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House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was changes.

Topics

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the government will continue to report to Parliament through the means that have been used for many years. They includes the estimates, the supplementary estimates, quarterly reports and the public accounts. Based our current collective bargaining arrangements with our employees, we are working with the departments to inform unions and employees of any affected changes. We think we owe it to them to tell them first before they learn about it on television.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, they are breaking the law.

The President of the Treasury Board said that he could not give specific information about the cuts because of the unions. Yet the unions have written to the Clerk of the Privy Council specifically asking that that information be made public. MPs are about to vote on this omnibus bill at third reading without having all pertinent information, and even government members are starting to complain. By hiding this information, the Conservatives are wilfully breaking the law. That is an order that only a prime minister can give.

When will the Conservatives start respecting law and order?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we had unprecedented debate about budget 2012 in the House and in committee. We sat for more than a full day, 24 hours, discussing, debating and voting on the bill just last week. We will continue to have more debate on this important legislation.

What we cannot debate is the reality that this government is on the right track when it comes to the economy. The Prime Minister, right now, is meeting with world leaders, and they all look to Canada as an island of stability. That has happened because of the fiscal measures taken by this government, and we are very proud of them.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the law is crystal clear. The Federal Accountability Act requires that members of Parliament be given “free and timely access to any financial or economic data in the possession of the department”. That is the law. Financial and economic data sounds like the sort of thing that Conservative members might like to see themselves before they vote on the budget.

Why is the Prime Minister showing his own MPs such blatant disrespect?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is this government that held unprecedented consultations in preparing budget 2012. It is a plan for long-term economic growth and prosperity. It has low taxes and balances the budget, and those are absolutely key and essential to creating a good economic climate.

Those of us on this side of the House consulted for many months leading up to that budget. We have had an unprecedented amount of debate in Parliament and committee, and we saw last week, more than 157 times, the House vote full confidence in the measures brought forward by the Minister of Finance for job creation and economic growth. He should respect that as well.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise that the Conservatives are hiding information on the budget. Cuts to services are going to be worse than previously announced. More jobs will be lost and government services will be jeopardized. By refusing to share this information, the Conservatives are asking their own members to cast a blind vote. Legal opinions are clear: the Conservatives are breaking the law.

Why are the Conservatives refusing to properly inform the Parliamentary Budget Officer? Why so many blind votes?

Government AccountabilityOral 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, we will continue to report to Parliament by the normal means, including the estimates, quarterly financial reports and the public accounts process. As was clearly shown in Canada's economic action plan 2012, we have found fair, balanced and moderate savings measures to reduce the deficit.

We have a plan to make sure that we continue to grow jobs and economic opportunity in this country and we are in the midst of implementing that plan.

PensionsOral Questions

June 18th, 2012 / 2:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know that the facts have a well-known anti-Conservative bias. However, even though it is on the chopping block, the very last Statistics Canada report on labour and income dynamics that was released today shows that over the last few years, seniors' income has declined and the number of seniors living in poverty has increased.

The Conservatives' cuts to old age security and the guaranteed income supplement only hurt seniors more. Why are the Conservatives ignoring the facts and punishing seniors with this Trojan Horse budget bill?

PensionsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, in fact, we have done just the opposite. We have helped seniors become better off. Through our tax cuts—and there have been over 150 of them in the last few years—380,000 seniors are no longer having to pay tax. That is money that they are keeping in their pockets. We have also increased the guaranteed income supplement by record amounts in the last 20 years.

We have done a lot to help seniors. Unfortunately, the NDP has voted against every one of those initiatives to help our seniors be better off.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Budget Officer is an officer created by Parliament. This office was promoted by the government as a new way of adding to accountability and transparency, so when the government says that it is doing all the things it normally does, well, the government has not adjusted to the “new normal”, which is that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has a right to free and timely access to economic and financial data.

The simple question to the government is this: why is it showing not only contempt for Parliament but contempt also for its own backbenches, for the Parliamentary Budget Officer and for the law?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, when this government sought election this past year in May 2011, we came forward with a solid economic plan to create jobs and opportunity. Part of that was to reign in government expenditures and to live within our means. The other part was to grow the economy to create more jobs.

We will continue to report to Parliament through the estimates, the supplementary estimates, the quarterly reports and the public accounts and we will continue to be fully accountable to this House.

What the leader of the Liberal Party needs to do is join this government and be focused on job creation and long-term economic growth. That is the real priority of Canadians.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have only been gone for three days and I am already getting an offer from the government.

However, I can assure members that unlike the Leader of the Opposition, this does not come from me but from the government. Let the record show that.

