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House of Commons Hansard #69 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was surplus.

Topics

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem, led by the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

[Members sang the national anthem]

The EnvironmentStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, the clean air act will reduce greenhouse gases and pollution in Canada. I want to thank the Minister of the Environment for her courage to put forth a comprehensive and practical solution.

This is the first time all industry will have mandatory targets, some beginning as early as next spring.

This plan will do more towards addressing our Kyoto targets than the 13 years of Liberal inaction.

We all have a responsibility, every level of government, every sector of the economy and every individual Canadian.

The Central Okanagan Regional District, led by the municipal governments of Kelowna and Lake Country, have already taken proactive measures to address environmental quality. I applaud their efforts in promoting sustainable environmental programs, alternative energy and motivating our communities to go green.

The clean air act will reduce pollution and greenhouse gases, regulate all industry, set realistic and achievable targets, and reward Canadians for smart choices.

Once again a Conservative government delivers real action on the environment.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, the government continues to show contempt for reality. It is trying to rewrite history by undermining the best economic record Canada has ever seen.

Thanks to Liberal governments, Canada's economy, which was on the verge of collapse 13 years ago, is now the healthiest in the G-7. We are the only country in that group in surplus. Eight straight Liberal surpluses left the current government the best set of books any incoming administration has ever seen. And what has this government done with it? It has cut billions in funding to Canada's most vulnerable with the help of the NDP, and increased income taxes on those who earn the least.

This government's contempt for the least advantaged Canadians is no surprise, considering the purse strings are held by the Mike Harris admiration society. Ontarians remember what they did in this province at a time when federal transfers were at record levels.

Canadians are horrified at this government's trying to destroy all they have worked so hard to achieve.

Older WorkersStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, after the federal government had been sleeping on the softwood lumber issue for almost five years, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development announced a semblance of a program for older workers.

Right at the outset of the softwood lumber crisis, 650 workers from the Port-Alfred plant in my riding, most of whom are aged 50 and over, were laid off. The plant was closed on a temporary basis in 2003, but that closure became permanent in 2005. Despite retraining measures, dozens of former workers were not able to find work and some of are now living on welfare.

We in the Bloc Québécois believe that, after contributing to society and the economy for 30, 35 or 40 years, older workers deserve both moral and income support. Therefore, I am asking the minister to act with humanity and provide a true income support program for, among others, these 100 citizens from my riding who were abandoned by the federal government.

RefugeesStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon refugees who are seeking shelter in Canada will be out in the cold on Parliament Hill. They are mostly women and children who are struggling to survive. They are vulnerable. They are hungry. Most are very poor. Many of the women are trying to escape domestic violence or the sex trade.

The previous Liberal government and now the Conservative government is exploiting and punishing them further by applying a modern-day head tax with the refugee landing fee of $550 per refugee and $150 per child.

I have tabled a motion in this House to drop these fees, this head tax, this blood money on the heads of the most vulnerable. If the government does not act, then it is saying to the world and the 10,000 Canadians who signed a petition that children should be made to suffer and women should indeed be treated like dogs. We must end this cruel practice now.

West St. Paul Fire DepartmentStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to pay tribute to the firefighters of the West St. Paul Fire Department in my riding of Kildonan—St. Paul. Recently the department celebrated its 50th anniversary, which I had the privilege of attending.

In the early 1950s, 25 members of West St. Paul, mostly World War II veterans, began their firefighting training with the city of Winnipeg. After the completion of their training and the construction of a fire hall, the West St. Paul Fire Department was created in 1956. Over the last 50 years, the fire department has grown from one fire truck to a modern rural fire department with 24 members and five response vehicles.

At the anniversary celebration, three firefighters were acknowledged for their 25 years of service to the West St. Paul Fire Department. They are Jim Turney, Bob Wright and Tom Addis, Jr.

I offer my sincere congratulations to Fire Chief Ryan Yackel and all of the firefighters on a job well done.

Government PoliciesStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government has shown contempt.

Yesterday it was claimed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the unelected Minister of Public Works that the Liberal government had racked up deficits. Has the hon. member been asleep for the last decade?

The Liberal government's economic record is the best Canada has ever known. Eight straight Liberal surpluses paid down billions of dollars on the national debt, which was spinning out of control at the end of Canada's last experiment in Conservative government. In fact, the last Conservative surplus, other than the one the Conservatives inherited from our government, was in 1912.

Conservative tax policies have already been exposed as anti-competitive, anti-democratic and anti everything that sound economic policy preaches. They want to turn surplus to deficit with tax breaks for the rich, just like they did in Ontario, and the Mike Harris triumvirate across the way is here to help them do the job.

The Liberal economic record speaks for itself, as does the contempt the Conservative government shows for Canadians.

Canada Awards for ExcellenceStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to announce that the Region of Peel has become the first government in Canada to earn the National Quality Institute's prestigious Canada Awards for Excellence Gold Trophy.

