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.


Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11:25 a.m.


Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the hon. member's information. There are important principles behind the Canada first defence strategy including, first of all, the defence of our country and its three oceans, the shared defence of North America with the U.S., and the capacity to cooperate with the international community and all parts of the world.

The procurement list is part of our Canada first defence strategy to ensure that we can continue to rebuild the Canadian Forces after decades of neglect. We must also ensure that we have the capacity required to move forward with all our commitments and objectives.

As for the purchase of equipment, this government adheres to the tendering process, which guarantees the best price and quality for Canadian taxpayers and the Canadian Forces. Our policy is to provide economic spinoffs for all parts of the country based on criteria that are not political, that is, the criteria of the market. This government will continue to upgrade equipment and ensure that all parts of the country, including Quebec, reap the benefits.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11:30 a.m.


John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your election and also to the right hon. Prime Minister for deciding to sit with his caucus on my side of the House. I appreciate that.

The constituents in the west end of my riding, around Emo, will be very pleased to hear that that the Prime Minister said this morning that he is going to help build an abattoir in Emo. That was distinctly said and I will certainly pass that on to my constituents.

Unfortunately, however, we did not hear anything about forestry. I think forestry was mentioned but once and with no explanations. There was no strategy to help mills in Fort Frances and Barwick keep operating. There was no strategy to help reopen the closed mills in Sapawe and in and around Thunder Bay. I am hoping that in the days to come we will hear something more concrete from the right hon. Prime Minister.

Another glaring absence and something which is particularly important for northwestern Ontario is infrastructure money. It is certainly missing. The Prime Minister was talking about old money for infrastructure. Where is the new money for infrastructure?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11:30 a.m.


Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the Speech from the Throne committed yesterday, the government will act to increase slaughterhouse capacity in this country. That was made clear yesterday

In terms of the forestry sector, this government has been undertaking some important initiatives, including investment incentives not just in forestry but across manufacturing to help improve competitiveness and allow the transformation of these industries.

We also launched the billion dollar community development trust in collaboration with all of the provincial and territorial governments in this country with the express desire that the money be targeted toward forestry communities in particular.

We also are looking at innovative ways to encourage the development of biomass energy from forestry products.

In terms of infrastructure, the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River is relatively new to the House and I congratulate him on his election, but he will no doubt be informed by his colleagues that this government has already undertaken the largest infrastructure investments in this country in over half a century.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11:30 a.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all I wish to congratulate each and every member on their victories in the last election. I would also like to thank the voters of Laurier—Sainte-Marie who elected me for the seventh consecutive time.

We have all savoured the joy of victory and the time has now come to carry out to the fullest our very important responsibilities. These are times of crisis and our constituents are counting on us. There are times in political life, particularly in a minority Parliament, where ideology and a lack of openness are decidedly out of place. These are such times. The circumstances demand that we focus our efforts on the needs of the people.

Therefore, it is with a sense of urgency, and also a desire for openness, that the Bloc Québécois begins this Parliament. We announced in advance that we intend to take a constructive approach and we made certain proposals for the Speech from the Throne. The Bloc Québécois was quite prepared to compromise. It is possible to do so without renouncing the principles on which we were elected.

Unfortunately, this openness and feeling of urgency are missing from the Speech from the Throne the Conservatives have given us, as a result of three factors: first, the Prime Minister continues to be completely insensitive to the effects of the crisis on Canadians and on the economy; second, the Conservatives have learned nothing from the outcome of the last election in Quebec; and third, this throne speech looks like the last Conservative Party convention, that is, it is grounded in conservative ideology. The Bloc Québécois will therefore have no choice but to oppose passage of this throne speech.

As I said, we are going through some very serious crises. Already, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs in recent months, particularly in the manufacturing and forestry sectors. Some people are very worried. I am thinking in particular of retirees who have seen their savings disappear, workers in the forestry industry who are seeing their plants close down, one by one, workers in the manufacturing industry who too are seeing their co-workers lose their jobs by the tens of thousands. We are in a crisis, and the federal government has a decisive role to play in supporting people and the economy, and it has the resources to do that.

This was not the case in the past. I was elected for the first time in 1990, a year marked by a major economic recession. The unemployment rate in Quebec climbed to 13% in 1993. People experienced a great deal of hardship at the time. In the early 1990s, public finances were in a deplorable state, and governments were left with less leeway. In 1993, the federal government generated a $39 billion deficit, representing 31% of budget revenue.

The government’s primary responsibility, as we enter this crisis, is to make sure that people do not suffer too badly from this economic situation. The government must do what it can with the resources available to it, and this time it has considerable resources. Since 1998, the government has generated surpluses of over $100 billion. Restoring public finances and achieving these huge surpluses came at the price of the considerable sacrifices people had to make. It is now time to put these vast financial resources to work for the people who created them, to use them in the service of the public.

I would point out that the government has financial assets—I am not talking about federal buildings—amounting to tens of billions of dollars. I would also point out that the government is in a position to achieve major savings in its spending on bureaucracy, without laying anyone off, and that it can and must eliminate the tax breaks granted to the big oil companies and tighten the rules that for too long have allowed the wealthiest people to take advantage of tax havens.

The federal government has tremendous financial means at its disposal; failing to use those means in a time of crisis would be crazy. The federal government has a critical role to play in supporting people and the economy in times of crisis.

The government has the financial and legislative means to act decisively. Unfortunately, the will to do so was not expressed in the throne speech. It is sad to see such a lack of leadership. In light of the tremendous determination of governments in Europe, the United States and China, and their will to act, it is sad to see this government's pathological timidity and blatant lack of sensitivity.

It was the government's job to be clear about its desire to provide a workable plan to support businesses in the forestry and manufacturing sectors. That is a priority for Quebec and its regions. Instead, we got vague promises.

Thousands of workers have already lost their jobs in the forestry sector, yet the government is bent on staying its disastrous course. That sends a terrible message to thousands of workers, communities and regions that rely on the forestry industry: “You are on your own.” That is unacceptable.

We are not asking the government to throw money out the window. We are asking it to do its part by introducing intelligent, substantive measures that will enhance our economy's productivity—measures that will enable Quebec's economy and Canada's economy to save and create jobs and to emerge stronger from this crisis.

Such measures include loans and loan guarantees for the purchase of new production equipment for the forestry and manufacturing sectors and refundable tax credits for research and development.

