House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Sit-in at Hill Office of Indian Affairs Minister--Speaker's Ruling
Privilege

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on March 10, 2011, by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development concerning an alleged sit-in at his Parliament Hill office.

I wish to thank the minister for having raised this matter and the members for Churchill and Yukon for their comments.

In raising this question of privilege, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development explained that on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, the member for Churchill arrived at his office, uninvited and accompanied by a group of the Sayisi Dene and media representatives, pressing his staff for an immediate meeting despite his absence. In his view, this constituted a protest and a sit-in. Characterizing the incident as a serious breach of trust and a serious matter from a security standpoint, the minister expressed concern that his employees were made uncomfortable and prevented from doing their work.

The member for Churchill countered that the visit was simply an attempt to obtain a meeting with the minister and not an orchestrated event with the intention of obstructing the work of the minister's office.

As all hon. members will recall, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, at page 108 states:

Speakers have consistently upheld the right of the House to the services of its members free from intimidation, obstruction and interference.

It also notes, on the same page, that:

Over the years, members have regularly brought to the attention of the House instances which they believed were attempts to obstruct, impede, interfere, intimidate or molest them, their staffs or individuals who had some business with them or the House.

In the case before us, the Chair is being asked to determine whether the unauthorized presence in the minister's office of the member for Churchill, a delegation of the Sayisi Dene and the media was tantamount to intimidation or obstruction of the minister's staff. To assist me, I reviewed the report on this matter prepared by House of Commons security, who attended the scene after being called upon for assistance by the minister's staff. It is clear to the Chair from the submissions, as well as the security report, that those occupying the minister's office were uninvited and did not have proper authorization to be there. As well, the Chair believes that the minister's staff was indeed uncomfortable, though they appeared to have handled the situation with aplomb and good grace.

I am troubled that the member for Churchill, without prior warning, took it upon herself to lead a group to another member's office. That media representatives were part of this group makes the situation that much more unfortunate. No matter how well intentioned the member for Churchill was, or how amicable the outcome of this particular incident, it was an unauthorized presence in a minister's office that left ministerial staff uncomfortable enough to warrant the assistance of security. It is a credit to the minister's staff, and it must be said to the unexpected visitors as well, that this incident did not escalate further and that the tone of the exchange was respectful.

It is well understood that members need access to ministers to fulfill their parliamentary functions but it is equally true that there are various well-known, entirely acceptable avenues available to secure such access. Members are expected to avail themselves of these mutually agreed upon opportunities rather than resorting to other unorthodox means that may place colleagues in untenable situations. Because of the actions of the member for Churchill, for almost an hour, her guests occupied the office of the minister without a previously arranged appointment. This is a clear abuse of the usual practices that all members are expected to follow. The Chair is disappointed that the member for Churchill showed a complete disregard for the common courtesies that are to be observed between members. In this case, the situation was well managed, but we may not always be so lucky.

It does not require a great deal of imagination to foresee the kind of circus atmosphere that could result if all members took it upon themselves to escort constituents, delegations or other citizens—however worthy their cause or objective—to whichever other member's office they chose.

That being said, in this particular case, in large part due to the calm, measured approach taken by the minister's staff in handling the situation, there is little evidence to suggest that the staff of the minister were obstructed in the fulfillment of their duties. The minister himself was careful not to overstate the impact of the incident on his staff. In view of the very high threshold required in adjudicating such situations, in this circumstance the Chair cannot find that a prima facie question of privilege has arisen in this matter.

The Chair expects that all members will heed the lesson of this incident in an effort to maintain the integrity of the precinct as a work environment where all members feel secure and respected.

I ask for the active collaboration of all members in this and I thank all members for their attention.

Privilege
Royal Assent

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

March 25, 2011

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 25th day of March, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Wallace,

The Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor.

The schedule indicates the bills assented to were Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument--Chapter 13; and Bill C-475, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine and ecstasy)--Chapter 14.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

moved:

That the House agree with the finding of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs that the government is in contempt of Parliament, which is unprecedented in Canadian parliamentary history, and consequently, the House has lost confidence in the government.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending March 26, 2011, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bill.

In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bill be distributed now?

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, before we start this debate, I have a few words for you. You are at the end of your term as Speaker of the House, and I would like to express how much fondness and respect we all have for you. Your rulings have left their mark on our country's history.

Mr. Speaker, you have taught us all, sometimes with a modest rebuke, sometimes with the sharp sting of focused argument, to understand, to respect and to cherish the rules of Canadian democracy, and for that your citizens will always hold you in highest honour.

This is a historic day in the life of Canadian democracy, the democracy that you, Mr. Speaker, have served so well. I have to inform the House that the official opposition has lost confidence in the government.

The government no longer has the confidence of the official opposition.

Our motion asks the House to agree with the finding in the 27th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented on March 21. This was a historic finding. It was the first time that a parliamentary committee has found the government in contempt.

Today, with this motion, we ask the House to do the same, to find the government in contempt and to withdraw the confidence of the House.

With this motion, we are calling on members of Parliament to condemn the government for its contempt of Parliament and to withdraw the confidence of the House. This is a historic day in the life of Canadian democracy, but it is also an opportunity for us to confirm our commitment to parliamentary democracy and its fundamental principles.

What principles are we talking about? That the government has the obligation to provide members of this House with the information they need in order to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.

The principle at stake in this debate goes to the heart of parliamentary democracy: the obligation of a government to provide members of this House with the information they need in order to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.

We are the people's representatives. When the government spends money, the people have a right to know what it is to be spent on. Parliament does not issue blank cheques. For four months, the opposition has asked the government to tell the Canadian people the true cost of its budget plans. For four months, we demanded to know how much Canadian taxpayers were being asked to pay for fighter jets, prisons and corporate tax breaks. For four months. this House and the Canadian people were stonewalled by the government and they are being stonewalled still.

For four months, we have been trying to hold this government accountable. For four months, we demanded to know the real cost of the fighter jets, prisons and tax breaks for major corporations. For four months, we did not get a single answer, aside from the contempt and arrogance of this government. And today, still, we have no answers.

We were shocked, but we were not surprised. After all, this is the same government that shut down Parliament twice, the same government that was forced, by one of your rulings, to hand over documents to do with Afghan prisoners, and we are still waiting for those documents.

In the case of the Afghan documents, the government's excuse for withholding the truth was national security. In the case of the budget documents, it invented something about cabinet confidence, but actually it did not even bother with an excuse at all.

But you, Mr. Speaker, would have none of it. You, Mr. Speaker, held that the rules of our democracy require the government to answer the questions that Parliament wants answered. The matter was sent back to a committee for action and it came back with a finding of contempt. That is why we are where we are today. The House must decide whether the government has broken a basic rule of our democracy and therefore, whether it can remain in office.

For our part on this side of the House, there is no doubt. You, Mr. Speaker, have spoken, the committee has spoken, and now the House must speak with a clear voice. It must say that a government that breaks the rules and conceals facts from the Canadian people does not deserve to remain in office.

With one clear voice, the House must declare that a government that does not respect democracy cannot remain in power. We have had enough. If this vote results in an election, the Canadian people will have the opportunity to replace an arrogant government with one that respects democracy.

To those who say an election is unnecessary, we reply that we did not seek an election, but if we need one to replace a government that does not respect democracy with one that does, I cannot think of a more necessary election.

It is not just democracy that the House will be called upon to affirm this afternoon. The House should also affirm Canadians' hunger, nay their longing, for change. It is time to change Canada's direction. It is time to get us on the right path. After five years of Conservative government, it is time to say enough is enough. Enough of the politics of fear. Enough of the politics of division. Enough of the politics of personal destruction.

Enough is enough. We need to look at the government's priorities. It wants to spend 1,000 times more on fighter jets than on helping students in CEGEP and university. We reject the government's priorities. It is offering less to seniors for an entire year than what it spent on one day of the G20. We say no to this kind of waste. The government wants to spend 1,000 times more on prisons than on preventing youth crime. Again, we say no. This government's priorities are not in line with the priorities of Canadian families. We have had it. Enough is enough.

The priorities of the government laid bare in that thin gruel that we saw earlier this week reveal a government out of touch and out of control. There is no credible plan to tackle the deficit because there are no numbers any reasonable person can believe in. There is no vision of how to sustain our health care system. There is not a word about affordable housing, not a word about child care, and nothing for the pressing needs of Canadian families in poverty.

Instead, we get jets, jails and giveaways to oil companies, insurance companies, and banks that are doing just fine, thank you very much.

So we need a change. We need to focus scarce resources where they really matter: early learning and child care; college and university education for all, especially for aboriginal and immigrant Canadians; energy efficiency and green jobs; family care for our loved ones in the home, and security and dignity in retirement. We need all of this plus a clear plan to clean up our country's finances and get us back to balance without adding to the tax burden on Canadian families.

These are the priorities of our people. These are the needs that we must serve. These are the priorities at home. However, let us not forget the priorities abroad. We have so much ground to catch up. We have a government that has lost our place in the world and lost our place at the Security Council of the United Nations.

We need a government that restores our honour, our credit, and our prestige on the international stage, a government that understands the deep and committed internationalism that dwells in the hearts of all Canadian citizens.

We need a government for the people, a government that is accountable to the people and that serves the people and democracy.

I want to conclude by saying a few words about democracy. Some members of this government have been charged with electoral fraud. A member of the Prime Minister's inner circle is accused of influence peddling. Enough is enough. People are fed up.

I return to where I started, to democracy, to the abuse of power. We have a government whose most senior members stand accused of electoral fraud. We have a Prime Minister who appointed, as his top adviser, someone who served prison time for stealing money from his clients, someone who now faces accusations of influence peddling, and is under an RCMP investigation.

Canadians look at that picture and they say, “We have had enough”. This House has had enough, enough of the abuse of power and enough of the bad economic choices.

We have a government with unique distinctions. We have a government with the largest deficit in Canadian history. It is the highest spending government in Canadian history. It is the most wasteful government in Canadian history. Finally, it is the first government in Canadian history to face a vote of contempt in this House.

This is a government and a Prime Minister that is out of touch and is out of control. It is time for a change.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all of the members to support our motion.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's remarks and I want to remind the House and Canadians about the process that was followed.

Mr. Speaker, you referred this issue to the procedure and House affairs committee. You said it was a prima facie breach of privilege, which means on the surface it appeared there was a breach of privilege.

I had the honour and privilege of sitting on that committee during a constituency week when members should have been back in their ridings. We listened to some great input in committee. We heard from Mel Cappe, a number of ministers, and many other witnesses during the two days of hearings, and then a third day for another matter.

The problem is that the decisions of that committee, which should have been made after the input was received, were made long before the committee ever met. At the end, the committee was presented with the demands of the coalition opposition, one of which was that there would be a maximum of two pages in the report, two days of hearings and two pages in the report. It is unbelievable.

What is worse, the coalition demanded that there be no summary of evidence presented at the meetings to the House of Commons. We can talk about democracy and the contempt of parliamentary process, but I would ask my hon. colleague this question. If we do not provide information on the process that the procedure and House affairs committee went through for three days here in Ottawa, is it not a contempt of the parliamentary privilege of the members of the House?

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Kitchener—Conestoga for his public service on that committee, but I would draw to his attention a point in my speech indicating that the House asked for four months for the documents necessary for Parliament to make up its mind about the budget.

The member for Kitchener—Conestoga waves a binder in my face. Let me remind him that the answers we sought were not in those documents. We have been stonewalled for four months. The issue about who is to blame for contempt of Parliament lies squarely on the side of a government that when asked to provide the information necessary for the citizens of Canada to evaluate a budget, it stonewalled, objected, refused, and did not comply. This raises a fundamental issue of respect for parliamentary institutions.

The facts remain as I have stated. One cannot say that the government is in compliance when the binders do not provide the information required and when for four months, it gave us no answer at all.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with some sadness that we are all involved in this debate today. It is a historic moment that a government of Canada is being found in contempt not just of Parliament but of the Canadian people.

All members come here in an effort to represent constituents back home. There is a list of concerns and serious allegations, some of them being founded by the public prosecutor charging four Conservatives and two may likely go to jail, cancelling the long form census, and firing independent government officers and agents.

Members are meant to hold government to account. It concerns me that just last night an email was leaked from the Minister of Industry who instructed his Senate colleagues to kill the generic bill for drugs to Africa. That is very similar to how the government instructed its people in the Senate to kill the climate change accountability act introduced by the leader of the NDP.

A government is being found in contempt, which has never happened before. There have been bad governments, lying governments, and contemptuous governments in this country before, but the present government has achieved this low bar of ethics and morality. How is it we find ourselves in this position and what must we all do collectively to never allow this to happen again?

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his insightful remarks. He points out that we are here today because of a long pattern of abuse, not simply the withholding of documents on this occasion, which we have spent four long months in vain, seeking the documents we need to do our job, but there is a longer pattern of abuse that goes back to the shutting down of Parliament on two occasions.

When the Government of Canada was under pressure, facing just criticism from members of the House, it chose to prorogue. Canadians did not like that. It set the pattern of contempt, the pattern of disrespect, the pattern of abuse of our democracy that brings us to this place.

The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley asks our side what we can do about it. That is why we are here today, to present a motion before the House that holds the government in contempt. If we do not do this, if we allow the government to get away with this, we will endanger the democracy which is incarnated by this beautiful room.

We have to be absolutely clear on this.

What has to be done to put things right and have democracy respected? The motion moved by the Liberal Party of Canada, the official opposition, has to be supported and adopted, that is what.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the strength of the country we love is our people, but it is also the principles and practices of our democracy. People have worked for, fought for and have died for our democracy and our country. Now the government has broken the basic rules of democracy, and that is being expressed in the vote of contempt of Parliament that is happening today in the House of Commons.

Would the Leader of the Official Opposition tell us how the government's abuses of power and contempt of Parliament affect the very character of Canada? How do they affect the daily lives of people in their homes and communities in Canada?

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague and friend from Vancouver Quadra asks a question that essentially transports us out of the precincts of the House and asks what this means to ordinary Canadians, the families watching at home and people at work. This is a question that affects them directly.

Many Canadians enjoy the very special privilege of rich and lucky countries, of not having to think and worry about their democracy. They entrust its protection to their representatives. They do not think about whether their democracy is in danger. They do not look up from the more important things they have to do in their lives, such as getting the kids to hockey practice and to school, doing their jobs, being with their neighbours and friends.

However, in the deep background of their lives, there must always be a confidence that their democracy works and that it works for them, and that when members of the House ask a government questions about how taxpayer money is spent, they get an honest answer. That is the crux of our democratic system, that on behalf of the woman taking her son or daughter to hockey practice, on behalf of the man going to work in the mill, they can count on us in the House of Commons to ask the questions that those citizens need to know in order to hold our government accountable. When that government fails in this most elementary task of democratic freedom, it is the duty of the members of the House to bring the government down.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Carleton—Mississippi Mills, the chief government whip.

I rise today to speak to the motion introduced by the Leader of the Opposition on a matter of non-confidence in the government.

I wish I could say I am pleased to make this speech today, but I am not. In fact, I am saddened that a Parliament, which has accomplished a lot recently, will come to an end because of the reckless actions of the Liberal, Bloc Québécois and NDP coalition in forcing an unwanted and unnecessary election on Canadians.

Yesterday, I listed 10 important government bills which had received royal assent this week, bills like Bill S-6 to eliminate the faint hope clause, Bill C-48 to eliminate sentencing discounts for multiple murderers and Bill C-59 to get rid of early parole for white-collar fraudsters, a bill the Liberal leader opposed. That was a very positive week.

We also tried to pass important bills like Bill C-49, which would crack down on human smugglers and those who would take advantage of our generous immigration laws, and Bill S-10, which would get tough on drug dealers and date rape artists who would target our youth. I stood in this place just yesterday and asked for those bills to be passed. What was the response from the opposition coalition in passing these bills? No. No to getting tough on human smugglers. No to getting tough on drug dealers.

Instead, we find ourselves here today faced with the most partisan of attacks from an opposition coalition bent on defeating this government at all costs.

I know the Liberal members over there claim that the government was found to have done something wrong. What they are not telling Canadians is that this was an opposition-stacked committee that used the tyranny of the majority to get the predetermined outcome it wanted. Let us be clear. It was predetermined. After all, the members for Kings—Hants, Ottawa South, Joliette and Acadie—Bathurst said so in the media.

In my speech I could focus on all the abuses of parliamentary democracy and the absolute contempt that the opposition demonstrated, not just at that committee but on virtually every other committee of the House in overruling chairs, in making political decisions, ignoring the rules of this place, and on and on.

One may ask why we have never heard about these things. It is because the opposition coalition has a majority on every committee. Its members were the ones who demonstrated real contempt for Parliament, and they will have to answer to the Canadian people for that.

Let us be clear about what this vote of non-confidence is really about. It is a vote against the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. It is a vote against our low tax plan for jobs and economic growth. It is a vote against hard-working Canadians and their families. It is a vote that will weaken Canada's economic recovery.

It is a vote against the budget. It is a vote against our plan.

Let us be clear. The latest phase of Canada's economic action plan encourages owners of small businesses to hire more people. It provides potential employees with new opportunities to train and to hone those skills. It invests in innovation. It lays the groundwork for private sector growth to replace government stimulus. This is good for all Canadians in every region of our great country from coast to coast to coast.

