House of Commons Hansard #105 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, unless the government has something to hide.

Here is the problem. The Conservatives are so poor at managing money. We have seen that with the F-35s and with the prisons agenda. They are so appallingly bad at managing taxpayers' money that they have done exactly the opposite. In 2014-15, they are slashing $6.7 million out of the Auditor General of Canada, and we say shame on them. Canadian families deserve better. They deserve the protection of the Auditor General of Canada. The Auditor General of Canada deserves an increase in funding.

That means the Auditor General will be able to monitor fewer departments. The Auditor General will be cut back in a dozen cases and will not be able to oversee the Conservative government's wild expenditures. The government is wild in its excess. We have seen this with the F-35s: $30 billion or $40 billion, “Hey, it is all okay. It is our pet project. We do not want to control expenditures”. For the Conservatives to cut back on the Auditor General of Canada shows complete disrespect for Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to say to Canadians to send tweets, post on Facebook or write emails telling their Conservative MPs what they think of their decision to slash the Auditor General of Canada, to slash that protection that belongs to all of us to make sure these incredibly irresponsible spending decisions of the Conservatives are actually reined in. If folks want to write in, we would love to hear from them.

It is not just the Auditor General who the Conservatives are attacking. I will read a couple of tweets that have just come in. Buswell says, “$7.5 million a year cut to Elections Canada in the midst of the robocall scandal but $12 million spent on budget 2012 promotion. Responsible government?” This is the reaction that Canadians are having to the second item among eight agents of Parliament, which is the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.

The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, as we know, is now investigating the robocall scandal and what has been a wide variety of violations of the Canada Elections Act. We know the government has been ruled guilty as charged in previous violations of the Canada Elections Act. It seems to not respect the law. It seems unable and incapable of respecting the law. It seems to be quite willing to break the law when it comes to election campaigns and Canadians feel differently about that. Canadians have a profound belief that political parties and all Canadians should respect the law and that a party that forms government should be respecting the law at all times.

We must respect the ability of the Chief Electoral Officer to investigate alleged violations of the Canada Elections Act, of which we are all aware. One does not cut back on police officers when they are investigating crimes. We ensure the police officers have the wherewithal and resources to actually fully investigate.

What is very disturbing is that on page 260 we see the results of the Chief Electoral Officer wanting to investigate these allegations of widespread law-breaking of the Canada Elections Act. In 2012-13, $7.5 million will be cut from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. In 2013-14, $7.5 million will be cut again. In 2014-15, it will be cut again. On an ongoing basis, it will be cut again. The government is punishing the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada and Elections Canada for doing their job. Their job is to maintain the law and ensure there are no violations of the Canada Elections Act. If the government really believes in being tough on crime, it can start by fully funding the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada so that Elections Canada can conduct the investigation into what happened in the last election campaign.

What else do we see? The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has been critical, as we know, about the Internet snooping bill introduced by the government. The government wants to snoop in people's homes and pry into their private lives and what they read and see on the Internet. We remember the despicable reaction of the Minister of Public Safety on that. We have an impartial servant, an agent of Parliament, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada that speaks out on violations of our civic rights and privacy such as that.

This is what will happen. In 2012-13, $0.7 million will be cut from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Can anyone believe the government would do that? In 2013-14, $0.7 million will be cut from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and in 2014-15, $1.1 million will be cut.

These are institutions that protect the public interest. The Auditor General of Canada, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada will all be slashed and burned because the government does not like having impartial, independent protectors of the public interest standing up for Canadians.

I would ask all Canadians who are concerned about these mean-spirited cuts to tell their local Conservative member of Parliament. They can phone, email or tweet their member and ensure they copy it to an NDP MP as well. This can only be considered abuse of what is parliamentary funding and is something that should not be supported or condoned. These agencies protect the public interests and we are saying that Canadian families deserve better. These agencies should be fully funded so they can do their job.

