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House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nations.

Topics

Manufacturing SectorOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the unemployment rate is at a 33 year low in Canada. There are more people working in Canada than ever before in the history of the country. There is more labour mobility in Canada than ever before in the history of the country.

Our economic fundamentals are solid. We have low interest and low inflation. We have a balanced budget. We are paying down debt. We are reducing taxes. All of it is great for the economy of Canada and Quebec.

Manufacturing SectorOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that Quebec has lost 19,000 jobs. In reality, the nearly $15 billion in tax cuts made by the Conservatives in 2007 have not helped the sectors in difficulty. Instead, they have widened the gap between the provinces and unfairly favoured the oil companies to the detriment of Quebec's manufacturing sector.

Will the government accept the facts and introduce targeted measures to help the manufacturing sector, measures such as refundable tax credits for research and development, as the entire manufacturing sector has been asking it for?

Manufacturing SectorOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

As the hon. member knows, Mr. Speaker, there are substantial initiatives. In particular, the aeronautics sector in the province of Quebec benefits tremendously from the research and development grants from the Government of Canada. This is a strong sector of the Quebec economy and a strong part of the Canadian economy. It is the future economy type of industry in Canada, where there is high tech, research and innovation.

I am sure the hon. member is proud of the efforts by the current government to make sure that industry grows in Quebec.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the Supreme Court is hearing from unions arguing that the federal government diverted the $54 billion surplus from the employment insurance fund, money that was contributed exclusively by employees and employers.

The Conservatives have admitted to taking that money out of the fund, so will the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development submit a plan to reimburse the fund as quickly as possible instead of hiding behind the judges?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to helping those who are temporarily out of work. We reduced employment insurance contributions and increased benefit payments. In addition, we created a separate account for the employment insurance fund to ensure that workers' money will never again be used as a cash cow.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, Michel Bédard, former chief actuary for the employment insurance fund, warned that the $2 billion reserve fund was not enough and could cause problems for the system should a recession occur. He recommended a business-cycle-based plan to reimburse the fund to ensure the system's longevity.

Is that not enough proof that we need a plan to reimburse the fund?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, what the fund cannot withstand is the Liberal government taking $50 billion out of it.

The fact is that this government has set aside a fund, put it at arm's length and put $2 billion in it to ensure that we have a cushion in case there is a shortfall of premiums.

That is $2 billion more than exists today. All benefits are backstopped by the Government of Canada. There is no danger in regard to what the member says. The real danger is ravenous Liberal governments that want to take all that money for themselves instead of sending it to workers.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec should be happy, since he has been given concrete examples with concrete, measurable results in terms of jobs created, jobs consolidated and investments made.

However, the minister shuts himself off in his bubble, using logic that he alone understands. He is probably the only person who thinks it is a good idea to stop the funding for Montréal International and PÔLE Québec Chaudière-Appalaches, no matter how successful they are.

So I ask him: is he going to come and explain his absurd and unacceptable decisions to a committee of this House?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:35 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, I would remind you that we are continuing to support the non-profit organizations, what are referred to as economic development organizations, when they submit one-time projects that have a beginning, a middle and an end.

On the question of operating expenses, wages, paper and pencils, that is over. The organizations now have two years to prepare a transition plan that will enable them to operate under their own steam.

However, if they have one-time projects, they will still be considered, like any other project, and we will support them.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister was presented with precise figures relating to jobs created and consolidated in Montreal and the greater Quebec City region, figures that reflect the success of non-profit organizations like Montréal International and PÔLE Québec Chaudière-Appalaches. These are organizations that can bring together all the economic actors in a region to coordinate their activities. These organizations know how to attract investment and jobs to our regions.

Why end the funding for these organizations, whose only sin is that they do their job well?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:35 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, I would like to point out that only a few weeks ago, we made a point of asking the organization to release the list of all of the organizations it had brought to Montreal, and the answer was that it was confidential. We gave Montréal International $66 million over 10 years.

There are all sorts of organizations in all sorts of regions that have needs, for example to renovate ecotourism infrastructures or for one-time projects, and we want to be able to support them. If the Liberals had done their job properly, if the minister had signed the files, he would have seen that if he kept paying operating expenses indefinitely he was heading straight for a wall.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Garth Turner Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of Finance was speaking to his Bay Street buddies yesterday, it was another bleak day for auto workers in Windsor. They join 112,000 who have lost their good manufacturing jobs in just a year, victims of an overinflated dollar, bad economic policies and a minister who does not care.

