Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question and his concern for the people of Lac-Mégantic.
This will allow me to explain just how much the government wants to help this community that was devastated last summer. We are committed to rebuilding and reviving the town's economy. We have also taken action to support rail safety and to make this means of transportation safer.
The Prime Minister visited the town the day after the accident to see the extent of the damage and to provide his support for the people of Lac-Mégantic. On July 22, the Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, announced $60 million in assistance for response and recovery efforts for Lac-Mégantic.
A first instalment of $25 million will be provided by Public Safety Canada to support immediate response and recovery needs. Another $35 million will support economic recovery and long-term rebuilding of the community and businesses. Thus, Public Safety Canada and the Economic Development Agency of Canada have joined forces to work with various stakeholders to support the Lac-Mégantic community and to respond to its needs.
I want to point out that the Government of Quebec is the primary point of contact for this issue. The money is available and we are actively working with Quebec. The government has always offered its support to help communities get back on their feet during times of crisis. We make it a priority, and we reiterated that commitment in the throne speech.
There have already been several meetings to discuss the terms of this co-operation, which will provide tangible support for communities and businesses in Lac-Mégantic. Of course, there are short-term measures in place. The federal government will also provide long-term development support, to help this community be prosperous over the long term.
On November 21, the Prime Minister went to Lac-Mégantic for the third time and announced that the government would provide additional financial support for the decontamination work in Lac-Mégantic. We will split the decontamination costs in half with the Government of Quebec, up to $95 million. The city of Lac-Mégantic and the Government of Quebec expressed a need for assistance. This additional assistance shows that our government is working to help community stakeholders with their solutions.
Our multi-faceted support shows that our government is willing to do everything it can to help the people involved in Lac-Mégantic's economic development, as they are working on its recovery and stimulating economic activity.
With regard to government employment levels, for each of the federal electoral districts of Parry Sound—Muskoka, Macleod, Haldimand—Norfolk, Halton, Edmonton Centre, Central Nova, Mégantic—L'Érable and Eglinton—Lawrence: (a) what is the current total number of federal employees in the riding; and (b) what is the total number of anticipated job reductions in the riding for the fiscal year (i) 2012-2013, (ii) 2013-2014, (iii) 2014-2015?
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable was very clear: the member's allegations are unfounded and unsubstantiated. No decision was made about the new offices in Thetford Mines during the consolidation of employment insurance activities. These decisions were made by Public Works employees as part of a clear, transparent and fair process.
Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member mentioned, yesterday, I said that the member for Mégantic—L'Érable did not play a role. The process for choosing the space was run by Public Works and Government Services Canada, and it was an open, fair and competitive process.
Mr. Speaker, the current Service Canada centre in Thetford Mines opened five years ago. At the time, that location was chosen by officials from Public Works and Government Services Canada because it was the lowest bidder in a fair and competitive process. The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable did not play any role.
Mr. Speaker, in Davos, the Prime Minister was probably stuck in his bubble, so he forgot that we have to look after our seniors. In Quebec, the Fédération de l'âge d'or du Québec has 265,000 members, some of whom reside in Mégantic—L'Érable, the riding represented by the Conservative government's Quebec lieutenant.
My question is simple: does he think that retirement age should be raised from 65 to 67, or does he agree with Rita Poulin, one of the presidents of the Saint-Méthode seniors association, that it is not even worth considering?
Whose side is he on: the Prime Minister's or his constituents'?
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's Quebec lieutenant, the Minister of Natural Resources, was also an active participant in the Conservatives' election fraud.
In his riding of Mégantic—L'Érable, he tried to perform a little sleight of hand trick with $20,000 in false invoices. It did not work, however, since he was caught by Elections Canada. The Conservatives have been caught by the Federal Court of Appeal and the director of public prosecutions.
Will the minister pay back the money owed to the people of Mégantic—L'Érable?
Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons should not try to change the channel: it is his government that awards contracts, and we have yet another proof of that.
There is a disturbing fact in this story. There was no call for tenders when Multivesco, a few months after making contributions in the riding of Mégantic—L'Érable, was awarded a $300 million contract—again, this is not peanuts—for the construction of a federal building.
Will the Minister of Natural Resources and Quebec Conservative lieutenant admit that this is a system under which contracts are awarded and partisan contributions to the Conservative Party are expected?
Mr. Speaker, it is not just in the riding of Bourassa that businesses—at least seven of them—were awarded contracts from the government and returned the favour by contributing to the Conservative Party fund. In the riding of Mégantic—L'Érable, of the then Minister of Public Works, two Multivesco officials each gave $1,000 and, a few months later, got a $300 million contract from the federal government.
Will the Minister of Natural Resources admit that, with at least eight such cases proven, this clearly looks like a scheme?
The electoral district of Mégantic--L'Érable (Quebec) has a population of 87,078 with 69,864 registered voters and 196 polling divisions.
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