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House of Commons Hansard #22 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Let me go back, Mr. Speaker. As everybody knows, that money, some 10 years ago, was taken by the previous government and used for other priorities. That is the reality. The $60 billion no longer exists. It has been spent.

We are instituting a system that will protect workers' premiums in the future and ensure they are used for the programs. That is our commitment and that is what we have done. I am sorry the leader of the NDP and his party have chosen not to support that.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is going to make the workers and small businesses pay a second time for the money that was stolen.

Here is what the member for York—Simcoe, speaking for his party right before it took power, said:

The Conservative Party believes that the government needs to be held accountable for the cumulative balance in the Employment Insurance account...We believe that the slate must not be wiped clean.

The Conservative Party believes that this surplus is the property of those who have made the contributions to Employment Insurance—the workers and employers of Canada.

The Prime Minister's cabinet colleague had it right. Is he wrong today?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP knows full well that this money has been spent. It was spent years ago by the previous government. That is the reality.

As I said before, we cannot change the past. We can set up a better system for the future. When we do so, I wish the NDP would join us and actually support these things.

What matters is not crying about the past. What matters is doing something now to help the unemployed and the workers of the country. That is what this government is doing.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence says that he never received any face-to-face warnings about the risk of torture. However, senior diplomat, Cory Anderson, says that he met the minister five times on the ground in Kandahar when he was a political adviser. They discussed torture in Afghan jails as a mission killer. The minister did not listen to Anderson, did not listen to Colvin and denied ever being warned.

The minister has been misleading the Canadian public and the House. Why?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, virtually everything my colleague has said is incorrect. Nothing new was introduced when he spoke to committee yesterday. There were no specific allegations of any abuse. In fact, Mr. Anderson stated, quite clearly, that the rigid monitoring regime that was put in place by this government had been effective and that there was not a problem.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Anderson spent 20 months on the ground in Kandahar. He testified that the NDS was not a viable partner then, is not a viable partner now and that a real risk of torture still exists.

Having met with Cory Anderson, having met with Colvin, having been warned by Colvin and by a series of national and international reports, when will the minister own up to his responsibility for ignoring warnings of torture and, as General Laroche said and wrote, for putting our troops in a difficult position?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, again, that is a complete mischaracterization of what Mr. Anderson testified yesterday at committee. In fact, he said, “In my experience and in the interviews...that I took at the NDS, we never uncovered a specific allegation of abuse”. There are no specific allegations. He made no specific allegations.

TaxationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the government has a very simple choice to make. It can continue to cut corporate taxes, which cost $6 billion a year, while the deficit sits at more than $50 billion, or it can invest in Canadians. Lower corporate taxes is fine as a goal to work toward, but that alone will not build a strong competitive Canadian economy. We also need to invest in the brain power of young Canadians and world-class innovations.

Why do the Conservatives choose more corporate tax cuts instead of science and education?

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, not only the federal government, but most of the provinces have chosen to follow the path of reducing business taxes. This is to give Canada a competitive advantage. This is the competitive advantage that KPMG talked about earlier this week when it confirmed Canada was the most competitive industrialized country for job creators. It also encouraged Canada and the provinces not to rest on our laurels, but to stay the course to create jobs for Canadians.

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, a KPMG study, in the largest study of its kind, shows that Canada is already among the most competitive countries in the world in terms of the cost of doing business. Corporate taxes have been reduced—

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. please. The hon. member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl has the floor. We will have some order, please.

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, that is thanks to successive Liberal governments. Corporate taxes have been reduced by almost one-third since 2000, giving us a rate that is 25% better than the rate in the United States.

Will the government redirect the money from extra corporate tax cuts to reinvest in education and ensure we fix the skills shortages we face in Canada?

TaxationOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, surely the member opposite is not suggesting that she would compare Canada's economic performance with that of the United States. We are doing a lot better than our competitors. Part of that is because we have been reducing taxes in Canada, reducing taxes of all kind, reducing the GST, reducing personal income taxes, reducing business taxes.

