House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was labour.

Topics

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we have indicated that the declaration signed by both the Prime Minister and the President is an excellent starting point for co-operation between both our governments.

We are looking forward, in the weeks and months ahead, to be able to turn the corner and go forward and to ensure that we protect the jobs we have, that we continue to increase our trade, our growth and, indeed, as I mentioned before, protect our borders.

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, still no answer. The government's lack of candour breeds suspicion.

Could the Prime Minister at least guarantee minimum gains for Canada? For example, will he get rid of U.S. country of origin labelling? Will there be no more buy American policies? Will we get hassle free access for durum, beef, pork and softwood? Will passport requirements be removed? Will Canada be exempt from the patriot act? What are the guarantees?

Again I ask, will Parliament have the final say before any perimeter deal gets locked in?

Canada-U.S. Relations
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are all reminded of the very poor record the previous government had in terms of its relations with the American government.

I understand it hurts that the Prime Minister and the President of the United States get along and want to work together.

Quebec Language Policy
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, with the passage of time and enactment of laws, Quebec has struck a balance between individual rights and the duty to preserve its linguistic and cultural identity. Over the years, it has found a way to achieve linguistic peace, as well as to protect and promote the French language. Today, the member for Beauce is attacking all of this. As usual, the Prime Minister is letting him.

Basically, the Prime Minister is attacking our language laws for the obvious purpose of dividing Canadians, because he is unable to stop himself.

Quebec Language Policy
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, that is completely false. Language issues are a provincial jurisdiction. If there is one government that respects provincial jurisdictions, it is the Conservative government.

Quebec Language Policy
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is worse is that he is saying it with a straight face.

In 1996, the Prime Minister told us that Quebec's language policy violated human rights. In 2002, he called it into question again and told us that Quebec's language policy prevented francophones from being bilingual. Today, his heir apparent, the member for Beauce, is completely out of line and the Prime Minister refuses to rein him in.

Is it because the Prime Minister did not understand what the member said, or because he is really in complete agreement with him?

Quebec Language Policy
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, speaking of keeping a straight face, it the hon. member's statements that are laughable. The member was speaking about constitutional peace. We have that peace thanks to the leadership of the Prime Minister and this Conservative government.

Harmonization of Sales Taxes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a letter about the harmonization of the GST that was published in the newspapers, the Quebec finance minister, Raymond Bachand, said that the difference between the GST and the QST amounts to less than 1% of the GST tax base, which is well below the 5% authorized by the federal government. So, clearly, this is not the reason for the breakdown in negotiations.

Can the minister therefore explain why the Conservative government is stubbornly refusing to give Quebec $2.2 billion in compensation?

Harmonization of Sales Taxes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we have been clear from the start: Quebec will be treated the same as the other provinces. We began negotiations in good faith. These negotiations are well under way. The ball is now in Quebec's court. We would like to repeat once again that we are negotiating with the Government of Quebec, not the Bloc Québécois.

Harmonization of Sales Taxes
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister now has had to write to the newspapers because they cannot be spoken to.

Minister Bachand's letter goes on to say, “Work is sufficiently advanced to reach an agreement now in this regard.” In short, according to the Quebec finance minister, the federal government could compensate Quebec in the next budget.

What is the Conservative government waiting for? Why does it not settle this long-standing dispute?

Harmonization of Sales Taxes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear. It is not complicated. If the same agreement is reached with Quebec as was reached with the other provinces, the issue will be resolved right away. The ball is now in Quebec's court.

We have always said that we are negotiating in good faith within the existing parameters, which have always been clearly set out. Once again, negotiations are well under way. We are negotiating with the Government of Quebec, not the Bloc Québécois.

Harmonization of Sales Taxes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's finance minister deplores the injustice committed by the Conservative government against Quebeckers. I will cite another excerpt: “Quebec has set a good example. And what does it get in return? The same treatment from your government as those provinces that, 20 years later, have done nothing to harmonize their sales tax.” Quebec harmonized its sales tax before Ontario, before British Columbia, before New Brunswick, before Newfoundland and Labrador, before Nova Scotia; all these provinces have been compensated, but not Quebec.

What does the government want to do? Why is it picking on Quebec in this way? When will the Conservatives settle this matter?

Harmonization of Sales Taxes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, negotiations between the governments of Quebec and Canada are going well. Over two months ago, the Government of Quebec promised to provide us with a technical document on sales tax harmonization, but it has not yet done so. We will continue to work with the Government of Quebec; however, at this point, the puck is in Quebec's zone.

Harmonization of Sales Taxes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is throwing more pucks on the ice every week. The reality is that Quebec and Ottawa are not that far apart. The political will must be found to resolve this matter in time for the March budget. By refusing to give to Quebec what it has given Ontario and the other provinces, this Minister of Finance has lost all credibility.

Will the Prime Minister intervene, as he is being asked to do by Quebec's finance minister? Quebec is waiting for what it is owed. It is now Quebec's turn. Will the Conservatives understand that?

Harmonization of Sales Taxes
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the negotiations are between the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec. As I said, we wish to continue the discussions between the two parties. I have had some good discussions with the Quebec finance minister directly. However, the Quebec government must provide the technical document.