House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was hrdc.

Topics

Health
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Health.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I invite the member to read the speech which I delivered in Calgary, which very clearly expressed my view on the question. Alberta, like all provinces, must comply with the Canada Health Act, and this legislation will not help.

However, Premier Klein's challenges go far beyond me. He now has to contend with the opposition to this bill expressed by the Alberta Medical Association, the Association of Registered Nurses, chiefs of medical staff in Calgary and Edmonton, the Consumers' Association and the United Nurses of Alberta. We hope that Premier Klein will listen to the people of Alberta. Perhaps he might decide to withdraw the legislation.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gilles Bernier Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, in response to the crisis in gasoline prices the Liberal government has done what Liberals always do. It appointed a committee to study the industry, and it is the 12th in the last 15 years. Does that make sense? The committee will cost Canadians $750,000 and it will not report until next year.

Why does the finance minister not cut out the doggie doodle and reduce the federal tax on gasoline that he himself raised in 1995?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would congratulate the member for reminding the House that the excise tax is a product of his party in the previous government. I also want to congratulate the hon. member for finally coming to the realization of the problems that exist.

I want to congratulate the members of this caucus who for so long have been concerned about this particular issue.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gilles Bernier Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, if the finance minister is so concerned, why has he not done anything about it? Fuel prices have gone up 40%. If they do not come down, inflation will rise. That means skyrocketing interest rates. High interest rates mean higher debt service charges. When that happens the finance minister can kiss his sorry surplus goodbye.

It is very simple. Will the government cut taxes on fuel at least until it gets the crisis under control?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I can hardly believe my ears. The hon. member is talking about high interest rates. When we took office our interest rates were substantially above those of the United States. Today they are lower.

When we take a look at what the federal government has done in terms of its own debt, our debt has come down, the deficit has been eliminated and unemployment is down. This is a different country from the one we took over in 1993.

National Revenue
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.

Members of the business community work long hours, far beyond the traditional nine-to-five workday. The last thing they want to hear when they call a government office is a busy signal.

What will the minister do to ensure greater access by Canadian businesses to the resources of this key government agency?

National Revenue
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his very important question.

We all remember that we launched the agency last November 1. The aim and goal was to provide the Canadian population with better services. I am pleased to report today that we recently launched a 1-800 number for the business community and that 97% of the people which have tried to get in touch with the department have been able to do so on their very first attempt.

I am pleased to report as well that the line is open from 8.15 in the morning until 8 o'clock in the evening. That is good Liberal government.

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Trade has said that the EDC is a very fine institution. Let us see what a fine institution it really is. China's Three Gorges Dam is built on an earthquake fault line. It was shunned for funding by both the U.S. government and the World Bank.

What happened? The EDC stepped in and funded the Three Gorges Dam, despite serious environmental, corruption and economic charges.

Why is the government using taxpayers' money to support a dam that is an environmental disaster?

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear about this deal. Like so many others, the Government of Canada has certain positions which the member knows very well. The EDC works at arm's length from the Government of Canada. It has accepted the project. It is not the only institution. Similar financial institutions from France, Germany, Japan and Austria have also been onside with their exporters in this foreign deal.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, the June 1998 report of the Liberal committee on gasoline pricing in Canada, stated the following:

The committee finds [...] disturbing the recent tendency of the federal government to turn to outside authorities to obtain data and information on the oil industry. The committee wonders if that is acceptable.

Is the Minister of Industry not making the same mistake he made in the professional sports issue by ignoring the opinion of the Liberal caucus and asking the Conference Board to undertake a study that should be conducted by an objective parliamentary committee?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the caucus committee recommended that we undertake such a study. We took time to find an independent organization with a spotless reputation with respect to the quality of research that it can perform. We are convinced that, based on facts, better political approaches can be found.

Northern Development
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Louise Hardy Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The minister is responsible for economic development in the north. Northern foreign policy has clear directions for economic development in the north, yet the department has not done a thing in over a decade.

However there is some hope because the Yukon government and the chamber of commerce, all parties, are building to create a labour sponsored venture fund, the Fireweed Fund. I ask the minister for a commitment today to support this fund that would be an economic initiative in the north.

Northern Development
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows because I have talked to her personally about this matter, we are looking at this proposal very carefully. We think it is important to work on economic development for northerners. Once we have reviewed it I will give her that information.

Gasoline Pricing
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it seems the only people commending the industry minister's recent study are Liberal backbenchers. The Canadian Automobile Association, the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, the Canadian Trucking Alliance and others have all questioned the need for yet another gasoline pricing study.

Will the minister admit this study is simply a stall and delay tactic to ensure that he and his government will not have to take action and work at this question until after the next election?