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.


6:45 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the people in the west understand the language of the people in the east. In any case, the people in the east understand the people in the west. My colleague just said exactly what we are saying, that it is the individual who declares his personal income, not the income of all the workers, but his own income.

In the present case, the Canada Revenue Agency is using the income of one person to tax all the workers at that same level of income. That is illegal under tax law.

We are asking the government to suspend the process of collecting money from all the workers at a given business based on one incorrect fact. If a worker is cheating then I agree he should be investigated, but all the workers should not have to be investigated because, supposedly, there is too much undeclared income. This should be linked to a specific person before an investigation is launched.

6:45 p.m.


James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe my colleague said he is referring to 16 problems in his riding. I would simply say to him that if he wants to talk about these individual cases and if he has specific concerns, he can talk about them with our government. He can come here and meet with the minister responsible and work on these individual problems in order to come up with solutions. If there are problems that should be looked at by our government, he can come talk to us about it in order to stop this from being a problem for other Canadians.

6:45 p.m.


Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House today to finally set the record straight regarding the Conservatives' scheme during the last election campaign.

As we remember, in 2005, the Conservatives neglected to declare donations of $1.7 million, in the form of fees paid by delegates to their party leadership convention. Worse still, the Prime Minister became the first prime minister in the history of our country to be forced to admit that he had personally violated the Canada Elections Act, when his party finally recognized these facts.

We are well aware of the Prime Minister's tactics. When he does not like something, he just brushes it aside. If he does not like a piece of legislation, he just interprets it in his own way. It is very much his way or no way. This way of operating buys him time. When an issue is before the courts, it is so much easier to refuse to provide answers. This is an out of sight, out of mind approach, and it even looks like a lack of transparency.

Then the Conservatives decided to go at it again. During the last election campaign, they allegedly funnelled more than $1 million dollars in national advertising expenditures into the budgets of about 70 of their candidates. This would have allowed the Conservative Party to exceed the national spending limit of $18 million, while allowing its candidates to get a refund to which they were not entitled. If these allegations are confirmed, this would mean that there was an electoral fraud.

The Conservative Party is currently under investigation by Elections Canada for allegedly funnelling over $1.2 million in national advertising costs to regional candidates during the 2006 federal election in order to circumvent federal election spending limits.

Elections Canada rejected the advertising expenditures refund claims submitted by 66 Conservative candidates. We released the names of 129 former Conservative candidates and official agents who may have been involved in the alleged scheme. Then, we asked the Commissioner of Canada Elections to look at nine other campaign teams that may also have been involved in the scheme.

Canadians are concerned because it appears that the Conservatives would have diverted over $1 million in national advertising expenditures from their national campaign books to those of at least 67 of their candidates' campaigns. These funds would have exceeded the $18 million national spending limit.

Canadians are not the only ones who are concerned. The Conservatives themselves are concerned. The proof is that they have resorted to procedural tricks to avoid an inquiry into their electoral financing scheme. They have stalled the work of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs many times, including today. Why? Because we want to get details about potential fraud committed by the Conservatives during the 2006 election campaign. Shame on the parliamentarians who are trying to keep us from getting to the bottom of this.

We have learned that former Conservative candidates and official agents would have been named to federal appointments or would have been hired in high profile government jobs.

In the name of transparency, can the parliamentary secretary deny that former Conservative candidates and official agents were rewarded by being named to federal appointments, or were hired in high profile government jobs, and if not, how can he justify these appointments?

6:50 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.


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, quite simply, we have complied and obeyed with all the campaign finance laws in the past. We do so today. We will continue to do so in the future.

My hon. colleague knows this very well. We did not engage in any campaign finance practices in which the Liberal Party itself did not engage in the past. They are entirely legal, entirely above board today and have been in the past. We will continue to obey the rules, regulations and laws in the future, and my hon. colleague knows this.

