House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. A University of Victoria study shows that Canada has one of the worst environmental records in the industrialized world. In fact it ranks us 28th out of 29 OECD countries for 25 different environmental indications. Protecting the environment has been one of the biggest failures of the minister across the way and the Prime Minister.

I want to ask the Prime Minister whether or not his government will commit itself to making Thursday's economic statement in reality an ecological budget and back up that ecological budget with a multimillion dollar plan to clean up the environment.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Kitchener Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, our government continues to make environmental issues a major priority. That is why last year we put $6 billion into infrastructure programs.

Last year's budget included $1.5 billion as a specific environmental expenditure over the next five years. That includes $5 million for climate change, $180 million for—

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

More, more.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

—$100 million for a sustainable development technology fund, $25 million for a green municipal enabling fund and $100 million for a green municipal investment fund. We are committed.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I guess that is why we are the second worst out of 29 OECD countries. I want to ask the Prime Minister if he will rise to the occasion.

In the last couple of years over $20 billion of the unforeseen surplus was automatically applied to the national debt without a debate in parliament over whether or not spending on the environment and social programs would have been more worth while.

Will the government follow the lead of Saskatchewan and Alberta and establish a fiscal stabilization fund which would, first, receive all the unexpected surplus and, second, allow parliament a full and democratic debate on how the money should be spent, like we should be doing in parliament and not allowing it to be decided by the Minister of Finance?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have a budget that is presented in the House. All the provisions are there and they are voted in the House of Commons.

As we have done better than expected at the end of the year, the surplus was larger. It is the right thing to do. When there is a surplus it is used to reduce debt, which provides cash in the years to come, because there will be less interest to pay, for programs like the ones suggested by the member.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister said yesterday that he may introduce a fall budget if the economy continues to slide.

The minister has finally admitted that the economy is sliding but believes budget planning can proceed at his own whim. How far does the economy have to slide before the finance minister realizes Canada needs a full budget?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance, the government and I will never let the economy slide the way it slid when his party was in government.

The slide was so terrible that we had $42 billion of deficit in the last year the Tories were in power. Now we are having problems with the Alliance because it thinks that a $15 billion surplus is not enough.

Missile Defence Shield
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, a number of U.S. officials are in Ottawa today. They are holding secret talks on the missile defence shield, a program that could cost billions of dollars.

The government said that parliament would merely be consulted. We will be informed after the fact, we will be treated like kids in kindergarten.

Parliamentarians should know the facts. They should have the opportunity to discuss the options in the House before a decision is made.

Will the Prime Minister assure the House that parliamentarians will debate the missile defence shield issue before any decision is made?

Missile Defence Shield
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Bulk Water Exports
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, in response to my question last week the parliamentary secretary denied the government's intentions on bulk water sales.

Now the Prime Minister has contradicted that statement with his admission that bulk water sales were never off the table as far as the government is concerned. What will be the position of the Liberal Party next week on bulk water sales?

Bulk Water Exports
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there is a bill before parliament now, in committee, Bill C-6, dealing specifically with the issue of bulk water removal from boundary waters in Canada.

The position of the federal government is, has been and continues to be clear. We are opposed to bulk water removal from the country.

We have jurisdiction over boundary waters. We have acted on that. The Minister of the Environment is developing a Canada accord with provincial governments so that they too can take the legislative action necessary to make it clear to every Canadian and to the world that we do not support bulk water removal from this country.

Bulk Water Exports
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-6 provides that the minister can license federally the sale of bulk water exports.

Canadians are concerned about bulk water sales. Why is the government intent on ignoring our abundant water heritage and sponsoring legislation that will allow bulk water exports?

Bulk Water Exports
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to confuse the hon. member, but let me see if I can explain.

Bill C-6 creates a legal regime that will prevent the removal of bulk water from the drainage systems in Canada, thereby prohibiting the exportation of water in bulk, which we view is not a good that can be subject to exportation. It is not permitted under Bill C-6.

Marijuana
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Medical Association has now joined the long list of those who are asking the government to decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana.

In its journal, the association contends that arresting people for possession of marijuana has more serious social consequences than the moderate consumption of the drug itself.

If the minister is sincere about wanting to help the sick, will she agree that she has no other option than to listen to the Canadian Medical Association and decriminalize the possession of marijuana for personal use?