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House of Commons Hansard #278 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

Child CareOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, with questions like that, the hon. member for Calgary Southeast is going to give the Grinch a bad name.

I would like to point out to the hon. member that in developing our child care proposal, the first thing we have done is to sign an agreement with the aboriginal people to provide 6,000 additional spaces for the group in the country who probably needs them most. That is not a failure but a major investment. Also, because we want to recommend, recognize and respect provincial jurisdiction, we have made a similar offer to the provinces to which we hope to have a positive response.

To answer the question specifically, I would like to quote from a sometime distinguished member of the House who represents the constituency of Calgary Southeast. On October 16 she said: "We can do more as federal legislators to foster hiring and employment such as supporting new day care facilities". From time to time we are prepared to listen to the advice of the hon. member for Calgary Southeast. It is too bad she herself cannot remember what she said just a few short months ago.

Radio Canada InternationalOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

In a letter sent to an RCI employee in January 1991, the Prime Minister, who was Leader of the Opposition at the time, pointed out that Liberal members had moved an amendment in the debate on Bill C-40 to have Radio Canada International designated a permanent service in order to ensure its survival. During the same period, the current secretary of state for the status of women went so far as to ask, on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, that full funding be restored for Radio Canada International.

How does the minister explain that, five years after stating its unconditional support to RCI, his government suddenly decided to put an end to RCI's operations?

Radio Canada InternationalOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I have already told this House that no decision has been made about Radio Canada International. The government is waiting for the mandate committee to table its report, which will contain recommendations on the future of the CBC, including its international operations. Then, we will be able to make a decision.

Radio Canada InternationalOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister seems to keep forgetting that the employees have already been handed their pink slips.

How can the minister explain such an about-face when, in the new foreign policy statement issued by the government just ten months ago, Radio Canada International was said to be a cornerstone of its foreign policy?

Radio Canada InternationalOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, how can we do an about-face when no decision was made? Once a decision has been made, our colleague will be in a better position to comment.

Transfer PaymentsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, last winter the finance minister committed to bring together the provincial finance ministers to set the new terms for the Canada health and social transfer. They came together this week and could only agree on a dinner menu and that was about it.

Why in the world did the minister wait until three months before the decision was to be made to bring the ministers together? What is his game plan now if the provinces cannot agree? It certainly looks like that is the case.

Transfer PaymentsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, officials from the provincial and federal finance departments have been meeting regularly for quite some time.

The meeting that was held had been scheduled and follows the normal schedule of such meetings. I made it very clear that we did not expect to come out of that meeting with a final decision but that at the ministerial level we would engage in a discussion by the officials that would continue for quite some time.

In fact, the meeting ended up roughly where one would have expected. That is, those provinces which are contributing were seeking one formula and those provinces again by another formula were seeking to protect that position.

Transfer PaymentsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have equalization payments that serve to equalize the services that are provided across the country.

The initial distribution of the Canada health and social transfer discriminates against Alberta, B.C. and Ontario. Furthermore, Quebec gets more than Newfoundland on a per capita basis.

Is it the minister's intention to continue his discrimination against some provinces? Will he favour a distribution of the CHST that results in per capita transfers to all the provinces and all Canadians on an equal basis?

Transfer PaymentsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the position of per capita payments was certainly discussed.

In terms of equalization and therefore obviously the derivative effect on the CHST, all provincial finance ministers, regardless of whether they were from a recipient province or a province that was contributing, discussed the issue with a great deal more understanding, a great deal more compassion and a great deal more vision in terms of what Canada is all about than has been expressed by the member of the Reform Party.

Tax Point TransfersOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, when questioned about the federal government's refusal to withdraw from health, welfare and education as requested by Quebec, the Prime Minister said that he found Quebec's tax point transfer proposal unacceptable because this formula would not give the federal government enough credit with Canadians.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Does the Minister of Finance agree with his Prime Minister and is he also more interested in ensuring the federal government's visibility than in reducing overlap and improving services to the public?

Tax Point TransfersOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec government's proposal will not eliminate overlap and duplication. Mrs. Marois was proposing a tax point transfer that, given Quebec's expenditures, would be exorbitant.

At the same time, if we look at the possibility of transferring tax points to all the provinces, it must be said that Quebec would lose out. This formula would benefit wealthier provinces such as Alberta and Ontario, but not Quebec. I should add that Mrs. Marois did not talk about equalization, which is a very important element of federal transfers to Quebec.

Tax Point TransfersOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec finance minister's proposal has but one objective: to stop his government's drastic cuts on the backs of the most disadvantaged in our society. That is all.

If it is not to ensure visibility at the expense of services to the public, how does the minister explain that, in the area of job training, his government's decentralization effort is limited to sending cheques clearly identified with a maple leaf directly to the unemployed, thus bypassing the Quebec government?

Tax Point TransfersOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am a little surprised that the hon. member has raised the issue of training, since the Minister of Human Resources Development met with his counterpart, Mrs. Harel, only yesterday

to discuss the offer. This is a very open and practically revolutionary offer from the federal government, not only to transfer responsibilities to Quebec, but also to really work together to better train our workers.

