House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Committees of the Whole
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Speaker

I am now ready to propose to the House a candidate to the position of Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole.

Pursuant to order made Tuesday, October 5, 2004, I move that Mr. Marcel Proulx be appointed to the position of Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole.

The motion is deemed moved and seconded. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the Whole
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the Whole
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to propose, for the ratification of the House, a candidate for the position of Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.

Pursuant to order made Tuesday, October 5, I propose the Hon. Jean Augustine for the position of Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.

Pursuant to order made Tuesday, October 5, the motion is deemed moved and seconded.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the Whole
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the Whole
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Speaker

I congratulate both hon. members on their appointments.

Code for Public Office Holders
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a revised copy of the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders, pursuant to section 72.062 of the Parliament of Canada Act.

I do not know if it is parliamentary but I would also like to congratulate the new officers.

Access to Information Act
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-201, an act to amend the Access to Information Act and to make amendments to other acts.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be introducing a bill today entitled an act to amend the Access to Information Act or, as it has come to be known, the Bryden bill, because the bill has been championed for the past 10 years by the former member of Parliament, John Bryden.

The bill seeks to expand the Access to Information Act so that it would include all crown corporations and virtually all the activities of government so as to expand the accountability and transparency of government so that we can shine the light of day on the activities of the government and so that scandals can no longer operate under the shadow of secrecy which I believe has plagued this Parliament since I have been a member of Parliament.

I am very pleased and honoured to introduce this important legislation today.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

October 7th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Williams Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of citizens in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia who are calling upon Parliament to change the Income Tax Act, specifically section 118.2, to allow that vitamins and supplements be used as a medical expense on personal tax returns.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from October 6 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and the amendment to the amendment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:05 a.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of emotion that I rise today again in this House after a twelve-year absence. I wish to thank the people of the riding of Outremont for their confidence in me, returning me to this place to make a contribution to public affairs and to try and make a difference.

For 12 years I was on the other side of the mike and I always deplored the cynical and judgmental attitude toward politicians. Over those 12 years, I did try to improve public attitudes toward elected representatives. I have always believed that theirs is the most noble job anyone can have. I have always believed that here in Parliament is where it all happens, and that is why I am so honoured to be back.

I am also honoured to have an opportunity to speak on this Speech from the Throne, which is totally in keeping with our campaign commitments. There are no surprises in it, because it reflects what we told Canadians during the election campaign. It is a faithful reflection of our commitments, with an approach that is responsible and pragmatic, and of course aimed at promoting a strong economy. People need only look at the current figures on the unemployment rate and the interest rate. They will see that many Canadians can now realize their ambitions, find the job satisfaction they seek, and ensure their families have access to housing.

All of this, of course, requires sound public finances. That is the Liberal way, the responsible way. The Right Honourable Prime Minister has made it his trademark. This government's finances are sound. As a result, we are able to fulfill some of our commitments without delay. Such was the case with our major commitment on health. Within weeks of our election, we have managed to deliver the goods, and deliver them properly. We did so in a way that would gain the signature of all of the provincial premiers and territorial representatives, thereby ensuring at last a stable and fair basis for funding health care, while accomplishing some extraordinary feats.

All the governments had the same goal of reducing wait times. It does not take a constitutional expert to know that, right across the country, waiting times are unacceptable for those who are the most vulnerable, the sick.

This agreement is historic in its content and its form. It reflects the Prime Minister's sensitivity to regional and provincial differences. In this agreement, the Prime Minister recognized the asymmetry in this country. He recognized that the Canadian solution does not need to be the same from coast to coast. He recognized that the provinces can adapt, since delivery, especially in terms of health care, depends exclusively on the provinces. Each province applies its own approach provided that every Canadian has a common program with common goals and values.

In the first poll since the election, the CROP poll in La Presse , 53% of Quebeckers say this is an historic event for the good of Quebec. We should all be delighted that this government's first item on the agenda, that of health, which is also the most important item, has been resolved to the satisfaction and with the enthusiasm of all parties involved.

We will be meeting again soon, on October 26, at which time we will be discussing equalization. Again, I am sure the necessary imagination and talent will prevail in finding a solution to prevent the occurrence of such excessive fluctuations, which make planning difficult for the provincial governments. I am sure that having a lot of money one year and uncertainty the next is very difficult to manage, especially since demand does not fluctuate at the same rate as the equalization payments.

Thus I am convinced that the Prime Minister, along with his provincial colleagues, will find a solution that will permit both predictability and growth. That is important, because the needs are there. We know that.

There is also the agreement we will be signing with the provinces, but which concerns cities, towns and municipalities. This too will require flexibility and an understanding of regional differences and the differences that exist everywhere in Canada. It is clear that we will find a way to come to an agreement with each province, which will then deliver the urban infrastructure, transportation and environmental goods.

