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House of Commons Hansard #2 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

The EconomyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague about his government's efforts on poverty reduction. I would like to point out something for intellectual honesty.

I hope that the government will admit that in all of its tax cutting brouhaha, that its required increase in EI premiums is in fact a tax increase on businesses as is the harmonized sales tax a tax increase on consumers in British Columbia and Ontario. Both of these will raise the amount of taxes that the government will be receiving. I do not know why it is such an anathema for the government to simply admit what is obvious to anybody who follows the issue.

In terms of prudent expenditures, spending Canadian taxpayers' money wisely, the $35 million initially budgeted for the government's propaganda campaign about its economic action plan has now increased by another $4 million to almost $40 million. This money was spent on ads and pamphlets touting how great the government is. In terms of prudent expenditures, was it wise for the government to borrow that money in order to send its message to Canadians at taxpayers' expense?

The EconomyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, governments have to look at a wide variety of expenditures and that is why I said that I do not believe it is all or nothing. When we talked to certain poverty groups on the road, they told us they did not want any tax cuts, none of those things. My concern is that if we do not have a strong economy, if we do not have jobs, if we are not able to attract people from around the world, then what will happen?

Governments have a responsibility to do things on a number of different levels. Certainly, tax cuts are important because we want to encourage business. Creating an environment where business is friendly is important because we want to create jobs.

In addition to that, governments should also let people know what they are up to and what is available. We have been able to drive a number of initiatives over the last number of years. Without advertising it is sometimes hard for everyone to understand what exactly has been done. It is in the best interests of Canadians to let people know what is going on, what this government is doing, and what different tax advantages they can take advantage of.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Resuming debate.

The hon. member for Joliette has the floor. However, he will be interrupted shortly and will not be able to finish his comments until after question period.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, there is nothing better than stretching out a good thing. I have no problem with that, especially since we are in a situation today where the motion before us corresponds to reality. Unfortunately, it was moved by a government that does not seem to be facing up to reality. It is quite clear that the Conservative government is up to its usual tricks of saying one thing and doing another. This is true across the board, on an economic, social, environmental and political level.

I find it somewhat deplorable that this type of motion is being moved when it is very clear upon reading yesterday's Speech from the Throne that the government did not make the diagnosis stated in the motion.

We in the Bloc Québécois did make that diagnosis a long time ago. We are well aware that this recovery is still fragile financially speaking. We see that every day on the stock market, not just in Toronto but in the western world as a whole. This is a recovery without jobs and, worse yet, a recovery where there is a risk of more layoffs. Every day we hear about massive layoffs.

It is therefore a pleasure to rise in this House, a pleasure I will be sharing with the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord. One must not be selfish. Unlike the Conservatives, we in the Bloc have always been very generous.

Conscious of the fact that this is a very financially shaky recovery which, so far, has not produced results in terms of job creation, particularly in the regions of Quebec, the hon. member for Hochelaga, the leader of the Bloc Québécois and I embarked on a tour of Quebec. We have listened to people from all the regions of Quebec who shared their concerns, needs and expectations with us.

I would like to address these expectations first, without getting into the details. First, the economic crisis is not over. Again, the government is putting on its rose-coloured glasses and attempting to deny reality. This is not the first time. Barely one year ago, we were told that there would be no deficit. Later, the deficit was expected to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $34 billion. Now, that amount has reached $55 or $56 billion. This goes to show that the Conservatives have made it a habit, not only to resort to subterfuge, but also to chronically wear rose-coloured glasses.

People have told us that a second phase to the recovery program was needed to correct the shortcomings of last year's budget, particularly regarding the manufacturing sector. Except for the automotive industry, which received $10 billion in assistance—again, we agreed and still agree with such assistance—other industries in the manufacturing sector did not get anything. Of course, the forestry sector was seriously overlooked, getting nothing more than crumbs.

In yesterday's throne speech, the same measures as last year were served up again. What people asked for, be it those from industry, labour or communities as well as municipal officials, is loan guarantees. The consensus in Quebec is such that the motto for the regions of Quebec might become “We want loan guarantees.” Unfortunately, based on what the throne speech says, I doubt that the Minister of Finance will be announcing any progress in that regard this afternoon.

Over the past year, the Conservatives have ignored all other manufacturing industries. Actually, they have been ignored for a very long time by the Conservatives and the Liberals alike. For example, in Quebec, the aerospace sector has received no assistance or support. The pharmaceutical sector has also been completely ignored.

There is one measure that business, the unions and the scientific community all agree on: a research and development tax credit. This tax credit exists but it is non-refundable. Consequently, companies that undertake research and development activities, but make no profit, do not benefit from this tax credit. I am thinking, among others, of Tembec, which invests approximately $80 million in research and development every year but has not turned a profit for many years. Companies accumulate these credits but they are quite useless since they need the cash now.

