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House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sentences.

Topics

The EconomyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, excuse me for confusing sound economic policy with anything the NDP puts forward. That is not exactly the case. In fact, as the Prime Minister has just said, unemployment rates are still too high, but they are 1% below the United States. We put money into this economy to create jobs and that is what is important to Canadians. We continue on job creation and the economy. That is our main focus to ensure that as many Canadians who want to work can have a job.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have both said that if circumstances seem to change from where they were at the time of the budget, they will show flexibility, they will show a willingness to re-engage on job creation and to re-engage on what needs to happen in the economy.

Could the Prime Minister tell me just exactly what it will take to convince the government that in fact circumstances are changing and that now is the time to react to the circumstances about which he has talked?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government is not only engaged in the economy, it is our principal priority. That is why Canada has one of the best job creation records in the industrialized world.

Obviously we are concerned about developments and we always look for useful ideas from everyone in terms of how to move our economy forward. I would encourage the leader of the Liberal Party to suggest some of those ideas. After all, the Liberals just ran an election campaign without a single important thing in terms of an economic platform.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we will make a very specific suggestion: that, in the North American security perimeter negotiations, the government promote Canadian interests and seek assurances that the “Buy American” initiative will not discriminate against Canadian companies. It will result in job losses and be very detrimental to the Canadian economy.

What is the Prime Minister going to do to ensure that Canadian interests are protected?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, negotiations about the perimeter are negotiations about our access to the American economy. It is the same thing that the Liberal Party leader is asking for. I urge the Liberal Party to support this very important initiative to guarantee that we have access to the American market.

National DefenceOral Questions

September 22nd, 2011 / 11:25 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, we now know, with great regret, that the Minister of National Defence ordered his search and rescue helicopter to pick him up from his vacation on the Gander River. The response, “It was a demonstration of their capabilities”. Even the Conservatives are laughing at that one.

He feels that he is entitled to use vital life-saving equipment for his own personal limousine, and we would like for him to answer to it.

The Prime Minister has suggested that the Chief of the Defence Staff pay back the money for his personal flights. Will the Minister of National Defence do the same, pay back the $16,000 and apologize?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the question from the hon. member, I was in fact in Gander in July of 2010, on a personal visit with friends for which I paid. Three days into the visit I participated in a search and rescue demonstration with 103 Squadron of 9 Wing Gander. I shortened my stay by a day to take part in that demonstration and later flew on to do government business in Ontario.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, we are all shocked to learn that the Minister of National Defence sees his country's military equipment as his own personal chauffeur service.

The government is paying consultants to tell it how to save money, but the Minister of National Defence used a helicopter, which should be on standby for search and rescue, to pick him up from a personal fishing trip. This helicopter was ordered on the day by his office in Ottawa.

How can the minister possibly justify such an inappropriate use of public funds?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I think I just explained that I shortened a personal visit to take part in a search and rescue demonstration in Gander.

Had any emergency requirement arisen that would have required search and rescue assets, they would have of course been immediately diverted.

As the member would know, having participated in the parliamentary program with the Canadian Forces, members of Parliament, in fact 20 including himself, took part in search and rescue activities in the past.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, being picked up at a cost of $16,000 from a fishing camp is not the way to learn how search and rescue helicopters operate.

Average Canadians are being told to tighten their belts, but when it comes to the minister and his department's use of military aircraft, money is apparently no object.

How can we count on this minister to provide leadership on this issue when he himself treats a search and rescue helicopter as private transportation?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the work of the Canadian Forces, particularly those who take part in search and rescue.

Canada has a rescue area of responsibility of over 18 million square kilometres of land and sea, the size of continental Europe. Our Canadian Forces and Coast Guard partners respond to more than 8,000 incidents every year, tasking military aircraft for over 1,100 cases, and in fact save on average 1,200 lives each and every year.

I think that as Minister of National Defence I should familiarize myself at every opportunity with the important work of those who perform these daily heroics.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, this Conservative government is planning to make cuts to the Department of National Defence, but it is clear that those at the top will not be affected. While the minister and his staff are gallivanting around the country at taxpayers' expense, departmental staff are being shown the door.

Can the minister tell the House that it will not just be employees who have to tighten their belts?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said, I am very proud of the work of the Canadian Forces. I have observed the work they do in Operation Nanook in the Arctic. I have observed search and rescue activities. I have observed live fire operations, as have members of the opposition who take part in the parliamentary Canadian Forces program.

