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House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Independent Adviser to Review National Security InformationRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure this morning to table, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, the terms of reference for the independent adviser to review national security information.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, respecting its participation at the Parliamentary Panel within the Framework of the WTO Public Forum 2009 and the 19th Session of the Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization (WTO), held in Geneva, Switzerland, on September 30 and October 1, 2009.

Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I also have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, respecting its participation at the Parliamentary Meeting on the Occasion of the 53rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, entitled “The Role of Parliaments in Promoting Equal Sharing of Responsibilities between Women and Men”, held in New York, United States, on March 4, 2009.

Copyright ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-499, An Act to amend the Copyright Act (audio recording devices).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to submit a private member's bill that would update the Copyright Act. It would extend the private copying levy that already exists to the next generation of devices that consumers are using for the copying of sound recordings for personal use.

The private copying levy is a long-standing Canadian tradition that works because it has compensated artists for some of the enormous amount of copying that has taken place. At the same time, updating the act would provide legal certainty for fans who are using iPod players to copy music and shows.

This levy is a compromise that works, because in a world of endless downloading, we need to provide a monetizing scheme for artists. As well, we have to address the fact that there are two dead-end roads on this copyright debate. The first dead end is the belief that digital locks, predatory lawsuits and zero tolerance on access can somehow push consumers back in time, but the other dead end is the belief that our great film, music and art can be looted at will.

If we are going to go down the right road, we have to get serious about securing a monetizing scheme for creators. Canada has a chance to strike this right balance. First, artists have a right to get paid, which is why I am bringing forward the private copying levy; second, consumers, educators and researchers have a right to access these works, which is why I am also bringing forward a motion on defining fair use for educators.

The New Democratic Party will continue to work to ensure that our copyright laws are updated to protect artists, while preserving access to these amazing works.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Crimes Against HumanityRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, regarding Motion No. 505, seconded by the members for St. Catharines, Barrie, and Abbotsford from the Conservative Party; the member for Churchill from the NDP; and the member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges from the Bloc; I seek unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That this House acknowledge the actions of Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish people in Iraq, including the poison gas attack against Halabja on March 16, 1988, the destruction of Iraqi Kurdish villages, the systematic persecution of Kurds in Iraq, and condemn these acts as crimes against humanity.

Crimes Against HumanityRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Crimes Against HumanityRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Crimes Against HumanityRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Crimes Against HumanityRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Crimes Against HumanityRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Employment InsurancePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, I am presenting a petition in this House that calls for the passage of my Bill C-343, which helps victims of crime and their families by reducing the qualifying period for employment insurance and allowing the families of victims to take time off work and keep their job for an indeterminate period of time.

These 170 signatures, in addition to all the others, show that citizens are concerned about the plight of victims' families and that they want the government to act as quickly as possible.

Canada Post CorporationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, my second petition today calls on the government to maintain the moratorium on rural post office closures. These signatures reflect the concern of citizens from Ayer's Cliff and Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley, two municipalities located in my riding, about the phasing out of public services in rural areas.

Their frustration is justified and understandable, because postal services are basic services that ensure the survival of our small towns. These 400 signatures are in addition to those already submitted by my Bloc Québécois colleagues. The government needs to pay attention now.

Animal WelfarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.

The first one, signed by about 100 people from my riding, is in support of a universal declaration on animal welfare.

Canada Post CorporationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is on the same subject as the one just submitted by my colleague. The petitioners want to enhance and maintain postal services in smaller communities. This petition was signed by about 300 people who are concerned about the future of their post offices in Saint-Grégoire, Saint-Alexandre and Saint-Valentin. I am pleased to present these two petitions today on their behalf.

Air Passengers' Bill of RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by dozens of Canadians. It is a call to adopt Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights. Bill C-310 would provide compensation to air passengers flying on all Canadian carriers, including charters, anywhere they fly in the world.

The bill would include measures on compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights and unreasonable tarmac delays. It would deal with late and misplaced baggage. It would deal with all-inclusive pricing by airline companies in their advertising. It would ensure that passengers are kept informed of flight changes, whether there are delays or cancellations.

The new rules would be posted at the airports. The airlines must inform passengers of their rights and the process they must use to file for compensation. It is not meant to punish the airlines. If they follow the rules, they would not have to make any payment for compensation.

The petitioners call on the Parliament of Canada to adopt Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights.

