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House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Auditor General's ReportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was the interim Auditor General himself who explained that the Conservative government kept Parliament completely in the dark and that the Conservatives misled Parliament not once but twice. The government approved millions of dollars in funding for border infrastructure but this funding was diverted to boondoggle projects hundreds of kilometres from the nearest border.

We want a clear answer to just one example. What does the restoration of a steamboat in the minister's riding have to do with the G8 summit or border infrastructure?

Auditor General's ReportOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that program was announced publicly. The projects were published. In fact, we held debates on this issue several times here in the House of Commons. That being said, the Auditor General recommended changes to the estimates process to improve transparency, and the government will accept those recommendations.

Treasury BoardOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General revealed today that Treasury Board allowed the former minister of industry to set up a $47 million slush fund for pork barrel projects in his riding. Here is how it went down: there was the minister, there was a mayor and there was a hotel manager who dished out the loot. There was no oversight, no documentation and no questions asked. This is just one step up from cash in a brown paper bag.

Is this how the minister will plan to run the Treasury Board?

Treasury BoardOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, so much for the civility that the Leader of the Opposition promised Canadians.

At the outset, I want to thank the outgoing Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, not just for this audit but for her outstanding years of public service to Canadians.

I completely reject the premise of the question by the member opposite. The decisions for the funding of these 32 public infrastructure projects were made by me in my time as minister of infrastructure, not by the current president of the Treasury Board.

Treasury BoardOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing civil about the abuse of taxpayers' trust. The Conservatives misled Parliament. They told us that they were requesting money for border infrastructure and they fuddled it off for pork-barrel projects, such as gazebos, steamboats and everything else the minister could think of. This is the kind of rum bottle, pork barrel politics that Canadians are fed up with.

Will the minister apologize to the taxpayers for this abuse of our public trust?

Treasury BoardOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Timmins—James Bay is making it up as he goes along. In fact, not one of the 32 projects was a steamship.

Border Infrastructure FundOral Questions

June 9th, 2011 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. He cannot get around the fact that, in November 2009, the supplementary estimates tabled in Parliament included a request for approval to spend $83 million for an item entitled, “border Infrastructure fund related to investments in infrastructure to reduce border congestion”.

The simple fact is that the government used that money for a completely different purpose. Huntsville is 300 miles away from the closest border in Niagara Falls. How does he explain this bait and switch?

Border Infrastructure FundOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the Liberal Party had looked at the border fund he would have realized that it is frequently used for projects that are not in border communities.

In any case, this program was announced publicly by the government. It was well-known by Parliament. In fact, it was debated several times here in the House of Commons.

The Auditor General, like the leader of the Liberal Party, has made observations on the transparency of the estimates process. There are some improvements that could be made there and we will accept those recommendations.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General also commented on an issue of importance to Canadians, namely the condition of aboriginal communities on reserves. I have a simple question for the Prime Minister.

Is he prepared to show some humility on this issue by acknowledging that his government completely and unilaterally cancelled the Kelowna accord, which would have had a positive impact on the conditions noted by the Auditor General today? Will he—

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Prime Minister.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party should show some humility on this because it did nothing during 13 years in government. Our government has worked with the aboriginal communities. We have made significant investments to improve conditions on the reserves. A lot of work still needs to be done and I hope during this Parliament we will have the support of the Liberal Party to make these significant investments in these communities.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the lack of transparency continues. My colleague from Markham—Unionville has just received a message from the immigration department in Toronto, which reads:

As we are not currently processing any parental sponsorships at this time...this case will be finalized once we get the go-ahead from Management to start working on parental sponsorships again.

If the government is not processing sponsorships for parents coming in from other countries, why does it not have the human decency to tell Canadians and applicants that is what it is doing, instead of this subterfuge it is putting forward?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the leader of the Liberal Party that he is wrong. Through our government plans, we have actually increased the number of newcomers through family reunification this year. We have increased it over the last number of years.

He and his party have their facts incorrect. When it comes to family reunification, it is this government, this party, that is on the right track.

