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House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was panama.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canadians, the premiers, seasonal businesses, they all know that the Conservatives are targeting them. What is most troubling to the premiers is the secrecy around these changes. Consultation does not mean having a chat with a Conservative backbencher. It requires communication with premiers, with employers and with workers. Even New Brunswick's Progressive Conservative premier said there are a lot of concerns because “there is a void of information”.

Why do they not do the reasonable thing? Why do they not do the common-sense thing and put these changes on hold and have real consultations for EI.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we have listened to Canadians. Canadians say they want to work. We want to help them connect with the jobs in their skill range that are available in their areas. We have also heard from employers who desperately need and want Canadian workers to produce their products, to go to a second shift. That is good for the employer. It is also good for the workers. They would make more money with the changes we want to bring in. That is good for their families. That means there is more money spent in their communities, which is good for those communities. If we do that in enough communities, it is good for the provinces. Who could object to that?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, these EI changes will have sweeping impacts on the agriculture sector.

The Conservatives are attacking communities that rely on seasonal industries, like fruit growers, horticultural growers, beef farmers, the fisheries and many more, and none of these farmers were consulted. When the minister makes major policy announcements without any consultations, she puts those very businesses and farms at risk.

Why did the Conservatives choose to ignore farmers and why did they choose not to consult with those businesses that will be greatly affected?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, coming from beautiful Haldimand—Norfolk as I do, much of our economy is seasonal work. In fact, as over half of our economy is agriculture, I am very sensitive to those needs. However, I also know that I have a lot of employers who are looking for temporary foreign workers because they have challenges finding Canadians who will do those jobs.

We want to connect Canadians who are unemployed with the jobs available in their areas. That is better for them.

When it comes to agriculture, I have a quote I will share with the House. It reads, “We took a look at them”, being the EI reforms,“ but we did not find anything that was a warning sign”. Who said that? Ron Bonnett, the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, if we actually had them come before the agriculture committee we could actually have ask them some question but then, of course, they did not actually come before the committee did they?

This is what the chair of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council told the committee because he had to go before a different committee. He said, “We will have a net negative effect on agriculture”. This is an employer who is looking for employees. It represents over 300,000 employees across the agricultural sector, the manufacturing sector and the food processing sector and it says that there is a major issue.

When will the Conservatives stop rushing this bill, take a step back, take a deep breath, consult farmers, consult the industry and find a way to make this work properly.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, one could get whiplash listening to the NDP's economic philosophy.

First, the NDP does not want Canadian workers to work. It des not want us to give them help in finding new jobs. Instead, it wants to have a 45-day work year, depriving employers of much needed skills resources.

The NDP previously said publicly that it did not want us to bring in temporary foreign workers because it would be bad for Canadians workers, whom they do not want to work either. Who is supposed to do the work around here?

We want to help all Canadians get work, do the work they can and be better off.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the changes to employment insurance are not the only area where the Conservatives have nothing to be proud of.

Last evening, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, with the help of the chair of the committee, refused to answer simple questions concerning his department. Because they refused to answer yesterday, I am going to give them another chance today.

Food security is a serious problem for the first nations, the Inuit and the Metis. It was even underscored by the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food.

What is the department’s short-term plan to solve the food security problem?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to providing northerners with healthy food choices at affordable prices.

We welcome input from northerners, retailers and suppliers. We created an advisory board made up of northerners to take stakeholder concerns and provide those recommendations to the government as the nutrition north program continues to develop.

We want to protect the food security for northerners and we are getting it done.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is not a satisfactory answer to a question that is critical to so many first nations

According to the Prime Minister's own rules, ministers must “answer all questions pertaining to their areas of responsibility”, but at committee the minister said, “I should not be subject to criticism for appearing here”, and was not there to, “Talk about whatever comes up”.

A minister's job is to answer to Canadians on all issues, not just the ones that the minister likes.

Why did the minister hide behind the committee chair? Does he not know what is going on in his own department?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, this gives me an opportunity to thank the minister for coming to committee and answering questions on a motion tabled by that member on supplementary estimates (A). That is what he was available for and he was happy to answer anybody who asked questions on supplementary estimates (A). That is what he did and we appreciate that.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives cannot seem to answer questions here and they will not in committee.

Yesterday, when I asked the minister if he would be cutting funding for the Northwest Territories protected area strategy. a vital program that allows northerners to determine what areas should have enhanced environmental protection, he refused to answer.

My question is for the chair of the aboriginal affairs committee. Instead of stopping questions for the minister in a fit of partisanship, will he be scheduling another meeting so that the minister can answer these reasonable questions?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the member was not able to be prepared and organized enough to answer questions on a motion written by his critic for aboriginal affairs on Supplementary Estimates (A).

