House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was million.


Statements by Member for Mississauga—StreetsvillePrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do rise on a question of privilege. I rise today pursuant to Standing Order 48(1).

It has been demonstrated that the member for Mississauga—Streetsville has deliberately misled the House. Given the seriousness of the matter, it is my duty as a member of Parliament and House leader for the New Democrats to bring the matter to the attention of the Chair and to the House. Members of the House are well aware of the rights and immunities afforded to parliamentarians, so that they may carry out their duties as members of Parliament. However, for the sake of clarity, let me remind my colleagues that on page 65 in Erskine May' s Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, “parliamentary privilege” is defined as:

...the sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by each House collectively...and by Members of each House individually, without which they could not discharge their functions....

What I believe we are looking at here is a contempt of Parliament, one that is an offence against the authority and dignity of this House, one that chips away at the foundation of our parliamentary democracy and the requisite for healthy and honest debate. This is a serious charge. We take it seriously. We would insist that the government also do so.

Let me take a moment to provide the House with an account of what has taken place. In hearing my remarks, Mr. Speaker, I will ask you to find that the grounds exist that this is a prima facie contempt of Parliament, at which point I will be prepared to move a motion to have the matter referred to the appropriate committee for further study.

Yesterday morning, the member for Mississauga—Streetsville rose in the House and said the following:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to debate that took place on February 6 in this House regarding the fair elections act.

I made a statement in the House during the debate that is not accurate. I just want to reflect the fact that I have not personally witnessed individuals retrieving voter notification cards from the garbage cans or from the mailbox areas of apartment buildings. I have not personally witnessed that activity and want the record to properly show that.

Let us take a look at what it was that the member for Mississauga—Streetsville said in the debate on February 6 while the House was debating the government's unfair elections act at second reading, under time allocation imposed by the current government. It seems clear-cut to me and to others that the member was providing misleading statements in the House, given what he told the House just yesterday. In a question for the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, the member for Mississauga—Streetsville said:

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a bit about this vouching system again.... On mail delivery day when the voter cards are delivered to community mailboxes in apartment buildings, many of them are discarded in the garbage can or the blue box. I have actually witnessed other people picking up the voter cards, going to the campaign office of whatever candidate they support and handing out these voter cards to other individuals, who then walk into voting stations with friends who vouch for them with no ID.

Does the minister not believe this kind of thing will get cleaned up properly with this bill?

Later in the day, the member rose again to mislead the House during the questions and comments portion of his own speech. He said:

Earlier this afternoon I asked the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification a question. I think my friend from York South—Weston will appreciate this because, just like the riding I represent, there are a lot of apartment buildings in his riding. I will relate to him something I have actually seen. On the mail delivery day when voter cards are put in mailboxes, residents come home, pick them out of their boxes, and throw them in the garbage can. I have seen campaign workers follow, pick up a dozen of them afterward, and walk out. Why are they doing that? They are doing it so they can hand those cards to other people, who will then be vouched for at a voting booth and vote illegally. That is going to stop.

The context of this, and why this is equally important to the fact that the member misled the House, is that he misled the House to justify the reason his government has brought in its unfair elections act. He has brought evidence forward as a member of Parliament, whom we take on faith as telling the truth when he does it, saying this is the reason the government has brought in this bill, to end the vouching system that some tens of thousands of Canadians use properly, by claiming there is evidence of voter fraud that he has seen and witnessed and brought forth as evidence to this House. That is a serious charge. It is a serious charge and may sway members of this House to, in fact, support the government's legislation, when they ought not to if it were not the truth.

Members must know that they have the information needed to do their job well, which is to represent their constituents. The government wasted no time in passing Bill C-23 in the House at second reading by using a time allocation motion. Now, it is fast-tracking it through the committee stage without having heard from interested Canadians and members of civil society from across the country.

To think that it is somehow acceptable for members of the government to come into the House and make up stories as justification for the supposed merits of this terrible bill is totally ludicrous and should not be allowed to simply pass, by having the member rise more than two weeks after the fact, during a private member's business hour, and reveal to the House that this was all, in fact, untrue.

In his ruling on February 1, 2002, on a similar matter, Speaker Milliken stated:

The authorities are consistent about the need for clarity in our proceedings and about the need to ensure the integrity of the information provided by the government to the House.

The authorities to which Speaker Milliken was referring include, but are not limited to, the following: House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, which states, on page 115:

Misleading a Minister or a Member has also been considered a form of obstruction and thus a prima facie breach of privilege.

Page 63 of the 22nd edition of Erskine May states: is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.

Erskine May is even more precise when a member later admits that the statements he or she made were not true. On page 111 of Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, 22nd edition, it states:

The Commons may treat the making of a deliberately misleading statement as a contempt. In 1963 the House resolved that in making a personal statement which contained words which he later admitted not to be true, a former Member had been guilty of grave contempt.

Mr. Speaker, on May 7, 2012, and in a handful of rulings since, you have stated the following regarding the conditions that have emerged surrounding misleading statements in the House, which I will cite:

It has become accepted practice in this House that the following elements have to be established when it is alleged that a member is in contempt for deliberately misleading the House: one, it must be proven that the statement was misleading; two, it must be established that the member making the statement knew at the time that the statement was incorrect; and three, that in making the statement, the member intended to mislead the House.

That is a clear and high bar to prove all of those three conditions in order to find a contempt of Parliament: that the statement has to be untrue, that it has to be established that the member knew it at the time to be untrue, and that when making this untruthful statement to the House, the member was intending to mislead the House. This seems to me a very straightforward case, and I am sure all members of the House would agree.

The first of these conditions has been met, since the proof that the statement was misleading comes directly from the member himself when he admitted that what he said on February 6 was false. The second condition has been met since the statements in question have to do with what the member of Mississauga—Streetsville did or did not personally witness. On February 6, he told the House that he was relating something to the House that he had actually seen and then yesterday told us he had in fact not seen these things at all. What we are talking about is voter fraud, something very serious and not casual.

