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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

The EconomyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I will respond to the specific question about seniors. One specific concern that has been raised is the obligation that people have to move money from RRSPs to RRIFs at age 71. We moved the age from 69 to 71. It is true that the transfer can be made in kind. One does not have to sell the asset. However, it is also true that some of our financial institutions have not been making that crystal clear to their customers.

I am writing to them today asking them to clarify that and to ensure those transfers in kind can be made within those financial institutions at no cost to the customers.

Securities CommissionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to understand why the Minister of Finance would insist on setting up a single securities commission even though the National Assembly of Quebec unanimously opposed the plan and an OECD analysis showed the existing regime to be among the best in the world.

Why does the Minister of Finance want to dismantle a system that is working well? Is he making up excuses to further concentrate financial power in Toronto?

Securities CommissionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we believe that the constitutional jurisdictions of each level of government must be respected. Setting up a panel of experts to advise the government on how to proceed is a necessary measure that will lay the foundation for future dialogue. We expect to receive Mr. Hockin's report in January.

Securities CommissionOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the OECD considers Canada's existing passport system for securities to be one of the most secure in the world, and the European Union even has a similar system.

Instead of making things up to justify changing a system that works well, will the minister admit that what he really wants to do is concentrate what is left of Quebec and the provinces' financial autonomy in Toronto?

Securities CommissionOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, any new system would respect regional differences in Canada.

In the course of the past year, we have had to deal with the non-bank backed, asset backed commercial paper issue. It is not yet finalized. This is a serious issue involving $32 billion or $33 billion of Canadians' money.

The regulation was the responsibility largely of the provinces and the territories, not the Government of Canada, but who gets called upon in crises is the Government of Canada to deal with these issues on behalf of Canadians. This is a gap in our system of regulation that the crisis that we are going through points out it is necessary to fill.

CultureOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, faced with the outcry prompted by the cuts to cultural programs, the former Minister of Heritage made a clumsy attempt to smooth things over by promising that the programs that had been eliminated would be replaced. Now the new Minister of Heritage is saying that those programs will not be replaced. And on top of that, the Speech from the Throne speaks volumes in its silence on this subject.

Can the Prime Minister explain why he is continuing to deny the arts and cultural communities the resources they need, when this is a dynamic industry and one that is essential to the economy?

CultureOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the accusation made by the member opposite is completely false. In the past, during our first term, our government increased spending on arts and culture by 8%. We spend $3.2 billion on arts and culture in this country. In the past, the Bloc Québécois voted against those increases. They were the ones who voted against them. We have increased them in the past. We are accountable to the taxpayers and it was the Bloc who voted against artists, not us.

CultureOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the increases in heritage spending went to sports, and cultural industries actually got a $45 million cut.

When you attack culture and artists in this way, you attack the very foundations of the Quebec nation. Culture is certainly not negligible in economic terms. It provides 314,000 jobs in Quebec, and it produces nearly $85 billion in economic benefits in Canada, accounting for 7.4% of GDP.

Once again, why this attack on an industry that is so important to the economy?

CultureOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, we are not attacking anything. We have increased spending by 8%. Her statement that we gave that money to sports is false. That is false. We gave that money to the torch relay so that francophone communities outside Quebec could be involved in the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. That is because we understand that there are francophones outside Quebec. We, a national party, are the ones who understand Quebec, who understand Canada, and who understand francophones in all regions of this country.

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

November 20th, 2008 / 2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government's persistent lack of urgency in coming to the aid of our manufacturers is yet another example of its poor management of our economy. Many of the 160,000 lost jobs could have been avoided if only the government were not so stubborn in its refusal to act on the workers' behalf.

What is it about the government, those members and the Prime Minister that makes them refuse to act to help families and workers when their jobs are in jeopardy?

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have acted, of course. We acted well over a year ago. The cumulative effect on the economy is 1.4% of GDP stimulus this year. Some of the provinces have joined us in reducing taxes on businesses. Next year the stimulus in the economy will be about 2%.

