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House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was community.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly why half of the jobless still do not have access to EI benefits.

The government is refusing to act in the interests of Quebec. After breaking election promises, after having its hand forced into amending the throne speech, after voting in committee in favour of the creation of an independent EI fund, it is now shoving aside the recommendations in the committee report. As well, it rejected this question during the negotiations with the NDP.

What is keeping the government from proceeding with this fundamental reform which is in Quebec's interest?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, in this budget alone, the one we voted on yesterday, there is $300 million in addition to the EI fund, helping 225,000 families across the country.

Further improvements include calculating EI benefits based on the best 14 weeks, increasing the working while on claim threshold to allow workers to earn more while they are receiving benefits, continuation of a second year of a pilot project providing an additional five years of EI benefits in regions of high unemployment, extension of the--

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Chambly--Borduas.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows very well that the amendments do not meet the needs of the unemployed.

I would, moreover, remind the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development that she has already voted in favour of the amendments to the throne speech and also supported the creation of an independent EI fund. I imagine the minister did not do so lightly, but was aware of the impact of her vote.

I would call upon the minister to show some consistency. Does she intend to proceed with these reforms without delay, in the best interests of the unemployed?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the fund, we have increased transparency. We have increased its independence.

I would point out to my colleagues, who frequently reference the Auditor General when speaking to us, that the fund is a part of the general revenues of Canada on the basis of advice of auditors general.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, over the last eight years, $47 billion have been diverted from that fund. It is high time it became independent again.

The time for studies has come and gone. The time has now come for implementation, for putting in place the measures on which the minister has already voted. The seasonal gap is hurting seasonal workers now. The minister has both the power to act and a duty to do so.

I am therefore asking what she is waiting for before showing some consistency and putting measures in place on which she has already indicated her agreement.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we cannot have it both ways. On the one hand, we have increased the power of the Auditor General. The Auditor General now produces reports every three months and the government responds to them.

In this particular case, the Auditor General said that this particular fund was a part of the general revenues of the Government of Canada. It has been so since the 1980s. We have made it more independent and more transparent but it is still part of the general revenues of the government.

The BudgetOral Question Period

May 20th, 2005 / 11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned about the final adoption of the budget bill that was adopted yesterday. We worked very hard to improve that budget and now it has moved on to the next stage. We are prepared, certainly in our party, to work as long as it takes this spring to have this budget adopted and not have it dragged along like budget bills usually do.

What process, what strategy and what timeline is the government willing to commit to that will ensure that we are able to see this budget fully implemented this spring or early summer?

The BudgetOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, our commitment to ensure that the budget bills pass before the end of this session has been steadfast and has not wavered. Last night members of Parliament in this House passed the budget bills. They were approved in principle. They have now been referred to committee. They will go through the usual legislative process.

Members of Parliament in this House showed support for cities, child care, the environment, affordable housing and post-secondary education. We will do everything possible to ensure that this House gets these bills through and the budget becomes law before the end of this session.

The BudgetOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the response. However, the problem with budgets and such bills is that it takes a long time for them to be passed at third reading.

We want to hear once more what the government is going to do exactly to ensure that these bills are passed in this session. We will be here to work. Is that the government's intention too?

The BudgetOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, naturally, the government is pleased with yesterday's vote, as are all Canadians. I appreciate the question by the leader of the New Democratic Party.

Now this bill is in committee. I can assure you that the government, through its leader, will do everything needed to advance its passage, as the legislative process requires of us.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals repeat daily that they are waiting for the Gomery report before they finally act. At the same time, they are doing everything they can to discredit the work of the commission. They are wrongly intimating that the commission will cost more than planned and question Justice Gomery's impartiality.

Why is this government trying to discredit and put an end to the inquiry by Mr. Justice Gomery into the Liberal scandal?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the statements by the member opposite are completely false. Not only did this government establish the Gomery commission, it is supporting all of the work done by Justice Gomery. The government is prepared to assume all the costs required to put the facts on the table for Canadians before they decide on what went on in the sponsorship file.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us deal with the facts. The Liberal government is engaged in another round of smearing reputations and this time it is Judge Gomery.

During yesterday's testimony, Justice Gomery made it clear that he was coming under budget despite leaks from the government complaining about the inquiry costs. In fact, the government exaggerated the cost by $40 million. This is clearly an attempt to hurt the credibility of Justice Gomery.

