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House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, yesterday during oral questions the member's colleague from Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert asked questions of the government relating to arts and cultural funding in this budget. She expressed her disappointment that the government had not backtracked on its decision to cut funding for the promotion of Canadian culture overseas which ended the PromArt program and other travelling cultural programs. I wonder if the member would comment on that.

My riding of Burnaby—Douglas is home to much of the film, video and television production in Canada. Workers in the film and television industry are disappointed that the budget also failed to maximize the potential of that industry in terms of economic stimulation in Canada. It did not give a long-term commitment to important institutions like the Canadian Television Fund and Telefilm Canada. We need that long-term commitment to these important programs given the work they provide for Canadians and the opportunity for cultural expression they afford Canadians. I wonder if the member could comment on that.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant may take one minute to respond. She will have three minutes after question period to continue her speech.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

The budget we have seen does not provide the funds needed for culture in Quebec. Everyone knows how important that industry is for us and how important it is for Quebec to disseminate our culture around the world.

As my hon. colleague from Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert said, it is strange that funding is being cut for our artists touring abroad, while funding is given for productions and artists from other countries.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

France Bonsant

This is completely backwards.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

I agree; it really is completely backward, as my colleague from Compton—Stanstead said.

This shows a complete lack of respect for the Quebec nation, which was recognized by this House. Its culture is not being recognized and attempts are being made to impede its development. By impairing its culture in this way, its economic development is also being impaired, since the cultural industry as a whole is so important to our economic success.

Bryce Keller Memorial BursaryStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to commend one of my constituents, Sarah Keller, a member of the Canadian Forces, who has created a bursary at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

On August 3, 2006, Corporal Bryce Keller, Sarah's husband, was killed in a firefight in Kandahar. He was awarded the Medal of Military Valour for his actions. I am honoured to inform the House that the Corporal Bryce Keller Medal of Military Valour Memorial Bursary will annually allow a student at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to pursue his or her dream of higher education.

I ask the House to recognize the great sacrifices the Kellers have made on behalf of all Canadians.

Sri LankaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week the members of Toronto's 200,000 Sri Lankan community held a week-long hunger strike to draw attention to the atrocities currently taking place in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of people across the greater Toronto area expressed their demand for immediate action by fasting.

Today I would like to draw the attention of the government and all members to the fact that another 300 lives were lost this week alone regardless of “safe zones”. For more than 20 years the Sri Lankan people have been victims of a civil war that has claimed more than 70,000 lives since 1983.

Canada is home to the largest Sri Lankan community outside of Asia. I strongly call on all members of the House to join me in pressing for an immediate and peaceful resolution.

Yves LangloisStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to a resident of Saint-Armand, in the riding of Brome—Missisquoi, Mr. Yves Langlois. He won the award for the best full-length documentary at the Breaking Down Barriers film festival in Moscow, Russia, for his film Le dernier envol.

In 2005, Mr. Langlois, who is a well-known author, editor and director, won the Judith Jasmin award, which honours excellence in journalism, for his film L'envol du monarque.

With no funding available in Canada because of the Conservatives' cuts to culture, Mr. Langlois' trip to Russia had to be funded by the American embassy.

The Bloc Québécois is proud to recognize the outstanding work of this artist in this House, and I would like to take this opportunity to once again condemn the Conservatives' cuts to funding that enables our artists to have an impact abroad.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, with an ever growing unemployment rate of 6.6% and with monthly job losses in the thousands, now is the time to expand the employment insurance program. Unfortunately, in Tuesday's budget the government only offered half measures and not one additional worker will become eligible for EI benefits.

Canada's social safety net is supposed to help families when they fall. Sadly, too many of them are falling through the growing cracks.

For the sake of workers in Nickel Belt and across the country, it is imperative that the government make sweeping changes to employment insurance. The two-week waiting period should be eliminated. The number of hours required to qualify for benefits should be reduced. Benefits should be improved.

The government has missed its opportunity to protect working families affected by the recession and the Leader of the Opposition has decided to sell out the jobless in exchange for propping up the government.

Gary Tinker Federation for the DisabledStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to tell you about a remarkable resident in my constituency, Mr. Gary Tinker of Pinehouse Lake, Saskatchewan.

Nearly 20 years ago Mr. Tinker, who suffers from cerebral palsy, completed a 650 kilometre walk from La Ronge to Regina on crutches. This inspired the formation of the Gary Tinker Federation for the Disabled.

