House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was kyoto.

Topics

Queen's Jubilee Medal
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge 20 deserving citizens of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia who have been selected to receive the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of significant achievement or outstanding service to the community.

They are: Jean Ammeter, Colonel Bert Cheffins, John Datzkiw, George Elliot, Lauren Flynn, Jeanne Gitzel, Gwen Hatch, Howard Holtman, Beth Ilott, Robert Irving, Dr. Jagdish Khatter, Dr. Michael Moffat, Connie Newman, Paul Robson, William Scott, Jim Stewart, Jeff Stroughton, Verna Van Roon, Alf Warkentin and Myrtle Zimmerman.

The presentation of the medals was made by Lieutenant Governor Peter Liba of Manitoba on November 14. I invite the House to congratulate these fine people. They are truly outstanding Canadians.

Acts of Bravery
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, on December 7, 2000, Mrs. Jody Kuntz of Prince Rupert risked her life trying to prevent a suicidal man from jumping from a small aircraft some 3,000 metres above the Hecate Strait on the northwest coast of British Columbia.

Deputy Sheriff Kuntz was escorting a prisoner to Prince Rupert when, 20 minutes into the flight, he lunged out of his seat toward the emergency exit, opening the door and partially exiting the airplane. Bracing herself against the door frame she managed to hold onto the back of the prisoner's clothes with one hand. Determined to end his life, the man freed himself from her grip and, despite Deputy Sheriff Kuntz's desperate attempt to pull him back, he eventually fell to his death.

The Governor General's Medal of Bravery is awarded for acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances. I am proud to congratulate Mrs. Kuntz today as she is presented with her Medal of Bravery.

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it turns out that the Prime Minister could have actually found a good reason to fire his former finance minister this past summer. We have now learned that backroom deals have allowed the government to hide another $1 billion in GST losses. By law, Parliament is supposed to be informed of GST losses, theft and fraud.

My question is, exactly who in the government is responsible for the illegal cover-up of $1 billion of losses in this boondoggle?

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the facts are as follows. CCRA is more transparent than ever. We regularly report all bad debts to the public accounts committee. We put on our website all of the 700 convictions of which last year 70 were for GST alone.

We pursue every last dollar to see if it can be collected. Only when we have exhausted every effort to collect those dollars do we then write them off and report to--

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have already had a hat trick of mismanagement. We had a billion dollar boondoggle at HRDC, criminal investigations in public works on sponsorship, another billion dollars squandered on the gun registry, and now the fourth wheel is off the bus. We have these billion dollars losses regarding the GST. The reporting of them and the law have been sidestepped since 1994.

I ask the government, and I expect the Prime Minister to get up and answer the question, why have these not been reported under public accounts for the past eight years?

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the facts are as follows. We have had double the number of GST convictions and every time we get a conviction it is posted on our website with a media advisory.

When it is written off as a bad debt, we report to public accounts where we answer all questions. We are more accountable than ever and I would point out that the public accounts committee is chaired by a member of the official opposition.

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister is going to retire early he should give up his salary too.

Foreign tax experts warned the government that GST fraud would be a problem. The government's answer was to disband special teams of auditors and investigators. Today in the newspaper we see a quoted multi-billion dollar scheme to subsidize the implementation of Kyoto by big companies.

How can anyone believe the government claim of implementing something on the scale of Kyoto, when it screws up program after program on a much more modest scale?

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is one fact that is very clear. It is that the administration has provided such a government that this year we have--for the sixth year--a surplus. It is because our administrative operations are very good.

There are always problems in a big administration, and when we are informed by the Auditor General or even by committees of the House, we work very hard to bring about a report to the House and to do the right thing. In this case, the chair of the public accounts committee is a member of the opposition and he has not yet reported on that to us as far as I know.

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, with the government, the bigger the surplus the more it thinks it can waste, and that is sad.

Coming back to the GST fraud artists, the government reported that fraud in 1994 and in 1995 it was absent from the public accounts. I am asking the Prime Minister to explain that to Canadians. Why the sudden change?

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the facts are as follows. We report all bad debts to public accounts. It can take us up to five years before we write those off because we try to recover every possible penny that we can. We are doing better because we are able to work with international partners.

I would point out to the hon. member that it is not fraud until there is a conviction. As soon as we have a conviction it is posted on our website with a media advisory. Last year we posted 700 convictions and notified the media.

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have seen what happens when the government chooses secrecy over accountability: a billion dollar boondoggle in HRDC, millions of dollars lost in an advertising problem, a billion dollars with the gun registry, and now untold millions from GST fraud. With the government there are lots and lots of cheques, but very few balances.

My question is, exactly why is the government hiding GST fraud from Canadian taxpayers? Why is that?

Goods and Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the truth is we post these on our website and we report to public accounts. The opposition is giving out the wrong impression. I have heard the leader of the official opposition say that we had disbanded a unit to track this fraud. In fact, we have expanded it to 1,000 people. That is why have doubled the number of convictions. Those are the facts.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, by only releasing a 5 page section of the investigation report into the sponsorship scandal, rather than the full 16 page report that he had in his possession, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services kept it under wraps that ad executive Gilles-André Gosselin had billed the government for 10 hours of work per day, seven days per week, for one year, all of which came to a mere $625,000.

How can the person who was supposed to be sorting out the sponsorship affair and cronyism justify keeping this report from us?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the report that was released clearly identified that there were difficulties with the time of billings of certain firms. It indicated that time verification audits were to be undertaken to verify what those difficulties were. That process is underway. We are enforcing the rules as we said we would.