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House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cost.

Topics

Festival du VoyageurStatements By Members

February 17th, 2011 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very excited to return to Saint Boniface tomorrow night to open the annual winter celebration called le Festival du voyageur. This world-class 10-day event celebrates the joie de vivre of the voyageur and fur trade era with food, song and dance. I know festival will be a fantastic display of Franco-Manitoban and Métis culture. I look forward to serving pancakes, visiting the maple sugar shack and enjoying first-class performers.

The Festival du Voyageur is held every February. It is the largest winter festival in western Canada. As a francophone Métis, I have been attending the festival since I was a little girl.

Many thanks to the volunteers, the organizers and the official voyageurs, Roger Chamberland, Michelle Gervais and their two children, who work continuously to promote the festival in our community and elsewhere.

I encourage Winnipeggers, Manitobans and Canadians alike to please get out to le Festival du voyageur in Saint Boniface.

Enjoy the festival!

LiteracyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, today around the world, 774 million adults lack basic literacy skills and one in five adults, mostly women, cannot read or write at all. Canada's literacy statistics are just as alarming for a country as wealthy as our own.

Literacy is not just about reading and writing, it is more than just understanding words on a page. Literacy is a powerful tool to eradicate poverty and to advance people socially and economically. Those who cannot access literacy skills are tragically left behind in society and, thanks to the government, we are leaving far too many people behind.

In the 2006 budget, the federal government announced it was cutting $1 billion worth of what it called wasteful programs. Part of that was a $17.7 million cut to adult literacy programming. One in three Canadians who struggle with literacy every day do not think much of that.

By improving literacy skills, a person increases his or her chances to find employment, to lift oneself out of poverty, find or create opportunities and make great contributions to the community.

Today let us recognize those who assist learners, those who bring meaning to words and who open the doors to better lives for those who struggle with literacy for their benefit and the benefit of all of us.

Canadian AthletesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, our Canadian athletes had outstanding performances on the world stage.

Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant won gold in men's downhill skiing at the FIS World Championship in Germany. This is the second time in a row that a Canadian has won this title.

Calgary's Alex Gough became the first Canadian and the first non-German in 13 seasons to win a World Cup luge race. Gough is one of the many young Calgarians who had the opportunity to get involved in winter sports because of the outstanding legacies of the 1988 Olympics.

On Sunday, Milos Raonic of Thornhill became the first Canadian to win an Association of Tennis Professionals championship in 16 years. Mr. Raonic's victory against defending champion, Fernando Verdasco, featured serves that clocked at 240 kilometres per hour.

Our government is proud to support our athletes, and in fact the current levels of support are at the highest ever in Canada. We congratulate our athletes on these tremendous accomplishments.

Immigration Settlement ProgramsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, our community of Ottawa Centre has always been proud to welcome new Canadians. In 1979, we came together and welcomed 4,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

For the media, they were called the “boat people”; for the government, they were “small boat escapees”; but to our community, they were our new neighbours and, with community support, our new neighbours thrived.

That is how we feel about new immigrants and refugees here. That is why we support settlement programs. That is why we believe the government's $53 million cuts to immigrant services will undermine the quality of life for all of us.

These cuts will take away child care resources for newcomers, at the same time that the government is making family reunification almost impossible. Language classes will be severely limited, resulting in isolation and separation, making it harder to find a job, build relations and contribute to our community.

These cuts will hurt our newest neighbours first and all of us in the long run. We call on the government to reverse those cuts now.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader's economic policy is based on tax hikes that will put the brakes on our economic recovery, eliminate jobs and set back hard-working Canadian families.

For example, he is openly and unequivocally calling for a $6 billion increase in taxes. That is not a freeze, it is an increase.

The Liberal leader wants this tax increase to be reflected in the next budget, and he maintains that if we do not increase taxes, he will vote against the budget and trigger an election.

The last thing we need is an unnecessary election or the uncertainty caused by a coalition, which would jeopardize our economic recovery now that we are entering the home stretch.

While the Liberal leader is criss-crossing the country calling for an unnecessary election, our government will stay the course with its tax relief plan to support employment and growth.

