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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

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Dufferin—Caledon.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political WritingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, tonight in Ottawa, the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing will be awarded, recognizing the best non-fiction book that enhances the understanding of a political subject of interest to Canadian readers.

The Writers' Trust of Canada's award commemorates the late Shaughnessy Cohen, former MP for Windsor--St. Clair. Prior to her death in 1998, she was known by all for her personality and contribution to this country.

This year's finalists for the award include: Clive Doucet for Urban Meltdown: Cities, Climate Change and Politics as Usual; Richard Gwyn for John A.: The Man Who Made Us; The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald, Volume One: 1815-1867; Andrea Mandel-Campbell for Why Mexicans Don't Drink Molson; David E. Smith for The People's House of Commons: Theories of Democracy in Contention; and Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang for The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar.

I ask my colleagues to join me in congratulating the finalists.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents of Don Valley East and the people of Canada, I would like to pay tribute to the courageous men and women who are currently serving in the NATO led mission in Afghanistan.

Today, damaging earthquakes, limited freshwater resources, soil degradation, overgrazing, deforestation and a crumbling infrastructure all conspire to make civil reconstruction a daunting task in the midst of continuous attacks by the Taliban.

We must also pay homage to the families of our Canadian Forces who must endure long periods of time without their loved ones at home and somehow deal with the uncertainty that this mission presents.

I would like to tell our troops that the people of Canada are extremely proud of the work they are doing in Afghanistan.

Some day the guns will fall silent and war will give way to a new era of peace, and Canada's fallen heroes will never be forgotten for the sacrifice they made in the service of their country.

Bertin SavardStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to a great artist from my riding, Bertin Savard.

On January 23, Bertin Savard, an actor, author and director, won the competition “Profile d'entreprise 2008” put on by the Châteauguay chamber of commerce and industry. This award was in acknowledgement of his work as president of Théâtre Quatre/Corps, a company known for its exceptional cultural outreach.

In 2004, he was honoured for being the cultural leader who contributed most to the development of culture in the RCM of Roussillon, and in 2000 he was recognized for his work as a cultural volunteer in the city of Châteauguay.

I in turn would like to highlight the undeniable contribution of Bertin Savard to our region's cultural outreach. He is a great ambassador for our region, and an eloquent promoter of Quebec culture.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget continues the Harper agenda that fails women. Women in Canada are falling further and further behind with each consecutive Conservative budget.

When will the government address the concerns of 52% of the population?

Ordinary women do not benefit from this new budget. Corporations will pay less for government services, while individual families will pick up the costs. Individuals will be required to pay more through personal income taxes, while corporations pay less.

These extra taxes are a burden that many families cannot afford, especially the 43% of single mothers who live below the poverty level.

The government should have invested in women but chose to ignore them. Where are the child care spaces? Where is the EI reform? Where is the proactive pay equity legislation? Where is the affordable housing? Where is the equality?

Women deserve better.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I caution the hon. member for London--Fanshawe. I think she mentioned a member's name in her remarks and she may want to be careful to avoid that in the future.

The hon. member for Nepean--Carleton.

William F. BuckleyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, a giant in the world of great ideas is lost. William F. Buckley, 82 years old, died today after a life consecrated to the defence of the ideals upon which our civilization is built and without which it would surely crumble.

The Yale educated Buckley founded the National Review magazine in 1955 and remained its editor for three decades.

George Herbert Walker Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

President Reagan told Buckley:

You didn't just part the Red Sea—you rolled it back, dried it up, and left exposed, for all the world to see, the naked desert that is statism.

He exposed socialism as the oppressive ideology it is, and its ugly sibling, communism, as one of the most evil ideas to ever infect the earth.

A prominent Canadian author, Adam Daifallah, said that he popularized “smaller government, tax cuts and total victory over the Soviet Union”.

It is a great loss to us all.

Andrew BertieStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 7, 2008, in the eternal city of Rome, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, His Most Eminent Highness, Andrew Bertie, passed away.

The Order of Malta was formed over 900 years ago and is known the world over for its work of charity, as well as the commitment of its members to the promotion of spirituality and the cause of humanity.

His Eminence joined the Order of Malta in 1956 and was elected to the post of Grand Master in 1988. He was the first person from England to be elected to this post.

At his funeral on February 16, His Eminence, Pio Cardinal Laghi, spoke of the Grand Master's tireless humanitarian efforts, as well as his deep commitment to spiritual principles.

I am sure all members of Parliament join in expressing our condolences to the members of the Order of Malta on this sad occasion.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, budget 2008 demonstrates responsible and prudent leadership but it also delivers for the people of Saskatchewan like never before under the old Liberal government.

In budget 2008, this Conservative government is building on the already significant support we have given Saskatchewan: $4.2 million for the cull breeding swine program; $10 million for Saskatoon's own Canadian light source synchrotron; $12 million to hire new front line police officers; $15 million to help improve public transit; $36 million to support vulnerable communities and laid off workers; $240 million for carbon capture and storage in Saskatchewan; and, the landmark tax-free savings account benefiting every Saskatchewan taxpayer.

