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House of Commons Hansard #78 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was balance.

Topics

International TradeOral Questions

February 10th, 2012 / 11:20 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, we see that the government is unable to protect the trade interests of Canadians. This week, the Prime Minister was in China to sign trade agreements and thus establish the legal framework for trade with that country. However, we do not know whether Chinese companies, if they see fit to do so, will be able to sue the Canadian government. This happened with AbitibiBowater. If it happens with the Chinese, Canadians will be stuck with the bill again.

Will the government put its cards on the table and confirm whether or not, under these agreements, Chinese companies will be able to sue the Government of Canada?

International TradeOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the reality is we have signed a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with China which will protect Canadian companies in China. We will continue to expand our trading relationship in China for the benefit of Canadian jobs here at home.

Human RightsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems that the Prime Minister has far more to say about foreign radicals than he has anything to say about human rights in China. In fact, I commend his speech writers. It must have been a challenge to make sure that he avoided saying anything meaningful at all on the subject last night.

Canadians expect better. Why has the government walked away from human rights in China?

Human RightsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, human rights is the cornerstone of this government's foreign policy.

Our government has had constructive discussions with China on a full range of human rights issues. We have also highlighted the priority Canadians place on religious freedom and the freedom of expression.

Our government will continue to take a principled approach on foreign policy and promote Canadian values around the world.

PensionsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, at election time, the Prime Minister promised not to cut seniors' benefits and not to raise the OAS age. Now he is preparing to break that promise.

It is bad enough that the Prime Minister is prepared to hurt low income seniors by raising the OAS age, but why did he not tell them the truth about his plan during the election?

Why is the Prime Minister breaking his word to Canadians and to Canadian seniors?

PensionsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, he is doing no such thing. As I said, he is ensuring that all those who are collecting old age security today will continue to collect old age security. The gentleman over there never seems to listen to that. For those who will be approaching retirement, it will be the same thing. Also, those generations to come will also be able to achieve old age security by ensuring its sustainability. That is what we are doing.

The real question is, why do the Liberals always oppose measures that we take to assist seniors? We increased the age credit. They opposed it. We increased the age exemption. They opposed it. We introduced pension income splitting. They opposed that. Why do they oppose helping seniors?

PensionsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, it was the Liberal Party that strengthened CPP for a generation. It was the Conservatives who opposed that.

The reality is that the future of the old age security program is secure. We now have the Chief Actuary, the PBO and the government's own study saying that the system is sustainable.

The fact is that more than half of the seniors on OAS make less than $25,000 per year. When Canadians are worried about the growing gap between rich and poor, why are the Conservatives faking a crisis in order to attack Canada's poor seniors?

PensionsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it was not too long ago a Liberal prime minister was saying that it was necessary for changes to be made to take account of demographic realities. That is exactly what we are doing, something that the Liberal Party never did.

What did the Liberals do? They voted against pension income splitting, something which helps a tremendous number of seniors. Where one member of the family was an income earner and the other spouse was not, pension income splitting has given them a measure of fairness, a measure of increased benefits, increased security financially in the long term. That is something the Liberal Party voted against.

The hypocrisy of consistently opposing benefits for seniors and now pretending to be on their side is unbelievable.

PensionsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the former Liberal government did, with Conservative opposition, was to fix the Canada pension plan to make it sustainable for at least 75 years. That is what we did.

The Prime Minister once said that seniors should ask themselves which party they could trust to look after them. It is sad to see that it took the Prime Minister six years to prove to Canadians that it is not his party.

How can Canadians who are about to retire believe the promises made by this government?

PensionsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we are making sure that the old age security program is available now and also in the future. As it currently exists, the program is not sustainable in the long term. We will ensure that there will be a program for Canadians in the future.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, a study has shown that emissions from the production of shale gas are twice as great as the industry claims. The effects are comparable to coal production, not to mention the serious risks of water pollution and earthquakes. It is not surprising that people are concerned.

The Conservatives are watching the industry inject chemicals into the soil without sharing the environmental studies. When will adequate regulations be put in place for the shale gas industry?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleague opposite that shale gas development as well as natural resource development are primarily issues of provincial concern and provincial jurisdiction.

I would also like to encourage her to take a look at what some of the industry is doing. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers recently announced voluntary disclosure of fracking fluids. This is a very positive development.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to hear about what industry is doing. I want to hear about what the government is doing, which is nothing. Let us try another question.

