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House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Winnipeg North for his comments. He referred to the performance of the New Democratic government in Manitoba. I could add Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Saskatchewan to the list. New Democratic governments in those provinces have successfully balanced public finances while providing people with better public services, unlike what the Conservatives are doing at the federal level.

He made an excellent point about meetings, and therein lies the problem. Nobody is asking for monthly or even yearly meetings, but the Conservatives have been promising to meet with the premiers for the past three years, and it has not happened yet. Given present levels of economic instability and uncertainty, it is very important for each region of the federation to have meaningful conversations with the Prime Minister.

Individual conversations are all well and good, but I would like to know when was the last time the Prime Minister met with the Premier of Quebec. One-on-one meetings do not get a lot of media coverage. A joint meeting is essential to ensure that all of the regions can talk about the issues and how the government's solutions are affecting them. But that is not happening currently.

Opposition Motion—Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, my thanks to the hon. member. I have two very simple questions for him and I would like him to try to provide specific answers.

First, his party's finance critic states clearly that the GST must be increased. Does he agree with that? Second, the chair of the NDP caucus also says that he agrees with the idea of a carbon tax. Does he support that as well?

Opposition Motion—Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to answer the parliamentary secretary in the same manner as she answered me this morning.

In matters of economic policy, we do not talk in terms of individual measures, but in terms of the economy as a whole. I have mentioned the effects of the reduction in the GST. Even before the recession, we fell into a deficit situation. If they had really wanted measures to stimulate the economy, instead of cutting the GST, which, for every dollar of lost revenue, produces only 30 cents in economic growth, they could have invested the money in infrastructure, which would have grown the economy at a rate of $1.50 for each dollar invested.

I am delighted to answer the second question. Our leader of the opposition has answered it as well. We are in favour of the polluter-pay principle. This is a question to which I would have liked an answer from her previously: is she in favour of the principle, as Canadians are? Some also refer to internalizing costs. This is perhaps the most effective way to solve the problems we are facing, such as climate change and the action taken in Canada.

Opposition Motion—Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to speak today to the motion put forward by the member for Outremont. The motion deals with a pivotal matter, a matter crucial to the future of our country: the economy.

The Canadian economy is facing unprecedented dangers and uncertainty. The world economic crisis and the choices made by this government have weakened the fabric of industry and the job market in several regions of the country. Today, Canadians are hoping that this government will show leadership and openness to dialogue, especially with the provinces. Currently, this government has been content to repeat that the Canadian economy is in good shape. But the imbalances that can be seen are threatening our potential to build a Canadian economy for the 21st century, an economy that is solid, diversified, balanced and beneficial for all.

I am going to ask the hon. members opposite a very simple question. Do they find it acceptable that income inequality is constantly on the rise, as is the case in our country? Do this country's workers, who are up early, working by the sweat of their brow and paying their taxes honestly, not have the right to a greater share of the fruits of our growth?

For 25 years, income inequality has steadily worsened. The income of the wealthiest 20% in our society keeps going up while the income of the remaining 80% keeps going down. Other statistics show that our economy is not working as it should. In 2010, for example, about one Canadian in 10 was living in poverty. This included 546,000 children, a regrettable number. Moreover, Canadian households are facing a record level of debt, now at 152% of income.

Other statistics tell us that the annual income of seniors dropped by about $1,000 between 2009 and 2010. There is reason to believe that the Conservatives' unjustified cuts to old age security and the guaranteed income supplement will hasten the decline in seniors' incomes.

When they hear the Conservatives tell them that they are creating wealth, the question that Canadians have to ask themselves is this: but who is the wealth creation benefiting at the moment? Under the Conservatives, the wealth being created is essentially benefiting the wealthiest. Growth is necessary, of course, even essential; but it has to benefit everyone. That is not the case at the moment. The Conservatives have made choices whose result has been to keep most of our fellow citizens outside the circle of those who are actually benefiting.

The government's response to the most recent global economic crisis clearly illustrates the ideology that is guiding its decisions, an ideology that is causing greater economic imbalance. First the Conservatives decided to cut taxes for large corporations, hoping that they would reinvest the money and create jobs, but that never happened. Now those corporations are sitting on over half a trillion dollars, which is lying idle in their coffers rather than driving the economy. This Conservative approach to stimulating the economy does not cut the mustard.

The Conservatives also decided to adopt a policy of fiscal restraint. They told Canadians to tighten their belts even further. Canadians are fed up with having to pay for the Conservative ideology and want to receive the services that their tax dollars pay for. In that regard, this government's cuts to the public service have hit my riding of Hull—Aylmer very hard. The repercussions are very real and quite apparent.

