- MPlibMay 29, 2013 12:50 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, it seems that your life is going to be easier starting on Monday. You will have just a little more peace and quiet in the House. A familiar voice you have occasionally had to call to order will no longer be here.
I rise before the House today with great emotion to address my fellow Canadians and my colleagues for the last time as the member for Bourassa.
I am announcing my departure from federal political life as of June 2—16 years to the day from the first time the people of Bourassa gave me the privilege of representing them, a privilege they have given me on six consecutive occasions.
I would like to express my appreciation to my constituents, who have placed their trust in me year after year, in good times and in hard times. Thanks as well to the members of my executive and the thousands of volunteers who made it possible for me to be here for all these years.
I would also like to thank all of my staff: Maurice, Joe, Lise, Sylvia and Rolande, who have always served the people of Bourassa with the greatest professionalism, in both Ottawa and Montréal-Nord. Not only did they carry out their duties, but they did so with enormous sensitivity and effectiveness in the most difficult cases. People often come to us as a last resort, and believe me, my staff worked miracles. Thank you, my friends. Thank you, Maurice.
Obviously, 30 years in federal politics and 16 years as a member have forced my family to make many sacrifices. To my wife, Chantale, and my children, Geneviève and Alexandre, go all my appreciation and gratitude for their understanding and sacrifice. I thank my family for always being there for me. I am sorry that I was not always with you, but know that I love you beyond measure.
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish a happy birthday to my mother, Lucie, who is watching us today. Happy birthday, Mom! Thank you Mom and Dad for being here with us.
I would like to thank and salute my colleagues in caucus and on both sides of the House. It has been a privilege to work next to them. Of course, we have had fights a few times because we do not understand each other or they do not understand my French expressions. Nevertheless, it has been a privilege to sit with them.
Thanks also to the House of Commons employees, and the security guards whom I greeted every morning. They have all my respect. Thanks to the pages, the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Clerk and her staff and the other officers of Parliament. My gratitude goes also to the House interpreters—we do not call them translators, we call them interpreters—for their courage, professionalism and determination, as they tried to understand the homegrown expressions I used in the House.
- MPlibMay 28, 2013 1:25 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, this is the first time in 16 years that I have seen a point of order during a vote. If members seem a bit crazy, they will pull themselves together in the end. I think the Chair should wait until after the vote to deal with points of order.
- MPlibMay 07, 2013 9:00 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think do not I see a quorum.
- MPlibApr 24, 2013 11:55 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Thank you for recognizing me, Mr. Speaker.
My question is for the Prime Minister. I would like to touch on ICAO again. Qatar is clearly mounting a shameless offensive. They are obviously willing to do whatever they can to get ICAO out of Montreal.
Has the Prime Minister struck an interdepartmental committee to address this situation? Who is really in charge of this file? Has he worked with his ministers—immigration, revenue, finance, foreign affairs—to fix this? There is too much at stake for Montreal.
- MPlibApr 22, 2013 1:50 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, but I would like to remind him that we are talking about Bill S-7 today. He does not need to talk about anything else. This matter is complex and serious enough.
- MPlibApr 16, 2013 11:40 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, if the member does not want to lose his credibility, then he should call a spade a spade.
An increase in import tariffs is an increase in taxes. The worst thing is that the middle class will have to pay. Montrealers are going to have to pay more, whether they are buying a coffee maker, a bicycle or children's shoes. It is as simple as that.
Can the government be honest here? Will the government admit that this is a new tax and agree to cancel it in order to prevent the cost of living from going up?
- MPlibApr 16, 2013 10:55 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, of course we will not react to what the Conservatives are doing.
Not only is this an important program, but we need to be pragmatic and recognize certain realities, particularly in the agricultural sector. I wonder if my hon. colleague from Malpeque, who was our agriculture critic in another life and knows this file very well, could explain how important it is to support this motion. The program works. It is a good, much-needed program, but we need to prevent abuse. I would like him to explain exactly why this program is so important, especially for our farmers.
- MPlibApr 16, 2013 10:25 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, as former immigration minister, I was very pleased to contribute to the program. Some groups that come to mind are farmers and meat packers, particularly in Manitoba.
The government is spouting nonsense.
The motion raises the awareness that there is a situation. We do not want, like the NDP, to give the impression that we want to kill the program. We like the program. We invented it. But I have a serious question. Did the member just say that all the temporary foreign workers will have to speak one of the two official languages? When we have those meat packers and people from Mexico and I remember our government signed an agreement with Guatemala, does it mean that if they do not speak English or French they cannot work? They are coming here for a temporary timeframe. I would like to understand what the member meant by that.
- MPlibMar 28, 2013 10:00 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
With regard to advertising by the government during the broadcast of the Academy Awards on February 24, 2013: (a) what was the total cost for advertising; and (b) what was the cost for each advertisement shown?
- MPlibMar 26, 2013 2:05 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, unlike the member for Gatineau, I can say that there was a day when she was tempted to come back to the Liberals.
I will talk about the budget because that is more important, especially since it affects things that are important to Quebec. Unlike other budgets that were meant to unify the country, this budget, once again, divides the federation. I would like my colleague, the leader of the Liberal Party, to say a few words about skills training and the fact that this budget has a negative impact on small investors in Quebec who wanted to invest in the labour-sponsored funds, whether at the CSN or the FTQ. I would like to hear what he has to say about that.
- MPlibMar 19, 2013 12:10 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I would respectfully submit to the speaker that there is a tradition here. We cannot do indirectly what we cannot do directly.
