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House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Status of WomenOral Questions

March 7th, 2012 / 3 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are concerned of media reports that the Ulema Council of 150 leading Muslim clerics in Afghanistan have written a code of conduct that may restrict the rights of women in that country.

Would the Minister for Status of Women please inform this House on our government's position with regard to those reports?

Status of WomenOral Questions

3 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, our government is very concerned by such reports. Afghanistan must uphold the provisions of Afghanistan's constitution, which clearly establishes equal rights between men and women, and respect its obligation under international law.

On the eve of International Women's Day, all of us in this House condemn this potential reversal of Afghan women's rights.

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, The Globe and Mail calls for an end to muzzling scientists.

BBC News has let the world know that Canadian government scientists do not have free speech.

The prestigious international journal Nature states that “it is time for the Canadian government to set its scientists free”.

What is more harmful to Canada, hurting our international reputation like this or letting a reporter pick up the phone and talk to a scientist about salmon or the last ice age?

Science and TechnologyOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, Canadians can be proud of the scientists who work at Environment Canada and departments across our government and the work that they present in journals and studies and in the media at large.

The reputation of Nature, as a pre-eminent scientific journal, is regularly enhanced by the fine work of our scientists carried in its pages.

Manufacturing SectorOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are repeat offenders. Once again, they are doing business with a Chinese company instead of giving contracts to Canadian businesses. The first contract was for maple leaf pins; this one is for Diamond Jubilee pins. Made in China. Really?

They had a golden opportunity to help a troubled economic sector, but they did not. Last year, 10,000 jobs were eliminated in Quebec's manufacturing sector. In the past 10 years, 150,000 jobs have been lost. Why not give a contract to a—

Manufacturing SectorOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Manufacturing SectorOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, the government does billions of dollars worth of business with small and medium-sized enterprises across Canada. In fact, we have reached a 40% target. We are doing business with literally thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises across this country, including in Quebec. Those are generating jobs and growth throughout the economy.

Air CanadaOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the union representing Air Canada baggage handlers and machinists, IAMAW, served a 72 hour notice to strike to Air Canada. The strike could take place at 12:01 a.m. on Monday morning, March 12.

Air Canada plays such a vital role in the Canadian economy. Over 1 million passengers could be affected by a work stoppage over the March break. Would the Minister of Labour please give the House an update on the status of labour negotiations at Air Canada?

Air CanadaOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Don Valley West for his timely question. Nobody from the other side of the House has taken the initiative to ask me the same question today when something so important that can have an effect on the economy and on Canadian families is facing us.

I can tell members our government is very concerned about the matter. This is a high-peak travel time, especially for hard-working Canadian families during the March break. However, we do encourage both parties to step back from the breach, go back to the table, find their way around a work stoppage and restore confidence of the travelling public.

SportsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are learning more about the dangers of concussions. However, all the government has managed to do is throw millions at a mobile app that already exists. Yesterday, the Government of Ontario introduced a concussion strategy. British Columbia thinks it is important, too. So does Nova Scotia.

It has been one year since I introduced a comprehensive plan. When will the Conservatives get in the game and help prevent devastating injuries?

SportsOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bramalea—Gore—Malton Ontario

Conservative

Bal Gosal ConservativeMinister of State (Sport)

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to keeping our kids and athletes safe. Our government will continue to promote safe sport involvement for all participants.

Recently, I was pleased to announce funding that will help reduce concussions and brain injuries and improve return-to-play decision making for children and youth playing team sports.

41st General ElectionOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of the robocall scandal, the Conservatives denied their involvement with their hands on their hearts, yet they did not condemn this serious breach of democracy. Then, when new information was revealed in this regard, they claimed that it was an isolated incident and dismissed a young man, just 23 years old. Since then, the Conservatives have been launching unfounded attacks on everything that moves and are refusing to grant the Chief Electoral Officer greater power to conduct audits.

In light of the over 31,000 complaints, the petition signed by 41,000 people and the demonstrations that are being held across the country, does the Prime Minister not think it is time to call for an independent public inquiry, as the Bloc Québécois has been requesting since February 27?

