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House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Peace River.

I am very proud to rise here today to speak in favour of the budget presented by my hon. colleague, the Minister of Finance. I am proud of our government's economic management in a time of a financial crisis, management that allowed us to come out ahead of most major industrialized countries.

Indeed, the International Monetary Fund predicts that Canada will be the first G7 country to return to a balanced budget. Our government has chosen a prudent yet rigorous approach to reduce public spending and eliminate the deficit. We are focusing on low taxes, job creation and sustained growth, in order to maintain the social programs that are so important to Canadians, while creating a solid financial foundation to ensure long-term prosperity.

Public Works and Government Services Canada is determined to make its activities more efficient and effective, and to save Canadians money. In this regard, the department wholeheartedly supported the Government of Canada's priority to return to a balanced budget through a strategic review of all departmental spending. Public Works and Government Services Canada met all the requirements of this very important exercise. Among other things, PWGSC will continue to support the reallocation of resources under the strategic and operating review announced in the budget in order to meet the government's most important priorities.

Canada's economic action plan has been a great success. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, I know that this department has played a major role in the economic action plan through its accelerated infrastructure program.

I am very proud of what PWGSC has achieved in terms of revitalizing the government's important capital assets; these achievements are nothing short of exemplary. I am very pleased that we have been allocated an additional $148 million over five years to preserve PWGSC's engineering assets.

We are fully committed to ensuring that public infrastructure meets the highest safety standards while creating jobs for local economies.

In the Canada first defence strategy, our government promised Canadians that it would provide our men and women in uniform with the equipment they need to do their difficult and dangerous work. We have already begun to make good on this promise, and we have made excellent progress to date, particularly in the area of shipbuilding. The national shipbuilding procurement strategy is a completely new approach to military procurement. We are optimistic that the lessons learned from this initiative will help us to improve procurement strategies in general.

First and foremost, we decided that our ships would be built in Canada by Canadians. This means that, in addition to building the ships that our navy and Coast Guard need to defend our country, we will also be creating permanent, highly skilled jobs across the country. We will support the marine industry, which is one of the key drivers of the economy and the lifeblood of many communities, and we will do so while fully respecting the department's fundamental values of openness, transparency and fairness.

We consulted extensively with the industry, and listened to what it had to say, before implementing the national shipbuilding procurement strategy. Therefore, we know that long-term planning and stable funding are essential to business growth. That is why we are making this commitment.

We also learned that we must work more closely together within the public service. Therefore, we adopted a teamwork approach for the entire government with respect to defence procurement by placing the emphasis on streamlined monitoring and approval processes.

These significant improvements to the military procurement process can guide our approach to procurement in general. Hence, industry will be able to do business with a Government of Canada that has reduced red tape and the time it takes to sign a contract and start the work.

Public Works and Government Services Canada is pleased, and rightly so, to have reduced the time required to purchase important military goods by more than half. For example, with respect to replacing our aging fleet of Hercules aircraft, the request for proposal for the 17 aircraft was issued in August 2007 and the $1.4 billion U.S. contract was awarded in December 2007. This procurement process, which was approved in June 2006, was completed in just 18 months, well within the anticipated time frame of 48 months.

My government believes that our procurement spending can and should be used to maximize our aerospace, shipbuilding and defence sectors' global competitiveness, and we will ensure that that is the case. The same goes for procurement in general. It must be in line with all of our economic objectives, and one of the areas we are actively targeting is innovation.

Innovation is an essential economic driver, and governments are in a position to choose to support entrepreneurs and dreamers who create, innovate and invent.

In last year's budget, we introduced the Canadian innovation commercialization program to help launch Canadian innovations. I am pleased to announce that the first round was a huge success and that we will soon be starting a second round. The Canadian innovation commercialization program helps Canadian businesses market their new technologies, products and services. Our work will help strengthen and diversify our economy.

