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House of Commons Hansard #28 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was shipyard.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we have a number of people in Human Resources and Skills Development who are working very hard to ensure those Canadians who need and deserve employment insurance benefits receive them in a timely manner. We are seeing unprecedented demands on this system.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those of my staff who have been working extra hours and who have been working weekends for the sake of Canadians.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board rejects applications from Haitians who were complicit in, or actually committed, crimes against humanity under the Aristide regime. Yet, Pharès Pierre, who has been appointed to the IRB by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, was part of that government which made use of torture and was complicit in atrocities. This makes absolutely no sense.

Can the minister take steps to see that he is dismissed? That is the only sensible thing to do.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, I am gravely concerned about the recommendation of this person by the IRB, which is responsible under the new system for proposing names to me after a pre-selection process. I spoke to the chairperson of the IRB yesterday and we are looking into how to address this issue. We must proceed carefully.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is defending himself by saying that this individual was recommended to him by the IRB and underwent Privy Council security checks, the Privy Council being, I might add, the Prime Minister's office. Exactly the same people who investigated the Couillard affair. That says something.

So which is it: are the investigators incompetent, or was this appointment made in order to please a Conservative crony? What is it really: incompetence or partisan politics?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, the man in question is not a friend of mine. To the best of my knowledge, he is not currently an active member of the Conservative Party of Canada. He was appointed on the advice of the IRB. According to the revised process, the IRB chairperson is responsible for the selection of qualified candidates to be recommended to the minister for appointment to the IRB.

JusticeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, lawyers are accusing the criminal conviction review group of obstruction and lack of transparency. They are saying that since the Conservatives came to power they have been refused evidence that is crucial to their clients' defence and have been referred to the Access to Information Act.

If the system is working properly, as the Minister of Justice maintained in committee, how can he explain the obstruction the Montreal lawyers are complaining about, and rightly so?

JusticeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member has any evidence of that, he should please present that either here or at committee. I can say that the process works well. It is a process that has been in place since 2002. I think Canadians can continue to have confidence in that process.

JusticeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's response is not convincing anyone.

Since coming to power, the Conservatives have increased their hostility towards anyone who does not share their views by taking away their livelihood and their resources.

Does the minister realize that by refusing to hand over crucial evidence, he is violating his legal obligations as set out by the Supreme Court?

JusticeOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, those are ridiculous comments coming from the hon. member for which there is absolutely no basis. The only people we, as a government, have taken hostile action against are violent criminals in this country. Those are the people we stand up to and so should the hon. member.

InfrastructureOral Questions

March 11th, 2009 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, three days ago the finance minister said, “the construction season is about to start...and we want to make full use of the six-month construction season”. However, the government's first probation report yesterday shows it will spend the construction season this spring twiddling its thumbs instead.

The green infrastructure fund and community fund will not begin until the fall. The $2 billion infrastructure stimulus fund will not start until July, and that is after a murky application process.

Why is the government misleading Canadians, and why is it planning to waste over half the construction season?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is absolutely incorrect.

What we are doing, for example, in his own province is working constructively with the McGuinty government. Let us look at what his own former colleagues at the Ontario legislature have to say.

Liberal MPP Dave Levac said,

This is the kind of co-operative venture that produces the most effective and efficient projects any level of government could hope for.

Let us look at what Liberal MPP Jeff Leal had to say: There is no doubt that residents will notice the positive impact of these improvements almost immediately.

I could go on.

MPP Kim Craitor said,

This is a great day for all of us.

I can understand why the member was tossed out of the Liberal caucus at Queen's Park and sent packing.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, thousands of unemployed workers and their families are waiting for the Conservative government to do what it has failed to do so far: provide infrastructure funding responsibly, fairly and quickly.

Why does this government refuse to use a much more effective method, along the lines of the gas tax? Would the government prefer to play political games instead of creating the jobs Canadians need, this summer when Canadians will need them most?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are working with the provincial governments. I can tell members that Premier Dalton McGuinty is not playing political games; NDP Premier Gary Doer is not playing political games; and the great Premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell, is not playing political games. What they are doing is working constructively with those of us on this side of the House to ensure that we can add a much-needed shot in the arm to the Canadian economy: a little bit of hope, a little bit of jobs, a little bit of opportunity.

