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House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agriculture.

Topics

PovertyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Finance wants to talk statistics, that is what Statistics Canada is there for. We can see that, for 20 per cent of poorest families, the income is more or less unchanged, and that for the richest families it has risen, while for the middle class it continues to decrease. This is what the Statistics Canada figures show.

I think that the Prime Minister still has a chance to help those who are becoming more and more familiar with poverty, and he can do before certain measures of the new Employment Insurance Act are implemented.

My question is for the Prime Minister.

Could he not suspend implementation of employment insurance reform measures which end up impoverishing the unemployed by taking billions of dollars away from them in order to wipe the deficit slate of the Minister of Finance clean?

PovertyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there are measures to that effect. For instance, the changes we have proposed concerning employment legislation. We have guaranteed a 25 per cent minimum to families, which is a far better guarantee than the one in place before, because we are concerned about their situation.

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's disastrous performance at the CBC town hall has sent the Liberal spin doctors into damage control mode. They have now suggested the CBC, a federal crown corporation established by an act of this House, rigged the town hall, purposely stacking it with hostile questioners who did not reflect the concerns of Canadians.

Unemployment, job security, the GST and national unity are the concerns of real Canadians. The questions raised at the town hall do reflect the worries and anger felt by 1.5 million Canadians who are unemployed.

Does the Prime Minister really think the CBC rigged that town hall and that Canadians are not really concerned about jobs, about taxes, and about national unity?

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I did not say that the town hall was rigged. It is the first time that a Prime Minister has gone on a program like that for an hour in French and an hour in English. If I was afraid to face the situation, I could very easily have stayed at home. I am not afraid to talk to the Canadian people.

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

I replied to all their questions. I told them that it is not easy to run a country. When we started as a government three years ago the people were telling us that Canada was virtually a third world country in terms of its finances. But I was happy to report to the people of Canada that night that now we are considered the best of the G-7 because we took the challenge.

I do not deny that there were people there who would like to work but cannot find a job. We are working on that. It is our priority. That is why we have established programs to improve the situation. Another credit to the nation is that Canada created 672,000 new jobs in the last three years. But that is not enough. We have to keep working on that and it is exactly what we will do.

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, we find it curious that the Prime Minister's colleagues stood when he said he should have stayed at home.

Canadians have every right to hold the Prime Minister accountable for his broken campaign promises on the GST. But that is extremely difficult when the Prime Minister's handlers keep him in a bubble, away from the public. We can understand why they do that, because the last time they let him out he attacked a demonstrator, told a bunch of kids in Winnipeg about imaginary friends and he ended up abusing Canadians at a town hall meeting.

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I would invite the hon. member for Calgary Southwest to put his question.

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister is not afraid to attend town hall meetings, will he assure the House and all Canadians that he will not retreat back into his bubble, that he will present himself at more town hall meetings and public forums where Canadian voters can hold him accountable for his actions and his deeds?

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, not long ago I was challenged by his seatmate. We have a debate here every week and I am in the House more than many other members of Parliament.

With regard to the preamble to his question, it is no wonder the leader of the third party is affected because the support which the people of Canada have for him is going down month after month.

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the issue here is accountability. The Prime Minister should expect to be held accountable to the 1.5 million unemployed for saying: "That's life, lots of luck, try harder".

In the last election when Kim Campbell said that unemployment would remain at double digits until the next century, she accepted the unacceptable and paid the price. By saying "that's life" to 1.5 million unemployed, the Prime Minister is also accepting the unacceptable and he will pay the price.

Does the Prime Minister, like Kim Campbell, consider the present levels of unemployment acceptable and the status quo is good enough? Is that the real reason he rejects public criticism of his jobs policy?

Cbc Town HallOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when we came to power the first thing we did was have an infrastructure program to create jobs. That was strongly opposed by the Conservatives. As the House will recall, it was opposed by the hon. member who is the leader of the third party.

After the program was established he was the first one to come to the government for money to create jobs in Calgary. I do not blame him, but it shows that as long as there are people who want to work, this government will be working to create jobs for them.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

December 12th, 1996 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

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

On Tuesday, the Minister of Industry tried to downplay the serious allegations against the president of the space agency and his executive vice-president. The minister wanted to put the blame on Mario Rinaldi, the former vice-president and comptroller of the space agency. In fact, the latter was fired for having criticized a number of dubious practices at the space agency.

Does the minister admit that Mario Rinaldi, then vice-president and comptroller of the space agency, was suspended from his position because he revealed some dubious practices of his executive vice-president, Alain Desfossés, to Mr. Evans, president of the agency?

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the allegations the hon. member keeps making are in fact the complaints of a discontented former employee of the agency, one of four vice-presidents-the vice-presidential positions having been eliminated in a reorganization of the agency-who is unhappy because he is no longer employed in the agency.

He has indicated that he wants to take legal action against the Canadian Space Agency. It is his right to do so. In the meantime, it is very inappropriate for a member to make accusations on the floor of the House where people being accused are not in a position to defend themselves. The issues will be resolved in a court of law.

The hon. member must be aware of the fact that everyone has the right to answer charges and to have his day in court.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can the minister hide behind a grievance, when the people against whom these serious allegations were made are still with the space agency, unless he wants to protect his former adviser, Mr. Evans?

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

We must not impute motives, my colleagues, in questions.

I would ask the hon. member to please put her question.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

This is my question, then. Does the minister want to hide his appointee, Mr. Evans? Does he want to protect Mr. Evans, the person he himself appointed president of the space agency?

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am quite prepared to defend Mr. Evans because he has not done anything inappropriate.

A few days ago, the hon. member raised a question about the amount, it was about $100-

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh,oh.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

-which was not even been paid. I am sure her constituents are delighted with her concern about the amounts spent by government employees. I am sure her constituents would also be interested to hear this is the same member who filed a claim for expenses totalling nearly $5,000, for a Canada-NATO interparliamentary conference where she did not even attend the conference meetings. She just voted-

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Liar.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Beaver River.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Merry Christmas, Mr. Speaker.

The Prime Minister is trying desperately to convince Canadians that he never ever promised to scrap, kill or abolish the GST, but on television, radio and in newspapers he has said quite clearly that he would scrap, kill or abolish the GST. Again I say that tapes do not lie.

As Richard Nixon said in the United States: "I am not a crook and I did not erase the tapes", I am sure this Prime Minister wishes desperately he could erase the tapes. He cannot erase the tapes, so why does he not just admit that he blew it and apologize?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I wish they would quote the whole situation.

For example, yesterday she referred to what I said in the House about killing the GST on May 2, 1994 before we referred the problem to the committee. I said: "We are trying to change the GST to replace it with a fairer system of taxation". That is all I said. We referred the problem to the committee and the committee recommended harmonization, which was mentioned in the red book. It was recommended as being the best course to take. A month later, in December of this year, the Reform Party, on page 131 of its minority report, said: "Integration of the provincial sales tax and the GST and tax in pricing are desirable in principle and Reform has supported this policy".

In that context we said we would replace the GST with a tax that would be integrated with provincial taxes.

Look at what is happening in Newfoundland, for example. Rather than paying 20 per cent, they will be paying 15 per cent next year under harmonization. That is different from the GST. It is a different tax. It is integrated.