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House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was passengers.

Topics

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, last March I asked the Minister of Industry what the Conservative government was doing to assist the ailing Canadian manufacturing sector, particularly the auto manufacturing industry.

In the past year, over 130,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Canada, 33,000 in December alone, just in time for the holidays.

Around that time, the Conservative finance minister launched his unprecedented attack campaign against the province of Ontario. In fact, the federal finance minister called Ontario “the last place” to do business in North America.

These comments have deeply hurt the manufacturing industry, because business leaders listen to what the minister has to say, especially at a time when this sector is desperately in need of help from the federal government.

Unfortunately, General Motors took the finance minister 's advice and yesterday announced that four auto manufacturing plants will be closed in North America in 2009, including a truck assembly plant in Oshawa, eliminating 2,600 jobs in his own constituency.

For the 2,600 workers who will lose their jobs in Oshawa, the Conservative government has little to offer. The Prime Minister has called the plant closure “unfortunate”. The Minister of Industry blames American consumers for changing their purchasing habits. In question period today, the finance minister denied that there was any problem at all, saying “don't worry, be happy”, the Canadian economy is strong.

These words offer little support to the people of Oshawa. They know that the loss of 2,600 auto manufacturing jobs will have a devastating ripple effect through their local economy, wiping out secondary employers and small businesses that depend on major employers like General Motors.

I know the hon. member opposite will get up and talk about figures, which mean little to someone in Oshawa who has just lost his or her job, and we will hear a diatribe against a carbon tax. This is because the Conservative government is on autopilot: it has no vision, no competency in economics and is running on empty. Its small ideas of GST cuts and the $100 baby bonus have not boosted the economy.

I have a question for the member opposite. On page 31 of the Conservative platform, there was a promise by the Prime Minister that he would eliminate the GST portion of the gas prices above 85¢ a litre. The price is now $1.30. Where is that cut? What happened to that policy?

What are these policies and promises? Are they made on the fly? Are they knee-jerk reactions? I would sincerely like to know what concrete measures the Conservatives are going to adopt to assist the automotive manufacturing sector.

7 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, being the member of Parliament for Oshawa, I am really upset that the member would try to exploit the tragedy that we have had in Oshawa this week with the layoffs. I actually worked in that plant and I have friends and neighbours who worked in that plant. This is a horrible thing that they are trying to exploit for political gain.

If she had done her homework, she would know that in 2004 the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council wrote a scathing report against the Liberal government, which was in power, as members know, for 13 years. It did absolutely nothing for the auto sector. The NDP and the Conservatives asked for an auto strategy. Nothing came out of that government. CAPC asked for five things but the Liberals delivered absolutely none of them.

What I can say is that, along with my colleagues, in 2004 I started the Conservative auto caucus. If she wants to know what we have done, she can do her homework. We visited the auto manufacturers. We talked to them and listened to them, finally, for the first time ever. They told us what they wanted. They repeated the five things.

When we came into government in 2006, we had already lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in this country. It was time for action. It was not time for strategies or rhetoric. Therefore, along with my colleagues, we worked on developing a plan for the automotive industry.

Our first budget was actually called, by Jayson Myers, the head of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, in 2007, the best manufacturing budget ever.

The sad thing is that the member, who is now complaining about a lack of action by the Conservative government, sat on her hands. That is the shame right now of the Liberal Party. We have other members from other parties who, when called upon to vote in matters of confidence, they stand up. It is not a hard thing. They get on their feet. In each and every thing we have done for the auto sector, the member and her party have sat on their hands. They have not supported what we have done.

If she wants to know what we have done, she can look at the five things CAPC asked for in its report. It asked us about investment in the auto sector, something the Liberals did not follow through with. In Oshawa, the beacon project was a $200 million investment. If we had not followed through on that investment we would not have the flex plant there today. We would not have the ability to perhaps attract new mandates for Oshawa, something that we need right now in my community for the workers who work hard and who have mortgages. Her party was absent.

CAPC wanted infrastructure dollars. We put record amounts of money into infrastructure, $33.1 billion; $400 million for the Windsor-Detroit corridor, which her party failed to do. We put that money out and we have a closing date. We want that bridge done by 2013.

CAPC asked for human resources. We put in an apprenticeship program and gave more money for training. We wanted to ensure the automotive industry would have the people it needed. We did that and she voted against it.

There was human resources, science and technology, research and development money, $1.2 billion extra for science and technology. That member claims she cares but she again she sat on her hands.

She talked about the carbon tax, if I can go into that. The leader of her party wants to put in a carbon tax, which all experts agree will increase the price of gas and home heating fuel. What does she think that will do to the auto industry? Buzz Hargrove said that the radical Kyoto implementation plan that her leader always said he wanted but could not get done would destroy the auto industry. He said that it would be suicidal. This is the head of the CAW.

For me to stand here today as the member for Oshawa and listen to the member say that we are doing nothing, when, in this past budget, we had $250 million for the auto innovation fund, for new technology and green technology that will lead us into the new century--

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Don Valley East.

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, angry General Motors employees formed a roadblock around the company's Canadian head office to protest the loss of 2,600 manufacturing jobs. This announcement will have a devastating effect on Oshawa for years to come. The member should be ashamed of himself for giving platitudes to those people instead of concrete actions.

The government has not been able to rejuvenate the economy. Instead, it is reusing and recycling the money, the surplus that the Liberal government's fiscal prudence left it, the $17 billion. It has now brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy and has not invested anything.