This is 1,400 families, 1,400 mortgages and 1,400 Canadians. How can he justify doing nothing?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 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 hon. Minister of Finance has done a great deal to help working people. That is why we have had over three-quarters of a million new jobs created since he became finance minister in this country.

We are concerned about those job losses and will continue to work with them.

However, there is one job loss that is outstanding. That is the job loss of the member for Halton, who promised that if he ever crossed the floor he would surrender his seat to a byelection to have the voters pass judgment on him. Apparently he is afraid of that judgment, because he still will not take the risk of losing that job.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Garth Turner Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not afraid to stand on my feet, unlike the Minister of Finance.

However, here is a very interesting statistic. The average family in Canada makes $60,000. The average speech writer for the Minister of Finance makes $300,000. The average auto worker needs to be efficient and skilled in order to keep his job. The average speech writer just needs to be a Tory.

We know the Minister of Finance will stick his neck out for his favourite people. What is he actually going to do for Canadians who work?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 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, let us talk about Canadians who work. A set of Canadians who understand what it is to work are Conservative members of Parliament because, guess what, they show up for work, unlike the Liberal caucus, even yesterday.

In fact, I can take a look at this. The average Liberal leader shows up for work on votes 43% of the time. The average Liberal MP shows up for votes 64% of the time. Apparently they do not know what it is to show up for work, let alone work.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. Members will want to be careful about referring to the presence or absence of members. It is out of order to refer to the absence of members. Saying members are present for a certain percentage of the time can lead to all kinds of perils for all kinds of members.

The hon. member for Abbotsford.

ChinaOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have watched with horror the destruction caused by the recent earthquake in China. The massive loss of life is truly staggering. Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs expand further on what action Canada can take to assist during this very difficult period?

ChinaOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all Canadians I want to reiterate our condolences for the tragic loss of life as a result of the earthquake in China.

Earlier today I spoke with the Chinese chargé d'affaires to express our sympathies. I also expressed Canada's willingness to help in any way necessary, including a meaningful humanitarian assistance package. We stand here in this House for the Chinese people.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

May 13th, 2008 / 2:40 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, 60,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Canada this year alone. Yesterday General Motors announced the closing of a transmission plant. Fourteen hundred more workers are going to lose their jobs.

The auto industry needs help. GM closed the transmission plant because the technology is on its way out, yet the plant is not getting a replacement because a new and modern factory is not going to happen. Why? Because the Conservatives have no auto policy and it is cheaper to open a third world factory than it is to retool a Canadian plant.

Does the Minister of Industry even care about the 1,400 people thrown out of their jobs yesterday or their families?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we certainly care about the workers in the auto industry. It is very clear that we have an auto strategy which we have been working on, after many years in this country of not having one.

In 2007 the Canadian economy created more than 355,000 jobs. This year we are off to strong start. We have created more than 117,000 jobs.

There will continue to be adjustments in the auto sector. We will continue to work with the industry. We will continue to have a strong assembly industry focused on innovation and working with government to have assembly plants that are cutting edge.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, those families need jobs. They do not need adjustments.

Let me quote:

I find it breathtaking that the party members think the only thing the economy needs, and...the auto industry needs, is a 2% reduction in the GST and happiness will follow...the auto industry would collapse under a Conservative government.

Who said that? The current Minister of International Trade did, back in 2005, so I have a question for the minister. Who are we supposed to believe? That flip-flopping minister who went over to the Conservatives or the Conservative minister who says nothing is wrong right now?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, no one has ever suggested that the automotive industry in North America does not face challenging circumstances, particularly as demand softens in the United States.

The point is that on all of the essential elements to be successful at automobile assembly, whether it is North American integration of safety standards and fuel standards or an automotive innovation fund of $250 million that this Minister of Finance put in place in this budget, and on which we are working with industry participants, on all of these indicators, we have an auto policy that is working, and in the long term this industry will be a strong and healthy one.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives face a scandal, they make a glib promise to investigate. Then they are surprised when people do not forget and expect them to follow through.

More than two months have passed now since the Prime Minister told us the NAFTA-gate affair was being investigated by the Clerk of the Privy Council. Has the clerk indicated when the Prime Minister can expect his report on the NAFTA leak?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:45 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, as I advised the House earlier, the Clerk of the Privy Council is investigating this matter and seeking to get to the bottom of it. It is a very important matter, important for Canada, important for all Canadians because of the importance of our relationship with the United States and NAFTA for our economy.

NAFTA has proven to be a very beneficial agreement. It is an agreement that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of new jobs for Canadians. It has helped increased Canadian prosperity. It has done the same in the United States. This is why it is important we keep that relationship strong.