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House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was colombia.

Topics

Arctic SummitOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the parliamentary secretary convinced Canada's Inuit Athabascan and Gwich'in people with that answer. They also live on the coastline.

The conference results get worse. Sweden, Finland and Iceland have all publicly rebuked the government about their exclusion. The Norwegian foreign minister has been openly critical of what he implies is the Conservative cold war mentality.

Why this disarray and embarrassment on the international stage?

Arctic SummitOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, the opposition's hand-wringing is completely unnecessary. Northerners play a very important role in determining the future of our Arctic waters. As I already explained, the Arctic Council chair, the foreign minister of Denmark, will brief other members of the council in due course.

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, from a letter sent on March 18 to the Quebec finance minister, we learn that the Conservative government is refusing to compensate Quebec for harmonizing its sales tax. Under the 1992 agreement to harmonize the GST, Quebec collects and administers the tax, and that works very well.

Why is the Prime Minister intent on scuttling an agreement that has been in place since 1992 and refusing to pay Quebec $2.2 billion in compensation?

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government respects the agreement signed in 1992. It indicates that there are still two taxes in Quebec. These taxes are collected by the Quebec government and every year we pay the Quebec government for that.

The Quebec government has expressed interest in true harmonization of sales taxes, like that agreed to by a number of other provinces. We are prepared to continue our negotiations to reach such an agreement.

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 1992 harmonization is not fake; it is true harmonization. It has been cited as an example by all federal governments since 1992.

The government's stubbornness is depriving Quebec of $2.2 billion that it really needs.

Why is the Prime Minister insisting on putting federal shackles on the Quebec nation?

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

What the Bloc leader has said is not true. Quebec has not harmonized its taxes the way other provinces have. Quebec collects two taxes for two governments.

In the other provinces there is a harmonization agreement and only one tax. We are seeking a similar agreement with the Quebec government. It is in the interest of all Quebeckers and Quebec industries.

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, on page 68 of his 2006 budget, the minister mentioned that five provinces had not harmonized their sales tax, and Quebec was not among them. This means that our tax has been harmonized since 1992. Now, the Minister of Finance is contradicting himself.

Is this just an excuse not to give the Quebec nation its due, while the Quebec Conservatives look on approvingly? Billions of dollars for Ontario, zilch for Quebec.

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the discussions with Quebec's finance minister will continue. We have made some progress, but we still face challenges to true harmonization, as it exists in Ontario, British Columbia and the Maritimes. Talks between the two governments are ongoing.

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, until the Conservatives were elected, the loss of more than 5% of the tax base was one of the conditions for compensation when a province harmonized its sales tax.

But the Minister of Finance, who was formerly the Ontario finance minister, dropped this condition in order to accommodate his own province to the tune of $4.3 billion.

Why can't the Minister of Finance be open-minded enough to let Quebec keep on collecting both taxes?

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, governments that have harmonized their tax have only one tax, not two. We are facing this sort of challenge in our talks with the Government of Quebec. There must be one tax, not two, for there to be true tax harmonization in Quebec.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, just weeks before a parliamentary review of the Environmental Assessment Act is to get under way where members of the House can review that legislation and strengthen it, the government has tabled a budget implementation bill. Buried right in the heart of that bill is the removal of a key trigger for federal environmental assessment, namely, whether there is federal money involved in the project.

Why is the Prime Minister gutting environmental assessment at a time when Canadians' awareness of the importance of the environment is at an all all-time high?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

On the contrary, Mr. Speaker. The changes in question were actually made by regulation last year, in agreement with the provinces, to simplify and remove duplication from the environmental assessment system in the country. It has been very effective and welcomed by all our provincial partners, including some NDP provincial partners.

In terms of delivering the economic stimulus, it makes sense to make these measures permanent because they work for the environment and for the economy and they are supported by all levels of government.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, Parliament is to conduct a planned seven-year review the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in June. This is an opportunity for members to study the issue and for the public to get involved and testify about what is working and what is not, but the government has decided to pre-empt the consultations.

