House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sentence.

Topics

Health
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is the current governing party that created the health insurance program based on the experience in Saskatchewan. Our government is totally committed, along with the provinces, to ensuring that the system lasts for a long time because it is very dear to Canadians.

Nonetheless, we are going to sit down with the provinces in order to determine the best approach for promoting this system across the country.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

April 26th, 2004 / 2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, one would think that after the sponsorship scandal, the Liberal government would be too embarrassed to bend the truth about slush funds, but I guess I underestimated it. It seems to have no shame at all.

Why would Canadians believe that the Prime Minister wants to clean up the sponsorship slush fund, when the government is so actively hiding the true size of the unity slush fund?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this is absolutely false. The Prime Minister has already stated quite clearly in the House that he has, as Prime Minister of Canada, initiated no new projects at all using this reserve.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that the Prime Minister simply was not telling Canadians all the facts about what was going on.

The Treasury Board president promised that there would be a list of unity projects by the end of the first week, but we just cannot count on him.

The finance minister said that it cost $40 million. It actually cost $80 million.

The Prime Minister said that he had never heard of the unity fund. Then all of a sudden Eddie Goldenberg blew the whistle on him and said that he did know about it.

Is it not clear that the last people to tell the truth about the sponsorship scandal are the same people who are bending the truth today on the unity fund scandal?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as is becoming increasingly characteristic in this place, what the hon. member just said is absolutely untrue.

What I have said on this is that we are assembling the information. Most of it has been reported in public accounts. We are collecting the rest. It has been already shared with people. We will share the whole list once it is brought together. We have been saying that over and over again.

Remember, this covers two governments and three prime ministers. There is a great deal of detail to be dug out here and we are working on it. However, these accusations that there is a secret are completely untrue.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board said clearly, on March 25, that all unity funds were identified in the estimates. Thirty-two days later, the unity funds are still not identified.

Is the minister responsible for the Treasury Board keeping the information hidden to cover up Liberal incompetence or to avoid another scandal prior to the next election?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I think I also offered to run a workshop for the members on how the federal government finance works.

The existence of reserves in the fiscal framework is quite common. There are a number of them that are used for a variety of purposes because it is impossible to predict the exact amount of spending, and one wants to ensure that we never go into deficit.

The Auditor General has commented on the use of these funds as being perfectly normal.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is just a lame answer. The President of the Treasury Board has pointed Canadians to imaginary Ernst & Young audits in the past. Thirty-two days after pointing to the national unity funds in the estimates, the list of projects has yet to materialize. Where is the list? We need to see it.

Is the minister making up more imaginary lists, which he is perfectly capable of, or is he hiding them until after the next election? Which is it?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is true that my attribution to Ernst & Young was wrong. However, the information was correct. It is freely available, publicly, on the website of Public Works and Government Services.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, reliable estimates have set the losses by the unemployed of the Gaspé Peninsula, the Lower St. Lawrence, the North Shore and Charlevoix at $1.5 billion over 10 years. This does not even include the huge losses in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and other regions of Quebec.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the decisions he himself made while finance minister to raid the employment insurance program have penalized the Gaspé Peninsula, the Lower St. Lawrence, the North Shore and Charlevoix at $1.5 billion from the pockets of those in need. This is disgraceful behaviour, no doubt about it.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, this is question period, not fantasy time.

We have a task force made up of Liberal members. They have travelled to all regions and tried to obtain realistic facts by talking to local men and women who are dealing with the problem. I am in the process of examining a preliminary report, which ought to provide us with some long term solutions using all possible benefit programs.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has had 10 years to come up with solutions and they are still not forthcoming. It has settled for a committee. The Prime Minister will never be able to undo the harm he has done to these workers and these regions.

Is he aware that the decision to use EI funds for other purposes has forced a financial burden on the workers in seasonal industries that is heavier than that on anyone else in society, including his well-off friends? That is the outcome of his choices.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, all this show of outrage will not solve the problem. The truth is that the unemployment rate has dropped in the region. It is about 8%, that is all, but even that is too high for us. That is why the task force has presented some very definite proposals that are also very realistic and aimed at resolving long term problems that affect not only seasonal workers but also seasonal industries.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is about to meet with President Bush to discuss a number of very important issues, including the missile defence shield, softwood lumber and mad cow disease.

Does the Prime Minister intend to tell President Bush that Canada will not participate in the missile defence plan, and will he be very clear on that?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the government have always been very clear on this issue. We are examining, along with our American counterparts, how we can contribute to North America's security. Our concern is what Canadians want. We are partners in North America. The Prime Minister discussed this issue with Mr. Bush. We will see whether the testing of the missile defence system meets Canadian needs or not. This has yet to be determined. We will examine the plan and ultimately make a decision based on Canada's needs.