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House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is not the only member of that corrupt government who is abusing the tendering process.

Today we learn from Treasury Board documents that 15% of Conservative contracts came in at just under $25,000. The Prime Minister's own department, the PCO, is guilty of this abuse.

The Conservative government's claim of transparency is a farce. Why is the government so determined to avoid the tendering process?

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, the contracts mentioned are routine contracts administered by departmental officials with no input or direction from the minister or political staff. All of the TBS contracting is done within Treasury Board guidelines. There was no deliberate attempt to mislead or to abuse the rules in any way, which I cannot say that the Liberal Party can claim.

The Liberal Party, as we know, recently said that the sky was the limit when it sought illegal contributions from corporations, fully knowing that it was--

Government ContractsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Markham—Unionville.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance said that the Conservatives create surpluses while the Liberals run deficits, which indicates that the minister should spend more time studying the history of the Canadian economy and less time regurgitating the arguments of the Prime Minister's Office.

Before the current government, when was the last time we saw a federal Conservative balanced budget?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative budget of course is balanced and it is one of the economic fundamentals that is so strong.

In addition, after two years of this government, we have the lowest unemployment in 33 years in Canada. After two years of this government, we have $37 billion paid down in debt for Canadians. We have paid down more than $1,500 for every man, woman and child in Canada and that is translated into income tax reductions for all Canadians every time we pay down the public debt.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the last time Conservatives ran a surplus, it was not under Mulroney, Clark or Diefenbaker, or even Bennett or Meighen. It was under Sir Robert Borden, way back in 1912. That is 93 long years of uninterrupted Tory deficits and mismanagement.

Given the minister's sad fiscal history in Ontario, and the fact that he has already drained the federal treasury in good times, will the Conservatives soon return to their 93 year tradition of never ending, ugly, Tory deficits?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite seems to be forgetting recent events. Actually, the most recent Conservative balanced budget was in 2007, and one need only go back to 2006 for the Conservative balanced budget before that one.

I know his question about the next budget is premature speculation, but he can anticipate that it will be a balanced Conservative budget as well.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

February 14th, 2008 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities passed a Bloc Québécois motion calling on the government to improve its assistance plan for the manufacturing and forestry sectors. With a surplus of $10.6 billion for this year alone, the government has the means to invest $1.5 billion to help the workers affected by the crisis, as proposed by the Bloc Québécois.

Considering the urgent need to help workers in these sectors, will the Prime Minister finally agree to improve his assistance plan?

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, of course when people are laid off it is always a tragedy for those families and those communities. That is why this government has stepped up to provide support. Not only do they get support in the form of employment insurance, $4.4 billion in Quebec last year, more than any other province, on top of that there is the community development trust. Of course now there is $3 billion in new investments and labour market training. This government has stepped up.

I remind the member that the Bloc voted against most of the measures that we brought in to help people.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, regarding the assistance programs for older workers, the Conservatives' rhetoric is the same as that of the Liberals. We see nothing but broken promises, nothing to support unemployed workers. Everyone in Quebec is asking for help. Factories are closing, factories like Pétromont and again yesterday, Shermag. Workers aged 55 and older who have little education cannot find another job.

Will the government finally implement a real income support program for older workers, also known as POWA?

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, we will not solve the problems of 2008 with programs from the 1980s. The fact is that last year older workers were more successful in finding jobs than any other workers. I absolutely reject what the member is saying.

We have great confidence in older workers, which is why are investing very heavily and ensuring that they have the skills to make the transition into other sectors and other jobs. They are doing that. The member should have more faith in the workers of Quebec.

Omar KhadrOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I asked the parliamentary secretary about repatriating Omar Khadr, a young Canadian being detained at Guantanamo Bay, he replied that the Government of Canada had received confirmation that Mr. Khadr was being treated well. But apparently, Mr. Khadr has been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment during his detention.

If he has indeed been treated so well, how can the Minister of Foreign Affairs explain the fact that while at Guantanamo, Omar Khadr became blind in one eye and partially blind in the other?

Omar KhadrOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeSecretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, Omar Khadr has been in U.S. custody since 2002 when the Liberals were in power. He has been charged with killing an American medic and, of course, as we have explained many times, that is a very serious charge.

I can assure the hon. member that we have sought and obtained assurances from the United States that Mr. Khadr is being treated humanely.

Omar KhadrOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the Secretary of State that the Conservatives have been in power since 2006.

