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House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, the essence of the question was what has changed lately to result in this non-confidence motion. In 50 seconds I can hardly do that justice but let me mention a few things very quickly.

The government revealed that its deficit was not going to be $50 billion but was going to be $56 billion, that it was going to last for six years and that the total damage was going to be $170 billion.

The government also announced, or revealed, maybe inadvertently, that it is going to be imposing a $13 billion employment insurance payroll tax increase which it had previously denied it would do.

We also received further and greater information about the failure in infrastructure delivery. The government is claiming 80% or 90% of projects actually delivered, but when we talk to the very municipalities across the country, the vast majority of them say that the delivery rate is more like 12% to 15%.

That is what has changed, among a lot of other things.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I am proud to participate in this debate on the Liberal motion, a motion of non-confidence in this Conservative government.

When listening to my leader's speech on the non-confidence motion, he said something that really resonated with me and I know that it will really resonate with thousands of Canadians and Quebeckers. He said that in the eyes of the Conservatives, adversaries are enemies and that this Conservative government and all Conservative members currently sitting in this House have demonstrated, over the past four years, that they lack the moral courage to tell Canadians and Quebeckers the truth.

Let me give an example. I was a member of the employment insurance group that tried to work over the summer. This group consisted of two Conservative members—the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, the Liberal critic for human resources and skills development, and myself, the Deputy House Leader. Three weeks passed before we had our technical briefing. We asked for it right away, but the Conservatives told us that the parliamentary secretary was on holidays and that the planned briefing meeting for the two Liberals had to be postponed. There was a third Liberal, our chief political advisor. Thus, we agreed to postpone this meeting to accommodate the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary.

We finally had our first briefing meeting. We also submitted the Liberal proposal for making employment insurance more equitable, and for ensuring that hundreds of thousands of Canadians who lose their jobs in these tough economic times have access to employment insurance. I am talking about people who have worked and paid their employment insurance premiums. We explained that, according to our calculations, a single national threshold of 360 hours would cost $1.5 billion.

For months, the Conservatives kept saying, here in this House and to the public, that the Liberal proposal of 360 hours was 45 days of work for one year of employment insurance benefits. They kept saying the same thing over and over again knowing that it was not true, but they kept repeating it. We asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer to analyze the government's estimate. The government said that the 360-hour national eligibility threshold for employment insurance benefits would cost Canadians $4 billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer did an independent analysis both of the Liberal proposal and of the costing and methodology that the Conservatives used. I will quote exactly what the Parliamentary Budget Officer said in his report tabled on September 9, 2009.

PBO calculations show that the Government’s own estimate of the static cost of the proposed 360-hour national standard is $1.148 billion (including administrative costs).

I will repeat that. The Parliamentary Budget Officer's calculations show that the government's own estimate of the static cost of the proposed 360-hour national standard is $1.148 billion, including administrative costs. In the opinion of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the $1.148 billion estimate is a reasonable estimate of the cost of the proposed 360-hour national standard of EI.

Last, the government's total cost estimate in excess of $4 billion presented on August 6 is not consistent with the proposed 360-hour national standard. Why? Because the government included all kinds of people who were not included in the Liberal proposal.

What does the government do? Does the government show moral courage and say, “We got it wrong. We inflated the numbers. We did it in good faith but our numbers were inflated almost four times the actual cost of the Liberal 360-hour proposal”? No, it has continued, in this House, to spout the same mistruth, bogus numbers. It is in black and white.

This is an example of a government and its members who are prepared to say anything in order to advance their own partisan interests.

With respect to the NDP, my goodness, I am someone who grew up admiring the NDP. Some of my heroes are the original founders of the CCF and then of the NDP. We hear the NDP members in their sanctimonious way claim that the reason they are going to prop up this incompetent, self-serving Conservative government is that the EI measures contained in Bill C-50 are so crucial and so important, and will help so many unemployed, that they are ready to put aside the 79 times they said they had no confidence in the government and prop up the government. Is that not interesting?

