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House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what my Liberal colleague seems to think, it is important to say that this government has accomplished in six months what the previous Liberal government was unable to accomplish in four years.

We have settled the softwood lumber dispute, and we have put more than $5 billion Canadian back into industry pockets. That is why we are asking Parliament to support us, to support older workers and to support the softwood lumber industry by voting in favour of the agreement.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, jobs are being lost throughout Quebec: in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, in Abitibi, in northern Quebec and on the North Shore.

It is a catastrophe when half the workers in small cities and towns are losing their jobs because of the forestry crisis.

The Conservative minority government has denied that this problem even exists until now. It has dragged its feet for nine months.

What does the Prime Minister intend to do to help these towns, to help these families and to help these workers? Why has he done nothing up to now?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised to hear my colleague talk about foot dragging on this issue.

Thirteen long years of corrupt Liberal government meant that the softwood lumber problem remained unresolved. In just six months, we have resolved it. We are bringing back the money, we are bringing back stability and a profitable future for the people in the softwood lumber industry.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the forestry industry has been weakened by the softwood lumber dispute and it is going through an unprecedented crisis. Since April 2005, some 9,000 jobs have been lost in Quebec and it is only now that the Prime Minister is acknowledging that the Canada-United States agreement is inadequate when it comes to helping the forestry workers and companies. Unfortunately, he still refuses to say what form any supplementary help will take or when it will come.

When will the Prime Minister finally take action? The Bloc Québécois proposed a concrete plan. Will he use it as a model for immediately helping the entire forestry industry?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the softwood lumber agreement is necessary for the future of this industry. It is not sufficient and that is why, in our budget, we have funding for the older workers and for the forestry industry. We intend to announce our plans in these areas very soon.

Nonetheless, this agreement is essential. The leader of the Bloc Québécois should tell that to the leader of the Parti Québécois.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc proposed an assistance plan for older workers. A vote will be held on this issue this evening for every worker in every sector from every region in Quebec. This is what the unions and the Fédération de l'Âge d'Or du Québec are calling for, not a plan limited to a few regions and one or two sectors for just a year.

Will the Prime Minister understand that people older than 55 with 30 years of seniority cannot leave the softwood lumber industry to be retrained in computer science? Can he realize that? We are not talking about a bunch of old, worn-out rakes. These people need assistance immediately in order to live a decent life. Could the Prime Minister respond?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is important and we understand the demands the forestry industry is making and we are taking action.

Allow me to remind the leader of the Bloc Québécois that in our last budget we took action. We made a promise to have an older workers assistance program. It is a promise of the new government and we will keep it, just like the other promises. We will take action. That is exactly what the Bloc Québécois cannot do. The Bloc Québécois cannot take action because it is perpetually in opposition.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what his two colleagues just said, the Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec said that the government could not do anything to help the forest industry.

Can the minister really not think of a single thing the government could do? The Bloc Québécois introduced no fewer than 10 measures: fiscal measures and new market development measures, as well as older worker assistance measures and a program to go along with them. All of these measures are appropriate. How can he say that the government's hands are tied when these solutions exist? All it lacks is the will to do something.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we have resolved the softwood lumber dispute, which the Liberals failed to do in their 13 years of corrupt government and which the members of the Bloc Québécois will never be able to do. Members of the Bloc Québécois are in opposition and will always be in opposition. We are aware of workers' needs and will act to meet those needs. That is why we are asking for the opposition parties' support so we can act to help these workers as quickly as possible.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not all the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec said. Referring to Richard Desjardins, who sings about forestry issues, he wondered when a singer would stand up to defend the unemployed.

The question is not when will a singer sing about the unemployed, but when will we have a government that cares enough to do something for the unemployed?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of the Economic Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec, I had another opportunity to go to Abitibi last week. Fifteen of the nineteen sawmills in the region are closed. In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, nearly 1,400 jobs have been lost in the sector, including—

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please.

It is impossible to hear the minister, who has the floor. He was given the floor to answer the question. We have to be able to hear his response.

The Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Conservative Jonquière—Alma, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

When environmental standards are negotiated, it is important to ensure that the industry will be able to absorb the changes being introduced. Doing this jointly prevents companies from closing.

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently Mayor Bradley of Sarnia added his name to the chorus of Canadians who are concerned about the U.S. coast guard firing live ammunition into the Great Lakes. This is on top of the fact that the vessels of the coast guard have very powerful machine guns on them now.