This is another very simple measure that we have discussed for quite some time. We were talking about it when I sat on the Standing Committee on Finance. If the Conservatives had the political will to do something other than help the oil sector and the traditional auto sector, it would be very easy to establish this refundable tax credit. All regions of Quebec have asked for this.

On the environment, there again—

The EconomyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. As he knows, it is now 2 o'clock. He will have five minutes to conclude his remarks when debate resumes.

We will now listen to statements by members.

Olympic and Paralympic AthletesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Olympic athletes of the world who came to compete in Vancouver. They are all deserving of our appreciation for their hard work and fine sportsmanship.

I know that we are all proud to be Canadian after the exceptional performance of our athletes, who won far more gold medals than any host country in the history of the games. They also set records for most medals won by Canada and the overall record for gold medals. They brought Canada our very first gold medals on home soil and have truly owned the podium. Whether it is Alexandre Bilodeau and Ashleigh McIvor on the ski slopes, our women's hockey team or Sidney Crosby scoring the game-winning goal, all of our athletes performed exceptionally.

Now it is time to wish all our Paralympic athletes good luck in their winter games. I have had the pleasure of meeting Jason Crone, a Paralympian from Owen Sound who won a bronze medal in 2008 for wheelchair rugby. From my experience with Jason, I know that our Paralympians will do Canada proud as well. Good luck to all our Paralympic athletes.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic GamesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada now holds the record for the most gold medals in the history of Winter Games. This record could not have been set without the valiant team that has done us proud. This team includes many athletes who have thrilled Canadians throughout the Games. Controversy aside, the Hamelins, Rickers, Bilodeaus, Andersons, Nesbitts, Omischls and numerous others have aroused passion among Canadians. The team we have to thank for this record also includes the families who have been supporting these athletes for years, the communities that have been encouraging them, as well as the coaches, sports psychologists, physiotherapists and many others.

Canada's historic performance was made possible by all these people.

Joannie RochetteStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay a glowing tribute to Quebecker Joannie Rochette, who won the bronze medal in ladies' figure skating at the Vancouver Olympic Games under difficult circumstances.

In addition to her athletic and artistic feats, we must admire her great determination and fighting attitude, after she was able to rise to the occasion, despite her sorrow over the death of her mother in the days leading up to the competition. This amazing skater touched the entire world.

Her quest was no doubt motivated by her respect for her mother, Thérèse Rochette, her best friend and loyal companion who had always been there for her. This goes to show that love and respect can help us through the most difficult times in our lives.

Congratulations, Joannie, but more importantly, we thank her for this inspiring life lesson.

Olympic AthletesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, like other members today, I rise today to celebrate the proud accomplishments of our Canadian Olympians. In particular, I want to recognize the gold medal performances of two extraordinary athletes from Windsor and Essex County, namely, Tessa Virtue and Meghan Agosta.

Tessa, who went to high school in Windsor and is now at the University of Windsor, skated her way to gold with her partner Scott Moir in the ice dance competition.

In addition to winning a gold medal, Meghan Agosta, who was born in Windsor and played for the Windsor Wildcats of the Ontario Provincial Women's Hockey League, was named MVP for the Olympic women's hockey tournament. Meghan set a new scoring record for Olympic women's hockey netting nine goals and six assists in just five games.

Congratulations to Tessa and Meghan and congratulations to all the Canadian athletes who proudly represented Canada at the Vancouver Olympic Games.

Gary KendallStatements By Members

March 4th, 2010 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on January 30, 2010, a tragic accident occurred during an ice rescue training exercise being conducted by rescue experts from Herschel Rescue Training Systems for members of the Point Edward Fire and Rescue department. It is my understanding that a large ice floe trapped one fireman under water and on January 31, firefighter Gary Kendall succumbed to his injuries.

Gary was 51 years old and a 17-year veteran with the fire service. He had received two awards for going above and beyond the call of duty as well as a life-saving medal. Gary served his community well and without reservation. The full honours funeral attended by over 1,000 emergency services personnel was a fitting tribute to an outstanding individual who had given so much.

My sincere sympathy goes to Gary's wife Brenda and children Myrissa, Corey and Joshua. Her husband and their father was a caring individual whose commitment to helping others will not be forgotten.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic GamesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday afternoon, a golden Olympic for Canada and a golden game for hockey fans was capped by a golden goal by Sidney Crosby, proud son of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. This came a few days after the women's hockey team won their third Olympic gold in a row and after weeks of excellence by Canadian athletes in all sports.

As impressed as we are by their achievements, Canadians are proud of the grace, courage and humility of our Olympians, not just as athletes but as great citizens.

