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House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was women.

Topics

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the conclusions of Kevin Page, our Parliamentary Budget Officer are clear: the government's projections are ridiculous. Drastic measures are necessary.

The Bloc Québécois is proposing a surtax on the bonuses of business leaders, a surtax on taxpayers who earn over $150,000, and the elimination of the tax havens that help the banks get richer and make the government poorer.

Will the government finally listen to reason and act responsibly, as proposed by the Bloc Québécois?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is too bad that the member does not agree with the opinions of the best economists in Quebec: economists from Desjardins Group, from the National Bank of Canada in Montreal, and from the Laurentian Bank, also in Montreal.

The best economists in Canada have offered their views, all 15 of them, and that is what we accepted. It is on page 33 of the budget. The hon. member is welcome to read the names, and so is Mr. Page.

HaitiOral Questions

March 11th, 2010 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Immigration invoked the Privacy Act to refuse to comment on the case of Ms. Hippolyte and her sister, who were refused entry into Canada. The minister said he would not comment publicly on the case unless he had a statement signed by the person in question authorizing him to do so.

That has been done. This morning I sent the minister the written authorizations from Ms. Hippolyte and her sister.

Will the minister explain now why this person was refused entry or is he going to wriggle out of it like his Conservative colleague from Beauport—Limoilou and plead impotence?

HaitiOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, the visa officers in our public service make more than 800,000 decisions a year on visa applications. This is the first time I have ever heard anyone say that these decisions are politicized.

The visa officer is this case was not convinced that the applicant would return to Haiti after her stay in Canada. The information on the application was neither complete nor consistent.

HaitiOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government still promised to speed up the processing of applications from Haiti. Nearly 2,000 applications are waiting to be processed in Ottawa, and only the visas of permanent residents have been delivered.

Will we need to obtain a written authorization from each applicant to get answers out of the immigration minister?

HaitiOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, we announced special measures for sponsorship applications for Haitian citizens with relatives in Canada. We have added resources to help speed up the processing of these files. Several hundred decisions have already been made.

We are doing all we can, but we cannot simply eliminate the entire process for ensuring that people are eligible to come to Canada. We are working with the Government of Quebec and the Haitian community to speed up processing of the files of people who qualify to come here.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development met this morning with Chief Lonechild of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. The chief no doubt informed the minister about the decisive action he has taken to fix the problems at First Nations University.

Chief Lonechild has worked sincerely and successfully with a new interim board of governors and CEO, with faculty and students, with the University of Regina and Premier Wall's provincial government. A strong remedial plan is in fact in place. Will the federal minister now support that plan?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I did meet with the First Nations University delegation today. I repeated our position that the current funding formula for First Nations University ends as of March 31. Of course, we will continue to help aboriginal students directly through our post-secondary programming and institutions through our Indian student support program.

Unfortunately, however, repeated and ongoing efforts over the past several years did not bring about the change in accountability that Canadian taxpayers expect and aboriginal students deserve. It is time to focus our attention on those aboriginal students themselves and ensure we have more and continued success for them going forward.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, if the minister does not reach the March 31 deadline, if certainty is not achieved by then, First Nations University will begin to disintegrate and faculty, staff, and students will need to go elsewhere. Sadly for hundreds of young aboriginal students, there is no elsewhere. Their dream of post-secondary education will simply be over.

Surely the minister will not visit upon these innocent young people the past sins of others. Will the minister ensure the problems are fixed and multi-year federal funding is in place on time?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member wants to look at the past sins of others, he should start by getting up in the morning and looking in the mirror.

If he had taken action when he was still the finance minister for the former Liberal government, then perhaps we would not be in this position today. However, he did not take action.

After repeated efforts, time and again, we ended up where we had forensic audits, trips to the commercial crime unit. The last chief financial officer is talking about trips to Las Vegas, trips to Hawaii. Now $400,000 is missing from students' scholarship funds and we do not know where it is.

It is time to be accountable to taxpayers and to students and get this fixed.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a colleague has already noted, ministers are awfully quick to take credit, including names and logos on cheques, when doling out taxpayer money. However, they are awfully quick to blame the public service when it comes to massive waste, such as $1,000 light bulbs. Which is it?

I know the minister is new to the job, but will she acknowledge that the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is in fact responsible for decisions taken at the Department of Public Works?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, these particular expenditures are offensive to taxpayers. While this contract is awarded and managed by the public service, and competitively awarded, I do feel these expenditures have to be reviewed.