I will move on to what else the government has hacked and slashed. I will move on to Agriculture and Agri-food. My colleagues from the eastern townships who know the agriculture industry backward and forward are concerned about this. Canadians should be concerned as well because one of the components within Agriculture and Agri-food is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and we know what it is responsible for. This is a pretty vital and important Canadian public service. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency ensures that when Canadian families get a food product that they are giving to their kids and family that the product is safe. Members who have talked to the public in any capacity across the country or members who have seen any of the opinion polls that have been taken, know full well that, with some of the outbreaks we have seen that have killed Canadians, food safety is a primary concern of Canadian families. Listeriosis is one example. We have seen many other cases and we need to ensure that the public interest is protected, that there are expanded food safety inspections and that Canadians have an even greater sense of well-being around food safety.

What did the government do around food inspection and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency? It is appalling for all of those Canadians who are concerned about food safety and inspection and who want to know that the products they are serving to their kids are safe. Is that not a very fundamental thing in an industrialized country like Canada? In a country that is as well developed as Canada, should we not have the ability to sit down to an evening meal and not have to worry about what the consequences may be?

This is what the Conservative government did to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. For 2012-13, it is cutting $2.1 million out of its operations. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will not have a greater ability to ensure that the food we eat is safe. It will have less of an ability. In 2013-14, it gets even worse. The cutbacks to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are in the order of $10 million at a time when there is adequate inspection and supervision of only an estimated 2% of Canadian foods. The risk of the kinds of outbreaks that have killed so many Canadians will be greatly increased when $10 million are cut out of the budget. Canadians all know that the Food Inspection Agency is vitally important but what happens in 2014-15? The Conservative government will cut $56.1 million out of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It is gutting the agency. It is not just that year. It is from then on.

As long as the Conservatives are in power, Canadians should be concerned that the food inspection process will not fully protect their families. There could be outbreaks of other problems with our food supply because of the government's irresponsibility. However, for those Canadian families who are concerned, on October 20, 2015, when there is an NDP government in place, we will ensure that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and food inspection is fully funded so that families right across the country are protected.

At a time when the Canadian Wheat Board has been gutted and when the government has mused about cutting back on supply management, we know how important that is to sustain rural communities right across the country. The supply managed sector is the only sector where farmers have been able to make a decent living. As I have mentioned before, Alberta has the lowest farmer seats in the country because the Conservative government, both provincially and federally, have not taken care of Alberta farmers in any way. When we look at the supply managed sector, we get that stability that has allowed farm families and farming communities to prosper. With all of these hits, threatening supply management and gutting the Wheat Board, what is the government doing? Overall for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, next year it is cutting $15 million from the budget, in 2013 it will cur $158 million from the budget and in 2014 it will cut $252 million out of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. We say that Canadian farmers deserve better than that, better than the neglect of the government, better than the government cutting back on support for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Tragically, I must go on because we are seeing so much money that the government is willing to put away on F-35s, on prisons and on corporate tax cuts but it is not cutting into the fat. It is cutting right through to the bone in a most irresponsible way. We talked earlier about the 60,000 jobs lost as a result of this budget and at the worst possible time for the economy. Now, as we detail the cuts, we are seeing what is happening in every case.

I will move on to Citizenship and Immigration because that is an area that I know well. In my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster, over 100 languages are spoken. There are new Canadians who come from around the world to join us in Canada and help build our country. They come with a variety of skills. They have a passion for Canada when they arrive that is exciting to see. When I walk through Richmond Park in the summertime I see those new Canadian families. In one area I will see a number of families from various parts of Africa, from Sierra Leone, the Congo, South Sudan or Ethiopia. I will walk through another section and see Indo-Canadian families or families that have come from China, Taiwan, Vietnam or Thailand. I will walk through another park and I will hear Spanish and see people from South America. In other parks I will see people from Europe, Romania or Russia. All of them have come to Canada with the idea of building this country and, in a very real way, to build a new life.

I do not mind telling the House that often it is tragic for them because of the cutbacks of the mean-spirited government. Over the last few years there has been no progress on credential recognition at all. People who are trained as doctors and engineers, except in a few minor cases, are simply unable to practise and contribute what they know, their experience and education, to this country.