We will soon be making new, concrete, costed proposals. We are ready to debate our proposals in the House in good faith. There are millions of jobs at stake. This is about the lives of millions of people and entire regions. I want to make one thing clear: no government member will be able to look any Canadian in the eye if, having helped the banks and the oil companies, it refuses to help economic sectors that employ millions of people. There is no excuse for that kind of negligence, none whatsoever.

The Prime Minister also showed that he had learned nothing from the latest election results in Quebec, by upholding the decision to cut subsidies to economic development organizations. We expected this government to show some openness and to reverse this decision, to show its willingness to respect the Quebec nation's way of doing things. Reversing this decision would not have cost a cent. Instead, the Prime Minister decided to be stubborn and to impose a decision for no good reason. This is not acceptable.

I would also like to remind the Prime Minister that culture, one of the building blocks of the Quebec nation, represents 314,000 jobs in Quebec. We asked him to commit to reinstating cultural programs, as did the Government of Quebec, municipalities, regions and artists. This foolish decision to make unjustified cuts to culture was at the heart of the last election campaign. But no, the government chose to be stubborn once again, for no good reason. This is not acceptable to the Quebec nation.

The government announced that it was willing to accelerate investments in infrastructure through Building Canada, and that is good. But why not commit to accelerating the excise tax transfer to municipalities, or to creating a high-speed train link between Quebec City, Montreal and Windsor? The government also needs to inject money into the economy by investing in affordable housing. Members will remember that there is a huge surplus at the CMHC.

Government assistance for financial institutions must be contingent on banks offering credit under normal conditions to individuals and small- and medium-sized businesses. There was none about this in the throne speech. But how can we go along with the government rescuing banks but not imposing minimum conditions, which would simply require the banks to do their job?

Lastly, reducing Quebec's dependence on oil is also necessary. This economic crisis should not distract us from our environmental responsibilities.

With a bit of courage, this challenge could be used as a wonderful opportunity to rejuvenate and modernize our economies and ensure the prosperity of future generations. We want the government to commit to a change in course by no longer supporting an oil economy and by applying the Kyoto principles, as unanimously voted for by Quebec's National Assembly. Yet, the word “Kyoto“ does not appear in the Speech from the Throne. There is nothing in the throne speech to indicate that the Prime Minister has finally abandoned his role as the main lobbyist for Canada's oil industry. In fact, the Prime Minister has promised to provide even more assistance to oil producers by relaxing regulations. And he is committing to supporting the nuclear industry with our taxes.

Economically, the Conservative government has shown an appalling lack of leadership. With respect to the environment, it has its head in the sand. The worst part is that the Prime Minister is once again showing his complete lack of sensitivity towards the public. The federal government was able to put its fiscal house in order thanks to the sacrifices of Quebeckers and Canadians. Workers were literally pillaged by Ottawa. A good portion of the federal surplus came from the surplus in the employment insurance fund. Again last year, the government siphoned $2.3 billion off the fund. This cannot be allowed to continue. It is the government's duty to help those who have lost their jobs.

For example, nothing is stopping the government from eliminating the two-week waiting period or from enhancing the system by expanding access to it and finally offering an income support program for older workers. Eliminating the waiting period would cost next to nothing and an income support program for older workers would only cost the federal government $45 million a year. Not a single word was mentioned about this in the Speech from the Throne.

The government also has a responsibility to help seniors and retirees who are being hit by the financial crisis. For example, the government could change the rules for RRSPs. There was nothing about this in the throne speech.

By embarking on a major program to build and renovate affordable housing, the government would stimulate economic recovery while helping low-income families. By creating incentive programs to reduce home energy use and encourage people to buy green cars, the government would stimulate recovery while helping families. We must support people.

We can stimulate economic recovery and, at the same time, reduce poverty and help families breathe a bit. But there is nothing about that in the throne speech. There is no vision, no ambition, no compassion. We were very disappointed, and I am certain that the people of Canada are as well.

In the 1990s, cuts to employment insurance forced many unemployed people onto welfare, adding to the financial burden on Quebec and the provinces. At the same time, Ottawa cut transfers to Quebec and the provinces, downloading its deficit onto them.

The results were disastrous. These cuts dealt a blow to the health and education systems across the country and seriously weakened the finances of the other levels of government. That is how the fiscal imbalance was created. This downloading by the federal government was a real catastrophe, and we would like to believe that no federal government will ever again do such a thing. Unfortunately, the current government has said it intends to reduce and cap equalization payments.

One of the first actions this government plans to take could reduce transfers to Quebec and the have-not provinces by hundreds of millions of dollars. This is completely unacceptable to the Bloc Québécois and to Quebec, especially since the federal government still has not cleaned up its own act. Operating costs—bureaucratic expenditures—have gone up by 75% in the past nine years.

We expected the government to clearly state its intention to shoulder its responsibilities, without going back on its promises to Quebec and the provinces.

We also expected a clear commitment from the government that it would completely eliminate the fiscal imbalance. Instead, in the Speech from the Throne, the government reiterated its old formula based on the social union agreement, which the Government of Quebec has already rejected a number of times. The Prime Minister is again repeating another empty promise regarding a charter of open federalism.

In the throne speech, the government said it has increased transfers for post-secondary education, which is false. Yet, to ensure a sustainable economic future, nothing is more important than investing in education. To that end, the government must restore post-secondary education transfers to 1995 levels, that is, before the cuts imposed in the 1990s. For Quebec, this would mean $820 million.

We were willing to compromise and accept, for instance, that these transfers be restored gradually, over several years. Instead, the government decided to turn its back on the fiscal imbalance. This is unacceptable for Quebec and for the Bloc Québécois.

The Prime Minister has said nothing about this fundamental principle whereby the federal government must shoulder its financial and fiscal responsibilities. Instead, the Minister of Finance wants to scale down the government's commitments to Quebec and the provinces, and ignore its promise to correct the fiscal imbalance, while refusing to clean up its own bureaucratic spending. This shows an appalling lack of leadership and we want no part of it.

During the recent election campaign, the Prime Minister declared his love for Quebec, pointing out that he had recognized the Quebec nation. Accordingly, the least one might have expected from the throne speech was that it contain a general principle to the effect that the federal government's policies and legislation should take the existence of the Quebec nation into account in some concrete fashion.

