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House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was insurance.

Topics

Yannick Nézet-SéguinStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the United Kingdom's Royal Philharmonic Society honoured young Montreal conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin with the Young Artists Award, describing him as “one of the most influential personalities in London's musical life”. This organization recognizes the most dazzling performances of classical music.

This distinction is one of many impressive accomplishments for the man who has been the musical director of the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal since 2000. He is currently the principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This month he will make his debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera and Milan's La Scala.

He has quickly built a solid reputation around the world with his combination of rigour, originality and passion. He does not hesitate to work with popular artists in order to make classical music accessible to the people, as was the case at the 2007 Montreal FrancoFolies with Pierre Lapointe.

The Bloc Québécois warmly congratulates this homegrown conductor who has a truly promising future ahead of him.

Canadian Paraplegic AssociationStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, how high are the buttons in the elevators on the Hill? Is it possible for one to balance a cup of coffee on one's lap while wheeling from one side of the room to another? How long does it take to get from finance committee in Centre Block to operations and estimates in West Block if one cannot take the stairs or run?

These were the kinds of situations I had to deal with on May 7 when I joined 10 other members and senators for a national awareness day for the Canadian Paraplegic Association. I spent the whole day in a wheelchair.

It was an incredible and eye-opening experience. It was eye opening for those of us in chairs and I hope it was also eye opening for many other observers. Ultimately, we were the lucky ones, able to get back up on our feet at the end of the day.

I would like to express my respect and admiration for all those who cannot walk and who face these challenges every day.

I urge members of the House and Senate from all parties to take part in the day next year, as the Canadian Paraplegic Association aims to have 65 members participate to celebrate its 65th anniversary.

TaxationStatements By Members

May 15th, 2009 / 11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, during the recession when the Conservative government is focused on an economic action plan that will create jobs, the Liberal Party is focused on increasing taxes. The Liberal leader himself said quite bluntly, “We will have to raise taxes”.

The Liberal Party supports a job-killing carbon tax, and members of the Liberal Party said that they would raise the GST. In fact, the leader of the Liberal Party even refers to himself as a tax and spend Liberal.

Raising taxes is the absolute worst thing to do during a recession. The Liberals should come clean and tell Canadians what other taxes they want to increase. They should tell Canadians who is going to pay these taxes and how much they are going to have to pay.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, representatives from Quebec municipalities are currently meeting in Gatineau as part of the annual meeting of the Union des municipalities du Québec, also known as the UMQ. The president of the UMQ and mayor of Maniwaki, Robert Coulombe, was very clear when he said that he has yet to see any major projects started under the emergency infrastructure fund promised to stimulate the economy.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister had the nerve to blame the Quebec government instead of taking responsibility.

What is the government waiting for to get the money flowing and to get people working? Why is the Conservative government penalizing Quebeckers?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Yellowhead Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, we are working with the municipalities and the provinces right across the country, including Quebec, on this specific announcement. Some of the provinces are ahead of other provinces. For example, British Columbia has 140 projects, Nova Scotia has 26 projects and Newfoundland and Labrador has 22. They have all been green lighted, are ready to go and some are actually going. The hard hats are on and the digging has begun.

However, the House will find out exactly what is happening in our June report card. I ask my hon. colleague to just wait on that.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, are you familiar with the Pinocchio syndrome? We just witnessed it in action.

The Conservatives should have understood that stimulating the economy means investing and not causing problems. Here are the real reasons. First, the government refuses to finance the infrastructure projects that the Quebec government had already undertaken. Second, the federal government insists on analyzing projects that fall under the sole jurisdiction of the provinces, which is unnecessary. Third, Quebec will have to reimburse the money already spent if the project is not completed by March 31, 2011.

Instead of blaming others and bickering, why does the Prime Minister not order that the money be released immediately?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Yellowhead Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we are working very closely with the provinces and municipalities right across the country. We will get the job done. My hon. colleague should just relax a little bit while we get this money out at an unprecedented rate right across this country. We need to get Canadians working and good projects actually happening so we can compete internationally and continentally when this is over.

My hon. colleague should wait for the report card in June before he criticizes this government.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, he should tell that to the mayors in the gallery here today. It is unacceptable that they are being told to wait and wait.

Instead of playing the blaming game, the Prime Minister should immediately tell his officials that Quebec is ready and that they should send the money for infrastructure ASAP.

Municipalities want to be full partners and are ready now to be part of the solution against recession. Stimulus means investment, not confrontation.

Will the Prime Minister instruct his minister and his officials to deliver the money for infrastructure in Quebec now?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Yellowhead Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, we have doubled the gas tax. We have advanced that three months earlier. Municipalities right across the country have the ability to get their infrastructure projects working.

We are working very closely with all the provinces to get these up and going and out the door at an unprecedented rate.

It has been 45 days since the budget was passed. My hon. colleague should give us the first 100 days before he starts criticizing.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, CAE has just announced that it is laying off 700 employees, including 600 in the Montreal area. These layoffs are in addition to the job losses at Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney and other aerospace companies. The Canadian aerospace industry is the fourth largest in the world, and half of that industry is located in Quebec. In fact, the aerospace industry is to Quebec what the auto industry is to Ontario.

