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

TaxationOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in November 2004 the Liberal leader called himself a “tax-and-spend, Pearsonian, Trudeau Liberal”, but that was then. In 2006 he fathered the Liberal carbon tax, but that idea is no longer popular, please ignore it. Last December he said, “I'm not going to take a GST hike off the table”, but that is not quite what he meant. This month he said, “We will have to raise taxes”. What meant was maybe, possibly, later, some time.

When will the Liberal leader return to his seat and start to take himself at his own word?

HealthOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, one year ago the B.C. Supreme Court said that the federal government must enable patients to access harm reduction strategies like Vancouver's Insite. Yet the government is currently in court trying to overturn that decision right now. The Conservatives are even equating people who have addiction problems with being pyromaniacs.

Will the government follow the science, do the right thing and stop its bullying on Insite and let it continue?

HealthOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, as the matter is before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment on this issue.

Let me be very clear. We agree that injection drug users are in need of assistance. That is why we are investing $111 million over five years to improve access to treatment for drug addiction. Of this, $10 million was set aside for Vancouver's downtown eastside. This funding has created 20 new transitional recovery beds to help individuals with drug addictions.

The focus of our national anti-drug strategy is on prevention and treatment.

Organic ProductsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, with respect to organic products, Quebec has put in place an organization and regulations to ensure the authenticity of products and guarantee that consumers can have full confidence in them. The federal government is about to adopt regulations that will compromise the credibility of organic products by allowing foreign countries to certify their own products, which will be sold with the same logo as those certified in Canada.

Will the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food immediately correct this absurd situation or will he dig in his heels as he did with “made in Canada” labelling?

Organic ProductsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, we are discussing organic products. It is important that we help consumers discern what kind of products they are buying. Naturally, we want to have labelling that indicates the contents of the product they are purchasing. In addition, it is important to have standards that are aligned with the international system. We must have consistent standards in our respective countries. The ISO 17011 standard will be implemented to ensure that everyone knows where we are headed in this matter.

InfrastructureOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, new streetcars are Toronto's top priority. Yesterday the Toronto Transit Commission awarded the biggest municipal project in the country, 204 new streetcars, to Bombardier. Streetcars are good for transit riders and immediately create jobs in Thunder Bay, but federal funding must come by June 27.

Will the minister today commit federal funding so jobs and streetcars will not be stopped dead in their tracks?

InfrastructureOral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I have had occasion to be briefed by the Toronto Transit Commission on this important project.

What we have in our budget, our economic action plan, is a plan to try to stimulate job creation in the next two years, not some time five or ten years down the road. We have agreed to look at the city's proposal and respond in short order.

I was also very pleased to join the minister of finance in her constituency just yesterday for a $45 million infrastructure endowment at the Toronto City Centre Airport. A lot of jobs will be created for Bombardier, building those great new airplanes, which are built right in the city of Toronto.

Tourism IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism announced support for eight marquee festivals across Canada, including funding for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in my riding. This funding is pivotal to invigorate this festival, which is an integral part of my community and enjoyed by people across the country.

Could the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism explain why we are supporting these major events across Canada during these tough economic times?

Tourism IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Nose Hill Alberta

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy ConservativeMinister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Perth—Wellington should be very proud of his great work to promote tourism and the Stratford Festival in his riding.

Tourism contributes as much to Canada's economy as forestry, fisheries and agriculture combined. Marquee tourism events draw visitors from across Canada and from abroad. They are wide doorways into our visitor economy, which supports jobs and income for communities. The marquee tourism events programs will help preserve the competitiveness and increase their international reach.

National Day of MourningOral Questions

April 28th, 2009 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Following discussions among representatives of all parties in the House, I understand that there is an agreement to observe a moment of silence to commemorate the National Day of Mourning and to honour the memory of workers killed or injured at work.

I invite hon. members to rise.

[A moment of silence observed.]

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of two ministers from Manitoba, the Hon. Eric Robinson, Minister of Culture and Heritage and the Hon. Steve Ashton, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Emergency Measures.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Last week I questioned officials of Citizenship and Immigration if they had allocated extra staff to deal with the length of time it took to deal with spousal sponsorships for Sri Lanka, up to three times as long as other areas. Mr. Stewart, assistant deputy minister, said that no additional staff had been allocated. Today in question period the minister said that extra resources were allocated.

Why is the minister misleading the House and as such is being intellectually dishonest?

