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House of Commons Hansard #104 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, today we are calling on the Liberal leader to table in the House of Commons the special arrangement he is seeking with Elections Canada, including this. How much does he owe to the wealthy elites? What have the wealthy elites asked in return for their money? When will they be paid off? What penalty has Elections Canada applied for this breach?

The public has the right to know which vested interests are pulling the strings of the Liberal leader. It is time he came clean with Canadians.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I came to Parliament 11 years ago with some urgent priorities, the inferior status of women and fixing unemployment insurance among them. Perhaps it is because of the pathetic under-representation of women in the Conservative caucus, an unbelievable 11%, that the government refuses to fix employment insurance for women.

Let me rephrase the first ever question I asked in the House of Commons. Will the government set targets and timetables to fix the EI system? If not, will it admit that it has simply given up on those who desperately need its help?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, first, I know I speak on behalf of all members in congratulating the member on making her decision. We thank her for her service in this place.

I also know this party is very committed to ensure that women in our country have equal access to employment insurance today. Almost 80% of women have access to employment insurance and 98% have access to special benefits.

More important, we are ensuring that all Canadians, including women, have access to training that will help them step into a job in one of the hottest job markets in our history.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, a former deputy minister of finance in Nova Scotia has called the $54 billion removed from Canada's employment insurance fund the biggest theft in Canadian history.

Shouldering the greatest share of the burden, the EI fund needs $15 billion to support itself, yet only $2 billion is budgeted.

Will the government address the scandal that 68% of women contributing to EI are denied benefits when they become unemployed through no fault of their own, or is it determined to create a permanent legacy of discrimination against women?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Medicine Hat Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, during the Liberal years, it was the Bloc and the NDP that were arguing to spend even more of that money taken from workers. Therefore, if it was the Liberals who were saying “stick 'em up” to hard-pressed workers, it was the Bloc that was standing as the lookout and the NDP that was driving the getaway car.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the first quarter drop in GDP means Canada could be halfway to its first recession in 16 years. Our first quarter performance was the worst in the G-7. Consumer confidence has plunged to a seven year low. Today GM has announced 1,000 more job losses in Oshawa.

With these devastating job losses in his own backyard, will the finance minister finally end his ostrich-like preaching that all is well and stop denying that the Canadian economy is in serious trouble?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member for Markham—Unionville could not be more wrong. The Canadian economy is strong. The economic fundamentals in our economy are strong. Our budget is balanced. We are reducing debt and taxes. We are certainly not going to impose a massive new punitive tax on Canadians through a carbon tax, advocated by the member for Markham—Unionville and by his party.

We have a strong labour market in Canada. We have 120,000 net new jobs this year alone. In fact, we have labour shortages in most regions of the country.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding these economic weaknesses, we on this side have great confidence in Canada, but Canadians have zero confidence in the minister. He told companies not to invest in Ontario. Today General Motors took his advice. He squandered an inherited $13 billion surplus, taking Canada to the verge of deficit.

I know the Prime Minister is short on bench strength, but since he will be filling the hole in foreign affairs, will he today commit to also fill the leadership void in finance?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we certainly advocate that the Government of Ontario reduce business taxes. We certainly advocate that it take that step toward harmonization and that it take the incentive we offered with respect to capital taxes, which was a good move by that government. The tax burden on new business investment in Ontario is the highest in Canada and that is not good for business.

However, if we look at the report on the first quarter, and I suggest my friend opposite read it, wages and salaries are up 6.2%, corporate profits are up 9.9% and business investment is up 2.2%.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps between trips in his flying limousine, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec could come back down to Earth. The reality on the ground is that the gross domestic product, the measure of our economy, slipped in the last quarter—it did not increase, it slipped. If that happens again in the next quarter, we will be in a recession.

In that context, has the minister made any provisions to support our businesses and secure our jobs, or will he allow his budget to be slashed without saying a word?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:50 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 wonder whether the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier ever gets out of Montreal from time to time.

In the past three weeks, we have announced help to support the manufacturing industry and small and medium-sized businesses. In our 2008-2011 strategic plan, we have allocated $86 million in order to boost productivity for the next three years, $32 million in order to support innovation and $27 million to support export assistance for small and medium-size businesses.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the minister ever gets out of his bubble from time to time. To listen to him, one would think he either does not understand what is going on or he is copying the Minister of Finance who is burying his head in the sand and refusing to see reality.

In Quebec, the consumer confidence index has plummeted by almost seven points. That means that consumers are worried about the future, putting off purchases until later and spending less. Less spending means fewer sales, less production and fewer jobs.

Has the minister even thought for two seconds about a plan to stimulate the economy and save jobs?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:50 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, again I remind the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier that the budget envelope for Economic Development Canada is around $200 million a year.

