Budget 2009

Hon. Jim Munson: Yesterday, honourable senators, the Leader of the Government in the Senate read a list of companies and associations that support the budget. There is another list she failed to read out, and that is a list of the unemployed, the people who have lost their jobs.

At one time, in Ottawa, 80,000 people worked for 1,000 high-tech companies. About half of them worked in our own big four: Nortel, JDS Uniphase, Mitel and Newbridge. Today, these companies between them have 10,000 workers. There is a long list of anonymous people, Canada’s best and brightest, who are now unemployed. In fact, “Silicon Valley North,” as Ottawa was once considered — is now referred to as the “Valley of Death.” Meanwhile, south of the border, President Obama plans to double research funds.

Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate please tell us if she plans to make a new list of all Canada’s finest minds, our innovative leaders, who will consider leaving this country for a place where good ideas and excellence are valued?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors):Honourable senators, as a proud, life-long resident of the city of Ottawa, I doubt that my fellow citizens in Ottawa would like our fine city to be referred to as a “valley of death.”

Obviously, there are troubling and difficult situations in the high-tech industry that have existed for some time. This situation has not fallen only on this city and this country. We saw the report on the news last night about Sony Corporation.

I am pleased to say that our government appointed the first-ever Minister of State for Science and Technology in the person of Gary Goodyear, who is from the Kitchener area, where there are huge research and development and high-tech facilities. We support science and technology because doing so, as the honourable senator rightly states, creates jobs, improves our quality of life and builds a stronger economy for future generations.

It is for these reasons that the Prime Minister launched our science and technology strategy in May 2007. They are also why we invested an additional $2.4 billion in research and development since 2006. In our economic action plan that the Minister of Finance announced on Tuesday, we are adding another $3.5 billion in new investments. This money includes $750 million for the Canada Foundation for Innovation; $50 million for the Institute for Quantum Computing; $200 million over two years for the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program; and $87.5 million over three years for the Canada Graduate Scholarships Program.

Senator Munson should read the budget.

I heard someone speak about Genome Canada. There is some concern about those comments, because they are not true. We invested $100 million over five years in Budget 2007 and $140 million over five years in Budget 2008 to support the Genome Canada, and that funding is ongoing.

Honourable senators, I suppose that when we present a budget and economic plan for Canada we need to go back and repeat all the things we included in previous budgets to remind people that, although we did not mention them in the current budget, those programs are still ongoing.

Senator Comeau: They have short memories.

Senator Munson: Honourable senators, on these “re-announceables,” as with everything, while the government still has the money, why does it not spend it?

Senator LeBreton: I cited the amount of money that is committed to Genome Canada. Senator Keon has knowledge in this area and has been instrumental in ensuring that monies are put into R&D. He can attest to the fact that we are spending significant amounts of money in this area.

To make a blanket statement that the government is not spending this money is incorrect; we are spending it. Rather than making false accusations, Senator Munson should applaud the government for its initiatives in all these areas.