Quebec asked the federal government to begin negotiations to return jurisdiction for culture to Quebec, which would be entirely reasonable for a nation. There is no mention of this in the Speech from the Throne.

When you recognize a nation, you must also recognize in concrete terms its language, culture, way of doing things and values. Yet, the government is once again attempting to impose its will on Quebec by introducing repressive laws against young offenders, reducing the political clout of the Quebec nation and creating a federal securities commission to concentrate its powers in Toronto rather than helping Quebec.

The Prime Minister is promising new intrusions into health and education. And if he insists on proceeding with the dismantling of the gun registry, as he indicated in the throne speech, he could at least have proposed that this responsibility and the corresponding funds be transferred to the Government of Quebec.

The government was asked to not reopen the debate on abortion in the throne speech. Yet, this Speech from the Throne is the logical and ideological continuation of the last Conservative Party of Canada convention.

The Bloc Québécois cannot accept such indifference towards the Quebec nation, its aspirations, values and interests.

The Prime Minister's throne speech demonstrates that he has written off Quebec, not learned a thing from the election and that his love for Quebec was just plain rhetoric.

Just two months ago, the Prime Minister called an early election, claiming that this House had become dysfunctional and that he wanted a strong mandate to face the economic crisis. The public decided to keep him in a minority government, particularly in Quebec. But the Prime Minister did not understand this message. He refused to be open and to make compromises in his throne speech, and preferred once again to focus on Conservative ideology.

The Conservative leader refuses to show leadership by providing strong support for the economy. The Prime Minister still shows the same lack of sensitivity towards the people who are affected by or very worried about the crisis.

Lastly, the Prime Minister showed that he learned nothing from what Quebeckers expressed in the last election.

This throne speech has no vision or direction, is offensive to Quebec, and lacks the sense of urgency or broad outlook that one would expect from a Prime Minister in a time of crisis.

This is why I move, seconded by the member for Joliette, that the amendment be amended by adding after the words “in the opposition” the following:

“that the House recognize that the Speech from the Throne is unanimously decried in Quebec because it reflects a Conservative ideology that was rejected by 78 percent of the Quebec nation on October 14 and that as a result the House denounce the fact that it does not respond to the consensus in Quebec respecting, for instance, the legislation on young offenders, the repatriation to Quebec of powers over culture and communications, the elimination of the federal spending power and the maintenance of the existing system of securities regulation.”

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11:55 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec


Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Secretary of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I obviously listened closely to the speech my colleague, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, gave. Looking beyond his partisanship, we could see that the obvious common denominator was the economy.

We know that the situation is critical and out of the ordinary. Our Speech from the Throne is based on the economy. It was pointed out that concerted action has been taken following the meeting of the G-20 leaders. We talk about reforming the financial system. We also talk about helping our lending institutions get through this, economically speaking. These are positive steps. So it is an outrage to hear about a lack of leadership when it is absolutely untrue. There is hope.

There is a responsible government here that talks about protecting jobs in the manufacturing sector. We talk about the aerospace industry as well as traditional industries like fisheries, mining and forestry. We talk about protecting the supply management system, which is so important to Quebec's farmers and which is the foundation of Quebec's economy. And I have not even mentioned the measures we have announced that will help our families and older workers. We also talk about maintaining transfers to the provinces for social programs and health care.

It may not have been mentioned, but it is a guarantee that is undeniable and immeasurable for Quebec and the provinces. We talk about stimulating investments, but we also talk about expediting investments for infrastructure, both in the regions and in the cities, and this is needed. All of this, with responsible management from the government.

My question is simple. Even though he opposes the Speech from the Throne, will my colleague go beyond partisanship and work with the government to do something about the economy?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11:55 a.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member is telling us that investments in Building Canada are going to be expedited, and in fact I pointed this out, if he had been listening. However, I told him that it could be done better if there were also a different formula and, for example, the excise tax rebate to municipalities were sped up. Those are concrete things that could be proposed.

Next, he tells me they are going to work on it. Of course. Proposals have been made and are being made all the time, and in fact they are costed. The member tells me they talk about there being problems in the fisheries and the manufacturing and forestry sectors. Well yes, they talk about it, but beyond observations, where are the concrete proposals in this throne speech? There are none. It is fuzzy, it is vague, it is uninspired. That is the problem.

We were told that the Speech from the Throne would be about the economy, when in fact it offers more specific things about young offenders, for example, or the transfer of the securities commission to Toronto. I hope he is going to be able to work with the rest of Quebec, because he is a member from Quebec. Everyone in Quebec is saying “No, not that!” What is he going to say: “Yes, my party!” or “Yes, my country!” That is the problem with this member.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

11:55 a.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech by the leader of the Bloc with great interest. He spoke specifically about the fact that the Conservative government was doing nothing for the forestry industry. We are very glad that the Bloc is joining the NDP in opposing this Speech from the Throne.

It must be pointed out that the Conservative government cannot do anything to help the forestry industry because of the softwood lumber agreement that was supported by the Bloc Québécois in this House. The Bloc endorsed that policy, one based on Conservative ideology, which led to the loss of thousands and thousands of jobs in Quebec, in Abitibi—Témiscamingue, in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. Those Quebeckers lost their jobs because of the Bloc's support for the softwood lumber agreement.

Because of that, the Government of Quebec can do nothing to address the crisis in the forestry industry. It can do nothing to reverse the decline in the forestry industry and the loss of thousands of jobs.

My question is very simple: is the leader of the Bloc Québécois prepared to admit today that it was a mistake for the Bloc Québécois to support the softwood lumber agreement and tie the hands of the Government of Quebec so it is unable to do anything to help the forestry industry? We know what the outcome was. Thousands of jobs were lost in Quebec, because the Bloc Québécois supported the Conservative government.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne



Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, agreeing with Quebec's unions and labour federations—which support the Bloc, not the NDP—is never a mistake. Agreeing with the Quebec federation of chambers of commerce, the Fédération Québécoise des Municipalités, and forestry companies in Quebec is never a mistake.

We speak for Quebeckers. Sure, the NDP has one member from Quebec, who represents Outremont, and Mount Royal happens to be in that riding, and there happen to be some trees there, but there is no logging going on. Everyone else told the NDP that its position was out of touch with reality and that its vision was a holdover from the sixties that had nothing to do with what is going on right now.

