House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.


Lake of the Woods and Rainy River BasinsPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2010 / 6 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of working on amending the 1909 treaty, and of taking part in the International Joint Commission when it was working on its new proposed order. I know that the International Joint Commission is doing extremely important work. When I saw the member for Kenora's motion, I thought it was both interesting and important. Because it is well-written, clear, precise and in French, I would like to read part of it. I will then comment on the proposal therein. As everyone can tell from my remarks, we support this motion.

The motion says:

—in order to ensure the long-term ecological and economic vitality of the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River Basin—

With respect to the words “ecological and economic”, the vitality of fresh water in Quebec and in the rest of Canada, water that we share with the United States, is under threat, to say the least. That threat can affect the economic assets these waters currently represent. The same is likely true of the Lake of the Woods, which is why we should take care of it. It is an indispensable resource for life and pleasure, as well as for economic development.

One factor is not mentioned, but it will come into play more and more. We see it with the St. Lawrence River, which is not a lake but is fed by the Great Lakes. I am talking about climate change. This spring, the St. Lawrence did not rise to record levels. On the contrary, it showed its banks much earlier than usual, because of the effects of climate change.

The motion states that:

...the governments of Canada and the United States should continue to foster trans-jurisdictional coordination and collaboration on science and management activities...

We need to engage in science and management activities if we want to preserve water quality, and I would add water quantity and use as well.

The motion goes on: enhance and restore water quality...

The motion refers to enhancing and restoring. Enhancing, because there has been a deterioration in water quality, which the member links to phosphate pollution, often from fertilizers, but also to economic activity, likely by industries. The motion says that the governments must:

...enhance and restore water quality in the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River Basin, by referring the matter of Lake of the Woods water quality to the International Joint Commission...

Why the International Joint Commission? Because the lake sits between Ontario and the state of Minnesota. I will read on: referring the matter of Lake of the Woods water quality to the International Joint Commission for examination, reporting, and recommendations regarding the binational management of the international waters of the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River system...

My colleague said earlier that we unfortunately do not talk often enough about binational management of international waters by the U.S. and Canada—through the provinces first and foremost—and it is true. I thank him for giving us the opportunity to do so. He talked about the commission's potential role, but he said it would be in line with the International Watersheds Initiative.

I have here a January 2009 report from the International Watersheds Initiative, which was created by the International Joint Commission. My colleague let me read this interesting report. This international initiative suggests that local ways of addressing current and future problems be developed before those problems become international issues. I will read the quote in English, because I do not have the French copy:

The underlying premise is that water resource and environmental problems can be anticipated, prevented or resolved at the local level before developing into international issues.

Of course this means an integrated, ecosystem approach that takes into account how all watersheds are connected to one another. My colleague mentioned that there was a link, an intersection with a basin that feeds into Lake Winnipeg. Perhaps there is more pollution in once place than another, and we need to know how to manage that. We think that in order to study this issue, we must look further, that is, take into account the people around the basin who use those waters, new species of fish that may enter the waters, and the climate changes I mentioned earlier.

I would like to take a couple of minutes to say that last fall in Quebec, the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement, or BAPE, studied a report entitled “L'eau, ressource à protéger, à partager et à mettre en valeur”. This report was the result of 15 months of study and examination of 400 briefs, in other words, an incredible amount of work. It confirms what we already knew: Quebec has vast quantities of freshwater. With nearly a million bodies of water, approximately 135,000 cubic meters of water is available per person per year, which is eight times the global average. But that does not mean we can allow large amounts of water to be removed without any environmental impact. Generally speaking, lake water is non renewable; only overflow feeds into rivers and irrigates the land. Basically, we can never have too much water.

The only known study on water renewal rates was conducted by the International Joint Commission and deals with the Great Lakes. The report's conclusions are unequivocal:

The waters of the Great Lakes are, for the most part, a nonrenewable resource...Although the total volume in the lakes is vast, on average less than 1 percent of the waters of the Great Lakes is renewed annually—

Thus, removing any water at all would reduce the amount of water in the entire water system, most important of all, the St. Lawrence River.

When we consider all of the basin's areas of activity, there can never be too much water in the Great Lakes system or in the Lake of the Woods system and I—

Lake of the Woods and Rainy River BasinsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Unfortunately, time is up.

The hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North.

Lake of the Woods and Rainy River BasinsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today to Motion No. 519 on the issue of water quality management in Lake of the Woods.

As a member of the Boreal West round table in the 1990s myself, I spearheaded land use planning protection for Lake of the Woods and its wilderness values. It is a very special and spectacular lake.

It is Canada's sixth largest lake on the border between Canada and the U.S. About two-thirds of the lake is in Ontario, one-third is in Minnesota and just a bit of it is in Manitoba.

Lake of the Woods plays a vital role for sport fishing, tourism, culture and the economy of northwestern Ontario, just like Lake Nipigon in Thunder Bay—Superior North. They are very similar lakes. It is also an important headwater for Lake Winnipeg.

While water quantity in the Lake of the Woods is largely governed by a Canadian board, which is the Lake of the Woods Water Control Board, and sometimes the International Lake of the Woods Water Control Board if levels are too high or too low, this motion is about the lake's water quality for which there has been relatively little governance compared to other transboundary waters between Canada and the U.S.

Currently, Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources samples the lake annually and Ontario's Ministry of the Environment has also been involved in water quality monitoring and enforcement, but there has been a growing concern over contaminants over the years with nutrient loading and erosion introducing phosphorous into the lake, especially on the southern shore, creating eutrophication. The state of Minnesota recently designated the lake as “impaired water”.

A June 2009 report released by the IJC examined links between human health and water-related issues in the Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River basins. The report noted that Environment Canada had identified 15 ongoing threats related to source water and aquatic ecosystem health, including the following: nutrient loadings; industrial wastewater discharges; municipal wastewater effluents; algal toxins and taste and odour problems; pesticides; agricultural and forestry land use impacts; natural sources of trace element contaminants; impacts of dams, diversions and climate change; and acidification.

With many of these water quality issues to deal with, there have been some moves toward tackling the issues in Lake of the Woods. A multi-agency working arrangement was established in 2009 to co-ordinate and collaborate on water quality issues in the Lake of the Woods watershed. The focus is on factors influencing algal blooms, nutrient loadings, shoreline erosion and the science behind the Lake of the Woods water sustainability plan.

Members of the working group include: Manitoba Water Stewardship, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.

In any discussion of Lake of the Woods, the work of an IJC board formed in 1966 called the International Rainy River Water Pollution Board must be mentioned. This board reports to the IJC on progress to address pollution in the Rainy River, which is the main source of water flowing into the lake. The Rainy River is very important to this whole equation because an estimated 560 tonnes of phosphates flow into the Lake of the Woods every year via the Rainy River, stimulating eutrophication and algal blooms.

There has been some groundwork and activity around this issue in recent years leading up to where we are now. The Ontario government as well as the governments of Manitoba and Minnesota all agree that a binational body should oversee actions to protect the watershed through the IJC. This consensus did not happen overnight. Residents and cottagers around Lake of the Woods have been suspecting increasing levels of contaminants for many years. They started to see much more eutrophication, including, for example, more blue-green algal blooms caused by phosphates.

The Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association started looking into this early in this decade. Soon a non-profit organization was formed, the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, to explore the issue of water quality. It started looking into the science of the lakes, deteriorating water quality, doing more regular water sampling, and working on nutrient budgets for the lake. It consulted local stakeholders like the Lake of the Woods communities, first nations, businesses and others. They began to see that there is a significant issue with water quality on Lake of the Woods. The science was showing it and so the question soon turned to matters of governance. What should be done? Who should oversee this?

The consensus that the foundation and others helped to achieve was the following: that the International Joint Commission, which is very well respected for the work it does with the Great Lakes and other transboundary waters, should look into options, including whether it should play a role in Lake of the Woods water quality governance. All the city councils and towns around Lake of the Woods passed resolutions in support of referring the matter to the IJC.

We have residents and local stakeholders calling for a reference to the IJC for many, many years, with municipal, provincial and state governments echoing that call. It is an incredible consensus that has taken many years of hard work to get to this stage. It is rare that so many groups and interests are all pulling in the same direction on an international issue. The parties involved all deserve to be congratulated for this, especially residents and Lake of the Woods Sustainability Foundation. Without their work for the better part of a decade we would not be in this good position now. This is a real example of how to do it right.

