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House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Royal Canadian MintOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not hold himself to the same standards that he expects of everyone else.

The list of government mismanagement just keeps growing. Today we learned that gold and other precious metals are unaccounted for at the Canadian Mint and yet the police have not been called in to investigate.

Canada's reputation for confidence is taking a beating at home and abroad.

Is the Minister of Transport prepared to tell Canadian taxpayers how much gold and silver is missing? What is the value? Will he conduct an investigation? Will he make the findings of an external audit immediately available to the public?

Royal Canadian MintOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Yellowhead Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, the Mint is a crown corporation at arm's length from the government.

However, I was in touch with the CEO of the Mint, Mr. Ian Bennett, earlier this morning to find out what has been going on. He has assured me that an external audit was started in early March and that it will be completed within the next two weeks and will be public. I will not speculate on its outcome.

Royal Canadian MintOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

It is clear, Mr. Speaker, that nobody on that side is in charge and prepared to assume responsibility for what is going on.

We have had continuous faulty accounting of the nation's finances, security lapses and now lost gold and silver. We do not know if the affair at the Mint involves faulty accounting or a gold heist.

While the Minister of Finance is living in a world of fantasy numbers, could the Minister of Transport tell the Canadian public when this pot of gold will be found?

Royal Canadian MintOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Yellowhead Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, we do take this situation rather seriously. The Mint brought in a third party to perform an external audit to examine exactly what has been going on. That audit will be completed within the next two weeks and it will be totally public.

I would encourage my hon. colleague not to speculate on the outcome because I do not believe he knows and neither does anyone else. We should just wait for the process to be completed.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the London court, American lawyers used statements made by Canadian ministers suggesting that loan guarantees for the forestry industry are illegal. Statements made about loan guarantees by the Prime Minister and his ministers are being used against Canada in this case.

Does the Prime Minister realize that what he said about loan guarantees is sabotaging his own lawyers' work and is bad for the forestry industry and for Quebec?

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the loans issue is before the court, as my colleague said. I must emphasize that we will wait for the outcome. In the meantime, we have plenty of programs to support forestry companies. Just last year, we helped over 430 forestry companies in Quebec through EDC.

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, that attitude is a great example of the Reform-based, anti-Quebec sentiment that still has such a strong hold over the Conservative Party. This reminds me of the time when Reformers leaked information to Embraer, a company that is in direct competition with Quebec-based Bombardier.

Does the Prime Minister not understand that the best way to counter the United States' claims is to give loan guarantees to the forestry sector?

Forestry IndustryOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, since 2008, forestry companies in Canada have received over $14 billion. Over $9 billion of that has gone to companies in Quebec. Quebec companies have received more help and support than companies elsewhere in Canada. Is EDC against the rest of Canada? I do not think so. EDC's job is to help forestry companies during times of financial crisis.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are not even trying to conceal the fact that they are contemplating selling off federal government assets with the sole aim, as we know, of reducing the size of the state to a minimum. The Minister of Finance said yesterday that in Canada's economic action plan, Heritage Canada is not on the list for asset review “this year”.

Does this then mean that the CBC might well turn up in a future list of asset sales in a few months, and that the minister does not dismiss the idea of selling off the CBC and Radio-Canada?

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Let us be clear, once again, Mr. Speaker. We made a promise during the election campaign to maintain or increase the budgets of CBC/Radio-Canada and we have done so in each of our four budgets. I have the Bloc Québécois platform, its assistance plan, here before me. In its 21 pages there is not a single mention of the arts, not a single mention of culture, not a single mention of CBC/Radio-Canada.

If CBC/Radio-Canada is really a priority for the Bloc Québécois, why is it not included in their platform?

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the federal government's shares in General Motors, the Prime Minister has said that these would be sold at the appropriate time, and that is completely logical and reasonable. At the same time, he has announced that he wants to dispose of certain federal government assets immediately. As if the economic situation were not the same in both cases.

Are we to understand that the government would be prepared to sell off corporations such as VIA Rail and the Old Port of Montreal Corporation now, for purely ideological motives?

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

What is clear is what I said yesterday, Mr. Speaker, and that is we have identified certain departments for asset review this year and we will proceed with that.

What is odd is the position taken by the opposition, including the Bloc, when they say to the government, “Spend more, but be fiscally responsible and don't increase the deficit”. Part of being fiscally responsible is reviewing assets and making sure that those assets continue to perform in the best interests of the Canadian people.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the finance minister.

The TD Bank's analysis shows that the government will add $170 billion of debt to ordinary Canadians over the next five years. The finance minister, in his fall economic statement, said that over the next five years he will be booking $2 billion from asset sales each year.

Will the minister inform Canadians across the country which specific assets, and from what departments, he intends to sell this year to fill a $2 billion hole in his balance sheet?

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, TD economists have presented one view. It is on the low side. There are other economists who are going to present other views. We are going to hear lots of views about the economy in an uncertain time.