For seniors across Canada, I am proud to report that our government is delivering once again. For the poorest of seniors, we are providing an important hike to the guaranteed income supplement. For people caring for infirm loved ones, we are providing support in the form of a $2,000 tax relief credit. For the many public servants who make their homes in my riding, we are providing a guarantee that we will not slash programs and eliminate jobs as the Liberals did in the mid-1990s. Instead, we will provide a strategic review to enhance efficiency and reduce overall overhead with minimal impact on service to Canadians.

I was pleased to see included a request from the Canadian fire chiefs to provide for our volunteer firefighters. Next week we could be enacting that tax credit in law, but it will not happen because of the Liberal-led coalition.

I hope Canadian colleges and universities will drive innovation and help Canada forge closer ties with promising markets like India's. Carleton University made a great proposal to do just that, but it will have to wait. We will certainly be supporting our students in new ways.

I am especially proud to say that our government is providing real support to people who find their pensions at risk because their employer goes bankrupt. The budget would provide at least some help from the federal government to the former Nortel workers, despite the fact their pension plans were provincially regulated. It is something.

Unlike previous but misguided efforts in this place, this will not hurt Canadian businesses.

In short, Canada's economic action plan is another huge help for people in my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean. It will be a huge help to my home province of Ontario. We are working closely with the government of Dalton McGuinty to cut corporate taxes to make Ontario and Canada a magnet for jobs, investment and opportunity. It will be a huge help from coast to coast to coast right across our great country. It will help secure our economic recovery. It will help create jobs and it will support all Canadians.

By voting against this motion of non-confidence in our government, the opposition coalition can stop this unnecessary and unwanted election later today. I want to urge the opposition to reconsider its support for an unnecessary and costly election. I hope it will vote for the things Canadians find truly important, for the measures that will help so many right across the country.

I move:

That this question be now put.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have always listened with interest to the comments of the government House leader, but rarely have I heard a more inaccurate account of what actually has taken place over the last several months.

I find it astonishing that a government House leader, who pretends he is respectful of the House and respectful of the Speaker's rulings, would make no reference at all to the Speaker's ruling, which responded to a four month effort on the part of members of Parliament to try to get information from the government for expenditures totalling $40 billion. The government has failed to account for that, has failed to respond to it, has failed to address it and now pretends it does not even exist. It is like talking about Moby Dick without mentioning the fact that it also happens to be a whale. There is a whale of a problem over there and the whale of the problem is that it is inaccurate.

Then there are the tiny inaccuracies. For three months the government refused to bring forward Bill C-49. There were no debate, no comments, no discussion. Yesterday the minister stood up and said that he would like to get it all done in three seconds. He is not telling the truth to the Canadian people. He is not coming clean to the Canadian people. He should know that is the problem.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the Liberal Party is doing today is the first act in a reckless coalition with the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois.

Let me say, particularly to the member for Toronto Centre and very directly, we have seen what bringing the NDP members into the cabinet room in Ontario can do. They over-governed Ontario. They over-regulated in Ontario. They killed jobs. They killed opportunities.

Most importantly, wherever the NDP has been in power, it has stolen the soul of the Canadian dream, the soul of the Canadian people.

We will not allow opposition members to do it lightly. We will take our case to the Canadian people and say that this reckless coalition is wrong for Canada, bad for the Canadian economy and bad for Canadian jobs. Simply put, we will not let them get away with it.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader certainly has been trying very hard to spin Conservatives' record as something that is supporting Canadians.

We have seen him do this day after day in the House of Commons. I think he has become very familiar with it. Maybe in the most generous of moments I could give him an A for effort. There he is smiling. He could not even keep a straight face yesterday as he tried to ram through a whole bunch of government bills that he knew was impossible.

The fact is that the real record of the government is that it has the worst record on scandals in this country. It has the worst record of disclosure and of not providing information, not only to parliamentarians but to the people of Canada. It has the worst record on insider scams.

Day after day we have had to go through a litany of these issues and expose what the government refuses to disclose to the people of Canada. The fact that we are now, at this moment in this Parliament, finding contempt surely must be something that deeply disturbs even Conservative members.

We are talking about the institution of democracy. We are talking about the work that we are sent here to do—

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. I am afraid the hon. member's time has expired. There is less than a minute left for the response from the government House leader.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have great regard and great respect for the member for Vancouver East.

However, if she wants to talk about the record of the government, let me be succinct, 19 months, 480,000 net new jobs. That is the priority of Canadians. That is what they sent us here to do. That is the job that we want to move forward with, with the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

We can start on that path. We can start on Monday, or we can start it in two months, but we are committed to jobs, the economy and economic growth.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to a motion put forward by the leader of the opposition. I must state at the outset that I find it strange that we are debating this motion when the Liberal member for Kings—Hants introduced a motion in the House two days ago relating to the same matter.

Why did he do that? He did it to avoid debate on the issues that matter to Canadians. He did it to avoid debate on the excellent budget that was introduced by the Minister of Finance and our government. He did it to avoid having a vote on the budget that is in the best interests of Canadians, including his own constituents. That is shameful.

The Liberals, Bloc Québécois and NDP coalition have been caught up in political and partisan games at the expense of the best interests of Canadians. We have seen them time and time again play these games both in the House and in committees. They are the ones who have contempt for this House and for Canadians by forcing an unwanted, unnecessary election. I suppose we should expect nothing less from them.

Let me address the report from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. It is a report that in no way reflects the committee's hearings. Despite receiving all of the information requested and hearing clear, reasonable testimony from ministers, public servants and independent experts, opposition members were determined to rig the outcome of the committee hearings. It was a true kangaroo court.

However, they were not content with that alone. Now they want to act as judge and jury for the Minister of International Cooperation. They want to use their tyranny of the majority to find her guilty when the evidence from committee shows quite the opposite. There is nothing so blind as a closed mind.

Let me speak for a minute about the Liberals. The Liberal Party should not be speaking about ethics. This is the same party that stole $40 million from Canadians. While it paid back a measly amount, much of it remains unaccounted for. I understand that 13 ridings benefited from this scandal. That is a lot of envelopes filled with tainted money funnelled through back doors of the Liberal Party. I ask the Liberals, where is the $40 million?

When one is asked, “What first comes to your mind when you hear Liberal at the federal level?”, the answer certainly is not ethics. The answer is corruption.

The Liberal plan is tainted. This is the ad scam party that opposes laws that would prevent drug dealers from targeting children outside their schools. This is the ad scam party that opposes laws to end early parole for criminals who prey on seniors who have worked all their lives to comfortably retire. This is the ad scam party whose own members cannot even play by the rules. They want to talk about ethics.

When the Liberal immigration critic said that calling so-called honour killings barbaric went too far, what did the leader do? Nothing.

When one of its members was charged with a criminal offence, what did its leader do? Nothing.

That is some ethics.

Now I turn to the Bloc. Who do the Liberals want to form a coalition with? The Bloc Québécois, a party whose primary goal is to stand against Canada, a party whose members, like the member for Sherbrooke, have attended events and fundraisers organized by the RRQ, a group that includes neo-FLQ terrorists, a party whose policies are all about metropolitan Montreal, forgetting the regions of Quebec.

It is our Conservative government that has delivered for every part of Canada and every region of Quebec.

We gave Quebec a seat at the UNESCO table.

We recognized “les Québécois” as a nation within a united Canada.

We have delivered on the infrastructure priorities of Quebec's towns and cities.

We have celebrated Quebec's history and culture, including Quebec's 400th anniversary celebrations.

The Bloc Québécois is purely trying to distract Quebeckers from the fact they have done and can do nothing for the province of Quebec.

It voted against our world leading economic action plan.

It voted against opening trade with the world for Quebec businesses.

It also voted against legislation that would impose mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of child trafficking.

Bloc members sit in the House and collect their salaries. They sit in the House and will collect their pensions, yet they do nothing for Quebec. It is shameful.

The NDP members support an opportunist election that would not only kill the government's legislation, but also the legislation they have introduced. They would stop a bill that would provide low-cost drugs to Africa, a bill the member for Ottawa Centre now sponsors. They clearly planned on campaigning on the introduction of their private members' bills, but not on the passage of these bills. How is that for ethics.

Why would they introduce legislation they do not care about? Probably for the same reason they invited media to tour their war room a few months ago. They have obviously been scheming with their coalition partners for this election for months. The same plan they revealed to Canadians in 2008, a coalition with Liberals in the driver's seat, the NDP spending taxpayers' money with abandon and the Bloc Québécois with a veto on every policy of the coalition.

When it comes to following up on promises, the NDP cannot be trusted. An example is the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, who flip-flopped on his position on the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry when it came down to the final vote. The minute that his vote would make a real difference for law-abiding duck hunters and farmers in this country, what did he do? He jumped ship. He turned tail. He is not the only one. The members for Welland, Sudbury, Timmins—James Bay, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing and Nickel Belt all flipped their votes. I hope their voters will flip them.

How can seniors and families in their ridings trust them to make the best decisions when they flip-flop on policy because parts of their caucus are worried about losing their seats? I do not want to hear them talk about misleading. What they have done is misleading their constituents.

I believe that we have accomplished a lot in this session. Just this week, 12 new laws have been granted royal assent. These new laws are repealing the faint hope clause, cracking down on crooked consultants and protecting children from online sexual exploitation. Unlike the other parties, our Conservative government is here to make Parliament work, and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

The motion before us makes a mockery of Parliament. Canadians expect and deserve better. For the last five years we have delivered. We have steered Canada through the great recession. We have cut all forms of taxes the government collects. We provided seniors with pension income splitting. We reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. We introduced important tax credits: the Canada employment credit, the work income tax benefit, the child tax credit. The budget before the House goes even further while making targeted investments in people and our economy.

The other parties have no plans and no ideas to offer, so they resort to smear and slander. We have witnessed committees they control turned into kangaroo courts. We have seen them use the cover of privilege to try to convict the innocent. We are now seeing them force an unwanted election on Canadians and mislead them about their intent to form a coalition of the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.

One last jarring thought: If the coalition were to come about following the election, picture the Bloc in charge of public security, the NDP in charge of finance and the Liberals in charge of accountability. God help Canada. But enough fiction. Canadians are smarter than that. They can count on a Conservative government to stand up for their priorities and stand up for Canada.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, so little time, so many floating targets from the former general for me to shoot at.

I want to ask him about income trusts. What happened to that promise? He talked in his speech about credibility, he talked about truth and about keeping his word. Let us go to the core of what the government has done and what its leader believes. He believes that for Atlantic Canada, where there is a culture of defeat, there should be $32 million taken from the budget of ACOA, and the Minister for ACOA sits there and get robbed and says nothing for Atlantic Canada.

I am from a party that was the party of Allan MacEachen, the party of Roméo LeBlanc when we had statesmen for Atlantic Canada. There is no one from Atlantic Canada speaking up because the Prime Minister does not believe in regional development. He does not believe that we have a place in this Confederation.

What about bilingualism? The Prime Minister said it was a god that failed. So now we have Service Canada all through Atlantic Canada who are administratively unilingual. Language of work, out the door. Legislation created by a great Canadian, out the door.

What we are doing with respect to this is saying we are calling the chips right now. We want an election so people will decide to get rid of the government that does not care about Atlantic Canadians, does not care about bilingualism and worst of all, which is the subject of the motion, Conservatives will not give information to the elected representatives of Canadians. They will not give information on jets, on the Youth Criminal Justice Act, on the cost of prisons. They did nothing about the death of a 16-year-old Moncton girl named Ashley Smith. They do not care.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, according to a recent poll, the Liberals are the fourth party in terms of trust in this Parliament. They are fourth.

Do members know why Canadians do not trust the Liberals? It is because their brand is tainted; it is a corrupt party.

When, during the election, the matter of ethics comes up, I would expect Liberal candidates to put bags on their heads.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must admit it has been a long time since I have heard such an arrogant speech.

I have a lesson in democracy for the Conservative government's whip. To attack the legitimacy of the Bloc is to attack the legitimacy of all the hon. members who sit in this House. If an hon. member is sitting in the House of Commons, it is because the people of his riding elected him. It should not matter what party he belongs to.

When I say the whip is arrogant, I mean that the Conservative Party seems to think it is the only party that matters in Parliament. What the minister did is totally unacceptable.

I want to know whether he thinks that the voters in Saint-Jean and those in the other 50 Bloc-held ridings are all morons who understand absolutely nothing. I have news for him: the Bloc is going to come back with a majority in Quebec for the seventh time, and the government whip is going to eat his words.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, we do live in a democracy. Anyone legitimately elected from Quebec is legitimately here.

However, I am questioning the Bloc. Its members have been here for 20 years. They have been here, gaining their pensions, et cetera. What have they achieved? Nothing.

They basically have no function. They have no purpose. They are nothing. I would hope the voters of Quebec make better choices.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot of talk today. It is funny to hear the NDP members talk about ethics because when they had an opportunity in 2004 to throw out one of the most corrupt governments in Canadian history, they went and signed a deal with it.

We have a Liberal Party that, of course, campaigns constantly on things. It campaigned for child care. Did it do it? No. It said it would cut the GST. Did it do it? No. It said it would kill free trade. Did it do it? No.

It said that it would not cut health care and social spending. Did it? Yes. It cut $25 billion from the provinces in health care and social services. That is the legacy of the Liberal Party--

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. Chief Government Whip will have 15 seconds to respond.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the Government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a few comments about the NDP.

With the NDP, there is drama, screaming, yelling and outrage. It voted against seniors. It voted against students. It voted against medical care. It voted against trade bills. It voted against crime bills. It worked to obstruct the progress in Parliament.

All I ever hear from its members is talk, talk, talk.

Bruce Campbell
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the passing of a great Canadian and a pillar of the Edmonton community, Mr. Bruce Campbell.

Bruce was born in Cadomin, Alberta, in 1923 and he moved to Edmonton as a teenager. During World War II he served honourably as a telegraphist in the Royal Canadian Navy. After the war, Mr. Campbell returned to Alberta and started his own construction company, Camwil Construction, helping to build northern Alberta's communities for 40 years.

He represented Edmontonians on city council for almost a decade, served on many boards and committees, including as president of the Edmonton and Alberta Construction Associations, the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Club.

He received numerous awards for his service. In 2001, Bruce was honoured to open the Bruce Campbell Youth Centre in the West Edmonton Mall, where he was a frequent visitor. He will be remembered for his kind and generous nature, his gentle laugh and his love of life.

I ask all parliamentarians to join me in recognizing his contributions and send our best wishes to his family and friends.

A. Frank Willis
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the town of Dover in my riding is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. Recently, however, Dover had to say goodbye to one of its own. I rise today to pay tribute to a Newfoundlander and an east coast music legend, A. Frank Willis, who passed away at the age of 60.

He was born into a musical family and started playing the guitar and button accordion at an early age and played with his brothers in a band that performed locally. He went on to become an accomplished folk and country musician and was known as a one-man band. He entertained audiences all across our great country, bringing with him a sincere love and admiration of his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He was a master showman and an accomplished writer who could paint a picture and tell a story in every song. In 1981, he won the People's Choice Award for the best country solo artist. He was also voted Newfoundland's entertainer of the year.

A. Frank Willis, known as one of Newfoundland's greatest exports to the mainland, will be sadly missed by his many friends, family, fellow musicians and audiences around the world.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, the Conservative government presented a budget that ignores the needs of Quebeckers from the Quebec City area. The budget states in black and white that the Conservative government will not be providing funding for the Quebec multi-purpose arena.

Therefore, and bearing in mind that the 2011 budget contains mere crumbs for the Quebec City area, it is obvious that the Conservative members from the area have no say when it comes to this government's decision-making process and have no influence in cabinet. It is paradoxical that our region has the largest number of Conservative members and that they are unable to get anything for our region.

Once again, they are saying no to Quebec City. The Conservative members can rest assured that the Bloc Québécois will hound them on this issue in the coming election campaign.

Air Canada
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago I joined hundreds of machinists at a rally in Vancouver. These highly skilled workers are fighting to keep their jobs in Canada. Similar rallies were held on the same day in Montreal and other parts of the country.

These machinists are simply asking the government to make sure that Air Canada actively obeys the law passed in Parliament, the Air Canada Public Participation Act. They need the support of this government to pressure Air Canada management to keep heavy maintenance facilities across Canada. While these workers represent decades of expert commitment to serving the Canadian aviation industry and ensuring safety, Air Canada management is preparing to export well-paying full-time jobs to low-paying countries. This has clear safety implications.

The government is in defiance of the laws of the land and ignoring critical safety concerns, as well as the strategic interest of Canada to maintain and grow highly skilled jobs. This is clearly not acceptable. We call upon the government today to oblige Air Canada to respect the law and make sure that these highly skilled jobs are maintained here in Canada.

Nowruz
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, norouz mubarak. I am very pleased to commemorate the Persian New Year, a wonderful tradition that dates back more than 3,000 years.

It is my honour to be the first ever government liaison to the Persian and Iranian communities and I have deep appreciation for the Nowruz festivals that I attend in my riding. These celebrations are vivid proof that the Canadian Iranian community continues to make great contributions to Canada's economic health and cultural richness.

Canadians love Nowruz's symbols of positive change, from cold, rain and darkness toward brightness, blossoming, sunshine and love. Celebrating these things in Canada will have echoes in Iran.

Today we join with Iranians the world over in seeking the return of spring and, with it, democracy and justice.

[Member spoke in Farsi]

[English]

Purple Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, March 26, is Purple Day, a day to raise international awareness about epilepsy, which affects 300,000 Canadians and 50 million people worldwide.

Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Cassidy Megan, who lives in my riding of Halifax West, Purple Day was launched in 2008 and is now being celebrated in more than 35 countries. She was nine when it was launched. Hopefully we will soon see a UN declaration that will help build global support for people with epilepsy.

I would like to encourage my colleagues to wear purple in support of this special event tomorrow.

I know all members will join me in extending our thanks to Cassidy for her leadership and courage in the fight to raise epilepsy awareness.

Youth Conference
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize youth from across Canada, as well as seven members from the great Kenora riding, visiting Ottawa for the Town Youth Participation Strategies Conference.

Since 1993, youth from across Canada have been researching and developing programs to reduce behaviours that put youth at risk. Their conferences and workshops held nation-wide are helping bring youth community groups together to discuss issues like drug use, suicide prevention and bullying.

TYPS focuses on issues that are critical to all Canadian communities. Initiatives such as their teen anti-smoking videos, after-school recreational programs and youth centre science clubs have received federal and provincial support.

This year's conference is being held in Ottawa with workshops dedicated to stress management, teen homelessness and substance abuse.

I ask all members of this House to join me in recognizing the courageous work being done by these future community leaders. These kids are just another example of what makes the Kenora riding so great.

Copyright
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a letter published in the newspaper Le Quotidien, Ms. Russel-Aurore Bouchard, a historian and writer from Chicoutimi, spoke from the heart condemning Bill C-32 on copyright, which would deprive artists of $74 million in revenue.

Ms. Bouchard chastised the government, saying that the bill is terrible and completely unacceptable. She said that, despite a career devoted to community service in which she has published close to 70 historical works, her gross income this year will be $6,700. To make matters worse, under the current version of Bill C-32, the federal government would deprive her of half of her income. This is a major attack on our artists' dignity.

Bill C-32 is a blatant example of the Conservatives' disregard for artists, a disregard that was confirmed once again in the 2011 budget, which does not meet Quebec's cultural development needs.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, during December and January, I travelled across my constituency from Westlock to Morinville, St. Paul to Cold Lake, to consult with my constituents on what was important to them for budget 2011. They discussed important issues, such as helping our most vulnerable seniors and our volunteer firefighters, and finding a way to get more Canadian doctors and nurses into our rural communities. Budget 2011 does this.

These were the priorities of Albertans, not a wasteful and unwanted election.

Mayors and reeves across my riding have thanked our government for the efficient roll-out of Canada's economic action plan and asked that we enshrine the gas tax dollars in legislation. Budget 2011 does this, as well as increase transfers to the provinces.

While our farmers are finally going through some profitable times and we have men and women of the Canadian Forces deployed in such regions as Afghanistan and Libya, this is the time for stability and not an unnecessary and unwanted election.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

I will begin by praising you, Mr. Speaker, and other retiring members of Parliament for your collective contributions to Canadian democracy. Democracy forms no part, however, of this now dying Conservative government.

The budget had nothing for families, very little for seniors, crumbs for students, tax cuts for mega corporations and, most importantly, no new ideas. It hides the real cost of prisons and jets. By not giving this information and these figures to Canadians, the government has shown arrogance and ethical breaches.

Canadians will decide a better way: a true north, strong and free, government on this side.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday our government presented the next phase of our economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth.

Shockingly, the opposition coalition of the Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc Québécois did not even bother to read it before rejecting it. No wonder those guys cannot get a number straight.

In rejecting the next phase of our economic action plan, the opposition parties are rejecting the needs of families, seniors, and all Canadians, including the hard-working people of Peterborough.

Let us be clear: this is their election. Their reckless coalition is threatening our economic recovery with their unnecessary election. They will do it all by hiding their true intentions. Shame on every one of them.

It has been said there are two doors in this election, but even you know, Mr. Speaker, that lurking behind that red door are socialists and separatists plotting for cabinet seats.

Frank Howard
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Frank Howard, who passed away recently on March 23.

Frank was first elected to the provincial and federal governments in 1957 and served this place for 17 years as the representative for Skeena.

He was a logger and a trade unionist. He fought as a lead advocate for modernizing Canada's divorce laws. Equally as important, he fought to bring the vote to first nations people in this country for the first time.

He believed that average, ordinary working Canadians could achieve the highest levels of office and effect change. He believed in the courage of one's convictions, and that a smart intellect and a strong principled character could make change happen in this country.

He was a courageous man and offered me advice from time to time that I greatly appreciated.

We will all miss Frank Howard. He was a great man and a great parliamentarian.

The Economy
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canada has faced the worst economic downturn since the Second World War and has recovered the earliest and the strongest of all the developed countries.

We are proud of what we have been able to do as a nation. However, our economic recovery is still fragile and there are problems around the world that we are not immune to.

The reckless coalition thinks that now is the time to force an unnecessary and opportunistic election that will put our recovery at risk.

Our government believes that now is not the time. Canadians want to see the next phase of Canada's economic action plan implemented.

If the Liberal leader is going to force an election on Canadians, he needs to be honest. He needs to tell them he has a coalition with the separatist Bloc Québécois and the socialist NDP.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, if an election is triggered today, there will be only one party responsible: the Conservative Party. Instead of trying to work together with the other political parties when developing the budget, instead of listening, the Conservatives simply did as they pleased.

Since the budget contains nothing about the payment of the $2.2 billion for sales tax harmonization, nothing to settle any other financial disputes between Quebec and Ottawa, nothing for the forestry industry, nothing about a complete overhaul of the employment insurance system, in short, nothing for Quebec, they should not be surprised that the members of the Bloc Québécois, who are here every day to defend the interests of Quebec, will rise to vote against this budget.

They did not hesitate to spend $26 million of public money to finance their pre-election campaign. It is clear: the Conservatives made up their mind about an election a long time ago.

Government Accountability
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government no longer has the confidence of the official opposition. The Conservatives have broken the fundamental rules of democracy and can no longer remain in power. This Parliament does not give blank cheques and we, as elected representatives, have the right to know how the government plans to spend taxpayers' money.

For four months, this House and the Canadian people were stonewalled by the government, when we demanded to know how much Canadian taxpayers were being asked to pay for fighter jets, for prisons and for corporate tax breaks.

The Prime Minister will go down in the history books as the head of the only government that was found in contempt by the House of Commons for concealing the information MPs needed to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.

After five years of Conservative government, it is time to say enough is enough. Enough politics of fear. Enough politics of division. Enough politics of personal destruction. Enough abuse of power.

Opposition Parties
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, today the opposition parties will show their true colours. The Liberals, Bloc Québécois and NDP will reunite their makeshift coalition to defeat a responsible Conservative government that listens to all of Quebec's regions.

The makeshift coalition has but one objective: to seize power in order to put us further in debt, raise taxes, kill our fragile economic recovery and serve their own partisan interests rather than thinking about the people in the regions of Quebec.

Our Conservative government has tabled a serious, credible plan, a budget for 2011, that is widely supported by all levels of Quebec society.

We want to help our families, our most vulnerable seniors—whom they are abandoning—and our communities.

One last time, I ask the parties and members of that makeshift coalition to stand up and support our budget, and to put aside their own partisan interests.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, for the first time in Canadian history a government stands on the verge of being found in contempt by Parliament.

For four months the government has refused to tell Canadians the true cost of its jets, its jails, and its corporate tax giveaways. The Prime Minister, in effect, demanded a blank cheque from the House and this afternoon the House will give its answer.

How can Canadians trust a government that is so out of touch and so out of control?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. That information has been tabled not just in committee but also in this place.

The leader of the Liberal Party wants to talk about contempt. It is the Liberal Party that is demonstrating contempt for the Canadian electorate. It has said that it will not accept the results of the next election and it wants to form a coalition government with the NDP and the Bloc. The worst part of that contempt is that those members will not be open, honest and transparent with the Canadian people. Shame on them.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that is completely absurd. I would never reject the results of a democratic election. I personally support the principles of democracy; they are the ones who are demonstrating contempt. It did not need to go this far. The Conservatives could have listened to families. The Conservatives could have listened to Parliament. They chose not to. Instead, they chose fighter jets, mega-jails and gifts to corporations. Instead of an election, the Prime Minister would rather—

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The time has expired.

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with respect to that coalition, we know the leader of the Liberal Party sent a letter to the Governor General endorsing a coalition between the Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP. Just this week, when asked about whether he would revisit that coalition idea, he ran away from the media.

Not being honest, not being upfront, and not being transparent with Canadians will not work. The leader of the Liberal Party can run away from the media, but he cannot run away from Canadians.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we welcome an encounter with Canadians. We welcome a debate with Canadians. We welcome the opportunity to take our choices to Canadians.

It is prisons or pensions. It is corporate tax breaks or child care spaces. It is fighter jets or family care. These are the choices that will face the Canadian people.

One choice will matter most of all: which government will Canadians trust with the democratic institutions of our country?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians want is stability. They want a steady hand on the wheel. They want a strong government that will focus on jobs, the economy and economic growth.

Again, the member mentioned choices. The choice will be clear. Do Canadians want a government led by this Prime Minister and the Conservative Party, or do they want an unstable, risky, reckless coalition with the Liberals and their friends in the Bloc Québécois and the NDP?

We saw in Ontario how badly the NDP did for this country. We saw how bad it was for this country in British Columbia. We will not let the socialists take power in Canada.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, in contempt of Canadians, the Conservative regime is hiding $70 billion in bad choices: $10 billion for mega jails, $30 billion for extra corporate tax cuts, and $30 billion for stealth war planes, so that family care, health care, seniors and students get crowded off the agenda.

The government is spending one thousand times more for war planes than for students. These will cost $1,000 for every man, woman and child in this country.

Why no competitive bidding? This smells like a scheme designed by Bruce Carson.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this government has brought forward major reforms to the justice legislation to ensure that violent offenders who commit offences against children spend more time in jail. We are pleased with those reforms.

We believe that tax cuts are an important part of economic growth. That is why the Ontario Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty was supporting those tax cuts with us every step of the way.

We also believe that when men and women sign up for the Canadian Forces, the Canadian people should stand behind them. We do not want to turn the Canadian air force into a no-fly zone like the Liberal Party would.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Budget Officer demolished Conservative war plane calculations. The U.S. Government Accountability Office says that, indeed, the price has doubled to $30 billion. It is stealth pricing. The Pentagon says that it is even worse.

That is what we get with no competition. We do not get the right plane at the best price with the best industrial benefits, and it crowds out seniors and students, child care, health care and housing. Sixty-eight per cent of Canadians say that the government is wrong on the jet plane fiasco.

Why that choice?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. Minister of National Defence.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, none of that is true, as the hon. member himself knows. Professional public servants have looked at the Parliamentary Budget Officer's numbers and they reject his methodology.

The reality is that we will be buying these aircraft at the best price. They are the best aircraft, in fact, the only aircraft available.

We will take no lessons from the member opposite and his party, which gutted the Canadian Forces during its time in office, which cancelled important helicopter programs and is prepared to do the same thing and put men and women in jeopardy with underfunded equipment.

That is what we get with the Liberal Party.

The Province of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are facing a government that has repeatedly deceived us and attacked democracy. It is also a government that has clearly decided to ignore Quebec and its economic priorities. This same government is determined to make us believe that it does not want an election, even though it has made every effort to trigger one.

Does the Prime Minister realize that, based on his body of work, Quebeckers have lost confidence in him?

The Province of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we have presented a responsible budget. Our country is in the best position of all G7 countries. We were the last to enter the recession and the first to come out of it. We are in the best position ever. We have measures that will increase the productivity of our SMEs. Yesterday, we signed a historic agreement with Quebec for the development of offshore oil and gas. The Bloc is obviously complaining because it does not want such a thing to work within the federation. However, we want it to work and it will work.

The Province of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are not complaining about this agreement. We are pleased about it, but we find that the minister has very little to be proud about. After all, the government signed an agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador in 2005, and it took 12 years to come to an agreement with Quebec; the government compensated the provinces that harmonized their sales taxes within the first year, and it has yet to settle with Quebec after 19 years. This minister does not have a lot to be proud of.

This government has been tarnished by patronage, influence peddling, electoral fraud and RCMP investigations.

Do they realize that Quebeckers have lost all confidence in these clowns?

The Province of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, insults are the weapon of the weak. Speaking of pride, we came to power and we solved the problem of Old Harry. I headed up the Department of Natural Resources for one year, and during that time we made it our priority and we resolved it. The Bloc, however, stood by and watched for 12 years. They voted against supply management, which was in the throne speech; they voted against the economic action plan; they voted against $3 billion for the forestry industry, $1 billion for the community assistance fund, $1 billion for the pulp and paper green transformation program—

The Province of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The Province of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please.

The hon. member for Joliette.

The Province of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only are the Conservatives thumbing their noses at democracy but they are also thumbing their noses at the truth, because it was a Bloc motion on supply management that was adopted here in December 2005. In addition to thumbing their noses at the truth and democracy, they are also thumbing their noses at Quebec. They are constantly attacking Quebec: they refuse to compensate Quebec for the harmonized GST and QST; they refuse to support Quebec's forestry and manufacturing industries; they refuse to improve the employment insurance program; they are indifferent to Quebec's regions; and they are trying to reduce Quebec's political weight.

Do the Prime Minister and the government understand why Quebeckers do not have any confidence in them?

The Province of Quebec
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, if the singer Dalida were still alive, she would be singing, “Words, words, words...nothing but words”. A thousand campaign promises later and there may be another campaign. We have delivered on our promises as never before. The forestry industry has received more money from this government than from any other of this country's governments.

The Province of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is very proud to speak on behalf of Quebeckers. The hon. member speaks on behalf of Canadians. With its attacks against Quebec, its budget that does not meet the needs of Quebec's people or Quebec's regions, and its undemocratic behaviour, the Conservative government does not have the confidence of the Quebec nation.

Does the Prime Minister understand that, by turning his back on Quebec and on democracy, he is the one who is forcing an election?

The Province of Quebec
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, it is just like a man from Joliette to say that a person from Lac-Saint-Jean is not a Quebecker. This man has nothing to teach me about nationalism. I cannot count how many times I have travelled all over Quebec since I became the Minister of State for the Economic Development Agency. How many times has he travelled the province? Quebec has never received so much from MPs from the Quebec regions and I am proud to be part of the government's team of Quebeckers.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's stubbornness is remarkable. He has been sulking in his office for three days. Why? If he truly wanted to avoid an election, he could have shown some initiative and some flexibility. He could have picked up the phone and called the others to try to find some common ground. But no. The truth is that the Prime Minister would rather have an election than—

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the New Democratic Party genuinely wanted a solution, then why has his campaign bus been idling in front of the House of Commons for the past week?

The reality is that we saw the leader of the NDP rewrite the budget of the member for Wascana. Simply put, the NDP's company is just far too expensive. We saw that in Ontario, where taxes rose dramatically, when spending spiralled out of control. We need a low tax pro-job agenda for our great country.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives actually had an opportunity this week to help Canadian families by listening to practical, affordable New Democrat proposals: to take the federal tax off home heating, because constituents do not like it and it is making life hard for them; to lift Canadian seniors out of poverty, all of them; to ensure Canadians can retire with some dignity and security by doing something significant about the Canada pension plan; and to take immediate action to help the millions of Canadians who do not have a family doctor.

Those things could have been done. Why not help Canadians instead of provoking an election?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. We brought forward a budget this week that had substantial new resources to help vulnerable low income seniors and volunteer firefighters. We increased health care transfers to the provinces by 6%. We put measures in there to support small businesses, the real economic engine of our country.

However, every time we bring forward these good measures, the New Democratic Party votes against it. What it wants to do is to form a coalition with the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois and raise taxes by tens of billions of dollars. Canadians will not let it get away with it.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we persuaded the Conservatives to put $1 billion forward to help the unemployed, we voted for it. They accepted our good and practical proposal.

I will match the Conservative stubbornness to not work with other people with a relentless focus on helping Canadian families, day in and day out.

The Conservative government does not have to go down like Joe Clark or Paul Martin. The Conservatives could change their ways and they could change their budget. However, they are just plain stubborn. If they are serious, we are ready to work.

Why are the Conservatives intent on provoking an election?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we do not want an election. Canadian families do not want an election. They want all hands on deck focused on jobs and the economy.

The reality is that we will not follow the example of the member for Wascana and have hotel room meetings in Toronto with the leader of the NDP and have him walk out with $5 billion in his pocket. It is financially irresponsible and it is not in the best interest of Canadian families.

We brought forward initiatives to cut taxes for Canadian families by more than $3,000, and every time we did, the NDP voted against it.

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about what happened in 2004 when the Prime Minister tried to get in bed with the Bloc Québécois after he took the first steps to meet with that party. Where was that meeting held? We could talk about that at length.

I want to talk about Bruce Carson, the former chief of staff and advisor to the Prime Minister. He was disbarred for stealing from clients. We call that white collar crime. He went to prison for that. He apparently has a thing for escorts. He is a manipulator and he could be the target of blackmail. What is more, Carson is currently being investigated by the RCMP.

Can the Conservatives explain to us how this guy got security clearance?

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite suggested the efforts by a coalition in 2004. Here is what the leader of the Bloc Québécois said about that effort: “In no way are we in a coalition and we won't be in a coalition”.

Here is what the leader of the NDP said about that same effort: “It's impossible to imagine that these three parties, with their completely different policy platforms, could form a coalition as we find in other countries”.