The government brought down a budget just a few months ago. In that budget, there was over $5 billion in employment insurance measures. The NDP voted against it. The NDP voted for an election and if the NDP had gotten what it wanted, namely an election last spring, there would be hundreds of thousands of unemployed Canadians who would not be benefiting from that $5 billion.

They are settling for measures that will not help seasonal workers, that will not help unemployed workers who work in industries where there are periodic layoffs, that will not help women who have had children and are re-entering the workforce. That does not matter to the NDP.

I would like to hear what the NDP members are going to say to those hundreds of thousands of workers who do not benefit from the measures in Bill C-50. How are they going to explain that they are now prepared to prop up the Conservative government knowing that the government does not tell the truth, knowing that the government fudges the numbers, knowing that the government puts out bogus numbers to hoodwink Canadians? How are they going to explain that?

How do the Conservatives explain that they are prepared, day after day, to repeat the same untruths?

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, it is interesting to feel the love between the former coalition partners who actually signed an agreement to work together to manage the economy of this country through a very difficult time.

The former speaker asked us to explain some things. I would like to ask my colleagues across the way to explain the difference between accusing us of spending too much money and taking us into deficit, yet at the same time accusing us of “starving the beast”, as their leader did this morning, or in other words, cutting back on government spending. These two things cannot be put in the same speech and yet they were many times today.

I would like her to respond to that.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I suggest that the member read the speech given by the leader of the official opposition. He will find his answers there.

I have a few statements to make to him.

I would like him to explain why he and his colleagues continue to repeat bogus numbers, numbers that the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is as respected as the Auditor General, an independent official, has said were not correct in regard to the government's figure of $4 billion for the Liberal proposal of benefits for a 45 day work year. Notwithstanding that the Conservatives were told in a written report that what they have been saying was not true, they continue to repeat it day after day.

I would like each one of those 140-something Conservatives to get up and explain to Canadians why they continue to repeat a lie.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a simple question for the Liberal member who just spoke.

Why is she so enthusiastic about the $1.4 billion cost of the 360-hour standard, yet she has completely forgotten about the $57 billion—$57,000 million—that has been taken from unemployed workers and the regions, including my riding of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine? How can she be so carried away by $1.5 billion and not even mention the $57 billion that has been purloined from the regions and the unemployed?

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Just a few minutes ago, the hon. member across the way accused every member on this side of the House of a lie. I suggest that is unparliamentary language and I would request that she retract that.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I did not hear that specific comment put that way. I will have to review Hansard and perhaps call on the member if necessary to respond.

I ask the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine to answer the question she was asked.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, may I first respond to that point of order? Perhaps you could rule right away.

What I said was that the—

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I would ask the hon. member to answer the question first. If need be, she can respond to the member's point of order.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, do you want me to answer my Bloc colleague's question first and then respond to the point of order that was raised? All right.

At the time, on the recommendation of the Auditor General of Canada in the 1980s, employment insurance contributions were paid into our government's general revenue accounts. These payments increased revenues. There were social programs, infrastructure and so on.

In 1993, the Liberal government was faced with a $42 billion deficit left by the Conservatives, just as today they are leaving us with who knows how big—

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The time for questions has expired. I would therefore ask whether there is a response to the member's point of order.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

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

The Conservative member stated that I had said people were lying.

Effectively, I said the Conservatives have been going around saying that the Liberal 360-hour single standard for EI eligibility would cost Canadian taxpayers over $4 billion. I said the Parliamentary Budget Officer did an analysis and clearly stated that the Liberal proposal would cost $1.148 billion.

I then said that for the Conservatives, after the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report and conclusion, to continue to state, as they have been doing, that our proposal would be $4 billion is, to repeat, a lie day after day after day. If the Speaker rules that that is unparliamentary, I will apologize.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I think that what we have here is a debate on the facts more than an actual point of order.

On another point of order, the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

With all due respect, Madam Speaker, earlier today you requested that the members of the House reduce the temperature and listen to each other respectfully. We agreed with that.

