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House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, we have great sympathy for people who are caught in situations like that where there is nothing but seasonal work. We are gripped with this issue but I want to point out to my friend that we are taking many steps to ensure workers have options, including the targeted initiative for older workers which is now underway in Quebec. There are nine different projects.

On top of that, we have announced $3 billion in new initiatives to provide training across the country over the next five years. We are ensuring that people do have options to get back into the workforce.

Air TransportationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, under the American secure flight program, Canadian airlines will be required to provide personal information on passengers who are not even flying to the U.S. This violation of privacy is without precedents.

Who would want this kind of information in the hands of the Bush administration?

Why has the government done absolutely nothing to protect the rights of Canadians? Whatever happened to standing up for Canada?

Air TransportationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Let me remind the members of the House, Mr. Speaker, that this is a proposed new U.S. regulation. Our government has been working with the U.S. to minimize the impact on air travellers. So far, we have been able to ensure that almost 80% of flights will not be captured by the new U.S. law.

Fishing IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Fabian Manning Conservative Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, the fishing industry remains a very important aspect of the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. The government is committed to protecting and enhancing Canadian fisheries, especially to ending foreign overfishing in international waters off the province of Newfoundland.

Could the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans update the House on how he has kept his promise to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and respond to the outrageous claim that NAFO reform would undermine Canada's sovereignty in our own waters?

Fishing IndustryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, all of us remember a very short time ago when Canadian Coast Guard boats were tied up at the wharves because they could not afford fuel when the foreign fleets were ravaging our fish stocks.

That is no longer the case. Our boats are out on surveillance missions. We have no more foreign overfishing because we changed NAFO as we said we would.

This year we cemented these changes in the new convention, the new convention that protects our stocks but protects our sovereignty now and forever.

Automobile IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to trade and the manufacturing crisis, the government is taking Canada in the wrong direction. The latest example is the unfair trade deal the government is signing with South Korea.

Last year, Korea sold $1.7 billion in auto products to Canada. Canada sold a puny $11 million in trade to Korea; a breathtaking trade deficit the government only wants to make worse.

When will the government put the brakes on a bad trade deal and start standing up for our manufacturing jobs once and for all?

Automobile IndustryOral Questions

2:55 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, I guess I will repeat the question back to the hon. member of the NDP. When will the NDP understand that trade is the lifeblood of the Canadian economy?

We do not have a free trade agreement with Korea. We are negotiating with a number of countries. We are negotiating through the World Trade Organization. We are trying to level the playing field for Canadian exporters. We want Canada to be strong. We want to be a good exporter. Our jobs and our futures depend on those things and not on the kind of protectionism that the NDP is advocating.

Automobile IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, in spite of that misinformation, the government is clearly going ahead with its so-called free trade deal with South Korea that is neither free nor fair.

When will the Prime Minister honour his election promise, send the proposed agreement to a committee for a full debate and bring it before the House for a vote by parliamentarians or, better yet, when will he come to his senses and get rid of this trade deal that will only hurt Canadian manufacturing jobs?

Automobile IndustryOral Questions

2:55 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, when there is a free trade agreement, it will come before the House, be viewed by the House and voted on by the House. Therefore, I candidly do not know what the hon. member is talking about.

Canadian Wheat BoardOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, respect for the law is a core fundamental Canadian principle and the Prime Minister has violated that principle.

Last July, the government was found guilty by the federal court of attempting to illegally take farmers' marketing rights through the Canadian Wheat Board away.

The previous minister was fired for having failed in the Prime Minister's mission to destroy the board. Worse, the Prime Minister's statements following the court decision shows absolute contempt for the court.

Will the current minister just do what is right and abide by the federal court's decision?

Canadian Wheat BoardOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we do have the right of appeal on that and we have announced that.

I, for one, as a western Canadian farmer, cannot understand the unhealthy obsession of the former minister from Malpeque. I can pledge to the people of Malpeque that after the next election they will be rid of that one-trick pony.

International TradeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, counterfeiting and piracy pose an ever-increasing threat to the growth of the knowledge economy and affect consumers and business in Canada and abroad.

Could the Minister of International Trade say what the government is doing in the fight against piracy and counterfeiting on the international stage?

International TradeOral Questions

2:55 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, I am getting a lot of business today and I would like to thank the hon. member for Peterborough for his question. He is quite right. Intellectual property theft is a particularly pernicious form of piracy. It hurts creators and innovators. It puts consumers in danger and it supports organized crime.

I am, therefore, pleased to announce today that Canada, along with Japan, the United States, the European Union and Switzerland are entering into negotiations to develop an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement that will be a model of intellectual property protection for the world.

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Independent Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the throne speech does not address the issue of poverty, particularly that of the elderly. At present, recipients of the maximum guaranteed income supplement live in poverty with $13,600 per year, which is below the low-income threshold, a euphemism for the poverty line. Not only does the government have the means to help seniors by providing a decent pension, it has the obligation and the responsibility to do so.

When will the government tackle the poverty of seniors and review the guaranteed income supplement in order to, among other things, improve this benefit substantially?

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Questions

3 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, we are concerned about the plight of seniors and anyone who is struggling to get by and that is why we have moved to put in place a minister in charge of seniors, the hon. Marjorie LeBreton.

We have also put in place a seniors' panel that will look at seniors' issues and make recommendations to the government. We also have an expert panel on older workers that will provide us with insights on how to help older workers so they can have enough income to allow them to get through their senior years.

However, the one thing we will never do is cut $25 billion out of the social safety net like the Liberal government did.

Summer Career Placement ProgramOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development stated that he made changes to the summer career placement program because he did not want American multinationals such as Wal-Mart benefiting from the program. He is right. Some Wal-Marts did take advantage of the program, but not in Quebec.

Having denounced this state of affairs, can he explain the fact that at least one of the Wal-Marts that benefited from this program is located in his riding?

Summer Career Placement ProgramOral Questions

3 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, it is precisely because large companies around the country got this kind of funding that we moved to end that sort of support.

Our concern is to ensure that not for profits and the public sector benefit, and we want to ensure it is done in a transparent manner, which is why we put some conditions in place so that MPs could not unduly influence where that funding went.

However, I can assure all members that the one thing we will never do is allow individuals to funnel money to their friends, which is what happened under the previous government. We will not do that.

Border SecurityOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, this government has learned nothing from the Maher Arar fiasco.

Retired U.S. colonel, Ann Wright, and CodePink co-founder, Medea Benjamin, were blocked at Canada's border because they appeared on an FBI watch list. Their crime was peaceful protest, time-honoured civil disobedience, in opposition to the Iraqi war.

Why is the Prime Minister hiding behind the FBI to ban respected U.S. citizens from entering our country?

Border SecurityOral Questions

3 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, in the exercise of our sovereign rights, we have very distinct guidelines in terms of who may come into the country and who may not. We exercise those vigorously for the protection and for the interests of Canada, and we will continue to do that.

Board of Internal EconomyOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have the honour to inform the House that Michael Ignatieff, the hon. member for the electoral district of Etobicoke—Lakeshore, has been appointed to the Board of Internal Economy to replace Lucienne Robillard, the hon. member for the electoral district of Westmount—Ville-Marie, for the purposes and under the provisions of the act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, Chapter 32, Statutes of Canada, 1997.

Alleged Leak of the Speech from the ThronePrivilegeOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. House leader for the official opposition on October 16, 2007, concerning disclosure to the media of details of the Speech from the Throne prior to its reading by Her Excellency the Governor General to both Houses of Parliament.

I would like to thank the House Leader for the Official Opposition for bringing this matter to the attention of the House, as well as the hon. government House leader for his contribution on this question.

The House leader for the official opposition, in raising the matter, pointed out that copies of the Speech from the Throne were made available to the media before Her Excellency read the speech in the Senate chamber. The government House leader also expressed his concern about this situation, which he described as troubling.

