House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was deputy.

Topics

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

The recently announced government immigration policy which will allow for the entry of nearly 200,000 immigrants this year under the family and independent class is commendable. These expected new arrivals, in addition to further enriching the multicultural fabric of our nation, will contribute greatly to economic growth according to the Economic Council of Canada.

To give success to this policy, will the minister take steps to ensure that visa offices and certified medical examination centres in countries such as Ukraine, India, the Philippines and others, will be sufficiently staffed and strategically located to ensure that the application process is as convenient and as speedy as possible.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

York West
Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. friend from Winnipeg North and also take the opportunity to commend him for the leadership role he has taken within the general policy areas of both immigration and multiculturalism.

The member raises a good point. There needs to be a connection between the desired levels of immigration announced and debated and the delivery mechanism.

I can tell the hon. member and the House that, for instance, we have increased the number of visa officers at our High Commission in India from 19 to a current 30. As well, we have also put in place accredited medical practitioners because of the demand in the state of the Punjab.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall we have opened visa offices in Kiev, Bucharest and Prague. The hon. member is correct and we are moving with dispatch.

Tobacco Products
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Surrey North, BC

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

The issue of whether to lower cigarette taxes is especially complex and divisive because there are many other issues involved, including health care and crime to name but two.

Since the convictions of members on this issue do not follow party lines, will the Deputy Prime Minister allow members of her government to vote on cigarette taxes without considering it a confidence vote?

Tobacco Products
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made it quite clear that on issues that involve the spending of taxpayers' dollars, the government has to have the confidence of the House to be able to carry out those measures.

When the question relates to the budget or major initiatives on excise taxes, the government needs the confidence of its members to be able to proceed with money measures.

Tobacco Products
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, if members of the government vote according to their conscience or according with their constituents' wishes on the issue of cigarette taxes, can the Deputy Prime Minister assure the House they will not be disciplined?

Tobacco Products
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I should have congratulated the member on her first question.

Second, I hope that every member of this House has a conscience and when it comes to making decisions around cabinet, caucus, party or government policy that we do not park our consciences at the door.

The Prime Minister has made it very clear that when it comes to matters involving taxation, the government must have the confidence of the House of Commons to proceed with initiatives.

It is not simply a case of saying on every tough issue that it is a matter for an individual; on a tough issue which involves several departmental initiatives, such as health issues, criminal and enforcement issues, or tax issues, obviously we intend and need to have a united front as the Government of Canada.

Hibernia Project
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, Hibernia, the oil drilling megaproject off Newfoundland, is becoming the biggest white elephant in Canada's history.

The federal government is sinking billions of dollars into this financial black hole, at the same time as we are finding out that the Minister of Finance is seriously considering a sizable increase in taxes.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister, in the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources. Does the Deputy Prime Minister admit that this project is not financially viable and will she confirm that the cost overruns could exceed $1.5 billion?

Hibernia Project
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, of course, in the red book, the Government of Canada adopted policies on this megaproject for the future. I will also remind the hon. member of comments

made by Quebec's Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Christos Sirros, who spoke on this issue this week.

That being said, the Government of Canada intends to respect contracts and written commitments, because the government has the right and the duty to honour commitments already made, including those concerning the Hibernia project.

Hibernia Project
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

An answer like that is rather surprising, Mr. Speaker, since the Liberals cancelled the helicopter contract as soon as they took office.

At any rate, can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us if she intends to stop this hemorrhage of public funds, or are we to gather from her answer that in fact her government will continue to squander taxpayers' money on a political pay-off to the Premier of Newfoundland, Clyde Wells.

Hibernia Project
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I think that it would be inappropriate to compare Toronto Airport with the Hibernia project.

The Toronto Airport deal was signed during the election campaign. It is also known that the Government of Canada had made a direct commitment to cancel the helicopter contract and that the former government, during the election campaign, was in a position to withdraw the contract but the previous prime minister did not exercise that option.

As a government, we have said that the future projects which we will consider will not be megaprojects, because we cannot afford them and it is not profitable for small and medium-sized businesses, which are the basis of our red book.

That said, we want to respect the contracts and commitments made in writing by the previous government. I presume that it must also be the policy of the Bloc Quebecois, if it ever came to power, to respect the contracts signed by previous governments.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

February 4th, 1994 / 11:45 a.m.

Reform

Allan Kerpan Moose Jaw—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister and reflects my genuine concern with decision making in the House.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister explain how and if the parliamentary debate held last week on cruise missile testing had any influence on the government's subsequent decision on this matter?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Allan Kerpan Moose Jaw—Lake Centre, SK

A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker.

I raise this issue to determine the relevance of these open debates. My party and I applaud any steps taken by the government to make Parliament more relevant.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister tell the House if the debate had ended with a motion and a vote to curtail cruise missile testing, would the government have bowed to the will of this House?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I will permit the Deputy Prime Minister to answer the question. It is a hypothetical question. However, if she would like to address it?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, obviously the government respects the will of Parliament on any motion passed in the House. That is democracy.