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House of Commons Hansard #23 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2008, the cost of Challenger jet flights taken by the Minister of National Defence represented 17% of the total for all departments. In 2009, it was 34%; in 2010, it was 60%, and in 2011, it was 32%.

Why did the Minister of National Defence travel so frequently on the Challenger when, I believe, other ministers such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Finance travel just as much?

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I can repeat my answer. This minister uses government aircraft 70% less than his predecessors. Half the time, he does so to attend repatriation ceremonies for soldiers who gave their lives for our country. That is why we have such great respect for the Minister of National Defence on this side of the House of Commons.

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, first we learned that the minister used a Cormorant helicopter as his personal taxi in Newfoundland. Now, we have learned that his Challenger flights cost the taxpayers $3 billion.

Will the minister stop wasting Canadians' money on luxuries? Will the Prime Minister take steps to address extravagant spending by his ministers?

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this minister uses the Challenger for government business, not personal business. Those are the facts. When this minister pays his respects to the families of our fallen soldiers I expect the official opposition to support us and the minister by showing respect for these families.

G8 SummitOral Questions

September 29th, 2011 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are now 112 days and counting and here is something new about the Muskoka boondoggle. When the mayor set out to buy steel for the hockey arena, even though it had not been approved by Parliament, the Muskoka minister did not tell him to wait. He wrote, “Hey, thanks for the update, Claude. Is it possible to go ahead with the purchase without making an official announcement? Otherwise I would be put in an uncomfortable position”.

It is not just uncomfortable, it is wrong. He cannot spend taxpayer dollars on the sly. If the minister disagrees with this assessment, then maybe he should stand and explain to Parliament why.

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there was so much enthusiasm about Canada's economic action plan, there was so much enthusiasm about infrastructure projects around the country that the mayor was prepared to put the steel on his own credit card because he was so excited to create jobs in that part of the country. That happened from coast to coast to coast, great partnerships with the provinces, with territories, with municipalities from every part of the country, all coming together to fight the recession.

For my friend from Timmins, the good news is that at the end of the day we saw more jobs, more hope and more opportunity.

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, Parliament was misled. This is a guy who was buying steel for a hockey arena with border infrastructure money that had not even been approved by Parliament. It is the minister's emails, his influence peddling and his misuse of taxpayers' dollars.

If this was good news, why did he tell the mayor to keep his mouth shut? This is about an abuse of public trust. It has been 112 days of this charade of hiding behind the foreign affairs minister. Will that member stand and come clean to the Canadian people?

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of muckraking that Canadians rejected in the last election campaign. This is just same old, same old.

The Canadian people want us to focus on jobs and the economy. They want us to focus on economic growth. They want us to focus on ensuring there are more opportunities for their children and grandchildren. That is what this government is doing. That is the leadership that the Minister of Finance has provided. That is why he was named the best finance minister in the world last year.

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, the NDP revealed new information about the unsavoury activities of the President of the Treasury Board and his slush fund. He siphoned off $17 million to build an Olympic-sized arena in Huntsville. His constituency office distributed taxpayer money for secret projects. He even managed to find a job for a friend. What an obliging minister. Meanwhile, the Ontario Provincial Police is investigating the Gravenhurst project, a project in which he was also involved.

Will the minister finally answer questions about his management of public money in his riding?

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the project the member opposite refers to in Gravenhurst has nothing to do with the G8 legacy fund. I would challenge the member opposite, if he wants to accuse any member of this place of anything unethical, to have the courage and the guts to go outside and repeat those scurrilous allegations.

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was expecting the same from the President of the Treasury Board. He should have the courage to rise in the House and answer our questions.

I think that I expressed myself clearly and in proper French. The question had to do with the management of funds in the riding of the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka and not the management of the funds at the Department of Foreign Affairs, unless we have reason to look into the situation there as well.

The NDP revealed new information this week. Can the government at least change its tape and respond to the new discoveries we have revealed?

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has just revealed the same old, same old. If the member opposite would like to make any allegations of anything untoward, he should have the courage to do it outside this place.

The bottom line is that I approved 32 projects under this fund. All 32 projects were for public infrastructure. They all came in on or under budget. Every dollar has been accounted for. The good news is a lot of jobs and a lot of hope and opportunity were created with those infrastructure projects.

