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House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was countries.

Topics

Conservative PartyOral Questions

October 22nd, 2010 / 11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative riding association in Bourassa has folded. It had not produced any financial reports in a long time. In fact, it seems to have done nothing other than collect donations from contractors who were awarded government contracts. The Conservatives set up a bogus association, collected $35,000 from a few cocktail parties and fundraisers, then closed the books. It was a fly-by-night affair.

Is that more or less the story behind the dissolution of the Bourassa Conservative riding association?

Conservative PartyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that we always follow a process with a great deal of transparency and integrity.

I would like to quote an appointee of the Parti Québécois government, Marcel Blanchet, the chief electoral officer in Quebec, “A thousand dollars per individual per year; one cannot imagine that it could have a major influence on a political party”.

I agree with this appointee of the Parti Québécois.

Conservative PartyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party does not exist in Bourassa. The defunct Conservative riding association seems to have done nothing but collect donations from contractors involved in renovation work on Parliament Hill. How else to explain a businessman from Markham, Ontario, making a donation to an obscure Conservative Party candidate on the Island of Montreal?

Will the Quebec lieutenant recognize that the Bourassa Conservative riding association was nothing but an empty shell for collecting donations from contractors involved in renovation work on Parliament Hill?

Conservative PartyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, in Quebec, the Conservative Party has 74 recognized riding associations. I understand that with Elections Canada, there are only 58 recognized riding associations that collect funds for the Bloc Québécois. That is an interesting fact.

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, this government is letting wealthy tax evaders off the hook. Today it is bragging about a tax treaty with Switzerland that will do little to recover billions of tax dollars hidden overseas by tax cheats and corporations. What little information we do have on Canadian tax evaders is the result of the efforts of other countries, France and the United States.

When will the government devote the necessary resources to stop this massive tax evasion scam?

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Canadian families, Canadian corporations, the overwhelming majority work hard and pay their taxes fairly. They have every right to expect that their government will take every reasonable effort to ensure that those who evade paying their fair share face the full force of Canadian law. That is the commitment the Prime Minister and this government have made.

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is the government is doing just the opposite.

In 2007, the finance minister pretended to be tough about tax fairness, but since then, the Conservatives have imposed the HST on Ontario and B.C. They have announced a new payroll tax on workers and employers. They have rolled back corporate income taxes and have left tax cheats a free field. After promising to beef up the CRA, the Conservatives have cut the compliance division by 16%, ensuring that tax cheaters are let off the hook.

How fair is that?

TaxationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with great respect to my friend from the NDP, having the NDP talk about fairness in taxes is a bit rich. It is this government that has taken unprecedented measures to reduce the tax burden on Canadian families. Tax freedom day in Canada arrives more than two weeks earlier than it did just five short years ago.

Whether it is cutting the GST, whether it is cutting income taxes, whether it is cutting taxes on job creators, every single time we stood to do that, the NDP voted against it.

TaxationOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives, in their fine tradition of negotiating with questionable regimes, have signed a free trade agreement with Panama. Panama is one of the most secretive tax havens in the world, and the Conservatives have done absolutely nothing to change the tax evasion practices there. In fact, there is not one word in the agreement on eliminating tax evasion.

Why do the Conservatives want to promote tax evasion by signing agreements with questionable regimes that encourage this practice?

TaxationOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, that very question was answered this morning in the debate on Panama. However, I will answer it again for the member.

The reality is that the Minister of Finance has written to his counterpart in Panama asking that Panama undertake its obligations. Indeed, the Government of Panama has made a commitment to undertake its obligations under the OECD.

I do note that the party that is speaking here is inclined to look for any excuse to avoid creating trade opportunities for Canadian workers, for Canadian businesses. On the other hand, we are interested in seeing our workers and businesses prosper.

International TradeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Conservatives' indifference is putting our cultural industries at risk.

This time, the culprit is the Minister of International Trade. He enjoys making a mockery of the concerns of our artists about the cultural exemption in our negotiations with the European Union. We cannot accept that.

Will the minister accept his responsibilities, realize the importance of culture and require a cultural exemption in this agreement?

International TradeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, again, this question has already been answered in the House. However, just for clarification, we are at a time of economic uncertainty and our government is committed to opening markets for Canadian workers and businesses. A trade agreement with the European Union would mean a $12 billion boost, minimum, to the Canadian economy. We are seeking the normal cultural exemption that we seek in all of our trade agreements and we are confident that the 27 members of the European Union will be seeking similar cultural exemptions.

International TradeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the government is downplaying this matter. It does not understand.

The minister tells us, while trying not to laugh, that there is very little risk of our cultural industries being inundated with Latvian cultural goods.

