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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

The EconomyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am sure if the hon. member had read the budget, he would have seen the $250 million automotive innovation fund. Some of the people who are losing their jobs in Oshawa and Whitby are my friends and neighbours. This is serious business for us. We are investing in innovation.

The future of General Motors in Oshawa requires that the car plant get a third product. It is going to have two. Because of innovation, it already has the Impala. Then it will have the Camaro in the fall. We are going to work with the union, with CAW and with General Motors to get that third car in Oshawa.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the workers in Oshawa are going to have plenty of time to read his budget because they are going to be unemployed. The job losses are right on his doorstep and some of the workers who we are talking about are in his constituency.

When he returns to Whitby—Oshawa in the summer, will he be telling them the same delusional tales about our Canadian economy? Will he dare to tell them that things are all right?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I will tell them the same thing the OECD said today in its spring economic outlook, and that is Canada's economy looks good. In fact, Canada's GDP will lead the OECD next year, in 2009. That is what I will tell them.

I will also tell them that the opposition members do not know anything about the auto sector. They do not obviously know about the beacon project. They do not know about the auto strategy that was developed before. They do not know about the flex line in the car plant in Oshawa. They are ignorant of all that. What they know is how to increase the price of gasoline with a carbon tax. How that is going to help General Motors and its workers in Oshawa.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government indicated that neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Public Safety nor the former minister of foreign affairs, the hon. member for Beauce, intend to appear before the parliamentary committee concerning the Julie Couillard affair and the risks to public safety. That shows a serious lack of respect for our democratic institutions.

What does the Prime Minister have to hide so much that he would compromise his sense of honour? This is unworthy of a head of state.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I know the opposition wants to have public hearings for partisan reasons. That is their game.

This government is committed to reviewing the facts in a professional and objective manner and that is what we are going to do.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, witnesses are questioned and cross-examined in the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security so that we can get to the truth. Some testimonies could contradict the government's and the Prime Minister's version of the facts.

Is that why the Prime Minister is ducking the issue? Is he afraid that certain testimony will confirm that he knew about Julie Couillard's shady past for a long time and that he tried to bury the whole affair instead of worry about national security and the truth?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the minister has stepped down. I am here on a regular basis to answer questions. If the Bloc Québécois has a substantive question, I look forward to it.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Here is one, Mr. Speaker. Since the Prime Minister refuses to appear before the committee, I will ask him a question in this House, and I would like a straight answer. It is clear that the RCMP, knowing Ms. Couillard's shady past, must have told the Prime Minister about the past relationships of his foreign affairs minister's new flame.

Can the Prime Minister tell us when the RCMP informed him of Ms. Couillard's shady past?

Foreign AffairsOral 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, the Prime Minister has made it abundantly clear that he has no intention of starting a practice of asking for inquiries into the backgrounds of private citizens in Canada. That has been his practice in the past and it will not change in the future.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the public can judge the relevance of the questions we are asking here and the sort of response we are getting. I will try another question.

We are told that the Department of Foreign Affairs is going to conduct its own investigation into the fact that the documents were missing for more than five weeks. By conducting its own investigation, the department is acting as both defendant and prosecutor, and it is difficult to imagine that the department will blame itself.

When did the former minister of foreign affairs tell the Prime Minister that sensitive documents had gone missing? Was it in mid-April or on the day of the TVA report? How long had the Prime Minister known that important documents had disappeared?

Foreign AffairsOral 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, the opposition's questions have already been answered many times. When did the Prime Minister know about the situation? Monday afternoon. When did the minister resign? Monday afternoon. When did the Prime Minister take action? Monday afternoon. Are the documents now in the hands of the government? Yes. Will there be an examination of this matter? Yes, by foreign affairs. Did the government take action? Yes.

More than any thing else these repetitive questions demonstrate the inability of the opposition to ask questions about anything that actually matters to Canadians.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, it cannot be very comforting for the workers who have been laid off in Oshawa to hear the Prime Minister stand here and say that it amounts to a couple of one-time events. Let me remind him that we have had 180,000 manufacturing jobs lost under his watch. That does not amount to a one-time event. That amounts to a lack of leadership. Those workers are right now outside that plant in Oshawa demanding answers for themselves, for their families, for their community and for the industry.

It is time the Prime Minister started providing some answers right here in the House. Why does he not show some leadership and put in place the kind of green economy with jobs for the future, which our country needs?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course, I said no such thing. The reality is when jobs are lost, that is an unfortunate thing. However, know what? Inevitably companies have some difficulties. What we want to ensure is that when we lose jobs, this economy creates jobs. Since this government has been in office, since the Minister of Finance has been in this job, over three-quarters of a million jobs, net, have been created in our country.

We are pursuing an agenda of tax reduction and competitiveness and we are going to continue to pursue it, even if the NDP and all those other guys want to raise taxes.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, he has all sorts of good news for his friends in big oil, but the situation is not nearly as rosy for ordinary Canadians.

Consumer confidence is at its lowest level in seven years. Families have racked up $1 billion in mortgage debt, but their incomes have not changed since 1980. Food costs are climbing, the price of gas is $1.50 in Dorval and workers are losing their jobs.

What is the Prime Minister going to do to create green jobs for the workers in the automotive, forestry and manufacturing industries who have lost their jobs? What is he going to do?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the New Democratic Party is asking a question about creating a fund for innovation in the auto industry. Budget 2008 provides for such a fund, but the NDP voted against that fund. That is another example. Except for the idea of a carbon tax on all products and services in this country, the opposition has no suggestions to make to improve Canada's economy. That is why we are the government and why we are going to remain the government.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, just a few short years ago, the Prime Minister said in a throne speech:

No aspect of responsible government is more fundamental than having the trust of citizens....It is time for accountability.

Those are the words of the government. I think those thoughts are shared by a great many Canadians.

If it is time for accountability, why would the government be preventing the Prime Minister and the former minister of foreign affairs from appearing before a parliamentary committee that its task is directly to deal with this question?

Foreign AffairsOral 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

Here we go with another kangaroo court, Mr. Speaker. We have had accountability. The minister of foreign affairs has resigned and an investigation is under way.

What we will not do is what the member asking the question did when he was the NDP premier of Ontario. When he was faced with one of his ministers who breached privacy laws and confidentiality laws, he required her to take a lie detector test. Once she had proven to his satisfaction that she was after all a liar, he was persuaded that she had what it took to stay in his cabinet. No, we will not be doing that.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, everyone knows what I was doing in the past. I suspect that when I was—

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I have to have some order.

The hon. member for Toronto Centre has the floor.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

For all I know, Mr. Speaker, at that time, the minister who just responded was in high school, pulling the wings off butterflies. We have no idea what he was really doing.

The government is trying to hide behind a libel suit. The government is trying to hide behind a libel chill. The Prime Minister is hiding behind the minister who is now being prompted by all the ministers around him.

Why will the government not let the Prime Minister of the country appear before a parliamentary committee?

Foreign AffairsOral 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, some—

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. Obviously it is Wednesday, but the government House leader is rising to answer this question and he has been recognized to do so.

The hon. government House leader has the floor.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, some people are all wet on these issues. The one thing I can tell the House is we will not do what he did when he was premier of Ontario and double the debt for which he was responsible.