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House of Commons Hansard #21 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was passport.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

Even if the government puts certain measures in place to fight the recession and maintain and develop infrastructure, some municipalities, especially rural ones with 500 to 1,000 residents, do not have the means to contribute one-third of the funding under the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund. Even if the federal government invests an exorbitant amount, rural municipalities with fewer than 2,000 people will not be able to sustain this program.

The Bloc Québécois motion deals with this infrastructure program. The federal government has the means to make it happen. It could invest 50%, provinces 35% and municipalities 15%. This program would then actually stimulate infrastructure development both in large cities and in relatively poorer rural areas.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-10. I want to talk about a couple of things that are important for not only my riding but also nationally.

In clause 10 of the bill, the government has done a very sly thing. I will give the House a bit of history, which you know very well, Madam Speaker, coming from the area that we come from, the greater Victoria area. Our dockside workers are the men and women who ensure our navy has ships that are functioning properly for our brave men and women in the Canadian Forces.

During the last several years, people in the trades nationally were earning a lot of money in the private sector and our workers in the dockyards could have easily left the civil service, gone into the private sector and made more money. Did they do that? No, they did not. Why not? They felt they were honour bound to continue to serve our country as civilian workers on the docks.

The government refused to negotiate their contract in good faith, so it went to arbitration. The arbitration was completed in January of this year with a fair and reasonable increase of 5% that goes back to 2006. What did the government do? In clause 10 of Bill C-10, it literally tore up that arbitrated agreement and has actually rolled back the moneys that our dockyard workers are owed. That is an underhanded approach.

My party, the Liberal Party, approached the government and asked if we could work for the betterment of the dockyard workers. We asked the government to negotiate a way to enable the dockyard workers to receive the pay and benefits that are their due. What did the government say? It said no. It said that it would not negotiate at all and that we must take this bill in its entirety. It would not allow us to change or amend the bill. It would not accept any of our suggestions to make the bill better for Canada and Canadians. It said that we had to take this lock, stock and barrel and, if we did not, since the vote on this bill would be a vote of confidence, it would invoke an election and ensure we wore it.

The government has refused to negotiate in good faith with the opposition on this bill. It has refused to allow us to work for our constituents. It has refused to negotiate to make this bill better in the interest of our country. It said that if we do not take this bill lock, stock and barrel, it will not only have an election but the stimulus package that is in the bill, which is important now for our workers, our economy and our country, will not go through. Therefore, after an election the stimulus package might get through some time this fall.

What kind of response is that from the government to Canadians at a time of need and at a time when all of us want to work together for the common good during a time of economic crisis in our country? We have a government that simply will not negotiate with the opposition to strengthen the bill in the interest of the public. That is what Canadians need to hear and what I hope they hear in the debate today.

The government is simply saying to Parliament and to the Canadian people that if we do not take this bill we will not get the stimulus package, jobs will be lost and we will have a $350 million election that nobody wants.

Is it not remarkable when we see events south of the border, where the U.S. president is willing to work across party lines in a bipartisan way. He is asking what the best solutions are that his country needs right now for his people. That is the kind of leadership that Canadians want and deserve. The Prime Minister is failing again to do this because he is playing politics. Why is he not listening to those of us in the other parties? Why will he not work with us to implement a series of solutions that will strengthen our country and help our citizens during their time of need?

Let us look at the stimulus package for a second. The stimulus package was intended to pass quite quickly. If last year is any indication, in 2008 in my province of British Columbia 75% of the moneys allocated for infrastructure projects are still sitting in the bank. What kind of infrastructure project is that?

The community of Sooke requires umpteen infrastructure projects. The west shore needs the E&N railway up and running, the Bear Mountain and Spencer Road overpasses need to be up and running, a storm sewage drainage system requires fixing, affordable housing needs to be implemented, and the federal government must work with the provinces to help post-secondary institutions from Royal Roads to the University of Victoria, Camosun College and the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence. These and many other infrastructure projects have their hands out saying we should use these moneys now in order to provide a long-term benefit for our economy and our country.

The president of the high tech parks in Canada, Dale Gann, has an exciting proposal that would enable the government to invest taxpayers' money into high tech infrastructure parks that will enable our economy to compete internationally. We are a trading nation. We are an exporter. The government has simply not responded. Why is it doing that? Unless we invest in high tech parks today, we are going to be so far behind the eight ball that we will be at a huge disadvantage in terms of the changing economies.