If the federal government, whether Liberal or Conservative, had given companies loan guarantees to deal with American lawsuits, things would have been different because the American policy was clear. They knew that, in the end, they were going to lose the legal battle in both the WTO and NAFTA. Their strategy was to challenge every defeat until the victor simply wore out. That is what happened. Companies, regions and municipalities were on the brink of bankruptcy, and workers had no jobs. There was no other solution, except for the NDP's nonsensical proposals. In Quebec, politicians have to listen to people and work with them. That is what the Bloc Québécois is doing.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne



Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Bloc leader a question about the throne speech. It contains this sentence, in which the member can replace the word “Canada” with “Quebec” if he wants: “Canada's institutions are the cornerstone of our democracy, our freedom and our prosperity.” As a Liberal, I agree completely with this statement, but I think that the Prime Minister does not believe these words. He broke his own fixed election date law, he went against his own process for selecting a Supreme Court justice and, at a recent Conservative Party convention in Winnipeg, nearly all the members of his party chose to vote against the principles of this country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Does the Bloc leader think that this Prime Minister believes in the laws of Quebec and Canada?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne



Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a matter of judgment. I have known Liberal and Conservative governments. The problem with Liberal governments was that they did not do what they said they would. The problem with the Conservatives is that they do what they say they are going to do. This is quite a problem. They are acting just as they did at the convention in Winnipeg. Throughout the campaign, they said they were not going to talk about abortion anymore. Yet they applauded the proposals adopted in Winnipeg, which could reopen the abortion debate. They said there would never, ever be a deficit. Now, they are saying that there might be one. When will the Conservatives talk straight?

Because of their ideology, the Conservatives want to do away with the gun registry. What a great mentality. They put more people in jail and more weapons on our streets. What a great country. We do not want that.

As I said, the problem with the Conservatives is that they do what they say they will. The problem with the Liberals was that they did not do what they said they would.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:05 p.m.


Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by congratulating you on behalf of New Democrats on your re-election. I trust we will see greater civility and decorum in this chamber.

We also extend our congratulations to the Prime Minister. Our well wishes to the leader of the official opposition in his continued service. And also to the leader of the Bloc Québécois.

On a personal note, I would like to thank the people of Toronto—Danforth for giving me the opportunity to represent them once again. Actually, a bus load of my constituents left Toronto bright and early this morning in the snow, on this occasion primarily from South Asian background, who are very active in the Pakistani community centre. They are to be arriving on the Hill shortly depending on the weather.

I certainly appreciate the support that so many in my constituency have shown me over the years and I look forward to doing my very best to carry their concerns, as we all do our best to do here in this chamber on the floor of the House of Commons.

I want to thank the people of Canada for electing the second largest New Democrat caucus in our history. Canadians, whom I have met in the past two months during the election period and since in fact over the last several years, are counting on this Parliament to have courage in the face of the adversity which is ever increasingly clear we are facing in the economy.

The economy is facing an unprecedented downturn. Millions of Canadian families are worried right now about their jobs, their pensions, their homes and their savings. They are counting on the federal government to take bold and strategic steps.

The words in yesterday's throne speech do not match the urgency or the depth of what is required to protect working families today. Canadians were hoping for more from the throne speech. New Democrats were expecting more.

As the effective opposition across this country from the farthest points north, south, east and west of this great country, New Democrats will be demanding more of the government.

We will not be supporting the throne speech. The speech that we are asked to endorse will not ease the sleepless nights of many Canadians. The throne speech spoke about a crisis but it took no bold action to deal with it. It spoke about renewal but it set no targets to revitalize the economy, and it set the same course that we have seen followed that brought us into this situation. It spoke of the inevitability of budget deficits while foolishly proceeding with additional unconditional corporate tax cuts that make no sense.

Parliament is faced with a great test. It could turn out to be a great test of our generation. While not asked to achieve independence or fight in the great wars, as our ancestors and veterans have done, nevertheless we are asked to take our nation through a global economic crisis, one that is already cutting deep into the real economy.

New Democrats have always believed that the economy must be judged on how well it serves the needs and aspirations of all our people. We believe markets can bring prosperity, but they cannot do it alone.

Sometimes governments have to get off the side lines, shore up a failing side and be part of the solution—not wait for an invisible hand to set things right.

We believe in strategic investment by government, not in unconditional corporate giveaways. We believe that productivity and enterprise drive the economy, not low corporate tax rates. We believe in fighting for Canadian workers, their jobs and their communities.

We believe that government should be about fairness and prosperity for all Canadians, for people like Jack Nijjer in Kamloops who is fearing for his small business; Jennifer Sanderson in St. John's, who is worried about her children's future; and people like the countless young Canadians with bright ideas for a greener tomorrow.

Around the world even Conservative governments are recognizing that government not only has a role to play but has a responsibility to act. Leaders everywhere are taking decisive action but the Conservative government has not shown the same courage.

It is a cause for great concern that most major world economies are in or very close to recession right now. World stock markets are down 40% and $7 trillion has been injected into the global capital supply.

But I am even more worried about auto sector job losses in Windsor, mills closing in Trois-Rivières and forecasts that put all of Canada on the edge of recession.

Consumer bankruptcies in September were 20% higher than August. Unemployment is projected to rise next year to 7%, but that is not the full story

I am reminded of the occasion during the election campaign when the Prime Minister and I visited Welland, Ontario. I saw our decaying industrial heartland. I spoke to workers who had lost their jobs when the 100-year-old John Deere plant closed. In fact, they were called to a meeting fully expecting that there would be an announcement of a major investment in the plant because it was remarkably productive and remarkably profitable.

John Deere had just declared an astounding quarterly profit on which it received a tax reduction as a part of the government's approach. Temporary workers had been brought in by the dozens in order to boost the production of its product. What were they told at that meeting? They were told that the plant was going to be shut down and hundreds of workers were going to be thrown into the streets. Those grim and determined faces I am never going to forget. The Prime Minister chose not to meet those workers and look them in their faces.

While the Prime Minister tinkers with the status quo, those families cannot put food on the table. They are counting on a government that will stand up for them and begin to take action to rebuild the real economy. Right now those people are spending their savings just to get by. In fact, some of them are reaching into their credit cards to pay for their mortgages. It is impossible to imagine a more desperate situation.

