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House of Commons Hansard #46 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aboriginal.

Topics

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, the former government had 13 years to solve this problem. In just the two short years that our present government has been in power, we clearly have addressed Canadians' concerns. Whether it is in cutting taxes or with the taxpayers' bill of rights, we have tried to fill in the gaps. We will continue to do more very quickly.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak in relation to this prebudget consultation debate. It is unfortunate, though, that I have to follow the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, because she has so completely captured our government's position that it is difficult to add to what she said. If I were a lawyer, I would say the case is closed, but thankfully I am not a lawyer.

However, I will try to expand a bit on what she has said and focus some of my statements on the tax cuts of which she spoke. Now more than ever, I think, we are realizing that with the softness in markets south of the border and abroad, it is essential that we as a government prepare our country to be able to withstand any changes south of the border, to continue the substantive economic growth we have seen, and to maintain the incredible growth in jobs over the last number of years.

Thankfully, we have a Prime Minister and a Minister of Finance who have been able to see this for some time and who have had the vision to bring in some of the most historic tax cuts in our nation's history. There have been some 60 tax cuts since our government took office 21 months ago. As I think back to January 23, 2006, it has been only two years, but the amount that has been accomplished is really quite incredible, especially in relation to the previous government.

It is as if we came to office understanding the situation the country was in and realizing that it was time to give back to all the hard-working, taxpaying Canadians and the businesses that have built our country and maintained such an incredible economy. That is exactly what we have done. We have given tax relief in the realm of $190 billion, not only this year but over the next five years. As well, in the previous economic statement in October, we added an additional $60 billion in broad tax cuts, including a further reduction in the GST.

We often hear the opposition complain about the GST cut. In the past, we have heard that complaint many times from the Liberals. In fact, in 1993 the Liberals won an election based on the promise of getting rid of the GST, but of course that got tossed the day after the election. They actually utilized the revenue from the GST for a number of years. There is no question about it: they had no intention of ever keeping that promise.

As a government, we felt it was the right time to bring that tax down. We committed in the last election campaign to reduce it from 7% to 6% to 5%. We promised to do that in five years, but as everyone knows, as Conservatives we like to take the initiative and get the job done, so we actually achieved that promise in less than five years.

In fact, it took us under two years in office to accomplish that reduction. The opposition parties, and specifically the Liberals, have complained quite loudly about this reduction, but when we think about the GST reduction and the timing that is now in effect, we are seeing it come in at a moment in Canada when it is actually needed quite considerably with our dollar where it is.

Our dollar, being affected by international markets and the strength of the Canadian economy, has risen quite dramatically, to the point where it actually broke the $1 mark in U.S. dollars. That was somewhat unexpected and has really put some pressure on Canadian consumer prices. There has been a lot of interest by consumers in reductions in the prices that they see relative to other markets.

Therefore, bringing in the GST cuts is one thing the government can do to assist our business community and our retailers in dealing with what many see as a challenging situation with our dollar. Thankfully, the dollar has moved back from its high mark of $1.10, and we hope we will be able to continue to work our way through this time of parity.

The GST cut has definitely helped the auto sector, which has had considerable pressure placed upon it over a number of years, in that it has seen both growth and decline. A GST reduction such as the one we have put into place has really aided the auto sector in being able to offer prices at a much reduced rate. I know that members opposite complain about and scoff at a $600 saving on a vehicle, but $600 is a lot of money where I come from. Maybe at their country clubs they can light their cigars with those six $100 bills, but back where I am from, that is a lot of money.

Of course, the purchasing power of consumers is going up. That is an important thing to remember, because Canadians want to take more of that pay home and they deserve to take more of that pay home. I am someone who believes in having more money in the taxpayer's pocket and not in funding every government program that the Liberals, NDP and Bloc want brought in.

There is a time for government intervention and there is a time when government needs to back down. When the fiscal capacity of government is removed by returning it to the people, where it actually rightfully belongs, it becomes a more conservative environment so that government is able to look at all of its spending programs under a conservative lens.

Thankfully, that is what this Prime Minister has been able to accomplish with the changes he has brought in, and we actually are seeing considerable benefit in our economy. Out in Manitoba, where I am from, we are seeing a fantastic situation because of the fact that we have seen a real retooling of the fiscal imbalance in our country. It was something that our party campaigned on. We campaigned on changing our equalization program to better suit Canada and, in reality, to bring it back to its original form.

