House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was witnesses.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the excellent work by the Prime Minister's Liberal task force, we have taken their recommendations into consideration. We have taken steps that put money into the hands of the workers of Quebec, and they now have five more weeks of eligibility. This is in addition to the measures already in place.

The Bloc always overlooks the measures we have already taken to improve the EI system. All of those measures are beneficial to the men and women who work in Quebec and all over Canada.

Shipbuilding
Oral Question Period

May 13th, 2004 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime minister will be travelling to Lévis tomorrow. One of the problems that has been affecting that area for many years is that of the shipyard, which is in difficulty because Canadian shipowners, such as Canada Steamship Lines, have their ships built in China.

Given that the Canadian Forces have plans for three new supply ships, could the Prime Minister, who will be in Lévis tomorrow, assure the workers that these ships will be built in Quebec and that having them built abroad is out of the question?

Shipbuilding
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the government was very proud to make the announcement with respect to the joint supply ships. As I have indicated in the House in the past, they will be built in Canada should a competitive environment exist.

I am a little surprised by the question from the hon. member in the sense that the Bloc had an opportunity to vote for a recommendation from the defence committee report a number of years ago and failed to support the concept of procuring supply ships at that time.

Shipbuilding
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

The Minister of National Defence says that contracts will be awarded on a competitive basis. Under NAFTA and the WTO, however, the minister may have ships built wherever he pleases, and competition does not enter into it.

Since international treaties allow these ships to be built in Canada, why does the minister not commit here and now to have them built in Quebec?

Shipbuilding
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, let us repeat, to make sure that the Bloc Quebecois clearly understands what the Minister of National Defence has been saying for several weeks, which is that these ships may very well be built in Canada in a competitive environment.

Why? Because we have, in Canada, several shipyards to chose from, which can compete on the market. That is exactly what will happen.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the most troubling thing about the sponsorship scandal is how the Prime Minister let Canadians down. When the whole ugly mess was first exposed by the Auditor General, the Prime Minister took to the airwaves about how he was mad as hell and would leave no stone unturned to get to the truth.

However, just like his commitment to fix the democratic deficit proved to be empty talk, his vow to leave no stone unturned soon turned to Liberal stonewalling. Do Canadians not deserve better?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, far from stonewalling, the public accounts committee, as I understand it, has held more than 40 meetings. It has heard from more than 50 witnesses. It has heard 116 hours of testimony. I do not think it is unreasonable at this point for the committee to prepare an interim report and share with Canadians a summary of that which it has heard to date.

I would also remind the hon. member that Mr. Justice Gomery's judicial inquiry has begun and Mr. Justice Gomery has made it absolutely plain that he will get to the bottom of what happened in the sponsorship program.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals shut down the committee with over 90 witnesses yet to be heard. Justice Gomery at best will not report to the end of 2005.

Liberal procedural stonewalling has not just betrayed Canadians' trust, the Liberals have also given this great country an international black eye, because the world is watching as they duck and weave to cut off evidence that might even further damage their election chances.

Why are the Liberals being so careless with Canada's good name?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, far from being careless with Canada's good name, I think if we see the actions taken by the Prime Minister and the government in relation to getting to the bottom of this, we are a model in terms of transparency and accountability.

We have the public accounts committee, Mr. Justice Gomery's judicial inquiry, special counsel to trace funds, whistleblower legislation and a review of governance between crown corporations and the Government of Canada. It is very clear that we want to get to the bottom of this and all those people want to do is filibuster.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether I can believe anything the Deputy Prime Minister has to say, because earlier this week she said “On behalf of the government, I encourage the public accounts committee to continue its work expeditiously”. Then the next day Liberal members voted to move the committee in secret and stop hearing witnesses this week.

This morning, every single Liberal committee member voted against my motion to continue hearing witnesses from Monday to Friday of next week.

If the Liberals really want to get to the bottom of the ad scam, then why did they shut down the committee's capacity to hear evidence next week?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 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 so strange to see the opposition complaining about this when it is the opposition that basically has stonewalled the committee all this week.

Indeed, in the words of the chair of the committee to the member for Calgary—Nose Hill, “I would like you to focus on the issue at hand rather than getting into trying to raise the political stakes”. If they will not do the work, why should they be there?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, last week the Prime Minister criticized and blamed everyone, rogue bureaucrats, the former prime minister, and now the opposition when he said that we only wanted to work a three day week.

We had a motion to work a five day week next week to hear from some of the 90 unheard witnesses. Guess what? The Liberal members on the committee, under orders from the Prime Minister, voted for a week long holiday.

Instead of acting for the public interest to get to the bottom of Liberal corruption, why are the Liberals running out of Ottawa and covering up the truth about the ad scam?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member raised the question of the public interest. I suspect it would be in the public interest, as reported in the Halifax Chronicle today, to find out who paid the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough to sell out the Progressive Conservative Party.

Apparently, the Leader of the Opposition thinks it is just fine that this information is kept secret. I think Canadians should know that before we go to the polls.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, currently excise tax is charged on all jewellery above $3 and all watches over $50 in value. The tax is discriminatory and punitive, since it was removed on luxury items such as cars and fur coats in 1991.

The annual household expenditure on jewellery is estimated at $130, which is less than the cost of a newspaper subscription.

The tax clearly puts the industry at a competitive disadvantage to all other retail sectors. Canada's major competitors in terms of diamonds, Australia and Russia, eliminated the tax two years ago.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. When will he create a level playing field?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, a number of members of Parliament, including that member of Parliament, have raised this issue. The member from the Northwest Territories has always been particularly strong on the subject as well.

I will obviously take this and other representations very carefully into account when we are preparing the next budget plan. I know many members of the House, including members of the finance committee, have a very real interest in this subject matter.