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House of Commons Hansard #214 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was municipalities.

Topics

EthicsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the leader of the NDP knows well, there was an administrative error in that case. The Ethics Commissioner has required a compliance agreement from the Minister of Finance, which he has agreed to. In the meantime, he continues to be the best minister of finance in the world.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, on February 1, the Minister of Human Resources told the House: “Departmental employees do not have individual quotas.”

She said that allegations of a quota system were “absolutely false”. The problem is that they are absolutely true. Just because she used her thesaurus to find a synonym for quota does not mean that a quota system is not being used.

When employees are faced with a target of $500,000 that will affect their careers if they do not meet it, that is a quota.

What excuse does the Prime Minister have to justify the behaviour of his minister, who is not telling the truth?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canadian workers contribute to the employment insurance system so that it is available to them when they need it.

Clearly, HRSDC is trying to ensure that workers who contribute to the system have access to it should they become unemployed.

Any abuse of the system only hurts unemployed workers who really need that help.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, allegations of corruption in the Senate continue unabated. We have two more senators under investigation as of today.

What is interesting is that last week, the Prime Minister told the House that he had personally reviewed the cases of Duffy and Wallin and that there was nothing wrong, which is all the more interesting given the fact that they have decided to reimburse hundreds of thousands of dollars they were not entitled to receive.

There has not been one word yet, formally, from him on how much money has been repaid or on which senators are currently under investigation. Instead of just talking about taxpayers' money, would the Prime Minister finally stand up and say that he is going to defend Canadian taxpayers and hold the unelected Senate to account?

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear, as has the Senate and as have all senators. They are reviewing all of their expenses to ensure not only that the expenses are appropriate but that the rules in the future for governing such expenses are appropriate. That is a commitment that has been made on this side.

As far as taxpayers' interests are concerned, that is always our focus, which is why, of course, we reject a $21-billion carbon tax.

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there is still a common thread in these different exercises: one set of rules for some people and a different set for others.

When a minister is given the right to tell the opposite of the truth in the House, it shows a lack of respect for our democratic parliamentary institutions.

How are the Conservative senators who are members of his caucus supposed to come to a decision other than the one that was already announced by the Prime Minister himself? The Prime Minister said in the House that he looked over the Wallin case and that there was no problem.

Does he really believe that the investigation will be objective?

EthicsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as we just said, our senators and the Senate are reviewing all of their expenses to ensure that they are appropriate. That is a clear commitment that the government and the Senate have made.

As far as our democratic institutions are concerned, our party is the one proposing Senate reforms that will allow for senators to be elected. It is the NDP that is resisting the idea of a reformed, elected Senate, which is what Canadians want.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that is rich coming from a party that used unelected senators to overturn Jack Layton's climate change bill duly enacted by the Parliament of Canada.

In 2009 the international community failed spectacularly to prevent atrocities committed against Tamil civilians in the final months of the Sri Lankan civil war. The government of Sri Lanka has refused to accept accountability for these events ever since.

If no investigation occurs, as being asked for right now in the United Nations, will the Prime Minister commit to stay away from the upcoming Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Colombo?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. It is this party that is trying to get the Senate elected; it is that party which is resisting Senate elections. We all know why. It is not because of abolition because those members have never actually seriously proposed it. It is because we know, as we knew during the 2008-09 coalition exercise, that they want to appoint their own senators. That is why.

In terms of the question on Sri Lanka, as the House knows, I have indicated that unless changes occur in Sri Lanka, I will not attend the Commonwealth summit there. I am concerned with further developments since I made that statement, which are taking that country in a worse direction.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government may have Inspector Clouseau in charge in the Senate, but it is clear that it has Inspecteur Javert in charge when it comes to employment insurance.

This two-headed monster and this double standard means that for the first time inspectors are going out to talk to Canadians with respect to employment insurance whether or not they have any reason to believe there has been any instance of fraud or of misleading in the case of the person they are interviewing. This is the first time in Canadian history that this has been done.

Could the Prime Minister confirm that managers will be receiving bonuses, depending on the performance of those agents who are going out.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the employment insurance fund is paid into by honest Canadian workers so it is there when they lose their job and cannot find a job in their region. A million and a half Canadians collect from that fund every year. It is the government's legal responsibility. The Auditor General and others will insist that we take all necessary steps to ensure that those who are entitled to the money are the ones who get the money. When people who are not entitled to the money get the money, the only losers are the unemployed and the workers who paid in, and we are determined to protect their interests.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact remains that the Prime Minister has not denied that bigger bonuses will be going to the system managers thanks to the work of inspectors in the provinces, particularly provinces where the government is looking for so-called problems.