Why is the government trying to undermine the sponsorship inquiry?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that I am on the record as saying that the cost of Gomery is well worth it for the Canadian taxpayer because we are changing a culture of government. We are able to pay for generations of dividends to Canadians by getting to the truth and making fundamental changes to governance for Canadians.

I support, our Prime Minister, our entire government and our party support the work of Justice Gomery. The fact is that there is about $40 million of additional costs contributed by Public Works, Justice, the Treasury Board and the PCO to cooperate with Justice Gomery, which explains the discrepancy.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, Alfonso Gagliano, the Prime Minister's friend, is now joining forces with the former prime minister to shut down Gomery.

It seems some Liberals are not as anxious as some other Liberals to get to the truth. The Prime Minister has sung the praises of Mr. Gagliano in the past. Will he now ask him to stop this attempted cover-up?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, once again, the government's position has been clear. We want to see Justice Gomery complete his work and reach his conclusions so that Canadians have the truth.

Yesterday's Toronto Star said that Ontarians welcomed the Prime Minster's decision to cancel the sponsorship program, to fire people linked to it and to appoint Gomery. It went on to say:

[The Prime Minister's] budget, too, was well received, even by [the Leader of the Opposition] initially. And Ontarians recoil from the Conservative-Bloc Quebecois alliance....Few beyond politics-mad Ottawa relish an election now. Many just want Parliament to get on with the job of governing, by first passing the budget.

They voted against the interests of Ontario yesterday when they voted against that budget.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, while Canadian and Ontario voters are told that Justice Gomery will get to the bottom of the Liberal scandal, behind the scenes the Prime Minister's friend is making all efforts to silence Gomery, as is the former prime minister.

While the Prime Minister has in the past shown his admiration for his buddy, Alfonso, has he picked up the phone to tell this disgraced minister and the former prime minister to back off?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is also important to recognize that this was the Prime Minister who fired Alfonso Gagliano. This also is the Prime Minister who established the Gomery commission and supports, unequivocally, the Gomery commission.

There are allegations against other parties, including the Conservatives, including the Bloc or the separatists in Quebec. Those parties have ignored those allegations and are not taking them seriously.

We are taking these allegations seriously. We are addressing them thoroughly. We will ensure both our government and our party does the right thing while that party simply tries to make cheap political points on the floor of the House of Commons.

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Bloc Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Fédération des producteurs de bovins du Québec estimates that Quebec producers have suffered $280 million in uncompensated losses since the mad cow crisis began. Michel Dessureault, the president of the federation, considers that the aid provided by this government does not meet Quebec's needs. Again this week, he stated that federal programs are not working. However, the purchase of the Colbex abattoir by producers would resolve the cull cow problem in Quebec.

When will the minister stop hiding behind the lack of flexibility of his programs in order to avoid doing his part to guarantee a floor price for cull cows?

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, as I said in the House yesterday, and which we have conveyed very directly to the UPA and to others in Quebec, should producers purchase the plant and they want to expand the amount of processing they do in that plant, we have programming that would be available to assist them.

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Bloc Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, two years after the American border closed to Canadian beef, we are still waiting for measures that will provide real aid to Quebec producers.

How does the minister explain the fact that the much promised aid has yet to materialize?

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that programming has been put in place that has benefited producers in Quebec. In fact, it has benefited producers right across the country. Whether it be the TIS program, which was put in place in March 2004; the FIP program, which was just put in place in March 2005; or the repositioning strategy that we announced in September 2004, all these programs have worked to assist producers and the industry in general, including the industry in Quebec.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with the opening of the conference on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in Montreal only a few days away, the Canadian government has denied a visa to Africa's negotiator, Dr. Tewolde, from Ethiopia. This conference is of great interest to Quebec, since Montreal is already home to the secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

In this context, does the government intend to reconsider and grant Dr. Tewolde the visa that was requested?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi LiberalMinister of State (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, as the House knows, visas are very well reviewed at the time of application. In this particular instance the visa was denied.

Our visa officers are very competent and there is a certain discretion that they are allowed. If they in their judgment find that the visa application does not fit the criteria as set down by the regulations and by our guidelines, they have no alternative but to refuse.