For that reason, I have asked the public service to bring in a third party external adviser to take a look at them.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister has still not accepted responsibility and is blaming the public service, whereas it was ministerial responsibility that tried to prevent disclosure only a few weeks ago of information on this, or we do not know, a very similar file.

Someone knew something. Someone tried to hide it. How do Canadian taxpayers know they will get any real information on how their taxpayer dollars could have been so badly wasted and who benefited?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, taxpayers will know because I have said today that we will bring in a third party external auditor to take a look at all of these expenditures.

I have asked the deputy minister to review these expenditures, in particular, for value to taxpayer dollars.

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government has a strong record when it comes to supporting Canadians of all abilities.

Through investments such as the historic registered disabilities plan and the enabling accessibility fund, our government is committed to the full inclusion of Canadians with disabilities. Canada was also one of the first countries to sign on to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007.

Could the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development please update us as to the status of ratification of this important convention?

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to announce that today, in New York City, our Minister of Foreign Affairs ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This historic convention promotes the full inclusion of persons with disabilities. Canadians with disabilities make tremendous contributions to our communities and to our economy.

I would like to thank everyone who helped make this happen. We can rest assured that our government will continue to support Canadians of all abilities.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, while preaching restraint to others, the Prime Minister's office budget actually jumped $13 million, a whopping 22%. That is hypocrisy. It is also enough money to extend EI benefits for 5,816 workers or pay the annual OAS and GIS benefits for 1,157 seniors.

Covering up such hypocrisy is no easy task, which is probably why the size of the PMO's communications office is unprecedented.

Does the Minister of Finance not think that this money would be better spent actually helping Canadians instead of paying for PR?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the member undermines her own credibility by leaving huge, gaping holes in her presentation.

First, the PCO budget is not the PMO budget. Also the Privy Council supports four other ministries besides the PMO.

This year there are added responsibilities that we are quite excited about, such as the G8 and the G20, which, once again, Canada will be leading the world in so many ways. There are other items that fall under that budget, for instance, expenses related to the Air India investigation and the freeze applies to these particular departments also.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government's PR department is indeed in overdrive. In opposition the Conservatives used to attack the Liberals for being entitled to their entitlements. Now they are the ones who are holding title to those entitlements.

Besides the disturbing attempts to avoid accountability, including shutting down this very House, we have seen coffee runs on Challenger jets, temper tantrums in airports, the manipulation of arm's-length organizations, stacking the Senate, double standards for their friends, massive corporate tax cuts and secret deals with foreign companies.

When will the government stop the hypocrisy and help the Canadians who it has so far refused to help?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend is all over the map that we will have to google to find out where she is at this moment.

I will repeat that we are very honoured by the fact that Canada, once again, will be showcased this year by taking leadership at the G8 and the G20. These are fantastic opportunities, just as we took the great opportunity in hosting the Olympics.

These added items take resources, they take people, and we do not hide from that fact. That is why there will be some additional responsibilities for PCO, and the spending freeze applies to it also.

TelecommunicationsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, in overturning the CRTC’s decision in the Globalive matter and announcing it intended to deregulate telecommunications, the government is opening the door to foreign companies that want to get their hands on our telecommunications firms.

Since the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology is going to study this important issue and since the economic and cultural implications are vital to the Quebec nation, will the government rein in its desire to deregulate telecommunications ownership?

TelecommunicationsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, this government has a record of standing up for greater competition. Competition creates economic growth, innovation and better options for Canadian consumers.

I will point out the fact that in terms of foreign direct investment in Canada, while there is a lot of focus on the foreign direct investment happening in Canada, which is good, foreign direct investment by Canadian champions abroad was about $135 billion more in 2008 than the direct investment in Canada.

TelecommunicationsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, he who controls access controls content. By deregulating ownership of telecommunications, the federal government is giving away control over cultural content to foreigners. This is a real threat to the cultural development of the Quebec nation.

Will the government recognize that deregulation of telecommunications goes beyond the immediate economic interests of big business and that protection for our broadcasters and our cultural industry is essential?

TelecommunicationsOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, again, this issue is about competition. It is about creating economic growth, innovation, better options for Canadian consumers.

With regard to competition, a report of the World Economic Forum in the fall said that Canada would lead the way in the industrialized world in competition, being one of only two industrialized countries to come out of this global recession in a more competitive position than it went in.

Scientific ResearchOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment has confirmed that funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences will not be renewed.

Two weeks ago, I met with researchers at the Université du Québec à Montréal who depend on this funding. They are concerned and dismayed. We all know how important climate change research is.

What does the government say to these researchers and other researchers across the country who are going to have to abandon years of research in a field that is so important for Canada?