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House of Commons Hansard #2 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was canada's.

Topics

Lunar New YearStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will start my first words in the House of Commons by thanking the voters of Richmond for their trust in me. I also wish to thank my campaign team, the volunteers and especially my husband for their unwavering support all these years.

Richmond is home to Canada's Pacific gateway and one of the most multicultural ridings in Canada. In fact, yesterday marked the beginning of the widely celebrated lunar new year.

This year is the year of the ox. The ox traditionally symbolizes prosperity through perseverance and hard work. With economic uncertainty, the year of the ox beckons all of us here to work tirelessly, bringing stability to the economy, maintaining jobs and caring for the most vulnerable.

In 2010, Richmond will showcase to the world the magnificent speed skating oval and a brand new Canada line that connects Richmond with the Vancouver International Airport and downtown Vancouver.

Working with the spirit of the ox, Richmond will prosper. On behalf of Richmond, I wish all Canadians a healthy and prosperous lunar new year. Gong hei fatt choy.

Jim FultonStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Parliament lost one of its finest sons just before Christmas. Jim Fulton was an unforgettable presence in the House for 20 years as the member for Skeena and I am very proud to have served with him as a friend and a colleague.

Jim's humour, eloquence, brashness and capacity for great and good work on behalf of the Canadian people and the environment made him friends in all parties. After leaving this place, he transformed the David Suzuki Foundation.

Jim lost his battle with cancer and left us too soon but he remains in our hearts as a great fighter. To know Jim was to love him.

Pierre RouxStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the City of Victoriaville is in mourning. One of its outstanding citizens, Pierre Roux, died last night at the age of 70. Mr. Roux was the mayor of Arthabaska and Victoriaville for 27 years.

A renowned businessman and administrator, Mr. Roux was greatly involved in the community and participated in various community, sports and cultural causes. Despite his retirement from politics, Mr. Roux was still committed to the region through chairing local organizations such as the Fondation Hôtel-Dieu d'Arthabaska. He was, without question, a source of inspiration and a role model for many of his colleagues on municipal council and for the public in general.

No one will forget the role he played in the project to amalgamate Victoriaville, Arthabaska and Sainte-Victoire, in helping to bring the Tigres, a major junior hockey team, to Victoriaville, and in running Thiro Inc., a business established in Victoriaville in the middle of the last century.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to offer condolences to the friends and family of Pierre Roux.

Jim FultonStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a sincere honour for me to rise today and pay tribute to a great man and Parliamentarian, Jim Fulton. As his sister recently told me, Jim was larger than life and he lived a very large life.

As an MP for Skeena for 14 years, Jim was, at times, outrageous but always fearless. He was a big and early supporter of first nations rights and, as a natural extension, the protection of our planet.

In all the epic struggles, laughter was never far from Jim. After raging on some poor minister of the Crown he would cross the floor, share an inappropriate joke and soon be picking up the tab at the local pub.

For those touched by Jim's deep sense of humanity and respect for our planet, we will never know another. It was said that he loved life and, indeed, life loved Jim Fulton. We will miss you, buddy.

Community organizations in Beauport-LimoilouStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment thank a number of organizations in my riding which help the least fortunate members of our community. These organizations include Bouchée Généreuse, Maison Agapè, Patro Roc-Amadour, Knights of Columbus and many others we know we can rely on. In these difficult times, I find it especially important to highlight their dedication to the community of Beauport-Limoilou.

Their efforts to give hope, to ease people's pain and suffering, to listen and to help make a significant impact on the lives of our constituents.

They know that they can always count on me to help them—as a resident of Beauport-Limoilou, as a fellow human being, and as a member of Parliament. Thanks to all.

Family Literacy DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, today is Family Literacy Day, an occasion for families, young and old, from coast to coast to coast, to celebrate the many benefits of reading and learning.

Literacy is the foundation of any successful society, a skill that opens not only minds but doors of opportunity for children and adults alike.

Instilling at a young age the value of reading comprehension, the empowerment of scholarship and the gratification of learning should be our common pursuits in creating an early childhood education system.

The values promoted by Family Literacy Day and other causes like it are only a small step toward this goal. Much more work needs to be done.

I commend all literacy organizations in their ongoing support for literacy and call on the government to provide a worthy partner in efforts to make Canada the most literate country in the world.

Angus McKenzieStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on January 19, 2009, the citizens of London lost a tremendous community hero.

I lost my very dear friend, Angus McKenzie. His 82 years with us was too short. He was a successful lawyer and founding partner with McKenzie Lake Law Firm.

