think we fared, Mr. Speaker? I think you know the answer to that one as well as I do.

I happened to have a long discussion with one of the major cattle producers just last night and, as a matter of fact, it will come as a surprise to the hon. member, who cannot seem to control his yelling from that side of the House, that the cattle industry actually understands that if we had done what the hon. member suggests, we would have had an immediate trade challenge.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
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1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. He spoke a great deal about businesses, entrepreneurs and the importance of effective management. I asked myself how a business could survive the crisis if it were managed like the federal government.

The federal government says it wants to cut costs, control the deficit and pay down the debt. Meanwhile, it has appointed two additional commissions, one of them to examine if there are too many federal commissions. Thus, it has added an administrative structure to reduce the number of administrative structures. No business would be run this way.

At the same time, the government has opted for duplication, creating new things and giving work to consultants. It has also decided to duplicate work done by provincial governments. It will create another Canadian securities commission, even though there is already one in Canada. It will put in place a new structure, a headache for businesses, just because it wants to.

How can this government's idea of management be considered sound management? It is a waste of energy, power and time.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Hochelaga not only for his question but for his new membership on the finance committee, as well as his elevation to finance critic for the Bloc.

There has already been an initial meeting. Actually, there have been two meetings. He and I met with the finance minister and he brought forward the ideas from the Bloc. That is part of the consultation process. That is part of the input that went into this very important document that we are debating here today.

We listened to the Bloc, we listened to the ideas from the NDP, and we listened to the few ideas from the Liberals, the ones that did not scare us right out the door. We have implemented some of the suggestions that came from the Bloc as far as forestry is concerned. We have implemented in this budget some of the things that the NDP has suggested. I do not know how any in the opposition can say that there is nothing in it for them or their constituents.

The plan that we have in place is no different a plan than the way one would run one's own business. The hon. member talks about entrepreneurs and small businesses. Small businesses have to borrow for their future. We have done that—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I really am at a loss to understand why the government would want to continue to reduce corporate taxes when in fact corporate taxes in Canada are already lower than corporate taxes in the United States, which is our major competitor.

In fact, the member should know that over the last 10 years between provincial and federal governments there has been a 36% drop in corporate taxes and during that time there have been record profits in this country. While all of this was happening, business spending on machinery and equipment has actually declined. That is the whole reason that the government would want to be reducing corporate taxes in the first place.

As a share of GDP, total business investment spending has declined as a per cent of corporate cash flow. This comes from Statistics Canada and the finance department. Does the member not read this information before he comes out with this budget?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I fail to come to grips with why the NDP is so opposed to corporations and businesses that actually make money in this country. It suggests that we should continue to increase taxes and take money away from the very businesses and people who employ Canadians.

We have had suggestions in the House that we should raise the GST. The last study done showed us that raising the GST would take 162,000 jobs out of our economy. That is exactly what raising taxes does. We lower taxes to make Canada a competitive country.

Yes, the United States is our largest trading partner but we are also bringing companies into this country because of the low tax regime where they can operate and continue to employ more Canadians. That is what this is all about.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, for his excellent speech today and his responses to questions thus far.

I want to draw to his attention the forest industry because there have been criticisms in some quarters about the forest sector. We have made the investment of about $100 million over four years for green energy technologies and production. I commend the member for drawing attention to the reduction on tariffs for the manufacturing sector.

I want to draw his attention to a press release that just came out today from the Forest Products Association of Canada in which it states that the Forest Products Association of Canada welcomes the spending initiatives and directions announced in the federal budget and saying that it will strengthen the industry's plans for renewal. It states:

From a forest industry perspective, the Government has its priorities right: investing in green jobs of tomorrow, stimulating the economy through clean energy technologies, and inviting investment by changing the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance, will give Canada the edge it needs to move into the new bio-economy.

I wonder whether the member would like to comment on the accelerated capital cost allowance and how that will benefit the forest industry and all manufacturing sectors in Canada.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, obviously my hon. colleague has read the budget and he is actually reading the positive press releases that we are getting back. I referred to them earlier in my speech. I am quite sure that the member will vote for the budget.

That is an example of what consultation brings to a budget. We consulted with these industries and asked them what would make them competitive. There is your answer, Mr. Speaker. We listened to Canadians.

Royal Recommendation and Ways and Means Motions
Private Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Before we begin private members' business today, I would like to make a brief statement regarding the issue of royal recommendation and ways and means motions with respect to private members' business

Just as individual items of private members' business continue their legislative progress from session to session, the Chair's rulings on those same items likewise survive prorogation.

Specifically there are nine bills on which the Chair either commented, ruled or has heard a point of order with regard to the issue of the royal recommendation. There was also one bill on which a point of order was raised regarding the requirement for a ways and means motion.

