House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

National Defence
Oral Question Period

October 22nd, 2004 / 11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, on October 5, the Minister of National Defence stated that the fire on board the HMCS Chicoutimi was “a small setback”. We now know that was not true. The submariners themselves immediately reported the tragic event that claimed Lieutenant Saunders' life as a major fire that left the Chicoutimi adrift in rough seas without power.

Why did the Minister of National Defence mislead Canadians by downplaying the severity of the problem?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I think in the House around issues of this nature we owe it to each other to be forthright. When I used the term “setback”, the question I was asked was if this was a setback to the program. I never minimized the seriousness of what took place on board. The navy responded with great seriousness. The member can read my transcript. I will read it into the House record if he wants. I made it very clear that we were treating this very seriously.

What we have to do is that we clearly have to make sure we get accurate information and convey it to the public. That was done day after day in the context of a difficult storm at sea where we were all doing our best job to report to the--

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's arrest of Mr. Paradis clearly shows there was a money laundering scheme within the Liberal Party of Canada. Thousands of dollars in sponsorship money were given to Quebec advertising firms and then funnelled back to the Liberal Party of Canada. Obviously someone at the highest level within the Liberal Party must have authorized this corrupt scheme.

My question is for the Prime Minister or his designate. Will the Prime Minister honour the commitment made by his transport minister and instruct the Liberal Party of Canada to return any dirty money received from the sponsorship--

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is not appropriate to discuss the day to day testimony at Gomery, because we run the risk of making errors based on today's testimony being contradicted by next week's testimony or in fact by poor interpretation of ambiguous testimony. That is what has happened to members of the opposition three times now this week when they made mistakes on this file.

I would urge the hon. member to not prejudge Justice Gomery's work and to wait for that report. That way we will have the full truth upon which to base our decisions on a go forward basis.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Calgary South Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was not speaking of any testimony. He was speaking about the Minister of Transport, in a press conference with the Prime Minister, saying that $650,000 was given to the Liberal Party by sponsorship ad agencies. The head of one of those ad agencies, who gave $43,000, was arrested this week. That minister said dirty money will be immediately returned to the Canadian taxpayer.

I ask the minister, how much dirty money has been returned to date?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

I had reservations about the first question. I have continuing reservations about this question. It seems to me that party finances are not a matter of the administrative responsibility of the government and I am concerned that this kind of question is improper in the House.

All parties may have taxpayers' money, but party finances are not the subject of the administrative responsibility of the government. They have not been allowed in the House in question period and I am not going to change that practice.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, in reference to the final version of the Speech from the Throne, Quebec's minister of intergovernmental affairs said that even the Prime Minister of Canada has, in a way, accepted that the fiscal and financial pressures are what some call the fiscal imbalance.

Since financial pressure is now synonymous with fiscal imbalance, does the government, which made a commitment in a vote, intend, at the October 26 meeting, to find comprehensive solutions that will completely eliminate the fiscal imbalance?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the notion of a fiscal imbalance is an intellectual conceit largely put forward by the party opposite. There is no such thing as a fiscal imbalance. Each level of government has access to revenues. Sometimes they are similar revenues and sometimes they are revenues that are dissimilar. I put it to the hon. member that there is no such thing as fiscal imbalance.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind him that this is now part of the Speech from the Throne.

The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons said on the program Question Period that the final version of the Speech from the Throne should, “Be considered as part of the government's intent”.

Since the fiscal imbalance is now part of the Speech from the Throne, will the Prime Minister agree to address the fiscal imbalance fully at the October 26 meeting?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if there is anything such as a fiscal imbalance, it is actually the other way from what the hon. member thinks.

In the fiscal year 2002-03, the revenues of the federal government were in the order of about $170 billion. The revenues of the provincial governments were in the order of about $166 billion. Out of that $170 billion of the federal government, $40 billion or so gets transferred to the provinces. The provinces end up with slightly over $200 billion and the federal government ends up with $140 billion. Meanwhile, the federal government has a $500 billion debt on which it pays 20% of its revenues and 10% for the others.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the government that the solution to the fiscal imbalance is not limited to transferring tax fields to Quebec and the provinces.

Does the government intend to accept the proposal by the Séguin commission, which recommends transferring the GST to Quebec and the provinces as a lasting solution to the fiscal imbalance?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, recently the first ministers concluded quite an extensive negotiation and worked in a 10 year timeframe. Over that 10 year timeframe, equalization will be increased by $33 billion, a pace that is almost twice the expected rate of growth of the economy. Similarly, there is a $44 billion increase in the Canada health and social transfers.

Whatever issues the hon. member has with respect to revenues flowing to the provinces, I think they have been adequately addressed by the first ministers.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 16, the Prime Minister acknowledged that Quebec and the provinces were experiencing financial pressure and that it would be discussed at the October 26 meeting. They expect more than that. They want concrete and lasting solutions to eliminate the fiscal imbalance.

Is the government prepared to make proposals to that effect at the October 26 meeting?