The Canada Awards for Excellence is an annual awards program that recognizes Canadian organizations which, through a commitment to innovation, productivity, a healthy workplace and ethics, have demonstrated sustainable measures of continuous improvement.

On Thursday, October 26, a presentation of the award will be made to the Region of Peel at its headquarters located in Brampton, Ontario. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate the Region of Peel Chairman Emil Kolb, Caledon Mayor Marolyn Morrison, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion and Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell, and their councillors, on this tremendous achievement and for the excellent example it has set for all governments.

First Nations Socio-Economic ForumStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, today, October 25, is a historic day for Quebec's first nations and the Quebec nation.

I am proud to inform this House of the initiative taken by the aboriginal people of Quebec. Indeed, today and the next two days, first nations are holding their first socio-economic forum in Mashteuiatsh, close to Roberval, in Quebec.

This major event provides an opportunity to make commitments and take concrete measures that will help aboriginal nations thrive.

It has already been 10 years since the royal commission on aboriginal peoples tabled its report, and too little has been done since. Ensuring that these nations will thrive is a major challenge.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and myself are proud to support the initiative and the political courage of Quebec's first nations. We hope that the federal government will take concrete action, and I mean concrete, for the well-being of Quebec's aboriginal peoples.

MY CanadaStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to your attention that a group named MY Canada is meeting with members of Parliament and senators this week here in Ottawa.

MY Canada stands for Motivated Young People for a Strong Canada, and that is exactly what these young people are. This past summer they held an event on Parliament Hill that attracted over 12,000 participants. They have been working all across Canada to motivate young people to vote and get involved in federal politics in a variety of ways.

I had the privilege of meeting with this fine group of young Canadians earlier this week. They want our members of Parliament to know that there are thousands of young people from coast to coast who hold fast to traditional values which have been held by former generations. They are here to support us as elected officials and to share their views with us on the many issues that are affecting young people today.

I encourage all members to get acquainted with this fine group of young people by meeting with them. Canada needs more fine young men and women like the people in MY Canada.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, 13 years ago today, the Liberal Party inherited the fiscal mess left by the Conservatives. We have spent 13 years cleaning it up.

Thanks to the Liberals, this Conservative government inherited an excellent fiscal record.

The current Minister of Finance has destroyed Ontario's economy, whereas with us the provinces were receiving record transfer payments. He has managed to take a large provincial surplus and turn it into a deficit.

One can only wonder what this minority Conservative government will do to the eight consecutive surplus budgets produced by the Liberals.

HarboursStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, the commercial fishery in my riding of South Shore—St. Margaret's is one of the busiest and most productive in all of Canada. In recognition of that, Canada's new government announced that we will provide funding for major improvement projects at three fishing harbours located on Cape Sable Island.

Three of the island's most important harbours will benefit from large major capital projects to improve safety and services as well as increase capacity and the harbours' ability to serve today's larger vessels.

I am proud to see that Clark's Harbour, Newellton and West Head will be the sites of major construction and harbour development work over the next several years.

This investment combined with other small craft harbour projects totalling $16 million for Nova Scotia clearly demonstrate how Canada's new government and the Minister of Fisheries are committed to supporting the Nova Scotia fishing industry.

This is a significant federal investment to provide our fishers with the first rate harbours and facilities they need for continued success.

VeteransStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, on November 11 millions of Canadians will be wearing the symbol of Remembrance Day, the red poppy. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian families will be visiting cenotaphs and memorials from coast to coast to coast. It truly is a wonderful day to express our thanks to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our peace, freedom and democracy.

But what happens to these veterans on November 12? That is the question the NDP is asking the government. We have some simple solutions which would effectively enhance the lives of veterans and their families.

Remove the gold digger clause which disallows veterans giving their second spouses their pension benefits on their death. End the discriminatory practice of the clawback of their pensions at age 65, and especially the pension clawbacks on the disability payments. As well, extend the veterans independence program to all widows of all veterans, regardless of when the veterans died.

If we did all of those things to help our veterans, November 11 would have a greater meaning for their lives throughout the entire year.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, today Canada's economy is one of the healthiest in the world, thanks to years of sound Liberal policies.

Thirteen years ago today when the election was held, Canada was an economic basket case. Unemployment was at a near record high, inflation was spinning out of control and the federal Conservative government had racked up a $50 billion deficit. On the international scene, Canada was considered to be an honorary member of the third world.

In 2005 the Liberal government recorded its eighth consecutive budget surplus, paying down $63 billion in debt. We put the Canadian economy back on its feet while the current Minister of Finance ran the Ontario economy into the ground.

The revisionism and contempt shown by the Minister of Finance is unacceptable. By trying to slam the best economic record in Canadian history, the Conservative government is ignoring the reality that all Canadians know: Liberal governments mean world-beating economic policies.

Commissioner of Official LanguagesStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 17, Mr. Graham Fraser officially succeeded Dyane Adam as the sixth Commissioner of Official Languages. A former English language journalist who speaks French fluently and a staunch advocate of linguistic duality in Canada, Graham Fraser lived in Quebec for more than 10 years. Mr. Fraser has acknowledged on many occasions the vital input of Quebec legislation to the survival of the French fact in North America.