The purpose of this statement is to remind the House of those rulings and of the questions that remain to be dealt with.

Members will recall that, during the last session, some private members’ bills were found by the Chair to require a royal recommendation. At the time of prorogation, there were seven such bills on the order of precedence or in committee.

Let us review briefly the situation in each of these seven cases.

Three of these bills were awaiting report stage in the House at the time of prorogation, namely: Bill C-201, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act (deletion of deduction from annuity), standing in the name of the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore;

Bill C-241, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (removal of waiting period), standing in the name of the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi;

Bill C-280, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), standing in the name of the hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing.

On May 12, 2009, the chair had ruled that Bill C-201, in its form at second reading, needed to be accompanied by a royal recommendation. In committee, all clauses of the bill were deleted. In its present eviscerated form, Bill C-201 need no longer be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

As for Bill C-241 and Bill C-280, the chair ruled on April 22, 2009 and on June 3, 2009 respectively, that these bills in their present forms required royal recommendation. The committee stage has not altered this finding.

The following four bills were at committee stage: Bill C-290, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for loss of retirement income), standing in the name of the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska was before the Standing Committee on Finance; Bill C-308, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (improvement of the employment insurance system), standing in the name of the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas was before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;

Bill C-309, An Act establishing the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Region of Northern Ontario, standing in the name of the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming, was before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology;

finally, Bill C-395, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (labour dispute), standing in the name of the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé was before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

The Chair ruled that all these bills in their present forms needed to be accompanied by a royal recommendation. The rulings were given on October 23, 2009 for Bill C-290, on October 29, 2009 for Bill C-308, on June 16, 2009 for Bill C-309 and, more recently, on November 16, 2009 for Bill C-395.

Furthermore, points of order were raised by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader at the end of the last session with respect to the need for a royal recommendation for two bills. These are: Bill C-343, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act (family leave) standing in the name of the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead and Bill C-471, An Act respecting the implementation of the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force and amending another Act in consequence standing in the name of the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. Both of these bills were at second reading.

Just as was done in the last session, the Chair invites other members who would like to make arguments regarding the need for a royal recommendation for those two bills or any of the other bills on the order of precedence to do so at an early opportunity in order for the Chair to come back to the House with a ruling as soon as possible.

Finally, a point of order was raised during the last session regarding Bill C-470, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (revocation of registration), standing in the name of the hon. member for Mississauga East—Cooksville, arguing that it should have been proceeded by a ways and means motion. The Chair has taken the matter under consideration and a ruling will be delivered in the days to come.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

It being 1:35, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, in light of the upcoming centennial of the Canadian Navy, the government should consider reinstating the Navy executive curl on its uniforms.

Mr. Speaker, as the proud member of Parliament for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, I am very honoured to speak in the House today to my private member's motion, Motion No. 459, which would introduce the executive curl on the navy uniforms.

I have had the pleasure to serve in the House of Commons for nearly six years now and this job has been a most rewarding experience for me. As members of Parliament in this chamber, we are always working on a wide range of issues. In my work here on Parliament Hill, I discovered what I feel is a small but important issue that I would like to correct through the private members' business process.

While the legislation may seem small and simple to some, it would mean a very great deal to many of our veterans, historians and military enthusiasts from coast to coast to coast.

I want to start by offering a preamble, a history of sorts, about how this motion came forward. When the Canadian Forces were amalgamated on February 1, 1968, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force ceased to exist as separate entities. As a result, the new amalgamated Canadian Forces moved to adopt one uniform for all three elements of the service.

The navy uniform, in particular, lost one of its very unique traditions which distinguished it from the two junior services. The navy executive curl, also known as Elliott's Eye, was removed from the sleeve of naval officers' uniforms. This left Canada as the only blue water navy in the world whose officers did not sport either an executive curl, a stylized national emblem, a nautical icon or a star in its ranking scheme.

It is important for us to realize that for members of the Canadian Forces, the navy being no exception, these small details and the traditions associated with them bring much pride and esprit de corps. Even members of the Canadian Coast Guard wear a maple leaf with their rank insignia with the original intention to set itself apart from the navy and its executive curl.

The tradition of the navy incorporating the executive curl is a long one. In 1856, the Royal Navy instituted an executive curl and when the Canadian Navy was created in 1910, it adopted the curl as well. In fact, of the 22 countries in the Commonwealth who maintain a navy, 18 of them incorporate the executive curl into their ranking system. This loss of the executive curl on the navy uniform meant a loss of some of the identity of the navy.