Public Works and Government Services Canada is looking for government partners to test the innovations and to provide feedback to the businesses to help them successfully market their innovative products. In short, our government is doing more than innovate, since, in purchasing goods and services to support employment and our country's key industries, we are reaching out to businesses that create jobs and we are supporting them as they develop new products and profitable services. This is an entirely new approach to working with the private sector to help us build the prosperous and safe Canada that we want and are working so hard to achieve.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, it looks like a lot of money will be collected for employment insurance, but many people still do not have access to it. Can the hon. member assure us that not a penny of the EI premiums or any of the money in the EI fund will be used for reducing the debt?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I want thank the hon. member for her question and congratulate her on her election.

As the hon. member knows, in the past, through Canada's economic action plan, we have invested money directly into the employment insurance fund in lieu of raising premiums. We have done more than the hon. member is suggesting we have, and we will continue in that direction.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not think my question was really answered.

I wanted to know whether the government will ensure that none of the money paid into the fund will be allocated to the debt. We are asking the question because the funds collected should be used as employment insurance and people should have access to this or other programs to help them get back to work.

I will repeat the question. Can the hon. member assure us that, with this budget, no EI premiums will be allocated to the debt?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, as you know, the employment insurance fund is used to give unemployed people in Canada the benefits they need and to provide training programs to help the unemployed return to the workforce. That has always been and will continue to be the government's objective.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate you on being chosen as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.

I have a question for my colleague, with whom I sat for some time on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. I see that in the budget, which has not changed a single bit, there was not a single line added concerning agriculture.

I want to know whether the member and parliamentary secretary can tell us why the government did not think to create a specific program for pork producers, who are currently going through an unprecedented crisis in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. The same goes for the issue of specified risk materials. I think my colleague is familiar with this issue that affects cattle producers. The budget should have renewed the slaughter program.

I would like to know what answer my colleague has for Quebec producers.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

As we know, pork producers in Canada are going through an unprecedented market crisis. Although the price of pork has increased, the input and grain costs have increased as well. They are still in a negative margin. We understand and are very aware of what is going on with pork producers.

As for beef producers and the issue of specified risk materials, we know that we must be innovative to move these products out of the value chain, so that they can regain a value on the market. This way, producers can benefit from this value and at least bring the risk to zero. In other words, we must turn the problem they were having into a value, and perhaps even turn that into revenue. We are happy to be working towards this on behalf of producers.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleagues and I want to congratulate you on your re-election and your appointment as Deputy Speaker.

I want to take the opportunity, and I am hoping I will be given the latitude to do this, to give some thanks. This is my first opportunity to speak in the House since my election. It is my third election in five and a half years and there are a lot of people to thank for the time they put in leading up to, during and subsequent to the election campaign. As we know, there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of even after the election is completed.

First and foremost, I want to thank the folks in my riding who supported and voted for me in unprecedented numbers. I recognize it is an incredible responsibility that I have been given for the third time and I want to thank each and every person who supported me. I recognize that 100% of the constituents did not vote for me, but I am here for 100% of them in my riding and I will do my utmost over the next number of years to represent the interests of my community in the long term.

I want to make brief reference to some of the team members who helped me get elected. First and foremost, I want to thank my campaign manager, Alden Harms, who was dedicated throughout the campaign to getting me elected for the third time. He has been my right-hand man through three elections and did an incredible job, as he always does.

I want to thank Lydell Torgerson, my official agent, a leading accountant in the province of Alberta. He has been recognized by his colleagues and dedicated a significant amount of volunteer time to my campaign. I want to thank him in the House for his ongoing dedication in getting all of the necessary paperwork done in order to fulfill the requirements that Elections Canada has.

I want to thank Dena Short, who works day in and day out to manage the office in my constituency. For that, I owe her a great debt of gratitude. I certainly want to recognize her work, as well as that of Lamont Anderson who was in charge of the sign crew. He worked diligently to get the signs up and down and taken care of.

