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House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it was the Liberals who created this mess in the first place. Even the hon. member admitted that when he said that the Liberals did not get it done on immigration.

What we are trying to do is to make it possible for more immigrants to come to this country and for them to get here sooner. That is important. We need it for industry. We need families to be reunited. Employers need these people now.

We are being fair. It is transparent and there will be charter compliance because we need these people even if the Liberals do not want them to come here.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week, Quebec announced $68 million in new funding for immigration. Ontario recently announced additional funding and so did British Columbia. This government, however, has announced the paltry sum of $22 million to deal with the waiting list backlog.

Will the minister finally admit that she is trying to increase her own powers, rather than solving the real problems concerning the backlog?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting to see the Liberals defend a system that they themselves destroyed. We are the ones who invested $1.4 billion to help immigrants succeed upon their arrival. They are the ones who voted against that funding and those investments intended to help newcomers succeed.

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour told the Globe and Mail that the government would have to give more meaning to its recognition of Quebec as a nation, or, as he phrased it, “put some meat around it”. In so saying, the Minister of Labour admitted that his party's recognition of our nation is purely symbolic.

Can he explain how he plans to move from words to action in recognizing the Quebec nation?

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, since we came to power, our party, the Conservative Party, has been more open than any other party to ways to help Canada. I repeat: our party is the one that demonstrated open federalism with respect to Quebec. Our party is more receptive to Quebec's demands than any other party.

What have we done since coming to power? We recognized the Quebec nation within a united Canada. We gave Quebec a seat at UNESCO and we did even more in two other areas. Why? Because we are open to—

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, he himself said that the government had to give more meaning to recognizing the Quebec nation. He even talked about putting it into the Constitution. However, today, he is telling us that the fruit is not yet ripe. The Conservative Party has been here for 141 years, and now they are telling us that the fruit is not yet ripe. The problem is not with the fruit; the problem is that the tree itself is rotten.

We have some pretty simple suggestions that do not require constitutional change. For example, the government could recognize that French is Quebec's official language and should be the language of work in banking and telecommunications, even though those sectors fall under the federal code.

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, our predecessor, the Liberal Party, was always unbending and not open to Quebec. Our vision is completely different. All Quebeckers dream of the day when these elements—the nation, UNESCO, issues about resolving the fiscal imbalance and restricting federal spending power—will be part of the Constitution. For that to happen, all of the provinces must agree; there must be consensus. For the time being, the fruit is not ripe.

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, even though the Conservatives have been in this House for 141 years, the fruit is not yet ripe? The government can act right now. Recognizing Quebec as a nation has to be more than just a symbolic gesture. The Bloc Québécois has proposed a number of ways of giving tangible expression to the recognition of the Quebec nation, and it is open to other proposals and willing to consider other gestures.

The government can and must act now. It must move from talk to action. Does the government realize that it has no reason to wait and that it can recognize the Quebec nation in a tangible way now?

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, every day in this House, the government is taking action to promote open federalism.

Hon. members will recall that the last time the Bloc Québécois had the opportunity to support a budget brought down by my colleague, the Minister of Finance—which was not so long ago—the Bloc decided to vote against that budget. And what did that budget do? It eliminated the millennium scholarships. How can people have confidence in the Bloc?

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's finance minister, Ms. Jérôme-Forget, has criticized the federal budget. How can people have confidence in the Conservative members from Quebec?

Again yesterday, the Conservative government missed a perfect opportunity to show that it was working for Quebec by voting for the Bloc Québécois motion, which would have marked a step toward recognizing the Quebec nation by allowing the Charter of the French Language to apply to employees of federally regulated businesses.

Yesterday, by voting against our motion, the Conservatives showed that recognizing the Quebec nation was nothing but an election ploy, just like the proposal by the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is continuing to raise his voice, but that does not make him any more convincing.

In the end, people know that it is this government that is accomplishing things for Quebec. We corrected the fiscal imbalance, we increased transfers to Quebec and we gave Quebec a seat at UNESCO. We are taking action, while the eternal leader of the Bloc Québécois continues to gad about.

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Quebec NationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Conservative Pontiac, QC

Yes, he is the eternal leader of the Bloc, even though for 24 hours he did leave us for Quebec City.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we understand why the Prime Minister's Office interfered in the U.S. primaries. By damaging Obama's campaign and undermining his position on NAFTA, the government had hoped it could avoid reopening NAFTA.