Unfortunately, the previous Liberal government dealt with it in a way that became very political. It was utilizing federal fiscal capacity to begin intervening in the territory and the jurisdiction of the provinces. Perhaps the Liberals felt that it was a successful political methodology to utilize, and maybe they were right in some situations, but in terms of actually keeping the federal government in the jurisdiction in which it belongs, it was the wrong choice.

Now we can look at provinces such as Manitoba, which under this new formula is receiving $1 billion more than it did. That is allowing the province to actually start working in the areas that are in its jurisdiction, such as post-secondary education, health and child care. These are the areas that Manitoba can now focus on, instead of having the federal government trying to come up with some half-baked scheme, such as we saw under the former administration, with plans that could not possibly work and could not possibly be funded but were built only as an electoral scheme to draw votes.

Of course, we are seeing this country emerge as an energy superpower that is second only to Saudi Arabia. Canada has been able to utilize its natural resources, including its petroleum supplies, thus allowing our country to continue our stellar economic growth pattern.

This does not mean that we cannot continue with our other economic and energy strategies. Too often, we forget that Manitoba is one of the largest exporters of green energy. Manitoba's hydroelectric capacity is practically the largest in North America. It is something that is under-reported, so I have to incorporate it into my speech now, if members will indulge me.

I have spoken about the debt reduction, which is at about $10 billion over this year alone and at $27 billion since we came into office. That is the equivalent of $1,570 for each man, woman and child.

This is going to be a legacy for our children and for the individuals who will come after us so that they will have the capacity to be able to continue building this country in the future and to continue to make it the greatest place on earth to live. I know that as I look back on the time that I have spent in the House of Commons I will realize that with the leadership that we have had from the Prime Minister we have done exactly that. We have left an excellent legacy for our constituents.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to most of the speech by my colleague opposite.

We are at the prebudget consultation stage. The member who just spoke in the House and who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development must be starting to anticipate my question. It is incredible. We have the founding peoples of this country, the people who were there before us and they are the aboriginal peoples. I did not see anything in the prebudget consultations about what the government would like to see done or what investments it could make to help aboriginal populations. I do not want to discuss last year and I hope that my colleague will not start in again about the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I have a very specific question. Would it not make more sense to consider investing even more, particularly in housing. There is an urgent need for it in aboriginal communities. In view of the $4 billion profit of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, would it not make sense, in the next budget, for a portion of the CMHC surplus to be spent on building or upgrading residences in aboriginal communities?

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is no question about our commitment to assisting aboriginal people in being able to achieve housing capacity in their home communities, but going even further than that, I believe that what we are attempting to do is actually provide first nations peoples, specifically those on reserve, with the opportunity to own their own homes.

I was very fortunate to be part of an earlier announcement in the spring. A young first nation lady by the name of Alisha Bigelow was the first recipient of a program in Manitoba that assists first nations people in being able to come up with the down payment. We have seen among first nations peoples that it has been challenging to buy that first home. The most challenging part has been coming up with the down payment.

It was really exciting for me to be a part of this announcement that there is now government assistance for first nations people in buying a home and getting a mortgage. We assist them by helping them with the down payment. This is essential because it is actually a change in direction. Allowing people on first nations reserves to actually own their own homes is a departure from the past.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, while my colleague made an excellent presentation today, being that he is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs, I have a question. As a member of the committee, I do not recall us ever debating a recommendation on moneys for Indian Affairs, but I see that the Liberal supplementary report is now saying that the government should implement the 2005 Kelowna accord as agreed to by the premiers of the provinces. I think the Liberal critic made a presentation today to the press.

There was no debate on this item. Could my hon. colleague tell us what is the danger of having this included in this document and why it is irresponsible?

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I actually have no surprise at hearing what the member has mentioned, in part because this is how the entire Kelowna concept first came about. It was rushed and last moment, previous to an election call.

It was from a government which knew that it had accomplished nothing in relation to aboriginal peoples over its entire tenure. It had to rush out this very ill-conceived press release at the last moment. The Liberals often speak about it as something that was an accord. Of course I know that accords are signed. There was actually no agreement as to how those proposed dollars would be spent among first nations leaders, but of course everyone knew that it was right before an election. It has received that type of stature, but it unfortunately is only a shameless attempt at trying to establish some degree of credibility on the file.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say at the outset that I will be sharing my time with the very effective member for Trois-Rivières.