- MPlibMar 05, 2013 8:40 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I find my colleague's attitude here this morning a bit odd. He seems to think that he is the only one who knows the absolute truth, that he is the only one who can walk and chew gum at the same time.
But let us focus on the debate. I think it is great that we are talking about the future of the second chamber, but certain realities need to be taken into account. The member also needs to answer certain questions, since he can walk and chew gum at the same time. The reality is that if we want to abolish the Senate, we also need to take action regarding other existing legislation. Abolishing the Senate would also mean abolishing the right to veto.
Is he prepared to take away Quebec's right to veto? Is he ready to abolish that legislation, too?
- MPlibMar 05, 2013 8:30 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am having some problems hearing.
- MPlibMar 01, 2013 8:25 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I hope that the government will not spout such nonsense in response to my question, which is very clear and simple.
While the Conservatives are engaging in petty politics, seasonal workers are losing their jobs and are now in the spring gap. They may have to apply for social assistance.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs said that this reform was based on research. However, the minister said yesterday that such was not the case. What we do know, however, is that the government has to find $330 million.
My question is for the Quebec lieutenant, since this issue affects Quebec, particularly the eastern part of the province. Is he prepared to take practical measures—by implementing a pilot project, for example—if the Conservatives do not want to talk about a moratorium?
- MPlibFeb 28, 2013 11:40 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, in his report, the Parliamentary Budget Officer tells us that we got taken with regard to the F-35 program, but we also learn that the Conservatives are now taking us for a ride on a boat that will not float. The fact is that they do not know how to count. Even as they are going through their great crisis management exercise, they are saying that not only might they be forced to redesign the ships, they are not even sure they can afford them.
There are two options here: either the budget gets bigger or the government buys fewer ships. Is that clear? Is it going to be a bigger budget or fewer ships?
- MPlibFeb 26, 2013 12:35 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I have been sitting in this House with my colleague for years, and I hope that one day he will lose the recorded message and answer for himself. I will quietly ask him a very simple question, so that he can understand it clearly. What is more, a simple yes or no will suffice.
Is the parliamentary secretary in favour of dedicated infrastructure funding? I do not want to hear that the Liberals voted against infrastructure. Liberals are in favour of infrastructure.
Is he for or against dedicated funding?
- MPlibFeb 26, 2013 12:15 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, this is not about what the government has done. We voted for that measure and even proposed it before the infrastructure programs. Now we need to talk about what is next. In 2014, the infrastructure plan will be renewed. The $131 billion infrastructure deficit is a fact.
The Canadian government will tell us that the municipalities fall under provincial jurisdiction. When he was mayor, I was minister at the time and I made announcements in his riding for the Roberval airport. I know that the federal government has a role to play in this.
Is the hon. member prepared to move forward with a long-term plan? The gas tax is one thing, but it is not enough. Will he ensure that we can make plans for sustainable infrastructure?
- MPlibFeb 26, 2013 8:25 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, perhaps some questions need to be put to the provincial NDP governments.
It is not a matter of labelling; it is a matter of what is for the future. That is the reason why, in 1993, we put up that infrastructure program. It is never enough. Of course we have to recuperate for the sake of our future. We just mentioned in Montreal that we are losing 40% of our drinkable water. So it is not about who we should blame; it is about what are we ready to do together to make things better. I think that is the essence of the motion. It is everybody's business, in a non-partisan way. We have to push forward.
New structures and funding plan timetables will be just as important as increases in funding. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is also asking for increased infrastructure funding based on a percentage of GDP, to match levels reached between 1950 and 1970.
Acknowledging that there is a problem is the first step. Yes, solutions have been put forward, but between now and 2014, the infrastructure plan needs to be renewed in keeping with certain parameters and investment strategies. The Canadian government has a role to play, and it needs to invest in our infrastructure.
- MPlibFeb 26, 2013 8:20 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his very pertinent question.
I agree that too often, unfortunately, the Conservative government takes a partisan approach. However, the official opposition should not follow the government's lead either. We currently are experiencing leadership and follow-up problems. In particular, we see what is happening with the Charbonneau commission. One thing is certain: we must not reject the PPP model outright. The Canadian government must assume its role as a full partner, but it must also invest and give itself the tools it needs to resolve certain matters. That does not mean that we have to go this route, but if the PPP model is one possible solution, then it should not be rejected outright.
That said, we should have dedicated funds for transportation, for example. The issue here is sustainable development. It makes no sense for a municipality to lose 40% of its water. Clearly, investing is important, but equally important, leadership must be redefined. As a large municipality, Montreal must play a leading role, but the same also holds true for all Canadian municipalities.
So yes, the government must change its partisan approach. Yes, there must be dedicated funds. Perhaps by having dedicated funds and a genuine national strategy, the government—which unfortunately believes that a government means less government—will be able to address the problems. However, I would advise my colleague not to go to the other extreme and to weigh all of the options. The PPP model could very well be a good option, but that does not mean it is a panacea either.
- MPlibFeb 26, 2013 8:05 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely thrilled to begin my speech by replying to my hon. colleague from Essex.
This debate is far too serious to play the “my dad is stronger than your dad” game. The Liberals invented the infrastructure program and really emphasized it. This is not about what has been done, but what we can do right now, and that is the goal of my colleague's motion. We are not judging what has already been done. We can be critical and partisan. Besides, it was minority Liberal governments that helped bring forward this kind of budget.
What is important today is to reflect appropriately on the federal government's role in relation to the municipalities. We must not get caught up in a constitutional dispute, since some will say that municipalities are creatures of the provinces. The reality is that sharing, funding and pilot projects will help improve people's quality of life.