We learn that instead of trying to seize the opportunity to improve environmental standards and working conditions, the Minister of International Trade is trying to prevent such improvements. Nonetheless, he said the opposite to the representative from Maine.

What is the government's position? Does it want to reopen NAFTA or not?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:30 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, we understand that the leader of the NDP thinks that free trade has not been good for Canada. He apparently has not noticed the hundreds of thousands of new jobs that have been created as a result of that and the fact that our economy has prospered over the years. We understand that the NDP wants to go back to the old ways of fortresses against the rest of the world.

We believe Canadians can succeed. We have the best things to offer and our history and track record show that is, indeed, the case.

We intend to continue with NAFTA. We think it is providing great benefits for Canada, for the Americans, for the Mexicans. We have all become more prosperous and more secure and everyone's standard of living has risen as a result.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, we want to hear a clear statement from the government on whether or not NAFTA will be renegotiated and whether it is willing to do the right thing for the environment and for the hard-working families in this country. We are dealing with a minister who is the same old, floor-crossing minister who signed the softwood sellout where hundreds of working families are losing their jobs, as we speak, across this country.

The fact is that there is a golden opportunity here to work with our friends across the border to fix a trade deal that is not working for working families. Will the government do it, yes or no?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral 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 reality is that NAFTA has been working very well for working families in Canada. We have no intention of scrapping that. We know there is a party in the House of Commons that said that it would scrap it if it ever got into power and that when it got into power, which is the only thing it is ever interested in doing, it did not bother to scrap it at all and kept it. The reason they kept it is that it is good for Canada.

Since we became the government, guess what, things have been getting even better on the economy. Since we became government, nearly 800,000 new jobs for Canadians, good, high paying, permanent and full time jobs almost all of them. The strong economy has allowed us to reduce the GST to 5% to help every individual in Canada, working families, everybody alike.

ImmigrationOral Questions

April 2nd, 2008 / 2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister is trying to cut corners by introducing sweeping immigration changes through a budget implementation bill. She plans to fix an over 900,000 case backlog with a meagre 1% departmental increase in funding.

Why has the minister failed to convince her cabinet colleagues, the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, that immigration is important to this country?

Will the minister admit in the House, as she did in committee, that she does not have enough resources to get her job done?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, we are making real steps, real steps the Liberals certainly did not make, to cut the backlog, to get more people here faster, to get families here faster and to get skilled workers here sooner.

We are putting new resources toward this, $22 million over the first two years and up to $37 million the year after that. However, it is not enough just to throw money at it and put ourselves back into deficit, as the Liberals would have us do. We need to do it better and smarter, which is why I am so pleased that the Liberal Party is supporting the budget where these changes are coming forward.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, instead of fighting to get the necessary funding to reduce the backlog, the minister wants unilateral authority to pick and choose who can come to Canada. New arrivals will have to wait one year to find out whether their application will be accepted or not.

When will the minister admit that her plan undermines the integrity of the system and tarnishes Canada's reputation?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it was the Liberal government that tarnished the reputation of Canada when it comes to immigration. It promised a lot but delivered very little.

The Liberals are the ones who capped the number of people who could come here by overburdening a system to the point now where it is crumbling around itself and where we are losing valuable, much needed talent to other countries where the processing time is three to six months. Here it is three to six years.

If we do not do something significant right away, which is what we are proposing, it will take immigrants 10 years to get here. That is not fair to them, not fair to their families here and not fair to Canada.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government has tried to hide sweeping immigration reforms in the budget bill and has denied Parliament and all Canadians the opportunity to have an open and honest debate.

Is the government afraid that such a debate will force it to abandon these discriminatory and unfair reforms to Canada's Immigration Act?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, we put these measures into the budget bill. I am pleased to say that it will be announced tomorrow. It will be debated tomorrow and every member in this House will have the opportunity to address it at length. It also will be discussed at committee, giving full air to everyone's views.

If the Liberals are suggesting that this is discriminatory, I assure all members that all of these things will be in compliance with the charter. For them to suggest that we would break the charter, break the law, is simply more fearmongering. It is irresponsible because they are only after power, not after helping people.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the facts are clear. The legislation would give the minister unilateral powers to refuse to process applications and to discriminate against newcomers based on background, region or skill sets.

Will the minister admit that these reforms remove equality from Canada's immigration system and give her the ability to close the door on those she does not want?