House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it has now been confirmed that the former immigration minister was caught in a serious conflict of interest. During last year's election, the former minister rushed through ministerial permits to the benefit of campaigning Liberal MPs. In fact, she signed off on some 74 of them during the campaign and 19 in a two day period leading up to the writ.

Will the Prime Minister tell the House if anyone in his office was aware of this policy at the time?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have not had a chance to read the report. I have just come back from Montreal, where the cities announcement for Quebec was made. My understanding is that the report does not conclude that there was any personal wrongdoing on the part of the member for York West herself. That obviously answers the hon. member's question.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me explore my first question a little further. The Prime Minister has consistently defended the actions of the former minister. In fact, he stood up for her actions 100% up until today, and I guess including today. Can the Prime Minister tell us when he became aware that the former minister was distributing ministerial permits on a partisan basis?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, in fact no permits are issued on any partisan basis. They are issued to the applicant, wherever that applicant comes from.

In response to that kind of initiative it is probably instructive for the Leader of the Opposition and in fact for all of us to understand that the department makes some 1.1 million positive decisions a year and that some of these TRPs are in those 1.1 million decisions a year, according to a very transparent and merit based system that the department exercises.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Ethics Commissioner found that 98% of the rushed permits went to Liberals. Nobody is fooled that this is not on a partisan basis.

Members will remember that in the lead-up to May's confidence vote, the government staged a phony complete exoneration for the former minister here in the House. The Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and the communications director of the Prime Minister all sang the former minister's innocence, which is not exactly what the report says.

When did the Prime Minister learn that this so-called complete exoneration was in fact a fabrication?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, clearly what the hon. member is doing is misstating the report. I have not had the opportunity to read it, but it is my understanding that the Ethics Commissioner came to the conclusion that there was no personal wrongdoing on the part of the hon. member.

There is an independent Ethics Commissioner. I think it is very important that we not engage in innuendo and allegation here. The fact is that I have great confidence in the hon. member. I have expressed that before and I express it again today.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is important that the Prime Minister read the report before he exonerates the minister. It would be a nice change.

Canadians are facing some of the highest gas prices we have ever seen in this country. Meanwhile, the government continues to rake in massive gas tax revenues. The price of gas affects every single individual, family and business in the country. When is the government going to do something to lessen the burden on Canadians?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in the budget we have in fact taken steps to reduce the tax burden on Canadians. There was a proposal for about $13 billion in savings over the course of the next five years, including increasing the minimum amount that is tax exempt, which will be going from $8,000 to $10,000. That will in fact put 860,000 Canadians of low income off the tax rolls altogether.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, that rhetoric and 90¢ will buy us a litre of gas. We are asking about gas taxes here. The government is rolling in gas tax revenue right now. Canadians, though, are getting hosed at the pumps, in part due to high taxes.

The government charges GST on top of all the other taxes on gas, which leads to still higher prices. When will the finance minister commit to ending this government sponsored price gouging and simply axe the tax on tax?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have taken two steps specifically in relation to this measure.

First, in an earlier gas spike not very many months ago, we earmarked the proceeds from that period of time to the medical equipment fund, which was in fact in the $41 billion that we are transferring to the provinces to improve medicare. Now we are transferring half of the gas tax, ramping up half of the gas tax, to Canadian municipalities to help to pay for their infrastructure.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, with the arrival of the summer holidays, gasoline prices continue to climb. There is a paradox here. Whenever oil prices soar, prices at the pump immediately follow suit. Conversely, when oil prices drop, quite often, retail gas prices do not immediately reflect that slide.

Does the Prime Minister realize that oil and gas companies are taking advantage of the inaction of this government, which continues to sit on the sidelines and do nothing to rectify this rather particular situation?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway
B.C.

Liberal

David Emerson Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the Competition Bureau has reviewed gasoline pricing a number of times over the last 10 years and has never found any evidence of collusion. The price of oil and gas is internationally determined. The setting and control of gasoline prices at the pump is a provincial responsibility.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are well aware that retail gas pricing is a provincial responsibility, but the Competition Act is a federal one. If they have not found anything, it is because this legislation has no teeth. That is the problem. The government also has the power to create a petroleum monitoring agency, something the Bloc Québécois has been demanding for a number of years.

Once again, is this government not proving that it is favouring the oil and gas companies over consumers?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Vancouver Kingsway
B.C.

Liberal

David Emerson Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I do not think anybody needs to be reminded of what gasoline prices are out there. What we need to do is make sure that we have a good strong competition policy. I hope the hon. member and his party will vote for the amendments to the Competition Act that are in front of this Parliament.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Rivière-Du-Loup—Montmagny, QC

Mr. Speaker, every time gas prices soar, we have proof that the federal government has not fulfilled its responsibilities as it might every time we have asked it to.

Will the Minister of Industry admit that, fluctuations in international prices aside, refinery profit margins are too high, and that the federal government still refuses to intervene in order to protect consumers? Why?