What is worse under this government is the situation around visitor visas. We can imagine someone coming halfway around the world to start a new life in Canada and wanting their sister to visit for the birth of a new son, or wanting their cousins and aunts to be with them on the day of a parent's funeral. Like any family, they want to be together.

Under the Conservative government, there have been such substantial cutbacks that now, in virtually all cases, visitor visas are denied. I have had to fight for families to be together for the birth of their child, an important anniversary, a wedding or a funeral. Under this government, even with an NDP MP fighting like heck to get a visitor visa accepted, more often than not, it is denied. What a mean-spirited government. What that means is those new Canadians are treated like second-class citizens. They cannot have the support of their families at a critical time. That is what we all want. That is what Canada should be delivering.

We have heard from new Canadian communities for years that we need more funding in citizenship and immigration to handle the workload, the piles of unprocessed visitor visa applications and the long lineup for sponsorship applications that take decades to resolve. We need a government that cares about new Canadians and invests to improve the poor state of those services that treat new Canadians as second-class citizens.

Here, we see the results of what any new Canadian who voted for the Conservatives actually got on May 2. The government promised it would improve those services for new Canadians and improve their quality of life so they could fully contribute to the country. The member for Newton—North Delta is absolutely right. The government is slashing $29.8 million from citizenship and immigration in 2012-13. Shame on the government. It gets worse. In 2013-14, $65.2 million will be slashed, and in 2014-15, nearly $85 million will be slashed.

New Canadians have done so much to build our country. In fact, all of us, except first nations, have come to Canada through immigration over the centuries. We need to make sure that the services are there for new Canadians when they need them.

With the slashing of the citizenship and immigration budget, the government has repudiated its commitment to new Canadians, many of whom voted for Conservatives in the last election because Conservatives said they would make those investments and improve those services. We are saying new Canadians deserve better.

For those new Canadian families who are watching today, I would like them to send their comments to Conservative members of Parliament and copy NDP MPs. NDP MPs know about the problems because we are involved in casework. We are helping new Canadian families every day who have seen their loved ones' visitor visas rejected. They see that they are not being recognized for their credentials, skills and experience. We would like them to let us know their stories, because we will make sure that the government is aware of what it has done to new Canadians by slashing those budgets.

It gets worse. We see the cuts that have been made in every area of service upon which Canadian families depend.

The government is not cutting the F-35s. It is not cutting the prison program. It is willing to spend any amount of money, tens of billions of bucks. It will throw money away. It will just shovel it off the back of a truck.

However, as far as prudent monitoring of spending that comes from the Auditor General, as far as dealing with the crisis in aboriginal communities, as far as actually responding to the needs of new Canadians, nothing. It is slashing. It is cutting. It is a modern group of political Vikings running roughshod over key services to Canadians.

Let us move on to the environment. I hear some groans from my colleagues behind me. Prior to May 2, remember the Prime Minister looking Canadians in the eyes and saying, “We're going to protect the environment”? Then it withdrew from Kyoto. Then we saw the real face over the last few months. The environment ministry is going to endure cuts at a time when Canadians want the environment protected more than ever. In 2012-13, we are seeing cuts of $19.5 million in the environment ministry.

My colleague from Sherbrooke asks what happens in 2013-14. There will be $56.4 million cut out of the environment. In 2014-15, it rises to $88.2 million. That includes Environment Canada and Parks Canada. The national parks that are a national trust for all of us and a source of inspiration for so many Canadian families. When they can finally get away for their two weeks of annual vacation, often they will go to Canadian parks. Canadian families under the current government are struggling harder than ever to make ends meet. Occasionally, when they get a weekend off, they will go to a national park. However, we are seeing cuts of $30 million to Parks Canada.

The purported goal of the government was to bring together the environment and the economy. The place to do that was at the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Next year, it is cutting $200,000 out of its budget. And then comes the guillotine. Another organization sacrificed to Conservative ideology. In 2013-14, a $5.2 million cut, and the organization is killed.

Nothing on climate change. Nothing to respond to the concerns of so many Canadians on the environment.

