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House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was loans.

Topics

ImmigrationOral Question Period

April 24th, 1995 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the last budget the immigration minister decided to levy a new $975 tax on refugees and immigrants to pay for settlement services. He said that those who could not afford this tax would be loaned the money to cover the costs.

How does the immigration minister intend to pay for the massive bureaucracy which will be necessary to administer the loans that pay for the tax? It is a tax because it is going into general revenue.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the $975 that was announced by the Minister of Finance on budget night is a landing fee and a recovery of program costs. The member should know that all cost recovery fees of the entire federal government go into general revenue.

The member seems to be arguing. When it came out he and his party were in favour. Then at committee they said they were opposed if it went into general revenues and not into the department, which really does not impact the bottom line.

The fact is that the landing fee is the best way of ensuring that settlement for immigrants and refugees continues. It is the best option of a series of alternatives that were certainly not as progressive.

I would like to know on any given day where the Reform Party stands on this issue.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the truth be known, the collection services of this government are disastrous. It cannot even look after the sponsorship agreements.

Only this minister could see the logic in expanding a bureaucracy to administer loans to finance a tax to offset runaway immigration costs when the money does not go into the immigration department at all.

Why did this minister choose to expand the size and cost of his immigration empire and impose a new tax when he could have easily cut the number of immigrants who require settlement services and make those who need them pay their own way like other countries do?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, now we get to the true Reform agenda, hiding behind some fictitious tax.

It is not going to increase the so-called empire. If the member does his parliamentary homework, he will note that in the estimates there are no such increases that the member speaks of. We already collect a transportation loan from refugees.

He talks about payback. Let me tell the hon. member that since 1951 refugees have paid back the transportation loans of $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 to the tune of 97 per cent. There is no increase in the bureaucracy.

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the heritage minister. Recently,

the president of Power DirecTv issued an ultimatum to the government saying: "If you do not take any action by April 24, we will have to cancel our plans". This means that the federal government intends to overturn a CRTC decision by order in council.

Can the heritage minister tell us whether there is any justification for his government's eagerness to bulldoze the CRTC on the issue of satellite TV other than to please the government's friends who are legion at Power Corporation?

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, it is a concern we also have regarding the information highway.

On numerous occasions, we have stated that we favour a competitive system. It is not very clear whether Bloc members are for or against competition or for a transparent satellite broadcasting licensing system; however, it is clear that nearly all the comments on the report presented to the government on April 6 have been positive. Probably the most significant critics came from Power Corporation, which was not very happy with the report.

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question is for the heritage minister.

How can the minister deny that there is now a possibility for Power DirecTv to do like Expressvu and broadcast via satellite? This is to abide by the CRTC's ruling.

Why then prevent Expressvu from broadcasting and make it go through a different process just for the sake of pleasing Power DirecTv?

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member, when she thinks about it, will realize that it is better to have a process in place such as that for licensing other concerns which is transparent, open to public discussion and debate, and open to appeal, rather than the indirect method of an exemption order that was applied by the CRTC in this case. One of the reasons we referred the matter to the panel of experts was in order for them to look at the question of what the process was and whether it was an adequate process.

I think in the end the hon. member will agree that the application for licensing, if indeed we introduce the order proposed by the panel of experts, is one which will give an opportunity to everyone meeting certain qualifications which are very consistent with those that apply to cable television operators for example. It will provide funding for Canadian culture and other endeavours to be pursued by everyone interested in providing this kind of service.

Telecommunications IndustryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

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

A month ago Bell Canada announced the elimination of approximately 10,000 jobs. Recently we were informed of financial difficulties at Unitel which could lead to more layoffs. In light of these developments, what is the government's position on competition in the Canadian telecommunications market?

Telecommunications IndustryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, once again I want to restate the commitment the government has in this sector broadly to competition as being the best means of ensuring that we have the lowest prices, the broadest possible choice, and the greatest range of innovation.

This is a sector which perhaps of all sectors is one of the most globally competitive. It is one of the ones that is most important as a component to costs in Canadian business and therefore a competitive structure is one that commends itself to us.

At the same time of course we share the concerns that I am sure the hon. member is representing in realizing that a lot of firms are going to go through adjustment periods and perhaps in many cases will be downsizing. I believe it is a temporary phenomenon. In time the number of jobs created in the information technology sector is going to far outweigh the number of jobs that are lost in the short term adjustment period.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, an unbelievable lawsuit has been launched against the Government of Ontario by sponsored immigrants. They are suing Ontario for deducting $100 from their welfare cheques despite the fact their sponsors have reneged on their signed guarantee of full support.