On the occasion of this debate on the prebudget consultations, I would like to say that the Bloc Québécois position is the result of consultation. The Bloc Québécois consulted people in the various ridings it represents. Since most of the ridings in Quebec are represented by Bloc members, we believe we represent the opinion of most Quebeckers. We consulted businesses as well as socio-economic and community groups.

People were unanimous in saying that the government must put money into helping companies and individuals by using the portion of the surplus that is available to invest. However, the government will have to invest heavily in Quebec's priorities in the upcoming budget.

We announced certain conditions pertaining to certain key sectors. It is important that the budget respond to calls from Quebeckers and the Bloc Québécois by providing $1 billion in aid for the forestry industry and not aid shared by the forestry and manufacturing industries. The budget must provide $1.5 billion to help manufacturers purchase more productive and efficient equipment, which will boost productivity.

Another important area is transfers to municipalities. Municipalities have an urgent need for assistance to renovate municipal infrastructure.

Creation of an independent employment insurance fund is another priority. The Bloc Québécois has been suggesting this for quite some time. Successive governments have paid down Canada's debt out of funds generated by workers, whose contributions make up the bulk of the fund. When the government takes this money, which belongs to workers, and uses it to pay down the debt, these workers are entitled to expect much better and much more respect from their government.

The government also needs to set up an income support program for older workers. The Conservative Party made this promise during the last election campaign. To date, there has been no indication that the Conservatives intend to keep their promise. Yet they made a very firm commitment. Once again, workers and seniors are being shortchanged by the government.

There is also the issue of funding for social housing. Each year, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation generates a surplus of several billion dollars. It is important for the government to come up with a strategy for reinvesting in social housing.

I would like to talk a bit more about the sectors I mentioned. With respect to help for the manufacturing sector, the Bloc Québécois, through its participation in the Standing Committee on Finance, generally approves of the direction that the committee proposed. Several measures proposed by the Bloc Québécois were accepted by the committee, but others were rejected, even though some of them were essential. Among those accepted by the Standing Committee on Finance, which means that they were accepted by Liberal, Conservative, New Democrat and Bloc members, are some important measures worth highlighting.

The Bloc believes that the government should not stall in following up on some of the proposed measures because even Conservative members of the committee agreed to them. The committee recommended that the government allocate $1 billion to the forestry sector. I think the government should act on this measure. One billion dollars for the forestry sector alone.

Earlier, I said that the trust that was announced and voted on this week was for $1 billion to be divided between the manufacturing and forestry sectors. It is important to point out that difference. There are a lot of similarities between the two sectors.

Quebec's forestry sector is in such a state of crisis that it requires special consideration. The Standing Committee on Finance agreed to that and recommended it.

The committee also recommended that $1.5 billion be redistributed to manufacturing industries through tax refunds and tax credits so that these industries can buy new equipment and become more productive. If we want these companies to compete in the global market, we have to help them prepare for it.

All members of the Standing Committee on Finance agreed to that measure, and they also suggested that the federal excise tax transfer be raised to 5¢ to help municipalities become more competitive. The committee also recommended that this measure come into force not in 2010, but right now. This is an important element that the Standing Committee on Finance approved of and recommended to the government in its prebudget report.

With respect to the employment insurance fund surplus, the Bloc Québécois finds it unfortunate that an independent fund cannot be created to help cushion the blow for workers who lose their jobs temporarily or, sometimes, indefinitely. That money should go back to the workers who paid into the fund before it goes anywhere else.

Another important element has to do with the dignity of seniors. Earlier I mentioned the Conservatives' promise during the last election campaign to make the guaranteed income supplement for seniors fully retroactive. The government did not get it done. It did not agree and it broke its promise to seniors. The Bloc Québécois is very disappointed that the Standing Committee on Finance did not agree with this measure. This is a real shame for seniors; we owe them a lot. These people often live below the poverty line. The government and society are indebted to them, and we should respect that.

The fiscal imbalance is also important. It really must be settled. We called for $3.5 billion for post-secondary education funding, because it has been cut in recent years. It is vital that we get the funding we used to get if Quebec is to move forward and to properly educate all the students under its jurisdiction.