Angus was a giant in terms of community service; a legend who cannot be replaced.

He helped most every charity in London and, more important, thoughtfully challenged others to do the same. He brought out the best in us and elevated our commitment to community.

All the while, Angus was a true gentleman, very gracious and very humble.

His involvement will be deeply missed and yet his enduring influence will be the living legacy of community leaders he inspired. That was his great gift to us.

On behalf of London and Canada, I wish to thank his wife Jean and his children Kate, Carol and Ian. They sacrificed so much so that we could spend time with Angus.

We will miss our dear friend.

Quebec FlagStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, 61 years ago, the people of Quebec decided to make a statement by adopting a national flag. Since then, Quebec has asserted, loudly and clearly, that it is not part of another nation, but a nation unto itself, and has conducted itself accordingly. The people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot can proudly lay claim to the origins of our national flag, which was inspired in part by the flag that Father Filiatrault, parish priest at Saint-Jude, hoisted above his presbytery in 1902. That flag bore white fleur-de-lis.

Our national flag symbolizes the glorious past and bright future of a people ready, determined, steadfast, and resolutely looking to the future. As the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, I will work very hard to protect Quebec's interests and to achieve my dream, which is to see our fleur-de-lis flag flying alongside the flags of other sovereign nations.

BullyingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, bullying is a problem that Canadians have faced for generations. Today one in four kids is bullied, one in five is a bully and 282,000 high school kids are attacked each month nationally.

Bullying has changed over the years. While there are still bullies in the schoolyards, advances such as the Internet and text messaging allow bullying to happen anytime, anywhere, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sadly, once there is a habit of childhood bullying, this behaviour can continue into the workplace.

However, bullyingcanada.ca and individuals like Katie Neu and Rob Frenette are working to change that with the recognition of December 17 as blue day, our stand against bullying.

I am proud to be working with my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst and all of the organizers across Canada to promote this initiative in the House of Commons by means of a petition to be tabled very soon.

Please join us in doing what needs to be done to keep our young people and our communities safe.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, those who want to understand what is going on have only to open their eyes. Today, the Conservatives are in an excellent position to confirm the truth of that statement. We warned the Conservatives of the magnitude of the economic crisis, but they kept telling us that everything was fine and that they were not worried.

Let us not forget that this Minister of Finance, the very one presenting a red-ink budget boasting the biggest deficit since Brian Mulroney, is the same one who predicted a surplus in his latest economic statement. Before, during and after the holidays, dozens of Canadians who lost their jobs did not really feel like celebrating.

Would the Conservatives be helping those people today if we, the Liberals, had not twisted their collective arm? The answer is obvious.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, many Canadian farm families strongly supported our government in the last election because they know that we keep our promises. And they can expect nothing less at this time. In addition to stimulating the economy, creating jobs, and investing immediately in roads, buildings and bridges, I expect the economic action plan to produce concrete results for farmers and to protect those who have been hardest hit by the recession.

Farmers should have access to new funding to increase their slaughter capacity. This is the perfect opportunity for our government to support our beef and pork industries, as well as other producers. Our economic action plan should include a flexible program for agriculture. Such a program should help farmers tackle the challenges of the market and exploit significant opportunities in each province and territory.

I am very honoured to work with the Prime Minister and our Conservative government for farmers and for all Canadians.

Opposition Proposed CoalitionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, happy new year of the ox. Just like Canadians, the ox is strong, determined and hard-working.

The lunar new year deserves a new beginning, a fresh start. Hard-working Canadians need a new political direction and a new government that believes in a green economic recovery for men and women, a new government that will change direction and cast aside the old mantra that corporate and general tax cuts are solutions to all problems and instead invest in women and children.

Will we see a national child care program and a real reduction in child poverty in the year of the ox? I doubt it. That is why members of Parliament should celebrate the new year with strong, determined action and boldly bring about a stable and hopeful new Liberal-NDP government.

InfrastructureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remind the House of our government's unprecedented commitments to infrastructure projects nationwide.

Above and beyond our $33 billion building Canada plan, Canada's transport and infrastructure minister announced yesterday a further commitment of $4 billion for an infrastructure stimulus fund to help provinces, territories and municipalities get projects started as soon as possible, $2 billion to accelerate construction at colleges and universities across Canada and $1 billion to create a new, green infrastructure fund to encourage sustainable energy infrastructure.

This is additional funding that will help get shovels in the ground from coast to coast to coast. It is important that all three levels of government, provinces, territories and municipalities, work together on these important projects in order to create jobs and strengthen our economy.