Last August, Sidney Crosby brought the Stanley Cup to Cole Harbour. In front of tens of thousands of people he was hailed as a leader, a hero and a legend, and he turned 22 on that day. In spite of his crazy schedule, I saw him take special time to visit with a 10-year-old boy in a wheelchair, who travelled from another province to catch a glimpse of his hero, and he got a lot more than that.

Communities across Canada, like Cole Harbour, await the opportunity to honour their champions for their athletic excellence for sure, but also for their stories of perseverance, humanity and concern. Sidney Crosby is the best hockey player on earth, but like our other athletes his legacy goes way beyond the ice. He is a true Olympian.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic GamesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are overcome with patriotism. The Vancouver Winter Olympics have been a huge success. Never before has Canada won 26 medals. Never before has any country won 14 gold. The longer the games went, the stronger Canada became.

Who can forget that finale, the incredible shot that brought millions of people to their feet? We could hear the cheers across the country.

Two of the top Olympic athletes come from southwest Saskatchewan, and I want to recognize them. Both are world-class athletes. Hayley Wickenheiser is recognized as the world's pre-eminent women's hockey player and the captain of Team Canada, who once again was the cornerstone of a champion. Patrick Marleau is the pride of Aneroid, Saskatchewan and stars with the San Jose Sharks. His Olympic gold adds one more accolade to an all-star career.

These athletes, indeed all our Olympic athletes deserve our thanks. This event has brought Canadians together and has raised our national pride. Our athletes did in fact “Own the Podium” and the hearts of Canadians.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic GamesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, of the 50 athletes from Quebec who proudly attended the Vancouver Olympic Games, 24 came home with a medal. Among them are Jasey-Jay Anderson, Alexandre Bilodeau, Charles Hamelin, Clara Hughes, Joannie Rochette, Marianne St-Gelais, François-Louis Tremblay and Jennifer Heil. In addition to those athletes are all the Quebeckers who won medals in team sports.

Quebec's talented athletes turned in some exceptional performances. It is nice to see role models like these win a place in people's hearts, especially the hearts of young people.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I want to congratulate all those who represented the nation of Quebec in these events and whose talent and success brought much delight to their fans.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic GamesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, personally and on behalf of the government I would like to congratulate all Canadian athletes on their performances at the Vancouver Olympic Games. Our athletes captivated thousands of Canadians and Quebeckers throughout the games, as we shared in their highs and their lows.

Athletes spend years training for such competitions. It takes years of hard work and sacrifice, not only for them but also for their loved ones.

Dear athletes, you thrilled the entire country and made us so proud to be Canadian. You set a new world record for the number of gold medals and gave breathtaking performances in many disciplines. In any sport, just getting to the Olympics is an achievement in itself.

I would like to pay special tribute to skier Alexandre Bilodeau, who won the first gold medal on home soil, and to Joannie Rochette for her courage and determination under such difficult circumstances.

To all athletes, you have set an example for all Canadians and Quebeckers. You have been true ambassadors for Quebec and Canada.

The Paralympic Games are set to begin in a few days, and we wish the best of luck to all Paralympic athletes representing Canada.

Joannie RochetteStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the performance of our Olympic athletes warrants the recognition of this House. One athlete, in particular, made a lasting impression on Canadians.

The brilliant performance by Joannie Rochette, the bronze medallist in figure skating, and the circumstances under which she participated in the Games moved every single Canadian.

The courage shown by this 24-year-old woman inspired pride across the country.

In front of the whole world, she showed truly Canadian perseverance and reminded us that adversity can be overcome by strength of character.

We thank Joannie Rochette for representing us so nobly.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economic action plan is doing what it was supposed to do: help Canadians cope with the effects of the global recession.

We cut taxes for families. We extended EI benefits to help the unemployed and we expanded skills training for those moving into new jobs. From coast to coast to coast, almost 16,000 infrastructure projects are putting Canadians to work and building hope.

Our plan is working. Earlier this week, Statistics Canada announced that Canada's economy grew 5% in the fourth quarter of 2009. That is excellent news. This represents the strongest quarterly rate of economic growth in almost a decade. Since last July, over 135,000 new jobs have been created.

However, our work is not yet complete. That is why this afternoon, the Minister of Finance will present a jobs and growth budget that will implement year two of Canada's economic action plan.

Canadians can count on our government to continue to put jobs and the economy first.

Prorogation of ParliamentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have watched in shock, anger and disbelief as the Prime Minister shut down their Parliament for a second time in a year. For two months, our democracy was forced to remain silent, while families struggled to make ends meet, workers lost their pensions and seniors fell into poverty.