This federation is a non-profit career services and advocacy group. It has a proud record of 19 years of continued success and positive impact on the lives of individuals living with a disability in northern Saskatchewan, their families and communities. The federation is dedicated to levelling the playing field of services and employability for the disabled in northern Saskatchewan.

Gary Tinker is an inspiration to us all. It is an honour to pay tribute to him today for his continuing and tireless efforts on behalf of the disabled and to congratulate him on the 20th anniversary of his famous walk to raise awareness for the unmet needs of the disabled in northern Saskatchewan. Mr. Tinker invites everyone to join him this September in celebrating this milestone event, the next chapter of his ongoing mission.

Sri LankaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the civil war in Sri Lanka has placed civilian population in danger. Over 300,000 innocent people are in harm's way. They are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

The United Nations and the European Union have called on the government of Sri Lanka to ensure the safety of civilians and the humanitarian workers who are trying to provide the necessities of life.

Sri Lankan-Canadians are worried about their loved ones. They have asked the Conservative government to take a stand. When will the government do more than just issue press releases and take the required action which is needed immediately in order to protect innocent people of Sri Lanka?

It is time that the government quits labelling people, especially the Tamils in Canada, and works with the diasporas and international agencies to ensure that civilians in Sri Lanka are protected and provided with much needed humanitarian relief.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the hon. member for Welland suggested our multi-year action plan for Canada's future would somehow not benefit his constituents.

I believe it is important to set the record straight so that people in the Niagara region know that their government is taking action to ensure a productive and prosperous future.

Our action plan includes extending work-sharing agreements. We are investing in training, delivered through the EI program, to help people develop new skills for today's workforce.

We are investing in knowledge infrastructure, with a plan to help universities like Brock, which is in the ridings of Welland and St. Catharines. Our budget is aimed at creating jobs and getting people back to work.

I know we have made a budget that would benefit St. Catharines and all the Niagara region. Three of the four members from Niagara are supporting this economic plan. I would simply ask the fourth to do likewise.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the citizens in the riding of Louis-Hébert and the Quebec City area were waiting for concrete measures from the Conservative government. After reading the budget, we must unfortunately conclude that they will have to go on waiting.

The Quebec bridge file continues to drag on. We are still waiting for action on the Super PEPS stadium. No commitment has been made with regard to the relocation of federal public servants. There is no clear support for the construction of a high-speed rail line from Quebec City.

The Conservative budget does not address Quebec priorities, nor the important priorities of the Quebec City area, and does nothing for the riding of Louis-Hébert.

Sri LankaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, Canada is deeply concerned by the civilian casualties caused by the continued fighting between the government forces and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

We call on all parties in this conflict to end the violence, to allow full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers, and to ensure the safe and voluntary movement of civilians from the combat zones.

The Government of Canada further calls upon the government of Sri Lanka to start building confidence measures to ensure Tamil aspirations are met through peaceful engagement and inclusion within the democratic process.

The root cause of this conflict must be addressed to ensure the return of peace. The Government of Canada, therefore, calls upon all Sri Lankan citizens, Sinhalese, Tamil and others, to work together to build a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka.

Daniel PoliquinStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak about the retirement in December of an outstanding parliamentary interpreter, Daniel Poliquin. I was unable to pay tribute to him when he retired because of an unfortunate proroguing of Parliament. Therefore, I would like to do so now.

We all know Daniel for his work, often difficult work, in this place over the past 18 years. However, Daniel has also made a name for himself as an author.

Daniel was twice a finalist for the Governor General's literary prize. In 2004, he was made a member of the Order of Canada and in 2006, the University of Ottawa awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Daniel, I hope you will enjoy your retirement to the fullest and that you will spoil us with other tales for our reading pleasure.

On behalf of all the House, we thank Mr. Poliquin for allowing us to be understood when we perhaps were not quite clear.

Consumer Product SafetyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, today our Conservative government has introduced the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, which will modernize and strengthen the legislation on product safety in Canada.

Our government attaches a vital importance to the protection and promotion of the health of Canadian families and communities. Canadians need to be able to have faith in the consumer products they purchase.

I am proud to say that our government is taking steps to improve the safety of products Canadians buy for themselves and their children. We ask the opposition to support the bill and help us protect all Canadians.

CN RailStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it has recently come to my attention that the management at the Canadian National Railway car plant in my riding of Elmwood—Transcona has decided not to replace two large Canadian flags that have been on display in the plant for the last 10 years.