This question stems from a few weeks ago in the House. My hon. colleague and the Liberals were on a pretty aggressive streak of coming after the government on this alleged, non-existent wrongdoing on our government, which was entirely fabricated. The fact that the Liberals have entirely dropped it from their question period lineup is evidence that, frankly, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing.

We obey the law, always have, do today and we always will.

6:50 p.m.


Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, as usual, the Conservatives do not answer questions the opposition is asking on behalf of Canadians. The Prime Minister has issued a gag order to try to have this issue forgotten.

What do the Conservatives do when their backs are against the wall? They resort to intimidation.

They have adopted this tactic in mandating a lawyer, working for Conservative staff, to write to the Liberal Party of Canada, threatening legal action if the Liberal Party continues to raise questions about the Conservatives' alleged scheme.

That is pure intimidation.

We will continue to ask questions until the Conservatives give answers, real answers to Canadians.

Why did this party try to exceed the election spending limit, and why did it try to get $700,000 in refunds to which its candidates were not entitled?

6:50 p.m.


James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I just said so during my first response.

We respected all the laws in the past and we do so today.

And we will continue to do so in the future. We respect our laws governing election campaigns and we will continue to do so moving forward. The Liberals are trying to invent a fictitious scandal here in this House. This really is their imagination running wild. Our government respects our laws and will continue to respect them in the future.

6:50 p.m.


Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, on November 2 I asked the minister about infrastructure funding for the city of London. The minister did not answer my question and I would like to take this opportunity to ask again about the funding.

My question was in regard to a water main break causing a large sinkhole at the corner of Dundas and Wellington, a main intersection in downtown London.

In case the minister is not aware of the details, I will outline them now.

The hole in the heart of downtown London was over six metres. It eventually extended to a full city block. The hole left thousands of people unable to work, power was out for over 10 hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue was lost, and for five weeks the main intersection was shut down and was only opened yesterday to limited traffic.

This should never have happened. With the federal surplus, we should be making investments in our cities, not cutting taxes for big businesses. Our crumbling infrastructure will have significant negative impacts on our communities and our economy. If our cities do not function, neither will businesses and no one will benefit.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities released a report last month, entitled “Danger Ahead: The Coming Collapse of Canada's Municipal Infrastructure”. This report outlines the problem. It states and I quote:

Yet for the past 20 years, municipalities have been caught in a fiscal squeeze caused by growing responsibilities and reduced revenues. As a result, they were forced to defer needed investment, and municipal infrastructure continued to deteriorate,--

It is clear from this statement from the FCM that we are in store for more catastrophes like we had in London. People are going to be left dodging holes all across this country.

While municipalities are ultimately responsible for maintaining their infrastructure, they do not have the funding to maintain everything. As more and more programs are downloaded from the federal government to the provincial government, and then from the province to municipalities, the capacity to repair and provide basic services becomes more and more challenging.

The federal government must have a financial role in maintaining our cities. Municipalities only take in 8% of tax revenue, with the federal government receiving 50% of Canadian tax dollars. We need federal investment in our cities, not the $190 billion cut in funding capacity created by the government's unbalanced mini-budget.

Most of Canada's public infrastructure was built between the 1950s and the 1970s, and nearly 80% is near the end of its service life. Today, after years of federal neglect, averting catastrophe failures will cost $123 billion; far more than municipalities have to spend.

What is at stake is the safety of our drinking water, our jobs, our roads and bridges, and our parks and arenas. What is at stake is the entire physical foundation of the communities where we live and raise our families. Our cities need funding now. Waiting for more catastrophes is not acceptable, as Londoners well know.

I want to know why the minister is not investing in our cities. Spending just $2.2 billion a year on municipal projects barely grazes the $123 billion funding gap. Will the minister tell me why the government refuses to invest in our cities?

6:55 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta


Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity today to speak to the substantial amount of work that this government is actually doing to support the infrastructure needs of the cities of Canada and in fact the city of London's infrastructure needs as well as those of all the communities across this country.

