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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

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know that in opposition we can often have it both ways. We can demand that the government spend money and then criticize it when there is a deficit.

I would just caution members not to be shrill on the issue of the $56 billion deficit when in fact just months ago we were demanding that the government bring in a stimulus package. Then, when it brought it in, we said it was not big enough and it should be larger.

In opposition we have a responsibility to not only criticize the government for deficits when they exist but also to offer suggestions as to how we should deal with the deficit, such as raising taxes. That is just one of the problems of being in opposition.

I know years ago in Manitoba a Conservative opposition member said, “Well, you know, in opposition, we can have it both ways; we can demand you spend money on a new bridge one day and the next day we can criticize you for increasing the deficit on that same bridge”. It is something that we have to be a little careful about when we are criticizing.

Other than that, I think the member gave a fine speech, as she always does.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my concern is that government has to foresee the challenges coming down the line. In the summer of 2008 we were talking about good times and saying there would not be a recession. The government did not see the recession coming. There has been a global recession, but we also have to have accountability. The numbers have continued to climb. We must be accountable to Canadians.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. members opposite are all fussed about an “unnecessary election”, but this time last year we were in the middle of an unnecessary election. It was interesting to go back to the quotes of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance during that unnecessary election and find out what they were thinking at the time, or at least telling Canadians about the deficit.

The Prime Minister, on CTV Question Period, on October 12, said:

We're not running a deficit. We have planned a realistic scenario. We've got conservative budget estimates.

That is probably true; we do have Conservative budget estimates.

He said:

We've got a modest platform that doesn't even fill the existing fiscal room....

Before the Business News Network, he said:

I know economists will say that we can run a small deficit, but the problem is once you cross that line, as we see in the United States, nothing stops deficits from getting larger and larger and spiralling out of control....

Come on, I do not think so. Some economists will say it is probably true. It is more true than possibly what a politician running an election wants to tell the Canadian public. The finance minister, who should know the numbers better than most, on October 9, just a year ago, said:

We will not run a deficit.

On September 16, he said:

We're running a balanced budget, we're running a surplus, we're paying down debt, so our government finances are solid.

Even during that fiscal year, the finance minister and the Prime Minister were being a touch economical with the truth, because this fiscal year is not the first year that this government has run a deficit. It was the last fiscal year. It is the fiscal year during the election, that unnecessary election that we were told we did not need.

Deficits do not just spring out of nowhere; we actually have to work at it. We have to really work at mismanagement in order to take a $13 billion surplus that we inherited from the previous government and run it into a $60 billion deficit over a period of four budgets. The Conservatives started out with revenues, in really their first year of administration, of $236 billion. The revenues then went up to $242 billion and that is where they peaked. They went down to $233 billion, and then down to $223 billion, roughly where they were five budgets ago.

That is fine. We are all in favour of reduced taxes. If I listen to the members on the opposite side, they can hardly speak a sentence without using the phrase, “reducing taxes”, et cetera. I am all in favour of that. We all like to reduce taxes, but there is another side to that equation, which is that the Conservatives are spending and spending. They started out in, effectively, their first fiscal year with $222 billion worth of spending, and over those years they ran it up to $272 billion worth of spending. That is $222 billion to $272 billion, $50 billion worth of increased spending. Meanwhile they destroyed or flatlined their revenues for a variety of reasons, largely having to do with the ideological predisposition to cut taxes at every corner.

Essentially, the Conservatives made a $25 billion paydown on the debt, and we will even give them the $13 billion from the previous Liberal government, so we will say that is north of $35 billion, $38 billion worth of paydown on the debt. That is all good stuff. We like that. In the last two years, they have run up the deficit by $60 billion. So in that four- or five-year budget cycle, that period of time, they have essentially run the government into a deficit position.

This is not even within the Mulroney era of deficits. The last time we had a Conservative administration it was $42 billion. These guys have exceeded Mr. Mulroney and now it is $56 billion.

I was amused at the fantasyland of going from September or October of last year, where they said they were not running a deficit, that the nation's finances were under control and they would not do the dumb things that were being done in the United States, to the fairy tale in November called “the fiscal update”. The fiscal update showed a small surplus of $1 billion.

