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House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was years.

Topics

Food Inspection AgencyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, as we have said many times before, those services will not be scaled back.

In this, as in so many cases, what the government has done is found modest administrative savings by eliminating duplication, and doing that over a significant period of time. Certainly, in the area of food inspection, we have no intention of cutting the inspection of our food.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, they are cutting food inspection of meat coming in from the U.S., a $56 million cut.

This is another example of the government's lack of transparency. The Conservatives go around tooting their own horn and saying how tough they are on crime, yet they have cut public safety funding: $143 million from border protection, $295 million from inmate supervision, $195 million from police services and $700 million from public safety.

Does being a law-and-order government mean slashing funding for public safety?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the NDP leader criticize our public safety services even though the NDP is against our public safety measures. That party has opposed every one of our initiatives to protect our communities and our streets from criminals. That is one of our priorities, and that is not about to change.

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative cuts are putting the security of Canadians at risk, plainly and simply.

I have another example. Just days after the closure of the maritime search and rescue centre in St. John's, we find out that medical emergency calls made from waters off Newfoundland and Labrador are now being routed to a call centre in Italy. Callers report being connected to doctors who cannot even understand them. That is a net result of Conservative cuts. Public safety is being put at risk.

Could the Prime Minister tell the House how long the lives of people will be put in danger before the government corrects the situation?

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, because the NDP decided to oppose and try to block the budget a few minutes after it was tabled, that party has not bothered to look into these matters.

In the case the hon. member mentions, there is no change to procedure here. The first response to these calls has always been to medical facilities in Halifax. There is backup in case those calls are backed up. That has been the case and that will continue to be the case.

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on that particular score, surely the Prime Minister is not denying the fact that Mr. Rideout, in calling about the health of his father, was routed to a doctor in Rome. The doctor in Rome did not know where the call was coming from and wanted to know what kind of fishing was going on. Mr. Rideout was so frustrated he hung up the phone, came back and phoned the CBC about the rerouting that had taken place.

Why would the Prime Minister stand in his place and give the House false information with respect to the situation of the--

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Search and RescueOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Department of National Defence have provided radio medical service to mariners in Atlantic Canada through service providers in Halifax for many years, and we continue to do so.

As in the past, an internationally recognized service provider has been used in the event that backup is required.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Some backup, Mr. Speaker.

There is so much in the bill that would give additional powers to the cabinet, which effectively means giving additional powers to the Prime Minister, particularly with respect to the issues around environment, environmental assessment and environmental regulations. The Prime Minister's reaction in opposition was so completely different when all of these powers were being accumulated around the office and person of the prime minister.

What is the government going to do to resist the inevitable, dictatorial tendencies to give power to one person and one person only with respect to public policy issues?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party should actually read the sections of the bill in question. They cannot be adequately categorized in that way whatsoever.

What is being done in the area of environmental assessment is to ensure we still have thorough environmental assessments but that there will be a defined timeline within which judgments and advice have to be rendered. That time can be up to two years, which is plenty of time. That is the kind of certainty that investors are looking for.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, I did read the bill, and it is here and here and here. This bill gives extraordinary powers to cabinet.

Everyone knows what cabinet means. It is the power held by one man, in this case, the Prime Minister. This is a huge change that gives even more power to the Prime Minister and none to Parliament or to Canadians. That is the problem.

Why is the Prime Minister doing this?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is not true. What we are doing with environmental assessments is ensuring a clear timeline. That is vital to the certainty of our investments.

I completely reject the Liberal leader's analysis.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a result of the budget cuts, 12 different government agencies will lose their internal auditors. That is Conservative-style transparency.

The role of the auditors is to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent properly. The Conservatives are therefore in favour of allowing millions of dollars to be spent without any oversight. They are leaving the door wide open to abuse.

Why do the Conservatives think that government spending does not have to be supervised? Are they hoping to spend money however they want?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 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, funding agencies have reviewed some back office operations, and this is something they do internally to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

The Office of the Comptroller General of Canada already serves 47 government organizations and has all the necessary know-how to provide auditing services for all the regional development agencies.

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have seen examples where the Conservatives' lack of transparency led to abuses. Look at the G8 slush fund. Indeed, there is cause for concern when the government announces its intention to cut the auditing powers of the Auditor General.

We have even seen the Conservatives refuse to allow the Auditor General to testify before the parliamentary committee. They want to silence the person responsible for ensuring that taxpayers' money is spent properly.