Over the last year or two, because of the groundwork that was done by volunteers over the past many years, our Department of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department have been working on a written IJC reference for Lake of the Woods water quality. These things are taking time to get agreement on the wording, but they are at this moment at the very final stages of crossing the t's and dotting the i's on the reference. It is likely to be presented within days or weeks.

I know that some people might say that this imminent referral makes this motion we are discussing today a bit of a moot point and perhaps last minute window dressing, but I tend to look at it as a welcome show of support. As I have mentioned, the provinces are on board. Ontario has shown a willingness to expand the mandate of the existing IJC board that deals with water quality in the Rainy River and the International Rainy River Water Pollution Board as one possible solution.

I do not want to presuppose what the IJC may decide on that reference, whether it will recommend that it agrees to take over governance of water quality in the lake and if yes, whether that might be under an existing board or by striking a new one. But either way, or with a different outcome, it is entirely possible that referring the issue of the lake's water quality to the IJC could improve the long-term environmental health and sustainability of Lake of the Woods.

This is especially true under the new Canadian IJC chair Joe Comuzzi, who held my seat for the 20 years before me. I know that Mr. Comuzzi will work hard to protect all of our border waters. Given the transboundary nature of the lake and the rapid migration of pollutants in Lake of the Woods, the federal government does have a role to play in ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of these waters.

Although there could be minor implications changing from a situation where Canada largely has de facto control already over Lake of the Woods waters now, to one of more of a sharing responsibility through the IJC if it assumes more of a governance role, it is certainly something worth looking at carefully. But if the governance of the lake is ultimately taken on by the IJC, we must ensure that it is given the appropriate support and resources to do the job.

Lake of the Woods is a very special lake. It deserves our best management, our best attention, and our best efforts.

Lake of the Woods and Rainy River BasinsPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Langley B.C.


Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking and congratulating one of the hardest working members of Parliament in the House, the member for Kenora, who has brought this motion before us.

I am so often pleased to praise the government, the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister on the good work on the environment, but again we have another member who is shining in the House. We have received glowing accolades from every party in the House. It does not happen often but it has happened today. Again, it is with great thanks to the member for Kenora.

Fresh water is a very important resource to us all. Not only is it vital to the health of Canadians and the economy but also to the ecosystem that supports it.

Lake of the Woods, a vital source of drinking water and a cherished home to thousands of Canadians, is experiencing a deep and deteriorating water quality. The Government of Canada is taking steps to do something about that.

The motion that we are discussing today, thanks to the member for Kenora, calls for a reference to the International Joint Commission to consider the question of governance in the Lake of the Woods.

We support this motion, as we all do in the House, as a reference of this nature is an important first step in addressing the water quality problems in this boundary of water.

The Government of Canada takes the problem of degraded water quality very seriously in the Lake of the Woods and across this great country. In 2007 the government announced the action plan for clean water. Under this plan we are investing a total of $96 million in cleanup funding to restore the Lake Winnipeg basin, which includes the Lake of the Woods as well as Lake Simcoe and several other areas of concern in the Great Lakes such as Hamilton harbour, Niagara River, St. Clair River, Detroit River, in addition to the St. Lawrence River.

The unfortunate news is many of the members across the way did not support that good funding.

However, our action plan for clean water includes investments in regulating and enforcing laws and in monitoring our water resources. It includes research into the science that gives us a better understanding of the factors that threaten water quality, everything from pathogens, chemicals and nutrients, to invasive species and acid rain. We are also investing in the science that provides information on the quality of our water, including the impact of climate change.

Again, members across the way unfortunately have had a history for a long time of voting against these good programs. I am glad they are on board today.

Lake Winnipeg is Canada's fifth largest lake and an important resource for local communities. The watershed covers one million square kilometres encompassing Lake of the Woods and several other sub-basins, and is a vital economic and freshwater resource and recreational attraction for three provinces and two U.S. states.

Governments, scientists and environmental groups have become concerned about issues in the lake including invasive species, blue-green algal blooms, e-coli, and other symptoms of water quality deterioration.