I believe the timing of the motion is significant and important as well. With the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy, what better time to right this wrong and reincorporate the executive curl into the uniform of the navy? That is why I am here today to ask the House to support my efforts. This motion is aimed to give the navy back part of its identity lost in 1968 and to support the men and women of the Canadian Forces.

I look forward to discussions here in the House in the coming weeks and I hope I can count on all members to support this small yet important and meaningful request to introduce the executive curl to the navy uniform.

On a personal note, many times in the last six years when I have assisted at the Significance of the Battle of the Atlantic that is acknowledged every year, and I speak with naval veterans at the Cornwall Navy Club or other navy clubs, there is so much pride, so much history there and they are so proud of the fact that they served in the Canadian Navy.

A member in my own family, my deceased elder brother who served seven years in the Canadian Navy, was very proud of his naval tradition. I can remember as a 10-year-old, when my brother joined the navy and came home in that wonderful uniform that sailors so proudly wore, how proud I was to walk down the street to the candy store or wherever with my big brother, the sailor. A friend of mine who also served in the navy is in assistance today.

For those veterans, those people who served this country so well and for so long, I am asking the House to endorse this motion. Our navy has a strong and proud tradition and I hope the House will recognize it.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry and was very moved. He will certainly have my support.

In giving my support, I recognize that the member did not just wake up one day and decide to put this motion forward. He must have consulted with some members of the armed forces. Could the hon. member tell us a bit more about whom he consulted.

Second, given that this took place so many years ago, why did it take so long to right this wrong?

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I am going to have to answer the second question of the hon. member with another question. I do not know why it took so long. Maybe I will throw the question back to him as well.

A large part of my heart belongs to our veterans, and I remember that one of the significant happenings in my career as a politician was when I was asked to open the Williamstown fair in my riding, the oldest fair in Canada, believe it or not, during the Year of the Veteran. I was asked to officially open the fair and before me were all the veterans in the front row wearing their uniforms. It was moments like that which prompted me.

Moreover, there was the fact that my brother served in the navy and was so proud of his time in the navy, as well as the friends I have who have served in the navy. I did not serve in the navy, but I think we must give our respect and accolades to that wonderful, proud group.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too support this motion, but like the previous speaker, I am concerned about where support for it is.

Has the hon. member conducted a campaign and dealt with the navy vets on this issue and established any kind of petition to drum up support? Has the member talked to his own Minister of National Defence? Is there any reason to believe that if we pass this motion, the government will act? Does the hon. member have any information he can let us know about?

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course, I cannot speak for the defence minister, but I can tell the member that the minister and his department are fully aware of this. I have done a fair amount of research among navy veterans and this is significant to them.

When I sent out my first press release in my riding announcing that I was doing this, believe it or not there was only one person who thought this was folly. His basic point in a letter to the editor was why the heck was I wasting time on this given all the important things going on in the world? My office was deluged with phone calls in support of what I was doing.

Right across this great country, men, women and children, boys and girls, are proud of our armed forces. This government, of course, is proud of our armed forces. I would like to think that this whole House is proud of our armed forces. That is why I think we should do anything we can in this House to acknowledge the great work our armed forces do.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for this motion. As the critic for Veterans Affairs, and I think I also speak on behalf of the critic for National Defence in our caucus, we will be recommending to our caucus full and complete support of this motion.

I want to take this opportunity to talk about the motion and the kind of groundwork that I think should go into the motion and some of the ways it is being represented here today.

Executive curl is, of course, a distinguishing mark for navy officers. It is not absent, however, from navy uniforms. It is on their dress uniform or dress kit. When the naval dress was reinstated after the disunification of the Canadian Forces, so to speak, the executive curl was reinstated on the dress kit. So this motion is referring to the service uniform, which is actually a less significant issue to some of the veterans I have talked to than it is perhaps being made out to be today.

I have some concerns, however. At some point, the hon. member might want to comment on why, with all the issues in Cornwall and the surrounding area, this one has grabbed his attention when that particular community is facing some very significant economic, tourism and other development issues that could the subject of a very serious members' business procedure. I say that because I am somewhat jealous of the hon. member actually getting precedence to be able to present a piece of business. It is rare, because members can often wait six, eight or ten years to have a bill or a motion come to full debate.

The issues in Cornwall and the surrounding area are significant. I am wondering why the member did not take on the issue of contraband cigarettes, perhaps, and the effect they are having on children and youth across the country and very directly in his community on relations with first nations communities. That is of concern to me. Also, I wonder whether or not he had thought about asking his government to appoint a mediator to work on the longstanding dispute between the Canada Border Services Agency and the Akwesasne Nation. Perhaps it is time that the member steps up to the plate to work for his constituents on that very important issue of the reputation of his community, which has been tarnished over these last several months.

