This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

MarriageOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said that he intends to introduce a motion to revisit the same sex marriage law even though nine jurisdictions and the Supreme Court of Canada have unanimously affirmed its validity, and even though the House has adopted legislation protecting both equality rights and religious freedom.

Since the only way that the law can be changed is to invoke the notwithstanding clause, and since the Prime Minister said he will not invoke the notwithstanding clause, my question is this. Why introduce such a divisive, unconstitutional non-starter while we have so many compelling concerns on the parliamentary and public agenda?

MarriageOral Questions

3 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister indicated during the election campaign that there would be a free vote with respect to this matter. There will in fact be a free vote on this matter. The Prime Minister is a man of his word.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities AgencyOral Questions

June 6th, 2006 / 3 p.m.

Conservative

Fabian Manning Conservative Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, the member for Kings—Hants and Liberal leadership candidate has said, “I believe we need to replace failed regional economic development programs”. Almost 20 years ago a Conservative government created ACOA as a means to increase economic development and employment opportunities in Atlantic Canada.

Can the minister refute the statement that ACOA has been a failed economic development program in Atlantic Canada and tell us how it is meeting its mandate of increasing opportunities and employment for Atlantic Canadians?

Atlantic Canada Opportunities AgencyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his hard work and his question on this issue. I do not think it would surprise anyone that I disagree with the member for Kings--Hants.

ACOA's results speak for themselves: $300 million in world class R and D carried out by Atlantic Canadian companies; exports now creating one out of every three jobs in the region; women in Atlantic Canada have started businesses at three times the rate of men; and the region's unemployment rate continues to fall to the lowest level since 1976.

That is why our Prime Minister recently announced a $10 million agreement with the Atlantic provinces to help our small and medium sized businesses. ACOA delivers results. It is here to stay. It is here to pay.

The government will continue to work with all Canadians and with young people to ensure that Atlantic Canadians can stay home.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I wish to draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Right Hon. John Prescott, MP, Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State of the United Kingdom.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Mount Royal is rising on a point of order.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Yorkton—Melville reported to the House on June 1:

We have heard from the Auditor General and senior bureaucrats that the Liberals deliberately hid millions of dollars from Parliament.

The transcript of testimony by the Auditor General and senior officials before the public safety committee contains no such allegation. On the contrary, the witnesses specifically repudiate that allegation.

The hon. member's statement, as it stands, misrepresents the testimony of witnesses and misleads the House. I have discussed the matter with the hon. member and would invite him to clarify for the record this matter before the House.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am quite surprised that the Liberals would draw attention to probably one of the biggest fiascos that has ever been perpetrated on Parliament and the Canadian people. This is what the Auditor General said:

--significant costs incurred by the Canada Firearms Centre in 2003-04 were not reported properly to Parliament--

She also said:

--it also decided not to seek additional funding through Supplementary Estimates in 2003-04.

In light of what the Auditor General said, I am not misleading Parliament. Let me give the House a couple of other quotations from the Auditor General's comments:

What's really inexcusable is that Parliament was in the dark.

She said:

This information was not systematically provided to Parliament.

Again, she went on to say:

--it also decided not to seek additional funding through Supplementary Estimates in 2003-04.

That was a decision by the Liberal government to do that, to not inform Parliament. I will ask the people of Canada to decide whether that is deliberate or not, when we make a conscious decision. She went on to say:

The ability of the House of Commons to cap government spending is fundamental to Parliament's control of the public purse. This means that departments and agencies need to give Parliament good estimates of their spending plans and report their actual spending properly.

She also went on to say:

Senior accounting officials of the Treasury Board Secretariat have told us that a department and its minister are responsible for the accuracy of their financial reporting.

Her entire report goes on to document the problem. I would like to refer the Speaker to a ruling from May 31, 1982 on page 17912 of the Debates. It stated:

Expressions which are unparliamentary when applied to individuals are not always so considered when applied to a whole party.

Another ruling from May 1, 1980 at page 606 of the Debates said a similar thing, but in that case the words were directed at the government instead of an individual member.

I would like to point out that the Auditor General basically said the same things. Her report has been tabled and is before the House and I quoted from it. How can that be unparliamentary?

