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House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was young.

Topics

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' incompetence has made them force GM to close dealerships to make it look as though it was the number of dealerships that led to GM's financial woes. We all know that the fewer dealerships there are the fewer GM vehicles will be sold.

GM is restructuring and the objective is to increase sales. Will the Conservative government rescind its bad decision and order GM to withdraw the closure notices sent to more than 250 of its most successful dealerships in Canada?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is, of course, that GM started this restructuring many months ago. It is closing literally thousands of dealerships in the United States. It is consolidating. When it goes from eight brands down to four brands, it makes sense to review the dealership network across North America. That is exactly what GM is doing.

On our side we do not dictate that process. The only thing that we say is that it has to be cost competitive in its operations. It has proved that with its business plan. That is why the Government of Canada accepted the business plan.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, last fall the government failed to deliver a serious fiscal plan to deal with the recession. Worse, it attempted to hide the fact that it had already returned Canada to deficit by booking a $4 billion fire sale of crown assets. Now we learn every major crown asset is on the Conservatives' chopping block.

Will the government disclose its criteria for this review and guarantee that this is not an ideological mission to dump institutions such as the CBC, VIA Rail and Canada Post? After all, they were all on the Prime Minister's hit list when he was the head of policy with the Reform Party.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I know the member must have read the economic action plan because he voted for it. If he has forgotten, then perhaps I can remind him that in the economic action plan that he voted for, we set out an asset review. The first stage of the review will specifically focus on the following departments: finance, Indian and northern affairs, natural resources, transport and infrastructure portfolios. Not Heritage Canada.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is the government that blew the fiscal framework when times were good, pretending the party had never stopped. Well, the party is over and Canadians have been left with a serious Conservative hangover.

TD Bank is now predicting a federal deficit of $167 billion over five years, which is double the finance minister's projections. After 11 consecutive surpluses where we paid down $105 billion in debt, we are $60 billion deeper in debt than we were in 1996.

Minister, stand up and tell us exactly what is for sale and at what prices, so we can cover your tracks and get Canada back into the black.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I remind the member for Ottawa South that he will want to address his remarks to the Chair. I am not a minister.

The hon. Minister of Finance.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I said a moment ago, the purpose of the asset sale review is good business management. We want to make sure that government assets still perform a useful function for Canadians, that the original purpose is being maintained, and that tax dollars are being spent wisely.

I am sure the member opposite would value those objectives and would think that this is prudent business management for the people of Canada.

Canada Pension Plan Investment BoardOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been many questions and media reports about the compensation to the board members of the Canada pension plan.

Would the Minister of Finance comment on this situation?

Canada Pension Plan Investment BoardOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we thank the CPPIB for its work, and of course it is not to be interfered with politically. It is responsive to the Government of Canada and to the provinces.

Having said that, the G20 leaders at the London summit agreed on three fundamental principles with respect to executive compensation. I spoke with, and wrote to, the chair of CPPIB today, asking him to confirm to me that there has been compliance with those principles. I look forward to his reply.

Canada Pension Plan Investment BoardOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, in order to help the minister asses the response, I might want to bring the following facts to his attention.

The CPPIB lost $24 billion. The members gave themselves multi-million dollar bonuses because they said it was based on a four-year rolling average, but they did not even beat inflation over those four years. In fact, the United Church pension board, a multi-billion dollar pension, an all-volunteer board, outperformed them to 2:1.

If it had invested exclusively in government bonds, it would have made $13 billion more over the past 10 years.

I hope that helps him. How much does the CPPIB have to lose before he finally says “no”?

Canada Pension Plan Investment BoardOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite wants to interfere with how the Canada pension plan invests money. Well, Canadians do not want that interference. This is one of the best publicly funded pension plans in the entire world.

The three principles to which I refer are: firms' boards of directors to play an active role in the design, operation, and evaluation of compensation schemes; compensation arrangements, including bonuses, to properly reflect risk and the timing and composition of payments to be sensitive to the time horizon of risks; payments should not be finalized over short periods where risks are realized over long period. And there is one more for later.

NortelOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, Nortel is another example of Conservative mismanagement. Nortel executives and directors just gave themselves another bonus, this time worth $45 million. Meanwhile, employees will lose their separation allowance and will be forced onto employment insurance, at taxpayers' expense, and retirees will lose 31% of their pensions. The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act comes under federal jurisdiction.

Will the government, which is a creditor but is not attending the hearings, finally take action in the case of Nortel, yes or no?

NortelOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the pension regulation of Nortel is the responsibility of the provincial government not the federal government.

Public AccountsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2007, in response to the Auditor General's recommendations, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts required that the government not exercise the two years of options in the contract awarded to Royal LePage Relocation Services. The contract will terminate in November 2009, and the call for tenders for a contract worth more than $1 billion seems to have been tailor-made to favour one supplier.

Why did the government wait until the last minute to relaunch the tendering process? Is it trying to bypass the process in order to benefit Royal LePage Relocation Services?

Public AccountsOral Questions

2:45 p.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, Public Works and Government Services Canada is working in Canadians' best interests, and we are doing everything in our power to be as transparent as possible.

Public AccountsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, potential bidders are demanding that the unrealistic clauses and the deadlines in the call for tenders be reviewed.

Can the Minister of Public Works and Government Services promise to review these clauses and treat all the bidders fairly?

Public AccountsOral Questions

2:45 p.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, Public Works and Government Services Canada's process is transparent to all bidders.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

June 2nd, 2009 / 2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The necessity of a public investigation into the events in Sri Lanka is now clear. There is a serious and difficult humanitarian situation in that country. We are also well aware that there have been close to 20,000 recent casualties.

What will the minister do to ensure that an international investigation into this situation will be held?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague is well aware, we are delighted that this conflict, which has dragged on for 25 years, is now over. We are, moreover, absolutely in favour of the initiative he supports.

We do, however, suggest very strongly that the Sri Lankan government take responsibility for this investigation and ensure that it is as transparent as possible, and has the potential to lead to the national reconciliation that is so necessary to this process.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer.

We face a humanitarian crisis. I am sure the minister will be aware of the fact that close to 300,000 people are now in camps in Sri Lanka. The number is very high and the conditions are very poor. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is concerned. The U.N. Secretary-General has expressed his concern.

I would like to ask the minister, particularly, what additional steps is Canada going to take to make sure that we are responding to the level and degree of humanitarian concern that the world now shares about the situation in Sri Lanka?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Durham Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report to the House and to all Canadians that we have responded. We are continuing to have discussions. We know what negotiations are happening. We know access has been opened up to camps and shelters for the Red Cross. International workers are now able to go in with special passes.

We will continue to be a part of the discussions and negotiations. Accordingly, we will respond appropriately once we get a full assessment from the field.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, France would not sell the Eiffel Tower any more than the United States would sell its Statue of Liberty.

We now have learned that every Canadian institution by which we define ourselves as Canadians is on the auction block, or should I say the government's hit list. The Royal Canadian Mint, the CBC, VIA Rail are on that list. The government might as well hang a billboard on the Peace Tower that says: “Fire Sale. Going out of Business. Everything Must Go”.

It is a poor business manager who tries to balance the books by selling-off everything of any value.

Will the government not just admit that this fire sale of assets is more about ideology than it is about economics?

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, on a housekeeping note, I am concerned about the quality of the sound system in this place.

This is the third or fourth time this question period that I have pointed out that if anyone wants to read the budget, Canada's economic action plan, which is a wonderful book, they would see that Heritage Canada is not listed in the asset review for this year.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the 40th anniversary of the National Arts Centre, however, according to the minister's department, his documents, that institution could be up for sale. Just four months ago I raised the issue with the Minister of Finance and he downplayed it. Yet today we hear that the NAC could be up for sale at the whim of the minister. This is an affront to Canadians.

Is the document that the minister has received from his department, which hopefully he has read, true? Is the NAC up for sale?

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Let me say this slowly, Mr. Speaker. The answer is no. The assets of Heritage Canada are not being reviewed this year. That is set out in the budget.