In terms of social housing and the status of women, the Standing Committee on Finance, once again on the Bloc's initiative, agreed to have the government use some surpluses from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to invest in social housing.

By acting on this very interesting report we can give back to a number of people, including aboriginals, so that they can once again live with much more dignity. The CMHC must dip into its surplus to provide money for social housing and to create an improved program, so there is more adequate social housing throughout Quebec.

Obviously, in its supplementary report, the Bloc Québécois was also severely critical of the ideological cuts made in recent years to status of women programs and to the court challenges program. The Bloc recommended that these measures be reinstated, but the committee did not agree. It is a terrible shame, and that is why we included this recommendation in our supplementary report.

I would like to conclude with the issue of funding for culture, where there is a huge lack of money. Over the past two years, we have not felt that the government was committed towards developing culture.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

We have five minutes left for questions and comments. We will come back to that when debate resumes, after oral question period.

Youth Exchange ProgramsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the great benefit that government supported education programs provide to our youth.

Last May, students from my riding had the opportunity to participate in an exchange to Ontario through SEVEC, an organization supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Youth exchange programs funded by our government allow young Canadians to explore other traditions, share new ideas and broaden their appreciation for our country's great diversity.

Programs for youth on Parliament Hill, such as the page program and internship programs, allow students to get a first-hand look at how Parliament works.

I am delighted that youth in my riding are taking advantage of the many educational programs offered by our government and I hope that they take what they learn from their experiences out with them into the world and use it to make Canada an even better place.

Reginald GullifordStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute and honour a truly heroic person, Sergeant Reginald Gulliford from Buchans, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Early in his career, he was stationed in Manitoba. In 1986, Reg and his partner, Constable Thomas, were at a gas station to assist an individual when that person fired on them killing Constable Thomas and striking Constable Gulliford with three bullets.

However, Reg was never the type of person to give up. He survived. He underwent 29 operations and by September 1987 he was back on his feet. Incredibly, he returned to work with the RCMP in St. John's the following January.

Recently, at the age of 46, Sergeant Reg Gulliford passed away after battling with cancer. As always, Reg faced this terrible disease with strength of character and always a positive approach.

Yesterday, I spoke to Reg's mother, Bernice , who lives in Buchans. She was very proud of her son and misses him very much. He was a great son and, like his colleagues, he was a proud member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and truly a great Canadian hero.

Teachers' WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is Teachers' Week, and I would like to thank and pay tribute to those whose energy, dedication and perseverance is key to the education of our future citizens.

Teachers are precious. Their understanding, commitment and competence help prepare students for future challenges. Every day, these educational professionals have a positive impact on the daily lives of our children. In recognition of just how much work teachers do and to pay them proper tribute, the Commission scolaire de la Seigneurie-des-Mille-Îles in my riding launched a contest called “My Teacher” for the second year in a row. What a great initiative.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to salute all our teaching professionals, who really care about the progress of Quebec society, and congratulate the school board on this wonderful initiative.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, at a recent meeting with the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation and the lieutenant governor of B.C., Chief Mike Maquinna addressed His Honour Steven Point on the present situation of his people.

He recalled the history of generosity that his people have exhibited since that first meeting in 1792 when Captain Vancouver sailed into Friendly Cove and made contact with the ancestors of today's residents of Tsaxana. That generosity was once against demonstrated in the festivities of the day.

It had not escaped their attention that many of the visitors had stayed and made great fortunes from their land. The same could not be said for his people. He expressed their collective hopes that, in light of the B.C. 2010 Olympics and in just plain return of favour, it would be appreciated if the Mowachaht/Muchalaht could share in the wealth.

The chief asked representatives from government who had been invited to bear witness to their meeting to carry this message to their parliaments. I am privileged today to do that.

The Canadian government must start treating the Mowachaht/Muchalaht and all first nations in this country with a lot more respect and allow them to participate in Canada's wealth.

Child CareStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, once again, NDP members are refusing to debate their own child care proposals. Why do they not want to discuss their plan for Canada's children in this House? Have they finally realized how offensive and unworkable their bill really is?

The opposition wants to take away the universal child care benefit from families and, instead, create additional government bureaucracy to establish a network of government run day care centres.