On the one hand, I am not sure that he realizes what Latvia produces. On the other, I wish to remind him that there are major cultural players in Europe, including France, England, Germany, Italy and Spain.

NAFTA already contains an exemption clause. Why does he not have the courage to defend this very position when dealing with European countries?

International TradeOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I am a bit surprised that the hon. member would stand in this place and try to play one culture against another. It is simply bad manners and poor taste.

Outside of that, the reality is there are 27 member states in the European Union. Each and every one of those member states is interested in protecting its own culture and those member states will be looking for their own cultural exemptions. I am sure Canada will not have any difficulty with our cultural exemptions.

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, on November 8, Nigel Wright will be joining the Prime Minister's Office on temporary loan from his private equity firm that owns a little bit of everything, from defence companies, to private health care companies, to casinos.

With only 10 working days left before Mr. Wright is leased to the PMO, will the Conservatives release the terms of the work agreement, or will they continue to hide from the public his potential conflicts of interest?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the language used by the member for Malpeque is regrettable and is certainly inflammatory to an outstanding Canadian who is willing to put aside his private sector career to come to the nation's capital and make a contribution to Canada. Would it not be great if we had more Canadians who were prepared to do that?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

For five years, Mr. Speaker, the Conservative exchange program has ensured privileged Conservative staffers get to use their political connections to advance their private sector careers. We know where a few went. Kory Teneycke is now lobbying to sell off Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Robert Valcov and Brant Scott are being paid to utilize the Conservatives' connections to lobby against gun control. Now, the PMO is renting its senior employees from private equity companies on a short-term basis.

When will this revolving door stop?

Office of the Prime MinisterOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I know the harsh words that the leader of the Liberal Party had for career politicians just last week and now, of course, the Liberals do not want anyone from outside of government to come to Ottawa to make a contribution to public service.

Mr. Wright has sought and will follow all the direction and counsel of the Ethics Commissioner. This government is the government that brought in the Federal Accountability Act and it will always uphold a high standard of ethical conduct.

Oil and Gas DevelopmentOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Quebec is trying to negotiate an agreement like the ones that Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia got. This type of agreement would allow Quebec to better protect the St. Lawrence and to evaluate the environmental risks associated with oil and gas development.

Will the government commit to signing an agreement that does not force Quebec to give up its claims regarding ownership of the St. Lawrence seabed?

Oil and Gas DevelopmentOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is intriguing to see the Bloc's new-found interest in fossil fuels, given that it has practically spat on these types of energy since it has been here.

We are negotiating in good faith with Quebec. We will not negotiate with the Bloc, but with Quebec. Ms. Normandeau, Quebec's Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife, has said that talks are under way. That is how we will proceed.

Oil and Gas DevelopmentOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, for years Quebec has been trying to negotiate an agreement like the ones that Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia got. The Government of Quebec is hoping that this issue will finally be resolved this fall.

Will the government commit to signing an agreement this fall that does not force Quebec to give up its claims regarding ownership of the St. Lawrence seabed?

Oil and Gas DevelopmentOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is always amusing to see a new-found interest in fossil fuels. The Bloc has practically spat on these types of energy for years. Now it is using this issue to divide the federation, as per its ideology: stir up trouble with Newfoundland and Labrador, stir up trouble with Nova Scotia, stir up trouble with everyone. That is the Bloc's ideology. We will not get involved. We will not negotiate with the Bloc. We are negotiating in good faith with Quebec.

InfrastructureOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the only party in the House that rises every day to defend the interests of Quebec. That is the truth.

Municipalities in Quebec want the government to push back the deadlines for infrastructure projects. The mayor of Laval, Gilles Vaillancourt, said, “municipalities answered the call when it was time to implement the plan. Now, they are hoping that the government...will answer the call by heeding their demands for more flexibility.”

Why does the minister not push back the deadlines, as called for by municipalities in Quebec and by the National Assembly?

InfrastructureOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

In June of this year, Mr. Speaker, the FCM asked the committee and the government to be fair, reasonable and flexible and the government has said that it will do exactly that.

Let us be clear about the facts here. If it were up to members of the Bloc Québécois, who voted against Canada's economic action plan, there would be no arenas and no recreational centres in Quebec. There would be no roads or bridges repaired in Quebec. There would be no trails and no new buildings.

This Conservative government stands up for the people of Quebec while those people do not do anything.

InfrastructureOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, for years, the Bloc Québécois has been calling for a fair infrastructure program. The president of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités, Bernard Généreux, made some excellent comments about the deadlines. I would like to put his question to the minister.

What difference would it make to the federal government if the amounts committed were used past the set deadline, so that these projects can be completed?