Will the Prime Minister tell us how firing live ammunition into the Great Lakes where Canadians live, work and play is making them any safer?

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, it was actually in 2003 that the previous government affirmed a treaty that had been in place since 1817 and permitted this type of exercise. It is currently under review. There has been a suspension of all activities of live fire exercises until November. There will be a public consultation. Canada has made its views known to the United States. Clearly, we will follow these consultations in the United States to make those views further known on the environmental side and the security side to see that we get a proper resolution.

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, a proper resolution is to make sure that the shooting in the Great Lakes is stopped.

We all know that the Liberals sold us out when they allowed a treaty concocted two centuries ago to keep the Great Lakes demilitarized to be violated.

The question is whether the Conservative government is going to put on the table a Canadian position that says there will be no firing of live ammunition in the Great Lakes because of the environmental, safety, tourism, economic and sovereignty consequences.

Will the Prime Minister stand in this place and say that he is going to tell the Americans to shut down the firing in the Great Lakes?

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, obviously the leader of the NDP was not listening and he has taken the usual approach of ready, fire, aim.

I have said that the exercises are not taking place while the consultation is under way. In fact, there will be three public consultations, one taking place in Minneapolis and the others in Detroit and Buffalo. They are currently under way.

In April 2003 both countries agreed to an interpretation of an age-old contract, the Rush Bagot contract. We are pursuing this with the Americans. We have made our views known. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

October 16th, 2006 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the wake of all the “innocent quotes of the week”, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec absolutely had to get in on the action. After hearing his colleague from the industry department tell us recently that the increase in oil prices was due to environmentalists, the Minister of Labour really lays it on now by saying that sawmills are closing and thousands of workers are losing their jobs and that too is all their fault.

Instead of insulting and blaming environmentalists and singers like Richard Desjardins, who believes like us in sustainable development, now that we know that the Prime Minister says the softwood lumber agreement is inadequate, what is the minister going to do? Will he retract what he said? Will he apologize to Quebeckers for comments more reminiscent of the 1950s?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the member for Bourassa is never lacking for inflammatory words, always cut and dried and always rude.

We have the reality of the forestry crisis. When environmental standards are implemented hastily and not in consultation with the private sector, companies close. Now it is the unemployed who are paying the price for these decisions. If the Bloc Québécois had done its job when it was time and persuaded the Parti Québécois to negotiate with the companies in order to introduce measures, we would not be—

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Bourassa has the floor.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, our minister piles it on and claims without flinching that the sawmill closures show that we are going in the right direction. He also attributes this state of affairs to the Conservative government’s approach to improving air quality.

Are we to understand that the labour minister is telling us now, in his wisdom, that it is the fault of environmentalists if the sawmills are closing, that ultimately it is good for the environment and this is the approach he prefers?

We are witnessing something unprecedented in the annals of Parliament. We now have two twins in cabinet: the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and the Minister of Labour and of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, “Loose Cannon”.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the member for Bourassa just carries on with his insults in the House of Commons. He is incapable of more modulated speech and better behaviour in the House.

That being said, I remind the House of how important it is for parliamentarians to sit down with industry and ensure that when new environmental measures are implemented in the interests of all Canadians, these measures are possible and feasible for the companies so that they can stay afloat and people keep their jobs. Then we have a win-win situation.

I hope that the House will vote this evening in favour of the agreement to settle—

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Beauséjour has the floor.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, since this minority Conservative government sold out the Canadian softwood lumber industry to the Americans, all we have been hearing about is sawmill closures. Thousands of softwood related jobs were lost last week alone. In response, the Minister of Labour blames environmentalists for job losses in the lumber industry.

Does the trade minister also think environmentalists close sawmills, or will he admit that his inaction and the flawed softwood lumber deal are hurting workers and communities who now urgently need federal government help?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway B.C.

Conservative

David Emerson ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member perhaps is trying to suggest that the U.S. housing market has taken a severe downturn because of the softwood lumber agreement, which he knows is patent nonsense.

What he really is saying is he wants to go back to litigation. He wants to go back to spending millions of dollars on lawyers. He wants to go back to higher duties payable to the U.S. treasury. He wants the uncertainty, the job loss and the destruction to companies and communities from continuing the fight on softwood lumber.