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House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was promise.

Topics

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

October 28th, 1996 / 2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to Statistics Canada, since the Liberals took office in Ottawa, federal investments in Quebec have constantly been decreasing, going down from 19.7 per cent of total Canadian investments in 1993 to 15.4 per cent this year. Normally, Quebec should have been entitled to one quarter of federal investments.

How can the Prime Minister, who bragged this past weekend about what he had in store for Quebec, explain this decrease in federal investments in Quebec since he took office?

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois is making a somewhat selective use of data. The fact is we just announced a number of federal investment initiatives in Quebec, and particularly in Montreal.

These include an investment announced last week in the aeronautical industry; an investment in the Mitel plant, located in Bromont; an investment in the biotechnology institute, at the

national research centre, and the maintaining of the space agency, among others.

Given that almost 41 per cent of tax credits for research and development are claimed in Quebec, these sectors are well supported by the federal government.

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister did not get the meaning of my question. Since the Liberals took office, public investments in Quebec have decreased, in relation to the rest of the country. Federal investments have decreased in Quebec in the last three years. This is what we are saying.

The Prime Minister tells us this is related to the bidding process. Maybe once or twice, but after 15 years one begins to wonder. This is systematic discrimination.

This is what my supplementary is about. Does the Prime Minister or the Minister of Industry find it normal that, for the past 15 years, again according to this recent study by Statistics Canada, federal investments in Quebec have accounted for only 16.4 per cent of federal spending, instead of 25 per cent, thus resulting in a shortfall of close to $4 billion for Quebec? This is a lot of money and a lot of jobs that the Liberal government, and its Conservative predecessor, deliberately refused to create in Quebec.

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am always disturbed by the representations made by regional parties in the House. They seem to believe that each investment should be equally divided among all the provinces.

Does the hon. member think it would be better if the investment announced last Monday regarding Canadair were divided equally between all Canadians?

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Maybe he could explain that at the economic summit.

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Does he think all tax credits for research and development should be divided? Should all the networks of centres of excellence be divided fairly among the provinces?

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

It would interesting to discuss this at the economic summit. For one thing, they like to get federal money.

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

To say that this idea was really not based on economic and industrial development is simply false.

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

It is blackmail.

Federal InvestmentsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Sometimes we have a couple of microphones open and inadvertently other voices come over the intercom.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister and his Liberal cronies sipped wine over the weekend and said no to lower taxes, ordinary Canadians were trying to figure out how they were going to pay for next week's groceries.

Here is the story. Disposable income is down $3,000 per family, 1.4 million Canadians are out of work, another 1 million have stopped looking for work, 2 million are underemployed and one in four workers is worried about losing their job.

Will the Prime Minister admit that his unwillingness to shrink and focus his government and leave more money in the pockets of taxpayers and job creators is the real reason he and his government are failing to fulfil their promise to create jobs, jobs, jobs?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, the House leader has already stated we have created 700,000 jobs in the private sector.

Let me read a commentary on the Reform Party's policy from Dr. Ruth Getter, chief economist of the Toronto Dominion Bank: "What the government has done with its restraint that it has put in place is really quite remarkable and we have got this kind of environment in the economy that is ready to take off. If at this point you say cut even more so you can cut taxes, it is not clear to me that you could accomplish anything by that".

That is what the Reform Party is saying, that it wants to accomplish nothing.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish the hon. member would go to the 1.4 million unemployed people out there and ask for a mark from them on their record of creating jobs, jobs, jobs.

Despite recognition earlier this year that infrastructure and other make work programs failed to create real jobs, the Prime Minister stood up in front of his Liberal cronies this weekend and promised to return to this boondoggle form of governance.

Can the Prime Minister tell Canadians why now he is talking about spending any future budget surplus on bloating the size of government rather than giving consumers and job creators the tax relief they need to create the real jobs that people are demanding?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I am really interested to hear the Reform Party talking about jobs and social programs. Believing that the Reform Party has a social conscience is like believing that Count Dracula was a blood donor.

What would the Reform Party's policies do? The Reform Party's policies would tax the poor to pay the rich. It would eliminate the high income surtax. That means $100 lower taxes for the $30,000 a year person and $1,200 lower taxes for the $100,000 a year person.

That is not in the cards in our program. Let the Reform Party sell that one to the public.

ZaireOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

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

The rapidly escalating conflict in eastern Zaire between Tutsi rebels and the Zairian army is on the point of culminating in a human catastrophe far worse than that in Rwanda in 1994. More than one million Rwandan refugees have been cut off, and 500,000 of them are fleeing the country.

