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Results: 1 - 15 of 54
View Peter Milliken Profile
Lib. (ON)
Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending December 10, 2009, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bill.
In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bill be distributed now?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Peter Milliken Profile
Lib. (ON)
Pursuant to order made Friday, June 19, 2009, I have the honour to lay upon the table a proposed formula for the distribution of allotted days in each of the supply periods of 2010.
View Peter Milliken Profile
Lib. (ON)
It being 3:05 p.m., pursuant to order made on Friday, November 20, 2009, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie relating to the business of supply.
Call in the members.
View Peter Milliken Profile
Lib. (ON)
I declare the motion carried.
Order. I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division, government orders will be extended by nine minutes.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2009-06-19 9:02 [p.4829]
That this House recognizes that its constitutional role of holding the government to account requires regular, orderly, timely and clearly understood procedural opportunities for doing so, while not unduly restricting the ability of the government to manage its legislative program; and therefore orders that section 10 of Standing Order 81 be amended temporarily for the balance of 2009 by adding, immediately after paragraph (c) thereof, the following:
“(d) In each of the supply periods described in paragraph (a), the first allotted day shall be no earlier than the ninth sitting day and no later than the thirteenth sitting day in that period; and no fewer than four nor more than seven sitting days shall be permitted to pass between allotted days within each period, provided that, in any case, the last allotted day in each period shall not be more than seven sitting days before the last sitting day in that period.”
provided that the Speaker shall, after consultation with the House Leaders, table in the House no later than December 1, 2009, a proposed formula for a fair and even distribution of allotted days in each of the supply periods of 2010;
and, with particular regard to proceedings in 2009 only, when the House adjourns on Friday, June 19th, 2009, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 14th, and, in order to avoid conflicts with G-20 meetings, when the House adjourns on Friday, September 18th, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 28th, provided that, for the purpose of granting Royal Assent to any bills, the House shall, during the aforementioned adjournment periods, be deemed to stand adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28, and provided that the supply period ending December 10th, 2009 shall be deemed to commence on September 14th;
and, in addition to the accountability reports already required by the Liberal amendment to the 2009 Budget motion, the government shall prepare a further accountability report, meeting all the requirements of that said Liberal amendment, and table it in the House during the week beginning September 28th, 2009, and an allotted day for the Official Opposition shall be designated to take place on the third sitting day following the tabling of the report, provided that for the purposes of Standing Order 81(10)(d) above, this allotted day be deemed the first allotted day in the supply period ending December 10th, 2009.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2009-06-19 9:05 [p.4829]
Mr. Speaker, a number of serious issues have come to the floor of this House since the sitting of Parliament, which apparently will end today, first began with the 2009 federal budget in January.
Four of the most important of those issues, the ones that have dominated Canadians' attention for the past several weeks, are: first, the unfairnesses in the employment insurance system, especially, current eligibility rules, during a time of deepening recess; second, the progress, or the lack of progress, in getting infrastructure investments actually out the door and up and running; third, the exploding federal deficit, with no clear plan yet apparent to deal with it; and, fourth, the recent failure in Canada's ability to produce medical isotopes, causing a worldwide crisis in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, heart disease and many other serious health conditions.
These were the four issues that were specifically raised by the Leader of the Opposition# this past Monday as matters requiring explicit attention this week from the Government of Canada before Parliament could allow the government's estimates to be approved today.
With respect to employment insurance, there are two key problems that had to be addressed. One was fairness to the unemployed and regional equity across the country at a time when Canadians are facing a worsening economy. We are not living in the 1990s when Canada was coming out of a recession, when the economy began generating 3.5 million net new jobs, and Canadians enjoyed the start of the most protracted growth spurt since World War II.
The circumstances of 2008-09, sadly, are the opposite, and the old rules are, unfairly, leaving too many Canadians out.
That point about fairness was made not only by us in the official opposition but also by Premiers McGuinty of Ontario, Campbell of British Columbia, Stelmach of Alberta and Wall of Saskatchewan, as well as, incidentally, the Conservative Party in Ontario, including the spouse of the federal Minister of Finance.
With respect to effectiveness and affordability, without any premium increases, I would hasten to add, independent think tanks like the Conference Board of Canada, the Toronto Dominion Bank, the C.D. Howe Institute and others, agreed with the principle that were we arguing for. If we provide better access to EI benefits for the unemployed during a recession, we will increase their disposable incomes and, therefore, their purchasing power, and all of those benefits will be pumped right back into the economy almost immediately as those jobless Canadians buy the necessities of life for their families. Those benefits, therefore, become not a cost but an immediate form of economic stimulus; perhaps more effective than anything else that the government has announced.