All these measures and many more will make Saskatchewan and its residents big winners in budget 2008. No wonder Saskatchewan's premier, Brad Wall, is full of praise, saying that this demonstrates an understanding of Saskatchewan priorities by the Prime Minister and the MPs from the area.

We agree, for when it comes to understanding Saskatchewan, unlike the Liberals, we are up to the job and getting it done.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2005, agriculture in the central Quebec region generated approximately $1 billion in revenues. The processing sector produced $1.4 billion in manufactured goods, the retail sector generated $550 million in sales, and food services brought in $230 million.

Agriculture provides some 6,500 jobs, and the processing sector has been growing steadily, providing jobs for 4,400 people.

Food services and retail sales provide 4,300 and 3,200 jobs, respectively, and lastly, the wholesale sector accounts for 700 jobs, according to the figures from 2005.

Central Quebec is also known for its production of sheep's milk, industrial goat's milk, eggs, dairy cattle, and pork. This sector is alive and kicking, and it is making a significant contribution to our economy.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, our government tabled a balanced, focused and prudent budget to strengthen Canada and Quebec amidst global economic uncertainty.

For Quebec, the Conservative budget means: $12.9 million for a cull breeding swine program; $24 million to boost tourism along the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers; $92 million to hire more police officers; $116 million for public transit; $217 million for the community development trust; and $326 million for infrastructure initiatives.

Thanks to our government, Quebec will receive more than $16.7 billion this year in federal transfers, an increase of more than $4.5 billion since 2005.

So why does the Bloc Québécois oppose this budget?

I need only quote one of their members. “We would not dare vote a third time with the Conservatives on the budget. If we do, people will begin to question our relevance in Ottawa”.

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Monday night in Toronto, I joined more than 2,000 fellow citizens connected live via satellite with hundreds in the Israeli border town of Sderot, thanks to the efforts of the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto.

The objective was twofold: first, to show solidarity with the men and women who, together with their families, are prepared to endure ongoing physical and psychological trauma to live according to the values and tenets that have become iconic in western democratic societies; and second, to draw attention to the ongoing terror visited upon them by outlaw organizations, such as Hamas in Gaza.

In the last seven years, Hamas has rained 8,000 missiles and rockets upon Sderot and its citizens, which is more than three missiles per day, every day of the year, and with impunity.

The citizens of Sderot are fighting Hamas with their courage. Will our government match it with a public condemnation of Hamas' criminal activity?

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, budget 2008 is a great news budget for British Columbia.

For B.C., we have increased spending on health care over last year.

We have increased spending on education.

We are boosting our support for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

We are investing to promote B.C.'s forestry industry in new international markets.

We are fighting crime by hiring more police officers.

We are investing in rapid transit by supporting the Evergreen SkyTrain extension to the tri-cities. The Canadian Urban Transit Association says, “This is a good news budget for transit”. The chair of TransLink, Dale Parker, goes further, saying our support for the Evergreen line is “fantastic news” for metro Vancouver's transit system.

In opposing the budget, the NDP is voting against the Evergreen line and against these important gains for British Columbia.

For over two years, through three budgets, the Conservative government has delivered for British Columbia. We have delivered British Columbians the results they deserve. They are getting great government and great results from this Conservative government.

Mickey RenaudStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League will play their first home game since the tragic death last week of their 19 year old captain, Mickey Renaud.

To all who knew him, Mickey was a young man of great character. He belied the notion that toughness and skill on the ice could not be matched by caring and generosity away from it.

As the captain of the Spitfires, he demonstrated leadership, dedication to his team and a talent that led the Calgary Flames to draft him in 2007.

Away from the rink, he touched many in the community by reaching out to youth in elementary schools and to special needs students at his high school, St. Anne's Catholic Secondary School, in his hometown of Tecumseh.

Those who are not from the Windsor area may find it hard to appreciate his impact on the community, yet since his untimely death thousands from across Windsor and Essex County have poured out their affection and respect for him in numerous expressions of condolences as well as donations to the Windsor Spitfires Foundation.

As the Spitfires resume their regular season, they do so without the physical presence of their captain. However, his spirit will continue, with visible reminders of his number 18 painted on the boards and sewn into team jerseys, as well as the invisible memory of his character etched into the hearts and minds of those who knew him.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Mickey's parents, Mark and Jane, his brother and sister, Remy and Penny, and their extended family.

YouthStatements By Members

February 27th, 2008 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, recently, at my riding office, I hosted an outstanding group of school-aged young people who won a contest sponsored by the National Post to produce a news publication. Twenty-two young people aged 7 to 15 joined forces and put together a top-notch publication, the Millennium Mirror, which came out last October.

The publication not only shows all the hard work that went into it, but it contains themes that reflect openness to others, cultural pluralism, peace, preservation of the environment and community involvement, values that these young people want to build on for our society and the world of today and tomorrow.