Further, I would like the Speaker to be aware that the member will be proposing a motion to replace me as chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Safety because of something I said in the House. That is intimidation and a breach of my privileges. Marleau and Montpetit states:

By far, the most important right accorded to Members of the House is the exercise of freedom of speech in parliamentary proceedings. It has been described as: “…a fundamental right without which they would be hampered in the performance of their duties. It permits them to speak in the House without inhibition, to refer to any matter or express any opinion as they see fit, to say what they feel needs to be said in the furtherance of the national interest and the aspirations of their constituents”.

On page 84 of Marleau and Montpetit it states:

Speakers have consistently upheld the right of the House to the services of its Members free from intimidation--

The precedent cited on that same page is from Speaker Lamoureux who went further and suggested that members should be protected from threats or attempts at intimidation.

I believe the Liberal Party is now resorting to intimidation against members for what they say on the floor of the House. That affects our privileges and I think it is quite clear I did not mislead Parliament.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the only issue with respect to my point of order was whether the hon. misrepresented the testimony of the Auditor General. The one word he used, which I stated deliberately misrepresented the testimony of the Auditor General, as can be seen from a reading of the transcript, was when the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville characterized the Auditor General as saying that the Liberals deliberately hid millions of dollars from Parliament.

I put that question personally to the Auditor General. I asked her if she made that statement or if she would make the statement “the Liberals deliberately hid”. Her answer was categorically “no”.

That is what I am asking the hon. member to withdraw. He is misrepresenting the testimony of the Auditor General before the House. I have invited him to withdraw that statement.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for Mount Royal and the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville for their submissions. My recollection is we had dealt with this matter once before.

I will take the matter under advisement and get back to the House in due course with a ruling on the issue raised by the hon. member for Mount Royal.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

When the matter was before the House before question period, the hon. member for Guelph had the floor. There are four minutes remaining in the time allotted for questions and comments on her speech. I therefore call for questions or comments.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who spoke earlier referred to the child care provisions of this budget.

One thing concerns me a great deal. When the Liberal Party was in power, it never did anything to correct the fiscal imbalance caused by the fact that Quebec had set up its own child care system. Because Quebeckers subsidized child care through their taxes, they paid a lower fee per day. When the time came to file their tax returns, they claimed a lower tax credit than other Canadians, which allowed the government to save $250 million a year or $1.5 billion over six years, at the expense of parents in Quebec who made that choice.

My question is this: does my colleague believe that, at the time, her government should have paid back the money it saved to the Government of Quebec, and does she think that the Conservative government should, at the very least, pay the money back today?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member means well, but I took part in the debate on the budget. I heard so many Bloc members talk about the fact that they did not agree with the Conservative budget. They did not agree with the child care part. They did not agree with the Kyoto part. They did not agree with the taxation part. They did not agree with the Kelowna part. They went on and on, not agreeing with it.

I question why the Bloc supports the budget. The only thing the Bloc is interested in is the fiscal part. The Conservatives dangled that carrot, the fiscal part of this, but did not say what they would do for Quebec. They have not shown that and they are hoping to get more votes in Quebec. It is the only reason that was ever offered. The Bloc is foolish to think there is something in reality coming.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, one point in the throne speech had to do with the guarantee of wait times for health care. The member probably is aware that there is no new money in the budget for this new initiative, where Canadians will be ferried to another province or into the United States. The Minister of Health also said on the public record in question period that the moneys needed to take care of that were in the $42 billion health care accord, and that bothers me.

How can the Conservatives promise to do something that was done in the accord, which was not theirs in the first place, or have they misled the House?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, as everyone in the House knows, I have worked on health care day after day. The last Liberal government, as a number of members have mentioned, left the House and our country in fantastic financial condition. The Conservative government does not have anything more allotted to wait times. Nor does it not have a clear plan.

When the Liberal government was in power, it established last Christmas actual wait times province to province. We have not moved one inch. I met a man on the weekend who has a hernia, the size of which I have never seen anything like. It is almost the size of a huge head on the front of him. He has to wait until July to get help.

The Conservative government has not allotted one thing and it has not moved one inch since Christmastime. This was a major plank it promised people. When people say that the Prime Minister is doing what he said he would do, he is not. He is failing Canadians. This is not a partisan issue. This is about the health of Canadians and he should act.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to speak about the budget again. Although it was passed unanimously this morning, I think it has some deficiencies.

