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House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was auto.

Topics

Grand défi Pierre Lavoie ChallengeStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Grand défi Pierre Lavoie was held this weekend. Mr. Lavoie, who was born and still lives in my riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, and dozens of cyclists rode 1,000 kilometres in under 40 hours from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean to Montreal.

For several years, Pierre Lavoie has been working to help children affected by rare diseases like lactic acidosis. This event has two main goals: to raise funds to support research on orphan diseases, and to promote awareness among children aged 6 to 12 about the benefits of physical activity.

Both the young and the not so young participated in the challenge, cycling alongside Pierre Lavoie for sections ranging from five to fifteen kilometres.

I would like to congratulate this courageous athlete. All of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and Quebec thank him.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are now facing the deepest recession in a generation. Yet the Conservative government can point to almost no tangible results that it is making in addressing the crisis. What are Canadians getting instead? Weasel words, misrepresentations, and in some cases, outright fabrications.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister got it dead wrong when he claimed stimulus funds could not be spent more quickly without further authorization from Parliament. That is absolutely wrong.

As the media reported today, Parliament has already approved over $21 billion in spending. Nothing prevents the government from spending these funds. In fact, it appears that so little funds are actually getting out the door because of political interference demanding photo ops and ribbon cuttings by Conservative MPs.

Unemployed Canadians are waiting for jobs because of Conservative vanity. That is shameful.

Canadians want honesty from their government, not false claims of accountability. When will the Conservatives drop the Harpocrisy and stop trying to mislead Canadians?

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberal leader threatened to block our economic action plan and force Canada into an unnecessary summer election.

Since the start of this global recession, our Conservative government has provided the largest and fastest stimulus package in the G8. We are permanently reducing the tax burden on Canadians and we have expanded support for those hardest hit by the recession.

While our government is prudently managing the economy, the Liberal Party is advocating for permanent spending initiatives that would result in a structural deficit and put our economy at risk. The Liberal leader is calling for a 45-day work year; he wants to implement a job-killing carbon tax; and he did say, “We will have to raise taxes”.

Canadians do not want an election and neither do we. On this side of the House, our primary focus remains the economy.

We hope that the Liberal leader considers the interests of Canadians instead of personal interests, and we hope he drops his threat to block our economic action plan.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, in a reasonable and measured way the Leader of the Opposition raised four important issues yesterday. The Prime Minister responded by offering a meeting, which is taking place now. The issues were these: the isotope crisis, employment insurance improvements, the federal deficit and actual spending on infrastructure.

On the latter point, who in the government has a complete tally of actual infrastructure expenditures to date, not just announcements or promises or wishful thinking, but hard expenditures already made? Who can give those numbers specifically?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is very simple. He need only go to actionplan.gc.ca to see 3,200 projects in various stages of implementation. On the side of stimulus spending for infrastructure, an extra $10 billion has been announced. Our partners are in the process of hiring the construction workers, the architects and so on.

What this is really about is the fact that the leader of the Liberal Party cares more about himself than the future of these projects. He cares more about himself than the future economic recovery of the country. That is a shame. Worse than that, it is an abomination.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the minister still cannot give the numbers.

Conservatives allege wrongly that unless their financial estimates are approved on Friday, the stimulus package will grind to a halt, but that is not true.

The budget was approved in February. The budget implementation bill was passed in March. So were the supplementary estimates and the interim supply bill. The government even gave itself extraordinary power to allocate money in April, May and June for spending through the rest of the year. Therefore, it has the money.

However, look at the record. The Conservatives left billions of approved dollars idle that last year. Why can they not admit those facts?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, Canadians do not want an election. Neither does our government.

If the opposition votes to bring down our government, negotiations on infrastructure contribution agreements between the various levels of government will immediately cease. Thousands of projects will not go ahead in this construction season.

An irresponsible decision by the opposition to bring down this government will jeopardize our economy and will jeopardize tens of thousands of jobs across the country.

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, that answer is only a confession of incompetence.

The government's Treasury Board official confirmed that 93% of stimulus spending is totally unaffected by anything that happens this week. The tiny remainder is easily covered by the blank cheque in the government's interim supply bill, which is already law. Therefore, the votes this week pose no threat to stimulus, not a penny. The threat is the government's inability to get approved money out the door, shovels in the ground and jobs created.

How much was actually spent in the first 120 days?

InfrastructureOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, let us make this perfectly clear for Canadians across the country. If the opposition votes to bring down the government, the infrastructure negotiations, the contribution agreements among provinces, municipalities, NGOs and private sector organizations will immediately cease. Tens of thousands of jobs will be in jeopardy and our economic recovery will be in jeopardy.

The opposition members are being irresponsible. Shame on them.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is completely irresponsible of the Treasury Board president and he knows it. Once we voted for the budgets, negotiations could begin. The amounts were approved. So everything he is saying is false. Whether in English or in French, what he said is false, absolutely false.

Now, as for employment insurance, can the minister tell us, since there is a plan for the fall, what is stopping her from tabling it immediately?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, who is misleading the House, but that member. That member is misleading the House when he says that. In fact, who will negotiate all of the contribution agreements when the government falls? All of those negotiations end at that point.