I am convinced, too, that with the hundreds of millions of dollars available for such infrastructures, the goods will be delivered and a unanimous agreement will be reached among the provinces, the territories and the Canadian government.

There is also the coming agreement on day care. Obviously the program in Quebec is exemplary. The national program takes its inspiration from the Quebec day care program, which is respected and envied by all Canadians. Because Quebec has done the early work, a transfer will help to alleviate those famous fiscal pressures. And so it will provide another opportunity for federal-provincial collaboration.

Regarding parental leave, there is talk of transferring $600 million. Negotiations on this are going very well. The Minister of Employment is in talks with the Quebec minister and I am convinced that ways and means will be found. Working in good faith and wanting things to work makes all the difference.

When we look at this program, we cannot help but be pleased. As a Quebecker, I am proud to see this cooperation between the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada. I am proud to see Jean Charest take on his role as leader of Quebec's government, looking for the best deal but wanting a solution. He does not come here to break things up; he comes here to help the country function for the well-being of our fellow citizens.

That is why it is impossible to support this Bloc Quebecois subamendment, which is not in good faith but instead appears to be motivated by some form of trickery, perhaps inspired by Mr. Parizeau.

Nevertheless it is clear that this subamendment is not being submitted to the right parliament. It asks this Parliament to permit a provincial premier to dictate the next budget. It is clear that this subamendment has been moved to divide the forces that are getting along well together. It is also clear that this subamendment is unacceptable because it asks us, the members of Parliament, to abdicate our responsibilities.

This amendment to the amendment basically says that we should manage things the way a provincial premier wants us to. Regardless of the province, no one in this Parliament was elected to relinquish his or her responsibility to a premier. I am convinced that each one of us here feels that he or she has a role to play in the administration of public funds. We have a responsibility regarding the taxes that we collect from our fellow citizens. We cannot let others dictate our actions. We must take our responsibilities and be able to count, to give and to share under a fair and equitable system.

This is why this resolution might be quite acceptable at the National Assembly. The problem is that a number of members may have made a clerical error, because they already see themselves in that assembly. Perhaps the Bloc Quebecois leader is training for when he is done with his leadership duties here.

One thing is certain: federalism is a game of give and take. As for the council of the federation, we know that this is a fantastic counterpart created by the Quebec Liberal government with the support of all its provincial partners.

I know that Mr. Charest does not want to come here to tell the Parliament of Canada what it must do. He has too much respect for the system. However, he will want to get as much as he can, along with his colleagues from the council. The council is the forum where the provinces should have this discussion amongst themselves.

Mr. Charest is not asking for a blank cheque, as the Bloc Quebecois is doing. The latter says “No limits”. What relief is it talking about?

Is it what is in the Séguin report? What are we being asked to do? We are being asked to sign a blank cheque. Are we being asked for a GST transfer? We do not know. This amendment will not make us relinquish our responsibilities.

We intend to govern for all Canadians and to deliver the goods for Quebeckers, but this will be achieved through a decision of this Parliament and not by—

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

I regret that I must interrupt the hon. minister, but his time is up. The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to tell the hon. member for Outremont that we are not asking the government to abdicate its responsibilities: we are asking it to assume its responsibilities while taking into consideration the fact that it is a minority government.

When we call on people's sense of responsibility, we must look at ourselves. The member for Outremont is saying “We do not want others to tell us how to govern”. What does this Speech from the Throne do if not dictate the Liberal Party's agenda to a Parliament in which the government is in a minority position, a Parliament in which a majority of members sit on this side. This is not a consensus. This is not the way to ensure that this Parliament will work.

As for being responsible with the taxes paid by Quebeckers and Canadians, we do not need to be lectured by people who are in it up to their necks with the sponsorship scandal. If they want to talk about sound management, that is fine with us.

During the last five years that the current Prime Minister was the Minister of Finance, the federal government's operating expenditures increased by 39%. This means an annual increase of about 8%, while inflation was at 1.9%. Is this what they call sound management? An abyss of sponsorship spending and operating expenditures out of this world?

Do you know how this came to be? When you make a surplus year in and year out, this means you have too much money compared to the responsibilities you have to fulfill. That is what happens. Laxness sets in. During that time, Quebec and the provinces have needs. Their people have needs in health, education and income security. We do not need any lectures from them. Anyway, we did not miss the member during his 12-year absence from the House of Commons.

I would like to ask him the following concerning the fiscal pressures referred to in the amendment. The current Prime Minister was the first to raise this issue during the election campaign, when he acknowledged that the provinces were facing fiscal pressures and indicated he was prepared to sit down and work on this.

Later, he made another commitment. After the conference on health, another conference was held, which dealt with not only equalization—there is this incomplete formula we were presented with two weeks ago, which does not take into account the demands of the provinces which benefit from equalization—but also transfers as a whole and the redefining of tax fields. The Prime Minister of Canada himself appeared to be open to this debate.

I have a question for him. Why is it that in less than three months the government has changed its tune?