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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

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, that might get wild cheers from his caucus, but it sure as heck did not go down the other night at the CBC town hall meeting.

On April 26 of this year in this House the finance minister said about the GST: "We made a mistake. It was an honest mistake". I think people respect him for that. Even the Deputy Prime Minister admitted that she made a mistake. It took a while, but she finally resigned over the GST. The only person in here who stubbornly

clings to the illusion that the Liberals did not promise to scrap, kill or abolish the GST is the Prime Minister, who is whistling and dancing right now.

Why does the Prime Minister not join with his colleagues, the finance minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, stand and say to this House, say to the CBC so it can be played on the news tonight and say to the people whom he scorned in the town hall meeting the other night: "I blew it. I am sorry. We made a mistake"?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, virtually every time a member of the Reform Party stands to ask a question, the member contradicts their party's established position.

The Prime Minister yesterday and today read from the Reform Party's report on the GST its unequivocal support for harmonization. He has read its unequivocal support for tax in pricing. Yet day after day members of the Reform Party stand and contradict it.

There is another question the Prime Minister might ask them. Members of the Reform Party stand and say that they would like to see tax cuts. Perhaps the members of the Reform Party would then tell us why is it in their report on the GST that they advocated the base be broadened to tax food and drug products?

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

December 12th, 1996 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is interesting about the Minister of Industry is that, each time we raise the question of the space agency, he adopts one of two attitudes. Either he makes light of the matter, saying: "That is nothing, just bits of paper", or he goes up the wall, pulls himself up to his full height and lets opposition members have it.

The real problem is not the $100 or so that Mr. Evans may have spent, it is the principle. The problem of Mr. Rinaldi, the vice-president, began the day he refused to backdate a document to save Diana Durnford, an employee in the minister's office, from having to pay $557.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

My question is this. Why is the minister trying to hide the truth and why is he refusing to have an outside independent investigation so matters could be clarified and people would know once and for all what happened at the space agency?

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to make anything more banal than the opposition does.

In repeating allegations that were made to the newspapers by a disgruntled former employee of the space agency who is taking his complaints to court, the opposition is continuing to cast aspersions on the characters of people who have done nothing wrong and who are not in a position to defend themselves here.

The member, who ought to know better, just made an allegation with respect to an overpayment of $557.82-just so we have some perspective on the amounts here: $375.85 for unpaid leave and $181.97 for two days of work-to a former agency employee who was subsequently hired in my office as a political adviser. Although the overpayment was a result of paperwork relating to the transfer of the employee from the agency and although the question was in some doubt, because that person is of high character and did not want to be associated with anything that could be embarrassing, she gave the benefit of the doubt to the agency and repaid the amount in question. And these people raise it on the floor of the House of Commons.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, she may have repaid the money, but after the refusal to backdate a document.

What causes concern in all of this is the incestuous relationship between the space agency and cabinet. The minister's adviser left cabinet to go to the space agency, and Diana Durnford left the space agency to join cabinet. The minister's credibility is a source of considerable embarrassment in this matter.

I would like to ask him now, and I hope he listens carefully, whether today, from his seat, he can tell us if he himself looked into Mr. Rinaldi's allegations before saying they were totally false?

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, of course in my responsibilities as minister I would ask the agency for a full explanation of all of the allegations. I have received that explanation.

I have just described in detail how silly one of the allegations is. The same is characteristic of the allegations that were repeated in previous days by the member for Saint-Hubert. I am satisfied that there is nothing wrong.

However, I point out again that Mr. Rinaldi will have his day in court. If he has been unfairly treated, a court will decide that and I presume he will be rewarded in damages. But in the meantime, to cast aspersions of this sort is simply unfair, unfounded and I would suggest improper.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Nunziata Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. I would like to refer him to page 90 of the red book. He said: "If a government is to play a positive role in society, as it must, honesty and integrity in our political institutions must be restored".

Today Canadians from coast to coast are calling into question the integrity and credibility of the Government of Canada. How does the Prime Minister reconcile his promise of governing with integrity with his broken GST promise?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am happy he has the red book. He should read the page where we stated we would integrate the GST with the provinces through harmonization. It is stated in the red book and it is exactly what this government is doing at this time. We have signed an agreement with three provinces and are about to sign a fourth one. We are progressing in replacing this tax with an integrated tax.

I gave the example of Newfoundland where the people were paying 20 per cent tax. Next year they will only be paying 15 per cent. This is a change from what existed before. This is exactly what we said we would do in the red book from which the member is reading.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Nunziata Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think what is compounding the problem is that the Prime Minister refuses to recognize what his promise was. He has now had the opportunity to review both the audio and video tapes. Not only did he promise Canadians that he would scrap the GST, he also promised caucus on a number of occasions that he would scrap the GST. How does he reconcile his promises to the people of Canada and the caucus with his broken promises?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I wish the hon. member would turn to the page in the book about the GST and read to the House of Commons what the promise was that this party made to the people of Canada. We always said that we wanted to replace the GST with a harmonized tax. This is exactly what we are trying to do at this time. We are not progressing as fast as we would like.

The Government of Ontario at the beginning of its tenure said it wanted to have the integration of the two taxes but it has not signed yet. Some day Ontario will sign the agreement and will have the same situation as that in the maritimes.