I want to take the opportunity to thank the dedicated staff in my constituency office, as well as my Hill office, who make me a more popular guy, quite frankly. They are the people who continue to work day in and day out to represent my desire for my constituents, which is that they be well represented. Anybody who comes into my constituency office is always well represented because of the staff. I want to thank Trudy, who has been with me for the last five and a half years, and Kim and Crystal, who have also been with me for the last number of years. Their commitment to my constituents is, without question, their number one priority and I want to thank them.

I also want to thank my family, my mom, dad, siblings and their families for their support. Having five siblings is always positive because more people will vote for one and then when they have spouses as well, that increases the base. They went well beyond what they were called on to do during the election campaign in many capacities and I want to thank them.

I also want to thank my immediate family, my kids for giving me the luxury of being able to campaign, as well as my wife, who is a remarkable person. She is really the trooper in my family. She is the one who holds everything together during very stressful election campaigns and has given me great latitude in doing my job and serving my constituents. She really is an amazing partner and has dedicated the last five and a half years to working with me to represent the constituents in my riding.

I wanted to extend those thanks before I moved on to the budget.

Today I am talking about the low-tax plan for Canadians that the minister brought forward yesterday. Of course, this was not an entirely unexpected budget. We expected many of the provisions within the budget. Obviously, we had a preview of this budget last March prior to the election campaign and then we fought during the campaign for the opportunity to reinstate the budget and to have it debated in the House and hopefully passed by it. However, we did add a few other things to the budget. We made a number of other commitments in the election campaign and those things are being followed through with.

Our Prime Minister said that we were going to get things done, get back to work, and do a whole host of things in addition to the budget that was put forward before. Those things are included in this budget. I think that is a testament to the commitment of our finance minister and Prime Minister to doing what we said we were going to do during the election campaign. I give them a lot of thanks.

Canadians can be reassured that we are intent on doing what we said. We are seeing the evidence of that in this budget as well as in the Speech from the Throne. My many thanks to the finance minister for including those provisions in the budget. I know my constituents, as well as many of my colleagues' constituents, are depending on those things being carried out.

When I was first elected, my hope was that I would be able to represent my constituents well and build a stronger, more vibrant community. I was a small business owner at that point in time. My wife and I had just recently been married. I had been involved in politics for a number of years. I had been an active member of our association for over 10 years.

I hoped to become an elected member of this House to get a few things done. I was a small business owner and I was increasingly frustrated by the government's response to small business owners. Increasingly, we saw a government, in a previous incarnation, that was hard on small business owners, the engine to our local economies. I was often disappointed with the responses and an increased tax burden that small business owners were expected to bear.

Over the last five and a half years since my election, I have worked to advocate on behalf of small business owners. I believe it is important that we give all of the latitude that is necessary for small business owners to innovate and to create jobs in our local communities.

This budget is an extension of some of the things that we have seen over the last five and a half years in terms of reducing the tax burden for small business owners, for giving more resources to small business owners, and in paying tribute to small business owners for what they are, the drivers of our national economy.

One of the important measures within this budget, that there has not been a lot of attention drawn to, is the fact that our government has made the commitment to continue along the effort to reduce red tape for small businesses.

I had the opportunity in the last Parliament to sit on the red tape reduction commission. I had to opportunity to travel across this great country. What was remarkable, no matter where I went in this country, were the similarities in the concerns that I heard from people which were incredibly consistent.

We heard of struggles in terms of getting certain things done. Oftentimes it related to unnecessary red tape within the federal sector. We also heard about red tape that was in provincial and municipal jurisdictions as well.

I had the opportunity to sit on that commission with representation from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Catherine Swift was a representative on that commission. It actually brought forward the information, its analysis, that Canadian businesses bear a cost of approximately $30 billion on an annual basis in trying to comply with red tape.

That is red tape that comes from the federal government, the provincial governments and the municipal governments. What is distressing is that oftentimes there is a duplication or redundancy in that red tape from the federal level, the provincial level and the municipal level.

I am so excited to see that the federal government is committed to continue on the effort of the red tape reduction commission to continue to see red tape slashed at the federal level. It has made the commitment that it is going to reduce that red tape to a manageable level to help support small businesses.