What do the Conservatives intend to do for the aerospace sector?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the government, of course, is disappointed to hear about any Canadian who loses their job.

The effects of the global economic recession are even affecting the aerospace industry, which has typically been a very strong and well-supported industry by the government.

The hon. member talks about the job loss, and we are disappointed about those job losses, but what he does not say is that CAE has credited the Government of Canada with supporting the creation of 1,360 new Canadian jobs. He did not mention that.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was hoping to hear about a strategy.

I have already asked this question twice in recent months. Let me try again a third time.

My question is very simple. It relates to a promise made by the Conservatives during the last election, namely, to provide $200 million in new funding for the strategic aerospace and defence initiative. That program is essential to the development of new technologies.

When will the Conservatives follow through on that promise?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is talking about a strategy. We have the strategic aerospace defence initiative, which has been widely praised by the aerospace industry in Canada; $900 million.

Speaking of a strategy, let me read from the recent IMF report. It states:

...Canada is better placed than many countries to weather the global financial turbulence and worldwide recession.

...the authorities responded proactively to the crisis. The IMF supports the strong fiscal package announced in January, which was large, timely, and well targeted, and it will buoy demand during the downturn.

The focus now, appropriately, is on implementing that package and we look to the Liberals for support in doing that.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we knew the Conservatives had disdain for the unemployed, but yesterday during question period, that disdain reached new heights. The Minister of National Revenue even said that improving the employment insurance system would encourage people to “work under the table”, as though the 610,000 EI claimants were potential cheaters.

It this not proof that the government's refusal to improve employment insurance is rooted in prejudice and retrograde ideology?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we have sympathy for the unemployed. That is why we have expanded the employment insurance program by adding five weeks of regular benefits. That is why we have expanded the work sharing program, which now protects the jobs of 100,000 people across the country. That is why we have also increased access to training so that unemployed workers can work more.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister says she has sympathy for the unemployed. With friends like the Conservatives, the unemployed do not need enemies.

This is the government that, in its last budget, reintroduced a measure that promotes the use of tax havens. Meanwhile, thousands of unemployed workers are being deprived of employment insurance because the Conservatives are refusing to review the eligibility threshold.

What is the government waiting for to stop promoting tax evasion and help the unemployed by changing the eligibility threshold, improving benefits and doing away with the waiting period?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, what we have done is help the unemployed. I just listed the measures we have introduced.

That is why 100,000 people's jobs are being protected through our work sharing program. That is why we have extended the benefits by five weeks for those who are unfortunate enough to lose their job.

When it comes to being a friend of the unemployed, the Bloc members voted against every one of those initiatives that would help those who are unfortunate enough to lose their jobs. I say shame on them.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is ridiculous to say that improving the employment insurance system would encourage people to work under the table. There is no connection between the two. This is the same prejudice that prompted the Liberals to slash EI in the mid-1990s.

Will the government stop confusing its prejudice with reality and carry out a real reform of employment insurance, based on a good faith approach, as in the case of the tax system?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, we all know that having a job meet's people's basic needs for self-esteem and fulfilment. Everyone has the right to a satisfying professional life that allows them to live well.

That is why we have introduced our economic action plan, with real measures to help people get through the economic crisis. We have increased the number of benefit weeks by five. We have also added 14 weeks to the work sharing program, and we have frozen contribution rates.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a lovely tape prepared by the Prime Minister's Office.

Instead of perpetuating the injustices that resulted from the Liberal government's cuts to employment insurance, the government should realize that the current system does not meet the needs of people who are losing their jobs, such as the 600 workers at CAE in Montreal.

He should play his tape to those workers. Then he will see whether they are really happy.

Will the government finally carry out a radical reform by introducing, as the Bloc Québécois has been calling on it to do for a number of years, a 360-hour eligibility threshold—

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, nothing is harder than being hopeful when you share the Bloc's ideology. Our economic action plan is paying off. The proof is that Bloc members are thinking of going back to municipal and provincial politics to help implement the concrete measures in our economic action plan.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government gave GM and union members until midnight tonight to come to an agreement. But we do not currently have any assurance that the jobs in question will remain in Canada. We cannot ask workers to make concessions but not do anything to ensure that the jobs will stay in the country.

Can the government assure us today that the jobs will remain in Canada, and tell this to GM?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as everybody in the House knows, the minister and the Prime Minister have been engaged with our counterparts in the U.S. and our counterparts in the Government of Ontario to come up with a solution to the significant global crisis that is facing the auto sector.

As we have said right from the start, any decision that is taken will be taken in the best interests of Canadian taxpayers, with a view to the long-term viability of the industry here in Canada and, of course, the proportionality in terms of production capability here in Canada.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is very good at giving harsh ultimatums to workers but it will not do the same to GM.

Maintaining 20% of the North American market for Canada must be part of the restructuring plan. The Americans are protecting their market share. Canadian workers have made their concessions. It is time for the government to do the same. It is time for it to come to the plate.

Will the government ensure that 20% of the market and the jobs that go with it remain here in Canada?