We in the Bloc Québécois voted for the budget because it contains a promise to correct the fiscal imbalance. That is the only reason we voted for it, because we have numerous concerns about it.

We have serious concerns and strong reservations about the correction of the fiscal imbalance. Days and weeks have gone by since the government introduced this budget. We are starting to see some backtracking. The promise is no longer as firm as it was. We have seen the minister backtrack. We have also seen the Prime Minister backtrack in public.

We are also concerned about the weak surpluses set out in the budget. We are wondering where the money to correct the fiscal imbalance is going to come from. That is what we are talking about, that is what the Conservative government promised: to correct the fiscal imbalance. That means $10 billion to $12 billion a year, approximately $3 billion of it for Quebec. We are wondering where the money will come from.

Equalization is another thing that concerns us a lot. We see that to please the oil-rich provinces the Conservative government plans to exclude—we do not yet know whether this will be in whole or in part—non-renewable resources from the equalization calculation. What does that do? It is not abstract. It represents hundreds of millions of dollars for Quebec and the other provinces. The provinces that are rich in natural resources appear, for the purposes of calculating equalization, to be less rich. This means that they are less able to contribute to the redistribution of money to the provinces that need it most.

What is a shame is that it is being done for non-renewable resources, which often produce pollution, but it is not being done for renewable resources. For example, why would the federal government not exclude from the calculation of equalization all revenue derived from hydroelectricity in Quebec? And yet this resource has the advantage of being renewable and non-polluting.

What is going on? Between 1970 and 1999, the government invested $66 billion in the development of oil and non-renewable energy sources. During the same period, a meagre $329 million was invested in renewable sources of energy. Of course Quebeckers had to pay a quarter of the $66 billion to develop the energy and the economy of other provinces. Today, now that it has become profitable, when the time comes to distribute the wealth, the Conservative government says, no, thank you. When it is time to pay, we are asked to contribute, but when it is time to collect, we are told we can do without.

In any case, the real solution to the fiscal imbalance does not rest solely in equalization and transfers to the provinces, but basically in real transfers of tax fields to the governments of Quebec and the provinces. That is the solution. Quebec should be able to benefit from the foreseeable revenue it controls. This way, we would not always be at the mercy of a new government that might play the 1995 trick on us again. We should not have to lose everything we have gained because the government has decided to backtrack.

We will be very vigilant with the Conservative government to make sure that the solution provides for a transfer of tax fields. Whether this is short-term or medium-term, it has to be done. It is not true that the government should give out a few treats, call an election and then try to take the treats back if it unfortunately wins a majority vote.

Something else in this budget is disappointing. During the election campaign, this government promised to take a new attitude towards Quebec and to respect its areas of jurisdiction. Unfortunately, we see the good old federalist habits making their way back in a hurry.

We got the universal child care benefit program, when child care falls within Quebec’s jurisdiction. We have suggested a solution that would avoid this problem, but the government is obstinately refusing to give in.

There was the government’s intention, for the nth time, to create a Canadian securities body, when this is in Quebec's exclusive area of jurisdiction. All Quebec governments have always been opposed to any interference in this area.

The government still wants to proceed. Even in the budget addenda on the fiscal imbalance, there was frequent reference to accountability and pan-Canadian standards. They said they wanted to adopt the model of the social union, even though Quebec has rejected that principle. It is obvious that the attitude of the federal government is always the same. Canada Foundation for Innovation, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council: all instances of interference in Quebec’s fields of jurisdiction. The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control duplicates what is already being done in Quebec.

In immigration, the recognition of immigrants’ professional credentials is a very good thing, but once again, this is something that is decided in Quebec and the provinces. It would be better to give provinces the money so that they can exercise their own jurisdictions.

In immigration, however, there is one responsibility that falls to the federal government which it continues to refuse to act upon, and that is the establishment of the appeal division for refugees. About $10 million would be sufficient to permit refugees who are not satisfied with the decision of a board member to appeal that decision and be allowed real justice.

In my riding, there is a very concrete example of this. Mr. Abdelkader Belaouni is presently in the basement of a church rectory because he does not want to be deported. He firmly believes he has been the victim of an injustice. He has never been able to appeal the decision of board member Laurier Thibault, who in the last two years has allowed only a single refugee claim. That means a refusal rate of close to 100%. So you see what is happening in this area.

