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House of Commons Hansard #154 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was icsid.

Topics

Income TrustsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said there is no greater fraud than a promise not kept.

He emphatically promised during the last election never to tax income trusts. Then the Conservative government recklessly broke its promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax on income trusts, with devastating consequences particularly on seniors.

That broken promise wiped out over $25 billion of hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians. It also led to private equity takeovers of over 15 income trusts, which reduced government tax revenue by an estimated $6 billion a year.

What is worse, independent experts have shown clearly that the Minister of Finance's decision on income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions.

The time has come for the finance minister to acknowledge his mistake, to apologize to Canadians who were unfairly harmed by the reckless broken promise and to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know that Liberal fundraiser is an oxymoron under the weak headship of the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. According to reports, the Liberal so-called leader told what was left of Liberal supporters that he would end his own environmental deficit.

He tried to act as if the deficit was ours. He may say this is unfair, but let us remember how weak he was while he sat in cabinet and as environment minister. Under his watch, GHG emissions rose 35% above his Kyoto target. Ten years of environmental inaction was slammed in report after report by the environment commissioner.

As minister, he was the recipient of the fossil of the day award by the Climate Action Network. Confusing lead with lead, as in a lead balloon dropping, he oversaw Canada's race down to 28th out of 29 OECD countries on pollution.

Even his face-saving colleagues once admitted he “didn't get it done” on the environment. He not only could not get it done, his actions show he never will get it done. He needs to face the facts: he is just not a leader.

The Good Old Soccer GameStatements By Members

May 15th, 2007 / 2:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to report to you and to the House of Commons that in our eighth annual soccer game the MPs defeated the pages 11-7 for our sixth win over two losses.

It was a glorious night in Ottawa
The media and the fans couldn't believe what they saw
There were MPs and Pages running on the field
With neither team wanting to bend or to yield.

Soccer was the reason for which we all gathered
For pride and honour is all that had mattered
Ten long months, the Pages did serve
In the House of Commons with courage and nerve.

In this our ninth year, the Pages faced defeat
To the Mighty MPs, who would not retreat
With skill and precision, we made that ball dance
In reality, the young ones never had a chance.

Now the summer draws near and the sun is high
We soon will shake hands and say our goodbyes
Today we toast the Pages good cheer
As we anxiously await the new ones next year.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Canada has had an Official Languages Act for 40 years. The act is a fundamental part of our country and has earned consensus among the parties. However, the Prime Minister himself did not begin to support it until 2005 after having criticized it in writing as a “god that failed”.

The Prime Minister eliminated the court challenges program. In so doing, the Prime Minister showed his true colours. Now, the Prime Minister is trying to muzzle the committee that is supposed to study the report prepared by the Commissioner of Official Languages, who criticized the Prime Minister's attack on the program.

Will the Prime Minister appoint another member to chair the committee?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages commented on my strong support for official languages in Canada.

The committees are responsible for selecting their own chairs. I am told that the Conservative members of the committee think that the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry is doing an exceptional job.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not like the charter: he kills the program supporting it. He does not like official languages: he kills the program supporting it. He does not like to be questioned by the members of the House: he kills committees.

I know he does not have a lot of confidence in his caucus members, and I guess for valid reasons, but I ask him to choose one of them to chair this committee, as the Prime Minister should according to the law.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as members know, the committee has a chair elected from among the Conservatives elected by its members. Unfortunately, the Liberals and the opposition have decided to play games. As a consequence, the committee cannot meet because it does not have a chair. That is something the committee has to rectify.

I will point out that in his report today Mr. Fraser noted that the member's plan for official languages in 2003 was not done, like he did not do anything else. The fact is this government has put $30 million more into official languages. We are getting it done. Unfortunately, they voted against it.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not want plans to be implemented. He kills the plans and after he complains.

I would like to quote something the Prime Minister said in 2001: “As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produced no unity, and cost Canadian taxpayers untold millions”.

Is this still what the Prime Minister thinks?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, allow me to quote the Commissioner of Official Languages. He said that: “Prime Minister Harper’s public behaviour is exemplary in terms of respect for Canada’s official languages”.

It is the member opposite who came up with a plan in 2003 and then did not do anything. The new minister is putting $30 million more into this program. She is getting the job done.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we believe that language must never divide Canadians from each other or from their institutions. That is why we support bilingualism, so we can be linked together in common understanding and respect.

However, that is not the position of the government.

Today, the Commissioner of Official Languages condemned the government for its “apparent lack of will” in sustaining bilingualism and protecting the rights of minority language communities in Canada.

Will the Prime Minister commit today to act on the commissioner's recommendations, or will he continue to pursue his policies of division?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, allow me to quote the Commissioner of Official Languages, who congratulated our Prime Minister on his “exemplary behaviour” both in Canada and abroad.