The motion the member has presented is rather weak tea. It simply requests that the government consider reinstating a piece of embroidery on a uniform, which is not to denigrate whatsoever the support we give to our troops and our veterans, which is unanimous in this caucus. What we are pushing for, instead, is for the hon. member to address the other important economic social and cultural issues that he has responsibility to stand up and talk about in the House.

I did follow the letters to the editor that were critical of this motion and the response of the member. In the response, he was able to quote verbatim, and without attribution, Matthew Worth. The member might want to listen to this, because he took a page right out of the Facebook page of Mr. Worth and printed it in his own letter. The response by the hon. member seem to represent a lot of work by Matthew Worth, and I am not sure the member has fairly represented what the people of his area want.

When it comes to the navy, we also recognize on this side of the House that we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Canadian navy this year, and it is with great pride that we will celebrate this anniversary. However, there are some other issues that the navy has brought forward, including the need for adequate resources to do its work and whether or not it actually has the equipment to keep members of the armed forces safe and secure, whether navy personnel, for example, have gloves to keep themselves warm while they are doing important aid work, and whether or not we have the necessary number of frigates and ships to do the kind of work the navy needs to do.

I want to applaud the government for its work over the last number of years, which began, frankly, under the previous Liberal government, to re-establish a well supported, well trained and well outfitted military. I give the government credit for taking that issue very seriously. Congratulations to it, but the work is not over.

The men and women in our military service need more than simple gestures. They need real resources, real ideas, real imagination and real creativity on getting the work done needed for Canada to take its place in the world.

Canada has a proud military history. Its army, navy and air force have been partners in securing a world of democracy, freedom and peace.

The hon. member mentioned the battle of the Atlantic. The Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian naval reserve, the air force and the merchant marine were all partners in that very important part of Canadian history, and we will take time to celebrate it this year at the 100th anniversary of the navy.

I reiterate that we support the reinstatement of the executive curl on the service uniform. It is a good gesture, but it is a simple gesture.

We need more from the government. We need it to stand up and talk about the real issues among veterans today. Where are the resources being dedicated for post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries? Where is there something beyond monuments? Where does the government talk about the real economic struggles faced by modern vets?

This past December, I was in Calgary at the Drop-In, the largest homeless shelter in Alberta. Every night it has between 30 and 40 homeless veterans there. Where are the resources for homeless veterans?

We have to go beyond window dressing in this chamber. We have to go into the real nature of who we are as Canadians and what it is that the men and women in our military service are doing to support our quest to establish the place of Canada in the world and ensure that we have a place that is safe, secure, democratic and full of hope.

We are proud to support this motion, but we will use the motion to push the government further, to push that side of the House further, to honour that sacrifice, to honour those lives, to honour that tradition and to keep it moving.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak on the Bloc Québécois' behalf about Motion M-459, which reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, in light of the upcoming centennial of the Canadian Navy, the government should consider reinstating the Navy executive curl on its uniforms.

The Bloc Québécois will support this motion, which was moved by the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. However, I got the sense that he was uncomfortable presenting the motion. He said that it was a small measure—according to the interpretation—for historians and military personnel. I can understand his discomfort.

The government decided to prorogue the House and lock the doors of the House of Commons on January 25. Today we begin debating private members' motions. The first motion moved by a Conservative Party member concerns reinstating the executive curl on the uniforms of the Canadian Navy.

Despite the many important debates we could have begun in the House, the Conservatives unilaterally decided to lock the doors. I can understand why the Conservatives might feel a bit ill at ease. He said that it was just a small measure, but to the Bloc Québécois, there is no such thing as a small measure when it comes to anything to do with symbols of the Canadian Forces.

The Bloc Québécois has always defended the men and women, Quebeckers and Canadians, who wear a military uniform, whether they are in the army, the air force or the navy.

In the case before us, we have no objection to supporting a motion to reinstate the Navy executive curl, if that is the wish of the officers of the Canadian Navy. It is easy to understand that the reinstatement of the executive curl would be a source of pride and dignity for the officers of the Canadian Navy. Again, this is not a small measure to us.

The year 2010 is the centennial of the Canadian Navy. The first attempt to create a navy was in 1881, but it was not until May 4, 1910 that it was actually created with the coming into force of the Naval Service Act. Then, in 1968, the Royal Canadian Navy joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Army to become the Canadian Forces.

The centennial of the Canadian Navy may be an opportune time to reinstate the Navy executive curl.

Since its creation, the Canadian Navy, just like all the other members of the Canadian Forces, has completed its missions with the utmost professionalism.