With respect to asset review, it is prudent for any large organization to review its assets from time to time. In fact, that is the position of the Toronto-Dominion Bank's economists.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have a hard time believing the minister, who a few years back was the architect of deficit in Ontario. He shut 26 hospitals, laid off 8,000 nurses and cut half of the water inspectors, leading to the Walkerton crisis. These institutions affect Canadian lives and Canadian identity.

Will the minister set aside his reform ideology and be honest with Canadians about what he intends to sell?

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

This is more hypocrisy on the other side, Mr. Speaker. They are the same Liberals who in the mid-1990s cut transfers to the provinces. They cut funding for schools. They cut funding for hospitals. They cut funding for universities. They cut funding for the elderly. They cut funding for children.

This is the hypocritical position of the Liberal Party of Canada: cutting spending on the weakest in our economy.

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has plunged Canada into a disastrous economic situation. Jobs are being lost, the deficit is growing, and the government is just making it up as it goes along.

Now the government has come up with a new idea. Some genius somewhere has decided to hold a fire sale of government assets—our institutions—and privatize them.

This includes CBC/Radio-Canada and the National Arts Centre. They have decided to sell some of the essential components of our very own culture.

Is the minister going to understand that our culture was not for sale yesterday, is not for sale today, and will never, ever be for sale?

Government AssetsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Let me try to understand the Liberal opposition, Mr. Speaker. Liberals voted for the budget, Canada's economic action plan. The asset review is set out in the budget. Now they are saying they do not like an asset review.

The Liberals are saying they want fiscal responsibility, but they are saying, “Do not review expenditures. Do not review assets.” They say they want to spend more on EI but they say not to increase spending. Who in Canada can take any of them seriously?

Arts and CultureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that nobody believes him any more.

Loving culture means defending that culture. Loving culture means appreciating its importance. Loving culture means investing the necessary funds into it.

Today the government is imposing a strategic review, and thus cuts, to some of our national flagships, some of the most important programs for our artists and creative people.

The government is engaged in a full-scale attack on the NFB, the Canada Council, Telefilm Canada and CBC/Radio-Canada.

Why do they have such a hatred of culture?

Arts and CultureOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the member can yell and scream all he wants, but the facts in the budgets that we passed in this House of Commons, which the member voted for, are crystal clear. This Conservative government made promises in election campaigns to maintain or increase support for arts and culture. We have increased funding for the National Arts Centre. We have increased funding for the Canada Council for the Arts, up to a record amount, $181 million. Those are artists supporting artists for the future, to support our creative economy.

When the Liberals ran for office and were elected, they promised not to touch arts and culture. They gutted arts and culture, they cut CBC by a third, and now they are pointing fingers to us and saying that we are not doing our job. We kept our word. We have delivered. It is the Liberals who have failed.

TaxationOral Questions

June 3rd, 2009 / 2:45 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government reduced taxes on Canadian families by $20 billion, yet the leader of the Liberal opposition wants to reverse proactive tax measures. Can this be true? The Liberal leader wants to reduce the amount of money hard-working Canadian families have to spend. In fact it is true. It was proven when the leader of the opposition stated, “We will have to raise taxes” and that he was “not going to take a GST hike off the table”.

Canadians have a right to know. Does this government believe the Liberal leader's statements?

TaxationOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the words have meaning and the hon. leader of the opposition has said, “We will have to raise taxes”. He has described himself as a “tax-and-spend Liberal”.

Canadians want to know from the Liberal leader exactly what his plan is for the economy, which taxes he would like to raise, how much he would raise them, and who will have to pay. Does he have a serious plan for the economy, or is he just visiting?

Canada Pension Plan Investment BoardOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, CPP Investment Board members lost a staggering $24 billion, wiping out four years of CPP contributions. They will get millions in bonuses, while retirees will get on average a mere $500 a month. This is an unethical abuse of power.

What is the response from the government? A letter from the minister, asking them to respect a vague set of G20 rules. That simply is not good enough.

Will the minister finally find the courage to do the right thing and demand that the executives pay back these outrageous bonuses?

Canada Pension Plan Investment BoardOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is not a vague set of rules. These are very specific rules that were developed by the Financial Stability Forum of the G7, which have now been adopted by the G20, by all of the leaders when they met at the London summit. They are very specific.

We have asked the CPPIB and the others who are responsible to the Crown to report back with respect to those principles, whether they are in compliance, and to confirm steps they will take, if necessary, to be in compliance.

Canada Pension Plan Investment BoardOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the G20 rules deal with fund managers, not with their innocent victims who are the Canadian pensioners.

The rules the minister is referring to are not specific enough, and simply writing a letter is not courageous enough. Canadians demand better and they deserve better. These executives need to be told in no uncertain terms that what they are doing is irresponsible, shameful and wrong.

Will the minister stop protecting his friends and hiding behind the G20 rules and stand up today to publicly denounce their actions and demand the money back?