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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

Election ExpensesOral Questions

2:55 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 enthusiasm. I can say that it is indeed ironic to hear members of the Liberal Party complaining about this, because it is those members of the Liberal Party who are blocking and refusing to have an investigation into all political parties when it comes to spending. The Liberals are only willing to look at one. I quote Vincent Marissal in La Presse today, “Opposition MPs are perverting the role of parliamentary committees and turning them into courts of inquisition to attack one another and settle their petty partisan squabbles”.

That is how those parties have poisoned the operation of this Parliament. Canadians deserve better.

Cap-Tourmente National Wildlife AreaOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Cap-Tourmente National Wildlife Area is a wonderful natural setting in which to observe wildlife up close on the Côte-de-Beaupré, near Quebec City.

It is one of Canada's main ornithological sites and is also a staging area for the world's only population of greater snow geese, which gather there by the thousands every year.

Recently, some members of the Bloc Québécois have spread all kinds of rumours, as usual, about the funding for the Cap-Tourmente Wildlife Area.

Could my hon. colleague, the Minister of the Environment, share the truth with the House?

Cap-Tourmente National Wildlife AreaOral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Always the truth, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the question from my colleague, the member for Louis-Hébert. I am proud to tell the House that our government has taken tangible steps to protect the Cap-Tourmente Wildlife Area. My colleague, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages, is actually the one who worked tirelessly on this issue, and so I am able to confirm that the government will provide stable funding to the wildlife area in the future.

First Nations Technical InstituteOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, First Nations Technical Institute is in limbo waiting for the government to decide if it supports aboriginal education or just likes to talk about it.

The federal government is threatening to cut two-thirds of the funding to FNTI on April 1 and says that the alumni should fund raise to make up the difference between the federal cut and the needs identified by FNTI. Students deserve leadership on this issue.

Is the minister going to commit to supporting on reserve schools like FNTI with long term sustained funding, or is he just going to keep talking about it?

First Nations Technical InstituteOral Questions

3 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, we did come up with emergency funding to keep this technical institute open until the end of the school year. We have for the last several years attempted to get this institute to come up with a business plan that would make it sustainable in the longer run.

There are six or seven other first nations schools in the province of Ontario, all of them doing good work. Unfortunately, just this one institute comes back every year for emergency funding. I am urging it to consider other business plans, as the other schools are doing, to make sure that we can have a long term, sustainable first nations education.

Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

For many months now, he has been delaying the committee's work by not applying the rules at his disposal to ensure the proper functioning of the committee.

Will he commit to taking his role seriously next week and restoring order in the committee or will he follow his government's agenda of partisan tactics?

Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsOral Questions

3 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 know the chair of that committee and I believe he always takes his responsibilities seriously.

Presence in the GalleryOral Questions

February 7th, 2008 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of Mr. Guy Gurwez.

Mr. Gruwez has for 40 years been the chair of the Last Post Association in Belgium and thus responsible for a nightly ceremony commemorating the 7,000 Canadian soldiers who were killed in World War I and whose names are etched on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

Presence in the GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Official ReportOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I believe the hon. Secretary of State for Small Business and Tourism has a point of order she would like to raise in the House. I will recognize her for that purpose now.

Official ReportOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Calgary Nose Hill Alberta

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy ConservativeSecretary of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, I refer to page 2662 of Hansard. Yesterday in question period, when I answered a question, I misspoke. I would like to advise the House of the correct information.

This was about the government spending on tourism. The government spending on tourism is $800,000 over two years.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Prior to oral question period, the hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain had the floor. There are five minutes left for questions and comments.

Since there are no questions or comments, we will continue the debate. The hon. member for Trois-Rivières.

Prebudget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I speak to the prebudget consultations today. First of all, we should remember that the Bloc Québécois had set six conditions for its support of the 2008 budget: an assistance plan to help workers and businesses affected by the forestry and manufacturing crisis, measures to restore dignity to seniors, the return of the education and social programs transfer to 1994-95 indexed levels, increased funding for social housing and a reversal of the Conservative government's ideological cuts, increased funding for culture, and a 180-degree turn on the environment.

You will not be surprised to hear me talk about assistance for the manufacturing sector in this House. I am the industry critic and therefore take considerable interest in this matter. The manufacturing and forestry industries are experiencing an unprecedented crisis. The committee recommended that the government implement various initiatives to help the sectors and workers affected by the crisis.

The Standing Committee on Finance therefore recommended that the government allocate $1 billion to the forestry sector. The Committee also recommended that the government allocate $1.5 billion in reimbursable contributions to allow companies to purchase new equipment. There was also the recommendation to increase the excise tax on gas to 5¢ per litre and to permanently transfer this federal tax, effective 2008-09, to all municipalities, a request made many times by Quebec municipalities.

We also want to support the workers affected by this crisis. To that end, the committee recommends that the government create an independent employment insurance fund and an assistance program for older workers. Naturally, the Bloc Québécois is disappointed that the committee did not accept its suggestion to use the surplus in the independent employment insurance fund to enhance the program.

