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House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was recovery.

Topics

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, for months, senior economists have been saying that the government's deficit numbers are off the mark by billions of dollars and that we will be in a hole much longer than the Prime Minister is prepared to admit.

These economists assert that the government has led us back into a structural deficit, one that will persist long after the stimulus spending has been exhausted. Yesterday, in this House, the transport minister denied it, so I will ask the Prime Minister: Are we or are we not heading into a structural deficit?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course we are not, but I think the House would note that Canada's fiscal situation and the relative strength of our fiscal situation has been praised by experts around the world. In fact, I see today that on behalf of the country and on behalf of the government, Minister Flaherty is accepting an award for fiscal management. I think that is something that all Canadians will be proud of.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I think the Prime Minister was referring to the Minister of Finance and he will know that he must not refer to him by name like that, unless it is someone else he is talking about.

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, the winner of the brokerage award that year was Lehman Brothers.

What the Prime Minister is saying is that all the country's independent economists are wrong.

I therefore have this question for the Prime Minister: if he is so sure of his figures, why does he not want to give the Parliamentary Budget Officer appropriate funding so that he can conduct an independent assessment of the current status of this country's public finances for Canadians?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is this government that created the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. He works independently, but as I just said, the Minister of Finance is accepting an award today on behalf of the government for sound fiscal management. That is something the world recognizes. Everyone in Canada should be proud of our fiscal performance.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, on another subject, Suaad Mohamud is a Canadian citizen who was wronged and abandoned by her government.

Yesterday, the parliamentary secretary told the House that her case did not reach the political level but that contradicts the Prime Minister's own assertion that he found out about it around August 10. However, email traffic, we found out, makes it clear that as of July 1 media lines were being prepared by the Prime Minister's Office for the Prime Minister himself.

Could the Prime Minister please tell us who is telling the truth--

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to deal with the member's comment on the Lehman Brothers. It always pains the Leader of the Opposition to say anything good about this country. Canada has a strong fiscal performance that he and everyone else should recognize, just as the world does.

On the case in question, I have been very clear. There are thousands of consular cases. It is extremely rare for the Prime Minister to become personally involved in a consular case. I did in early August. I asked that Ms. Mohamud be brought back to Canada and she was.

The media asked me for the first time sometime after that. He asked me for the first time today.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think Canadians want the Prime Minister to be concerned about Canadians.

Access to information documents tell us that the Prime Minister knew on July 1, not August 18, about Suaad's problems.

The communications director for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, at 8:57 in the morning, in an email marked urgent, said:

“I need lines for the PM right away.”

Seventeen minutes later she repeated, “Lines for the Prime Minister, please”.

Is the Prime Minister telling us today that he did not receive this briefing, that he was not paying attention or that he just did not care about Canadians' safety?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister just answered that question from the Leader of the Opposition. He should listen very carefully to what the Prime Minister said.

He said that the Government of Canada receives thousands of consular cases every day. Not every day, but in fact for every one minute there are three requests for assistance and most of these cases do not reach the political level.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Can you believe this, Mr. Speaker? We are talking about a Canadian who was brought to the attention of the Prime Minister but neither he nor the Minister of Foreign Affairs are interested in responding today.

Ms. Hagi spent more than two months at the mercy of the Kenyan courts and yet, according to ATIP documents, members of the Prime Minister's staff were vetting all media lines from as early as June 5. Those same documents confirm a meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs, his officials and his staff on July 14.

When they made the decision to let Suaad rot in Kenya, were they acting on their own or were they following the Prime Minister's directions?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as this matter is before the courts, I cannot divulge details. The government said that it would undertake a review and a review has been undertaken.

Let me repeat it once again. We get thousands of requests for consular assistance and most of these requests do not reach the political level at all.

CINAROral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we asked serious questions about the CINAR case to which we received highly unsatisfactory answers. There were many irregularities in the RCMP's initial investigation. Mr. Robinson fought against all odds to shed light on this whole affair, the Bloc Québécois did its part in the House and Mr. Robinson recently won his case. Nonetheless, some questions still remain in all this.

