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

Topics

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

April 29th, 1996 / 2:15 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, now that the Deputy Prime Minister is here, we can start.

Editorial writers in the weekend newspapers were appalled by the attitude of the Deputy Prime Minister, who now refuses to honour her formal promise to resign if her government did not scrap the GST. The Globe and Mail is now calling for the Deputy Prime Minister's resignation, while La Presse argues, with good reason, that her attitude seriously undermines the credibility of all politicians in Canada.

Since the Deputy Prime Minister had the time to reflect on all this on the weekend and since there is a wide consensus across Canada that she should resign, does she not feel that she should go back on her decision and honour her promise to resign?

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, one thing is for certain: I did not make any decision on my political future because of the editorials in the Toronto and Montreal newspapers.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, since the Deputy Prime Minister herself had insisted that killing the GST should be a formal election promise, she cannot claim today that she spoke a little too fast, without thinking, and that it was an honest mistake.

Will she admit that not only her credibility but that of the whole government is at stake in this matter and that she should therefore resign, at least as Deputy Prime Minister and as a cabinet member?

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we have always told voters-before, during and after the election-that a two-tax system causes many problems for small and medium size businesses, many problems in terms of trade, and that what we are doing with the new tax is introducing a harmonized system in keeping with our commitments on page 22 of the red book.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister should note that what causes problems for business, for all Canadians and for politicians is that a cabinet member is not keeping her promise. That is a source of problems.

By failing to resign, does the Deputy Prime Minister admit that she is undermining the integrity of the whole government and that she will then bear the heavy burden of creating a precedent in Canada by refusing to respond and to honour her promise? Does she not realize that she is undermining the integrity of the whole government, since she must honour her promises as a member of the government?

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we are meeting our commitment. On page 22 of the red book, we promised to replace the GST with a new tax that would be easier for trade purposes as well as for small business and for consumers.

That is why the Consumers' Association of Canada, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association and the organizations representing Canada's small businesses support what we are doing. That is why I do not have to resign for fulfilling our promises on page 22 of the red book.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the Deputy Prime Minister realize that, by not fulfilling a formal commitment made during the election campaign, she casts discredit on all politicians in this country, and that her only option is to resign? She has no choice, she must resign.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not accept the claim of the hon. member that I am discrediting women in politics.

I do not want to brag about women in politics, but Canadian women are well aware that if there is someone who worked hard to include them in politics it is my leader and my party.

During the last election campaign, the leader of the hon. member's party did not believe in a policy to recruit women; he did not want one. We had such a policy and I am proud that 37 women are currently in this House, thanks to our policy.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, given the seriousness of the situation, and given that the Deputy Prime Minister refuses to resign to fulfil her commitment and preserve the credibility of her government, will she agree to submit her case to the Prime Minister's ethics counsellor, so that he can submit his written conclusions to the House?

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, what is really sad is that the Bloc uses one of its few female members to do this job. I find it deplorable and so should the other women in their caucus.

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Sharon Hayes Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, broken promises are fast becoming the watchword for this Liberal government. It has broken its promise on the GST. The Deputy Prime Minister has broken her promise to resign. By booting the member for York South-Weston out of caucus, the government has broken its promise to give its MPs greater freedom.

The red book clearly states that more free votes would be allowed in the House of Commons. I ask the Deputy Prime Minister this. Will her government keep one crucial promise and allow MPs to represent the wishes of their constituents in a free vote on the proposed gay rights amendment?

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Léonard
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, since we formed the government we amended the rules of this House. We allowed free votes on every private member's bill and motion. We allowed committees to propose legislation which was never done before. For example, take the case of Bill C-69. This was a bill that came from the procedure and House affairs committee and was sent to the Senate, but was passed by this House. It was a bill that did not come from the government. It came from committee.

We are gradually implementing all our reforms on how this place is going to work and we will continue to do so. We have had free votes and free votes will continue to exist.

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Sharon Hayes Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, on page 92 of the Liberal red book the Prime Minister promised that "more free votes will be allowed in the House of Commons".

To date we have yet to see one free vote on any piece of government legislation. Canadians have some very strong views on the gay rights issue and they deserve to be truly represented in this House.

I ask the Deputy Prime Minister again, will her government allow a free vote on its proposed amendments to the human rights act?

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Léonard
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the member has been. For the last two and a half years practically every week when this House is in session we have free votes on private members' bills and private members' motions and we continue to do so.

In terms of her specific question, she has to wait. The Prime Minister will make a decision in due course.

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Sharon Hayes Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, it appears the Prime Minister is not willing to hold a free vote on this amendment. I hope that does not mean that closure is next.

How times have changed. The Liberals used to howl with outrage every time the Mulroney Tories limited debate. Now, whenever they start taking political heat from Canadians, they automatically introduce closure. They did it with MP pensions, they did it with gun control, they did it with the budget and UI reforms to name just a few.

Will the government allow all Canadians to have their say on this important amendment? Will the Prime Minister promise not to use closure to ram it through the House of Commons?