House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was leader.

Topics

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1:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, there we have the inconsistency of the Alliance Party, and before that the Reform Party, which hopefully will soon be at an end. We will have a new form of inconsistency, I am sure, but at least the one that we are so tired of will be gone from the House.

Because there the member is, pretending that somehow the member for LaSalle—Émard is a big spender, when he is one of those same guys who, day after day, get up in the House and accuse the former minister of finance of gutting the health care system, taking billions out of the health care system, not spending enough on defence, not spending enough on this and not spending enough on that.

Yet in the same breath, he stands up and says that the problem with the member for LaSalle—Émard is that he is a big spender. He is not a big spender. He cut the guts out of a lot of good programs in this country. The percentage of government spending as a percentage of the economy is way down from what it historically was.

The member for Peace River is a good guy, but he is just wrong on this.

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1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Rimouski-Neigette-et-la Mitis.

Others before me have already said this, but the situation is so serious I feel I have to repeat it: the government is paralyzed. When we ask questions of ministers, they do not dare answer, for fear of displeasing the future prime minister, who will take over in the coming months.

The Liberals are not even taking their work seriously in committees, because they know that there could be a change of policy within weeks.

The fundamental question is this: is anyone at the controls? Yes, there is, but he is sitting back with the passengers, which is not very reassuring. That is pretty serious. Just as airline passengers would not be reassured by a pilot sitting with them, the public is not reassured by a government that is paralyzed, blocked day after day, because we are in a period of transition, a period when the future prime minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard, has already decided to start pulling the government's strings.

There are two parallel governments. Things cannot work that way. We cannot have any budget policy, although this is being discussed within the budget consultation process in the Standing Committee on Finance. There is a total lack of interest. A policy is being set, but no one knows if it is the right one, because someone else will be taking over before long.

The member for LaSalle—Émard talks of slashing 10% from the departments in order to save money, while the present Prime Minister is telling us, “We will invest the amounts previously agreed to in health, education and social assistance”. The Minister of Finance, in a real bind as to what to say, tells us, “If we have the funds, maybe, and if we do not, maybe not”.

We have, moreover, just learned that the true surplus, as at March 31 last, was $7 billion. Nevertheless, the present finance minister does not dare speak up and make any commitments because, sad but true, the government no longer exists.

As a result, everyone is dependent on what is going on within the Liberal Party. I have just heard my colleague from Mississauga South ask the member for Roberval and House leader of the Bloc Quebecois if it is normal for one political party to interfere in the affairs of another.

Yes, it is normal. And why? Because it is not just an issue for the Liberal Party of Canada; it concerns every single citizen of this country. There is no government facing us that can give us an answer.

With regard to such basic issues as the Kyoto protocol, which was ratified by this Parliament, the government said it would be establishing measures to implement the various parts of the protocol. The government says, “Yes, we are moving forward”. But the other prime minister, the one hiding behind the curtain, who has all the benefits of being prime minister without coming in to take the risks of debating his ideas here in Parliament, says that he is questioning this policy and that he would prefer a made in Canada policy. But the Kyoto protocol, as we all know, is an international plan and an international commitment. We should be worried.

When even the current finance minister says, “Well, we really do not know very much about how to approach the prebudget consultations, and I cannot make a prebudget statement as I usually do each year, because I do not know what the future prime minister is thinking”, it can paralyze a government.

Normally, at this time of year, the bulk of the consultation has already been done. We know what is coming. We know what the government's priorities are. Today, we know nothing.

There were also commitments that seemed to have been made. Let us take for example the high speed train in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. It seemed that the government was in favour of this. But now, the member for LaSalle—Émard says that no, the government no longer in favour of it. We do not know where the government stands any more, and that is a fact.

Earlier, I heard my colleague from Winnipeg—Transcona say that we want to put a man from the right in power ahead of time. I want to remind him that the man from the right is already running the government. He even making his presence felt on the international scene. It is not the current Prime Minister who was seen in Bangkok at the APEC summit. It is the future prime minister, who was seen on the front page of an international newspaper.

He is already shaping Canada's international policy. However, NDP members always make politics far too complicated. It would appear that they have difficulty remaining at the first or second level. It is always so complicated. In other words, they are difficult to follow.

