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House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fishing.

Topics

EmploymentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian people are not going to be fooled and the Reform Party is not going to be fooled.

We know that the only reason the deficit figures are looking good is that the Liberal government has wrenched out of the pockets of Canadians an extra $25 billion in increased taxes which the Liberals have raised 35 times since they have been in office. As a matter of fact they have only lowered taxes, lowered the deficit, lowered spending by about $3 billion. If you have an endless money tree you can shake down any time, any deficit can look good.

The minister can bluster all he wants about what the Liberal government is doing but I ask the minister: Why has the Liberal government and the minister failed to deliver on what Canadians are asking for: lower taxes; real, long lasting, good paying jobs, not part time jobs to replace the full time jobs that they are losing; and a balanced budget? That is what is really needed. When is the finance minister going to listen to Canadians and do the right thing?

EmploymentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately again the hon. member's facts are wrong. If we look at the 200,000 jobs that have been created this year, the vast majority are full time, permanent jobs.

Most economists, for instance Rosenberg from Nesbitt Burns has said that as a result of the low interest rate policies of this

government, over $5 billion of new purchasing power has been put into the pockets of Canadians. If the hon. member refuses to fully read reports of outside advisers, perhaps he might look at what his own party has said.

In its 1995 taxpayers budget, the Reform Party advocated a slash and burn course and then went on to say: "Under the Reform's taxpayer budget the short term employment impact of spending and deficit reduction is negative but manageable". What is manageable: the loss of 30,000 jobs, the loss of 50,000 jobs, the loss of 100,000 jobs? That is what Reform has advocated. We are creating jobs.

Illegal ImmigrantsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General.

A few weeks ago, we learned about the smuggling of illegal immigrants from Hong Kong. This morning, we learned about the smuggling of illegal immigrants, this time from Iran through the Netherlands. This smuggling is said to have allowed the illegal entry into Canada of 4,000 Iranians, and to be operated by a very well organized network with connections in Canada.

What serious and effective steps does the Solicitor General intend to take in order to stop this smuggling of illegal immigrants and reduce the number of people illegally entering Canada?

Illegal ImmigrantsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the situation of immigrant smuggling is of serious concern to the government and certainly to the RCMP. It is a worldwide phenomenon and all countries are working to develop effective means of dealing with this problem.

The RCMP is giving priority to dealing with the situation. More money was appropriated in recent estimates to assist the RCMP in working on this problem. I can assure my hon. friend that the RCMP is working closely with other governments to deal with the situation. Dealing with it continues to be a priority.

Illegal ImmigrantsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, only one RCMP officer handles this case. The Dutch authorities themselves said they were surprised that there was only one RCMP officer investigating such an important matter, when they themselves had assigned more than 30 police officers to work on it.

Does the Solicitor General appreciate that by downplaying such important matters, police authorities are in fact penalizing all legal immigrants, who will suffer the direct and indirect repercussions of these illegal entries?

Illegal ImmigrantsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my hon. friend that the RCMP is working closely with foreign governments, including the government of Holland to combat immigrant smuggling problems. This will continue because we agree it is a serious problem that deserves the high attention and priority of our police authorities. This is the case now and it will continue to be the case.

TaxationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government is about to announce its plan to fight child poverty.

We all agree that families are suffering. Under this government unemployment is chronically at 10 per cent, personal bankruptcies have hit record levels, and the average family income has shrunk by an incredible $3,000.

The finance minister says he is committed to fighting family poverty. Why will he not adopt Reform's plan to take at least one million of Canada's working poor completely off the tax rolls?

TaxationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is incumbent upon the Reform Party to put the full impact of its program before the Canadian people and before the House.

While Reform advocates a tax cut, that tax cut will only come well down the peace and substantially two to three years after the Reform Party has in fact cut the Canadian health and social transfer, cut equalization payments, after it has cut the basic social programs upon which those very Canadians rely. It is simply not reasonable or an accurate representation of the facts for the Reform to stand in the House and talk about a tax cut when what they would do would be to impose an unbearable financial burden upon low income Canadians.

TaxationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are talking here about the difference between this government's policy of taxing people whether they are poor or not and leaving their earnings in their own hands.