The province of Ontario is promising to help. It is looking to the federal government to show some leadership and assist the manufacturing sector before it is too late.

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, she talks about platitudes. That is what she and her party have been about for the last 13 years. Workers need action and that is why we put forward an automotive action plan on February 28 of this year. If she were doing her homework, she would know that.

What is more important is that we are offering $21 billion in tax relief this year. It is a stimulus for the economy. She should get up off of her hands, and if she actually believes anything she said here today, she should vote and support the government for the wonderful things it is putting forward for the auto industry. It is a challenging time.

To have her stand in the House and say the words she did, as the member of Parliament for Oshawa, I am personally offended by them. It is time for action. It is not time for platitudes.

7:05 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 3, I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages a question. Unfortunately, the answer I received came from the Minister of Justice. I must say that the question really was meant for the Minister of Status of Women.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women passed a motion advising the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that it was not in support of Bill C-484. We asked the Minister of Status of Women to take over where the committee left off and inform her colleagues of the importance of quickly dealing with this matter in order to ensure that the bill would not go to third reading.

I hope that the minister will answer this evening. Because Quebec and Canadian women expect her to take her place and to demonstrate leadership for her colleagues and for Quebeckers and Canadians. She must let us know and make us understand what is happening. Above all, she must reassure us that the abortion file will not be reopened. Women want assurances that, where they live, they will not have to experience what happened 40 or 50 years ago when abortion clinics were illegal and women had to carry out their own abortions with knitting needles, and died as a result.

I know that the minister voted against this bill. Since she voted against it, I would like her to now show us that she is capable of convincing her colleagues and telling them that women do have the right to choose.

At present, women are very afraid and I can understand that. I am a woman, a mother and a grandmother and I know what it is like to be afraid of losing our rights.

This government took a very underhanded approach. There are four bills right now that could potentially reopen the abortion debate. Before they were introduced, funding was cut to Status of Women Canada for groups that defend women's rights. Then, the court challenges program was abolished. Furthermore, women's advocacy groups have had to close their doors for lack of funding.

Now that women are having a harder time defending themselves and bringing a case before the Supreme Court, they are being hit with bills that will likely reopen the abortion debate if they go through. This must not happen.

For all the women of Quebec and Canada, I sincerely hope that the minister will be able to give me a positive answer this evening. I hope she will tell me that she will defend women and that she will inform her colleagues and make them aware of this cause.

7:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, right off the get go, let me just sort of refute the main thrust of my colleague's argument.

Her argument or suggestion is that somehow the bill introduced by the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, Bill C-484, is in some way a backdoor attempt to reopen the abortion debate. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the bill specifically excludes women who wish to seek an abortion from the provisions of the bill. This bill only deals with women who choose to go full term, who want a child. It does not speak to those women who do not wish to carry their child to full term.

The member asked why the bill is not before the status of women committee or the heritage committee.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, as I know, and I hope my hon. colleague knows, that it is the right of a member who introduces a private member's bill, to determine in the motion to which committee the bill should be referred. In this case, since the bill is about amending the Criminal Code, it is natural that it goes to the justice committee. In fact, not only private members' bills but government initiated bills and legislation that deals with amendments to the Criminal Code are normally referred to the justice committee.

Second, in Marleau and Montpetit on page 634, the procedure and practice manual that we all follow in this place, it states once again that members have the right, in the motion contained in the bill itself, to determine to which committee the bill gets referred. That is further supported by Standing Order 108.

I would suggest to the member opposite that it is an appropriate place to send the bill; that is, the justice committee. I hope the member, if for no other reason, would understand, from a procedural standpoint and from our own practices that we follow in this place, that the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, who introduced the bill, has followed the correct procedure. The justice committee is the correct place to discuss the bill.

7:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Before I recognize the hon. member for Laval, I would just like to say to the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader that coffee cups are not allowed in the House. I do not think I have ever seen one in here in 29 years and I do not want to see that again.

The hon. member for Laval.

7:15 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, maybe that coffee cup is the reason he was unable to hear my arguments about Bill C-484.

Nevertheless, had he wanted to, he would have understood that I was asking the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages to stand up for women. That did not happen.

I am not surprised, but I am disappointed. This evening, I am disappointed on behalf of all women of the Fédération des femmes du Québec, and on behalf of the Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances, the AFEAS, the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec and the Fédération des médecins du Québec. None of these groups want Bill C-484 to pass at third reading because they are all aware of the threat it poses to women.

I really hope that the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages will hear our appeal even if she chooses not to answer our questions. I hope she will assure us that she intends to stand up for this issue because if she does not, I can promise her that the women of Quebec and Canada will not forget.

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, in response to your admonition, I offer my apologies. There were no clean water glasses out there. This coffee cup, although it was a coffee cup, was filled with water. My apologies and I will ensure that it never happens again.

I have a quick response to my hon. colleague. The bill is put forward, as the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park stated on several occasions, to protect women because statistics have proven quite graphically that women carrying a child, who they wish to bring to full term, are more at risk to violent acts than any other women.

We have seen time and again women who are abused and violently attacked because their spouse or their significant other do not want the pregnancy to go to full term and so they attack the woman in an attempt to, quite frankly, attack the child.

The bill is not in any way, shape or form a backdoor attempt to reopen the abortion debate. As I said, the bill specifically excludes abortion from the bill. It is to protect women. It should be in the justice committee.

7:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:17 p.m.)