This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne presented by the Conservatives has proven to be a great disappointment. We had been promised concrete actions to deal with the financial crisis, but instead were presented with a throne speech of imprecise and limited content.

When the situation is urgent, when the manufacturing and forestry sectors are in great difficulty, when thousands of workers are losing their jobs and pensioners are seeing their savings dwindle away, how can the Prime Minister explain his insensitivity to the effects of the crisis on people and on the economy?

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is rather odd to fault a throne speech for being a throne speech. The reality is that this government has taken numerous steps in these areas to improve investment potential and to create jobs. In the Speech from the Throne we have said that the government will seek other measures. The government is, of course, still prepared to listen to suggestions from the Bloc and from other members of this House.

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as well as proposing no solutions whatsoever, the Prime Minister demonstrates a total lack of understanding of Quebec priorities and values. He persists in making cuts to culture and to funding for not for profit organizations and those concerned with economic development; he persists with his desire to impose repressive legislation on young offenders; he persists in his desire to create a Canada-wide securities commission, and I could go on and on.

Does the Prime Minister not get it and did he learn nothing from the last election in Quebec?

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canada's current world position is stronger than that of the major industrialized powers. This government intends to pursue policies in order to maintain and improve its position in the current global economy. I repeat, we are seeking ideas and are open to those from the other parties in Parliament, while the Minister of Finance is in the process of preparing his next budget.

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has managed to rally all of Quebec against his throne speech because it marginalizes Quebec and does not meet the needs of the victims of the financial and economic crisis. Does the Prime Minister want some ideas? For example, he could have announced improvements to employment insurance by abolishing the two-week waiting period, which would cost nothing at all.

Is this not proof of the government's insensitivity to the fate of thousands of workers whose jobs are currently in jeopardy because of the financial crisis?

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we are always saddened when people lose their jobs anywhere in Canada. It is a very serious matter and that is why we have expanded the employment insurance system in Canada. For example, we now have five pilot projects to examine ways to improve the system and we will be expanding the program in other ways.

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne is more proof of the Conservative government's insensitivity towards the difficulties experienced by Quebeckers and Canadians.

How else do you explain the total silence about the problems faced by retirees who have watched their savings evaporate, placed in jeopardy by the stock market crisis and the lack of solutions in the throne speech? It is indifference and insignificance.

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary. The throne speech lists all the measures we will use. We have already implemented several measures to help laid-off workers.

For example, we broadened compassionate care benefits. As well, we are continuing with the pilot projects. Some of that funding has been extended considerably, specifically to help those who find themselves in very difficult transition stages. We believe that the best social measures are to get people new jobs and we are helping them do that.

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada is on the edge of a recession. Stock markets have plummeted 40%, personal bankruptcy is up 20% and the unemployment rate will reach 7% next year. The Speech from the Throne shows that the government is staying the course, a course that is taking us towards recession and that is failing families.

Why is there no economic stimulation? Why are there no job creation plans?

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it has been clear since the election that the economy of the industrialized world is in recession. Canada is in a much better position than the great majority of these countries. And we have every intention of taking the necessary steps to maintain this position.

As I just said, I invite the other parties to give us ideas. But, we are in a better position than many other countries and we plan on keeping it that way.

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, we presented our ideas and the government did not accept them. What can I say?

The auto sector is the backbone of our manufacturing sector here in Canada. In fact, because it is such a large and integrated industry, it affects the lives of millions of Canadians, their families and their communities.

The U.S. Congress today is making distinct progress toward an assistance package that is about to be adopted. It looks like the last excuse that the government has had for not taking any action to protect the auto sector is gone.

Will the Prime Minister tell us today in the House when he will bring forward action to assist the ailing auto sector here in Canada, put our people back to work, and fix the situation we are facing right now?

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I have to express a little bit of disappointment when some in the opposition oppose even a broad statement of principle. I think that really speaks of just opposing for the sake of opposing.

