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House of Commons Hansard #83 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, just repeating the falsehood does not make it true. The proposed takeover of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan amounts to the takeover of the entire Canadian industry. It is the biggest proposed resource takeover ever, and many people in Saskatchewan and beyond, including prominent business leaders, are asking: After potash is gone, what is left?

Even the former chairman of BHP said, “Canada has already been reduced to an industry 'branch office' and is largely irrelevant on the global mining stage”.

Will the government stop the bleeding and just say no?

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, obviously, we are examining the bid, as we are required to do under the Investment Canada Act. We will render a decision that is of net benefit to Canada one way or the other.

However, I would put our record against the record of the opposition Liberals any day of the week. When they were in power, they approved every single bid. When they were in power, they did not go to court to enforce the Investment Canada Act at all.

We turned down a bid and we have gone to court to enforce the Investment Canada Act because we are standing up for Canadians. We are here for Canada.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

October 20th, 2010 / 2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, every day brings new information about how the Department of Public Works manages contracts. The latest news is that Cameron Forbes, a contractor from Markham, Ontario, made a $500 donation at the cocktail fundraiser in Bourassa that the Minister of Public Works attended. Mr. Forbes heads a firm that specializes in repairing copper roofs and has won several contracts from the Department of Public Works.

Can the Minister of Natural Resources, who was the minister of public works, tell us what the connection is between a contractor from Markham, Ontario, and the riding of Bourassa in Montreal?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government has established very strict rules for donations to political parties. Companies are prohibited from donating money to political parties. The same rules apply to unions and individuals, who cannot donate large sums of money. People can and do donate modest amounts to all political parties, including the Bloc. To suggest that someone can influence a contract with such an amount is ridiculous.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is ridiculous is deciding what is right and wrong based on the size of the donation. Following this cocktail party, Mr. Forbes' company qualified to be on a shortlist of prequalified bidders from which the Department of Public Works will choose over the next five years when it needs work done.

Will the Minister of Natural Resources admit that a donation to his party can be an excellent investment for a contractor? This is the seventh example from the same cocktail party.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have news for our friends in the Bloc Québécois. One of the people who attended the cocktail party, Nicola Papiccio, signed a $500 cheque for whose election campaign? It was for the election campaign of the member for Saint-Jean, the Bloc critic. Just five months after receiving $500, the member wrote an official letter to the Department of National Defence asking for financial support for whose company? Mr. Papiccio's. How shocking.

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, at least seven business owners involved in constructing government buildings funded the Conservative Party in Bourassa in January 2009. Sauvé, Glouberman, Gersovitz, Broccolini, Canac-Marquis, Clavier and Forbes worked for Public Works Canada and they alone contributed $4,000 to the Conservative Party.

Does the Prime Minister, who says that he cannot be bought for $500, acknowledge that a whole lot of $500 contributions from government contractors add up to a tidy sum to fund his election campaign?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that one of these participants signed a cheque for the election campaign of the Bloc's official spokesperson. Then, just five months later, he received an endorsement for an application for a hefty grant from the Department of National Defence for one of his businesses. I should ask the same question of the Bloc. Can a Bloc member be bought for a mere $500?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the Bloc Québécois's initiative, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates will investigate political contributions made to the Conservative Party by companies involved in the construction and renovation of federal buildings.

The Minister of Natural Resources, who is at the centre of this story, has been invited to testify.

He has claimed to be fully accountable, to the point of testifying in place of his assistants. Will he explain himself before the committee?

Public Works and Government ServicesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we have nothing to hide. The real question is this: will Nicola Papiccio be invited to this same committee so that the members can ask him what he did with his grants? He made a $500 donation to the official spokesperson in order to get an endorsement for a hefty grant for one of his businesses. That is the real question.

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, Saskatchewan is turning thumbs down on the BHP takeover of Potash and yet this place is still swarming with lobbyists who clearly have the ear of the government. The question is whether the Conservatives are finally going to take seriously this whole matter of the net benefit test that the law says they are supposed to apply.

Do members know that only 11 people are responsible in Investment Canada, two of them are clerks, for the review of all the takeovers that come in? Clearly, they cannot get the job done.

Will the government finally take the issue seriously and take the steps that are required, or is it going to continue to side with the lobbyists for BHP and let this investment go ahead, which would be the wrong thing to do?

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as is required by law, the government will listen to all sides on the matter. The government will render a decision according to whether the transaction is a net benefit to Canada.

As members know, this is a proposal for an American controlled company to be taken over by an Australian controlled company. We will review the matter according to the act.