There are the facts.

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we could always table the letter sent to the Governor General by the absent Prime Minister who wanted to get in bed with the other parties to replace the government. We will rise on a point of order later.

We now learn that the leader of the government in the other place has also admitted to meeting with Carson for a coffee. In fact, we know that he often worked in her office.

Coincidentally, the plan that would have made a fortune for Carson's favourite former escort on the backs of the first nations is being reviewed in the other place.

Did Carson really do so much for the Prime Minister and the Conservatives that he deserves all this access and privilege?

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite cannot name a single dollar that ever went to that individual. These are serious allegations.

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

How do you know?

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know because the member has not talked of a single dollar. He has not been able to table a single document in the House. If the member has these facts, what is he afraid of? Why is he hiding this information from Canadians?

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it seems that this is a day of Cs: a day of Carson, of contempt, of corruption and of Conservatives.

It is very clear that the government has not given us a clear answer with respect to Mr. Carson. It has not told us the truth with respect to Mr. Carson.

I can only say to the government House leader opposite, if there were no serious problem with respect to Mr. Carson's behaviour, then could he please explain why the RCMP was called in to do an investigation?

One has to be consistent in one's answers.

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, as I said, unlike the Liberal Party when it was in government, when $40 million ended up in the pockets of the Liberal Party and Liberal operatives, not a single dollar has been suggested that has gone missing in this regard.

Serious allegations were brought forward to the government. We did the responsible thing and turned the matter over to the relevant authorities. That was the right thing.

Why will the Liberals not talk about jobs and the economy? Why do they always want to push high taxes that hurt Canadian families?

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the government House leader has such a hard time saying the word “RCMP”. The government would not have called in the RCMP unless it realized there was a serious problem.

Not only have the Conservatives done that, but they have also used the procedures committee to filibuster to stop the investigation on the Speaker's ruling with respect to the Minister of International Cooperation.

It is the four Cs: Carson, contempt, corruption and the Conservatives.

Ethics
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on a personal level, I have great admiration and respect for the member from Toronto Centre, but this coalition is all about him. He has been in both of these parties. He has made coalition deals in the past. However, it is wrong to bring the Bloc into a coalition arrangement. Canadians do not like that and they do not respect that.

Why will the Liberal Party not be open and transparent? Why does it not tell Canadians, before they vote, if it is not prepared to accept the result of the next election?

Sales Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have chosen to deny Quebec $2.2 billion for harmonizing its tax more than 6,500 days ago. The Conservatives have chosen to ignore the choices and values that we set out in our budget expectations. The Conservatives have chosen to dismiss Quebec, telling it to wait its turn. In short, they are forcing an election at Quebec's expense.

Does the Prime Minister realize that if his government falls today, it is because he is refusing to treat Quebec fairly?

Sales Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Minister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, the demands that we listen to are the demands that come from Canadians, demands that come from Quebeckers who want help for their seniors and who want to be able to stay home and be caregivers to their elderly relatives. That is what is in the budget.

We refuse to negotiate with the Bloc on anything. It has been here for 20 years. I do not know why we would even waste our time with it. However, we continue to negotiate with the Government of Quebec.

Sales Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, nothing is keeping the government from paying Quebec what it is owed right now. The Conservatives are slinking off like thieves, without paying their debts: $2.2 billion for tax harmonization, $1.5 billion for equalization, $800 million for post-secondary education, and $137 million for stabilization payments. That adds up to more than $5 billion.

Can the Prime Minister wipe the oil sands from his eyes and pay Quebec? If his government falls, it is because he is refusing to pay Quebec what it is owed.

Sales Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Minister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, transfer payments have never been higher to the people of Quebec, no thanks to the Bloc. We would like to continue our discussions with the Government of Quebec but. unfortunately. the Bloc has chosen, along with its coalition partners the Liberals and the NDP, to tell us that we cannot continue that. It wants to force an election.

We would like to continue governing and we would like to continue those negotiations.

Shipbuilding Industry
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of doing his job as an elected official and defending the interests of the Davie workers, the Conservative member for Lévis—Bellechasse has lambasted the shipyard, urging its administrators to find a serious investor. This is unbelievable.

While it is his government that is hurting Davie's recovery, he has the nerve to blame the shipyard's management.

How can the Conservative member for Lévis—Bellechasse and his government abandon the Davie workers like this? Have they written off the shipyard, just as they have written off Quebec?

Shipbuilding Industry
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, that is entirely false. In fact, it was the member for Lévis—Bellechasse who worked very hard last year to ensure that we were able to support a $270 million loan on behalf of the parent company, Davie, to keep it alive and keep jobs alive in this region.

The issue here is that Davie is insolvent. It has some very difficult financial issues. We are all hoping across the country that a shipyard of this magnitude and of this importance will find a buyer as soon as possible so it will be able to bid on the national shipbuilding strategy.

Shipbuilding Industry
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, while Davie is simply asking for the opportunity to bid, the Conservatives changed the time frame, forcing bidders to prove their solvency 50 days before submitting their proposal. However, during negotiations, the government was talking about 30 days.

Why did the Conservatives tighten the requirements in the middle of the process, knowing very well that this would penalize the Lévis shipyard?

Shipbuilding Industry
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, in January, at the request of the shipyards, including the Davie shipyard, the time frame for the request for proposals was extended to 50 days, which gave all of the shipyards more time to prepare their bids. We gave an additional time frame of 30 days to shipyards that were changing ownership.

Let me be very clear: the change the Bloc member referred to actually gave the shipyards an additional 30 days to become solvent.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, last December 18, the Prime Minister gave Larry Smith a patronage appointment to the Senate. The Conservatives like that word. He was paid for almost two months before even stepping foot in the chamber. Since the day he was sworn in, he has done very little there. As a member of the official languages committee, for example, he attended zero out of five meetings.

Would the Prime Minister like to take the opportunity, on this last day of his government, to come clean and admit that Mr. Smith's patronage appointment was merely a manoeuvre to subsidize a Conservative candidate's election campaign?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Minister of State (Democratic Reform)

Mr. Speaker, all the appointees to the Senate are excellent and very well qualified Canadians. They have all agreed to our government's agenda of eight-year term limits. Also, we have legislation to encourage Senate elections.

What is disappointing is that the opposition coalition of Liberals, Bloc Québécois and NDP want to overturn the democratic rights of Canadians.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the radio, Mr. Smith claimed that the cost of the F-35s went from $16 billion to $30 billion because of inflation. That is quite the inflation rate.

Did the Minister of Finance suddenly change his forecasts because of inflation? Did the Governor of the Bank of Canada change his inflation targets or is Mr. Smith making this up?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is feeling the heat.

Let us consider one fact. The previous Liberal government actually spent more money on the development of the F-35s than the current Conservative government and yet we intend to buy it and they want to cancel it.

Does the Liberal Party really believe that we would invest millions of dollars into an aircraft to build it for other countries and not to buy it? I think it secretly would buy it.

However, the reality is that our government intends to support the men and women in uniform and give them the equipment they need to do the dangerous jobs we ask of them.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, two Conservative senators, Irving Gerstein and Doug Finley, are the very definition of Conservative insiders. Now they are facing jail time for election fraud.

As close advisors to the Prime Minister, they were in charge of every last dollar spent in the 2006 election. Clearly the Prime Minister keeps these fraudsters in his caucus because they had his full blessing for their election fraud.

How can Canadians trust a Prime Minister who holds our democratic elections in such contempt?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party is holding democratic elections in contempt. It ignored the results of the last election when voters spoke and gave this party increased seats and increased votes. It formed a coalition with the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.

The Liberals have an opportunity now to support a low tax plan for jobs and growth. We have put forward that plan. The Canadian people support that plan. Why will they not rise with us today, put the country first and vote for that low tax plan?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is that party that has members under criminal investigations. It is that party that faces charges of electoral fraud and face jail time.

Mike Duffy, a colleague of Mr. Finley and Mr. Gerstein, has said that senators who face charges should have their senate salary docked. However, now that his Conservative friends face jail time, he is singing a different tune.

Why do the Conservatives think that they are better than every other Canadian? Why do the Conservatives think they are above the law?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why that member thinks that her party is above the democratic process.

After the last election, which the Liberals lost, they then tried to overturn the result by forming a coalition with the Bloc Québécois and the NDP, a coalition that would dramatically raise job-killing taxes and destabilize our economy.

We have put forward a low tax plan for jobs and growth. It is the responsibility of every member of this House to support measures to improve our economy and bring about a great recovery. That is what we have done with our low tax plan. Why will the Liberals not support it?

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, since July 2009, Canada's economic action plan has helped create over 480,000 new jobs. We have had six straight quarters of economic growth and we have had one of the strongest fiscal positions in the G7.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development tell this House how our government is working to help keep our economic recovery on track?

The Economy
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Kenora
Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, our government was proud to introduce the recently tabled phase of Canada's economic action plan.

This budget includes a hiring credit for small businesses. It would reduce red tape. It would legislate permanent gas tax funding for municipalities and would allow for the construction of a cyclotron to produce medical isotopes in Thunder Bay.

However, the reckless coalition is trying to force an unnecessary and opportunistic election that will kill these important measures for northern Ontario and for Canada. That is unfortunate.

Health
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry wrote to the unelected Conservative senators and directed them to kill the medicine for all or drugs for Africa bill despite the fact that Bill C-393 was passed by the majority of elected members of this House, including 26 Conservatives. The minister's contempt for democracy is appalling.

The Conservatives may be in the pockets of big pharma but Canadians did not elect big pharma. They also did not elect the Senate.

Why is the minister putting the interests of Conservative insiders and big pharma ahead of saving lives?

Health
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, this government has done so much to ensure that people around the world have access to ARVs and other medications. We have added $950 million to the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We have doubled our international assistance.

What I find curious is that the hon. member cites democracy as the reason to pass the bill and yet her party is short-circuiting this 40th Parliament to go to an unnecessary election with its coalition buddies. If they would just let Parliament continue, this bill could be reasonably debated.

Health
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, if we thought sabotaging the drugs for Africa bill was the last contemptuous act of a government in contempt of Parliament, we would be wrong, because now those same toadies in the patronage parlour are going to be on full salary while running the Conservative election campaign.

The most enduring metaphor for the ethical standards of the government is the image of a convicted fraudster and his twinkie in a teddy.

Is that not why the Conservatives are really provoking this election? Are they provoking an election before more Canadians wake up to what really goes on behind closed doors under the veil of secrecy by that government?

Health
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the real scandal here is that the member is joining with his coalition partners to block a low tax plan for jobs and growth, a plan that would provide tax credits for children's arts, tax credits to help families who provide caregiving in the home to infirm relatives and the opportunity to provide more doctors and nurses in rural communities. That is the low tax plan that we brought forward.

The member has a chance to do the right thing and support that low tax plan. Why will he not rise right now and announce that he will do the right thing and support that plan?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's transport minister has called on the federal government to do something about the Champlain Bridge. The importance of this infrastructure to the greater Montreal area and the rapid decline in the state of the bridge require immediate action. Like municipal officials and representatives of the Montreal and south shore chambers of commerce, Quebec's transport minister is calling for a new bridge. Mr. Hamad wants a decision before the summer.

Does the Minister of Transport realize that his government's indifference to the needs of Quebec could trigger an election?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in the budget is an allocation to ensure the Champlain Bridge will remain safe. The engineers say that it is absolutely safe. The amount of money set aside in the budget will ensure that it stays safe for the next 10 years. We will be working with the Quebec government.

Near as I can tell, from watching the last convention that the Bloc Québécois had, the only bridge those members seem to be concerned about is building bridges with the other parties in a coalition. Why did they not deal with the Champlain Bridge when they had the chance?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is time to build a new Champlain Bridge immediately in collaboration with the stakeholders. That is what the mayor of Montreal, representing 82 municipalities in the Montreal metropolitan community, and the mayors of Longueuil, Brossard and Laval said on Thursday. No more band-aid solutions. No more wasting time. The bridge is crumbling. We are talking about the safety of the motorists and the economic well-being of Montreal and the south shore.

Does the Minister of Transport realize that his government's indifference to the expectations of Quebec could trigger an election?

Champlain Bridge
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, they are going to call this one the Pont Champlain election.

We have money in the budget to make sure the bridge remains safe. We are also waiting until the end of this month, when a report will be tabled with Transport Canada that will detail options for replacing the bridge. Of course, that is what one does when in government. One thinks of the long-term and working with the Quebec government to get it done.

The nearest I can tell, at the Bloc's convention the only change it made to its party constitution had nothing to do with the bridge. All it had to say was, “Let's form a coalition with those other parties over there”.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadian families need a government that cares. After five years of an uncaring government, Canadians are more worried about how to pay for their children's education, how to care for their aging parents, where to find child care spaces, and how to get a secure pension.

There are people without jobs and jobs without people. Poverty is rising, food banks are full, and many are homeless. This is a serious time and yet the Conservatives chose to invest in prisons, untendered jets, big corporations, and a bloated G8 summit instead of students, seniors and families.

What is the minister going to say to all the people she has insulted and offended when she meets them on the doorstep?

Government Spending
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, our government has done an awful lot in the last five years to help people in need. We helped seniors by putting in pension income splitting, by increasing the GIS significantly in terms of access and making it automatic.

We are proposing in this budget the largest increase in the guaranteed income supplement in the last 25 years, but instead of spending that $300 million to help our most vulnerable seniors, the hon. member and his colleagues in the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition would rather spend that money on an unneeded, unwanted election.

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government offers pennies for seniors and pennies for students, which is its tough on families agenda, but over $1 billion on a bloated G8 summit. The government will not even acknowledge that Canadians want answers.

On April 5 the report of the Auditor General into the $1 billion summit will be available. The question is whether Canadians will get to see it. Sheila Fraser's report on this is critical.

Will the government stop hiding information and ensure just for once it does the right thing and her work is made public as soon as it is ready?

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, with the onus of full disclosure, the hon. member across the way should actually acknowledge what his party's record is on helping the most vulnerable Canadians.

Let us take a look at it. It voted against making scholarships and bursaries tax free for students. It voted against increasing student internships. It voted against increasing the age credit to help our seniors. It voted against the raising the age limit for the RRSP and the new horizons program that would help our most vulnerable seniors. That is its record on disclosure. We do not—

G8 Summit
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for London—Fanshawe.

Veterans
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, over 900,000 people use food banks in Canada. Among them are some of our bravest men and women who served our country proudly. In Calgary alone, 204 veterans depend on food banks and in London, Ontario, veteran hospital beds are being closed. This is a national disgrace and all because of Conservative inaction.

Why did the government decide to provoke an election instead of working with us to help veterans?

Veterans
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, obviously, our department and the entire government are looking out for our homeless veterans. We have implemented three pilot projects in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto to try to locate our veterans and to offer them the services they are entitled to. Our pilot project has helped identify 76 homeless veterans. They are now receiving the services they are entitled to. We will continue our work to help them.

Veterans
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the legacy of the Conservative Party is a 38% increase in food bank use in this country by 900,000 people, 38% of them children. Also, in 2005, the Calgary food bank for veterans had 58 veterans and now it has 204.

My father, who was liberated by the heroes of Canada, would be rolling around in his grave to know that the heroes of Canada who liberated the Netherlands have to beg for food for their sustenance. That is the legacy of the Conservative government.

When will the government do something to help veterans in this country?

Veterans
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I repeat that we are currently working to identify veterans who are homeless. We have identified 76 veterans who were not receiving any services, since we did not know where they were. Now, thanks to our pilot projects in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, we are seeing results.

Today, I have good news to share with the members of this House and our veterans. Yesterday, Bill C-55, which will provide new services to our seriously wounded modern-day veterans, received royal assent. This will mean $2 billion for our veterans.

Veterans
Oral Questions

Noon

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Veterans Affairs for his work and I thank him for visiting Lévis on February 23, 2011. He met with our heroes from the 6th Field Company and the Régiment de la Chaudière, who landed on the beaches of Normandy.

Unfortunately, the makeshift coalition is taking our veterans hostage and trying to trigger an unnecessary and costly election and to force its agenda on us, including tax increases, debt and job losses.

Could the Minister of Veterans Affairs share with us the good news from the announcement he made about the royal assent that was granted yesterday?

Veterans
Oral Questions

Noon

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about two things.

First of all, today, March 25, 2011, there are 685,000 seniors in our country who will remember that these three parties are joining together to prevent them from getting an additional $600 per year through the guaranteed income supplement. That is what the opposition is doing.

Second of all, is that there is good news for our veterans. The members of this party will be able to look our veterans in the eye and say that they have done something good for them. Yesterday, Bill C-55 received royal assent, and it will provide them with new support if they are wounded.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is under so many investigations it is getting hard to keep track. Now we learn of another.

The Public Service Commission has confirmed that it is investigating the Conservatives for stacking the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency with partisan political appointments of numerous close associates and former employees of the defence minister, further evidence of abuse, further evidence of contempt.

Will it ever stop with these Conservatives?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

Noon

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely ridiculous. Our government is committed to accountability and transparency.

The minister's office does not interfere in the hiring practices of the agency.

Our government brought in the Federal Accountability Act, which tightened up the rules that were abused or lack of rules that were abused by the previous government. Strict Government of Canada guidelines and practices are always respected.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development is misleading people who are unemployed when she says that the reform proposed by the Bloc Québécois and the unions would allow individuals to receive 50 weeks of benefits for 360 hours of work; this is untrue. For example, in Chicoutimi, a person would receive 20 weeks of benefits, which is not an excessive amount.

