House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was young.

Topics

Herb Gray
Statements By Members

January 30th, 2002 / 2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank and pay tribute to a distinguished Canadian, a man who has been regarded as the dean of the House of Commons. I am of course speaking about the Right Honourable Herb Gray.

On behalf of this parliament and this country, I want to thank him for his devotion to Canada and for his almost 40 years of service in this House.

We often disagreed. That is in the nature of democracy. But all of us recognize his skill, his dedication and the courage with which he fought for his convictions.

First elected in 1963, Mr. Gray won 13 elections during his political career. There is not a member of this House who does not know what a feat this represents.

Mr. Gray was effective in both government and opposition. He was at the steady centre of his party, in good times and in turbulence. He will be best remembered by this House for his role as Deputy Prime Minister. Day after day he parried questions from this side of the House with skill, humour and consistent obfuscation that earned him the nickname “the Gray fog”.

We salute the right honourable member. We wish him the best of success in his position as co-chairperson of the International Joint Commission.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government refused to say whether it would make Canadian taxpayers pay for the $3.3 billion mistake or take it out of health care transfers to the provinces.

Now the provinces have made it clear that they have no intention of paying for the government's incompetence.

Once again, who will pay for this $3.3 billion boondoggle: the overburdened Canadian taxpayer or the struggling provincial health care systems?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, government auditors discovered that there was an overpayment made over a long period of time to the provinces. Usually adjustments are needed in circumstances like that every year. For many years because of the reports we have been receiving on income tax levels and so on, we have to make further payments to the provinces. In other circumstances they have to make payments to the Canadian government.

At this time the Minister of Finance and the Minister of National Revenue are in communication with their counterparts at the provincial level to look at the problem. It is this government that discovered a mistake that has existed for 30 years.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Canada will be tripping the light fantastic in New York telling investors to boost our weak Canadian dollar. I can just imagine their pitch: Invest in Canada before we blow $1 billion in HRDC grants. Lose $3 billion in accounting and have the second highest debt load of the G-7. If people liked Enron, they will love Canada. What a pitch.

How does blowing $3 billion on shoddy accounting create investor confidence in Canada?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the people in New York will be very happy when we tell them that the Leader of the Opposition was a member of a government that created a huge deficit of $42 billion that has now been eliminated. They will be happy to know that when the Conservatives and the Leader of the Opposition were the government, Canada had 11.5% unemployment and that is now down to 7%. They will also know that interest rates were 11.5% and now they are below 5%. We have a lot of good stories to tell them now that Canada has a good government. It is no longer the Conservatives, the party which the Leader of the Opposition served in the past.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I hate to disappoint the Prime Minister but I was never part of that government. I was part of a government in British Columbia that never had a deficit and had the lowest unemployment rates.

Yesterday international stock markets nose-dived because of fears of shoddy corporate accounting. The government seems to have subcontracted its accounting to Enron whose standards are more like Ken Lay than Ken Dye.

What will the government do to assure Canadians and foreign investors that the government will clean up its incompetent accounting practices?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, now we have good accounting procedures because we discovered a mistake that existed under previous auditors general. It is a success.

As far as the career of the hon. member is concerned, he was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party but he is the one who runs from one party to another all the time.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the finance minister said that the government's $3.3 billion mistake could cause the equalization formula to be changed. In other words, not only would the provinces that received overpayments be gouged by the government, but the have-not provinces that receive equalization will get hit too.

Will the finance minister assure the House that he will not claw back money from Canada's poorest provinces to pay for the government's $3.3 billion mistake?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, as I said to the House yesterday and I say again today, we fixed the problem from the year 2000 and forward. We have good data from 1993 to 1999.

The member opposite would be correct to criticize us if we said that we were going to make policy decisions or give finance the information it needs if we did not have all of the information. We are doing the work. We are gathering all of the information back to 1972 with the provinces, with the auditor general and with provincial auditors. Once we have all of that information, then we can make decisions about--

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Southeast.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question was not for the revenue minister. It is not about the administrative error, it is about the policy correction.

The finance minister said yesterday that he may change the equalization formula which has been affected by this $3.3 billion mistake. We want to hear clearly as a matter of policy from the Minister of Finance, will the poorest provinces be hit in terms of a change to their equalization entitlement as a result of this $3.3 billion mistake? We want to hear from the finance minister.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what I did yesterday was to simply point out the linking between certain transfers to the provinces.

The Minister of National Revenue has spoken exactly the way that the situation should develop. She is in the process of ascertaining the facts, as is the auditor general. When we have those facts we will make the decisions that are required. We will do so in conjunction with discussions with the provinces.

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a responsible person, the Minister of Justice should have taken the time to meet with Quebec stakeholders involved in the rehabilitation of young offenders, before dealing with this bill.

But, after being in office for just two weeks, the minister claims to know everything, is going ahead with his bill, and is even arrogant to the point of wanting to explain the impact of the legislation to people who, in Quebec, took 30 years to set up a system that works well.

Out of respect for all the work done in Quebec, could the Minister of Justice pledge to meet Quebec stakeholders before the debate on this bill is concluded?

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in recent days I had the opportunity to recognize that, in the past, all the provinces worked with the same legislation. I also had the opportunity to state that Quebec implemented good solutions with regard to a justice system that is very forward looking.

What I am saying in the House is that it is now time to take action and to go ahead with a reform that has been pending in parliament for several months.

Also, there have been been 160 amendments to the bill, so that we can have an adequate system that is sufficiently—

Young Offenders
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.