China, for example, is building dozens and dozens of high tech parks. India is doing the same. They are getting into the forward cutting edge of research and development, which are the central pillars of the ability of any economy in any country to be able to move forward and capitalize on the future challenges ahead of us.

If we also look at the ability of our workers to access post-secondary training, one of the great challenges now is the fact that access to post-secondary training is often dependent on the amount of money in one's pocket. That is not an egalitarian situation. How can we have a nation whose access to post-secondary training, to be the best that we can be, to contribute in the best way possible for our nation, is actually predicated on the amount of money in our pockets? If we do not have money in our pockets, we cannot fulfill our highest potential for ourselves and our nation. That needs to change.

The Liberal Party put forth a number of very exciting solutions that could have been beneficial and, frankly, ought to be implemented now by the government. A couple of those are that the interest rate would be prime plus .5% and that the time students have to repay their loans would only start two years after they graduated.

In the case of medical students, for example, and those in residency training, they should not have to pay their loans until their residency training is over. Why should students have to pay off very hefty loans when they are making $50,000 or $60,000 a year while they are still essentially in medical school, in training? They are not able to pay off all of what they owe.

Some flexibility must be put into play to enable them to pay back the amounts they can. Many students graduate and go into jobs that are just a bit above minimum wage. They cannot possibly meet the financial requirements that are placed on them. The government has to invest in post-secondary institutions in an intelligent way and enable students to access the post-secondary training they need.

The other issue is investment in research and development, from Genome Canada to the stem cell research taking place in various institutions. Canada is full of outstanding researchers. The lack of interest and attention the government has given in this particular bill to research and development is going to hamstring the ability of our researchers to save lives and to develop research and development initiatives that could massively improve the health and welfare of our citizens.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, when I hear a Liberal member complaining about the government budget when it had the opportunity to take power itself and move ahead with its ideas as part of a coalition government, I cannot help but smile.

In a coalition government, compromise sometimes has to be made. I believe that the other party that would have been involved in the coalition also made compromises. I believe that the program the coalition presented had advantages for all of Canada.

Today we see that Ontario and Alberta are benefiting, while the rest of Canada has been forgotten, especially the mining and forestry sectors when compared to the auto industry.

Since he is equally concerned with the mining industry in his region, could the member tell me what is actually planned for the mining and forestry sectors as compared to what has been planned for the auto and oil industries?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I think that the member poses an intriguing suggestion. It goes back in history. The interest of our party was to make the system work. At a time of crisis, the last thing that our country wanted or needed was a political crisis. We in the Liberal Party said that we wanted to work with the government by fulfilling and implementing a series of initiatives that would deal with the economic crisis before us. Frankly, that is what we did.

Our critics in the Liberal Party put forth some profound solutions to the government. To a degree, some of them were adopted, and we were happy that the government took the olive branch that we put forward. There were some fruitful negotiations that took place with our finance team.

However, subsequent to that, the government has slammed the door shut on any viable negotiation. This is not democratic. This is not in the interest of our country. This is not in the interests of our citizens. We in the Liberal Party have said that we have a series of solutions. We can make Bill C-10 better. We want to make this bill better, but we do not want to have an election. We do not want to put our country through that because that would be utterly irresponsible.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. I must say that it raises a certain number of questions. I cannot ask them all but I would like to ask the following.

I know my colleague well enough to understand just how much he cares about social justice and wants fairness to prevail in this country. However, given that his party is preparing to vote for a law that will result in significant inequality between men and women and that will take away from women the right and the power to go before the courts to obtain pay equity, does he not believe that he is abdicating his responsibility and compromising on a fundamental principle of our society?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I would just like to say that we all have a choice to make. Do we pass a bill that we think is inadequate, or do we fight and defeat a bill that we think is inadequate and by doing so incur another election, deprive our country of a stimulus package that it needs now, and deprive our nation's workers of the jobs they need to survive?

We do not feel that this is something we can responsibly take on ourselves. However, the real responsibility falls within the Conservative government's failure to negotiate with any of us in good faith to make this bill better and deal with the several inequities that my colleague and friend mentioned.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I see that I have some fans in this chamber, or at least one.