Unfortunately, red tape disproportionately affects small businesses. Large businesses have large accounting firms and large legal representation, and are able to manage to get through it. Disproportionately small businesses are affected by it.

As a member who comes from the small business sector, I am really pleased and very thankful to see that our government is going to continue to reduce red tape for small businesses across this country.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, congratulations on your appointment as Deputy Speaker.

I do have a question. The member speaks very highly of small businesses and makes reference to the clearing up of red tape. Ultimately, I would look to the member to respond and perhaps provide some clarification.

Priorities are established within a budget. Clearly, it would appear that the priorities of this government are geared toward large corporations.

If we take a look at the tax breaks being given to large corporations over small businesses, in essence it is clear that the government believes it will be the large corporations that will provide future opportunities. That contradicts what most economists and others would suggest, that it will be small businesses that will drive the economy into the future.

Why is there a mixed up priority in terms of where the tax breaks are?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I am hoping that my colleague across the way has an opportunity to read the budget.

I know the speech yesterday was truncated. As a result, much of it was a review of the budget that had been presented. However, there are a number of different provisions within the budget that will directly affect and benefit small businesses.

Obviously, I talked about the red tape reduction. I cannot overstate the importance of that.

Also, there is the new hiring credit for small businesses geared directly toward small business owners who want to create jobs in our local communities. We know there will be employers who will create the most jobs during this time as our economy recovers. That is the first initiative. The second is supporting young entrepreneurs through the youth business foundation activities. There is $20 million going toward that for the upstart of small businesses.

We support community futures organizations across this country that help support small businesses. We also see the extending of work-sharing agreements. I know in my community there are many businesses that have utilized that. These are important provisions. I have several others, but I know my time is up.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, as this is my first time rising in the House, I would like to mention that I am thankful to the good people of New Westminster—Coquitlam and Port Moody for returning me to this House, as well as to my family, my wife Lynda, and the campaign volunteers and supporters who helped in that re-election.

I would also like to offer my congratulations to you as Chair and to my hon. colleague from Peace River on his re-election.

My question to the member relates to action on climate change.

As the member well knows, climate change is certainly being felt in the north. This is an area where he is from and familiar with. I would like to ask the member, what is the government proposing in this budget to mitigate the effects of climate change?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. member on his re-election as well.

There are a number of provisions within this budget and I will not get to all of them. However, one that is very important to people who live in my community, especially in the northern communities, is the opportunity to benefit from the home retrofit program. That will help individuals insulate and create more energy-efficient homes. We know that the best energy savings is when we are able to reduce our consumption and create a better home. It helps on the environmental side and also aids in supporting families.

What we know is that energy costs consume a significant portion of the family budget. Therefore, any time there are investments made toward reducing energy costs for family homes, that is a good thing for the environment. It is also a good thing for families in general.

As well, there are several other provisions within the budget providing investments to technologies right from farming to all types of new and emerging technologies. There are investments for that. Obviously, those will play an important role in terms of protecting our environment as well.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl.

My congratulations to you, Madam Speaker, on your appointment as Deputy Speaker and chair of the committee of the whole.

I am pleased to rise in the House as a spokesperson for the constituents of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. It was an incredible opportunity for me to stand for the New Democratic Party in the last election and to talk with my constituents about its plans and programs. The warmth and receptiveness of the good citizens, whether they voted for me or not, was truly overwhelming and I certainly appreciate it. As has been said, regardless of whether I got their vote, once elected I am the member of Parliament for all constituents of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

Since the election, I have had the opportunity to meet with a number of groups. As can be appreciated, regardless of how hard one worked during the campaign, one's duties commence immediately upon the time of election.

Of the groups I have had the opportunity to meet with one was DASC Industries. This is an organization that provides important work opportunities for women and men who have certain challenges. It is looking for some capital support from the government, which is a proposal that I have indicated my support for.