We could talk at length about the process for appointing board members, but that is not a matter that relates to the budget. However, since board members are not always appointed on the basis of competency and knowledge of the field, sometimes there are bad decisions.

In our legal system, when an authority renders a bad decision, that decision can be appealed. That is provided for by law. However, since the government has refused to provide money in this budget for the refugee appeal division, that division has still not been set up, and people like Abdelkader Belaouni find themselves in extremely difficult situations. Therefore the government must create this appeal division and allocate it the necessary funds. In the meantime, because there are human tragedies going on, the government must regularize the situation of Mr. Belaouni and all those who are experiencing difficulties in Canada.

I would also like to speak about the universal child care benefit. There has been a good deal of discussion about this, and I must say that it is a subject with which I am particularly concerned, as I plan to have children myself in a few years. I asked a lot of questions in committee, but did not receive all the answers I wanted. I find that a little unfortunate.

First of all, in its present form, this program constitutes interference in Quebec’s fields of jurisdiction because it is a social and family measure. Second, the way that this program was designed is unfair. The benefit itself is taxable only on the lowest family income. That creates some absurd situations. For example, consider two families. In the first family, where there are two parents, one parent earns $213,500 per year. This example might very well apply to a federal minister. The other parent stays at home. What do we find? The entire benefit will be reported on the tax return of the person with the lowest income—i.e. $0—who, for all practical purposes, would pay no income tax.

However, in the case of a single parent family with an income of $28,000, since the benefit is related to the income, there will be an additional $800 in combined federal and provincial taxes. Obviously, things are upside down. The families with the greatest need for help from the government will get the least and the reverse.

And yet we made a proposal in good faith to the government, which said it wanted to consult the opposition parties. The proposal was to provide a refundable tax credit to all parents. It could be sent monthly by cheque—with a Canadian flag on it if that pleased the federal government. That is not a problem. However, our proposal involved using the family income as a basis to avoid the absurdities I described earlier. This benefit would have been reduced as a function of the family income, starting with the full allowance of $1,200 per child for families with an income of $25,000, for example, to a universal floor of $700. The proposal cost the same. It respected provincial jurisdictions. It was fairer and truly met people's needs.

I asked questions in the Standing Committee on Finance. Everyone who came to testify supported the Bloc's proposal and said it was better. I heard no member of the Conservative Party say our proposal was not a good one or that theirs was better for whatever reason. We still have no explanation why our proposal was rejected. It is too bad.

As regards the matter of child care services, there has been a lot of talk of parental choice. However, the Conservative government still refuses to accept and recognize the choice made by Quebeckers. They chose to set up a universal day care service and to pay for it through their taxes for the welfare of our children and future generations. It means the federal government saves $250 million annually in taxes at the expense of Quebec parents. Over the past six years, it has meant a total of $1.5 billion.

How this works is quite simple. All Canadian taxpayers complete their income tax returns. On line 214, there is a credit for child care. Parents in Quebec enter $7 a day on this line, instead of the $25, $30, or $50 they would have to enter if they had not chosen this form of child care. This means, of course, that Quebeckers receive a smaller tax credit than people elsewhere in Canada. Yet, they have paid for their child care service through their provincial taxes.

In a true federation that operates as it should, the central government would respect the choices of Quebeckers and return to the Quebec government the money it saves, rather than saying, as in this case, “Too bad, you made your choice. We will invest the $250 million in the Treasury Board coffers and do what we like with it”. Such as giving gifts to Alberta oil companies.

This situation has been a reality for Quebeckers for years. This is one of many examples of what it is costing us to not have full control of our destiny, not being a nation, not having our own country.

The Bloc Québécois, of course, is working hard for Quebec sovereignty, but in the meantime, we would really like the federal government to recognize the choices made by Quebeckers and to transfer this $250 million a year to Quebec.

Another program that is very important to us is the POWA, or program for older worker adjustment. The Bloc Québécois presented a sub-amendment to the Speech from the Throne for the government to implement this program. The sub-amendment was unanimously adopted and the federal Conservative government promised to implement it.

We still have not seen that program put into effect.

So what does it involve? It is for older workers who have been the victims of mass layoffs, to provide them with financial support until such time as they reach retirement age, so that they can reap the full benefits of their retirement.