Mining IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a petition signed by quite a number of folks in Canada, calling the Government of Canada's attention to alleged abuses of human rights and degradation of the environment by Canadian mining companies.

Whereas the petitioners feel that it is a duty of Parliament to hold Canadian companies responsible for their activities when operating in foreign jurisdictions, the petitioners humbly call upon the Government of Canada to do the following: create an effective series of corporate social responsibility laws and consent to the expeditious passage of Bill C-300.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

March 16th, 2010 / 10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Throne Speech and BudgetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government demonstrated in its Speech from the Throne and its Budget that federalism does not fulfill the goals and requirements of Quebec, as there were no commitments to allocate $2.2 billion to Quebec for harmonizing the QST and GST, to provide the forestry industry with an assistance plan equivalent to that given to the automobile industry, to offer stimulus measures to the aeronautics industry, to meet Quebeckers’ expectations regarding the environment, and to enhance programs to assist the less fortunate in Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead for seconding the Bloc Québécois motion.

I am extremely happy to take part in the debate on the Bloc Québécois motion because I not only believe, but am also convinced that by introducing and defending our motion, we are doing the work Quebeckers wanted us to do when they sent a majority of Bloc Québécois members to this place to defend the interests and values of the Quebec nation six times since 1993.

I will read the motion again because it contains at least five contentious issues between Quebec and the Canadian nation. These are only examples. There are other such issues. I will take a moment to mention some of them before speaking to the contentious issues contained in the motion. The motion says:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government demonstrated in its Speech from the Throne and its Budget that federalism does not fulfill the goals and requirements of Quebec, as there were no commitments to allocate $2.2 billion to Quebec for harmonizing the QST and GST, to provide the forestry industry with an assistance plan equivalent to that given to the automobile industry, to offer stimulus measures to the aeronautics industry, to meet Quebeckers’ expectations regarding the environment, and to enhance programs to assist the less fortunate in Quebec.

We are debating a motion containing five contentious issues. As I said, these are only examples. We could have included other issues, but as we know, our rules of procedure do not allow for excessively long motions.

I will give two more examples of issues that could have been included in today's motion. We are still waiting for the $800 million in transfers for post-secondary education despite the government's renewed promise to correct the fiscal imbalance.

I recall that Paul Martin, when he was finance minister in the Liberal government in 1994-95, slashed transfers to the provinces, and Quebec in particular. One of those transfers, for post-secondary education and social programs, has never been indexed since 1994-95. If that money had been indexed, it would represent $800 million more for Quebec at a time when, as we know, Quebec like many others in Canada is having difficulty balancing its budget. As I was saying, this could have been another contentious issue to raise.

Another contentious issue which could have been included in the motion is last year’s decision by the finance minister to unilaterally cap equalization, which has deprived Quebec of $1 billion. I was listening to a minister of state boast to veterans that there had been no cuts to equalization. I am sorry, but the cut happened last year, and it represented $1 billion lost for Quebec.

In total, all of the contentious issues we have counted, which have also been counted by the Government of Quebec and the Parti Québécois, come to around $8 billion. The Government of Canada owes $8 billion to the Government of Quebec. This is money that should have been in the budget and in the throne speech. It has simply been swept away, in an offhand manner, as if Quebec did not exist. That too, I would say, is the conclusion of this motion. It is as if, in the throne speech and in the budget tabled two weeks ago, Quebec did not exist and the needs and aspirations of the Quebec nation did not exist.

We thought it timely to raise today, with this motion, this harsh reality that, despite this House’s sham recognition of the existence of the Quebec nation, there has in fact been nothing concrete to truly take the measure of what this meant for the Canadian nation.

I shall review each of these contentious issues. As there is little time, I will be unable to go into detail, although my colleagues, as the day moves along, will have the opportunity to proceed a little further in this regard, in their respective spheres of expertise. However I think it important to begin the day, for those listening to us at home or in the office, with an overview of these issues.

Let us start with the harmonization of the sales tax. As we know, in the early 1990s the Conservative government of the time, that of Brian Mulroney, changed the tax on manufacturers to a tax on goods and services. This was a subject of tremendous debate.

It was in fact a debate in which I participated, for at the time I was in the Confédération des syndicats nationaux. The debate was settled in the early 1990s. Mr. Bourassa, the Quebec premier at the time, decided to harmonize the Quebec sales tax with the GST.

The federal government subsequently invited all the provinces to harmonize their sales tax with the GST, and three Atlantic provinces did so. The federal Liberal government transferred nearly $1 billion to these three provinces as compensation for the harmonization of their tax.

