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House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Gasoline PricesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the citizens in my riding are exasperated by the rising price of gas. The people of Haut-Saint-Maurice have taken action to make the government aware of this.

Jacques Bouchard from La Tuque is circulating a petition. More than 1,900 names have been collected, and I salute this initiative.

People in the so-called remote regions do not all have access to public transit. They sometimes use more than 30% of their net income to buy gas to get to work. People who are planning their summer vacations are worried. The tourist season may be jeopardized in a number of regions, such as Haut-Saint-Maurice.

In order to support this civic action, I also launched a petition in my riding, calling on the government, among other things, to quickly adopt Bill C-454 introduced by the Bloc Québécois. I will be presenting this petition shortly.

The EconomyStatements By Members

June 16th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, since the budget, Canadian economic growth forecasts have been lowered by the Bank of Canada, the IMF and the OECD. In fact, the IMF is about to lower its forecast again, yet the finance minister refuses to even acknowledge the downward trend.

Why would a finance minister choose to remain deliberately ignorant of an economic downturn? Why will he not revise his growth forecasts?

The reason is simple. According to page 214 of the budget, if GDP growth slows to 1.2%, he will be running a deficit next year.

The shame of being the Conservative finance minister who ended a decade of Liberal balanced budgets is too much for him to bear. Instead, he will do everything in his power to hide these facts, just like he did in 2003 when he sat at the Ontario government's cabinet table as its members conspired to hide a massive $5.6 billion deficit from voters.

He will not revise his numbers and now Canadians know why.

Carbon Tax ProposalStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week I tabled a motion at the finance committee which asked the committee to endorse the position of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, calling on the government to reject any notion of a carbon tax, which has been causing great nervousness among Canada's many entrepreneurs.

Sadly, the Liberal and Bloc members combined to endorse a new carbon tax hike on everything small businesses purchase by defeating my motion.

It should be noted that the member for Scarborough—Guildwood called the motion “stupid” and the member for Markham—Unionville remarked that he would not say that no Canadian would be unharmed by the Liberal leader's tax on everything.

Tax Freedom Day came early this year; 11 days earlier than under the previous Liberal government.

I can say with certainty to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, as well as their many members from across Canada, that this government and this finance minister will not be introducing a punitive, job killing carbon tax.

We know the Liberal leader simply will not provide the same assurance to Canadians. Shame on him.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, every day there are more questions about the extent to which Julie Couillard had infiltrated the Conservative government.

The government claims that foreign affairs is doing a review, but how can the foreign affairs department possibly have the capacity to look into Ms. Couillard's dealings with the Departments of Transport, Public Works and Public Safety?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the hon. member is carried away with speculation. We all understand, in this incident, that the former minister of foreign affairs improperly left documents in an unclassified area. Those documents were returned. The department will undertake a full and professional review of the matter.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government can no longer hide behind the usual explanations that it has given so far. Michael Fortier and security experts have clearly shown that it is no longer about private lives or something minor.

Can the government tell Canadians who at foreign affairs is doing the review, what is the mandate of the review, and what is the scope of the review?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:15 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, the hon. member just said it could not be maintained that this was only about personal issues, but he is the one who said himself that the reason why the Liberals want to have a public inquiry is because they want to know, “Who else--”, and I will quote him talking about Ms. Couillard, “--does she have relationships with? I'd like to know”.

That is why he wants to have a public inquiry. We believe the foreign affairs inquiry can look into the one legitimate question here which is the question of the documents that were left in an unsecured place, and all the rules and practices surrounding those documents.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, here is why we want to have a public inquiry. There are at least four government departments plus the RCMP and CSIS that ought to be the subject of a public inquiry in this matter. Experts have publicly stated that foreign affairs does not have the capacity nor the expertise to conduct this kind of investigation.

This is a matter of national security and the integrity of government contracts. Canadians deserve to know and to have confidence that all these matters are being protected appropriately.

When will the government do the right thing and call a public inquiry?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:15 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, foreign affairs has the ability to draw on whatever agencies or resources there are available in the government that, of course, do have the ability to get to the bottom of the questions that are of genuine public interest, not the kinds of questions that are of interest to the Liberal member for Vancouver South who set out on CBC's The National why he thinks a public inquiry is needed.

Speaking of Ms. Couillard, he said he wants to know, “Who else does she have relationships with? I'd like to know”. That may be very interesting to him. He may want to know that. We do not think it is a good enough reason to hold a public inquiry though.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, more and more questions are arising regarding the extent to which Julie Couillard infiltrated the Conservative government. The government claims that the Department of Foreign Affairs is conducting a review.

How can that department investigate the affairs of Julie Couillard within Transport Canada, Public Works and Government Services, and Public Safety, and within the RCMP and CSIS? How?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 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 legitimate public policy concern that arose was one relating to the secure treatment of documents of a classified nature. That is an issue that actually led of course, as we know, to the resignation of the foreign affairs minister who took responsibility in a very proper way for his error in breaching the rules.