That is offensive to the thousands of private day care operators and others who provide excellent child care across the country. It is incredibly offensive to the relatives, grandparents and parents of children who choose to provide care in their own homes. It is offensive to the provinces, all of which object to using taxpayer dollars to create additional bureaucracy rather than new child care spaces.

We will not permit the opposition to sacrifice the well-being of our children to the self-serving interests of its friends nor to its insulting belief that without government direction parents cannot choose what is right for their children.

East Coast Music AwardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the East Coast Music Awards will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend in Fredericton.

The ECMA showcases and honours the many professionals dedicated to the promotion of east coast music. Thanks to the organizers and many volunteers, ECMA events will take over the city from today until Sunday.

I wish all the nominees good luck, including Fredericton's own Thom Swift, Ross Nielsen, Richard Paul, Evangeline Inman, the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, The Fredericton Playhouse, Dolan's Pub, Kyle Cunjak Photography and CFXY 105.3 The Fox.

Denise and I will be celebrating Noah's second birthday by attending the ECMAs, and I urge everyone to come out or tune in for the stellar lineup of east coast artists who will be celebrated this weekend in Fredericton.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, one thing is clear: the Bloc is doing nothing to help our dairy farmers. It has nothing to offer.

However, at noon, the Secretary of State (Agriculture) and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food spoke at the Dairy Farmers of Canada conference. They reiterated the firm stand taken by the Conservative government in support of supply management at the WTO.

They also pointed out the government's positive actions, particularly in establishing cheese composition standards. And if this were not enough, at noon, the minister announced special safeguard measures.

I am proud of Quebec members' efforts on behalf of Quebec farmers and dairy producers and I am proud that our Conservative government takes action and defends so vigorously the interests of our dairy producers and farmers.

International Development WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, during International Development Week from February 3 to 9, 2008, the City of Ottawa is hosting a meeting of the Advisory Group on CSOs and Aid Effectiveness. Several NGOs there are calling for an end to a model that does not target poverty reduction and excludes civil society.

Excluding NGOs makes no sense, since those organizations have in-depth knowledge of local realities and generally have strong roots in the communities receiving assistance. Involving them directly in development programs helps reinforce democracy and promote savings in societies that are often marginalized.

It is time to speak out about the fact that Canada is still far from reaching the development assistance target of 0.7% of GDP. There is room for improvement.

Tackling Violent Crime ActStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to keeping our communities and streets safe, which is why it is imperative that members on that side of the House come to their senses and do the right thing and pass the tackling violent crime act which imposes mandatory jail time for serious gun crimes, cracks down on drug and alcohol impaired driving, increases the age of protection for sexual activity from 14 to 16 years old and ensures that high risk and repeat offenders face tougher consequences when they are convicted.

Our government is committed to keeping our promises and committed to passing Bill C-2. By stalling the passing of this bill in the unelected and unaccountable Liberal Senate, the Leader of the Opposition continues to put our communities and children at risk. Canadians demand more. They demand cooperation on a bill that affects the lives and well-being of all our loved ones.

It is time that the opposition stopped playing its petty partisan games and work with us to better protect our children. It is time that the Liberal leader do just that: lead, follow or get out of the way.

Chinese New YearStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer warm greetings to Canadians across this country who are celebrating the Chinese New Year. I welcome everyone to the Year of the Rat.

The Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays, with festivities to ring in spring until the rising of the full moon. It includes customs that date back thousands of years.

This celebration has become an important part of our cultural landscape. It should remind us that the Canada we now have today would not be the same without the role played by Chinese Canadians. This is a time for all Canadians to appreciate all that multiculturalism brings to this nation and to remember that our diversity is our strength.

On behalf of the Liberal Party, I wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year and may the new year bring health and good fortune to all.

Tackling Violent Crime ActStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is increasingly apparent that the Liberals have been misleading Canadians regarding their stance on the tackling violent crime act.

Let us consider the facts. Although they voted for the bill, some Liberals have talked openly about repealing sections of it if they return to power.

At every opportunity, the unelected and unaccountable Liberal senators have obstructed initiatives to protect Canadian families, while waving politically motivated nonsense like Bill C-288 through in mere seconds.

And now it seems just a matter of time until the Liberal Party forces an election, leaving this important bill to die in the Senate.

