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House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 40th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was opposition.

Topics

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the British Prime Minister, the French Prime Minister, the European Commission, the Chinese, the American Congress and the President-elect of the United States, Barack Obama, have all figured it out. Here in Canada, corporate leaders, the unions, Bay Street, the left, the right, the centre, have all figured it out: with 350,000 jobs lost in the forestry and manufacturing sectors, our economy needs leadership from the government.

Why is this government apparently the only one in the world to still believe that the problems facing the world economy will solve themselves? Why are they still sitting on their hands?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the only way we will resolve these problems is if all members in the House remember why they were elected, which is to make Canada a better and stronger country. Instead of the petty, partisan politics we see here today, they need to support what we have done.

The hon. member seems to be having great difficulty with math. As I have stated on many occasions, we have net new jobs in our country this year alone of 200,000. We have a new auto plant opening this year.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians, as they sat at home yesterday watching TV, were hoping to see some leadership from the government. What they got was a lump of coal just before Christmas.

The message was clear. The government prefers to play partisan politics to pander to its Reform base. It is not taking care of Canadians and their families who deserve more and need more.

When will the government wake up and take decisive action to address the real problem facing the world economy and the Canadian economy?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how many times I have to remind hon. members that we did this a year ago.

I believe we are seeing an awful lot of smoke and mirrors when we are talking about partisan politics and the funding of political parties. My sense is that is what this is all about, the underlying motive here.

They cannot believe the fact that families in our country are worried about their jobs. The opposition members appear to be worried about their entitlements

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, 350,000 jobs were lost, good paying jobs with pensions, in forestry and manufacturing. Why? Across the board cuts to income tax for corporations only goes to companies that make profits and therefore pay taxes. The people in forestry or manufacturing got nothing.

That is the incredible record of the Conservative government, incompetent, and that is what will get thrown out next week.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the question is a little rich coming from a party that voted against a softwood lumber agreement that brought back some sustainability to the forestry industry.

The hon. member keeps throwing out job losses. It is very frustrating when we see such glee on his face when he talks about job losses.

I remind the hon. member that this year alone there are 200,000 net new jobs. Since the government took power, 900,000 net new jobs.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's economic update was an attack on women's equality. The groundwork for this attack was put in place earlier this month at the Conservative policy convention when members voted to kill pay equity for women.

Instead of attacking and undermining progress made on pay equity, why have the Conservatives not introduced measures to help Canadian women who will bear the brunt of the economic downturn? Why step on them?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

In fact, Mr. Speaker, the federal government is proud to be leading the way when it comes to recruitment and compensation of female employees.

We believe it is not right that women have to wait for pay equity for 10 or 15 years. We will bring in a proposal that ensures they receive pay equity on a timely basis. I ask the member to support this.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no such thing. There is no justification to remove remedies available to women to achieve equality, none whatsoever.

Women make up a huge portion of the workforce and they contribute to the economy, yet they still only earn 70¢ for every $1 that male counterparts earn for work of equal value.

Instead of attacking women's equality, why are the Conservatives not helping women affected by the economic downturn? That is no answer whatsoever. There are no guarantees and no supports, and it breaks the existing laws.

While we are speaking on it, the minister should be answering, not her colleague. I ask her to answer me. I need an answer from her.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, women now represent over 55% of knowledged workers in the Public Service and over 40% of executive ranks.

We believe the issues of pay equity need to be addressed on a timely basis.

I note the Ontario Liberal government has brought in very similar legislation to ensure that not only the employer has a responsibility for pay equity, but that the unions work together with the employers to ensure women receive the appropriate amount of pay.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, less than two days after the Public Service Alliance of Canada came to a reasonable settlement on salaries, the Conservatives lashed out again at the public service and imposed a draconian ban on its democratic rights.

How in good conscience can Conservatives possibly justify this scurrilous attack? Have they no shame?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the collective agreements reflect a responsible approach to public sector compensation and it is critical during a time of economic uncertainty.

This prohibition will only apply the public sector employees who seek an increase in wages beyond what the government can responsibly provide; that is the 2.3%, 1.5%, 1.5% and 1.5%. This is what the unions have indicated they are prepared to live with.

That is a reasonable amount and we are pleased to see that agreement go into place.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, make no mistake. That was well and truly a partisan, ideological attack on the public service.

The Conservatives are hostile and vindictive. They cannot grasp the notion of cooperation and collaboration for the good of Canadians. Public servants all work very hard every day for Canadians, and they deserve respect.

