House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pension.

Topics

Poverty
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it has been one of the items that we have devoted a lot of time to. Statistics Canada yesterday reported that now our policies are beginning to pay off and said that fewer Canadian families are living in poverty today than there were some years ago. We are making progress but the job is not over. We have to keep working at it.

Banks
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister proposes in his financial services reform bill to grant himself unfettered power to say yes or no to bank mergers. If merger proponents pass all the hurdles of his public impact review process, will he say yes to the mergers?

Banks
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

That is a hypothetical question. I see the minister is on his feet. If he wishes to respond he may do so.

Banks
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid the hon. member misunderstands the nature of the reforms. The fact is that ultimately the Government of Canada has the right to make the decision and in fact must make a decision either yea or nay, and obviously that voice is expressed through that of the Minister of Finance.

The fact is that in this particular process we have introduced a number of steps, including the mandatory public hearings by the House of Commons finance committee and the advice from the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the Competition Bureau.

I can assure the hon. member that any decisions would be very well taken after a full examination in the public interest.

Banks
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have waited seven years for this government to introduce its financial services sector reform package which will not see royal assent until at least a year and may in fact be derailed by a general election.

With the changes in the global financial services sector occurring at web speed, why is this government moving at a snail's pace?

Banks
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government is certainly not moving at a snail's pace. We intend to push as aggressively as we possibly can, obviously subject to the prerogatives of parliament, to make sure that this legislation is passed as quickly as possible.

However, we do want to have the public debate on the legislation. That is why fact we commissioned the MacKay report about 18 months to 2 years ago. We wanted to examine every possible avenue open to make sure that on the one hand our banks are able to grow as much as possible and, on the other hand, that our consumers are protected as much as possible.

Department Of Finance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it looks like the finance minister has been getting some lessons from the human resources minister.

It turns out that the human resources minister is not the only one with a dodgy set of books. An internal finance department audit wonders whether the finance department's contracting practices could “be defensible if disclosed in the public eye”.

I would like to ask the finance minister if he can tell the House why his department's contracting practices are not publicly defensible?

Department Of Finance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the problem is of course that the hon. member opposite perhaps read the newspaper report. What he should have done was to have read the report of the internal audit.

If I can just quote, it states:

Our review of CI&S controllable expenses indicated they were generally processed in compliance with applicable policies and procedures.

We also observed a desire on the part of CI&S staff to do things right.

All professional service contracts adequately demonstrates CI&S's organizational needs.

In other words, there were obviously defects in what the hon. member was pointing to but overwhelmingly the report was positive for CI&S.

Department Of Finance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, they wonder “if the contracting practices would be defensible if disclosed in the public eye”. There is a problem there.

We are perhaps talking about some suspect contracting services in the Department of Finance. This minister is the keeper of the cash, the taker of our taxes. If there is suspect in his department, how can any Canadian trust anything the government says or does?

Department Of Finance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the premise of the hon. member's question just simply does not bear any kind of scrutiny.

Let me give one more quote from the report, following up on what the member said. It states:

In all professional service contracts reviewed, the fact that the contractors had excellent qualifications for the tasks defined was adequately demonstrated.

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec government, through its Minister of Finance, is demanding legislative guarantees from the federal government regarding the conditions that must exist before authorizing a takeover of Quebec banks by a buyer.

However, in the 871 page document tabled by the federal Minister of Finance, there is no indication that such guarantees exist.

Will the Minister of Finance confirm that the only guarantee that exists in his bill is the discretionary power he is assuming, and nothing else?

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in the case of the acquisition of a bank, such as the National Bank, the criteria will be exactly the same—and this is provided in the legislation—as those for major bank mergers.

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is no guarantee in the act to protect Quebecers.

Why should we feel confident? Why should we be reassured about the possible acquisition of Quebec banks by a potential buyer, since the only guarantee we have is the decision of the federal Minister of Finance or of his successors? Mr. Speaker, you will agree that there is nothing reassuring in this situation.

Banking
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I just said that the criteria in the case of an acquisition are exactly the same as in the case of major bank mergers.

Now, if the hon. member thinks that we should have more elaborate criteria for major bank mergers, his colleagues are certainly free to make that suggestion in committee.

But I am telling the House that, in the case of an acquisition and of the criteria, if not the process, things would be exactly the same as in the case of a bank merger.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

June 13th, 2000 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, here is HRDC's idea of a good business venture in Strathroy, Ontario: One, buy a motorhome; two, fill it with computer equipment; three, register the motorhome in an individual's name; four, pay out $127,000 in salaries with no job descriptions; and five, park it in a garage and terminate the project.

How did this boondoggle on wheels benefit taxpayers?