House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Question No. 83
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Markham
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

As required by Bill C-8, the four recently demutualized insurers have a common transition period during which they must remain widely held. No mergers by, or acquisitions of, demutualized firms are permitted during that period. The transition period ends on December 31, 2001.

After December 31, 2001, demutualized insurers with equity of under $5 billion will automatically be eligible to be closely held, however, transactions involving these companies will continue to require the approval of the Minister of Finance. As a matter of policy, those demutualized companies with over $5 billion in equity will continue to be widely held.

While companies are always free to hold commercial discussions with one another, the Minister will not consider any applications regarding mergers or acquisitions of these companies prior to January 1, 2002. More specifically, no applications will be considered under financial institutions statutes and no analysis of potential transactions will be undertaken before this date.

Question No. 83
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 83
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 83
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development be authorized to travel to Washington, D.C. from January 27th to 30th, 2002 in relation to its study on climatic change and cross border pollution, and that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, in relation to its study on the Canadian broadcasting system, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage be authorized to travel to:

Toronto and Montreal from February 5-7, 2002 and to Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver from February 24--March 1, 2002,

and that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in relation to its studies on North American Relations and Security and the Agenda for the June 2002 G8 Agenda, be authorized to travel and hold hearings in two groups in Atlantic Canada and Quebec respectively from February 24 to March 1, 2002 and that Members of the Committee with the necessary staff be authorized to travel to Washington and Mexico City for consultations from March 10 to March 15, 2002.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from December 11 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government; of the amendment; and of the amendment to the amendment.

The Budget
Government Orders

December 12th, 2001 / 3:20 p.m.

Western Arctic
Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew Secretary of State (Children and Youth)

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Egmont. It is with a great deal of pride that I rise before the House to express my enthusiastic support for the budget presented earlier this week by the Minister of Finance.

This prudent and thoughtful document underscores our government's unwavering commitment to build a strong economy and a secure society to improve the quality of life for Canadians. Budget 2001 reinforces that we live in a caring society where opportunity is assured for all, a society where the notion of security extends beyond borders and national economic interests.

This is a strategic budget. The investments that are made are prudent. We cannot pretend things have not changed. We are in a period of cautious optimism. We must be strategic with our investments.

The budget is indicative of a society where, as I indicated, security extends beyond borders and national economic interests to encompass the security needs of the most vulnerable, a society that ensures the full inclusion of all its members. That is why I speak not only as the Secretary of State for Children and Youth but as the member of parliament for Western Arctic.

In my region there is a great need for infrastructure. The $2 billion strategic infrastructure investment foundation that was announced is welcome in my riding because there are a great deal of needs. In a geography as large as we have with over half a million square miles in which 32 communities cover the expanse, over 50% of the aboriginal people are of Metis, Dene or Inuit descent.

We are demographically challenged because we have a young population. Many of the people are under the age of 25. Therefore the $186 million announced over a two year period would hit on the expansion and enhancement of head start. It would also include $60 million for special education needs and early intervention as well as $25 million over a two year period which would include a reduction of the incidence of FAS and FAE. These are areas that would have a great deal of appeal and acceptance among people in the north.

Of course we have other commitments I would like to speak about, in particular the $680 million that has been included for affordable housing. These are areas of particular concern to northerners. We have a great need because we have a harsh environment and we are challenged in terms of providing the kind of accommodation people need to live in. Affordable housing is a huge issue in the north.

We also have the $600 million that was announced in Budget 2000 but was not implemented. It will be implemented for highways. This element has a great deal of appeal for northerners because of the high rate of non-renewable resource development in mining and minerals, especially the diamond industry. We currently have a producing mine, the Ekati mine. We have the Diavik mine which is under construction and we have a third mine under review and assessment, the Snap Lake DeBeers mine.

There are many other opportunities. We have the looming opportunity of oil and gas development. We have the whole discussion of developing a pipeline to bring northern resources to southern markets. That could involve the marrying of American and Canadian resources in the Arctic. Natural oil and gas in the high Arctic would be for the benefit of northerners as well as all Canadians because of the revenues that would accrue from bringing the resource to market for Canada. The exploration and exploitation of the resources would benefit the whole country.