Will the Minister of Human Resources stop bending the truth in imitation of her colleague, the Minister of International Cooperation, and finally admit that 360 hours of work does not entitle a person to 50 weeks of employment insurance benefits?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

Noon

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, what we have done with our economic action plan is to offer those who are unemployed opportunities to learn new skills and take training courses to prepare them to get jobs today and in the future. We want to help them to work, to work for themselves, so that they can take care of their families and regain their dignity. This is something that the Bloc Québécois has denied.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are hearing all kinds of comments. We have heard the word “coalition” many times. The Conservatives are laying it on thickly today. I would like to table a very short, but very important, document. It is dated September 9, 2004.

It read:

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,

Excellency,

As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program. We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority. Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

It was signed, “Sincerely, [the Prime Minister],” who was then the leader of the opposition of the Conservative Party, and by the member of Parliament for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, and the member of Parliament for Toronto—Danforth, the leader of the New Democratic Party. Their coalition.

I ask the majority of the members, who form this House, unanimous consent to table this document, so everybody can know that the Conservatives wanted to sleep with them. What is going on?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Bourassa have the unanimous consent of the House to table this document?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There is no consent.

The hon. chief government whip is rising on a point of order.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, during question period, the member for Ottawa South referred to the Prime Minister in a derogatory and, I think, unparliamentary fasion. I expect him to apologize. Otherwise, I will refer to him as a gutless member.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I think we will end it there. I will examine the record to see if anything was said, but I did not hear anything.

The hon. government House leader is rising on a point of order.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise once again to try to bring unity to the House, changing the subject to do something good for Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, following Question Period today a member from each recognized party and the Deputy Speaker may make a brief statement and the time taken for these statements shall be added to the time provided for government orders.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

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?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am very privileged to rise today to pay tribute to a great Canadian, someone who will not be seeking re-election to this place after serving 23 years as the member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands. I am, of course, talking about you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker and I have known each other since I was 19 years old when I was a young Queen's University student. Our first encounter was rather interesting and I think he knows what I am talking about. I was protesting the Speaker when he was running against the Honourable Flora Isabel MacDonald. All judicial matters were cleared up a few months after that first encounter.

Mr. Speaker, for four terms as the Speaker, you have conducted yourself with great integrity, with great professionalism. You are thoughtful. You are intelligent. You have enjoyed the confidence of this House each and every sitting day of those four terms. That is a remarkable accomplishment.

You are aware that you have been elected by majority Liberal governments, by minority Liberal governments, and by minority Conservative governments. I think it speaks to the number of friends and the high esteem in which you are held by each and every member of this place.

After becoming government House leader, I had an opportunity to visit the Palace of Westminster, the mother of all parliaments. The Speaker of the House of Commons there said that he and Speakers in the Commonwealth around the world looked to you as their leader and their inspiration as someone who has conducted himself very professionally. For a Canadian to hear that from a British Speaker is a pretty remarkable conclusion and assessment of your role as Speaker.

Not only are you the longest serving Speaker in Canadian history, you have also been elected, so others who have served at great length did not have that distinction. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, you will go down in history as one of the best Speakers, if not the best Speaker, that the House of Commons has ever had.

On behalf of the Prime Minister, on behalf of the government caucus, on behalf of the people of Canada, and I think especially on behalf of the people of Kingston and the Islands, we want to thank you for your remarkable contribution to Parliament and your remarkable public service to this great country. We want to wish you well.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness and emotion that I rise to pay tribute to you today. We are saying goodbye to a wonderful parliamentarian, the member for Kingston and the Islands, and a great Canadian who has left his mark on this institution, which we all hold so dear. We salute you.

You were elected Speaker by your colleagues four times, making you the longest-serving Speaker in the House and only the second one to have been chosen from the opposition benches. Ten deciding votes have been cast by Speakers of the House since 1867 and you have cast five of them, which is extraordinary.

You have been the voice of this House. You have inspired us—sometimes with kindness, sometimes with firmness, sometimes with great conviction and emotion—to better understand the rules governing this House and Canadian democracy. If only for that, the country owes you so very much.

As Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader, as chair of the procedure and House affairs committee, as Deputy Speaker, and now as Speaker, you have built a legacy that will outlast you and that will endure in the annals of this Parliament.

At the end of your tenure, we all regret, if I may add, that another great lover of parliamentary democracy and procedure, our friend and your friend, Jerry Yanover, is not here to celebrate with us your incredible achievement.

With your departure, Mr. Speaker, this place loses a faithful guardian of our best traditions. We also lose a fierce protector of its privileges. Few Canadians have done more to affirm the supremacy of Parliament. Three times in the last year, you have stood in this House to defend our democracy against the abuse of power. Your rulings are the consummation of a career spent in the service of our institutions and they will echo in the history of our Parliament. For your devotion to this place, you have our gratitude and our respect.

Today, the House stands poised to make history of its own and to make an important and historic choice. The irony is that if this House were to find the government in contempt, it would have one consequence, which all of us deeply regret: We would send a great Speaker into retirement.

So farewell, Mr. Speaker. This House will miss you and we will never forget you.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, before paying you a well-deserved tribute, I would like to acknowledge the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, who has announced that she will not be running for office in the next election. I wish to salute her.

It is an immense privilege for me to pay tribute to the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands. Not only are you the longest-serving Speaker in the history of Canada's Parliament, but you managed this feat in a very special context. This has been pointed out, but I believe it deserves to be repeated.

What I would like to say is that, on four occasions, after four consecutive elections, no matter which party was power, no matter whether it was a majority or minority government, the member for Kingston and the Islands was elected by his peers to preside over our deliberations and to be the guardian of the rules of procedure and the traditions of the House of Commons. In my opinion, the confidence the House has expressed in you, four times over, and in a secret ballot, is a great feat, even more than your longevity as the Speaker of the House of Commons.

If I had to describe your work in one sentence, I would say that it is obvious that all your actions have been guided by your profound knowledge of the institution of the House of Commons. This knowledge is the fruit of your hard work and obvious passion for parliamentary business. It is public knowledge that, even as an adolescent, the Speaker of the House was an avid reader of Hansard. Of course.

With this in-depth knowledge of the institution, the member for Kingston and the Islands quickly became the defender of the rules and traditions of the House of Commons at a time when, need we be reminded, these rules and traditions could easily have been diminished. In fact, for more than five years, you have presided over a House of Commons with a minority government. Since 2004, with a number of your decisions, you ensured that the balance between parliamentarians' rights and the government's prerogatives was maintained. It was not always an easy task, I must say.

We will remember you, in your role as the Speaker of the House of Commons, as a man with an engaging personality and whose integrity, intelligence, judgment and knowledge, not to mention sense of humour, have been a source of admiration and inspiration for us all throughout these years.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, allow me to offer, on behalf of the members of the Bloc Québécois and myself, our most sincere congratulations for the quality and longevity of your tenure as Speaker of the House of Commons. Allow me to say, one last time, thank you for everything, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, you have given a decade of service to all members of Parliament as our Speaker. Maybe this day is no different from all those others spent occupying the chair, listening to endless points of order that really are not points of order, making your rulings and seeking order, seeking order, and still more order.

Of course, it is different today, in that this appears to be the last such day. So it is fitting that we pay you tribute, and I do so on behalf of our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, and our entire NDP caucus.

Mr. Speaker, you were elected or acclaimed as Speaker on four occasions, and it is no small feat in itself to have earned the respect of the House so many times over. You presided at many critical moments, including being the only Speaker ever to decide a confidence vote in 2005.

Mr. Speaker, we remember you for your fairness, your impartiality and your good humour.

You know this place inside out and all of its strange practices that no one really understands but which, at certain moments, become important, even critical, to how we function and do our work for Canadians.

Most of all, though, Mr. Speaker, you will be remembered for your historic rulings on the disclosure of documents dealing with Afghanistan, other document disclosure and questions of contempt, which bring us here today.

You have been our guardian and the guardian of our Parliament. I think it was best said in an article just yesterday in Maclean's magazine, which concluded:

Amid much gnashing of teeth over the state of our parliamentary democracy, [the Speaker] reasserted the power and preeminence of the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP members, we wish you well. We hope you are not left to muttering “Order” in your sleep. We thank you for your service as an honourable Speaker, and we thank your family for sharing you with us and for the work you have done so well.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I hope the House will allow me a few minutes to speak so that I, too, may pay tribute to you. I will not repeat all that we have already heard about your illustrious career as the Speaker of this historic Chamber.

Mr. Speaker, you have been the voice of the Commons for just over 10 years. I have been very proud to have served with you as a Chair for just about half of that time.

In your speech to the House on the first day of the current Parliament, you told members that in your view:

—in a minority House there are certain circumstances that require expertise, not merely experience.

That, I think, has become clear to all members who have served with you since you first took over the speakership of this House in the 37th Parliament. You have shown a great deal of expertise, and not merely experience.

Mr. Speaker, you have consistently demonstrated your vast knowledge of the rules and procedure that guide our deliberations and the precedents that guide the Speaker's rulings

But what stands out the most is the fact that, not only did you carry out your duties with a great deal of expertise, but you did so with a genuine love for Parliament, a true grasp of the important role this institution plays in Canada, and true commitment to its traditions.

Beauchesne's, citations 167 and 168, tells us that:

The essential ingredient of the speakership is found in the status of the Speaker as a servant of the House. The Presiding Officer, while but a servant of the House, is entitled on all occasions to be treated with the greatest attention and respect by the individual Members because the office embodies the power, dignity and honour of the House itself.

The chief characteristics attached to the office of Speaker in the House of Commons are authority and impartiality.

I think all members will agree that those are two characteristics you have displayed very well over the past several years.

Perhaps many Canadians do not know that the Speaker is often called upon to represent Canada abroad at meetings such as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, with the speakers of other G8 countries and on bilateral diplomatic visits.

I can tell the members of the House and, indeed, all Canadians, that Canada was always very well represented when Speaker Milliken represented us.

Members of the next Parliament will no doubt miss your presence in the Chair. They will miss your affable nature in guiding this House through some interesting times, and they will certainly miss your expertise.

However, it is said that it is not what one gets out of something that one is remembered for, but what one leaves behind.

You can be proud of the legacy you are leaving here today. I am not talking only about statistics and numbers, as the longest-serving Speaker, for instance, or the highest number of votes taken, but rather as a Speaker who has left such a mark on the position that it is probably difficult for the members and for Canadians to imagine you no longer occupying the chair.

On behalf of all of those who have worked with you, both in the Chair and as table officers and as the many clerks you have served with over the years, I wish you all the best in whatever your days may bring. I know you will always be welcomed in these corridors.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Before I begin my personal remarks, I would like to join the other hon. members in recognizing the presence here today of the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île. Welcome. It is a pleasure to see you.

I am honoured by the very kind comments that so many colleagues have made today.

I would like to thank you for your remarks. It has always been a pleasure for me to be here in the House. I have been grateful for this opportunity since I was elected by the voters in Kingston and the Islands in 1988.

I have really enjoyed being their representative in this House. I am honoured to have been able to do it for so long and so consistently, in the sense that they kept re-electing me. I have appreciated that support immensely. I am very pleased and honoured to have been the member of Parliament for such a great constituency, which is obviously Canada's first capital. It has been a privilege to serve my community of Kingston. I must say that I look forward to spending a little more time there, if there is a dissolution shortly.

I would also like to express my profound thanks to the Clerk of the House, as well as her predecessor, Bill Corbett, and his staff.

The Speaker must work with the Clerk all the times to arrange things in the House and to receive notices regarding things that happen here. The Clerk also acts as the Speaker's advisor.

Throughout, the Clerk and her officials have been very, very supportive and very, very helpful. Obviously, if I have been getting some credit for some successful decisions in the House, a lot of the credit goes to the table officers who do the work in preparing these things. I do not claim to do all that research myself. It is great.

I also want to say how much I appreciate the support of my fellow Chair occupants.

As Deputy Speakers, I have worked with: Bob Kilger; the current Minister of Transport; and Bill Blaikie. The member for Regina—Qu'Appelle is the current Deputy Speaker. We have had a very interesting association among the whole group of us in a way.

The Deputy Chairs of Committees of the Whole: Réginald Bélair; the hon. members for Hull—Aylmer and Ottawa—Orléans; and, currently, the hon. member for Victoria. I have enjoyed working with all of them.

Finally, the Assistant Deputy Chairs of Committees of the Whole: Eleni Bakopanos; Betty Hinton; Jean Augustine; and, currently, the hon. member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock. I thank them all for their assistance. As a team, in each case, I think we have worked very well together.

I would like to also thank all of the dedicated staff in my Kingston office who have worked hard to keep the constituents of Kingston and the Islands happy.

Once I became Speaker, the number of days I could spend there during the week diminished somewhat, so I have not had as many appointments in the last 10 years as I did in the years before that, but they have seen a lot of constituents and dealt with a lot of the issues and helped out.

The staff in the office here in Ottawa have also been very helpful, particularly in the Speaker's office, in assisting me in this role in helping arrange all the trips and the visiting delegations and the meetings with officials that I get to do on behalf of the House. I appreciate their help very, very much.

I thank the Leader of the Opposition for mentioning my old friend, Jerry Yanover. We were in high school together. I am sure he would have loved to be here today if he were still around.

I would like to thank my family, my five sisters, my brother, some of whom are here today, their spouses, their children, all of whom have helped me, and my mother. I am looking forward to again having a little more time to spend with them at the cottage when we get a break this summer. That will work out well.

I want to also thank all of you for having elected me so frequently as Speaker in this House. It has been a singular honour to serve in this position. I am always delighted with the support that I get during the elections, and of course elections are a real pain in the neck for Speakers, you have two every time. However, having been voted in, I do then have the pleasure of working with each one of the members.

It has always been a pleasure for me to have meetings and discussions with you and to receive little messages from time to time. I really appreciate the support you have given me and your good-naturedness. I also really appreciate the remarks you have made today.

Perhaps I could just end by telling a little story.

Toward the end of her long reign, Queen Elizabeth I, in an address to her subjects, said these words:

--though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves.

When you elected me to this job, you raised me high in this House, but what has been the wonderful part about it is the affection and the respect that you have showered upon me since my first election.

Thank you very much, my dear friends.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Chief Electoral Officer
Oral Questions

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Before I recognize the minister, I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the administration of the Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, Vaughan, and Winnipeg North byelections held on November 29, 2010.

This document is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs

Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, with leave of the House and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, regulations entitled Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials (Tunisia and Egypt) Regulations, pursuant to section 7 of the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Kenora
Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford 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 2008-2009 annual report of the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement implementation coordinating committee.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:40 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, before I table the documents with you which will be for the last time, I will make a few very brief remarks, if I may.

I do not profess to be as eloquent as those who spoke before me, but let me say, as one who has dealt with you on a daily basis on procedural matters for the last five years, I know this must be a joyous but also a very difficult day for you. “Mixed emotions” has once been described to me by definition as watching one's mother-in-law drive over a cliff but driving one's own brand new Cadillac. With all due respect to mothers-in-law across Canada, what it means is that you must be viewing this day with a mixture of joy and regret because this place has been such a big part of your life. From my perspective, I have benefited greatly from your rulings, your advice, your guidance and your patience. From the deepest part of my heart, thank you so much for all you have done for me over these past several years and I hope this is not the last time we see you in this place.

For the last time, let me say, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to four petitions.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the parliamentary secretary for his kind remarks.

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also want to pay my respect to you in your capacity as Speaker and wish you all the best in the future.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, in relation to its study on the issues surrounding security at the G8 and G20 summits.

Status of Women
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women concerning violence against aboriginal women.

This is an interim report.

Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted to congratulate you on your sterling record and to say what a joy it was to know you as a colleague and a friend.

Status of Women
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Thank you very much.

The hon. member for Calgary Centre.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, entitled “Mission to Washington, D.C.”, on the state of Canada–United States trade relations.

If I may, I would take a moment to thank members of the committee. We have had an excellent trade committee this session. I want to pay particular gratitude to our critic on the other side, the member for Willowdale and certainly my vice-chair from Saint-Maurice—Champlain. They have been very co-operative and helpful in serving this Parliament. I also thank the member for Burnaby—New Westminster. I thank them and my own colleagues who have served so well on this committee.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I table my report, I would like to use this occasion also to thank you for all the work you have done and the help you have provided. It was a great privilege to travel with you in May of last year. That is a trip that I am sure will be in my memories for the rest of my years and I appreciate that.

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development concerning Bill C-530, An Act to amend the Northwest Territories Act (borrowing limits). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates in relation to its study on the effectiveness, management and operation of the expenses incurred for the G8 and G20 Summits.

Mr. Speaker, may I thank you as well for your guidance and insight over these many years. We will miss you.

Health
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, you are just awesome. It is wonderful to have known you and continue to know you. I think you will go down in history as one of the best Speakers that this Parliament ever had. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th report on the Standing Committee on Health in relation to the main estimates 2011-12, votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 under health.

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must first thank, on behalf of all of the committee members, the clerk and analysts who have worked so hard for the committee. I must also thank the members from all four parties for their work in committee, especially during the difficult moments over the past few days.