Why is the government trying to ram weaker environmental protections down our throats without consultation or debate?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the government made these changes last year in the economic action plan. The provinces and municipalities supported all these changes to benefit the environment and the economy. We do not want duplication in environmental protection in this country.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, these are not going to be just short-term changes to the environmental protection legislation. They are going to be permanent. They are essentially going to say that for programs like the building Canada, green infrastructure and rural infrastructure programs, there are not going have to be any federal environmental assessments in the future. That means bridges, highways and so on. As long as they have federal funds, they will be exempted from environmental assessment. This is a major step backwards. It could be seen as a plan to exempt Tory slush fund projects, but I am sure we will be told no.

Why are the Conservatives gutting the environmental—

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the leader of the NDP is completely out to lunch on this.

The fact is other levels of government across the country have been insisting that we not duplicate environmental assessment, that we work with them. That is what we have done. The NDP government in Manitoba demanded it, along with all kinds of other governments. We have done it. It works well, and we should continue it.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday evening, Finance officials confirmed that employment insurance premiums will increase by 35% over the next four years. They also confirmed that the minister has the power to set the premium rates he deems reasonable.

Will the minister finally admit that the Conservative government itself is responsible for this huge hike, or will he contend that his own officials lied?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, actually that was a decision by Parliament. In the implementation of the 2008 budget, Parliament approved the creation of the EI Financing Board, which will set the premiums.

What we have done is freeze the premiums for two years, as part of the economic action plan to provide a stimulus to Canadian economy. That we have done. However, at the end of the stimulus time, which as members know is next March, then we will go back to Parliament's wish that we go ahead and have the EI Financing Board, which will set the premiums and move toward balance.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the Conservative minister, the cat is truly out of the bag. His own officials have confirmed that the budget raises EI premiums by 35% and the cabinet does control the rate.

Now that the minister has nowhere to hide, will he finally admit that it is the Conservative government, and not some outside agency, that is imposing this punishing tax hike?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, following the will of Parliament, we will be moving toward balance through the board.

We will not do what the previous Liberal government did in the mid-1990s, and that is, syphon off somewhere in the neighbourhood of $58 billion to $60 billion to use to balance the budget at that time.

Who said that? It was Professor Courchesne, from Queen's University, who said:

Martin's offloading did not stop there: he siphoned off somewhere in the neighbourhood of $5 [billion] to $6 billion annually.... The cumulative EI surplus that the Liberals brought into the consolidated revenue fund reached a staggering $60 billion.

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

March 30th, 2010 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the budget bill will take away any assurance that Atomic Energy of Canada Limited will not be sold to foreign interests.

Indeed, this bill eliminates the need for an act of Parliament to approve the sale and gives Cabinet a free hand to allow foreign interests to take it over.

Are they trying to hide the fact that the Prime Minister has already made up his mind to sell the CANDU technology?

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

No, Mr. Speaker. Indeed the hon. member raises a question about the application, perhaps, of the Investment Canada Act. What I can say is, based on our considerations, even if the Investment Canada Act is not applicable in this case, this government would review that situation, which is a speculative situation, certainly with the best interests of Canada and Canadians.

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I did not mention the Investment Canada Act.

The degree of government incompetence is unprecedented. It is rushing ahead with the outright sale of our nuclear industry to foreign interests at a time when there is a global renaissance in this sector.

It will be a fire sale, after it has succeeded in diminishing AECL's value by announcing its privatization policy in the midst of a bid to build new reactors in Ontario.

Why are the Conservatives hollowing out another key segment of our economy? Did they learn nothing from the Avro Arrow fiasco?

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, our goals are clear. We want to ensure energy security in Canada, while at the same time taking into account the taxpayers' ability to pay.

In the process, it is also important to always seek to ensure a viable future for Canada's nuclear industry. That is what we are doing; that is all. They should stop their scare tactics and fearmongering. We are doing the responsible thing in restructuring that company.