The third of these conditions has been met since there can be no other explanation as to why the member for Mississauga—Streetsville made the misleading statements that he did over two weeks ago, other than to deliberately and intentionally mislead the House on an important piece of legislation that affects all Canadians. He clearly intended to mislead the House by fabricating a story and then tried to use it to justify why members should be voting in favour of the Conservatives' unfair elections act.

Members of the House will remember a case in 2001-02 in which my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst, among others, argued that Senator Eggleton—who was defence minister at the time—had deliberately misled the House. It happened during question period, when he was responding to questions regarding how much he knew about when exactly prisoners captured by Canadian troops in Afghanistan were transferred to the Americans.

Speaker Milliken ruled that there was a prima facie case of privilege and referred the issue to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for further study.

After hearing a former clerk of the House, Bill Corbett, testify about the issue, the committee indicated the following in its 50th report to the House: is not uncommon for inaccurate statements to be made in the course of debate or Question Period in the House. The issue is whether the statements were made deliberately, with the intent of misleading the House or its Members. In the case where a Member later admits to having knowingly provided false information...the issue of intent is clear.

Mr. Speaker, let me repeat that last sentence because it is important in satisfying the conditions you have set out.

In the case where a Member later admits to having knowingly provided false information...the issue of intent is clear.

We are at the point in the life cycle of the current Conservative government where it seems to be out of gas and spinning its wheels. Bill C-23, the unfair elections act, is creating solutions to problems in our voting system that do not exist, when the real problems of our electoral system have often been the ones the Conservatives have perpetrated on the Canadian public.

The member for Mississauga—Streetsville went so far as to make up a story to try to persuade members to vote a certain way on this flawed bill. Time and again, the Conservatives' lack of judgment and these types of dirty tricks are exposed. However, despite all of this, instead of changing their behaviour to fit the rules of the game, they are changing the rules of the game in order to fit their bad behaviour.

In a ruling on October 19, 2000, regarding misleading statements made in the House, Speaker Parent stated:

Only on the strongest and clearest evidence can the House or the Speaker take steps to deal with cases of attempts to mislead members.

Mr. Speaker, with the strongest and clearest evidence at out disposal, I would urge you to find that a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament has occurred, at which point I will be prepared to move the appropriate motion to have this case referred to the standing committee.

This bill is a contempt on the voting public. The member for Mississauga—Streetsville has performed a contempt in this House. It is a sad and perhaps tragic irony, but it is a fact. The conditions that this House has laid out—you yourself included, in your statements and rulings to guide all members in the way we conduct ourselves—are the conditions we have applied to this case. It is clear in all three of those very precise indications and tests that the member has misled the House knowingly, which is a prima facie case of contempt. The fact that he did it in a bill that is meant to disrupt and perhaps further erode the confidence of Canadians about our electoral system is tragic.

Statements by Member for Mississauga—StreetsvillePrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Winnipeg North is rising on the same question.

Statements by Member for Mississauga—StreetsvillePrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was in the chamber when the original comments were made a few weeks ago and then yesterday when the member stood in his place to provide clarification.

It is important to recognize that members often stand up and make accusations that someone has misrepresented the facts. Over the years of being a parliamentarian, I could safely say that on at least a dozen or so occasions a member has said one thing, with the intent to leave an impression, but then had those comments thrown back at the member and raised in a matter of privilege to say that the member originally misled the house.

I want to go back to the specific statement on February 6 that the member for Mississauga—Streetsville made, and I will quote directly from the document, which states:

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a bit about this vouching system again. I know the minister represents an urban city. I am from a semi-urban area of Mississauga, where there are many high-rise apartment buildings. On mail delivery day when the voter cards are delivered to community mailboxes in apartment buildings, many of them are discarded in the garbage can or the blue box.

However, the following is the important part, which I think we have to take note of, and I am quoting the member directly:

I have actually witnessed other people picking up the voter cards, going to the campaign office of whatever candidate they support and handing out these voter cards to other individuals, who then walk into voting stations with friends who vouch for them with no ID.

This is not just an off-the-cuff comment. This is a very serious allegation.

We know that there is a great deal of debate on Bill C-23, the fair elections act. I suspect, Mr. Speaker, that you will likely find that Elections Canada, among others, is following the debate. Therefore, as the NDP House leader has already articulated, and which I will reinforce, one could question why a couple of weeks later, yesterday, the member stood up inside the chamber and stated:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to debate that took place on February 6 in this House regarding the fair elections act. I made a statement in the House during the debate that is not accurate. I just want to reflect the fact that I have not personally witnessed individuals retrieving voter notification cards from the garbage cans or from the mailbox areas of apartment buildings. I have not personally witnessed that activity and want the record to properly show that.

I would like to highlight two things.

One is that, having commented on many matters of privilege related to misrepresentation, I have heard numerous Speaker rulings, which say that all members are hon. members and one has to be able to clearly demonstrate that the misrepresentation was intentional.

It is very difficult to narrow down what would be a privileged issue on this particular point of misrepresentation. A member of Parliament would have to intentionally mislead or lie and then admit to intentionally misleading and lying, and to say both, inside the chamber, in order to qualify as a violation of our rule of misrepresentation, which is in fact what we have here. It is unique in terms of the privileges that I have seen raised over the many years I have been a parliamentarian.

Let there be no doubt that it was not an offline comment. This was seriously articulated by the member. He stated that he saw individuals with take-out voter ID cards who then used them in an illegal fashion. It is very clear. I understand that he implied that on more than one occasion. We should be looking seriously at that.

Let me add a second aspect to this. Earlier I made reference to Elections Canada. We should get more clarification from the member on why he waited so long to apologize. Is it because Elections Canada approached the member after reviewing what he said? It is a very serious allegation. Did the member share his concerns with Elections Canada prior to raising them here in the House?