Let me tell the truth about the Reform Party's plan. A single parent on social assistance with two children will have $1,300 more per year. A single parent earning $22,000 would get to keep an additional $200 each month and would keep that away from the tax man. Two parents making $35,000 would have their taxes reduced by $2,800 per year.

This country is in trouble when we have a finance minister who cannot understand how wrong it is to tax the poor. Why is the minister refusing to give poor parents tax relief so that they can provide for their children with pride and independence without having to rely on government handouts?

TaxationOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that is not what the Reform Party is suggesting.

The Reform Party has said that its very first act will be to cut $3.5 billion in welfare payments. At the same time Reform has said that none of its positive programs will come in for years after it has in fact devastated the social fabric. That is the basis of the Reform program.

In last year's budget the government doubled the working income supplement. That helps poor Canadians. In last year's budget the Minister of Justice and myself announced a tremendously reformed set of social programs for families with a custodial parent who is having difficulty.

If we look at the caregivers credit and every single measure of our budget, they were all directed to helping low income Canadians. The only question that comes up is: Why did the Reform Party vote against every one of them?

ZaireOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

Yesterday, the Canadian government chose to give up its leadership regarding a humanitarian mission to eastern Zaire. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the crisis had shifted to inside Rwanda where the problem now was the resettlement of refugees returning home. For his part, the defence minister announced yesterday the cancellation of the Canadian-led mission and questioned whether last week's highly publicized plan to air drop food would go ahead.

Are we to understand that the Canadian government has given up on eastern Zaire where, according to the UN envoy, some 300,000 refugees are still trapped, to concentrate its efforts solely on the resettlement of refugees who are returning to Rwanda?

ZaireOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the member knows fully well that nobody said yesterday that we were going to cancel the humanitarian mission in Zaire and Central Africa.

What we said is that military developments in that area are being monitored by a steering group made up of representatives from countries belonging to the coalition. General Baril is assessing and will continue to assess the situation in the field.

There is no doubt that the situation has evolved dramatically. Canada did not go there on a unilateral basis, and will not leave on a unilateral basis. What is happening over there is based on assessments made by all parties involved in the mission, and who are party to the agreement reached a few weeks ago as a result of the Canadian Prime Minister's initiative.

The sad thing in all this is that the hon. member does not seem to realize that the huge success we encountered over there resulted in the unprecedented return home of over 700,000 refugees from Zaire to Rwanda, without any casualty or endangering troops in the field.

ZaireOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of claiming, as the defence minister did yesterday and as he is doing again today, that Canada played a major role as a catalyst in the return of refugees and that the whole process was a phenomenal success, will the minister admit that if he really wants to show some leadership, he should convene an international conference to find some permanent solutions to the conflicts in the great lakes region?

ZaireOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, I announced yesterday, and I even personally handed over to my colleague across the way the press release in question, that next Friday there will be a conference in Kigali where we will offer help to all the countries in the great lakes region.

We will offer food aid as well as other forms of assistance like justice reform and reconciliation measures for those people affected by the conflicts in that region.

I am happy that the member raised the question, but this is already being done. The conference has been convened for next Friday in Kigali, under the chairmanship of Canada.

National DefenceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence has apparently lost some $200 million in equipment through the foreign military sales program. Audits show that it has used the program as a year end slush fund and that it cannot account for millions of dollars in missiles and torpedoes and other mission sensitive equipment.

This incompetence has been going on for 15 years. Can the minister explain why no action has been taken to rectify this waste and mismanagement at the Department of National Defence?

National DefenceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I do not accept the statement by the hon. member that $200 million has

been wasted and that nobody knows where missiles and other types of military matériel might be.

What I do agree with, however, in the context of the question put by my hon. friend, is that there have been some questions raised about the way this fund has been managed over many years because of the requirement of the American government with respect to the acquisition of military matériel from the United States.

An internal audit is being conducted. Unless he and the House of Commons, to whom we are accountable, are thoroughly satisfied with the results of that audit, we will take whatever measures are appropriate.

National DefenceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is no comfort to the Canadian taxpayer. The Department of National Defence has lost $200 million of taxpayers' money. Nothing has been done to rectify this problem which has been going on for 15 years.