Why do the Conservatives want to take away the Auditor General's powers?

Government SpendingOral Questions

2:25 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, I believe in the particular case the hon. member is referencing, the Auditor General makes his own decisions on what audits he does. That is independent of the government and indeed, I would think, of this House. He is an independent agent who reports to this chamber. We have not had any impact on his decisions.

Parliamentary Budget OfficeOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, the creation of the Parliamentary Budget Office and the 2006 Accountability Act were to mark the beginning of a new era of greater transparency. Six years later, though, the Conservatives are dismantling their own law.

When the Parliamentary Budget Officer tries to do his job, he is muzzled by the government and attacked by Conservative ministers. In fact, 75 of 83 departments have even refused to reply to him.

This government established the Parliamentary Budget Office. So why is the government preventing the Parliamentary Budget Officer from doing his job?

Parliamentary Budget OfficeOral 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 will continue to report to Parliament by the normal means, including the estimates, quarterly financial reports and the public accounts process.

Of course our budget 2012 is a plan that is focused on jobs and opportunity throughout our country, and part of that is reducing the deficit by a total of 2%. In terms of reductions, I think that is fair, modest and moderate.

Parliamentary Budget OfficeOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, from name calling by the Minister of Finance to attacks by the Minister of National Defence for revealing the real cost of the F-35, make no mistake, the PBO is under attack by Conservatives who want to hide from oversight.

Out of 83 departments, 75 ignored his requests for basic information about planned cuts, and 90% of government departments even refused to answer him. When did Conservatives become so afraid of accountability? Will the government stop obstructing the PBO and let him do his job?

Parliamentary Budget OfficeOral 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, as I have already said before, and the hon. member, I am sure, knows this, we have obligations to report to Parliament, which we take very seriously.

We will continue to report to Parliament through the normal means, including the estimates, the quarterly financial reports and the public accounts process of this chamber. We do have some obligations to our employees to inform them first if there are any changes in their status. We take that seriously as well.

Political AppointmentsOral Questions

May 10th, 2012 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP always supported the creation of a Public Appointments Commission, in spite of the tall tales told by certain Conservatives saying the opposite.

What we refused to support was the nomination of a controversial commissioner, Gwyn Morgan, who is no more nor less than the chairman of the board of SNC-Lavalin and who is also famous for his insulting comments about certain ethnic communities.

Why do the Conservatives want to rewrite history when the only controversy here is the one they created with that nomination?

Political AppointmentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we have instituted a very rigorous process for our appointments. Unfortunately, the Public Appointments Commission and the establishment of the chair was opposed by the opposition parties. Then they rose in this House frequently to decry the spending of any money on that commission. We responded to that by stopping the spending of the money on that commission to help us move toward balancing the budget.

At the same time we are pleased to report that our appointments process is rigorous. It is working and ensuring that all appointments are made based on merit. That is why we have had such outstanding people stepping forward to take part in public life.

Political AppointmentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member seems to think that the only people who are qualified happen to be buddies of the Conservative Party.

Let us go through some of the more notorious ones. We have Leo Housakos' good buddy, Tom Pentefountas, who has zero qualifications, and the Conservatives gave him the vice-chair of the CRTC. We have Margaret F. Delisle, appointed to the National Battlefields Commission. Her qualification? Oh right, she is the sister of Michael Fortier.

The Conservatives promised they were going to clean up Ottawa, but instead it is the same old pork barrel, rum bottle politics. Why are they trying to undermine the accountability act?

Political AppointmentsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we have been very pleased with the appointments process that has ensured that first-rate people step forward and offer to provide public service.

We have seen it made more rigorous in a number of ways. As a result, the appointments made by the government are second to none. We are very pleased with the calibre of the individuals put forward. It is a surprise that they are prepared to do that in the face of criticism from members of the opposition who stand up and attack the people who dare to put in their time and their effort to serve their country.

Political AppointmentsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, what was that? That sounds like a political party that is circling the drain because people are getting tired of the pork barrel patronage that it is engaged in.

Let us go through a few more other stellar examples of those who come forward to help us and help themselves. There is Bruce Carson, a good buddy of the Prime Minister, appointed to the Canada School of Energy and Environment. How about Gary Valcour, riding president of the Minister of Finance, and now on the Oshawa Harbour Commission?

All of them are Conservative buddies. All of them are feeding at the trough. Why are they engaged in the same old tired politics that Canadians got fed up with when they kicked out the Liberals?