Until Monday of this week, the government denied all of this about employment insurance. It claimed that it had already fixed the system and there was really nothing left to do. However, now, as of this week, that view has changed. The government now agrees there is an EI eligibility problem. The Prime Minister has confirmed that the current rules in a recession “don't make a lot of sense”, to use his own words.
So, we now have a process to at least try to fix that problem, as well as, perhaps, some others related to employment insurance. That is progress. That is better than where the problem stood on Monday.
With respect to infrastructure programs to get shovels in the ground and jobs created in this construction season, the problem has been that there have been a lot of announcements and re-announcements of many projects over and over again, but so far, nearly a third of the way through the current construction season, very few tangible results have actually been obtained. It has been a lot of sizzle but very little steak. Big hat, no cattle. And that view has been shared emphatically by many mayors in municipalities across the country who have been waiting for some action.
The Minister of Finance said in his budget in January that the first 120 days following his budget would be the most critical in getting stimulus flowing this summer, but those 120 days passed three weeks ago, at a time when the Federation of Canadian Municipalities was reporting a 96% shortfall in the government's actual delivery on what it had promised.
All of the PR campaigns aside, Canadians need to know what money was actually spent, not promised, not announced, not allocated, not advertised but actually spent on which projects, creating how many real jobs in those first 120 days. We now have a way to find that out faster than would otherwise have been the case.
With respect to the deficit, we know this. The government has been erratic and inaccurate in providing any reliable information. Last fall the government was telling Canadians that a recession was unlikely and that there would be emphatically no deficit. In November, it claimed four more surplus budgets. In January, that had flipped around completely to a projection of two years of deficits, $34 billion this year and $30 billion next year. In February, March and April it told us that was still completely accurate information. It was still “on track”, it said.
However, in May we learned the red ink for this year will not be $34 billion but $50 billion, a 48% increase. Deficits will follow not for two years but for at least five years and the cumulative damage will be something worse than $170 billion in new debt.
Worse still, Conservative deficit financing began not because of but before there was a recession. It destroyed Canada's fiscal security during good times long before the trouble hit with a vengeance last fall. There is to date little evidence that the spending that has been announced is having any constructive effect and there is no apparent plan, other than wishful thinking, to deal with the new mortgage that is being placed on the future of our children.
Because of the events of this week, the government will be obliged to be more forthcoming with Canadians about the actual debt and deficit situation and the government's plan to deal with it. It will also be required to produce and implement a plan to deal with the crisis in medical isotopes. Confusing snippets of information will not suffice. Neither will it be sufficient to try to pass the buck.
The government must shoulder the responsibility that comes from being in power for more than three and a half years. It inherited nuclear facilities that were in fact duly licensed. It, itself, renewed those licences.
There was no unplanned disruption in the flow of isotopes during the previous years of Liberal government. Neither was there any disruption during the Mulroney years before that, as far as anyone can remember. However, there have been two serious failures in the last 18 months.
It is time to stop the spin, stop the excuses and just produce a plan to tell worried Canadians how this crisis is going to be fixed going forward. That is what matters. That is what patients waiting for cancer treatments want to know. On Monday, the Prime Minister finally said he would comply and produce that plan.
Those are the four key issues. The vehicle for achieving some progress on them is the motion that we are considering this morning. If this motion is adopted, the estimates will pass, the House will adjourn today for the normal summer period, we will return one week earlier in September, and our sittings will avoid any direct conflict with the G20.
The government will prepare an extra probationary report on the economy, the fiscal situation and the fight against the recession. The report will provide details about infrastructure spending and the deficit, among other things. It will coincide with the advice that will be coming from a working group of MPs and others on how to fix EI eligibility. Shortly thereafter, there will be a vote scheduled in the House to test the government's performance and further opposition days for all parties will be scheduled in an even-handed manner through the fall and into December.
There is some progress on the four important issues and there is enhanced accountability in a minority Parliament. For these reasons, this motion should be passed today.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
Mr. Speaker, I listened, as I always do, with great interest to my colleague from Wascana. As is the custom with the member for Wascana, his speech was basically another example of his propensity to revise history.
We have heard many things from the member for Wascana in relation to the four main points the leader of the official opposition had leading up to the meetings between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. However, the official opposition House leader, the member for Wascana, fails to mention that basically none of the four points the official opposition leader felt were paramount to be answered prior to his decision on whether to force a spring election were really dealt with.
