House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was million.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first I can assure the House that I am not sitting on a pile of cash.

Second, what the hon. member ought to be recognizing is that even this year alone the Canadian economy has created over 450,000 jobs.

People do not want unemployment insurance benefits. They want jobs. That is what we have seen being produced.

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, here is the Liberal legacy price tag thus far: $1 billion wasted in the HRDC grants; hundreds of millions on an ill-conceived advertising campaign; hundreds of millions lost in a helicopter cancellation; and now it is $1 billion wasted on the faulty firearms registry.

Almost 10 years ago the Prime Minister was quite prepared to play politics in cancelling the helicopter contract replacement for the aging Sea Kings. Will the Prime Minister today cancel a program for the right reasons and cancel this firearms registry fiasco?

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times, on this side of the House we are strongly committed to that policy. It is a valid policy. We will keep proceeding with the policy.

Having said that, of course I have some concerns after reading the report of the Auditor General. In her recommendations basically she is talking about reporting, about the way we should be accountable to Parliament. She is talking about the question of cost escalation as well, which there are reasons for, as I have explained.

We will be working hard in order to make sure that we will keep that policy and we will fix the problems.

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, on that side of the House the members should be concerned.

They have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Auditor General. She has exposed the government's shell game. Evidence shows that the registry does not save lives, but it sure can waste taxpayer dollars. What is worse, the minister is about to ask the House for millions more dollars.

I know he is between a rock and a hard place, but will the Minister of Justice withdraw his request for an additional $71 million until this mess in his department has been cleaned up? Will he do that?

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have to be precise here. All numbers have been reported through Justice Canada or through other ministries.

The question raised by the Auditor General's report and her recommendations is that Justice Canada, being the single point of accountability, should be able to table a report that is clear about all of the spending regarding the gun registration system, which we will do.

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, due to the government's cost laundering, the Auditor General found it so difficult to obtain reliable information from the justice department that she called off her audit of the gun registry before it was completed. The true cost may be even worse, more than $1 billion.

The justice minister and his predecessors used to say that they were completely responsible and accountable for the firearms program. Obviously accountability means nothing to the government because all three are still sitting on the front bench.

Given the scope of this financial disaster, why has the Prime Minister not fired the minister responsible?

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I said, of course we have been discussing with the office of the Auditor General with regard to the way we should report, as well as to what extent Justice Canada should report. That has been the subject of many discussions between the two departments.

We have accepted the recommendations. We have asked for an external audit as well. We will make sure that we fix the problems.

The difference between those members and us is that on their side they do not believe in our policy.

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, let me tell the minister about his policy.

The Auditor General reported that the gun registry has cost 500 times more than what Parliament and the public was originally promised. The RCMP has been registering handguns since 1934, but firearms homicides with handguns have doubled over the past 30 years.

Clearly, registration does not lower homicide rates. Obviously this is bad policy. Given all of this, why not just scrap the program?

Firearms Registry
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, what the member just said proved that those members do not believe in safe communities. They do not believe in our policy. They do not believe in gun registration.

What we are talking about here is values. It is about making our communities safer. Having said that, let us proceed with a quote from Mr. Vince Bevan, the chief of police from Ottawa-Carleton. He said, “Information is the lifeblood of policing. Without information about who owns and has guns, there is no way to prevent violence or effectively enforce the law. This law is a useful tool which has already begun to show its value in a number of police investigations”.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

December 4th, 2002 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has denounced Canadian companies that, for the year 2000, received $1.5 billion in virtually tax-free dividends from their affiliates based in Barbados. In 1990, the amount was a more modest $400 million. Clearly, the companies have got this figured out.

How can the government explain that it has done nothing to tighten its tax controls, when Barbados did not hesitate to amend its tax rules to get around Canadian legislation?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, we agree with the recommendations of the auditor. We have a plan to recruit and to train auditors. We have the resources to do that. One of the problems we have is that the private sector frequently hires our international auditors and pays them three times what we are able to pay.

We continue with our efforts to ensure that offshore accounts are properly audited. The international audits are extremely important to CCRA.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to explain to people why she has done nothing to recover the hundreds of millions of dollars lost because of the tax treaty with Barbados, when she is so keen on us paying our taxes and does not hesitate to cut benefits for the unemployed?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the international audit department of CCRA has tremendous expertise. We agree with the Auditor General that we need more auditors to do our job even better.

We are very aware that there are some people who move accounts offshore. We are working to use the resources that we have been given to increase our audit capacity in line with the recommendations of the Auditor General.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me quote from the Auditor General:

The resources that first nations communities must devote to preparing stacks of federal reports could be better used to meet pressing community needs.

Finally, a Sheila that makes sense.

According to the Auditor General, small first nations communities are being forced to file over 200 reports annually that the government rarely uses. Now the government is adding to the red tape burden. This week it announced plans to create four more aboriginal only agencies.

Why is the government's answer to every problem the creation of a new bureaucracy?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Liberal

John Finlay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is already taking steps to address the reporting issues raised by the Office of the Auditor General. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada agrees that reporting should be transparent, efficient and results based.

Existing program areas are being examined to determine where single window reporting could better serve the federal government and first nations in general.