House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was citizenship.

Topics

Maple Syrup Season
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Hec Clouthier Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is this liquid gold, this amber nectar, this food of the gods that mesmerizes, tantalizes and inspires the tongue?

In my great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke this sweet sensation, this heavenly harvest, is flowing from the hills of Wilno to the valleys of Bagot, Blythfield and Brougham.

I am talking about the opening of maple syrup season.

It was my great honour to hammer the first spigot at Sexton Farms at the opening of Renfrew County's maple syrup season.

Maple syrup season is a sure sign that spring has arrived and that the slumber of winter has departed. Now we are all being rewarded with this glorious golden treat.

I firmly believe it is only fitting that Canada's greatest symbol, all that we hold dear, the maple leaf, comes from a tree whose lifeblood brings such sweet passion to all Canadians.

Government Grants
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, declaring “everyone loses”, Arthur Kroeger, a former HRDC deputy minister and Mel Cappe's predecessor, today chastised parliament for failing to provide guidance to officials on what it would regard as a sensible balance between the oversight of the expenditure of public funds and the flexibility of serving clients.

What this former bureaucrat failed to mention is the unprecedented amount of political interference by the governing Liberals. This goes to the very heart of the problem. Grants without applications are not the result of overworked officials but the unwarranted intrusion of Liberal politicians.

As Canadians fill out their tax forms and sign over their hard earned dollars to the government they have every right to expect that the money will be used judiciously and not as a political slush fund.

There is something rotten about the way the government has manipulated the grants and contributions programs and until there is a new government over there the biggest losers will continue to be the Canadian taxpayers.

Atlantic Fisheries
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is presently buying back lobster fishing licences in New Brunswick.

Although it claims that this is totally a voluntary process, fishers in Atlantic Canada feel forced into having to sell their fishing gear, with fear that soon there will be no more fishing industry left.

These fishers are worried because no progress has yet been made on agreements with members of the native fishing communities, while tensions between natives and non-natives appear to have been increasing since the Marshall decision.

The federal government is once again turning its back on Atlantic Canada by refusing to show leadership in this growing crisis. DFO is responsible for the management of fish stocks and it should have firm rules in place prior to the start of the spring fishing season.

I call upon the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to resolve this dispute before there is a collapse in the fishing industry, which includes lobster, scallop, crab and shrimp, to name a few.

The livelihood of too many Maritime families is at stake.

The Budget
Statements By Members

March 23rd, 2000 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the efforts of all Canadians, our country has entered a new era, an era of budget surpluses.

Canadians from all regions of the country will benefit from a budget that will ensure them of a great future. Our education system is unsurpassed, our social effort is continuing and our taxes will drop over the next five years. In addition to that, our researchers are innovating.

There are over 250 community futures development corporations in our small towns and villages. These corporations promote local economies. They also help small businesses.

Budget 2000 includes a $54 million envelope, over a three year period, to provide increased funding to existing CFDCs and to create new ones.

The CFDCs take various initiatives to develop and diversify local economies. They support small businesses by providing them with financial assistance, to a maximum of $125,000. They draft and implement strategic plans, in co-operation with other stakeholders.

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to watch the trade minister boast about the work of the Export Development Corporation and completely ignore its greatest defect.

Yesterday the trade minister said “in the last 50 years—the Canadian government has only granted about $1 billion to the EDC”, only a billion. What he failed to mention is that taxpayers are on the hook for all of EDC's bad loans and that total is now $2.8 billion. By ignoring this loss of taxpayer dollars, why is the minister making exactly the same mistake he made as minister of human resources?

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I should thank the Leader of the Opposition for coming back to a good news story and bringing attention to the good work of the EDC for Canadian exporters.

As for the debt, Canada and OECD partners participate in debt rescheduling discussions at the Paris Club. These talks are aimed at helping poorer countries by adjusting their debt repayments. These decisions are made for humanitarian and political reasons and they make a lot of sense.

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing what these Liberal ministers choose to ignore, and it is always at the taxpayers' interest.

The human resources minister boasts about her department's projects but ignores a billion dollar boondoggle. The trade minister boasts about EDC but completely ignores $2.8 billion in bad debts for which taxpayers are liable. How is the minister holding EDC accountable for bad loans for which the taxpayers are on the hook?

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the government is a good player on the international scene, is a member of the Paris Club, and with the other OECD countries participates in debt reduction, debt rescheduling and elimination for the poorer countries for humanitarian reasons.

It is tough for the Reform Party to understand, but for humanitarian considerations we moved all the lending countries together on these things. This is a political decision. The government compensates EDC for these sovereign debt reductions, reductions it would not make otherwise.

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, no one is objecting to legitimate export financing or humanitarian activity. What taxpayers find offensive is EDC lending money to huge corporations which are perfectly capable of financing their own purchases, in order for those companies to buy goods and services from Liberal connected companies in Canada.

For example, Brazilian oil giant Petrobras got a $10 million line of credit from EDC to buy products from Earth Canada. That liberally connected corporation's board was graced with the Prime Minister's pals, Gilles Champagne and René Fugère. Why should taxpayers be assisting huge foreign firms to—

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister for International Trade.

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, in the two weeks that they have had the opportunity to look into the particular case of Earth Canada, one would have hoped that the leader's research staff would have had the opportunity to explain to him that Earth Canada never used the line of credit. It actually got other private sector credit to do its transaction. It has not received any support from EDC at this time.

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it would be nice to have a look at the books but of course the minister will not let us do that. Nor will he let anyone else have a look at EDC's books. It would be nice also to think that the hard earned money taxpayers send into the government is not going to subsidize deals between oil giants and friends of the Prime Minister.

Petrobras is worth more than $2 billion. Yet for some reason René Fugère and Gilles Champagne, good friends of the Prime Minister on the board of directors of Earth Canada, somehow convinced the government it should establish a $10 million line of credit for that company.

Taxpayers are already on the hook for $2.8 billion in bad EDC loans. Why should they risk any more for friends of the Prime Minister?

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I reject these allegations. They just do not make any sense whatsoever. There are commercial confidentialities. That is the reason, we understand, the EDC needs to protect the information for its private sector clients.

Let me remind you, Mr. Speaker, that in the last six years the EDC has earned three times the auditor general's award for annual reporting. The auditor general has access to the board of directors minutes of meetings, transaction details and financial records. Let me quote again the auditor general: “In my opinion these transactions are—”

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Fraser Valley.

Export Development Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, just so it is clear, let us go through it. Petrobras is worth billions and is owned by the Brazilian government. It is kind of hard to understand why it would be coming to the Canadian government for cash. That is exactly what it did. It wanted a line of credit. It came to the Canadian government even though it is a Brazilian owned company.

Is it government policy to lend millions to foreign companies that do not need the money, or does it just select certain companies depending on who is on the board of directors?