House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will highlight a specific issue and relate it to why first ministers' discussions are important.

Manitoba has a wonderful pork industry, providing hundreds of jobs for our province, everything from the barns to the slaughterhouses. It is an area of economic opportunity for the province of Manitoba, and there could be other provinces that also look at the pork industry as one with good potential. There is something happening internationally in regard to Korea, a great consumer of pork products. I suggest that the federal government has a role in that.

Indeed, both the Province of Manitoba and the federal government need to play a role. Other provinces could also play a role. One reason we need to have first ministers' conferences is to deal with issues of that nature and others. In this case it could be just be agriculture ministers. In other cases it could be—

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please.

The hon. member for York Centre.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it passing strange that a member of the Liberal Party would speak about pork. If anyone would know about pork it would be a member of the Liberal Party.

It was the Government of Manitoba that during the past provincial election said it would not raise taxes. It increased taxes by over $18 million.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

An hon. member

An NDP government.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler York Centre, ON

Yes, an NDP government is damaging the pork industry in Manitoba, particularly in Brandon, Manitoba, the city my wife hails from, so I know it well. It is a great city.

We are on the right track. We have a plan to reduce the deficit in the medium term. We have a plan that Canadians chose overwhelmingly last May to endorse, and we have a plan that is recognized by all kinds of worldwide economic organizations, which give us the credit that is due because we have the best Minister of Finance in the world, under the leadership of the best Prime Minister in the world under our economic action plan.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

September 20th, 2012 / 12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague, the member for York Centre, is aware that the respected economist Jack Mintz predicted that the NDP's proposed $21 billion carbon tax in its 2011 campaign platform could increase gasoline prices for the Canadian consumer by 10¢ a litre. What does the member for York Centre think about that and the NDP's campaign promise to introduce a carbon tax?

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is passing strange that the only people who do not remember the carbon tax proposed by the NDP are the NDP members. Everyone else knows that a carbon tax would be devastating. The NDP members think it is better that government controls Canadians' money, rather than the people. We on this side of the House feel, as do most Canadians, that Canadians should be in charge of their money and that Canadians know the best way to spend their hard-earned money, not the government, as the NDP is proposing.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, various members on the opposition side today have brought forth worrisome facts, including the largest budget deficit in Canadian history; soaring youth unemployment, from a base of 8% to almost 15%; cuts in vital services in northwestern Ontario and rural Canada and all of Canada.

The Conservatives claim that theirs is the party of trade but the TD Bank has publicly been worrying about the $50 billion trade deficit, the biggest trade deficit in 41 years.

Is it not time now to change the name of that economic syndrome from the Dutch disease to the Conservative Canadian disease?

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that it is time for the New Democratic Party to change its name to the “Old Democratic Party”, because these are the same old principles and story we are hearing from them that we heard in the 1960s to 1970s. It is time to renew. It is time for its members get with the program. It is time to join with the rest of Canadians, all the international organizations and the other G8 countries in recognizing that Canada is the number one performing economy, the best place to do business and the best place for people to get a job.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is surprising to see the enthusiasm opposite for the proposition that the Prime Minister ought not to meet with the premiers of the country in an economic summit at their request. I cannot understand why there is so much enthusiasm opposite to vote against meeting with the premiers to talk about the future of our country.

This is the new kind of government. The new program the member opposite wants everyone to get with is that Ottawa will go it alone, that the Prime Minister knows everything and that the government does not want to hear from the provinces.

Is this indeed the new program that the member wants all Canadians to accept, that the Prime Minister knows everything and the premiers have no say?

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister has met with the premiers approximately 250 times since 2006. That is a record that will stand in perpetuity.

What is ironic is that the leader of the member's own party refuses to meet with the western premiers and will meet with only those premiers who agree with him, which I suspect is a smaller and smaller group as days go on.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to the motion presented today by the leader of my party:

That this House acknowledge that the Canadian economy is facing unprecedented risk and uncertainty; recognize that many regions and industries across Canada have already suffered significant job losses in recent years; urge all levels of government to work together to build a balanced, 21st century Canadian economy; and insist that Canada's Prime Minister meet with his counterparts in Halifax this November at the National Economic Summit being held by the Council of the Federation.

I suppose we could call it a bland motion, or what people like to call a no-brainer, something that we can all agree upon: co-operative federalism in working together to solve the economic problems of the country. This is not something new to Canada. What is new, of course, is that the last time the Prime Minister met with the premiers was in November 2008. The 256 meetings he is talking about—perhaps with individual premiers at photo ops, on election platforms, or who knows where—are not what we are talking about here. We are talking about the premiers of this country who met in July in Halifax and sent an invitation to the Prime Minister to meet them in November to talk about the economic future of the country. I do not know what is so wrong with that.

The premiers' concern about maintaining a strong and growing economy in Canada is a top priority. They are concerned about the weak economic growth with our trading partners and the need to adapt to the growing strength of several economies. They called upon the Prime Minister to meet with them in November, and what we seem to be getting over here is a resounding no, that Conservatives will not meet with the premiers at their request to talk about the future of the economy. That is very surprising. Maybe they want to shy away from some of the facts. The fact of the matter is that when they took power, we had a trade surplus of $25 billion. Now we have a trade deficit of over $50 billion, a slide of some $75 billion under their watch. They continue to brag about being focused on jobs and the economy, yet we have in excess of 300,000 fewer jobs now than before the recession, and that is over a period of four years.

