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House of Commons Hansard #55 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in budget 2007 the government committed $160 million over two years to provide incentives to Canadians to purchase and lease more fuel efficient vehicles. This was the government's commitment. In response to the program, manufacturers increased their offerings of fuel efficient vehicles in Canada.

The rebate program has served its purpose in raising consumer awareness of fuel efficient models and encouraging the purchase of new types of vehicles.

BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is odd; he is praising a program that he is the process of cancelling. That makes no sense.

In 2005, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy found that the feebate program was not effective. But as always, the government ignored the experts. One year later, after losing time and wasting money, the government has just cancelled that ill-fated program.

Will the government now acknowledge that it was wrong and the experts were right?

BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I will do no such thing. Our initiative helped change consumer behaviour. Furthermore, my hon. colleague seems to forget that in the budget that his party is going to support, $500 million will be allocated to a public transit trust and $250 million will help in the development of new technologies for the automobile sector.

Finally, let us not forget that this is the first government to implement a regulation for—

BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec finance minister stated that the federal budget tabled yesterday “did not reflect Quebec’s priorities”. However, as Ms. Jérôme-Forget pointed out several times, the federal government has the financial latitude to help out the manufacturing and forestry sectors, as it did for the automobile industry in Ontario.

In view of the fact that the budget surplus for the current year will be $10.2 billion, will the Prime Minister finally decide to use some of this surplus to come to the assistance of the working people and companies affected by the crisis in manufacturing and forestry? He still has time to act and he certainly has the means.

BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we reduced the public debt this year by $10 billion and at the same time increased program spending by $13 billion, including considerable assistance for the manufacturing and forestry sectors, seniors and other people.

This is a very balanced, very prudent approach and we are confident that the House will support it.

BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Quebec Forest Industry Council, the Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec, the Government of Quebec, the Parti Québécois and even Mario Dumont, the Prime Minister's pal, have all said they were disappointed by the budget and the lack of measures to assist the manufacturing and forestry sectors.

After this avalanche of criticism, how can the Prime Minister still say that the budget reflects the interests and values of Quebec?

BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, at the time of the mini-budget, which was passed, measures were taken to speed things up and help our companies deal with the challenges they face. Both that budget and the budget just tabled contain measures within which our most fragile sectors will be able to function.

I would like to finish by reminding the House that just three weeks ago we passed the community fund, under which the Government of Quebec will receive $217 million.

BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that Quebeckers have unanimously spoken out against the Minister of Finance because he has not come up with any real measures to support the manufacturing and forestry industries, which are in crisis. He can remedy the situation before March 31 and use a portion of the $10.2 billion surplus to stimulate investment and innovation by providing direct assistance to companies hit by the crisis.

Will the minister take action and create a fund to provide companies with refundable contributions to purchase new equipment, instead of putting all the money towards the debt and causing serious trouble for our manufacturing companies?

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, not all Quebeckers object to this budget. On the contrary, the Conseil du patronat du Québec and the mayor of the City of Montreal are among those who feel that this budget provides a clear direction. We have only to think of the permanent extension of gas tax funding.

If we look at the tax measures, they will enable Quebec not only to meet its commitments, but prepare for the future. There are things in this budget that Quebeckers appreciate.

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, Ms. Jérôme-Forget, Quebec's finance minister, and François Dupuis and Yves St-Maurice, economists with Mouvement Desjardins, are questioning the Conservatives' decision to pay down the debt at the expense of a more productive, more competitive economy.

Considering the crisis in the manufacturing and forestry industries and the 150,000 jobs that have been lost in the past five years in Quebec, will the minister abandon his ideological position and use a portion of the $10.2 billion surplus to improve his aid package? Quebec is still waiting for a positive response to its demands.

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the economy of Canada and the economy of Quebec are on a solid footing. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 33 years. We all know it, but the Bloc Québécois members do not talk about it.