The budget implementation bill, Bill C-10, presents various initiatives contained in last January's budget, in particular the transition office for the single securities regulator. The Bloc Québécois has introduced amendments to delete clauses 295 to 299, that is to eliminate the clauses to establish a single securities regulator. The government, through this bill, wants to establish a transition office for the Canadian securities regulator and would provide an operating budget of $150 million for this office.

The Expert Panel on Securities Regulation in Canada, appointed by the Minister of Finance, tabled its final report in January 2009. It is proposing the creation of a federal regulator for securities, over which Quebec has exclusive jurisdiction. This is an encroachment into Quebec's jurisdiction. 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. The 2009 budget reflects the recommendations of the expert panel and reiterates the government's commitment to establishing a single regulator in Canada.

The Bloc Québécois would like to reiterate its opposition to the creation of a national securities commission. Instead, it will support 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.

I want to go back one year and talk about the 2008 budget, which confirmed this Conservative government's intention to set up a single securities commission. At the time, the minister reiterated in his budget his intention to introduce federal legislation to establish a single regulator. To this end, the minister commissioned a panel of experts to draft a bill to create a single securities commission. He said, “I am asking the panel to develop a model common securities act to create a Canadian advantage in global capital markets.” That is what is written in a news release issued by the Minister of Finance on February 21, 2008.

The panel tabled its final report at the end of 2008. That document includes a series of measures to establish a single securities commission. In his 2009 budget, the minister welcomed the recommendations made by the panel in its report. Moreover, the budget allocated $150 million to set up a committee to implement those recommendations.

This is unacceptable. The Minister of Finance is stubbornly going ahead with an initiative that goes against the unanimous will of Quebec's National Assembly and that is a flagrant violation of Quebec's constitutional jurisdictions. The Bloc Québécois will continue to defend Quebec against the centralizing views of this federal government.

For over 40 years, the idea of a single securities regulatory body has been surfacing every now and then. Since 2003, the issue has again moved to the forefront of federal politics. The Liberals, who were in office at the time, set up an expert panel to look at the possibility of establishing a single regulatory body in Canada.

In 2005, the Ontario government mandated a group of experts, led by Purdy Crawford, to examine the benefits of a single securities regulatory system. Of course, the Crawford report supported Ontario's arguments in favour of a single regulator.

The 2006 federal budget revisited the idea. In that budget, the government announced that it planned to work with the provinces and territories to set up a common securities regulator. That position was confirmed in the November 2006 economic update and the 2007 budget.

In June 2007, following a meeting of ministers responsible for securities, the current Conservative Minister of Finance announced plans to set up a working group to, first, study the outcomes, principles and performance measures that would best anchor securities regulation and the pursuit of a Canadian advantage in global capital markets. The group was also supposed to study how Canada could best promote and advance proportionate, more principles-based regulations, starting from existing harmonized legislation and national and multilateral regulatory instruments. It was supposed to look into how this progress could facilitate, and be reinforced by, better coordination of enforcement efforts.

In September 2007, the minister announced that the group would focus on how to set up a single regulatory organization instead of looking at how effective the current system is. When the Minister of Finance announced that work had begun on February 21, 2008, he confirmed his intention to change the expert panel's mandate and have it focus on drafting model legislation to create a single securities commission.

Budget 2008 confirmed the Conservative government's intention to set up a single securities commission. In his budget, the minister reiterated his plan to introduce the bill before us to create a single regulatory body. Quebec's National Assembly rejected the federal government's initiative and unanimously passed a motion to that effect on October 16, 2007. I will read it: “That the National Assembly ask the federal government to abandon its Canada-wide securities commission project”.

Authority over securities is given to the provinces by virtue of their jurisdiction over property and civil rights under section 92.13 of the Constitution Act, 1867. The Conservatives ignored Quebec's motion. In the November 2008 economic and fiscal update and in this budget, the Minister of Finance reiterated his intention to set up a single securities commission in blatant disregard of his own Constitution.

Not long after the economic statement was tabled, the expert panel set up by the minister tabled its report, which, as expected, suggests creating a single securities regulator. It also proposes a mechanism that would allow companies to disregard the laws of Quebec and do business with the Canada-wide regulator, ignoring the organization in Quebec. In short, this report reflects what the minister wants: to impose a single securities regulator despite Quebec's legitimate objections.

