House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-10, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's RulingBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There are 86 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-10.

The motions will be grouped for debate as follows:

Group No. 1, Motions Nos. 1 to 6 and 66 to 86.

Group No. 2, Motions Nos. 7 to 31.

Group No. 3, Motions Nos. 32 to 65.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1 to 6 and 66 to 86 in Group No. 1 to the House.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:05 a.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 295.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 296.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 297.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 298.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 299.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:05 a.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC


Motion No. 66

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 445.

Motion No. 67

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 446.

Motion No. 68

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 447.

Motion No. 69

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 448.

Motion No. 70

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 449.

Motion No. 71

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 450.

Motion No. 72

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 451.

Motion No. 73

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 452.

Motion No. 74

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 453.

Motion No. 75

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 454.

Motion No. 76

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 455.

Motion No. 77

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 456.

Motion No. 78

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 457.

Motion No. 79

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 458.

Motion No. 80

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 459.

Motion No. 81

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 460.

Motion No. 82

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 461.

Motion No. 83

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 462.

Motion No. 84

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 463.

Motion No. 85

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 464.

Motion No. 86

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 465.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:05 a.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to address the motions in amendment introduced by our party concerning Bill C-10.

Motion No. 1 in particular seeks to delete clause 6, which allows the use of tax havens. While the Conservative budget provides nothing to help the thousands of people who will be losing their jobs, and the industries and regions in difficulty, we have the Minister of Finance allowing Canadian multinational corporations to use tax havens to avoid paying billions in taxes while at the same time encouraging investment and job creation abroad at the expense of our local businesses. Clearly, the Minister of Finance is trying to favour his friends through such generous breaks. This approach has become commonplace since the Conservatives have gained the support of the Liberals who regularly did that sort of thing.

In his 2007 budget, the Minister of Finance said that the government had to make sure that everyone paid their fair share. He complained about how some foreign and Canadian corporations take advantage of the tax rules to avoid paying income tax. He said that every time that happens, workers and small and medium-sized businesses end up having to pay more tax. He concluded by stating that that was unfair. Now, not only is the economic situation even worse, but the government seems to have done everything in its power to exacerbate the unfairness.

Let us not forget that the Minister of Finance has already backed away from the fight against tax havens by giving in to pressure from Toronto financiers. He gave them a five-year grace period before he will implement his plan to fight tax evasion, then he convened an advisory panel whose independence and neutrality are debatable.

The Minister of Finance reneged on his promise to fight tax evasion by blindly accepting the recommendations of the Advisory Panel on Canada’s System of International Taxation. The group was clearly set up to justify the minister's change of heart. Of the six members of the panel, four are from private companies that may have benefited from the strategy and still can.

Let me make it clear that the minister was getting advice from a six-member advisory panel with four members in a position to benefit from tax evasion strategies. This is the Conservatives' new way of doing things, an approach borrowed from the Liberals. It is no accident that they decided to support the latest budget. For example, one of the members is the former CEO of Scotiabank, which has more branches in tax havens than any other Canadian bank. The authors of the report are clearly in conflict of interest. That is why we have asked that clause 6 be deleted.

Motions Nos. 2 to 6 concerning securities call for the deletion of clauses 295 to 299. The goal is to eliminate clauses relating to the creation of a single securities commission. With this bill, the government would establish a Canadian securities regulation regime transition office with a $150 million operating budget.

The expert panel on securities regulation appointed by the Minister of Finance tabled its final report in January 2009. The panel proposed the creation of a federal securities regulation agency, although this falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. That is a fact. Once again, this is an encroachment into provincial jurisdictions. The report proposes various mechanisms to implement the project without agreement from Quebec and the provinces.

Furthermore, the report also proposes that the federal government use legal recourse to force dissenting provinces to comply with the federal project. This does not fall under federal jurisdiction, yet it wants to impose penalties on the dissenting provinces. The fact that this is being supported by members from Quebec, whether Conservative or Liberal, is appalling. As the saying goes, when it comes to politics, you have to watch where you step. We see what the Liberals and Conservatives are doing in that regard.

The Bloc Québécois would like to reiterate its opposition to the creation of a national securities commission. Instead, the Bloc Québécois will support a harmonization of the rules governing the financial system through a passport mechanism, like that of the European community, in order to maintain the autonomy and jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. The Bloc Québécois will continue to vigorously argue against the creation of such a commission and will continue to fully support the Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec, which has been doing its job. International experts have said that the existing system for monitoring securities in Canada is among the best in the world.

