House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and First Nations University have undertaken a lot of change: a new board of governors; a new CEO; a new president; a new governance agreement with the University of Regina; a sensible, sustainable business plan; and the renewed support of the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Saskatchewan government. They have all turned the page.

Will the Government of Canada constructively join the team long-term for the sake of hundreds of young lives which otherwise might not get a chance?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, it is important to realize that of all the first nation learners in the country, less than 5% attend First Nations University. It is not fair to say that first nations people are going to be on the ropes. Ninety-five per cent plus find other ways to get a post-secondary education.

But, more important, when I talked to the chief and the president again today, there is no business plan with a single number in it, not a dollar, not a number in it, yet. They are still working on that. There is no agreement signed with the University of Regina, yet. Nor is there any proposal before us, yet, asking for a single dollar.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, in budget 2010, the current government announced $10 million in funding to address the tragedy of the hundreds of murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada. It has been over a month since that announcement and still the current government has failed to be forthcoming in regard to when and how moneys will be distributed.

The Native Women's Association of Canada has been the only group to provide evidence of the number of missing and murdered aboriginal women and is the most appropriate group to do the essential future work.

When will the current government commit to funding a second phase of Sisters in Spirit?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I think we are all delighted in this House that our government committed $10 million in the budget to address this issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. That was a great step forward.

Our government has also signed an agreement to take the next series of projects forward called “evidence to action”. It is building on a Sisters in Spirit research project that was done so well by NWAC.

We look forward to working with NWAC and other aboriginal groups, and individual aboriginal women as we get to the bottom of not only the missing and murdered aboriginal women but making life better for aboriginal women from coast to coast.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

April 15th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government House leader would describe the agenda that he has in mind for the rest of this week and next week. In his answer, I wonder if he could follow up on a comment made in the Standing Committee on Official Languages by the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities indicating that it is the government's intention to introduce a bill on Air Canada's compliance with the Official Languages Act.

Could the government House leader indicate when that legislation is likely to be tabled in the House of Commons?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to reply to my hon. colleague, the House leader of the official opposition, as to the business of the House for the remainder of this week and into next week.

Today I hope to conclude the debate at second reading of Bill C-9, the jobs and economic growth act. The budget implementation act is a very important legislation. We have heard a lot of debate about it in the Chamber. I am very pleased that we are getting our message out about all the good things we are doing to help sustain jobs and create new jobs in our country.

The next bill I intend to call following Bill C-9 is Bill C-5, the international transfer of offenders act.

Next week we will continue with the business of this week with the addition of Bill C-4, Sébastien's law, and Bill C-13, fairness for military families act.

Tuesday, April 20, next week, shall be an allotted day.

As for the hon. opposition House leader's inquiry about specific pieces of legislation, all I would ask is that he be patient. We are bringing forward a lot of legislation. All of it is excellent legislation that I know he can hardly wait to support.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to bring to your attention what I believe was unparliamentary language used by the member for Vancouver South today during question period.

In the member's question for the Minister of National Defence, the member for Vancouver South accused the government of lying and of exhibiting cowardice with respect to the detainee issue. In my view that was extremely unparliamentary.

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that in your ruling of last year, when you shared with the House your three determinants on considering whether or not unparliamentary language was used, you said that you considered the tone, the content of the question and whether or not the House was disrupted because of the question.

I would suggested to you, Mr. Speaker, that in this case the tone was highly inflammatory, the content was confrontational and, of course, there was the resulting disruption. I would ask you to advise the member for Vancouver South to immediately withdraw his remarks and, if he refuses to do so, Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to examine the blues and make a ruling in due haste.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will be pleased to examine the blues and make a ruling in due haste, in compliance with the hon. member's wishes, but I will need to examine it. I think I remember hearing the word but I did not think it was directed to an individual. However, I will certainly double check it.

The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas was on a point of order before statements by members began at 2 o'clock, so I gather he will want to continue his argument from the sound of it and the fact that he is standing there. I will recognize the hon. member for Burnaby--Douglas.

Allegations Regarding the Former Minister of State for the Status of Women
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will complete my point of order regarding my attempt to allow two ministers to correct the public record concerning the recent assertions that the government had referred recent allegations concerning the former Minister for Status of Women to the Ethics Commissioner. This is in light of the Ethics Commissioner's statement this morning on CBC radio that she had not received an official request from the Prime Minister to relate anything relating to the former minister.

I was giving some examples of how the Minister of Transport had responded to questions in the House on Monday on this issue. In response to another question, he then said:

Mr. Speaker, it was for the very reasons that the member described that the Prime Minister, when he received these allegations, allegations that are unproven to him or anyone else, referred these allegations to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and to the Ethics Commissioner. Those are the independent agencies that are charged with making this type of determination.

