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House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the numbers of the leader of the NDP are completely inaccurate.

For instance, over the past year, as I have said already, the increase in unemployment and the percentage increase in the unemployed and EI beneficiaries has gone up one for one. More than 80% of those who are paying in will collect employment insurance.

More importantly, this government has improved the system by lengthening the period of benefits, and by putting more money into training and for the unemployed.

When we talk about respect for the House, the NDP members should bother to read the budget before they decide to vote against it and not vote against the unemployed.

FinanceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is simply propagating myths because it does not match the reality of what people are experiencing on the street, 50 days of inaction.

Let us try something else the House has done. The House has said we need strong action to deal with the issue of credit card gouging. In fact, in the House another NDP motion was adopted, laying out what should be done, picking up on some of the initiatives that the Obama administration is bringing forward.

Yesterday the House spoke. The question is this. When is the government going to act? Is the Prime Minister going to tell his finance minister to stop talking and start acting to protect the middle class?

FinanceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I just spoke about what we did in the budget on employment insurance. In the economic action plan, on credit cards, we also gave the Minister of Finance additional regulatory power to deal with some of these problems in the credit card business.

The problem is that once again the leader of the New Democratic Party and his party had decided to vote against the middle class and vote against these things before they even knew what was in the budget. That was wrong and they should stop doing it.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, today's EI numbers are staggering and they are an indictment of the government's complete mishandling of the economic crisis. There were 325,000 EI claims in February. To make it worse, we know significant numbers of those unemployed Canadians cannot get benefits because they do not qualify even though they have paid into it for years. Yet, the minister refuses to increase access.

As we continue to shed jobs in this Conservative recession, does the minister still believe that a postal code is a more important criteria for receiving benefits than the need to feed a family?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts. In the first three months of this calendar year, we have processed about 40% more claims than we had to process last year, but we got the job done because we are putting more people on the job.

There are more claims to be processed, not just because there are so many people unfortunate enough to lose their jobs but because access is easier.

Over 30 of the 58 EI regions in this country have seen significant improvement in access for those who live there and are unfortunate enough to lose their jobs.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, in my riding we have two GM dealerships employing dozens of people. Yesterday's news from GM means these jobs are now uncertain. Today's EI numbers give little solace. A dire situation already exists for the unemployed, both those receiving benefits and those who do not qualify.

The government has failed the auto sector and is failing those needing EI. What does the government have to say to workers in my riding who are concerned about their jobs and concerned about even qualifying for employment insurance?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, over 80% of those who have paid EI premiums while they were working are eligible to collect benefits when they do lose their jobs. It is becoming easier for most people across the country to access EI benefits because we have a system that adjusts automatically every month, based on local unemployment conditions.

The worse the situation gets, the easier it is for people to collect benefits. Look at Oshawa. A person can collect benefits with two weeks less work there and get it for nine weeks longer than a year ago.

We are delivering for those Canadians who need it most.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the American government announced that it would retain control of a portion of GM and Chrysler shares. Today, the Conservatives are waking up and saying that they plan to do the same thing.

Once again, they have proven that the only thing they know how to do is play “Simon says” with the United States.

The crisis has been going on for months, so where is Canada's plan? Why are we not in Washington and Detroit every day looking out for Canada's interests?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, what we are doing on this side of the House through the economic action plan, through our budget, is making sure that Canadians are protected, making sure that Canadians can rebound out of this world economic recession as quickly as possible.

Many times we are in consultation with the Americans and with Premier McGuinty here in Ontario to make sure we have a comprehensive, integrated strategy for the auto sector because that is what the auto sector is in North America, even if the Liberals do not recognize it.

His leader goes to the other end of the country and says he does not want to help the auto sector. Then he says in this province that he wants to tax people more. That is not a strategy for the auto sector nor the economy.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, 20,000 assembly and dealership jobs will be lost at GM alone. Another 18,000 parts jobs will be lost across Canada.

The secured credit facility announced in December is yet to be deployed and industry analysts are now saying the Business Development Bank is not equipped to deploy the facility designed to stimulate car sales and leasing despite the minister's promise to get the facility going by May. That means this week.

What assurances will the Conservatives give Canadians desperate for credit that this facility will finally open for business on Friday, May 1?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have been working hard on the access to credit through the secured credit facility.

Unlike the opposition, we are actually consulting. We are listening to the industry. We have met with the dealership representatives. We are making sure that the secured credit facility will actually work for the benefit of the industry and the people who are employed in the industry.