Radio-Canada InternationalOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Warren Allmand Liberal Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, QC

Mr. Speaker, many Canadians are upset by the announced closure of Radio-Canada International.

I would like to ask the Minister of Heritage: What is the justification for this closure and how will the government replace this excellent means of publicizing Canada in eight languages in 126 countries for only $16 million per year? What can the minister do to save this important service?

Radio-Canada InternationalOral Question Period

December 14th, 1995 / 2:45 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the CBC has made its position known with respect to RCI in the context of budgetary restraints.

The government, however, is waiting for the mandate review committee to report. The report will make decisions both on the future of international activities of the CBC and on the future budget of the CBC.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, this morning when the minister of immigration announced the government's plan to deal with the defaulted sponsorship obligations, he said that he did not support the use of bonds as it was unfair to require the money in advance, up front.

However, the minister did not address the use of non-cash surety bonds. Considering the great expense for the taxpayer in pursuing defaulted sponsorship through the courts, would the minister not agree that the use of these bonds would be a more cost effective way of ensuring compliance with the terms of sponsorship?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the member started her press conference by suggesting that the government's package and the government's actions were very much on the right course. After some reflection and after some hint, she comes to the House of Commons and suggests that perhaps a bond is the way to go.

We have the right package, the right mix. We reflected on the bond and believe it is far preferable to proceed with this package, keeping in mind that some 85 per cent to 90 per cent of sponsors who undertake a sponsorship agreement live up to their end of the bargain. The question became: How do we address the remaining 10 per cent, the few who abuse, and try to make the few fewer?

That is why we are tightening eligibility. That is why we are tightening abuse to social programs. That is why we are enforcing the enforcement side of the procedures. We also said that should these procedures not work, and we believe they will, at that time we can contemplate additional action.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, while the minister states his government's intentions to deal with defaulted obligations, he still faces a very major hurdle with the IRB, the Immigration and Refugee Board. I remind the minister of a decision it made with Mohammed Assaf, who was permitted to sponsor his second wife despite being $32,000 in arrears.

What is the value of the initiative that he announced earlier today when the IRB is deliberately undermining his department's objectives?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, one case does not make a good law.

The member agreed with the direction of the government's package today. We consulted all the provinces. We always hear from that side of the House, the apologists usually for the provinces. In this case each province suggested that the federal government not introduce a bond at this time.

Therefore, in the best interest of co-operative federalism, this package was developed in concert with the provinces, which the hon. member always suggests we do. I wish her and her colleagues a merry Christmas.

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry. Recently, the industry and heritage ministers took drastic measures to create a competitive environment in the satellite broadcasting industry.

Next week, the government must render its decision regarding the appeal filed by the Stentor group, which is asking for the elimination of the privileges provided in the regulations and tariffs for other telecommunication companies affiliated with American giants such as Unitel, Sprint, Fonorolla, regarding competitive services such as long distance calls.

Will the government take measures to ensure that companies that are 100 per cent Canadian can enjoy the same regulations and tariffs as companies affiliated with an American partner?

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I understand the question as it relates to competition. As the hon. member knows, our policy is to promote competition. We set up a system for satellite and telephone services that promotes competition, so as to reduce costs for users and improve the choice of services for consumers.

In the next short period of time we will be moving to license companies that will be introducing a new range of personal communication services. It will provide additional competition not just in those new services but for existing cellular providers as well.

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, obviously the minister did not understand my question.

I asked him if the government would pledge to ensure that companies that are 100 per cent Canadian would be subjected to the same regulations and tariffs as American companies concerning long distance calls, without having to go to the CRTC.

I have a second question I would also like him to answer. Why is it that Canadian companies do not have access to the American market in the same way that American telecommunication companies have access to the Canadian market, and will the minister pledge to contact his counterpart, Mickey Kantor, to settle the whole issue?

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, first let me thank the hon. member for her question. In fact she highlights the point that Canada has one of the most open and liberal telecommunications markets in the world.

Just last spring the vice-president of the United States stated that the U.S. was prepared to offer reciprocal treatment to countries with an open investment climate. For our part, we have allowed 20 per cent foreign control at the operating company level and 33.3 per cent at the holding company level. We are still awaiting reciprocity from the United States.

The member will know that international forum discussions are under way, leading to a general agreement on trade and services. I assure her that the government stands committed not only to open trade in telecommunication services but to ensuring that Canadian firms have as much access to the U.S. market as U.S. firms have enjoyed to the Canadian market.

Correctional Service CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General of Canada. I have been reviewing the latest Correctional Service Canada amended version of the commissioner's directives. Apparently inmates who are "unemployed because no program assignment is available" are entitled to level one pay.

While ordinary Canadians receive a lump of coal for Christmas by way of UI cuts, I would like to ask the solicitor general why awarding his own special UI for murderers, rapists and other prisoners behind bars is such a sensible thing.

Correctional Service CanadaOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the system for the pay of inmates is currently under review. It is the intention to make changes in the levels of pay available to prisoners, which is basically something based on the work they do and the courses they take.

I thank the hon. member for his point. I will certainly see that it is brought to the attention of the staff of Correctional Service Canada.