On their behalf I present, in both official languages, the following report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: the 27th report on Chapter 3, "Service Delivery," of the Fall 2010 Report of the Auditor General of Canada. Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to reflect for but a very brief moment on your service to the House. You and I came here to the House together many years ago; some would say a lot. We faced the challenges of serving the public together in different capacities. On behalf of all of those people who demonstrated confidence in my ability to represent them, I know that they would want me to thank you for the enormous service that you have provided the Canadian public and this great institution, the House of Commons of Canada. Thank you very much.

Excise Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-644, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (funeral arrangements).

Mr. Speaker, if my career continues I am sure that no one would say in my riding that there had been such zeal and zest as you have done over these past few years, and I thank you for it. I thank you for the tremendous example you have given me as a parliamentarian.

On my private member's bill, I do not mean to make light of the situation, but death and taxes are always a certainty. Unfortunately, when both are combined it is unjust, in my opinion. When it comes to funeral arrangements, I propose that the government get rid of the federal portion of the taxes required. It is an indignity.

I want to thank my hon. colleague from Random—Burin—St. George's who feels as passionately as I do about this. She is seconding this bill.

I leave this with the House as what is seemingly my final moment here to bring forward some legislation.

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

Employment Insurance Act
Routine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-645, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (gratuities).

Mr. Speaker, it may seem a bit futile to introduce private members' bills on a day like today, but after working so hard with the community to get this done, it is definitely worth putting on the record.

I am very pleased to present a bill that aims to rectify a gap in our employment insurance regime. Currently, EI payments for qualifying restaurant servers are not calculated so that the servers' tips are taken into account, even though they are included when they pay taxes. That means that the EI payments servers receive are not based on their actual income but on their wages, which are very often low, as is a custom in the restaurant industry. This leaves servers at a significant economic disadvantage when they lose their jobs. It is unfair and discriminatory.

This bill would make it mandatory for servers to claim their tips as income and that EI calculations be based on that total amount. It would give servers the economic security and equal footing that they deserve.

I would like to extend my thanks to a constituent of mine, Caitlin Rooney, who brought this to my attention and for her help in the development of this bill.

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

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Routine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-646, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (victims of trafficking in persons).

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be tabling a bill that takes real steps toward better ensuring the safety and security of victims of human trafficking and their ability to seek help and advocate for themselves and their rights.

The amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act within this bill would provide for victims of trafficking protection permits that authorize a foreign national who is a victim of human trafficking to remain in Canada as a temporary resident. Provision is made for holders of such permits to be eligible to receive the same federal health services as a person who has made a claim for refugee protection in Canada.

We have long touted Canada as a nation that prioritizes human rights and this bill would do just that. It would also help in the efforts to prosecute the persons guilty of human trafficking by easing the fear of coming forward that is held by many victims of trafficking.

I thank my colleagues from Vancouver East and Burnaby—Douglas for their work on developing this bill and their tireless efforts toward ensuring that the legislation passed in this country is based on human rights and social justice principles first and foremost.

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

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act
Routine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-647, An Act to amend the Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act (environmental impacts).

I am proud today to rise to introduce Bill C-647, An Act to amend the Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act (environmental impacts).

I am delighted that my colleague from Newton—North Delta is seconding this bill. He was worked tirelessly with me to see this bill come to fruition.

It is clear that night flights can present a health hazard. The effects of repeated exposure to the deafening noise of the huge aircraft that fly at night have been clearly documented.

On January 20, I organized a non-partisan round table that united some 40 to 50 elected officials from the three levels of government in the metropolitan region of Montreal in order to discuss this issue of airplane noise.

This bill represents one of the recommendations in my final report, which was released on March 7, 2011, to help resolve this problem.

I look forward as well to tabling a second bill entitled “the Canada airports act” in the near future.

The citizens of my riding and citizens from across Canada have been asking for their health to be protected from the risks associated with airport noise. The federal government has a responsibility. I urge the government to act on it.

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

Investment Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-648, An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act (enhanced ministerial oversight).

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Windsor West for allowing me to work on this file.

I am so pleased to table this important legislation that would provide substantive improvements to the Investment Canada Act. This bill is the culmination of consultations with stakeholders, experts, academics and labour organizations.

This bill, entitled “an act to amend the Investment Canada Act (enhanced ministerial oversight)”, would, among other things, require the Minister of Industry to consult with representatives of industry and labour, provincial and local authorities and other interested persons in exercising their powers under the Investment Canada Act; lower the threshold for ministerial review to $100 million; invite submissions from interested parties; require sureties from non-Canadian investors; broaden the minister's consideration when evaluating net benefits; eliminate the prohibition against communication of information related to the investment; and extend the timetable for review from 45 to 90 days.

In other words, this bill would strengthen the Investment Canada Act to protect workers and their communities, something the Conservative government and previous Liberal governments have refused to do.

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

Investment Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, there have been extensive discussions among parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move that, in the opinion of the House, the government should (a) express its support for internal rebuilding, resettlement and reconciliation within Sri Lanka that would address the needs of all ethnic groups and are necessary to ensure a lasting peace; and (b) call on the Sri Lanka government, the United Nations and the international community to work in concert to establish an independent international accountability mechanism that would first, look at war crimes and human rights offences committed by both sides during and after the war in Sri Lanka in a fair manner; second, allow unrestricted access to human rights organizations, aid agencies, journalists and international human rights groups greater freedom of movement, including in internally displaced persons camps; and third, create and implement comprehensive policies based on the respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Investment Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Does the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Investment Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Marie-Hélène Dubé
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Madam Speaker, there are some important moments in the life of a parliamentarian. One of those moments is probably having the opportunity to present such an important petition, but it is important to understand where it comes from.

There is a wonderful woman whom all of the political parties know. She has gathered over 430,000 signatures for all of the parties. It is now our turn to tell her how proud we are of her. I am presenting nearly 30,000 signatures collected by Marie-Hélène Dubé. She believes, and rightfully so, that we must change the employment insurance system to increase the maximum number of weeks of sickness benefits from 15 to 50.

I would like to acknowledge her, thank her and express our affection for her. All of the parties stand firmly with her.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to present a petition concerning the guaranteed income supplement. This petition has been signed by people from towns and cities in my riding, as well as the ridings of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma.

The signatories are demanding the following: automatic enrolment for the guaranteed income supplement; an increase of $110 per month in the guaranteed income supplement for people who live alone and an increase of $199 per month in the survivor's allowance; full retroactivity of the program; and a six-month extension of the benefits following the death of one of the beneficiaries in the couple.

I support these people. This petition was circulated by FADOQ.

Once again, I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of my constituents.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Because of the number of people standing to present petitions, and to give everybody a chance to present them, I will ask all the members to present a very succinct summary of the petitions.

The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I will be very succinct. I am pleased to table before the House hundreds of signatures from Edmontonians supporting my environmental bill of rights.

International Aid
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a series of petitions in the House calling on the government to stop the hold on contributions to international aid and that we should move to support our 0.7%.

Health
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I am also pleased to present petitions from Edmontonians calling for the right to use any kind of mechanism they can to protect their health and to support the enactment of a charter of health freedom.

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I have three petitions.

The first petition arises from the shameful acts committed against the huskies at Whistler. It is a petition to bring about a modernization of animal cruelty provisions to protect all animals from deliberate acts of cruelty.

Public Safety
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, the second petition supports Bill C-39 dealing with dangerous offenders who concurrently apply for parole after spending 25 years in prison.

The bill would bring about more fairness for the victims of crime in terms of their participation in the parole process.

Queen's Counsel
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, thirdly, I am pleased to present a petition initiated by the dynamic Diane Kindree, in the riding I represent, who has laboured tirelessly to bring about justice in the observance of principles relating to the appointment and termination of the Queen's Counsel.

Multiple Sclerosis
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to present this petition and thank Noreen Baseggio for getting the over 500 signatures.

The petitioners call on the government to allow for the testing of MS patients for liberation treatment through MRIs, ultrasound and/or whatever other means necessary to determine same and to allow for any related treatment procedure as soon as possible in Canada.

Housing
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, several hundred seniors and homeless people in my riding have signed a petition calling on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to transfer funds to the Société d'habitation du Québec to renovate and build new affordable housing units.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions today. One petition is to ban the presence of north coast oil tankers leaving Canada's west coast. This is a petition against the Enbridge project as it is currently proposed.

Coast Guard Vessels
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition, which is important, deals with the issue of the decommission of two Coast Guard vessels, one in my riding in Prince Rupert, where this petition comes from, and a second vessel on North Vancouver Island where the current member there once opposed this decommissioning.

I was speaking with Ronna-Rae Leonard just recently and she is opposing the decommissioning of the Point Race and will vehemently oppose the government's efforts to make the waters in British Columbia less safe by this action.

Wild Horse Border
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my privilege today to present a petition on behalf of the citizens from my riding, as well as from across Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The petitioners request the government to make the Wild Horse border crossing a 24-hour commercial port of entry. We understand that the commercial traffic and traveller access at this point is not available. We need to have this for the economic contributions to Canada and the Canadian economy. This would further increase enhancing trading with the United States.

I am presenting this petition on behalf of the citizens of Medicine Hat.

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I pleased to present a series of petitions calling upon the Government of Canada to support Bill C-439, An Act to amend the Hazardous Products Act (products made with dog or cat fur), and ban products made with dog or cat fur from entering Canada.

This reflects a small portion of the representations made. We have had many thousands of postcards on this issue.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Manicouagan, QC

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present in the House today a petition signed by hundreds of people. These people are calling for an increase to the guaranteed income supplement and for automatic enrollment in the program.

Aboriginal Healing Foundation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition signed by people from across Canada, from coast to coast to coast.

The petitioners decry the cut of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. They demand that the federal government stick to its word and fund healing programs for aboriginal communities.

Foreign Takeovers
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, my second petition is on behalf of the people of Thompson and Manitoba. The petitioners ask the federal government to continue to work with stakeholders to put a stop to Vale's devastating announcement in our community. They ask the government to show real Canadian leadership and say no to foreign takeovers that are bad for our communities.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Madam Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of 32 of my constituents on the subject of poverty reduction in Canada.

The petitioners are in support of Bill C-545, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada. I am proud to be part of a government that is working to create jobs and growth for all Canadians in order to allow them the opportunity to rise above poverty.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise and present a petition on behalf of 50 Nova Scotians, almost all of whom are residents of the Caritas Residence for Sisters of Charity at Mount Saint Vincent University.

These petitioners, one of whom I know very well, call upon Parliament to ensure swift passage of Bill C-545, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada.

Housing
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, as the representative for the riding of Repentigny, I am please to be presenting a petition asking the Government of Canada to transfer funds for low-income housing in Quebec.

Multiple Sclerosis
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to table today.

The first petition is on behalf of Canadians who want the government to take action in order that MS patients can have access to CCSVI treatment. Many petitions have been tabled in the House on this matter.

Disability Tax Credit
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, the second petition is with respect to Canadians with a hearing disability. They want to ensure they are eligible to receive the disability tax credit.

Employment Insurance
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, for the final time in this Parliament, I am honoured to rise and present six petitions concerning the EI pilot projects.

Despite the mention in the budget, the petitioners from Twillingate, New West Valley, as well as Bonavista Peninsula, want permanency to the pilot projects, while working on claim and also best 14 weeks.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be presenting a petition in support of seniors signed by 122 people. They are calling on the government for real improvements in the guaranteed income supplement, the spouse's allowance and the survivor's allowance.

Disability Tax Credit
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present two petitions.

The first petition is to bring fairness to the disability tax credit to allow people with hearing impairments the full ability to claim the value of that credit.

Falun Gong
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition calls upon the government to pressure the government of China to provide full human rights for practitioners of the Falun Gong faith.

Health
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in Mount Royal and beyond.

The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to recommit to protect the underlying principles of the Canada Health Act, to make the Canada Health accord a priority in the federal, provincial, territorial agenda and to ensure that all Canadians have access to the health care services when they need them.

Housing
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, there is a serious shortage of social housing in Laval, but those who benefit from it would like to maintain their quality of life to some extent. That is why I am presenting a petition signed by 135 tenants of low-income housing in my riding who are worried about the repercussions of the fact that budget 2011 does not renew funding that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation needs to replace, repair and modernize low-income housing. The petitioners call upon the federal government to make the necessary public investment to enable the Société d'habitation du Québec to complete its low-income housing renovation plan.

Disability Tax Credit
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first is on the disability tax credit for the hearing impaired. The petitioners call upon the government to enact the disability tax credit.

Trade
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, the second petition is about the European Union talks on fair trade rather than free trade. The petitioners call upon the government to enact fair trade agreements with the European Union.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of residents of Don Valley West and the city of Toronto in support of Bill C-545, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada. It is their desire to ensure that all Canadians have access to a full livelihood and a sense of grace and dignity in life.

Copyright
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I am presenting a petition that follows the hundreds already presented by the Bloc Québécois on behalf of the people of Quebec regarding copyright. The petitioners call upon legislators to review Bill C-32, to bring it back to the spirit of the Copyright Act and to restore artists' legitimate rights.

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I have a petition signed by thousands of Canadians.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known, that more Canadians die from asbestos than all other industrial causes combined. Yet they point out that Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world.

Therefore, they call upon the Government Canada to ban asbestos in all of its forms, institute a just transition program for all asbestos workers who may be affected, end all government subsidies of asbestos both in Canada and abroad and stop blocking international conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to present a petition on behalf of the people of Kings—Hants in support of Bill C-545, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret that the time for presenting petitions has elapsed.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to extend petitions for a few more minutes so other members can get their petitions tabled today. It is a usual practice in the House.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am seeking unanimous consent to move a motion that the House unanimously condemn what is happening in Bahrain by the government against its people and calls on all parties to move swiftly to resolve the difficulties and for democracy to return in Bahrain.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 924, 925, 926, 927, 928 and 933.

Question No. 924
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

With regard to the withdrawal of Canadian Forces from Afghanistan: (a) what were the Department of National Defense's initial cost estimates, prior to November of 2010, for the removal of equipment and personnel from Afghanistan in spring-summer of 2011; (b) what additional costs are anticipated now that Canada has lost access to Camp Mirage in the United Arab Emirates; and (c) what funds have been reallocated within the department in order to cover these cost overruns?

Question No. 924
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the $9.3 billion Afghanistan cost reported in the reports on plans and priorities includes incremental costs for the mission from 2001 to 2011 as well as close-out costs such as reconstitution, i.e., the costs arising from returning equipment to its pre-mission state, and redeployment once the mission ends.

In response to (b), the costs associated with the closure of Camp Mirage are one aspect of the greater context of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan, and have yet to be finalized.

In response to (c), the source of funds remains to be determined.

Question No. 925
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

With regard to the procurement of the Joint Strike Fighter: (a) since 2006, how many and which private sector consultants has the government hired in order to assess the feasibility and technical capabilities of the F-35; (b) how much were each of these consultants paid for their work; and (c) for how many billable hours did each consultant invoice the government?

Question No. 925
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, no private sector consultants have been hired to assess the feasibility and technical capabilities of the F-35.

Question No. 926
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

With regard to possible tax evasion in Switzerland: (a) how many Canadians have been identified as having undeclared bank accounts in Switzerland; (b) what action, if any, has been taken by Canadian officials to recover unpaid taxes associated with Canadians' undeclared bank accounts in Switzerland; (c) how many identified Canadians have availed themselves of the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); (d) how many identified Canadian accounts have settled with the CRA; (e) how much money has the CRA assessed as a result of investigating these secret banks accounts in Switzerland (i) in unpaid taxes, (ii) in interest, (iii) in fines, (iv) in penalties; (f) how much of the money in (e) has been collected; (g) how many of the cases are under appeal; (h) how many cases remain open; (i) how many more cases does the CRA anticipate will be opened; (j) how many cases have been closed (i.e., the full amount of taxes, interest, fines and penalties have been collected); (k) how much money in (j) has been collected (i) in unpaid taxes, (ii) in interest, (iii) in fines, (iv) in penalties; (l) how many account holders in the cases have made partial payment; (m) of the partial payments made, what was the (i) largest amount, (ii) smallest amount, (iii) average amount; (n) how much does the CRA anticipate it has yet to collect in (i) taxes, (ii) interest, (iii) fines, (iv) penalties; (o) of the amounts of money contained in the Switzerland accounts declared or discovered by CRA, what was the (i) largest amount, (ii) smallest amount, (iii) average amount; (p) on what date was the CRA first made aware of the names of Canadians with accounts in Switzerland; (q) on what date did the CRA begin its investigation; (r) on what date did the first audit of an individual account holder begin; (s) how many of the identified Canadians with bank accounts in Switzerland (i) have had their account or accounts audited, (ii) have had their account or accounts reassessed, (iii) have been the subject of a compliance action; (t) how many of the identified Canadians with bank accounts in Switzerland (i) have not had their account or accounts audited, (ii) have not had their account or accounts reassessed, (iii) have not been the subject of a compliance action; (u) how many tax evasion charges were laid; and (v) has the government made any changes to the VDP in the past 24 months?

Question No. 926
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the above-noted question, what follows is the response from the Canada Revenue Agency, CRA.

The Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, is unable to provide a detailed response to the question, as the CRA does not capture the information in the manner requested. While the CRA does track specific non-compliance, any given audit project may have links to more than one country; therefore, information is not tracked by country.

Question No. 927
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

With regard to funds spent by Elections Canada: (a) how much has Elections Canada spent on legal counsel and legal advice since 2005; (b) how much of this spending was to address issues with regard to the Conservative Party of Canada; and (c) how many legal proceedings does Elections Canada have ongoing at this time?

