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House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Francophone And Acadian MinoritiesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, the income gap between francophones and anglophones, which keeps widening, is partly due to the fact that francophone minorities in Canada do not have management control of their elementary and secondary schools. This opinion is also shared by the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier. After thirty years of futile struggle, half of the Franco-Ontarian students still attend English schools, and their parents are getting poorer every year.

Yesterday, in this House, the Minister of Canadian Heritage reiterated the government's intention to reestablish the Court Challenges Program.

Francophone and Acadian minorities in Canada do not need federal subsidies to pay for their lawyers. The Supreme Court has already confirmed their rights. These minorities need the same degree of generosity displayed by Quebecers toward their anglophone minority, which includes fair financing of their schools as well as control of these schools.

JusticeStatements By Members

March 25th, 1994 / 11:10 a.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, members will know that just this past Tuesday hundreds of peace officers from across Canada gathered in Ottawa to dedicate a pavilion in memory of Canadian peace officers killed in the line of duty. The pavilion is 100 yards from this place.

I met with three widows of slain policemen. With tears in their eyes, they asked me to use my influence to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code, a loophole that lets convicted murderers out of jail after just 15 years.

In 1971, the Liberal Solicitor General said that rehabilitation is a priority of the criminal justice system and not the protection of society. Life means life.

When will Parliament's bleeding heart Liberals finally get in step with Canadians and put teeth in our criminal justice system? Protection of society must be the first priority of the criminal justice system. Life means life.

The EconomyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, it being the last day before the Easter break, it is time for a report card on the government.

House sales are up 14.3 per cent over the same period last year. Employment is up 66 per cent February over January. The composite leading index is up .8 per cent for one month. Car and truck sales are up 12 per cent over the same period last year. Merchandise exports are up 13.1 per cent over the same period last year. Inflation is only .2 per cent.

Finally let me quote the Governor of the Bank of Canada who said that the signs show that strong foundations are being laid for a sustainable expansion to our economy.

This government deserves an A-plus.

Senior CitizensStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Roger Simmons Liberal Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, our senior citizens are our most marvellous resource. They have made a great contribution to the country; whether it is risking their lives at war, building our infrastructure, designing our very enviable social safety net, preserving and transmitting our value system.

Everything we have, everything we are, everything we believe in, we owe to these men and women who are now seniors. Is it not time that we began to repay the debt we owe to these people, to begin watching out for those who have watched out for us for so long.

I am thinking particularly of the poor among them, the abused among them, the sick among them, the disabled. It is true that we have old age security and medicare, but it is time to go the extra mile, to reach out to those people really in need, those who want to stay in their homes, those who want to preserve and maintain their independence, those who want to live out their lives as they would choose to do it.

That is the challenge to us.

Semaine Provinciale Du FrançaisStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais Liberal Madawaska—Victoria, NB

Mr. Speaker, today marks the end of a very exciting week in New Brunswick. I am referring to the Semaine provinciale du français, which began last Monday under the theme "Fêter, c'est français", and concerns all of New Brunswick, that is both its French and English-speaking populations.

All week, activities took place across the province to promote French in New Brunswick.

On Monday, I was at the Cité des jeunes, where I met lively young francophones from New Brunswick who strive to preserve the French fact in that province.

Interest RatesOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the downward slide of the Canadian dollar, coupled with the fact that interest rates appear to be on the increase, is cause for great concern. This disturbing situation comes at a time when the dollar has fallen to its lowest level in eight years.

For the consumer preparing to renew a $100,000 mortgage, this could mean an increase of $80 a month, just at a time when the largest number of real estate transactions are made.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Does the Minister recognize that the downward slide of the Canadian dollar and the upward pressure on interest rates are largely attributable to the actions of Japanese investors who are divesting themselves in mass numbers of their Canadian securities?

Interest RatesOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question and the tone in which it was put. However, as you know, international markets are extremely volatile and it is really not the Minister of Finance's place to comment on the reasons why this is the case.

Interest RatesOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the minister recognize that the falling Canadian dollar, which has tumbled even further than the US dollar, and the reaction in Japanese financial circles are directly attributable to the failure on the part of the Finance Minister to introduce strong measures to control public spending?

Interest RatesOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could refer the hon. member to an article in yesterday's Le Devoir by Mr. Sansfaçon who lists the reasons why markets are nervous and gives his own views about the Canadian dollar. He notes that a survey of the vast majority of foreign stock exchanges and a review of their reports has revealed one clear fact, namely that the reasons for the uncertainty surrounding our currency obviously have nothing to do-and these are his own words-with the February 22 budget.

Interest RatesOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the Minister of Finance not agree that his strategy, which consists in shifting the deficit onto the backs of the provinces, is being judged very harshly by foreign markets and that this strategy is the direct cause of the problems which the Canadian dollar is currently experiencing?

Interest RatesOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, when we were in opposition, we made it very clear that shifting the burden of the federal debt onto the backs of the provincial governments was extremely harmful. That is why we did not take this kind of action in our budget. In fact, we did quite the opposite.

A month and a half before the budget, we adopted our equalization program which, I must say, is very beneficial to Quebec and to the seven provinces which receive equalization. This was a program that the previous government had neglected to ratify, preferring instead to merely extend its provisions. We have signed a five-year agreement and even Quebec has said that we have been generous. Moreover, when the time came to move on social security reform, we provided a two-year period of predictability with respect to payments and we have indicated that we will work with the provinces. And I must say that the provincial ministers of finance, including Mr. Bourbeau of Quebec, have reacted very positively to our actions.

