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House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cuts.

Topics

National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, when will they stop trying to hoodwink us with answers like that? From the F-35s to combat vehicles, not to mention search and rescue aircraft, the Conservatives' sorry management is hurting our Canadian Forces and costing taxpayers dearly.

The Conservatives are trying to conceal information, camouflage costs and confuse the issue by misleading Canadians. According to the rules of good public administration, there must be a public tender and the contract should be awarded to the lowest qualified bidder.

Why are they refusing to follow the rules of good public administration?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, all the rules have been respected with respect to the procurement of the F-35. There was a long process to establish the only fifth generation fighter to ensure that when the CF-18s, which were designed in the 1970s and acquired in the early 1980s, reached the end of their lifespan at around 2020, we would have a fleet of airplanes for our air force to ensure that we can protect Canadian sovereignty, to ensure that we can follow through on the duty to protect as the men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force did in Libya where they performed admirably for Canada and admirably for NATO.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, speaking of non-answers, the Canadian Association of Journalists has just voted the Conservative government the most secretive in Canadian history.

We can look at the minister the government put in charge of spinning the openness. The Muskoka minister ran a $50 million slush fund through his constituency office and then buried the documents and is refusing to tell Canadians what services are on the chopping block.

The Prime Minister promised Canadians that he would establish open and accountable government. Why did he break that promise?

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, it was seven minutes ago that the House leader for the NDP stood and talked about a new decorum. He talked about putting an end to name calling, treating people with respect and calling them by their proper titles and proper names. It lasted seven minutes. The repeat offender is at it again.

I encourage the House leader for the NDP to get his own side to fall in line--

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Timmins--James Bay.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is the Conservatives' sense of entitlement. They expect us to be subservient. Our job and their job is to be respectful of the taxpayer, which returns me to the fact that they made promises to the Canadian taxpayer and they have turned their ministerial departments into black holes of accountability, which is why the Minister of International Cooperation was able to hide dubious amounts of lavish spending.

The Prime Minister's obsession with secrecy is allowing his ministers to break the rules time and time again.

Why is the government committed to misrepresenting spending, hiding the books and misrepresenting Parliament?

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, they have done no such thing. In fact, it was this government, at the very start of our mandate in 2006, that created the Federal Accountability Act, the most sweeping anti-corruption legislation in the world today. We have made great strides, of course, in delivering more information to Canadians, not only to the opposition members and to the media, but to Canadians directly. There are 272,000 data sets on line right now at data.gc.ca. That is our commitment to opening the government and it will continue.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has been very clear. The government kept two sets of books on the F-35 issue and that duplicity was known and condoned at the highest levels.

While the government was claiming the full life cycle costs would be only $14.7 billion, it knew full well that was not true. The truth was something over $25 billion.

Who in the government made the strategic decision to not tell the truth?

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, that is simply not the case. The member opposite will not be surprised that I do not accept the premise of his question.

This government is seeking to ensure that when the useful lifespan of the CF-18 fleet comes to an end in 2020 we have an aircraft for the men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force that will do the job that the Government of Canada and Canadians are asking them to do. This is something that is foreign to the Liberal Party. The man that it appointed as Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Forces defined the Liberals' term in office as a decade of darkness.

We are working hard to ensure that does not happen again.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government's military procurement record is a joke and has already cost us billions of dollars too much.

Now the government is announcing that its new F-35 secretariat will be called the new Canadian fighter aircraft secretariat.

My question is very simple. Can we count on this government to launch an open and transparent competitive bidding process to replace the CF-18 as soon as possible? Time is running out.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it was the previous government, a Liberal government, that began the process to select a new aircraft for our Canadian Forces. It was the Liberal government that spent over $300 million on arranging and designing this aircraft. It is our government that wants to be sure that the Canadian Forces have the equipment they need to do the job that our government and Canadians ask of them.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, in his report on the Walkerton tragedy in Ontario, Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor said:

...Walkerton's drinking water system became contaminated with deadly bacteria.... Seven people died, and more than 2,300 became ill. The community was devastated.

Judge O'Connor drew a direct link to provincial budget cuts imposed by the Harris regime in Ontario.

Why would the federal government now follow that same path by gutting environmental protection and downgrading food inspection? Why is it risking another Walkerton?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP warned Canadians and warned all of us this in this House that the Liberals would become more and more desperate and more and more panicky to decide on how they can get attention in this House.

I find the motion brought forward by the Liberal Party says a lot more about the Liberals.