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a single mother, I have very busy days. Between helping my son with his homework, making meals, rushing to drop him off at school, going to the office and returning to pick him up on time, the last thing I want is to hear about the mismanagement of public funds at the G8 summit.

The minister will not answer questions and refuses to take responsibility. Is that really the example we want to set for our children?

G8 SummitOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this issue has been thoroughly aired before, during and after the last election campaign. The Auditor General has come forward with some positive observations on how the government could do an even better job at being more open and transparent. The government has accepted all those recommendations and will continue to work constructively with the Auditor General to constantly raise the bar to do an even better job for hard-working taxpayers.

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

When there are continuing efforts to curtail Canada's judiciary, the Conservatives may have gone too far. At the ethics committee on Tuesday, the member for Peterborough and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister said, in reference to federal court Judge Boivin, “This specific judge has looked at all the evidence before him, and he has rendered a decision. I think it's important that the committee hears about that decision and why he came to it”.

That is how the member justifies calling a judge before a committee, breaking a long-standing practice and principle of judiciary autonomy. Would the Prime Minister care to comment?

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the efforts of the member for Peterborough are to follow through on his commitment to his constituents and our government's commitment to Canadians, which is to ensure that there is transparency in the way the taxpayer dollars are being spent by the CBC. That is what the effort is at the committee. Members of the committee are free to invite whomever they want at committee, and the committee is free to accept the testimony or not.

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is flouting the separation of powers, a fundamental principle of good governance. In 1989, the Supreme Court of Canada said that federal judges have the right to refuse to explain their decisions to legislators. Ed Ratushny, an expert in constitutional law, says that he cannot even comprehend how the Conservatives could imagine forcing a judge to appear before a committee.

Does the Prime Minister support his parliamentary secretary's affront to our democracy and to judicial autonomy?

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, our government supports the efforts of the member for Peterborough to ensure that the CBC is transparent and accountable for the money it spends and that its books are open in order to be sure that it can find the necessary savings to balance its budget as quickly as possible.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is outrageous that the Minister of the Environment is attacking scientists by launching an international witch hunt to track down the whistleblower who revealed the government's cuts to the ozone monitoring network. We think Canada would be better served by his trying to prevent cuts to this fundamental program.

Why will the government not just admit that it is drastically weakening the ability of Environment Canada to do its job?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I absolutely reject the assumptions of my colleague's question. She is doing her research in the media. I have talked to my deputy minister, and he has assured me that the story is a complete mischaracterization of his conversation.

Canada continues to monitor ozone in its various forms. We have an important role to ensure that our research-based approach toward ozone monitoring contributes to the world's understanding of this critical fact.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government is preventing Environment Canada from protecting Canadians from climate change and pollution. This year, the budget was cut by 59%. The report from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy is a warning about the disastrous consequences this government's out-of-touch policies will have on our economy.

If the minister refuses to act to save the environment, will he at least act to save the economy?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

First, Mr. Speaker, I know the NDP has trouble following the budget process and I would ask my colleague to wait for the supplementary estimates, which are due next month.

With regard to the report that she refers to, my colleague knows well that our government has a plan, a very good plan, to meet our target of reducing greenhouse gases by 17% from 2005 base levels by 2020.

We are moving forward to reduce greenhouse gases and, at the same time, we are investing in programs to help Canadians adapt to climate change.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about the facts. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy just reported that without immediate government action, climate change could cost Canada $5 billion a year by 2020. By 2050, the government inaction could cost Canadians up to $43 billion a year. Our coastal communities, our forestry industry and the health of Canadians will all suffer unless we take action right now. Yet this out-of-touch government has produced no plan to deal with the impact of climate change on Canadians.

Where is the plan?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that my colleague is so surprised by these projections and these numbers. Today's report merely echoes what our government has long recognized, and that is the importance of adaptation to climate change.

Budget 2011, most recently, for example, included a $58 million investment to continue to support federal programs aimed at helping Canadians adapt to climate change.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I guess it is time to learn to swim.

It is sad to see how ridiculous the situation at Environment Canada is becoming. The deputy minister will go to any lengths to discover which scientists disclosed the planned cuts to the ozone monitoring program. It is a witch hunt.

Why is this government putting scientists under the microscope instead of encouraging their vital work?