Unemployment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

Confirmation was given to us yesterday that the poorest of the provinces, that is to say the Maritime provinces and Quebec, will be the hardest hit by unemployment insurance cuts. In Atlantic Canada and Quebec alone, cuts will total $1.36 billion a year for the next two years. Furthermore, these cuts will cause a substantial increase in provincial expenditures for social assistance.

Will the Minister of Finance confirm the statement made by his colleague the Minister for Human Resources Development to the effect that only 3 per cent of UI recipients will be affected by reductions in benefit rates, which means that, in Quebec, 3 per cent of our unemployed work force will foot the $735 million bill passed on to the provinces as a result of the minister's cuts?

Unemployment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, in terms of per capita UI benefits, Atlantic Canada will be receiving $970 and Quebec $739, as compared to a national average of $575. Following these changes to the UI system, Atlantic Canada and Quebec will continue to receive much more than the national average. So, there is no basis for saying that they are hit harder.

Unemployment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that this answer will sound incredibly cynical to all unemployed men and women in Quebec and the Maritimes, and the scale of the demonstrations held by people who are seeing more and more clearly what the government is up to should prompt him to act.

Here is my question. Is the Minister of Finance prepared to defer cutbacks in the unemployment insurance system at least long enough to put in place a real job creation strategy to help the jobless find work instead of forcing them onto welfare?

Unemployment InsuranceOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

I will answer the hon. member through you, Mr. Speaker. Our budget is a real job creation strategy. Atlantic Canada and Quebec stand to benefit the most, because these regions are unfortunately the most seriously affected by unemployment.

I must say that the rollback in unemployment insurance premium rates will benefit small business in Quebec and Atlantic Canada and thus foster job creation. I must say that our technology network will help small business, Atlantic Canada and Quebec. I must add that our budget will help those provinces where the unemployment situation is the most serious because it is designed to create jobs by calling upon one of their strengths, small and medium-sized businesses.

Allow me to quote this statistical data published today concerning Quebec. There are apparently real signs of an upward trend in employment in Quebec. This fact was confirmed by the Quebec manpower development agency. From August to January, the employment level in Quebec has grown by 51,000 jobs to 2,983,000, the highest level since October 1991. Last January, a net number of 23,000 jobs were created, as opposed to 13,000 lost in December.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the dollar is falling, interest rates are rising, the government has stooped to writing its own report cards. Thank goodness it is Friday and thank goodness it is Easter break.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Contrary to repeated assurances by the minister that he is not terribly concerned about interest rates, these rates continue to climb.

My purpose today is not to ask the minister why rates are climbing, whose fault it is or even whether he can do anything about it. My purpose is to get a straight answer to a specific direct question: Can the minister tell this House whether his department has developed any contingency plan to meet its deficit reduction targets if interest rates continue to climb.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, we are on track for our deficit targets. We have built into our budget sufficient room to manoeuvre given the number of variables which well could affect our targets. Let me simply say to the member that we are going to hit our target.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, not only are interest rates rising but the dollar is falling at a dramatic rate. The minister must realize that a falling dollar will increase the cost of imports and will inevitably cause inflation. The minister is counting on a low inflation economy and that is not a traditional characteristic of the Liberal government.

Can the minister tell the House if he has a strategy to maintain low inflation in Canada if imports begin to drive the inflation rate above 3 per cent?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I know that this is not the case but the member seems to be almost rubbing his hands in glee at what is happening. I am sure that is not the case because all members in this House will seek the best for the Canadian economy.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

An hon. member

Right on.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Martin Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Before Christmas the Governor of the Bank of Canada and I sat down and set out our inflationary targets for the next five years. Those inflationary targets we did in a very short period of time, something that took the previous government two and one-half years to arrive at.

Those inflation targets are among the most disciplined of any of the industrial countries in the western world. They are a 1 to 3 target with mid-point 2. The Governor of the Bank of Canada testifying before the Senate the other day made it very clear that we are going to stay within those targets.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, certainly this boasting that the budget is a great success may impress backbenchers but it has obviously failed impressing those who finance Canada's $500 billion debt, namely taxpayers and investors.

For six weeks now the minister's promise of a strong medicine next year has been undermined by repeated statements by the Prime Minister that all cuts are already on the table.

In light of rising interest rates and the falling dollar, will the minister ask the Prime Minister to remove the handcuffs and

allow him to use the only available solution to the problem, deeper cuts in public spending and a revised fiscal plan?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Develop-ment -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I have heard the Prime Minister repeatedly within this House in response to questions from the other side say exactly what I said in the budget speech. That is that the cuts in our budget in and of themselves are sufficient for us to reach the 3 per cent of GDP target that we have within three years.

The Prime Minister has gone on to say that within the budget reference is made to the review of government operations which is going to be undertaken by the Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal in which we are rethinking the role of government, rethinking the way in which we approach the economy. That is an essential part of our budget and it is an essential part of our ultimate plan to clean up this nation's finances.

Job CreationOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Finance.

At the end of February, Hydro-Québec received the go-ahead from the Quebec government to start construction on the Sainte-Marguerite project, in the Sept-Îles region, where unemployment is very high. At the time of this announcement, Quebec had obtained political assurances from Ottawa that the federal government would support the project. But failing federal permits, the construction of the dam, scheduled to start next week, may have to be postponed.

While he is doing little to create jobs, could the minister at least have the decency not to create difficulties for those who do and will he give us the assurance that the federal government will issue the permits required to allow Hydro-Québec to implement this project which does not interfere with the regular flow of the rivers and will create-

Job CreationOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Put your question!