Here is a member who has used the unparliamentary term “lie”. I respect your judgment, Madam Speaker, but I request that you ask the member to withdraw that unparliamentary language. It is clearly unparliamentary and I ask for action.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I have heard enough from both sides and I would like to resume the debate.

The hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

October 1st, 2009 / 12:45 p.m.

New Brunswick Southwest New Brunswick

Conservative

Greg Thompson ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs

Madam Speaker, I am going to attempt to lower the temperature. We will get back on track in terms of our debate and hopefully it will be an uninterrupted few minutes.

Before I begin, I want to inform you, Madam Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with the member for Yellowhead or possibly the Minister of Health. The minister is not in the House yet, but the member for Yellowhead is prepared to proceed if the Minister of Health does not arrive in time.

I want to begin by speaking about yesterday in the province of New Brunswick. I am going to digress a little bit, but yesterday was a historic day in New Brunswick. As members from New Brunswick know, we installed a new lieutenant governor in the province. It was a great event because we now have the first aboriginal lieutenant governor in the province of New Brunswick in our proud 225 year history. As everyone knows, that person is Graydon Nicholas.

It was an honour to be there yesterday with all those others who were gathered for this historic event. As many of us know, Mr. Nicholas is a man of great character. Those of us from New Brunswick who know him will say as much. He is a man of great intellect and humility, and that showed yesterday in his speech before the gathered audience. Madam Speaker, as you well know, the premier was there.

One of the reasons why I wanted to mention this event is simply because being there and giving a speech on behalf of the Government of Canada during that ceremony made it one of the greatest days in my political life, to be very honest. It was a very generous day and the generosity of New Brunswickers really showed. It was a historic day for New Brunswick and a historic day, in a sense, for me. I was very honoured to give that speech on behalf of the Government of Canada.

We are in a minority Parliament and surprises happen in a minority Parliament. It was made possible only because two of my colleagues on the other side of the House looked upon this event as something that they wanted to attend. They wanted to be there and allowed me to pair with them, which allowed me to be there, very honestly. Otherwise, I would not have been there. I want to identify those two members of Parliament: the Liberal member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe and the NDP member for Acadie—Bathurst.

All three of us were very honoured to be there. That is the type of cooperation that makes this place work. That is the type of cooperation that we expect across the country with our provincial partners to allow our stimulus package to work. We are not in this alone. We are in this with the municipalities and the provinces. The only ones who are not with us are those people over there. I cannot understand that. It just does not make any sense. As they say down south, it does not make a lick of sense, and it does not.

Let me go through some of what has been said by one of our strongest critics over there, the member for Parkdale—High Park. He is trying to make a fight out of the money that has gone to my home province of New Brunswick, suggesting that it was not a fair distribution of money. That is where we really take exception to what he is saying. He has implied, for example, that our government in the province of New Brunswick, again partnering with the province of New Brunswick, was wrong to invest a combined $46.8 million in the Port of Belledune.

One only has to be a resident of New Brunswick, regardless of living in the north or south, to realize the potential of this port. What would be wrong with this investment? There is nothing wrong with it. The only reason he takes exception to it is because he says that it is in a Conservative riding.

The artificial political boundary that exists in and around Belledune and Bathurst, and the member forAcadie—Bathurst will say this, is the result of the Liberal gerrymandering back a number of years ago to try to create these boundaries in favour of their candidates versus those from some other party.

If they go talk to the member for Acadie—Bathurst, who is an NDP member of Parliament, he will say, without a doubt, that he is one of the biggest supporters of this project, because that is the project that is important to him.

Talk to Rayburn Doucette, a former cabinet minister in the Province of New Brunswick, a Liberal cabinet minister. This is the most important project in his life as manager of that port. More importantly, talk to the premier of the province of New Brunswick who said that this is a transformational project in northern New Brunswick.

We did it for the right reasons. We did it for the people of the province of New Brunswick. This member of Parliament is from the big city of Toronto, and there is nothing wrong with big cities, but I do not think he understands New Brunswick and how we work together to get things done. I am not sure how he does it in his political world, but we work together to get things done in New Brunswick. That is just one example.