They then induced upon themselves a political crisis and suddenly they got a little more realistic. Between the end of November and the beginning of February, we went from a small surplus to a $34 billion deficit. Then we went from January and February to May of this year and we were up to a deficit of $50 billion. As of last month, we were at a deficit of $56 billion.

Lord knows what next month will bring as far as a fiscal update is concerned. Perhaps we will be getting more fanciful statements from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance saying that the nation's finances are under control, that it is a conservative budget. It certainly is that. It is a Conservative budget. It is a Conservative example of gross mismanagement of the nation's finances, and members wonder why the Liberal Party would withdraw confidence in the government.

The Prime Minister is given enormous powers in our system of government. He gets to control the executive of the government by appointing the cabinet. He gets to influence the judicial branch of government by appointing the justices who sit on the Supreme Court and all the ones below that. He gets to influence the legislative branch of government by appointing senators, and he of course has shown some great enthusiasm for appointing senators lately.

There is enormous power concentrated in one person and in one office, and the only thing that this system requires of the Prime Minister is that he maintain the confidence of the House, and he has not. He does not maintain the confidence of the House.

When we were allowing him to govern, he spent an inordinate amount of taxpayers' money ridiculing the leaders of our party, and I imagine those expenditure go on. He spends an inordinate amount of time and money destroying the nation's finances. We got to the point where enough was enough and the confidence of the Liberal Party has been withdrawn from the government.

One would hope that the government would learn its lessons but I have no great anticipation that it will do so. It appears to be the same gang that ran the Mulroney show, which ran deficit after deficit.

In four budget cycles, five if we want to count the tail end of the Liberal administration, we have gone from revenues of $222 billion to revenues of $223 billion, which is wonderful. They have flatlined it. Meanwhile, the population has grown over that period of time by a million people and expenditures have run from about $209 billion to $272 billion, an increase of $63 billion.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how you run your household, but I imagine that everybody sitting in this room has to run their households within their fiscal ability, and if they do not have an increase in their revenues, they cannot go crazy on their spending. The government has gone crazy on its expenditures and we will pay and we will pay and we will pay.

In today's news, there was an item about an Australian bank raising its interest rates. If one does it, they are all going to do it and the low-interest environment that the Bank of Canada has created here will go. If it goes, then all bets are off, because in terms of what we see here now, we ain't seen nothing yet.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly one of the things I do not understand is how the government can continue to spend and spend and spend. This comes from a very proud Liberal who helped to make sure that we got rid of the deficit. How could the government continue to spend and have decreasing tax revenues and possibly think that it can move forward without at some point having to deal with the deficit and having to cut many great programs? I am particularly concerned about seniors and pensions.

Could the member tell me how he thinks the government is going to be able to do that in the future?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons we have withdrawn confidence in the government is that we do not think it can govern anymore. We think we could do better. The next government is going to have to deal realistically with the fiscal mess that it is going to inherit. Something is going to have to give.

If my anticipation is correct that interest rates are going to take off, then the $33 billion that we spend every year on interest to service the national debt will go through the ceiling. We will be talking $35 billion, $40 billion, maybe $45 billion. That would inevitably constrain the fiscal capacity of any government. That is a fairly realistic scenario.

Even the governor of the Bank of Canada said that he can only hold the line until June of next year. If interest rates take off, then they take off for the government, everybody in this chamber, and everybody watching. The cost of a mortgage will go up. The cost of doing business will go up. Business will go down. The government will be in an even worse situation than it is now.

The Conservative government has not made the decisions that it could have made during the good times and we are caught in the whirlwind.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I listened with some interest to the member. He talked about how he likes lower taxes and so forth, but that was not true in the last election campaign.

That member wholeheartedly supported the green shift massive tax increase on Canadians. That tax increase was why Canadians voted largely against the Liberals. The Liberal massive carbon tax was rejected by Canadians. Everyone remembers that. I do not believe that member has ever actually supported any of the tax cuts that we brought in that have brought tax freedom day 20 days sooner.

A lot of other jurisdictions in Europe, and even the United States under President Obama, have brought tax cuts in for families and individuals and seniors as a method of boosting their economies. The member does not understand that.