The Government of Quebec also asked to be compensated for this harmonization, which was not a point of debate at the time that the Quebec government harmonized its sales tax with the GST. The federal finance minister at that time, Paul Martin, refused, making up the following excuse or criterion: to be compensated, a province had to lose over 5% of its tax base as a result of harmonization.

When the Conservatives took power, the finance minister announced that he would compensate all provinces that harmonized their sales tax with the GST. They discarded the pseudo-condition that Paul Martin had invented to avoid compensating Quebec. It was announced that in the future, all provinces would be compensated based on criteria in the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. Harmonization compensation would be $4.3 billion for Ontario, and $1.6 billion for British Columbia.

If the same criteria were applied to Quebec, it should have received $2.2 billion in compensation. However, since the finance minister announced that he would compensate Ontario and British Columbia, and that he was prepared to compensate any other province that would harmonize its sales tax with the GST, Quebec has not seen a single penny of this compensation, even though the consensus in this province is that it should be compensated. This shows a lack of good faith towards Quebec. This compensation has been the subject of several motions in the Quebec National Assembly, the latest one as recently as March 31, 2009.

I will not read the entire motion because we do not have the time, but I must point out that all parties in the National Assembly agree with the demands of the Bloc Québécois for Quebec. The motion states:

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the National Assembly ask the Federal Government to treat Québec justly and equitably, by granting compensation that is comparable to that offered to Ontario for the harmonization of its sales tax with the GST, which would represent an amount of 2.6 billion dollars for Québec.

At the time, Quebec was asking for $2.6 billion. The current finance minister in Quebec has adjusted that amount to $2.2 billion. The Quebec nation is clearly reasonable.

This unanimous motion from the National Assembly should have been presented to the House by all members from Quebec, whether they are Liberals, Conservatives or New Democrats. But the only party that informed the House of this unanimous motion from the National Assembly was the Bloc Québécois.

This explains why, election after election, Quebeckers choose to send a majority of Bloc members to the House of Commons. It is the only party that brings the consensus in Quebec and the unanimous positions of the National Assembly, without compromise, to the House. The other parties do not do that.

It is appalling to see the Quebec members saying nothing about issues as important as compensation for harmonizing the Quebec sales tax with the GST. Fortunately, we are here and we will speak for the Quebec nation.

The second issue is the government’s recovery plan, which completely ignores Quebec's economic and industrial needs. The cherry on top is how the forestry industry is being treated. They have allocated $170 million over two years for the forestry industry in all of Canada, which gives Quebec a few tens of millions of dollars, while a third of the jobs lost have unfortunately been in that province.

The forestry industry in Canada as a whole received $178 million over two years, while the auto industry received nearly $10 billion in aid, aid we have never disputed.

What we are disputing is the fact that aid to other manufacturing industries, like the forestry and aerospace industries, has not been comparable to aid to the auto industry. I will come back to this.

We do not have to invent a new formula; we have one already. The industry, the unions, the government of Quebec, the National Assembly of Quebec—in short, everyone involved in this industry in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada is calling for it: loan guarantees. The government told us that loan guarantees were contrary to the softwood lumber agreement with the United States. Strangely, it was Government of Canada lawyers at the London tribunal who argued the exact opposite. So it is quite unbelievable that the Conservative ministers, particularly those from Quebec, are not even capable of defending, in the House, the only coherent position the government should have: that these loan guarantees are entirely in accordance with the softwood lumber agreement with the United States.

This is exactly like Paul Martin’s 5% in the GST harmonization debate. These are excuses. The truth is that the Conservative government does not have the political will to help the forestry industry, to help the regions of Quebec, to help forestry workers who are in trouble, and that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to the Bloc Québécois, but it is also unacceptable to everyone who cares about Quebec and its needs.

We proposed a number of measures that should have been included in the budget and the Speech from the Throne. Those measures would have helped the forestry industry. I mentioned loan guarantees, but we also proposed, for example, that forestry products be used for energy to replace our dependence on oil. Reducing oil dependency is obviously a concept the Conservatives do not like very much. People say it all the time, and sadly, it seems to be true: the number one lobbyist for the Canadian oil cartel is the Conservative caucus.

These solutions would provide for sustainable economic development in our regions in Quebec and meet the needs of the forestry industry. As I said, a third of the jobs lost in the forestry industry were in the regions of Quebec. And so we are once again calling for this aid.

