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House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nations.

Topics

PovertyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I do not deny that the Liberals do a lot of talking on this, but the fact is that they never got anything done and we are taking practical steps.

I can tell members one thing we will never do. We will never do as the Liberal leader advocates and take away the universal child care benefit that goes to families across the country, including those living in poverty. That speaks volumes, I think, about his lack of faith in the ability of parents to raise their own children. He should have to answer for that.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec thinks that his agency is a partisan tool, the primary purpose of which is to guarantee his re-election. We now know that a significant portion of the funds intended to diversify the economies of all regions of Quebec are being used to buy votes in his riding. That is the good old-fashioned way of doing things. It is only a matter of time until he starts giving refrigerators to everyone.

I want to know why he is neglecting so many of the regions that have been severely affected by the crisis in the manufacturing industry. Why is he doing this to Mauricie, the Eastern Townships and central Quebec? Why?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we have been sitting in this House for almost a month and a half now, and this is the first time the member has asked about regional economic development. Why did it take him a month and a half? Because the member from the greater Montreal region is not all that interested in regional economic development.

The agency's role is to support economic development in all regions of Quebec. The agency's mission is to focus on economic regions with declining populations. That is what we are doing, and that includes the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister himself has not yet answered a single question. The minister seems incapable of understanding that his mandate is to support development in all regions of Quebec. I do not know why he finds this so hard to understand. This is not just about helping regions where the Conservatives hope to get elected.

The strong dollar is making it extremely difficult for manufacturing businesses in Montérégie, in the Laurentians and elsewhere to stay afloat, yet the minister only cares about his own region. Are there now two classes of Quebeckers: those who vote for the minister and those who do not? Are these second-class Quebeckers supposed to fend for themselves?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, if the member from the greater Montreal region had done his homework, he would know that yesterday, the CIBC released the results of a study on the economic vitality of large urban centres. Two regions are losing vitality: Windsor and the Saguenay, which are reporting negative economic growth.

The Saguenay is one of seven regions—out of 14—to which we are providing more support in order to promote economic development.

Public opinion pollsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, when he was in opposition, the Prime Minister was outraged, with good reason, at how much the Liberals spent on polling, often for partisan purposes. The problem is that his government is doing worse. In fact, the Conservatives spent more on polling last year than any previous government.

How does the Prime Minister explain that his government is doing worse than the Liberals by spending record amounts on polling?

Public opinion pollsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that question. Perhaps my friend was not here in the House. We tabled that report last week, and I would like to clarify the facts. The polls and focus groups were requested by the departments, not by political staff. We are surprised at how much was spent on polling in the past. We are taking steps to correct this situation.

Public opinion pollsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the Conservatives, it is a case of “Do as I say, not as I do”. In opposition, they criticized the Liberals' excessive spending on polling. Now that they are in power, they are spending as never before.

Is it not true that they are delaying tabling the Paillé report until the House has risen to avoid questions about their own actions and because it is clear that they are not doing better, but worse when it comes to partisan polling?

Public opinion pollsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, the report my colleague mentioned will be tabled very soon. I have already said twice—and I will say again—that it will be tabled before the House rises. I have already said that we will correct the existing problems and that we will do so in a way that respects all Canadian taxpayers.

HealthOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the previous Liberal government doubled the funding for HIV-AIDS strategy in Canada. Tragically, still 4,500 Canadians are infected every year.

The minister has shocked us all by admitting that he has stolen $15 million from the $84 million federal initiative. Will the minister tell the House when he will return the $15 million for prevention and people living with AIDS? Also, will he assure the House and the Gates foundation that there will be new money for the essential vaccine initiative?

HealthOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, here is the difference between two governments. Under the previous Liberal government, under her ministerial capabilities, it cut $16 million from the Public Health Agency budget. Under our government, we are spending more on HIV-AIDS than any government in the history of our country and we are putting money in to end AIDS through the vaccine initiative.

Our priority is ending AIDS. The priority of the Liberals was cutting AIDS funding.

AgricultureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know our government has done a great job on the environment and for farmers.

AgricultureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

AgricultureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. We have to be able to hear the hon. member for Brandon—Souris ask his question. We will have a little order, please.

AgricultureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

In our last budget, Mr. Speaker, $2 billion was invested to support and expand the Canadian renewable fuel industry. An additional $10 million was announced for the biofuel opportunities for producers initiative. The $200 million eco-agricultural biofuels capital initiative is a four year program designed to encourage producers' participation in the renewable fuels industry.

