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House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigrants.

Topics

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is avoiding my question. He made inappropriate remarks about myself and my family. I respectfully ask the Prime Minister to retract his comments.

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, I am not precisely sure what remarks he is referring to. If the hon. member denies any particular element in The Vancouver Sun story, I would be more than happy to accept his word on the matter.

At the same time, though, I cannot say how important it is that we proceed with the police investigation into the Air-India bombing.

The Liberal Party knows this is important. It put these measures in place. Bob Rae told them that they were necessary. I would hope the Liberal Party would reverse its position, for the benefit of the Air-India families and for all Canadians, and do the right thing.

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House, the Prime Minister's behaviour disgraced this institution. It was a disgrace that the Prime Minister called into question the integrity of a member of Parliament and his family without a sliver of proof. It was a disgrace that he tried to stigmatize a possible witness of an investigative hearing. This is a Prime Minister who will currently say anything to get elected and will possibly do anything to hold power.

Will the Prime Minister apologize to the House and to the Canadian people?

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, I do not accept the premise of the hon. member's question.

This government and this Prime Minister will take any course of action necessary, if we can get the Liberal Party to change its wrong-headed position, to ensure the police investigation into the Air-India bombing can continue and that we have the measures necessary to ensure this does not occur in the future.

I would ask the deputy leader of the of the Liberal Party whether he would agree to do that.

Air-India InquiryOral Questions

February 22nd, 2007 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is misleading the public on this issue. The anti-terrorist legislation has nothing to do with Justice Major's inquiry. He has all the powers he needs. In fact, his chief problem is that the party opposite is not providing him with the documents necessary to complete his job.

As for the RCMP inquiry into the Air-India tragedy, it has been going on for 15 years.

Why is the Prime Minister misleading the public on this crucial issue?

Air-India InquiryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Air-India inquiry is proceeding because this government has given and is prepared to give Justice Major all the documents and all the powers necessary to get to the bottom of it.

However, it is a matter of public record that the police investigation requires these powers to profitably proceed and the Liberal Party knows this. The Liberal Party knew this when it changed its position to oppose this bill. That is an irresponsible and dangerous action and the Liberal Party should change course, should ensure the police investigation cannot be blocked and that we can get justice in this matter.

Air-India InquiryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again we are confusing separate issues. The Major inquiry has the powers necessary to get at the root of this terrible tragedy.

This side of the House stands at one with the government in wishing the Air-India inquiry to come to a successful conclusion, but the systematic attempt to mislead the public about this deprives us of confidence in the leadership of the Prime Minister. These issues need to be presented clearly to the public.

When will the Prime Minister stop misleading the Canadian public on this issue?

Air-India InquiryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the misleading statement was that one. The statement is, and it is a matter of public record, that the police investigation is still ongoing and it desires these powers to conclude its work to ensure there is justice done and to ensure that these kinds of things never occur again.

The Liberals knew when they changed their position that the police inquiry required these powers. Why are they standing in the way of the police investigation and why will they not stop and let the police do their work?

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, job losses in the forest industry, at Shermag and Goodyear, are only the most recent examples of the crisis affecting the Quebec manufacturing sector. In the past four years, 100,000 jobs have been lost in Quebec manufacturing, 35,000 in the last year alone. And what is the government doing? It simply lowers taxes for companies that do not pay any because they are not making a profit. That is known as the laissez-faire approach.

Will the Prime Minister admit that his strategy for helping Quebec manufacturers is not a strategy at all but an outright failure?

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there are pressures on the manufacturing sector, not only in Quebec and Canada, but in the entire western world. The leader of the Bloc Québécois knows why.

As he mentioned, this government lowered corporate taxes. We implemented measures to stimulate research, development and training to help workers and their families. We will go ahead with other measures in the next budget.

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister told us that he lowered taxes for companies that do not turn a profit. They do not pay any taxes. To reduce taxes for companies that do not pay taxes is not much help. That seems quite clear to me.

Will the Prime Minister implement the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Industry in order to come to the assistance of manufacturing companies and to provide them with as much assistance as is given to oil companies? That would be good.

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Bloc Québécois knows that, despite the problems of certain industries in the manufacturing sector, the Canadian economy is very strong and there has been growth in other sectors. This is due to the good budget brought down by the Minister of Finance, which was supported by the Bloc Québécois one year ago.

