House of Commons Hansard #2 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the opposition member for giving us the opportunity to remind the House and Canadians that in the health accord of 2003 we have been dealing with pharmacare and home care.

This is the reason we have guaranteed $34.8 billion over the next five years. It is precisely to meet the needs that Canadians have.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week's audit of the Virginia Fontaine Addictions Foundation revealed that Health Canada paid $1.2 million in perks, including $153,000 for jewellery purchased while on Perry Fontaine's Caribbean vacation and an additional $8,000 for two tombstones. Perhaps there was a plan for a funeral for transparency and accountability.

This audit raises serious questions of departmental incompetence. I would like to ask the minister, will he immediately call for a full public inquiry?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, as we know, Health Canada has already launched a forensic audit. We have contacted the RCMP over this very matter. We have launched a civil litigation to recover the public funds. We have fired the officers who were responsible for this misconduct.

In the interest of openness and transparency, Health Canada has posted an executive summary of the forensic audit on its website. That is for absolute public accountability and we will continue to behave that way.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister will have trouble convincing Canadians he is clairvoyant. He has already addressed the problems that were only revealed last Friday when this audit was released.

If the minister is so confident that his controls are effectively in place and protecting Canadians, perhaps he could explain to the House how it is that Health Canada could approve Phil Fontaine's request and use $1 million of Virginia Fontaine money to fund a hockey school.

Will the minister immediately commit to launching a full public inquiry into the Virginia Fontaine debacle, or failing that, explain why he wasted $2 million on his department's audit which he is choosing to ignore now?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, let us not confuse issues here.

Health Canada funds a variety of programs through the national native alcohol and drug abuse program. Its program in hockey and sport was in line with its prevention and promotion strategies.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, agriculture is a cash flow business like any other. Due to a single case of BSE, that lifeline has been cut. AIDA, CFIP and now CAISP are all Liberal programs that failed to deliver and do little to address a crisis like BSE.

Why does the new agriculture minister carry on the old Liberal tradition of advancing programs that never reach the farm gate?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Speller Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I am certain there is not a member in the House who does not feel for the farmers, the farm families and indeed the communities across this country impacted by the BSE situation.

The Government of Canada takes this situation very seriously as evidenced by the work of the Prime Minister and other ministers on this, to work toward getting that border open.

In the meantime, these are difficult times for Canadian farmers and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the impact this is having on them is not an impact that will remove them out of the industry.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the new minister claims he is a big listener and another committee will be structured; however, the industry out there is more interested in what he will do. Actions speak a lot louder than weasel words.

The head of the Alberta Cattle Feeders' Association said yesterday that his industry can survive another 45 days under the Liberal government. The clock is ticking.

When will the minister announce his new plan and the budget to go along with it? When will he do that?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Speller Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, what the Government of Canada did first and foremost was to sit down with the industry to get an understanding as to where it saw the role of the federal government.

We then took the responses from the industry which told us that we needed to get out to market Canadian beef around the world. This is why I, along with one of the member's colleagues and another one of my colleagues went to Japan. We went to Korea and Washington.

In fact, in Washington, we received agreement from the governments of the United States and Mexico to work together on a North American strategy. This is an issue for all farmers in North America and it is one of--

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Roberval.

Speech from the Throne
Oral Question Period

February 3rd, 2004 / 2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the Speech from the Throne, there is absolutely nothing on the terrible softwood lumber crisis, nothing on the mad cow crisis, and nothing on the EI fund. The government is using the poverty in which many of our fellow citizens live to justify its education and early childhood initiatives.

Will the Prime Minister admit that, by taking $45 billion from the EI fund, he was and remains the biggest creator of poverty in Canada because he denied thousands of families the bare minimum to survive?

Speech from the Throne
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know of course that there is no such thing as a surplus in the EI account.

All of those moneys have gone for a series of programs. Many of them have gone to help out the poor, for skills development, to provide benefits in periods of unemployment, and to develop skills for students, unemployed workers, et cetera.

They have gone for a series of items that the member will acknowledge have gone to community building to provide employment and sustenance when it is needed.

Speech from the Throne
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only did this Prime Minister make the poor poorer, but he made the rich richer. Canada's big five banks pride themselves on having saved $2 billion by using tax havens approved by the former finance minister. The latter saved his own company, CSL International, more than $100 million in Canadian taxes by means of tax agreements signed by the finance minister.

How can we trust a man who says he wants to help the poor when all he has done in the past is to make them poorer and add to the wealth—

Speech from the Throne
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Finance.

Speech from the Throne
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there are a variety of measures that I am examining now as we prepare for the 2004 budget, measures that will improve the fairness and the integrity of our taxation system, both as it applies within the country and as it relates to external tax treaties. I will take the hon. gentleman's question as a sincere representation that this is one area that we should look at, and I undertake to do that.