We therefore cannot understand why the government is trying to get rid of that whole system today.

When I was elected in 2000, one of the first issues I got involved in was bank mergers. The Bloc Québécois has always been fiercely opposed to bank mergers. At the time, if the Liberals had succeeded in introducing this system of bank mergers with the Conservatives' help, our banks would be in a very bad financial position. The goal was to merge in order to buy other banks, especially American ones. Some American banks are in dire straits today.

Luckily, the Bloc Québécois was here in 2000 to stand up to all the big Bay Street financiers. Once again, the focus is on Toronto. But the fact is that the focus should not be on Toronto, especially when it comes to securities, and the government is trying to impose this new system on Quebec, even though this is not the right way to go.

So every day, we are proud to get up in this House and defend Quebeckers' interests, which is something we do very well. And that is why, election after election, Quebeckers send a large delegation of Bloc Québécois members to represent them in this House.

It is always very interesting to follow politics. People who think politics is always dull and boring just have to listen to what the Prime Minister said yesterday. He talked about creating a secret $3 billion fund and about the possibility of heading to an election. If he wants to engage in patronage and pick up where the Liberals left off, I wish him luck. We will be waiting for him in Quebec. We have no problem with that. We are used to it. After Jean, we took care of Paul, and we will take care of the next one who comes along.

As for the last group of motions the Chair agreed to have debated today—motions 66 to 86 concerning Investment Canada—they are NDP motions. We will support these amendments. As announced during the election campaign, the government is going ahead with liberalizing foreign investment.

The government is gradually raising the threshold for automatic review of foreign investments in Canada from $295 million to $1 billion within three years. All investments below that threshold will no longer have to be approved by the industry department. This will mean that for all investments under $1 billion, the government will no longer have to determine whether or not the transaction is good for Canada's economy.

And there are some very recent examples of this. Think about all the investments and purchases made under the Conservative laissez-faire philosophy. All they want is to no longer have to comment on transactions under one billion dollars. Look at what happened with Rio Tinto, for one. The Conservatives could have protected the interests of Quebeckers, but they did not. They made that choice and, today, we are having these discussions. Unions, employees, communities and cities with Rio Tinto facilities are all worried because they do not know what will come after the company's cuts. When their headquarters is in London, it is easy to see why Quebeckers are far from their minds.

Once again, it is the Conservative's laissez-faire policies that these motions are designed to oppose. Obviously, the Bloc Québécois will support these motions because, in difficult economic times, the members of the public who elected us have the right to know that their representatives are defending their interests. And right now the Conservatives and Liberals are doing everything but defending the interests of Quebeckers. Once again, the Bloc will stand up in this House to defend the interests of Quebeckers. That is what we are doing as we move these motions today.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:15 a.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too am very pleased to rise to address these proposed amendments to Bill C-10 to implement this year's budget.

The Conservatives stole a page from the American political playbook in the past two years with their budget measures. The first inkling we had of this was in a previous budget when they embedded a provision that would have allowed them to start censoring artistic production in the movie field in Canada, something that we had not seen in 60 years.

They were going to be allowed to decide themselves whether something was against public order and good morales. That had nothing to do with the budget and it had everything to do with the right wing agenda of the Conservative-Liberal alliance party. What we discovered then was that they were going to use this trick because of the fact that the Liberals were supporting them in everything they did.

In the budget bill last year we also saw another attempt to bring in a part of their right wing agenda. That time it had to do with immigration. The current rule on immigration is if people meet all the criteria, they have a right to become an immigrant and a Canadian citizen.

The new rule is, even if one meets all the criteria and has done absolutely everything, it is not aleatory, it is now up to the civil service, controlled by the Conservative-Liberal alliance, to shut the door to immigration. What they have brought in is a tragedy. It will allow them, for example, to exclude on the basis of country of origin.

That is the right wing agenda. It is well identified by the Conservatives with their Reform base. That is the people who hoot and holler in every question period. They are the ones who support this strong right wing agenda.

This year the Conservatives have gone a step further. Not content to try to muzzle artistic expression by bringing in their world view, not content to exclude whole areas of immigration that have helped build our country, they are now bringing whole sections of their right wing agenda into the budget. The culpable compliance of the official abstention Liberals is allowing them to do so.