With that in mind, here is what former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said about francophones: assimilation is a fact of life. Moreover, he said that on the sidelines of the Francophone Summit in Moncton.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, a misquote is a poor defence.

On the very day that the Commissioner of Official Languages has condemned the political will of this government, the Prime Minister has shut down the Standing Committee on Official Languages. What a show of contempt for official languages and for linguistic minorities.

Will the Prime Minister ask his MPs to return to the committee? When will they begin dealing with this government's flouting of the Official Languages Act?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the opposition is playing political games with the committee and will not allow the members to continue their fine work.

The Conservative members of the Standing Committee on Official Languages feel that the current chair, the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, is carrying out his responsibilities in an exemplary manner. The chair is chosen from the Conservatives, as per the Standing Orders.

It is up to the Conservative members of the committee to choose the chair, just as the Liberals choose who they wish to have as leader.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the report he issued today, the Commissioner of Official Languages said that the government is not walking the talk on official languages. Commissioner Graham Fraser stated that a number of federal departments take a blatant laissez-faire attitude toward complying with the Official Languages Act. Once again, he made specific mention of the Canadian Forces, the RCMP and Air Canada.

It is good that the Prime Minister begins his scrums in French, but what tangible actions does he plan to take to enforce the Official Languages Act within the federal administration?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government has proposed another $30 million, which will be made available directly to minority communities to help them keep their language in Canada. But nothing could weaken French and bilingualism in Canada as much as Quebec's separation from Canada. That would be a huge mistake.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we will never weaken the official languages as much as the government is doing at present, and it is in power.

Commissioner Fraser condemned this government for eliminating the court challenges program, which enabled francophone communities to win respect for their rights.

The Prime Minister has a golden opportunity to correct that mistake. Will he take action to restore this program, which all the minority communities throughout Canada and Quebec want?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Commissioner Fraser's report notes a number of problems in the administration of official languages, and the government will look at that report. However, he also noted a number of successes and indicated that many departments are performing well.

This government's priority is not to pay lawyers; it is to provide services directly to minority language communities.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages is concerned about the backsliding in many departments. Think of the panels filled with errors in French at Vimy, the appointment of a unilingual English ombudsman for victims of crime, and the elimination of compulsory bilingualism for the senior ranks of the army. In a word, the situation is getting worse.

What does the Prime Minister have to say to the commissioner, who feels that the Conservative government is trampling the rights of linguistic minorities?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, I could not be more surprised by the comments of the Bloc member. When the time came to vote on Bill S-3, the Bloc voted against it. In addition, the Parti Québécois government always refused to participate in the Ministerial Conference on Canadian Francophonie. It took a federalist government in Quebec to enable Quebeckers to participate in the Canadian Francophonie.

I would like to know what the Bloc did, in regard to its relations—perhaps harmonious in those days—with the Parti Québécois to ensure that Quebec took part.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-3 infringed on the jurisdiction of Quebec and they refused to listen to us. That said, the attitude of the Conservative government toward the Standing Committee on Official Languages also concerns the commissioner. The government decided not to replace the chair of the committee, with the result that the committee has simply disappeared. And what was the reaction of the government whip? “Good riddance”. Those are his words.

Do these scornful words of the whip not support the comments of the commissioner, who criticized this government for being slow to respect—

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, once again the Bloc suddenly rises to the defence of francophones outside Quebec and the Canadian Francophonie. The one thing we do not know is whether it only took them 30 hours to change their minds this time.

One thing is certain. I encourage the member to talk with his colleague from Papineau who made fun of the efforts of my colleagues to learn French, and who called their French unacceptable at the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Canadian CompaniesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has done nothing to prevent the foreign takeover of Canadian giants like Alcan. Yesterday, we learned that St. Lawrence Cement was slated for takeover by Swiss interests. But in response to pressure from the NDP, the Minister of Finance announced yesterday that a panel of experts will be appointed to look into the loss of Canadian companies.

Could the Minister of Finance tell us when this panel will be appointed, and who these experts are? Will this panel report to Parliament?

Canadian CompaniesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to the leader of the NDP that this is an initiative that we launched in the budget. It is rather sad to think that some may have waited until today to start reading the budget.

Having said that, we will be working on setting up this committee as soon as possible, and we will inform the House and the public at large as soon as the committee members are appointed.

Canadian CompaniesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the minister and the government are taking their time appointing someone to a committee to look at a problem, thousands of Canadians are losing their jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Fifty-two thousand workers have lost their jobs in manufacturing since January. Sure, exports are up and profits are up, but workers are being thrown out of their jobs.

The fact is that the Prime Minister is doing nothing about it. We could look at Hamilton, where Slater Steel is closing down, or Windsor, with the sale of Chrysler, or Kitimat or Saint-Jean, with Alcan's takeover.

People are losing their jobs. It is a crisis. It is the Prime Minister's job to do something about it.