Here is tweet from Black Spruce, “Budget 2012, no climate change discussion, zero funding, $99 million to deal with 2011 flooding and no reference to climate change”. This will affect future generations. On this side of the House, we have strong environmental advocates. We say Canadian families deserve better. We need a government in power that respects the environment and puts in place protections for the environment. That is what we promise to do in 2015.

It is a tale of woe when we look at where the Conservative government is cutting. We will move on to something that is extremely important to my colleagues on the east coast and the west coast: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

I will speak from a personal perspective. We have seen the near collapse of the salmon fishery in British Columbia. We have seen, over the last few decades, a neglect of the fisheries in British Columbia that is beyond belief. For a government that purports to represent British Columbia, the underfunding has been staggering. Many fishers and people in the community have called for adequate funding for Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the west coast and the east coast. When we talk to NDP members who represent east coast ridings, they say the same thing, “We need more funding to make sure that the fisheries are sustainable.”

With the salmon fishers in British Columbia, we need improved salmon enhancement and monitoring so that we can understand the impact of sea lice on juvenile salmon. A lot of people make that connection, but we simply have not had the resources to find the facts that seem to be cut out of every aspect of this Conservative budget.

For years, British Columbians have said that they need more resources for Fisheries and Oceans Canada to make sure that we are adequately addressing a near collapse. There has only been one year in the last four where we could say that the salmon fishery was alive and well. However, at a near collapse, it has been three years out of four.

What will happen to Fisheries and Oceans Canada? One would expect a government to say that it would invest and make sure that those resources are there on the west coast and on the east coast. Tragically, that is not the case.

In 2012-13, $3.8 million will be gouged out of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In 2013-14, it goes to $13.4 million and in 2014-15, it goes to $79.3 million. This at a time when we need increased resources to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of our salmon fisheries and other fisheries.

As my colleague for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour has mentioned, we are also seeing an attack on the inshore fishery in Atlantic Canada and the Quebec region. It is tragic.

The reality is that those Canadians who are involved in the fisheries deserve to have a government that keeps the commitment it made on May 2. They deserve a government that actually provides support for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Frankly, Canadians who are in the fisheries deserve better from this government than these cutbacks.

I am not going to be able to detail all of the cuts that are in this budget prior to question period because there will not be enough time. I will come back to this after question period if my colleagues permit me.

I will quickly mention some of the other cuts. Within the health portfolio, we are talking about cuts of up to $310 million by 2014-15. There are massive cuts to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board.

All these cuts were not supposed to happen. In every case, the Conservative government promised to maintain those services prior to May 2.

We talked earlier about a fact free government, a government that wanted to banish facts from consideration. When we look at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, what disappears? It is the National Council of Welfare, which provides supports so the government can understand the facts around public policy, particularly relating to poor Canadian families. What is the government doing? It is cutting away those facts. It is cutting out that source of factual information. Poor Canadian families deserve better than that. They deserve better than just being thrown out the door because the statistics do not keep with the government's own narrative.

Let us look at the industry portfolio. As mentioned earlier, the government wants to be fact free. It is a government that believes itself to be in a fact-free zone. It does not mind manufacturing its own facts; it just does not want to have facts come from a factual basis. There is a war against facts by the government.

With Statistics Canada, we can all recall, and it almost ironically funny, the war of the government on the long form census because it was somehow an invasion of privacy. Then a few months later, the government came forward with its Internet snooping bill to snoop into every affair of Canadians. Canadians get that the government does not want the long form census because it does not like facts. Statistics Canada will have a $8.3 million cut in 2012-13, a $8.3 million cut in 2013-14 and a $33.9 million cut in 2014-15, cuts from statistics and facts.

Though I could share a lot more, including the cuts in the regional development agencies, I would like to mention one more area before question period. I promise my colleagues I will come back after question period.

At the city hall In New Westminster, there is a cenotaph for the veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean Conflict. Two members of the Julian family are on that cenotaph. Thousands of Canadians gather in front of it every year. They do it on Remembrance Day, like they do in small towns and cities across the country, to honour our veterans. They believe profoundly that we owe a debt of gratitude to the veterans of our country.