Later, in another response to a question, he then said:

Mr. Speaker, when the allegations were brought to the Prime Minister's attention, he moved expeditiously and quickly. He immediately referred them to the two relevant independent authorities, the RCMP and the Office of the Ethics Commissioner. Those authorities will be the ones who will come to conclusions with respect to these matters.

As well, in response to another question, and I am reading from the translation, the Minister of Natural Resources said:

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, we learned of allegations made by a third party. Those allegations were referred to the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner. The RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner will draw their own conclusions.

Furthermore, later on in question period, the Minister of Natural Resources, in response to another question, said:

When we learned of the allegations we immediately referred the matter to the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner. They will draw their own conclusions.

I thought it was only fair to allow these ministers an opportunity to correct the record concerning this matter before we continue this discussion. This way, there will be no question of them having misled the House.

Allegations Regarding the Former Minister of State for the Status of Women
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the member for Burnaby—Douglas. I think he clarified the issue in his last speech. He said that the matter was referred to the Ethics Commissioner. These allegations were brought forward to the Prime Minister. He does not know whether they are true. He does not know whether they warrant an investigation.

Since he did not want to simply sweep these allegations under the rug, he forwarded the allegations and referred them to the Office of the Ethics Commissioner. He said that this individual had come forward and raised some very serious allegations and that he wanted to refer this matter to the Ethics Commissioner. The Ethics Commissioner has the capacity, as she said on CBC this morning, to initiate an investigation proactively if she sees fit.

I understand that the Ethics Commissioner telephoned the third party in question, who then declined to co-operate, which is regrettable, but I think it demonstrates that the Prime Minister acted quickly, appropriately and ethically by not trying to somehow sweep this matter under the rug.

He also referred the matter to the RCMP. He did not ask the RCMP to conduct an investigation because the prime minister in this country does not ask the RCMP to do investigations. There was a matter of concern over serious allegations and he referred them to the RCMP. It is up to the RCMP to make a determination as to whether it does or does not want to open an investigation, just as it is with the Ethics Commissioner.

Again, I want to highlight that it showed that the Prime Minister did the right thing. He acts responsibly. I know the member for Burnaby—Douglas to be a fair and reasonable person. I do think we are splitting hairs. It does underline the Prime Minister's ethics in this matter and that he did the right thing.

Allegations Regarding the Former Minister of State for the Status of Women
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am not sure the situation is one that constitutes a point of order for the House. It appears to be a dispute as to facts or things that may have transpired, but I am not sure it has much to do with the rules of the House of Commons.

Accordingly, I will review the comments made by both the Minister of Transport and the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas and, if necessary, I will get back to the House. However, my suspicion is that we can consider the matter dealt with at this point, but I will have another look.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois regarding this budget implementation bill. It is no surprise that the members of the Bloc Québécois will be opposing this bill, just as we opposed this budget tabled by the Conservative government. Unfortunately, I have only ten minutes to explain to my colleagues the reasons why our party is opposed to this budget implementation bill.

The reasons are many, and each of them might require a speech of at least 30 or 40 minutes. But I shall review just a few of them in the time I am allotted. One of the reasons why the Bloc Québécois is opposed to this bill is that it confirms the desire of the Conservative government to spare rich taxpayers at all costs, including the banks and large corporations.

Earlier, during question period, our colleague the hon. member for Hochelaga and Bloc Québécois finance critic was telling us about the astronomical profits made by the banks in recent months. He mentioned profits of $5.6 billion. When it is time to look for money in the pockets of the middle class and the disadvantaged, governments, and this Conservative government—a government which, by the way, is heartless—have no hesitation about making the middle class, workers and the disadvantaged pay for the deficit.

Another reason why we are not in favour of this bill is that the measures it contains are proof of the above-mentioned desire, since corporations will not be asked to contribute to the government’s coffers. It is workers, people who cannot benefit from tax havens, people who work very hard in plants, in factories, in stores, people who often work for minimum wage, that the government will turn to. But unlike the big corporations that benefit from tax deductions, they are taxed from their first penny, and as soon as they build up a little nest egg, the government is immediately upon them with its taxes.

With regard to tax loopholes, it could be said that the government is talking out of both sides of its mouth. On the one hand, the government says that it wants to go after tax havens and, on the other, in this bill, the Conservative government is opening loopholes in the Income Tax Act to make it possible for corporations not registered in Canada to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. It is despicable on the part of the government to take this approach.

Once again in question period, we went back to the former minister of the status of women, now an independent MP, who, according to rumours here and elsewhere on the Hill, allegedly took advantage of a ministerial trip to Belize to open three bogus companies to again avoid paying income tax. We know that Belize is most definitely a tax haven, just like Barbados and certain other islands in the West Indies or some other small countries where corporations can take advantage of tax loopholes.

