House of Commons Hansard #33 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sports.

Topics

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, for its own accounting purposes, Quebec decided to book a certain number of federal funds that would flow for health care over a number of years in one year. Having done that in one year, it created a shortfall the next year and it asked us for five different things to smooth over the shortfall. We agreed to one, two, three, four and five, and we offered the same thing to all of the rest of the provinces as well.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 1995 the Prime Minister told the House in his budget speech, “The government has just introduced a new and much tighter system to manage its spending”. Gee, I wonder how that is working out.

We know that the Prime Minister does not want to be associated with the Liberal government of the past 10 years, but he has a past and it ain't pretty. Given the firearms registry, the Challenger jets debacle, the HR boondoggle and $100 million for Liberal friends in the sponsorship scandal, what has happened to his tighter system to manage spending?

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am actually delighted to talk about the past. I am delighted to talk about the 1995 budget. That was the budget that set in place the measures that eliminated the $42 billion deficit rung up by their predecessors. That is the budget that led to a $100 billion tax cut for middle income and low income Canadians. That is the budget that today makes Canada the only member of the G-8 that is in surplus. I am very proud of that past.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it sounds like he is a big fan of Jean Chrétien after all.

Mr. Speaker, 1995 was the year that he made the deepest cuts to public health care in Canadian history, and 1995 was the year that he brought in the sponsorship program. Under this Prime Minister, 1995 was not a good year for Canadians.

Why did the Prime Minister brag in previous budget speeches about how he would eliminate waste and then refuse to take responsibility for the sponsorship scandal? Why did he do it?

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I remember that debate very well. It was in that debate that the member's party stood up after the 1995 budget and said that substantially greater cuts should be made in every area. His party called for massive cuts in health care. His party called for massive cuts in education. His party said that the environment was an area that the federal government should not be involved in.

His party stood up and said that every one of the Canadian values should be shredded. We said they would not be. We said we would stand up for Canada.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

March 31st, 2004 / 2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, what we wanted to see cut was $161 million in corporate welfare that went to the Prime Minister's own company. That is what we wanted cut.

In nine budgets over 10 years, the government failed to put gas taxes into roads. Then the Prime Minister quit the cabinet in a snit and went off to the Union of B.C. Municipalities and said, “...we are going to provide Canadian municipalities with a portion of the...gas tax”.

Last week he failed to keep his promise. Why should Canadians trust the Prime Minister when he betrayed such a fundamental promise of his leadership campaign?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, perhaps instead of listening to the opposition Canadians are listening to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The president of that organization said the budget delivered exactly what they had asked for. The mayor of Toronto said the budget had delivered exactly what they expected. The mayor of Regina said it had delivered exactly what they expected. Just this week, delivering on our commitments, we were in Toronto delivering $1 billion, in partnership with the province and the city, for urban transit.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, on October 7 of last year, the House passed and the Prime Minister voted in favour of our motion calling on the government to “initiate immediate discussions with the provinces and territories to provide municipalities with a portion of the federal gas tax”.

The Prime Minister has failed to keep that commitment. He has failed to keep his campaign commitment of putting gas taxes into roads on a permanent, sustainable basis. If the Prime Minister will not keep such a high profile promise, the number one policy priority of his leadership campaign, if he will not keep his word, how should Canadians trust him? Why should Canadians trust him on anything else he has to say?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the first step in the new deal for communities was to deliver the GST rebate of $7 billion over the next 10 years. It was done, with legislation before the House to make it happen. Next we said we would accelerate existing infrastructure programs. In the budget it was done, with the timing cut from 10 years to 5 years.

The next thing we said we would do is sit down with the provinces to talk about the gas tax. That is indeed the next thing on the agenda and I am anxious to have that conversation with all of the provinces, along with conversations on health care and equalization.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Pat O'Brien London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are serious allegations that anti-Christian persecutions are being carried out by police and soldiers in the Lai Chau province of Vietnam. These reported persecutions are apparently aimed at having Vietnamese Christians recant their faith and abandon their Christian religious practices.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs comment on the accuracy of these allegations and outline what actions Canada has taken or will take to protest these persecutions?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge
Ontario

Liberal

Dan McTeague Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question, as we know how deeply committed he is to raising the concerns of his constituents on the floor of the House of Commons. The government is of course aware of the reports of religious persecution in Vietnam, including those in the province of Lai Chau. Indeed, our embassy in Hanoi has been extremely involved with this.

The government raised this issue with the Vietnamese foreign affairs minister last year. I want to assure the hon. member and members of the House that last week on March 25 we said in our country's statement that we encourage Vietnam to stop the detention of citizens for their political and religious views and to allow greater freedom of speech and association.

Canada Elections Act
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the right hon. Prime Minister. The Law Commission of Canada is issuing a report today that calls for the ending of our first past the post electoral system and bringing in a mixed member proportional system similar to Germany's and New Zealand's. This commission is a highly respected organization.

I want to ask the Prime Minister whether or not he will now stop talking big and acting small when it comes to democracy and act on this report, because I hear a rumour that he may be considering calling an election. If there is no election, would he consider putting a referendum question to the Canadian people to ask whether or not they want to have a referendum on changing our electoral system?

Canada Elections Act
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Mount Royal
Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is correct. The Law Commission is a respected body. It has produced a serious report and we will give it the consideration it deserves.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, Daniel Giguère, a Liberal candidate, and other candidates from the Charlevoix region have formed a committee to review the changes to employment insurance after the Prime Minister said that he was prepared to conduct a review of seasonal work. After years of inaction on employment insurance, now on the eve of an election, the government is making announcements.

My question is for the Prime Minister. When is he going to stop using the unemployed and the needy for electoral gain?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we have already said many times in this House that the Prime Minister and the government are very concerned about the issue of seasonal workers.

We have already started working on finding a long-term solution. In the past, we have taken short-term measures to address local problems by working with the provinces and regional and community authorities.

Therefore I am sure that the solution—