The Lake Winnipeg initiative launched in 2007, as part of the action plan for clean water, is a $17.7 million four-year program that uses a science-based approach to restore the health of the lake and the basin. One would wonder, did the opposition members support that $17.7 million. Unfortunately not, but the government did and we are moving forward. There is always good news. There is always light.

The overall objective of the Lake Winnipeg basin initiative is to help improve the water quality of Lake Winnipeg by identifying, assessing, and addressing key water quality issues within the lake and its contributing watershed including Lake of the Woods.

As part of the initiative a number of research and monitoring activities are being conducted to study a variety of factors that affect water quality including the toxin content of harmful blooms of blue-green algal.

Environment Canada researchers are working with scientists, stakeholders, universities and governments to develop the science that will aid decision-makers in cleaning up the Lake Winnipeg basin.

In the Great Lakes basin, the world's largest system of fresh surface water, we invest $54 million per year on science, governance and action to address water quality. This includes money to remediate contaminated sediment, to conserve habitat for fish and wildlife, and to combat invasive species.

Surely somebody over there would have supported the $54 million per year on science and governance. Unfortunately, there is a terrible trend over there and they again did not support that. However, this government did and it is currently engaged in negotiations with the United States to update and renew the Great Lakes water quality agreement. We are getting it done.

First signed in 1972, this agreement has led to the increased co-operation and coordination in addressing water quality issues but, because of the new threats, such as climate change, emerging chemicals and invasive species, the agreement is in need of renewal.

We are working, not only with the United States, but also with the provinces, municipalities, first nations, environmental organizations and all other stakeholders to ensure that the renewed agreement will result in concrete actions that will address the issues facing the lakes now and in the future for this generation and future generations.

The Government of Canada has recently taken into account an action to address a long-standing threat of the quality of our water resources. We announced the introduction of new municipal waste water regulations to provide national performance standards that will help keep our water safe and clean so that Canadians can continue enjoying the social, economic and environmental benefits of this precious resource.

Dumping of raw sewage needs to end and our government is taking that action. Unfortunately, again the opposition opposes that and wants to see that continue.

Lake of the Woods and Rainy River BasinsPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. parliamentary secretary will have three minutes left to conclude his remarks the next time the bill is before the House.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:25 p.m.


Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on April 19, I had the privilege to ask a question of the President of the Treasury Board regarding regulations that were to be changed to ensure that widows and widowers of fallen Canadian soldiers would be allowed to participate fully with some priority in public service jobs.

The President of the Treasury Board assured me that those regulations would come through and I am very pleased today to say that the regulations were gazetted on May 12. I am hoping that will encourage government departments to seek out for employment the widows and spouses of fallen soldiers.

However, I am concerned about that because, since 2005, medically released Canadian Forces veterans have been eligible for priority employment themselves in the federal public service. I am talking about people who have been medically released and have returned home. These provisions have created important future career opportunities for veterans but, along with my colleague, Senator Percy Downe in the other house, we are concerned about the low participation levels of most federal government departments in the program, participation that is vital in making these opportunities a reality for our veterans.

Information provided by the Public Service Commission shows that, in 2007-08, 245 former Canadian Forces members registered with the Public Service Commission for referral to positions in the public service. The majority of the appointments were made by only one department, which was the Department of National Defence.

DND made 69% of all appointments. It was followed by the Correctional Service of Canada with 7%, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada with 6%, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with 3% and Public Works and Government Services Canada with 3%. Veterans Affairs Canada hired only 2%. The remaining 10% were through a variety of departments. Sixty-seven veterans had their priority appointment status expire without finding a position in the public service. One left voluntarily before placement.

All of those statistics show that despite the 2005 initiative that tried to ensure that medically released soldiers had access to jobs, it is not happening. We need a more proactive understanding of this.

My concern is that, although the regulations have been changed to allow widows and widowers of fallen soldiers to get jobs, I have not seen an indication that the government will have a proactive program to support that employment practice.

I would ask the parliamentary secretary to respond to two questions. First, what are the government's plans to promote the employment of the widows and widowers of fallen soldiers in the public service? Second, what plans are being undertaken to ensure that medically released Canadian Forces veterans are given jobs, can find employment and have make meaning in their lives as they continue to contribute to Canada?