On the heels of that, when we talk about aboriginal communities we also talk about things that were perhaps not in the budget but are a work in progress.

The north is a progressively developing area politically, socially, culturally and economically. It will have opportunities once these developments are onstream. The mines have 25 year lifespans. A pipeline could have the same lifespan. These would be producing and are producing already. The mines are putting money back into federal fiscal coffers.

We now get a $19,000 per capita transfer for each individual in our territory. Once we have all these developments online we should be able to return to fiscal coffers revenues of about $98,000 per person.

With half the aboriginal population that exists in the north it would be unprecedented for Canada to have a territory with many provincial-like responsibilities which could become a have territory that sustains itself. This is something we anticipate could happen.

However we need further assistance. Many developments across the country did not happen on their own. Hibernia did not happen on its own. It was listed in the 1998 or 1999 budget that we would get a northern economic development strategy. We still have a need for a pan-northern economic development strategy and we have called for it in previous budgets.

We also need an investment of about $250 million for a non-renewable resource development strategy. This would include capacity building. It would include making sure we have tradespeople and specific skilled individuals such as mechanics, electricians and high pressure welders who would help build the pipeline if we do that, and I anticipate we will.

Everyone knows we are vulnerable. We have two huge border areas in our territory. To the north we have the circumpolar region. We are exposed and vulnerable. We are hard pressed to maintain Arctic sovereignty with the kind of monitoring that goes on. We need to look at part of the $7 billion security package for the north. We also need to beef up the Alaska, U.S. border to the west of the territory which seems to be loosely monitored.

If we are to pay the $12 air safety fee which is $24 return we need to receive that service. Nunavut and the Northwest Territories do not have the kind of air security service other areas have. Northerners are like all other Canadians. They want to contribute. They want to play a significant role in Canada as a whole. We cannot do that if we do not get the same level of service. It becomes impossible for us to justify.

There is only one mode of transportation in the majority of the regions of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories by air. We are captive to air travel. We do not have the choice of train, bus, highway or other ground transportation. We cannot travel by boat because we have four seasons in our region.

We are thrilled with the budget. There is potential in it. We are realistic about it. We accept it and we can work with it. We also believe the work must come both ways. We must understand that the $186 million intended for children on reserves speaks to a northern community where there are no reserves.

We also need to know the $680 million for affordable housing would be equitably distributed to our people. We need to know the $600 million that is there for the highway addresses the issue of the formula that is used. Existing highways are limited and that is what the formula is based on. We need to get around that to give the north what it needs to continue with the development that is happening.

We cannot underscore how important the budget is for us at this time. We need people to know that the north is moving on as a region of Canada. It has unprecedented 19% economic growth.

We need opportunities, investment from the federal government and the partnership. It would be remiss of me not to mention the champions of that road, Chief Cece MacCauley and her women warriors. They have pushed hard to demonstrate the need for that road. I mention them because they are real champions. They help us all along with the leaders and the successive ministers.

The Budget
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to address the House today in regard to the budget. I will ignore for the most part the security section of the budget. Most members mentioned the reasons we are having a budget at this time and where the majority of the funds would be spent.

I will go over the major initiatives: $2.2 billion to make air travel safer, $1.6 billion for intelligence and policing, more than $1.6 billion for emergency preparedness and support for the military, $1 billion for more efficient screening of immigrants and refugees, and $1.2 billion for U.S. border measures.

There are some members opposite who do not seem to think that we live on the same continent as the United States or do not believe that the United States is serious about protecting itself against another terrorist attack. It is asking its neighbours both north and south of its borders to participate and to help it in the war on terrorism. We are doing this to the point of $7.7 billion. That has been discussed by many members and members who follow me will expand on those efforts.

I will address a few of the things that have not been mentioned or are rarely mentioned. These are little nuggets or fairly large nuggets in a way. I will address the Farm Credit Canada initiative. In the new tax measures it says that the budget would provide that Farm Credit Canada, a crown corporation, be no longer subject to federal corporate income and capital taxes.

That has not been commented on at all by anyone. This measure is an important one for farmers and the corporation. Farm Credit Canada up until yesterday would pay taxes if it had a good year. If it had a bad year or number of bad years it would have to come back to parliament to get a bailout.

