This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mission.

Topics

LibyaOral Questions

June 14th, 2011 / 2:15 p.m.

Toronto—Danforth Ontario

NDP

Jack Layton NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want assurance that the involvement in Libya will be in strict accordance with United Nations resolution 1973. That means it has to focus on civilian protection, humanitarian assistance and diplomatic support for the UN efforts to reach a ceasefire so that there can be, ultimately, a Libyan-led political resolution to the crisis. That is precisely what the New Democrat amendments to the motion propose today.

Will the government support our proposals?

LibyaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government has undertaken its involvement in Libya under United Nations resolution 1973, in concert with our allies. We have made it very clear all along that we are seeking the furtherance of that resolution and its objectives, and those will continue to be our actions.

LibyaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto—Danforth Ontario

NDP

Jack Layton NDPLeader of the Opposition

I will assume that is a yes, Mr. Speaker, but I guess we will wait to see the results of the vote.

Yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs responded to our suggestion that there be increased humanitarian support for the people of Libya and gave confirmation today that there will be an additional $2 million provided.

Now the question is what is the timetable for that help and how can we be sure that the government is taking the actions necessary to achieve the ceasefire so that the help can actually get to the people?

Could we have an explanation of how that is going to be done?

LibyaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government remains committed to being a humanitarian partner in Libya and to doing at least our share of the international effort there in that regard.

Obviously, delivering humanitarian aid is extremely difficult in some parts of the country under the circumstances, but we continue to work with our international partners, international agencies and others to facilitate passage of that aid.

LibyaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto—Danforth Ontario

NDP

Jack Layton NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the most frequent problem with this government, this administration, is a lack of co-operation and transparency when it comes to the cost of operations, such as the operation in Libya.

Can the Prime Minister commit to having his team work with the Standing Committee on National Defence to ensure that the same high degree of transparency and availability of information adopted by some of our allies will also be adopted by this government?

LibyaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to being as transparent as possible. Clearly, we will work with the House committees or through other mechanisms to ensure that any information that can be made available is made available.

LibyaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, peaceful democratic protesters in the Middle East and North Africa have inspired all Canadians. Sadly, in Libya, Gadhafi sent in his army to savagely crush protests.

New Democrats supported the UN's call to protect the people of Libya. However, we know that in the end it will be a diplomatic solution that will end the crisis in Libya.

To that end, I want to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs, will he be attending the next contact group meeting and reaffirm Canada's support for a Libyan-led political solution?

LibyaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada is tremendously proud of our commitment to freedom, to democracy, to human rights, to the rule of law. Our government is proud of the work that our men and women in uniform are doing in Libya. We want to work to increase our diplomatic efforts to end the violence and to protect civilians and our humanitarian efforts. It is certainly my intention to be at the next Libya contact group meeting.

LibyaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motion on Libya deplores the ongoing human rights violations being committed by the Gadhafi regime. Reports show that sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war. Deploring the situation is not enough. We must take action to protect the rights of Libyans.

Will Canada make a tangible commitment to the international community to support the investigation of these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice?

LibyaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, today, in fact, the Minister of International Cooperation made an announcement in Rome of $2 million more in humanitarian aid to Libya. Part of that money is going to targeted intervention and assistance programs that will help up to 50,000 women and girls in Libya who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing gender-based violence.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that Canadians are expecting is that ministers and cabinet will in fact lead by example, yet at a time when we are seeing lots of announcements about cuts being made to the public service and to the services themselves the Prime Minister has one of the largest cabinets in Canadian history. The ad budget has gone up by 215%. Just before the election the government announced separation packages for its own employees.

What is the story here? Where is the consistency?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

In fact, Mr. Speaker, a reduction of ministerial budgets is one of the things we have done as part of our efforts to restrain costs. There has been an $11 million reduction in ministerial budgets this year. That is, of course, over and above the fact that these budgets are lower than they were during the period of the Liberal Party.

In terms of advertising, there was a significant amount of advertising linked to the economic action plan. Obviously, as that is expiring, the advertising budgets will be falling as well.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hard fact remains that he has put a minister in charge of government restraint who is himself responsible for a $50 million expenditure that he could not explain, that he could not justify, for which there was no documentation, including for gazebos, the paving of roads, whatever it might have been. There was no documentation whatsoever, and that is the minister who is now in charge of helping Canadians to deal with the new economic climate in which we find ourselves.