The resolve that the Prime Minister and the leader of the official opposition had at the end of their meetings, while very encouraging and beneficial to all Canadians since they resulted in no election call, did not really address the points that the leader of the official opposition had going into those meetings.
I will give one clear example. For weeks and weeks we heard the Leader of the Opposition and many members of his party say that the main reform to EI must be a threshold of 360 hours across the country. There was no mention of that. There was no agreement to that when the agreement was finally reached between the two leaders.
I would ask the official opposition House leader why he did a 180 on the 360? If that was the hill the Liberals were going to die on, why was this not agreed upon, or even raised, in the meeting between the leader of the official opposition and the Prime Minister?
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2009-06-19 9:17 [p.4831]
Mr. Speaker, obviously I was not in the meeting, and neither was the hon. gentleman across the way, so perhaps we should both be a bit careful about saying what was or was not discussed in that meeting. The fact is that the topic of eligibility for unemployment insurance was expressly a part of the discussion. Both of the leaders have said that. They both agreed on a process by which to address that issue.
It is significant that before that meeting the government denied that there was any problem with eligibility for employment insurance. It said that apart from its last election campaign promise, which had to do with parental leave for the self-employed, everything else had been addressed by what the government had done with respect to the five weeks of additional benefits and that there was no point even discussing EI eligibility.
As it turns out, in his news conference following the meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister said he agreed there were inequities in the rules with respect to eligibility and that he was prepared to make a good faith effort to try to address those with the Leader of the Opposition. Let us hope the process works, because that would be beneficial for unemployed people in this country.
View Chris Charlton Profile
View Chris Charlton Profile
2009-06-19 9:19 [p.4831]
Mr. Speaker, I am fascinated by the debate this morning, particularly the exchange between the Conservative member and the member for Wascana. There seems to be the first crack in this new coalition government. I think Canadians will watch what unfolds with great interest.
The question I want to ask this morning is also about EI. It pertains to the so-called blue ribbon panel. I thought this might be interesting, that there might be representatives from the CLC appointed to this panel, that there may be experts on the worker and employer sides who deal with employment insurance every single day.
What do we get? We get a panel of Liberals and Conservatives, two MPs from each party and a political staffer. I am not sure why that is necessary, because frankly all the MPs in this House have already voted on EI.
We already know what this House has decided should happen on EI. The NDP motion on EI passed by a majority vote. Canadians are simply waiting for its implementation. They do not need more study. One and half million Canadians are unemployed. They need action, not more study.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2009-06-19 9:20 [p.4831]
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to say that the discussions this week have actually broken the logjam and a process is now in place that can lead to better results for unemployed Canadians across the country.
I am encouraged by the remarks of the representative of the NDP, because it sounds like she would like to participate in the process. Hopefully there is a broad consensus across the country that can be arrived at.
In terms of this working group, it will be able to reach out beyond its membership to receive good advice from wherever that may come.
View Jay Hill Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the opposition day motion moved by the hon. member for Wascana, the Liberal House leader.
The motion recognizes the role of the House in ensuring government accountability. As we know, that is the primary function of Parliament in our Westminster system.
More specifically, the motion at hand calls for three things: first, that the Standing Orders of the House be changed with respect to the scheduling of allotted days this fall; second, that the House calendar be altered to accommodate the G20 meetings in September; and third, that the government table an additional report on the implementation of the 2009 budget.
I will touch on these three points very briefly, as it is the government's intention to support the motion. I will devote the remainder of my remarks to a more general discourse on the successful functioning of Parliament and my experiences of this past session.
The opposition day motion provides for a change to the rules of Parliament with regard to how the government may allocate opposition days this fall. Since coming to office in 2006, as a general rule our government has always tried to evenly distribute the opposition days in the parliamentary calendar. In certain circumstances we recognize that legislative priorities can force a deviation from this practice. However, we do support the idea of amending the Standing Orders to ensure that this usual practice becomes a rule.
The second provision of today's opposition day motion provides for a change to the House calendar for the fall of 2009. Under this provision the House would open a week earlier than currently scheduled and it would then adjourn for the week of September 21. This will enable the government to focus on the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 24 and 25.
The G20 is the chief forum for the world leaders, as a group, to address issues resulting from the global economic crisis, and Canada has played an active and important role in these discussions. At the fall G20 meetings, the Prime Minister and other world leaders will discuss progress in promoting economic recovery and they will consider new ways to address global economic and financial challenges.