We have seen a number of things that are part and parcel of the Conservative-Reform base policies. For example, earlier this week Tom Flanagan wrote an article in The Globe and Mail, which reminds me of General Patton's admonition, would that my enemy write a book.

We have Tom Flanagan expressing himself oh so clearly on the Conservatives' hatred of women's rights. For them it is an anathema. They have gone after a woman's right, enshrined in our human rights documents, to have equal pay for work of equal value. That is in this budget, an attack on that right. They are doing it in the most surreptitious fashion.

They have Mr. Family values himself, the President of the Treasury Board, stand up day after day telling us that it is for women's good. Women's rights are one thing, but family rights are another. We have to take care of both. The Conservatives tell us they are trying to actually accelerate a process that has been going on for far too long, and it should now be attributary of the collective bargaining process.

The problem is very often over the years a category of employment that was mostly male, like a truck driver, versus a category of employment that was mostly female, like a nurse, had nothing to do with an objective analysis of the difficulty of the task being accomplished, the type of training, experience and expertise necessary to accomplish the task, and it had everything to do with the fact that if it was a male dominated category, the individual was paid more and if it was a female dominated category then the individual was paid less.

A lot of people confused this with the debate about equal pay for equal work. That has been decided for a long time. To go back to my examples, a woman driving a truck and a man driving a truck has been settled for 50 years. They will be paid the same thing. A man who works as a nurse and a women who works as a nurse will paid the same thing.

That is not the issue. The issue is what has been done in forward-looking provinces like Manitoba, followed by Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, where we look at the value of the work being performed, and that is what Flanagan's piece helps us understand and decode with the Conservatives. They are almost too happy to snap their suspenders and say that it is a darn good thing the Conservatives are taking away women's rights and that it is about time. This bill is about that.

There is another attack in the bill, this time on the environment. We will see it in the sections that will be looked at a little later today. I give these examples to give context to the current debate.

The Conservatives will be gutting the Navigable Waters Protection Act. We had dozens of environmental groups present in parliamentary committee the other day. We had a shameful experience where a senior civil servant was brought in to deliver a purely political speech. There is a difference that should be maintained between the upper reaches of the civil service, who should have a certain autonomy and the ability to do their jobs in the application of statutes. If people want to be in politics, let them run for a political office, come into this room and do their job. That is a political speech.

However, the Conservatives and institutions do not respect that sort of barricade. They brigadooned the senior civil servant to come in and explain what a great thing it was, that there was more flexibility and it was a tiered approval system. There is nothing in the bill about a tiered approval systems. There will be tiers, but they will be tears of people who care about our navigable waterways. They are bringing in the ability for the government to exclude whole sections of that bill and all types of waterways.

It goes in conjunction with something that was released and first reported on by Louis-Gilles Francoeur in Le Devoir and carried by the English papers later. My colleague from Edmonton brought it forward. There is a clear plan to remove environmental assessments. Yesterday, again in the House, the Conservatives had the temerity to say that this had to do with streamlining more than one approval process, which kills jobs.

When I was the minister of the environment in Quebec, I signed an agreement with the federal government so the federal and provincial assessors would sit together. The only people who were not happy were the consulting engineers who could no longer charge twice for the same work because they would not have two panels. However, it works. That is streamlining. It has nothing to do with removing the federal government's obligation to protect navigable waters. That is a canard.

We are getting the first inklings of the real Conservative agenda. One knows about the holier-than-thou Conservatives who for years have railed against people who stick their money in tax havens. They used to love to talk about Paul Martin. Look at what they are doing now. They had removed the ability to go to certain tax havens and they are bringing it back. They constitute a panel of their buddies to tell them what they want to hear. It will to be very interesting as the UBS, the Union de Banques Suisses case, opens up in the United States. There are 12,000 names on a list.

Greg McArthur from The Globe and Mail did a very good job on this, mentioning that there was a Canadian desk at UBS. Surreptitiously, billions and billions of dollars were stuffed into those accounts by Canadians. It will be very interesting to find out. Who was in charge of that at the time in Canada? Michael Wilson, come on down. That was in The Globe and Mail, and it has tried to get an interview with Mr. Wilson. It cannot get one. It has tried to find out what is in it from the revenue agency in Canada, but it cannot get an answer. It is going to be interesting to find that out as well.

