House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nuclear.

Topics

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, what we are against is a finance minister who cannot find one dollar in low priority spending out of a $130 billion budget.

The finance committee said that the government must balance any new spending with spending cutbacks elsewhere, a recommendation that apparently the finance minister agreed with in October. What happened since October when he said he was looking at cuts in low priority areas? What were those low priorities in October? Why did they get lost on the way to his tax and spend budget this past Monday?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have already said that we did reallocate within departments, but let us take a look at the areas that the Alliance would cut.

The Alliance would cut the CBC. We would not cut the CBC. We believe in public broadcasting. The Alliance would cut the private sector help to films. We would not. We believe Canadians have the right to tell each other their stories and understand what this great country is all about. The Alliance would cut regional development. We would not. We believe that Canadians who live in rural Canada have the right to an economic future.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

December 13th, 2001 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Finance said that the EI fund surplus was a myth.

But the premiums paid by workers and companies are all too real they are not myths—as are the expectations of the unemployed, who would like some real insurance when they unfortunately lose their job. Still, the Minister of Finance feels not the slightest remorse about using workers' money to pay down the debt and fund programs.

Will the minister admit that it is profoundly unfair to make workers alone foot the bill for programs which benefit everyone, even those who do not pay EI premiums?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is primarily because of EI premiums that the Minister of Human Resources Development has been able to increase EI benefits, parental leave and all the other improvements she has made over the past year.

At the same time, we have lowered premiums by $6.8 billion since taking office.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us get down to brass tacks.

While the government was paying down the debt by $35 billion, it just happened to be helping itself to $44 billion from the EI fund. In other words, it was unemployed workers and companies who paid down the debt.

Will the Minister of Finance admit that the reason he is refusing to create a separate EI fund is that he wants to continue to help himself to the surplus, which belongs to those who pay the premiums, companies and workers, not to the government, which does not put a cent into the fund?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois seems to see something wrong with Canada's having reduced its debt by $35 billion.

Let me say that this is a good thing for Canada. It means that we have saved $2.5 billion on the cost of servicing the debt. This is $2.5 billion that we are using for health; $2.5 billion that we are using for education; $2.5 billion that we are using to lower the taxes of Canadian workers.

It is a good thing that we have done.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is interpreting the remarks of the auditor general however he likes.

He continues to hear only what he wants. The auditor general never asked the government to have contributors to employment insurance pay for health, education and debt service. Never.

Will the Minister of Finance admit honestly that it is entirely possible to have a separate EI fund accounted for in the government's consolidated financial statements, in compliance with all aspects of the recommendation by the auditor general?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first, I do not think it is possible, according to the accounting rules advocated by the auditor general, to have a separate account within the consolidated fund.

The member for Roberval has once again changed the position of the Bloc. This is about the 15th time.

But I do not think it is possible. It is possible, however, to follow the rule set by the auditor general in 1986, as we are doing.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois is looking at every possible way to stop the Minister of Finance stealing from the unemployed. That is what we are trying to do.

Will he acknowledge that, while he stubbornly refuses to create a separate EI fund managed by companies and contributors, he can no longer stick both hands in the fund, thereby considerably improving benefits and considerably reducing contributions?

If he were to stop dipping into the fund, this would be the result.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have lowered contributions. We have increased benefits. We have also increased transfers to the provinces for education and health care.

We have made more money available for infrastructure. We have made more money available for research and development. All of this is good for workers in Canada.

Forestry Industry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the federal Liberals are in collusion with the B.C. government farm team to sell Canadian forestry workers and their jobs down the river.

These governments are preparing to surrender to the corporate dictate that our forests be privatized; either that or we adopt American timber policies as the price we must pay to gain U.S. market access.

Will the minister give the assurance today that American lumber mills will not be allowed to bid on Canadian timber and export our jobs to the United States?

Forestry Industry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, in this parliament our government is very cautious to do our job and we do it in international trade negotiations, but it is the provinces that manage forestry.

We believe that the government of British Columbia has the responsibility to manage its forests. It has engaged, with a mandate from the population of British Columbia, in serious discussions with the United States to solve a long term problem. We want to find a solution for this and I commend the government of British Columbia for having been creative in working with its industry to find a solution.

Forestry Industry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadian governments are giving away our raw logs and in the process Canadian forestry workers are getting a raw deal.

The American deal will break the link between timber rights and the creation of Canadian jobs. Mill towns across the country will become ghost towns. What is worse is that the government is prepared to shaft forestry workers without any guarantee whatsoever that the American lumber barons will stop harassing them.

I again ask, will the minister assure the forestry workers that no deal will be signed without timber rights being tied to the creation of Canadian jobs?

Forestry Industry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, Canada has maintained a clear policy on log exports for many years. Federal export permits are required for log exports from all provinces and territories. In the case of British Columbia, logs from both private and provincial crown lands must be deemed surplus to domestic needs before a federal export permit is issued.

Companies and workers in the log and softwood lumber industries have legitimate business and trade interests that would be seriously impacted by any measures that would effectively ban exports of logs.

National Security
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's meeting between U.S. homeland security czar Tom Ridge and the foreign affairs minister made it very clear that the United States wants to place armed guards, customs and immigration agents, in Canada.

The revenue minister said this will not happen. The foreign affairs minister said we will think about it.

Is it really smart that Canadian customs officers continue to be unarmed when the Liberal government seems prepared to allow armed American customs agents on Canadian soil?