Question No. 927
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with regard to funds spent by Elections Canada, here are the responses.

With regard to part (a), during the period April 1, 2005 to January 31, 2011, Elections Canada spent approximately $3,028,486 on legal counsel and legal advice.

Of this amount, the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections spent approximately $1,618,999 on legal counsel and legal advice for the enforcement of the Canada Elections Act, and approximately $1,409,487 was spent on legal counsel and legal advice for purposes other than enforcement of the Canada Elections Act.

Expenses incurred for legal services are of two general types: advisory services and litigation. Advisory services may include expenses related to opinions on specific subjects, review of documents or contracts, as well as the services of the broadcasting arbitrator.

Litigation services cover the gamut of cases in which the office of the Chief Electoral Officer may be involved, from electors who sue Elections Canada because they slipped while getting to the polling site to human rights cases, as well as others related to the interpretation of the Canada Elections Act.

With regard to part (b), of the amount shown in (a), approximately $1,255,561 was spent to address issues with regard to the Conservative Party of Canada.

With regard to part (c), there are currently 10 legal proceedings in which the office of the Chief Electoral Officer is involved in civil courts. This excludes routine applications to the courts for extensions of time to file returns. Note that an application has recently been filed in the Quebec Superior Court to join four of these legal proceedings in one. Should this application be successful, the number of civil proceedings will be reduced to seven.

One prosecution is ongoing at this time.

Question No. 928
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

With respect to FedNor: (a) how many new programs will be introduced for the Northern Ontario region in the fiscal year 2011-2012; (b) how many programs will sunset on March 31, 2011; and (c) how many major projects will be launched in 2011-2012 in cooperation with each municipality and local community?

Question No. 928
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, with respect to FedNor, here are the responses to the above-mentioned question.

With regard to part (a), the number of new programs that will be introduced for the northern Ontario region in the fiscal year 2011–12 is unknown at this time. In 2011–12, FedNor will continue to support economic development and business growth in northern Ontario through its northern Ontario development program, the community futures program and the economic development initiative for official language minority communities.

With regard to part (b), the community adjustment fund was one of the initiatives introduced in 2009 as part of the Government of Canada’s two-year economic action plan. FedNor was asked to administer this fund in Northern Ontario. This initiative is scheduled to sunset on March 31, 2011.

With regard to part (c), we are unable to forecast the number of major projects that will be launched in 2011–12. Applications to FedNor are received from across northern Ontario on a continuous intake system and undergo extensive due diligence to ensure that each project meets the published program guidelines and funding criteria. In 2011–12, FedNor’s contribution budget for northern Ontario is $46.4 million.

Question No. 933
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

With regard to the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS): (a) has the government achieved its goal to reduce overall smoking prevalence from 19 percent in 2005 to 12 percent by 2011 and, if not, what are the reasons the government has failed to meet this target; (b) has the government established new goals and objectives for this strategy for the period following 2011 and, if so, what are they and, if not, why not; (c) does the government intend to revise or renew the FTCS and, if so, what steps has it taken to consult with the public and key stakeholders in this regard; and (d) does the government intend to continue to provide transfer payments in support of this strategy in 2011-2012 and, if so, (i) what is the total anticipated amount to be transferred in that fiscal year, (ii) has spending authority for these payments been obtained, (iii) has a process been put in place to solicit proposals for activities funded through transfer payments?

Question No. 933
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the federal tobacco control strategy, FTCS, has been successful in reducing smoking in Canada and preventing youth from starting to smoke. Canada is internationally recognized as a world leader in tobacco control. According to the World Health Organization, WHO, Canada has one of the lowest smoking rates in the world. In 2009, overall smoking prevalence in Canada was 18% and only 14% of Canadians were daily smokers. Data on 2010 and 2011 smoking prevalence are not yet available.

The current federal tobacco control strategy is 10 years old, and strategies to reach Canadians since then have evolved. In that context, Health Canada is examining the strategy to ensure a clear role for the federal government in this area of shared jurisdiction with the provinces and territories.

Given the pervasive and serious nature of the problem of tobacco use in our society, the Government is continually assessing new ways to maintain and enhance the effectiveness of its tobacco control measures.

One such initiative is the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, which fully came into force on July 5, 2010. The act added further restrictions on tobacco advertising, as well as minimum packaging requirements for little cigars and blunt wraps, which ends the industry practice of selling these products in single units and “kiddy-packs”. The act also banned the use of certain additives, including flavours, excluding menthol, in cigarettes, little cigars and blunt wraps, as they contribute to making such products more appealing to youth.

On December 30, 2010, the Government of Canada announced proposed regulations to launch new, larger graphic health warning messages that will cover 75 percent of cigarette and little cigar packages in order to increase awareness of the health hazards associated with tobacco use and to further support smokers in their efforts to quit. These new health warning messages will be complemented by a multimedia social marketing campaign, including the use of social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, to reach and engage smokers. Subject to provincial and territorial agreement, the new labels will also include a pan-Canadian toll-free quitline number that will seamlessly link callers to provincial and territorial cessation support services.

The Government of Canada is committed to developing innovative approaches that effectively reduce smoking uptake among youth and help Canadian smokers to quit smoking. Health Canada will continue to seek innovative approaches to tobacco control and implement the necessary measures to reduce smoking rates and protect the health of Canadians.

The Government of Canada is examining the strategy to ensure a clear role for the federal government in this area of shared jurisdiction with the provinces and territories, including the use of grants and contribution funding.

Health Canada is pleased to have had the support of tobacco control stakeholders and the public health community during the passage of the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act and on the new proposed larger graphic health warning messages.

The Minister of Health indicated to provinces and territories that $3.5M of FTCS contribution funding would be available to support their cessation activities within the 2011-12 fiscal year. The government is examining the strategy to ensure a clear role for the federal government in this area of shared jurisdiction with the provinces and territories, including the use of grants and contribution funding.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, if Questions Nos. 922, 923, 929, 930, 931, 932, 934, 935, 936, 937 and 938 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that Agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 922
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

With respect to Canadian Forces (CF) members, reservists, and veterans and Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD), multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's disease (PD), and acquired brain injury (ABI): (a) what, if any, research examines a possible relationship between military service and (i) ADRD, (ii) MS, (iii) PD, (iv) ABI and, if so, (iv) what is the summary of research findings related to each of (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and any of their recommendations and, if not, (v) why not; (b) what, if any, research examines a possible relationship between operational stress injuries (OSIs), particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and ADRD and, if so, (i) what are the findings; (c) what, if any, research examines a possible relationship between OSIs, particularly PTSD, and initiation of MS or exacerbation of MS and, if so, what are the findings; (d) what, if any, research examines a possible relationship between military environmental exposures and (i) ADRD, (ii) PD; (e) what, if any, research examines a possible relationship between ABI and PTSD and between ABI and ADRD; (f) what are the Department of National Defense’s (DND) policies with respect to a CF member's or reservist's diagnosis for each of the four identified conditions, specifically what a diagnosis means in terms of (i) current employment, (ii) opportunity for advancement, (iii) honourable discharge, (iv) presumptive illness, (v) pension, (vi) benefits; (g) what happens when someone is diagnosed with each of the four conditions in the CF or reserves; (h) what are Veterans Affairs Canada’s (VAC) policies with respect to a veteran's diagnosis for each of the four identified conditions, specifically what a diagnosis means in terms of (i) any employment, (ii) opportunity for advancement, (iii) presumptive illness, (iv) pension, (v) benefits; (i) what are the benefits for which a CF member and reservist with (i) ADRD, (ii) MS, (iii) PD, (iv) ABI are eligible; (j) how are benefits in (i) calculated and what services and therapies, including but not limited to, aids and maintenance of the aids, disease modifying therapies, medical equipment, medical exams, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. for which members and reservists are eligible; (k) how do benefits for ADRD, MS, and PD differ from those available to members of the CF and reservists who suffer from a physical injury or an OSI; (l) what are the benefits for which a veteran with (i) ADRD, (ii) MS, (iii) PD (iv) ABI are eligible; (m) how are benefits in (l) calculated and what services and therapies, including but not limited to, aids and maintenance of aids, disease modifying therapies, medical equipment, medical exams, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc., for which veterans are be eligible; (n) what, if any, studies of international efforts have been undertaken by DND and VAC regarding military service and each of ADRD, MS, PD, and ABI and, (i) if so, specify what studies, the chief findings, and any recommendations and, (ii) if not, why not; (o) how many members currently serving in the CF and reserves have received a diagnosis of ADRD, MS, PD, or ABI and how many veterans suffer from each of the identified conditions; (p) of the cases identified in (o), (i) how many have been awarded a service-related disability, (ii) what specific criteria were required to award a service-related disability, (iii) how was 'benefit of the doubt' ensured and what was the framework followed to ensure reliability and validity, (iv) how many were denied a service-related disability, and (v) how many people are appealing a decision; (q) how many CF members and reservists with (i) ADRD, (ii) MS, (iii) PD, (iv) ABI were required to leave the military during the last 5 years, 10 years and 20 years; (r) of those CF members and reservists in (q), what was the average time from diagnosis to honourable discharge, what opportunities might have existed for members and reservists to have kept working but in an altered capacity, were opportunities explored, and why or why not, and what was the average impact on pension and benefits; (s) what, if any, tracking was undertaken of the member's or reservist's (i) disease progression, (ii) work status, (iii) family life, (iv) mental health, etc., (v) what recommendations, if any, have been made or could be made to improve the quality of life of former military personnel; (t) how are each of ADRD, MS, PD, and ABI tracked among (i) CF, (ii) reservists, (iii) veterans; and (u) what long-term care is available, if necessary, for modern-day veterans suffering from each of the four identified conditions?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 923
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

With regard to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC): (a) how many persons were employed by VAC in Prince Edward Island for each of the fiscal years 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, broken down by (i) full-time employees, (ii) part-time employees, (iii) term contract employees, (iv) student contract employees; and (b) what was the total remuneration for VAC employees in Prince Edward Island for the same periods in (a)?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 929
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

With respect to federal regional economic development agencies: (a) what new programs and initiatives does each agency plan to introduce after Canada's Economic Action Plan (EAP) initiatives sunset on March 31, 2011; (b) what are the expected cuts for each federal agency once the EAP's initiatives sunset; and (c) how many jobs are created by each agency as a result of implementation of EAP initiatives.

(Return tabled)

Question No. 930
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

With regard to the operation of 5 Wing Goose Bay: (a) what steps have been taken since January 2006 towards the establishment at the base of (i) a rapid reaction battalion, (ii) an unmanned aerial vehicle squadron; (b) as of January 1, 2009, January 1, 2010, and January 1, 2011, how many Department of National Defence civilian employees and members of the Canadian Forces were employed or stationed at (i) 444 Squadron, (ii) 5 Wing Goose Bay, but not otherwise included in the total for 444 Squadron; (c) what steps has the government taken to market 5 Wing Goose Bay for (i) foreign military flight training, (ii) any other purpose; (d) what efforts have taken place on environmental remediation at Goose Bay and what efforts are planned; (e) what are the details of any local benefits policy contained in any contract for environmental remediation projects at Goose Bay; and (f) what activity has the Department of National Defence undertaken since January 1, 2006, concerning any possible closure of the Combat Support Squadron at Goose Bay?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 931
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

With regard to government television advertising during January and February 2011, for each of the following advertising campaigns, namely advertising of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, advertising by the Canada Revenue Agency and advertising by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation: (a) what are the total costs associated with each campaign, including (i) production costs, (ii) advertising air-time purchases, (iii) other costs, specifying what those costs are; (b) what are the total insertions of each advertisement which constitutes each advertising campaign; (c) on what dates, times, and on which television channel or station has each advertisement aired or will each advertisement air; (d) which office or official is responsible for each advertising campaign; (e) which advertising agency or firm was contracted in respect of each advertising campaign; (f) which creative or production agency was contracted to produce each advertisement which forms part of each advertising campaign; (g) when was each advertisement filmed; (h) what were the specific instructions, directions or other communications from each department or corporation to the production or advertising team in respect of the content, tone, format, script, visual elements or all other creative elements of each ad; (i) what are the file numbers associated with each of these advertising campaigns; and (j) what are the contract numbers associated with each of these advertising campaigns?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 932
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

With regard to the backdrops used by the government for the announcements from December 10, 2010 to February 1, 2011, inclusive, and for October 15, 2008, to March 31, 2009, inclusive, for each backdrop purchased, what were: (a) the dates (i) the tender was issued for the backdrop, (ii) the contract was signed, (iii) the backdrop was delivered; (b) the cost of the backdrop; (c) the announcement for which the backdrop was used; (d) the department that paid for the backdrop; and (e) the date or dates the backdrop was used?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 934
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

With regard to Pre-Removal Risk Assessments (PRRAs) filed by individuals subject to removal from Canada for each year from 2005: (a) how many PRRAs were submitted; (b) how many were approved; (c) how many were denied; (d) of those denied, how many were on the grounds of (i) posing a danger to the public of Canada, (ii) posing a danger to the security of Canada, (iii) administrative reasons, (iv) other reasons; (e) what were the countries of return of the persons applying for PRRAs, both approved and denied; (f) how many PRRA applicants (i) were subject to an extradition order, (ii) were advancing a refugee claim, (iii) had a PRRA rejected and did not leave Canada; and (g) who are the individuals at Citizenship and Immigration Canada responsible for deciding the outcomes of PRRAs?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 935
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

With regard to the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund: (a) what was the total amount of funding allocated to the fund during fiscal year 2009-2010; (b) which departments contributed to the fund and how much money was contributed by each department; (c) what projects were supported by the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund and what is the total cost of each project; (d) which companies were awarded contracts and was a procurement process in place; (e) which facilities used by the G8 leaders were sponsored by the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund; and (f) which municipalities were awarded contracts or received funding from the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund and how much did they receive?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 936
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

With regard to the Canada Summer Jobs programs: (a) what was the total amount of funding allocated for the program on an annual basis from 2006 to date (i) overall in Canada, (ii) by province and territory, (iii) by riding; (b) what was the total number of student summer jobs created on an annual basis from 2006 to date (i) overall in Canada, (ii) by province and territory, (iii) by riding; (c) what was the total number of contracts awarded on an annual basis from 2006 to date (i) overall in Canada, (ii) by province and territory, (iii) by riding; (d) what was the average wage paid per year from 2006 to date (i) across Canada, (ii) by province and territory; (e) what was the average length of the contracts from 2006 to date (i) across Canada, (ii) by province and territory; and (f) what was the total number of hours of work per year from 2006 to 2011 (i) overall in Canada, (ii) by province and territory, (iii) by riding?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 937
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

With regard to programs and services of the Foreign Credentials Referral Office in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration since 2008: (a) what is the budget of each program or service including (i) each expenditure, including contracts under $10,000, (ii) the value of the expenditure, (iii) the goods or services consumed, (iv) the department under which the expenditure is accounted for, (v) whether or not the contract was tendered through an open bidding process if the goods or services were purchased from an outside source, (vi) the name of the outside source, (vii) the contract's reference number, (viii) dates of contracts, (ix) descriptions of the services provided, (x) delivery dates, (xi) original contracts' values, (xii) final contracts' values if different from the original contract's value, (xiii) how much remains unspent for each program and service; (b) what is the breakdown of costs for each meeting, townhall, roundtable and conference related to programs or services provided by the Foreign Credentials Referral Office including, but not limited to, (i) travel, (ii) accommodations, (iii) food, (iv) refreshments, (v) drafting of reports, (vi) drafting of speeches, (vii) drafting of press releases, (viii) drafting of talking points, (ix) drafting of media communications; and (c) what is the total amount spent by the Foreign Credentials Referral Office on advertising since 2008 and identify, in alphabetical order by supplier, (i) how much was spent per print advertisement, (ii) how much was spent per radio advertisement, (iii) how much was spent per Internet advertisement, (iv) how much was spent per television advertisement?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 938
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

With regard to the Foreign Credentials Referral Office in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, since January 2008: (a) what are the monthly statistics, by labour market code, of individuals seeking information from any program or service provided by phone, in person or overseas; (b) for each labour market code, what is the breakdown of the programs, services, processes, support or agreements currently in place to assist individuals from those occupations and, if programs or services are not currently available for those labour market codes, the date the department intends to institute programs or services for those occupations; (c) for each labour market code, what is the status of negotiations with provinces, countries and professional organizations for resolving issues relating to foreign credentials; and (d) for each labour market code, what are the monthly statistics of the number of foreign credential problems of individuals successfully resolved by the programs and services of the Foreign Credentials Referral Office?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I wish to inform the House that because of the statements made earlier today, government orders will be extended by 33 minutes.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, the motion we are debating today is on the confidence that every government must earn and keep.

We are dealing with a government that has woven a web of deception, attacked democracy and demonstrated an utter lack of integrity.

We are dealing with a government and a Prime Minister who have written off Quebec.

It is no longer possible to have any confidence in this Conservative government.

The fact that it was found guilty of contempt of Parliament, a first in the history of Canada, is serious enough in and of itself.

It was not just a simple mistake and the Prime Minister cannot suggest that there were extenuating circumstances.

The Conservative leader's decision to hide the truth was premeditated.

What is more, the Conservative leader is a notorious repeat offender. He and his party have quite the rap sheet.

The Conservative leader and his entourage have turned deception and trickery into a system of governance.

They have simply been making up the facts and fudging the truth, as we saw in the case of the Afghan detainees.