In addition to the serious human and social consequences of losing one's job, this also has major economic implications. The budget cuts are having numerous adverse effects. The most obvious is the reduction in household spending and falling sales for SMEs.

A number of people in my riding have told me that their sales are down. What happens when SMEs see their sales slump? They lay off their staff or shut down completely. It is a vicious circle.

The Canadian economy has been affected by the global economic crisis and by the Conservatives' response to it. Today, four years after the crisis began, uncertainty still abounds.

We still have major challenges before us. Since our economy is open to the world, the economic health of our trade partners has a particularly serious impact on us. Our largest trade partner, the United States, is having a difficult time. Our second largest trade partner, Europe, is in a serious position. Basically, the Canadian economy is confronted with extraordinary risks and uncertainty, and it is especially true that, within Canada, there are major imbalances among the provinces with regard to unemployment and growth.

In this context, Canadians are entitled to expect the country's Prime Minister to at least take the time to consult the provincial premiers in order to look at the various options available.

We are part of a federation, and the Prime Minister has so far been deaf to the provinces' desire to discuss the economy.

The Prime Minister is even refusing to attend the national economic summit in November organized by the Council of the Federation—

Opposition Motion—Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, but the time for the business of supply is up. She will have three minutes to finish her speech after question period.

We will now move on to statements by members.

Queen's Diamond Jubilee MedalsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, volunteers are the lifeblood of every community. On Sunday, September 9, I had the opportunity to recognize 30 outstanding volunteers from across my riding of Don Valley West when I presented them with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals.

These 30 community leaders represent a wide range of volunteer activities, from leading residents' associations to organizing and coaching minor baseball and soccer programs for our kids; to planting trees and cleaning and maintaining our parks and ravines; to collecting food and clothing on behalf of our local food banks and social service agencies; to spearheading community infrastructure projects, like building a new arena and a cricket pitch; and fundraising for hospitals and arts organizations.

Each of the 30 medal recipients, who represent the essence of volunteerism, helps to make Don Valley West a better place to live.

Quebec Market GardenersStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to salute market gardeners in my riding.

On July 4, a severe hailstorm hit the region, devastating everything. Hailstones the size of golf balls destroyed entire fields of lettuce, carrots, onions and other vegetables. Most producers had to throw everything out. Sixty market gardeners lost almost everything. They worked day and night to clean up their fields and try to reseed. The Association des jardiniers maraîchers du Québec estimates damages on the order of $50 million.

Unfortunately, existing aid programs are not designed for market gardeners. The federal government must adapt its programs quickly to help our farmers recover from this natural disaster. To date, we are still waiting for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to do something.

Farmers in my riding deserve much better. After all, they produce most of the fruits and vegetables in Quebec, and it is thanks to them that we can eat fresh foods every day. Today I salute their hard work and their courage.

ArmeniaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Conservative Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to Canadians of Armenian descent on this 21st anniversary of the recognition of independence of Armenia.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to dialogue with Armenian Canadians in my riding and here on the Hill. Armenia made a full switch to a market economy and as of 2012 is the 39th most economically free nation in the world. I continue to be fascinated, both by how far Armenia has come in these two decades of freedom and how strong the will is to continue to build a democratic and vibrant society.

All members of the House are here as the result of the peaceful democratic process governed by the rule of law. Too often we take this for granted. Today, I invite all hon. members to join me in congratulating our Armenian Canadian friends for 21 years of independence, democracy, and progress.

God bless Canada and Armenia.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, in areas like Prince Edward Island that depend on seasonal industries, the changes and cutbacks of the EI program are having a devastating effect on thousands of families. People who earn a small amount of money while on EI will now see half their earnings taken away. Low-wage earners will lose money under these changes and wait times are getting longer and longer because of cuts to EI staff and claim centres.

People are struggling in my riding and right across the country. There are many areas where seasonal work is the only option and that is the reality for many people in my district of Cardigan.

These people deserve a federal government that understands their hardships and the struggles they face. They deserve a federal government that will stand up for them, not destroy the programs they need the most to provide for their families when there is no work available.

These changes are unacceptable and I urge the government to reconsider these devastating changes that will hurt so many people on Prince Edward Island.

YukonStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all Yukoners for a fantastic summer. I was able to amass more than 18,000 kilometres, travelling to every community in our great territory. To better serve our communities I opened additional offices. I was honoured to announce continued record levels of funding to multiple arts and cultural activities, celebrations and festivals; and to deal with northern housing challenges by opening affordable housing units for seniors and independent living units for people with FASD to improve their quality of life and access to support. I announced investments in critical infrastructure and consultations with Yukon stakeholders for our path to the future; investments in education, from literacy to innovation, to better place Yukon people for Yukon jobs; and support for our youth career opportunities through 60 summer student job placements.

