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House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was bank.

Topics

Quebec ElectionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that Jean Charest is engaging the Prime Minister of Canada. Yesterday, he said that the things the federal government put in the budget with respect to equalization would disappear the day the Parti Québécois holds a referendum.

Does the Prime Minister not have the duty today to counter his friend Jean Charest's outrageous statements by reminding him that the federal government intends to do exactly what the two preceding federal governments did?

Quebec ElectionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, one of our responsibilities federally is to restore fiscal balance in Canada. We have been negotiating and discussing the issue with the other governments in Canada for a little bit over a year now as we work toward restoring fiscal balance in Canada, which we look forward to bringing forward in the budget on March 19.

Quebec ElectionsOral Questions

February 27th, 2007 / 2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I realize they are ashamed of what Jean Charest said and that they have no desire to set the record straight. Nevertheless, they may soon get up on that same soapbox to defend the same cause. It is therefore important to be clear on this starting now. As Jean Charest said yesterday, we must be clear about this; we must state the facts.

I would ask the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to rein in their friend Jean Charest and remind him that if there is a referendum, federal transfer payments to Quebec will no more be suspended than they were in 1980 or 1995.

Quebec ElectionsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

As I said, Mr. Speaker, our responsibility, in dealing with the other governments, is to move toward fiscal balance.

The reality of fiscal imbalance between governments in Canada is something that has not been acknowledged by the current leader of the Liberal Party who says, as I understand it, that there is no fiscal imbalance. The Prime Minister has made it clear that there is a fiscal imbalance and that we are moving forward with the other governments in Canada to accomplish fiscal balance. That has been the effort in this past year and I look forward to bringing that forward in the budget on March 19.

We certainly have no intention of interfering in an election in Quebec.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, communities right across Canada are finding it harder and harder to meet the basic needs of middle class families.

In case we need some examples, we have concrete falling off the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto and we have bridges collapsing in Laval. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has said that the infrastructure deficit has grown now to $60 billion. The government has absolutely no long term infrastructure plan, no long term affordable housing plan and no transit plan.

Will the Prime Minister bring forward an urban strategy, yes or no?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we recognize the challenges of middle class families which is why this government, in the last budget, brought in the biggest middle class tax cut in Canadian history.

The member talked about infrastructure. In the last budget the Minister of Finance brought in the highest levels in history of transfers for infrastructure spending for cities and communities throughout this country. I have complete confidence that the Minister of Finance will outdo himself in the next budget.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me make it very clear that a tax cut will not fix falling down bridges. A tax cut will not hire child care workers. A tax cut will not put one more bus on the road to reduce smog.

The fact is that the cities of our country are economic engines that are fundamental to the success not only of our economy but also for the personal lives and families of the working people who build those cities each and every day.

Is the Prime Minister telling us today in the House that the budget will contain an urban strategy with investments in these key areas? Will he abandon his tax cuts and start investing in Canadian communities?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have to remind the leader of the New Democratic Party that Canadians have their own personal finances and do value tax cuts. At the same time, this government has put record amounts of money into infrastructure.

We have a plan and the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities is moving forward on that. I hope the NDP will support that plan and not oppose the budget, like it did last time. Hold on. Actually it did support it last time in the end.

Government of CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, instead of serious work on public security and individual rights, the government resorts to Nixon like manipulation. It is carefully orchestrated.

The Prime Minister misuses a news clipping to smear an MP, which is totally wrong. The Conservative caucus chair then stretches that smear into an accusation about a potential suspect, which is totally wrong. Two rabid parliamentary secretaries then slander the opposition as harbour for terrorists, which is also totally wrong.

How can Canadians trust their rights to such an expedient government of such obviously low character?

Government of CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentions the whole question of trust. As I pointed out in my previous answer, there are individuals who are counting on the support of the Liberal Party with respect to the Anti-terrorism Act. It was not just police officers and police enforcement agencies. The victims of the Air-India inquiry and people right across this country are depending on it.

I believe it sends the wrong message when the Liberal Party flip-flops on something like that, not just to Canadians at home but to the world at large about our commitment to fighting terrorism. The party had a lot of priorities in the past. Let us make this a priority for a change.