Will the immigration minister be supporting the province of Ontario in its defence, especially in light of the $700 million that this abuse costs Canadian taxpayers?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is a little late and should talk to the immigration critic.

In the immigration levels we put before the House last November we were very clear about the plan with respect to family sponsorships.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, being very clear and doing something about it are two different things.

The minister has still not done what he said he would, to institute a system of bonds for sponsors to cover these costs. Since the province of Ontario has been able to identify those who are abusing the system will the minister now enforce the sponsorship contracts?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it is the member who is misinformed. The action is certainly under way.

We said very clearly we wanted to bring under control the roughly 14 per cent of family class sponsorships that do fail, keeping in mind the overwhelming majority of immigrants who come here on family sponsorships play by the rules.

It was discussed at the committee. I hope he will consult with the immigration critic and get caught up.

RwandaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Rwandan army has committed a real carnage on Saturday when it opened fire with automatic weapons and grenades at the Kibeho refugee camp. According to several sources, the army killed several thousand Hutu refugees.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs tells us whether his government made representations to the Rwandan authorities asking for an end to this kind of behaviour, in Kibeho and elsewhere?

RwandaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government condemned in the most vigorous way the massacre just described by the hon. member. We immediately asked Ambassador Dusseault to go to the camp, inquire and report as quickly as possible.

RwandaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, are the incidents which happened at the Kibeho refugee camp likely to lead the government to reconsider its help and support to the new government of Rwanda, considering also the numerous rumours that circulate as to the diversion of Canadian help by Rwandan authorities?

RwandaOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that this ruthless behaviour on the part of the army puts in jeopardy all the efforts made over the last few weeks to bring about reconciliation between the various groups and factions.

Clearly, we will have to review our position at this time, because we thought that the good faith and the efforts of the government over the last few weeks seemed promising. We are waiting impatiently for the report of Ambassador Dusseault and we will act according to the recommendations he will make. I will keep in mind the suggestions of the hon. member.

InfrastructureOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

I understand the minister of public works consulted with the Minister of Transport about transferring $26 million from the federal strategic highway improvement program allotted for the bypass at Wentworth Valley in Nova Scotia. It is well known as being one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the country.

Where were the funds transferred? To the minister's own riding of Cape Breton, of course, for the construction of a tourist road. How can the minister justify such a blatant conflict of interest to Canadians?

InfrastructureOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member recognizes the allocation of funds for highway construction, even though in part it may come from the federal government, is a provincial responsibility.

I want to assure my hon. colleague the negotiations with the province of Nova Scotia, as is the case with many other provinces across the country, are ongoing and there are reallocations which take place from time to time. However, whatever reallocations are made are always on the basis of those negotiations with the provinces, which are ultimately responsible for not only the spending of the money but also for the route selection.

InfrastructureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, the fleur-de-lis trail, which the minister is sort of talking about, does not come under this funding program. The agreement was changed by the minister of public works and the Minister of Transport. The auditor general of Nova Scotia is saying they cannot justify the change that was made.

How can the minister sacrifice the safety of Canadians for the tourist trade in Cape Breton?

InfrastructureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is usual to answer a question asked by a member who knows better.

The reallocation of funds under this agreement and any other agreement comes as a result of requests from provincial governments. It does not just occur in Nova Scotia; it occurs on a regular basis. The extent to which provinces exercise their jurisdiction for spending money on highways and determining where those highways should go is something the hon. member should know.

The Government of Nova Scotia has announced recently the construction of a highway along, I gather, where the member thinks it should have gone originally. We are very pleased to be participating in that project as well.

Life InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions.

Life insurance polices classify flying, racing, boating, snowmobiling and hot air ballooning as hazardous sports. Since hundreds of Canadians die or are injured every year in gun related activities, what action can the secretary of state take to ensure gun activities are classified also as hazardous sports by life insurance companies in Canada?

Life InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

As the hon. member knows, such decisions are taken by the insurance companies. He should take it up with them. It would not be appropriate for the government to decide on classifications and appropriate risk assessments. That is a private sector decision which insurance companies make.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the March 27 meeting of federal Liberals from the Bourassa riding, which the Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs attended, the president of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party, Denis Coderre, made some derogatory remarks regarding immigrants and refugees, to the effect that there should be a law providing for the deportation of sovereignist immigrants.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Will he tell us whether Mr. Coderre's remarks are indicative of the government's new policy on immigration, despite the fact that he himself declared yesterday that hatred, ethnic nationalism, religious fanaticism and racism would not be tolerated?