Good-paying, family-raising jobs are being replaced with low wage, insecure jobs without pensions.

This government is not looking out for the middle class who feel more pressure month by month, working harder and harder to keep up. Instead, this government is throwing money away on unconditional corporate tax cuts. This government is intent on giving to the sectors that need it least, rather than those that need it most. This makes no sense.

The productivity of our workforce is the engine of our prosperity, but for the first time in half a century a Canadian Prime Minister has let productivity fall under his watch. We now work more to produce less.

Now the crisis could be and should be an opportunity to get things right. It could be an opportunity to boost productivity and combine environmental protection with economic growth in exciting new ways. It could be an opportunity to ensure good public services and a robust infrastructure that would attract investment, improve the quality of life. It could be an opportunity to stabilize the economy, to foster enterprise and to really encourage small business.

We need bold and strategic measures to set our country on the right course. The 21st century is new and different. The tired old 20th century solutions will not work any more. Other countries are beginning to realize it. Our friends south of the border have begun to realize it and they are making those changes happen. We should be making those kinds of changes right here in Canada.

Let us build prosperity by investing in the inherent productivity that resides in the talent and the creativity, and the energy of our people in the real economy.

First, let us introduce financial regulations that protect consumers in this economy. Even though strong regulations have kept our banking sector somewhat more stable than others, the effects of the global market turmoil are unavoidable.

Stronger oversight is needed to track the $75 billion of Canadian taxpayers' money that has already been given to secure banks. If there is assistance to ailing sectors, taxpayers need a full account, and where appropriate an equity stake in return.

The federal government can protect consumers by ensuring that credit card companies stop hiking interest rates on cash strapped families that miss a payment. That is simply unfair.

Second, let us invest in the new energy economy of the 21st century. That is how we can create prosperity for the future, and a planet that will be sustainable and liveable for the next generation.

We do not have to choose between economic growth and fighting climate change. We can put a price on carbon with a real cap and trade program that makes that big polluters pay. Then we can harness the sun, the wind, the water, the biomass and energy efficiency in ways that will take us forward and be more productive.

Canadian innovation can make us leaders in renewable technology and create green collar jobs. We must begin by creating thousands of jobs right now, energy retro-fitting our homes and buildings.

Third, let us invest in enterprise and innovation in the private sector and in our research institutions. Canadian companies lead the world in information technology. Our small businesses produce original ideas.

Our universities and colleges should lead the world in practical innovation. Our young people can do it. Our academics are up to the job. They have proven it. However, we have to do more with incentives for job creation and better support for R and D and innovation funding.

Fourth, let us make strategic investments in infrastructure and the real economy. Let us commit to an ambitious plan to partner with our communities to repair our crumbling cities and invest in public transit. Let us start building affordable housing.

We have relied on raw log resource exports and raw material exports for far too long. We need credit guarantees for viable companies in the forestry sector that are otherwise perfectly profitable and productive but because of the credit crunch are looking at having to close their doors. We need that support now. It should have been in the Speech from the Throne.

We also need to take the opportunity to transform the auto sector, to develop low emission vehicles so Canada can be on the leading edge of providing the kind of transportation that Canadians want, transportation that pollutes less, costs them less and keeps jobs right here in Canada with the best auto-making workforce we can find. Canadians want these vehicles and it is also the right thing for the planet.

Fifth, but certainly not least, we must invest in our social infrastructure. Without a national skills training strategy, we are only going to compound the length and depth of the recession that we face. In the United States, pensions are guaranteed to $50,000. We need pension insurance and pension protection laws and plans to protect today’s seniors. They built this country. They deserve it.

Rule changes to employment insurance by recent governments mean that an unemployed person must exhaust her savings before her EI is even available. This is unfair. Let us fix EI so that the help is there when people need it.

And money will go right back into the local economy to create jobs, keep small businesses afloat, and put food on the table.

We can also create more jobs right away in child care and care for the aged, with more doctors and nurses and better employment opportunities for first nations. These are actions we could and should take right now in this economically critical time.

The government has to respect the 62% of Canadians who voted for change. That includes pursuing democratic reform with proportional representation. This Parliament has been asked to set aside its differences and to overcome the old politics of partisan battle. However, that does not mean giving the government the very majority that Canadians refused to give them. The government must compromise. It must work with other parties and opposition must be constructive. New Democrats are the effective opposition. We will challenge the government to do better and to deliver tangible results and real change. We oppose the throne speech because it lacks the bold action that working families need in this time of economic crisis.

I could say that history will judge us and judge us poorly if we fail the test that we face. However, it is not just history that matters. It is the families that are hurting right now. It is the jobs that are being lost today. It is the fears that Canadians have for their future and their children’s future that matter.

New Democrats have not forgotten who we are, where we came from, nor whom we represent and we are not about to start forgetting that now. In fact, we are going to bring their concerns to the table every day in the House of Commons. We will never waver from our belief that together we can build a fair and prosperous future for our country and our people.

Do not let anyone tell you, Mr. Speaker, that cannot be done.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:25 p.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the leader of the NDP on his re-election. As well, we honestly hope and pray for the folks on the bus coming here that they arrive safely.

I listened intently to his comments, quite a number of which were about how government would intervene in the economy and about raising taxes for business.

The hon. member misses the point. Of the tax breaks that were given, over three-quarters of them went to small businesses and families, the type of people he is trying to support.

He also talks about a knock on the tax breaks against these businesses, including the energy development in the west. He knows full well that many of the benefits accrue to many other parts of the country, including Ontario, and also manufacturing in my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac, which does work for the western provinces as well.

How does the leader of the NDP believe that raising taxes to business in this environment is going to help? We really need to lower these taxes to encourage companies to innovate, just as he said he wanted to do, and encourage them to grow, and is a benefit to small businesses. He would hamper that and it would force businesses to go to other countries. That is not what we want.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:25 p.m.


Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me also congratulate the hon. member for Tobique—Mactaquac on his re-election.

First, let me make sure that the member understands the position of the New Democratic Party. We take the view that a further tax reduction, which the government is proposing for large, profitable corporations, large banks and oil companies not small businesses, is wrong. It is a multi-billion dollar decision that will not put people back to work. It is a multi-billion dollar decision that assists in driving us further into deficit. It is a multi-billion dollar decision that goes to the wrong place.