41st General ElectionOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, these false allegations are an insult to the millions of people who voted in a legitimate and democratic manner during the last election. The opposition paid millions of dollars to make hundreds of thousands of phone calls to voters during the election. It is up to them to explain what happened with these calls. If not, they will have to provide evidence to support their false allegations.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister is rising on a point of order.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, during a question, the member for Timmins—James Bay used the term “exaggerated prevarications”. I believe that term is unparliamentary and I would ask that he withdraw that remark.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will take a look at the blues and come back to the House. The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay is responding.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the word “prevaricate” means to delay and to deny. I think it is a fairly common expression that would actually indicate what has been happening under the government. When we have asked straightforward questions, we have seen an exaggerated element of prevarication. I have a dictionary. I will photocopy the page and give it to the hon. member. It will help him.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would appreciate a copy of the definition myself so I can make a determination.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, two reports.

The first is a report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, respecting its participation at the meeting of the Standing Committee of Secretaries of Delegation, held in Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal from April 1 to 2 in 2011.

The other is a report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, respecting its participation in the Visit of the Science and Technology Committee, held in Berlin and Munich, Germany from May 9 to 13, 2011.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the following reports of the Canadian Delegation of the Canada–United States Interparliamentary Group respecting its participation in the following meetings: the 65th annual meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference, held in Memphis, Tennessee, July 16 to 20, 2011; the Council of State Governments-WEST 64th annual meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 30 to August 2, 2011; the 2011 Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures, held in San Antonio, Texas, August 8 to 11, 2011; the Canada–American Border Trade Alliance Conference, held in Washington, D.C., October 2 to 4, 2011; and the National Conference of the Council of State Governments, held in Bellevue, Washington, October 19 to 23, 2011.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill C-25, An Act relating to pooled registered pension plans and making related amendments to other Acts.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendments.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, entitled Supplementary Estimates (C) 2011-2012.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, entitled Main Estimates 2012-2013.

Veterans AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Kerr Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, in relation to Supplementary Estimates (C) 2011-2012.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I move that the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Finance, presented to the House on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, be concurred in.

I will be splitting my time with the fine, eloquent hon. member of Parliament for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

We have heard over the last few months how the Conservatives have characterized their government. This is the first report of the finance committee that comes from the so-called stable majority government. If Tommy Douglas were still in the House, he would say that the government sure smells like a stable.

It is true that when we look at the economic industries of the last few months, since the government's re-election on May 2, we can see that the report does not refer to what the reality is on the ground for the vast majority of Canadian families.

I will take much of my time, before I turn it over to my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, to speak exactly to what has happened to Canadian families under the Conservative government?

I want to reference a few key statistics, which we do not always have the time in question period to raise but on which we would love to have a response from the government. The first two are related to trade statistics. The government has the worst merchandise trade deficit in Canadian history. It also has the worst deficit in current account of balance of payments in this nation's history. That is what the government has managed to create after six years. Now what does that mean?

First, what we have seen is a complete erosion of our manufacturing sector. What we have seen is a loss of 400,000 good family sustaining manufacturing jobs. We have seen all of that, which certainly explains the record merchandise trade deficit.

The government would respond that we are shipping raw resources out of the country and that is making up for it. The reality is that, when we look at the current account deficit on balance of payments, the worst ever under the government, we see that, even with the shipping out of raw logs, raw minerals and raw bitumen, the government has simply put manufacturing jobs, the good quality jobs that we used to enjoy in this economy, in jeopardy through what can only be described as very foolish policies. The fifth report does not reflect that reality.

I will now talk about the quality of jobs, which is also not reflected in the majority report presented by the finance committee. When we look at the quality of jobs, we see that most of the jobs created under the Conservative government are part-time or temporary, very precarious jobs. We are talking about Canadian families that are struggling to make ends meet, trying to hold together a couple of part-time jobs, if they can, and trying to go from temporary contract to temporary contract. The quality of jobs under the present government is very clearly failing. As I mentioned earlier, 400,000 lost manufacturing jobs are a stain on the record of the government, which will go down for generations.

I will now talk about the quantity of jobs. The Conservatives love to stand in the House and throw out these figures on job creation under their government. Statistic Canada tells a completely different story because, rather than just inventing statistics out of its gut, it actually tracks and produces the real stats of what is happening in the Canadian economy.

Since May 2008 through to the fall, which I will get back to a moment, we actually saw the job creation record of the government being a scant 200,000 jobs. The problem is that the labour force over that same time grew not by 200,000 or 300,000 or 400,000 but by 450,000 jobs. What that means for the average Canadian is that the government produced 200,000 jobs when 450,000 were needed just to tread water, just to stand still.

There again we see a real failure of the government. It is a quarter of a million jobs short, even before we hit the fall. What happened in the fall? The New Democrats certainly know because we are in touch with our constituents and with our communities. Many MPs from our side of the House, as well as Conservatives, have seen factory closures in their ridings.