On December 6, the government authorized the Minister of Foreign Affairs to denounce the Kyoto protocol on behalf of Canada. The trouble is that the Minister of the Environment on that same day was in Durban supposedly negotiating an extension to Kyoto. This is bad faith negotiating at its best, or perhaps its worst, depending on how one looks at it.

How can the government expect Canada to have any credibility when it is cutting off international negotiations at the knees?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how my colleague opposite and her party can have any credibility when they consistently work against Canadian jobs in our energy sector.

With regard to the Kyoto protocol, our government has been very clear in saying that in order to see real reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, we need a new international agreement, which includes all major emitters, including those that were not included under the Kyoto protocol. This is what we are striving for. We are continuing the good work that we saw in Copenhagen, in Cancun, and now in Durban.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, so international talks are bad and foreign funding apparently is also bad because yesterday at the natural resources committee the member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca proposed banning foreign funding for so-called radical environmentalists.

The government has attacked everything good, holy and decent about protecting our coasts from oil spills. It even suggested that first nations chiefs are taking payoffs for opposing the northern gateway pipeline.

I have a simple question for the government. Does it agree with its committee member, yes or no?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, he said no such thing yesterday. Actually, there have been great discussions and great information brought forward in committee. What that confirms, even from the NDP witnesses, is that this government is on track.

We have adequate refinery resources across this country. We have heard that we need more pipelines. Even the NDP witnesses have come forward and concluded that we need a better energy structure in this country; we need pipelines.

I wonder why the NDP will not get onside with its own supporters.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, now I understand. Foreign funding from the Conservatives' friends is good for Canada, but foreign funding for their critics is bad for Canada, and radical.

We still do not have any explanation for the member's insult against first nations chiefs. The member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca did say that he had no evidence the chiefs are taking money, yet he said, “It wouldn't surprise me if they were”.

Why is the government throwing out offensive accusations instead of trying to work with first nations chiefs? Is this the Conservatives' new strategy for relationship building with first nations?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, we work with groups all across this country. We work with first nations. We work with the provinces.

I have to say that there is a radical group that wants to stop development of all our hydrocarbons. There is a radical group that wants to destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs across this country because of its ideological bent. There is a radical group that wants to destroy billions of dollars of economic development in this country. That group is called the NDP.

Campaign AdvertisingOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is unbelievable what you can hear in the House. This is now comedy hour on Canadian television.

The Conservatives, like the Liberals before them, think that they are above all the rules and like to say one thing and do the opposite. An evangelical website that was encouraging people to vote for Conservative members was clearly used for partisan purposes during the last election. I am convinced that the Conservatives will applaud this fact but, following an investigation, the Chief Electoral Officer confirmed that this constituted campaign advertising, and was illegal.

Does the minister intend to review the definition of “campaign advertising via the Internet”?

Campaign AdvertisingOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the laws and regulations are clear. This is a question for the Chief Electoral Officer.

Campaign AdvertisingOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Ouch, Mr. Speaker. The government is really taking Canadians for fools. That response is not satisfactory to anyone. The website in question opposes gay marriage and abortion. It encourages people to vote Conservative. A site disguised as campaign advertising is a way of misleading people. Elections Canada saw many sites like this during the last election, and those responsible for them are not always based in Canada.

Can the government explain why it is fighting against foreign radicals when it comes to environmental issues but not when it comes to those who are against abortion and gay marriage and who provide free advertising for this government?

Campaign AdvertisingOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, one of our greatest values in this country is freedom of speech. That is something we encourage in this country.

When we talk about questions like elections advertising and spending, there are very clear rules that are set out in the Canada Elections Act. It is up to Elections Canada to administer and prosecute if it sees the need for prosecution. As members know, it is an independent, arm's-length organization. I think the record on that is quite clear. Elections Canada does not follow the direction of the government. It follows its own direction. I am sure it will in this case as well.

PensionsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the government is refusing to disclose its intentions with respect to the old age security program. Canadians have clearly had enough of this utter lack of transparency. That is why, yesterday, in several provinces, people besieged Conservative MPs' offices to find out more about their plans. The Parliamentary Budget Officer and many experts have made it clear that the program has long-term viability. Now Canadians are telling the government not to touch old age security.

I will ask the question again; perhaps you have heard it. Will the government—

PensionsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

PensionsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know why the NDP does not want to support seniors. Why does it not want to ensure that both today's seniors and tomorrow's have access to an old age security program? We want the system to last. That is why we have to make changes to protect this generation of seniors and future generations.