He said that he has lost faith in the government and in the finance minister. Euromoney magazine has not lost faith in our finance minister. It named him G7 finance minister of the year. Maybe the member would like to speak to that. It is quite an honour for our finance minister to be acknowledged in such a fashion.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how the hon. member could spend so much time on finance committee and learn so little.

It is very interesting that the finance minister should be awarded anything by any magazine, however obscure. Apparently his competition is not all that serious. The United States has a runaway deficit, trillions of dollars worth of deficit. Relatively speaking, the finance minster is only incompetent as opposed to grossly incompetent.

The point of the hon. member's little intervention was that somehow or another tax freedom day is sooner. There are no free lunches in this world. Tax freedom day may be a day or two sooner, but debt freedom day certainly will be later.

We are going to start going back up that horrible path. We thought we had learned a lesson but apparently we have not. We thought our finances would not resemble those of a third world nation. Apparently that is the fiscal ability of the Conservative government.

Is it therefore any wonder that we in the Liberal Party do not have confidence in the government.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is obviously a great opportunity to speak today in support of the economic recovery act, an important piece of legislation to enact key parts of Canada's economic action plan, along with other crucial initiatives.

I understand the Liberal Party will vote against this legislation, sight unseen, for no reason other than to force an unnecessary election which no Canadian wants. It is my hope in today's debate, along with colleagues on this side of the House, to show that now is not the time for that sort of self-serving opportunism.

The stakes for Canadians and their families are high. The member for Scarborough—Guildwood does not understand that the stakes for his constituents are high. He mentioned a moment ago that he is surprised I spent so much time on the finance committee and did not get it. He has been on the finance committee a lot longer than I have, in fact he is a former parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance, and he still does not get it. So I guess I still have some time by his scale to get it. Maybe I will catch up, I do not know.

We simply cannot play political games because we cannot jeopardize a recovery with an unnecessary election. Catherine Swift, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, warned recently:

We've got some good news.... [W]e've been seeing three months of good recovery...we got the highest confidence level in over two years.... All we need is a stupid election to put things right back in the tank. What we need is certainty. Elections do not produce certainty.

I am going to digress for a minute. I mentioned the Liberal green shift. The Liberal green shift means anything but certainty for business.

Catherine Swift said that what we need is certainty and that elections do not produce certainty. With the economy turning right now, this is a bad time to have it. She said that we are just seeing things come back, that we are just seeing confidence come back.

It is clear that we must stand together with our global partners and stay the course. We must keep our focus squarely on protecting our economy and building on the success of Canada's economic action plan and stabilizing our economy.

As declared in the G20 leaders' statement following the Pittsburgh summit:

Our forceful response helped stop the dangerous, sharp decline in global activity and stabilize financial markets.

A sense of normalcy should not lead to complacency.

The process of recovery and repair remains incomplete. In many countries, unemployment remains unacceptably high. The conditions for a recovery of private demand are not yet fully in place. We cannot rest until the global economy is restored to full health, and hard-working families all over the world can find decent jobs.

Clearly, Canada must stay on track by continuing to implement our economic action plan and its related components, like the economic recovery act. This is fundamental to securing Canada's success in the face of ongoing economic challenges.

As expected, to date, Canadians have risen to face these challenges head on and allowed our economy to outperform where others have struggled. This has lessened the recession's relative impact. A sentiment shared by private sector economists, CIBC World Markets forecast that Canada will lead all industrialized nations in economic growth next year, while RBC economists expect that Canada's recession will turn out to be the least severe of the past three.

Our Conservative government has supported the efforts of Canadians with an unprecedented and timely stimulus contained in Canada's economic action plan, representing $61 billion in effective targeted measures.

Only last week we confirmed in the third report to Canadians on the implementation of the action plan that 90% of its 2009-10 funding is now committed. Canadians will continue to benefit from what is proportionately the largest fiscal stimulus package among all G7 partners with a projected 220,000 jobs being created or maintained by the end of 2010.

As Scotia Capital economist Aron Gampel points out:

The substantial stimulus injected into the economy from both monetary and fiscal measures is beginning to show more signs that the economy is regaining traction, but the full impact will become more visible in the months ahead.