We remember that the navy's great baptism of fire was the second world war. When the war broke out, the navy had only 13 warships: six destroyers— Saguenay, Skeena, Fraser, Ottawa, Restigouche and Saint-Laurent—four minesweepers—Comox, Fundy, Gaspé and Nootka/Nanoose—and three auxiliary vessels—Armentières, Skidegate and Venture.

The scope of the war was such that Canada became the third largest naval power in 1945, with 433 ships at its disposal. The least we can say is that the Canadian navy lived through its baptism of fire and carried out its mission with great success. With continental Europe under the oppressive yoke of Nazism, the Canadian navy had to supply England. The navy had to organize transatlantic convoys and protect the shops against German U-boat attacks. The navy played a pivotal role in the liberation of Europe.

We think in particular of convoy HX 300, the largest convoy to cross the Atlantic during the second world war. It was made up of 167 merchant ships carrying 1,056,000 tons of cargo and 32 warships. Today, the Canadian navy ranks 28th in terms of its size.

For the Bloc Québécois, it is no small issue when naval officers want to reinstate the executive curl on their uniforms. We will therefore support this measure, and the sooner, the better. If the Conservatives had not shut down Parliament, we could have made this decision two months earlier.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in this debate and in the support for the motion by the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.

As others have mentioned, this is not the most important issue facing Canada today, but it does recognize that naval traditions are important to people who serve in the navy, who serve our country, those who have served and those who are followers of naval tradition in our country. They are an important group of people. They serve or have served our country. They are fully supportive of this, and we can certainly offer our support today.

However, I wonder why it needs a motion of Parliament to make this change. No doubt there will be unanimous consent. I believe the member or his representatives have consulted with all parties in advance of bringing this motion forward. Surely the Minister of National Defence and the government could do this in the 100th anniversary year of the Canadian navy without a motion of Parliament.

We bring motions to Parliament and get them passed all the time, and the government does not even follow them. Perhaps the member feels his government will not do this unless there is a motion of Parliament to support him. I do not know. I do not want to get into that. We should keep on the high road with respect to the motion.

It is part of naval tradition going back, as I understand from my research, to the time of the Crimean War and the British navy. There may be some dispute about the facts, but my information from a Canadian website, ReadyAyeReady.com, which supports the navy and naval traditions, says that almost all the navies in the world, with the exception of the French and the American, have this naval curl, or 'Elliott's Eye' as it is called, as a part of their naval insignia. Maybe the member has other information, but that is what I have been told.

It was obviously a part of the Canadian navy tradition starting in 1910 when we first had our own navy separate from that of the British navy upon which we relied until then for naval protection.

The Canadian navy has played a very important role through the decades in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador and in the country. The Canadian navy was very active during the second world war.

In the Battle of the Atlantic, the Canadian navy played a tremendous role with convoy duty and also in protecting North American shores because there were torpedoes and U-boat activity in Newfoundland waters during the second world war. Ships were sunk, including a ferry called The Caribou running between North Sydney and Newfoundland. It was sunk by enemy action during the second world war, with great loss of life. The Canadian navy was very important to the defence of Canada and North America.

I think there is a lot of sentiment within the navy for the return of this naval curl as a distinctive mark of its uniform. We fully support that. It is important that this be done by the government this year. I believe there is strong support within the naval community, certainly within the armed forces, to do that.

Some of these traditions of the individual services were lost with unification in 1968. The colours of the uniform have been restored. I think the people in uniform like that. The navy is particularly fond of tradition. I think even the use of the colour blue in naval uniforms goes back, according to my very limited research, to around 55 BC when the Roman navy used the colour blue for its uniform.

It is a very long tradition for the navy to keep certain things that may be symbolic to it and important to it as part of its distinctiveness and the pride it has in its service to its country.

We do support this. The member is doing his job to bring matters before Parliament that are of interest to people. No doubt he was prompted to do that by people in the service who would like to see this happen. It is certainly appropriate for this Parliament to discuss matters of this importance.

There is a lot of time to criticize government policy on the budget, as we did earlier today, and will in the defence committee and other circles. We will certainly take every opportunity to do that.

However, as far as this motion goes, the member has brought up something that is important for us to support. He can count on the support of our caucus in this measure.

I hope, at least this time, the government will follow through on a motion of Parliament because I am sure the motion will be passed.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry proposes that in light of the upcoming centennial of the Canadian navy, the government should consider reinstating the executive curl on its uniforms. It is with genuine pleasure that I can say the government supports the motion.

The executive curl is a ring above a naval officer's gold lace or braid insignia. The executive curl is an important link to our navy's past, recognizing the Canadian navy's rich historical ties. It was part of a Canadian naval officer's uniform from the official founding of the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910, right up until a unification of Canada's armed forces in 1968. It remains part of the naval officer mess dress, the military equivalent of a tuxedo, today.

