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House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jurisdiction.

Topics

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, a few months ago the Liberal leader said, “We will have to raise taxes”. That is the plan he has for Canada. He wants to raise taxes on hard-working Canadian families at a time when they need more money in their pockets. The Liberals want to raise the GST, impose a job-killing carbon tax and eliminate the universal child care benefit.

These Liberal policies are not what Canadians are looking for. That is why they so clearly rejected the Liberals in the last election.

In contrast, our Conservative government is firmly reducing the tax burden on Canadians. We are further providing tax relief and improved access to financing for Canadian households and businesses.

Because of our government's prudent management of the country's finances and the economy, Canada is in a much stronger position to weather the global recession than most other countries.

Our government will continue to take whatever actions are necessary to protect Canadians from the worst impacts of the global recession.

Medical IsotopesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are looking for a government that has a plan, and it still does not have one for the isotope crisis.

Thousands of worried Canadians are not getting their cancer tests. The Dutch and the Americans can ramp up production, but they cannot make up the shortfall and they cannot guarantee that isotopes will end up in Canadian hospitals. We are facing a growing national health care crisis.

What is the current shortage of isotopes supply in Canada and what is the government's plan to make up the shortfall?

Medical IsotopesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the minister can give more detail.

As the Leader of the Opposition knows, the government's approach is to work with suppliers across the world on isotopes and also with providers here to encourage alternative treatments. We believe we have enough isotopes available to manage the current situation and to enable other diagnostic tests to be used in cases where isotopes cannot be provided.

Medical IsotopesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would like to see the evidence for those assertions.

However, let me go to a related issue. Last week the Prime Minister announced that he was taking Canada out of the isotopes business. The reaction from medical experts around the world has been one of shock. They point out that if Canada backs out of isotopes production, it will take “a minimum of 10 to 15 years to bring a new solution online”. That means 10 to 15 years of global supply shortages, if Canada ceases production.

How can the Prime Minister justify abandoning the world in this way?

Medical IsotopesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first, this is not new. The government made this decision some time ago after the failure of the MAPLE project.

The previous Government of Canada put $600 million into the MAPLE project, with no prospect in sight of the production of a single medical isotope. That is why the government has decided to invest in the extension of the Chalk River reactor and to work with suppliers around the world on longer term management of the isotopes supply.

Medical IsotopesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Prime Minister announced that he was taking Canada out of the isotope business.

International experts said that if Canada stopped producing isotopes, it would take at least 10 to 15 years to find a long-term solution.

How can the Prime Minister justify abandoning the world in this way?

Medical IsotopesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, this is not new. This decision was made with each MAPLE project funded by the former government that did not produce a single isotope, despite an investment of $600 million. We have decided to spend money on prolonging the life of the current reactor and on working with other countries that provide a long-term supply of isotopes.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, the government admitted that it had given up any hope of eliminating the deficit.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Conservatives' original plan, which was just to eliminate the deficit, did not hold water. Plenty of economists agree.

Where is the plan to straighten out our public finances once the recession is over?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our government's plan is clear. We allocated funds for a limited time to ensure that we would return to a surplus situation at the end of the recession. We are still following the economic action plan from our latest budget. To make that happen, we have to avoid spending the tens of billions of dollars in new money the opposition is asking for.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, none of the economists believe the government on the budget.

Let us compare the Conservative report to Barack Obama's plan. With the click of a mouse, I discovered that Obama allocated $25 billion for medicaid grants and actually spent $19 billion. I also discovered that the Department of Veterans Affairs had been allocated $30 million and spent almost nothing.

At least the Americans get honesty from their government. When will the minister tell Canadians how much he has actually spent?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party cites the United States as its fiscal model. In the United States the deficit is running at four times the size of our deficit. It is a dangerous, long-term structural deficit that existed even before the recession began, one that will require tax increases eventually.

We have a proud fiscal record in Canada. That is not a direction we want to go because on this side, Canada, not the United States, is our country.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, at taxpayers' expense, the Conservative government ran ads in all the weekend papers touting its recovery plan, the same recovery plan that contains nothing for the manufacturing industry in Quebec, nothing for the forestry industry, nothing for the unemployed, in short, nothing to really boost the economy.