Contrary to the views of the doom and gloom Liberals, there are more encouraging signs that Canada is leading the recovery with our strong fundamentals intact. Indeed, last week the International Monetary Fund, IMF, forecast that Canada will be the least affected by the global downturn and that our recovery will be the strongest in the G7.

Contrast that with what we are hearing from the Liberal members. We are not hearing these things. They are talking down the Canadian recovery. They are talking down the Canadian economy. For whatever reason, they do not want to see things recover in Canada because they think that hurts their political fortunes. Canadians do not care about the Liberals' political fortunes. What they care about is their families and their jobs. They want Canada to work. They want parties working together provincially and federally. They want municipalities to be engaged. That is what our government is doing. It is not what the Liberal Party supports, by the way.

Nevertheless, Canada and the global economy will continue to be challenged. As noted in the G20 leaders' statement, we have yet to sustain a full private sector supported recovery. Likewise, as IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn conceded recently, even though we are seeing tentative signs of recovery it remains fragile. I quote, “I want to be crystal clear. Until unemployment will decrease, it is difficult to say the crisis is over. It is too early to crow victory”.

Without a doubt we are at a critical juncture. If we hope to stabilize our economy and secure this recovery, we must stay the course and stay focused on the economy. Parliamentarians of all stripes can accomplish that, not by throwing Canada into an unnecessary election, but by passing the economic recovery act into law on a timely basis.

The economic recovery act is a complex and multifaceted piece of legislation with many components that have been highlighted by previous speakers.

For the remainder of my allotted time, I would like to focus on the reforms to strengthen the Canada pension plan, or CPP, that are included in the economic recovery act. However, before continuing, I should point out that the CPP is a jointly managed federal-provincial plan. Neither the federal government nor provincial governments can unilaterally alter the CPP.

The reforms laid out in the legislation were unanimously agreed to by federal, provincial and territorial governments this past May as part of a mandated triennial review of the Canada pension plan. Moreover, these reforms were made public at that time, available for all to review.

Before these reforms can take place, they must be officially approved, not only by Parliament, but by two-thirds of the provinces with two-thirds of the population of Canada. Moreover, the approved changes will start to take effect in 2011 and will be gradually implemented with all the changes expected to be in effect fully by 2016.

In short, the reforms agreed to by federal, provincial and territorial governments are intended to modernize the CPP to better reflect the many different paths people take to retirement today.

As Patricia Lovett-Reid, host of Money Talk, a popular Canadian personal finance television show and senior vice-president with TD Waterhouse Canada, noted that the CPP reforms speak “to the fact that we are living healthier and longer”.

Increased flexibility will be offered through the removal of work cessation tests that require individuals who apply to take their CPP benefit early, i.e., before age 65, to either stop work or reduce their earnings. The economic recovery act will remove the work cessation test in 2012 so that individuals will be able to take their benefit as early as age 60 without any work interruption or reduction in hours worked or earnings. This change will benefit those who would like to take their CPP pension while continuing to work either full or part time and could help individuals to use income from their CPP to phase in retirement or supplement their earnings.

Such a proposed reform has been particularly welcomed, as an Edmonton Journal editorial applauding it noted:

--the prospect that thousands will be able to discern a horizon when they can not only choose to be gainfully employed but also collect on a pension they paid into for years must come as some relief....

Older Canadians are healthier than ever and getting even fitter. If they want or need to continue to make a material contribution to the nation's productivity, they mustn't be discouraged.

Increased CPP benefits for a number of Canadians will continue through an increase in general lowering dropout which currently allows for 15% of the years where earnings are low or nil for whatever reason, to be dropped from calculations used to determine an individual's CPP retirement pension amount. The economic recovery act will gradually enhance the retirement pension calculation to allow up to an additional year of low earnings to be dropped from the pension calculation. By 2014, it will allow a maximum of eight years to be dropped.

This will benefit virtually all CPP contributors and improve their basic retirement pensions. It will also increase the average CPP disability and survivor pensions, as a calculation of these benefits would be based on the retirement benefit calculation.

