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House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it was the previous Liberal government that involved Canada in Afghanistan without even holding a vote here, in Parliament.

We sought a clear vote from parliamentarians on the extension of the mission, and we will want another one to extend it further.

It was the previous Liberal government that decided to participate in a mission in Afghanistan, more specifically in Kandahar, the most difficult region in Afghanistan.

Human Resources and Social DevelopmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister promised to correct the fiscal imbalance, which he still has not done. Not only has the federal government failed to eliminate its spending power or turn over tax fields, but the transfers to Quebec and the provinces have still not been restored to the level of the 1994 and 1995 indexed amounts.

Does the Prime Minister intend to keep his promise and will he, in the next budget, finally increase transfers for post-secondary education to a total of $3.5 billion, restoring them to where they were before the cuts?

Human Resources and Social DevelopmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member asked his question because it was this government that moved in the last budget to increase spending in post-secondary education by 40% in a single year.

Not only that, in the last budget we announced that we would undertake a student loan review. That is a very important matter for thousands of students who engage in that program. We will be announcing the results of that in the upcoming budget, a historic budget, on February 26. I look forward to seeing the results of that.

Human Resources and Social DevelopmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government did not restore the amounts. We have been seeing cuts since 1994 and 1995. Several OECD studies have shown that investments in education are the most significant determinants of economic growth and technological innovation.

Will the Minister of Finance ever understand that paying down the debt quickly serves no purpose if it is to the detriment of funding for post-secondary education? Does he understand that in the upcoming budget he must increase transfers for education if he does not wish to mortgage our economic and social future? This is the way to address the current economic slowdown.

Human Resources and Social DevelopmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, it does not take a study to show that this government has stepped in and demonstrated that we believe that education is part of the solution, not part of the problem. There has been a 40% increase in a single year and a number of different tax measures designed to relieve the tax burden for people who attend post-secondary education.

This government is all about ensuring that we have the best educated, most flexible and skilled workforce in the world. Under the leadership of the finance minister in the last budget, we made very serious progress to achieving that and we are going to see some more action coming in the next budget.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is showing once again that he is abandoning the regions of Quebec, that he is leaving them to fend for themselves, by cutting funds for the corporations that help regional businesses.

Does the minister realize that, by withdrawing his financial assistance, by reducing by 50% his support to the corporation providing technological support to small and medium businesses in eastern Quebec, he is depriving tens of businesses from any funding? He is abandoning that region, and also all the other regions of Quebec.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the member is referring to an organization in the lower St. Lawrence region that has been depending on the Economic Development Agency of Canada for close to 11 years. We put in place a policy which provides that, when there is a project with a specific timeline, that is with a beginning, a middle and an end in terms of results, we will continue to support it.

With a budget of $200 million, the Economic Development Agency of Canada cannot continue to deal with a huge number of organizations which, decade after decade, continue to rely on us. There comes a time when they have to fly on their own.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Economic Development Agency of Canada is about to withdraw its support to community organizations that make a significant contribution to the emergence of job-creating businesses across Quebec.

Does the minister realize that, because of his obsession with streamlining his department's programs, he continues to threaten jobs in leading-edge sectors in Quebec? Does he realize that he is spelling the death of organizations dedicated to the creation of high-tech jobs, as is the case with Technopole, in the Saint-Maurice Valley?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, again, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is there to help small and medium businesses, the manufacturing and forestry sectors, and the organizations that have projects with a specific timeframe, that is with a beginning, a middle and an end. That is the department's role, and that is how we can best contribute to the economic development of the various regions of Quebec.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the crisis in the auto parts industry is getting worse and still the government does nothing. Kitchener Frame announced that it is throwing 1,200 people out of work and this is a huge blow to the Waterloo region.

Will the government finally admit that there is a strong role for the federal government? How many good Canadian jobs have to disappear before the government does something about this emergency?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, certainly every single member in the House is saddened any time a Canadian worker loses a job. Kitchener Frame is a company that produced a frame for SUV vehicles. The market in the United States has fallen very significantly, causing a significant problem for that company.

I would point out that other corporations and companies in the auto sector continue to do well. There are plants that will be opening, a Toyota plant this fall, and there are also companies in the parts industry in places like Woodstock, Stratford, Simcoe and St. Thomas that are able to succeed in the current market.

The Minister of Finance, myself, the Minister of the Environment and others have met with the auto executives and with labour. We continue to work on this issue with them.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we also learned that General Motors in the United States has suffered the largest annual loss ever and is getting rid of 74,000 workers. Will the government do anything to protect Canadian jobs?

