House of Commons Hansard #129 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was transportation.

Topics

Canadian Government
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask the Leader of the Opposition to kindly put his question.

Canadian Government
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am coming to my question, because whether it is youth programs, the right of veto or distinct society, it all boils down to a big zero for Quebec.

How can the Prime Minister, how can the government, hold up these examples of how well Canadian federalism works and still keep a straight face?

Canadian Government
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, we can reply with great confidence to the questions from the Leader of the Opposition because I think that people across Canada have noticed the renewed effort by cabinet in our integrated approach with the provinces for the benefit of children; we have made an integrated national child benefit a priority.

Manpower has been mentioned. I would like to explain to our colleagues across the way that the Government of Canada has offered publicly-my predecessor made this offer last May 30-to transfer responsibility to the provinces. We have already signed agreements, which is a clear indication of our good faith, with two provinces, Alberta and New Brunswick, and we are continuing to negotiate very actively with the Government of Quebec.

I can assure the Leader of the Official Opposition that many of these issues are well on the way to being settled.

Canadian Government
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, at noon the Prime Minister, who is ashamed to show his face, bragged that he put the federal government's financial house in order by reducing the deficit. He was also full of compassion for the unemployed and children living in poverty.

My question is directed to the Prime Minister or to the person who will answer on his behalf. Does the Prime Minister agree that this deficit reduction is mainly due to tax increases totalling $18 billion since 1994, a five billion dollar surplus snatched from the unemployment insurance fund, and a shocking $4.5 billion cut in our social programs?

In other words, this government's outstanding performance comes at the expense of the provinces, the unemployed and the poor.

Canadian Government
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, our achievements are there for all to see. In international forums, whether we are talking about the International Monetary Fund or the OECD, all reports have indicated that Canada's economic performance was the best of any industrialized country.

Newspapers in France refer to the Canadian miracle, and Japanese investors are now prepared to invest at rates which are 5 per cent lower than before. We cleaned up our tax system; we have again become fiscally responsible; we created 700,000 jobs; we brought the inflation rate down to 1.5 per cent and in 1996, our current trade balance will show a surplus.

These are our achievements, and the opposition cannot deny this.

Canadian Government
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, this so-called Canadian miracle means 500,000 more children are living in poverty since they came to power.

Will the one who speaks for the government agree that by cutting 4.5 billion in our social programs, the government has had a devastating impact on the poverty rate? In other words, the wonderful compassion shown by the Prime Minister at noon is an admission of a guilt. He is the guilty party.

Canadian Government
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Acadie—Bathurst, NB

It came from the heart.

Canadian Government
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the opposition is so overcome by the truth that it no longer considers asking questions.

But even if the hon. member did not ask a question, I think it is clear that our program spending, will have gone down from $120 billion to $103 billion next year, which means that our departments have had to absorb the majority of our spending cuts. We cut administrative spending more than we cut transfer payments. In fact, the government cut its own spending by 22 per cent, so as to restore its fiscal responsibility.

And I must say that if there had been no separatists on the other side, the results would have been even better.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Somalia commissioners accused the government of political interference in an investigation of a murder cover-up.

Commissioners Létourneau and Desbarats made it quite clear that the government knew full well that by shutting down the inquiry Canadians would never know the truth about a cover-up at the highest levels.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister the one question the government refused to answer yesterday. Why do the Liberals not want the Somalia inquiry to get to the bottom of this high level murder cover-up?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is totally irresponsible. There is no one in Canada who believes that there was or there is today a cover-up of the murder.

The government has said and I as the minister has acknowledged that there were many mistakes made in how the military institution responded to the absolutely intolerable events that occurred in Somalia which resulted in the killing of Somali citizens. There is no question about that.

As I said and as the hon. member knows, every Canadian who really wants to get a clear understanding of what took place in Somalia knows who pulled the trigger. Everybody in Canada knows exactly what happened on the ground in Somalia to the extent that it can be determined after two years of work by the commission, the military investigations, the courts martial and everything else that took place.

The hon. member is trying to continue to pursue an opportunity that he thinks his party has, that his own leader totally disagreed with when in September 1996 he stood in his place in the House and asked the Prime Minister of Canada for a guarantee that the Somalia inquiry would end before the election. He did not have a word to say about the truth or about the facts. He simply wanted it ended.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the House this minister said that the inquiry would go on maybe into the 21st century, maybe eight years or so. The commissioners said that it would be over, that they would have the finished report on the minister's desk by the end of December 1997. In the House this minister implied that it could last forever.

The minister can bluster and scatter red herrings in every direction but that will not help. For the first time in history the Liberal government shut down an independent inquiry at a crucial time when they were just starting to expose some of the government's friends.

What is the government trying to hide by this high level cover-up?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, because of my respect for the House and awareness that question period answers should be brief, I will not address all of the irresponsible and absolutely wrong-headed information the hon. member tried to put into his question.

Let me deal with one specific issue very briefly. The hon. member said that the commissioners have apparently said to him or to someone that they would be totally finished by the end of December of this year. That is what I heard the hon. member say.

Let me quote from a letter sent by the commission of inquiry into the deployment of Canadian forces to Somalia to the Privy Council. This is a quote from a document provided to the government through the Privy Council directly by the commission: "Scenario one, the most desirable or optimum scenario". It goes on in too much detail for me to take the time of the House but let me go to the conclusion: "The most desirable or optimum scenario would result in the completion of hearings by May of 1998, followed by a four to six month period thereafter for the production of the final report".

The hon. member sooner or later has to make an effort at getting his facts straight.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, obviously we would like that document tabled so we can all take a look at it. I am going on what the commissioners have said to the public in their news conference yesterday.

The real issue here is that the government has obviously been happy as long as the guys at the bottom are being charged. The minute we started to move up that ladder we brought an end to this inquiry. For the first time in Canadian history we did that. This government and this Prime Minister are responsible for that.

Why is the Prime Minister shutting down this inquiry before it can investigate at the highest of levels? It is happening right under his nose. What is the government trying to cover up by cancelling this inquiry?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member often refers to the bottom of the ladder. He is obviously far more familiar with the bottom of the barrel.

In his previous question the hon. member talked about when the commissioners had assured him they would be able to report. I have indicated clearly that there is another view from the commissioners with respect to when they could properly report.

With regard to another allegation made by the hon. member, I will help him out this time rather than embarrass him. Maybe I could suggest to the hon. member that he check his facts to find out for sure whether any government in Canada has ever put an end to an inquiry, before he repeats that allegation again.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

February 13th, 1997 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

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

The Prime Minister boasted about the passage of the employment insurance legislation. That is odd. Less than five weeks after the main provisions of the new employment insurance act came into force, the Minister of Human Resources Development is already acknowledging the need to correct what he describes, with his legendary lack of understanding of the issues, as flaws. But time and time again the official opposition has criticized the absurdity of certain provisions of the system.

In connection with the flaws he has to correct, will the minister deal with the case of Rita, a woman who is receiving a meagre $35 per week in benefits, after working twelve 35-hour weeks at minimum wage, because, under the new legislation, only the previous 26 weeks are taken into account?

Does the minister realize that-