The Speech from the Throne and, indeed, governing itself is about making choices. Far from proposing tax increases, we are proposing targeted assistance to the sectors that need the help to transform into the 21st century.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:25 p.m.


Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first speech in this chamber, I am certain that you will allow me to begin by addressing my fellow citizens and thanking them for choosing me as their representative and spokesperson in this place. First, I would like to say thank you and tell them that I will be sure to honour the trust they have placed in me.

I would also like to thank the leader of the NDP who just gave a rather important speech. Before asking him a question, I would like to make the following point. Yesterday, my colleague for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert noted that it was very strange that the government was announcing some rather vague measures to assist industries in trouble at the same time that cuts were being made to industries that are doing very well, such as the cultural industry. There is a dichotomy here.

My colleague, the member for Saint-Jean also noted that the government announced that it was putting measures—fairly vague measures—in place to support the economy, but that it was refusing to require a portion of military expenditures to be made here. My colleague, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, pointed out that billions of dollars are lying dormant at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and yet they refuse to build public housing or to take measures to kickstart the economy by building public housing.

Several Chinese companies have made investments in Drummondville, in my riding. It was not on the recommendation or with the assistance of the federal government, but through the efforts of local people who made many trips to China to seek out these companies. One of these companies pulverizes tires and sells the product to another company in Drummondville, Soprema. The latter obtained Chinese contracts to build the green roof for China's Olympic stadium. Remarkable efforts were made to identify these companies, make them profitable and work with China, and then the Prime Minister refused to attend the Olympic Games. He almost created a diplomatic incident, making China lose face and probably casting doubt on all the work done to that point.

In light of these examples, does it not seem to the leader of the NDP that the government is acting like a pyromaniac firefighter? It has announced some very vague measures to stimulate the economy and at the same time is adopting measures that will destroy it.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:30 p.m.


Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate the hon. member for Drummond on being elected and on his comments. I would also like to congratulate someone else from Drummondville, Annick Corriveau, who ran an excellent election campaign and achieved positive results for the NDP in that region. I imagine our candidate and the hon. member are like-minded in some ways, for instance, regarding the proposal that the government should start building more social housing. This is a key proposal, not only for the economy, but also for social justice, for all our families.

I would like to congratulate the hon. member for giving an excellent example of the new economy, and the innovative approach taken in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. Yet this government does not support that kind of small businesses. It prefers to expand larger, more profitable corporations, the big polluters, the big banks, instead of ensuring that innovation becomes a priority for the Canadian economy.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:30 p.m.


Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Toronto—Danforth on his re-election. While I have lots of respect for the work he has done in the past for municipalities and, of course, his Albert county, New Brunswick roots, which may make me partial to him, I have a quarrel with him.

In his response he said that he wanted to work well in this Parliament and that he wanted to be cooperative but it seems that at every measure he would be determined to vote against the government. Is that not a replay of the last campaign we just went through where the NDP could be so irresponsible on environmental solutions, not supported by the Sierra Club, economists or anybody credible in the environmental field, and yet those members banter and beat their breasts and say that they will do all the things that they want to do knowing they will never be the government? They sit in the House and criticize knowing they will never, ever be the government.

Will the leader of the NDP come clean and say what he would do if he were in government in this current economic crisis with respect to taxing corporations for being polluters? Would he bail out any of the corporations that are in so much need of assistance in order to keep the companies of corporate Canada alive? What would he do in this crucial time as prime minister, which, of course, he never will be?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:30 p.m.


Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the language creeping into the conversation because that was the proposition we put to Canadians and we do not intend to give up.

I do want to thank the hon. member for his question and for his reference to my Albert county roots. The red mud of the Petitcodiac is very present, I am sure, in my genetic structure somehow.

However, I must say that I found it odd that he chose to focus on the environmental aspects of the speech because it could probably be characterized as the worst environmental Speech from the Throne given in recent decades. When we consider that so little focus was given to the opportunities that lie before us and the urgency and need for action on the environmental aspects of the crisis that we are facing, it was certainly a disappointment.

The member asked what specifically we would propose. I do not intend to repeat the five point program that I outlined in my speech but I will draw attention to our recommendation that a fully functional cap and trade system be put in place to put a limit on what the big polluters are emitting. We should not try the shilly-shallying that goes on with this so-called intensity-based cap and trade system.

I am reasonably certain, and I could probably predict, that President-elect Obama will have nothing to do with it because he rejected it himself very explicitly. I would certainly offer to the Prime Minister that if he is looking for some assistance to convert the concept of cap and trade, as it has been advocated globally and by both candidates for the presidency of the United States and by virtually every advanced environmental thinker in the world, and by many other countries in Europe, plus four provinces and eleven states, into the proposal that he would like to bring to the House of Commons, he can count on our collaboration and assistance in making that happen because in that way we will get some real results.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:35 p.m.

Cambridge Ontario


Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology)

Mr. Speaker, I must say how pleased I am to participate in the debate on the Speech from the Throne.

First, I will take this opportunity to thank all the constituents in my home riding of Cambridge North Dumfries for once again placing their trust in me for a third time as their member of Parliament.

I especially would like to thank my family for their support as I continue to serve the people of this great nation. Everyone in this chamber knows full well the burden of public office but it is not just borne by those of us who are fortunate enough to be elected. It is also borne by our families. On that note, I want to mention that I cannot thank my wife and two children enough for their support.

I also want to thank the volunteers who worked on my campaign who I have often called the best campaign team in the country. I want to tell them that I will be forever grateful.

I am very pleased to address the House here today as the new Minister of State (Science and Technology).

I consider it a great honour and privilege that the Prime Minister asked me to take on the role of Minister of State for Science and Technology in these uncertain times. I want to let everyone know that I look forward to serving Canadians with the same commitment and enthusiasm as I have been doing serving the constituents of the great riding of Cambridge North Dumfries.

I would also like to congratulate the hon. members for Westmount—Ville-Marie, Shefford and Elmwood—Transcona for having been chosen by their respective parties to be critics for the science and technology portfolio. I wish them all well. Although I recognize that we may not always agree on every issue, I know we will work well together on many files because we share a common goal and that is for the good of all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your re-election as Speaker of the House and I look forward to working with you once again.

As the Prime Minister noted earlier, in this time of extraordinary global economic challenge and uncertainty, Canadians have entrusted this government with a renewed and strengthened mandate. We will devote all of our time and energy to addressing the challenges that families and businesses face both today and as we move forward.