Canadians are proud of our polite, courteous reputation, but as these Olympics have shown, we have gold-standard patriotism. Sensing a threat to their democracy, Canadians took to the Internet and streets by the tens of thousands to stand up to this hijacking of Canada's Parliament. Canadians have asked New Democrats to bring their voices and their message to the floor of their House of Commons to demand that all future prorogations be put to a vote by their representatives in their Parliament.

Forget all this prorogation, recalibration and obfuscation, Canadians need help. What they do not need is a Prime Minister who just sings of a little help from my friends. They need one who actually budgets it.

2010 Winter ParalympicsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Paralympic torch relay began here on the grounds of Parliament Hill.

From March 12 to 21, the Paralympic Games will be held in Vancouver and Whistler, where approximately 1,300 athletes from 43 countries will compete. I know our 55 Canadian Paralympians will make us all very proud.

Our Paralympians have a tough act to follow. The Winter Olympics were Canada's best showing ever. Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada's first gold medal on Canadian soil. Canada won 14 gold medals in total, setting a record for most gold medals by any country. In every sport there was a Canadian athlete to cheer for and to unite us all as Canadians. I thank each of them for their efforts.

As an MP in attendance at these games, I was surprised to see the solidarity created by these Olympics and I have no doubt that the Paralympic Games will have the same effect on us.

On behalf of the good people of my riding and all Canadians, I wish our Paralympians the best of luck. Go Canada Go.

Speech from the ThroneStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, in December, the Prime Minister, for the second time in one year, made a mockery of parliamentary democracy and muzzled the House of Commons: he prorogued Parliament in order to avoid questions from the opposition.

In yesterday's throne speech, it was obvious that instead of recalibrating, as he promised, the Prime Minister was serving up the same old narrow-minded Conservative ideology.

This government chose to recycle measures that it had not been able to get passed and focus on hollow symbols. It ignored the values and interests of Quebeckers. One example is the gall he had to call himself a leader in environmental matters, when he was a laughingstock in Copenhagen. I should also mention his ongoing desire to create a Canada-wide securities commission and the lack of measures to help the forestry industry in Quebec.

This throne speech was yet another reminder to Quebeckers of how important it is to have the Bloc Québécois in Ottawa.

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter GamesStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the organizers and athletes of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, to the people of Vancouver, Whistler, Richmond, the four First Nations hosts and the blue jacket volunteers, and to all Canadians who watched as Alexandre Bilodeau made history and Joannie Rochette won our hearts.

So many Olympians fulfilled their dreams and so many exceeded our hopes. They inspired a future generation. We must keep pace with them and sustain our investment in our athletes' future.

For 17 days we were all Team Canada. We sang our anthem on subway cars and on street corners. We jumped up as one people when Sidney Crosby scored that wonderful goal. We have showed the world what we are made of and next week at the Paralympics we will do it again.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economy is beginning to show signs of recovery. It is clear that Canada's economic action plan is having a positive effect.

What is the Liberal leader's plan for the economy? It is the same old failed tax and spend policies for which the Liberals are famous: billions for this, billions for that. When asked how he will pay for his multi-billion dollar plan, the Liberal leader says he will “find the money”. Where? He will reach into the pockets and bank accounts of Canadians and ask them to pay in more taxes.

Higher taxes will not create jobs. It will not create economic growth. All higher taxes will do is stop our recovery in its tracks. Canadians are tired of big unfunded Liberal spending promises and sneaky plans to raise taxes to pay for them. It is time for the Liberal leader to come clean. Which taxes will he raise and by how much will he raise them?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, as we were saying before we were so rudely interrupted, the Prime Minister shut down Parliament. Canadians were rightly angered. Canadians want the House to reassert its just authority. They want democracy strengthened, not weakened.

Will the Prime Minister support creating a special committee of the House to study prorogation, to limit it and to prevent its future abuse?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, prorogation has been used by every government annually for the past 140 years, on average. There was one unusual use of that, which was last year, as you know Mr. Speaker, when I prorogued the House in order to assert the very principle that if the opposition wanted to replace the government, it had to do so through an election. If the hon. leader wants to revive the Liberal-NDP-Bloc Québécois coalition, he can take that to the Canadian people.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, everyone in the House and everyone in the country knows why the Prime Minister shut down Parliament. He shut it down to avoid legitimate questions about the Afghan detainee scandal and Parliament spoke clearly on this question. Parliament passed a motion in December, which said stop the cover-up, stop the excuses, deliver the documents.

Will the Prime Minister now respect the will of Parliament and deliver the documents to the Afghan committee so Canadians can get the truth that they deserve?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition knows that the decision of redacting or not redacting documents rests with government lawyers who do that according to the law. There have been literally tens of thousands of pages of documents released and all of those have indicated over and over again that the Canadian Forces have conducted themselves with the highest performance of all countries.