The member has her facts wrong. Indeed, our government recognized in our very first budget in 2006 the urgent need to invest in infrastructure in order to maintain Canada's quality of life and our economic competitiveness. We understand that Liberals left a $123 billion deficit in this country's infrastructure.

It is important to highlight the fact that the previous Liberal government left us with this critical and challenging infrastructure gap. It is this Conservative government that took swift action in the very first budget, as I have said, to speed up our world class infrastructure program for this country.

The government realizes and recognizes that communities face different challenges. In fact, the city of Calgary has indicated that it has a $10 billion deficit. The city of Fort McMurray, my community, has a $2 billion deficit. While cities must compete to attract investments and a skilled workforce, smaller communities must offer the same type of infrastructure as bigger municipalities if they want to ensure their future growth and prosperity. We do recognize that.

Therefore, the government has announced an unprecedented amount, $33 billion, which is more money than has been invested since the end of the second world war. This building Canada plan is delivering the results that matter to Canadians. As the member said, faster commutes, cleaner water, cleaner air and safer roads and bridges, that is what we are investing in.

The government understands how important it is to provide provinces, territories and municipalities with the ability to plan for the future. That is why over 50% of the funding provided under the building Canada plan is in the form of funding for municipalities. This Conservative government cares about municipalities.

Accordingly, over $17 billion in funding will be available to municipalities for their infrastructure priorities, including an extension to the gas tax fund until 2014, for which payments to municipalities will rise from $600 million in the last fiscal year to $2 billion per year in 2010 and continue thereafter for another four years.

This means that London, Ontario, which has already received almost $55 million under the gas tax fund, can expect even more funding, starting in 2010. In addition, each municipality continues to benefit from the 100% GST rebate--that is right, the 100% GST rebate--which can be applied toward infrastructure priorities of that community.

As well, last spring this government announced that it was providing an additional $200 million to the municipal rural infrastructure fund to further help meet the pressing infrastructure needs in Canada's smaller communities.

Under the building Canada plan, the government is also committed to funding larger strategic projects that promote a stronger economy and healthier environment, which is what Canadians have told us they want.

This is why on October 15 we announced a commitment of up to $50 million for the clean water Huron Elgin London project. This initiative will improve clean drinking water access for 500,000 residents in some 20 southwestern Ontario municipalities, including London.

However, it is very important to note that partnership is a two way street. This historic federal investment is significant even as we recognize that provinces, territories and municipalities have primary responsibility under the Constitution for municipal fiscal capacity, municipal responsibilities and municipal infrastructure.

We have delivered long term predictable funding in the unprecedented amount of $33 billion. This long term predictable funding commitment will allow communities to plan and meet their infrastructure challenges now and well into the 21st century. This government is taking positive action.

7 p.m.


Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, I do have the facts. One fact is very clear: funding starting in 2010 is not going to do a whole lot for the people of London to address the infrastructure problem they have right now.

According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the 2006 budget renewed existing infrastructure programs and extended to four years a $1.3 billion fund dedicated to transit. The 2007 federal budget committed the federal government to a four year extension of the federal gas transfer at the 2009 level, for a total of $8 billion in new predictable funding.

That budget included $8.8 billion over seven years for the new building Canada fund, which replaces the old municipal rural infrastructure fund, but the 2007 budget only allows 14% of the money desperately needed by our cities. That is money stretched over seven years. Our cities are in trouble. We need help.

7 p.m.


Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member may have the facts, but she is not listening. London, Ontario has already received $55 million under the gas tax fund to date and is going to receive even more funding after 2010.

As well, it has received $50 million for the clean water Huron Elgin London project. Canadians have told us that they want clean water. This is delivering clean water. This is delivering on the Conservative government's promise.

We are getting positive results. I would suggest that the member stay tuned because more positive results are coming for Canadians from coast to coast to coast, including those in London, Ontario.

7 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:02 p.m.)