G20 SummitOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the G20 was announced for downtown Toronto with just four months warning. Toronto businesses were given little notice and almost no information. Toronto shop owners lost millions from the G20 but the government dragged its heels on compensation and then wrapped the process in red tape. A year later, they are still waiting.

When will Toronto businesses be fully and properly compensated for damages and lost revenue from the G20 calamity?

G20 SummitOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, let me take this occasion to congratulate my friend, the member for Parkdale—High Park, on a very impressive win. We are very pleased to see her back in Parliament. No one in this place is happier than I am.

The government has a standard plan to provide assistance to those people who suffered damages through no fault of their own. With respect to the city of Toronto and the G20, that applies. I would be very pleased to work with her to expedite the consideration and finalization of any of these initiatives.

G20 SummitOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it came to spending $14,000 for glow sticks, Conservatives said, “full steam ahead”; $300,000 on bug spray, a green light, but for close to $50 million, what did Toronto get? Broken glass, a fake lake and the biggest mass arrest in Canadian history.

The message is clear. Toronto is at the bottom of the government's priority list. Again, why is the government refusing to fairly compensate Toronto's small businesses?

G20 SummitOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, let me first congratulate the member opposite on his election to Parliament. We are certainly very committed to work with members opposite and small business people in the city of Toronto to ensure that all compensation that is fair and reasonable and meets the guidelines that the department has in place is paid in as expeditious way as possible.

With respect to the budget, we had men and women of the Canadian Forces, who were out in Muskoka on evenings where there was a considerable amount of potential harm, and that is where that expenditure came down.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, today the Auditor General reported on the abject failure over the past decade by the current and former federal governments to address 15 of her most critical recommendations for first nations. In fact, today's audit reveals worsening conditions for first nation reserve housing, schools and drinking water, a disparity, in the words of Sheila Fraser, unacceptable in a country as rich as Canada.

Will the government today commit to expedited action on the needed laws, measures and dollars to right these wrongs?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeMinister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the government always takes the Auditor General's advice very seriously. The Auditor General's report focuses on what has already happened. We are looking to the future, developing partnerships with aboriginal people across Canada. We have made progress and we are achieving concrete results.

We recognize that more needs to be done. We are in a new phase. This morning the National Chief and I announced a joint action plan on priority areas: education, good governance, economic development, negotiation and implementation.

We have a plan. We work in collaboration and we are results-oriented.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General explained today in her report that the state of the first nations reserves is at a point of no return.

If a reserve has a serious mould problem threatening the health of the community, what does the government do? It sends a pamphlet. Such absurdity has been going on for eight years.

The Auditor General is asking that these problems be addressed through sweeping changes.

What can the government tell us about its plan to resolve these structural problems on the reserves?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeMinister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, as I explained previously, we have announced a joint action plan with the national chief this morning.

We are moving from reconciliation, where we have made major progress, into a prosperity agenda. We have agreed on joint priority areas and we will work in collaboration with willing partners because we take the business of getting results very seriously.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives talk tough, today's AG report reveals that the RCMP is crippled by underfunding and it does not have enough resources to fight organized crime.

Communities across Canada, both urban and rural, are struggling against organized crime and gang violence. I have seen it in my own community. The RCMP is supposed to be there to protect Canadians and stop these criminals.

Could the minister explain how underfunding the RCMP is making communities across Canada a safer place for families?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the NDP members have an interest in criminal issues. It remains to be seen whether they will support some of our initiatives that we need to proceed with in order to make streets safe, including the member's riding.

I read with interest the Auditor General's comments regarding national police services and we fully accept recommendations made by her in the report. I have asked the RCMP to put together a management action plan to address the recommendations made by the Auditor General.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have forgotten about my former colleagues in the Canadian armed forces reserve. Nearly 10 years after the government began implementing a plan for buying back pensions, the plan is only 4% complete. Reservists will have to wait up to seven years to get information about their pension.

What is more, the defence department tried to fix the situation, but it still became worse.

Will the government recognize that it failed on this issue and fix the problem once and for all?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our reservists are a key part of our Canadian Forces. And not just the forces' past, but also their present and their future: 20% of our forces deployed in Afghanistan are reservists. Our government was proud to be the first in 40 years to implement a new pension plan for reservists in 2007.