On the notion of foreign ownership, there can be no greater subject of concern to Canadians in this day and age, as we have seen a series of bubbles in the financial markets burst, that we maintain control as much as possible of key sectors and key industries, especially in the primary sectors of mining, metallurgy and forestry. Alcan, which is now Rio Tinto Alcan, owns the bed of the Saguenay River, one of the most beautiful rivers in Canada. Now that the Chinese government is buying into Rio Tinto, guess what? We are literally selling a riverbed to the Chinese government.

Labatt has just signed a deal. Its Belgian owners are selling off to a fund in New York and they will no longer be allowed to sell their Canadian production into the States. Not only is that a breach of the NAFTA and the Canada-U.S. FTA, which remains in force, it is a breach of common sense. Why should we even allow this? Xstrata, a company that had a written deal with the Canadian government in Sudbury, lost 700 jobs.

If the owners of Air Canada, the 49% shareholders, are a banker in Switzerland or Tokyo, do members think there will be any more planes to Hamilton or Rimouski? Asking the question is to answer it. That is why we want these amendments. That is why we oppose the bill.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:25 a.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for bringing up a very serious subject, the Navigable Waters Act. All of us in the House know that the Fisheries Act is one of the oldest pieces of legislation in the country. It should also be one of the strongest to protect the habitat and integrity of natural water systems in our country. Yet, time after time, my office hears from fishermen, kayakers and everybody else who uses those waterways. They are very concerned about what this act will do to protect the integrity of those waterways.

If possible, could my colleague take another moment to explain the dangers of what the government will do to our natural water systems?

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:25 a.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the question because it goes right to the history of Canada. The waterways are what allowed us to open up our country and their protection has been enshrined in legislation for over 100 years, because we understood the importance.

Canada also has a treaty with the United States on boundary waters protection. We always forget the word “protection” when we talk about these instruments. The Boundary Waters Treaty with the United States is 100 years old. The Navigable Waters Protection Act is over 100 years old. They were models for what became standard in the world.

The Boundary Waters Treaty Act actually uses the words, written 100 years ago. It says that neither party shall allow pollution into the waterways to the detriment of. I remember going with Gary Doer to Washington with my colleague, Minister Ashton from Manitoba, who might be related to one of my new colleagues from Manitoba. He is her father. We were working to stop the Americans from sending the contents of something called Devils Lake into the Cheyenne River and up the Rouge River and into Lake Winnipeg, where there is a huge commercial fishery.

We know what happens when we do not take care of our waters. That is why so many of the groups involved in environmental protection are so concerned about what the Conservatives are up to. Again, they are profiting from the fact that the Liberals are at their lowest ebb. They have had a series of weak leaders and they have another weak now, who allows himself to be bullied like we saw yesterday in Vancouver when he was told if they did not smarten up, they would have an election. Usually the official opposition dreams of the day when they can get an election. These guys go cowering into the corner, and they are allowing all this stuff to go through.

That is what the shame is here. It is a good thing the NDP is here to stand up for the rights of Canadians and for the environment.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:25 a.m.


Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the first issue for which I became the critic after being elected in 2004 was the status of women. I am amazed at how little has been accomplished to date. Yesterday, I heard a colleague call for gender-based analyses to know where gender equality stands department wide.

Now pay equity is being challenged. As I recall, when I was in university, I attended the same classes as men, took the same exams and got the same diploma. It seems to me that those who do the same job should be paid the same.

I would like my hon. colleague to tell the House why women continue to be denied the right to pay equity. Why is it so difficult to achieve gender equity?

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:30 a.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to my colleague from Trois-Rivières that we are on exactly the same page in this matter.

What the Conservatives are doing is devious. It is hypocrisy to the utmost. They rise and state that, on the contrary, it will speed things up. But we have to look at the details. They have made it impossible to apply the rule of pay equity, namely equal pay for work of equal value, by eliminating recourse to the only competent tribunal.

Many people have missed another small detail. Previously, small groups could be considered to be predominantly female if 70% of its members were female. But the general rule applied, within the federal public service, was that the employment group was predominantly female if its membership was 55% female. In the bill, the Conservatives, supported by the Liberals, are about to change the general rule of 55% to 70%. With this threshold, it is virtually impossible to find an employment group that will be able to take action to ensure that women receive equal pay for work of equal value.