A number of challenges are facing the new commissioner, including those associated with the judicial nature of the Official Languages Act and the impact of the elimination of the court challenges program on representing the interests of linguistic minorities.

Mr. Fraser's appointment has been very well received by my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois and myself, and we wish him the best in his new position.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberal Party came to power 13 years ago today, Canada was facing economic disaster. The previous Conservative government had racked up nearly $50 billion in debt per year, inflation was out of control, and the unemployment rate had reached record highs.

We got right to work and paid off $63 billion of the debt, which saved us $3 billion a year in interest.

Both the unemployment rate and the inflation rate are now low. In 2005, the Liberal government recorded its eighth budget surplus. Thanks to our excellent economic record, Canada has become a world leader.

Minister of Public Works and Government ServicesStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, over the past few days, the federal Liberals and the leader of the Bloc Québécois—whose members are the eternal opposition in Ottawa—have cast aspersions on the hard work done by the excellent Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and they have pressured him to run for office. The minister has done remarkable work, considering that Justice Gomery found Public Works and Government Services Canada to be at the heart of a complex kickback system that gave friends of federal Liberals all kinds of perks and allowed them to make illegal contributions to the LPC as part of the sponsorship program.

Both the Bloc Québécois and the federal Liberals are bringing new meaning to the word “absurd”.

Why did they not ask the same of Liberal senators who held ministerial positions in cabinet?

Why was it acceptable for Liberal Senator James Bernard Boudreau to be Minister of State for the ACOA in 2000? Liberal Senator Joyce Fairbairn was a minister for 1,639 days. Liberal Senator Jack Austin was in cabinet for 658 days.

When it comes to transparency, accountability and good public governance, the Liberals—

Minister of Public Works and Government ServicesStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

We will now move on to oral questions.

Minister of Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding that last intervention, we have today a Conservative Minister of Public Works and Government Services who does not care about our electors. Contrary to any parliamentary precedent, he refuses to run in his own city at the first opportunity. Now, and this takes the cake, he is silencing his officials, our officials. He is muzzling those who run the programs by preventing them from answering any questions from members of this House.

Since Michael Fortier refuses to run for office himself, how can he prevent his officials from answering questions from those who did and who were elected by the Canadian public?

Minister of Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Senator Fortier promised to represent the people of Montreal within cabinet for the duration of this Parliament. He is doing good work. He will run in the next election.

As far as the ministers are concerned, they took their responsibilities and answered questions in parliamentary committees.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

October 25th, 2006 / 2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today members of Parliament are trying to get to the bottom of how the cuts for literacy, court challenges, women and minorities will affect Canadians. They are attempting to determine the true rationale for those actions, which Canadians see as a meanspirited attack on their volunteer and meritorious activities. That is the role of members of Parliament. It is the function of democracy.

Conservative ministers are muzzling public servants and showing a deep-seated disrespect for Parliament and for Canadians. Why are members of Parliament not allowed to hear from the public servants they need to hear from in order to do their jobs?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. We strongly believe in accountability. That is why my deputy minister, my assistant deputy minister and I all appeared before the government operations committee last week.

My colleagues have appeared before numerous committees. I believe the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development will be appearing before two committees this week and I understand the Minister of Public Works and Government Services will be appearing before committee, all of this with their officials.

In the previous Parliament, we could not find a Liberal minister who would ever agree to go before a committee. Now in this government we are only too happy to be accountable before committees.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, members of the foreign affairs and defence committees can testify that I was there as regularly as they asked me, as was every other minister in our government.

On the contrary, the Prime Minister has muzzled his ministers, he has muzzled his caucus, the media suffers his wrath, and now he is muzzling public servants. Why, in spite of all his political rhetoric, is the Prime Minister showing such contempt for the democratic process so essential to the integrity of the House? Why such fear of candour?

Will the Prime Minister now order his ministers to allow committees of the House to hear from any public servants they need to hear from so they can do the jobs that at least they were elected to do?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is utterly bizarre that the Leader of the Opposition is complaining that ministers are willing to come to committee and answer questions from members of Parliament.

I think the reason for these kinds of ridiculous questions is that the Leader of the Opposition would like to cover up what his friends over in the Senate are doing. They are trying to change the accountability act to create a separate Senate ethics officer. They want to delay the coming into force of provisions on political donations for a year. They want to increase the amount of money that can be given to political parties. They want to grandfather political staff that should not have been appointed in the first place, contrary to what Gomery recommended. They are being completely unaccountable and irresponsible.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming increasingly evident that this Conservative government has no regard for Montreal. Yesterday, neither the Prime Minister nor the parliamentary secretary could give a single example of something that Michael Fortier has done for Montreal. However, I can give you two examples of failures: the lack of an aerospace policy and job losses at Bombardier.

All the work has been done. All the stakeholders agree. When will the minister responsible for Montreal announce our aerospace policy?