It would be particularly helpful to those whose careers suffer more work interruptions for a variety of reasons like those who pursue post-secondary studies or other educational opportunities, those who reduce their participation in the labour force to provide care to a family member, or those who immigrate to Canada as adults.

Respected Sun media financial advice columnist Alan Caplan approved this reform noting:

It's intended to smooth out the earnings history for each pensioner who stopped working. The reasons vary, but may include job loss, further education, illness or care giving and child rearing. Almost everyone benefits from the provision.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I must interrupt the hon. parliamentary secretary at this point. He will have nine minutes remaining when the House returns to this matter.

Calgary NortheastStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, in my Eid Milan meeting with the Muslim community in Calgary Northeast, the community informed me that the overwhelming majority of the people of Pakistan stand for peace, prosperity, human rights, the rule of law and democracy. I once again publicly wish Pakistani Canadians and our Muslim friends a happy Eid ul-Fitr.

The community also applauded the fact that the Prime Minister attended the meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan with President Obama, Prime Minister Brown and President Zardari.

I also wish to recognize and congratulate Calgary police constables Charanjit Meharu and Kevin Leard in the House today for achieving the life saving award. While responding to a late night domestic assault, through their quick actions they saved the life of a female victim who was no longer breathing.

I call on all sides of the House to commend these heroes and also to work with our Conservative government in placing a priority on the rights of Canadian victims, including victims of domestic violence.

La Francophonie GamesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the tremendous success of the Jeux de la Francophonie, which are wrapping up today in Lebanon, and to our many achievements there. The event was an opportunity for athletes from around the world who share the same values and the same language, namely, French, to get together for some friendly competition in the spirit of peace.

Canadian athletes and artists were grouped together on the following teams: Canada; Canada-Quebec; and Canada-New Brunswick. Their achievements have been outstanding. They are returning with gold medals in sporting events such as men's and women's judo and table tennis, discus and decathlon in men's track and field, 4x100-metre relay in women's track and field, as well as in artistic competitions such as stories and storytelling, photography and sculpture. They won over 50 medals and have given us many reasons to be proud.

I would like to offer my most sincere congratulations to all the athletes and artists representing Canada during these Games, and I wish them every success in their future endeavours.

Natural Disasters in Southeast AsiaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, Southeast Asia has been hard hit in the past few days by a series of weather disasters that have battered the region.

Many countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia, have been struck by typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis or floods that have left behind thousands of victims, including many children.

The major humanitarian NGOs have worked hard in order to help those affected, but their help alone is not enough. Much work lies ahead in order to provide access to food and drinking water, hygiene kits, makeshift shelters, and electricity.

I am calling on the federal government to step up its efforts to help the communities recover quickly from these storms. Like the thousands of Quebeckers who have joined forces for this cause and on behalf of all my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, I want to tell the victims of these tragic events that they are in my thoughts.

Nobel Prize in PhysicsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in this honourable House to congratulate Willard Boyle of Halifax, co-winner of this year's Nobel prize in physics.

Mr. Boyle was notified earlier today that he will share the 2009 prize along with two Americans for their work on an imaging semiconductor circuit known as the CCD sensor, the eye of digital cameras and delicate surgical instruments.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences stated that CCD revolutionized photography, as light could now be captured electronically instead of on film. Without this technology, seeing the surface of Mars would not have been a possibility.

I am sure that all members of the House will join me in congratulating Mr. Boyle for this incredible achievement. It is a proud day for Halifax, a proud day for Nova Scotia, and a proud day for Canada.

Mental Illness Awareness WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind everyone that October 4 to 10 is Mental Illness Awareness Week.

With nearly one in five Canadians affected, most of us know someone who is struggling and we all need to work hard to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness through education and understanding. There is no health without mental health.

Tomorrow, here in Ottawa, the seventh annual champions of mental health awards will celebrate the contributions of influential Canadians who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and leadership in advancing mental illness awareness and mental health policy, research, services or funding in Canada through activities and actions.

Mr. Speaker, I urge you to lend your support and encourage each member to take a few minutes to contact the fine folks at their local Canadian Mental Health Association.

