House of Commons Hansard #57 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tribunal.

Topics

Railways
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canada's rail system continues to expand in the wrong direction. Yesterday CN purchased an American rail line. At the same time small branch lines serving rural Canada continue to be abandoned.

Ottawa has abandoned the small family farms which cannot afford to ship grains to market. Last week Saskatchewan lost the White Fox line which served communities and farmers between Choiceland and Meath Park. I hope they do not pull the rail lines out.

We demand an immediate review of the Canadian Transportation Act to prevent the continuing loss of vital rail service in Canada. We call for a national transportation strategy which will go forward into the next century, not backward into the last.

This plan should address the issues of grain shipments, environmental benefits, the deterioration of highways and affordable rail transportation throughout Canada.

By the time the Liberals wake up to the national nightmare there will be nothing left of our Canadian railroads.

Reference To Supreme Court
Statements By Members

February 11th, 1998 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the pro-democracy coalition is today going to unveil its strategy in anticipation of the start of hearings on the reference to the supreme court of the matter of a unilateral declaration of independence by Quebec.

Quite frankly, there is nothing democratic about this coalition, which resembles the sort of pre-referendum sovereignist production we have all seen and which was tried out in the 1980 and 1995 referendums.

The Parti Quebecois is certainly working hard at courting Quebeckers who have twice rejected Quebec's separation from the rest of Canada to get them to change their mind the next time.

If the pro-democracy coalition really wants to be democratic, it should inform people impartially about the game the sovereignists are playing and let them know what democracy will look like under the Parti Quebecois on the basis of questions as vague as the ones put in the 1980 and 1995 referendums.

Corner Brook-Canada Winter Games
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the verbal gymnastics of the House Canadians are intently watching the performances of Canadian teams at the Nagano Olympics with some pride and satisfaction.

I want to introduce to the House another particular sporting event in which I take considerable pride. That is the Corner Brook-Canada 1999 Winter Games. Mr. Speaker, you are invited.

I want to introduce Corner Brook, Stephenville, Steady Brook, Pasadena and Deer Lake to the House. Communities on the west coast of Newfoundland are particularly ready to enjoy and to host all of Canada in a celebration of sport, unity and youth.

We are ready for these games. I ask members of the House to book their tickets early because it will be packed. We will see them there.

Jeremy Wotherspoon
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of Red Deer and all Canadians I extend a sincere and well deserved congratulations to Red Deer speed skater Jeremy Wotherspoon.

We congratulate him on his recent silver medal performance in the men's 500 metre long track event at the Nagano Winter Olympics.

In his pursuit of Olympic excellence Jeremy has become a role model for young Canadians. As an outstanding ambassador for Red Deer, Alberta and Canada we honour Jeremy's drive, determination and success while wishing him the very best in upcoming events.

Knowing Jeremy and his family, I also want to congratulate them because it is with them and their support that athletes like him succeed.

I ask my colleagues in the House of Commons to join us in congratulating this young Canadian on winning Canada's first silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the finance department publishes a monthly newsletter called the

Fiscal Monitor

. It is full of statistics, including updates on the deficit.

According to the January 28 edition of this newsletter the government has a public accounts surplus of $1.4 billion and a financial surplus of $11.3 billion. Yet in today's newspapers finance department spin doctors are estimating a year end deficit of $2 billion.

What is the finance minister's explanation of the disappearing surplus?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, at budget time I will be delighted to report on the state of the government's accounts.

The

Fiscal Monitor

to which the hon. member refers shows a strengthening in the Canadian financial balance sheet. This is certainly due to the efforts of Canadians and I must say to the efforts of my colleagues in government.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians understand from this publication and elsewhere is that the minister has a lot of their money and they want it back in the form of tax relief.

According to the

Fiscal Monitor

the government has a surplus mainly because it is taxing the hide out of Canadians.

Who is the finance minister trying to hide the surplus from: from his spendaholic friends in cabinet or from hard-pressed Canadian taxpayers?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to understand how the Leader of the Opposition could refer to somebody trying to hide a surplus when what he is doing is quoting from a Department of Finance document, the source of his numbers.

I am delighted to confirm to the Leader of the Opposition that the numbers he is quoting out of our document are correct.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this surplus is not the finance minister's money. On behalf of Canadians I want to tell him who this money belongs to. It belongs to the hard-pressed Canadian taxpayers. It belongs to Canadian families. It belongs to Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs that create wealth.

Has the finance minister not heard that his budget will be judged this year not by the hot air that surrounds it but by how many dollars it leaves in the pockets of hard-pressed Canadian taxpayers?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, when we took office the deficit was $42 billion. The surplus the hon. member is referring to is due to the efforts of Canadians. He then goes on to ask whose money it is. Yes, it is the taxpayers'.

I will tell him something else. Our social programs that his party wants to gut, health care, education and old age pension, also belong to Canadians and we will protect them for Canadians.

Multilateral Agreement On Investment
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, certain interest groups in Canada are having a field day with a huge misinformation campaign about the multilateral agreement on investment or the MAI. Canadians are concerned yet they have not heard from the government what the MAI is or how it would be in their interest.

We noticed the minister found time to go to sunny South America in January but he has not found time to talk about the MAI. Why has the minister allowed the left to dominate the debate? Why is the minister not telling Canadians what this deal is all about?

Multilateral Agreement On Investment
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

York West
Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where my hon. friend has been. He must have been sleeping. We make no apologies for the team Canada trip.

It was the largest team Canada trip, over 524 business people from Canada making record sales which create jobs and economic activity.

Since assuming this portfolio I have been more than open and public with the Canadian people on the MAI to the point where we invited the committee to study this report. I am happy that it was obviously an overwhelming endorsement.

Multilateral Agreement On Investment
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that while the minister is going to places like Uruguay to sign an investment agreement that represents one-tenth of one per cent of Canada's investment, he has not got time to talk to Canadians and tell them what it is all about.

There are people in Canada saying this agreement would be the end of Canada, the end of Canadian sovereignty. Why is the minister not responding to those concerns? Why is he not travelling to places like B.C. and meeting this opposition head on?

Multilateral Agreement On Investment
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

York West
Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member gets up and beats his chest. It is probably his first question in over three months. Then he has the audacity to say where this government stands.

This government needs no lectures on trade and investment from that party and we have never be afraid of talking to the people about the MAI, opening up the process, inviting members of Parliament to participate in a committee.

I do not think that is doing things behind closed doors. I am surprised the member is taking that position.

Federal Disaster Relief Program
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of the federal disaster relief program, Ottawa must pay 90% when amounts exceed a certain level, which in Quebec is evaluated at $37 million.

Yesterday, however, the President of the Treasury Board told us that Ottawa was agreeing to fund only 50% of assistance to small and medium sized businesses.

Can the minister tell us why he will not apply the same criteria as those used in 1987 after the tornado in Alberta, when he funded 90% of assistance to small and medium sized businesses?