Will the Conservatives put an end to these ideological attacks on the public service?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the irony coming from a member of a party that in the mid-1990s was responsible for laying off public servants and downloading costs on to the provinces, crippling health care, crippling our social programs. That is what the Liberals did to us when we were in charge of provincial governments. They had no problem doing that.

We are dealing with the public unions in a responsible manner instead of crippling social programs.

EqualizationOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government shot wide of the mark by taking on anything and everything except the crisis. Instead of trying to put out fires, it decided to light some. First it cut funding right and left, and now it is threatening the fiscal equilibrium of Quebec and the provinces by announcing a cap on equalization payments.

Every other government on the planet is implementing measures to attenuate the effects of the crisis and stimulate the economy, so why, contrary to common sense, has this government chosen to bring in measures that are sure to intensify the negative effects of the crisis?

EqualizationOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I might remind the hon. member that it took a Conservative government to recognize there was a fiscal imbalance. The Liberals refused to recognize that.

We fixed that. We fixed it so well that we felt it was appreciating too quickly. In negotiations with all the provinces, we put it on a level that is sustainable, and that is the growth of the economy. The provinces will get an increase in transfer payments every year.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government is taking advantage of the crisis to interfere further in Quebec's jurisdictions. The government's desire to create a single securities commission is nothing new, but now it wants to create a single pension plan, supposedly to be able to meet future challenges.

Can the government deny that the economic crisis is just a convenient excuse it plans to use to step on Quebec's jurisdictional toes?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am assuming from the beginning of the question that the hon. member is talking about a common securities regulator. We have laid that out as something in which we would encourage all provinces to join. We are the only country in the industrialized world that does not have a common securities regulator. We are encouraging all willing partners to get together to improve the investment environment in Canada through a common securities regulator.

Economic and Fiscal StatementOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, this House witnessed a most disturbing attack on democracy. Most political analysts are roundly condemning the government's frontal assault on the law governing political party financing. The Prime Minister's approach is being described as nothing less than irresponsible.

Will the Prime Minister come to his senses and do the honourable thing by withdrawing this measure, which is nothing less than a denial of democracy?

Economic and Fiscal StatementOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, while we are taking action and showing true leadership on the economy, the opposition parties are interested only in protecting their own benefits and their own money.

There are sacrifices to be made in these tough economic times, and all the parties must do their part. Our party, the Conservative Party, is prepared to make a greater sacrifice than all the opposition parties. We are acting to protect the economy; they are acting to protect their benefits.

Economic and Fiscal StatementOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government's plan is clear: it is cutting funding for anyone who does not think like it does. After attacking pay equity, artists, women's groups and the court challenges program, the government listened to the most radical factions of the party, which reject the principle of pay equity, and now it has the opposition in its sights.

Instead of attacking the crisis, why has this government chosen to attack those who do not think like it does?

Economic and Fiscal StatementOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this is our priority. We are doubling infrastructure spending in the next year. We have cut the GST, lowered income taxes and business taxes and injected liquidity into our banks to ensure that small businesses, home buyers and consumers can get the loans they need to function.

What is the priority of the members on the opposition side? It is a big coalition founded on their personal, political entitlements. This is the contrast that Canadians witness, a government that is working on the economy and an opposition that is uniting around its entitlements.

Economic and Fiscal StatementOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister talks as though he understands the lessons from the 1930s.

In Peru he told world leaders that it may well be necessary to take unprecedented fiscal stimulus, but all of his actions yesterday offer zero stimulus and only cuts. The rest of the world has acted in the tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars. Britain is the latest to join in.

Why does the Prime Minister talk like Franklin Roosevelt and act like Calvin Coolidge?

Economic and Fiscal StatementOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is always interesting to hear the analogies from the other side of the House, but the truth is we did take pre-emptive action.

The previous answer to the previous question talked about a whole litany of things that we had done. In fact, when he is referring to the United Kingdom, it followed our lead in cutting its value-added tax by 1.5%. However, I remind the hon. member that it did it on a temporary basis. We did it on a permanent basis.

Economic and Fiscal StatementOral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is ridiculous. Last year, when the government cut the GST, the British cut income tax by $18 billion. Unlike the Conservative government, the British do not sit around boasting about what they did last year. They had a further major tax cut this year because that is what their economy needed, like ours.

Will the parliamentary secretary admit that everything he just said is total rubbish?