Omar Khadr is the last citizen of a western nation still being detained at Guantanamo. Moreover, he is being detained with adults, not in a camp for minors, as provided for under international conventions.

Given that he was a child soldier and is a Canadian citizen, what is Canada waiting for to bring him home?

Omar KhadrOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeSecretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, I again assure the hon. member that we have obtained assurances from the United States government that Mr. Khadr is being treated humanely. I will even refer to the critic for consular affairs, the member for Pickering—Scarborough East, when he said, in 2005, “The charges against Omar Khadr are very serious. Our take on this, of course, is to ensure that he is being treated humanely”.

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, Belgo workers in Shawinigan will have to wait until Monday for the community development trust to apply to them, if they are lucky, but by Monday, they will already have lost their jobs. The government seems as unconcerned about the closure of their mill as it has been about so many other workers in the manufacturing sector.

Perhaps the Minister of Finance could give the soon-to-be-former Belgo workers some speech-writing contracts? Or perhaps the Prime Minister's press secretary could appoint them to a crown corporation?

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member knows that the community development trust is there for communities, such as the community he mentioned. It is precisely for communities that rely primarily on one industry so the people can be helped in that community.

This is not a fund for corporations. This is a fund for individuals and for communities to help individuals adjust. I am sure the member opposite feels that is precisely the right thing to do.

Fortunately, the employment numbers in Quebec are very strong. There is a 33 year low in unemployment in Quebec, down to 6.8% after two years of Conservative government.

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my region, as in Shawinigan and Quebec City, the AbitibiBowater plants are closing. In the Eastern Townships, furniture manufacturer Shermag is closing its factories one by one. The list is growing longer throughout Quebec, but according to the Conservative government, everything is just fine.

How can the Conservative government turn a blind eye to the serious economic problems right in front of its nose? How can it just stand by ignoring the fact that an entire economic sector is crumbling?

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite bothered to look at the statistics for the province of Quebec, he would see the strength in the Quebec economy. We are concerned about the volatility in certain sectors, but the employment numbers are very good. In January alone, some 7,200 new jobs, mostly full time, were created in the province and most of those new jobs were in the private sector, not government created jobs in Quebec.

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the meltdown in the manufacturing sector is not limited to Quebec's regions and single industry towns.

In the east of Montreal and in Varennes, the closing of Petromont means 325 laid off workers will line up at the employment insurance office.

Will the Finance Minister give each of these 325 hard-working workers a nice appointment, or is that patronage reserved only for the friends of Dimitri Soudas?

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, Canada is not immune to the economic volatility, the turbulence we are seeing in certain parts of the world.

We all know that the forestry sector in Canada needs the U.S. housing sector to buy its exports. We all know that the auto sector needs consumers in the United States to acquire automobiles.

We are not insulated from the world or the world economy here, so what can we do? We can provide stimulus, which we did ahead of the United States, 1.4% of GDP. That is in place now for 2008, benefiting all Canadians.

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the minister would just check the newspapers, it is not working. Economic growth has slowed to a crawl. Consumer confidence is wobbling like a two-legged stool. The dollar has soared to levels unheard of in decades and our trade surplus is melting like the polar ice cap.

This has a real impact on hard-working Canadians, like the 325 laid off workers from Petroment. Why do they not matter?

Manufacturing IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, last weekend, on behalf of Canada, I was with the G-7 finance ministers in Tokyo. They were very impressed with the economic fundamentals of our country, our employment rate and the fact that we have stimulus in our economy.

I had to come back to Canada to listen to Liberals like the member opposite and to hear a depressing view of our country, a negative view about Canada, which is what we hear from Liberals.

JusticeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Wajid Khan Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the members opposite turned their backs on the victims of violent crime the other day, but we are standing up for them.

This week, police forces in Ontario arrested 23 suspected users, distributors and producers of child pornography and laid more than 70 charges in the largest child pornography roundup in the province of Ontario. OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino said, “So many of our children are much safer”.

Would the Minister of Justice tell the House if the tackling violent crime act will protect children from adult predators and violent criminals and those who do not stand up for victims?

JusticeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat hesitant to talk about violent crime because I half expect the Liberals to get up and walk out of the chamber. They are very sensitive on this issue and I want to be fair.

That being said, our tackling violent crime act has finally cracked down on dangerous, violent offenders and, for the first time, will give adequate protection to 14 and 15 year old children from adult sexual predators.

When the Liberal Party walked out of the chamber on Tuesday night, I hope they kept going on down to the Senate and urged their colleagues to do something for children in this country and pass the tackling violent crime act.