Since we came to power in 2006, we have allocated $157 million to support various business projects and that has resulted in 18,000 jobs maintained—or jobs created—since our new tools have been in place.

We listen to the advisory committees that make recommendations, and our 2008-2011 strategic plan is based on these new tools being created to support our small and medium-sized businesses.

JusticeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for official languages refuses to say whether or not she supports the appointment of a bilingual judge to the Supreme Court. The minister stated that she prefers to see the process run its course. In fact, she has demonstrated her lack of regard for francophones. The Commissioner of Official Languages, the Quebec National Assembly and the opposition parties are demanding that a bilingual candidate be appointed.

Will the government make bilingualism an essential requirement when appointing the next Supreme Court justice?

JusticeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have put in place a process that Canadians will appreciate.

Over the course of the next couple of months, I will be consulting widely with individuals and getting recommendations with respect to the appointment of a Supreme Court justice from Atlantic Canada.

We will present a list to a group of parliamentarians and we will have their input and ultimately there will be a governor in council appointment. I think that is an excellent way to handle this.

Quebec City ArmouryOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for the Quebec City region, who is also the Minister of Canadian Heritage, has decided that the site of the Quebec City armoury needs nothing more than a cleaning. Yet a few weeks ago, it was her priority among the preparations for the city's 400th anniversary festivities. In addition, she admits that she is not too sure what is going to happen to the site.

Given the minister's lack of leadership and her incompetence in dealing with this issue, can the Prime Minister tell us clearly what he intends to do with the site of the Quebec City armoury in anticipation of the 400th anniversary celebrations in Quebec City?

Quebec City ArmouryOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, once again, I will repeat what I have already said many times. Experts are assessing the structure of the armoury. Whether the Bloc Québécois member likes it or not, we will not glean any real information about the stability of the armoury's facade from the leader of the Bloc or his visits to the armoury.

JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, we know that contrary to all ethical obligations, the government intends to appoint the former justice minister to the bench.

Can the government, which ran on accountability and transparency, tell us where his application is? Is it in front of the judicial appointments advisory committee for Manitoba, which he personally appointed? Is it with cabinet, of which he is a member? Or is it now with the regional minister for Manitoba, the future judge himself?

JusticeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have always been guided by the principles of merit in legal experts, those characterized in the 165 appointments this government has made. Wherever I go in this country, I always get excellent feedback on the individuals we have appointed to the superior court bench and we fully intend that all the rest of them we make will live up to those standards.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, while our government practises open federalism, the Bloc Québécois is experiencing an unprecedented existential crisis, and can do nothing but create imaginary scandals to try to smear this government in order to justify its own presence in Ottawa.

But our government is taking action and doing tangible things for Quebeckers. For example, last week, the Minister of National Defence was in the riding of Saint-Jean for the official reopening of the Royal Military College Saint-Jean, which was shut down by the Liberals.

Could the minister tell the House how important this reopening is to the Canadian Forces?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

I attended the official reopening of the Royal Military College Saint-Jean and the graduation ceremonies. The college is an important institution for students in the region and in Quebec.

We know that the Liberals closed this institution in 1995, and we also know that the Bloc did not have the ability to change what the Liberals had done. This government is once again showing that it will take action to meet the needs of Canada, Quebec and the Canadian Forces.

Omar KhadrOral Questions

June 3rd, 2008 / 2:55 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, Omar Khadr has been held since he was 15 years old.

The U.S. government has rigged the process. When it loses a legal battle, it just changes the rules. Now the judge has been replaced mid-trial. Countless breaches of civil, military and international law have occurred.

The Liberals left Mr. Khadr with the Americans for three years and the Conservatives have left him there for another two years, all without a proper trial.

When will Omar Khadr be allowed to come home?

Omar KhadrOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has sought assurances that Mr. Khadr is being treated humanely. Department officials have carried out several welfare visits to Mr. Khadr and will continue to do so.

Mr. Khadr faces very serious charges in relation to his being captured in Afghanistan.

Many questions regarding whether Canada plans to ask for the release of Omar Khadr are premature and speculative. The legal process and appeals are still going on.

Omar KhadrOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely amazing that the parliamentary secretary would stand today in the House and reread that tripe.

The Supreme Court of Canada has said Omar Khadr's rights have been violated. Canadian officials are saying Omar Khadr is not a threat and instead is a victim of his upbringing. After six years of failing Omar Khadr, it is time for the government to do the right thing and help Omar Khadr salvage the rest of his life.

My question is for the Prime Minister. When will he act on this file and petition the U.S. to bring Omar Khadr home?

Omar KhadrOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I have said on many occasions. The Government of Canada has sought and received assurances that Mr. Khadr is being treated humanely.

However, Mr. Khadr faces very serious charges in relation to his being captured in Afghanistan. Therefore, any questions regarding Canada's plans to ask for the release of Mr. Khadr are premature and speculative as the legal process is going on.