The Liberal Party and I will be supporting today's motion. We believe that not only is it important to do so, but the motion itself is also consistent with our party's position on infrastructure.
Indeed, we need an effective strategy and we need to listen to our constituents. As my colleague from Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher said earlier, we now have an infrastructure deficit of $171 billion. What is more, we also know that over 30% of existing infrastructure is failing and in deplorable condition. Of course, no single municipality or provincial government will be able to resolve the situation.
At present, we have a serious governance problem. One of the most important measures that we need to adopt is what is known as “dedicated funds”. Now, we have a certain amount of money, we set that money aside and we do not necessarily know where that money will go. If we want to be effective when it comes to transportation, housing and infrastructure, we need to bring back the notion of “dedicated funds” for urban transit and basic infrastructure. When it comes to infrastructure, if we are talking more and more about sustainable development, we also need to do things differently, to do them correctly.
We must find a new way to invest more, particularly in the greater Montreal area, where there are problems with bridges and public transportation. This is the digital age and we have new management methods, as my colleague, the official opposition transport critic, said, and the whole notion of productivity is closely tied to infrastructure.
That is why the Prime Minister at the time, Paul Martin, was the first to talk about bringing back the gas tax. I commend this Conservative government for having the good sense to make it permanent. Just because we are in the opposition does not mean that we must oppose everything. Of the many initiatives put forward at the time, making this tax permanent was a good thing. But we must now double it and index it.
It is an ongoing process. We need to make sure that from now on it is not only permanent, but it is indexed and doubled. This is key.
My colleague from Essex was right when he talked about its importance to municipalities, but it is not a one-shot deal. We need to find a better way with these dedicated funds to provide the right funding for the future. It is a good policy, so we have to go further than that, I would suggest.
One of the problems was that we thought we knew the Conservatives' track record since 2007. The reality is that we will renew this plan in 2014. If we want to do so, we must start now to develop benchmarks for the future. We must think in terms of dedicated funds and also long-term funding.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, for one, is talking about planning for up to 20 years. This must be the start of a discussion on governance. We may be able to think about a 20-year span, but with renewals every five years. Do we need benchmarks? They do not necessarily need to be written in stone.
We definitely need to redefine the long-term vision. We can no longer operate only in the short term. In the current context, we also often need to take measures that will give the municipalities the tools they need—updated tools—even if they are receiving money on a permanent basis. Unfortunately, this is too often not enough. The Liberal Party is supportive of a long-term fiscal commitment to municipal infrastructure.
We have been calling for predictable and sustainable funding for a long time. We need to redefine what we mean by “infrastructure” in order to determine whether we are referring to productivity, housing or other aspects.
When I was president of the Privy Council, I called it “smart regulation”. We need to bring back the notion of smart cities. Smart cities mean smart citizens and smart regulations. It is not just based on mortar; different digital strategies have to be put forward as well.
We are proud of our country. However, people identify less and less with their country or continent and, instead, identify with their city. We must go beyond the issue of jurisdiction and share tools interdepartmentally. It is no good to have a department responsible for infrastructure. Human resources, the Minister of Industry and the person responsible for innovation must work together to acquire the necessary tools. The word “infrastructure” must be clearly defined.
For that reason, I think we must consider holding a federal-provincial conference. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister may be meeting with premiers individually instead. It has been too long since the last federal-provincial conference. We need a specific strategy for infrastructure and the future of the municipalities. We must develop tools in order to improve people's quality of life. I am thinking about green infrastructure, digital infrastructure and core infrastructure.
Montreal is having major problems despite all the money invested. We are still losing 40% of our drinking water, despite current investments. We do not need just the money that is currently being invested. We also need to acquire the necessary tools so that the government can invest more. As hon. members know, entities other than the Canadian government are responsible for over 60% of all infrastructure projects.
The government needs to develop a national public transit strategy with funding of its own, and a national general infrastructure and funding strategy.
Above all, I think that the government must avoid partisanship. It has to give itself permission to commend past investments and it has to come up with the right tools. There is still a long road ahead and a lot of work to do.
Earlier, the hon. member for Essex was talking about all the money from the building Canada fund. Instead of talking in concrete terms about the future, he said that the Conservatives have invested more than the Liberals. I would like to point out that an extraordinary minister, a prominent politician and a great Canadian, Herb Gray, also played a role in his region. We do not need to get into who is better. We need to start recognizing the infrastructure sector.
It is an ongoing issue. It is not just based on what one has done in the past, or if one has invested more than another. It is all about what is in it for the future. The more we invest for the future, the more impact we will have on the quality of our lives, on sustainable development and on other policies. However, we have to realize that if we do not have that kind of strategy, it will have an impact on human resources.
As a former minister of immigration, I was always there to discuss with my counterparts the future within the cities. For example, 87% of all the immigration goes through Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
Of course, we need that kind of dialogue. We need the infrastructure. We need the transport because it has a direct impact on quality of life. This is not just an infrastructure debate; it is all about what kind of society we want to live in and what the future should be for our great country.
This motion may be the beginning of an interesting debate. As my party's critic for transport, infrastructure and communities, I already started having this conversation on the future of infrastructure at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. I imagine there is a cause and effect relationship between that and the NDP's opposition motion. That is why we are in favour of this motion and why it must be adopted.
I think we need to take this debate further. This is an extremely broad issue. As far as repairs are concerned, we are talking about improving productivity in Canada, as I was saying earlier, and we are talking about partnership and transparent funding for the long term.
