Mr. Speaker, during the End of Summer Tour by our political lieutenant and the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, a tour that took him all across Quebec, one thing became clear: Quebeckers' values have much more in common with Conservative values than those of the other parties.
Quebeckers want lower taxes for families, a balanced budget and job creation. They also want safer streets for our young people, the end of lenient sentences for offenders and the recognition of victims' rights.
In the meantime, what is the Liberal leader's priority? He thinks the most important thing for our country is to legalize marijuana.
While the member for Papineau tries to come up with a credible party platform, our Conservative government is already working on what truly matters to Quebeckers and Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, our political lieutenant, the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, spent over two solid weeks travelling the length and breadth of our beautiful province for his End of Summer Tour, and I would like to highlight this excellent initiative.
The tour began in his home riding of Roberval and continued all across Quebec: La Pocatière, Rivière-du-Loup, La Malbaie, Victoriaville, Drummondville, Trois-Rivières, Lévis, Quebec City, Montreal and plenty more.
In the course of his 4,000-kilometre journey, numerous MPs and ministers joined him. They met and talked with thousands of people, and one thing became clear: Quebeckers' values have much more in common with Conservative values than the opposition parties would have us believe.
The Liberal leader has made legalizing pot his priority, but we are focusing on what really matters to people: the economy and jobs.
Our Quebec lieutenant's tour is proof that we are more present in Quebec now than ever before.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have met with thousands of Canadians all across the country in the past few months. I have personally had people from Lévis—Bellechasse and Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, for example, tell me how frustrated they are when they compare the government's rhetoric on the economy with the realities facing the middle class.
What is more, their Conservative representatives have essentially become mouthpieces for the Prime Minister.
How would the Minister of Industry describe wage increases in Canada? Is he happy with how these increases compare to our economic growth?
Mr. Speaker, Burnaby is known as the social democratic republic of Burnaby. New Westminster is the oldest city in western Canada, the first capital city of British Columbia and the home of the New Westminster Senior Salmonbellies, who are to lacrosse what the Montreal Canadiens are to hockey, having won the Mann Cup 24 straight times. I am proud of the riding of Burnaby--New Westminster.
I was referring earlier to the member of Parliament for Scarborough—Rouge River and the member for Scarborough Southwest. They are the dynamic duo from Scarborough and are making a great contribution to our country and to the House of Commons.
A constituent from Scarborough Southwest writes, “Thanks for the opportunity to share some reactions to the budget. Here are a few off the top of my head. There are crafty ways of making a budget appear harmless while seriously beginning to erode some of the principles that Canada is built on. This is disconcerting, to say the least. What I am most worried about are the steps they have taken to plow ahead with projects without the same environmental studies and safeguards. I am deeply offended by their disregard of our precious environment for the sake of bigger, faster profits. I also have issues with their cuts to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. CBC Radio is hugely important to me and is the thing that most makes me feel connected to my fellow Canadians across the country. There are other things that I'm beginning to learn about, but am not yet familiar with.”
That is why we are engaging in this debate, so that Canadians can be aware of what is in the budget and what the ramifications will be of the Conservative government acting in such an irresponsible and ideologically rigid way. For this constituent and so many other Canadians like him, we are endeavouring to make sure the details of the budget come out.
He continues, “I am a self-employed carpenter. I have been doing this for 24 years. Although my line of work is famous for people working for cash and not declaring much of their income, I have never done this. I work hard and make around $40,000 a year. I felt good about paying my income tax and collecting GST and now HST for the government. But I have to tell you that this budget and this government's priorities make me feel cynical about taxes for the first time. I will continue to declare all my income and do my share to help maintain the things I value so much, like our health care and pensions. But I will be doing it a bit grudgingly. I really feel that this majority government's values do not line up with me. I truly hope that you and your fellow NDP members will do everything you can to hold this government accountable for the ways that they are trying to dismantle and rearrange the Canada that I have been a proud citizen of.” He adds, for the member for Scarborough Southwest, “I didn't tell you at the time how happy I was that you won the seat for the NDP in our Scarborough Southwest. I just wish that other members were as progressive.”
I am going to continue to read comments received just since question period.
A man from the south end of Montreal says, “I am a veteran, and the cuts affecting veterans in the budget will hurt us a lot, particularly since we already have to constantly fight for benefits and care.”