It goes on like that, deception after deception.

For example, when it came to the procurement of fighter jets, the government hid the numbers.

The Conservatives' populist law and order bills are going to cost several billion dollars.

The Conservative leader and his cohorts have decided to adopt the American approach, one that has unfortunately failed and that costs a lot of money.

They know it but, for them, it is not the actual results of public policies that matter, it is the ideological results.

The Conservative leader knows very well that, if the public learns that his policies are costing billions of dollars, he will fail in his attempt to impose his ideological agenda.

For years, the Conservative leader and his cohorts have claimed to want to fix the justice system, but each time they were given the opportunity to abolish automatic parole after one-sixth of the sentence has been served, they refused, finding a new pretext for doing so each time.

The Conservatives did not hesitate to spread falsehoods about the Bloc Québécois and it took widespread indignation about the release of Vincent Lacroix for them to stop their hyper-partisan game.

Another example: the Conservatives want the public to believe that they are responsible for the economic recovery.

It is the exact opposite.

Had there not been a proposed coalition against his government at the end of 2008, the Conservative leader would have sunk the Canadian and Quebec economies.

The only reason why there is a stimulus plan, an unsatisfactory one at that, is because the opposition parties made him come up with one.

Today the Prime Minister said that even the idea of a coalition is illegitimate, but he is misleading the public.

In 2004, he himself planned to form a similar coalition, and he knows it. I will read the letter he wrote, which I signed, as did the leader of the NDP.

You could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program [the government was Liberal at the time.] We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

The thought was that the Conservative leader would become prime minister after coming to an agreement with the leaders of the Bloc and the NDP about the content of the throne speech and the budget. And look what happened.

Another lie: for months the Prime Minister has been saying that he does not want an election.

But his actions over the past weeks have demonstrated the exact opposite.

He did not hesitate to orchestrate a $26 million pre-election ad campaign with taxpayers' money.

He deliberately wrote off Quebec in his budget in order to ensure that we could not vote for it.

On Wednesday the Conservative leader repeated once again that he did not want an election, yet he completely dismissed any possibility of amending his budget.

All of the Conservative leader's actions point to the same thing: he wanted an election.

He told the public exactly the opposite of what he was really thinking.

After so much deceit, how can anyone have confidence in the Conservative leader and his entourage? Especially since the case against the Conservatives is so strong.

Not only has there been contempt of Parliament, but also patronage, influence peddling, electoral fraud and RCMP investigations. The Conservative government handed out many partisan appointments, despite its promises to end that practice.

A former advisor to the Conservative leader and the Minister of Natural Resources is under criminal investigation. The party is facing charges for violating the Canada Elections Act, and I am not talking about one isolated incident. According to Elections Canada, we are talking about a premeditated system of electoral fraud. We are talking about violations committed by the highest authorities in the Conservative Party, the Prime Minister's inner circle, and several of his ministers. For a party that claims to be the champion of law and order, it is rather pathetic.

The case against the government is very strong and there are no extenuating circumstances. The Conservatives are repeat offenders and definitely do not deserve the confidence of the people of Quebec. We therefore plan to vote in favour of the non-confidence motion against this government, this party and its leader. We will do so on this very question of integrity, but we will also do so because the Conservative leader has not honoured his commitments to Quebec.

The Conservatives wrote off Quebec in order to trigger an election. The Conservative leader made sure that the economic and financial needs of Quebec would be completely ignored. The refusal to give Quebec compensation for harmonizing taxes is a perfect example. Everyone agrees that this $2.2 billion compensation is a matter of basic fairness. All the parties in the National Assembly agree. The agreement is ready to be signed. Quebec has been waiting for 19 years.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister's political lieutenant from Quebec had the nerve to say that an election would delay negotiations with Quebec. That is taking people for fools, especially knowing that the Conservatives have done everything they could to trigger an election. The truth is that the Conservatives knew they would lose votes in Canada if they were fair to Quebec. The truth is that the Conservative MPs are prepared to sacrifice the interests of Quebec in order to obey their master. When the time comes to speak for Quebec, to represent the consensus in Quebec, they keep quiet, as usual. They deliberately chose to ignore Quebec and turn their backs on their province. Quebeckers will not forget that.

There is a total of $5 billion worth of disputes between Ottawa and Quebec that the Conservatives have completely ignored. We are talking about $630 for every Quebecker, including babies. For a family of four, this represents $2,500. Two thousand, five hundred dollars is the amount of money Quebec families have to do without for health services and education. For every Quebecker, there is a tangible loss of $630 per person. We will remind Quebeckers of that. Our requests meet with consensus and are simply fair. Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Atlantic provinces, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have all had their turn. Now it is Quebec's turn and the Conservative leader has chosen, with the complicity of his MPs from Quebec, to cast us aside. Quebeckers will not forget that.

When it comes to social programs, the Conservatives do not care about the middle class. The budget ignores the amply demonstrated need for real reform of employment insurance. The Conservatives do not care about the sad fate of the unemployed. The Conservatives distort the facts, as usual, by saying that with the eligibility threshold of 360 hours that the Bloc Québécois is calling for, people will receive 50 weeks of benefits. That is not true and they know it. With that threshold, in Gaspé, it is 32 weeks, in Lac-Saint-Jean it is 20 weeks and in Gatineau it is 16 weeks—not 50.

What is worse is that the Conservatives are telling us that they will be helping themselves to the EI fund to pay down their deficit, as the Liberals did before them. I will be clear and frank: that is theft.

In Quebec, the forestry industry has been in a crisis for over seven years and many mills have shut down, throwing thousands of workers onto the street. Older workers who lost their jobs need an assistance program. The Conservatives ignored that too.

Our poorest seniors were offered a small increase to their guaranteed income supplement, but no one is fooled; the Conservatives were just hoping to score some political points, since they did not even have the heart to bring in automatic enrolment.

This means that thousands of seniors will be left in the lurch, without any resources. We can see the full extent of the deceit and cynicism of these ideologues who claim to want to help our poorest seniors. There is only one word to describe the Conservatives' offensive attitude, and that is “hypocrisy”.

This budget continued to ignore the economy in the regions. After the automotive industry in Ontario got a gift of $10 billion, it should have been the turn of Quebec's forestry industry. But no, all it got were some crumbs. It was the same for Quebec's manufacturing industry, which cannot count on an extensive federal policy to help it overcome the Canadian dollar's oil-fuelled rise in value. All the Conservatives have to offer the regions of Quebec are tangible losses.

In short, any way we look at this budget, it is clear that the Conservatives have ignored Quebec. We will remind Quebeckers of that.

And the files are piling up. Yesterday, for example, the government announced that it had reached an agreement with Quebec on the Old Harry site, off the Magdalen Islands. But the Conservative government refuses to accept its responsibilities and ratify the border agreement between Quebec and the Atlantic provinces that Newfoundland disputes. The Conservatives refuse to impose a moratorium on the exploration and development on the Newfoundland side until Quebec has completed its environmental assessment.

There is another question. When the agreement is signed, does the Conservative government intend to offer Quebec the same terms as Newfoundland, which received $4.5 billion under the side deals? This very Wednesday, the Minister of National Defence clearly stated that Canada' interests take precedence over those of Quebec.

The government is about to offer a loan guarantee for the installation of an underwater electricity cable that will save Newfoundland and Labrador hundreds of millions of dollars but will be detrimental to Hydro-Québec and, therefore, to all of Quebec. What are the Conservative members from Quebec doing? They take it lying down and saying nothing.

It is very clear that Quebec cannot trust the Conservatives with its future. It is even more apparent that the Conservative leader wants to obtain a majority and the risk that he will do so is very real. That is a real danger to Quebec. If it happens, the Conservatives would be free to impose their ideological policies, which are harmful and contrary to the interests and values of Quebeckers. The Conservative ideology is foreign and warlike; Quebeckers find it disgraceful.

We are talking about billions of dollars in additional and often useless military expenditures. The Conservative ideology means protecting the interests of big oil companies. It means more prisons and more guns in circulation. The Conservative ideology means continued assaults against the environment, the distribution of wealth, gender equality, science, truth and democracy. A Conservative majority means the completely negation of everything we are and new assaults against Quebec culture. It means that our economic interests will be completely ignored and our regions will be even more neglected.

We cannot ignore this threat. Quebeckers therefore have a very clear choice to make. On one hand, there are the Conservatives, who have a cynical, sneaky, deceitful and cheating attitude. Their goal is to obtain a majority so that they can impose their backward and dangerous ideology without anyone being able to stop them. And, when it comes time to speak on behalf of Quebec, the Conservatives do not say anything. They bow before their leader and turn their backs on Quebeckers. We saw this in Quebec City on the issue of the arena, as well as on many other issues.

On the other hand, there is the Bloc Québécois, the only party in Quebec that is able to stand in the way of the Prime Minister's goals. Today, we are voting to show that the elected representatives of the Quebec people do not have confidence in this government, which has turned its back on Quebec. We cannot trust these Conservatives, who have tried to mislead the public, who have engaged in undemocratic behaviour and who have disregarded any notion of integrity.

The Conservative leader and his cohorts are known to be repeat offenders. They must be condemned without hesitation. They do not deserve our confidence. Today, it is the people's representatives who are voting. In a few weeks, it will be the voters' turn to do so. There is only one way to protect our values and democracy and that is through democracy itself.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I listened to the member's speech with great interest, although it seems it could have been a speech he could have just as easily read in 1993 or 1997. Who knows at what point over the years he could have read that speech, because it is so old and tired.

The bottom line is this is the government that has delivered record equalization payments to Quebec. This is the government that solved the fiscal imbalance. This is the government that is providing record health transfers to Quebec. This is the government that is providing record transfers to Quebec for education, and to each and every province in this great Confederation. This is the government that provided a seat at UNESCO for Quebec. This is the government that said that the Québécois represent a nation within a united Canada from coast to coast to coast.

The leader of the Bloc Québécois sounds like an angry guy today, and he is angry because after 20 years he cannot list a single thing he has ever done for the people of Quebec.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I could have read the very same speech 20 years ago because the situation has not changed. Quebec was isolated then and Quebec still is isolated today. That is the reality.

Now he is talking about UNESCO. Quebec is standing up at UNESCO for one reason: it has no seat. It has no choice but to stand. That is the situation. That shows how much respect the government has for democracy. When people say that Quebeckers have elected members who have done nothing for them for 20 years, those people are saying that Quebeckers are ignorant and that they do not have the right to elect the people who are speaking for them, who are defending them and who are defending their interests and values.

A senator said that federalist parties will not succeed in Quebec because they have nothing to offer Quebeckers. I will take responsibility for many things in life, but I will not take responsibility for the Conservatives' powerlessness.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Madam Speaker, I have just one question for the Bloc Québécois leader. The Conservative government told us that it was a transparent government that wanted to change Parliament, be open to democracy and get rid of the Liberals because of scandal. I would like to hear his comments on that and hear what he thinks about the wonderful things the Conservatives said in 2006 when they sought the confidence of Canadians. What is the situation today?

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I would reply to my Acadian friend that perhaps he is mistaken. This government is very transparent. When we look at the Conservatives, we know exactly what they are thinking. We can see right through them. Quite apart from the image they like to project, if you look closely, you can see right through them. The Minister of State for Science and Technology is a creationist and believes that dinosaurs walked the earth with humans. He thinks that The Flintstones was a documentary and Dino was the star. We can see their old Reform roots, which are likely what inspired the Tea Party.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, I am really curious to know why the Bloc Québécois would join forces with a Liberal-led coalition when the Liberals are the guys who stole $40 million and pumped it into Quebec ridings? How can the member morally stand up and join hands with those guys to defeat this government when his party has not helped to get the money back?

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the choices are very limited here and the Conservatives are as bad as the Liberals were. It is as simple as that.

In 2004, when the current Prime Minister was the opposition leader, he called a meeting in Montreal at the Delta hotel. He presented us with a plan indicating that the Governor General at the time, Adrienne Clarkson, had no other choice, if the Martin government was defeated on the fiscal imbalance—which was 30 seconds away from happening—and Mr. Harper would become prime minister. For that to happen, it is easy to understand that he had to have the support of the Bloc and the NDP on a throne speech or a budget, otherwise he himself would have been defeated. It was as simple as that.

We in the Bloc Québécois always vote in favour of the best interests of Quebec, because we are the voice of Quebeckers. We do not vote according to labels, as the members across the floor do. In fact, I heard them say they would not vote for a proposal because it came from the Bloc. They are spreading lies.

We supported the first two budgets. We had asked for $3.9 billion for Quebec and we managed to get $3.3 billion. We are proud of that. We stood up; we did not stay on our knees. Some members here, some of the Conservative members from Quebec, must have sore kneecaps. We stand up and speak out for Quebec, and we will continue to do so.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Madam Speaker, if the Bloc has been saying something for 20 years—and that is true—then the other side has been doing the same since the age of dinosaurs. So, they do not have any lessons to learn. However, I find it sad that the hon. member, whom I know well, given that we have been sitting across from each other since 1990, says that he is the only one who is speaking for Quebec. The Quebec members of the Liberal Party, myself included, also defend the interests of Quebec. I recognize the legitimacy of the Bloc but it is not a question of preventing the Conservatives from winning. We want to see no more of the Conservative Party. I therefore ask Quebeckers to vote for a real alternative government: the Liberal Party of Canada.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the hon. member for Bourassa, whom I recognize as being just as legitimate as I am. That is democracy. When I said that we are the only ones who speak for Quebec, I was quoting Senator Rivest, who was the chief of staff for Robert Bourassa, a Quebec minister. He is the one who wrote that. For once, I quoted a Liberal. The hon. member for Bourassa should be happy.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House to speak to the non-confidence motion moved by the Liberals regarding the Conservative government.

People know that I have been sitting in the House of Commons for about 14 years. The House of Commons is the place where laws are passed and where we determine a direction and a vision for our country.

The Conservative government was elected in 2006 because it claimed to want to be a transparent government, a fair government, a government that believes in democracy, a government that does not believe in the Senate. I remind members that this is the same government that refused to hand over the documents we asked for on Afghanistan. We had to turn to the Speaker of the House, who forced us to hold meetings. Even there, the Conservatives refused, forcing the meetings to be held in camera. The NDP refused to participate in these discussions with the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Bloc. Today, we do not know what happened with that issue. There are only three individuals in Parliament who know; the rest do not know. That is not transparency and that does not respect a member of Parliament's right to have access to information, as the Speaker of the House said. We did not have that right.

Later, the Conservatives introduced some crime bills. For four months, the hon. members on the Standing Committee on Finance kept asking for information on the cost of these bills. How much would the megaprisons cost? How much would all this cost the provinces? The Conservatives introduced bills on young offenders. Rather than give us information, the government waited until it was forced by the Speaker of the House to come before the committee. The first day in committee, the government presented a large document, which was tabled yesterday by the Conservative leader in the House of Commons. Even Professor Franks, from Queen's University in Toronto, said it would take until July to get through all this information. That is truly contempt of Parliament and contempt of parliamentarians.

It was this same government who said that the Liberals were corrupt. During the 2006 election campaign, the Conservatives exceeded the electoral spending ceiling by $1.5 million. They cheated the democratic system. Am I making this up? No. The RCMP had to search the Conservatives' offices for documents. Is that the type of government Canadians need? No.

People do not care a fig about what is going on in Parliament right now. They do not care whatsoever about corruption. I have more faith in Canadians than that. In the next 35 days, we will show them there is an alternative in Canada. This government told us it believed in bilingualism, but last week, on March 8, it announced that the Atlantic administrative region would be unilingual English. Is this the same government that said it would respect both of our country's official languages?

The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages just told us that the government house leader has announced that he is very proud that he voted against forcing Supreme Court justices to be bilingual. That is true: it is in a newspaper, in an ad paid for by the Conservatives.

The government is saying that it does not want an election, yet it has just spent $26 million. It knows that Elections Canada cannot do anything about that. It has spent money for an election campaign before an election has been called. These things need to change in Parliament, in our democracy. This government said that senators should not vote on Parliament's bills. These are the same Conservatives who asked the senators to vote against the NDP's environment bill, Bill C-311. That bill would have helped our country's environment, but the Prime Minister's unelected senators voted against it.

That is outrageous.

In today's democracy, here, we have senators who are not even elected and who vote down bills introduced by elected members. My people sent me here. They voted for me. All of the members in the House of Commons were elected by the public. When the House of Commons passes a bill, the only thing the Senate can do, as has always been said, is study it to make it better, protect the regions and protect minorities. That is not what they are doing. The senators are listening to the Prime Minister of Canada.

We will see you on the road during the next 35 days. We will show you the door.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

It being 1:48 p.m. and the last allotted day for the supply period ending March 26, 2011, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith all questions necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The chief government whip is rising on a point of order.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Madam Speaker, I believe you will find unanimous consent of the House that the previous question moved earlier today be withdrawn.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Does the chief government whip have unanimous consent?

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

There is no consent.

The question is on the motion in the name of the hon. member for Etobicoke--Lakeshore. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Confidence in the government
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

In my opinion, the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I will try this again. I believe you will find unanimous consent of the House that the previous question moved earlier today be withdrawn.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the chief government whip have unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion that this question be now put withdrawn)

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

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #204

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Order, please. The right hon. Prime Minister.

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons:

That this House do now adjourn

2:20 p.m.

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?

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

(The House adjourned at 2:21 p.m.)

The Third Session of the 40th Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on March 26, 2011.