Again, there is a double standard: one standard for ministers, one standard for—

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Of course, Mr. Speaker, I have answered questions on that before and the assertions of the leader of the Liberal Party in this regard are not true.

As I indicated in my previous answer, there have been significant expenditures on this side of the House in terms of reductions of ministers' offices, for example. I would encourage the Liberal Party to join us in this frugality and in cutting that taxpayer-funded subsidy to political parties.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that the government has one standard for cabinet, one standard for the Conservatives, one standard for ministers' ridings; then there is another reality for Canadians throughout the country.

The Prime Minister's agenda does not have the necessary credibility because he is proposing one thing for those in power and another for Canada's middle class. This is the problem we have with the Conservative government's approach.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this party's priority is hard-working Canadian families. That has always been our priority on this side of the House. That is the reason why we were elected by the people of Canada, and Canadians want to see that we have credibility, something that the Liberal Party is lacking.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government promised Canadians a magic trick: a painless reduction of the size of government. The real plan is to make major cuts. Yesterday, the Parliamentary Budget Officer expressed his concerns. Other experts have said that these cuts will have serious consequences. The government cannot tell Canadians what it plans on cutting, maybe because it does not even know itself.

Why is the government playing Russian roulette with public services?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, of course, we have a strong mandate to eliminate the deficit by 2014-15. We intend to do just that. I would just say to the hon. member that when she looks at the complete information, she will find that internal services and capital and personnel costs are part of the operating budgets being reduced and that, in fact, the numbers do add up.

Of course, we are committed to achieving the $1.8 billion in savings by freezing the operating budgets of the departments and we are in fact on track in doing so.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government could not be less clear, but the Parliamentary Budget Officer was very clear. The government does not have a plan. Sure, it is promising to kill the deficit, but how and what will the consequences be? Ask any premier, doctor, professor, patient or student what happened when the Liberals cut the deficit in the 1990s. It was not pretty.

I have a simple question. Will the minister show us his plan or is he hoping for some Oz wizardry?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, at the time, it was actually started by our fine Minister of Finance in budget 2011. Some savings were already achieved as a result of our strategic reviews in that regard.

We are on track and we are developing the new plan, the strategic and operating review, which is fully intending to review the spending covering $80 billion worth of direct program spending.

All of that will be reviewed because we will meet our target and we will meet our promises to the Canadian people. That is why the government is with the Canadian people. They want to see a balanced budget and we do too.

Arts and CultureOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, we now know some of the cuts the Prime Minister was planning to make. He was planning on making massive cuts to Environment Canada, human resources and aboriginal affairs. But the worst is the plan to cut 33% of the jobs at Canadian Heritage. What is the government's priority? It would rather invest in prisons.

Why does the government think that prisons are more important than heritage?

Arts and CultureOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, that is completely untrue. Canada is the only G8 country that decided not to cut, not to maintain, but to increase its funding for culture.

I would like to say as well that what we have done over the past years within the Department of Canadian Heritage is reduce the size of the department by 13%, while maintaining our commitment to arts and cultural and Canadian heritage across the country.

We have made the bureaucracy smaller, we have made the department smaller while maintaining our commitment to Canadians and standing up for Canadian culture.

Arts and CultureOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the government's job creation priority, hiring more prison guards?

Let us be serious. In Canada, culture is a multibillion dollar industry. It creates real jobs. It gives hope. It shows Canada at its best. Cutting Heritage Canada by a third is bad cultural policy and bad economics.

How can the minister justify encouraging us to take something away from society rather than make it richer?

Arts and CultureOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

We should read between the lines of his question, Mr. Speaker. What he is saying is make the department bigger, thereby taking funding away from culture. That is not the way to do it.

We believe in supporting culture, not making the bureaucracy bigger. Members opposite have it exactly backward.

By doing what we have done, which is making bureaucracy smaller and making more money available, it makes room available for what we proposed in budget 2011, which is the $500 per child arts tax credit so that children can get involved in the arts, performing arts, language, so they can participate in Canada's cultural mosaic. That is good culture policy, not NDP policy.