Our veterans are those who have contributed greatly to Canada's success to date and they want to participate in the future as well. They want to participate in the economic building of Canada and the public service is part of the way that they may express that concern for the building of Canada.

Now that the government has been made aware of this problem, I am hoping there will be some set of instructions to deputy ministers to follow the spirit and intent of those regulations that were done in 2005 with respect to medically released soldiers and also to widows and widowers of fallen soldiers.

6:30 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.


Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the comments from the hon. member opposite and I thank him for providing me with the opportunity to speak to this issue.

As the member will no doubt recall, in April the President of the Treasury Board responded his initial question on that matter very clearly. He told members of this House that within a number of weeks they could expect to see regulations in place allowing survivors of fallen Canadian heroes to access jobs in the public service on a preferential basis.

We are talking about the families of Canadian soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. We on this side of the House are proud to support initiatives that honour the families of these brave Canadians.

That is why I am so pleased to note that on May 12, the Public Service Commission published regulations establishing a new priority right for surviving spouses or common-law partners of employees, members of the Canadian Forces and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police whose death is attributable to the performance of their duties.

These regulations are retroactive to October 7, 2001, the date on which the Canadian Forces first began service in Afghanistan so that veterans' families are not left out.

As of May 12 of this year, spouses can add their names to the Public Service Commission's priority list, where they can remain for up to two years, alongside military and RCMP members who are discharged for medical reasons.

Canada's armed forces are fighting a war. We have sent our men and women in uniform into harm's way. For every soldier, there is a mother, a father, a spouse, a child or a friend back home. I will not stand here today and claim that this assistance will erase the suffering of a lost loved one, but it is my sincere belief that the government must support these families where we can and we will continue to do so.

6:35 p.m.


Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the regulations have been gazetted, which is a very important part, but we do remind the House that they were actually promised in December 2008. It took a considerable amount of time to make some relatively small changes.

My concern continues, though, that the experience of the other program with respect to veterans seeking employment showed that only 245 people actually registered and 67 of them fell away and withdrew before they even got a job.

While the intent might be there and the spirit may be willing, the flesh may be weak in the government. The problem is that it takes a proactive government to seek out people to ensure those positions are being filled. Veterans Affairs Canada itself does not have veterans working there to any degree, as it does in the United States and other countries.

I would now like to hear a little bit less of a commercial and a little bit more of what the government plans to do to fulfill this responsibility—

6:35 p.m.


6:35 p.m.


Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member complains about the length of time it took. Well, the Liberals had 13 years while they were in power and they never did anything about it. So, it is about time.

The hon. member is likely aware that the Public Service Commission is an independent organization at arm's length from the government. When the Public Service Commission announced its intention to bring in preferential hiring for widows and widowers of Canadian heroes, we on this side of the House supported them 100%.

Officials across the government, including the Department of Justice, provided the PSC with any and all assistance in preparing the draft regulations and in moving them through the system as quickly as possible.

As I noted previously, the job got done.

6:35 p.m.


Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House this evening to discuss a question that I asked the minister of ACOA, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, on May 5. We know that, with respect to economic development, agencies are very important to businesses for development and for community projects.

A few days before rising in the House on this issue, I was reading an article in which the minister responsible for ACOA boasted that there would not be cuts at the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He guaranteed that the money allocated in the budget would be there.

I was not surprised when, a few days after his comments, the President of the Treasury Board rose and stated that he would cut $1.7 billion from 13 departments and agencies. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is on the list of agencies subject to the $1.7 billion in cuts. What a surprise!

It seems that the minister responsible for ACOA knew that cuts were coming and was trying to make the people believe, through the media, that he would do everything possible and that ACOA would never be subject to cuts. But what happened? Surprise cuts of $1.7 billion were announced. We will certainly be able to see what the real impact of these cuts will be on the agency.

When I asked my question in the House on May 5, the minister, rather than speaking of the future impact of these cuts, spoke instead of the money and services provided by the agency in past years. He did not answer my question, which was a simple one: what will be the future impact of these cuts on the agency? What will be the direct impact on the agency of the $1.7 billion in cuts to these 13 agencies and departments? How much money will no longer be provided to businesses? How much money will no longer be provided to community-based projects? That was the question and it was not a difficult one to answer.