Lastly, when budget 2008 was tabled, the current Minister of Finance again expressed confidence in the expert panel report. In addition, he made $150 million available to implement his proposed Canada-wide commission.

The Conservative government is prepared to infringe on Quebec's jurisdictions in order to advance its plans for a single, Canada-wide securities commission. The federal Liberals are in favour of creating a single institution. All the political parties in Quebec are against this initiative. The current passport system works. Under this system, a company that registers in one participating province can do business with people in all the other participating provinces. The first phase of implementation was completed last fall, and the second phase is under way.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the budget is about saving jobs that are at risk, about creating new jobs and about helping the most vulnerable during this period of crisis.

The Prime Minister has gone way over the top. He has threatened that if we do not get this budget passed quickly and we do get the stimulus money flowing, we will have an election. This is ludicrous given that the official opposition has indicated, notwithstanding the flaws in the budget, it will support the budget to get that stimulus out.

The Prime Minister also has showed his hand, that he is not very serious about this, by including matters like the pay equity, the Competition Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the national securities regulator. These four areas really should not have been in the budget and have only taken the attention off the most important areas.

The member spoke extensively on the national securities regulator. I understand Quebec has a slightly different situation than the other 12 regulators. There is no consensus among the provinces. I think four provinces oppose a national regulator.

Is the member aware of the writings of a couple of professors out of the University of Montreal and Jack Mintz out of Calgary, who have talked about a hybrid solution of sorts whereby provinces could opt out of the national securities regulation system and thereby continue with their current system? What would the member's comments be on that?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I will respond to the Liberal member by saying that his suggestion is not really a solution. I must tell him that I find it extremely difficult to see that the Liberal Party has supported this deeply flawed budget. One example that comes to mind is the creation of a common securities commission, which would be disastrous for Quebec.

In addition, there is also the issue of pay equity for women. This bill sets the status of women back significantly. I believe that we should be guided more by our convictions than our election strategy. In circumstances like this, the opposition members must work together. We should not provoke an election, but we should make sure that the government backs down on essential, important things. We have spoken about pay equity and I mentioned the securities commission, but there are also the artists who have fallen victim to $45 million in cuts in a sector where a cut like that hurts. They can no longer go overseas on tour. There are no longer any federal programs for artists in performing arts who want to tour overseas. There is a gaping hole in the government's financial aid. This is extremely damaging.

This same government created the Canada prizes and invested $25 million on behalf of some Toronto lobbyists, from whom they copied the entire project. The government cut and pasted from the lobbyists' promotional budget and included it in its budget. It was word for word. Then it realized that the project was a boondoggle and that the partners had never been informed about it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

There are only 30 seconds left, enough time for a very short question. The hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Saint-Hubert on her speech.

I would like to hear more about the cuts. Filmmaker Jacques Godbout wants to save the NFB. The National Film Board has also suffered cuts and lacks money. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that. That is part of this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, this government knows nothing about what artists need. It knows absolutely nothing. It is not making increases where they are needed. For example, the Canada Council's budget should be increased more. The government has cut money for the arts. It has cut $45 million from programs, which is preventing artists from travelling abroad.

It has given $25 million to a phoney Canada prize when the partners in that prize do not even know about it. The prize was a cut-and-paste job, lifted into the federal budget. The government knows nothing and has slashed budgets that allowed our artists to exhibit and perform abroad.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan, ON

Madam Speaker, as I rise today, all members of Parliament on both sides of the House understand that Canada is facing a storm of strong economic and financial headwinds, and we are feeling the turbulence of all this.

The impact has been greater and more extensive than originally stated by the Prime Minister during the recent federal election campaign. When we combine this with a more rapid deterioration in global economic growth, it has necessitated a discussion about substantial government intervention.

As industries such as automotive, forestry, mining and other sectors face uncertain times, as legislators we have a responsibility to respond to the concerns of people. It is the right thing to do, since we are dealing with potentially millions of Canadians who could lose their jobs, homes and savings.

These are difficult times and we need to do all we can to improve the present economic situation.