Some of the groups that I had the opportunity to have some discussion with since the election are: Evergreen House, an important museum in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour; the Cole Harbour Heritage Museum; a group of parents for a local elementary school in Dartmouth North; the Take Action Society; the Supportive Housing for Young Mothers; Dartmouth Learning Centre; Main Street Dartmouth and Area Business Improvement Association; Boys & Girls Club of East Dartmouth; and, of course, my good friends whom I swim and work out with at the Dartmouth YMCA. When I go home to Dartmouth—Cole Harbour on the weekends and once the House rises, I will have the opportunity to do more of that.

As well, on June 5, I had the opportunity to participate in a D-Day parade organized by Branch 31 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

I look forward to seeing my colleague, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, continue to stand as our veterans affairs critic and an advocate for seniors. I would urge the government, as I know he would, to take measures toward fixing the clawback on veterans pensions and give these brave men and women the respect and support they deserve.

I also look forward to my role in international trade and will work to make sure that we enter into strong agreements that strive to support and protect workers, communities, producers, and the environment both here at home and abroad.

My main priority in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour at this point is to engage in dialogue with non profit and community organizations, police, veterans, families, seniors, businesses, and as many people and groups that I can, to hear their stories, realities, ideas and solutions, and bring those voices to Parliament.

Right now, part of my community is struggling with crime issues and I had the opportunity to meet with the chief of police and HRM. These crime issues cannot be solved by overly simplified approaches such as tougher laws and more prisons. I suggest to members opposite that it requires innovative, responsive community-based approaches.

Many communities that are struggling with inadequate health care services must have their needs and concerns addressed. Many young families are teetering on the brink of financial crisis because the cost of daily living keeps rising but their income, their security and their prospects for good jobs are not.

Indeed, there are issues in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and in communities across this country that the government is in a position to impact in a significant and positive way if only there were a commitment and a political will to work with and for all the people of Canada who possess a wealth of insight and experience. We would be wise to draw from that fantastic resource.

The people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour sent me here to do some very important things: to be their voice in the House of Commons; to represent their thoughts and interests; to work as a member of this Parliament to make their lives better, their communities stronger and our country better and stronger; and to help shape our nation into the thriving, sustainable and compassionate global leader we all know we can be.

I am ever mindful of that job and of the commitment and responsibility that accompanies it. I am also deeply grateful to the people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for the trust they have placed in me. I intend to work very hard to ensure I live up to my end of that bargain.

That is why I feel it is so important to draw attention to the weaknesses in the budget presented before the House yesterday. This is not a budget designed with the Canadian family in mind. It does not acknowledge the reality that the people in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and across this country are facing.

This budget will see cuts to DFO and to ACOA. It makes no commitments of any substance to the people I am here to represent. It barely even gives a nod to the millions of Canadians who voted for change in this country. For the most part, the budget caters to those who, I would suggest, are already doing quite well and ignores the very real and pressing needs of many of our citizens. It does nothing to create meaningful social or economic progress for Canadians.

To point to job creation numbers as a sign of success when many of those jobs are part-time with no benefits, no security and a minimum wage that is not a living wage, is not progress. To cut this country's deficit by cutting the very programs and services that many Canadians count on and to not even be up front about where and how deep those cuts will be is not progress. To put the interests of large corporations and the interests of the Prime Minister and his closest allies ahead of the interests of Canadians and citizens who work hard every day to support their families and their communities, the people who are the heart and soul of this country, is not progress.

As the official opposition, we are more than a voice for our constituents. On behalf of our nation, we are also the eyes, the ears and, where needed, the conscience of this House. The budget does not sit particularly well with that conscience because it fails to address or even recognize the needs of Canadian families.

We have been charged with holding the government accountable to all the people of this country. It is a critically important job and we have every intention of living up to our end of the bargain. Will the Government of Canada live up to the bargain that it made with all Canadians, and not just the ones who voted it into power? I say to the members opposite that hope springs eternal.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his election to this House and on his speech.

