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House of Commons Hansard #3 of the 40th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member on his re-election. It is good to see him back in the House. I always enjoy listening to his speeches.

One of the things that surprises me about the government's Speech from the Throne is the fact that it almost completely ignores the arts and culture sector. One sentence, probably the vaguest sentence of the entire Speech from the Throne, talks about arts and culture. Given the disastrous campaign the Conservatives had when it came to arts and culture issues, I would have thought there would be a post-mortem of the campaign somewhere in the Conservative caucus which highlighted the fact that the Conservatives really needed to get their act together when it came to this important sector of our economy.

I think the Conservatives probably now know that over one million Canadians, directly or indirectly, earn their living in the arts and cultural sector, that over $85 billion is related to that sector and that 7.5% of our GDP is related to the arts sector and yet during the campaign the Prime Minister was incredibly dismissive of the work of cultural workers in this country, incredibly dismissive of that industry.

We also saw the previous government denigrate arts and culture by trying to impose censorship measures, giving the minister an opportunity to do that in Bill C-10. We saw the cancellation of important overseas cultural programs, the ProMart program and the trade routes program. We saw the government refusing to ensure that the CBC had enough money to ensure the continuation of the CBC Radio orchestra.

There was nothing in the Speech from the Throne to undo those measures. Why is the government continuing to ignore the arts and cultural sector, an important part of Canada's economy and the life of Canadians?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are not ignoring the arts and cultural sector. We understand its importance to Canada. I would disagree with the member saying that this government is against arts and culture. We are supporting arts and culture and will continue to do so.

I do not know what the member was talking about when he talked about the disastrous campaign. He was on this side and now he is sitting on that side. If it had been a disastrous campaign he would be on this side. The numbers have shrunk on that side, so I do not know what disaster he is talking about.

However, let us talk about what is important. Arts and culture are extremely important. An economic downturn is taking place and this government needs to ensure the effect of an economic downturn on Canadian families is as minimal as possible. That is what the throne speech is all about. That is what responsible governments do and that is what we are doing.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to talk about my colleague's speech, but I have something very important to say.

My colleague addressed himself directly to a member numerous times, which should not happen.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, you gave the floor to a colleague from the New Democratic Party before giving it to a Liberal or Bloc Québécois colleague. That should not happen either.

I know that you have just begun and that you are acting in good faith, but it is important to start out on the right foot.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I thank the hon. member for that advice. I am trying to move the questioners around the room in a spirit of decorum.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Gatineau.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we heard the throne speech, we read it, and already the government is taking a big stick to the federal public service.

I would like to know how my colleague feels about rumours that the federal government is not negotiating in good faith with the federal public service. The throne speech suggested that the government wants to pass a bill without holding good-faith negotiations between the employees—public servants—and the employer—the federal government. Both the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada and the Public Service Alliance of Canada have talked about this. That is a pretty poor way to treat public servants.

Do the Conservatives really intend not to negotiate in good faith with public service employees?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

During the parliamentary secretary's last response I was distracted and did not hear whether he was speaking through the Chair but I am sure he will this time.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

I certainly will, Mr. Speaker. I am very happy to see you in that chair.

Canada's public servants are doing an excellent job. We have a very high degree of respect for them. They are some of the most professional around the world who command a huge amount of respect not only in Canada but all around the world. Let me be very clear that this government respects our public servants in the way they are running this country.

As to the other issue with respect to the negotiations and everything, these negotiations always take place among both employers and employees and will continue to do so. The government will take into account its situation and unions will take into account their situation. These are ongoing trade talks that are part of the labour movement and are part of negotiations in Canada.

I will say again that this government respects Canada's public servants.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the voters of Mississauga--Streetsville for their support. I promised them that I would restore trust and I have already begun to do so.

The fundamentals of our economy are not strong. The global situation has only been exacerbated by the fiscal mismanagement and failed policies of the Conservative government. It burned through the $3 billion contingency fund. It squandered $13 billion. The Conservatives have proven that they are poor fiscal managers.

Two hundred thousand jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector. There has been a loss of business and consumer confidence. Canada has the slowest growth rate in the G-8, the lowest productivity in 18 years and yet the government increased spending 13.8% in the past two years.

Today alone the TSX dropped 9%, 765 points. That is a five year low. It is the second largest drop in history. Oil is now below $50. Every commodity price is down.

Will the government pledge to protect seniors on fixed incomes, jobs in the manufacturing sector, working families and new Canadians? Will the Conservatives reverse their dangerous policies?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, that was quite interesting. I am glad she is here to restore trust because it is that party that requires trust as a result of the sponsorship scandal. She just needs to tell her colleagues about the sponsorship scandal and bring that trust back.

The member said that the price of oil was down to $50. Is it our fault that the price of oil has gone down to $50? I do not know if the member realizes that there is a global meltdown going on. There is a global crisis going on and Canada is working with other countries to reach a solution to this problem.

We will continue to be part of the G-20. We will work toward reassuring Canadians that the global economic uncertainty will not have a major effect on Canada. We will continue to do that, which is what the throne speech is all about.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 6:30 p.m., this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:30 p.m.)