This is from a veteran, someone who fought for our country. That person is of course critical of the cuts that were announced. We are not talking about minor cuts, but about service reductions in every possible area. There are also significant cuts to services to veterans that should not be made.
The NDP feels it is extremely important that veterans be treated with the respect they deserve. The budget is 500 pages long in English and 564 pages long in French. On page 284 of the English version, there is a reference to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This year, the budget of that department will be reduced by $36.1 million. That is incredible. Next year, in 2013-14, there will be a cut of $49.2 million. This is going to affect Jay and many other veterans across the country. In 2014-15, we are talking about reductions of $66.7 million. Over a three-year period, the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada will be drastically reduced three times.
The NDP thinks that this is critically important. We are talking about $155 million over three years. The government is telling veterans that they will have to make do with a shortfall of $155 million over the next three years.
Those who have visited veterans hospitals have witnessed the erosion of services. Of course, the staff does its best. In my riding, we have the George Derby Centre. People who work in that field care about their work. The impact of previous cuts have already been felt, even before the government came up with these new ones totalling $155 million.
We, on this side of the House, feel that veterans deserve the government's full respect. They should be treated with respect, and the services provided to them should not be cut. We think that our country is really a reflection of how veterans are treated. We believe that these cuts are ill-conceived. They are ideologically driven and they show a total lack of respect for veterans. Veterans deserve better than major cuts to their services.
Someone else just sent us this in English:
He said, “Great job in the House.” He also said that Facebook and Twitter are great ways to show the NDP is a party for the people.
That is a good comment from another young Canadian and I thank him.
I now have a comment from another Quebec riding, an NDP riding. We have two good members in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region, namely in the ridings of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, and Jonquière—Alma. They work hard and they work well.
This weekend, these two members were at the Alma aluminum plant, where 800 families are locked out because of the actions taken by Rio Tinto Alcan. We know these workers want to go back to work. The Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region is renowned for the quality of the work done at the aluminum plant. A foreign company just took over Alcan, which has become Rio Tinto Alcan. It is now forcing workers, who have devoted their lives and souls to the company, to accept all sorts of concessions.
On Saturday, 7,000 people marched in the streets of Alma in solidarity with the workers of Rio Tinto Alcan. Some NDP members were also present. Together, we are showing our solidarity with the workers of Rio Tinto Alcan, and our support in their fight against the company.
A man wrote the following to the only Conservative member in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region: “In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, the presence of a public broadcaster is not just precious, it is essential. Since the radio and television stations of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean are already greatly limited by financial means that force them to operate with minimal human resources, I do not think that they could undergo additional budget cuts without the quality of their services being seriously affected, and that is not to mention the loss of jobs that could result from such cuts.”
This person goes on to tell the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean this: “As you surely know, the economy of our region has already been seriously weakened by the never-ending forestry crisis and other uncertainties, such as the labour dispute at the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum plant in Alma, which has been directly affecting some 800 families since the beginning of the year. Thank you for maintaining CBC's budget in its entirety.”
That person is asking the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean to vote against the budget, as we have already seen with other Conservative members, including the member for Sarnia—Lambton.
We must vote against these cuts to the CBC, and we must support the interests of the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region and of all Canadians. These people are saying no to the federal budget because Canadian families deserve better.
Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to present a petition concerning the guaranteed income supplement. This petition has been signed by people from towns and cities in my riding, as well as the ridings of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma.
The signatories are demanding the following: automatic enrolment for the guaranteed income supplement; an increase of $110 per month in the guaranteed income supplement for people who live alone and an increase of $199 per month in the survivor's allowance; full retroactivity of the program; and a six-month extension of the benefits following the death of one of the beneficiaries in the couple.
I support these people. This petition was circulated by FADOQ.
Once again, I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of my constituents.
Mr. Speaker, given that this is nutrition month, it is shocking to learn that the government insists upon implementing the Nutrition North Canada program, which is at the root of the food crisis currently affecting isolated communities. The purpose of the program is to help give families access to healthy food. However, it has done the opposite by driving up prices.
The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Minister of Health, who is an Inuk herself, have been blindly obeying their leader, while their colleague from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean has been making a mess of things because he knows absolutely nothing about this issue.
The government led us to believe that it had got the message but it was all a sham. The government demonstrated its cynicism by restoring the items to the list of foods that will be subsidized until fall 2012, which only puts off the problem.
This government signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and yet it lacks consideration for Canada's northern communities. It is sad and, above all, shameful.
Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.
In his speech earlier, the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, a minister of the Crown, said that the Bloc Québécois motion talks about Canada's economic action plan. The motion is actually about transparency. The minister's statement is an attempt to mislead the public by omission, and that is just as damaging as lying or any other method of hiding the truth. In fact, the Bloc Québécois motion condemns the government for:
...its determination to go to any lengths to advance its partisan interests and impose its regressive ideology...as it did...when the Party used taxpayers’ money to finance a pre-election campaign under the guise of promoting Canada’s Economic Action Plan...
And that is what we would have liked to hear the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and minister of the Crown comment on. I would simply like to ask my colleague if he believes that the government was in fact trying to promote its partisan interests through its promotion of Canada's economic action plan.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has been telling taxpayers over and over that belts will have to be tightened so that the government can get its fiscal house in order now that the deficit has reached a record $55.6 billion. Yet we recently learned that he himself overspent his own ministerial office operating budget by more than $430,000.
How are we supposed to believe that he can bring down the deficit and stick to his own budget policies when he cannot even stay within his ministerial budget? Instead of leading by example, the minister utterly lacks credibility when he tells taxpayers that spending has to be cut.
He is not the only one to have overspent his budget. The Minister of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean did the same thing.
The Conservatives need to do their own part before telling taxpayers there will have to be cuts when they are already being stretched thinner and thinner.
Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Order of Architects publicly supports Bill C-429 to promote the use of wood in the construction and renovation of federal buildings. André Bourassa, the order's president, stated, “We have the ability to integrate.... It is time to begin this shift in Quebec....”
He also disagreed with the Conservative members for Jonquière—Alma and Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, who are spreading false information by saying that we are not ready for Bill C-429.
The Conservative government's inconsistency when it comes to the forestry industry never ceases to amaze us. While it refuses to support Bill C-429, it initiated the North American wood first initiative, which encourages greater use of wood in non-residential construction. Yet that policy does nothing to encourage the use of wood in its own federal buildings. The Conservative government is sending mixed messages. Bill C-429 is a step in the right direction, but the Conservatives are demonstrating, once again, the lack of consideration—
Mr. Speaker, on August 22, 2002, the Government of Quebec entered into a historic agreement with the Government of Canada regarding the twinning of Highway 175 between Quebec City and Saguenay. The announcement clearly stated that the cost of the work would be split 50-50.
Now the Conservative government is reneging on that agreement and categorically refusing to pay its share of the cost overruns. For no good reason, the Government of Quebec is being stuck with two-thirds of the bill. This represents quite a windfall for the federal government, which, on top of everything, will collect taxes on the last phase of work on Highway 175.
Not only have Quebec and my region been duped, but the hon. members for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma seem quite comfortable with the situation. I wish they would stop their kowtowing and start defending Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean more vigorously.
Mr. Speaker, the forestry crisis continues to hit hard in my region. With the closure of the paper mill in Dolbeau-Mistassini, a number of sawmills, including those in Saint-Fulgence and Petit-Saguenay, may have to close their doors for good.
Unfortunately, the workers and the forestry communities are the ones who have to pay the price for the Conservative government's inaction. Despite our repeated calls for help, the Conservatives have unfairly refused to implement adequate measures to help the forestry industry, preferring instead to gladly subsidize Ontario's automobile industry and its workers. The minister from
Enough with the rhetoric. This government must try, once and for all, to help the forestry industry and its workers.
Mr. Speaker, our friends in Alberta have the oil sands, but Quebec has a renewable resource that is worth even more: forest biomass, Quebec's green gold.
This was made quite clear at the second edition of the Symposium Énergie 2010 in Lac-Etchemin last May, which was attended by more than 150 people. Produced locally, this bioenergy stimulates the local economy and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We have abundant quantities of this resource, we have the equipment, there is a demand for energy from our institutions and homes, and we have the technical expertise.
Our Minister of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean announced in April that the federal government would provide $100 million to support Quebec communities affected by the forestry crisis and to strengthen its forest economies.
The time has come for our institutions to switch to biomass and to contribute to sustainable development.
I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of all my colleagues, to salute all those across the country who earn a living from the forest and its many by-products. Your work benefits us all, and you do us proud.
The electoral district of Roberval--Lac-Saint-Jean (Quebec) has a population of 78,895 with 63,240 registered voters and 179 polling divisions.
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