It seems to me that the reason the member stood yesterday is he felt that his statement in the House was going to be looked at seriously by Elections Canada and other stakeholders because the accusation that he made during second reading was serious. There was illegal behaviour within that election which the member would have been aware of, if we believe what he said actually took place.

I am very curious, and I am sure many members are curious, about what the member actually saw. He tried to correct the record, but he did not provide very much detail. Did he see some of the voter cards in the blue bins and just left them there? Did he see anyone approach the blue bins? Did he see some people pull out the cards and throw them in the garbage? Did he follow to a campaign office the individuals who pulled out those voter cards? A lot of questions need to be answered.

I would suggest that this issue is a matter of privilege. I would also suggest that the member come forward and articulate more details or appear before PROC to answer a series of questions on whether he violated our rules.

Statements by Member for Mississauga—StreetsvillePrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.


Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for giving me the time to speak to this point of privilege.

One good thing about this is that the member for Mississauga—Streetsville did stand up in the House and say that he did not tell the truth.

Whatever you do, Mr. Speaker, I hope you make sure you do not create a moral hazard. I hope you encourage people to correct the record when they do not tell the truth in the House. That would be a good thing.

I remember in the last session of this Parliament when I spoke on a related point, some research results were corrected but the ministers did not make it clear that the results had been corrected and kept using the old results. There was no way to go back and correct Hansard. There was no way to make it clear that something that had been said in the House was not true. I hope that whatever remedy is found for this would allow for Hansard to be corrected so that we would not have to check Hansard all the time to make sure that every single statement in it is actually true.

When the member stood up and said his statement was not true, he did not acknowledge that he has hurt the reputation of the House, and that is something that we need to be able to do our work. It is something that Canada needs in order to attract good Canadians to serve in the House. We have to be able to honestly call each other “honourable”, and I do not know if we can do that. It is embarrassing when I talk to friends and they ask me what I am doing this for, what am I doing with these politicians. There is a bit of cynicism out there. Being able to honestly call each other “honourable members” is important to the country and to the functioning of the House, and it gives Canadians confidence in what we do. That is important for good government.

I would call on you, Mr. Speaker, to take these things into account. I do not know how you will rule on this point of privilege, but there is an important idea here, which is that we have to rely on what each of us says in the House. We need to have confidence that we are trying our best to tell each other the truth, to tell each other the facts and the evidence. We should not make up stuff to sound good and to make a good video to send out to our voters.

Statements by Member for Mississauga—StreetsvillePrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to this question of privilege.

As everyone is, I am sure, aware, the presumption in this House is that we are all taken at our word, that the statements we make are truthful and correct. That we are given the benefit of that doubt brings with it a strong obligation on us, in the cases where a member misspeaks, to correct the record so that nobody is left with inaccurate perceptions.

In this particular instance, the member for Mississauga—Streetsville, has done exactly that. Having misspoken in this House and having realized his comments were in error, he has come to this House and corrected the record.

That is the obligation that exists upon members. That is an obligation to ensure that nobody is left under false impressions. That is an obligation he has discharged. That is the obligation upon all members here, and for that reason I think that alone is sufficient to rebut any concern that there has been a contempt.

In fact, I would adopt the sentiments of the member for Kingston and the Islands. The fact that we are even discussing this point of privilege, the fact that it has been raised, is only because the hon. member has taken that duty and obligation seriously, has come to this House and corrected the record. Had he not corrected the record, one would presume that what had been said was correct, and this is the moral hazard that the member for Kingston and the Islands speaks to. We want to, in addition to giving everybody the benefit of the doubt, also provide an environment where we encourage all members to carry out that duty and obligation on an occasion when we misspeak.

It is quite common for us to misspeak in the nature of conversation, and I can understand the error made by the hon. member on the question of voting cards, because I think there are probably very few members in this House who have not, at second- or third-hand, heard anecdotes exactly to that effect.

I personally have heard anecdotes from others, not having witnessed it myself. It is different from having heard an anecdote, but having heard it quite regularly, it becomes part of the normal discourse that “this is what happens out there”. This is what everybody “knows” happens out there. It is a risk and a concern that has to be addressed, and one of the reasons why I think it is being addressed in this legislation.

However, I do not think we want to create an environment where, when members take seriously their obligation to correct the record—take seriously their obligation to be truthful to this House and come to this House and do exactly that—we then make that an occasion to create a finding of contempt against them.

We want to create an environment where, as we do with unparliamentary language when we ask members to apologize and they do, that is an appropriate remedy, and is almost always accepted by the Speaker as appropriate for the circumstances. In this same circumstance, this House should encourage and accept the occasions when a member takes seriously their obligation to come to this House and correct the record, as the member for Mississauga—Streetsville has done in this particular case.

I do not want to leave the argument at that point. I do think it is important that the member for Mississauga—Streetsville also be given an opportunity to speak to this himself, so I would ask that you give him that opportunity.

Statements by Member for Mississauga—StreetsvillePrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too would look forward to that. We had actually assumed, since the member for Mississauga—Streetsville had a speaking spot yesterday afternoon, that he would do that.

Three important things have happened here that leave me more certain in my belief that this is in contempt of Parliament, based on what the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has said.

Allow me first to say that there is some urgency to this matter. I would encourage the member in question to seek a space to speak as soon as possible, because the bill is before us in Parliament right now.

It seems that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons is now offering praise to the member for having fabricated a story entirely and is saying that we should give the member great thanks for having returned and having admitted to misleading the House. That is not the environment that we look to create, an environment in which members can take what he called “anecdotes” and things that they have heard and turn them into what the member for Mississauga—Streetsville said.