The problem is this: this is not an extraordinary request. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has the right to have access to the information. However, the government is refusing to give him that information. The Reform Party of Canada was elected to ensure that the executive was accountable to Parliament.

What happened to the Reform Party?

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this party is the party that was elected on a plan for job creation and economic growth. We are focused on delivering that for Canadians. We have seen the creation of more than 750,000 net new jobs since the recession ended. It is that type of focus, commitment to job creation and economic growth that has made Canada an island of stability.

We will continue to report to Parliament through the normal means, whether through the estimates, the supplementary estimates, public accounts, or quarterly reports. We will continue to provide Parliament with the important work that it needs to undertake.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough. The government is denying the fact that it created a new job, the Parliamentary Budget Officer. The government created it by reforming the laws affecting Parliament and parliamentary scrutiny. That was not simply coming from the opposition; it was coming from the government.

How can the minister stand in his place when he was the minister then and pretend that there is no such person as the Parliamentary Budget Officer? The Parliamentary Budget Officer is not fiction; it is a real job that requires real scrutiny. Why does the government not--

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we will undertake to ensure that we meet all of our obligations under collective agreements, ensure that unions and employees are informed in a timely manner and ensure that the results of these are communicated appropriately to everyone.

When we brought in the Federal Accountability Act, it was designed with one big goal: to clean up the ethical mess that was left by the previous Liberal government and the influence of big money and big lobbying. Thank goodness Canada has come a long way since those very dark days under the previous Liberal government.

International TradeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, we go from ethical breaches to behind closed doors.

The Prime Minister has taken the unusual step of sending his chief of staff to negotiate for Canada on the trans-Pacific partnership. We know that Canada has been asked to make substantial concessions to be part of the TPP, and Canadians want to know if the government has now agreed to drive up drug costs with longer patent protection, weaken intellectual property rules or sell out milk and egg producers who rely on supply management to make ends meet.

What did the Prime Minister and his chief of staff give away to get the Americans' endorsement?

International TradeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the question is sheer nonsense.

As a Pacific nation, Canada's interest in joining the trans-Pacific partnership is consistent with our active, ongoing and growing presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The Minister of International Trade has met with his counterparts from all nine TPP countries, and all have welcomed Canada's interest. We look forward to helping develop a 21st century agreement that benefits all the TPP countries, and Canada will be an ambitious partner at the TPP table.

International TradeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, how about a trade deal that benefits Canadians? The fact is that the minister just appointed a panel of trade advisers without one single defender of supply management. Three out of ten are actually opposed, and John Manley even called supply management “an obstacle”.

To make matters worse, if Canada agrees to U.S. demands on intellectual property, our prescription drug bills will skyrocket. Can the government assure Canadians that it has not sold out affordable medicine as the cost of joining the TPP?

International TradeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, we know that the NDP does not support free trade agreements in any way, shape or form anywhere in the world. It simply does not support trade.

Here is the issue. Maybe the hon. member does not want to listen to the government side, so maybe he should listen to Wally Smith, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Mr. Smith said:

Supply management has not stood in the way of Canada's ability to successfully negotiate trade agreements in the past and it is unlikely to do so in the future.

International TradeOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, having watched the Conservatives dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board, the rest of our agricultural sector, not surprisingly, is concerned about international pressure to undermine supply management so that Canada can join the trans-Pacific partnership.

The profitability of livestock, milk, egg and poultry producers is at stake.

The question is simple: has this government sacrificed supply management in order to join the trans-Pacific partnership, yes or no?

International TradeOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should have listened to the last question, but I do not mind repeating it.

It is very clear. Supply management has not stood in the way of Canada signing any of our free trade agreements with any country in the world. We continue to support supply management.

PrivacyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, quietly and without telling Canadians, Canada Border Services Agency has installed new surveillance equipment to eavesdrop on travellers in airports across the country. The Conservatives did this without even consulting the Privacy Commissioner, which they are required to do by law. As a result, we do not know how these recordings will be used and stored or how long they will be kept.

We are all for making airports safer, but this will give the minister access to a mountain of private information. Will the minister tell the House how this blanket spying on Canadian travellers will make our airports or our borders more secure?

PrivacyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, Canada Border Services Agency operates customs-controlled areas for screening international travellers arriving at airports across Canada, including monitoring video and audio in order to detect and prevent illegal smuggling. I assure the member that the privacy rights of law-abiding Canadians are respected at all times.

PrivacyOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, there has been no evaluation of the consequences for travellers or workers.

Canadians have the right to know how their private conversations will be stored and used and if they will ever be made public.

Of course it is a question of security, but it is also a question of the right to privacy.

Will the Conservatives put this project on hold until there is an actual assessment of its impact?