House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was inquiry.

Topics

Pearson Airport
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the minister acknowledge that the government's current strategy is to play for time before the next elections, even if that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more?

Pearson Airport
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I do not understand why the Bloc which up to now has had a much more precise and specific approach to this question should now be adopting Reform Party tactics.

The assumption that there are hundreds of millions of dollars out there which are simply going to be picked up by this consortium is false. Were it true that the company is losing all this money it would obviously mean at the same time that the contract that was originally signed was not one in good faith, not one that should have been signed. The government in declaring that was against the public interest is entirely correct.

Employment
Oral Question Period

February 7th, 1997 / 11:35 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, today's unemployment figures have exposed the appalling Liberal-Tory record on job creation. Every time these figures come out we hear the finance minister proclaim how well they are doing compared with the G-7. But the facts simply do not bear that out.

In fact, according to G-7 figures Japan, the U.S. and Britain all have far better records with respect to unemployment than Canada has. Canada's unemployment rate at 9.7 per cent today is much higher than the OECD average of 8.5 per cent.

For the 76th month in a row we have had unemployment well above 9 per cent. The Liberals have had three and a half years to fix this problem. How in the world can the finance minister explain the government's disastrous performance in keeping its promise of jobs, jobs, jobs?

Employment
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Scarborough East
Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, the question the hon. member raises is one of extreme importance. Jobs are the priority for our government. The labour force survey that just came out which showed only an increase of 5,000 jobs in the last month was disappointing.

But let me add that there are some very positive items in that report. There were 32,000 full time jobs created last month. There have been 91,000 jobs created since last September, just in the last few months. Almost all the forecasters indicate that this year will be a strong job growth year, a strong economic growth year.

Employment
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is fine rhetoric, but frankly it does not pay the rent. I would suggest that the only jobs the minister is concerned about are Liberal jobs, which is why there is such a theme of cover-up in this place.

In three and a half years the government has raised taxes 35 times. It sucked up another $24 billion from taxpayers. That is the reality.

When is the finance minister going to get it through his head that the high tax policies in this country are killing Canadian jobs?

Employment
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Scarborough East
Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, when are members of the Reform Party going to get it through through their heads that lowering taxes for the wealthy and increasing taxes for the poor is not going to create jobs. It is going to destroy jobs. That is the basis for the tax policy of the Reform Party.

The policies of the government have created almost 800,000 jobs in the past three years and that is a good record.

Persons With Disabilities
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

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

One of the recommendations of the recent task force on disability issues calls on the Department of Human Resources Development to recommit itself to delivering mainstream programs in a way that includes Canadians with disabilities.

What actions have been or will be taken by the department to assure Canadians with disabilities that commitment will hold true throughout the department, throughout the regions and throughout local HRD offices across Canada.

Persons With Disabilities
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has always taken a leadership role in addressing the interests of persons with disabilities. We had a very impressive task force on which the member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury has actually helped us. I thank him very much for his creativity and for his advice on this issue.

That is the reason why the vocational rehabilitation of disabled persons program received an extension until March 1998. We have made assisting persons with disabilities one of the key priorities of the work of the Ministerial Council on Social Policy Reform and Renewal in tasks that we are doing with the provinces as well.

In addition, I have tasked my senior officials to develop action plans for HRDC to ensure that we move forward and integrate the disability issues across all of our programs and all of businesses across the country.

Pearson Airport
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Transport.

The present Prime Minister, in referring to the privatization of Pearson airport during the last election campaign, said that the promoters would, and I quote, "initiate projects that would be worth up to $200 million annually". However, lawyers for the federal government are now in court to try and prove that the profits of private promoters at Pearson were in no way excessive, but their experts claim that the promoters could have lost as much as $180 million.

Are we to conclude from the government's defence in the Pearson saga that Ottawa cancelled an agreement that would have been profitable for Canadian taxpayers and for travellers, and all this simply to support the partisan commitments of the Prime Minister?

Pearson Airport
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this question and others from the Bloc Quebecois indicate that Bloc members fail to understand what the Pearson case is all about.

The previous government negotiated a less than perfect agreement on Pearson with a private company. As soon as it came to power, our government tried to repair the damage that was done by cancelling the agreement. We have just ceded Pearson to a non-profit airport authority, like the ones in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and other locations.

We have never stopped saying we will accept only a fair agreement between the complainants and the taxpayers.

Pearson Airport
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, we realize that all this may cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, without ever getting at the truth of the matter, as in other cases now being pursued.

Why will the minister not admit that his government preferred to make some political hay out of attacking the Conservatives in this petty way instead of getting down to the bottom of all this and ordering a public inquiry, something the Bloc Quebecois has been demanding for more than three years? Is the present government afraid that a public inquiry would reveal cases of patronage among Liberals as well as Conservatives?

Pearson Airport
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and his party still fail to understand the present situation. The complainants are more interested in obtaining compensation for what they see as foregone profits. Their demands are unreasonable.

The government twice introduced legislation to provide for an acceptable settlement, legislation that was defeated in the Senate with its Conservative majority.

I repeat that we do not intend to pay compensation for so-called profits that did not materialize and which are totally hypothetical.

Grain
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of agriculture.

Grain movement on the prairies is at a standstill, causing farmers real hardship. The government removed the Crow subsidy on grain freight, more than doubling farmers' freight costs with a promise that things would work better. Does the agriculture minister believe that things are working better, as he promised?

Grain
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Regina—Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, obviously the linkage the hon. gentleman draws between the former Crow subsidy and the situation with grain movement currently on the prairies is not a valid or appropriate linkage at all.

As I indicated yesterday in the House in response to a question from the NDP, the facts are that we have had a very difficult winter season, with heavy snowfalls and particularly cold temperatures. I went on to observe that that in itself cannot be regarded as a valid excuse.

The railways have an obligation to provide sufficient locomotive power to pull the grain from the prairies through the Rockies to the port positions and also eastward to Thunder Bay. Obviously the level of performance in the last number of weeks has not been satisfactory and the railways are obliged to do a better job.

Grain
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, farmers and Reform MPs stressed the importance of dealing with the rail car allocation problem, removing fixed freight rates and making other changes to introduce competition into the system before removing the Crow benefit and before the new transportation act was signed.

The minister refused to do this and must be held accountable. Every day grain does not move farmers pay dearly. What will the minister do to fix this mess that his government has imposed on farmers? What is he going to do to get grain moving again?