We are anxious to see this man here in the House, and I am talking about the member for LaSalle—Émard, who, right now, has all the advantages of the office of prime minister and holds caucus meetings on Tuesday night when the regular caucus meetings are held on Wednesday morning. Members do not know what to do. They do not know whether they should attend the caucus meeting on Tuesday night or the one on Wednesday morning.

We would like him to be here, because he has a past. He has over a decade of political experience already. He has a track record. For nine years, he was the minister of Finance and, as such, he made decisions. He had better not try to tell us that he was not comfortable with the decisions he made. For nine years we questioned him, and he was quite comfortable. He even made fun of our questions.

He had better not try to tell us that he was not comfortable with the gutting of federal transfer payments for health, education and social assistance, and that it was not his decision. He was the Minister of Finance after all, and he is the one who set the course to get the federal public finances under control. He is the one who picked the targets to get our fiscal house in order. He targeted students, the sick and the poorest members of society.

He has to show up in this House without delay. Since memory has a way of fading, some may have forgotten the true face of the member for LaSalle—Émard and future prime minister. We are looking forward to seeing him here as soon as possible. That is the essence of the motion we put forward. Not only do we want a government that is accountable for its actions and statements, but we want the prime minister to come before us and answer our questions regarding the decisions he made in the past when he gutted social programs.

We want to see before us the man who essentially stole the $45 million surplus accumulated in the employment insurance fund. We want to see before us the man who, for the past 10 years, has steadfastly refused to terminate the tax convention with Barbados, because his own shipping company benefits from it. We want to see before us the man who refused to reform the federal tax system, which is unfair to middle and low income earners. We want to have him before us to question him and ask him why he did not do it.

We want to ask the member for LaSalle—Émard, the former finance minister, why it is that every time we ask a government representative a question and an answer is given, he then says the opposite outside the House? This morning, the government House leader ridiculed the Bloc Quebecois motion, saying that it was a non-confidence vote against the government.

Why? That was their only way out, but there is more to it than that. No one wants to admit that the majority of members and ministers from the governing party supports the member for LaSalle—Émard, while hypocritically, behind the scenes, they are working to push the current Prime Minister out to make room for the future prime minister as soon as possible.

The motion has been ridiculed and described as a non-confidence vote. It has been said that if the Liberal members or ministers vote in favour of it, the government will have to call an election because the government will have been defeated. Honestly. The Prime Minister himself announced a few months ago that he would step down in February 2004. Moving this deadline ahead three months is not a non-confidence motion, it is gently showing him the door to allow a real government to govern and a real prime minister to answer our questions, in order to prevent that prime minister from pulling the strings from behind the curtain and contradicting the current government. That is all we want.

Earlier I asked, “Is there anyone at the controls?” I would say yes there is. However, this pilot is not where he should be, he is not in the cockpit. He is seated here with the passengers and is doing nothing to reassure the passengers, the citizens of this country.

The current situation is serious. World leaders want to know who the future prime minister is rather than ask the current Prime Minister about Canada's position.

It is serious when even the social groups ask the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard directly and no longer the current Prime Minister to restore the funding they lost before the destroyer of social programs, the future prime minister, takes over.

It is serious when the financial world no longer pays any attention to the current Prime Minister or the current Minister of Finance, because most of the ministers here probably will not keep their jobs when the new prime minister takes over.

Furthermore, when the future prime minister, in the crucial context of planning the next budget, consults first those involved in Canadian and international high finance, second the bankers and third, industry, we have the right to ask, “What will be in the next budget”.

It will only include measures to benefit the rich, who are friends of the future prime minister.

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1:40 p.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I will make a few comments. I find this somewhat absurd. This is probably a sad day for Canadian parliamentarism. Not only do we hear members use the word “s'assire” instead of “s'asseoir”, which is rather poor French, but we also hear the future former member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot using rather derogatory language.

We know that some Bloc members, like Pierre Brien, did some good work. He decided to run as a candidate in the provincial election and joined the ADQ. The Bloc is this same party that worked against Pierre Brien during the provincial election.

