House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.

Topics

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of National Defence have stated that Canadian Forces veterans exposed to agent orange qualify for disability pensions if they can make a medical case.

These ministers miss the point. Most veterans have no idea that they were exposed to agent orange and that their illnesses are related to their military service. Can the Minister of National Defence explain to the House why he has done nothing to reach out and help those exposed to agent orange at CFB Gagetown?

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I totally reject the suggestion of the hon. member that the department is doing nothing to help those who have been exposed to agent orange. We regard this as a very serious matter. We are working with everybody we can in the Canadian Forces who has been exposed to this. This happened over 45 years ago.

I know that the hon. member and other members in the House want to make sure that the department is spending its money in ways that are responsible. We are doing that. We will help to make sure that anybody affected by this matter in our forces is properly compensated and will work with them to do it.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, many veterans have no idea that they were exposed to agent orange and that their health conditions may be related to military service. Canada's veterans affairs and national defence websites do not even mention the words “agent orange”. On the other hand, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has been assisting its vets for decades with a website filled with information.

Why has the government continued to fail to assist our Canadian Forces personnel and civilians who were unknowingly exposed to this toxic substance?

Veterans Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I think it is outrageous to try to make a comparison between the United States, when agent orange was used regularly in Vietnam and its soldiers were exposed to this regularly, and what happened in Gagetown, where agent orange was used as a herbicide.

I assure the hon. members of this House that this happened over 40 years ago. We will work with the members of our armed forces to make sure that every single person who has been exposed to agent orange and for which we can trace a problem from the agent orange will be compensated. We have to do it properly. We have to do it in a way that is responsible. That is exactly what we will do.

Infrastructure
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, St. John's, Newfoundland played host to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference this weekend, where municipal officials gathered to discuss their policies and priorities.

The new deal is one of those priorities because it means new funding for municipalities: $5 billion in gas tax revenue, $800 million in public transit and $1.6 billion for affordable housing. The mayors of Canada's 22 largest cities have called on Parliament to pass the budget. The new deal means building new partnerships. Would the Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities please inform the House of what this relationship means in terms of achieving other governmental priorities?

Infrastructure
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Don Valley West
Ontario

Liberal

John Godfrey Minister of State (Infrastructure and Communities)

Mr. Speaker, the member is entirely right. The new deal is about working with cities and communities as partners while of course respecting the jurisdictions of provinces. This spirit of collaboration has led to the signing of three excellent gas tax deals with British Columbia, Alberta and Yukon.

Unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition does not share our position. In his speech to the conference over the weekend, he referred to municipalities as “stakeholders”. That is not good enough. Let me quote the mayor of Vancouver who said, “We've been fighting to be recognized as a partner at the table, and stakeholder is not going to cut it”.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, a former Supreme Court justice revealed the government has pocketed over $2 million from the compensation fund for victims who contracted HIV from tainted blood. While victims are waiting to access the funds, the government is taxing any income from the fund. This is plain meanspirited.

Will the fund be tax exempt? Will the $2 million taken from the fund be returned? Or will the health minister continue to victimize these people?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this issue was raised with the Department of Finance in 2002. The minister at the time carefully considered the representations and Mr. Manley declined to make an exception to the normal rules. The trust has asked the department to look at the issue once again and we will do that.

I would point out, though, that the original amount settled in the trust is not being taxed. The principal is not taxed. It is tax exempt. The issue here is whether or not taxation applies to the investment income or the growth in the fund, and we will look at that question.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, people are dying while they wait for a more straightforward answer on this.

How about another topic? In 1992 Canada banned the toxic malachite green. In February, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found malachite green in farmed salmon. Our health regulations can only protect us if they are actually enforced. Where is the zero tolerance for this dangerous chemical and why are fish hatcheries still using it?

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, in this particular case the agent was in fact detected and a recall was issued.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

June 6th, 2005 / 2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, it took years for moneys to be set aside for those infected with HIV through tainted blood. Now a former Supreme Court judge has revealed that the Liberals are taxing the Red Cross trust fund that was designed to give compensation to the victims.

The government has long known about this. Why is the government siphoning money from HIV victims?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the original amount that was set aside in this private trust is not being taxed. The only issue here is with respect to the new investment income earned on that original amount, and that amount has grown due to the length of time that it has actually taken the Red Cross to settle this trust.

The issue is whether or not there should be an exception made contrary to the rules that apply to every other private trust. The representations have been made and it is under consideration.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, the only thing consistent is that the government messes up anything that deals with compensation for victims.

The government is making money off HIV victims. The compensation fund established to ease their suffering is taxed by the government. So far, over $2 million has been taken. Will the government return the money it has pocketed from HIV victims?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this government is very concerned about the position of all victims of unfortunate circumstances.

This particular issue relates to the victims of HIV-AIDS as well as hep C, but there are victims of other very unfortunate circumstances who, according to the normal rules of taxation, would find the investment income in a taxable position. We are looking for a fair and equitable solution that treats everyone with the proper respect.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all knew that the Liberals made taxpayers pay millions in rent for a vacant building, but last week the public works minister admitted that the $100 million deal violated the Parliament act.

The violation carries a fine of $200 a day for the offending party, for a total of over $100,000 in fines. When will the government force its Liberal friend to pay up these fines to taxpayers?