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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

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government continues to honour the Atlantic accords. The member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte is referring to that I assume.

What the government is also doing though is ensuring that we control the rate of growth of equalization, and I made this clear to the finance ministers on November 3 so they could plan their budgets ahead of time. This is fundamentally important so the program is affordable for Canadians. It was growing on average at 15% per year. In a recession, as I am sure the member opposite can appreciate, that is not realistic.

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, this is not about the GDP cap. This is about the O'Brien panel, which actually recommended a 50% withholding on non-renewable natural resource revenue. That is the source of what is costing my province $1.5 billion.

I would like to hear the finance minister confirm, yes or no, Premier Rodney MacDonald's statement that a side deal has been cut with his province. Is Premier Rodney MacDonald telling the truth, yes or no? Is a similar side deal available to the people of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador?

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there are no side deals. The accords are being followed.

As the Premier of Nova Scotia indicated, he is comfortable with the reality that no province would get less in 2009-10. This is not news. This was discussed publicly on November 3, 2008, and we have kept that commitment to the province of Nova Scotia, as the premier has acknowledged.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador will receive $1.2 billion in offset payments between 2009-10 and 2011-12, and this is even—

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Honoré-Mercier.

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not have the reputation of keeping his promises. He has shown that once again, this time on the topic of equalization.

However, he should know that in a federation, he has to create trust and respect his partners. The Prime Minister went back on his word by unilaterally changing the way equalization is calculated.

And so the question is: How can we have confidence in him today or tomorrow when he so easily goes back on his word?

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the member opposite knows, transfers are not being cut. In fact, the transfers this year from the Government of Canada to the provinces will be in excess of $50 billion.

Equalization itself has grown more than 50% since 2003-04. These are major transfers to the provinces. Unlike the official opposition, we will not reduce transfers for health care. We will not reduce transfers for the CST for colleges and universities. We will not fight this recession on the backs of the provinces, universities—

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Honoré-Mercier.

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister takes action, he must always keep social peace and national unity in mind. He must never, for personal gain, provoke conflict with the provinces or pit one province against another.

By going back on his word, the Prime Minister did not live up to our expectations of him. The Premier of Newfoundland is talking about a slap in the face while the Premier of Quebec is talking about unilateral federalism.

I want to understand. Insulting premiers, going back on his word and going after certain provinces, is that his idea of open federalism?

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I commend to the member opposite the section on equalization in the budget. It is at page 189 and the subsequent pages. He should look at the chart on page 35 and look at the remarkable increases in equalization payments and transfers to the provinces.

This is a wonderful book. It is a great read in the evenings. I commend it to the member opposite. He will be edified by reading it.

Genome CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite what the Minister of State just said, the Conservative budget says nothing about the government's intentions regarding Genome Canada.

I have here a CP wire story that came out at noon today reporting that Genome Canada has announced to its European partners that, for lack of federal funding, it must withdraw from some of this year's projects. The question is simple. Will the government continue to fund Genome Canada this year and in years to come, yes or no?

Genome CanadaOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology)

Mr. Speaker, as I have already mentioned, Genome Canada has two five year contracts. It is in year three of those five year contracts. It is receiving $106 million this year and $108 million next year. In fact, it has the funding to carry it through to March 2013. The member needs to get his facts correct.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, since 1978, the federal government has known that the water table that provides water to the residents of Shannon is contaminated with TCE, and it has not done the right thing. This is an unspeakable scandal, and the federal government must answer for its negligence and take responsibility immediately.

Will the Minister of National Defence acknowledge his responsibility and offer the aggrieved citizens fair financial compensation?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the department continues to work with the city of Quebec, the community of Shannon, the province of Quebec and various federal departments.

This problem does go back to the year 2000. We understand there are obligations that will be met. Valcartier is continuing to provide potable water to the community as we speak. Upwards of $19 million have been spent with respect to this issue. We continue to work to address this issue and the presence of TCE in the water in the region.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, with Liberal support, the Conservatives' budget will exacerbate social inequalities by attacking women's rights and making pay equity a negotiable right. It comes as no surprise that the only time women are mentioned in the budget is in the preliminary note in the French version, which states that the use of the masculine gender includes both women and men.

How can the minister explain this setback for women's rights? Does he think that his ideology is more important than rights?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, what I do not understand from the member is why she believes that women will have to wait 15 years in order to resolve pay equity complaints.

It has been clear from a task force that the Liberals put forward in 2004 that there needs to be a proactive system of resolving pay equity complaints.

The government is committed to that. We simply do not believe that women should have to wait 15 years in order to have these complaints resolved.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in this Liberal-supported budget, the Conservative government has announced that it will introduce legislation to ensure the predictability of federal public sector compensation during this difficult economic period.

Does this mean that the government intends to tear up the collective agreements it signed with its employees and force them to accept new, non-negotiated salary conditions?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, many of the public sector unions realize the difficult situation that Canada is in as a result of the global recession. I believe the unions have taken a responsible attitude toward their collective agreements and the settlements they have entered into with the Government of Canada.

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

January 29th, 2009 / 2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to nuclear safety, public confidence in the government is dwindling day by day. The government did not tell the public about two leaks at the Chalk River facility. We are tired of asking for reports.

Can the minister tell the public, today, why the cause of the radioactive leaks remains unknown?

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned about the issue raised in the media regarding the Chalk River facility. This Conservative government always has the health and safety of Canadians as its priority concern.

Indeed, today, the CNSC, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, has assured me that there is no leak into the Ottawa River, but I still asked for a report from the officials in my department, as well as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, to get to the bottom of this.

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, if the government is concerned about the health and safety of Canadians, it has a strange way of showing it: keeping the public in the dark about radioactive spills, dodging responsibility and serving up non-answers. Such behaviour only adds to the mistrust of Canadians for the government.

Why do reporters appear to know more about this nuclear safety breech than the department, the minister and, apparently, the Prime Minister?

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated to the House before, I was informed there were difficulties at the Chalk River facility on December 6. However, I was not aware of some of the details that have subsequently come to light. That is why we have asked the department officials as well as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to get to the bottom of this and to report their results to me. I look forward to that report.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, on November 15, 2007, the transport minister held a $50 million photo op for the Ottawa Congress Centre expansion but no money flowed.

Again on September 5 last year, on the verge of the last election, the minister held another photo op and forgot to bring his wallet.

I understand that this morning both the minister and the Prime Minister showed up for their photos. Would the minister please tell us whether they bothered to bring a cheque this time?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are excited to be partners with the Province of Ontario for the Ottawa Congress Centre expansion.

I was very pleased to join the Prime Minister and see the literally hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs that are being created by this $160 million project.

I asked the man appointed by Dalton McGuinty to head up this project if he was he satisfied with all the support he was getting from the federal government, and he said yes.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's department confirms that only $80 million of the $1.5 billion allocated for the building Canada fund has actually left federal coffers. That is five cents on every dollar promised. The minister brags about projects that are piled on his desk. That is precisely the problem. Municipalities are ready to get to work and his government will not let them get out of the gate.

When will the minister stop with the meaningless photo ops and get the cheques into the hands of the communities that need them?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this government was very pleased to support the Canada Line that goes through guess who's riding? The member for Vancouver Quadra. We are working tremendously well with the Government of British Columbia on the west coast. Together, we will create a lot of jobs, a lot of hope and a lot of opportunity. This government is committed to working hard and getting the job done.