It is no coincidence that the motion to reinstate the executive curl is being debated now during the navy's centennial year. This year offers us an excellent opportunity to recognize the vibrant heritage and culture of our navy. Supporting the motion would complement the Government of Canada's overall efforts to recognize the navy's centennial.

In fact, celebrations are already well underway, as we help the navy to commemorate, celebrate and commit. The theme for the centennial is to bring the navy to Canadians by showcasing today's navy, honouring its past and looking to its future.

Since the opening ceremony in Ottawa last May, numerous activities have been held in preparation for the centennial of the Canadian navy. A beautiful large-format commemorative book has been launched. A new coin has been struck. In addition, a royal visit to CFB Esquimalt was organized to hoist the flag marking the centennial of the Canadian navy.

This year will see major international fleet assemblies on the east and west coasts, port visits on both coasts, in the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, and celebrations throughout the country. There will be a new naval memorial in Ottawa and a special stamp, all in celebration of the navy in its centennial year.

It is a proud history that we celebrate: 100 years of outstanding service both in peace and in war. Canadians are rightfully proud of how well our navy has served us here at home and abroad over the last century. We need only look to the sailors who supported the RCMP in securing the Vancouver Olympic Games and the service of the men and women of HMCS Halifax and Athabaskan who worked so hard to deliver aid and humanitarian assistance to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

Canadians are proud of how the navy has flown Canada's flag around the world during two world wars, the Korean conflict and the postwar period. Each May we still celebrate the critical role of Canadians and the navy in the Battle of the Atlantic. Even as we celebrate this illustrious past, we recognize the navy's continuing commitment to provide Canada with excellence in service, whether safeguarding all three of Canada's oceans, participating in search and rescue operations, conducting sovereignty exercises in Canada's Arctic, or patrolling the world's oceans to keep them free for all to use lawfully.

Last month HMCS Fredericton completed the first phase of Operation SAIPH, during which she was engaged in NATO counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa. For the second phase of the operation, she has re-tasked to a counter-terror role as part of Combined Task Force 150.

The versatility and performance of today's navy are truly impressive, but we are also looking to the future to ensure that our country has a navy that can live up to the increasing scope and complexity of maritime threats. That is critical for Canada because we are a maritime nation with the longest coastline of any country in the world. We are a seafaring trading nation, a world player and a modern multi-purpose navy is essential to sustaining our sovereignty, our prosperity and our interests.

As part of the Canada first defence strategy, the government made a commitment to build such a navy, which means, among other things, providing our navy with the finest possible ships.

We are about to embark on the most ambitious fleet replacement and modernization program in the navy's history.

It is not only the navy that will benefit from this ambitious undertaking, renewing our navy's fleets will also strengthen the Canadian economy and create jobs for Canadians. There is no doubt that this is great news for the men and women of our navy, men and women who are out there for us every day.

We are also showing our appreciation for these fine women and men, our pride in them, through our support for the navy's centennial celebrations and for supporting this motion to reinstate the executive curl. The government is pleased to take the reinstatement of the executive curl under consideration, paying tribute to the past as we look ahead to our navy's bright future.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to this motion which states that the government should consider reinstating the executive curl on the navy's uniforms. By all accounts, it has unanimous support in the House, so I will try to reflect that.

I do want to say at the outset though that I was concerned about some of the comments made by one of the earlier speakers. I know the MP to be a very intelligent member, but I think it is rather unfair to the member who introduced this motion, with the best of intentions, to be reflected on in that way. I have read the notes, and the notes that were negative came from a man who ran against the MP in the last election. It is not really the best idea, in my opinion, to be reading and following up on notes of criticism against the MP who has brought forward this motion with the best of intentions.

Who are we to decide what his issues should be in his riding? In his view, this is a very important issue for him. He has the opportunity, as we all do, to introduce as many private members' resolutions and bills in this House as he wants. Some of us have none; some of us have 20 of them, but it is our choice as to which resolutions and bills we introduce. A defeated candidate who has some issues and maybe wants to run again against this MP passes on the comments and then another sitting MP brings them up and tries to belittle the efforts of the member. I applaud the member who moved the motion for sticking to his guns and dealing with what he wants to do.

As a final aside to that, there were members of this side of the House who drew very low numbers in the draw for private members' bills and chose to introduce a resolution. The member for Papineau did exactly that in his first attempt here. I did not see anybody from either side of the House in any way question his choice of that particular topic and of a motion over a bill.