There is another important aspect that the government side touched on earlier.
It is important to make sure we are not living in a one-size-fits-all, so for every policy and program we promote, it is also important that we realize it is not just the major cities, but all the communities. If we want to make sure we are inclusive and everyone feels like a first class citizen, we will have to make sure we are listening to them.
This is an opportunity to counter cynicism. All political parties in this House must work together on this. It is a motion. We are constantly reminded by this government that a motion is not really binding. In my opinion, this could be the start of a worthwhile debate.
When I go out to speak to the people in my riding of Bourassa and the people of my city, Montreal—I am referring to the Montreal metropolitan area—many people talk to us about this issue. They do not have questions about the Constitution. They believe that we are all part of the solution and that we have specific work to do.
We have talked about social development and sustainable development. However, economic development is extremely important. If we want to be one of the world's great countries, and if we want to ensure that all cities can accommodate more businesses, it is important that our cities have decent infrastructure. Canada is an exporting country and does a huge amount of business with the rest of the world. We have to study what infrastructure can do for economic development and quality of life.
For example, as we prepare to enter into a free trade agreement with Europe, we must ensure that we put this infrastructure in place, because when European businesses want to become established in Canada, they will go to Montreal and have a look at the infrastructure. This is not just about the cities and provinces. When these people arrive, we welcome them to Canada. If we really want to welcome them to Canada, we have to ensure that we build proper infrastructure and that we work towards that.
I am very pleased to have participated in the debate on today's motion and, on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I can say that we will support this motion.
- MPlibFeb 06, 2013 11:40 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that there are no negotiations going on at this time, because the file is on the Prime Minister's desk.
I would like to come back to the issue of the dairy industry. The federation and some of its members were here. This is an important sector: 12,700 dairy farms and over 218,000 jobs. We do not want to hear any petty political answers; we want to be assured that the Prime Minister will not go back on his word and that he will protect supply management.
Yes or no, will he commit to protecting supply management? It is important to Canada.
- MPlibFeb 05, 2013 3:30 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I already congratulated the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.
I find that the government is being a bit disingenuous today. A member is not only proposing that we have a more extensive debate, so that we can work together to develop the necessary tools, but she is also giving the government a chance to take this and run with it. But now she is being accused of not acting in good faith because she is not capable of getting her own party on board. We have to call a spade a spade. This is a good motion and is a good way of doing things.
The government simply has to put the problem into context. Not everyone has access to municipal infrastructure. Twenty-five percent of homes, especially in rural regions, do not have access to the municipal sewer system. Instead of waiting until sewage becomes a problem, when we see the worst case scenario, we are calling for preventive measures.
I am part of the government that created the first one-third, one-third, one-third infrastructure program, and there were different components. Not everyone has a pipe running to their house, but we need to find a way to ensure that they have a good quality of life.
This is especially important because water quality is not the only thing at stake: it is also an environmental issue. Given that the Canadian government is already moving forward on other environmental measures, I am convinced there must be a way to reach an acceptable, respectful agreement that recognizes all jurisdictions.
The Government of Canada has done it before. We created something as part of the third component. We had green infrastructure. When I was minister of sports, we found a way to invest in recreational tourism. Recreation is under provincial jurisdiction, but there is also amateur sport, so we found a solution. The same thing applies to the environment.
My colleague is right: the situation is different here. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Fédération québécoise des municipalités lobbied for that cause, and I think it is a good thing.
Our role is to make people's life better and easier, and to create an environment that fosters agreements. That is why I asked my colleague a question—I am not sure she understood me. I wanted to know whether she had already talked with officials from the Quebec government, as they are used to this type of thing.
Municipalities are indeed creatures of the provinces, as was said at the time. However, we are facing a different set of circumstances. With the situation as it is today, we all have to work together without constantly coming down with “acute constitutionalitis”. We can do what is appropriate. Jurisdiction over the environment and infrastructure is shared and I do not see why we could not find a solution. Why make it simple when we can make it complicated, as the government does?
Instead of my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel being lectured on procedure, she should have been congratulated, and not half-heartedly. She wants so much for this motion to be adopted that she is even giving the government a chance to seize the opportunity by telling her they will set up a program. There is no need to enact legislation when you create a program. The minister responsible for infrastructure should sit down with his counterparts, hold a federal-provincial-territorial conference to determine how things can be arranged, and create a program. An infrastructure program has already been proposed. Can it be adjusted, since 25% of houses do not have access to the municipal infrastructure level? It seems to me that we can find a solution. This is what we call common sense.
They will be pleased to hear me talk about common sense, since Premier Harris used to talk about common sense in Ontario. I offer them that at no charge. They do not have to pay me any royalties for it.
Clearly the Liberal Party of Canada will support this motion. There are ways to arrange for a program without treading on jurisdictional toes. If the official opposition needs us to, we will offer to work with them to try to make the government understand that this is in people’s interest, because we are all first-class citizens.
- MPlibFeb 05, 2013 3:15 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.
As we saw in the motion this morning, we must not have second-class citizens. People must be able to fully enjoy rural life. That also means that we need measures related to septic tanks.
However, since this is a federal-provincial program involving the municipalities, I would like to know whether she has already contacted the Government of Quebec to see if she could find an attentive ear.
- MPlibFeb 05, 2013 8:30 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague from Trois-Rivières. Solutions must be found. When laws are enacted, they define what type of society we would like to live in.
Mistakes are possible, but what I find unacceptable is when people are deliberately defined and treated in this way and inequitable policies are implemented.
