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House of Commons Hansard #173 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post-secondary.

Topics

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #207

Conflict of Interest and Ethics CommissionerRoutine Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion concerning the Senate amendments to Bill C-31.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #208

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I declare the motion carried.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like today to remind the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec about the sad situation in the manufacturing sector in Canada and especially in Quebec.

Last March 23, I asked the minister why he did not get anything additional in the last budget. He promised that he would get something this year, but we see by the pitiful results that this was a promise he did not keep.

If a company is located in the minister’s own region or Quebec City, chances are that it will get some financial help. Outside of Conservative ridings, though, there is no salvation. Many regions have been waiting for the hon. member to alight from his rented airplane with some good news, but in vain. He still does not know that there are other regions in Quebec that need financial help.

The manufacturing sector in Canada is going through a major crisis. Ontario and Quebec have been especially hard hit. Statistics show that the manufacturing sector has lost 200,000 jobs in Canada since 2002. How can the minister do nothing in view of all the factories that are closing? How can he sit there doing nothing while so many Canadians are losing their jobs?

In the course of the hearings of the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement du Québec in February 2007, the Association des Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec made a presentation. It explained why people should be concerned about our manufacturing and exporting companies. This is what it said:

This is the sector contributing the most to GDP (21%); it is responsible for 86% of our exports; it is also responsible for two-thirds of the private research and development that is done; it drives regional development; it has a major multiplier effect; it provides 575,000 direct jobs.

So what is the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec doing for a sector that is so vital to the Quebec economy? He is flying back and forth between his riding and Ottawa.

The Canadian dollar is continuing its steep rise and at this rate will reach parity with the U.S. dollar. Without wanting to speculate on the repercussions of this situation, we know that manufacturing will suffer much of the negative effect.

Who will be directly impacted by this crisis? Once again, it will be the workers in our manufacturing industries.

More factories will close and there will be other bankruptcies. The manufacturing sector has had to face some huge challenges and needs more than a few tax-related promises. It has an urgent need for investment. In view of all the challenges facing the Quebec economy, how can the minister explain the total lack of new money in the last two budgets?

Are his six new programs not just smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that the Conservative government does not really believe in economic development? This is all the more evident in view of the fact that the government not only has not provided any new money but has even taken some away, as in the case of CANtex.

When will the minister finally respond to the companies’ cry for financial assistance, especially for workers in the manufacturing sector in Quebec?

7:10 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague, the Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, allow me to respond in greater detail to the question raised recently by the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

The member expressed his concerns regarding the financial support provided to the regions of Quebec by the Economic Development Agency of Canada. As the hon. member knows, the Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is a staunch defender of the regions. He has a well-known reputation for this.

Since becoming minister, he has put forward six new economic measures aimed specifically at helping the various regions of Quebec, and especially those that are struggling. Those measures include: the venture capital fund for business start-ups in the regions; the capital fund for business succession; the community economic diversification initiative—vitality; community economic facilities for the regions; partnering with enterprises for commercialization; and advisory committees.

Canada Economic Development's mission is focused on regional economic development and supporting businesses—our SMEs. The department assists Quebec SMEs directly by providing counselling services and financial assistance. It also encourages regional business communities and the organizations that support them. Other federal partners participate in this mission to varying degrees.

Had the member done his homework and taken the time to read our government's latest budget, he would have found, on page 200, that we plan to provide a total of $105 million to seven centres of excellence that focus on priority areas of research and commercialization for Canada, including the National Optics Institute in Quebec City.

Examples of how our government has been helping the regions of Quebec abound. I could list a whole range of them, but that would only serve to emphasize how unfounded the member for Hull—Aylmer's allegations are. We are helping the regions in many different ways.

Since coming to power, our government has made a historic effort to revitalize infrastructure and improve quality of life in various Canadian communities.

The 2007 budget allocated unprecedented amounts of money in this area, and the regions of Quebec are among the first to benefit. We are talking about $16 billion in new money for a total of $33 billion over the next seven years.

Our government is determined to apply policies that will promote economic growth and new business opportunities in all regions of Quebec. Resolving the softwood lumber crisis is a concrete example of that.

That was also what motivated our government to create Advantage Canada, a strategic plan to improve our country's prosperity, which depends on the prosperity of our regions. It also motivated our Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada to launch new economic measures for the regions of Quebec.

I would conclude by saying that we are confident that the measures the minister has announced over the past few months and the changes to the department's financial assistance programs will make a real difference in the very near future.

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister does not have an answer or a realistic solution for Quebec manufacturers. He has no idea of the seriousness of the situation. More businesses will have to close their doors and more workers will find themselves without a job.

The Canadian dollar continues to climb. Why does the minister not realize the urgency of the situation? Do we have to spell it out for him?

He has not been able to secure new monies in the last two budgets and is not at all embarrassed about using the budgets of the Economic Development Agency of Canada as a cash cow for his riding and his region. Does he believe in economic development or simply in the re-election of his Conservative friends?

Canadians in the manufacturing sector work very hard to earn their wages and are proud workers. However, this minister's failure to take action is jeopardizing an even greater number of jobs on which Canadians and their families depend.

Can the minister explain his lack of haste and the fact that he still does not have new budgets to deal with this major crisis?

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal member either does not understand or is being disingenuous.

The minister has put in place six new measures to help the regions of Quebec, especially regions with weak economic growth.

These six measures are also designed to encourage companies to innovate, market their goods and services and improve their productivity.

These measures, along with the new programs that the Economic Development Agency of Canada put in place on April 1, are making a real difference.

If my distinguished opposition colleague made the effort to visit the regions of Quebec—something I suggest he do during the summer break, perhaps by hitting the barbecue circuit with his leader—many socio-economic players in the regions would readily corroborate what I am saying and praise my minister for his leadership.

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:19 p.m.)