I would like to congratulate Watson Lake's Olympian, Zach Bell and team alternatives, Jeane Lassen and Brittanee Laverdure.

Our Prime Minister understands how remarkable the people of Canada's true north are. I end with his quote, “Our country's greatest dreams are to be found in our highest latitudes”.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the mid 1970s, over 40 oil refineries operated in Canada. Today, there are only 19. Burnaby is home to the last remaining major oil refinery in British Columbia. The Chevron refinery employs 250 people and provides one-third of metro Vancouver's gasoline. This refinery gets its oil from Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline.

Chevron may now close because it is starved of feedstock. Chevron has applied to the National Energy Board to secure a guaranteed supply of oil from Kinder Morgan. I am intervening in the National Energy Board process to try to save the refinery, while demanding it operate at the highest possible environmental standards. The Conservative chair of the natural resources committee quipped to the Globe and Mail that he does not care if the refinery closes as long as it means more oil exports for Alberta.

I am fighting to keep the Burnaby refinery open while making it cleaner. I am fighting to keep 250 good-paying local jobs and gas prices low. What are the Conservatives doing? Where is their national energy strategy?

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been a busy summer in Mississauga. I spent it attending community events, meeting with residents and veterans and continuing to work hard on their behalf. It was especially wonderful to host over 2000 of my neighbours at my annual community barbecue. I would like to thank all of the wonderful volunteers who pitched in on a hot and sunny day to make it such a success.

My community is hard working and it was wonderful to hear my neighbours speak of their continued support for our Conservative government's economic action plan to create jobs and keep taxes low. I am not the only one proud of our government's work and our Prime Minister. The World Economic Forum has recognized the work of our government and has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world for the fifth year running.

It is not just our economy that is capturing international accolades. Former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and retired General Colin Powell have honoured our Prime Minister with the World Statesman of the Year award for his international leadership, which will put him in the company of renowned leaders like former PM Margaret Thatcher.

Congratulations to the Prime Minister.

Jim JordanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the late Jim Jordan, who died Tuesday morning, just 16 days after his 84th birthday. Mr. Jordan was the member of Parliament for my riding of Leeds—Grenville from 1988 to 1997. Jim, as he was affectionately known to everybody, was born into a political family. His father was a successful municipal politician in Hungerford Township.

Of all his achievements as member of Parliament, Jim may be best remembered for his tremendous efforts in convincing the government of the day to help finance a four lane highway stretching from Highway 401 at Prescott to Ottawa. That single achievement, Highway 416, has been a lasting and continuously growing economic benefit to both Ottawa and my riding, as well as making it much easier for many to commute to the city for work.

On behalf of all members, I wish to express my condolences to his children Dr. David, Bob, Paul, Tom, Mike, Dr. Andy, and Joe Jordan, who was the first son to directly succeed his father as an MP, and their families

Atikamekw of Manawan First NationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault NDP Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was lucky enough to take part in a powwow at the Atikamekw of Manawan First Nation. This northern Lanaudière community welcomed me with open arms and introduced me to a rich culture and many wonderful people.

Although this community was already dealing with chronic underfunding and an astronomical drop-out rate, its funding was just cut by another $430,000. So I was amazed at how warm and welcoming these people are. Manawan is one of the few aboriginal communities where the traditional language is still widely spoken, and yet this community receives no financial assistance to fund its cultural programs.

If language is the soul of a nation, why would we wait until the Atikamekw language is dead before offering our support? This question and many others arose from my visit. I hope the government will take appropriate action.

Enhancing RCMP Accountability ActStatements By Members

September 20th, 2012 / 2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that last night Bill C-42, the enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police accountability act, passed second reading. This bill would give the RCMP the tools it needs to enhance trust and restore accountability in its ranks.

The positive response to our government's proposed reforms has been heard loud and clear. This legislation is urgently needed. I was also pleased to hear that the NDP has stated it supports this legislation. However, it seems it cannot keep from playing some parliamentary games, even on bills it supports. The member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River read word for word the same speech that the NDP public safety critic had read on the previous day.

The NDP needs to get serious and work with our government to pass these very vital reforms.

Public ServiceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the Conservatives are looking for inefficiencies and public expenditure, they need to look no further than their own record: a bloated cabinet; more and more reliance on special advisers and ministerial officers; and over $1 billion spent in the past five years on temporary help services for jobs that should have been done by the full-time employees of the public service.

The government cannot fire 184 professionals from Health Canada and expect no impact on public health. It cannot cut air safety programs and expect no impact on security. When 900 workers are fired from Service Canada, that is 900 people who will not be there to service our seniors with their pensions.

