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House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was drugs.

Topics

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is getting ready to introduce a bill that would establish the framework for provinces that harmonize their sales tax with the GST. This framework will eventually enable Ontario and British Columbia to pocket nearly $6 billion.

Since Quebec agreed to harmonize its sales tax 18 years ago, what is the government waiting for to compensate Quebec to the tune of $2.6 billion?

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have had useful discussions with the minister of finance of Quebec in recent weeks, most recently on Friday. Those discussions continue.

As members know, two of the provinces that have not yet harmonized have indicated that they want to do so and have entered into agreements to accomplish that. That matter will come before the House, out of respect for provincial autonomy and their request that we assist them with the technical legislation necessary for them to proceed in their own area of autonomous provincial tax jurisdiction.

Post-secondary EducationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, like Jean Chrétien with his millennium scholarships, the Conservative government is insisting on imposing its scholarship program on students in Quebec. Unable to make the federal government listen to reason, the Government of Quebec will itself pay a portion of the money that should be coming from Ottawa.

To avoid penalizing Quebec students who were hoping for better scholarships, why not allow Quebec to opt out unconditionally, with full compensation?

Post-secondary EducationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, each year the Government of Canada negotiates with the Government of Quebec on alternative payments for student financial assistance. These negotiations are currently taking place and are ongoing. The students will receive those funds they need for financial assistance, which will be the project of joint negotiations.

HousingOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have spent less than one per cent of the $1.9 billion they announced for affordable housing 14 months ago. They have spent almost nothing of the $1.5 billion they announced for social housing in the last budget. I think we would all agree that these programs were intended to help the most vulnerable in our society at a particularly difficult time.

Before the Conservatives blame the provinces and territories, let me ask them why have they not done everything humanly possible to expedite these important programs for those who need them the most?

HousingOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we have made historic investments of billions of dollars in housing and social housing, something that the Liberal Party failed to do over 13 years.

We have entered into agreements with the provinces and territories. Those agreements are now in place and as the provinces go forward with selecting the projects and give us the invoices, they will be receiving the money.

HousingOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, people who live on the street and in rundown social housing cling desperately to government announcements.

Yet this government has spent less than 1% of the $1.9 billion announced 14 months ago for affordable housing and almost none of the $1.5 billion announced for social housing in the last budget.

We know that this government likes to make announcements, but this time, can it guarantee us that it will keep its promises and spend all this money on affordable housing and social housing?

HousingOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we are doing something that the previous Liberal government failed to do, and that is to allocate billions of dollars for social housing programs. We have entered into agreements. As soon as the invoices come in, the money will continue to flow.

We have $2 billion to repair and renew social housing, $1 billion for repair and upgrades and another $1 billion for renovation; $400 million for seniors; $75 million for those who are disabled, significant investments that the previous government failed to do.

Olympic Winter GamesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, to create Canada's Olympic pavilion for Canada's games, many firms said a two-week bid period was too short for such a large contract. The minister said it was fine. Industry said a period of 74 days was too short to properly design, build, finish, furnish and staff Canada's flagship pavilion. The minister said it was fine.

When it comes to interpreting Canada's unique cultures, heritage and values to the world, does the minister really believe that an American company is the best choice for the job?

Olympic Winter GamesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn ConservativeMinister of State (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, that is complete nonsense. First, we had a public tendering process that was fair and transparent. We received a number of bids and we awarded a contract to Exhibitgroup/Giltspur, with operations in cities on both sides of the border, including a number of cities in Canada. The pavilion will be built by Canadians who are proud of it.

The Liberals complain all the time about the Olympics. The last time they were complaining about the Olympic torch relay, which Canadians are excited about. Before that it was the Olympic clothing, and now they are complaining about the Canada pavilion. Why do they not try cheering on our athletes who are going for gold and making us all so proud?

Olympic Winter GamesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about complaints. The government has bungled the Canada pavilion project and has now bungled another one.

A $100 million contract for security at the 2010 games was also awarded to an American company. Is the minister aware that this company faces serious complaints of racism, employee mistreatment and inadequate training?

Will the minister stop defending his buy American policy and instead guarantee the safety and security of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games?

Olympic Winter GamesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn ConservativeMinister of State (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, our government is proud to be supporting the Olympics and to be cheering on our athletes. I can say who is going to be providing the security for the games. It is going to be our RCMP. It is going to be the Department of National Defence. It is going to be people who serve our country so proudly every single day.

Contracts are awarded through a public tendering process. Yes, there are companies that operate on both sides of the border, but we are cheering on our athletes. It is time the Liberal Party got on board and quit its complaining.

Foreign CredentialsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada is recognized as one of the best countries in the world in which to live. That is why it is the country of choice for people from all over the world. Internationally trained workers are an integral part of our country and our economy, but for years they have not been able to work in their fields of expertise because they have had trouble having their foreign credentials recognized.