It is true that renewal is tiresome. Strangely, when I was using the headphones, I heard a ticking sound. It probably was the countdown that has begun. The member talks about the curtain, but I have the feeling that the curtain has come down. During the last byelection, Quebecers showed they were fed up with the Bloc Quebecois.

I really look forward to the next general election, because we will take care of the Bloc in Quebec. This is the party that supported Bernard Landry, who was the appointed premier for eight months, almost a year. Is that democracy? He didn't have the decency to call an election immediately after his appointment.

For our part, there is a renewal. Not only did we have an exceptional Prime Minister for ten years, but we had a Prime Minister who showed his capacity as an administrator: yesterday, the finance minister announced a $7 billion surplus. We saw all those jobs created as a result.

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1:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

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1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Unfortunately for them, that is what makes them panic. They are panicking on the other side. We can hear it. They are complaining, and they have every reason to do so.

With the member for LaSalle—Émard, the next Prime Minister of Canada, we will even have more members to show how well things are going to be in Quebec.

That being said, I would like to know from the future former member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot if he believes, since Quebec is fed up with the Bloc Quebecois, as shown by a poll, if he should not move a motion that he himself should resign, to be consistent?

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1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me answer the future former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration by quoting a statement he made to the Devoir on September 23, 2003. He said, “The facts are clear. The hon. member for LaSalle—Émard is our de facto leader”.

Therefore, I find it rather strange, to say the least, that the future former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration would answer by praising the current Prime Minister when his statement kind of paved the way for the current Prime Minister to leave earlier than planned. The members opposite are all the same.

That is why they are turning today's motion into a non-confidence vote. They are scared witless. They are all afraid of being turfed out as ministers, the future former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration included. They will vote according to a very narrow interpretation of the motion brought forward by the Bloc Quebecois and say that it is a non-confidence vote that could bring the current government down.

That is what they are going to do in order to keep hiding their true colours and behaving like hypocrites. By showing the current Prime Minister the door—

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1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot has one more minute left to complete his answer. I would urge members to show some cooperation and be more careful in their choice of words so that we can proceed with this debate in the tradition of this House.

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1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I greatly respect the future former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. I respect him too much to use such terms. You are quite right.

However, the fact remains that the majority of members on the government benches take part in caucus meetings on Tuesday evenings, the future prime minister's caucus. Today, if this vote is being turned into a non-confidence vote, it is because they needed a reason to vote against the Bloc Quebecois' motion.

Even if the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard is present during the vote, he will vote against this motion, because he will say that it is a non-confidence motion and that it is a threat to the government, which is entirely untrue. Consequently, on his part, this is not hypocrisy—perhaps this term is too strong—but it is just like him.

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1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, this debate needs to focus on the real issues. The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona does not appear to have understood the essence of our motion. Since we have been talking about former this and former that, I was surprised to learn that the former NDP leadership candidate did not understand our exact intention. We want the person calling the shots to take over, nothing more.

When I was a kid, we used to have a hymn that went, “The old and the new, there is only one god in the heavens”. Here, two people are trying to rule. That is why nothing is working.

I was listening to the speech by the hon. government House leader. He trotted out everything he could find in Montpetit-Marleau. He tried to make us believe that it would be really horrible if, by some chance, the Liberals dared to vote the way their conscience tells them to.

What would happen if, by chance, the Bloc's motion were carried? Are the Liberals even able to answer that question? Something very simple would happen. In our British parliamentary system, the Governor General would urgently call back from Asia the Prime Minister—who must have travelled there on his Challenger bought from Bombardier—and tell him, “Minister Prime Minister, I think you have a little problem”. He would say, “You are right, Your Excellency. It would seem that I have lost the confidence of the House”.

Having come to that conclusion, what could the Governor General do? She could ask, “Can you think of anyone in your party who could form a majority government?” Now, the cat would be out of the bag. The Prime Minister would say, “Sadly, yes, the member for LaSalle—Émard is ready to take over and form a new government”. The Governor General would then ask him to form a new government. We would not be facing a crisis, as the government House leader would have us believe. We would be out of the current crisis. That would make a big difference.