Our role is not to create second-class citizens, but rather to ensure that we can find solutions to injustices and inequities. This reform creates inequities. It will have an impact on social struggles. The middle class does not exist and yet people are saying that those who live in the regions are potential bandits who ought not to have access to employment insurance. That is not the kind of Canada I want.
- MPlibFeb 05, 2013 8:20 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to commend and congratulate my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso for his work on the EI file.
To hear the government playing with words today and trying to take us for fools is quite outrageous.
I commend my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles on her motion. Obviously, it is not a competition to determine who spoke first. As parliamentarians, we must make sure that we work together in the best interests of the public.
What makes me sick in all of this is that the government is in the process of creating different classes of Canadians. In other words, the government is targeting people who have chosen to live in a remote area, who have the right to have their place in the sun. Often it is a matter of tradition, such as a family of fishermen who have lived in the same place since the 17th century. They are now being told that if there is work in Alberta, they have to move there.
Is that how we define Canada? That is completely unacceptable. What is worse is how it is being pushed on us. First they force a massive omnibus bill on us and then they start talking about clarification. This has been going on for months, and then on a Friday evening around 5 p.m., right before Christmas, they shove this down our throats.
In the meantime, many people are having a hard time making ends meet. They are being told to go work an hour away from home if they want to work, but there is nothing much to see there but trees. The government is also suggesting that the workers take a 30% wage cut, even though they will have to pay for the extra gas and extra daycare costs. As for single parent families, they are being told to sort things out themselves, otherwise they will lose their benefits and be forgotten. They will then end up on social assistance and will no longer be the federal government's problem. They will become the provinces' problem, end of story.
I have been an MP for 16 years and I have never seen anything like this. They can point fingers at us all they want. When we were in government we made changes. And when the minister disagreed with my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst, he had the courage to go see the workers and talk to them. Whether we agreed or disagreed, the minister had the courage to go see them. Now, the ministers hide. Members come here in their bubble to try to talk about clarification, but they are hiding.
We never, ever abandoned seasonal workers. How did we manage? We implemented pilot projects and we also tried to find alternative solutions. We always tried to find solutions that would allow people in the regions to have their place in the sun.
What I find tiresome is the fact that not only does this government take the divide and conquer approach, but it also pits the regions against one another. This government is telling people in the regions to leave because there are jobs elsewhere. I am happy that there are jobs in some regions, especially in the natural resources sector. However, the beauty of this country lies in its diversity. It is natural for people to decide to stay in their region and make a living from what they do best, whether it is in the fishery, agriculture, forestry or tourism.
Furthermore, the parliamentary secretary, with her condescending bombast, told us that everyone on her committee is happy. Her average income is $90,000 a year. In other regions, people get by and are happy with an income of $40,000. They should not be comparing apples with oranges.
This motion is important. Once again, it allows us to discuss the type of society we want to live in. I do not believe that this is a partisan issue. As a parliamentarian, I have two jobs. The first is to ensure that I protect the quality of life of my constituents, and the second is to ensure that the bills and motions we debate will improve this quality of life. We must also ensure—at least the opposition must—that we act as watchdog and keep a sharp eye on what happens.
What I liked about the speech given by my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, and the speeches of other members on this side of the House, is her comment that we all make mistakes. Acknowledging one's mistakes is a wonderful antidote to cynicism.
We pushed the Conservatives on some employment insurance related issues and they backed off. Then they came back and tried to bamboozle us. It is good to realize that everyone makes mistakes sometimes and to be able to grow and prove how much we care about our constituents.
This motion is well written. I do not understand why the government does not want to support it. This is not a war of semantics. The question is simple. The Conservatives need to put themselves in the shoes of the people of the Magdalen Islands and realize that it means something when 4,000 people take to the streets to demonstrate. We sometimes see two or three signs here and there, but when 4,000 people are demonstrating in such a small place, that is a large percentage of the population. This means there is a problem. These people are not crooks. I will refrain from saying anything that I cannot say here.
When I was the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I recall that the members of the Reform Party—because these are former Reform members—always talked to me about immigrants as though they were terrorists. Now they have changed their tune; now it is the seasonal workers in the regions who are crooks. I do not believe that the 4,000 residents of the Magdalen Islands and the people who protested in Charlevoix or the Gaspé are crooks. These are people who have bills and expenses to pay every month. They are being told that it is over and their EI is being cut off. They are falling through the cracks.
Worse still is how this reform is being applied. We know all too well that cheques are slow to arrive. Temporary employees had to be hired again. The time it takes to receive a cheque is creating other problems. Not only are people not getting paid, but when they are, it takes time. It takes more than prayers to put food on the table.
I clearly do not understand. What do we have against our citizens? Why do we treat those people as second class citizens? Some people like to stay in some regions and they manage to survive financially through seasonal work. I do not understand why we treat them as a bunch of crooks.
It is all about respect, and that is why we will support the motion. However, when we have this kind of motion, it is also appropriate for the government to stand and say that it has made a mistake. Sometimes that happens. With all the debate and argument, the government can say that it has made a mistake. It does not have to look at the people like they are nothing.
I am not talking about semantics like wording, clarification or reform. What I care about is to ensure that those individuals who work like crazy will have food on their table, that they will be first class citizens and help their kids to become great citizens.
With all that, if we are not doing it, we are creating another problem, a major social problem in every region. The time has come for the government to wake up.
- MPlibJan 30, 2013 1:10 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I too was once the immigration minister. I do not need any lectures on how we are defending criminals to the detriment of victims.