However, it never ceases to amaze me how he can ignore the facts, and there are a number of facts that he ignored in his speech. One fact is that more than 70% of Canadians voted against his party, so he cannot presume to represent them today. Another fact is the 540,000 net new jobs. He refers to them as part-time, low wage, low sector but he has obviously failed to read the budget. On page 30, it is very clear that 85% are full-time jobs and 90% of them are in the high-wage industries.

Why would my colleague oppose a budget that has many of the initiatives within it that will help to create new jobs, high-paying jobs, such as the extension of the capital cost allowance that will allow businesses to invest in innovation and new technology which will make them more efficient and, therefore, create jobs for Canadians?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his kind words of congratulation.

I want to be clear. Canada is now in a position where there are 300,000 jobs less than there were when the recession started. If the member opposite would like to come to my community of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, he would recognize some of the serious problems associated with unemployment.

While the government loves to stand up and preach with numbers about what a great job it has done with the economy, he would see in my community and in many other communities throughout this country that there are considerable numbers of Canadians who, as a result of the government, are not only without jobs, but they are without employment insurance, and that is a shame.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his arrival in the House.

I want to discuss the high unemployment numbers that he talked about. I come from a riding that has above average unemployment. We have discussed pilot projects in the House for quite some time. One particular pilot project provides benefits for the best 14 weeks of employment, which calculates the best weeks a person has produced as opposed to the last 14 weeks, which would give them decreased benefits. The government talks about small business but, in rural Canada especially, this is one of the things small business is claiming that it wants and need but it has been extended for only one year.

We have a pilot project that has been going on for approximately five years, so the government should do it or get off the proverbial pot, as it were. In this particular instance, does the member believe that these pilot programs under employment insurance should be made permanent?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity in a former career to spend quite a bit of time in the hon. member's riding, in communities like Gander, Grand Falls and Windsor. It is a fantastic place with unbelievable people. The women and men in those communities are truly the strength of this country. I congratulate him for having the honour of representing those fine people.

What the government has done with the employment insurance system is truly a travesty. In this budget we have seen the government increase premiums while it is continuing to cut benefits.

While the numbers of unemployed are at record levels in this country, people in communities like Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, in communities like those of the member who asked the question, are not eligible for employment insurance or for programs that could be made available to help transition those people into meaningful work and to help those people subsist, pay for the food and the lodging that their families so desperately need while they are looking for work.

We, as the official opposition, will continue to fight for a better, more improved employment insurance system.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, not so many weeks ago, in the middle of the federal election campaign, I met a Newfoundland fisherman by the name of Paul Critch. Paul owns a 60-footer and she was tied up at Prosser's Rock boat basin on the south side of St. John's Harbour, the largest fishing port in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Paul is about my age, maybe a couple of years younger, in his early 40s. He is strong and he is capable. We do not see as many such men on the wharfs these days I am sad to report. Paul Critch is also a fifth generation fisherman. We stood there on the wharf on the edge of the North Atlantic Ocean, about as far away from Ottawa as one can get in this country, a place that many federal bureaucrats, even those with DFO, probably cannot even imagine. We had a conversation about the fishery and where the fishery was headed.

Paul said that he named his boat Chelsea and Emily after his two daughters. Upon the birth of his second daughter, Paul said that his father remarked, “Thank God it is not a boy. A grandson would have to go into the fishery, and who wants that?”.

This is what Newfoundland and Labrador has come to in terms of our once great fishery, the greatest fishery in the world on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, the fishery that we presented to Canada in 1949.

Sixty-two years later and our commercial groundfish fishery for species such as cod and flounder are on their knees. They have been managed to annihilation. History of the Newfoundland Cod Collapse is the title of a book that was released in 2010. As the title indicates, managed annihilation contends that northern cod were administered into virtual extinction. I give members three guesses as to who did the administering.

We are supposed to run out of oil. We are not supposed to run out of fish. We have hit rock bottom. The time to rebuild is now. Better late than never.