To put that in context, that is among the highest in the G-7 in terms of the stimulus we have already built into the economy structurally. This is very important for businesses. We will have the federal business tax rate to 15% by 2012. Many of the provinces will get to 10% by then. That is a 25% business tax rate. That is a great way to brand Canada, attract investment--

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the workers in St. Catharines and Oakville are very happy with that answer. Canada knows that the government's past decisions have put several nails in the coffin of the forestry industry and now the government's poor fiscal management has paralyzed it in the face of the problems and the challenges facing our manufacturers.

Today the U.S. senate is putting forward concrete proposals to help auto workers in that country. Why is it, what it is about the government and what will it take to make it finally act to protect manufacturers, jobs and workers in this country where that sector is even more important?

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Geography is important, too, Mr. Speaker. In fact, St. Catharines re-elected a Conservative member. Oakville, the home of Ford Motor Company, elected a Conservative member. The good people of Oshawa re-elected a Conservative member. We have acted with respect to the auto industry over the years, which is why there is a--

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The time has expired.

The hon. member for Honoré-Mercier.

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the governments of France, Great Britain, the United States, and even China, did not waste any time when the current crisis began. They quickly took decisive action to safeguard their economy, in order to protect savings and workers. What did our government do? Absolutely nothing. They were asleep at the switch, so to speak.

In the spirit of openness and cooperation, we will give them another chance. Will they introduce a plan now?

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

As I said a moment ago, Mr. Speaker, in the first two and a half years of our government we created a stimulus that this year alone in the Canadian economy is $21 billion, which is 1.4% of GDP. This is not a temporary stimulus as the Americans did. All that accomplished in the United States was one-quarter of significant real GDP growth and then it fell down badly in the next quarter.

We have not seen that in Canada. What we have seen is the influence in our real economy of those tax policies. This is not the time to increase the GST, as the Leader of the Opposition suggested this morning. This is not the time to raise taxes. We have lowered taxes and we are going to keep them low to encourage--

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Honoré-Mercier.

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the past is any indication, let us see where we stand. They started by betraying our forestry workers; they signed a sellout agreement that was a disaster; and members will remember when the Conservatives were boasting about the strength of the dollar, while our paper mills and manufacturing companies were shutting down. Then, they decided to cut subsidies for our artists. Now, shows are being cancelled and jobs have been lost.

So, the question is: what sectors of the economy will they go after now?

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, of course the goal is to have increasing economic growth in Canada. I say to the member opposite, this is a serious situation. It is a serious situation in Canada, as well. If any members in the House have any constructive suggestions of ways in which the economy could be stimulated in addition to the tax reductions that we have already made, then I welcome them. Quite frankly, I think that is what Canadians expect of us when we come back after an election in a time of serious economic slowdown.

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a time of economic uncertainty, in a time when Canadians are having to watch their pocketbooks closely and to manage their own household spending carefully, would the President of the Treasury Board tell the House what this Conservative government is doing to demonstrate leadership with respect to responsible spending practices and fiscal restraint?

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, we committed in budget 2007 to fundamentally change the way government operates. Over the last two years we have implemented a new approach to government spending to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent as carefully and as effectively as possible. In fact, we have reviewed 17 federal organizations over the last year resulting in $180 million of savings. A second round of reviews is now under way. These reviews ensure that government programs provide value for money and are focused on Canadians' priorities. Canadians expect no less.

Parliamentary Budget OfficerOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister stated loud and clear that the parliamentary budget officer is an independent position. However, there are some people here, in the highest circles, who want to silence him.

If the Prime Minister is sincere, is he ready to defend this institution by proposing legislative amendments to guarantee his independence, without interference?

Parliamentary Budget OfficerOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we created an independent position. But this position was approved by Parliament, which is responsible for managing it.

Parliamentary Budget OfficerOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, unlike the Minister of Finance, Mr. Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, is here to tell Canadians the truth about the economy.

If the Prime Minister truly believes that an order-in-council appointee can be bossed around by other people, perhaps it is time for a change. Why, in that case, does the Prime Minister not help us fix the accountability act immediately by bringing forward legislation to guarantee his independence for the future?