Naturally, we will review the proposals of the Bloc and of the other parties. I hope that the Bloc Québécois will again support the Minister of Finance's budget.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to a report by the Department of Human Resources, the employment insurance surplus is now $51 billion. This is money that was taken from workers who lost their job and who are being offered a considerably inferior protection plan.

Does the government, whose economic strategy is nothing more than laissez-faire and corporate tax cuts, realize that it is financing these tax cuts in part through money belonging to the unemployed, and that it would be much better advised to improve the system starting right now?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the member will know that there is no $51 billion sitting around. This is a notional account.

A rate setting mechanism that is now in place seeks to bring into balance the expenditures and the revenues. It was put in place a couple of years ago. As we go along we will tinker with it to ensure it is more precise in reaching that balance, ensure there is enough funding for benefits and ensure employers and employees are not taxed too heavily.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is not a notional amount for the unemployed. Since the creation of Service Canada in fall 2005, the time it takes to process employment insurance claims has continued to increase. It takes more than 28 days after an EI claim is received before a claimant receives their first cheque. Does the minister not realize that a person who loses their employment needs help quickly and that with a $51 billion surplus, the minister would be better advised to—

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Human Resources and Social Development.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the member should know that there is no $51 billion sitting around in a bank account.

I would remind the member that this government has moved very quickly to ensure that people in areas of high unemployment receive extra benefits. This is something that occurred under this government. This government has moved to ensure that we have a plan in place for older workers when they are hit by layoffs, the targeted initiative for older workers.

We have done this in 13 months. We have moved ahead to ensure that workers are treated well under our system.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the surplus in the employment insurance fund has reached $51 billion. It is truly shameful. Employment insurance was completely ignored in the last federal budget, a budget that abandoned workers with support from the Bloc Québécois. Too many workers do not qualify: seasonal employees, women, part-time employees.

Will the Prime Minister take action and implement a comprehensive reform of the employment insurance system, yes or no?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to let this debate continue between the NDP and the Bloc.

The leader of the NDP knows that past decisions on the surplus were decisions by former governments. We cannot change the past. This government has worked out what employees and employers need to contribute to keep the fund balanced for the long term.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives used to describe unemployment insurance as a raid on the workers' pocketbooks. Now they are the ones doing the raiding with billions of dollars added to the surplus just in this past year alone.

The fact is that they are not providing the benefits that the workers and their families need and it is driving them into poverty and to food banks. The gap between these workers and the rest is getting larger and larger. The fact is that the Liberals changed the rules to make it harder and harder for people to get access to their own insurance program when they need it.

Why will the government not do something about that and stand up for ordinary working families like the Conservatives always say they do?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. leader of the NDP is wrong. In fact, the surplus this year in the employment insurance account is relatively modest. It is a small surplus, but there is a surplus because we have, under this government and the Minister of Finance, the strongest labour market in over 30 years.

I can tell the member that the big difference between this government and the NDP is that, given the choice of having low unemployment or better employment insurance, this government will choose jobs any time.

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister confirmed the worst fears of the majority of Canadians who did not want to hand over a majority to the Conservatives. The Prime Minister will do anything to hang on to power, even accuse and convict without trial a member of this House.

Why should Canadians trust him when he is ready to tarnish a person's reputation for no reason? How far is our Prime Minister prepared to go?

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said, Canadian citizens from coast to coast are still facing the threat of terrorism. We have before us an approach designed to minimize that threat. But the Liberals and their leader are against it. We hope that the Liberals will change their minds and support Canadians from coast to coast.

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Safety cannot create a diversion and stop the Prime Minister from answering. Yesterday, he abused his power in this House. Unfortunately, it was not the first time we witnessed a sad spectacle on the part of the Prime Minister, and he has never apologized.

Can the Prime Minister explain why he did what he did if not to avoid answering the question about judicial impartiality? Why does he not have the courage and the humility to withdraw his statements?

The Prime MinisterOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, at some risk with what we saw with the orchestrated manoeuvre yesterday, I will read from The Vancouver Sun. I will read clearly and members can get as upset as they want, but it is very clearly stated here related to this whole issue on Air-India and the need to maintain the provisions to protect Canadians, provisions which the Supreme Court has “upheld as constitutional”. The leader of the Liberals says, “I don't care what the Supreme Court says, I don't think they are constitutional”.

That is a reading from The Vancouver Sun. It further states, “I certainly think the impact on Air-India has to be considered”. It was Bob Rae who said that.