House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.

Topics

National Defence
Oral Question Period

March 17th, 1998 / 2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry. Small and medium sized companies in Canada's aerospace industry face an uphill battle when competing against companies from countries with large defence budgets.

Can the minister tell us what has been done to help these Canadian companies competing for international defence contracts?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to say that through the efforts both of technology and the partnerships Canada program as well as the Export Development Corporation, a number of Canadian corporations have been very successful in winning aerospace and defence contracts internationally.

This includes recently Spar Aerospace, which won a $91.5 million contract with NASA; CAL Corporation, which has sold innovative tracking systems in France; Bristol Aerospace, which has won a $98 million contract with Boeing Corporation; and Computing Devices of Canada Limited in Calgary which has successfully sold into the U.S. market.

This is a very successful sector of the Canadian economy. We are moving from sixth to fourth in the world.

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the facts are these. The government has played fast and loose with billions of taxpayers' dollars. It has cooked the books of the country and violated its own accounting guidelines. The auditor general has rightly criticized this in public.

Now the finance department has tried to shut down the auditor general in a toughly worded letter, calling into question his professional judgment. The letter says that they also wish to register their profound astonishment that this issue has now been reported to the press.

Public scrutiny, what a terrible thing. Why is the finance minister trying to muzzle the auditor general?

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in fact what we are seeking is public scrutiny. The reason that we want to put it on the books is so that it will be open and transparent.

The real issue is why is the Reform Party against having transparency in the public statements? Why would the Reform Party support archaic accounting principles that have nothing to do with the evolution of modern accounting and in fact have nothing to do with transparency and openness in government?

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the facts are very clear here. The finance department feels threatened by the auditor general's criticism and it is doing what it can to shut him down.

The fact is that the finance minister cooked the books. He has played fast and loose with billions of taxpayers' dollars. Instead of threatening the auditor general, my question is why does the finance minister not be a big boy, take his lumps and start accepting criticism from the taxpayers' watchdog?

Auditor General
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is not about taxes. There are $7 billion worth of tax cuts over the course of the next three years. What this is really all about is that it is the Reform Party's objection to the millennium foundation and to investing in education.

The real issue before the country is in a modern age, why does the Reform Party not understand that equality of access, that modern education is essential to job creation? Where the heck are they?

Multilateral Agreement On Investment
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. As he knows, B.C. government initiatives like the jobs and timber accord and legislation to protect young people from the exploitation of tobacco companies are threatened by the MAI.

The B.C. government has acted on the agreement of trade ministers for public hearings on the MAI, but where is the federal government's commitment? Why does the federal government not have the guts to inform Canadians about the threat to the rights of provinces to create jobs and protect health care under the MAI?

Multilateral Agreement On Investment
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary. There is nothing in the negotiations that would threaten the ability of Canada to function and operate its own house.

We have laid down a complete set of reservations that will go into the MAI and that is being negotiated right now. We will not sign a deal that is not good for Canada.

Multilateral Agreement On Investment
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

On December 16, 1997, the Prince Edward Island legislature stated that the multilateral agreement on investment would give the major multinationals nation status. The Prince Edward Island MLAs also called on the federal government to impose a moratorium on the ratification of the agreement pending public hearings on the matter throughout Canada.

Is the government prepared to make a commitment today to holding public hearings on the MAI throughout Canada before asking Parliament to ratify the agreement?

Multilateral Agreement On Investment
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the government, through the subcommittee on foreign affairs, held hearings last fall and continues to hold hearings as long as they are in demand.

Because of those hearings the subcommittee produced a report that I wish the hon. member would read. If she would read it, she would find out exactly where Canada stands on the issue. I urge all members to do the same.

Seniors Benefit
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the government is going ahead with its seniors benefit scheme.

Because of this new plan, some financial experts are advising middle income Canadians over 50 years of age against buying RRSPs. The reason is simple: what they will be saving in income tax today will not make up for the income tax they will have to pay later.

Why does the Minister of Finance stubbornly insist on discouraging saving for retirement?

Seniors Benefit
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the premise of the hon. member's question is not valid.

Seniors Benefit
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the government continues to gouge Canadians through excessive EI and CPP premiums and refuses to cut income taxes. Now it wants to impose an unbearable tax burden on Canadians through the so-called seniors benefit.

The Association of Canadian Pension Fund Management says that the seniors benefit should be structured to prevent an effective tax raise of over 50%. Is the finance minister listening?

Seniors Benefit
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am having a little trouble with the definition of a tax gouge. We eliminated for all Canadians earning $50,000 or less the 3% surtax imposed by the Conservative government. We reduced EI premiums from $3.07 imposed by the Conservative government to $2.70.

The fact is that we have reduced the taxes the Tories increased. Under those circumstances perhaps the definition of gouge is a little different for the Tory Party than it is in the Oxford English dictionary.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Two-thirds of Canadians risk premature death, heart disease and other health risks all due to physical inactivity.

If all Canadians were active, the savings for the health care system for heart disease alone would be $700 million a year. What is the minister doing to address physical inactivity? Who will he be partnering with to achieve this goal?