The hon. member cannot even read back to the House of Commons what he campaigned on when he ran in the last election.

KenworthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

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

The unemployment insurance benefits of workers who were laid off when the Kenworth plant in Sainte-Thérèse closed last April have now run out. What a wonderful Christmas present it would be for these workers to have the plant reopen, now that the unions and the Quebec government have finally reached an agreement with PACCAR. All that is missing is co-operation from Ottawa, without which nothing can happen.

Since this is a matter of some urgency, will the minister undertake to approve before Christmas the financial support required to re-equip the plant and retrain the manpower?

KenworthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, as we know, discussions have indeed taken place since the Kenworth plant closed. There were discussions in Quebec City between representatives of PACCAR, the Quebec government and the Canadian government, which I represented.

The negotiations are going well. The word is that the end may be in sight. There are still a number of elements regarding the business plans that the Canadian government is waiting for. When we have received all the information, we will be able to make our position known. At this stage, it is too early to take a position.

KenworthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the unions certainly do not think it would be too early if it happened before Christmas.

One month after the government granted Canadian Airlines a $20 million tax rebate, could the minister show be as understanding about customs duties owed by Kenworth, which stand in the way of the plant reopening?

KenworthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, I find the official opposition's position difficult to understand. There are several jobs and many families at stake, which makes it an extremely important matter.

Hence the need for negotiation, serious negotiation. There are a number of elements directly involving the Canadian government, be it customs duties or the agreement between Industry Canada and Quebec. We are seriously looking into the matter and, as soon as a position can be defined, we will gladly go ahead, if that is what is called for.

Radio-Canada InternationalOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, Radio-Canada International is Canada's fair and balanced voice around the world. Most of us recognize and know that it will cease operations on March 31, 1997. This will mean that Canada will be the only industrial nation worldwide without a voice on the international scene.

My question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. What does he intend to do to preserve Radio-Canada International not just for the short term, but for the long term?

Radio-Canada InternationalOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we certainly recognize how important it is to have an effective voice for Canada abroad to promote trade, development, culture and the other values of Canada. To pursue that we in the government are working on a broader strategy to use new technologies and all the assets we have. We recognize that Radio-Canada is an important element of that.

In light of the funding changes CBC had to make, we recognize that we have to fill in a gap during the time that we work on the broader strategy. We can say that through the work of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, other ministers and myself, we will be able to provide ongoing funding for RCI and at the same time help it convert to a new instrument for Canada's voice abroad to present Canada in an effective way.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I hope I have the same amount of luck with my question as the previous questioner had in terms of getting a response.

The Globe and Mail told us today that the government is planning to proceed with allowing multiple licensing for fishing on the west coast. The minister of fisheries will know that the fishers on the west coast have indicated they are against this proposal.

With the same enthusiasm that the government called for a vote by the Canadian Auto Workers regarding Canadian Airlines International, will the government now follow suit by agreeing to what the fishers on the west coast and the Government of British Columbia are calling for, which is to have a vote before the government proceeds with this issue?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is referring to the Fryer report which was released today. It talks about a number of things and a number of areas in which action should be taken in support of the fishermen, the fish and the coastal communities.

I have to tell the hon. member that he did not put all the information to the House. The recommendation made by Mr. Fryer, who was the third independent party, essentially was that there was an agreement reached on November 27 among the three parties, federal, provincial and the third party, that a vote would take place. But that vote would take place at the end of 1997, not now.

FisheriesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

That completes question period for today. I do not know when the session is going to end, but should it end tomorrow, then this would be the last Thursday of this year that we have together.

In the spirit of the season I would invite all of you to a very small reception which I will be having in Room 216 from about four to six o'clock. You are more than welcome.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this question will be a little different from my usual one. I would like to ask the government whether we will be sitting tomorrow, and if so, will we be debating Bill C-71, the tobacco act, at report stage?

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is possible that some spirits will help us get into the right mood for the season. It may be that for some, not for me. Your invitation will be most helpful in establishing the proper mood. I hope I am in it already and not because of any spirits, I assure you.

The legislative program for today and tomorrow remains at least for now Bill C-60, the food inspection agency legislation and Bill C-23, the nuclear safety bill.

I do not intend to call the tobacco legislation either today or tomorrow.

My most recent report on legislation that we have sent to the other place indicates that we still do not know how the other place is dealing with a number of items that require Royal Assent in the immediate future.

If any of these bills were to be sent back to us for further action, we propose to deal with them on a priority basis with a view toward completing consideration before we rise for a holiday break.

I think it only fair to advise the House that the government sees it as clearly being in the public interest that some of these bills be finally disposed of before Christmas and if circumstances compel the House to sit next week to do this, we are prepared to take the necessary action to bring this about. I am certain that nobody here views this as a desirable course, but right now we must await decisions in the other place.

By way of conclusion, I want to advise the House that we face a heavy legislative agenda during the winter and we will have to give serious consideration in January whether the public interest requires the House returning a bit before the scheduled February 3 date. If members have ideas about travels or vacations in January, please bear this in mind in making any plans.

In the hope that we can wrap up on schedule I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and all the other members the best for the holiday season and, yes, even for the new year.