Regional DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Conservatives never miss an opportunity to let Quebec and all its regions down.

They are the ones who centralized the Canada Economic Development offices to downtown Montreal thereby depriving the regions of significant economic spinoffs. They are the ones who refused to support Bill C-288 so that our young graduates could return to the regions and actively contribute to their social and economic development. They are the ones who are still refusing to provide the forestry industry and its workers with any meaningful assistance to weather the crisis. They are the ones who voted against an employment insurance reform that would have allowed our seasonal workers and others to make a decent living year round. I could go on.

Unlike the Quebec Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois is acting in the interests of Quebec and all its regions, without distinction.

International Co-operationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, here is the timeline of events that got the Minister of International Cooperation all tied up in “nots”:

On October 28, 2010 in the House of Commons, the minister claimed that KAIROS had lost its funding because its work no longer fitted CIDA's objectives and strongly suggested that she acted on the recommendation of her department.

On December 9, 2010, CIDA president, Margaret Biggs, told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee that the agency did recommend the project to the minister. At the same meeting, the minister testified at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs that she did not insert the word “not” in the funding document.

On December 13, 2010, the Liberal member for Scarborough—Guildwood raised a question of privilege in the House of Commons, concerning allegations that the Minister of International Cooperation had made misleading statements. On February 14, 2011, the minister admitted that she had given the order to write the word not on a financial document. On February 15, 2011, the Prime Minister defended the minister's behaviour, commended her on her decision and ignored the calls for her resignation.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader is launching a pre-election tax hike tour this week, and the Toronto Star is reporting that the Liberals are angling for a May election. A needless election would distract our national efforts from creating jobs and sustaining our fragile economic recovery.

The Liberal leader's plan is a high tax agenda that will stall our recovery, kill jobs and set hard-working families back. He is calling for a tax hike to be included in the budget or he will vote against the budget and force an unnecessary election. The last thing we need is the disruption of a needless election or the uncertainty of a reckless coalition that would jeopardize our economic recovery just as we enter the home stretch.

As the Liberal leader travels Canada calling for an unnecessary election and advancing his high tax agenda, our Conservative government will keep its focus on our low tax plan for jobs and growth in the best interests of all Canadians.

Merchant Navy VeteransStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Independent

Helena Guergis Independent Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize John Stapleton, a constituent and tireless advocate of the merchant navy veterans.

John is a past president of the Allied Merchant Marine Association, a member of the Jewish War Veterans of Canada and an honorary member of the British Merchant Navy Association. He is also a recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and was one of 15 veterans recognized by the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation Award in October 2010.

John is a champion of veteran's issues and is persistent in his campaign for fair compensation and recognition for World War II merchant navy veterans. He and his wife, Wanita, and former MP, Paul Bonwick, were relentless in their crusade to establish Merchant Navy Day. Thanks to their perseverance, people across the country join to recognize the sacrifices made by World War II merchant navy veterans every year on September 3.

Every year, during the week of Valentine's Day, I recognize seniors and veterans. Today I pay special tribute to John Stapleton for his inspiration, his wisdom and his leadership.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the facts in the case are clear. The minister deceived Parliament and then someone altered a document so she could pretend that her officials supported a decision when in fact they did not.

In our democracy, the rules are clear. When a minister misleads Parliament, that minister resigns. Why is she still in cabinet?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of International Cooperation has been very clear that she is the one who made the decision not to provide a $7 million grant to this Canadian non-governmental organization.

This is the kind of responsibility that ministers are expected to take each and every day. When we spend money on foreign aid, we expect it to make the very best for success in the developing world.

The minister made the right decision. She made the correct decision. I believe she made a courageous decision and did the right thing.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this minister misled the House. She altered a document and claimed that her officials supported her decision, when they did not. In a democracy, a minister who misleads the House must resign.

Why is this minister still a member of cabinet ?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, last year in committee and this year in the House of Commons, the minister was very clear that she, and she alone, made the decision not to provide the $7 million grant. She has always been very clear. The minister made the right decision.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there is a wider pattern here. It is the government that prorogued Parliament, that shut Parliament down, that silences whistleblowers, that intimidates public servants and now stands behind a minister who will not tell the truth.

