House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was new.

Topics

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if we had done in the private sector-

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

An hon. member

Accounting 101.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Martin LaSalle—Émard, QC

Exactly. Accounting 101.

If we had done in the private sector what we did here it would be called accrual accounting, which is what most businesses happen to use.

The hon. minister has promised to give the member a lesson in accounting 101 anytime he would like to have it.

What we have done is recognize the liability at the time it was incurred. If what the hon. member wants to do is accuse the government of in fact having done better on the deficit this year than we announced, that is a lot better than what the previous government was accused of, which was to always understate the deficit.

The fact is we probably have the cleanest books of almost any government around.

Montreal's Economy
Oral Question Period

October 23rd, 1996 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, there was a lot of wishful thinking on the Prime Minister's part yesterday, in Montreal. The Prime Minister also shed tears over the plight of the city.

However, we looked at the Liberal agenda, which will be-

Montreal's Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask you to not use props.

Montreal's Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

You are right Mr. Speaker, I should not have shown this, it is awful.

I looked at the list of resolutions for the Liberal Party congress, which will form the basis of their platform. I found 20 priority resolutions relating to the economy, however, not one of them had to do with Montreal. The only thing about Montreal was a very short reference in the eighth paragraph of one of these 20 resolutions, a "whereas" clause. There will not be much room for Montreal on the Liberal agenda.

I therefore ask the Prime Minister: how can he tell Quebecers that he is prepared to take the first steps, that he is shedding tears over the plight of Montreal, that he wants to do something for Montreal, when nothing will be said about Montreal during the Liberal congress?

Montreal's Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I guess my visit to Montreal did not go unnoticed. I guess the announcements we made regarding Canadair did not go unnoticed in Montreal. The other initiatives we are taking in the Montreal region must be effective, given that the Bloc Quebecois is so upset today.

Let me say one thing: we implement programs in every region of the country. We know, and I acknowledged it before, that, because of the current problems in Quebec, where everyday the provincial government says it will soon hold a referendum, businesses are leaving the province because these irresponsible people will not recognize that, twice, Quebecers have opted to remain in Canada, since it is in their best interests.

Montreal's Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for once the Prime Minister used the right word, which is a rare occurrence. He said his visit did not go unnoticed. He is right. His visit was not remarkable, it merely did not go unnoticed.

The Prime Minister talks about uncertainty. But who is generating uncertainty in Quebec when the Prime Minister of Canada challenges democratic rules when he threatens to partition Quebec, when he goes so far as to have his picture with Howard Galganov in one of his members' pamphlets? Who is generating uncertainty? Who has an interest in generating uncertainty, if not the person who has made a career of denigrating Quebec?

I ask the Prime Minister: How can he reconcile the speech he delivered yesterday in Montreal with the fact that all his actions relate to plan B, a plan which even Daniel Johnson repudiates?

Montreal's Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have spent 33 years in public life and I learned a long time ago that insult is the weapon of the weak, the weapon of those who have no arguments.

I have been in this House for over 30 years and I was elected for 28 years in a riding that is 98 per cent francophone. I have always protected the interests of my constituents based on my conscience, and they have always renewed my term of office.

I have also always respected democracy, but I know these people do not want to respect democracy. They do not want to accept defeat. They do not want to admit that Quebecers want to remain Canadians, and this is why Montreal is currently in trouble. People are leaving Montreal because of the political uncertainty. But we say it is possible to be proud Quebecers and to be proud Canadians at the same time.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general pointed out yesterday that the Minister of Finance has fudged the public accounts to the tune of $1 billion and once again the Liberal government has violated its own code of ethics, the accounting code of ethics, its own rules by fudging the deficit numbers not just this year, but next year and the year after. We will see the Minister of Finance take credit for it.

He may want to give 101 accounting courses but he needs 101 ethics courses.

Is the minister cooking the books?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask the hon. member to be very judicious in his comments. I would ask him now to please pose his question.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, is the Minister of Finance fixing the books this year to give himself a billion dollar cushion next year

because of his high tax, high unemployment, interest free loans to Liberal contributors coming off the rails sooner than we think?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there are implications coming from members of the Reform Party that the auditor general did not express a completely clean opinion as to the books of the government. I repeat that the auditor general did. And the hon. member ought to have at least the decency to recognize this.

In terms of when a liability should be recognized, it is a generally accepted accounting principle, generally accepted in international commerce as well as domestic commerce, that a liability should be recognized when it is incurred. The liability was incurred in the year in which it was booked.

What the auditor general has said was that all the details of the agreement had not been fully worked out. If the hon. member would like to hang round the House for about 15 minutes at the end of question period, that particular question will be answered for him.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think that was a pretty long and technical answer. It added up to fuddle-duddle. The point is the auditor general pointed out that he is breaking his own rules and accounting rules and everybody else's rules to accomplish what he has set out to.

Why does politics become more important that truth in accounting, honesty in reporting and responsible management of Canadian finances?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry if my answer was a little too technical. Perhaps one of his colleagues might explain it to him.

Let it be very clear that at the time we took office there were a lot of doubts expressed as to the credibility of the government's financial projections.

It was very clear to us that if we were going to re-establish confidence in the management of the economy by the new government, it was important that we recognize liabilities when they occurred, that we be as prudent as possible and that we go the extra mile to do so.

That is what happened in this case. It may well be that the auditor general has said we have been excessively prudent but I can tell members that is not a bad accusation to carry in the international money markets.