I feel profoundly saddened by what the government has done to Veterans Affairs. After all that our veterans have done, and the new veterans who have shown such courage and bravery, the Veterans Affairs portfolio has been slashed by $36 million in 2012-13, $49.3 million in 2013-14 and $66.7 million slashed in 2014-15.

Our veterans have given so much to our country and a grateful country says “Thank you” and “Treat our veterans with respect”. The government has chosen not to do that and has cut back on veterans' programs and supports. Our veterans deserve better than that. They deserve the respect of the government. They deserve a government that will stand up for them.

What is wrong with the budget is it is a repudiation of everything the government promised when it ran for election. It is a repudiation of the kinds of things that Canadian families feel very strongly about: food safety; protecting and supporting our environment; ensuring that veterans are taken care of; ensuring that Canadian rural communities are supported. All of the things that, over time, Canadians have grown to support the government is hacking and slashing. It is not cutting the F-35s and its prison program. It is cutting into the bone.

Since the budget was tabled, we have been raising our concern about where the government is heading. That is why so many Canadians over the last few days have been writing, tweeting, posting on Facebook, faxing and emailing NDP MPs, so their voices can be heard. Canadian voices have been heard today and we will continue to support them and have their voices heard in the House of Commons because that is what we do. We stand up for Canadian families and we will continue to do this throughout the entire budget debate. We will support Canadian families, we will stand up for them and we will be there for them because they deserve better—

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I must interrupt the hon. member as we will commence with statements by members.

The hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming.

Temagami Boat Manufacturing Inc.Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.


Jay Aspin Conservative Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past Saturday I was proud to announce the creation of 13 private sector manufacturing jobs in beautiful Temagami.

Thanks to the coordination of five government programs, Temagami Boat Manufacturing Inc. will be a sustainable new business that will diversify local industry, promote local long-term growth and support tourism in the region, a prime example that our government's policies work in rural Canada.

I want to thank everyone for their hard work in coordinating the funding from Temfund, South Timiskaming CFDC, Claybelt CFDC, NeoNet and the Yves Landry Foundation. Thanks to our efforts, fishermen, lodge owners and cottage goers looking for reliable quality watercraft will find another option in Nipissing—Timiskaming.

Together, our Conservative government's policies and the 2012 economic action plan are making jobs, growth and long-term prosperity a top priority for Nipissing—Timiskaming.

SeniorsStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, media reports often use vocabulary that stigmatizes seniors as victims or a burden on the state. Yet these are the people who built this country, who have paid taxes their whole lives and who raised their children who are now taking their place in the workforce.

While seniors are on retirement, they are still contributing to their community through volunteer work through social and political engagement, through sharing their knowledge and expertise and above all sharing precious moments with their family and friends.

Yes, our seniors are Canada's richness. They deserve our respect. This is why I will strongly oppose increasing the age of accessibility to OAS from 65 to 67. We can do better to increase seniors' quality of life and I will continue to fight to ensure that.

Today I particularly want to highlight the importance of the Dollard-des-Ormeaux seniors' club and the dynamic men and women who make up its 500-plus membership. Thanks to co-operation from the City of Dollard-des-Ormeaux and the hard work of dedicated employees and volunteers, the club offers weekly physical, social and artistic activities to seniors.

I have fond memories of songs sung by the choir, dancing at the Christmas supper and the warm welcome—

SeniorsStatements by Members

2 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

The BudgetStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, after submitting ideas from my riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo in the budgetary process, I was pleased to see a number of them highlighted in budget 2012.

First was the announcement that the government intended to move forward with legislation that would allow private property ownership within current reserve boundaries. This is an important next step in a long-time dream of Manny Jules, chair of the First Nations Tax Commission. This change would assist interested first nations in addressing barriers to economic development on reserve.

Further, when the Red Tape Reduction Commission visited Kamloops, there were concerns regarding high penalties for those businesses that filed their information returns late with Revenue Canada. Budget 2012 responded with reduced penalties to be applied when the number of returns were small.

Over the past four budget submissions, people in my riding have provided great ideas and insights and they have been included time and time again. I would encourage everyone to stay involved in the budget process because results are being delivered.

SackvilleStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the town of Sackville, New Brunswick as it celebrates its 250th anniversary.

Sackville is known across Canada as the home of Mount Allison University, a Canadian cultural capital and a progressive, welcoming town focused on sustainable development, economic innovation and inclusion. Close to the Nova Scotia border, along the famous Tantramar Marshes, Sackville's natural beauty and ecological importance are well known across Canada. The residents of this community are justified to celebrate this wonderful milestone for Sackville and to look forward to the future with optimism and pride.

I also want to pay a special tribute to my friend, Mayor Pat Estabrooks, who will retire from municipal politics this May. Pat has led Sackville with honour and hard work and leaves an impressive record of achievement.

We congratulate the Town of Sackville on its 250th anniversary and we wish it all the best for the future.

Alberni ValleyStatements by Members

2 p.m.


James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend saw the kick-off of a year-long centennial celebration of the founding of the Alberni Valley's twin cities.

Centuries of first nations presence by the Tseshaht and Hupacasath preceded the growing development and industrial activity that saw Alberni emerge as the first community in 1886. Rivalry grew as the wharf was established up the inlet. Rail pushed through in 1908, linking the port, the mills and the steamships, but the first road favoured Alberni.

Nearly 100 automobiles assembled in Alberni as the unofficial marker for mile one on the Trans-Canada Highway was laid. History records the theft and eventual return of that marker, which had mysteriously shown up in the neighbouring port.

The museum has created a first-class display. Dozens of people in period costume are already recapturing the pioneering spirit. The August long weekend will see a major homecoming event.

Port Alberni is inviting all of Canada to ride the steam train, dodge the notorious Beaufort Gang, visit the historic McLean Mill and join in the fun as port revisits pioneer days and historic routes.

Best Municipal Water in the WorldStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's smallest city of 676 residents, Greenwood, B.C., has won the title of Best Municipal Water in the World.

In January of this year, Mayor Nipper Kettle sent a sample of its tap water to the International Water Tasting competition in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

The award-winning 22nd annual competition welcomed more than 100 water samples from across the country and around the globe.

Greenwood's water, which comes from a 110-foot well, was judged on appearance, odour, flavour, mouth feel, aftertaste and overall impressions.

I stopped in Canada's smallest city a few weeks ago at Deadwood Junction to have a tasty cinnamon bun and filled up my water bottle with Greenwood's liquid gold.

To Mayor Kettle and all the citizens of this fabulous community, on behalf of the Parliament of Canada, I offer my heartfelt congratulations. I look forward to participating in the official ceremony on May 11. In the meantime, I urge all Canadians to visit Greenwood and taste its liquid gold.

Glengarry—Prescott—RussellStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight the strong and vibrant Franco-Ontarian culture in my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, which has one of the largest francophone populations in any riding outside Quebec.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, I extend my congratulations to the University of Guelph's Alfred campus on having educated our francophone youth in agriculture for 30 years. Congratulations.

I am also very proud of cultural organizations such as Le Chenail, La Maison des arts and Les trois p'tits points, for all they do to promote francophone culture in such a lively and engaging way.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell can also rely on people who lead by example. At this year's 14th Banquet de la francophonie, I had the privilege of recognizing the accomplishments of some remarkable francophones.

To Louis Aubry, Sylvie Jean, René Pitre, Edgar Pommainville, Félix Desroches, Camille Legris and Zoé Monette, I extend my sincere congratulations and thank you for all you have done to promote French language and culture in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

Orangeville Rotary ClubStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today to recognize the 75th anniversary of the Orangeville Rotary Club, which will be celebrating this remarkable milestone on April 19, 2012.

It is a tremendous achievement for a club that has contributed so much to our community. Successful projects and events such as Rotary Park, the Skateboard Park, Ribfest and the annual Make Orangeville Shine can be attributed to all the outstanding volunteers belonging to this club, including Keith Hunter, Peter Parkinson, John Russell, Steve Cavell, Cory Jones and Sally Slumskie. We extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for their tireless work to improve life in our community.