Although I have the greatest of respect for unions after having worked in them for many years, I must say that, historically, collective agreements were not a sure thing. Unfortunately, collective agreements very often reflect the same prejudices held by society in general. Therefore it is not a solution in this situation to say that henceforth, it will be negotiated. If only to—

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:30 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but the time provided for questions and comments has expired

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Macleod Alberta


Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I will begin today by recognizing what I thought was a common understanding when one puts his or her name on the ballot to run to be a member of this House.

I committed to my constituents that, if they saw fit to elect me as their member of Parliament, every statement I made in this House and every decision I made would be based on me availing myself of all available information before I made that decision.

The reason I say that is because there was a five hour briefing from about 36 to 38 well-respected public servants who sat with us until almost midnight one night, providing a fulsome briefing that was offered to all members of Parliament and all senators. I am a little ashamed to say that there were only two parties that actually showed up, that being the government and the Liberals. It is reflected today in these false comments that the other parties could have had answered.

In fact, we had a very broad cross-section of witnesses, respected public servants who are experts in their fields, appear before committee. We offered the broadest opportunity, as we did in the prebudget consultations, which, by the way, the NDP did not take part in, to provide the most information so we would not have this delay. To be very blunt, that is what we have here today.

Hopefully the report stage debate on the budget implementation bill, Bill C-10, will end soon. We have debated it and have provided an open forum for people to participate. I will keep my comments very brief so as to not prolong this disappointing show of political theatre by both the Bloc and the NDP.

I want it to be clear for the people at home. What we are witnessing here today is nothing more than the Bloc and the NDP using parliamentary procedures to delay a vital piece of legislation from passing, legislation they know will pass. They know this legislation contains vital, time-sensitive measures to help the Canadian economy and many of the most vulnerable. Bill C-10 has vital provisions to extend EI by five weeks, to provide $6 billion for stimulative, job creating investments in housing, infrastructure, regional economic development and health care, to implement measures to ensure financial market stability, and to help flow credit to businesses.

The members of the NDP and the Bloc, I would hope, have by now read the bill and realize that. Why are they doing it? This is not about pay equity. This is not about equalization. Everyone who has actually read and studied this bill realizes these changes are very reasonable and necessary. This is about silly partisanship. They do not care about the content of the budget or this budget bill. They proudly and publicly opposed it weeks before they read it. In fact, the NDP did not submit one written word of suggestion during the prebudget consultations.

Now those members think that by delaying this bill, they will expose the fact that the government and the official opposition have worked together to ensure this bill's expedited passage. They think by doing this they will somehow gain votes in an election one, two, maybe three years down the road. What escapes them is that any thinking person would realize that this delay is nonsense.

The reason the government and the official opposition have supported quick passage of the bill is because we collectively realize that we are in a period of economic volatility. The bill's measures are vital and the time to act is now. Now is not the time for endless partisan debates that over 99% of Canadians do not care anything about considering the situations they are in.

We are acting responsibly and in the best interests of Canadians. That is what we were sent here to do and we are doing it. I strongly encourage the NDP and the Bloc to follow that example. I implore the Senate to follow that example as well. It will have two weeks before we break for our constituency week in March to get the bill passed for royal assent.

Canadians want this legislation passed, they want an extension to their EI and they want to see the $6 billion that is tied up until we pass the bill. I caution the parties not to delay and to pass Bill C-10. I know the NDP and Bloc members tend not to listen to us, or any rational speaker for that matter, but I ask them to listen to the most vulnerable Canadians who are depending on the bill to pass, which will allow their regular EI to be extended by five weeks.

All MPs are getting the same calls and emails in their offices. We all have the same stacks of letters from struggling Canadians desperate for this provision to come into effect. I have some with me. I will not divulge any names but I ask members to listen to their words. A woman laid off in Ontario said that she is “worried sick”. A man in B.C. says that he will be “forced to leave the country” if this does not happen soon. Unfortunately, there are thousands more people just like that.

We need to stop the games and start helping Canadians and the economy by passing the bill.

I will not dignify this charade of a debate with further comments so I will end here, as report stage should end here. I again plead with all members of the House to defeat these detrimental amendments to Bill C-10. We need to get this done, move on to third reading and continue to work toward speedy passage of this legislation. That is the responsible course of action and that is what Canadians are depending on.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:40 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I was at every minute of that five and a half hour briefing. In fact, I tried to extend it even beyond five and a half hours but was not necessarily successful at that. There were a lot of questions and a lot of fine details about the budget that needed to be analyzed so that is why members of the Liberal Party of Canada were definitely there, including our finance critic.

