House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was americans.

Topics

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations

Mr. Speaker, the efforts we have made in order to improve Canada's fiscal situation, including the reduction of taxes at various levels, are in fact contributing to the conditions that will see a stronger currency over time.

The point the hon. member needs to take into account is that not only do the federal government and provincial governments have to invest in science, research and development technology but also in education and training, things I am sure the hon. member agrees with. The private sector also needs to take advantage of the favourable environment which is being created and make likewise investments in research and development technology and equipment to ensure that they can compete.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, we do not want the minister to dwell on what he has actually done. We saw the effects of that yesterday. We want to hear what he is going to do to get us out of this mess.

For a whole week the dollar was firmly above 63¢. It was the first time it had remained that high since before Christmas. Then the Deputy Prime Minister worked his magic. The foreign exchange players point the finger of blame directly at the minister. Why did he make those reckless comments? Does the minister want to go down in history as the 60¢ dollar man?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member alludes to reading the remarks that I actually made which in fact forecast that the direction the dollar is likely to go is up. The challenge therefore for Canadian firms is to ensure that they make the investments that are going to be necessary. Those include training and skills development for workers that will ensure that we can compete, that our firms continue to compete as they have been competing in that environment.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister blamed Canadian business for low productivity rates.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister honestly believe that insulting Canadian businesses by describing them as being uncompetitive will help strengthen Canadian productivity and will help strengthen the Canadian dollar?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations

Mr. Speaker, I do not place the blame on anybody except to say that the government does not run the decision making in private firms. Of course we ought to be encouraging the private sector to make the investments in science, research and development, training and skills development. Those are the essence of the innovation strategy which the government has put forward. We believe it is important not just for the public sector but also for the private sector to make the right decisions to enable Canada to compete in the 21st century.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time the Deputy Prime Minister has failed economics 101. He tripped over the blue line with his bungled NHL bailout plan. He was on even thinner ice when he once said that high taxes were good for productivity.

Does he honestly believe that by keeping Canadian corporate and capital taxes among the highest in the world that the government is doing its part to improve Canadian productivity?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations

Mr. Speaker, in fact this government has made corporate taxes among the lowest in the world, lower than in the United States.

Does the hon. member think that the government should make all the decisions on investments in the private sector? I hope not.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the minister of human resources continues to smear innocent EI complainants to hide her neglect and incompetence.

Unemployed workers across Canada were unfairly penalized by her department. Instead of smearing innocent victims, why will the minister not own up to her own incompetence and pay back these victims?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wrong and she is misguided.

Let me be clear. Individuals who through no fault of their own made mistakes in their declared earnings will not be penalized. There is no administrative penalty. Further, if individuals have more information about their individual circumstances that they would like the department to review for application of the law, we would be glad to do that.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the minister's response to her EI rip off rule.

The workers victimized by the minister lost benefits they were legally entitled to. These people did nothing wrong. Will the minister do what is right and pay back her victims?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely absurd that the Alliance Party is pretending to be sympathetic to employment insurance recipients. It is the party that on page 7 of its own platform said it would do nothing but cut employment insurance benefits. It is the party whose member for Calgary--Nose Hill said that EI fraud is rampant and “a significant drain on the system”. It is the party whose member for North Vancouver said of EI fraud “If you have cheated and been fined, you should be off for life”. Now where is the compassion in that?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Séguin commission, the conference board, the Premier of Quebec, Bernard Landry, the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, Jean Charest, and the provincial ministers of finance--that is a quite a lot of credible people--say that there is a tax imbalance in Canada.

Would the Minister of Finance not act responsibly by looking at this issue in an honest and open fashion with his provincial counterparts, the next time they meet?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I made it very clear that I was prepared to discuss the issues that my provincial counterparts wish to raise at our next meeting. If this is really what they want to discuss, I am certainly prepared to do so.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are two essential conditions. First, this discussion must be conducted in an open fashion, which does not seem to be the case right now.

Second, the minister must agree to put this issue on the agenda, so that people can get ready and know that it is a common concern.

Is the Minister of Finance serious about this and will he agree to put this issue on the agenda and discuss it with an open mind, which is something he is not doing right now?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, all our meetings are always conducted in a spirit of co-operation. As I just said, the agenda is jointly decided by the Canadian government and the provinces. If my counterparts wish to raise any issue, I am very open to discussing their priorities.