Having said that, I did want to make some comments about the actual resolution itself. I did note, and the previous speakers have noted, that in 2010 the Canadian navy will mark its centennial. The distinctive loop on the upper stripe of naval officers means little to some Canadians, but it means a great deal to those who currently serve in the navy and who had previously worn the executive curl for decades in the service of their country.

Its origins can be traced back to 1856 when it was introduced by the Royal Navy. It was worn by officers from the early days of the Canadian navy, most notably the Battle of the Atlantic, when the Royal Canadian Navy together with the merchant navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force played a pivotal role in the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Canada underwent military unification in 1968, and we all know how traumatic that experience was at the time. There were many people opposed to the unification of the forces. It was a traumatic experience not only for the forces but for a lot of people in the country. The navy's executive curl was lost, along with all the other distinctive elements of the naval uniform. The restoration of this unique insignia would serve to build morale, which is always in short supply and something that is always needed, and would pay tribute to past sacrifice.

The unification of the forces, as I indicated, was a controversial issue in the 1960s, but traditions have endured for many years and then faded into history never to return. This was one of those.

I too had access to ReadyAyeReady.com which outlines some history of uniforms in general and the curl in particular. It indicates at one point that what is known as the executive curl, which is the ring above an officer's gold lace or braid, is said to date from the Crimean War when it was called Elliott's eye, in commemoration of Captain Elliott who carried his wounded arm in a sling under heroic conditions.That term also refers to an eye in a hemp rope said to be a memento of the Hon. William Elliott, a member of the board of the admiralty from 1800 to 1801. It is worthy of note that of almost all of the seagoing nations of the world, the French and the Americans are the only navies whose officers do not wear the Elliott's eye. That was pointed out by one of our other speakers.

The curl was originally worn only by executive officers, but in 1915 engineer officers adopted it, followed by officers of other branches in 1918.

Although in the British navy the curl is now common to all officers, some of the navies that copied the custom have restricted its use to their deck officers. While in some navies the insignia was placed above the braid to indicate specialist branches, Commonwealth navies used coloured cloth of gold lace. Coloured branch distinction first introduced in 1863 went out of use except for the medical nursing, medical administration and technical branches on December 31, 1959.

From 1879 to 1891, British naval officers wore three brass buttons between the lace and several navies still do the same.

There is a lot of history regarding the uniforms in the forces going back hundreds of years. The universal colour of the naval uniform is blue, presumably as a camouflage against the sea itself. For this purpose the sails of Roman ships around 55 B.C. were dyed blue so that men dressed in blue standing near the sails would be almost invisible to the enemy.

I found it very interesting that during the 14th century, when breast armour was worn in action, armour was rarely worn at sea even by soldiers for the reason that the steel plate was an obvious disadvantage as a bathing suit.

A more modern version which does not exclude the first is that King George II, who lived from 1683 to 1760, was so attracted by the dark blue riding costume with brass buttons worn by the Duchess of Bedford that he ordered the adoption of this colour scheme for the officers' uniform. Until the king's wish became known in 1748 through the first British uniform regulations, the most popular colour for dress in the English and the foreign navies had been red, but from there on it was blue. The admiralty ordered promulgating the uniform regulations of April 13, 1748.

With that I will draw to a close. I sense that we have unanimous agreement in the House to pass the motion and I will be very happy to see when that happens.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to add my voice to the many in the House who support the motion tabled by my friend and colleague, the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, to reinstate the navy's executive curl.

The motion before us today is important in reminding us of the valuable work and proud traditions of our navy. I think it is important to mention that I served in the Canadian army for 20 years. While being an army soldier, I have the greatest respect for our navy personnel. In fact, I have served with naval personnel both at military college in training and on bases. We are men and women in uniform serving shoulder to shoulder to defend our great country.

Here in Ottawa, far removed from the coasts, it is easy to take for granted the importance of the oceans to the health and vitality of our country. Our country has an extensive, proud and glorious maritime history. It has a long coastline and important ties to the sea. It is important that we not overlook the vital work being done by our sailors. This motion and the navy's upcoming centennial in 2010 gives us ample opportunity to reflect on the contributions of the navy and its sailors.

The very birth of the Canadian navy was a watershed moment in our national history. At the turn of the last century, our young nation was maturing and seeking to become a strong and contributing member of the British Empire. We wanted to do our part and so in 1910, Canada's own navy was established. It was a daring move and it meant starting from scratch. Raising a navy, training men, and buying ships was a demanding task.

Despite inauspicious beginnings, we developed a modest coastal defence force. During the first world war, the Canadian fleet assumed the responsibility of patrolling our waters. However, even in these early days, valour and daring were evident in our burgeoning navy. For example, in 1914, HMCS Rainbow was the only Allied ship along the Pacific coast of North America. Still, it set out alone to find and engage with ships of the Imperial German navy.