On behalf of the residents of Dufferin—Caledon, I sincerely commend this club on always living up to Rotary's founding principles of service above self, and I wish it another 75 years of exceptional community service.

Air TransportationStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the abrupt closure of Aveos dealt a serious blow to two residents of Saint-Jérôme. Not only did Éric Gaudreau and Bertrand Fraser lose their jobs, but they have also been left with nothing since they were on extended sick leave when the company closed.

The staff at the employment insurance office told them that they are not eligible to receive benefits because they have not worked for the past year. The disability insurance that they had been receiving while on sick leave is no longer payable because Aveos stopped paying the premiums to the Sun Life insurance company. About a hundred other Aveos employees who were also on long-term disability are in the same situation.

The Conservatives did not hesitate to use heavy-handed measures to intimidate Air Canada workers and prevent them from exercising their legitimate right to strike, but when it comes to helping disabled workers preserve their dignity, the government is doing nothing and will not lift a finger to help.

When the next election is held, Canadians will remember the Aveos workers with disabilities who were abandoned by the Conservative government.

National Oncology Nursing DayStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, today marks the ninth annual National Oncology Nursing Day. This year's theme, “Partners in Care: Advocating for Excellence”, recognizes the incredible role oncology nurses play in our national health care system.

Cancer discriminates against no one. It affects people of all genders, nationalities and age groups. Last year there were almost 178,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed and 75,000 cancer-related deaths in our country.

Oncology nurses are on the front lines, caring for those patients and their families and supporting them through the stress of a cancer diagnosis and the fear and uncertainty that come with it.

Our government is committed to strengthening Canada's health workforce by supporting health care workers, nursing stakeholders and working with all levels of government to improve our health care system.

Our government's most recent budget further supports nurses, making those in rural and remote communities eligible for Canada student loan forgiveness.

As a former oncology nurse myself, I invite members to join with me in expressing our support and sincere appreciation for Canada's oncology nurses.

Invisible Work DayStatements by Members

April 3rd, 2012 / 2:10 p.m.


Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to recognize Invisible Work Day. This morning I had the privilege of acting as honorary chair at an event in Laval organized by the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale de Laval.

Invisible work is unpaid work. It includes all work done within families and all volunteer work done in communities.

In 2010, Canada became the first and only country to declare a national day to recognize invisible work.

During the most recent census, it was estimated that this work was worth about $26 billion a year. However, the federal government did away with the only tool that allowed us to quantify and assess invisible work when it abolished the long form census.

I would like to thank the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale de Laval for inviting me to today's activities and for its initiatives to mark this Invisible Work Day.

ImmigrationStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, a decade ago, a radical imam from Tunisia named Saïd Jaziri entered Canada by defrauding our immigration system. This illegal immigrant lied to immigration authorities about his past and presented himself as an innocent refugee.

For years, our Conservative government tried to have this man deported from Canada. After various hearings and claims before eight different bodies, including the Federal Court of Canada, the efforts by our Conservative government to deport this radical imam from our country have finally been successful. Saïd Jaziri has been deported from Canada.

Why does the NDP continue to side with illegal immigrants who lied to immigration authorities? Quebeckers can count on our Conservative government, not the NDP, to ensure that individuals who lie and cheat to enter Canada will not be allowed to return to this great country.

Parkinson's Awareness MonthStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, April is Parkinson's Awareness Month in Canada. More than 100,000 Canadians live with Parkinson's, a chronic progressive disease that results in increasing disability and mobility problems. Yet there is hope. Parkinson Society Canada made this year's theme, “Get Ready, Get Set, Get Moving”. Parkinson's is a movement disorder, yet one of the best things one can do to improve the symptoms of Parkinson's is to start moving and keep moving.

Whether by walking, cycling, dancing or simply doing errands, the key to maintaining mobility and staying healthy with Parkinson's is to remain active.

Studies have shown that physical activity improves strength, flexibility, balance and general health for people who have Parkinson's disease.

I encourage all members in the House to consider their constituents living with Parkinson's disease. They rely on our leadership to make strong policy decisions that will help them live the highest quality and most productive lives possible.