In Quebec, there have been two cases of flagrant fraud where small investors were literally fleeced. I am referring to the cases of Vincent Lacroix and Earl Jones. The money of the small investors who were swindled was not in the bank accounts of Vincent Lacroix and Earl Jones.

That money was hidden in countries that serve as tax havens. When they have served their sentences—I will remind members that the Bloc had asked for the abolition of release after serving one-sixth of a sentence, but the Conservatives refused—they will get out and collect their money, which is somewhere in the West Indies. They will be able to resume their princely lives, unlike ordinary investors.

There is the case of two young girls who lost their parents in a car accident. The insurance award was managed by the girls' grandfather. They literally lost everything. That is unacceptable and astounding. That is what tax havens are used for. The Bloc Québécois is anxious for the government to assume its responsibilities and ensure that those listening to us, the middle class workers, are not the only ones who pay their fair share of taxes.

There is another point I want to say a little more about. This budget implementation bill will allow the government to dip into the employment insurance fund surplus until 2014-15. Once again, as we have said many times, the employment insurance fund surplus does not belong to the government. It belongs to the workers and employers who pay premiums. In 2008, the fund reached $1.5 billion and the government cleaned it out. It helped itself to that surplus. That is completely unacceptable.

The Bloc Québécois proposed an independent employment insurance fund that would be jointly managed by workers and employers, similar to the CSST model in Quebec. If there was a surplus in the fund, the board of directors—or whatever it is called—of the independent employment insurance fund could decide which categories of unemployed workers or which categories of workers would benefit from improvements to the plan.

I see my colleague from Manicouagan nodding his head. On the North Shore, in the Lower St. Lawrence, and in Gaspésie, they have to deal with seasonal work. We need to stop calling them seasonal workers. They are not “seasonal workers”; the work is seasonal. Even if they wanted to plant99 trees and do silvicultural work in the forest when there are several centimetres of snow on the ground in February, it would not be possible. It is rare to have a winter where there is almost no snow on the ground, but either way, the ground is frozen, making it impossible. The fishing industry cannot be forced to operate in February. Charlevoix, in my riding, is a very touristy location. There are inns and beautiful sites. We would love to have the inns full in February, but that will not happen in the winter. Some tourists come to go snowmobiling, but not enough to keep our inns and lodges open year-round. So, employers are forced to shut their businesses down, or those that remain open are forced to cut staff.

With the current EI system, which is totally unfair to seasonable workers, these people are forced to experience periods of unemployment on a regular basis. That is not their choice; there is just no work to be done. So, when the working season is short, as it was last summer, these workers do not get called back to work because of poor weather conditions and do not qualify under this unfair employment insurance system. They then experience what is known as the spring gap, which they are currently going through in March and April, when benefits have run out, but it is too early to be called back to work, which will likely be sometime in May. Since it is not May yet, these people have nothing to live on.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I did sense the member could have made a lot longer speech and I will give him an opportunity to continue.

The member talked about bank profits, and we know they were $15.9 billion last year, with the CEO of the Royal Bank making about $10.4 million. This was at a time when 800,000 Canadians were out of work. This was at a time when the world was slipping into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

The government essentially supports the big banks. Tara Perkins has a story in the Globe and Mail today. In essence, the Minister of Finance is pretty much an unpaid lobbyist for the banks, by the looks of it. She says, “bankers are more concerned about a number of international rule changes, and when it comes to fighting those they have Ottawa's backing”. Therefore, the Minister of Finance is fighting international rule changes on behalf of the banks at the international level.

President Barack Obama is trying to overhaul the entire financial regulatory system. Meanwhile, Ottawa is working on just minor changes.

In addition, the G7 and the G20 nations are trying to set up a fund to take care of failing banks in the future. Once again, the Minister of Finance and the government are opposed to this. They are fighting the measure on behalf of the banks.

In addition, the G7 and G20 countries are coming out with guidelines for remuneration for bank executives. Guess what? The government and the minister are opposing it on behalf of the banks. Once again, the minister is essentially an unpaid lobbyist for the banking interests in our country.

Would the member like to comment on that and offer any other insights and information about that point?

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, five minutes are usually allotted for questions and comments following a 10-minute speech. I figure that the member used 4 minutes and 50 seconds to put his question. I will therefore attempt to answer within 10 seconds.

Banks are the classic case. Tell me who feeds you and I will tell you who you will look after later. The Conservatives are more favourably disposed towards banks and oil companies because these generously feed their campaign fund. Anything that will further regulate the powers of banks and the earnings of bankers is a good thing.

President Obama warned people that after the health reform, they will have to seriously consider reforming banks, which are making absolutely obscene and unacceptable profits, and I am all for such reform.

In the budget, the Conservatives' handouts to banks and oil companies came as no surprise. They are acting like reliable poodles. It is payback time for those who influence Conservative government policies.