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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

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

The answer is simple, Mr. Speaker. Newfoundland and Labrador cannot choose unrestrained O'Brien. If the member wants to know more, if he wants to study the data, he can come to my office immediately after question period.

Correctional Service CanadaOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the ongoing presence of illegal drugs within our federal prisons is a serious problem. The only way to eliminate drugs from our prisons is to provide Correctional Service Canada with the resources it needs to first stop the smuggling of drugs into prisons and to find those drugs that make their way into the prison community.

Could the Minister of Public Safety tell the House how this government is making meaningful strides to eliminate drugs from our federal prisons?

Correctional Service CanadaOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Northumberland—Quinte West for his hard work and interest in crime and justice issues.

Substance abuse and addiction are the root causes of many of the reasons why individuals are in prison. Furthermore, illegal drugs in prisons undermine rehabilitation and increase the likelihood to reoffend. That is why we have invested significantly to increased security to prevent the smuggling of drugs into our corrections facilities.

As part of Correctional Service Canada's new anti-drug strategy, we are using a tough approach to keep our prisons safe and, by extension, to keep our communities safer.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, this budget fails the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. This Conservative budget will cut the equivalent of $3,000 for every man, woman and child in the province.

After years of struggling to stand on our own, the Prime Minister, with the complicity of the Liberal Party, is sticking it to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Will the finance minister confirm that Newfoundland and Labrador will be short-changed over $1.5 billion, $415 million this year alone?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Not at all, Mr. Speaker. The reality is Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the more prosperous provinces in Canada today. This is a good thing and I think the member opposite would agree.

We have also seen growth in the transfers, particularly to equalization, grow at an unsustainable rate for our country, particularly during a global synchronized recession which is affecting our country.

If what the member is asking is for unrestrained growth in one province in Canada, the answer is no.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is the government broke its word on equalization and now it is breaking its word on health care by cutting back the Canada health transfer. British Columbia loses $106 million, Quebec, $83 million, Newfoundland and Labrador, $78 million, Alberta, $38 million and in my home province of Manitoba, $13 million have been lost in health transfers. This means more lineups for surgery, more hallway medicine, more doctors and nurse shortages.

Will the government do the right thing and restore the Canada health transfer?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there will be no reductions in Canada health transfers as I said in the House. In fact, a big difference between now and back in the 1990s, as the government faces a difficult financial situation, a difficult fiscal situation, we are not reducing the Canada health transfer. It remains at 6%, the same with the Canada social transfer at 3%. This is a marked changed from what went on 10 years ago. We will not finance the challenges that we have during a recession on the backs of the hospitals and universities—

The BudgetOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.

CultureOral Questions

February 2nd, 2009 / 2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages got a lot of people's hopes up when he came to Quebec in January to meet with members of the cultural community. He was supposed to be a good listener. Today, though, Le Devoir is reporting that the minister pulled the wool over everyone's eyes, because he has not restored the $5 million he cut for foreign tours by artists.

Will the minister admit that he is trying to make something new out of something old, because most of the money he is announcing will go to extending existing programs?

CultureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, what I said was that the Trade Routes program was a $7 million program where it cost $5 million to produce $2 million in benefits. That is an unacceptable waste of taxpayers' money. We therefore eliminated the program, but reinvested the $7 million in arts and culture programs. This year, our government is investing $2.3 billion in arts and culture. The Bloc Québécois always, always votes against our country's artists.

CultureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, artists are calling on the government to restore the $2 million that went directly to them through the Trade Routes program. The infrastructure money is nothing but an extension of existing programs.

The minister can go on and on about how his budget is a good thing, but artists like Stanley Péan of the Mouvement pour les arts et les lettres have not reacted kindly. One wonders how the minister would respond to Mr. Péan's description of his budget as a big fat zero.

CultureOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. This budget contains $276 million in new money for arts, culture and heritage in our country. The Globe and Mail says that the scale of this year's cultural spending far surpasses that in last year's plan. The Canadian Museums Association welcomes the investments in arts and culture. The Just for Laughs Festival is happy. The director of the National Ballet School says they are very happy with the funding the school is receiving and that this government represents them—

TradeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, in view of the very serious consequences that may occur from the proposed buy American policy, I wonder if we could approach it from a bit of a different perspective.

Could the minister acknowledge that what we have failed to do, or it appears we have failed to do, is coordinate the special nature of the government's stimulus package with our largest trading partner?

In view of the fact that thousands of steelworkers' jobs are at risk, does the government have a plan to coordinate those two stimulus packages?

TradeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I am glad my hon. colleague and friend has talked about the government's package. Our comprehensive action plan is a sweeping, comprehensive and strategic plan to see Canadians working, to see investment coming in and to see capital moving throughout the country.

As far as coordinating with the U.S. on its stimulus package, in the auto sector the Minister of Industry monitored that very carefully and responded in a proportional way. Even before the bill reached the Senate, we were engaged at the diplomatic level warning the Americans about the dangers of that bill.

TradeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the Prime Minister's own backyard, Evraz has just announced it will be laying off 400 steelworkers. That is across western Canada. The sharpest cuts will be in Calgary and Camrose.

Again, on behalf of the House, what will the government do so our steelworkers will not lose their jobs?

TradeOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the very reason we have a comprehensive action plan is to see that our economy is stimulated. On the infrastructure side alone, projects that were at one time planned to be spread over seven years are accelerated, many will take place this year. Within the next two years, there will be demands for workers like those in the steel industry.

We are concerned about what is happening in the economy. We have taken steps. That is why the Canadian economy and the banking system is acknowledged as one of the most stable in the world. As the OECD evaluates what countries are in better shape than others, it projects that Canada will weather these storms.

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative budget mentions women zero times, not one word about women even though they are most likely to be the ones who will suffer most from the recession: no pay equity, no change to employment insurance eligibility. The government is leaving women out in the cold.

Extending benefits for five weeks does not help the two-thirds of working women who do not even qualify for benefits. Why does the government continue to ignore women at a time when they need the support most?

Status of WomenOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeMinister of State (Status of Women)

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member to take a moment to read the budget because it does in fact mention women. I think it is important that not only have we increased the funding at Status of Women, we have streamlined the funding. We now have two components, the partnership fund and the community fund.

I think the member will be pleased to know that the number of organizations now receiving funding through Status of Women has increased by 69%.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, since last year alone, London has seen a 47% spike in employment insurance claims. To make matters worse, Electro-Motive Diesel just announced 600 more layoffs. Workers are counting on EI, but instead they get insults from an out-of-touch minister.

This is not about paying people to sit at home; it is about ensuring they have a home. The minister's comment about EI being a lucrative incentive to stay at home is insulting to hard-working Canadians who have been thrown out of work through no fault of their own.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, what is really insulting is the NDP's position, as stated by numerous of its caucus members, that people over 50 cannot learn new jobs. I find that extremely offensive. The NDP should apologize for saying that anybody over 50 cannot learn new jobs and should not work. We believe they can, and that is why we are investing in them.

TradeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, with the global economy in crisis, Canadians are worried that the proposed U.S. stimulus package contains protectionist measures that would close the door on Canadian steel. Thousands of jobs in my community of Hamilton and in other communities across Canada depend on a vibrant Canadian steel industry.

Following the world economic forum in Davos, could the Minister of International Trade tell the House what the Conservative government is doing in response to their protectionist proposals?

TradeOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale for his constant advocacy on behalf of his constituents and also the economy.

We are very concerned that the direction we see in the United States of protectionist activity can be a drag on the world economies as various countries might want to retaliate with this type of measure. That is why even before the bill hit the senate, we were involved, intervening at the diplomatic level, to do what we could to try to convince it to take a look at the negative effects of that bill. We will continue to do that.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday the minister responsible for EI made remarks that showed a total lack of respect for Canadian workers. She said, “We do not want to make it lucrative for them to stay home and get paid for it”.

Is the minister suggesting that some workers would choose to be unemployed and earn just a fraction of their working wage? How out of touch is that? Why does the minister not stop making excuses and stop changing the subject? Why does she not stand up for the unemployed who she is supposed to represent? Why does she not rise in the House and apologize for those comments?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we know that it is a real shock to any family when a member gets laid off, particularly through circumstances beyond their control. That is why we are extending benefits in our economic action plan. Above regular benefits, we are adding another five weeks to help these people. We are providing more in terms of work-sharing and expanding it so that people can retain and preserve their jobs.

We are also investing very heavily in helping those who are unfortunate enough to lose their jobs to get the training and the skills so they can get back to work with the jobs of today and tomorrow.

National Battlefields CommissionOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the National Battlefields Commission, which is responsible only for the Plains of Abraham and the surrounding area, has decided to mark the 250th anniversary of the events there by re-enacting the battle and holding a masquerade ball.

Will the minister responsible for the National Battlefields Commission demand—for obvious reasons—that it cancel this re-enactment and masquerade ball?