We are all here to do a good job. We are all here to ensure that we live in a safe environment. However, the role of a member of Parliament, of a parliamentarian, is to ask all the relevant questions to make sure that this law does not end up the subject of court cases and to avoid additional problems. One thing we have to wonder about is whether a permanent resident is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These are questions we should be asking ourselves.
What is important today is to avoid using demagoguery to say that it is good people against bad. As parliamentarians, we have a duty to all our communities to ask the right questions and to take the time needed to go all the way.
What is the minister afraid of? Why does he not want to debate the bill? The bill will be passed regardless since the government has a majority. So why not give parliamentarians the time to do their job right?
- MPlibJan 30, 2013 1:05 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I would like for us to talk about Bill C-43 but instead we are talking about a motion to limit debate. We therefore must talk about debate procedure. I think the Standing Orders are clear. It is a matter of relevance and the member should stick to the issue of the motion rather than the content of Bill C-43.
- MPlibDec 12, 2012 11:45 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, the only thing about the F-35 that is working is the ejector seat because, since the Minister of National Defence sat on it, he has been missing in action. The fighter jets are clearly not the only thing that can be stealthy around here.
It is not complicated. The F-35s were supposed to cost $9 billion. This amount increased to $29 billion and now they are going to cost $40 billion or $45 billion. We should have had $9 billion in economic spinoffs, but now we will not even break even.
When will the Prime Minister do the honourable thing by kicking his minister out of cabinet and replacing him?
- MPlibDec 07, 2012 8:35 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I never thought that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works would be overexposed here in the House.
The cynics would say that both sides of this record sound the same. I hardly know what he will do.
Once again, I will try to ask a question of the Minister of National Defence, who has a lovely, happy smile and cannot answer questions.
Is he going to apologize to Canadians for having fooled them? Are the Conservative Pinocchios on the other side going to apologize and tell us how much they have fooled the public?
- MPlibDec 07, 2012 8:25 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, it is sad that we no longer have a defence minister. We have only Lockheed Martin's salesperson of the month. If he has nothing to say, then this must be true.
It is appalling because this government has not only acted in a shameful manner but has also proven its incompetence. What is more, the government has shown its lack of integrity with regard to the management of public finances. There is only one thing left to do: if the minister has any honour left, he must stand up, apologize and resign as defence minister.
- MPlibNov 30, 2012 8:35 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Public Works said that, for over a year now, she has been considering whether the Old Port Corporation should be placed under the stewardship of the Canada Lands Company. Yet, six months ago, on May 12, I asked the Conservatives' friend Gerry Weiner, the chair of the Old Port of Montreal Corporation, the same question and he said that this was a completely hypothetical question and that it was not possible.
And so, the question is simple. Who is telling the truth: the minister or the former minister? Why did they not wait for the Auditor General's results in the spring? Was the audit for nothing? Was it just to buy time?
- MPlibNov 29, 2012 2:20 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
They abandoned us, Mr. Speaker. Those members abandoned Canadians and that is bad because it has created a precedent they will have to live with. We have a saying in French, “Power is like booze; not everybody can handle it”.
We have an issue now because we have a majority government and the official opposition has clearly said that time can be limited. I do not care if I have to stay here on Christmas Eve, because my role is to protect Canadians. My role is to make sure that I am doing my job and I will do everything to make sure that I protect them. However, now the government is using this kind of procedure.
This is doing things in haste. When that is the case, mistakes are made. When mistakes are made, they get sent to the other chamber. The other chamber has to make amendments. And then, we have witnesses tell us we have enacted bad bills. After that, we can talk about questioning our country’s constitution. And then, we can say there will be legal proceedings.
Our role means that we should not be in a hurry. Someone once said that the way to get a flower to grow faster is not to pull on it. With this kind of bill, it is essential to take the time that is needed, particularly when we are talking about the environment, about regional development, about credits, about investment tax credits, about the very definition of navigation, and all that. We can agree.
There are parts of this bill with which we agree entirely, but as a whole, there are things that we do not like and must vote for or against while holding our noses. That is not how politics works. There have been omnibus bills in the past. I was a member of the government that produced bills like that, but they were not mammoth bills including everything but the kitchen sink.
There are some things that are incomprehensible. It is true that the Conservatives love to abuse power, but how can we be expected to vote quickly on a 414-page bill containing 516 clauses?
I thank the other chamber, which has done its job. One need only think of Bill C-10 on censorship, which contained approximately 600 pages, and a tiny clause was nevertheless located. Senators did their job and this created a situation where the role of our own culture and artists was being redefined.
Why has the NDP got into bed with the government? Why are the New Democrats being all holier than thou? Tartuffe said: “cover up that bosom which I cannot endure to look upon.” My colleagues are, unfortunately, being a little hypocritical. I have a lot of respect for my colleagues, but after a year, I imagine that they must be gaining some experience, and are starting to understand how things work around here. You cannot just say things like that.
I understand that there is a party line to be towed and that they are being told that they must not associate with the evil Liberals because they oppose them, but at some point, one must set partisanship aside. If they truly want to stand up for the interests of Canadians, procedure is also important.
The problem is that this bill does not just deal with financial matters. We also have a Prime Minister and a Minister of Finance who are at odds. The Minister of Finance claimed that it was important to balance the budget, and now, they are singing a different tune. Things are changing around the world. They are spinning their wheels and that is extremely worrisome.
When we operate like that, it casts doubt on our own identity as Canadians and the way we do things.What type of country do we want to live in? We cannot just pack up on December 14 because we are eager to get home for the holidays. We were elected for a reason, and it is called parliamentary responsibility. Every time we are unable to do our work, it leads to cynicism. It is all very well to get into heated arguments and to shout out "my father is stronger than your father". The members, including the official opposition, need to explain why they voted with the government. That is what worries me as a parliamentarian.