Foreign affairs is of course the most appropriate department to investigate that because we are talking about documents that were foreign affairs documents.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I noticed that he failed to mention the contracts with Public Works and Transport Canada, and the fact that the RCMP and CSIS should have been investigating. He left that out completely.

The government can no longer claim that this is a private matter. Security experts and even Conservative cabinet colleague Michael Fortier, the unelected minister, disagree.

Will the government finally tell Canadians who in the Department of Foreign Affairs is responsible for this investigation, and what are the investigation's mandate and mission?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 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 have indicated a great many times, and I know they like to continue to talk about the issue, but foreign affairs will be looking into the question of the secure treatment of documents, what the rules are that apply to them now, what the practices are that apply to those documents, and determine if there are any other--

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Oh, oh!

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

The hon. member asked a question. She does not appear to want to hear the answer. I will do my best to continue.

She would want to know I think that foreign affairs will be able to draw on the resources of what other agencies there are in government to make recommendations on any rules that may need to be changed and any practices that may need to be changed.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister champions open federalism, his Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is sending a clear message with his funding cuts for not for profit organizations. Everyone has criticized the actions of the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec: mayors Régis Labeaume and Gérald Tremblay, the elected members of the National Assembly, the Bloc Québécois, the Quebec manufacturers and exporters association, the Quebec federation of chambers of commerce, and the list goes on.

Does the Prime Minister realize that his cuts to economic development are turning everyone against him? Is that what he calls being open to Quebec?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting question from the Bloc, who has long been opposed to the federal government playing any role in economic development programs for the regions of Quebec. Nonetheless, the minister is working to ensure that our programs support real economic development and job creation.

I understand that there are differences in the approach with other levels of government. The Government of Quebec, for example, is free to pursue its own policies in this matter.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister just said he is doing real economic development and that no one in Quebec is doing that. That kind of contempt for Quebec is why every premier of Quebec for decades has asked that economic development in its entirety be handed over to Quebec.

This contempt persists, since the Premier of Quebec, the mayors of Montreal and Quebec City and the president of the Union des municipalités du Québec asked the Prime Minister weeks ago to meet with them and they have not so much as received an acknowledgement of that request.

Has the Prime Minister not revealed his true colours of contempt, contempt and contempt?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:20 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, 17 years ago today the Bloc Québécois officially came into being. Is it such a sad life to be here as a Bloc Québécois MP for 17 years and do nothing but ask questions, ask questions and ask questions? And when people ask them what they have accomplished, the answer is nothing.

We are getting things done for regional economic development. We will continue to support small and medium sized businesses and organizations through one-off projects.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, Mayor Labeaume of Quebec City has criticized the Minister of Labour's obtuseness in regard to some major projects that the economic development agency will no longer be funding. The mayor was very clear that the minister does not listen to anyone. The latest cuts will force the National Optics Institute in Quebec City to reconsider a number of research projects that create many high skill jobs. The entire Quebec City region is going to miss out on some major economic benefits.

Does the minister realize that some major projects are being compromised as a result of his laissez-faire ideology? Will he finally listen to reason and restore the funding for these agencies to their previous levels?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral 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, let me say something quickly about the National Optics Institute in Quebec City. Before I arrived, it was receiving $5 million a year on a triennial basis, or $15 million over three years. That was increased by $1 million. So then it received $6 million a year for three years, for a total of $18 million. In addition, there was a line in the budget giving it another $15 million over and above what it was already getting. All of this runs until the end of 2010.

If the National Optics Institute wants to focus more on research, it can always turn to the Department of Industry.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not just the mayors of Montreal and Quebec City who are criticizing the labour minister for his stubbornness but other mayors in Quebec as well, including mayors Forest and Marcotte of Rimouski and Mascouche, who want the funding of the not for profit agencies restored. No one in this government takes the economic development of Quebec seriously any more. The parliamentary secretary just answers any old thing, as usual, and the minister does whatever he wants.

Will he finally listen to all the stakeholders in Quebec and restore the funding of these agencies? Will he do it, yes or no?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral 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, I have just returned from Sherbrooke. Together with the University of Sherbrooke and its applied technology centre, we agreed with Bombardier Recreational Products to put a total of $10 million into a $36-million project to create jobs and make some progress in what is called applied research. Senior officials at the University of Sherbrooke told me, “Minister, that is exactly the kind of assistance we hope to get from your department and we appreciate it because this is a one-time project, and after it, we will be able to get along on our own”.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Sarpoza prison break in Kandahar proves that there is a serious problem with the government's policy on the transfer of detainees. For some time now, the NDP has been saying that, given the existing conditions, transferring detainees to Afghan authorities was a mistake. Canada is not complying with its international obligations. Now, in addition to allegations of torture, some 1,000 prisoners have escaped.

What will the government do to fix this problem?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Forces always comply with their legal and international obligations. Yes, a serious incident occurred at the Sarpoza prison. That should be a reminder to the members of the House that the Taliban are a real threat. Our forces, the Afghan government and our allies are working on this incident.