House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was driving.

Topics

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec finance minister Séguin says that this is terrible, because although the provinces together will receive $2 billion, they then are going to have $2.4 billion taken from them. They will end up with $400 million less.

While the provinces want to negotiate an increase of $15 billion over the next five years, what the federal government is proposing, with the present formula, will in fact leave them with $11 billion less.

Does the Prime Minister not realize that it is all very well to talk about helping them with health services, but in the long run the provinces are going to get a lot less money, which is why finance minister Séguin describes this whole business as terrible?

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is well aware that this is a long-standing formula. When the numbers change, the formula is affected.

I discussed this with Mr. Séguin yesterday. We are now trying to work on some improvements to the equalization formula.

Incidentally, I would really like to be able to make the equalization payments, something to which the Bloc Quebecois was opposed yesterday, when March 31 comes around.

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the one hand, the federal government is committing $2 billion for health. On the other, it is asking us to pass legislation to extend equalization for another year, but it is hiding the fact that this will save it $2.4 billion. This is a shell game.

Will the government admit that by doing this, by passing this bill, it will manage to save $2.4 billion, but especially, that this will allow the government to avoid holding a debate on the cuts in transfers to the provinces, just prior to a general election?

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there are no cuts. There will be a problem if we do not have the authority to pay equalization in April. The Bloc has shown opposition to this.

However, it is important to understand that there is a formula, and as the Prime Minister said, sometimes the payments to the provinces are increased and sometimes they are decreased.

Without a formula, however, there is no way anyone can agree that the situation is completely balanced with regard to each province. Consequently, the formula works quite well.

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister cannot deny that, if we did not pass legislation to extend equalization, negotiations would be underway as we speak. Everyone would know that the federal government intends to cut $11 billion from transfers to the provinces over the next five years. This would be inconvenient before a general election.

Will the minister admit that his strategy is a good one, because it postpones the $11 billion in cuts until after the election?

Equalization Payments
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we cannot say this because there is a formula. The situation changes from year to year, when the provinces post their economic performances. This year, there were changes in demographics and also in Ontario's economic performance. This narrowed the gap between Ontario and the other provinces.

I admit that this is a rather complicated formula. However, I believe there have been very few changes to the formula since its implementation, and it is working extremely well. We have proposed improvements, which we are currently discussing with the provinces.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

November 5th, 2003 / 2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to the Liberal member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, the Solicitor General may be a team player but has not been let in on the game plan.

Insinuations by his own colleague that the Solicitor General is a good boy but does not know much suggest that the Solicitor General has been kept in the dark about the RCMP's role in the deportation and detention of Maher Arar.

My question is for the Solicitor General. Was he kept in the dark as his own colleague suggests or was he privy to the RCMP's complicity with the United States authorities?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. The allegations, as outlined by the member opposite, are indeed very wrong in terms of the complicity of the RCMP.

The fact of the matter is, and the hon. member knows it, I do not speak on the operational details of the RCMP, nor should I.

Let us put things into perspective. The Government of Canada has complained strenuously about what happened to Mr. Arar. The decision was made on foreign soil on the basis of information of which we do not know. Allegations were made against the RCMP and we have put a process in place to deal with those allegations.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, these are the allegations of his very own colleague.

The member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia stated that he is not sure the Solicitor General has been told the truth by the RCMP and that in fact the RCMP has stonewalled the Solicitor General. Therefore, he knows no more than anyone else in the House regarding the Maher Arar case.

Perhaps the Solicitor General would like to set his own colleague straight. Was he fully apprised of the RCMP's involvement with the United States authorities in the Maher Arar case or has he lost control of his department, as his own colleague suggests?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have put in place a process.

The chair of the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP has compiled the allegations against the RCMP. That process is in place to find out whether the allegations made by that member and others are in fact true or not.

We want to, and I certainly want to, get to the bottom of this issue.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the right hon. Prime Minister.

It appears to everyone, with the possible exception of the Solicitor General, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and now the Prime Minister, that there was some form of Canadian complicity in what happened to Maher Arar.

So I ask the Prime Minister, why does he want to spend the last few days as Prime Minister, someone associated with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, defending the obviously disgusting role that the Canadian government played in this particular case?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think this is an accusation based on nothing. He has not proven anything.

The facts are that this gentleman was in New York and he was deported to Syria by the American government. The Canadian government had nothing to do with it.

When we heard about it, we protested and did everything we could to get him out of jail in Syria. We sent people there to talk with the government. We did everything until he was liberated by the Government of Syria.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government knew that he was in New York and could have acted before he was deported to Syria. There is a Canadian role in this.

Will the Prime Minister call a public inquiry so we can know what it did or did not do in order to prevent Mr. Maher Arar from becoming the object of this so-called rendition, or as I called it yesterday, contracting out of torture? Shame on Canada.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as usual, the hon. member has let his emotional rhetoric get ahead of the facts and common sense.

As we note, and as Mr. Arar personally testified to, a consular official did meet with Mr. Arar.

Our consular officials in New York were working hard to deal with Mr. Arar's case. Our consular officials were in touch with Mr. Arar's American lawyer to appear before immigration authorities. Our consular officials were surprised to find that Mr. Arar had been deported to Syria.

The hon. member cannot allege that we did not do everything in our power in New York to see him and protect him.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General repeatedly said in this House that the RCMP was not involved with the decision to deport Maher Arar.

On the contrary, it appears that the single piece of evidence that caused Mr. Arar to be jailed and tortured for a year is a copy of a 1997 lease from Ottawa provided by a Canadian agency.

If it was not the RCMP that was involved in supplying this document, which agency was it?