House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was countries.

Topics

Health
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Premier of Quebec said yesterday that the current health care system may not survive the decade because the federal government is not providing its share of the funding. We think the system will collapse in far less than 10 years.

Will the Prime Minister finally understand that the highest priority for all Quebeckers is to have access to the best quality health care and that this is only possible if the federal government admits it has to provide its fair share of funding, and not a penny less?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, of course, the Canadian health care system is the number one priority for all Canadians. Obviously, this is reflected by our own government. Barely two months after becoming the Prime Minister of Canada, the latter held a federal-provincial meeting with the provincial premiers, where most of the discussion focussed on health.

We are committed to the values of the Canadian health care system. This is our priority. The finance ministers talked about it last week. We will be holding another federal-provincial conference on the health care system this summer.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Premier of Quebec differed with the Prime Minister on three counts. First, he said that the surplus will be larger than anticipated; second, that there has already been a sharp drop in equalization payments; and finally, that the Speech from the Throne was heavy on intrusion. These statements echo those made by the premiers of the other provinces. The Premier of Quebec concluded by saying that no one knows where the federal government is headed with this.

Will the Prime Minister tell this House where he is going with the health care system?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in any event, one thing is certain: the Bloc is going down in the polls. It has lost nine points in one week. We do know where the Bloc is going.

As for health care, our government has made a very strong commitment to make it our priority. The next federal-provincial conference, which the Prime Minister has promised to hold this summer with the premiers, will follow a meeting of finance ministers and a meeting of health ministers on the matter. We are going to ensure the long-term sustainability of our health care system in Canada.

Equalization
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, federal government spending estimates are reaching new heights and will increase by $10 billion next year. Increases of 20% are forecast in the Privy Council Office, for example. Another hundred million dollars or so will go to the gun registry. As if that were not enough, these increases are on top of the expected 39% increase in operating expenses over five years.

How can the federal government explain to the public that it is as generous toward its own bureaucracy as it is stingy toward Quebeckers?

Equalization
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the main estimates that were tabled yesterday are the consolidation of the A-bases plus all new spending this year where none of the budgetary decisions are taken. They are simply the reconciliation of current expenditures, reflecting changes in the structure of government.

It is true that this Prime Minister has adopted a very aggressive and activist policy. He has taken into his office some important initiatives--support the cities, support the aboriginals--and we are delivering on them. That is what this document tells us.

Equalization
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the federal government tells us, this year, the surplus will be between $7 billion and $8 billion. At the same time, the government is reducing its equalization payments and promising in the throne speech that it will encroach on all of Quebec's areas of jurisdiction.

Does the Prime Minister realize that, if no announcement is made in the health issue before March 31—and that is quite soon—the surplus will all go to repaying the debt, and there will be absolutely nothing for health?

Equalization
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have already made the commitment that the first $2 billion from the surplus will indeed go to health care. We have the legislation before the House right now that will ensure that the provinces can take that money in the fiscal year in which they wish to receive it.

We have established a process agreed to by all first ministers to work on health care sustainability over this spring and summer leading to further conclusions later on this year. The process is already in place and should not be pre-empted.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

February 25th, 2004 / 2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, based upon the information tabled by the current President of the Treasury Board, we know that the current industry minister received 28 grants totalling over $3 million between 2001-02. The industry minister must stand up and defend herself on this fact.

Of the $3 million given, how much of this total went to Liberal-friendly advertising firms?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the government has questions about the flow of money as well. That is the very reason we have set up a public inquiry. We are participating with the public accounts committee to look into these issues. We have hired a special counsel to go after financial recovery and we have made referrals to the RCMP.

I ask hon. members to join with us in this inquiry to get the answers to these very questions.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question was for the current industry minister. Does the current industry minister think it was acceptable for her to receive $3 million between 2001-02? Does she even have any compunction about this whatsoever?

She should be standing up and demanding accountability on 28 grants totalling over $3 million in her riding in one and a half fiscal years. That is completely unacceptable.

How much of this money went to Liberal-friendly advertising firms?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the whole government is standing up together and asking to get to the bottom of this by the inquiries and the other processes that we have established. We know there was a problem with this program. Funds were missing and that is what we are looking for. Please assist us in that task and then we will all be the wiser for it.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the front organizations change but the Liberal money laundering scam just goes on and on. In 2001 the environment minister's riding office basically doubled as a branch office for Media IDA Vision.

Why were the minister's political aides funnelling Jamie Kelley's request and laundering all kinds of cash through Media IDA Vision? Why were they doing that?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the only information that any of us have to go on, that we know is the truth, is that, through the Minister of the Environment's constituency office, the festival organizer in his riding was directed to write to the minister of the program at the Ministry of Public Works and Government Services. That is what happened.

The money was received by the festival organizers. The festival was a great success. I will be tabling documents after question period to attest to the success of the program. However, the money flow in the middle is exactly what our inquiry is looking into. As I say, please join us in that inquiry.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, obviously the ad scam morphed into the program scam, but the problem is that the money still washed through all kinds of Liberal ad agencies and it still took the secret Liberal handshake to open up the vault. The member for Red Deer received no money from this thing whereas the Minister of Industry received $3 million. What a joke.

Why were the environment minister's political aides funnelling Jamie Kelley's request through a dirty Liberal ad agency? That is what we want to know.