Can the Prime Minister explain why Justice Canada intervened directly to block the RCMP's second investigation?

CINAROral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc is asking me questions about things that happened under the previous government.

These allegations are serious and I encourage him to hand over his information to the appropriate authorities.

CINAROral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is the type of answer the Prime Minister railed against during the sponsorship scandal.

I am telling him that the current Department of Justice was asked to hand over Mr. Becker's memos. I received a pile of blank pages and not one word.

The Liberal government hid things from us. Why is this government also hiding the truth?

CINAROral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian public does not think I am covering up Liberal scandals.

The reality is that last week the Leader of the Bloc voted with the Liberals to replace the government. Now he finds that his allies are corrupt. Let him explain that contradiction.

CINAROral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, Martin Cauchon, revenue minister at the time, made a big deal about the voluntary disclosures program, which CINAR took advantage of when it signed an agreement with his department. It is difficult to justify calling it voluntary disclosure when CINAR was being denounced publicly and making the front page of the newspapers.

Was it a case of voluntary disclosure or was the leniency shown CINAR more a question of returning a favour to Micheline Charest, a Liberal friend?

CINAROral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, again, this is a matter that took place completely under the Liberal watch.

We are part of a government that is committed to accountability and transparency. That is why three years ago we set up the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, to handle all prosecutions like this.

I appreciate that, since the Bloc members' interest in justice issues is only about three days old, they would not be aware that that has been in place, but if they have any evidence, they can direct it toward the appropriate individual.

CINAROral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, will we then have an answer to the next question?

We have learned that CINAR was fudging the figures and committing fraud to receive tax credits. By lying about the real percentage of its financial participation, CINAR obtained government funding. Another case of white collar crime.

Why are the Conservatives copying the Liberals and refusing to prosecute CINAR and recover the funds obtained fraudulently? Do they, too, have something to hide?

CINAROral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if they have any evidence of Liberal corruption, they should turn it over to the appropriate authority.

However, since they are so interested in fraud, I want them to get up and make sure to indicate that they will be supportive of the new legislation we will be bringing in to crack down on white-collar crime, which will include mandatory sentencing. I wonder if the Bloc members will support that for a change.

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, winter is fast approaching. For many families in northern Ontario, this will be the last winter that they will be able to properly heat their homes. Next winter, they will have to pay HST, which will mean an 8% increase in heating costs. Heating bills will reach up to and beyond $3,000 per household.

How can the Prime Minister justify such an increase in taxes on heating costs for families?

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, twice now, this government has lowered the federal GST for Canadians, and twice now, the leader of the NDP and his party have voted against these measures. Our position is to lower taxes, and I hope that we will have the support of this new anti-tax party in the future.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

October 6th, 2009 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP was opposed to the GST when it was first brought in, and we have opposed the HST for a long time. Other members of the House used to oppose the HST as well. Let me quote from a member who is an economist:

This harmonization of the GST, this tax collusion between provincial and federal governments, is not the way to reverse the economic decline of this country.

Who said that? That is a quote from the Prime Minister during the inaugural debate on the HST.

Why does he now think that this collusion to impose a new tax is a good idea?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I have said repeatedly, there are conditions under which provinces can opt into an HST. Those conditions are the same for every province. We do not discriminate.

In this government, our position is that sales taxes should be coming down. That is why twice we lowered the GST even though the NDP fought us every step of the way.

If people want to raise the GST back up to 7%, they can vote for the NDP or any of its friends over there, but if they want to keep it at 5%, they can vote for the Conservatives.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not get it. The HST is unfair and it is an 8% increase that is too expensive.

The same is true for the EI premium increase, yet he is planning to increase EI premiums by $15 billion, which will mean employers will have to pay $884 more per year per employee, and workers will have to pay an extra $632 per year. He does not want to call it a tax increase, but that is what it is.

Economist Dale Orr says, “If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck”.

Why is the Prime Minister intent on discouraging employers from hiring Canadians in a recession by talking about raising a payroll tax?