House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was petitions.

Topics

Federal Grants
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think that the minister has his dates wrong, because our leader was not a minister when those events took place; he had resigned before 1990. He could not have authorized that particular payment.

Could the minister tell us in what capacity Mr. Jerry Peltier worked for the Minister of Indian Affairs before the Oka crisis?

Federal Grants
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, they can claim all they want that the leader of the Leader of the Opposition was not in office exactly at the time of the Oka crisis, but in an article from the Saturday edition of Le Soleil , the president of the police association, Mr. Jocelyn Turcotte, is reported as stating that the smuggling problem on native reserves started in 1988, when the Leader of the Opposition was a member of the Mulroney cabinet.

If we go back as we did 100 days from today, it is obvious that this government is addressing a problem that has gone unaddressed for four years by our friend the Leader of the Opposition.

Federal Grants
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

I know that all hon. members will be interested in things which have gone on before. However, I would ask that we restrict ourselves as much as possible to questions and answers for which this government is responsible. To the extent that we could do that, I am sure we could get questions and answers which would be acceptable to all participants.

National Energy Board
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources.

During January of this year the National Energy Board held lengthy meetings in southern Ontario as a result of an application made by Interprovincial Pipeline and Intercoastal Pipeline to extend a line from the U.S. to Canada.

Hundreds of landowners had legitimate concerns and wanted to intervene. The federal energy act has no provision for intervener funding. As a result of this line crossing the Canada-U.S. border the applicant corporations did not have to payintervener funding which amounted to millions of dollars. The farmers, school boards and other landowners were required to pay this out of their own pockets.

What will the minister do to persuade Interprovincial and Intercoastal Pipelines to pay reasonable costs of interveners? Does the minister have any plans to amend the legislation to ensure that this does not occur again?

National Energy Board
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton Northwest
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member from Sarnia for his question. As the hon. member has pointed out, under the present National Energy Board Act there is no authorization for the National Energy Board to provide for reimbursement of expenses to interveners in these particular circumstances.

Let me say, however, that the National Energy Board is very sensitive to the cost implications of these hearings and attempts to hold hearings in affected communities, as it did in this case, to ensure that costs are minimized and that we can maximize local community participation.

Let me also say that it is not possible for me to order the two pipeline companies the member has mentioned to pay or reimburse intervener expenses as there is no legal requirement for them to do so.

In conclusion, however, let me reassure the hon. member that I am very concerned about the issue he has raised. I have instructed my department to consider all feasible reimbursement mechanisms that we might look to in the future.

Underground Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.

A growing number of Canadians are joining the underground economy and evading taxes. The chairman of the finance committee suggests that it is the fault of the GST. On the other hand, the Minister of National Revenue suggests that chartered accountants and lawyers are somehow responsible.

Is the government looking for scapegoats or does it really know why the underground economy is exploding?

Underground Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. lady for her question, particularly as my wife who has two law degrees is sitting in the gallery today.

I would point out that the underground economy has many facets. We are attempting to deal with them as best we can on a number of fronts, including the smuggling we have talked about before, including increased enforcement, and including efforts to make sure the tax system is fairer.

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I point out to her that the remarks I made with respect to the specific questions she asked me concerning lawyers and chartered accountants were simply that all people who cheat, no matter what their profession, are subject to investigations by Revenue Canada and to prosecution.

I assure her a distinction that was not made in some of the CBC reports on this interview was that there is no effort made to target any particular profession; only those people within professions who cheat and who cheat their fellow citizens by failing to pay their fair share of taxes.

Underground Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Calgary Southeast, AB

I have a supplementary question, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Minister of National Revenue. I appreciate his lengthy response. However, I have to ask again does the revenue department have a real plan to reduce taxes in order to solve the problem of the underground economy?

Underground Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the hon. member for the length of my reply, but the subject is a very important one involving many billions of dollars.

With respect to the supplementary question as to whether my department has a plan to reduce taxes, I can assure her we have many proposals which would make the tax system fairer. However issues as to a reduction of taxes and policies that might lead to reduction of taxes are the responsibility of the Minister of Finance who will be speaking on this very subject tomorrow afternoon.

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs. Can he tell us what Jerry Peltier's responsibilities and status in the Department of Indian Affairs were during the Oka crisis in the fall of 1990?

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie
Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the question is about what was his response at that time. We were not here at that time. I believe there are two members on the other side of the House who were. If my learned friend wants to ask them that question he might do it at the recess.

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, again, this is for the Minister of Indian Affairs. I would like to know what he has to hide. What is he trying to avoid? Was this government elected to carry out its duties? Does this government not have all the information in hand? Does the minister not read the newspapers, does he not prepare to answer questions? What is this minister trying to hide from us?

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie
Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, no matter how much yelling and how much clapping occurs over there, in no way, shape or form will they ever explain or rationalize that their leader was sitting here doing what he was complaining about at that time.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

A distinguished Canadian war hero and later head of the civil aviation department died in 1990 at age 75. Six months prior to his retirement Mervyn Mathew Fleming and his wife of 29 years were divorced but shortly thereafter were reunited and remarried.

Despite 37 years of marriage, because they were technically divorced when he retired Mrs. Fleming has been denied a widow's pension. In 1992 as leader of the opposition the Prime Minister agreed that this was wrong and promised to pursue the situation with Treasury Board.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister assure us the government will now take action to see justice done?

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are well aware of the problem. As the hon. member mentioned our leader has shown great concern about it.

I have had some discussions with the President of the Treasury Board because we are trying to see if there is a legal way that we can remedy what is a very unfortunate situation.