The Speech from the Throne outlines our plan to help protect the economic security of Canadians and ensure our continued economic success. It also builds on the work that we began in our previous mandate by concentrating on the priorities that make a difference in the lives of Canadians.

As Canada's Minister of State for Science and Technology, I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the commitments this government has made in the Speech from the Throne.

In the throne speech, our government made a commitment to work with industry, here at home to provide and apply our country's finest scientific and technological knowledge to create innovative business solutions and to invest in world-class research facilities. This builds on the commitment we made in our election platform to make additional investments in internationally recognized science and technology projects here in Canada.

We are proud of our country's success in developing new innovations. We want to add to that success by ensuring that we can take new technologies from the lab to the marketplace so that Canadians as well as people around the world can benefit.

Our government supports research and development because we know they create jobs. That improves Canadians' quality of life and the quality of their livelihood. It builds a strong economy for future generations. Our prosperity depends not just on meeting the challenges of today, but on building the dynamic economy that will create opportunities and better jobs for Canadians in the future.

Advances in science and technology are essential to strengthening the competitiveness of the economy. Those in the private sector who embrace innovation and continue to invest in R and D, especially during these difficult times, will gain significant rewards for their forethought and perseverance. That is why we will continue to support Canadian researchers and innovators.

In May 2007, the government, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, released mobilizing science and technology to Canada's advantage. This was a forward-thinking science and technology strategy aimed at positioning our nation for global economic leadership. Our goal is to attract the best researchers, equip them with the best facilities and ensure Canadians get the economic benefit from our collective innovations.

In advancing this strategy, we have made significant investments in scientific research setting in place many new policies and programs and articulating our priorities. Altogether, through the last three budgets, the government has announced $2.4 billion in new funding for science and technology.

Our science and technology strategy is charting a new direction, one that links the competitive energy of our entrepreneurs with the creative genius of our scientists. It is a bold plan, designed to build a national, sustainable, competitive advantage. It recognizes that Canada needs greater business investment in science and technology and in advanced technologies. It recognizes the need to ensure this new knowledge is applied in the marketplace and to make better use of a talented workforce. We need to make our innovations better and we need to market them further.

This multi-year framework seeks to build on three strategic advantages: first, an entrepreneurial advantage, through the creation of competitive and dynamic business environment that is conducive to greater private sector innovation and that makes Canada an irresistible magnet for investment; second, a knowledge advantage that targets resources to support world-class research excellence and that keeps Canadians at the forefront of research and discovery; and, third, a people advantage that provides Canadians with opportunities to acquire and use science and technology skills and knowledge to grow our base of knowledged workers so Canada has the talent it needs to compete in the changing world.

Taken together, those three advantages will translate knowledge into practical applications that improve the lives and the livelihood of Canadians. They will build on our country's research and engineering strengths to generate new ideas and innovations. They will develop, attract and retain the highly skilled people Canada needs to ensure our continued prosperity in the decades to come.

Our science and technology strategy is guided by four important principles and they are pivotal to achieving these objectives.

The first principle is promoting excellence. We need not look further than the government's past three budgets to find evidence of our strong commitment. Among the most important new vehicles we have created to promote superior innovation are the Canada excellence research chairs. This $21-million investment in science and technology will enable Canadian universities to recruit, retain and equip the most brilliant and promising researchers the world has to offer. Doing top-notch research in Canadian universities will help to maintain and advance Canada's leadership in the global economy.

Directly related to that and equally as valuable is the new Vanier Canada graduate scholarship program. This prestigious program will award 500 international and Canadian doctoral students with generous three-year scholarships in order to build a world-class research capacity in this country. Attracting top tier doctoral students both here at home and from around the world will contribute further to economic and social research-based growth for a more prosperous future. These investments reinforce that the government understands the importance of supporting the very best of ideas. We know that basic inquiry into big questions at the heart of academic disciplines may not yet yield quick results but can in fact yield crucial results in time.

For the same reason, we have targeted our investments to build world-class research infrastructure through our support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and large-scale research centres, such as the TRIUMF subatomic physics research laboratory at the University of British Columbia, and the Canadian Light Source, a synchrotron research facility in Saskatchewan.

The second principle is ensuring that we target federal funding strategically to areas of national strength and opportunity. Now this does not mean abandoning basic research across a broad spectrum of disciplines. As we know, the Government of Canada supports research excellence through many research grants and scholarships, from our granting councils for peer reviewed research, ranging from basic research into fundamental biological processes to applied research that directly supports the development of products for our marketplace.

In total, the Government of Canada invests $9.7 billion annually to support science and technology. On top of that, there are tax incentives, as I mentioned earlier, valued at approximately $4 billion a year. These are available to Canadian businesses that invest in research and development.

However, this principle acknowledges that we must first be practical. We must maximize basic and applied research in areas where we are well positioned to make a difference in the world. That is why we are focusing our funding in areas where Canada excels. These include: environmental science and technology; natural resources and energy; health and related sciences and technologies; and information and communications technologies. By setting research priorities, we can target our funding, build partnerships and lever Canada's public research base to maximize our competitive advantage.

The science and tech strategy's third principle recognizes the necessity of fostering partnerships. While the federal government has a vital role to play in promoting excellence in science and tech and in supporting commercialization, we cannot achieve excellence in research and development alone. Provincial, territorial and local governments play a significant role in supporting and developing Canada's science and technology system. Likewise, our universities, teaching hospitals, colleges, even our high schools not only educate but inspire the researchers and business people of tomorrow. Through productive partnerships, the unique capabilities, interests and resources of all these players can be brought to deliver a better outcome for this nation.

I could cite any number of examples of outstanding partnerships that we are actively advancing in our science and technology strategy. For instance, we are creating 11 new centres of excellence for commercialization and research in areas ranging from advanced applied physics solutions to the pan-provincial vaccine enterprise. We have also established business-led networks for centres of excellence to fund large-scale collaborative networks that support private sector innovation. We have created the college and community innovation program to increase the capacity of colleges to support innovation in our communities.

Our fourth principle is to enhance accountability. Our government believes profoundly that those who are supported by public funds must be held accountable for these investments. They need to demonstrate to taxpayers that results are being achieved and achieved efficiently. Led by the policy research initiative, federal departments are in fact working together to improve the ability to measure the impact of our science and tech investments and to ensure value for the taxpayers' investments.

