House of Commons Hansard #158 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is small wonder they call this portion of the day question period. We do not get any answers from over there. We ask a perfectly legitimate question and we get a bunch of razzle-dazzle and a question in return. Since this is question period I will try once more for an answer from the other side.

Since the government likes to be known as job creators, how does it expect to explain to the electorate that after spending $260 million on Pearson airport not one job has been created?

Perhaps, if it had been handled correctly, it could have been one of the biggest infrastructure programs to take place under this mandate.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton West
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member tries to leave a perception with the Canadian people but the Canadian people will not buy it. They understand the government protected them from the lobbyist money that was to be paid out and demanded by that private consortium.

The reality is that the government spent the $185 million I just spoke about on all those environmental and safety capital projects that are so necessary at Pearson airport.

Pearson was not the only airport the government invested in. What about the Calgary airport? Is the hon. member against us spending money to improve capital safety projects and environmental projects at that airport? How about Edmonton and the $127 million spent on that airport? What about the $45 million spent on the Vancouver airport? What about the $120 million spent on the Montreal airport?

We have a national airport policy that will put decision making into the hands of local authorities to make them the economic jewels they so rightly are.

Deficit
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

Two months ago, the official opposition pointed out to the minister that his deficit projections of $19 billion for the 1996-97 fiscal year seemed totally wrong. The minister refused to admit his mistake and tried to tell us that, in the two months that would follow, the figures might vary enormously. Now, the figures are in for 11 months out of 12, and they show that the deficit stands at $7.8 billion, which is far below the minister's forecasts.

Either the minister voluntarily overestimated his deficit to make the major cuts imposed on the provinces and the unemployed more palatable, or the government is in the dark and the minister is incapable of coming up with a credible forecast. Which is it?

Deficit
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, when I tabled the budget, I said that the deficit for the current year would not exceed-meaning it will be below-$19 billion, and it is definitely the case.

I also said that we did not have the figures for the months of January, February and March. We still do not have the figures for March. When we get these figures, we will certainly have a clearer picture.

I should also remind the member that, historically speaking, there always are adjustments ranging from $4 billion to $6 billion at the end of the year. Finally, the member should know that the fact that the deficit is going down is not bad news but good news.

Deficit
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, given that 84 per cent of the deficit reduction for the first 11 months was achieved at the expense of unemployed workers, welfare recipients, sick people and students, it is a bit ridiculous for the other side to applaud.

Since the minister has more room to manoeuvre every month, to the point where he will achieve a zero deficit by the year 2000, will he pledge to pay back the money he took from the provinces and from unemployed workers, welfare recipients, sick people and students?

Deficit
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member has the wrong government in mind. He may be referring to some provincial governments, but certainly not to this government.

The first reason why we are ahead is because we did not have to use our contingency reserve. The second reason is that our revenues are on the rise, because the economy is on rise. The third reason is that our interest rates are lower than expected. Again, this is all good news.

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, page 92 of the red book says:

-Conservatives made a practice of choosing political friends when making-thousands of appointments-

In October the Hill Times reported that 3,000 Liberals have been appointed to patronage positions since 1993.

I look at the title of the red book, Creating Opportunity . Like the 1.4 million unemployed Canadians I have to ask myself creating opportunity for whom.

I have a question for the Prime Minister. Do 1.4 million unemployed Canadians have to take out Liberal memberships in order to get jobs?

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the appointments made by the government have been made on the basis of competence and merit. We do not believe people should be excluded because of their political affiliation.

I thank my hon. friend for holding up the red book. It helps me to say that Liberals are proud of our record but the Reform Party is running away from its record.

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the 20 for 20 record of the Prime Minister in appointing loyal Liberals to the Senate is far worse than the Tories he complained about in the red book.

Page 93 of the red book has a list of statistics on the cynicism of Canadians toward politics. A recent Environics poll found that73 per cent of Canadians think the Prime Minister has done a bad job.

Does the Prime Minister think his thousands of patronage appointments have reduced cynicism in Canada?

Government Appointments
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, an example of the ridiculous analysis of the Reform Party is the one used about the Senate. The Senate is a partisan legislative body like the House of Commons. Why would the government want to maintain a Tory majority there ad infinitum?

The hon. member's comment is only an example of how ridiculous their analysis is and why, as I said and I repeat, the Liberals have reason to be proud of their record. Once again it has been proven why the Reform Party has nothing else to do but run away and hide from its record.

Grain
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bernie Collins Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food.

It was reported in United States news today that Canada has agreed to limit the sales of wheat to the United States market to 1.5 million tonnes.

Would the minister tell the House and the farmers of western Canada the real situation concerning shipments into the U.S. market?

Grain
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Regina—Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I sometimes wonder what part of the word no these people fail to understand. Let me be clear.

There is no gap. There is no limit. There is no agreement. There is no inclination on the part of Canada to move in that direction.

Our grain trade with the United States is fair. It is fully within the rules of the WTO and the NAFTA. It has been investigated three times by the United States. On every occasion Canadian grain trading practices have been vindicated and we shall continue to defend ourselves.

Computer Programming
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Simon de Jong Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is addressed to the Prime Minister or the spokesman for the government today. It concerns what in the computer world is called the millennium problem, the problem concerning the year 2000.

As the hon. member might know, many of the old mainframes left only two digits rather than four digits for dates. To change that on a global basis will require hundreds of billions of dollars. It will also have a major impact on the Government of Canada.

How prepared is the government with its various departments? What is the estimated cost of redesigning the programs? What impact on revenues is expected as private industry will have to undergo hundreds of millions of dollars of costs in rewriting their programs?

Computer Programming
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right to mention that question. It is a complex one, not only for the public sector but also for the private sector. We have already spent millions of dollars on it and we have started to look at how our various computer systems could be adapted.

Good progress is being made in that direction but there is still a lot of work to be done and we are at it.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

April 17th, 1997 / 3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Miloslav Vyborny, Defence Minister of the Czech Republic.