The flags were removed for a cleanup last year and were deliberately not replaced. The American manager has refused to replace the Canadian flags that the workers had in their work area, while prominently displaying both the Canadian and the American Stars and Stripes in his own office.

I invite the Prime Minister to join with me and share the cost of two new large Canadian flags to donate, on behalf of Parliament, to Canadian National Railway to display in the Transcona railway shops to continue the Canadian workers' proud tradition of patriotism.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

January 29th, 2009 / 2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government's economic action plan includes a $50 million investment in foreign credentials recognition. This will build on the initiatives our government has already brought forward to help new Canadians including the 320 Service Canada centres across this great country.

Many newcomers who come to Canada quickly learn that their qualifications are not recognized in the province in which they settle, thus preventing them from contributing fully to our economic development.

Since the granting of credentials is regulated at the provincial level, our government is encouraged by the commitment of first ministers to work on a common framework to recognize foreign credentials by September of 2009.

With immigration accounting for a larger share of our labour market growth, it is important that the federal and provincial governments work together to ensure that foreign credentials are properly recognized.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's budget does not reflect the needs of young middle class families. For example, do they think they have achieved any sort of balance when a family with an income of $150,000 will be entitled to a tax reduction of $350, while one with an income of $40,000 will receive $148? And do they really think they are encouraging people to buy their first home by offering a tax credit of up to $750, knowing what the average costs involved in buying a home are?

An analysis of this budget clearly shows that it contains no concrete measures to meet the needs of young families, and even less so if one member of that family loses his or her job and cannot qualify for employment insurance.

With it, the Conservative government, backed by the Liberals, is showing how it has neglected low-income families in a time of recession.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has failed cities and communities right across Canada. Nearly $8 billion, the highest level in recent years, was promised but not spent by the government. In the midst of an economic crisis with job cuts hitting every community in Canada, the government says one thing, but consistently and continuously fails to get the money out the door. Thousands of jobs have disappeared while the government sat on almost 10% of its appropriated funds.

That is why the Prime Minister is on probation. Canadians are rightfully cynical that Tuesday's budget commitments will never find their way to building the roads, bridges and sewage facilities that our communities, like Guelph, desperately need.

The government has consistently demonstrated an unwillingness to do what it says. That is why the Liberals are enforcing accountability on the budget's implementation and its costs.

Either the money gets out the door, or the Conservative government will be shown the door.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economic action plan contains a number of important economic stimulus measures that will assist homeowners wishing to renovate and first time home buyers.

The home buyers plan will now allow first time home buyers to withdraw $25,000, $50,000 for couples, from their own retirement savings to purchase or construct a new home. The new first time home buyers tax credit will save new home buyers up to $750 on closing costs when buying a new home The new home renovation tax credit will provide tax relief for home renovation costs and will save Canadian families up to $1,350 on their 2009 taxes.

The Minister of Finance invited the public and members of Parliament from all parties to make recommendations for his 2009 budget. I am pleased he accepted my recommendation to update the borrowing limits for the home buyers plan to reflect the challenges faced by first time home buyers.

TradeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the stimulus package just passed by the U.S. Congress includes protectionist clauses that are harmful to Canada. The U.S. bill states that none of the funds made available by this act may be used for a project “--unless all of the iron and steel used in such project is produced in the United States”.

What does this country have an embassy in Washington for if the government cannot prevent protectionism language creeping into the package?

TradeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the last time I looked the United States Congress was independent of embassies. However, this is obviously a serious matter and of serious concern to us.

I spoke to our ambassador about it yesterday and I know that countries around the world are expressing grave concern about some of these measures that go against not just the obligations of the United States but, frankly, the spirit of our G20 discussions.

We will be having these discussions with our friends in the United States and we expect the United States to respect its international obligations.

TradeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have the same concerns about the passive approach that the government has taken when it comes to aid to the auto sector.

What action is the government taking in Washington to ensure that Congress and the auto companies do not end up working together to suck auto sector jobs out of Canada?

TradeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this is precisely why in December the Premier of Ontario and I made it clear that we are working together and working with our colleagues in both the outgoing and now the incoming administration to ensure that we are on the same page in terms of helping the auto sector and to ensure that we bring our share of any restructuring package to the table and preserve those jobs in Canada.

It is precisely what we are doing. We are doing it in lockstep. Our officials talk daily to their counterparts in the United States and we have a great partner in the Government of Ontario in this endeavour.