In 1993 the Liberal Party was challenged by what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. We inherited a $42 billion deficit, double digit unemployment, skyrocketing debt and a tax system that was stifling economic growth. The record shows that while we were in office, we successfully eliminated the deficit, paid down the debt, created over three million new jobs and significantly reduced taxes, while we were dealing with externalities such as SARS and September 11.

All this was achieved in partnership and with the support of Canadians. It was a clear illustration of our resiliency as a people.

The present crisis and global economic uncertainty will test us once again. Ideas such as expediting infrastructure, investing in housing, building strong, sustainable and flexible labour markets, as well as training initiatives, supporting traditional and emerging sectors and improving access to credit must all be considered.

I believe we can in fact get through this difficult period, provided we adhere to some well defined principles which will address our short-term urgency without creating long-term negative repercussions.

We must first protect and help create jobs in Canada while respecting the taxpayer's dollar.

Truck drivers, hotel workers, people with small businesses, all Canadian taxpayers will be asked to contribute to proposed bailouts and billion dollar aid packages. Sometimes these individuals will be subsidizing workers whose salaries are much higher than theirs, as well as providing financial support to companies that may have misread and misunderstood the changing dynamics of the global marketplace. As Canadians, we have always shared in the risks and benefits of our common citizenship, however, we need to ask this fundamental question. Is this the best use of taxpayer dollars?

The answer to this question will vary according to the specifics of the proposal. Investments that create and expand opportunities should be supported, while others that offer no reasonable chance of success must be discarded. In evaluating the many options before government, it is important to assess the opportunity costs of the proposed measures.

Government's role must be clear. The priority must be to set up an overall framework that will encourage economic growth and job creation.

Canadians also need to have a sense that they can trust the managers of the economy, namely, the government. This is an issue that has arisen in conversations across the riding as I speak to constituents. Whether in schools or coffee shops, when I visit their factories and places of work, they often comment on the challenge they have when it comes to the Prime Minister's announcement during the election campaign, and they are referring to the issue of the deficit.

In September, the Prime Minister said that there would not be a recession in Canada and that we would be fine as long as we did not do stupid things, such as running a deficit.

In October, he suggested that the market represented some good buying opportunities for Canadians.

In November, his failed economic statement promised a surplus for the next five years. Twelve days later, the Bank of Canada announced that we were in recession.

In December, he admitted that his government would run a deficit of $20 billion to $30 billion.

In January, he said that his deficit would be closer to $40 billion. Once budget 2009 was tabled, we saw that the government was running a deficit in the current 2008-09 fiscal year.

So Canadians are concerned, and rightly so. After all, he is viewed as the leader of this country.

I believe that the federal government, in partnership with other governments, business and labour, must work to attain its economic objectives. As part of setting the framework, we must be committed to fiscal accountability, transparency and responsibility. On the tax front, our system must be globally competitive on both the personal and the business sides. We must encourage and reward work, investment, innovation and productivity.

Finally, no country in this world can survive in the long term without meaningful investment in people. This means providing opportunities for training and financial support during job transitions, as well as investing in individuals such as immigrants and aboriginal Canadians, who are consistently underemployed and whose potential remains largely unfulfilled. When aboriginal Canadians' potential is unfulfilled and when immigrants' potential is unfulfilled, our country's potential is not fulfilled.

During these times, we need to make the safety net more responsive and flexible to the changing nature of the labour market. This will guarantee that our human resources will be maximized.

All this must be done without sacrificing spending in areas such as research and development. Such a cut is shortsighted, due to the immense opportunity this area offers in modernizing the economy and providing stimulus for new ideas, new products and new services.

Tempting as it may sometimes be to look inward during difficult economic times, Canada must look at and place a high priority on expanding trade, which forces firms to specialize, to become more productive and to modernize. While recent events have put into question the regulatory framework of financial institutions in economic systems worldwide, I believe it would be ill-advised to impose on Canada's private sector and financial institutions a regulatory regime that would impede growth, innovation and job creation.

On the issue of infrastructure, infrastructure investments are also necessary to address the major deficit in this area. This is an example of smart investment, which will enhance the abilities of our cities, our communities and our country to compete and to maintain an economy that functions well, one in which goods and services move freely and efficiently.