When it comes to the auto sector the Minister of Industry is in the United States now. We are obviously watching what the Americans are doing with great interest. In the end of course, Canada will take its own decisions. Those decisions will be in the best interests not just of the auto sector but of the entire Canadian economy and of course Canadian taxpayers.

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that reckless corporate tax cuts have brought the country to the situation where its fiscal capacity is severely constrained. Faced with a deficit of billions of dollars, what is the government choosing to do? It is choosing to give more tax cuts to those who need it the least and it is refusing to step forward with assistance for those companies that need help. Besides, it is leaving a lot of people falling by the wayside as it does it.

After years of railing against deficits, how can the Prime Minister justify using taxpayers' dollars for deeper corporate tax cuts when he does nothing for jobs nor fix the--

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Speech from the ThroneOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in the election campaign this government made very clear its intention to keep reducing taxes for businesses and individuals. We want a mandate. I would point out that not just the Conservative Party supported that position on business taxes but so did the Liberal Party.

The vast majority of the Canadian public understands that we cannot improve the performance of the economy by raising taxes on profitable business. That is not a position this government will take.

The EconomyOral Questions

November 20th, 2008 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the previous Liberal government put in place a contingency reserve, a rainy day fund, to protect Canadians during times of economic downturn. Now the Conservatives have foolishly squandered that fund.

The Prime Minister said that back in August 2007 he could see a global downturn on the way.

If the Prime Minister could actually foresee storm clouds on the horizon, why did he permit his finance minister to eliminate Canada's rainy day fund?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I also welcome back the member for Kings—Hants who has been re-elected on behalf of one party or another.

We are proud of our record of three balanced budgets. As the member will know, because he was here, in the October 2007 economic statement we brought in far-reaching tax reductions, particularly in the business sector for small and medium-sized businesses, running out to 2012. We are being joined in that by a majority of the provinces. That is a stimulus for the Canadian economy.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, today the budget officer of the House of Commons said specifically in his report that “Previous policy decisions as opposed to weakened economic conditions” have caused this looming deficit. He specifically blamed bad Conservative tax and reckless spending policies.

When will the Minister of Finance admit that having conceived these bad policies he is responsible for fathering the Conservative deficit and, as such, he has earned the title of Canada's new deficit daddy?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

I am not going to go there, Mr. Speaker.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Who's your daddy?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. Just because the member for Kings—Hants used the name does not mean that everybody has to use it at the same time. We need to have some order so we can hear the Minister of Finance in his reply.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

It is difficult, Mr. Speaker, to take this sort of suggestion from that particular member.

Under the Liberal government, spending grew an average of 8.3% annually over its last five years. In fact, in the Liberal government's last year, spending grew by 14.8% and then it had the so-called surprise surpluses at the end of every year which it would treat as if it were Liberal money and not taxpayer money every year with its March madness spending.

It is not surprising that the Liberals confuse taxpayer money with Liberal Party moneys. It has happened before.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Bank of Canada has now confirmed that the likelihood of Canada being in a recession is around the corner. With consumer prices plummetting in the United States at record rates, deflation is also looming. Yesterday, however, the minister suggested that his economic statement coming next week would include no new stimulus action plan.

At a time when we need real action, when will we hear and when will Canadians hear from the minister what his plan actually is?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, surely it is passing strange when one member of the official opposition gets up and says that we spend too much and then the next member gets up and says that we are not spending enough.

I know there is an economic team over there that will get together and talk about this and come up with a theme and some suggestions. When they do, and I mean this in a cooperative way, I would love to hear their suggestions about the manner in which we can stimulate the economy.

The G-20 leaders and the G-20 finance ministers agreed on that.

This is a serious situation and we welcome their suggestions.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the last time I checked that was the government and we need to hear its action plan.

The fact is that there was a 25% increase in spending over four years and look at where we are. We are about to walk into a deficit.

The Speech from the Throne does not mention any plans to protect retirees or any help for seniors who will be forced to withdraw up to 40% of their RRIFs to be able to pay their taxes.

Where is the minister's plan to protect retirees and help seniors get through this crisis?