Furthermore, the committee ignored our request to reinstate the Technology Partnerships Canada program, at a cost of $500 million. But the facts are tragic. Action must be taken; the situation is urgent.

Here are some figures. Since January 1, 2003, 148,000 jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector. Since the Conservatives took power in 2006, 78,000 jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector. And these numbers are just for Quebec. Since April 2005, 21,000 jobs have been lost in the forestry industry alone, which includes the related industries and services, such as transport and forestry equipment. That is just over half of the total in Canada. Since the Conservatives took power, Quebec's forestry industry has lost nearly a quarter of its jobs. In total, of the 288,000 jobs lost in Canada, 148,000, or 51%, were in Quebec.

I hardly need remind hon. members that the forestry industry is important to Quebec. Quebec has 88,000 jobs in forestry, sawmills and pulp and paper plants; 230 cities and towns depend primarily on the forestry industry, and 160 cities and towns depend exclusively on it. Nearly half the forest communities in Canada are in Quebec. The forestry industry is a key reason for settlement patterns in Quebec. We do not want people to leave our regions.

We have worked to propose solutions that we would like to see in the coming budget. They include support for businesses that want to buy new production equipment. This can take the form of a program of loans and loan guarantees to help companies modernize.

Companies that are suffering and having difficulty borrowing money on private markets must pay a risk premium, which increases the interest they pay. If companies are to compete successfully, they must buy new production equipment, which means that the government must guarantee their loans.

We also suggest a series of investments and tax measures to support research and development in industry. The federal government must provide better tax support for corporate research, development and innovation. It must expand the range of expenses that are eligible for funding, for example, by including the cost of taking out patents or training personnel to work on innovative projects.

In addition, the R&D tax credit must be made refundable so that companies can take advantage of it, even if they are at the development stage and not yet turning a profit. It can take many years to develop a new product. We need to support our businesses.

The federal government really must support research and development by cancelling the cuts to the Technology Partnerships program and increasing the program's funding instead. It must make sure that the program funds really go to the provinces so that they can distribute the funding where it is most needed.

Leading-edge sectors such as pharmaceuticals, environmental technologies, advanced materials and production technology have been left on their own. Contrary to this government's claims, the tax cut is not a cure-all. We must reintroduce an economic diversification program for forest regions.

Because I represent a resource region, I am in a position to understand the difficulties a region can experience when its primary economic activity is in jeopardy. A number of regions in Quebec are taking the full brunt of this crisis in the manufacturing and forestry sectors.

The Bloc Québécois is therefore proposing that special attention be given to the resource regions that are affected by the present forestry crisis and that desperately need to diversify their industrial base. We must therefore restore a regional economic diversification and support program for the regions that have been hit by the forestry crisis.

We must offer tax breaks for the companies operating in resource regions and support them while they grow by encouraging skilled workers to settle in the regions. We must create a program to support the development of energy and ethanol production using forest waste.

The Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec has eliminated the program specifically devoted to the regions affected by the forestry crisis. That is the laissez-faire policy adopted by the government. We saw nothing in the Speech from the Throne or in the Minister of Finance's economic statement. We must see some solutions in this budget.

On the question of revising trade laws to provide our businesses with better protection against unfair competition, we can see that as a result of the Conservative laissez-faire trade policy our businesses are being left to their own devices to deal with what is sometimes unfair competition. Canadian antidumping laws date from the Cold War era and are completely out of date in the present situation, particularly for dealing with China. It is urgent that Canadian trade laws be brought up to the same standard as in the other industrialized nations, in particular the United States and the European Union countries.

As well, despite the fact that the Standing Committee in Industry, Science and Technology unanimously recommended that it do so in its February 2007 report on the manufacturing sector, the government is not modernizing its antidumping legislation. They are completely out of date and give our businesses less protection than the laws of virtually all of the industrialized nations.

Lastly, we propose better financial support for the workers who are hit by the crisis in the manufacturing sector. We believe it is necessary to enhance the employment insurance program. We also have to make sure that we avert an exodus of workers hit by this crisis, and we have to support those of our workers aged 55 to 64 who are victims of mass layoffs.

To conclude, the Bloc Québécois is close to the grassroots; it stands with the people of Quebec; and it is trying to find solutions that will address this crisis. It seems to us that the next budget is an opportunity to deal with this, and we call on this government to take action. It is urgent, and this is the time when it must be done; the future of our communities depends on it.

(Bill C-37. On the Order: Government Orders:)

December 10, 2007--Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act--the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

3:15 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, there have been consultations and I believe you would find the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion.

I move:

That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practices of this House, Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act, shall be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 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 also move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, the debate pursuant to Standing Order 66 scheduled for tonight be deemed to have taken place and the First Report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, presented on Thursday, December 6, 2007, be now concurred in.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?