House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was water.

Topics

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when we took office in 1993, interest rates were at 11.5%. Today interest rates have been cut almost in half.

In fact, this is the first time in a very long time that, for several years, interest rates have been lower in Canada than in the United States. We are therefore making progress.

As to paying off the debt, as I have just said, we are progressing faster than planned. As concerns tax cuts, we have been very active since January 1 this year, and we have cut taxes quite substantially for 2001.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the reality is different. The statistics are different.

Statistics Canada, for the fourth straight month, shows a lowering of the index. We hear now that Cisco is laying people off this month. We hear that Bell is looking at the possibility of more layoffs.

Personally, I have been reflecting on a line, I think from T. S. Eliot, which says that April is the cruelest month. Well it is also being cruel to a lot of employees.

I want to know if the Prime Minister is in agreement with a leading Canadian economist who—

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The right hon. Prime Minister.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in every part of the House everybody wishes we would quickly be in the month of May.

The economy is not performing as well as last year but we still have growth. In the first two months of this year we saw growth occurring in Canada at a much higher rate than the growth in the United States. In fact economists are predicting that growth in Canada this year will be 1% or 1.5% more than the growth in the United States. It will also be one of the best growth rates in the OECD.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian dollar has been flirting with its all time lows. This lowers the value of all Canadians' savings and makes us all poor.

The former assistant deputy minister of finance has outlined a plan as to how the government can prevent our dollar from becoming the northern peso.

Will the Minister of Finance take immediate steps to reduce our debt faster, decrease personal taxes and restrain government spending?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke North
Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has it all wrong, as usual. First, a report from economic forecasters today came out with the headline “Growth outlook sours for G-7, except Canada”.

The members opposite have talked about the asset value of Canadians. The national net worth rose 5.9% to $3.3 trillion in the year 2000. The member knows very well that the policy of the government is not to encourage a weak dollar.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, despite all that, our Canadian dollar is still at its lowest level ever. Quick debt reduction and faster personal rate cuts will not only increase our Canadian dollar but will enhance economic growth.

Why does the Minister of Finance want to condemn Canadians to a bargain basement dollar and lower economic growth?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke North
Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government's finance minister has consistently said that the government will do the right thing at the right time. We have the largest stimulus in Canadian history working its way through the economy. If we look at the Canadian tax cuts and the provincial tax cuts, it is almost 2% of GDP. Let us give that a chance to go through the system.

The government is unlike the Alberta government, which is proposing a huge increase in expenditures. Federal expenditures are at an all time low in relation to the GDP and we will continue with that fiscal prudence.

Gasoline Pricing
Oral Question Period

April 26th, 2001 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the astronomical profits of oil companies continue to soar, Quebecers are paying too much for their gasoline. On Friday, the price of gas even climbed to 89.9 cents in Montreal, because the federal government refuses to take its responsibilities.

Instead of being satisfied with the pro-oil company study which the conference board was commissioned to produce, will the Minister of Industry show leadership and immediately strengthen the Competition Act to help consumers?

Gasoline Pricing
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, both the federal government and indeed many of the provincial governments all across Canada have, at one time or another, conducted investigations into gas pricing in Canada. Almost all these investigations have come to the conclusion that there is no collusion in the setting of prices of gasoline.

If the member has any evidence of that or wants to suggest that to the House, I would ask that he refer that information to the competition bureau.

Gasoline Pricing
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister may be the only one who does not see the collusion. If the minister thinks it is a coincidence when prices for a litre suddenly jump from 80 cents to 89 cents, he must still believe in Cinderella. There is a minor problem: it is not a coincidence, it is collusion.

Will the minister realize that the time has come to review the Competition Act to give it more teeth? If they cannot find evidence of collusion, it is not because there is no collusion, it is because the act is not adequate to prove that there is.

Gasoline Pricing
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, there is not a member of the House who would not like to see more competitive and lower gasoline prices in Canada. It is a very easy target for the member to go after.

The fact is that all the studies that have been done indicate, first, that there is no evidence of collusion, and second, that gasoline prices in Canada remain substantially cheaper than those elsewhere in the world.

Finally, is the member suggesting that prices for crude oil be set at a prescribed level in Alberta, in Nova Scotia or in Newfoundland and Labrador? If he is, he should say so.

Gasoline Pricing
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, as weekends and holidays approach, the cost of gasoline rises as if by magic at every gas station, and the Conference Board thinks there is no problem, that market forces are working perfectly and that there is no collusion.

Could the Minister of Industry, who seems to share the Conference Board's conclusions, since he is refusing to tighten the law, explain the economic relationship between the price of gasoline and holidays?

Gasoline Pricing
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, given the obvious close relationship between the government of Quebec and the party opposite now making this representation in parliament, I would assume that it is about to stand up and announce that the government of Quebec has unilaterally cut gasoline taxes. I am awaiting the announcement right now.