I, too, view such matters seriously, as I know all honourable members do. The premature release of important documents, such as the Speech from the Throne or the Budget, runs contrary to our practices.

In this particular situation, however, there seems to be some disagreement about the responsibility for this leak. I must add, too, that even if undisputed facts were provided in this specific case, the Chair can find no procedural authority for the claim that the premature disclosure of the Speech from the Throne constitutes a breach of the privileges of the members of this House.

In reference to the secrecy of the budget, House of Commons Procedure and Practice states at page 753: “Speakers of the Canadian House have maintained that secrecy is a matter of parliamentary convention, rather than one of privilege”.

I would suggest to the House that the same is true with regard to throne speeches. I therefore must rule that no breach of privilege has occurred in the present case.

Once again, I would like to thank the hon. opposition House leader for going to the trouble of raising this matter.

The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Resuming debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. The hon. member for Trois-Rivières has five minutes to finish her remarks. She has the floor.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, when we left off before question period, I was talking about one of the Bloc Québécois' suggestions, which was to implement a program of loans and loan guarantees to help fund investments in production equipment. During the lengthy softwood lumber crisis, the Bloc Québécois repeatedly asked the government to give loan guarantees. But the government never helped the softwood lumber companies. Today we can see the sad results.

Since April 1, 2005, 21,000 workers who depended on forestry for their livelihood—including plant workers, forestry workers, machinists and truckers—have lost their jobs and 156 plants have closed. Our regions in Quebec have been very hard hit. It is unbelievable.

During this time, many companies have not been able to invest the money they need to upgrade their machinery and perform on par with their competitors. The government must abandon its laissez-faire approach and help fund investments in production equipment.

We are also suggesting numerous labour-related measures. For example, we are proposing that the government provide incentives for skilled workers to settle in the regions by offering, as the Government of Quebec does, a refundable tax credit of up to $8,000 to any young graduate who settles in a resource region and takes a job in this field. Another measure promotes job creation in resource regions and gives secondary and tertiary processing companies in these regions a tax credit equivalent to 30% of the increase in their payroll.

Another measure promotes the development of SME manufacturers in resource regions by offering them a tax break equivalent to 50% of their income tax. It is essential that the government use tax measures to stimulate the creation and development of processing businesses in resource regions. Measures such as this would make it more attractive for skilled workers to settle in areas affected by the forestry crisis.

The federal government must follow the example of the Government of Quebec and promote the labour market to these future workers. Populations are dwindling in our regions and urgent action is needed. Federal corporate income tax is twice as high as the Quebec tax rate and there is no such measure at the federal level. Support from Quebec cannot achieve the maximum effect until Ottawa adapts its taxation to the needs of the forestry industry.

Yet, the government did not announce any specific tax measures in the throne speech. It simply repeats that tax cuts will solve everything. However, tax cuts for businesses that have no profits are completely useless. There is nothing concrete in the throne speech.

As a final point, I would like to talk about research and development. Tax credits for research and development must be improved by transferring them into refundable tax credits, which would be beneficial for all companies that engage in research and development activities, including those that are not earning any profits, as I was saying earlier.

The budget for the industrial research assistance program, or IRAP, must be increased significantly. IRAP is managed by the National Research Council Canada. It is receiving money, but not nearly enough. Through that program, Ottawa must invest in the development of new products, in order to later reap the benefits of the royalties when the product is put on the market.

We must also ensure that the future Canadian wood fibre centre, a new federal research centre announced during the last budget, is established in a forestry region in Quebec.

The government is responsible for stimulating the research and development of new products. Tax credits alone will not do it. There is not enough support for research and development within businesses. Quebec, in particular, is suffering.

We believe it is important for the government to make a commitment and to invest, and we saw no indication of this in the throne speech. It must bring back a fund to diversify the forestry economy, to be managed by local players. However, it must also adapt federal taxation in order to stimulate job creation.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I will discuss my new responsibilities—