And they will certainly not talk about the millennium scholarship program. They will not want to talk about that, because it was dealt with in the spirit of open federalism, as André Pratte said today. In addition, there is the new savings account that will enable Quebeckers to save more money—

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, health care workers are saying that this budget completely ignores the health sector. Physiotherapists are saying that the federal budget offers nothing substantial for the health sector. Even the Canadian Medical Association was critical of the fact that the doctor shortage was completely ignored, while 5 million people do not have their own family doctor.

Why is the Prime Minister breaking his health care promises and not giving another cent to shorten waiting lists?

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the NDP has it all wrong. For example, in this budget there is new money for Genome Canada, for mental health, for the safety of health products and for students studying in medical fields. There are a number of measures in this budget for the health sector and for many other Canadian priorities.

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the word “health” barely even squeezes itself into the budget. There is nothing to deal with the nursing shortage. There is nothing to deal with the shortage of doctors. Five million Canadians do not have a doctor for their families. There is absolutely not a word about dealing with the crisis of home care and long term care faced by working families these days. When it comes to prescription drugs that people cannot afford for their health, the government turns a blind eye.

Why does the government, now supported by the Liberals, turn its back on the health care system of Canada and leave Canadian families without what they need for the good health of their members?

BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government has made important investments in health care in Genome Canada, in the Mental Health Commission, in health product safety, in the training of medical students and in record transfers to the provinces for health care. The problem is the opposition leader has a view that all we should do is spend, spend, spend and no matter how much we spend, it is not enough.

The truth of the matter is we have made some important investments in spending. We have reduced taxes. We are paying down debt. Canadians want that balanced approach.

EthicsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, in 1989 Brian Mulroney condemned the Chinese government for the “indiscriminate shooting” of peaceful demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. However, at the ethics committee, he claimed that three years later he was “warmly received” by the same government and tried to sell it armoured vehicles, in violation of an arms embargo that Canada initiated. It is not believable, but Canadians will never know the truth because Mr. Mulroney is arrogantly avoiding a committee of Parliament.

Will the Prime Minister publicly call on his former idol, his mentor, to be accountable and appear before the ethics committee?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I am not sure the question falls within the administrative competence of the government, but I see the government House leader wants to respond. Perhaps he will say something that is relevant.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 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, very simply, I understand the individual did appear before the ethics committee once already. The government has responded to this issue through the establishment of Professor Johnston's assessment of what should be done. He has made recommendations about the holding of a public inquiry. The government is acting on those. We are awaiting the completion of the work of the ethics committee so the public inquiry can proceed.

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, is there a problem with using the name of Brian Mulroney? Is he the individual? The only thing left is to hold a public inquiry.

In November, the Prime Minister promised to launch a public inquiry, but he did nothing. He also promised to define the terms of this inquiry, but he did nothing.

Will this government immediately launch a public inquiry in response to Mr. Mulroney's lack of respect towards this Parliament?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 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, the members opposite are familiar with what Professor Johnston is doing and what the government is doing in that regard.

What is remarkable is the only time there is any excitement on the other side is when the members discuss issues from about two decades ago.

AirbusOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, Brian Mulroney received $2.1 million from the Canadian taxpayers based in part on his statement that he had never had any dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber. That is as inaccurate as a Conservative campaign ad. We know now that Mr. Mulroney did have dealings with Schreiber and took envelopes stuffed with $1,000 bills while he was an MP.

Now that he has decided to snub a parliamentary committee examining this issue, will the government launch an immediate legal process to get back the millions of taxpayer money that went to Brian Mulroney?

AirbusOral Questions

2:35 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, I appreciate the Liberals' obsession with matters decades ago. Now they want a review of things that the Liberal government decided to do.

Those are all very interesting things, but yesterday we had a budget. It dealt with the environment. It dealt with job creation. It dealt with health. It dealt with ensuring that we continued to keep our economy on a sound course. It was balanced. It was prudent.

The Liberals do not want to ask any questions about it. I think that tells us where the Liberal Party is in this day and age. It is about two decades behind.

AirbusOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice was looking at reopening the settlement, once it was known that Brian Mulroney did take money from Karlheinz Schreiber. However, that process was mysteriously stopped dead in its tracks.

Who stopped that investigation? Will the Conservative government now put the law ahead of protecting its political idol and get back the Mulroney millions?