There is one thing standing in the way of help for Canadians, and that is the Liberal Senate. We need the member to get down there and urge them to get the job done.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration continues to fail immigrants and their families.

The record speaks for itself. The Conservatives have accepted 50,000 fewer landed immigrants into Canada; Canadians who have adopted children abroad face major delays; and processing times for skilled workers in Pakistan, China, India, Syria, the Philippines and Ukraine have dramatically increased.

Does the minister not understand that by not addressing the inefficiencies in the system he is negatively affecting people's lives? Do people matter to the minister?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, not at all. Under this government, we have reversed a shameful record of neglect of immigration by our Liberal predecessors.

We have increased the budget of the immigration department by 57%. We have increased immigrant settlement funding by $1.4 billion. This is the first year in a generation where the backlog for federal skilled workers will be going down rather than up.

When the Liberals took office, the backlog was fewer than 50,000 applications; they drove it up to over 800,000.

This government is taking action for new Canadians and for our economy.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an answer I would celebrate on April 1.

According to the most recent departmental performance report, under the Conservatives, the backlog of refugee claims has more than doubled. The number of finalized claims has decreased by 50%. The average processing time has increased to 14 months, and the average cost per claim has increased by almost $2,000 to nearly $5,000.

Why has the Conservative government failed to provide a timely and efficient refugee determination system to people who desperately need one?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I am really delighted to hear the interest of the member in hopefully working together to create a more efficient refugee determination system.

According to the United Nations, we already have one of the fairest, most generous refugee determination systems in the world. However, the member is quite right, it is not efficient and the reality is that last year we received 38,000 inland refugee claimants, about 60% of whose applications were rejected by the IRB.

I would like to work with the member to find ways that we can dissuade people from making false refugee claims, seeking to jump the queue and to come to this country illegally under the cover of being refugees.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberal leader shamefully claimed that the Prime Minister was singing “happy songs” when he correctly stated that Canada's economy has remained relatively strong compared to other industrialized nations. Instead of irresponsibly talking down the Canadian economy, the Liberal leader should look at the facts, listen to the experts, and stand up for our economy.

Can the Minister of Finance tell the House what the International Monetary Fund actually said about Canada's economic position?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

I certainly can, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member for Edmonton—Leduc for the question. He of course has done an excellent job shepherding the budget bill on an expeditious basis through the finance committee in his role as chair of that committee. Would that it could be said of the finance committee in the Senate, chaired by a Liberal senator.

We have a plan. The Liberals are delaying the economic plan in the Senate, all the worse because—I know the member for Wascana will want to know this—the International Monetary Fund said this today:

Canada is better placed than many countries to weather the global financial turbulence and worldwide recession. Its resilience can be attributed to—

The EconomyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The EconomyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for Sudbury.

Financial InstitutionsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, out of control fees and interest charges continue to drain the pockets of hard-hit consumers and businesses. Meanwhile, according to BusinessWeek, credit card companies are hurting their own revenues by hiking interest rates and pushing Canadians even further toward default or bankruptcy. There is no reason they cannot pass along some savings to consumers for both of their interests.

When will the government realize that reasonable limits are needed to ensure all Canadians survive this economic crisis and not just credit card companies?

Financial InstitutionsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, if the member has reviewed the bill, in the budget bill there are provisions that we want to have passed to give the regulatory power to deal with some of these credit card issues that are of concern to Canadians. As soon as the bill is passed we will be able to move forward with that. I hope the Liberal senators will stop delaying the bill in the other place.

Financial InstitutionsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, in this economic meltdown, Canadians need more than just an information campaign. They need protection.

If rising interest rates were not enough, Visa and MasterCard have announced plans to enter the debit market. As a result, Interac has applied to the Competition Bureau to alter its structure from a not-for-profit to a for-profit operation. Retailers are rightly worried that the current low transaction charges of 3¢ to 7¢ will quickly skyrocket.

When will the government put the interests of small business retailers and Canadian consumers ahead of credit card companies?

Financial InstitutionsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

We will be able to move forward, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the regulatory aspect as soon as the budget bill is passed, which is being delayed by the Liberal senators in the other place and is going to be voted against by the member who just asked the question.