Michael John SAVAGE

SAVAGE, Michael John, B.A.

Personal Data

Dartmouth--Cole Harbour (Nova Scotia)
Birth Date
May 13, 1960
consultant, manager, recruiting executive, sales manager

Parliamentary Career

June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
  Dartmouth--Cole Harbour (Nova Scotia)
January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
  Dartmouth--Cole Harbour (Nova Scotia)
October 14, 2008 - March 26, 2011
  Dartmouth--Cole Harbour (Nova Scotia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 178)

March 2, 2011

Mr. Michael Savage (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Federal Court of Appeal eviscerated the flimsy shield that the government has been using to try to justify the in and out scheme and the illegal rebates Conservatives tried to swindle out of taxpayers.

Conservatives call it an administrative dispute. Canadians call it fraud. One MP who signed off on the fraudulent rebate scheme is the current President of the Treasury Board. Ten thousand dollars was funnelled in and out of his riding.

When will taxpayers get back the dirty money that he is sitting on and when will he apologize for his role in this scandal?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Political Financing
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March 1, 2011

Mr. Michael Savage (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to follow up on a question that I asked in the House some time ago. The question came about on the day that the food banks of Canada released their hunger count for 2010 showing that food bank usage in Canada was up 9%, which meant that over two years food bank usage was up by 28% overall. We are closing in on a million Canadians who use the food bank on a regular basis.

When I asked the question, I used a comparison because governments make choices. The comparison I used was that the government had very little interest or motivation to help those most in need. For example, it spent $8,704 on a power cord for the G8 summit, as part of the billion dollar boondoggle for the meeting that happened in June of last year. Those are the kind of choices that offend and insult Canadians.

Poverty has been increasing. This was evidenced not only by the hunger count that came out last November, and which comes out ever year, but also by a report from the Citizens for Public Justice and their partners, World Vision, which showed that in the last two years poverty in Canada has been on a steady increase. In fact, poverty has gone up from around 9.5% to 12% and child poverty has gone up from 9.7% to 12%. These are startling figures. This means that many Canadians, our neighbours, people that we see, are not making it and they are not enjoying the wealth that is Canada. The tragedy is that they received no benefit from the stimulus package.

It is a double whammy for the poorest people, for those who are in poverty and for those who are near poverty because not only did they get no benefit from the stimulus, but we can be sure as shootin' guaranteed that they will be the ones who will be victimized by the cuts to pay for the Conservative mismanagement of the economy.

I will give another comparison and a particularly startling one. Yesterday we had a report about some 80 members of the government caucus doing a blitz on Canada's economic action plan. This was a $6.5 million media campaign, paid for by the taxpayer, to promote the action plan on radio and TV. This was $6.5 million in a very short period of time to promote an action plan that was totally out of action but it could not find $7 million to fund KAIROS over five years. These are the kinds of things that offend Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

KAIROS is made up of Canada's leading church organizations, supported by radicals like Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Mennonites and Evangelical Fellowship. It is ridiculous that the Conservatives make these choices and do nothing for those most in need but can at the same time spend money on those things that benefit them. That is not a good deal for Canadians and it does nothing for those who are the poorest. I would suggest that it is unconscionable and offensive.

My colleague who will answer this question is on the human resources committee. We have just completed a major study on poverty. We know the things we need to do to reduce poverty. We need to invest in early learning and child care in order to give every child an opportunity to learn. We need to invest in programs that will give people the opportunity to go on to post-secondary education.

However, whenever we raise these questions, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development insults Canadians by suggesting that any plan that calls for early learning and child care forces Canadians to have other people raise their children, ignoring the fact that some 70% of Canadians are two income families. She insults Canadians on the issue of employment insurance as well.

There is a growing movement in this country of people who are interested in fighting poverty. It includes everybody from faith groups to business organizations to labour organizations to provincial governments, six of which already have anti-poverty plans. What it does not include is the federal Government of Canada which has refused to have an anti-poverty plan and which told the United Nations, when it told Canada specifically that it should have an anti-poverty plan, no, that it was not its problem.

There are people who are falling behind, people who are way behind and people who need help. I think Canadians, by and large, want to help those who need assistance, and instead the government turns a blind eye. We need to have some assistance for those living in poverty and the government is standing by and doing nothing.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
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March 1, 2011

Mr. Michael Savage

Mr. Speaker, the hallmark of Liberal governments is that we clean up Conservative messes and turn them around. In fact, it was under the Liberals that poverty was reduced very significantly from the mid to late 1990s to the point that it had gone down to 9.5% both for child poverty and for poverty. Now it is back up to 12%. That is the legacy of this government so far. It has absolutely no concern for those Canadians most in need.

Every organization that has looked at this knows this. We can name them: Campaign 2000, Citizens for Public Justice, Make Poverty History, Canada Without Poverty. In my own area there are the Faces of Poverty, the housing coalitions, the people who are working at the ground level on poverty. They know what we need. Not one of them would say that what we need to do is further reduce corporate taxes when corporate taxes are already 25% below the United States. They would say that we should invest in people, in families, in early learning and in helping our parents when they are aging. They would say that, for heaven's sake, we should at the very least stand up as a responsible government in a country as traditionally generous as Canada and accept that as the federal government we have a responsibility to help those most in need.