Canada DayOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, in response to a question I asked yesterday in the House, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages misled this House by claiming that the figures I gave were incorrect. The figures I gave come from a document by his own department on funding to provincial and territorial Celebrate Canada committees.

Will the minister admit that, just like the Liberals, the Conservatives are using the taxpayers' money for visibility and propaganda in Quebec?

Canada DayOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, once again, this is completely false. Those figures are completely false. The figures on the level of investments in Quebec and on the level of investments in this program are completely false.

Let us make it clear: the last group we would consult on the best way to celebrate Canada is the Bloc Québécois.

Canada DayOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, why did the minister not give his consent for us to table his department's own chart, here in this House?

Out of a budget of $3.7 million, $3.2 million are invested in Quebec, which represents 85% of the total budget.

How can the minister explain his determination to invest to such an extent in Quebec for Canada Day except by the same unhealthy desire for propaganda and visibility the Liberals had before him?

Canada DayOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the chart my colleague is referring to represents half of the existing program. We continue to seek means of improving the situation on the field so that Canada can be celebrated in each and every part of this country.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, AbitibiBowater just announced that it is not going to renew its supply contract with SFK Pâte, in Saint-Félicien. Such is the effect in our regions of the government's inaction, which refuses to help forestry companies that are experiencing difficulties.

Is the Minister of State responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec waiting for the regions to shut down one after the other before providing concrete solutions to forestry companies, including loan guarantees?

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc member just referred to Saint-Félicien, which is located in my riding. Unfortunately, the plant had to shut down its operations because inventories were too costly. This has nothing to do with what the Bloc member is saying. The Bloc is playing politics at the expense of workers. That is unbelievable. These people depend on an industry that is experiencing difficulties and, instead of supporting them, the Bloc is once again trying to play politics at their expense. Last year, Export and Development Canada invested $14 billion in 534 businesses in the forestry sector. Our government will continue to do its job.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the comments made by Conservative ministers from Quebec remind me of those of the Reform members, who used to leak information to Embraer to hurt Bombardier. Today, the Conservatives are using their Quebec members to weaken Canada's position in its dispute with the United States, before the London court.

Through their actions, these members are allies of the United States, against our forestry industry. Shame on them.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, as we announced earlier, our government, along with the Quebec government, has set up a joint committee that is working on six major areas. Once again, the member opposite does not take into consideration all the work that is being done by both levels of government. Senior officials from the two governments are working on this issue. We are working on credit shares, among other things. We will get results. We are not going to merely talk for 18 years without ever achieving anything.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the cases of Mr. Khadr, the Kohail family, Mr. Abdelrazik and Mr. Smith in Montana clearly demonstrate that this government believes in second-class citizenship and selective justice.

I would like the minister to explain why the government does not recognize that a Canadian passport means something and should guarantee a definition of citizenship that includes all Canadians.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this government takes its responsibilities very seriously. One of the priorities that the Prime Minister has set is the human rights of Canadians. This government ensures that all consular cases, all rights of Canadians, are respected. That is the position of this government as stated by the Prime Minister.

Sri LankaOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if that were the case, our federal courts would not be clogged full of Canadians who feel they have no choice but to take their own government to court. That is what they are being forced to do and that shows how false the statement is.

There is now a massive humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka. I want to ask the parliamentary secretary a question with respect to the situation involving the Tamil community in this country.

Could the parliamentary secretary please tell the House what steps are going to be taken to ensure that those who are trapped are able to be sponsored by their families, that those who are in camps are able to be sponsored by their families, and that those who are living in terrible circumstances are able to be sponsored by--

Sri LankaOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Sri LankaOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, obviously we all share the grave concern of Canadians of Tamil origin for the situation of people in the affected regions. We continue to process applications for family sponsorship from Canadian citizens for family members to come here. We have taken steps through our Colombo mission to expedite these applications.

There are logistical problems because an interview is required at our high commission immigration bureau in Colombo and, obviously, many of the affected people are inaccessible, but our officials on the ground continue to do what they can to expedite these files and take all reasonable steps necessary.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, once again the government is turning a blind eye to Canadians abroad who are in trouble.

Pavel Kulisek has spent 13 months in a Mexican prison. He was publicly declared a criminal before the sole witness against him even made a statement. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs says that he does not feel this issue even warrants talking to the Mexican ambassador, let alone formally raising it with the Mexican government.

When will the government stop picking and choosing as to which Canadians it defends when Canadians are in trouble abroad?