We can no longer get to the heart of the matter because there is a time limit, and it is impossible to solve the world's problems in 10 minutes. However, people need to understand that because the official opposition allowed a majority Conservative government to do whatever it wanted, that government will do so every year. Unfortunately, our government thinks that the best way to govern is to govern as little as possible. It says that more services and less red tape are needed. What this means is that in the minds of Conservatives, a government is not a catalyst.
I am a member of the Standing Committee on Transport, and they came to see us because we had some matters that had to be dealt with. According to them, we should let things go and see how they work, and whether they work, before investing. On the other hand, governments need to play a support role. Governments are there to create an environment that is conducive to investment and to protect those who are less well off. When things begin to move too quickly and compromise democracy, people turn less and less towards Parliament; that is what you get.
Yvon Deschamps said, “what is it good for?” And people will now ask, “what are members of Parliament good for?” We are not here simply to cut ribbons and get our pictures in the local newspaper. We are the keepers of this democracy. That is what the official opposition and the government have failed to do.
We have worked hard, and we will continue to do so to protect people's interests.
- MPlibNov 29, 2012 2:15 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, let us take care of business. I have an advantage: I have been here nearly 16 years. I have seen things from both sides. I have got along pretty well. From here, I now have a better overall view. I have to admit that I find this sad, and even unacceptable. We have a bill with something like 516 clauses that deals with a number of bills. It is introduced in catch-all form, which ultimately means that the public, and we, their representatives, do not have a chance to really shed light on each bill. So there is something that is not working in our democracy. It is called an abuse of power.
I am certainly very sad to see the contribution by the NDP, who are jeering and trying to ditch the Conservatives. Some people have said 3,000 amendments was superficial. No, it is giving democracy a chance to express itself. We are the same people who recently spent the night together. We remember that. There were several hundred amendments that time. Why did we do it? To define this government. We call that consistency. If we want to give democracy a chance to express itself and if we want to show just how much this government is abusing power and just how antidemocratic it is, then we have to play the game to the very end. When we are at a finance committee meeting and we make all the motions and propose all the amendments possible, it is to define this government.
Unfortunately, the official opposition has painted itself into a corner. The New Democrats can call the government whatever they like, but they have created a dangerous precedent. Unfortunately, the New Democrats, working together with the Conservative Party, have created this precedent that a majority party will be able to do what it wants from now on. They could have stood up and spoken out for their fellow Canadians. This is not a matter of partisanship; it is a matter of how democracy works. Unfortunately, the NDP voted with the Conservative Party.
He is signalling to me there, my young colleague from Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, but those are the facts. They are going to have to explain that inconsistency, because in a democracy, procedure is essential. This bill is not just an omnibus bill, it is not just a mammoth bill, it is not just a catch-all bill; it is a way of defining parliamentary democracy.
That is what is important, and I have said it in both official languages because I am a proud Canadian and proud Quebecker and I can speak in both official languages.
Democracy is not about making it fast. Democracy is about giving us time as legislators to make sure that we can look through every article in every piece of legislation, because our role is to enhance the quality of life and protect those who are in need. It is also to make sure that we fight inequities, to make sure that people in rural Canada are also treated as first-class citizens. However, to do that we have to know procedure. Here, my colleague put forward 3,000 amendments, but did not do so for nothing. It was to define the current government. It was to make sure that we understand what Parliament and democracy are all about.
We have an official opposition that I do not understand. We spent nights together for God's sake and now that party has totally changed.
- MPlibNov 29, 2012 1:30 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order as there is a case for relevance. I would urge the member to talk about the subject at hand, which is the budget.
- MPlibNov 27, 2012 7:10 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
With regard to Aboriginal affairs: what are the titles, dates, and file numbers of any reports, studies, files, or dossiers held by any department or agency, concerning the Labrador Metis Association, Labrador Metis Nation, or NunatuKavut?
- MPlibNov 07, 2012 12:00 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, after listening to the Conservatives, the word of the day seems to be "hogwash". Not only are they cutting services, but they also want to close 10 marine communications and traffic services centres across Canada, including the ones in Rivière-au-Renard and Montreal. Everyone agrees that not only do those centres save lives, but they are essential to risk assessments on environmental issues as well as the protection of recreational boaters, sailors and fishers.
Perhaps the minister did not see this. Why did he go ahead with those cuts, especially without any studies or consultation? What does he have to say to that?
- MPlibNov 02, 2012 9:45 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is being very touchy. The NDP has often voted with the conservatives.
The hon. member has missed a few years of debate since he is new to the House, but I understand his point of view.
When we discuss the ins and outs of a bill, it is normal to also speak about its pros and cons; I think that is good. That being said, I do not believe the hon. member's remarks constitute a point of order.
- MPlibNov 01, 2012 12:05 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, this charade of Thursday statements between leaders is shameful; this is not a debate. The House Leader of the Official Opposition must ask a simple question to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, who must respond to inform us on what is on the agenda for the week. That is all. What is going on now is abuse and is a matter for debate.
- MPlibOct 31, 2012 3:20 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
People need to have a little fun every now and then. I have had a busy day, Mr. Speaker.
Most industry players, including the Canadian Airports Council, the Montreal Economic Institute, the National Airlines Council of Canada, as well as the tourism industry and the entire business community, support blue sky.