Could the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food update the House on any new developments for biofuels?

AgricultureOral 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, the Leader of the Opposition admitted he was no expert in agriculture and he did not get it done on the environment either.

This government understands farmers and the environment. We are taking action on renewable fuels. As my colleague from Brandon—Souris just noted, we have started many projects already, three in his riding alone.

I was pleased to have amendments to the CEPA tabled yesterday. These amendments would allow us to mandate 5% renewable content in gasoline by 2010 and 2% renewable content in diesel by 2012. This will create jobs in rural areas and open new markets for our farmers.

The government always put farmers first as we get the job done.

Public Opinion PollsOral Questions

December 4th, 2007 / 2:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, last year the government spent $31 million of taxpayer money on focus groups and polling, significantly more than any other government on record, which is ironic since the Conservatives used to attack the Liberal gang for how it used polling.

One of the favourite Liberal tactics, of course, was to get the public to pay for the polls. Then the party would use the polls and stick them in a filing cabinet until well past the stale date before releasing them to anyone else.

The public has paid for this information and it has a right to see it. In the interests of accountability, will the government table all the polling data that it has commissioned?

Public Opinion PollsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, my colleague can ask the question because our government has been upfront and accountable. We tabled the report last Friday, from which he is getting his information to ask this very question.

As I said on three occasions today alone, and I will answer the NDP as well, we were surprised by the amount of polling and focus groups that were commissioned by the departments, away from the political arms of the government. We are taking all the necessary steps to correct this in the future to safeguard taxpayer money. We are taking action.

Public Opinion PollsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course he is surprised because he is under a minister who is unelected, unaccountable and hiding out in Outremont. However, he should not be surprised by the fact that the spending on polling under the Privy Council, which is the Prime Minister's office, has quadrupled. Is he surprised by that too?

Who is going to insist that the government stop using taxpayer money for its own nefarious purposes? Will it bring forward the polling data that has come out of the Privy Council for the public to see?

Public Opinion PollsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

As I said, Mr. Speaker, the information is already public. We tabled the report on Friday. The information is out there. That is how the member for Timmins—James Bay was allowed to ask this very question himself.

We were surprised by the amount of money that was spent on polling and focus groups, and our government is correcting the situation to look out for the best interests of taxpayers. This is something that I know is foreign to the New Democrats, but it is the raison d'être of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Paper IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the workers of the AbitibiBowater plant in Dalhousie and the entire population of Restigouche are facing a crisis because of the plant shutdown. The Prime Minister of Canada had a golden opportunity to visit that community yesterday on his way to New Brunswick. Unfortunately, he did not do so and he remains insensitive to their situation.

Will the government agree to my demands and those of this community by creating a support program for workers and their families, and by supplying the funds needed to ensure the future of their economy, not tomorrow or in six months' time, but today?

Paper IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, whenever there is a lay off, it is a tragedy for the workers involved, and we are very sensitive to that.

A number of different supports are in place to help workers. EI is the first support and there are training initiatives, EI part II money and the targeted initiative for older workers.

The good news is today we are in an economy where many jobs are being created. We are helping support workers by providing more in training so they can make the transition from those jobs back into work.

Wireless IndustryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, my constituents in Chatham-Kent—Essex have been complaining that they are being squeezed by cell phone companies, paying too much for services and not having enough choice.

Last Wednesday the Minister of Industry announced the rules for the advanced wireless spectrum auction, which has been heralded as a grand slam for consumers.

Could the Minister of Industry explain to the House, and the member for Kings—Hants, why his decision caused another analyst to say, “We can certainly celebrate. The government deserves a lot kudos”.

Wireless IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, last week I announced that the Government of Canada would be holding a spectrum auction on May 27, by allowing new entrants the same access that incumbents have to infrastructure. We should see benefits, greater competition and more innovation. A modern and innovative telecommunications system is a key to our being globally competitive.

At the end of the day, our goal is lower prices, better service, more choice for consumers and business. From the clamour on the opposite side, I sense the members are beginning to accept that lower prices would be good for consumers.

Mining IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the round table advisory group concerning the responsibilities of the mining industry abroad presented a report on March 29, 2007. The report denounces the attitude and behaviour of Canadian mining companies in Latin America and Africa. Some companies are not respecting human rights or the environment. The government has had this report for over 250 days and still has not done anything.

What is the government waiting for to follow through and implement the recommendations endorsed, in particular, by the Mining Association of Canada?