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S'enregistrer au Flux RSS Le Sénat du Canada
Blog > Economy > “They may think that they are tough on crime, but they are definitely soft on the economy”
Feb 16

“They may think that they are tough on crime, but they are definitely soft on the economy”

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I came across an article in the Huffington Post stating that Moody’s and Fitch both questioned the need for Canada’s austerity measures, and I quote:

Steven Hess, the lead Canada analyst for Moody’s, told the Wall Street Journal that there is a “risk to growth” if the government moves too quickly with austerity measures designed to return the country to balanced budgets.

With a budget deficit that amounts to about two per cent of GDP, there is “no rush” for Canada to address the problem, Hess said.

“You don’t have to swallow an extremely bitter pill if you are not sick,” Fitch Ratings analyst Shelly Shetty told the Journal. She suggested any acceleration of spending cuts to beat the 2016 deadline was “not required.”

The government has often sung praises of these two rating agencies when they evaluated Canada’s finances. They have now proven that the government is too incompetent to deal with the economy. They may think that they are tough on crime, but they are definitely soft on the economy. When will the government take concrete measures aimed at strengthening the economy instead of sending us down the path of Southern European countries?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, she is so predictable, is she not?

The fact of the matter is that our government was elected with a strong mandate. We campaigned on several issues, and one was jobs and the economy. We are working very hard. The minister is consulting widely with various organizations, businesses, provinces and territories on the budget, which will come in due course.

Of course the other area where the government campaigned very vigorously, as was well understood by everyone, was cracking down on criminals and ensuring that Canadians could live safely in their communities.

We are simply following through, honourable senators, on our commitments. It was clearly understood that this is what we were going to do. It was all out there for people to digest. We were given a very strong mandate and will continue to work to build the economy, create jobs, create an environment for industry and business to flourish in this country, and we will also pay attention to those victimized by crimes and not the criminals.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, if there was a competition for predictability, I think the leader would win for sure.

I would like to ask my question this time in French.

Honourable senators, the government’s economic action plan claims that its top priority is the economy and jobs. So far, the only thing the Reform government has given Canadians is expensive and unnecessary bills, new prisons, Internet spying without a warrant, exorbitantly expensive F-35s, the elimination of the firearms registry, use of information obtained through torture, a lost seat on the UN Security Council, and our withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, with shameful partisanship on parliamentary committees to boot, and the list goes on.

What specifically will the government do, apart from building prisons and buying planes that will not be built in Canada? When will the government do what it claims it wants to do and put the economy at the top of its priority list?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, that is the usual litany, and that kind of attitude is the reason the honourable senator’s party is sitting in third position in the other place.

The fact is the government is operating very clearly on a jobs and economy strategy. Since the economic downturn in 2009-10, 610,000 new jobs have been created. With regard to our crime legislation, the senator knows full well, and the statistics bear it out, that in terms of dealing with criminals we were supported by Canadians. The honourable senator may find that difficult. Of course she would have the “Trudeaupian” view of Canada. The arrogance of her colleague in the other place is quite remarkable. This was Justin Trudeau, who was coming to restore the nobility of Parliament, by the way.

That kind of attitude and the preamble to the question is indicative of why what we are doing — which we were honest about and put out in the election campaign — won the election. I would suggest to her that she accept the judgment of the Canadian public and if she wishes to challenge any of these that she come up with proposals of her own.

Many of the things that Senator Hervieux-Payette is now criticizing she either voted against in the other place or supported.

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: I am sorry, but the leader seems to have a short memory. I will remind her that at some point in our history they had only two members of Parliament sitting, and now they form the government. I think history will teach the honourable senator to be a little more modest.

What is the government doing to give jobs to those they are firing in departments like Environment Canada, Statistics Canada and in all the other departments? They are prepared to send these individuals into unemployment. Where will the government find jobs for these people?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): First, I am very humble and modest about the hard work put in on this side to regain the confidence of the Canadian public. Everyone worked extremely hard, and the Canadian public rewarded us. I would suggest to the honourable senator that her party will probably have to go through a similar exercise.

With regard to the rumoured savings that the government will be making throughout the various departments, all departments, as honourable senators know, have presented areas to the government where they think savings can take place.

I think it is acknowledged throughout the government, and certainly supported in the country, that we work our way through the economic downturn. Many of the programs that the government initiated in the stimulus package were widely supported and urged upon us by all.

Everyone has to do their bit, honourable senators, and I think everyone is prepared to do so. I hasten to add that in this country we have many areas where there are labour shortages. There is a lack of trained and skilled workers. When we go through this process of bringing down the deficit, I do believe that there will be many opportunities available for all Canadians. The important thing is to get the economy back on solid footing, which creates jobs.

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