It has been 20 years since the northern cod moratorium and commercial fishing was stopped off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time in 500 years. It has been 20 years since the biggest layoff in Canadian history and what has been done? Nothing. Rebuilding is the furthest thing from the mind of the Conservative government. Rebuilding is a foreign concept.

I sat and listened to the Minister of Finance, the member for Whitby—Oshawa, Monday as he tabled his budget. I listened to every word. It is a wonderful thing to be able to hear a member of Parliament when he or she speaks.

I compliment the leader of the New Democrats, the leader of Her Majesty's official opposition, for his no heckling policy. Before this life, I worked as a journalist for almost 20 years. I have sat in the gallery of my home legislature and watched as politicians behaved like insolent children. It is not a pretty sight and it can be an embarrassing sight.

As I read this morning in the Ottawa Citizen:

We need passionate, even biting, debate in Parliament. What we don't need are childish insults and grandstanding.

Well done I say to the Leader of the Opposition and member for Toronto—Danforth.

I listened to the Minister of Finance when he spoke so proudly of the budget but I saw more of the same for my province. We have hit rock bottom but the Conservative government sees fit to pound us further into the ground. That will be enough of that.

Under program review, the Conservative government has seen fit to further cut the budget of Fisheries and Oceans Canada by almost $85 million. That will be $9.1 million gone this fiscal year, $18.9 million gone in 2012-13 and a further $56.8 million gone in 2013-14. That will be $84.8 million less for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to continue doing what little work it is doing today. On top of that, according to federal budget estimates, DFO's overall budget is almost $145 million less this fiscal year than last fiscal year, plus, as I have outlined, $87 million in savings targeted by the Conservative government in cuts to DFO.

To make matters worse, and, yes, they can still get worse, the Minister of Finance spoke in this chamber Monday about finding a further $4 billion in savings. Where is that $4 billion going to come from? From fisheries? As they say where I come from, “You can't get blood from a turnip”. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the fishermen of Newfoundland and Labrador have nothing left to give.

What I so dearly would have loved for the Minister of Finance to announce Monday was an inquiry into the fall of the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries. The fisheries fell almost 20 years ago and they have yet to rise. The question is, why? The call for an inquiry is supported by my party, the New Democratic Party. Where does the Conservative government stand on an inquiry into the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries?

John Crosbie once asked, “Who hears the fishes when they cry?” I can answer that: no one.

I have another question, a bigger one. Who hears the fishermen when they cry? The New Democrats hear the cry.

Do the Conservatives hear the fishermen when they cry, the few fishermen who are left?

I will continue to listen when members opposite take to their feet. The fishermen of Newfoundland and Labrador will be listening as well.

Maybe some day we will want our sons to be fishermen again and our sons will want to be fishermen.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, I welcome my colleague to the chamber. I have a question for him.

It is very difficult for our sons and daughters to be involved in the fishery these days. We are looking at a situation where most management decisions based on science are going to go through a pattern of quick decisions and last-minute decisions. The people who are serious about the fishery, not only in Newfoundland and Labrador but throughout the rest of the country, will be in a position where there is complete uncertainty, uncertainty for my riding and for his riding. Therefore, the government has to get serious about this. The cuts that the Conservatives talk about proves that this will be a bad situation that will become worse in the very near future.

My colleague has a point. Where is that $4 billion going to come from?

How badly will this impact the management decisions, particularly in science, in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, that is a very good question. Where is the $4 billion in cuts going to come from?

Until the Conservative government outlines where it plans on saving that $4 billion, the fishermen of Newfoundland and Labrador, the fishermen of eastern Canada, will all be on pins and needles, waiting for the axe to drop. That is not a way for fishermen to live.

We have a history in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery of 500 years. Now it is to the point where the sons of fishermen no longer want to do what their fathers did, no longer want to take to the sea.

We need an inquiry for a number of reasons.

We need to investigate science. Where does science stand within the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans?

We need to investigate management, in particular. The management of the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries has been a complete and utter failure. For proof, we need look no further than to the sea. There are few boats on the water and few fishermen on the sea.