I was in the House when the Leader of the Opposition spoke this morning. This is important. This is where the boys and girls on the other side of the aisle might start shouting me down. When the Leader of the Opposition got up today to speak, he started out by asking what we get for this stimulus spending, code word deficit spending. What are we getting?

I wonder where the Leader of the Opposition has been for the last six months. We know where he has been for the last 35 years. He has been out of the country. I almost believe that for the last six months he has been out of the country. He checked out of the hotel early.

We know what we have been doing. The people of New Brunswick, and I am speaking particularly of New Brunswick in this case, know what we are doing back home. We know what we are doing in Ontario. I will focus mostly on New Brunswick. We can focus on other provinces, which I am sure the member for Nunavut and the member for Yellowhead, depending on which one rises following my speech, will do when they get up to talk.

They go into the nitpicky little things such as criticizing us, for example, for having three environment ministers in four years. Well, those folks over there have had five leaders in five years. They cannot get their act together. There is internal squabbling within the party now, as we well know.

Basically what they are attempting to do now is force Canadians into an election that we do not need and that Canadians do not want. It is that simple. Why do it?

No one can figure it out. Their own members cannot figure it out. They were about 15 bodies short last night for the vote, and they will probably be about 12 to 15 bodies short for a vote tonight. They simply do not have their act together.

We are getting rave reviews across the country and from the world. Basically every think tank, every political party and every government in any other part of the universe is saying we are handling this worldwide recession better than any country they live or work in. In other words, in comparison to those other nations, we are doing the best, full stop, no question about that.

What would Canada gain by having an election? The truth is nothing. We do not need it. We do not want it.

We are going to come into the House tonight and vote against that motion. There will be at least one other party in this House that is going to vote against it, too, because they have an interest in helping the unemployed who do need help. They have an interest in building the economies of these provinces and regions within our country which need that type of help.

The support we are providing is the difference between moving out of a recession or staying in one. If we get mired in the type of recessions that we have seen in the past because of very ill-advised policies, Canada will go nowhere.

We are leading the world on this, and we will lead out of this ahead of all the other countries simply because of the leadership of the Prime Minister, our caucus members, our cabinet ministers and particularly the Minister of Finance.

We are proud of what we are doing. We are just going to continue doing it with the help of the intelligent people on the other side of the House who are prepared to stand in their places tonight and support the Government of Canada.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always interesting to hear my colleague, with whom I have worked very well on veterans' issues, talk about confidence and all kinds of things.

I would like to know how we could possibly have confidence in a government that inherited a $13 billion surplus, did not invest it in infrastructure, did not invest it in people, scattered it all over the country wherever it thought it could get votes, and now we turn around and we have a $56.6 billion deficit that will be left to his children, his grandchildren and ours. How could we possibly have confidence in a government that is simply throwing money around left, right and centre all over this country? For almost four years we have been standing here holding up that party so we could try to make this country work, so that we could ensure that Canadians were being served. Clearly they were not being served and we have reached a point where we no longer can manage to hold the government up.

How could we possibly have confidence in the government, regardless of all of the squabbles it talks about? We know that it has not done the job that it was supposed to do and so we are bringing that issue to the forefront today.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Madam Speaker, this is the typical hypocrisy of the Liberals. Of course, I am not referring to the member who just spoke. We have a very good relationship with her as critic of veterans affairs and me as minister. She does a good job as critic.

However, in terms of economic policy and where the Liberal Party is going, some of the lines that it uses make no sense. On the one hand the Liberals are saying spend more money, and then on the other hand in the same conversation they say they are concerned about the deficit.

I think our track record in comparison to that of the other countries of the world speaks for itself. We are moving out of the recession more quickly simply because we have managed through this better than any other country in the world. That is simply because of the government of the day. We are focused on doing it. We know what we have to do and we are getting the job done.

Again, the Liberals cannot have it both ways. They cannot say--

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I heard the member for Wascana this morning speak about how terrible it was that the deficit was going to be bigger than he thought. I was wondering how he could make statements like that when just months ago he was demanding a huge amount of infrastructure money to be approved and out the door almost immediately and said that perhaps even that was not enough spending. Then to turn around immediately after that and criticize the government for a deficit is just really hard to understand.