With the ongoing pressures on the North American auto companies and the additional impact of the market downturn, does the government even know what the effect will be on Canada or does it simply not care about Canadian workers?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, this government cares about Canadian workers and, more to the point, we care about our capacity to assemble automobiles in Canada. One out of every six automobiles that is produced in North America is produced in Canada. There are 158,000 workers in this industry, approximately a quarter of Ontario's manufacturing GDP.

Two and a half million cars are assembled in Canada. It is something that we are extraordinarily good at. We are going to work together with labour and industry to make sure that we keep that competitive advantage.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, by announcing the tabling of the budget, the Minister of Finance wants to divert attention away from the contracts he handed out to his friends from the Mike Harris era. Mr. MacPhie earned almost $22 per word for last year's budget speech, a contract awarded in contravention of Treasury Board guidelines.

Will he also write this year's speech, or will the President of Treasury Board do his job and crack down on the abuses of his colleague, the Minister of Finance?

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I made clear, the documentation in support of the time spent, the hours worked over several months in the contract to which the hon. member referred is publicly disclosed in accordance with the rules. I invite the hon. member to review the documentation. Once the hon. member has done that, if she thinks that there was not value for money, she can raise it here, but the hon. member could at least do her homework before she asks the question.

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am raising it.

In 2006 the Prime Minister said, “$132,000 is a lot of money.... It represents the total taxes paid by 27 single working Canadians earning $40,000”.

His finance minister did not get the message or he would not have given his friend a $122,000 contract to write a budget speech. What does the finance minister have to say to those 1,200 Canadians who lost their jobs today about that big fat untendered contract?

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes the assumption in her question that the work was not done for the money paid. That suggestion is wrong. The evidence is publicly available. I invite the hon. member to look at and review the evidence of the work done for the money paid.

Election FinancingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, in spite of our government's implementation of the toughest anti-corruption law in history which bans corporate donations, the Liberals insist on finding ways around the rules to raise funds from corporations and wealthy insiders.

Tomorrow they have an event auctioning off time with key Liberals where the sky is the limit and individuals, partnerships, corporations and associations are free to bid as high as they want. As my colleague from Essex said, this is Liberal love in all the wrong places.

Can the Minister for Democratic Reform remind the Liberal leader and his colleagues about the new rules of campaign financing?

Election FinancingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to illegal fundraising, the Liberal Party refuses to change. Although individual contributions are limited to $1,100 and corporate contributions are now banned, the Liberal Party is trying a way around that, an auction for lobbyists.

Tomorrow night here in Ottawa with the Liberal leader it is possible to buy special access, lunch with the deputy leader, the industry critic and more. How much? It says that the sky is the limit, that a successful bid will not affect one's annual political contribution limit, and that corporations are free to bid as high as they want.

The party of the sponsorship scandal is alive and kicking. The Liberal Party just will not change.

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Vanier Institute of the Family has just published disturbing statistics. Canadian families have record debt levels with an average of $80,000 per family, or 131% of their disposable income. More and more they are paying their bills with credit cards that have usurious interest rates charged with impunity by our banks.

We know that the Minister of Finance failed miserably on the issue of ATM fees. Will he at least take action on credit cards?

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the best social program is a job. This government in two years has created more than 750,000 excellent social programs in Canada.

With respect to low income Canadians, we have removed 650,000 low income Canadians completely from the income tax rolls in Canada. We also have the working income tax benefit which the members opposite talked about but never did, which we introduced and which is now law in Canada. We also have a working families tax plan and a registered disability savings plan to help Canadians.

FinanceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the finance minister were listening to Canadians, he would know that families are getting ripped off at the bank, ripped off at the gas pump, ripped off by cellphone companies and ripped off on their cable bills. But the rip-off does not end there.

The finance minister is personally ripping off taxpayers. He paid a friend $200,000 for a 20 page speech. Does he even know that $200,000 is the average family's income for three years? This is unjustifiable. He has no moral authority to talk about budgetary matters or anything else. Why does he not just resign?

FinanceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member would know, if he bothered to review the material, that the work done was extensive. It was done by two people over an extensive period of several months. It related to policy and communications and not as the member just suggested. It is plain that the member has not bothered to review the documentation which is publicly disclosed.

Bulk WaterOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange has said that water is about to become commoditized and traded as a futures contract, along with pork bellies, oranges and lumber.

Former Alberta premier Peter Loughheed has said he expects lobbying efforts from the United States aimed at prying bulk water out of Canada to intensify over the next decade.

Last week at the Munk Centre a panel of water policy experts called on the government to create safety net legislation to effectively ban Canadian bulk water exports, now, today, before there is a crisis.

When is the government going to act and close the door once and for all on bulk water exports--

Bulk WaterOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of International trade.