For my constituents in Kelowna—Lake Country, a free public forum in the Knowledge is Power Series is being held this Thursday at our local Canadian Mental Health Association office at 504 Sutherland Avenue, from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Together we can help each other.

Nobel Prize in PhysicsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I join my colleague from Halifax in honouring a Canadian who has done us all proud by winning this year's Nobel prize in physics. Willard S. Boyle, born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, will share the prize with two others for his groundbreaking achievements in developing the sensor that is widely used in digital cameras.

Although Mr. Boyle spent many years working in the U.S., he has deep roots in this country, starting in Nova Scotia and then moving to Quebec and Kingston, before making a name for himself at the Bell Labs in New Jersey. It was there that, among his many accomplishments, he and George E. Smith invented the sensor that is being honoured today.

After retiring in 1979, he returned home to Nova Scotia. Mr. Boyle is a great example of a Canadian contributing his unique talents to the world while remaining a proud and patriotic citizen of this country. Congratulations, Mr. Boyle.

Climate ChangeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, climate change is one of the great threats facing humanity. The IPCC has said that the science is unequivocal and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that climate change is “the defining challenge of our age”.

Our government has made a strong commitment to reduce Canada's emissions by 20%, from 2006 levels, by 2020, only 10 short years from now. As the global set of climate change talks in Copenhagen approaches, I call on the international community to negotiate in good faith so that a new binding agreement on climate change can be achieved.

The issue is urgent. The time to act is now. The challenge of a warming planet is not only critical for the environment but also a judgment on whether global institutions like the United Nations can act collectively to solve the world's problems.

I ask all to support and encourage our government as it negotiates this new international agreement so that we can achieve change for our children and grandchildren.

Christopher GarneauStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Corporal Christopher Garneau, of Saint-Constant, who was awarded the medal of excellence by the Chief of Defence Staff, on September 10, for performing his duties with distinction.

Corporal Garneau is a military policeman and a member of the operational mentor and liaison team of the Kandahar provincial reconstruction team. This group is responsible for training Afghan police, strengthening local governance and is also fighting for access to education for the Afghan people.

It is clear to the Bloc Québécois that the Canadian mission in Afghanistan must show concern for the plight of the Afghan people all the while focusing more on humanitarian aid and reconstruction and development efforts. Corporal Garneau is doing just that.

For that reason, on behalf of the citizens of my riding, I congratulate Corporal Christopher Garneau.

British Columbia Assembly of First NationsStatements By Members

October 6th, 2009 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, this month Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould was elected regional chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations. She replaces Mr. Shawn Atleo, who was elected to be the national chief of the AFN in July.

Raised in the Comox Valley, Ms. Wilson-Raybould is an elected councillor for the We Wai Kai Nation and is an elected commissioner on the B.C. Treaty Commission. She is a former provincial crown prosecutor with a bachelor of laws from the University of British Columbia and a bachelor of arts in political science and history from the University of Victoria.

She is a very accomplished young woman and all those who know her are very proud of her.

Congratulations, Jody. We all look forward to working with her in her new role.

Suzanne BélangerStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride to congratulate Suzanne Bélanger, a citizen of my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche, who has been awarded a Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education.

For over 10 years, Ms. Bélanger has been involved in educating the children under six who live on the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation reserve.

She makes an effort to instill in these children a sense of pride in their roots and in the achievements of their ancestors, while awakening their desire to discover the modern world in which we live.

Ms. Bélanger is well known for her energy, creativity and work ethic. We are fortunate to have someone so passionate caring for and educating this young generation.

On behalf of the citizens of Madawaska—Restigouche, I would like to congratulate and above all thank Ms. Bélanger for her contribution to our communities. We are all very proud of the work she does.

Congratulations, Ms. Bélanger.

Prime Minister of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister has more than one talent. First and foremost, he is a man of compassion and conviction, a man whose vision centres around the interests of the nation, which makes him a strong leader. We are not like the Liberal Party, which can only think of holding rallies to plunge Canada into an election, purely out of self-interest.

In these tough economic times, others are proposing cuts to government and higher taxes for Quebeckers and Canadians.

Our government is stimulating the economy and working with political, economic and social stakeholders to find solutions. It is important to us that ordinary people have their place in society and that, together, we contribute to our country's success.

