House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

William Ormond Mitchell
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, western Canadians, indeed all Canadians, today mourn the passing of beloved story teller W.O. Mitchell.

Millions of school children who have never been to the west have nonetheless tasted the dust of a prairie road and heard the chattering chirps of grasshoppers through W.O. Mitchell's characters like Jake and the Kid.

The men and women he wrote about were often tough as rawhide and as eccentric as tumbleweeds, but they always had heart and humour and an earthy common sense.

In his latter years W.O. Mitchell received acclaim from everyone, including most of the Canadian establishment, and yet he loved to gently poke fun at people consumed by their own sense of self-importance.

He might well have asked “Why do you accept and relish my prairie characters when you meet them on the pages of a book and regard them as rednecks and eccentrics when you meet the real thing in the flesh?”

Reformers salute W.O. Mitchell, the prairie bard who belongs to all Canadians.

The Budget
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the students of McMaster University, Mohawk College and other post-secondary institutions in the great riding of Hamilton West, I repeatedly wrote to the Minister of Finance suggesting he assist students faced with increasing tuition fees and rising debtloads.

What a response. In the first balanced budget in nearly three decades the minister did what? He introduced the Canada study grants for students with children. He extended the repayment period for Canada student loans to 15 years. He increased contributions to granting councils such as the MRC.

He allowed Canadians to temporarily withdraw from RRSPs for lifelong learning. He extended the education credit to part time students. He introduced the Canada education savings grant. He launched the Canada millennium scholarship foundation.

He improved Canadians' access to the information highway. He provided employees with EI premium holidays to hire youth and he offered tax relief to students who must pay interest on their debt.

What a difference five years of Liberal government make. Thanks to the Minister of Finance, Canada's most valuable resource are the first to benefit from a balanced budget.

William Ormond Mitchell
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the wonderful thing about life is that it always leaves us coming back for more. The wonderful thing about our writers and artists is that they remind us of that.

W.O. Mitchell did that for us. His prairie stories sing to all our hearts, whether or not we have ever seen the wind chase the sun across an ocean of wheat. His voice is stilled now, but life goes on.

It went on last night with the Ottawa premiere of the member for Dartmouth's play Glace Bay Miners' Museum . The play is a story from the east, a story about coal miners and their loved ones. It is a story about all of us.

We will not hide our joy and pride at having this playwright from Nova Scotia in our caucus, but we are happy to share her.

The gift our writers and artists give us is the most precious any nation can ever give, the gift of belief in ourselves, in the conviction we can and will see to it that today is better than yesterday but nowhere as good as tomorrow. And you can bet we will all keep coming back for more.

Student Aid
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, Lucien Bouchard hid a few things from PQ militants last weekend.

Concerned as he was about scoring political points at the expense of the federal government, Mr. Bouchard forgot to tell PQ members that his government was about to tighten eligibility criteria for its own financial assistance program.

This, perhaps, explains the battle being waged by the separatist government against the millennium fund. Lucien Bouchard, looking like a clone of Maurice Duplessis, said “We are not interested in seeing the federal government helping young Quebeckers who want to continue their education, but give us the money, we will distribute it ourselves”.

Why did Mr. Bouchard not have the courage to announce that he would cut his own student loans and grants initiative? Unfortunately for separatists, the Canadian government has good news for young Quebeckers.

They will have direct access to federal assistance, so that they can continue their education. Our government does not need a dispensing counter managed by a separatist government that is about to cut its own programs.

This is where part of the taxes paid to the federal government go: directly to Quebeckers.

Granby Winter Festival
Statements By Members

February 26th, 1998 / 2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Diane St-Jacques Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, 1998 marks the fifth anniversary of Granby's Folies d'hiver festival.

This festival is host not just to local residents, but to many other people from all corners of the province, the country and even further afield.

It offers a variety of outdoor activities for the whole family. I would like to thank the organizers, the many volunteers, and all those whose efforts make this event possible.

On behalf of the Granby tourism office and the entire population of Granby, I invite you to pay us a visit between now and March 8. Follow the example of the 60,000 people who came last year for some great winter fun.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the budget figures show that the government had enough revenue in 1997-98 to eliminate the deficit, to meet its program spending target of $103 billion, and to put $3 billion into its contingency reserve, but the government in fact spent $106 billion and the contingency reserve went to zero with no payment on the debt.

My question is for the finance minister. Why did the minister spend the contingency reserve devoted to new spending after promising in three previous budgets that this would not occur?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. The government did not spend the contingency reserve. The government did not spend the contingency reserve this year. The government did not spend the contingency reserve last year. The government did not spend the contingency reserve the year before that, nor the year before that.

The reason the government was able to bring in the first balanced budget in 30 years is that we did not spend the contingency reserve.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the minister's statement does not square with the statements in his budget tabled earlier this week.

His budget shows that higher revenues and lower interest charges were enough to eliminate the deficit on its own without touching the contingency fund. Yet the contingency fund disappeared, the fund that was to go to the debt.

Will the minister answer plainly? Where did his contingency reserve go? If it did not go to the deficit and did not go to the debt, did it not go into new spending?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it went to reducing the deficit.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the opposition, various analysts and much of the Canadian public disagree with the minister's explanation.

Either the minister's communications are wrong or his accounting is wrong. If his accounting is wrong, that is a very serious business.

To settle this, will the finance minister agree to ask the auditor general to audit the definition of contributions to and expenditures from the contingency reserve and report to the House when it reconvenes next week?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Leader of the Opposition has not noticed but the auditor general actually does audit the government's books and he does report to parliament.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister does not get it. We want to bring in the auditor general now.

Three billion dollars have gone missing from what is supposed to be a debt retirement fund, and the finance minister's fingerprints are all over it. The government's whole debt reduction strategy rests on using this fund to pay down our staggering national debt.

Last fall the finance minister said the fund “would be used to pay down the debt of the federal government”. He broke his word. Why should we believe he will not do it again?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party has said to bring in the auditor general now. Let me point out to the member that the year is not over. There is still the month of March to go and there are the year end adjustments to go.

Perhaps the Reform Party might allow the year end to finish so the auditor general could make his report. He will make it to parliament and once again the Reform Party will have been found out not to know how to count.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us just see how good the finance minister's math is.

The government budgeted $103 billion. It had enough revenue to cover $103 billion. The problem is that the government spent $106 billion. The entire so-called debt retirement fund has been vaporized by new spending.

Again, how can we trust the Minister of Finance not to continue using the entire debt retirement fund as a political slush fund?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if one ever needed better proof of the success of the budget, the tax reductions, the fact that we have balanced the budget and the fact that we have been able to invest in education, it is that the first five questions Reformers have posed in the House have to do with accounting.

They are afraid to talk about the budget because they know that it has been a tremendous success and they are right.