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I do not think the member is raising a point of order. It sounded like a matter of debate, so we will not pursue that.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not believe the Minister of Health would willingly mislead the House, however, I think in her answer to the excellent question from the member for Etobicoke North she mistakenly said that there were stockpiles of vaccines in Canada. There are indeed stockpiles of antivirals, not vaccines, and that was the purpose of the question. I would invite the minister, with your permission, to correct herself now on the record.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, to clarify for the record, the member is correct. I meant to say anti-virals. Let me go back again.

We have been in contact with provincial and territorial counterparts across Canada and provided them updates on the situation. The provinces and territories have already access to stockpiles of Tamiflu and are able to make decisions on its use. As well, yesterday in my press conference, I said that we were also conducting research on the vaccine development about the swine flu.

I thank the member for asking for that clarification.

National Food Allergy Awareness WeekOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. I move:

That, in the opinion of this House, the week of May 4 to May 8, 2009 be designed as National Food Allergy Awareness Week.

National Food Allergy Awareness WeekOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

National Food Allergy Awareness WeekOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Food Allergy Awareness WeekOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Food Allergy Awareness WeekOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Food Allergy Awareness WeekOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Bill C-279Points of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on February 25, you made a statement with respect to the management of private members' business. In particular, you raised concerns about five bills, which, in your view, appeared to impinge on the financial prerogative of the Crown. One of the bills you mentioned was Bill C-279.

I am therefore rising, Mr. Speaker, on a point of order regarding Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (amounts not included in earnings).

Without commenting on the merits of the bill, I submit that Bill C-279 contains provisions that would change the purposes of the Employment Insurance Act that would result in new spending and therefore would require a royal recommendation.

Bill C-279 would remove pension benefits, vacation pay and severance payments from the amounts that may be deducted from benefits payable under the Employment Insurance Act. The changes would allow individuals to receive employment insurance benefits when they otherwise would not have been eligible because pension, vacation or severance pay would have reduced their benefits or made them ineligible to receive employment insurance benefits.

The Department of Human Resources and Social Development Canada estimates that the changes proposed in Bill C-279 could cost as much as $130 million per year.

Precedents demonstrate the new spending for employment insurance benefits not currently authorized under the Employment Insurance Act require a royal recommendation.

On November 6, 2006, the Speaker ruled in the case of Bill C-269, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (improvement of the employment insurance system), that:

Funds may only be appropriated by Parliament for purposes covered by a royal recommendation.... New purposes must be accompanied by a new royal recommendation.

On March 23, 2007, in the case of Bill C-265, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), the Speaker ruled that the changes envisioned in this bill “would have the effect of authorizing increased expenditures...in a manner and for purposes not currently authorized”.

The Speaker goes on to state:

Therefore, it appears to the Chair that those provisions of the bill which relate to increasing employment insurance benefits and easing the qualifications required to obtain them would require a royal recommendation.

Mr. Speaker, I submit that these precedents apply equally to the provisions of Bill C-279 which would change the purposes of the Employment Insurance Act resulting in new spending and, therefore, must be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

Bill C-279Points of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the royal recommendation situation as it relates to any of the bills that have come up in recent times about employment insurance benefits, I have been concerned that there has been no discussion about the obligations of the government with regard to the notional surplus of the EI.

Under the rules guiding the employment insurance plan, where there is an accumulated surplus I believe the regulations require that two years of surplus be maintained and, second, to the extent that there would be a greater surplus than that, that it would be drawn down by either a reduction of premiums or by expansion or programs or introduction of new program benefits under the EI program.

Therefore, there is this other element of the fact that there is a notional EI surplus and that the government has an obligation to manage that and to deal with it in the prescribed fashion.

It raises the question as whether or not there is a blanket royal recommendation to authorize the government to continue to deal with the notional surplus or to discharge it by form of some legislation or changes of regulations related to the EI notional surplus.

I wanted to raise those points because we have had many interventions with regard to private members' items calling for changes in the program. The element is that there are funds available in that program and accounted for by the government to the extent that they have been included in the revenues of the government, which is a requirement of the Auditor General, but I do not believe that overrides the government's obligation to properly manage the notional surplus account and to use the funds in accordance with the regulations prescribed.

Bill C-279Points of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair wishes to thank the hon. parliamentary secretary and the hon. member for Mississauga South for their interventions on this matter. I will return to the House with a decision in respect of the issue in due course.