Furthermore, the minister said that he would be happy to come back to the committee to answer questions on other matters, as he has always been.

We did not write the motion for supplementary estimates (A). The NDP did. Why did the NDP members not ask questions on supplementary estimates (A)?

EthicsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, there is no more denying the facts. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister is under active and serious investigations by Elections Canada for election fraud.

How can the Conservative member for Peterborough conduct himself as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and hold his position on the ethics committee while he is being investigated for breaking the rules at Elections Canada?

My question is for the member for Peterborough. Why do you not do the honourable thing, step aside as the Prime Minister's private parliamentary secretary and step aside from the ethics committee while you are under active investigation?

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would remind the hon. member to address his questions through the Chair and not directly at other members.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I did not know there was anything private about me being the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

I think the member has served on committee long enough with me to know a couple of things about me. One is that I serve with integrity and conviction. While the member and I have not always agreed, he does know those qualities about me.

My statements that were provided in 2008, some four years ago, accurately reflect all expenditures incurred by both my campaign and my association. Anything that I paid on their behalf was refunded to me. I stand by those. I have never been contacted by Elections Canada on this matter.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, Helena Guergis was removed from cabinet and thrown out of the Conservative caucus based on mere allegations to the Prime Minister by some private eye.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister is facing a serious investigation by Canada's independent election authority.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Why is the member for Peterborough still his parliamentary secretary and why is he the government's spokesperson on election fraud?

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister has already indicated that, as long as four years ago he filed documents with Elections Canada with respect to the 2008 campaign. They were audited, approved and he has not heard anything from Elections Canada ever since, nor have we seen a single scintilla of evidence to the contrary.

What we do know is that the Liberal member for Guelph made illegal and false phone calls to his constituency, a fact that he was forced to concede after he was caught red-handed.

We will take no lessons from the sponsorship party on these matters.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is edifying. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport has just said that the system may have been gamed four years ago, and because no one got caught at the time, it is acceptable.

The reality is that there was a cheque for $21,000. The reality is that there was $17,000 more than he was allowed to spend. That person is liable to a fine of $5,000 and could get as much as five years in prison. The reality is that that person is trying to make out that he is squeaky clean. It is as if he had dropped a big plate of spaghetti in his lap. Is that person going to resign from his position as parliamentary secretary?

A person who lectures everyone and sullies everyone’s reputation has no business being here.

EthicsOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, yelling like a crazy person will not erase the fact that the Liberals have no evidence to support their allegations.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister filed the documents nearly four years ago. Those documents were independently audited and accepted by Elections Canada. There is no evidence; quite the contrary. Moreover, the member in question has not even been contacted by Elections Canada.

The Liberal Party is the one that has admitted to breaking the law.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the saying goes, speech is silver but silence is golden. Given the Minister of International Cooperation's expensive taste, no wonder she has so little to say.

She amended her claims for Korea, Haiti and Africa, but she is still refusing to say why. She tried to put one over on people, but after getting caught with her hand in the cookie jar over the London limousine episode, she clumsily tried to erase all traces of the scandal.

Will she stop hiding behind the government House leader and explain why she changed her claims?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have answered many times in this House, we seek to deliver our services to Canadians with the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. Ministers follow that direction, which is why our costs are significantly lower than they were under the previous government.

In the case of the minister in question, only appropriate costs that were expended have been reimbursed.

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the costs were indeed appropriate, the government should have no trouble showing us the changes and the explanations.

The Minister of International Cooperation's attitude and silence are completely unacceptable. She uses public moneys to fund her expensive taste, all while cutting international aid, closing research centres, telling Canadians to tighten their belts, cutting public services and stealing money from seniors. That is unacceptable.

Right after she was caught red-handed for expenses tied to her luxury London junket, she made three requests to change her expense claims.

People have the right to know. Will she explain how and why her claims were changed?

Ministerial ExpendituresOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as I have already said many times, only appropriate expenses have been reimbursed.

EthicsOral Questions

June 7th, 2012 / 2:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the problem with defending the minister for luxurious living is the Conservatives are defending the now indefensible, in the same way that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister has for months been defending allegations of widespread voter fraud. We now learn that he himself is under investigation. Given the very serious nature of these allegations, it has compromised his ability to do his job.

Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and remove the parliamentary secretary from his position while this investigation is under way?

EthicsOral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the member has already indicated that he filed documents with Elections Canada, with regard to that campaign almost four years ago. They were audited and confirmed and he has not been contacted by Elections Canada ever since.

However, what we do know is that just this week the NDP, yet again, had to accept guilt for breaking the law in accepting illegal union donations. What we do not yet know, because its leader will not reveal it, is how much illegal dirty money it did it take and when and how much it will be paying back.