Instead of spending taxpayers' money on advertising to tout an inadequate, ineffective recovery plan, would the Prime Minister not do better to shoulder his responsibilities and introduce a series of real measures modelled on our proposals?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the economic action plan provides help for all those sectors, for both the manufacturing sector and the forestry sector. In the announcement of the report last week, I announced that 3,000 projects are now under way. It is important to our economy that, this Friday, Parliament pass the budget we need so that we can continue to spend to help Canada's economy this summer.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says that 80% of the projects are under way. Just because he put the money in the budget and projects are under way, that does not mean the money is flowing. We have reason to be skeptical, knowing that some projects announced two years ago in the 2007 budget have not yet been set in motion.

Does the Prime Minister realize that there are projects funded out of the 2007 budget that have not gotten off the ground, which means that he has made a lot of promises, but he has not accomplished much?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board has announced that we have used more than $2 billion of the $3 billion passed this spring. On Friday, we need more money to complete the projects that were announced in the report last week. These projects have been approved not only by this government, but by provinces and municipalities. Everyone is expecting this Parliament to act to ensure that this money goes into Canada's economy.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, when he presented his economic action plan, the Prime Minister stated that changes would be made to the employment insurance program. However, the next day he was contradicted by the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, who said that she did not anticipate any changes.

My question is very simple. Will changes be made to the employment insurance program, or not?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we did commit to monitoring the situation. We committed that right at the beginning, with our economic action plan.

We are proud in this country to have an entrepreneurial class that is alive and well. These self-employed individuals, though, are the largest single group that are not eligible for employment insurance.

In our campaign promises of 2008, we committed to looking for ways to help support those individuals in troubled times. That is exactly what we are looking forward to doing.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is indeed announcing changes to employment insurance. If the government is short on ideas, it should simply use the solution proposed by the Bloc Québécois, which is to eliminate the waiting period, lower the eligibility threshold to 360 hours and increase insurable earnings from 55% to 60%.

What changes will the government make to employment insurance? Changes are required now.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as I just mentioned, we want to help all those individuals who are hard hit by this recession. A large number of them are entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals who are not eligible for employment insurance.

During the 2008 campaign, we promised these people that we would find ways to help them with employment insurance. That is precisely what we are trying to do.

The EconomyOral Questions

June 15th, 2009 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend, the media reported that the money to stimulate the economy is locked away in federal coffers.

For example, the building Canada fund is behind schedule, based on the 2007 plan. Only one quarter of the money provided has been invested. Yet, the government said it would speed up the process, because of the crisis.

Can the Prime Minister explain why he has the foot on the brake pedal rather than on the gas pedal during this crisis?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is quite the contrary and I can even quote the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, who said that things are beginning to move very quickly and that they are pleased by that.

All levels of government are working together to ensure that these construction projects begin this year. I encourage the opposition, including the New Democratic Party, to vote in favour and not against these funds, which are needed for projects that are important for the Canadian economy.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the funds are flowing slower than they were spelled out to flow in the 2007 budget.

Here is what the government's own numbers say have gone out: only 36% of the gateways and border crossings budget; only 27% of the money earmarked for major infrastructures and small communities; only 20% of the provincial and territorial base funding; and only 13% for the Asia-Pacific gateway and the corridor initiatives. It is pathetic. The Conservatives cannot get the money out of the door.

Is it because the Conservatives really do not believe it should be spent at all that they have their foot on the brakes?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, it is the NDP and the opposition that has been voting against the spending. All levels of government have been working together. I have produced a list of 3,000 projects that are under way and ready to go this construction season.

Therefore, the choice for the opposition is really very simple. On Friday, it can either vote to allow these things to go ahead or vote to block them. The Canadian people obviously want to see these projects continue to move ahead.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister seems to be blinded by his own press releases. The figures do not lie. The money is not flowing.

Here is what his own government officials are telling us. The five components of the building Canada plan that could be accelerated are worth $15.42 billion. They said that they would accelerate that spending. How much has been spent? The government has spent $3.8 billion, or 24% of the money. If that is acceleration, I would not want to be taking on those guys in any kind of a race. They would be at the back of the pack. They would not even compete.

Why will he not get the money out of—

The EconomyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.