On that point, I believe the government needs to release the funds for these infrastructure programs and not let the funds lapse, which would create a larger deficit for many of the communities that we proudly represent in this House.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech given by my hon. colleague, whom I knew in the past as the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance when Mr. Martin was the finance minister. Today he is telling us that a good securities commission system is needed. He is not specifying exactly what kind of organization is needed.

Does this mean that he finds the current system to be effective, as the OECD has said? The OECD ranked our system as second in the world in terms of efficiency. There is a consensus in Quebec to the effect that the existing securities commission should continue its work. That is the unanimous consensus of the three parties in the Quebec National Assembly and the entire business community.

Does he not find it inappropriate that this federal government decided to include the creation of a centralist approach to securities regulation in a budget implementation bill? Will the path of non-participation, the voluntary choice of companies, not simply nullify the jurisdiction of the Commission des valeurs mobilières du Québec as it currently exists and as desired by Quebec society as a whole?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan, ON

Madam Speaker, I thought the hon. member was paying careful attention to my speech, but perhaps he was not, because I did not address the issue of the national regulator. What I said was that I believe we need to have the most efficient labour market system that we can, including a financial system that speaks to allowing greater investments within Canada.

The focus of my comments was to outline clearly that certain principles are needed when one is creating a new environment to bring about and spur on economic growth. They include having a plan to eliminate the deficit, which is absent in the present budget; having a plan to invest in human resources; a clear statement in respect of taxpayers' dollars; a competitive tax system that rewards work, innovation and productivity enhancement in an economy; and investments in infrastructure.

I was commenting on this particular issue as it relates to the fact that the present government has lapsed money while communities are looking for funding to improve their quality of life and the economic efficiencies of their own local economies. I do not understand why there is such a government lag on this particular issue.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I know my colleague is intimately aware of research and innovation in Canada. One of the concerns we are hearing increasingly about the budget is that it has provided cuts to the research community.

In my own community, Gerry Johnston from Dalhousie very quickly sent me a note, even while the budget was being unveiled, to say that we are losing money on the tri-councils, and all the research investments made by the Liberal government to make Canada such a research magnet and to reverse the brain drain are being reversed. Cuts to the tri-councils have caused real hardship and will cause much more.

I wonder if my colleague could comment on the cuts to research and innovation.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour really cares about that question, because I see him working very hard with our caucus on this particular issue of research and development.

We Liberals understand that research and development is really an engine for new ideas, for new systems of thinking and for the type of innovation that brings about economic growth, usually creating high-paying jobs and thereby increasing the income levels of Canadians.

The field of scientific research and development is one of the fundamental points that the government opposite needs to get its head around. We cannot be cutting in areas that create economic growth while we are facing a recession. It is not smart policy for the present or for the future.

Carly MacNeil BunyanStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 23, 2009, Carly MacNeil Bunyan of Cape Breton passed away.

Carly was an amazing young woman who attained many remarkable accomplishments in her 26 years of life. She graduated from high school in 2000 as female athlete of the year and went on to study at the University of Maine. During her second year of study, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to take a break from her studies. However, as she expressed in her own words, “Giving up means you have to quit. I decided not to give up”.

Staying true to her words, Carly went on to graduate in 2006. Carly participated twice in the Canada Games and still holds provincial records for the triple jump across four age classes. She was involved in many different sports in her lifetime and was an inspirational speaker at various events.

One year ago, Carly's brain tumour returned and eventually the cancer overtook her, but she made a gallant fight. Through it all, she was always more concerned with others than herself.

On behalf of all members of the House, my condolences go out to Carly's family and friends.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, nearly four years have passed since the previous Liberal government came to an agreement with the United States on the matter of Devils Lake. At the time, the U.S. agreed to put a high-quality permanent filter in place and build an advanced biota treatment facility for the outlet.

To date the American government has failed to honour its part of the agreement. Every spring the State of North Dakota opens the gate. Last year the outlet continued to operate with a grossly inadequate gravel filter, causing the flow of foreign species into Canadian waters, compromising Manitoba's fresh water supply and threatening Lake Winnipeg's ecosystem.

Despite this, the government does little. The regional minister denies the existence of the agreement and sees little problem with the current situation.

Spring runoff is around the corner. Once water levels start to rise, the gates will open with a faulty filter. The government must request the new Obama administration to take urgent action. The Conservative government must move rapidly to resolve this very important transborder issue.