One of the key questions that I had at that time was actually not about an element in the budget but rather about an element outside of the budget. The Conservative government announced a home retrofit tax credit. It was a bit of a storefront political move that it hoped would scope a lot of favour among Canadians. What we realize now is that when Bill C-10 was tabled, actual legal standing for the home renovation tax credit, were absent. We found out during the course of the briefing that there was no intention of actually even making legal force to the home renovation tax credit until the fall of 2009. In other words, if a second budget implementation bill were tabled in the fall of 2009, we could expect passage, at the very earliest, around November 2009.

The government has indicated that the program will expire on December 31, 2009. It will not be available after that point in time. In other words, realistically there will only be one month of certainty when the full details of that program are fully exposed to Canadians and yet Canadians are expected to go out and make expenditures toward that program and apply for a tax credit that does not yet have legal force. No details have yet been provided except for the pamphlet that has been administered by the Canada Revenue Agency.

In addition to the home retrofit tax credit, for which we do not actually have details, there is also an ecoENERGY home retrofit grant program. Will Canadians be able to apply for both programs using the same receipts for renovations to their home, yes or no?

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:40 a.m.


Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the answer to the last question is, yes. I am sorry if the member did not hear that in the answers but maybe it was not a question that day. However, absolutely. That was part of this. We recognized the benefits of the ecoENERGY program and agreed that we should take advantage of that so we stacked the two, one on top of the other.

As to the original question of how this will be implemented, the hon. member has already voted on that. It was in the ways and means motion and it has passed.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:40 a.m.


Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to our colleague who gave a somewhat pretentious speech. For his information, we have received numerous emails from individuals who are not happy with the work done by the Conservatives, and not only from Quebeckers. I would like, if I may, to read short excerpts from what one of them wrote me around noon yesterday. This is a lady from Alberta who expressed great disappointment with what the Conservatives have done. Understandably, I have to read these quotes in English:

“I wanted you to know that out here in Alberta, I'm so pleased that at least one woman MP has the courage to stand up in Parliament and express these concerns, even though you know that there are many in the Conservative seats who will have the temerity to laugh, as I observed them doing when this came to a vote and they shouted 'no'. I also observed the Speaker actually laughing when he called for the vote in what appeared to be a mocking of the member's bill which your words were addressing”.

That is something to bear in mind, Mr. Speaker. You were not the one in the chair at the time. You are therefore not to blame.

This lady was also very disappointed with the conduct of female Conservative MPs. She added, and I quote:

“You spoke eloquently, including your chastizing of Conservative female MPs who did not take a stand to defend the rights of women”.

The member opposite needs to know that not everyone thinks that the Conservatives are right and, not only in Quebec but across Canada, many do not approve of their policies.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:45 a.m.


Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I should allow you to answer that question first because it appeared that part of it was directed to you. I am sure that you, in your normal jovial way, were just smiling at the hon. members as they were voting. We certainly would not think you would take sides.

It is wonderful to see a member of the Bloc Québécois recognizing that Albertans matter. Usually those members spend their days bashing Albertans saying that we are huge polluters.

In fact, all Canadians recognize the difficult situation that all Canadians are in.

We stand up for women. In fact, we stand up so firmly for women that we do not think they should have to wait 15 years to get the same wage agreements that men have.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:45 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Frankly, the hon. parliamentary knows I do not answer questions in the House, tempting as it is sometimes, but I am pleased that he was able to respond to the comments of the hon. member for Laval.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Markham—Unionville.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:45 a.m.


John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, as members know, the Liberals will support the budget for one simple reason, that Canada is in the midst of an economic crisis with job losses that we have not seen in a very long time. I think that Canadians want Parliament to take action to support the economy, and that has to be our top priority.

That having been said, we realize that there are many problems and flaws in this budget. That is why we said that the government would be under trusteeship, on probation.

The government is on probation, and it is for that reason that we require quarterly reports from the government: so that we can monitor it and see whether it is implementing the actions promised in the budget and so that we can see the degree to which the government is responding to the five criteria laid out by our leader, those being that the federal government must help the vulnerable, must protect the jobs of today, must support the jobs of tomorrow, must be fair from a regional point of view and must act in such a way as to not create a permanent deficit.

We will be monitoring the government to ensure the money gets out the door and to ensure that it responds to the five criteria laid out by our leader. We will also monitor the state of the economy. If the economy continues to get worse, it may be necessary for the government to take additional action. That is our overall position.