The Conservative government has often replied that there were labour force re-entry programs. We have seen, however, that there are limits to what those programs can do. It is very difficult to re-enter the labour force when you have worked for a company for 30 or 40 years, often in a one-industry town, where there are really no other businesses. This is particularly true given that companies often prefer to hire young people rather than people who will be having to retire in a few years.

We therefore have a situation in which often both partners in a couple work in the same company. They have worked all their lives, they lose their jobs, they are not able to find other jobs, and they are not entitled to employment insurance for long enough. Once their employment insurance is exhausted, in order to receive social assistance in Quebec, they have to sell everything, lose everything they have spent their lives building.

I submit to the House that this is a very sad end to a working life and that we are wrong to abandon these people, who have contributed to society all their lives, particularly when this program would cost a maximum of a few hundred millions. It existed in the past; it was the Liberals who abolished it. So I implore the Conservative government to act as quickly as possible.

The final point I would like to talk about is one that is also of great importance to me, as a young person perhaps, because people talk to me about it a lot since I am the youth critic for the Bloc Québécois. I am talking about the environment, and in particular the Kyoto protocol, which the Conservative government has quite simply dumped. And what did this government say to justify its actions? It said that it was not capable of achieving its objectives.

Let's get something clear. We have a government that uses its own incompetence to justify its policy decisions. For years, we had the Liberals, who were in favour of the protocol, except that they did nothing to implement it. Now we have the Conservatives, who say they are incapable of implementing it. Ultimately, the only difference is that the Conservatives know they are incompetent, while the Liberals were unaware of their own incompetence.

And yet large numbers of countries are succeeding in doing it everywhere in the world. England is even making money by implementing the Kyoto protocol.

If we had a good, responsible, competent government, we would be capable of doing it, but the Minister of Oil—of the Environment—simply has no plan; she is much too busy with other things. That is a good one, “the Minister of Oil”, that is; in the end, I am not offended. So the Minister of the Environment has no plan. In any event, she could very well put together a Canadian plan that would comply with the Kyoto protocol. The Kyoto protocol, after all, is first and foremost a set of commitments made to the international community.

I believe we have a moral obligation to achieve the Kyoto protocol objectives. We have to succeed at this. We have to do it for future generations, for our economy and for our environment. Failure in this is unacceptable; we have to get it done.

I invite all members of the public to support the Bloc Québécois and the parties that genuinely support the Kyoto protocol. In Quebec, the Save Kyoto coalition has been formed. I invite people to visit their website, to sign the petition, to wear the little pin in the shape of a green K—for Kyoto—to say that they find it unacceptable for this government to renege on international promises, on Canada’s international commitments, and sacrifice our environment to please a few oil companies that for decades have been shamelessly filling their pockets at the expense of Quebeckers.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I remember when I was a relatively new member and gave speeches like that. I think it is time to pass on a little wisdom about what works.

The member started off by talking about the two classics, fiscal imbalance and equalization. These are very problematic. They have been topics of discussion in this place for a long time.

With regard to the fiscal imbalance, the member is probably aware that the Prime Minister is basically saying that we have vacated tax room by reducing the GST, so if Quebec would increase its provincial sales tax, there would be more money. That is the solution. The member will understand that is not going to make very many people happy.

Equalization also is something very important to Quebec. I wish the member would have looked at the implications of the report that just came out, which suggested not whether resource revenue be in or out, but basically said that half of it should be in. In other words, let us make absolutely everybody unhappy. This is very important. These are critical issues.

I know how the member feels about Canada and Quebec's role in Canada. As long as Quebec is part of Canada, we have to look at these issues from the standpoint of how we move these things forward in a way which respects the Constitution as well as the best interests of all Canadians regardless of what province they happen to live in.

I would offer one little thought with regard to Kyoto. He may not be aware, but not only did the last government have the EnerGuide program to assist low income households to improve the energy efficiency of homes, but there was the one tonne challenge as well. Also, a significant deal was signed with the automobile sector. That sector agreed unanimously to meet its Kyoto targets within the timeframe. That has never been mentioned in the debate on Kyoto. It is respectful that the automobile industry has made a commitment to be there.