Battle of the Plains of AbrahamStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, 2008 marked the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City and the birth of New France. The federal government's political hijacking of this event is raising concerns about the commemoration of the battle of the Plains of Abraham, which led to the fall of New France 250 years ago.

Through its battlefields commission, the federal government is proposing an ill-advised, divisive plan to recreate what Quebeckers consider the most significant defeat in their history. For the sake of tourism, Quebeckers are being asked to celebrate the conquest. What would people say if someone suggested recreating the Acadian expulsion?

We think this event should be reconsidered. We feel it would be best for the Quebec National Assembly to decide how to commemorate the occasion.

Since this government claims to recognize the Quebec nation, it should have the decency to show that nation the respect it deserves.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, today Canadians will receive the federal budget with a certain degree of disappointment. Two months ago the finance minister proudly boasted that the Conservative government had paid off $37 billion of federal debt. Yet, within a matter of weeks, the same finance minister suddenly tells a different story.

Instead of a surplus, the Conservatives will run a massive $64 billion deficit over two years. This effectively wipes out any Conservative progress on reducing the federal debt. How can Canadians have confidence in the government when the Conservatives took over a $13 billion surplus from the Liberals in 2005 and simply blew it? Why should Canadians trust the Conservatives to weather this recession when they could not manage in a healthy economy?

I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that my colleagues and I in the Liberal caucus will assess this budget very carefully to ensure that it is in the best interests of Canadians.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, over the past six weeks, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, other ministers and members of Parliament have participated in a series of economic consultations from coast to coast to coast. These consultations have been the most comprehensive and inclusive in Canadian history, laying the groundwork for a multi-year plan.

Canada's economic action plan will help Canada weather the global economic crisis. We have heard the views of thousands of Canadians through round tables, online consultations, by mail, email and through submissions by groups and individuals.

In my riding the Minister of Finance held one of the largest public consultations, with 480 participants. Our government has met with representatives from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and had face to face meetings with numerous municipalities about the bridges and roads they needed for the future.

There were 102 discussions with our provincial and territorial counterparts, leading to a successful first ministers meeting. The Minister of Finance has met four times with his newly established economic advisory council.

I look forward to hearing about Canada's economic—

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Oral Questions, the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I spent all month listening to Canadians from across Canada. They are afraid of losing their jobs, their pensions and are worried about their children's future.

In this regard, where was the government's plan in October, November and December, when the governments of other G8 nations were taking action?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

I would like to begin by congratulating the leader of the opposition on becoming leader of his party and of the opposition.

This government took action more than a year ago at the beginning of the crisis. Today, the Minister of Finance will present his budget to the House, the earliest in contemporary Canadian history.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Prime Minister for his kind words. The point is the actions come late.

Yesterday's throne speech goes against everything the government was saying last autumn. As late as October, the Prime Minister was denying we were headed into a recession. As late as the economic statement, the Prime Minister was actually denying we were going to head into deficit. Now we know the truth.

Why did the Prime Minister tell us we were in surplus on November 27 when we were actually in deficit?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. Prior to the budgetary actions we will take in the upcoming budget, the government has been in surplus for the current fiscal year.

I indicated at the G20 meetings in November and after at APEC that this government did intend to run a deficit in coordination with other countries around the world to stimulate our economy. We have a strong balance sheet and we will do whatever it takes to keep our economy strong.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, let us turn to infrastructure.

The government claimed that infrastructure would be a priority, but it failed to get $2 billion in commitments out the door that would have created jobs and helped rebuild communities.

How can Canadians trust the Prime Minister not to fail them again? What assurances can he give us now that the promised money will actually get out the door this time?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that in every year the government has been in office actual federal infrastructure spending has increased. Even before this budget, federal infrastructure spending was scheduled to double in the coming year.

There will be new good news in the announcement. I urge the opposition to join us to undertake this action and get that money out and get the economy going.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the announcements increased; the money out the door did not.

Exactly two months ago the Conservative government promised to balance its books, this fiscal year, not next year, 2008-09 and each of the four following years, surpluses all the way. That is what the Conservatives promised.

Now they admit that next year they will be in the red by some $34 billion and then by another $30 billion the year after. What about this year, 2008-09? They promised a surplus of close to a billion dollars.

Will they tell us whether they are already hiding a hidden deficit for 2008-09?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I encourage the hon. member, as the Prime Minister has, to take a very serious look at what is going to be tabled here later today.

This is far too important an issue to play partisan politics with. I would encourage everyone to support the budget. It is important to Canadians, it is important to their jobs and it is important to the future and the strength of our country.