Let me comment briefly on a certain number of problems we see in the budget, both in terms of what one might call sins of omission--things we think ought to have been in the budget and are not there--and sins of commission, things that are in the budget that we do not like at all. In both categories the list is potentially endless, but in view of the time, I will select just two items in each area.

First, in terms of helping the vulnerable, if there is one single thing that we believe the government ought to have done, it would have been to ease the conditions of eligibility for employment insurance. Our current employment insurance system has not been recession-tested. I do not think it is right that somebody in my riding should have to work twice as many hours to be eligible for EI as somebody in someone else's riding. This was certainly a sin of omission in terms of helping the vulnerable.

Second, we can look to the south and compare the government's measures with those of President Obama, which form a vision for the future around the importance of science; the importance of technology; the importance of research, of innovation, of access to venture capital; and the importance of serious measures to create a sustainable economy. If one compares the billions spent in the south to the lip service, or worse, in our country, this is another area in which this visionless budget does not stand up to scrutiny.

Turning now to crimes of commission, I would argue that one of the most egregious is the Conservatives' treatment of pay equity. I believe this is an attack on the rights of women. I believe that the government's claim that it is following the Ontario model or the Manitoba model is demonstrably and patently false.

On the other hand, as I said at the very beginning, the overriding reason for our support for the government is that we must, at this time of economic crisis, provide support to save or protect jobs, and many of those jobs that need either saving or protecting are the jobs of women. The fiscal measures of the budget, providing they do indeed get out the door--and we will be monitoring that--will provide assistance to women, which in a sense is a balance against the attack on women in the area of pay equity.

I will mention a second example of things we do not like in the budget. Competition policy is framework legislation that is generally reviewed approximately once every 20 years. To slip it into a budget implementation bill to ensure that there is virtually no debate in this very important area can certainly be seen as bad process, whatever one's views on the content of the legislation may be.

Some of the colleagues in the Bloc or the NDP might ask me, given this litany of things I do not like about the budget, why I am supporting it. The answer is, as I said at the very beginning, that we are in an economic crisis in this country at this time.

I do not think any of us in the chamber have seen a crisis of this magnitude in our lifetimes. At least it has the potential to develop into something far worse than what we have seen in our lifetimes. That is why we have to have our focus on this single point, which is that if the government gets the billions of dollars in the budget out the door, that money will provide support for jobs. I think that has to be the number one priority for Canadians at this time.

My last point relates to a more recent development. It is this attempt by the government to spend an additional $3 billion through the estimates through what can only be described as very unusual means.

Finally, it seems, the government has found religion. It seems it finally acknowledges there is a recession, even though the Prime Minister said during the election campaign that if Canada was going to have a recession, it would have had one now. Finally the government understands the importance of getting the money out the door, which is something we have been saying for weeks and months. Had it really been serious, it would have acted with a fiscal stimulus right after the election, or at least in November, at a time when virtually every other country in the world had already acted.

The Conservatives were in denial at that point. They did not think there was a need for any stimulus. In fact, their disastrous November statement contained cuts rather than stimulus. Now at least they acknowledge that we are in recession and we need to get the money out. That is the alleged rationale for this unusual practice on the $3 billion.

However, we have not yet given our agreement to this process. Many questions have to be raised. For example, we had a briefing by Treasury Board officials on the $3 billion. At that time we were told the measures to be included in the $3 billion were budget measures specifically from chapter 3 of the budget. They gave examples such as the regional development agency for southern Ontario, and many others.

Now that we see the black and white letters of the proposed bill for the estimates, we see it is far broader than it appears. This is one of the things we will have to look into. It appears that the $3 billion can be anything the government wants to do and is not necessarily limited to measures contained in the budget.

We have been the ones arguing from the very start that it is important to get the money out the door, but we also want to make sure that the process through which the government seeks to do that does not lead to abuse. We now see the possibility that the $3 billion could include measures other than budget measures, and that possibility certainly raises questions on this side of the House.

Mr. Speaker, I reiterate our position that we support the budget because of the economic crisis in which we find ourselves embroiled, but we are deeply suspicious of the motives and the capacity of the government to deliver, which is why we have set up this monitoring mechanism. We support the budget, but with serious reservations both on what it contains and on what it does not contain. We will certainly have further questions on the mechanics and propriety of this new spending mechanism that the government proposed just yesterday.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:55 a.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the critique that the member gave from the Liberal Party, but my question is about holding the government to account as well as about improving what I would argue is an ill-conceived budget.