The minister said that in the four years since 2006, the government invested $105 million in Atlantic Canada. The minister needs to understand one thing. The government invested $105 million, some of that in New Brunswick, which is roughly equivalent to what it is spending on eight hours of the G20 summit—less than eight hours, in fact. And the Conservative government is increasing that amount day by day. First it was $193 million, which grew to $800 million, then $900 million, then $1 billion, and now $1.1 billion. Clearly, the sky is the limit. The government will spend the same amount of money in less than eight hours at the G20 as it invested in New Brunswick over four years.

Perhaps the government should have thought this over a little more, and instead of spending over $1 billion on the G20, it should not have cut $1.7 billion from the budget for economic development agencies that are working on economic recovery, helping our communities and our non-profit organizations, and helping businesses create jobs. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening.

I hope that the parliamentary secretary—I have no doubt that he is the one who will answer me—will be able to explain the negative effect that $1.7 billion cut will have on ACOA. Maybe the government will see that the amount of money it is spending on less than eight hours at the G20 will be the same as what it invested over four years.

6:40 p.m.

West Nova Nova Scotia


Greg Kerr ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed in the way the member for Madawaska—Restigouche put this forward. I fully appreciate the fact that his party's credibility is suffering badly right now in the eyes of the public, but to deliberately mislead the public as he has just done this evening and the question he asked the minister is unacceptable.

6:40 p.m.

An hon. member

It's your credibility.

6:40 p.m.


Greg Kerr Conservative West Nova, NS

My apologies, Mr. Speaker. Accidently misleading the public.

I guess the point is, and I appreciate that correction, it is frustrating when the member fully knows that this is the first time in the history of ACOA that multi-year funding has been put in place. All through the time and tenure of the Liberal government, it did not do that. It was a year-by-year thing.

Also this year, the budget has been increased for ACOA by an additional $19 million to the Atlantic innovation fund and $11 million per year to the community futures program.

There is no question that, because it is now secure multi-year funding, the programs are stabilized, the programs are going to be protected, and again I say it is misleading to suggest that somehow the department is going to lose its investment and lose its opportunity to support the Atlantic region.

Yes, the minister did point out about the money being spent in northern New Brunswick, to show that in fact the department does cover all parts of the Atlantic provinces, and the member is well aware that it was $105 million spent since 2006 in the northern area, and that leveraged more than $158 million for the region. I think that is good investment and it is good expenditure on behalf of the government.

Also through the economic action we know there have been additional investments. Because of the adjustment funds, because of Canada's action plan, additional money was spent over the last year or year and a half, and I think that has probably left a lasting legacy up there as well.

So I just want to point out that it does not help the cause to suggest that somehow ACOA is going to be minimized or reduced. There is certainly a review across a number of departments and agencies. No decision has been made as to how that is going to be implemented or what it is going to have, but I want to assure the member that programs certainly are a top priority of this government.

6:40 p.m.


Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, that is the concern. In fact, we are totally worried right now.

We are unable to get even a simple answer. I raised the matter on May 5. This is June 2, and we cannot even get a simple answer regarding the impact of this $1.7 billion cut on ACOA. What impact will this have on ACOA's operations? What will the impact be on business loans, and on community-based projects carried out by not-for-profit organizations or municipalities?

We are unable to get even that information. This clearly shows that the Conservative government is navigating in troubled waters. It is navigating with sunglasses on, or perhaps not sunglasses, but glasses that do not allow it to see where it is going, completely dark glasses. It is moving ahead, hoping not to make a mistake, when the mistakes have already been made.

As I said, just the amount that will be spent on less than eight hours at the G20 summit at the end of June is more than was invested over the past four years.

6:45 p.m.


Greg Kerr Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I notice the member missed the point, so I will repeat it, because I am sure it will be of great comfort for him to know that this is the first time in the history of ACOA that multi-year funding has indeed been secured and there have been additional dollars put in the budget.

I want to assure the member once again that the great programs and services provided by the department are not in jeopardy and certainly are being protected. I think the minister tried to reassure him of that. In spite of the worries that the member likes to put up, I am sure we will even continue to put money into his particular riding, which I am sure he will be very pleased about.

6:45 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:46 p.m.)