With this move it would be on the same basis as the Federal Business Development Bank and the Export Development Corporation where its profits would not be taxed. If we look at its annual reports it would mean that it would save or have available to lend to farmers $30 million which it would otherwise lose.

With the leverage ratio of 12:1 it would mean an additional $360 million that would be available to Farm Credit Canada to lend to farmers, agribusiness and agricultural pursuits because its mandate would be expanded much wider.

We could extrapolate further but if we take just one year it would mean an addition of $360 million. The opposition says we are not doing anything for agriculture. This is one move that would make those kinds of dollar available for the farming community across the country.

Atlantic Canadians are interested in the small craft harbours program. There were a number of questions on that recently. I remember being in opposition, sitting over there where the member from Calgary is sitting, and watching the government of the day spend all its dollars in Conservative held ridings.

I had to take a picture of the harbour at Howard's Cove where a number of fishermen stood in the middle of the harbour on a sand dune to illustrate to the minister of fisheries at the time that something had to be done to help that harbour get some dredging done.

I made it a goal then that if we became government the harbours in my riding in eastern Canada and in Prince Edward Island would never have to go through those embarrassments again.

Last fall two harbours at Miminegash and Seacow Pond were almost wiped out due to a major storm surge with high tides and winds. They would have been wiped out if the storm had continued much longer. This cannot be allowed to happen again. We were able to repair those harbours last fall. There is much more work left to be done to protect the harbours across P.E.I. and Atlantic Canada from the more frequent storm surges and storms than we have been used to over the past number of decades.

We met with the Minister of Finance. He recognized that we had a problem in Atlantic Canada with small craft harbours and he provided $100 million to that program over the next five years. That is $20 million for the small craft harbours program which will be appreciated by the fishermen of Prince Edward Island.

Another item that has not been mentioned much is the initiative on wind energy. For the first time we now have a national program in place where we will be assisting producers of wind energy. There have been some experimental efforts in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Gaspé.

Recently in Prince Edward Island we invested $4.5 million to construct a wind farm in North Cape, which is in the northwest part of my riding. The windmills have been built and are onstream. They are the only power source for Prince Edward Island. We do not have hydro, coal, natural gas or any other sources of energy, but we do have lots of wind.

This is a further incentive for the expansion of wind production sites like North Cape so provinces or individuals can get into the wind power industry. We would be providing a subsidy of almost $260 million over 15 years to encourage people to develop that source of energy.

I commend the Minister of Finance and the government for addressing the issue of protection and security. We are facing a new reality with a security budget and we are doing it with a balanced budget. We are able to have a balanced budget even with these new expenditures of $9 billion to $11 billion over the next couple of years.

We are able to do that because we laid the foundation. We had contingency funds. The economy was in a situation where we were able to absorb some unforeseen event such as September 11. We were able to do that and have a balanced budget. In fact we are the only G-7 country that was able to do so.

The Budget
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, in listening to the debate I am hearing the member opposite talk about agriculture, which is one topic missing from the budget. Farmers still have a tough time. I have noted that since 1977 when I first came to the House. Opposition parties raised the issue on the floor many times this past year. It is an uphill battle to make a living on the farm.

The government refuses to go to bat for the farmer who is struggling to make a living. The government will not go to bat to combat the huge subsidies the Americans are providing to their farmers. The government would go a long way if it would listen to the agriculture report done by government members in terms of the needs of the country.

Does the hon. member believe that the budget should have had some provisions and dollars for struggling farmers?

The Budget
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Madam Speaker, it is interesting that the member has asked this question. When he was in the House with a different party he was to do away with the department of agriculture. He was to devolve it into a department. It was to be called the department of sustainable development. Fisheries and natural resources were to be a part of it and most of the subsidy programs we had at the time were to be eliminated.

All of a sudden it is like Paul on his way to Damascus. The scales have fallen from his eyes and he now sees that we were on the right track. We were providing support programs for farmers and we continue to provide them. We have created a disaster relief fund which was the third line of defence.

The Minister of Finance indicated there would be a new initiative on agriculture with the provinces very soon. Parliament cannot do things for agriculture unilaterally as it is a shared responsibility with the provinces. Our minister would be conducting conferences with the other provinces. What we do for agriculture we do together.