What he said was, “I have actually witnessed other people picking up the voter cards...”. He did not say that someone had told him a story, that he had heard about it, or that there was some conspiracy theory out there. He later went on to say, after some time and reflection, “I will relate to him something I have actually seen. ... I have seen campaign workers follow, pick up a dozen of them afterward...” and then went on to say that they committed voter fraud in the last election. This is coming from the Conservative Party, which is in court right now defending itself against serious accusations of actual voter fraud.

My point is that this is not misspeaking. To say “I misspoke” means that an event occurred on a Tuesday, when upon reflection it was actually Wednesday. That is an honest mistake. This was no honest mistake. The member fabricated a story to justify voting for a flawed government bill. He totally invented it. When he came in, it was neither to apologize nor to explain why he invented this story from nothing. He did not apologize and he did not explain; he said that he had misspoken and that he wished to correct the record.

If that is what is considered tolerable and acceptable, and if it in fact should be encouraged, as the House leader says, it means that members of the House are allowed to go around completely fabricating and inventing stories to justify their voting for or against a piece of legislation, and then come back during debate on a private member's bill and say in a quiet and hushed way, “Yesterday I may have misspoken, or two weeks ago I may have misspoken. I do not know; the facts are a bit blurry.”

The facts were not blurry. I have read the citations clearly to the House.

The member has satisfied all three of your conditions, Mr. Speaker, which the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons did not address at all. These conditions are specific and they are difficult to achieve. A person has to work hard to be found in contempt of Parliament. It is not easy and it does not happen very often, and the reason a person has to work hard is that the three conditions are difficult to achieve. We must prove that the statement was misleading. We must also have it established that the member making the statement knew at the time that it was incorrect. Finally, we must establish that in making the statement, the member intended to mislead the House. On all three conditions, the member in question satisfied the conditions for contempt of Parliament.

It is a prima facie case. He did not apologize. He did not explain. He did not rationalize or justify. He just said, “I misspoke.”

Of course, we have latitude when people misspeak in the House. They may refer to the wrong bill, misquote a statement, or attribute it to the wrong person unintentionally. We understand that. We are all human and we all make those mistakes. This was not a mistake; well, it may have been a mistake now that it has come to light.

The fact is that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons wants us to somehow offer our praise for somebody knowingly misleading the House, knowing something to be untrue, and then using that untruth, that lie, to justify the government's bill about changing our election laws. Is not allowing Canadians their right to vote freely and fairly something we should be encouraging? What has the government come to when it thinks that this is acceptable behaviour?

The member did not misspeak. The member did not make a casual, glancing error or inaccuracy in his statement. He chose deliberately to take something that he knew not to be true and present it as evidence to justify voting for a government bill that would disenfranchise Canadians from their right to vote in a free and fair democratic country such as Canada.

That is what is before you, Mr. Speaker. Those are the conditions that you and previous Speakers have laid out to guide us. We seek your guidance on this. Again, I am prepared to move the motion if you find a prima facie case of contempt.

Statements by Member for Mississauga—StreetsvillePrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank all hon. members for their contributions. Perhaps we will hear more from the member in question. Then I will come back to the House with a decision in due course.

The House resumed from February 12 consideration of the motion that that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government, and of the amendment.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

I want to begin my speech by sharing an excerpt from a piece of correspondence I recently received from a woman on Manitoulin Island.

She wrote:

I am a senior receiving OAS and supplement. My employment income for 2012 was $5,735.64 which is $2,235.64 above the allowable $3,500.

As a result $50.00 is deducted from my supplement each month.

Yes, I have a problem providing myself with food, rent, especially paying bills for a dentist and new eye glasses.

I wish I could say that hers is an isolated case, but I have a small mountain of messages on that exact issue. Clearly these are people looking for a little relief, and given that they took the time to write their MP, they may also have been paying attention when the finance minister delivered his budget. If so, they would have been disappointed by what many are calling a do-nothing budget.

However, I am not happy just calling it a do-nothing budget. I think we are doing the finance minister a big favour with that description, because this budget does an awful lot when we consider how much in the way of clear, identifiable needs it does nothing to address.

For so many Canadians, the basic message of the budget amounts to “Your concerns are of no importance to your government, which is more interested in focusing on a single, self-serving goal.”

Therefore, instead of thinking of it as a do-nothing budget, let us consider what the budget actually does.

It signals the government's acceptance of an ongoing economic recovery that cannot replace the full-time jobs we lost in the recession.

As I mentioned, the budget tells our seniors living in poverty that the government has no plan to either address the problem or to reduce the pinch felt by those who are able to work to supplement their income only to be subjected to a mean-hearted clawback.

The budget tells our disabled community that the smaller agencies who help them so much will not be receiving support, which in turn translates into less support for the disabled across the country.

The budget tells our first nations that they will have to wait, again, for money to improve underfunded schools. It has nothing to improve first nations access to post-secondary education or to ensure adequate resources for the post-secondary student support program.

The budget also tells families waiting for a national dementia strategy that they will have to continue to wait.

The budget tells the communities, individuals, and businesses that rely on tourism in northern Ontario that creating a pre-election surplus is more important than the region's economic prosperity.

The budget goes on to tell small businesses that the government is not interested in continuing with a focused tax credit to assist with the hiring of new employees.

The budget also tells the forestry sector that the forestry industry transformation program will remain underfunded.

The budget tells communities with important federal infrastructure that the government is not interested in assisting with their local economy anymore.

The budget does nothing to make post-secondary education more affordable or accessible.

I am sure we could do this all day, but the point is that we should not be slapping the Minister of Finance on the back when all that he really has done is dismiss so much need in the pursuit of a single goal designed to benefit the Conservative Party of Canada alone.

Northern Ontario's economy is facing many problems, particularly those related to the boom and bust cycle, which typically affects resource-based jobs. The region has a large number of small businesses, many of which are involved in tourism.

After the budget came down, people in the region wondered whether the Conservatives cared about them at all. They have reason to wonder since the budget made no mention of northern Ontario or its economic development agency, FedNor.