The first world war also saw the Royal Canadian Navy playing an important role in fighting the threat posed by German submarines. This marked the beginning of a long tradition of anti-submarine expertise within the Canadian navy. When war broke out again in 1939, the RCN lived up to its motto of “Ready, aye, ready!”. Beginning the conflict with only a dozen ships, the navy worked diligently to ensure the safety of Canada's maritime approaches.

However, the navy grew and grew. Thousands of men and women from across the country flocked to recruiting stations. They learned the ways of the sea and the ways of the navy. They crewed ships, worked in ports and served as wrens in operations rooms and planning offices. They demonstrated their excellence in anti-submarine warfare and shouldered the responsibility of protecting the transatlantic convoys, which provided the lifeblood of the war effort in its darkest days.

Sailors of the RCN endured dark times of their own. Operating in Atlantic gales on long winter nights, cramped in small corvettes and tossed by the wind and waves, it was not uncommon for them to use axes to hack thick ice off the superstructure of their ships to prevent them from keeling over.

Despite tremendous challenges, they did their duty. Over the course of the Battle of the Atlantic, the second world war's longest battle, our sailors and naval aviators shepherded thousands of merchant ships to safe port and deterred or sank many German U-boats. They saved countless lives and showed fortitude and professionalism.

Under the most difficult of circumstances, the navy continued to grow. By the end of the war, the Royal Canadian Navy had over 400 commissioned ships, more than the number of officers it had at the beginning of the conflict. That number also earned it the distinction of being one of the world's largest navies. While the post-war period saw a reduction in the size of the navy, it did nothing to diminish its professionalism or detract from its proud tradition.

Indeed, the Korean War saw our navy putting its skill to good use. During this conflict, our sailors developed a reputation for destroying enemy trains as they moved down the peninsula's coastline. Later, in the Cold War, our sailors again demonstrated their skill in tracking Soviet submarines, a talent that saw them entrusted with responsibility for that task in the vital North Atlantic.

Throughout the tense years of standoff between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, our navy made proof of ingenuity as it pioneered the use of helicopters aboard small ships and developed the tools and procedures necessary to make that possible even in rough seas.

Our resourcefulness has been recognized by our allies and the Canadian system has been adopted by navies around the world including that of the United States. But we have gone further than that. All of our navy's main surface combat ships today have been designed and built right here in Canada. With these Canadian ships our navy has participated in operations around the world from the Persian Gulf, to the Caribbean, to the Far East. In every instance they have steadfastly carried out the task Canadians have asked of them.

Even today our sailors are engaged with NATO and our allies in counterterrorism, counterpiracy and counternarcotic missions. Our navy is busy because it knows what it is doing and does it well. It has served with diligence and decorum in war and peace. It has helped protect sea lanes vital to Canada and has furthered our country's interests abroad.

Indeed, Canadian warships and sailors act as ambassadors around the world and I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to salute the men and women serving on HMCS Halifax and HMCS Athabaskan for their outstanding work and quick response to the earthquake in Haiti. Canadians were proud to see our Canadian ships arriving so soon to help with medical aid, supplies and relief for the people of Haiti. Our sailors and ships fly our flag and display the best Canada has to offer. They have a long and storied history replete with tradition and honour.

We can also be proud of the role our navy plays in complex multinational operations. Last month HMCS Fredericton completed a three month engagement in NATO counterpiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa. She was following in the footsteps of her sister ship HMCS Winnipeg which distinguished herself in counterpiracy operations last year. HMCS Fredericton is now engaged in counteroperations as part of combined task force 150. Our sailors are detecting, deterring and defending against piracy and terrorism.

Our fleet remains flexible and ready to respond to humanitarian emergencies. When people are in need or suffering through pain we cannot even imagine, Canada's navy deploys to help. We only need to look at the extraordinary job performed by the men and women aboard HMCS Halifax and HMCS Athabaskan as I mentioned. I will end my comments here and say that I fully support the motion put forward by my colleague and I ask all colleagues in the House to support our Royal Canadian Navy and this motion.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Resuming debate. There being no further members rising, I will go to the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for his five minute right of reply.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, it certainly is an honour for me to stand here with this motion receiving such favourable comments from my colleagues opposite and all members of the House. Quite simply, the House has a wonderful opportunity to say to our proud and very brave men and women of the Canadian navy that yes we do respect and we uphold their valour and the great work that they do for our wonderful country. I would ask and encourage all my colleagues in the House to give full approval to the motion and I understand most members do agree and would ask you to ask for that consent, Mr. Speaker.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Navy
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

This House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 2:28 p.m.)