The member for York Centre said a few moments ago that the Conservatives had a plan for economic growth. They had no plan in 2008 when they were elected at the beginning of this crisis. There was no crisis, according to them. There was no crisis, they had no plan and they almost lost office because of it. That is the kind of economic record the government has for economic leadership. It was forced into trying to respond to the economic crisis after it was in denial for several months and throughout an election period.

Why does the government need to meet with the premiers? The premiers have problems of their own. The premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is faced with an unemployment rate that is more than 5% higher than the national average, at 12.7% to be exact, from the latest figures in August from the Newfoundland & Labrador Statistics Agency. The youth unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador is over 20%. That is a shocking statistic.

The motion refers to uncertainty in the economic future. Housing starts in Newfoundland and Labrador are down this year and projected to be down for a further two years, despite a rise in 2010.

We have uncertainty about the oil and gas future in Newfoundland and Labrador in terms of production. Production is going down and a new oil production field at Hebron is not coming into play until 2016-17. These oil production declines are causing economic uncertainty in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have seen significant job losses in fish plants in Marystown. This fish plant has operated successfully for decades. Port Union has seen permanent job losses, with no replacements in sight.

These are economic uncertainties that seek solutions and co-operation from the Government of Canada and the premier of the province.

Our leader today spoke about the job losses in the manufacturing sector across the country, half a million job losses that have not been attended to by the government.

The member for York Centre talked about how the OECD praised Canada's economic performance. Let us look a little deeper into what the OECD had to say about Canada.

Peter Jarrett, the head of the Canada division at the OECD economic department, had this to say, “Canada is blessed with abundant natural resources”. We would agree. We have them in Newfoundland and Labrador in mining, the fishery and offshore oil and gas. Forestry and mining is throughout the country. Out west we have the oil and gas. He continued to say, “but it needs to do more to develop other sectors of the economy if it is to maintain a high level of employment and equitable distribution of the fruits of growth”. All members of Parliament should be paying attention and listening to that statement.

That is where we are coming from. Our leader has said this. We want prosperity in Canada, but we want prosperity for all. We want the positive benefits of economic activity, natural resources and employment to be spread around. Let there be an equitable distribution of the fruits of our resources and growth.

That is why it is important to meet with the premiers of our country who represent all the various regions in their provinces. We have to listen to what they have to say. We have to listen to their ideas, respond to their concerns about their regions and the employment and economic needs of their regions. What we need is a balanced economy and we will not get that if the Prime Minister wants to go it alone without consulting with other leaders.

Members opposite have thrown disdain on meeting with the premiers.

I heard someone over there say that it would be just a photo op. We have these economic summits with the G8 and the G20 and what do we see on TV? We see a big photo op, a very expensive photo op. Nevertheless the leaders have their picture taken together. What can we expect? However, that is not the purpose of the meetings and neither is that the purpose of meeting with the premiers. To show that kind of disdain for the premiers is to show a shocking level of arrogance on the part of the Government of Canada, not economic leadership.

We need real leadership from the government. We need a government that listens to other people, one that listens to the legitimate concerns that have been raised about an economy that may be performing in some respects reasonably well but showing serious uncertainties for the future and an unbalanced economy with respect to manufacturing versus resource extraction and a failure to recognize that we need to ensure that everyone in all regions of the country gets to participate in a more equitable way in the products of our economic activity and employment.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the remarks of the member for St. John's East are well-thought out. I especially agree with his points on the growing inequity within Canada and the need for a first ministers meeting.

When the premiers made the request in June, they thought it through. They did not ask to meet the Prime Minister on areas of disagreement they had, which may be equalization and some other areas. They asked the Prime Minister to meet on the economy and trade, areas which are important to all Canadians.

There is nothing like having the whole group of first ministers come together and bounce ideas, from all political perspectives, off one another and come up with a plan. The premiers know at their level that the spin they are getting from the government on trade, as the member for St. John's East mentioned, is just that, spin.

We have had the biggest July trade deficit in the history of recording of trade deficits. Under the government's watch, our trade deficit has been increasing consistently, even though the minister travels the world.

Those are important points, and I agree with the member. Could he expand his views on real activities on trade versus—

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for St. John's East.

Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I will note, as I am sure the hon. member is well aware, that in his province, the unemployment rate is 11.7%. That shows again the inequitable nature of the distribution of employment and opportunities across the country.

It is not surprising that his premier, Premier Ghiz, along with Premier Dunderdale and the others, would want to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss ideas as to how to resolve some of these economic issues. Part of the role in a federation like ours is that there be the kind of co-operation, particularly, as the member points out, when they are not here to pick a fight. They want to work together. We have a Prime Minister who says that the government will not to co-operate with the provinces, that it will not sit down and talk about how to solve some of the underlying problems in our economy, and that is a shame.