I think we can all agree that there is no more pressing issue before Parliament than dealing with the global economic downturn, which has caused personal hardship and job loss around the world. Unfortunately, as we all know, Canada has not been immune.
Our legislative program of this past session has reflected that the economy is the number one issue for Canadians. As such, I am pleased to support a motion that permits the Government of Canada to give its undivided attention to the critical economic discussions that will be taking place at the G20 summit in September.
The third provision of today's opposition motion requests that the government table an additional report on the implementation of the 2009 budget. In the face of global economic uncertainty, this government presented a budget in January with a comprehensive economic action plan to stimulate economic growth, restore confidence and support Canadians and their families during this global recession.
This economic recovery program is unprecedented in our history, and it is working. Canada was the last group of seven country to enter recession and the International Monetary Fund expects that we will have the strongest recovery coming out of it.
The government has also taken unprecedented steps in reporting on our economic action plan. We tabled an initial budget report in March. A week ago we tabled a second budget report, which outlines how 80% of the measures in our economic action plan are already being implemented. This government welcomes the opportunity provided by today's opposition day motion to table a third budget report in September. In fact, we committed to such a report in our budget presentation earlier this past winter.
The Minister of Finance announced at the time that he would be tabling an economic report in the fall. This being the case, I commend the official opposition for echoing the government's pre-existing intention and commitment to provide quarterly reports on the economy in and through the House to all Canadians. As we debate this today, I think it is important to remember that the government was already committed to providing that report in September.
As all members in the House know, the last few weeks have not been easy in this place. In fact they have not been easy on Canadians from coast to coast to coast. During this time of economic challenge, Canadians did not want to hear about the possibility of an election. Canadians want us to continue to work to achieve results for them. They know we cannot afford an election, which would put Canada's economic recovery at risk, halt stimulus investment across the country and limit our ability to continue to implement our economic action plan for Canadians.
By avoiding an election, we have enabled the government to continue its course of doing everything possible to turn this global recession around on our own soil. The cooperation we have seen emerge over this week, spearheaded by our Prime Minister, has not only avoided a costly and unwanted election but has clearly demonstrated to Canadians that their Parliament can work for them.
Despite the partisan political drama played out during the daily 45 minutes of question period, Canadians may be surprised to know just how cooperative and productive this past session of Parliament has been. Since January, our government has worked with all opposition parties to advance many important bills that will help Canadian families. We have moved forward on our electoral commitments, and I am pleased that much more has been done.
Since January, the government has introduced a total of 54 bills. By the time the Senate adjourns for the summer next week, I expect we will have royal assent on 26 of those bills, including such important legislative initiatives as Bill C-33, which will restore war veterans' allowances to allied veterans and their families; Bill C-29, to guarantee an estimated $1 billion in loans over the next five years to Canadian farm families and co-operatives; Bill C-3, to promote the economic development of Canada's north; Bill C-28, to increase the governance capacity of first nations in Canada; and Bill C-14, a critically important justice bill to fight the scourge of organized crime.
Although much work has been accomplished, a good number of bills that continue to be priorities of our government remain on the order paper, including Bill C-6, to enact Canada's consumer product safety act to help protect the health and safety of all Canadians; Bill C-8, to provide first nations women on reserve with the same rights and protections enjoyed by all other Canadians; and Bill C-23, to open new doors for trade between Canada and Colombia.
Furthermore, our government has continued to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to fighting crime and violence in this country. Our justice minister, the hon. member for Niagara Falls, has been unrelenting in his determination to hold criminals accountable and protect victims and law-abiding Canadian citizens.
Over a dozen justice related bills have been introduced since the beginning of this parliamentary session, which include Bill C-15, Bill C-26 and Bill S-4, to help fight crimes related to criminal organizations, such as drug-related offences, identity theft and auto theft; Bill C-25, which will return truth in sentencing and eliminate the two for one credit; Bill C-36, which will repeal the faint hope clause, and Bill C-19, the new anti-terrorism bill.
Unfortunately none of these bills have completed the legislative process during this session of Parliament. Again, due to the leadership of our Prime Minister, thankfully our country will not be plunged into an election and these bills will remain on the order paper. We hope to pass them into law in the fall.
I look forward to continuing the spirit of cooperation in this place in September to accomplish this unfinished business for all Canadians. Five of these bills have already passed one chamber of Parliament and they are before the second House for consideration. On behalf of vulnerable Canadians in particular, we have to keep moving to get the job done on this important legislation.