Canadians deserve better. Good governance begins with the relationship of trust and respect between public service employees and political leadership. Canadians deserve quality public services and the professionals who provide them deserve our thanks and support.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP has a dangerous economic plan for Canadians. He wants to impose a carbon tax on Canadians, which will increase the price of gas, electricity and groceries. It will also kill jobs.

The NDP platform clearly states on page 13 that the NDP “will put a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade system”, which is the same as a carbon tax.

Canadians were clear in the last election: they want a government that focuses on the economy, job creation and prosperity. That is why they elected our Conservative government.

We will continue to focus on what is important to Canadians: keeping taxes low for families and job creators.

SyriaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently the Canadian embassy in Syria's web page posted a warning, which read, “Canadians who are leaving Syria by land into Lebanon should know that we advise against all travel to the border region”. I applaud the embassy for protecting Canadians in these border regions, but I wonder why other mechanisms of government are not equally mindful of the dangers.

For example, residents of Syria, with a need for consular services from Canada, are required to travel through this war ravaged territory to Amman, Jordan. Those engaged in the immigration process must make that perilous journey, often with young children and family, to our embassy before returning via the same treacherous route. Many have been threatened and some killed in the process, all for the sake of a face-to-face meeting.

Canada should not be forcing people into dangerous situations like this. Allies, such as Australia, for example, are conducting immigration interviews by phone. Why is Canada not able to do the same and why does it continue to put people at risk when other methods would accomplish the very same thing?

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has been hiding from answering the following straightforward question: Would the NDP impose a carbon tax? The answer he is so afraid to say out loud is that, yes, it would impose a carbon tax. The proof is simple as it says it right in the party platform. It reads in black and white that the NDP would generate $21 billion from this carbon tax.

I ask the leader of the NDP to finally come clean and admit it. The NDP want a carbon tax, a tax that would raise the price on everything, including gas, electricity and groceries.

It is clear to me that Canadians do not want any part of the NDP's carbon tax scheme, and who can blame them?

Our government will continue with its low tax plan for jobs and growth.

Gasoline PricesStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of pulling fabrications out of their overactive imaginations, the Conservatives should stop twiddling their thumbs and take action to put an end to one of their government's worst fiascos: skyrocketing gas prices.

Imagine this: Quebeckers and Canadians filling up their tanks have to pay 36% more than six years ago, all because of the Conservatives' irresponsible inaction. This 36% increase means that families have to make many sacrifices. They are cutting their spending on travel, food, clothing and school supplies. They are depriving themselves of the basics to be able to afford the Conservatives' gas price hikes. Enough is enough.

It is all well and good to waste time launching unfounded attacks, but if my colleagues opposite have any political will left, they will attack this problem that is affecting all families across the country.

Leader of the New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a twist of contradictions, the NDP leader has begun attacking Canada's trade balance. He continues to spread false deficit numbers to mislead the Canadian public. He also fails to grasp the irony that if the NDP's reckless and irresponsible anti-trade agenda were imposed, Canada's trade would be zero.

These policies, along with a new $20 billion carbon tax, would kill Canadian jobs and stall the economy.

We encourage the NDP leader to read Andrew Coyne, who today wrote:

A country whose economy is growing relatively slowly, compared to its trading partners, will buy rather less from them, and sell rather more. Its trade deficit will accordingly shrink. Conversely, a country that is growing quicker than its partners will experience an increase in its trade deficit. POP QUIZ: Which country would you rather live in?

Sadly, it is the NDP policies—

Leader of the New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Oral questions, the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons said that employment insurance creates “incentives for people to be unemployed.” We hear the same type of comments from his colleague, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, who thinks that employment insurance is too lucrative.

Does the Prime Minister agree with his ministers? Does he believe that employment insurance provides people with an incentive to be unemployed?

Does the Prime Minister agree that employment insurance is, to quote his House leader, “an incentive for people to be unemployed?”

EmploymentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, employment insurance is essential for Canadians who cannot find work. Our objective is to ensure that Canadians are given the opportunity to work.

In the past, the way employment insurance worked was that people who went back to work lost dollar for dollar everything they gained when they returned to work. For the vast majority of people that is what happened. We are trying to ensure that Canadians can go back to work and continue to benefit.

EmploymentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is not true to say that 1.4 million Canadians are unemployed because they want to be. They are unemployed because of the failure of the Conservatives' economic policies, which involve, for example, lowering taxes for big business, increasing the age of retirement, preventing workers from obtaining employment insurance benefits and—the Prime Minister's favourite—bringing in temporary foreign workers.

How do these policies help unemployed workers find jobs?