There are hundreds of negotiations on projects going on at this very moment and the irresponsible decision by that opposition party to bring down the government brings those jobs, those projects and our economy into jeopardy.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was a minister longer than him and I know how it works. During an election campaign, there are departmental officials who negotiate, and they are not about to fall asleep at the switch.

I would, however, like to ask a serious question.

The minister hesitated earlier. I am asking her to rise. Can she tell us why she cannot table her employment insurance plan immediately? People are going to starve this summer and they want to know what will be done about employment insurance. What is she waiting for?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we did make substantial improvements to the EI system to help those Canadians who need and deserve our help, such as five extra weeks and expanded work-sharing program, now protecting 130,000 jobs. We are looking at a promise that we made during the 2008 campaign, one that would allow access to EI benefits for self-employed workers on a voluntary basis. That is a major design change to the system. It cannot be done within a week, but we will have it ready for the fall.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claimed yesterday that what he wanted most was to help people get through the economic crisis. To that end, he should start telling the truth and stop spreading falsehoods about employment insurance. The Prime Minister keeps on saying that an eligibility threshold of 360 hours would entitle people to 52 weeks of benefits. That is absolutely untrue.

Will the Prime Minister or the minister dare say again from their seats that a 360-hour eligibility threshold entitles people to 52 weeks of employment insurance benefits?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois leader and his party are in this House to create crises and ensure that the country does not function. I will give an example. As recently as this week, our government was invited to the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget in France. We were to attend to support the aerospace sector, which employs 45,000 people. The Bloc Québécois did not cooperate and prevented us from supporting this industry, which is extremely important to Quebec.

Why do they refuse to help us when we want to help people have opportunities to develop our economy?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not true. We were willing to go, but their whip refused. When it comes to creating crises, no one holds a candle to the Prime Minister. He is the all-round champion.

That said, with 420 hours, the current threshold, a person is entitled to 37 weeks of employment insurance and no more.

They have not answered the question. I will now ask the political lieutenant, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is bellowing, to stand up. Let him put his seat on the line and say once again that it entitles people to 52 weeks.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois leader's language is not very appropriate. He should watch what he says.

When we were asked to support the aerospace industry, they refused. After the whole thing was cancelled, they suddenly decided that they were willing to support us, but it was too late. They want crises here in Ottawa, but we want to move our economy forward.

As for employment insurance, amendments are coming in the fall. For the first time in our history, we are going to help self-employed workers who want to contribute in order to receive employment insurance in the future. This is another tangible measure our government is preparing to take.

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals paid $1 billion to the Atlantic provinces and the Conservatives gave $4.3 billion to Ontario in order to harmonize their sales taxes with the GST, but has still given nothing to Quebec, which was the first province to harmonize its taxes.

Does the Prime Minister realize that he will not earn the confidence of this House as long as he acts unfairly towards Quebec and refuses to give it the $2.6 billion it has asked for?

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, once again, the other side of the House is looking for a crisis.

We have been clear, such things are not negotiated in public. I can assure them that good negotiations are underway between my colleague, the Minister of Finance, and Quebec's finance minister, Mr. Raymond Bachand.

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister who just rose is the same one who refused to attend the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.

Not only is the Conservative economic pseudo-plan, which is supported by the Liberals, ineffective, as indicated by the decline in sales of 16 out of 21 industrial sectors, but it is also unfair to Quebec.

How can we trust a government that is prepared to provide $10 billion to the auto sector concentrated in Ontario when the forestry sector and Quebec are given peanuts?

Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I can say that the matter we are talking about is much more serious than that of withdrawing one's agreement to pair, as those on the other side of the House have done.

One thing is certain: municipalities have expectations. The UMQ was here two weeks ago and asked that money be sent because it is desperately needed. Credits are coming and will be voted on this Friday. What will they do? They will vote against it. They will block payments to municipalities. Construction work will be suspended. That is irresponsible. Shame on the Bloc Québécois.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

June 16th, 2009 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, workers are sick and tired of the Prime Minister's insults. He is wrong about his “45-day work year”. We have to act now to help people, but the Prime Minister does not want to do anything until the fall.

The government's promises to self-employed workers are not reassuring because we know that the government has refused even to consider the NDP's employment insurance bill, which the House passed.

Why does the Prime Minister keep insulting people instead of acting?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, during the 2008 election campaign, we promised self-employed workers that we would give them access to some employment insurance benefits on a voluntary basis.

We have already done a number of things for the unemployed. We are working on doing something for self-employed workers, but it is a major change.

It will take time, but we will do it.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives put it in their program, but they did not have clue how they would get it done. That is why we did not see it in the budget.

We have seen no action, but this is no surprise from that party and a Prime Minister, who refers to an EI cheque as a big, fat cheque. That is a put-down of the people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

How many times does he need to be told that fixing EI is the best way to stimulate the economy? Every dollar turns into a $1.60 in stimulation. That is why EI adopted our party's plan to fix EI, which included the self-employed fair benefits and fair access. Why will the Conservatives not take action?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, in fact, the minister and this government have done a lot to improve EI. That is what the extra $5.5 billion in our economic action plan is all about. That is what extending EI by five weeks is all about. That is what work-sharing is all about as well.

We care about the fact that people in this economy and in our country have been hurt by the world economic downturn. That is why our economic action plan is worthy of support, so it gets to those issues. However, the member and that party do not get it because they continually vote against it.