It is one thing for the government to say it would provide stimulus. It is another thing to see a slush fund being created, with no real oversight beyond a request to just trust the government.

I am wondering why the member's party is not supporting our party in taking out facets of this budget. This is not about confidence. This is about improving a really bad budget as much as we can. Why will the member not join us in taking out those parts and facets of the budget? That is what we are debating here today. Why will the member not join us in trying to improve something that is really ill-conceived and not put together very well?

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:55 a.m.


John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what my colleague over there has just said, confidence is whatever the government and the Prime Minister say is confidence. The finance minister and the Prime Minister have made it quite clear that from their point of view, any change in the budget is a matter of confidence.

It is all very well for the NDP to behave in an irresponsible way that would likely cause an election and a delay of several months for any support to the economy or any help to those who are unemployed or who are about to become unemployed, but we in the Liberal Party believe our first responsibility is to support the economy, to support the unemployed and to support the potentially unemployed at this moment of economic crisis.

Motions in AmendmentBudget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

10:55 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There are three minutes remaining in the time allotted for questions and comments to the hon. member, but in light of the fact that it is now 11:00, we will proceed, as the rules require, with statements by members.

Canadian Landmine Awareness WeekStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, on March 1, 1999, the Ottawa treaty, formally known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, was ratified making it binding international law.

February 23 to March 1 marks the 10 year anniversary of the Ottawa treaty with Canadian Landmine Awareness Week.

Canadian advocacy groups and international organizations alike are taking action this week by once again drawing attention to the horrific effects posed by the indiscriminate use of landmines and cluster munitions.

Canada continues to recognize the grave effects of these inhumane weapons. As one of the original signatory states of the Oslo declaration and later the Convention on Cluster Munitions, I am pleased to say that Canada signed the treaty on December 3, 2008.

I would like to take this opportunity to applaud our government for its continued leadership on this file, as well as congratulate Mines Action Canada for its help in making the world a safer place, one minefield at a time.

May this year's Canadian Landmine Awareness Week be a success.

PensionsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have received numerous calls to my office asking what the government plans are for saving the shrinking pensions of Canadians.

Nortel Networks has been based in Brampton for years and employees are concerned that its financial troubles will affect their pensions. Last week the employee's union held a meeting to discuss the fate of their pensions. There are roughly 16,000 Nortel pensioners in Canada, many of whom rely upon the pension and benefits that they have earned over the course of their working lives, in some cases 25 years or more.

Employees are concerned about losing their hard-earned pensions along with their jobs, since the company announced that employees being laid off will not receive any severance payments.

I call upon the Prime Minister and his government to take immediate action and give Canadians the reassurance that their pensions are safe.

Eva Souligny DeschampsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, Eva Souligny Deschamps, a resident in my riding, recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She was born on February 1, 1909, in Saint-Bernardin parish in eastern Ontario. She lives at the Cité Jardin in Gatineau.

Mrs. Deschamps says she was brought up in a loving, patient farming family. She and her late husband, Henri Deschamps, had 10 children together, seven of whom are still alive, and she is proud to have 25 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Deschamps likes to say that she is as old as the Montreal Canadiens and that, as an ardent hockey fan, she has always cheered for them. But she does admit that she now rather likes the Ottawa Senators.

The Bloc Québécois and I would like to offer Mrs. Deschamps our best wishes, and we hope that she will keep both her health and her sense of humour.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, as part of Ottawa's celebration of Black History Month, the Ottawa International Writers Festival hosted Emmanuel Jal, a bright young artist, .

Emmanuel is a survivor of war in Sudan. He was only seven years old when his mother was killed by government soldiers. Emmanuel's story is all too familiar. In an attempt to escape the horrors of war, he joined thousands of other children in seeking refuge, but on his way, he was captured, recruited and turned into a child soldier. After spending seven years as a child soldier, he found refuge with an aid worker.

What is important about his story is Emmanuel refuses to hate. In his work he is full of hope and forgiveness. He is spreading the message of peace and reconciliation. He campaigns tirelessly against gun proliferation and the use of children in war.

Let us heed Emmanuel's call for reconciliation and support for child soldiers. In Emmanuel's own words, “I can't wait for that day when I'll see no more fears, no more tears, no cry”.