I wonder whether the member could deal with some of those issues, because I did not hear him speak about that in his presentation.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Madam Speaker, I think that point is worth making and emphasizing. Again, it is the Liberals' attempt to have it both ways. They criticize us for not doing something, and when we do it, they criticize us again. In other words if we are spending they criticize us, and if we are not they criticize us.

It is not a very credible argument, but that is typical of their position, because they simply do not have their act together. They do not have their act together within their own political party and they do not actually have any policies. For example, if an election were triggered, what would be the ballot question in the election? What would be the question?

The Liberals have no policies based on which people can actually say that their plan is better than our plan. In other words, we are comparing two documents. The problem is we have a document Canadians can look at, and it is actually working. They do not have a plan.

What would they actually be campaigning on in the next election? Would it be change for the sake of change, or would they want an election because no one else in Canada wants one, and therefore we should have one? There is no logic to anything they are talking about.

However, I think the member has really hit the nail on the head. The Liberals attempt to talk out of both sides of their mouth, and they do not see anything wrong with that. If they have to flip-flop on a policy today, they will do it. We often say, if they have to swallow themselves whole on any given day as a result of something they did the day before, no problem, they will do it. They swallow themselves whole every day.

Eventually their new leader, and they have had five leaders in five years, had better watch his step because he will be gone too.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to support our economic action plan and our government's support for the Canadian north. In addition to my health portfolio, I am fortunate to have responsibility as regional minister for the three territories including my home riding of Nunavut. I am proud to work with the Prime Minister who has shown unprecedented commitment to Canada's Arctic. It was my pleasure to host him and our cabinet colleagues in Iqaluit this summer.

Federal support for the territories is at an all-time high and it will continue to grow. For Nunavut this means $1.1 billion in 2009-10, an increase of $125 million from last year and over $286 million since 2005-06. Our economic action plan includes important measures for northerners, building on their strengths and helping them address the challenges that they face. These measures include infrastructure projects such as roads and water and sewer system upgrades across the north; reduction in taxes and freezing of employment insurance rates; actions to stimulate housing construction; improved access to financing and support for businesses; an enhancement to employment insurance, and more funding for skills and training.

In Nunavut alone, we are providing the people and businesses with a tax relief of $13.9 million over the next five years. The new renovation tax credit will provide up to $1,350 per homeowner, which will benefit Nunavut homeowners by up to $1.9 million over the next two years.

Nunavut is also benefiting from targeted investments including $17 million to accelerate the construction of the Pangnirtung small craft harbour; $100 million to support renovation and the construction of new social housing units; a share of the $140 million for northern economic development programs; and a share of $87 million to maintain and upgrade Arctic research facilities.

This list is long, but I would like to focus on a couple of the economic action plan initiatives that are important to me, the first in my regional capacity and the second as Canada's health minister. Our Arctic research infrastructure fund provides $85 million to maintain or upgrade key Arctic research facilities. This funding complements our government's commitment to a world-class high Arctic research station and allows research facilities in the north to be reinvigorated. The program is being implemented by organizations that operate at existing research facilities in the north, and it is providing economic stimulus and creating jobs there.

Let me put on my health minister's hat for a moment. I am proud of our government's commitment to protecting the health and well-being of first nations people and Inuit. A month ago in Winnipeg, it was my great pleasure to announce details of $135 million for new construction and the renovation of health service infrastructure in first nations communities across Canada. This investment means new refurbished health centres and nurses residences for many of the remote and isolated first nations communities that are serviced by Health Canada, and this will provide immediate economic benefit by creating employment opportunities in those areas. This funding supports more than 40 projects involving new construction of health services infrastructure and approximately 230 renovations of existing infrastructure.

Our economic action plan also commits another $305 million over two years to strengthen first nations and Inuit health programs including $240 million to ensure that eligible first nations and Inuit continue to receive non-insured health benefits such as dental, vision care, medical transportation and access to a range of drugs not covered by other programs; and $65 million to ensure 24/7 availability of nursing services in the remote and isolated first nations communities serviced by Health Canada.

