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House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 40th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economic.

Topics

SeniorsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we want to ensure that those people who have helped build our country into what it is today, our seniors, get all the support that they deserve.

That is why we have, as my colleague said, installed for the very first time a Minister of State for Seniors. We have launched a National Seniors Council, which is providing the government with advice, particularly on issues of seniors' poverty and on how to combat elder abuse, something about which the hon. member does not even seem to care.

We have streamlined the guaranteed income supplement, increased it significantly and made it easier to get.

SeniorsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, instead of real action, the Minister of Finance wrote a meaningless letter to the banks. His small gesture will only help seniors with large cash reserves, a select few. His letter will not help seniors on fixed pension income or with limited RRSPs.

What about the majority of seniors? Where is the plan?

SeniorsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is new to the House and she is probably not aware of the many other things that we have done and continue to do for seniors.

Not only did we increase the guaranteed income supplement for seniors who needed it, but we also made sure they would get less clawback. We increased by 500% the allowance that they can claim and still qualify for GIS. We introduced pension splitting for seniors to reduce their taxes so they would have more of the money they would need to spend their way.

SeniorsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of what the Conservative government has done. Nor are the rest of Canadians aware of what the Conservative government has done.

In this economic crisis, seniors across my riding have seen their savings and pensions wiped out. Seniors face real uncertainty about how to pay their bills. Conservative dithering and bad management will only prolong their anxiety.

Seniors deserve a real answer. Where is the plan for seniors?

SeniorsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we have been working the plan. We have been for two and half years now.

I invite the member opposite to keep pace with all the good things that we have been doing for seniors. We have introduced pension splitting. That has made a huge difference to many families. In fact, several people in my riding approached me this spring after they calculated their income tax and said that it meant up to $7,000 in perks for them at the end of the year.

The Liberals can talk all they want about having a plan. We are making it happen.

Arts and CultureOral Questions

November 21st, 2008 / 11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government made drastic cuts to cultural budgets and has no intention of reversing its decision. What is even more worrisome is that the throne speech announced more restrictions on culture, under the guise of administrative streamlining.

In light of its blatant disregard for culture, why does the government not transfer cultural budgets, and the associated powers, to Quebec, which can take care of such things itself?

Arts and CultureOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, this being the first opportunity to rise in this fashion in the House, I would like to thank the people of the electorate city region of Peterborough for once again returning me to the House.

No government in history has provided as much funding and support to the Department of Canadian Heritage as this government has, an 8% increase over the previous government, some almost $200 million.

We support the arts in Canada. We also support arts and culture. I am proud that the government has provided so much support to this critical department.

Arts and CultureOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government made a big deal out of its decision to recognize the Quebec nation.

If the government wants to put its money where its mouth is, here, why does it not transfer power over all cultural matters to Quebec?

Arts and CultureOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Once again, Mr. Speaker, we see the Department of Canadian Heritage as a critical institution within government. We see the role that it plays in defining Canadians and representing Canadian values. It is critical. That is why we put so much funding support behind it. We have increased the funding and support it broadly right across Canada.

We see this as part of being Canadian, part of the Canadian identity. We are proud of our record. We are proud that we are providing a level of support that we are.

Young OffendersOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the Speech from the Throne, the government clearly announced that it intended to raise the issue of harsher measures for young offenders, despite Quebec's objections.

Will the minister create a special system for Quebec, as called for unanimously by the Quebec National Assembly, and will he recognize the Quebec model for rehabilitating young offenders on its territory?

Young OffendersOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to a balanced approach. We have been very clear that those individuals who commit serious offences in this country, whether they be young persons or adults, can expect serious consequences.

When it comes to fighting crime, Canadians know they can count on this government.

Young OffendersOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers all agree that the model for rehabilitating young offenders is a proven model that gives results. Recognizing a nation also means recognizing its way of dealing with young people.

Will the minister create a special system, as all Quebeckers are calling for?

Young OffendersOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we are absolutely committed to an effective criminal justice system that applies to all Canadians, young and old. We indicated that during the election and previous to that.

From my consultations right across the country, people have concerns with the level of youth violence in Canada.

