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House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what the budget implementation bill will not be used for will be to permit one province to have unrestrained payments. We are calling on all of the provinces to be reasonable, that the growth in equalization payments will be equal to the rate of growth in the economy without exception, including Newfoundland and Labrador.

If the member from British Columbia does not understand the issue, I invite him to my office immediately after question period where we are having a briefing of the Liberal opposition on that precise issue.

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Shame on the Conservative government, Mr. Speaker, for changing the equalization formula without any consultations. The government's decision totally ignores the principles of accountability and transparency. The Prime Minister has challenged a majority of Quebeckers with this kind of attitude.

Need I remind the right hon. Prime Minister that he is the head of a federation, not a republic?

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if there was a question, but if it is a question about the fairness of equalization--

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Are you removing the option as to the 50% on natural resources?

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The Minister of Finance has the floor. We will have a little order in the House, please. The hon. Minister of Finance.

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the O'Brien formula enunciated certain principles which are being followed. One of the concerns in the O'Brien formula, with due respect to the Liberal member from Newfoundland and Labrador who is creating a great bit of noise here, is a recognition of commodities prices and the variabilities in commodities prices. We have to be realistic about that in the interests of our country, our whole country, not just Newfoundland and Labrador.

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Conservative government is showing its inability to properly manage our federation. Not too long ago, the Minister of Finance, who is sitting over there, announced that the days of bickering between federal and provincial governments were over. He should go and tell that to Quebec's Premier Jean Charest, who is upset with this Prime Minister for reneging on the promise made to Quebeckers.

Why does the government view reneging on promises as the best way to manage our country and this federation?

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite suggests that I say this to Premier Charest. I can assure her that I have. I said it to him this weekend as a matter of fact.

Quebec will receive $8.3 billion in equalization this year, a 70% increase from the time of the Liberal government in Canada. No wonder the Liberals are supporting our budget bill.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, said that the federal government has some catching-up to do when it comes to global warming. Its refusal to implement the Kyoto protocol hurts Quebec, which has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2% since 1990, while Alberta has increased its emissions by 36.6% and Saskatchewan has increased its by 63.4%.

Will the minister admit that if he refuses to establish a carbon exchange with 1990 as the base year, it will be because he has decided to reward the big polluters to the detriment of Quebec?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I have been talking to Line Beauchamp, Quebec's minister of sustainable development, environment and parks, and we are making progress.

That is not the real question though. The real question is where the Bloc stands. Last month, it and its coalition partners wanted a carbon exchange with the United States. This month, it wants a carbon exchange with Europe. What is the Bloc’s real position?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the Bloc’s position: we want a carbon exchange with 1990 as the base year. That is the reality.

Does the Minister of the Environment not find it pretty pathetic that one of the first things he did in his dealings with the American president was to defend the oil sands? In doing this, he turned himself into a lobbyist for big oil. That is what is pathetic about this Parliament.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, if the Bloc has not read the budget, at least it could read the document drawn up by the coalition, which is in perfect agreement with our government’s position.

Our government is working together with the United States and the new president, President Obama, on a North American exchange system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the evidence grows regarding federal government negligence in the contaminated water scandal in Shannon, the minister responsible for the Quebec City region does nothing. She should be dealing with this tragedy in human terms and, first and foremost, taking action to resolve this matter.

Will the minister responsible for the Quebec City region now acknowledge the federal government's responsibility and tell us what she intends to do to help the residents of Shannon?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as I said last week, the Government of Canada and the department are continuing to work with all parties involved. The Canadian Forces base in Valcartier is providing drinking water for all employees and Canadian Forces members and their families.

In recent years, we have spent nearly $40 million on projects to improve and maintain the water supply system. We have continued the job with all those involved in the matter.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that there is a shortfall of $13 million to connect the water supply in Shannon.

During the election campaign, however, the minister responsible for the Quebec city region travelled throughout the region encouraging people to vote for candidates who would be in a position to make decisions. And yet, this same minister is today hiding behind procedures to justify her silence and inertia.

Now that she is in power, why is she not acting and getting her government to act in Shannon?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague from Quebec is working very hard in this matter. Unfortunately, there is currently a case before the Quebec Superior Court in this matter.

At the same time, the government fully grasps the situation of the people of Shannon. We are working with all the other departments of this government to come up with a solution in order to protect the health of the people of Shannon.

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

February 2nd, 2009 / 2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, we were stunned to hear the Minister of Natural Resources tell the House that she was not aware of “some of the details that have subsequently come to light” in the media concerning the radioactive leak at Chalk River. When it comes to nuclear safety, the lives of Canadians really are in the hands of the minister.

I would simply like to know why the media know more than the minister about the matter?

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as we indicated last week, we are very concerned about the issues that were brought forward in the media reports regarding the Chalk River facility. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has assured me in a news release that was put out last week that there is no leak into the Ottawa River. I would refer the member to that statement.

The health and safety of Canadians has always been our number one priority. To that point, we have asked for a report from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and from AECL regarding this incident so that we can get to the bottom of the matter.

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister might do well to get media briefings from Greg Weston; she might know more about what is happening in her portfolio.

After last year's shutdown over safety concerns, the public was right to expect its government to be monitoring the plant more closely than ever and reporting incidents to the public immediately.

How will the minister guarantee that the public will not continue to need media leaks to find out about radioactive leaks?

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her advice on the matter. As I indicated before, there were difficulties on December 6 and I learned about those difficulties soon thereafter. I was not aware of some of the details that have come to light subsequently.

However, we have asked for a report into the matter from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and from AECL. Through those reports that will come to the office from my officials, we will get to the bottom of it and we will deal with it appropriately.

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, last week the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador asserted that changes to the equalization formula, which affects Atlantic accord payments, would gouge the province of up to $1.6 billion over the next three years. Other estimates are being tossed around.

Clearly, there is a need for transparency and openness. Sadly, that transparency and openness is lacking.

Will the finance minister put everything on the table and release his detailed calculations and projections that show the full impact of his changes?

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is welcome to come to my office right after question period for a briefing by finance officials. He can have all the details he wants about equalization in Canada.

What he will not get is unequal equalization. Across Canada we are restraining the growth of equalization so that it does not grow at 15%—

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

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

So O'Brien got it wrong. Is that what you are saying? O'Brien got it wrong.

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

The member is screeching over there, Mr. Speaker. I know screech is a product of Newfoundland, but my friend should relax. He is being a bit noisy. I can hardly speak.

The member for Labrador is welcome to come to the office at 3 o'clock and look at all the data.

Equalization PaymentsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, the question is simple. Is he or is he not changing the provisions in the 2007 budget that allows a province to choose to exclude either 50% or 100% of the value of its natural resources from equalization, yes or no?