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House of Commons Hansard #28 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is something new. Yesterday, the Auditor General said that he tried to obtain additional information from the President of the Treasury Board. The Auditor General just wanted some documentation explaining the decision-making process, but he came up against a brick wall. We know why: the minister was managing this budget from his riding office.

If he has nothing to hide, why is he refusing to give the Auditor General all the documentation? What is the President of the Treasury Board trying to hide?

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, prior to the Auditor General writing a report, I was pleased to sit down with her and answer every question that she and her office had with respect to these infrastructure projects.

I approved 32 infrastructure projects. Every one of those infrastructure projects is for public infrastructure, for an airport, for a provincial highway, for municipal infrastructure. All 32 projects came in on or under budget.

The Auditor General has made some useful observations on how we could be even more open and more transparent to Parliament, and we have completely accepted all of her recommendations.

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. It is the Muskoka minister who misled the Auditor General. After 119 days, he should explain himself.

The Auditor General said, “We received a small amount of documentation which wasn't, frankly, relevant to the question”. The Auditor General also said that these were unique examples of bureaucrats being shut out.

If the minister will not stand up, will the Minister of Foreign Affairs explain why he approved these projects that broke all the rules?

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, more than 23,000 public infrastructure projects were approved from coast to coast to coast at the height of the economic downturn which Canada was not immune from.

All 32 of the projects in question had contribution agreements prepared by the public service. All 32 of the projects were for public infrastructure. All 32 of the projects came in on or under budget.

At the same time, the Auditor General has made some helpful observations and helpful recommendations on how we can improve the process going forward. The government has completely accepted all of those recommendations.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

October 6th, 2011 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives were missing in action when the Americans reintroduced the buy America provisions. When it came time to protect Canadians from the long arm of the IRS, the Conservatives once again let Americans treat Canadians unfairly. Now, when they are proposing to sign a perimeter security deal with the United States, why should we believe they will not fold again like a cheap suit?

If the Prime Minister did not stand up for Canadian interests in the past, why should we believe it will be different now?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been working very hard with President Obama to try to make the border less thick which will help the manufacturing sector and so that individuals can pass freely across the border.

We were very pleased to see the Liberal Party begin to stand up and fight for free trade. It was only 23 short years ago that every Liberal member ran in the fight of their lives to stop free trade, to try to stop more jobs, more hope and more opportunity.

I am so excited to see my friend from Beauséjour standing up and being so passionate about free trade. I congratulate him and welcome him aboard.

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, the government has announced it is closing search and rescue centres in Quebec City and St. John's.

Staffing and infrastructure requirements are just some of the concerns raised by departmental officials in a recently obtained internal government document which shows that the Coast Guard would have to absorb the transitional costs without any new government funding.

We are dealing with an essential service and human lives. Will the government do the right thing and reverse this reckless decision?

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times, the consolidation represents a positive change by locating all maritime and air search and rescue coordinators in the same centre working side by side.

This change does not affect the availability of resources such as Coast Guard ships or Coast Guard auxiliary and Canadian Forces aircraft.

The consolidation of the sub-centres into existing joint rescue coordination centres will have no negative impact on the current levels of service provided by the Coast Guard.

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the issue is that the minister is being contradicted by his own officials. In the document obtained, they warn about the lack of French outside Quebec City's rescue centre. I would like to read from the document in English:

“A number of senior team members have expressed doubt and concern about the success of closing MRSC Quebec et al”.

How would the minister feel if he were in danger and had to communicate in a language he did not understand? Will he listen to his own advisers and leave the rescue centres where they are so that they can save lives?

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, many times I have indicated that bilingual capacity will be increased above the levels that are in place now both in Halifax and Trenton.

This is not an issue. There is no way we will jeopardize the safety of mariners. We will continue on course as we have been to save money and provide better efficiencies.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, taxpayers deserve better than an out of touch government that believes it does not have to follow the rules.

Since 2006, the Conservatives have spent more than $10 million on press conferences, not to mention the travel expenses of ministers who jet across the country to eat lobster. There are two press rooms on Parliament Hill, and ministers can make announcements at any time in the House of Commons.

Why is this government wasting so much taxpayers' money on self-promotion?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, the government is actually quite proud to share with Canadians all of the suggestions we have put out, all of the ideas and all of the programs we have brought forward in a number of budgets.