Small businesses in the region work just as hard as anyone, and they would like to know that the government appreciates their efforts and that the billions of dollars they help generate in economic activity are important to the Canadian economy.

Recently, however, the owners of these small businesses have felt as though they are being attacked, and the communities where they run their businesses feel as though they have been abandoned by the government, which continues to deprive the region of its support.

In the few years I have been in this place, we have seen the government walk away from heritage lighthouses that were tourist attractions on the Great Lakes. It is walking away from a modest investment in passenger rail on the Algoma Central Railway, which supports good jobs all along the line from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst.

In the budget, we see the government will continue to walk away from its responsibilities for federal ports as well. People on Manitoulin Island have just been through the wringer with the government's refusal to accept its clear responsibility to maintain the port in South Baymouth. Now they are bracing themselves as the government prepares to transfer the costs of federal ports onto small communities, communities that have grown local economies to serve tourists who arrive by boat.

However, the problems that flow from this budget are not limited to small tourist-focused businesses. The budget is going to affect all manner of small businesses by eliminating the small business hiring credit. This amounts to the Conservatives turning their backs on job creation opportunities in about 560,000 businesses across the country. The credit was generally used by companies with 20 to 35 employees or less and cost $225 million annually. However, job creation that bolsters small business is not as important for the government as getting re-elected in 2015.

First nations are getting mixed messages in this budget as well, which is in keeping with the relationship the Conservatives have forged with these communities. Despite changing its tune on first nations education, the government has taken a page from the Liberal playbook, which amounts to strong language and distant commitments, but precious few dollars.

There is no reason to delay increased funds for education in these communities. The chronic underfunding is well documented, and every day the government waits to address this need is another day lost in the struggle to bring better results for the young people in Canada's first nations.

When it comes to first nations, the budget makes blue-sky commitments for 2015 and beyond. What money it does allocate to continue the first nations water and waste water action plan and to continue the aboriginal justice strategy still falls short of what is needed, so we see that the well-being of first nations and our aboriginal population remains a low priority for the government, which is preoccupied with its own needs.

I mentioned just how important the resource-based economy is to northern Ontario. The forestry sector in particular has been dealing with significant problems on a number of fronts. Since the current government came to power, 30,000 jobs have been lost in this sector in Ontario alone.

We know that the Forest Products Association of Canada asked the government for $500 million in assistance over six years under the forestry industry transformation program but received only $90.4 million over four years, which represents a shortfall of $410 million.

This once again shows that the government is not prepared to stand up for northern Ontario's or Canada's forestry sector.

Many of us have met over the last few years with delegations from the Alzheimer Society of Canada, which has been advocating for a national dementia strategy. As our population ages, Alzheimer's will only become more of a challenge, and from my own experience, I can say that families already living with the difficult reality of this disease are hearing that their struggles are of no concern to the government. I say that because that is the message sent by refusing to commit to the $3 million requested by the Alzheimer Society of Canada that would let it lay the foundation for the national dementia strategy.

The list of snubs can add up quickly, and while the government sets itself up to hoard cash, household budgets are stretched to the limit. There is little beyond signals of intent in this budget.

In northern Ontario, high gas prices are a constant problem, and New Democrats have long advocated for an ombudsman to ensure that consumers are not being gouged at the tank. While there is some recognition of gas price disparity in the budget, the focus is on cross-border disparity, and even that is nothing more than big language with no details or timelines.

Finally, changes to the way the government administers funding for national disability is a point that I will get to later.

I just want to indicate that these are just some of the things that this budget does. I am certain that my colleagues will continue to inform the government of the widespread effects of its budget, which is anything but a do-nothing budget.

I have so much more. I hope to get it done during questions.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to have my colleague elaborate on some of the other aspects of the budget. One point I was glad to hear from her was on the effect this is going to have on seniors, which will affect many of my constituents. I agree with her completely that this was a missed opportunity, particularly for those seniors living in poverty right now. We could have lifted them out of poverty; the government decided not to.

I would like to hear from her some of the other points she had on the budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments, because one of the issues I had not touched on enough was the seniors issue. As I mentioned at the outset, there is nothing to address the financial challenges of our seniors, especially those who live in poverty. There is nothing for seniors who are forced to work to top up their meagre OAS so that they can live in dignity. The government could have increased the base amount seniors are allowed to earn before the clawback sets in, which is currently $3,500, but it chose not to.

It is also really important to talk about the disability organizations, because the impact the budget will have on their ability to provide services is crucial.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have discovered that many of my colleagues on the opposite side live in a deep, dark fantasy world, and they would like to present an image of Canada that is a deep, dark fantasy. It often amazes me to hear them speak.

I was intrigued by my colleague's comments regarding the Alzheimer Society. I am going to quote from a few sources to, as it were, drop a drop of detergent onto the oily pool of deep, dark fantasy the opposition tends to weave and watch the oil recede in the light of the truth.

Perhaps I will confine myself to one quote in particular from the Alzheimer Society of Canada on this budget:

On behalf of the 747,000 Canadians living with dementia, we are grateful to the federal government for providing the resources needed to carry out important research to better understand how to tackle various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

This is a drop of truth in the middle of the oily slick that is laid by the opposition. I would like my colleague who just spoke to tell me if she agrees with the Alzheimer Society, or does she want to take it to task for praising the budget?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, having a sister with Alzheimer's, I certainly want to comment on this. Of course, organizations that did get some meagre dollars in the budget are certainly grateful for what they got, because they know that other organizations did not get as much or did not get anything.

Let us see what the Conservatives are doing with taxpayer dollars. Let us not forget the $50 million for building things like gazebos and fake lakes. This is where their priorities are.

If we want to look at the disability issue, the Alzheimer Society certainly speaks to the impact of disabilities. Changes to the way the government administers funding for national disability organizations has created real pressures for smaller organizations, and that will have direct impacts on the services and supports available to these persons.