To me, that is what we call a strong Quebec within a united Canada. I am proud to pay tribute to the leadership of our Prime Minister.

DiwaliStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, Diwali, or the festival of lights, is one of the highlights of the year. It represents hope and renewal. It is a time for traditions to be shared with family, friends and community.

During this very special time, the spirit of Diwali provides us with a chance to increase our understanding of one another. We share a country where race, religion, colour and language are not barriers, but reasons for us to celebrate our diversity.

The Indo Canadian community has made phenomenal contributions to Canada from coast to coast to coast, and Diwali is only one of its many gifts to us all.

My community of Burnaby—New Westminster is privileged to enjoy the outstanding contributions of institutions like the Shri Guru Ravidass, the Khalsa Diwan Society (Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar), the Arul Migu Thurkadevi Hindu Society, the Canadian Ramgarhia Society of British Columbia and the Vishva Hindu Parishad of British Columbia.

For all Canadians celebrating Diwali throughout our community of Burnaby—New Westminster, I wish them and their families happiness, prosperity, good health and peace.

Diwali mubarak. Happy Diwali.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians do not want an election. Constituents of mine, like Brian Patterson from Pottageville, have said that they want the parties to put their differences aside and focus on Canada's economic recovery.

That is what members on this side of the House are doing.

However, the Liberal leader does not care what Canadians think. His party is intent on forcing an unnecessary and opportunistic election. While we are fighting the recession, the Liberal leader wants to fight the recovery.

We will continue to implement Canada's economic action plan. Our plan is working. There are signs of recovery but the situation is still fragile. Our government is committed to staying on course. We remain focused on the economy and helping Canadians.

The Liberal leader can continue to try at every chance to force an election, that is his prerogative, but we will continue to fight the global economic recession.

This is just more proof that the Liberal leader is not in it for Canadians. He is in it for himself.

4th Annual Sisters In Spirit VigilsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, dozens of sacred ceremonies, vigils, walks and gatherings were held simultaneously in 65 communities on Sunday. These ceremonies honoured the lives of some 520 aboriginal women who have been murdered or gone missing over the past 30 years.

Sunday's vigils were organized for the fourth consecutive year by the Native Women's Association of Canada. I salute the courage and determination of these women. Violence, whether it is physical, verbal or psychological, is absolutely unacceptable and reprehensible.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I denounce the fact that although the Conservative government has been called upon to take action many times, both nationally and internationally, it has not conducted any investigations or taken any action to give these women the help they need. It is high time that the government do something.

LabourStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, workers at Vale Inco's Canadian operations have been on strike since July. This labour dispute involves workers in Sudbury and Port Colborne, Ontario, and at the Voisey's Bay mine in Labrador.

The protracted strike has had a serious impact upon the economies of the affected communities, regions and families. It comes at the worst possible time, as Canada faces the most serious recession in decades.

Along with several of my Liberal colleagues, I met striking workers on the picket lines in Sudbury in September. I have also offered my solidarity with Voisey's Bay employees in my own riding. I share their concerns over working conditions and their desire to share in the company's financial success.

In the current economic climate, there can be no better stimulus than to get one of our major industries back in action in Labrador and northern Ontario.

I urge the parties to return to good faith negotiations and to work toward a fair, equitable and speedy resolution of all issues. I ask the Conservative government to show some leadership and support these workers.

Finance Minister of the YearStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, our government is delivering results. Through Canada's economic action plan, we are helping the economy, creating and protecting jobs and safeguarding Canadians during the global recession, and the world is taking notice.

Canadian banks were again named the world's soundest by the World Economic Forum. The International Monetary Fund predicts Canada will lead all G7 countries in economic growth next year.

And now Canada adds another economic award to its trophy case. We are happy to report that Euromoney magazine, a worldwide publication considered a leading voice on global financial markets, has named its annual finance minister of the year. No Canadian has ever won this award. That changed today. The finance minister of the year is none other than Canada's finance minister, the hon. member for Whitby--Oshawa.

The magazine notes that Canada's finance minister has enhanced his country's reputation for sound fiscal policy. That is something that he and Canadians can be very proud of.