House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Social Housing
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, although there is a serious crisis in rental housing in Quebec, the federal budget provides nothing for the social housing units the Bloc Quebecois has been asking for, for a number of years.

This has terrible consequences for many families on modest incomes who—once again this year—will not be able to house themselves properly because the federal government has put no money into social housing between 1994 and 2003.

Thousands of families, including many single-parent families, are currently looking for affordable housing. The Bloc Quebecois has submitted a plan providing for a gradual reinvestment that would reach an annual investment of about $2 billion after three years, in addition to freeing up the $320 million over five years already announced in the 2003 budget.

Social housing is a need, a right, and an emergency.

Recreational Fishing Awards
Statements By Members

March 29th, 2004 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, this morning the 2004 presentation ceremony of Canada's Recreational Fishing Awards were held here on Parliament Hill. These awards honour the achievements of individuals and groups who work to enhance the country's recreational fishing industry.

This year's award recipients are: Kingfisher Interpretive Centre; Tributary Rehabilitation and Erosion Control Program of the Severn Sound Environmental Association; Salmon Association of Eastern Newfoundland; Yukon Fish and Game Association; and the late Rick Amsbury.

I would ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating this year's recipients on their tremendous contributions.

Curling
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday the best junior curlers in the world competed for gold. Today I would like to offer my congratulations, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the ladies junior curling team of Liverpool's Jill Mouzar.

The 2004 Canadian junior ladies curling champions won silver this weekend at the world juniors in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. Their unbeaten streak was only stopped by Norway in the gold medal game. A win by Canada would have been our ninth junior women's championship since 1987.

The Mayflower rink's performance was Canada's best finish for a Nova Scotia rink since the 1997 world championship in Japan. Jill's teammates, Paige Mattie of Tracadie, and sisters Bliss and Chloe Comstock of Lunenburg had an extremely impressive season.

One does not get to the world championship unless one has the ability to stand on the podium, and I am sure the Mouzar team will be back for the gold medal next season.

Natural Resources
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it stands to reason that we should do out utmost in ensuring that Canada's oil and gas reserves last as long as possible for the benefit of future generations.

In the absence of a national energy plan, we do not know with precision the answer to the following questions. How much oil and gas reserve do we have in Canada? For how long will we be able to rely on the supply of oil and gas before exhaustion? How long under the NAFTA agreement will we be able to supply the U.S. at the present rate? When will we reach the half-way depletion point? When we reach this point, the price of oil and gas is likely to rise because of decreasing supply.

Finding answers to these questions may partially offset the absence of an energy plan. One fact is clear. To act wisely on behalf of future generations of Canadians, we need an energy plan.

Student Loans
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, the recent budget did not fully address all issues affecting post-secondary student loans.

The budget failed to eliminate parental income from the formula used to determine the amount of the loan. The budget also has failed to allow living expenses incurred by students who work away from home during the pre-study period as a deduction from pre-study period income. Both of these failures reduce the maximum amount of loans students are eligible to receive.

Furthermore, the budget has not provided assistance to those students whose loans are defaulted and placed with a collection agency. Students are hounded and harassed by collection agencies in a very unprofessional manner.

Student groups have indicated that the government has failed to address all concerns regarding student loan issues. When will the government get it right?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there is growing evidence that Alfonso Gagliano's testimony before the public accounts committee was at variance with the facts, whether it is on his full knowledge of the sponsorship affair, his meetings with Lafleur Communications or his regular meetings with Chuck Guité. It is increasingly obvious that we need to have all of the former public works ministers' documents released.

Why is the Prime Minister continuing to block the release of the Gagliano papers to the public accounts committee?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have given no instructions to the members of the committee. The committee is master of its own future.

The question is quite simple. If the committee wants to see Mr. Alfonso Gagliano again, all it has to do is call him before the committee.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said in February, in regard to this scandal, “I take personal responsibility for dealing with this matter”. Rather than now hiding behind the committee, will he instruct the Liberal committee members to release those documents to the full committee?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the committee has full authority to call anyone it wishes before it who has relevant information with respect to its inquiry and to ask witnesses to bring whatever documentation is relevant to its questions.

That opportunity is open to the public accounts committee. It is also open to the public inquiry, which will commence hearings in the next couple of months.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, hiding behind a minister of cabinet is not personal responsibility.

The Prime Minister said he would release all pertinent information going back to the Korean war, if necessary. Now he has an opportunity to make good on those statements. Instead, he refuses to answer questions and blocks information.

Will the Prime Minister stand in his place and explain to Canadians why he will not send all of Gagliano's documents to the public accounts committee?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how it could be any more plain to members of the opposition. The public accounts committee has full authority to bring whoever it wishes before it and to ask those people to bring documentation that is relevant to its inquiry.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, Norman Steinberg, the director general responsible for the audit and ethics branch of public works directly contradicted and dismissed the evidence of Alfonso Gagliano in testimony today.

This falls on the heels of Huguette Tremblay, another senior civil servant, who similarly called into question the veracity of the former minister's evidence. Two public servants have directly contradicted a disgraced former civil servant.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he is involved in this cover-up? Will he directly instruct his committee members to ensure all pertinent evidence is before the public accounts committee?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, what could be more illogical than the hon. member's suggestion?

Evidence has been given of different views of the facts in this case. If the public accounts committee considers itself a fact-finding body, then it will be finding out the facts and reporting to the House at the earliest opportunity on its determination of the facts. That is its job. That is what we are waiting to hear.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, here is a fact for the Prime Minister's mouthpiece. There is $100 million missing and nobody over there has taken responsibility for it.

The government has a history of cover-up going back 10 years. Today the Federal Court of Canada determined that the agendas of the former Prime Minister should be released, yet the government persists in covering up the documents of a former minister directly involved in the sponsorship scandal. The presiding judge in that ruling said rules of disclosure are to be limited and specific.

Why does the Prime Minister not release these documents?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am quite disappointed with the former prosecutor, who does not seem to know the difference between third-hand hearsay and evidence tested under cross-examination with a finding of fact. We have heard different accounts of different aspects of this case.

That is why the public accounts committee is sitting. That is why the judicial inquiry is going to, in a very disciplined way, come to some conclusions of fact, not wild accusations.

Let us bring the evidence together, let us have the fact-finders determine it, and then let us make a decision in the House.