We want help as well for all workers, not only those in the forestry sector, although, in their case, the situation is becoming desperate. We have put forward a whole series of amendments, as everyone knows. My colleague from Chambly—Borduas introduced, among other things, a very comprehensive bill on employment insurance. It proposed an eligibility threshold of 360 hours, increased benefits, an increase in insurable earnings to $42,500 and benefit calculation based on the 12 best weeks. The solutions are out there. The people of Quebec all agree with them. Unfortunately, here we run into blatant rejection that is more than just indifference, it is disdain.

Once again, the money that would have helped and should help workers in difficulty would also help our regions. Very rarely will someone unemployed put their EI benefits in a tax haven, as do the banks. He will spend it at the corner store, at the grocery store and on various services in the community. The government could have and should help not only the workers but also the communities affected come to terms with the forestry crisis. Reform of EI must be not only in social terms but in economic terms as well.

What sort of vague reforms or vague cosmetic reforms were we entitled to last year? Weeks of benefits were extended under Bill C-50, for example. Benefits were extended for workers known as tenured employees and those who have not had to draw on EI benefits on various occasions during their active life. All workers in seasonal industries were discriminated against. Unfortunately, the forestry industry is a seasonal industry, and so its workers were discriminated against. And a date was set—January 2009.

Oddly enough, a look at the background of layoffs across Canada reveals that layoffs occurred in Quebec in 2007 and 2008, and in southern Ontario and western Canada in 2009. So the government created a made to measure program. We have no problem with it responding to the needs of workers in Ontario and western Canada. We support it, because we are progressive, but what we do not understand is that, of all the Conservative government's reforms over the past year, none is useful for people unemployed in Quebec.

Worse yet, we have been questioning the government now for a number of weeks on pilot projects to remedy the injustices in the Lower St. Lawrence, the Gaspé and the North Shore.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs has said that no decision has been taken in this regard. April 10 is the deadline. The people in these regions are living in insecurity caused not only by the fallout of the economic crisis, but also by the Conservative government, which is unable to give a clear response.

We have spoken a lot of the forestry and aerospace industries. In Quebec, and especially in the greater Montreal area, the aerospace industry may be compared to the automobile industry in southern Ontario. It is a highly structural sector, with a lot of subcontractors. The hours are difficult in aerospace. We can rightly expect the government to support these industries. We have suggested a number of avenues, including that, which could easily be taken, of refundable tax credits for research and development. They would help the forestry industry too.

As I have said many times, Tembec invests close to $80 million annually in research and development. Yet this company has not turned a profit for a number of years now. The company therefore cannot take advantage of the tax credit because it is non-refundable. Companies need cash and they need it now. Companies working in the aviation sector are in the same situation. The aerospace industry has gotten some help, but not the aviation sector.

The Minister of Finance patted himself on the back several times when announcing the elimination of tariffs on equipment and goods needed to modernize and improve productivity in the manufacturing industry.

As is the case with the other solutions put forward by the Conservatives, the problem lies in the fact that these measures help those companies that turn a profit, that have cash and that are capable of buying or investing. For those companies that have no cash, these measures are of no help. It is just like the other Conservative solution—lowering taxes on business profits, which helps oil companies and big banks. It is useless to companies that do not make a profit, since they do not pay taxes.

The Bloc Québécois has proposed some solutions that would allow the manufacturing industry as well as the aerospace and forestry sectors to pull through this crisis and be ready for the economic recovery. But many companies will shut down along the way. So, when the economy has recovered, they will not be there to take advantage of open markets because of this government's indifference to and contempt for Quebec's needs.

The fourth issue we have concerns the environment, towards which this government has the same attitude. The international community is adopting criteria that mirror Quebec's actions. The Kyoto accord uses 1990 as its reference year. Greenhouse gases are to be reduced in comparison to this benchmark year. Quebec wants targeted reductions with absolute targets, but that is not what the government is doing.

We also wanted a territorial approach and the establishment of a carbon exchange, which already exists in Montreal but would need a better environment to develop economically and financially.

This is what the international community is asking for, and Quebec is perfectly comfortable with those objectives. And what is the government proposing? It is proposing to use 2005 as the base year, instead of 1990, which means that all the efforts that Quebec's manufacturing industry made between 1990 and 2005 would not be taken into account as carbon credits for a future carbon exchange. And yet, this industry has made considerable efforts and succeeded in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. The situation is the same for the targets. Not only are the targets not absolute since they are intensity targets, but Canada is the only country that reduced its targets from 20% to 17% after the Copenhagen conference.

