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House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-7.

Topics

2:05 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 West Nova.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary InternsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Conservative Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognize 20 youthful delegates from Ukraine, who have visited with us for the past three weeks. They are here in members' offices to gain valuable perspectives of Canada's most important democratic institution: the Parliament of Canada.

These young people, representing the Canada-Ukraine parliamentary program, embody the highest ideals of achievement and community service. They are the future leaders of Ukraine, young people like Iaroslav Udovenko, from my office.

Canada and Ukraine are inextricably linked forever by prior migration. Fully one in thirty Canadians are of Ukrainian descent, as are my wife, daughters and granddaughter.

Ukraine holds a special place in the hearts of Canadians. Canada was the first country in the western world to accord diplomatic recognition in 1991 to an independent Ukraine.

As the young emissaries depart, we wish them well and say to them, Mnohaya Lita.

UNICEFStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, we in the Liberal Party congratulate UNICEF on the one year anniversary of its Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign. This program encourages Canadian students to act as global citizens and raise funds for humanitarian projects. This year the focus is on the Schools for Africa program.

However, UNICEF's efforts stand in stark contrast to those of the Conservative government which, while acquiring a huge surplus of taxpayers' money, has failed to articulate any poverty reduction strategy here at home or abroad. There is no mention of how to target resources to address poor health, lack of housing and access to education that stalk the least fortunate in Canada. There is no mention of investing in access to clean water, food security, health care, primary education, and anti-corruption measures in developing countries.

We in the Liberal Party congratulate UNICEF for its leadership and challenge the Conservative government to show some of its own by assisting those who struggle mightily day in and day out just to survive. This is one of the highest responsibilities the government has, a responsibility--

UNICEFStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Québec.

Food Allergen LabellingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, October is Celiac Awareness Month. Celiac disease is caused by gluten intolerance. Gluten is found in products containing wheat, rye or oats. Unfortunately, there is no cure, and the only treatment for children and adults with celiac disease is a strict, lifelong, gluten-free diet.

People with celiac disease would benefit from clear, comprehensive labelling. Because of the Conservatives' and the Liberals' astounding lack of political will, a bill on this issue is still in the planning stages.

Seven years is a long time when your quality of life or that of your children is at stake. The Minister of Health must take action to speed up the process of implementing regulatory amendments to improve labelling of the most common food allergens.

Together with thousands of other people, I demand that the government take action and introduce a bill.

Economic StatementStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely disappointed with the economic statement released by the Conservative government yesterday. It failed to create more opportunities for women to increase their spending power.

If women are to participate fully in the Canadian economy, we need changes to maternity leave because too many women are not eligible to receive it. This leaves them with no choice but to be the parent who stays at home or to go on welfare to make ends meet. The economic statement included no money for child care, which again leaves women with no choice but to stay home as the cost of child care in most provinces remains prohibitive.

If women are unable to work, they are unable to participate fully in the economy, leaving 51% of the population at a disadvantage that they will carry forward to their retirement.

What the economic statement did include was a truckload of money for big banks, big oil and corporations. The tax cut aimed at ordinary Canadians will do little to help make ends meet. It will not increase affordable housing. It will not put a dent in the child care bills. It will not increase access to maternity leave.

Child CareStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, our government takes its commitment to help Canadian families very seriously. We place choice in child care where it belongs: first with parents and second with the provinces and territories.

As stated in the Speech from the Throne, families now have a real choice in child care. With the universal child care benefit, we give approximately $2.4 billion per year in monthly payments to parents for every child under the age of six. We also provide the provinces and territories new funding of $250 million per year that will help create tens of thousands of quality child care spaces across this country. We provide nearly $5.6 billion to support early learning and child care through transfers, direct spending and tax measures. Translated, this is $1.1 billion in cash transfers to the provinces and territories, $695 million for the child care expense deduction, and $1.5 billion in tax support for families with children through the new child tax credit.

We are proud to support Canadian families with children. The Liberals did not get it done; this government did get it done.

Income TrustsStatements By Members

October 31st, 2007 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on Halloween to mark the one year anniversary of the Conservative government's decision to wipe out $25 billion of hard-earned retirement savings of two million Canadians.

That was a cheap trick on Canadians, not a treat, as these Canadians believed a promise made by the Conservative government during the last federal election to preserve income trusts and not impose any new taxes on them. Instead, they were tricked and the Conservative government introduced measures that adversely impacted many Canadians, and seniors in particular, with the imposition of a 31.5% punitive tax on income trusts.

