House of Commons Hansard #163 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was species.

Topics

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the Prime Minister is about to call an election. So far we have not heard what the issues might be. There are no new ideas from the Liberal side and no platform.

It is a little bit like the corn flakes commercial. I think Liberals are going to run on "try me again for the first time" to see if maybe people will buy it. I do not think the people are going to buy $24 billion in tax increases since the government took power, another $110 billion added to the $500 and some billion national debt and 1.4 million unemployed. With a shameful economic record like that I wonder what the Liberals are going to run on.

The government should not be going cap in hand asking for the votes of the electorate. It should be going cap in hand apologizing to the electorate. What possible reason could the government use for going to the people at this time in a federal election?

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

An hon. member

We want to get rid of the Reform Party.

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is trying to use the metaphor of a cereal box, which I am very glad he has the time to spend reading in comparison to his hon. colleague, I would suggest that the appropriate variation for the Reform Party would be crack, pop and fizzle.

Mr. Speaker, I said crack, pop not crackpot. I just want to make that clear.

The hon. member is the one who seems to be getting all agitated about an election. It was his party that rushed out to get its platform before the people. It is his leader who has been campaigning across the country. It is his members who are standing up in an apologetic fashion declaring their mea culpas to their constituents.

We are here governing. We want to make sure that the country is in good hands and continues to be in good hands. If and when and how the election is called, we fully expect to have the mandate to continue as the government.

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe their idea of governing is that a goody a day will get the voter to play. I am not sure whether they will get away with it.

When the Liberals announce their platform I can see it now: The theme music from Mission Impossible coming on the screen as the son of red book gets trotted out and they try once again to make believe that this time they really, really mean it.

Are they going to try to defend the actions of some of their ministers, while if their outspoken backbenchers speak out they get kicked out of the party? Will they defend that? Will they talk about the huge MP pension plan? Will they talk about the Somalia inquiry? Will they talk about the Pearson airport deal? Maybe the Airbus pay-off, I wonder if that is what they will talk about. Maybe it will be free trade. I think it is going to be long term, stable funding for the CBC.

This is a comedy from Air Farce. Surely they cannot be running on this. In this literature the Liberals are saying that Canadians are in good hands. Well, good hands my foot. Why would Canadians vote for four more years of this kind of a government?

Liberal Party
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talks about the observation he makes of members on the government side. If he took a look around him it would look like the retreat from Moscow. Never have we seen such a bedraggled group of people in total surrender and defeat, pulling themselves back with all the resignations and all the evictions.

We have declared a new party called independent members made up of the rejects from the Reform Party that their hon. leader has thrown out.

I would hope that at some point during this question period that the Reform Party might, in its last gasp here in the House, get down to some serious questions about the issues at stake, the great matters really affecting public policy and get off their platform.

Transportation Of Farm Workers
Oral Question Period

April 24th, 1997 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

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

On March 31, the federal government stopped its financial contribution to the Quebec agricultural day haul transportation assistance program. So, this year, the government of Quebec will have to finance all by itself the program, which will be cut by 40

per cent, or $330,000, because of the federal government's withdrawal.

Since this successful program provides vital transportation services for some 150,000 person-days a year in Quebec, why is the minister reluctant to renew the federal government's financial contribution?

Transportation Of Farm Workers
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it is always interesting to hear members opposite talk about jurisdiction.

This is very much a provincial jurisdiction. The Government of Quebec and members opposite have asked us to withdraw from areas of provincial jurisdiction and that is what we are doing.

Transportation Of Farm Workers
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the hon. member's information, I would like to point out that it was a federal-provincial agreement and not a question of the federal government taking over from the province. An agreement is usually reached because we want to do business together.

The federal government had already reduced its financial contribution from 50 per cent to 40 per cent, and now it is down to nothing.

Does the minister realize that his refusal to maintain the federal contribution to this program will mostly affect small farmers trying to recruit help and thousands of low-income seasonal workers?

Transportation Of Farm Workers
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, yes, we are aware of that. It is why we have made an offer to the provincial government and the farming community as a whole. Human Resources Development is very interested in looking at proposals for doing this in a different way than it has been done in the past.

Once the proposal is put to us, we will look at the issue and a way of delivering it in a different fashion than it was delivered in the past because that entered into provincial jurisdiction which is against the policy of the party opposite.

Via Rail
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, the new reigning king of political patronage, keeps claiming that he appoints only good Liberals-and that an oxymoron if ever I heard one-to all of the patronage positions he fills.

If all the Liberal hacks in patronage positions are so good, why are the Canadian taxpayers shelling out $50,000 for VIA Rail's president to take an eight-week course at Harvard?

Via Rail
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, VIA Rail is a crown corporation for which I am responsible for reporting to the House. I do not have a day to day responsibility for vetting every decision taken by VIA Rail. The hon. member has made an assertion which may or may not be correct, I do not know. I am quite willing to look into it for him, find out and report back to him.

I would suggest that a party which constantly has supported the private sector and the concept of government getting out of active involvement in commercial operations should think twice before it encourages ministers to take day to day control of crown corporations or private companies.

Via Rail
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, what I encourage the minister to do is privatize VIA Rail.

Given that VIA Rail is subsidized in the amount of $600,000 a day, $50,000 might not seem like much money to the Prime Minister, his finance minister or the Minister of Transport. However it represents a four-year degree for a Canadian student who cannot afford an education because the Liberals cut education funding by 40 per cent.

Can the Prime Minister or anyone else explain why Liberal patronage hacks get $50,000 for an eight-week Ivy League course while thousands of Canadian students cannot afford an education because of Liberal cuts.

Via Rail
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I answered this question the first time around by saying that I, as minister responsible for reporting to the House for VIA, do not take every decision of $50,000 or more for the railroad, nor in fact does the Prime Minister.

We have a crown corporation operating at arm's length from the government whose annual plan is reported through me to the House. We do not follow every decision prior to it being made.

I will repeat what I have agreed to do, for the hon. member. I will ask VIA for the details surrounding the assertion of the hon. member to find out whether it is correct. Most assertions from his party are incorrect. If it is correct, I will bring information to him about it and whether there is justification for it.

I cannot expect to answer every $50,000 decision of a corporation, which he admits has at least a $600,000 daily support from the state.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Last Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs told us that he intended to contact his Egyptian counterpart within a day or two to take urgent action to have Mrs. Robitaille's eldest child, who is seriously ill, brought back to Canada.

Can the minister inform us of the outcome of the discussions with his Egyptian counterpart to bring back the Robitaille children who are still being held in Egypt?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, a conversation could not be arranged for now. I have signed a letter to the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs. I will continue to try to contact him directly, personally, to share with him the great concern of the Canadian government.