House of Commons Hansard #203 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Social Policy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, after months and months of floundering it is becoming abundantly clear the social policy reform Liberal style is all but dead.

The Minister of Human Resources Development has failed to reform anything. His plans for a two tiered unemployment system are now on the back burner, as are income contingent student loans and TAGS retraining. Canada pension reform did not even make it to the back burner. We fear the minister is going the way of the turbot, barely clinging to the front benches by his fingernails.

Why has the minister failed so completely to provide Canadians with a new vision and plan for social policy?

Social Policy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to reply to this question.

Reform of social programs is a very high priority for the government. At the moment the minister is engaged in consultations with the provinces. Members of Parliament have held consultations across the land over many months. We will put all the discussions together and take them to cabinet during the summer.

There will be real reform, not fake reform which the member is trying to promote with the name of his party. I hope the Reform Party will agree with the reforms.

Social Policy
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, reform may be a priority as the Prime Minister says, but the fact is Canada's social safety nets are in a terrible mess.

The federal government's influence over medicare is diminishing, CPP is headed toward bankruptcy, consultations with the provinces are going nowhere, UI is unreformed and Atlantic Canadian workers are quitting their jobs to get on TAGS.

A government that proclaims to be the architect and defender of social safety nets is now presiding over the demise of those safety nets through its inability to act.

Does the Prime Minister want to go down as the Prime Minister who presided over the demise of the social safety nets or does he have a fresh new approach to social policy to lay before the House?

Social Policy
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since the road to Damascus I have never seen such a

conversion. I am delighted the leader of the Reform Party now supports the safety net.

When we make it more effective in the fall I would be delighted to have his support. It is great that the Reform Party is now getting more and more Liberal.

Social Policy
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the collapse of the government's social reform program hurts not only Canadians dependent on those programs but also taxpayers.

Every member of the House knows there is absolutely no way the federal budget will be balanced unless there is social program reform and reform of social spending. If the Minister of Human Resources Development cannot lead that overhaul, then someone else in the government must be assigned the job.

With the Prime Minister prepared to provide leadership on this subject, since his government's budget is undermined by the failure of this minister to overhaul social funding, is it the Department of Finance that will now be providing the leadership for social reform?

Social Policy
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the kind of leadership I have shown in this area is when I named an extremely able minister to be in charge of this very important project.

The leader of the third party should relax because I am looking forward to the day he will get up and applaud the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

May 17th, 1995 / 2:25 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board. Contrary to what the Minister of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, Foreign Service Directives Nos. 45 and 50 still allow diplomats to cash in their plane tickets to Ottawa, to pay for vacations anywhere in the world. The auditor general is critical of Treasury Board's decision to no longer ask for vouchers.

Given the condition of our public finances and the fact that the government is about to eliminate 45,000 jobs in the public service, how can the President of the Treasury Board still allow such a privilege for diplomats, which will cost over $8 million this year to Canadian taxpayers?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, it has long been a tradition that those in foreign posts, particularly those considered to be in hardship posts, would have the opportunity for themselves and their families to return home from time to time, once a year in fact.

Of late the policy has involved a reduction in the amount of money to 80 per cent of the full economy fare. That has been on a test basis. All of that is subject to review. Every three years a review is automatically required. It is part of the union agreements. Therefore we will do it with the bargaining agents and it will be done this fall.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the President of the Treasury Board confirm that this privilege, introduced in 1993, was designed to allow diplomats posted overseas to avoid the salary freeze now affecting public servants?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Not at all, Mr. Speaker, as has been pointed out.

A number of diplomats serve in hardship posts in spots in the world that nobody would envy. We want to give them and their families the opportunity to be able to come home from time to time. That was the purpose behind all of this.

Having said that, we have to make sure of the best value for the taxpayers' dollar. The program has to be operated in an efficient fashion. We are reviewing it in the normal three-year cycle and will be negotiating this matter with the bargaining agents this fall.

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, as we have already heard today, reports out of Bosnia indicate that the fighting has risen to the highest level in three years. The UN Secretary-General says the current peacekeeping mandate is totally inadequate. Reform has been warning that this would happen for months now, but the government did not listen.

My question is for the Minister of National Defence. For the safety of our peacekeepers, will the government pull our forces out now?

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, though we are very concerned about the situation in the former Yugoslavia, the Prime Minister made the government's position quite clear last week.

There is good work still to be done by UNPROFOR. The Canadian government is still committed. We are consulting with our allies to see whether or not the mission should continue and if changes are required what could be implemented.

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is no peace in sight in Bosnia. The UN is powerless facing the renewed fighting and no amount of tinkering with the UN mandate is going to change that.

Now is not the time for the Prime Minister to be timid, waiting for the governments of France and Britain to tell him what to do in Bosnia.

Will the Prime Minister stop wavering and initiate the process of withdrawal immediately?

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the troops have done a great job.

Bosnia
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.