Long Gun RegistryStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, last night an unelected and unaccountable Liberal senator continued the opposition's misinformation campaign on our government's efforts in the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. A misleading collection of pictures of firearms was sent around that included prohibited firearms. Liberals know it is misleading because they created the firearms classification system themselves. This is part of a clear pattern of opposition parties trying to mislead Canadians on this issue.

The MP for Papineau did the same with deceitful tweets, and the NDP put up false billboards in major cities last year. The opposition needs to stop playing dirty tricks and start working for everyday Canadians. Firearms are part of the way of life of rural Canadians, hunters and farmers. Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to end this wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all, and that will happen very soon.

Rather than engaging in fearmongering, I call on the Liberals to stop treating law-abiding hunters, farmers and sharp shooters like common criminals.

EthicsStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.


Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, it seems every day that passes another link between Conservatives and RMG surfaces. This time it is a connection between Republican fundraisers, the Prime Minister and the charities favoured by government funds, non-partisan institutes that receive millions of tax dollars from the government. Yet they also use RMG and its U.S. Republican counterpart, Target Outreach, to raise even more funds.

It is funny. On one hand the Conservatives are building a multi-million-dollar CRA fund to attack and de-fund unfriendly charities and, on the other, they are giving millions to an institute with whom they share the same fundraiser. Why is a supposedly non-partisan Canadian charity organization using an explicitly right-wing fundraiser to raise more money from Canadians? It is clear that there are far more questions here than answers and this is why we need a public inquiry.

ImmigrationStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal culture of favouritism left our immigration system in disarray. For years, hundreds of thousands of people were stuck in a queue to get into Canada. They spent up to a decade waiting for an answer, any answer. Their lives were on hold.

As Nick Noorani from Destination Canada Info said, “The backlog has choked up our system and has led to wait times that have made us uncompetitive in the quest for global talent”.

Economic action plan 2012 includes measures that transform Canada's economic immigration programs. It creates a just-in-time system that will recruit people with the right skills to meet Canada's labour markets today and into the future.

As Tung Chan, the former CEO of the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Foundation, recently said, “It is welcome news to see that the government is continuing its quest to improve our immigration system and to make sure immigrants are able to hit the ground running and contributing to the Canadian economy when they arrive”.

I would encourage the opposition to listen to these words of wisdom. Vote for our reforms. They will finally position Canada for long-term prosperity.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec


Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative budget betrays the promise made by the Prime Minister himself. Contrary to what he promised in this House just a few months ago, the Conservative budget attacks the incomes of retirees, attacks health transfers and attacks services to the public.

Can the Prime Minister tell us why he chose to break his promise?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta


Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary. For example, our health transfers are increasing twice as fast as the health expenses of the provincial governments. We are keeping our promises.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec


Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that they are taking away $31 billion without consultation.

Among the budgetary choices that make no sense, let us talk about the F-35s. In March, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated the cost of the F-35s to be $30 billion. The Conservatives did everything they could to discredit Kevin Page, saying that the planes would cost half that much. However, the Auditor General is proving today that the government knew that the cost of the F-35s was going to be even higher. The government knew it.

Why did the Conservatives deliberately mislead Parliament and Canadians?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta


Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not accept the Leader of the Opposition's conclusions. The Auditor General reached certain conclusions and we have accepted his recommendations. He identified a need for greater supervision over costs and the government will accept his recommendations.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec


Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this is a question of ethics. The Auditor General has concluded that the Conservatives knew their figures were misleading but they gave them to Parliament anyway. The Auditor General's report on the F-35 is a litany of poor public administration, bad decision-making and lack of accountability by Conservative ministers.

The key question for the Prime Minister is how could he allow Parliament to be intentionally misled on the F-35s? Either he knew, and it is unconscionable, or he did not know and it is incompetence. Which is it?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta


Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is a miscategorization of what the Auditor General actually said.

I remind the leader of the opposition that the government has not yet purchased this airplane. It has not yet signed a contract.

The Auditor General has identified a need for greater independence and supervision over some of the activities of the Department of National Defence in this regard. The government will put that supervision in place before we proceed.