For some organizations, this would mean a loss of up to one-third of their existing network and will translate into the loss of jobs for persons with disabilities, the loss of disability-related services and supports for individuals, and less support for some of the most vulnerable and underserved within the disability community.

How can the government say that it is doing all it can to help people, when in fact all it is doing is creating big barriers?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I really liked what the Conservative member had to say about living in a fantasy world. I think the Conservatives are the ones who are completely out of touch with reality. That is unfortunate because, since they took office, our beloved country has been heading downhill.

The Conservatives say that they are champions of jobs and the economy. However, as I mentioned, what we hear from the public is completely different. The people in my riding are telling me that, over the past few years, the economic situation in the Outaouais region has deteriorated. By cutting thousands of public service jobs in the national capital region, the Conservatives have destroyed our economy. It is not just federal public servants who are being affected. All public services and programs are affected by these decisions. Many families affected by these cuts now have less purchasing power and are clearly spending less.

In addition to the public service jobs that have been lost, the entire middle class has seen its income drop under this government. Yesterday, an internal study conducted by the federal Department of Employment and Social Development showed that middle-class families now have to mortgage their future to stay afloat. Government representatives are the ones who released this report. Are they living in a fantasy world? I do not think so.

Whether I am out at a restaurant or doing errands, I am hearing the same thing: it is becoming more and more difficult for merchants in the Outaouais region to make ends meet. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for me to have visits in my riding office from parents who have unexpectedly lost their jobs as a result of recent budget cuts. What am I supposed to tell them when they ask me how they are going to meet their family's needs now?

Here are some statistics. In my riding, right now, 9,000 people visit a food bank every month. Most of them—56%—are women. The sad part is that one-third of food bank users are children, and that number is growing daily. An increasing number of these organizations are running out of food because of the growing demand. However, the problem is even bigger than that. In March 2012, just over 882,000 people made use of a food bank in Canada. That represents an increase of 31% as compared to 2008. The Conservatives were in power at that time. They could have done something.

Speaking of children and growing needs, the Minister of Industry said that it was not his job to worry about how these couples were going to feed their children. However, a number of my constituents, my NDP colleagues and I disagree. It is our job to build an economy that provides opportunities for meaningful employment and leaves no one behind. It is first and foremost the government's job to ensure that its budgetary choices guarantee a decent quality of life for all Canadians.

However, the budget that the Minister of Finance presented to us is not the budget of a government that is doing its job. It is the budget of a political party that is laying the groundwork for the next election and is not thinking of Canadians in need. In this budget, the government could have taken real measures to make life more affordable for Canadians. Once again, the government is not listening to what Canadians are asking for.

Last Saturday, I toured my riding with a number of volunteers to talk about the NDP's plan for reducing the financial burden on families. We met with hundreds of people who want this Parliament to do something tangible to reduce the cost of living.

However, I am pleased to see that the government incorporated some of the NDP's proposals in this budget, including putting an end to the infamous “pay to pay” fees. However, one of the major concerns in my riding and across Canada was not addressed: lowering the price of gas. One woman I met told me that it now costs her $50 a week to get to work and do her shopping, and she does not have to drive very far. Less than 10 years ago, that same $50 would have allowed her to drive around for a month.

The government needs to do two things here: it needs to put an end to collusion in the setting of gas prices and it needs to invest in a real strategy to free us from our dependence on oil.

The government is also refusing to take responsibility for affordable housing. I cannot believe that in 2014, more than 1.5 million households cannot afford adequate housing, according to the Canadian Housing & Renewal Association. This is completely unacceptable in Canada, a country we are proud to live in.

The problem is very serious in the Outaouais, as it is elsewhere. This is not just rhetoric. François Roy, the coordinator for Logemen'occupe, regularly raises this issue, and I congratulate him for that. As he has so often pointed out, there are 900 families waiting for affordable housing in Gatineau alone.

Even though this is a serious situation, the government has not proposed any new investments in housing this year, all so that it can potentially create a surplus in 2015, an election year.

Does this mean that these 900 families will have to wait for an election year to get a little assistance from the government, as my colleague mentioned earlier? Often, it is just a matter of a little bit of money, but this government has not made this a priority. That is the reality. Will the City of Gatineau and community organizations in Hull—Aylmer have to wait until 2015 to get the financial support they are asking for to meet the public's increasing needs?

In conclusion, I want to talk about this government's attacks on public service retirees. On November 15, 2013, I met with several dozen retirees at a public forum organized by the NDP members in the Outaouais and the Federal Superannuates National Association.

These retirees shared their concerns that their health care plan could potentially be cut. A number of them were also outraged at being treated in such a terrible way after they had dedicated their working lives to serving their country.

Unfortunately, their fears have proven to be founded because this budget will cut $7.4 billion from the public service health care plan. This will almost double pensioners' annual health insurance premiums. Naturally, the government would like us to believe that it absolutely has to dig into retirees' pockets in order to eliminate the deficit.

We will say it over and over again: the reality is that the average pension for a public servant is $24,000 a year, or approximately $21,000 for women and $25,000 for men. We must accept the reality that these retirees are not rolling in money.

According to Gérald Denis, national director of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, with such low income: matter the amount, whether it is $10, $15 or $20 a month, any automatic deduction from a pension cheque has a clearly direct impact.

I find it deplorable and ridiculous that the government is trying to save money at the expense of retirees while, oddly enough, it can still give $20 billion in tax breaks to big business.

After studying this economic action plan, I can only conclude that the government is not working for the people. Once again, it is working solely for the Conservative Party.

What is scandalous about this budget, is not what is in it, but what is missing. They have failed to seize an extraordinary opportunity to help families, workers, seniors and small business. This is a lost opportunity to prove that politics transcends partisan interests. It is a lost opportunity to build a better future for all Canadians.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

February 25th, 2014 / 11:10 a.m.


Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question about the what the budget did not do for affordable housing, which is an important issue in my riding, Kingston and the Islands.

Mortgage subsidies and operating agreements will expire in the coming years, yet the budget offers nothing to replace them. Obviously, the City of Kingston does not want to reduce the number of affordable housing units. By doing nothing, the Conservatives are essentially making cuts. In fact, it is the Conservatives who are calling for a property tax hike in the City of Kingston. I would like my hon. colleague to comment on that.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.


Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, we also know that when the Liberal Party was in power, it slashed funding for affordable housing. That is unfortunate.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I appreciate the question because it has been raised many times in my riding. I sat on a board of directors for affordable housing and I heard the complaints and concerns about the housing authority's withdrawal. The housing authority withdrew from the program, which left the boards and co-operatives in a government legal vacuum. That is very unfortunate.

The government had a responsibility, and still does, to speak with the municipalities to ensure continuity. The volunteers who work on these boards of directors are expending all of their energy to try and fix a problem they did not create. It is up to the various levels of government to deal with this situation. These volunteers should be able to do their work of ensuring that housing is properly managed and assigned to those who need it.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I have a question about eliminating the deficit. Canadians obviously want the government to eliminate the deficit—it is one of their top priorities—without raising taxes.

The NDP plan involves raising taxes and spending more.

They want to spend more money, which is exactly contrary to what Canadians want. Canadians want limited government spending and to eliminate the deficit.

So how would my colleague respond to Canadians who want the deficit eliminated without raising taxes?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.


Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must say, I am very pleased to hear this question. When we talk about managing a deficit, this means creating jobs, good jobs that will allow the government to work in an economic environment that generates revenues.

Our projects are about making life more affordable: reducing interest rates on credit cards, for example; and legislating the price of gas and banking fees. This would put a little extra cash in the pockets of average and lower-income families, allowing them to feed their kids, buy clothing and keep the economy going. That is what we are proposing, as opposed to what the Conservatives are proposing—namely, funding cuts across the board, which does not generate revenues.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.


Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my hon. colleague from Hull—Aylmer because she really painted a clear picture of the Gatineau region, which she represents so well.

The same picture could be painted almost right across Canada. Indeed, the austerity budgets presented by the Canadian government are stifling our economy rather than boosting it. The government is not considering long-term investments to ensure prosperity.

I wonder if she could elaborate on how the loss of high-quality jobs in her region will have a direct impact on Gatineau's economy.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.


Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments and question about the situation in the Gatineau and Hull—Aylmer region, but really, the national capital region as well.

As I mentioned in my speech, I am hearing more and more complaints and concerns about insecurity regarding the economic situation in my region from business people, small businesses living day to day and people who work and spend their money, normally. Since they are living with daily insecurity, they are not doing repairs or buying new cars, for example.

People outside the national capital region may think that we are privileged here, and we are, in a way. However, there is a glaring need for affordable housing, and the situation is only getting worse. Furthermore, food banks are struggling, and demand for their services keeps increasing.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Kitchener Centre.

It is a privilege for me to rise in the House today to focus on two of the many important elements of our budget 2014, those being job creation and strengthening of economies both in Canada generally and in rural areas, such as my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

Our government has focused on and will continue to focus on creating jobs for Canadians who live in every region of the country, including the local regions. Thanks to our economic management skills and our management of previous budgets, more than one million net jobs have been created by the Canadian economy since summer 2009. Some 85% of those jobs are full-time, and more than 80% of those jobs are in the private sector.

We continue to build on our record, and under the leadership of our government, our job creation rates are the highest of all the G7 countries. We should be very proud of that accomplishment. Compared to the other G7 countries, our country and our economy remained strong and stable during the recession and the economic recovery.

Our country continues to be a financial and economic leader. Bloomberg ranks Canada as one of the top countries in the world with which to do business. This is a tremendous achievement. It has come as a result of budgets like budget 2014.

In this fragile global economic recovery, our government will continue to focus on jobs and growth in economic action plan 2014. It is our government's goal to help unemployed Canadians get back to work, ensuring that Canadians are given first chance at available jobs. The job-matching service would provide Canadian job-seekers with modern and reliable tools to find jobs that match their skills. Of course, this would also help employers who seek to employ qualified Canadians.

In order to sustain and create more jobs in Canada, we have identified initiatives to attain this goal. To better align training with labour market needs, we have allotted important funding to the Canada job grant program. This grant would encourage greater employer participation in skills training decisions and, most importantly, it would directly link skills training to jobs.

Our government knows that employers are the best judges of determining what exactly they are looking for and what skills they require to make their businesses grow. That is why we have thoroughly consulted with these business leaders, employer associations, educational institutions, and labour organizations to obtain their essential input on the design of the Canada job grant program. The strength of the Canada job grant is that it would encourage employees, businesses, and training institutions to partner and work together to create jobs and to strengthen our economy.

Knowing that both urban and rural businesses help our economy to prosper and grow, budget 2014 focuses on the needs of small businesses. We want to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. We must ensure that families that move into rural areas have access to both existing jobs and new jobs.

One of my goals, as the MP for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, is to strengthen the local economies within my riding. I want to see local businesses in my riding succeed. When they succeed, they grow, and when they grow, they create new jobs and hire people.

A compelling example of how budget 2014 helps local business is microbreweries. There are two well-known microbreweries in my riding: Beau's All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill and Cassel Brewery in Casselman. These two microbreweries have contributed significantly to tourism and to an increased interest in craft brewing and the buying of local products.

Creativity and innovation in the development of products are critical to success. That is why microbreweries in my riding have been doing so well. Who would not be intrigued by Beau's brewery No. 11 brew, Smokin' Banana Peels, or Cassel Brewery's Sleeper Car-Double Chocolate Porter?