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, foreign takeovers are not taken seriously by this government. That is clear.

The government's review panel is made up of only 11 people.

Eleven people to examine complex files like the purchase of Inco by Vale, Xstrata by Falconbridge, and now Potash by BHP.

How can we believe that the Prime Minister is serious and is truly looking out for public interest, when we know what happened to the workers of Inco, Vale and others?

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has indicated, and as I have indicated on many occasions, there is a law in place. It is called the Investment Canada Act. There is a test that is applied; it is called the net benefit to Canada test. We will be employing that law and that test to consider the situation.

The hon. member may have his opinions, but they are only opinions. We will obviously look at the facts and look at the bidder's considerations, the province's considerations, all of the considerations, in order to render an opinion that will be the best benefit to Canada and the best benefit under the act as well.

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, representatives of the people of Saskatchewan, who own the resource, have their opinions and they need to be listened to here.

Nortel is another example of the Conservatives' bankrupt approach to dealing with foreign takeovers. Let us look at what happened here. The Conservatives stood by and fiddled while the competitors carved up this leader in technology, a jewel of the Canadian economy that was very strategic. They watched as workers on medical leave were cast aside. They stood back as workers lost their pensions. They did absolutely nothing and pensioners' rights were dismissed. Today there is nothing left but empty buildings. So what did the government do? It bought the empty buildings.

From strategic leader to empty buildings and real estate agents, is that what the government is all--

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Industry.

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the company went bankrupt and was liquidated. The hon. member is correct in that sense. All of the rest of what he says about what happened in the ensuing months is not exactly accurate.

A lot of companies have come in and hired Canadian workers, are investing in Canadian technology, and are part of the Canadian fabric of research, innovation and development. The hon. member should know there are a lot of successful Canadian companies in the information, communication and technology space. We are leaders in the world. One only has to look at Open Text or RIM to acknowledge that.

Why does the hon. member not stand in his place and support Canadian companies rather than doing what he does day in, day out?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, according to a senior Conservative MP, the Prime Minister is responsible for our armed forces being kicked out of the base in Dubai, because his position is, and I quote, “truculent and unreasonable”.

The ambassador for the UAE himself confirmed this version to me.

The government has repeatedly cancelled meetings and reneged on its commitments. Why are the Conservatives treating a Canadian ally like this?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, as this House has heard any number of times this week, the Government of Canada always chooses arrangements that are in the best interest of Canada and of best value to Canadians.

Let me just say again, what the UAE was offering was not in the best interest of Canada

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, a Conservative MP has been quoted as saying that the Prime Minister made his UAE decision in a “fit of pique”. The result was not only bad militarily but also economically.

This very week the Premier of Nova Scotia is in the UAE to negotiate a deal on environmental technology while Research In Motion is also there. Yes, they were allowed to land, but does the Prime Minister not realize that his “fit of pique” is putting Canadian jobs at risk?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, this government will not respond to unattributable gossip.

Let me say again, what the UAE was offering was not in the best interest of Canada.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the government posted the first report in Canada on ecosystem health on an obscure website, without notifying the public or the media.

After reviewing the report, we know why: 80% of the indicators in this report prepared for the UN conference show signs of trouble.

Today, will the minister reveal to Canadians what positions Canada will take at this conference? Furthermore, where is he hiding them?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the member well knows that this government is a world leader in biodiversity. Canada was instrumental in drafting the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. We were the first industrialized country to ratify that convention and we hosted its international secretariat in Montreal. We have a proud history of biodiversity with this government, not with the Liberals.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the factors the hon. member mentions make it even more embarrassing. From biodiversity to oil sands, the government is sullying Canada's international reputation. A few weeks ago it was James Cameron, today it is leading environmental groups, on the new report, reminding Canadians how the government is failing them on the oil sands.

By abdicating its responsibilities in Alberta, the government is giving Canada a black eye internationally. Canada's negotiators have received no mandate for the conference on biodiversity.

Will the minister and the government not agree that Canada needs a new doctrine from the government: the responsibility to do no further harm to Canada's reputation?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the fact is it was the Liberal leader that said the Liberals did not get it done.

Our government is committed to make sure that the oil sands are developed in an environmentally responsible way. The minister created a federal panel of Canada's leading scientists on water monitoring chaired by Dr. Elizabeth Dowdeswell. The panel will report back to the minister before the end of the year on whether or not the current monitoring systems are adequate.

When it comes to the oil sands or the environment, we are getting it done.