Quebec City Chamber of CommerceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year the Quebec City chamber of commerce is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its founding. The purpose of this organization is not only to support business people but, above all, to make a significant contribution to the social and economic life of the provincial capital which has transformed itself from a trading post to a modern city recognized by UNESCO.

It has also contributed to the development of the capital by supporting various projects crucial to the development of transportation: the port, the airport and the proposed high-speed train. It was an innovator in the development of tourism when it launched the Quebec Carnival in 1954. It has supported the expansion of the high technology industry in its seven research centres.

The Bloc Québécois congratulates the Quebec City chamber of commerce on its 200th anniversary and encourages business people of the Quebec City area to continue their constant, dynamic development.

International Women's DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to acknowledge the upcoming International Women's Day. March 8 will be a day to teach, to honour women and to share the stories of women around the world. In my riding of Halifax, an inspiring array of events is planned to recognize International Women's Day, including a public panel discussion called “Get Caught Up in the Action! Women's Movements and Change”, hosted by Oxfam.

I will also be pleased to take part in a conference on women and leadership hosted by the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, this coming weekend. As we continue to fight for the rights of women in this very chamber, I want to acknowledge Nova Scotians who have taken a lead in honouring the struggles of women worldwide. Happy International Women's Day.

Retirement of Red Deer College PresidentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to highlight one of the real treasures in my riding of Red Deer.

There are members in the House who have either taught at or were enrolled at Red Deer College. They know that Red Deer College is a jewel in Alberta's crown. RDC is a sports juggernaut in volleyball and hockey. It also boasts one of the finest academic teams. RDC is now preparing for its next phase, the centre for health and the centre for sport and wellness.

I would like to take the time today to honour the president of Red Deer College, Ron Woodward, who will be stepping down this year after 10 years at the helm. When Ron began as president of Red Deer College, there were about 3,500 credit students. Today there are nearly twice as many. Ron is a giant in our community. Generally speaking, if something is going on in Red Deer, the name Ron Woodward is attached to it.

His contributions are appreciated, and his leadership will be missed. We wish him the best for the future, and I thank him.

Gang ViolenceStatements By Members

March 2nd, 2009 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with some dismay that many citizens of my riding of Newton—North Delta have seen over the past few weeks the issue of gang violence suddenly being redrawn along partisan battle lines.

I hear from my constituents and even my fellow members on the other side of the House that this state of emergency requires we put aside all our partisan brinkmanship and work together on real solutions to address the problem of gang violence right now.

I want to thank B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal and B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen for coming to Ottawa last week to build support. I urge the government to act on their recommendations for a serious action plan on gang violence.

AurorasaurusStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, paleontologists need only travel as far as Aurora, Ontario to find dinosaurs rising out of the earth.

For its second year, the Aurorasaurus community event took place last weekend on Bigwin Drive. Steve Taylor, the unsung hero behind this colossal endeavour, arranges to have 80 tonnes of snow delivered to his front yard in mid-February. Out of this, with days of his time invested, Steve created a 50 foot long, 20 foot high dinosaur complete with a mouth full of teeth. It is a sight to behold.

Steve, together with a very special group of neighbours and friends, invites Aurora to attend the event and to make a contribution to the Children's Wish Foundation.

This year Steve and his volunteers and helpers raised more than $3,000 in cold cash for the Children's Wish Foundation.

Our community and the many children who will benefit from his efforts thank Steve, his family and the Bigwin neighbourhood for their generosity. Aurora is a better place because they live there.

Forestry IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the president and CEO of the Quebec Forest Industry Council, Guy Chevrette, recently addressed the members of the Standing Committee on Finance. He attacked the falsehoods perpetuated by the Conservatives to the effect that, because of the softwood lumber agreement, loan guarantees cannot be given to the forestry industry.

That is false, utterly and completely false. Loan guarantees provided at commercial rates do not contravene the softwood lumber agreement. The Conservatives have not been able to point to the section of this agreement that would prove otherwise.

It is high time that we helped this languishing industry, which is the lifeblood for several Quebec regions, including Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. The $170 million allocated for marketing and innovation is not enough. The Conservatives must stop treating this Quebec industry and its workers with contempt.