My hon. colleague and friend from Hyacinthe—Bagot said earlier that the picture of the future prime minister was making the front page of newspapers. That is not all we could see in the papers today. Eddie Goldenberg made a remark in a conversation that was overheard. The PMO is pretty sophisticated now. It can overhear conversations. Mr. Goldenberg, from the PMO, suggested that Team Canada missions abroad would be cancelled under the future prime minister. That is what came out of China today. The Prime Minister was asked about it. He said that, naturally, it would be up to his successor to answer the question.

We could go on for hours listing all the problems we are having because the man pulling the strings and running the show is not among us. He is the invisible man. Yet, like God, he is omnipresent. He influences every government decision. He is just everywhere. We can see him making comments here, and cancelling this or that there. He said we could pass legislation if we wanted to but that, once in office, he would not enforce it.

So, what did the government do? It shelved the bill. It is no longer dealing with it.

Consequently, I think that the fundamental meaning of our motion needs to be understood. We are tired of hearing that, on November 7, we will all go home because we have to wait for the Liberal convention, which will be held on November 15. The current Prime Minister wants to go to Africa, because he has not seen his friends in a long time; he wants to go to Mexico in January and he will do some major house cleaning on Sussex Drive in February. Then, he will let the other one take over.

We are saying that this is taking too much time. As members of Parliament, what are we going to do in the meantime? We will be waiting. We will not even be able to see the Quebec-Windsor train go by, because the Liberals cannot make up their mind; the future prime minister does not want the train, he prefers to fulfil his promises in western Canada and keep the money.

He surely will have plenty of time to choose his cabinet. If the Liberals are to be believed, I think they will break the record of Bangladesh, which has 63 ministers. I believe the Liberals will appoint 64 ministers, because so many backbenchers think they should be appointed to replace the current ministers.

Since the time is short, I believe it is important to get serious about this process. I tried to put some levity in my speech, because it is lunch time. We need to give this motion all the importance it deserves and we need to know that it is in the interests of Canadians that the Bloc motion get massive support from members of the House.

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1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I remind the House that it is difficult to ask a member to begin a speech a few minutes before question period. However, if someone wants to ask a question, we could entertain it.

The hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

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1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the few minutes remaining before question period, I would like my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette-et-la Mitis to comment on the statement made, on September 23, by the new future former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

The facts are clear. The member for LaSalle—Émard is the de facto leader. Is this not a case of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds?

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1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a very interesting comment. My friend, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, could very well end up with another portfolio. Maybe that is why he opened that door; who knows? In politics, to have any kind of future, one must know how to position oneself. Maybe he did say that the person he recognizes as the de facto prime minister is the member for LaSalle—Émard.

Maybe the member for LaSalle—Émard was pleased with that comment and maybe he will remember it and find a limousine somewhere on the hill so that the member for Bourassa—

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1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order. We will now proceed to statements by members.

The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

Gemini Awards
Statements By Members

October 23rd, 2003 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television for its production of the 18th Annual Gemini Awards.

I would also like to offer my warmest congratulations to the winners and the nominees of these awards which honour excellence in English language television.

In our ever-globalized world, protecting, promoting and celebrating our country's cultural life is increasingly important. The Geminis help us in this cause by celebrating Canadian cultural achievements and by heightening public awareness of the tremendous work of our gifted performers and producers.

Our government did something remarkable when it invested in the arts and culture industries; however, they constitute an ongoing challenge and we must continue to look for effective and innovative measures to ensure that Canadian talents will continue to shine brightly and obtain all the success they deserve.

Congratulations once again to all those who continue to bring vitality to the telling of Canadian stories.

The Environment
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the old post office and the current federal fisheries office in Campbell River are partially sitting on fuel contaminated soil. The municipality and the developer have waited more than two years for competing federal departments to determine liability for cleanup.

Campbell River downtown development is stymied and the stewards of fisheries and oceans in the salmon capital of the world are housed on top of contamination.

I wrote to the Minister of the Environment in July to break the deadlock. His response in August referred me back to the deadlocked departments, which solves nothing. I talked to the environment minister in September and again yesterday.

The community deserves a solution. Patience is wearing thin and the environment minister must act now.