We will come forward with a measured, balanced approach to fighting crime in this country.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Canada's auto sector continues to suffer from years of the Conservative government's dismal economic mismanagement and as families lose their jobs and worry about their futures, the Minister of Industry returns from Washington with no results. In a time of crisis, all he brings back are business cards.

When will the government stop sitting on its hands, stop crossing its fingers and finally come up with a plan that would really help Canadian auto workers and their families?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we have heard time and time again from members on the other side of the House their proposals for a knee-jerk reaction to this complex global situation involving the auto sector.

The minister has said that he will listen to stakeholders and to the industry on both sides of the border because it is an integrated industry. He will make a well thought out decision in due course in the best interest of Canadian workers, Canadian businesses, Canadian consumers and Canadian taxpayers.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, after three years what we would like to see is any type of action from the government. It has failed to realize just how urgent this situation is; that further mismanagement could mean thousands of additional job losses and more pain to communities that are already suffering.

While the U.S. develops a plan to save the American auto sector, the government's inaction, its laissez-faire attitude and its hope that it will all just go away could mean that Canadian jobs become American jobs.

After three years of doing nothing will the government finally act? Will it table a plan immediately to ensure that Canadian workers are protected, and do it before it is too late?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the hon. member talk about the American plan because the American's sent the auto executives back to come up with a plan and come back on December 2. If the member had been paying any attention he would have noticed that.

Our minister is meeting with industry leaders and stakeholders on both sides of the border to gather the best information so he can make a decision that will be taken in the best interest of Canadian consumers, Canadian auto workers, Canadian businesses and Canadian taxpayers.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, the crisis in the auto industry affects the entire country, including Cape Breton.

While other countries are investing in their auto sector, the Conservatives are not. They do not have a plan.

There have been recent layoffs of auto workers in my riding and more may come. It should not be this way and it does not need to be.

When will the Conservatives step up with a plan to help the auto sector and keep our jobs in Cape Breton?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the government is concerned about any family that is being affected negatively by the global economic slowdown.

I reiterate the same answer that I have gave when asked this same question twice. Our minister is carefully considering options, gathering information from stakeholders, people who have valuable information and ideas to add to the conversation.

We will be coming up with a course of action in due course that will benefit Canadian taxpayers, Canadian consumers, Canadian workers and business interests as well.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, if there is one thing the government has shown it is that it cannot be trusted to stand up for our workers.

The government ignored the auto sector for over two years, that is until there was an election coming. As we can see today, its plan was too little and too late.

When will the government come up with a real auto strategy?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, this is the fourth question in a row from the Liberal Party demanding a knee-jerk reaction to a very complex global issue.

The minister is gathering the best information in order to make the best possible decision in the interest of Canadian workers and their families, Canadian businesses, Canadian taxpayers and Canadian consumers.

SeniorsOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian seniors know that no government has done more for them than the Conservative government. We delivered pension income splitting for seniors when the opposition voted against it. We increased the age limit for RRSP to RRIF conversion to 71 from 69, which the opposition voted against.

The recent downturn in market conditions has many seniors truly worried about their RRIFs. Some misunderstandings about the rules surrounding minimum withdrawal requirements has occurred recently.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please advise the House as to what has been done to address their concerns?

SeniorsOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our new member from London West for that great question.

Yesterday, the finance minister personally wrote to every federally regulated financial institution raising this concern that seniors have brought forward. Seniors should be allowed in-kind asset transfers, which means that their investments are transferred from their accounts with no cost to seniors.

There was a demand for a response to the minister from those institutions by November 28.

International TradeOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, four of Canada' s five major economic partners are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and APEC represents more than half of the global economy. However, the Prime Minister is about to leave for the APEC summit without any clear objectives.

Does the minister agree that international trade must engender respect for human rights and the environment and should improve workers' conditions?

International TradeOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, Canada is committed to re-engagement with the Americas and part of that is free trade. The hon. member is well aware that our free trade agreements are complemented with provisions on labour and environmental co-operation.

We need to be perfectly clear that our free trade agreements promote and reinforce the protection of human rights.