In closing, I am pleased that the government has been able to develop today's opposition day motion in cooperation with the official opposition. This House of Commons should more often focus on what all of us have in common rather than what divides us. While I would have liked to have seen some debate on some of our newer bills that we have just introduced and passed more of our justice and safety bills, this parliamentary sitting is winding down in the age-old Canadian tradition of compromise.
We all know that this place is about debate, trade-offs, negotiations and compromise. This is how Parliament works. This is how our very country was born, has grown and continues to develop and flourish.
As I have already indicated, the government will be supporting today's motion. I again salute our Prime Minister for his leadership in staving off an election, which I think would be dreaded by the vast majority of Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I wish you, and all colleagues in this House, a very happy summer.
View Michael Savage Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague for his speech. It was certainly more statesmanlike than the deputy House leader for the government's was.
I want to ask him specifically about EI and the issue of regional fairness.
It is not just the opposition parties in this House who say we need to have regional fairness and a 360-hour standard, but that is the overwhelming feeling of business, labour, social policy groups, analysts and anti-poverty advocates. There are people who would argue whether it should be 360, 395 or 420 hours, but even his own premier in B.C., as well as Premier Stelmach, Premier Doer and others have said we need to have regional fairness.
I ask my hon. colleague, very seriously, does he not think that the people of his constituency should have the same access to EI as any other Canadian?
View Jay Hill Profile
Mr. Speaker, despite my hon. colleague's preamble and sharp partisan jab against my hon. parliamentary secretary, who spoke so eloquently a few moments ago in reply to the address by the member for Wascana, I will address his question.
Something that has been overlooked thus far in the debate, certainly in the remarks by the member for Wascana, is the fact that our Prime Minister, our Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and our entire government have always maintained that we are prepared to do more. We are prepared to do whatever is necessary to address the economic challenges, the hardships that Canadian families are facing during this global economic recession.
In answer to the hon. member's question, I commend his leader, the leader of the official opposition, and my Prime Minister for working together co-operatively in striking the working group that will be investigating options over the summer to make the employment insurance program fairer for all.
The Prime Minister has put forward the idea of including self-employed people, on an optional basis, in employment insurance. We have extended benefits. We have already made substantive changes about which we have often remarked.
I must also be very clear. The statement made by my parliamentary secretary is accurate to the word. The official opposition and its leader did a dramatic 180° turn on their 360. That no longer is the hill on which they are dying.
I commend the official opposition for seeing reason and working with our Prime Minister to put forward the working group on employment insurance reform.
View Chris Charlton Profile
View Chris Charlton Profile
2009-06-19 9:33 [p.4833]
Mr. Speaker, my question for the House leader is about one particular part of the opposition day motion before us today, and I will talk a bit more about it later when I get the opportunity to participate in the debate.
My question focuses around the need to adjourn the House during the meeting of the G20. As I understand it, traditionally the Prime Minister and usually the Minister of Foreign Affairs would participate in those meetings. That is two people out of a House of 308 members. I also understand that the government might want to take more people along, but I am assume it would not be more than about half a dozen. That would leave more than 300 people here ready to do the business of the nation.
Could the government House leader explain to me why it is necessary to adjourn the entire House of Commons for one whole week when we are facing an unemployment crisis, a crisis with respect to isotopes and a crisis with respect to job creation? Could it be because the Little Mermaid is opening in New York theatres that week and he wants all of his members to be able to go?
View Jay Hill Profile
Mr. Speaker, as I remarked in my speech, the New Democratic Party is always so negative all the time, and it is very unfortunate. Canadians are tired of that. It is reflected in the rapidly diminishing support for the New Democratic Party in the polls from coast to coast to coast. That party is falling into disrepute because of its actions. Those members are always negative. They vote against every solitary thing that we bring forward on behalf of Canadians. They have to vote against something before they even read it, and they brag about it.
Canadians do not support parliamentarians of any political stripe who come here to automatically oppose everything that is trying to be done.
On the issue of adjournment, I would point out for the hon. member, the media and Canadians watching at home, that not a single solitary day of debate is going to be lost by having the House rise. The G20 meeting is an urgent and important meeting. Our Prime Minister has been a world leader on the international stage in addressing the financial crisis facing the world, not just in Canada. He will continue to do that at the G20.
We will continue to have the debate in this chamber, which the country needs, despite the negativity of the NDP.
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