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House of Commons Hansard #168 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

The BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the government has introduced a new equalization formula that treats every province equally. It does have a cap, but that cap is not applied in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have the right to exactly the deal they signed in 2005. That is the choice.

What we will not do is provide a new, enhanced side deal for any province. That would not be fair. We are respecting existing deals, but we are bringing in one fair formula for everyone who opts into it. That is the only fair way to proceed, not new side deals.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, less than three months after the finance minister declared the “bickering between provincial and federal governments is over”, a hilarious quotation, we have a Prime Minister at war with the provinces, at war with Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan. This is no way to run a country. A prime minister should call meetings with premiers, not threaten them with lawsuits.

Why does the Prime Minister run attack ads and threaten lawsuits, instead of working with people who are partners in the federation?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, while I was in Europe, I know that both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Finance were having discussions with the Government of Nova Scotia. I know they want those discussions to continue. Those discussions were not broken off by the federal government.

It is a very serious allegation to say that the federal government has broken a legal contract. We have done no such thing. This party fought for the Atlantic accords. We want to keep the Atlantic accords. If someone is going to make an allegation that we broke the law, I would think the individual would have the decency to act upon that allegation or withdraw it.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think he has chosen war. I know the Prime Minister hates to admit he is wrong. I know he is prepared to go to great lengths to cover up his mistakes, but Canadians should not have to pay the price for his stubbornness.

Why does the Prime Minister not admit that his new formula does not honour the Atlantic accords, and why is he refusing to do the honourable thing and keep his promise?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Finance had discussions with Nova Scotia. They listened to the legitimate concerns of the provinces and made proposals to address those concerns while honouring the principles of the budget. This government is prepared to go back to the table anytime.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister left the G-8 summit proclaiming himself the new champion of the environment. The truth is that the G-8 concluded a sellout agreement without absolute targets and without firm commitments.

The Prime Minister nonetheless praised the territorial approach—which is the European Union approach—by saying that a green plan should take into account the specifics of each country for achieving the Kyoto protocol targets.

Will the Prime Minister follow through on the statements he made in Europe and apply the territorial approach?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the federal government is prepared to cooperate with the provinces on implementing its plan to regulate industry on greenhouse gas emissions. We are prepared to enter into equivalency agreements with the provinces. Nonetheless the principle is clear: the federal targets are minimum targets.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if that is true, can the Prime Minister tell us whether he will ensure that Quebec can achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets from 1990 levels, or a 6% reduction, in order to promote the polluter-pay principle?

Quebec has made an effort and that should be recognized. If the oil companies have not done anything, then the oil companies should pay. Is that what the Prime Minister is saying?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our targets are applicable on a national scale. These targets apply to every province and the targets are greater for economies experiencing greater growth. We are also committed to respecting the polluter pay principle. This principle is part of our plan.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about economic growth. Since 1990, the Cascades paper company has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% while increasing production by 20%. That is a good example of absolute reduction. Cascades is an example of the work that the Quebec paper and manufacturing industries have done over the past two decades.

Can the Minister of the Environment explain why his plan penalizes Cascades and the Quebec manufacturing industry by failing to take into account the work they have done in the past?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case at all. Recognizing the work that industries have done over the past 13 years is an important part of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. It is worth noting that the previous government did nothing for 13 years. Some companies have worked very hard. Recognizing their efforts is an essential part of our plan.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, Hubert Bolduc, the vice-president of Cascades, said, “It is just as unfortunate that the federal government has not done anything to speed up the opening of a carbon exchange”.

When will the minister finally recognize the importance of a Montreal carbon exchange to the environment and to industry and the absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets that such an exchange requires?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague from Quebec to know that we support opening a carbon exchange. It is an essential part of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. It is also important that our targets be absolute targets.