With aid workers forced to leave the area and the planned airlift to rescue refugees in danger of being called off, can the minister give an update on the situation and indicate what his government intends to do to help avoid a repetition of the 1994 tragedy?

ZaireOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns expressed by the hon. member. As she says, it is a very serious problem. At this time, we are supporting the report by the U.N. Secretary General calling for diplomatic mediation efforts.

The secretary of state for Latin America and Africa, Mrs. Stewart, is in Africa to attend a meeting of the coalition of African countries. She is representing Canada's position in favour of a peaceful solution.

We are also ready to respond to requests for assistance from international organizations. There have been no requests to date, but we are ready to respond should any arise.

ZaireOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, the American government recently tried to persuade African countries to set up a permanent force to come to the assistance of African civilians in the event of war. Although this suggestion has, for the time being, been given a chilly reception by African countries, does the minister intend to try to argue for the creation of such a force, which would be one way of helping to resolve the present crisis?

ZaireOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there have been some very good examples in the past few years of regional groupings of African countries coming together to organize peace forces.

The proposal by Secretary Christopher is one that we have discussed directly with officials in the United States and with African countries.

Again, we have indicated that we are prepared to assist if the African countries themselves agree to some kind of standby force or representation in the central African region. We have a number of ways in which we can support, through training and through the work of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. At the present time we provide assistance to a number of institutes for conflict resolution and strategic studies in South Africa and Cairo. Others are engaged with the OAU.

I certainly agree with the hon. member, if we could work out some way in which the African states themselves could respond. They have an economic boycott which in part has been successful. Clearly the situation in Zaire has the potential for a major disaster. Unless the international community responds with a degree of resolve unlike what we showed in Rwanda, we could be facing a very grave problem.

Canada stands by ready to do what it can.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, in a cynical attempt to get elected, the Liberals promised in the red book not to withdraw from the health care field. The Prime Minister finally admitted this weekend that he had had to squeeze medicare.

How does a squeeze of $3 billion a year to federal transfers for medicare reconcile with that Liberal red book promise?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member ignores the fact that the health ministers of the provinces and territories of Canada had asked for a commitment from this government, a commitment which it made and lived up to, to stabilize funding and to give funding that people could address on a secured basis. They asked for a cash floor which is over $11 billion and with which they are extremely happy. They have stable funding for the next five years at an average of $26.1 billion, gradually to go higher by 1998.

I think that is what the provinces and the territories were looking for in order to stabilize health care expenditures and health care systems. We delivered on that promise.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary talks about stable funding but it is something from a stable that we got instead.

Reform however has a fresh start on medicare. When the budget is balanced in 1999, we promise to increase the funding for health

care and education by $4 billion. That is not stable funding for medicare; that is increased funding for medicare.

Simply put, will the Liberals take another page from the Reform Party platform and restore the funding for medicare?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we would take the member a little more seriously if he was not so interested in making light of the affair. If he had looked at what we have done in the last two budgets, he would already have seen that there is a provision for increasing spending by 1998. I wonder which page is taken out of whose book.

I do not know how we are going to go on from the point that the member opposite is suggesting that first we slash the system so it cannot function and then we give it an injection of cash. We prefer a more responsible approach, the one we have outlined in budgets past and in the current budget. That is the right way and we are going to continue with that.

PolygramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Industry.

Recently, the Minister had a meeting with Philips Electronic in the Netherlands to discuss investments this company might make in Canada. Meanwhile, Investment Canada and Polygram, a subsidiary of Philips, were negotiating the terms of Polygram's entry into the Canadian film distribution market. However, according to Canada's policy on the film industry, Polygram does not have the right to enter the Canadian market.

In this context would the Minister of Industry not agree that he is sending a message to foreign investors that Canadian cultural policies are negotiable?

PolygramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, this is an odd question. Does the hon. member think that the people of Quebec or the National Capital Region, or Edmonton, Vancouver or other parts of the country, if they could get about a billion dollars invested in the semi-conductor sector, would not want the Minister of Industry to approach companies that would be able to make that kind of investment? It is very important for us to attract investment.

As for Polygram, I did not discuss the matter with Philips, and it was not on the agenda at our meeting.

PolygramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, obviously we would never object to the billions of dollars of investments to which the minister refers, unless they are intended for his riding. We might have some questions in that case, but if they go anywhere else, they will be most welcome.

However, one wonders why not the minister but Investment Canada is negotiating Polygram's entry on the Canadian film market, although it does not meet any of the requirements in this respect?