Tony Clement sends his regards to Thompson

However awkwardly and ridiculously the Industry Minister has handled questions and criticism in the past, he perhaps outdid himself yesterday with the following tut-tutting of two questions from the NDP’s Niki Ashton.

For whatever reason, after Ms. Ashton had asked her first question rather haltingly, Mr. Clement decided the proper tone for the moment was “patronizing.” When he turned, with the last bit of his second answer, to direct scorn on Ms. Ashton his voice was entirely overwhelmed by a torrent of shouting from the opposition side.

Ms. Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have been born and raised in Thompson, Manitoba. Thompson and communities like it are the heart and soul of our country.

Three years ago the government allowed Vale to take over Inco, claiming this would benefit Canada. Today, Vale ripped the heart out of Thompson. It announced the closure of surface operations. Where is the net benefit for my home community?

What is the government going to do to stand by these Canadians, people in my home town, and save the 600 jobs that are being cut by this foreign owned company?

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I understand that today Vale made an announcement about a $10 billion, that is billion with a “b”, further investment throughout Canada where it has Canadian operations. That includes investments in Saskatchewan, and I am sure the member for Wascana would like to know that. It also includes investments in Sudbury, Voisey’s Bay, throughout the country.

There are certain operations that it is now centralizing and it apparently affects the honourable member’s riding. I can understand why she is upset. I would like honourable members to know that this happened on a day when the company is making $10 billion worth of future investments.

Ms. Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I invite the minister to come to my home town in Thompson and explain that to the Canadians who are losing their jobs.

The government allowed the takeover of Inco and is directly responsible for today’s announcement, an announcement that it said would not happen because it would bring jobs, not take them away. What the Conservatives need to do is admit that they dropped the ball on foreign takeovers and are taking advantage of communities like mine.

When will the government commit to a meeting with the people of Thompson, the city of Thompson, the steelworkers and the stakeholders to be part of the solution so we do not lose our jobs?

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge that the honourable member is upset and I understand that she is seeking to defend her community. The fact of the matter is that this announcement today is $10 billion of future investment in this country, throughout this country, as an investment in this country. That is good news for the country.

The honourable member talks about helping Thompson, Manitoba, yet she voted with her caucus and with her party. Every time we wanted to cut taxes, every time we wanted to help communities, every time we wanted to stimulate the economy, she and her caucus voted against.

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