It is our role to make sure that Canadians are aware. Along with our partners we made sure Canadians were aware of, for example, the home renovation tax credit. We had to make sure Canadians knew about that so they could apply for it. We need to make sure that Canadians are aware of the children's arts tax credit that is coming forward now.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that the Conservatives know their real role.

The Minister of Justice can boast about having one of the most expensive websites in the world: $73 million in just over 10 years. That is expensive, especially when compared to the Public Safety website, which has cost $500,000 in seven years.

Clearly, the Conservatives like to blame the Liberals, who are also expert spendthrifts. But is the government's excuse for everything the fact that the Liberals did worse? When will this government understand that money does not grow on trees?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

First of all, Mr. Speaker, any blame that we put on the Liberals, the Liberal Party has good cause to accept, so I cannot accept any comparisons to that.

With respect to IT costs, it is a very sophisticated process that we have moved forward with at the Department of Justice over the last number of years. It is money well spent. We are informing Canadians of the important measures we are taking on their behalf.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives want us to believe that $70 million for one website is a good use of taxpayers' money. They want us to believe that $10 million for self-promoting photo ops is good value. They want us to believe that rewarding a failed Conservative candidate with a $135,000 a year appointment is responsible. It is not.

When will the government stop using the public purse to reward its political friends?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the story to which the member refers is inaccurate. The Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority is independent from government and makes its own decisions. We understand there was, in fact, a competitive selection process in this case.

As for the others, we do not comment on the staffing of ministers' offices.

I would say to the member that perhaps she could speak to her colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster. I understand that he is currently employing a failed NDP candidate in his office.

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, we sure did not hear Conservatives say that crown corporations were arm's length during the Canada Post lockout.

The government has done the impossible. It has done an even worse job on patronage than the Liberals did. Some defeated candidates were appointed to the Senate, others were rewarded with government jobs, and the failed Conservative candidate in Mount Royal was hired as a ministerial adviser. This is not just old-fashioned patronage. Conservatives are keeping former and future candidates on the payroll. Why do taxpayers have to pay for their failed candidates?

Government AppointmentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

I understand, Mr. Speaker, that the member in fact once ran as a candidate and was picked up as a staff member by the leader of the Liberal Party when he was the leader of the NDP. This is common. All political parties hire partisan staff to work on partisan measures.

I would suggest to my NDP colleague across the way that if she would like to hire some good Conservative staffers, I have a list she might want to consider. I have full faith in all of them.

Canadian Northern Economic Development AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned from the Office of the Comptroller General that the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency has violated almost every rule in only two years of existence: expenditure control, contract management, use of credit cards, travel and hospitality expenses for its guests and all the rest.

Instead of helping northerners, the government is breaking all the rules of financial management.

How can the Prime Minister, who was the one who announced the creation of the agency in 2009, justify such a fiasco?

Canadian Northern Economic Development AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, this is a draft audit. We take all audits very seriously. I look forward to receiving the final audit. We will address all the issues raised in the audit.

Canadian Northern Economic Development AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, we cannot expect to get any detailed or reliable response today, but we will try again anyway.

Development of the major projects planned for the north will cost Canadian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, but the government is not even capable of managing a budget of $75 million for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Has the government lost complete control of northern development management?

Canadian Northern Economic Development AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, I encourage the member to travel to Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon to see what is really happening on the ground with regard to development.

Again I say that this is an internal audit. It is a draft audit. I look forward to receiving the final audit. Once we have received it, we will address the issues to make improvements.

Canadian Northern Economic Development AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, since it was created two years ago, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency has broken almost every rule in the book: out of control costs, contract mismanagement, improper use of credit cards and travel expenses, and the list goes on and on. This appalling record should put the Conservatives to shame.

Since the Prime Minister refuses to take the advice of his minister and the department, especially on the location of the head office, will he now stand and take responsibility for the mismanagement of this agency?

Canadian Northern Economic Development AgencyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Nunavut Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, this is a draft audit. It is an internal audit. We take all audits very seriously. Once I receive the final audit, I will review it and put action plans together to address the issues.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago the U.S. government issued permits for Shell Oil to release 250 metric tonnes of pollution in the Beaufort Sea, along the disputed territorial waters between Canada and the U.S. The so-called environmental standards developed by the Americans were clearly intended to apply to these Canadian waters. If we do not act now, we will be shut out of our own waters.

Has the government been involved in setting these environmental standards, or has it given up our Arctic waters and our Arctic sovereignty to the United States?