The science and tech strategy and its core principles underscore our government's commitment and determination to do our part and work with others to get the framework right for innovation and to achieve excellence for the benefit of all Canadians to meet the needs of the nation and our international partners.

Our continued commitment to science and tech reinforced in the Speech from the Throne makes it very clear that the future for innovation looks bright and exciting.

I am eager to work with my parliamentary colleagues and with all Canadians in order to realize this enormous potential.

Canadians can be proud of our country's history of innovation and technological advancements: the telephone, the Ski-Doo, insulin, the pacemaker, the electric wheelchair, Plexiglas, the Canadarm, the BlackBerry, and thousands and thousands more. We do not just need to innovate more; we need to get those products to the marketplace. We need to make it better and market it further.

As we have in the past, and even more so in this time of global economic uncertainty, we need to gather our minds and open our doors to the world around us creating, innovating and marketing. If we do so, we will not only take the lead but we will be the leaders of nations. We will inspire the future. We will have a high standard of living. We will attract and keep the best researchers.

In closing, I want to reiterate that Canadians have renewed their confidence in this government and we are committed to providing the strong leadership that Canadians expect and deserve. We will continue to establish effective policies that give a competitive advantage to this country. We will strengthen the institutions that keep Canadians safe, secure and prosperous. As history has continually shown, when Canada is challenged, we square our shoulders and face the challenge. I am sure we will emerge, as we always have, from this period stronger and more united than ever.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:50 p.m.


Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, over one million Canadian children live in poverty. There are 83,000 children in my home city of Toronto who go to school hungry. Some 550,000 households live below the poverty line. Poverty did not get a single mention in the throne speech.

What will the government do to protect the most vulnerable Canadians during this economic slowdown and ensure they are part of the knowledge economy?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:50 p.m.


Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the hon. member for her question and congratulate her on her election win.

This government is absolutely committed to a knowledge-based economy. We understand fully, more so than any previous government in my memory, that a knowledge-based economy and creating innovation and improving productivity come from the investments that we and the private sector make in new developments.

When we invent something new, if we can take it from the laboratory, get it into the factory and start producing it, that creates jobs. It creates thousands and thousands of jobs, as we have seen in the past. Of course, the folks who are doing that work are well paid. That is the initiative we are after. They take that home and they and their children lead a better quality life.

This government is fully committed to science and technology. We propose to work to get those technological advances that Canada is best at and which we know the world needs. I will certainly admit that we are in a difficult economic time, but our commitment is to continue to invest in the science and tech sector and actually get those things to market, which produces jobs. That, of course, will create a better life for Canadian families and secure businesses moving forward.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:55 p.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Speaker in his position once more in the 40th Parliament.

I would like to congratulate the member on his election. We sat together in one of those notoriously fractious committees in the last Parliament. I am hoping that in the new spirit of parliamentary conciliation our new committee structures will be much more open and workable.

I listened with fascination to my colleague's speech. I think we all agree that innovation and education are absolutely essential for building a 21st century economy. However, I was struck by the enormous disconnect between the language that I am hearing from the member and the reality that I am seeing in my region.

This month the Conservative government made an announcement that it was sending a wrecking ball to the community of Attawapiskat, which has sat with toxic school grounds for 30 years. For 10 years it was without a school. The only solution the government has is to send in a wrecking ball to leave 400 children with no school facilities. There are similar situations in Kashechewan, White Dog and Fort Severn.

In communities where there are no schools, dropouts begin in grade four. The failure rates of first nations' education are below standards that we see in the third world.

The people of Attawapiskat have been pushing for a school for 10 years. Next week they will be meeting with the education leaders of Canada at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education to discuss the need for an appropriate strategy to ensure that first nations children in isolated reserves are guaranteed just the most basic education rights: the right to attend clean, safe schools and the right to ensure that within provincial jurisdictions on which isolated reserves exist the children are not being unfairly discriminated against.

I would like to ask the member, what concrete steps will the government take to make sure that a young generation of incredible potential is not just tossed away on the toxic junk piles? Will the government make sure there is actually a strategy to ensure that communities like Attawapiskat are given great schools so that we can actually develop a 21st century agenda that we can be proud of as Canadians?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:55 p.m.


Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I certainly did have some good times on committee. I congratulate him on his election win.

I look forward to working with the provinces and the territories as we move forward in terms of our education systems around the country. In the future economy as we shift from the old economy, as we are being pressed by the world, we need to invest more in science and technology. That is exactly what the government has been doing.

We have shown leadership in this area to create not just the technologies that would help clean up the land the member talked about, not just technologies that would make the schools that we intend to build more efficient, but better in terms of climate change and less expensive to operate in terms of energy use. That is what science and technology is all about. It is a great opportunity for us to invest in science and technology to help move forward on these problems.

This government invests more in research at the university level than does any other nation in the G-7. We are number one. We should be proud of our Canadian researchers. We actually have the greatest publication rate per capita of the G-7 nations.

As Canadians always do, we are doing great yeoman's work in this area.

Again, to stay with the member's question, it points strongly to the fact that the solutions to these types of problems rest with Canadian scientists and researchers. I look forward to working with all our partners to help out.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1 p.m.


Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in listening to the hon. member for Cambridge, it appears that he cares deeply about the importance of science. My question to him is a very simple one. Why did his government eliminate the position of the national science adviser, a position created by the previous Liberal government, a crucial position to advise the Prime Minister of this country?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1 p.m.


Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his win and welcome him to this great House.

The fact is the Prime Minister has shown commitment to the science and technology sector in every single one of our budgets. He has shown leadership on this file by putting it back into a minister of state position, which the hon. member's party cut.

What I would tell the member is we have changed a single advisory position to a council, a group of members of some of the brightest minds in this country. I look forward to taking the advice and seeking counsel from that group of scientists versus one person.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier I asked a question about the commitment to the institutions of our country, particularly Parliament.

I also wanted to ask the Prime Minister about the reason we had an election. The Prime Minister's reasoning was the dysfunction. I will ask the member whether he has any views on the dysfunction that took place in the last Parliament.

If the House gives its consent I would like to table about 30 emails which particularly mention that member and his gratuitous partisan attacks on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics during the in and out scandal.