We need to look into quotas. Who holds the rights to quotas of fish off the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador? Who is fishing the quotas? Are the boats that are fishing the quotas registered? If they are registered in Canada, who owns the vessels? Are they owned by Canadians?

We need to look into the marketing of the fish. Is the marketing being done by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, by Canadians, or is it being done by foreigners?

I ask these questions but I do not expect answers. I do not think the Conservative government knows them. For the questions that I have asked in the past, I have not been given answers. I have been told that the answers may impact negatively on international relations, not Newfoundland and Labrador relations but international relations.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member will have two minutes for questions and comments after question period.

Niagara Region Chief of PoliceStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to pay tribute to an outstanding constituent of Niagara West—Glanbrook, the Niagara Regional Police Service Chief of Police, Wendy Southall.

Chief Southall will be at Rideau Hall tomorrow to be invested into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces. Forty-three distinguished men and women from across Canada will be recognized tomorrow by Governor General David Johnston. Chief Southall will be one of only seven to be invested as an Officer of the Order.

Chief Southall began her policing career in 1970 in Toronto, joining Niagara Regional in 1982 and has risen through the ranks, performing with distinction in each of the many roles she has undertaken.

In her inaugural speech as chief of police in 2005, Wendy placed her number one priority on “keeping our streets safe in a cost effective manner with innovative changes”. She has always worked toward this goal and under her leadership the already low crime rate in the Niagara Region has been further reduced.

I thank Chief Wendy Southall for her service to our community and congratulate her on receiving this exceptional recognition.

Persons with DisabilitiesStatements by Members

June 7th, 2011 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault NDP Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, I wish to thank my leader and his team for their help and support, which have been so valuable, as well as the people of Montcalm for their support and their great vote of confidence. I can assure them that we will continue to work tirelessly to meet the needs of today's families.

I would especially like to share my election victory with all members of the Handami Association and all Canadians with disabilities. I fully intend to use this opportunity to increase awareness among the members of the House regarding the importance of social programs to combat isolation and to allow people with disabilities to play an active role in our society.

I truly hope that together we will find real solutions to improve the quality of life of all Canadians, including Canadians with disabilities.

Tobique—MactaquacStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, on May 2, the people of Tobique—Mactaquac did me the honour of electing me to represent them as their member of Parliament for the third time. I want to thank them for the confidence they have placed in me.

I want to express my appreciation to the many volunteers who worked hard for our team and the tremendous support from my family.

May was also bittersweet in that, on May 23, we said goodbye to our mother after a long battle with Alzheimer's. I remember back in 2003 when I first told mom I would be offering for political office, her immediately reply was that I was crazier than heck.

However, she stood by me and I know that the values she taught us, of hard work, honesty, integrity and commitment to family, friends and community, have played a major part in my success to date and the many positive relationships built in Tobique—Mactaquac since 2006.

Again, I thank the residents of Tobique—Mactaquac for their support, and I thank mom for all the special training she gave us growing up. There is a hole in our hearts with mom gone. We miss her and we love her.

Zero Force Cycling TeamStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Sunday three extraordinary young men set off on a 7,200 kilometre bike ride across Canada.

Drew Steeves, Mitch Torrens and Laurent Gazaille, the riders of the Zero Force Cycling Team, are graduates of John Abbott College in my riding of Lac-Saint-Louis. They will spend the summer biking from Vancouver to Halifax to raise awareness and funds for Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire's child soldier initiative.

This is a fine example of young people helping young people. The three cyclists and the volunteers travelling with them are almost all under 20. They decided to do something to help the 250,000 children around the world who are forced to live in unimaginable brutality.

I invite all hon. colleagues to join me in wishing the Zero Force Cycling Team a safe and successful journey across our great land. Please visit www.cyclingwithzeroforce.com to link up with the Zero Force riders and join in their mission to end the child soldier crisis, perhaps by arranging to greet and welcome them as they pass through the members' communities.