Clearly, the leader of the Liberal Party wants to change the topic. His own caucus and his own party will not defend his time in government and his own former cabinet sitting on the NDP benches will not defend his leadership.

Canadians will not be fooled by this partisan smear.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we already knew that the RCMP was looking into the alleged corruption at the Canada Revenue Agency offices in Montreal. Now we know that the problem far exceeds the scope of this investigation.

The NDP has obtained documents showing that more than 450 problematic cases over a period of eight years caused great risk within the agency.

How can the minister cut hundreds of millions of dollars from Revenue Canada when it already has so many problems?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the integrity of our tax system is important to all Canadians. I can assure the House that our government will take all steps necessary to ensure that it is protected.

Our government has increased CRA's budget for internal investigations by 127% and we have nearly doubled the number of its investigators because any misconduct is unacceptable. CRA employees are in positions of public trust and we demand professional and ethical conduct for all Canadian taxpayers.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is the last day for filing income tax returns. Canadians are providing sensitive information to an organization rocked by serious allegations of corruption. There is talk of hundreds of cases of falsified documents, fraud and abuse of authority. With all the ethics problems the government is having these days, it really cannot set itself up as an example.

People want to put their trust in a revenue agency that has the means to fight tax evasion. Why is the agency's budget being cut?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, employee wrongdoing will not be tolerated at CRA. We have increased our budget by 127%, and that has doubled the number of investigators. Employees are required to respect the obligations and laws of the system in which they are employed, and we will not take any less from them.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, tonight is the deadline for most Canadians to file their taxes, and taxpayers who play by the rules are concerned to see corruption scandals at the Canada Revenue Agency. To make matters worse, the Conservatives have quietly removed oversight from the Canada Revenue Agency. The government's solution to internal problems is less oversight and less accountability.

Canadians deserve better. Will the minister respect taxpayers by strengthening oversight at the CRA?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Egmont P.E.I.

Conservative

Gail Shea ConservativeMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, we have strengthened oversight at CRA. As a matter of fact, as I just said, we have increased the budget by 127% and doubled the number of investigators. We have taken steps to ensure the integrity of the Canadian tax system and the professionalism of our workforce.

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the opposite is true.

Canadians must be able to trust their revenue agency. They would also like it if the Conservatives were accountable. Unfortunately, all the Conservatives do is to cut services to Canadians by eliminating jobs.

The regional offices of Canada Economic Development are being closed and internal auditor positions are being eliminated. This work might be given to the Auditor General's Office, but reductions are being felt there already.

Why do the Conservatives want Canada Economic Development to be less accountable?

Regional Economic DevelopmentOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, we have found ways in the back-office operations of government to find efficiencies and better ways to deliver excellent services to Canadians. At the same time, we have given these responsibilities to the Comptroller General of Canada, who already has that oversight over 47 different departments and agencies. He has the expertise and the ability to do the right thing in terms of making sure that we can follow the dollars, and we do so in an efficient way so that we can concentrate on delivering better services to Canadians.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have seen how well the Conservatives have been following the dollars.

Canada's civil service delivers vital programs that Canadian families rely on. These are services that keep Canadians safe, such as protecting the food we put on our tables, yet Conservatives are cutting front-line service jobs such as food inspectors and border guards. The Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed last week what we have been warning about. Significant additional details are missing on who is getting cut and why.

When will the government come clean and tell Canadians which of the services they rely on are being chopped?

Agriculture and Agri-FoodOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to say that this member is wrong. I will give a few examples from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Our food supply system remains safe. Our government is maintaining federal meat inspections and meat inspectors. Since 2006, we have hired an additional 733 food inspection staff, including 170 meat inspection staff. Clearly this member is in error.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, today we learned that oil lobbyists changed this government's environmental policies. That explains the cuts. That explains why the government abandoned environmental protection. Future generations will pay for these bad decisions. They will pay for the fire sale of our natural resources and for the policies of a government that listens only to its lobbyist buddies.

Why is the minister still ignoring Canadians who are calling for the sustainable, responsible development of our natural resources? Why are the Conservatives so irresponsible?

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Conservative

Joe Oliver ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, our government consults broadly with Canadian citizens, business interests and with environmental groups. For that reason, in that context we are opposed to the non-scientific and discriminatory fuel quality directive. We are opposed to the attempt to block the pipelines that will provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of revenue to governments to support social programs. We will continue to work on behalf of Canadians.