The audit notes show that the problems have continued all the way through 1996, including today. The department knows full well about this mismanagement of taxpayers' money and has refused to take any action.

Will the minister immediately request that the Auditor General of Canada conduct a complete audit on the foreign military sales program and report back to the House before the Minister of Finance tables the next budget?

National DefenceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member refers to documentation that he has in his possession. In the interests of trying to do the best thing, and in the interests of the Canadian taxpayers, I would appreciate receiving copies of that information. I am sure the hon. member will have no difficulty in providing us that.

With respect to the internal audit to which I referred, it is ongoing.

In response to the final part of his question, with respect to the Auditor General of Canada, I have already had a discussion with the auditor general with respect to this matter.

Information TechnologyOral Question Period

December 6th, 1996 / 11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

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

In his recent report to the House, the auditor general noted that of the four information technology projects audited this year, with a total budget of three billion dollars, three are experiencing major problems while the fourth one will probably be significantly late.

In the case of the Canadian automated air traffic system or CAATS, how can the minister explain that renegotiation of the contract by his department resulted in a $217 million increase, and for less service?

Information TechnologyOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is quite correct in pointing out that in the history of the CASS program, the computer program he is talking about, which I might add is a very sophisticated program dealing with aerial navigation, not only have there been changes to the program put forward by Hughes, but also cost overruns.

This is a matter of considerable regret and concern to the government. We have done everything that we possibly can to try to ensure that we get best value for that contract. I must point out to him, although the Reform Party does not appear to want to hear the facts on this situation, that when entering a contracting situation for the development of future technology from a corporation such as the Hughes Aircraft, it is not possible to take the same approach as buying a can of soup on the shelf of a store. A certain amount of discussion must take place back and forth as the development takes place and as the scientists and computer technicians develop the technology that you may wish to put in place.

Information TechnologyOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is quite a difference between what the minister is saying today in the House and what his department told the auditor general, as noted in the auditor general's report.

Does the minister not agree that by giving biased information to the auditor general, maintaining that renegotiation of the contract did not lead to any substantial increase in cost, despite a real increase of $217 million, his department was trying to hide from Canada and Quebec taxpayers its poor management of the project?

Information TechnologyOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the imagination of the hon. member is impressive but not realistic. When developing new technology for highly sophisticated navigational systems, the contract must be flexible to some degree. In some instances you may be paying substantially less than expected if progress is better than anticipated beforehand. Sometimes you may find yourself having to accept less or pay more. We were in that situation.

I assure him, as he has made reference to the auditor general, that the auditor general received all that information. But I should point

out that we simply cannot compare the purchasing of technology which has not yet been developed, not yet in existence, with the purchase of some other product off the shelf of a supermarket. It is simply not possible to have the same approach.

Inevitably, situations will arise where the development takes a lot more time or costs a lot more money than people-before they know what they are really into in that regard-anticipate.

Oc TranspoOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

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

The residents of Canada's national capital region and surrounding areas will soon be suffering through a third week of a municipal bus strike. It is snowing and it is cold out there. People are trying to get to work. Students are trying to pursue their educations. Seniors are imprisoned in their homes and cannot get to medical appointments. Merchants are suffering and the unemployed cannot get around to find jobs.

Does the Minister of Labour intend to intervene in this bus strike in order to break the impasse between OC Transpo and the union?

Oc TranspoOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Saint-Léonard Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano LiberalMinister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Labour Code, which governs the talks between the transport commission of the Ottawa-Carleton area and its union provides for the free collective bargaining process.

Both parties asked me to appoint a mediator which I did immediately. I urged both parties, union and management, but I especially urged the transport commission to use the mediator's services in order to find a settlement to this dispute. Then the people of the region would have the transportation service they need and want.

I hope both parties acknowledge this is the only way to solve disputes. Go to the negotiation table and seriously negotiate. If in the next few days that goodwill appears at the negotiation table then I am sure there will be a settlement.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

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

Mr. Speaker, it has been reported that in the three years the government has been in power, 5,000 illegal immigrants have been smuggled into Canada from the Netherlands. Dutch police have expressed their surprise at the reluctance of the Canadian officials to do anything about this situation.

I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, what if anything is the government planning to do to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into Canada?