The government stands idly by as corporate Canada is sold out to foreign companies, made worse by the income trust decision. Since October 31, 2006, there have been 15 successful takeovers of income trusts by foreign companies.

As we sit here one year later, the Conservative government has much to explain about income trusts. It should do the right thing, apologize and correct this wrong.

New Democratic Party LeaderStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Toronto—Danforth, the leader of the fourth party, is definitely a card. He views himself as a king, members of the House know him as a jack, and recent events define him as a joker.

On what do I base this? This past summer, the leader of the fourth party played a bluff. He tried to claim credit for the Kamloops airport expansion and the recycling collection truck funding. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fortunately, the constituents of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo are all aces and they recognize a bluff when they see one. Many are asking, “Is this joker playing with a full deck?”

After 20 years of fourth party non-representation and no support, my constituents are pleased to have a government member who gets the job done. In the next election, their choices will be equally clear: trick or treat?

Happy Halloween.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, for the first time in 50 years of space flight two women, Pamela Melroy and Peggy Whitson were commanders at the same time, one on the space shuttle Discovery, and the other at the International Space Station.

While women are soaring high in space, here on earth, in a country said to be the best in the world, the Conservative government wants to set them back 30 years.

We send money to Afghanistan so that women can assert their rights, and that is a good thing. However, funding is being cut for women who want to defend their rights here. An honorary title was given to Aung San Suu Kyi for her courage, while the court challenges program was eliminated and an anti-abortion judge was appointed.

These decisions are far from enabling women here to aim high. The minister should learn to take command, like her sisters in space, instead of snubbing the women who disagree with her.

Economic UpdateStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Québécois members should be ashamed of themselves for having opposed the economic update, thereby refusing to invest in our families and our future.

For the past 20 months, we have been providing families with strong leadership for a better Canada, and our record speaks for itself. One and a half million families and 2 million young children are now benefiting from the monthly $100 child tax benefit. A permanent cut to the GST, reducing it to just 5%, will take effect in January 2008, in addition to lower personal income tax rates for all Quebeckers, thereby reducing the burden on families. And what about the registered disability savings plan, which helps parents save money to ensure the long-term financial security of their severely disabled children? It is the first program of its kind in Canada.

Talking for the sake of talking is not part of the Conservative way. We leave that to the Bloc. In contrast to the perpetual impotence of their empty rhetoric, we offer strong leadership and we keep our word.

Income TrustsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, one year ago today, the Prime Minister broke his promise not to tax income trusts. He lured hundreds of thousands of Canadians into the income trust market with his promise not to impose taxes and then he cut all those people off at the knees and imposed an unprecedented 31.5% tax.

A day later what happened? When the markets opened, $25 billion of Canadians' hard-earned savings went up in smoke. Overwhelmingly, those who suffered from this broken promise were not wealthy elites, but hard-working Canadians, many of them seniors. They took the Prime Minister at his word and he disappointed them.

We can be sure that the residents of London West and all Canadians will remember this broken promise.

Economic StatementStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, tonight is Halloween, a night when we expect to be frightened, a night when we expect to be spooked. Therefore, we should not be surprised at the opposition's reaction to yesterday's tax cuts.

The NDP was terrified that someone gave working families a tax cut. The Bloc Québécois was spooked that tax dollars would go to Quebeckers instead of staying in Ottawa. And the Liberals? They were horrified to discover that Canadians would be keeping their own money, money that Canadians work hard for, money that Canadians deserve to keep.

What is truly frightening is the attitude of the three opposition parties, an attitude that says hard-working Canadians should not keep their hard-earned money.

There is, however, one thing that does terrify the opposition, but that is why taxpayers have no need to be fearful: irrespective of the opposition tricks, tonight taxpayers will be getting a treat.

Tom KozarStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that we marked the passing this month of brother Tom Kozar, former BCGEU vice-president, life member of NUPGE, retired BCIT college instructor and lifelong social justice activist.

Among the many causes Mr. Kozar championed were the case of Leonard Peltier, the recognition of Canadian merchant seamen, and the commemoration of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, now honoured, thanks to his hard work, in the magnificent Spirit of the Republic monument at the B.C. legislature.

A proud social democrat and a brilliant speaker, he supported many, many worthwhile causes in Burnaby and the Lower Mainland, such as the United Way and Habitat for Humanity.