The current labelling standards for beer need to be updated, as they are an impediment to microbreweries marketing new and innovative beers. The current regulations cause delay and stunt economic growth. For example, a microbrewing company experienced delays in launching its new Blueberry Ale when it was determined that existing labelling standards for beer and ale would not permit both of the names “blueberry” and “ale” on the same label.

Under the beer standard, the addition of a spice, perhaps nutmeg, means there would be a question as to whether the product could still be considered beer. This leads to many frustrating delays and additional costs.

Our government is modernizing the standards to encourage the development of unique products. We have removed red tape for the beer industry and will rewrite the compositional standards for beer to better allow for innovation in the beer industry under the Food and Drug Regulations.

Another important program that I would like to highlight is the creation and launch of the Canada apprentice loan, an initiative identified by employers and various organizations that we consulted with.

The reality is that jobs in the trades are some of the most difficult to fill. For an apprentice to train in his or her respective trade, he or she must undergo years of on-the-job employment and technical training that can last six to eight months at a time, which, of course, is at the cost of the apprentice. The Canada apprentice loan we are introducing would provide apprentices and red seal trades with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year. This is important in communities like my riding.

I would like to point out a red seal trade that would be especially relevant and essential to rural farming communities.

Agricultural equipment technicians are responsible for the initial set up and maintenance of agricultural equipment, such as tractors, combines, highly technical harvesting machinery, and much more. As the parliamentary secretary to agriculture, I have had the opportunity to meet with farmers from across Canada, including those in my riding, and I can tell members that this particular red seal trade has a direct impact on rural farming and our rural economies.

Our government wants to ensure that these positions are filled by qualified men and women receiving the required certification. The Canada apprentice loan would help those seeking apprenticeship and certification to do just that.

It is essential to recognize the importance of training and education, and educating the workforce of tomorrow. As a father of five children, four of them being either students or in the workforce, the reality of this definitely hits home.

This is why I am especially encouraged by our government's recent initiative to assist young people during their studies, by eliminating vehicles from Canada student loan assessments. Many young constituents from my riding commute to academic institutions in downtown Ottawa on a daily or weekly basis using their own vehicles. The value of their vehicle, which is essential to their education, will no longer be included in their loan assessment calculations. More than 19,000 students who own vehicles would benefit from higher loan disbursements each year as a result of this initiative, at a projected net cost of almost $15 million over two years, and then $8 million per year after that.

Lastly, I would like to say that the federal deficit will be eliminated in 2015, thanks to budget 2014. What is more, all this will be done without any tax increases. That is a remarkable success, especially when we consider that no one other than the Conservative government could achieve that. No one other than the Conservative government managed to eliminate 160 different types of tax. As a result, Canadians families will save on average a total of $3,400 in federal tax.

Our government has always come up with ways to reduce taxes. Unfortunately, the NDP and the Liberals have always voted against these important initiatives. No one other than the Conservative government could have reduced government spending in order to lower taxes, something the NDP and the Liberals have always resisted.

I can assure the House that budget 2014 will eliminate the deficit, create jobs for Canadians, and strengthen our economy while keeping taxes low.

I can assure Canadians that no other party could achieve this except the Conservative Party. For those who doubt this, I say take note of how the NDP and the Liberals will vote on budget 2014 in the coming days. They will undoubtedly vote against everything that Canadians wanted in a budget and that we are delivering in a budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about job growth, encouraging entrepreneurship, and strengthening local economies in his speech.

How does the member feel about the choices that are being made in the name of creating a surplus when compared to some of the ways the Conservative government has wasted money in the past? A good example is the $2 million spent on a lavish pavilion that featured a fake lake for the G20 meetings. Ironically, the idea was to promote tourism in Ontario's northern wilderness. However, just a few years later, tourism in the region is of no consequence.

The Conservatives are effectively killing passenger rail service on the Algoma Central Railway, which threatens good jobs, small businesses that are mostly family run, and communities all along the line, so they can hoard away about the same amount of money that they wasted on the pavilion and fake lake. I can tell the member that every dollar invested in a passenger service on the ACR has a $9.00 multiplier effect that ripples through the local economy.

Can the member tell me the multiplier effect of money spent on a fake lake and an empty commitment to tourism?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.


Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage my colleague to see the positive side of all that has been accomplished by our government in Canada's economy. For example, I mentioned the creation of over one million net new jobs since 2009, 85% of which are full time and 80% in the private sector.

There is more. The IMF and the OECD both predict that Canada will have among the strongest growth in the G7 in the years ahead, and for the sixth straight year, the World Economic Forum has rated our banking system as the world's best. It is clear that our budgets are having a positive impact on Canada's economy.

Canada has a strong standing in the world because of our budgets. I would encourage my colleagues on the other side of the House to vote in favour of this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.


Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the Conservatives always quote job statistics from the bottom of the recession instead of when they took power in 2006. It makes the numbers look better.

I am encouraged by my hon. colleague mentioning one of the red seal trades: agricultural equipment technician. It is very important to have people who can fill the jobs that involve needed skills. However, I would remind the member that it was his government, when it closed the prison farms, that said there were no jobs on farms. That was the justification that the Conservatives gave for not having inmates work hard and regularly, work on time, and work up to standards on farms while they were in minimum security institutions.

At that time the Conservatives said there were not any jobs on farms, and now my hon. colleague talks, correctly, I would say, about the importance of agricultural equipment technicians when he talks about the new apprentice loan program. I wonder if he might like to correct the government's statement from previous years.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.


Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight this member's support for the red seal program and for the trades within our budget.

No government has done more for the development of skills within trades programs than this government, and this budget has even more initiatives.

I would ask this member whether he will therefore vote in favour of the budget. He has identified that the trades and the apprenticeship programs are vital and essential, as I mentioned in my speech. I am asking him, will he therefore vote in favour of the budget? It is essential that he does.