There is so much good work under way. Members of the House and all Canadians should be encouraged to take a look at the actionplan.gc.ca website and take stock of the great progress that has been achieved to date. There is so much more for us to take pride in. They should take a look at the project map that is available on the website and click on some of the icons marking projects that are scattered across the north.

In Nunavut, they will see things like construction of the new Taloyoak Hamlet office; funding for scientific and traditional research on polar bears and other wildlife in the region; new laboratories, storage space and research facilities for the sustained Arctic observing network and other scientific initiatives; and more.

In the Northwest Territories they will find details of both our progress on the underground utility corridor repair for the town of Norman Wells, water treatment plant renovations and other investment in research facilities, infrastructure and government buildings in Yellowknife and more.

Let us not forget Yukon, where there is new housing for seniors, more investment in Arctic research infrastructure, projects to enhance the safety and reliability of roads, and again there is more.

All Canadians also want our government and our country to maintain its focus on implementing the economic action plan so they can continue to see the benefits of lower taxes, better infrastructure, improved social housing, continued training for workers and assistance where and when it is needed.

I call on all the members of the House to listen to their constituents and support them and our government in “Staying On Course”, as our latest economic action plan report is titled, in leading Canada out of the recession.

Our government has earned the trust of northerners, like all Canadians, to help lead them through this difficult period in our global economy. Like those south of 60°, northerners do not want another federal election. Like all my colleagues in the House, I heard that loud and clear when travelling throughout Nunavut a few weeks ago, just as I have heard it loud and clear from across the country in recent weeks, as I work with the provinces and territories, first nations and Inuit, the medical community and other stakeholders to prepare for what may come with H1N1 this fall.

An election is the last thing Canadians want or need right now, for so many reasons. The only campaign that Canadians are interested in are immunization campaigns.

I appreciate the opportunity to present this on behalf of the northern territories.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the Minister of Health, who is of aboriginal descent. Perhaps we will finally get a response to our questions on two rather troubling decisions made by the government, decisions that I believe go against the interests of aboriginal peoples.

The minister listed some less than significant measures taken by the government. Could she tell us why the first action taken by the government—the Conservatives—when it took power was to cancel the Kelowna accord, which would have allocated $5 billion over five years to help aboriginal people build infrastructure and develop means to manage their own affairs?

I have another similar question. Could the Minister of Health, who is of aboriginal descent, and who I am sure sincerely wants to help her people, tell us why her government refused—it is now the only one—to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Conservative Nunavut, NU

Madam Speaker, Nunavut was created 10 years ago. As a northerner, I saw very little progress happening in the north, which is why I chose to run in the federal election to make a difference for northerners.

Much work remains to be done in the north as it relates to infrastructure, the implementation of our land claims agreement to deal with the transition of Nunavut's division to a new territory and our claim to Arctic sovereignty and so on. However, the government has done more for the Nunavut Territory than was done in the 13 years under the Liberal government. I lived through it. I was a deputy minister of a number of departments. I was also the finance and health minister in a territory, where we saw no progress.

In a short period of time, our government has invested an enormous amount of infrastructure dollars to help northerners and aboriginal people get the authority they need to maintain and develop their own territory.

Opposition Motion--Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, we are still looking forward very much to receiving the minister's report about the unfortunate incident of body bags being sent to northern and remote communities when those same communities do not have access to necessary flu supplies. The health committee has been waiting since Monday to receive her report.

However, if she does not have an answer today, I would like to ask her about why her government cut off benefits under the non-insured health benefit program, which is specifically designed to help people in northern and remote communities, first nations communities, people on reserves everywhere who need access to medical services in the city, for example, in the case of dialysis.

It used to be that federal governments took this responsibility seriously and helped cover transportation, housing and food costs for patients who needed to receive dialysis, no matter how long it was required. Now people are being cut off after three months and left to their own resources or to social assistance, which is, in effect, offloading it on to the provinces. Why and will she restore this program to the full extent that it was at previously?