For the first time in Canada's history, we have a Prime Minister and a government with a real plan to reduce greenhouse gases by more than 20% over the next 13 years. That is an absolute target for this country.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the government's broken promise fiasco on the Atlantic accord and equalization has reached a new low. So far what we have seen is the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador having to take out ads to call for a promise to be kept. The Premier of Saskatchewan was snubbed. The Prime Minister would not even meet with him when he went to the province. Then we saw a Conservative member of Parliament, who decided to try to keep his promise to his constituents, thrown out by the government. Now we see the Premier of Nova Scotia weighing in.

What is the Prime Minister's response? “I'll sue you.” That is his response. What kind of way to run a federation is that? Why does he not keep his promise—

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. the Prime Minister.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the promise was to keep the Atlantic accords exactly as they were signed. That is exactly what this government has done.

What we are being asked to do by some provinces is to sign new side deals. This government will not sign new side deals. That is not the way we are running this federation.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister could do the right thing. He could honour his promise. He could agree to sit down and make this federation work the way it should.

Instead, the moment that people start to stand up for the people of their province, he hauls out the court documents. He is ready to lay them on the table. It is a tactic of intimidation and it will not work to make our country strong.

When will the Prime Minister do the right thing, honour his promise and deliver to the people of Atlantic Canada and Saskatchewan what they have every right to expect because he told them he would?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, that is exactly what we have done. As I said, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Foreign Affairs were having good discussions with Nova Scotia. They are anxious to continue those discussions. They certainly have the full support of the government if that is what the Government of Nova Scotia wants to do.

The fact is equalization is an issue on which the provinces are divided. The NDP government of Manitoba wanted the inclusion of natural resources. The NDP government of Saskatchewan wanted the exclusion.

What is the position of the federal NDP? It has no position on this or any other important issue because it knows it will never run the country.

Atlantic AccordOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, first, we had the finance minister declaring peace in our time, even as he betrayed three provinces with his budget. Then we had the foreign affairs minister telling Nova Scotians, “We'll see you in court over the Atlantic accord”.

Now, today, we have the Prime Minister himself threatening Atlantic Canadians with court action. That is his answer to provinces that only ask that he keep his promises and honour a signed contract.

Why should Atlantic Canadians have to go to court to get the Prime Minister to keep his promise?

Atlantic AccordOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the history of this is fairly well known. The member who has asked the question is a member of a party whose leader says that fiscal balance between governments does not exist in Canada. Yet he has the nerve to say that what is being done to redress fiscal imbalance between governments in Canada is somehow wrong.

Those members do not even believe, in the first place, that there is a fiscal imbalance in Canada. Therefore, how does one redress it? There was the O'Brien committee, appointed by the former Liberal government opposite, an expert panel that made recommendations to government, which we—

Atlantic AccordOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Halifax West.

Atlantic AccordOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley does not believe the Minister of Finance. The Premier of Saskatchewan and the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador do not believe the Minister of Finance. Even the premier of my province does not believe this flim-flam act any more.

If the accord has not changed, how can he explain the 12 paragraphs of amendments in clause 80, 81 and 82 of his budget bill? Why will he not be honest with Canadians and honour the accord?

Atlantic AccordOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the member opposite knows, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are in a unique position, together, because they had accords.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia can operate under the previous equalization system until their agreements expire, but can permanently opt into the new system at any time. That is the reason for the provision in Bill C-52, to create that option for those two provinces.

Corporate TakeoversOral Questions

June 11th, 2007 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, he does not answer questions, so let us try another tact.

Recently, the Prime Minister declared that he did not want to interfere with the market and say that one transaction would be allowed and that another would not, since this would be a disaster. So the Prime Minister must have been surprised when his Minister of Finance announced a review of such transactions.

Could the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister consult one another just a little before imposing their disastrous economic policies on Canadians?

Corporate TakeoversOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite asks about the economy. We have created 450,000 new jobs since this government was elected, a great record for this government. We have the strongest economic fundamentals in the G-7.

We have the best unemployment rate in about 33 years in Canada. We have the highest level of participation in the workforce in the history of Canada. All of this is since the election of this party to government just 16 months ago.