Our role is also to represent concerned citizens. I think that in that sense, I am helping my colleague and his motion. That can be taken into consideration. He is not alone. He may have used the word “blue” a little too much. Nevertheless, we are supportive of the “sky” part, at least.
All the same, there are some facts that must be taken into consideration. In speaking to this motion, there is an opportunity to send messages. Those who vote in favour of the motion must take into account the fact that the western provinces, especially British Columbia, are concerned about the lack of progress to date in relaxing restrictions on air services between Canada and major destinations in Asia, such as India. That must be taken into account.
A number of bilateral air transport agreements negotiated under the blue sky policy are not as liberal as those negotiated under our southern neighbour's open skies policy. That may have to be taken into account.
I think that this is a step in the right direction. This is the right thing to do. We have to vote in favour of this motion.
The bottom line: Are they in favour of the free trade agreement or not? If they are against that motion, they are sending a clear message that they are against free trade. So we have to take that in order and that is the reason the members of this party believe in free trade. We believe in those accords. We signed the first one and we will be pleased to support our colleague from Fundy Royal.
- MPlibOct 05, 2012 8:35 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, again, this minister is being careless, negligent and most certainly incompetent. He claims he is innocent. Indeed, we on this side of the House think he is a special kind of innocent.
He chose to protect the interests of the Americans by stopping the exports instead of protecting the health of Canadians. This is a public health issue.
My question is for the Minister of Health.
Could she put down her iPad and answer the questions and do her job? Why has she kept mum on this? Let her answer some questions. We want to know. Let her stand up for once.
- MPlibSep 26, 2012 11:45 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, ridiculous answers like the minister's will only get her so far. Sooner or later, the truth will come out.
Under the previous system, people could keep 40% or $75. From now on, the government will take away 50% the minute a claimant earns money. That means people will be losing more. The minister is encouraging people to work under the table.
Is this incompetence or ignorance? She does not know her portfolio. Can someone help her?
- MPlibSep 25, 2012 7:30 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate our leader on his excellent speech. Much greater emphasis needs to be put on the consequences of these inequities.
He spoke about the weakening of our institutions and the cynicism toward our democratic system. There are people who do not believe in anything anymore because of these inequities. I would like our colleague to explain in his own words why it is important to address these inequities.
- MPlibSep 20, 2012 11:25 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, just for the record, if a person was receiving a maximum amount of $485 in employment insurance benefits, he or she was allowed to keep $194. Now, with the new system, those individuals are losing—
- MPlibSep 20, 2012 11:20 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. Contrary to what he said earlier about the employment insurance reform, the new measures have not been advantageous for the less fortunate. Before, unemployed workers could keep the first $75 they earned or the equivalent of the first 40% of their benefits. Now that amount is automatically deducted. The problem is that this is going to increase the number of less fortunate people and create an underground economy.
Is that what the Prime Minister wants to do, create an underground economy?
- MPlibSep 17, 2012 12:40 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
With respect to the three programs supported by the Global Peace and Security Fund (i.e., the Global Peace and Security Program, the Global Peace Operation Program and the Glyn Berry Program), for each of these programs: (a) what was the final budget for fiscal year 2011-2012; (b) what specific projects were approved in fiscal year 2011-2012; (c) what is the budget for 2012-2013; and (d) what projects have been approved so far for fiscal year 2012-2013
- MPlibSep 17, 2012 12:35 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
With regard to the Canadian Coast Guard: (a) what is the rationale for the closure or anticipated closure of the Marine Communications and Traffic Centres in (i) St. Anthony, Newfoundland and Labrador, (ii) St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, (iii) Saint John, New Brunswick, (iv) Rivière-au-Renard, Quebec, (v) Montreal, Quebec, (vi) Thunder Bay, Ontario, (vii) Vancouver, British Columbia, (viii) Tofino, British Columbia, (ix) Comox, British Columbia, (x) Inuvik, Northwest Territories; (b) what is the rationale for the closure or anticipated closure of the Marine Rescue Centres in (i) St. John’s, Newfoundland, (ii) Quebec City, Quebec; (c) what is the rationale for the closure or anticipated closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard base; (d) what evaluations, studies, or assessments were made or conducted, and used to inform the decision with respect to the closure of each of those named facilities; and (e) what are the dates and file numbers of those evaluations, studies or assessments?
- MPlibJun 19, 2012 11:40 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, there are other questions that we could ask about the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. As I see it, he is no longer worthy of that position and he should resign.
Now someone else has a problem with dignity and credibility. It is the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. I find it completely unacceptable that he is not able to do the honourable thing and simply apologize. He called the deputy premier of Alberta a posterior orifice. That is unacceptable. I am asking him to do the honourable thing. He can stop telling me how big his winning margin was. I have been elected six times myself. That is not the issue. Why does he not just say he is sorry?
- MPlibJun 14, 2012 5:40 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Mr. Speaker, first I would like to congratulate the Minister of Industry and the Minister of State for Finance, who arrived while we were voting. The member for Mississauga South did the same thing and she voted. I am therefore asking that her vote be withdrawn.
- MPlibJun 14, 2012 4:15 pm | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Madam Speaker, this is unacceptable. I made no such gesture, and I do not want the entire opposition being accused of such a thing. People need to take responsibility for their actions; I had nothing to do with this.
- MPlibJun 14, 2012 9:45 am | Quebec, Laval-des-Rapides
Madam Speaker, it is 12:50 p.m., and we are already through 50% of the votes. I would seek the unanimous consent of the House to propose a motion, seconded by the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier, to salute and thank all House of Commons staff, who are doing a fantastic job helping us get through this.
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