The ones that have not made it, and maybe the member would like to comment, are the large emitters. The member will know that the petroleum industry and hydro are the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Quebec is not disassociated from hydro. Quebec also has to be part of the solution. Maybe the member has some comments.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, equalization is one part of the solution to fiscal imbalance. What is most important is that there be true transfers of the federal government's tax fields to the provinces and Quebec. There is strong consensus in Quebec on this matter. The Séguin commission looked at this issue and issued its report. The majority of Quebeckers agree that there is a fiscal imbalance and that it must be corrected through transfer of tax fields.

We should take note of the concept: the fiscal imbalance must be resolved by a transfer of tax fields. The two are tied. The fiscal imbalance cannot be resolved simply through an equalization formula that is constantly changing. This does not allow Quebec to truly have choices and to make decisions for the long term because it never knows when the federal government will change the equalization formula to suit one person or another.

With regard to excluding natural resources, it is obvious that they should never be excluded from the equalization formula. Whether we are talking about 50% or 100%, it is unacceptable to exclude resources. Why would we choose to favour, in a purely arbitrary way, one province over another? Why not exclude renewable resources, such as those produced by Hydro-Québec? This would be advantageous for Quebec. Why not exclude revenues from the aeronautical industry? That would also benefit Quebec.

As we can see, it is completely arbitrary. Once again, it caters to the western oil companies and that is unfortunate.

With regard to the Kyoto protocol, I must say that the government was somewhat disappointing. The Liberal government never wanted to put in place the territorial approach or respect the efforts made by Quebec. With regard to major emitters, the targets were not high enough. It was not surprising that—

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but we must continue with questions and comments.

The hon. member for Vancouver Island North.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week we heard about the deplorable conditions on the Kashechewan First Nation reserve, but let me tell the House that there are problems on many reserves across this country, including in Vancouver Island North.

The Homalco First Nation in Campbell River is in serious need of adequate housing. There is overcrowding which leads to health and social issues that need not be.

At Simoom Sound on Gilford Island, the water is contaminated and what little housing is there is uninhabitable due to moulds.

At Kingcome Inlet, there is no road for a six kilometre stretch, which leaves this community more isolated than it already is. I would like to read an excerpt from a very short letter that an 11-year-old girl in grade six wrote to me. Her name is Samantha-Ann Tania Moon. She says:

My family's been living in Kingcome for a long time. I think they have been here forever.

We need a road because some of my family has died in our river. We need a road because my Uncle Frank and my Uncle Ernie died in the river. My Auntie Helen's brother died in the river too. Also my friend, cousin and uncle were in a boat accident.

Please, we need a road or more of us might die. Also, one of us might get sick and we have to wait for high tide and we have to wait for a boat to take us down the river to catch a plane for the hospital.

Perhaps the member could comment on this and on where the money is for infrastructure for first nations, for roads, for houses and for clean water.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased finally to have had a question. Indeed, there is money missing in this budget for aboriginal communities, among others. The Bloc Québécois has already said it would support the Kelowna accord and we continue to work to defend the people of aboriginal communities.

Again, even though this transition budget was passed unanimously this morning, it is far from perfect and we will monitor the government to make sure we have a better budget next year.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was not aware that the Bloc Québécois actually supported the Kelowna accord, because Quebec first nations did not take part in the discussions and their government also did not attend, so I find that interesting.

My question comes back to the whole issue of equalization and the member's indication that he believes that any exception of natural resources would be made as a compensation to the oil companies. I want to remind the member that equalization is a federal tax program. It is federal tax dollars. It has nothing to do with oil companies whatsoever. It is a matter of equalizing tax dollars and equalizing program spending and so forth for all the provinces so that all Canadians can expect reasonably the same level of services from their government.

Equalization really does not have any impact whatsoever on oil companies or business. It is a federal tax program. I would like to ask the member if he is aware of that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, the question could have been directed to the premier of Alberta since he seems very concerned about excluding natural resource revenues from the equalization calculation. It is not complicated. As soon as non-renewable resources—such as gas or oil—are excluded, then resource-rich provinces have an advantage in terms of equalization and they will contribute less to the system. At the end of the day, this money is not a federal gift. It comes from taxpayers across Canada, including Quebec.

Furthermore, as far as the Kelowna accord is concerned, I must say I am very proud of what was done in Quebec. The Parti Québécois government negotiated the peace of the braves with the aboriginal communities in Quebec. I think this example was cited the world over. The day we become a sovereign nation, I am certain we will still have exemplary relations with aboriginal nations.