What we have seen is the loss of 60,000 full-time jobs, 60,000 families have lost their breadwinner, 60,000 times workers got that feeling in their gut, having to go home and tell their family that maybe the kids will not be able to go to summer camp this year, that the family will need to rein in their expenses and maybe that they will not be able to keep their home. That happened 60,000 times under the government in just the span of the last few months.

I will now talk about salaries. In the last year, the average Canadian family has lost 2% of its real income. Families are struggling to make ends meet with less and less under the government. Any jobs that the Conservatives created pay $10,000 a year less than the jobs that were lost. They have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and have made them up with part-time and temporary jobs that pay $10,000 a year less.

I will now go to the final category, which is how families are faring under the Conservatives. As New Democrats know, because we are in touch with our constituents, the average Canadian family is now struggling under the greatest debt load in our nation's history. Families are struggling to keep their head above water, struggling to pay the expenses, all because the government simply does not know how to manage the economy.

At the same time, we have also seen record levels of income inequality that take us back to the years of the Great Depression. We are now seeing a small minority of Canadians earning most of the real income in this country. Those are shocking statistics but those are realities. That is what many Canadians told the finance committee and talked about in the prebudgetary hearings that were held across this country. That is not reflected in the majority report. This is a fundamental problem when we have Conservatives on the committee who simply will not recognize the economic reality of so many Canadian families.

How have the Conservatives decided to proceed? We get a sense of this in the fifth report but even more so when we look at the main estimates that we have been talking about over the last few days, and the issues and questions that MPs from the NDP have been raising in the House, responding to our constituents' needs and to what our constituents have been telling us. They have been saying that they do not believe the government is on the right track at all when it wants to spend billions of dollars on untendered jet fighters that have serious flaws and problems.

The F-35s were supposed to cost $9 billion. That escalated to $15 billion or $16 billion, then $20 billion and now more than $30 billion. As most members know, no one on that side of the House actually knows what the total cost of the F-35s will be. The government is talking about $30 billion and potentially $40 billion. On this side of the House, we are saying that we need to start anew. If we want to replace the CF-18s, we need to re-tender it at a fixed price and ensure that any costing that comes out of the federal government is held rigidly in check.

The government has also put forward a very costly prisons agenda. That has been evaluated but no one on the Conservative side has been able to say with any certainty how much it would cost. We have had independent evaluations done that show the total amount would be close to $19 billion. These are not the priorities of Canadian families that are struggling under record debt load and are looking for a break. They are looking for a government that cares about them, is willing to invest in job creation, is willing to invest in services to help those families and is willing to put forward the kinds of priorities that are fundamental Canadian values that we all share.

We do not see those priorities reflected at all in the majority report. From the recollection that we have from the Canadians who came forward to the finance committee and tell their stores, we do not even see that reflected in the report.

What we do have, thankfully, is a minority report of the NDP that talks about reinforcing our pension system so that we can lift seniors out of poverty and have a solid pension system for years to come. In our minority report, we talk about job creation programs, putting in place a real priority for the federal government to create good, family sustaining jobs, the kind of jobs the Conservatives have lost over the last few years. In the minority report, we talk about reforming research and development, which has been a failed policy under the Conservatives. We talk about opening doors to post-secondary education. We talk about ensuring that Canadian consumers are protected from some of the financial practices that gouge them every day. We talk about empowering a green economy and investing in critical infrastructure. We talk about investing in children's early education and building that quality post-secondary education that leads to the jobs of tomorrow.

In short, the report talks about the kinds of priorities that Canadians really have, the kinds of values that we all share and the kind of direction in which Canadians want to see this country go.

In the minority report of the fifth report of the finance committee, we see what Canadians want: an economy that is built so that we can have the country we all desire, a country where everyone matters and nobody is left behind. That is the kind of economy Canadians want to build and that is what we presented in our minority report.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to rise on the issue of finance and trade in our country. It is an issue of great concern to all of us.

In the last year, we have faced the proposal for two pipelines that would ship raw bitumen out of this country to the United States and one potentially to China. This raw bitumen represents a piece of the supply chain where the upgrading would occur in another country, which would mean the loss of many jobs. The unions that work in this area estimate that the job loss would be severe. I think the loss to the Canadian economy could be calculated simply by the value of upgrading times the number of barrels sent out of the country per day.

What does my colleague think about the kind of energy strategy that we are employing in this country that would leave us as the hewers of very rough wood and leave the profits from our natural resources, our treasure house for our grandchildren, in the hands of other countries?