Government of CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government tells Canadians to trust it to respect their rights but its behaviour screams the opposite.

From police investigations to smears about child pornography and the fight against terror, the Prime Minister uses slander as his standard tactic of first resort. He tries to politicize the public service, the police, the courts and even the military. So, yes, Canadians are concerned.

When will the government stop poisoning the atmosphere and killing the trust of decent Canadians?

Government of CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, speaking about poisoning the atmosphere in this place, I can tell you that these provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act had the support of that party until about two weeks ago. The Liberals are trying to change the channel now. They are embarrassed that they have lost the support of their colleagues in the Senate and their own backbenchers, prominent members of the Liberal Party, former deputy prime ministers, former leadership candidates. They are embarrassed that they changed their point of view and I do not blame them.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister admitted yesterday that his government does not have an exit strategy for Afghanistan and that it is unwise to have a plan for a firm end date. He said, “I think that is precipitous and an unwise way of making decisions”.

Can the Prime Minister tell Canadians why he is reluctant to tell us that he has already made a decision that Canadian troops will remain after February 2009? Why the cover-up?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, in the House of Commons on Tuesday February 13 the member for Bourassa referred to, and I quote, “detainee abuse in Afghanistan”, and again I quote, “the issue of abuse of some Afghan detainees”, and finally, “Why the cover-up?” These are despicable comments and I demand an apology to the armed forces here and now.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Bourassa.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence should apologize because he did not tell Canadians the truth, which is that we will stay beyond February 2009. After six hours of debate, he was in a hurry to send our troops until 2009, but now he does not have the courage to tell us the truth. Here is more proof: the report tabled in the House yesterday on our progress in Afghanistan is clear. If we pull our troops, would that jeopardize progress made to date? There is clearly only one answer to that: yes.

Why does the Conservative Prime Minister not have the courage to tell us right now that deep down, this government never intended to pull out in 2009?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party leader voted to send our troops to Kandahar, then he voted against sending our troops to Kandahar, and last week, he supported sending our troops to Kandahar.

I can say that obviously in the next two years we will gather all the facts before making our next decision, including figuring out what the latest position of the leader of the Liberal Party will be.

The reason I take my feet is just to note that I did receive a phone call this morning from President Karzai of Afghanistan. He wants to thank the Canadian people and the Canadian troops for all the good work they are doing on security and development in Afghanistan.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, a fourth investigation looked at whether senior officers of the Canadian army turned a blind eye to the fact that prisoners they handed over to Afghan forces risked being tortured, or even whether they knew that the prisoners would be tortured.

Should the government not stop hiding behind the current agreement, under which this type of unacceptable torture is quite possible, and follow the example of the Netherlands, which keeps track of the prisoners handed over to Afghan forces to ensure that they are treated in accordance with international laws?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing new to this latest investigation. The group that is attempting to get answers through the courts is now trying to do it through a commission.

Eventually all four investigations will come to a result and we will know what the truth is.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of National Defence declared in this House that he was satisfied with the current arrangements of the prisoner transfer agreement.

Since a fourth investigation has shown the seriousness of the situation which a number of studies had already established, why is Canada now refusing to negotiate an agreement similar to that of the Netherlands, to renegotiate a bad agreement? How can he be satisfied with the status quo?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we are satisfied with the modalities of the agreement.

The International Red Cross checks out all the detainees who were transferred to the Afghan authorities.

I must remind the member that we are in Afghanistan to support the Afghan government.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, when asked about cuts to Status of Women Canada, the minister said: “— this government will redistribute its administrative savings to projects that help women”. The minister is now preparing to close 12 of the 16 regional offices of Status of Women Canada to realize these savings.

Can the minister tell us where she plans to invest the savings obtained by closing regional offices? In which specific services for women?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that the government has decided to reshape its delivery of services to women. Keeping offices open is not necessarily helping women directly in every community, small, rural and medium size communities across Canada. Therefore, as stated before, as of April 1, the $5 million will be available for women in the communities.