House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was financial.

Topics

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member opposite. When I ask my constituents what priorities they want me to stand up for in the House of Commons, most of them say retirement pensions. They are worried that their savings will go up in smoke because of this government's lack of judgment, because it thinks only of filling the pockets of large corporations and too often forgets about Canadian families.

My constituents are wondering why they cannot afford to pay their bills and their rent, and why they cannot afford to pay for their prescriptions and other everyday essentials. As the stock markets fall, they are wondering how they will be able to manage their income and access their well-deserved retirement pensions. When will this government finally show some respect for workers who have laboured their whole lives to save for retirement?

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned seniors and pensioners. When it comes to caring about seniors, we back that commitment by leaving them with more of their hard-earned money. All told, we have provided $2.3 billion in additional annual targeted tax relief to seniors and pensioners through measures such as pension income splitting, increases in the age credit amount and a doubling of the maximum amount of income eligible for the pension income tax credit.

We also introduced the tax-free savings account. This is a flexible, registered general purpose savings vehicle that allows Canadians to earn tax-free investment income to more easily meet their lifetime savings needs, including retirement savings.

Once again, I implore the member across the way to please take these points under consideration and help us to support the provinces in this endeavour.

February 14th, 2012 / 7 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be in the House this evening to ask a few questions regarding the Muskrat Falls project in Newfoundland and Labrador. The timing of this question is quite interesting because today the public utility board in Newfoundland started some public hearings into the Muskrat Falls deal.

There are many people back home asking questions about this deal, such as what the true value of it is and if it will benefit Newfoundland and Labrador. Many people are skeptical of the deal. Today in the public utilities board meeting there were a lot of comments around the financing of the deal, whether it would go over budget and by how much or whether it would it go under budget.

A lot of this surrounds the question I asked in the House regarding the loan guarantee from the federal government. We need to look at the timeline. The loan guarantee was promised prior to the election. The memorandum of understanding was signed in the summer. Some deadlines were put in place. August 31 was one deadline and another was November 30. All these seem to have come and gone and we have received no clarity.

I want to quote from the memorandum of agreement that was signed between the province and the federal government. It states:

The Parties agree that time shall be of the essence in this agreement and will be bound by this agreement including the following timelines, unless otherwise extended by mutual agreement: on or before August 31, 2011 -- announcement of the terms of this agreement; on or before November 30, 2011 or 8 weeks following access by the Government of Canada to the projects’ data room...

I will get back to that in a second, because that is where my question is going to be. It continues

—and detailed analyses and representations by credit rating agencies--agreement on term sheet for engagement with capital markets; and on or before financial close--completion of formal agreements for provision of the loan guarantee.

My first question for the parliamentary secretary is on this eight weeks following access to the Government of Canada's projects' data room. Has the Government of Canada had access to the projects' data room? If so, when? One of the things in the agreement states that it needs to be reported back eight weeks after that has happened.

As well, who is the financial adviser on this file? Again, the memorandum of agreement states:

—the federal government is retaining financial advisors to complete due diligence analysis. The purpose of due diligence is to assist the Government of Canada in the implementation of the Memorandum of Agreement. The Request for Proposal for financial advisors is posted on the Government Electronic Tendering Service (MERX) and will close on September 6, 2011.

The government has tendered for financial analysts. The Minister of Natural Resources has confirmed that a financial adviser is in place, but has not stated when these details would be finalized.

Therefore, my other question to the parliamentary secretary is this. Who is the financial adviser on this file and what is the timeline when he or she will come back and report to the federal government on the particular outlines of this agreement?

These are a couple of specific questions regarding Muskrat Falls that people are wondering, and the timing of the question this evening is very prudent.

7 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for speaking about this very important project. Some of the questions the member has asked will have to be referred back to the minister for an answer.

I will answer the specific question he asked with regard to tonight's late show because that is in fact what the late show is for. Having said that, I will to proceed to provide him with some clarity on the issue of the memorandum of agreement.

In August our government signed a memorandum of agreement to provide or purchase a loan guarantee for the Lower Churchill clean energy projects. This agreement is an important step, one step, to realizing the full potential of one of North America's most ambitious energy projects. It demonstrates our government's strong commitment to work in partnership with the provinces and territories to develop Canada's renewable energy resources.

These are enormously important projects for Newfoundland and Labrador. The numbers tell the story. It is estimated that these projects will generate total employment of 18,400 person-years in Newfoundland and Labrador and 47,800 person-years across all of Canada. They will provide $3.5 billion in benefits to local businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador and over $750 million in taxes to federal and provincial coffers. In addition, the projects will help toward displacing oil and coal-fired generation in the region, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 4.5 megatonnes.

In short, these projects will bring clean energy and create jobs and growth for the entire Atlantic region.

The Lower Churchill projects provide an opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador to meet their energy needs in an environmentally sustainable way. Once completed, Newfoundland and Labrador will obtain up to 98% of its electricity from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources.

Our government has hired a financial advisory firm, as was stated. This firm is going to assist in the implementation of the memorandum of agreement and to ensure that the support it provides to Lower Churchill River projects is fiscally responsible.

The financial advisory firm is currently conducting due diligence analysis on the projects and will assist in the development of terms and conditions for the loan guarantee.

I can assure the hon. members that the work is in fact in progress. We continue to work on a guarantee that will be provided in a timely manner, while ensuring that all due diligence is performed.

Our government is very proud of the commitment we made to Lower Churchill. It is a very important economic development project for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and in fact for all of Canada.

As I said before, our support for Lower Churchill will boost clean energy projection, grow our economy and strengthen our status as a global energy superpower. That is the bottom line.

With regard to any additional questions that were not put before us earlier this evening, I will endeavour to ask those questions for the member and I am happy to get back to him in a timely fashion.

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, obviously a firm has been engaged, but the parliamentary secretary cannot tell us the name of the firm. She has great talking points there, but we are a little light on details.

I will quote the premier of Newfoundland who said, on January 31:

The Government of Canada has also reviewed the Muskrat Falls project and has concluded the proposal is in the national interest, worthy of warranting national support...

Therefore, we are not sure if it is a loan guarantee or equivalent financial support. She went on to say:

—in effect making a project that was already deemed cost-effective even more so. Work is progressing well in finalizing the guarantee.

However, we do not seem to have any details on where the guarantee is or at what stage it is. I asked a question about the eight weeks and the parliamentary secretary could not answer that.

I have another question. Have the capital markets been engaged as per the terms of the agreement, yes or no?

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for his diligence. As I said before, it is important that these questions be put to the minister for answer. In fact, the type of behaviour that the member across the way is demonstrating is in fact why he is sitting in that corner.

Late shows are meant for a purpose, and that is to provide answers to specific questions that are given. Yes, there is some latitude to asking additional questions, but the disrespect that is shown to members by that member across the way this evening is absolutely reprehensible.

I have committed to find some answers for him, but I must remind him, and I am doing that through you, Mr. Speaker, that the questions put to me have been answered this evening. I will continue to answer the questions put before me, but any disrespectful behaviour will not be tolerated by me and should not be tolerated by the Chair either.

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:10 p.m.)