Unlike the self-description of the Leader of the Opposition as a “tax and spend Liberal”, we will not raise the GST, we will not raise income taxes, we will not raise business taxes as the member's party proposes.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, after recognizing the Quebec nation, this government is calling for representation by population to diminish the political weight of Quebec. At the time of the Act of Union, it was not a good idea because it favoured Quebec, whose population was greater than that of Ontario. Today, it is being considered because it is not to Quebec's advantage.

Can this government explain why it always finds good reasons for weakening the political weight of Quebec and going against the unanimous will of the National Assembly?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, that is completely untrue.

My colleague knows as well as I do that there are 75 seats in Quebec even though the population is not growing as quickly as that of other provinces. If the Bloc achieved its goal, Quebec would have no seats. It would have no seats here, in the House of Commons.

The real political setback here was caused by the Bloc, which has isolated Quebec and kept it in the opposition for the past 20 years. That does not make for a strong voice.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are 47 Bloc Québécois members here and they were chosen by Quebeckers. They did not choose the Conservatives and there are good reasons for that.

The real reason for adding 30 seats west of Quebec was revealed by the Prime Minister's former adviser, Tom Flanagan. Since the Bloc Québécois has had six majorities in Quebec and the Conservatives are incapable of obtaining a single majority government, the only means they have identified is increasing the number of seats west of Quebec.

This reform is nothing more than a partisan manoeuvre that is detrimental to the Quebec nation.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, that is ridiculous. Six majorities and they have accomplished nothing. I can see that this is shameful. We have done a great deal more in four years than they have in 20 years. That is because they have isolated Quebec in the opposition. Let me be clear: the Bloc Québécois logic is so twisted that, to create division, it sets aside its fine principle of fairness. That is shameful and is not an honest argument.

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, since April 1, 2005, the government has started taking $2.4 billion worth of protection money from Quebec, at a rate of $238 million per year until 2016.

Seven provinces, however, got preferential treatment in the form of $1.9 billion in complete debt forgiveness. Quebec has asked that the issue be revisited, but the federal government did not act on this request. There is a double standard.

How can the government financially strangle Quebec to the tune of $2.4 billion while at the same time telling other Canadian provinces not to worry because the government will forgive their debt?

TaxationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, transfers to Quebec will not be reduced. Equalization currently accounts for 17.4% of provincial revenues in Quebec. They stood at a mere 8.6% under the Liberal government in 2005-06.

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

April 1st, 2010 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance would be well advised to check page E26 of the Quebec budget speech. He would find it instructive.

The minister is very imaginative when it comes to helping the other Canadian provinces, but his unyielding attitude toward Quebec is legendary. This goes for protection money as well as for the GST.

He changed the equalization scheme for Ontario and British Columbia, but dismissed Quebec, telling it to go fry an egg, or better yet a dozen eggs.

How can the Minister of Finance be so accommodating for the other provinces and so hard on Quebec?

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it takes a lot of nerve to stand in the House and say that Quebec is being shortchanged by the federation. In fact, 17.4% of the Quebec budget comes from the revenues of Canada, the equalization transfers to Quebec. The minister of finance in his budget, the first statement he made about federal transfers, thanked the Government of Canada for not balancing the budget on the backs of the provinces by cutting transfers, like the Liberal government did.

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Conservative government has shown its lack of good faith and its contempt for Quebec. The principles of predictability and tax fairness among provinces are fundamental principles of any federation, but the Conservatives have decided to play politics at the expense of Quebec.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he has completely disregarded Quebec and that he has no intention of coming to an agreement with the Government of Quebec?

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if the question is on the subject of harmonization, the member opposite should know, since his government was in power when the initial agreements were made with some of the provinces in Atlantic Canada, that the government is open to discussions, as we confirmed in budget 2010, with any province that wants to truly harmonize its sales taxes with the GST.

We are having those discussions with the Government of Quebec now. Those discussions continue, as the Minister of Finance of Quebec confirmed earlier this week at the time of his budget.

Tax HarmonizationOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives refuse to negotiate openly and in good faith with Quebec for purely partisan reasons. Their excuses change from day to day, and their position is as twisted and unpredictable as their position on maternal health. The Conservatives' behaviour is not what we would expect from a federal government. No province should be faced with this kind of intimidation.

Why does the Prime Minister not understand that it is unacceptable to force his own interests on the taxpayers of Quebec?