The Prime Minister seems to think he makes the rules. He is wrong; Canadians make the rules. When will the government start showing some respect for democracy and fire that minister?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the fact is the minister is the one who made the decision. She appeared last year before committee and said so 11 times. She repeated that again this year. She made a courageous decision. The minister did the right thing. Only in our country would a minister get in trouble for not making a $7 million grant.

When we think about grants and contributions, we still wonder what happened to the $40 million that went missing in the sponsorship scandal.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is sinking ever deeper and has reached a new low. Earlier this week, the Minister of International Cooperation was caught red-handed. She misled Parliament, and not just by a little bit. Yesterday, in an attempt to defend her, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism told a journalist that it was not serious, that everyone lies, and that Radio-Canada lies all the time.

Is that the Conservatives' new motto: lie and lie again, and if you are a cabinet minister, you will get away with it?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

That is not at all the case. The minister was very clear. Last year before a House committee and this year in the House, she said 11 times that she made the decision to not fund this organization.

The minister made the right decision, that is, to focus our international aid on supporting the most vulnerable people in the world. She made the right decision.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are trivializing lying. Suddenly, lying is not a big deal. By refusing to discipline the Minister of International Cooperation, the Prime Minister is signalling a free-for-all; there is not a problem, and just about anything goes. According to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, it is not serious because Radio-Canada lies all the time.

One person is responsible for creating this mess and that is the Prime Minister. Does he understand that, or “not”?

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I did note the CBC had a very interesting story about our friend from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin that turned out not to be true this morning.

The minister made the decision not to provide a $7 million grant to the organization in question because she strongly believed that money would be better spent to help some of the most vulnerable people in the world on the ground, and to get better value for taxpayers. The minister made a difficult decision. The minister made the right decision. The government supports that decision.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of International Cooperation initially signed a document to grant funding to KAIROS only to then falsify that document to deny the funding. Since we know how the Prime Minister works, we have to wonder whether he was directly involved in this file. If that is the case, this means that the minister, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Prime Minister are telling us the opposite of the truth.

To be clear, we would like to know, yes or no, whether the Prime Minister intervened and told his minister to change her mind, falsify the document and deny funding to KAIROS.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this will not come as a surprise to the leader of the Bloc Québécois that I reject the premise of his question. Here is what I know: The minister has said very clearly that she was the one who made the decision.

With respect to the note on the form, her own deputy minister, a well-respected public servant of many years, said, “The inclusion of the word “not” is just a simple reflection of what her decision was”. She said that it was clear and quite normal.

That is what the deputy minister said on December 9 before committee.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this sounds like a bad B movie.

If the minister did not agree, all she had to do was refuse to sign the document. But what happened was that she signed it, which would have granted the funding. Based on statements made by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the ideological decisions of the Prime Minister, she was told that it made no sense and that she should not grant the funding. She added the word “not”, or ordered the word to be inserted in the right spot. That is what happened. She falsified a document.

Do they think we will believe them when they make up a bad story to hide the truth? That is what happened.

International Co-operationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the coalition is in fine form today.

What is true, and the minister was clear, she repeated it—10 times—before a parliamentary committee and said it on Monday in this House, is that she made the decision to deny funding to this organization. She made the right decision and the government supports it.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has still not frozen the assets of the family of former dictator Ben Ali, despite repeated requests from the Tunisian ambassador, who is concerned that the assets stolen from his people will end up in tax havens. And yet, under article 54 of the UN Convention against Corruption, Canada can temporarily freeze these assets.

Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs realize that, by refusing to take action, he is an accomplice to the Ben Ali family and allowing them to move the assets of the Tunisian people to tax havens?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, our government is working with the Tunisian government on this issue. We have communicated to the Tunisian government clearly and on several occasions the specific information necessary for Canada to freeze any assets in Canada. The government of Tunisia has not yet responded to our request.

We remain committed to working co-operatively to bring justice for the people of Tunisia.