In conclusion, I would say that the Conservative government has completely ignored the whole question of program enhancements, as far as the guaranteed income supplement, social housing and employment insurance are concerned.

The Quebec nation will have to recognize that Canadian federalism does not benefit Quebec. Quebec sovereignty is the only way for the Quebec nation to face the challenges of the future and this is what the Bloc Québécois and its allies in Quebec society are working toward.

Opposition Motion—Throne Speech and BudgetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. In the budget and the Speech from the Throne, there is a lack of political news concerning the official languages in Canada. Quebec and New Brunswick are neighbours. To show that it supports the policies on Canada's official languages, this government needs to provide tools for the large Acadian community.

Does my colleague have any comments about the lack of positive steps on this issue in the Speech from the Throne and the budget?

Opposition Motion—Throne Speech and BudgetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. Indeed, the promotion and development of French is another issue about which the Conservative federal government is particularly silent.

Of course, the Bloc Québécois and all Quebeckers have a vested interest in seeing strong French-speaking communities across Canada, whether we are talking about Acadians, Brayons, who live in the Edmundston region, Franco-Ontarians or Franco-Albertans.

In that regard, members should be well aware of the fact that the Bloc Québécois has made some proposals in the House to reinforce the presence of French in Quebec. I think about the bill to have the Charter of the French Language apply to all firms under federal jurisdiction in Quebec. Unfortunately, we had no support except from a few NDP members. The Conservative government has taken very unfortunate actions on this issue.

There are ways to reinforce the presence of French in Canada and one of these, I would even say the main one, is to ensure the prominence of French as a common language within Quebec.

Opposition Motion—Throne Speech and BudgetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by commending my colleague from Joliette on the quality of his presentation. He is one of the most highly respected members in this place. He has a flair for summarizing with great clarity a somewhat complex set of issues.

He raised the issue of employment insurance, and I would like to hear more about the use made by both the Liberals and the Conservatives of employer and employee contributions to the EI account. As we know, in the past, $57 billion were misappropriated from the EI account at the expense of the unemployed, who have been literally excluded from access to EI benefits.

I would like to know how he thinks the EI account will be used in the future.

Opposition Motion—Throne Speech and BudgetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Chambly—Borduas, who, I must say, is working extremely hard on the issue of employment insurance. Federally, the EI program is the one that helps the largest number of people. It is at the core of the social safety net that should be in place at the federal level.

Unfortunately, the hon. member is right. The Liberals and Paul Martin have used the EI account extensively to eliminate the deficit. Even when surpluses were generated, they continued dipping into the account, despite the fact that this is money contributed by employees and employers to provide insurance in the event of job loss, and for that purpose only. In fact, the Auditor General, or her predecessor, noted that, while such misappropriation may not violate the letter of the law, it did violate the spirit of the law, because contributions designed to provide income protection to those who lose their jobs were being used for other purposes.

Unfortunately, we can see that the Conservatives will be using the old hard to stomach Liberal recipe. It is clear from both the economic statement and the budget that, between 2011 and 2015, the Conservative government will dip into the account to the tune of $19 billion to offset its deficit. It is not a matter of paying off the deficit that may have been caused by the recession, which, in any case, should be paid off using reserves that could have been built during the years when there were surpluses in the EI account.

Sadly, in the Conservatives' minds, the workers, the middle class and the least fortunate are the ones who should once again be paying to restore fiscal balance. One thing is for sure, however: they will find us, and the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas as well, in their path.

Opposition Motion—Throne Speech and BudgetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party does concur that the government is not investing sufficiently in the forestry sector, aerospace, the environment, or the nation's poor. It is doing nothing to support the loan guarantees for the forest companies. Action on climate change is not there. There is nothing to tackle poverty. Certainly, there is nothing to support culture, pensions or health care.

It is not federalism that has failed Quebec. It is the Conservative government that has failed Quebec. I think that is an important issue.

The member also raised in his motion the issue of the harmonization of the QST with the GST and the compensation. The member will know that recently there was a story about the tax collectors with the province of Ontario who lost their jobs and became federal employees. That is another significant cost element that comes into the equation in terms of the compensation.

Does the member have any other items which would account for the need to provide additional compensation to Quebec with regard to that harmonization?