There is a simple reason that getting tough on crime was prominent in both the Conservative election platform and in our Speech from the Throne: it matters to Canadian families.

In a couple of minutes, the Liberal leader will stand up, cheered on by his team of Liberal lemmings. I hope he will use this opportunity to tell the House that in his long-awaited first act of leadership he is demanding that his unelected Liberal senators stop playing political games with the safety of Canadians.

Energy Security InitiativeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's misguided policy of selling out Canada's energy security through the North American energy security initiative, boldly promoted on the Prime Minister's own website, is being viewed as a total failure by all sectors of Canadian society.

Business leaders, academics, labour leaders, respected energy experts, provincial governments and municipalities, the consensus is overwhelming that the Conservative government is on the wrong track. They all agree that we must develop a Canada first energy security strategy.

Working Canadians cannot wait until all of our oil and natural gas is completely committed to the United States. We need to move now. We need leadership on how best to invest over the next 25 years in energy systems that will create a green and energy secure Canada.

We need leadership to get Canadians to reduce their energy consumption. We need leadership to increase the use of renewable energy.

That is a tall order, one the Conservative government is not up. The Conservatives would rather hide behind the false image of our energy superpower status.

Working Canadians want a--

Energy Security InitiativeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Egmont.

Prince Edward IslandStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Liberal Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, last week, Prince Edward Island dodged a bullet. Another hour of freezing rain would have catapulted the province into total disaster.

The response to the crisis by Maritime Electric workers, who worked around the clock, the Red Cross and volunteer fire departments, mitigated a situation that could have been much worse. They have the gratitude of all Islanders.

The P.E.I. ice storm showed the absolute necessity of having contingency plans to deal with natural disasters developed by people who know how to organize a proper response.

Something governments could do for starters would be to implement a tax credit for people to purchase gas generators so households could at least function with heat and hot food.

It is an expensive proposition to wire a home for a generator and purchase the machine. A tax credit would encourage this essential step.

Again, our gratitude goes out to all the volunteers who helped to avert a major crisis on Prince Edward Island.

Aluminum IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 1, aluminum giants Chinalco and Alcoa acquired a 12% interest in the British group, Rio Tinto.

Once again, uncertainty reigns in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region and in Quebec. Workers and the general public are worried that foreign companies will buy up our companies and our natural resources bit by bit without offering any guarantees with respect to processing or employment in the aluminum industry.

Alcan's recent acquisition of Rio Tinto showed that we cannot count on the Conservatives to protect our assets or our jobs. This government's laissez-faire policy gives foreign companies free rein and asks nothing in return.

With the entry of new players in Rio Tinto Alcan's operations, Quebec and my region will lose even more control over their own development. Quebeckers will not forget the role the Conservative government played by failing to take action.

International Humanitarian AssistanceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada has an important responsibility to the poor of this world to whom it sends assistance. It has a responsibility to make sure that the aid it sends to international agencies will be distributed fairly and transparently, so that those who need it most can take full advantage of it.

Bill C-293, which was adopted in this House by all the members except the Conservatives, has this very objective.

However, since the bill was passed, it has been blocked in the Senate by the Conservative senators, who are engaging in an orgy of obstruction and disinformation. Yet this bill was supported by numerous petitions and demonstrations.

Once again, the Conservatives are being hypocritical by talking about transparency and accountability but refusing to walk the talk. This shows a serious lack of leadership on an issue that affects millions of people and Canada's international reputation.

The poor of this world deserve better from this government.

AfghanistanStatements By Members

February 7th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, we see yet again more confusion and division on the part of the Liberal Party when it comes to our mission in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, the deputy leader of the Liberal Party insisted that the Liberals want to stay in Afghanistan. He stated, “The party over there wants to pull out of Afghanistan, not this party”.

Yet the leader of the Liberal Party wants to continue to stick to his line that Canadian soldiers should not be allowed to engage in a combat mission in Afghanistan, but only to do training. Of course, he has no problem with invading Pakistan.

Perhaps the deputy leader of the Liberal Party could explain to his leader what the independent panel said on this kind of plan:

One variant would have Canada end its combat mission completely in February 2009. This Panel did not judge this to be a viable option.

The deputy leader of the Liberal Party said recently, “do it right or don't do it at all”. That is what he should tell his leader.