That is why I am very honoured to pay tribute to these young people, who, through their commitment and intelligence, have set an example for us in this House. Thank you for inspiring us and for helping to make the world a better place.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, in their budget, the Conservatives decided to put all their extra cash towards the debt. They increased military spending, maintained help to western oil companies and promoted nuclear development while entire sectors of Quebec's economy, hit by crises in the manufacturing and forestry sectors, are suffering because of Ottawa's laissez-faire attitude.

Workers have also been abandoned and many organizations were counting on this budget for a little help. It is true the Conservatives established a reserve for the employment insurance fund but they are endorsing pillage of the fund by refusing to return the $54 billion already drawn. This money belongs to workers and employers. The government must return it. Unemployed workers would also like to see the EI system improved.

Quebeckers want a change in direction and major gains for Quebec. Today they are disappointed and this budget does not come anywhere near reflecting their interests and values.

International Mother Language DayStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, on February 21 I was proud to celebrate International Mother Language Day with my constituents from all around the globe.

Mother languages are a powerful way to preserve and develop our heritage. Canada is proud of its diversity with so many mother languages, including those of our first nations.

International Mother Language Day is celebrated around the world but is not officially observed in Canada. We should work together to recognize this important part of our heritage and make Canada a world leader.

Rabi Alam, of my riding, helped me with Bill C-407, which I presented to recognize this day. I urge champions from all parties to come forward to show their support. Dhanwad.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance tabled one of the most fiscally responsible budgets in Canadian history.

It included an unprecedented incentive for Canadians to save with a tax-free savings account. This is the most important federally driven personal finance innovation since the introduction of RRSPs.

RRSPs are intended for retirement, but the tax-free savings account is like an RRSP for everything else in our lives. Canadians can save for anything from a first car or a home renovation to a family vacation.

Even Manitoba's NDP government likes it, so much so that it already announced that it will not apply provincial tax to the new federal government savings plan. To quote Manitoba's NDP finance minister, “these new accounts should be especially helpful in encouraging lower income Manitobans to save”.

There we have it. The federal Minister of Finance has demonstrated that his innovative management of the country's finances is not only great for Canadians but is something that all Canadians can appreciate.

BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, thanks to a decade of hard work by Canadians and healthy Liberal management, this Conservative government inherited a solid financial situation, which it has squandered in two years.

Does the Prime Minister realize that the budget he delivered yesterday would not have been so modest if he had shown some leadership, vision and prudence in managing public funds and in the governance of Canada?

BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the budget presented by the Minister of Finance is a prudent and focused budget.

What is more, there are a number of different things in our measures: we have increased spending in certain areas; we have cut taxes for Canadians, and we have also reduced the national debt.

I assume that is why the leader of the Liberal Party intends to allow this budget to pass.

BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Alain Dubuc wrote in La Presse this morning that there is something missing in this budget and that something is a vision for the future and a firm grasp of economic issues. He said it lacks leadership.

The Globe and Mail this morning states, “After two years of free spending and big tax cuts”, the finance minister “is facing the consequences of almost emptying his own cupboard”.

Does the Prime Minister realize that this would not have been the case if he had shown vision, leadership and prudence in the management of the public purse and the governance of Canada?

BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, the budget demonstrates a focused and prudent approach in a period of economic difficulty. We have made important investments in some areas of spending. We have reduced taxes for Canadians and Canadian companies. We are paying down debt.

I want to talk about leadership, vision and credibility. Let me just say for the Leader of the Opposition that when he makes ferocious attacks on a budget that he has every intention of allowing to pass, he simply has no credibility in those attacks.

BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in talking about a lack of credibility, the lack of credibility of the Prime Minister goes well over just the economy and permeates everything.

Let us look at the so-called climate change plan. The C.D. Howe Institute has said, “The government is likely to miss its 2020 emissions target by almost 200 megatonnes”.

Why does the Prime Minister not simply adopt a real plan, a plan that will work, the Liberal plan, Bill C-30, the climate change and clean air act that the government shamefully killed last fall?

BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I could talk not just about the budget and the important environmental measures in the budget but also the Speech from the Throne. The government has been very clear about its plans and targets for the environment. Not only would I urge the leader of the Liberal Party to adopt them, but I would note that he already has, in fact, by endorsing the Speech from the Throne.

Once again, I would say for the leader of the Liberal Party that he should watch the Rick Mercer Report from last night. If he wants to have credibility, he should come out with a balanced assessment rather than making ferocious attacks on matters that he in fact intends to support.

BudgetOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, in yesterday's budget, the government snuck in the cancellation of its disastrous ecoAuto rebate program. Canadians need to know just how disastrous it was.

It failed to incentivize the purchase of green vehicles. It had the perverse effect of increasing the market share for gas guzzlers. It burdened Canadian auto manufacturers with a competitive disadvantage.

Will the government now admit that the program was an egregious policy mistake that hurt both the environment and the auto industry?