I can confirm that all government departments are looking at their departments for efficiencies, as Canadians would expect them to do, as Canadians and businesses themselves are doing.

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have some advice for the government on how to save money, and I will not be charging $90,000 a day. It should start by reducing the spending of its own ministers. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom takes commercial flights when visiting other leaders, as he did recently to visit President Obama.

Why do our ministers not walk the talk by cutting their wasteful and extravagant spending, such as the Minister of National Defence's use of a search and rescue helicopter for personal travel?

National DefenceOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary program put on by the Canadian Forces every year has the enthusiastic participation of members of Parliament, including members of the opposition.

I note that the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue took part this year in the program that was put on by the air force. I suspect she may have availed herself of a Canadian Forces asset at that time.

This is a great opportunity for members of Parliament to see first-hand the important, critical, life-saving work that the men and women in uniform perform each and every day on behalf of our country.

G8 SummitOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the Muskoka minister was able to divert $50 million in border infrastructure to be spent on dubious spending in his riding certainly gave him enormous political clout in the region. It may have even helped secure an election, which would be why he was setting up his meetings in the middle of the campaign.

Will the minister confirm to this House whether or not he used his new-found power and clout to offer anyone a job related to the G8?

G8 SummitOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, that is incorrect. As I have said in the past in this House, the facts have not changed. The minister said that the infrastructure money and all the money was spent wisely, and under budget for the people of that riding. It was money very well spent and that is good news in that region.

G8 SummitOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the song and dance, but this is not a foreign affairs intervention. This is a question regarding the credibility of a minister.

I would like to ask the minister, when he was the minister of health he sent an email to a friend who asked if he would like to be retained by the town. The minister then contacted the mayor who said he would get on it right away. The Muskoka member replied “good stuff”.

Will the minister stand in the House and tell us whether or not he thinks this kind of pork barrel, backroom politics is an ethical way to run government?

G8 SummitOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do not understand why the opposition will not listen to the good news that was coming out from there. The whole project came in under $5 million. That is quite substantial. It was done. The Auditor General has looked at it and given a recommendation. Let us move on. It was a good project, let us move on.

Government SpendingOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives thought that it was a good idea to offer $90,000 a day on a silver platter to a consulting firm with annual revenues of over $3 billion. Let us be clear: this $20 million of public money that is going into the pockets of Deloitte is equivalent to the operating budget of the Club des petits déjeuners du Québec for two years.

Do the Conservatives at least realize how out of touch they are with the priorities and needs of the people?

Government SpendingOral Questions

11:35 a.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, private sector advice is a key part of our plan to ensure that Canada does not experience the economic and financial problems that other countries in the world are experiencing.

It is important to seek advice, not only from the public service but also from private sector experts. We are proud of that. We are proud of the fact that this government focuses on the real issues: jobs for Canadians, economic recovery. That is what we focus on and that is what the opposition should focus on as well.

Government SpendingOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the Conservatives' enlightening explanations, we have learned that for every $1 spent on consulting, we expect to save $200. The way they see it, the more we spend, the more we save. That is not really a logic that I would suggest to Canadian families right now. The reality is that with this amount of money, we could create 450 good jobs that would guarantee good public services.

Today we learned that at Public Works and Government Services Canada alone, consulting fees have doubled and have reached $1.8 billion.

Has the government lost all control over public spending?

Government SpendingOral Questions

11:35 a.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, as the Minister of Finance said yesterday, for every $1 of spending on outside experts, we expect $200 of savings.

It is important that we get that outside advice. It is important that we focus on finding savings, so that we can still be an economy and country that other countries look to for leadership. Our Prime Minister provides leadership not only to this country but worldwide economic leadership and that is because we keep our eye on the ball, unlike the opposition.

Government SpendingOral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, $90,000 a day for consultants. The citizens of Toronto have seen this movie before and they know what happens when private consultants are hired to find cuts. Toronto paid millions for its consultant report and now arts, recreation centres, child care, transit, even public health are on the chopping block.

We know that members of the government, including the Prime Minister, are good buddies with Toronto's slash and burn mayor. The question is, what kind of essential services are on the chopping block for the government?

Government SpendingOral Questions

11:35 a.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, we have a strong mandate from the people of Canada. They want a government to spend within its means. They want to make sure that essential, good services delivered by the Government of Canada continue to be delivered in an efficient and effective manner. That is our mandate from the people of Canada.

We do not want to raise taxes. We do not want to have the kind of spending programs that the opposition members have. We want to deliver high quality services to Canadians and spend within our means. That is our mandate.