Can the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism please inform this House what our Conservative government is doing to rectify the problem?

Foreign CredentialsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, when our government took office, we were the first federal government to take meaningful action on the issue of credentials recognition, creating the Foreign Credentials Referral Office, giving people a head start on the process before they get to Canada.

The Prime Minister exercised real leadership this January, leading the premiers and territorial leaders in an agreement that has led to today's exciting announcement of a pan-Canadian framework for foreign credentials recognition that will accelerate the process of recognizing the professions and training of immigrants to Canada, to help them contribute to Canada and realize their dreams, contributing to our prosperity.

AfghanistanOral Questions

November 30th, 2009 / 2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, not even the defence minister can keep up with his own story on when he knew or heard about Afghan detainee abuse. First he said he had not heard of Richard Colvin. Then he said he may have received Mr. Colvin's briefings but did not read them. Then he said the reports did not make it to his desk, only to take that remark back a month later. On Friday he accused diplomats and generals of filtering out such reports.

The only way to the truth here is through a public inquiry. When will the government call one?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

The only way to the truth, Mr. Speaker, is to get some consistency from the members opposite. They cannot come in here and say that they accept the evidence given at the parliamentary committee by senior members of the military and senior members of the public service and then somehow suggest that the government should not take that same advice and act appropriately. This is the inconsistency, the cynicism and the hypocrisy on this matter coming from the members opposite.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, what is it the minister is afraid such an inquiry would reveal? Surely if he is so confident in the information that he is refusing to release to the public, he would call an inquiry to settle the matter.

His personal insults, his accusations that Mr. Colvin was a Taliban dupe, and his blustering in the House are raising real questions in the minds of Canadians about what he is trying to conceal.

Why does he not give himself a break? He should stop the grasping attempts to shift the blame and stand up for his responsibilities by calling an inquiry.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Again, Mr. Speaker, as I have said many, many times, when we received credible allegations, we acted. When we received evidence that we could trust, we acted.

What we see consistently coming from the members opposite is an attempt to have it both ways: to cast aspersions on members of the armed forces, suggesting there was torture and war crimes; and then to hold press conferences trying to embrace their position. To suggest that the government should not have taken the advice from these same individuals is irreconcilable.

The members opposite, particularly the Leader of the Opposition, should be very wary about taking foreign policy advice from two former NDP premiers.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government bill granting special employment insurance benefits to self-employed workers does not meet the needs of Quebec workers who already benefit, thanks to the Government of Quebec, from a parental insurance plan. What is more, the contribution rate outweighs the services to which those workers are entitled.

Will the government modify its bill as the Bloc Québécois proposes, in order to make the contribution rate fair to self-employed workers in Quebec?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, this government stands behind self-employed workers and is implementing measures to allow those who become sick or those who need to take care of a sick child or loved one to be able to do so and continue to receive an income during these trying times in life. I can understand why the Bloc Québécois appealed to intellectuals yesterday. Can intellectuals follow a party that attacks the unemployed and also attacks self-employed workers?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the former employment insurance chief actuary proved the Bloc Québécois right by estimating that the contribution rate for Quebec's self-employed workers should be 41¢ for every $100 and not $1.36, as the government is proposing.

Will the minister acknowledge that the contribution rate for Quebec's self-employed workers is three times too high and that he should modify his bill to ensure that Quebec workers pay only for the services offered to them?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I want to inform that political party that we have taken the differences into account since Quebec already has its own maternity and parental leave plans, which did not exist in the rest of the country for self-employed workers. We have taken that difference into account. Instead of charging $1.73 for every $100 of income earned, we are asking for just $1.36 for self-employed workers in Quebec who want to benefit from health insurance and compassionate care insurance. This is on a voluntary basis and the cost is quite affordable.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, finally, despite all the attempts to keep us in the dark, we have learned that there is an investigation underway at Public Works and Government Services. However, the minister will only confirm what is not being investigated.

We are not asking what is not being investigated, we are asking what is being investigated. Why all the secrecy?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is well aware that we cannot comment on internal departmental staffing matters but we can say that federal departments have the tools they need to address them. We brought in the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act for the very purpose of protecting whistleblowers. That act was passed by this House.

Under our government, and in our new act, the lines of accountability are clear. The act has a clear reporting clause governing all departments. In addition, information is provided regularly and proactively.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the concern about whistleblower legislation, but given the government's track record of preventing members from receiving evidence or any other information allowing us as parliamentarians to do our job, I am quite sure that Canadians will understand our skepticism about the refusal of the minister to in fact tell us what investigation is going on at the Department of Public Works.

I ask again, we would appreciate information from the minister on the investigation that is currently going on at the Department of Public Works.