People just need help. We will figure out those details. There are all kinds of things the government can do but it needs to stand up and do something for the people in Canada who need help. That is what they deserve.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
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February 17, 2011

Mr. Michael Savage (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, today around the world, 774 million adults lack basic literacy skills and one in five adults, mostly women, cannot read or write at all. Canada's literacy statistics are just as alarming for a country as wealthy as our own.

Literacy is not just about reading and writing, it is more than just understanding words on a page. Literacy is a powerful tool to eradicate poverty and to advance people socially and economically. Those who cannot access literacy skills are tragically left behind in society and, thanks to the government, we are leaving far too many people behind.

In the 2006 budget, the federal government announced it was cutting $1 billion worth of what it called wasteful programs. Part of that was a $17.7 million cut to adult literacy programming. One in three Canadians who struggle with literacy every day do not think much of that.

By improving literacy skills, a person increases his or her chances to find employment, to lift oneself out of poverty, find or create opportunities and make great contributions to the community.

Today let us recognize those who assist learners, those who bring meaning to words and who open the doors to better lives for those who struggle with literacy for their benefit and the benefit of all of us.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Literacy
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February 16, 2011

Mr. Michael Savage (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak tonight to this important bill, Bill C-309, put forward by my colleague from Nipissing—Timiskaming. This is an important piece of legislation brought forward by an important and fine member of Parliament. I had the pleasure of being elected to this House in 2004, and since that time I have pretty much sat beside the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming. I have seen how hard he works, how seriously he takes his duties and how connected he is to his community on a whole range of issues.

The bill tonight speaks to that commitment to the community of northern Ontario. The importance of regional economic development agencies in general must never be underestimated. Canada is such a vast country, diverse both in terms of culture, ethnography, geography and in every other way.

From region to region, Canada is different and from one province to the next, and even within provinces. In the province I come from, Nova Scotia we have Cape Breton, the Annapolis Valley, the French Shore in Southwestern Nova Scotia and we have Halifax-Dartmouth. The legislation should reflect those differences across Canada but even within regions.

I want to speak from my own experience with our regional development agency, ACOA, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and its value to Atlantic Canadians. I believe the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming would acknowledge that ACOA is a pretty good model. The bill we are talking about today in some ways can trace its origins to the work that has been done by ACOA.

ACOA has done so much good work. One of the key things is it has recognized that Atlantic Canadians are smart and innovative people who have ideas they want develop and market. One of the things that was missing is that Atlantic Canada is not a haven of venture capital.

The Liberal government looked at ACOA and asked why not use this as a way to spur innovation and research so that Atlantic Canada can grow not only now, but for generations to come?” The Atlantic innovation fund was set up. I want to acknowledge Senator Moore. He is still in the Senate and is one of the people who came up with this idea, the rising tides document that came out around 2000 and led to the introduction of the Atlantic innovation fund.

These permanent development agencies with stable core funding really help regions to develop economic potential that is unique to their geography and their demographics. Hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity is at risk of not being used, in other words, of going untapped.

Bill C-309 would establish a permanent and annually funded regional economic agency in northern Ontario as an essential step to building a more secure and stable economy in the region.

The member pointed out that there does not now exist a federal government program that aims to contribute to economic development in northern Ontario. FedNor falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Industry and is essentially now used as a tool, quite often for punishing and bribing of the parties concerned. It is a program, not an agency. It is constantly under threat of having its budget easily cut or eliminated altogether. That is not the way to encourage regional economic development.

Under previous Liberal governments there was never any threat to funding, so perhaps it was not as important in those days. The member acknowledged in his speech that it was not as necessary 10 years ago as it is today because of the threats, the whims, the enemies list of the government. Anything that is left to the whim of a ministerial decision, as we have seen with the minister responsible for CIDA what can happen when a minister gets piqued at something. It is gone pretty quickly.

As my colleague pointed out, the Liberal government at that time actually increased FedNor's core funding to $52 million. The fact is since the Conservatives took office, FedNor's budget has been slashed by close to $7 million a year. This bill is designed to ensure that FedNor will not be subjected to further cuts.

Some people asked why did the Liberals not do it? My colleague answered that question. It was not necessary then, perhaps it might have been useful. If we had anticipated that the Conservatives might be coming in, perhaps we would have done that to protect northern Ontario.

In short, the bill seeks to promote economic development, economic diversification and job creation in communities throughout northern Ontario. As an agency, as opposed to a simple program, FedNor would demand greater accountability and will be required to report to Parliament on a regular basis.

Right now, each of its counterparts as a regional development agency has an act of Parliament establishing it as a separate entity. This legislation would mean that the federal government requires the consent of Parliament to change or alter the powers and mandate of FedNor. That sort of stability is absolutely essential for any initiative that aims at regional economic development.

Economic planners and communities need to be able to plan, knowing full well that they can count on an agency, staffed and mandated to be a regular partner with the region's players. To make FedNor into an agency through an act of Parliament is not only good for the region, it is good for accountability and transparency. As a separate agency under the FAA, FedNor would be required to file detailed financial performance reports for tabling in Parliament.

To conclude, let me say that this bill is not about bureaucracy, it is about accountability. It is not about politics, it is about good policy. It is not about cost, it is about benefit. It is about northern Ontario. I congratulate the member. I urge all members to support it and for the government to provide a royal recommendation.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Region of Northern Ontario Act
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