The question remains. These inspections are happening for no reason. Bonuses are being paid, and that is part of the government's agenda.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have a legal responsibility to ensure that the employment insurance fund is being used by people who are truly unemployed. Unfortunately, every year, illegal or inappropriate payments are made. It is our responsibility to make sure that those who really are out of work receive their benefits. It is our responsibility to protect the workers who have paid into the fund for their protection.

Government AdvertisingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the same time that we continue to read in the estimates with respect to the cuts that are being made in front line programs, in foreign aid programs, in foreign affairs budgets, we now see that the CIC is increasing its advertising budget by $4 million, the Department of Finance is increasing its advertising budget by nearly $7 million and the Department of Natural Resources is increasing its advertising budget by $4.5 million compared to the mains of last year.

How can the Prime Minister justify again this double standard where front line services are being cut but propaganda is being increased?

Government AdvertisingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, those front line services are not being cut. What is being done is ensuring that the people of Canada are aware of the programs and services that are available to them. This Parliament votes billions of dollars every year of taxpayer money for the benefit of the people of Canada. It is up to us to ensure they are aware of the services and the programs they can use to better their own lives.

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, when I asked the Minister of Public Safety if he would meet with chiefs on the issue of first nations police funding, he told the House that he had already been doing so. Today, chiefs from Quebec and Labrador have confirmed that he has not met with a single one of these chiefs whose tripartite funding agreements expire March 31.

Therefore, let us try again with the minister. Will he meet with these chiefs who are here today, seeking assurance that their police services can continue to operate after March 31, and will he agree to negotiate new arrangements for stable, long-term funding for first nations policing, yes or no?

Public SafetyOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, policing is primarily a provincial responsibility. The federal government has long invested in first nations policing to help keep communities safe. In fact, I am having discussions with a number of chiefs this very afternoon on that very topic.

A funding decision itself will be made in the near future. Spending on first nations policing has increased substantially under this government, as opposed to the actions of that member when he was on municipal council, cutting policing in his own community.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Conservatives presented the cuts that will be in the next budget . VIA Rail will be cut by $290 million, Infrastructure Canada will be cut by $1.8 billion and the Canada Revenue Agency will have its budget cut at a time when basic tax services for Canadians are being slashed.

Which organization will see a budget increase? The Senate, of course.

Why are they giving more to their friends, who are under investigation, and cutting services provided to honest Canadians?

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the matters referred to by the member opposite are budget matters. The budget is being prepared now. We are working hard to get it ready. I look forward to being able to announce the date for the budget in a while.

The BudgetOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, we will see if get any accountability on that this year.

Let us continue with the estimates: $1.1 billion cut from infrastructure; Transport Canada cut almost 30%. However, at the same time, the unaccountable, unelected Senate actually increased.

The senior bureaucrat to the President of the Treasury Board is now saying she should have the right to vet PBO reports.

Why are Conservatives trying to seize power over the PBO? Why are they hiding from real fiscal accountability?

The BudgetOral 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 on this side of the House look forward to the process that is entrain right now to get a non-partisan, credible person as the parliamentary budget officer.

I would only say that the deputy minister, the secretary to the Treasury Board, who the hon. member referred to, was doing her job to correct some inaccurate information that the Parliamentary Budget Officer was in fact purveying. Her job is to correct the record, to give the PBO the facts that he requires. That is a good exchange of information and points of view.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

February 26th, 2013 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have decided to further diminish Canada's influence in the world. The estimates show that there will be hundreds of millions of dollars in cutbacks at CIDA and Foreign Affairs. The Conservatives will be terminating a peace and security program that operates in such places as Colombia, Haiti and the Congo.

Why are the Conservatives bent on getting rid of our tools for conflict prevention and peacekeeping, one of our best global investments?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to report to the House that Canada is meeting all of its international development commitments. We are spending significant amounts of money to help pull people out of poverty. Canadians can be tremendously proud of the leadership of this government, the leadership of the Prime Minister, particular on the newborn and child maternal health initiative, an initiative that is achieving some of the best results of any international development mechanism anywhere, and it all comes from Canadian leadership.

Rail TransportationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the first anniversary of the deadly train crash in Burlington. An automatic braking system would have prevented this tragedy. The Transport Safety Board has been recommending this positive train control be made mandatory, just like in the United States.

Instead of making safety a priority, why is the Conservative government cutting VIA Rail's funding by more than half?

Rail TransportationOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, our thoughts remain with the families of the victims who lost their lives. It is a shame that the opposition member is playing politics on the anniversary of this tragic accident.

Where there is a clear safety benefit, our government will not hesitate to take action. We are monitoring the implementation of positive train control in the United States, but it is currently experiencing technical challenges that will likely delay the implementation, and we are following that.