At brother Tom's funeral, an overflow crowd of over 500 people came to honour a man who articulated the highest values of the labour movement. The New Democratic Party of Canada and members of the House offer their heartfelt condolences to the family of Tom Kozar. Canada is the poorer for his passing. He will be deeply missed.

Income TrustsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, today marks the first anniversary of the famous Halloween income trust surprise, when Canadians suffered a loss of more than $25 billion.

One year ago, the Minister of Finance claimed that the tax treatment of income trusts would cause major revenue losses for the government, but refused to give any details.

Today the government has been proven wrong. That is why, yesterday evening, instead of admitting its error, the government decided to hand out tax treats to redeem itself.

Canadians are shocked not only that seniors have lost this hard-earned money, but also that the government broke the promise it had made not to tax income trusts.

Fortunately, we in the Liberal Party are doing everything we can to help Canadians. We will not forget them.

Government BuildingsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a very sad day. Today, the sale of buildings belonging to taxpayers will be finalized even though the members in committee and public service unions are against it and despite the request for a moratorium on this sale. This government is transferring ownership, through a leaseback agreement, of seven very valuable federal buildings.

This transaction will cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and the government will lease the premises for 25 years. Two other buildings located on native land were to be sold; however, the federal court issued an injunction forcing the government to review its decision to sell them.

Studies were carried out over several months at a cost of $1.5 million and yet no one realized that certain buildings posed a problem. That is difficult to understand and the rush by this government to go ahead with this transaction is even more perplexing.

The Minister of Public Works and Government Services, who was not elected and is not present in this chamber, is determined to hide the cost and the information from members and taxpayers. We are entitled to ask who is profiting from this sale.

Income TrustsStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I was pleased to welcome the students from Mentor College in my riding of Mississauga South. I told them a little about my day, which actually included a rally organized by David and Lorraine Marshall, who had this rally here to protest the income trust broken promise.

I told them that the Prime Minister said in the last election that “there is no greater fraud than a promise not kept”, but he never kept that promise. In fact, he broke the promise, and 2.5 million Canadians, mostly seniors, lost $25 billion of their hard-earned retirement savings.

Before the finance committee, expert witnesses proved that the government's rationale to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions. Now is the time for the government to do the right thing and repeal the 31.5% tax so those seniors can live with respect and dignity.

Economic StatementStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is a great day for Canada. My Conservative government is delivering on its commitment to cut taxes and Canadians could not be happier.

Since coming to office we have cut taxes by $190 billion over this and the next five years. We have cut taxes in every way a government collects taxes: personal taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes and excise taxes.

We are reducing the tax burden to its lowest level in nearly 50 years and, unlike the Liberals, we kept our promise to reduce the GST to 5%. As one taxpayer remarked: “I guess the Conservative government is doing just what it promised. It would be good if more politicians were to do this”.

It is also good that we are leaving more money in the pockets of Canadians where it belongs and giving businesses more freedom to create jobs and make further investments. Unlike the opposition, our government believes in Canadians. We believe in putting their money where it belong: back in their pockets.

Income TrustsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in the last election the Prime Minister promised he would never tax income trusts. He did not have to make that promise, but he did.

A year ago today on Halloween, the Prime Minister lifted his mask and shamefully broke his promise. Many Canadians lost their savings. They paid a heavy price. Many of them are here today on Parliament Hill.

Will the Prime Minister apologize for his $20 billion broken promise?

Income TrustsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition discovered the strategy of voting against tax cuts and--

Income TrustsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Income TrustsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Sorry, excuse me: of abstaining on tax cuts and everything else. He used to vote against tax cuts.

Last year when the Minister of Finance brought in the tax fairness package, he voted against increased deductions for senior citizens and increased pension deductions for senior citizens. He voted against income splitting for senior citizens. He voted against a general lower tax rate for Canadian businesses.

After doing all that, he and his finance critic admitted they would raise taxes on income trusts anyway.

Income TrustsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Income TrustsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. I know it is Wednesday and I am aware there were caucus meetings this morning, but I urge hon. members to calm down so we hear the questions and the responses in question period today. It is very difficult for me to hear. Somebody might say something that is out of order.

The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

Income TrustsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, you did not hear the response because there was none.

Thousands of Canadians, who have worked hard their entire life and saved their money, saw their savings go up in smoke because a politician betrayed them. We are talking about $20 billion dollars.

Do they have any idea of the human drama that this figure represents? The Prime Minister should at least apologize for breaking their trust. Will he apologize?