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House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mmt.

Topics

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, there are rules for these contracts which are clear. Each department has delegated authority to assign some contracts according to rules which are provided by the Treasury Board. These rules have been followed by the minister of defence.

I am assured that all the rules that were in place have been followed. In this case, the rules that apply are similar to the rules

that apply to the Leader of the Opposition and to the leader of the third party. These contracts have to meet certain criteria. I am informed they have all been met.

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, again Canadians will not be happy with the fox writing his own rules when it comes to guarding the chicken house.

The Prime Minister and the defence minister clearly are putting their self-interests ahead of leading the Canadian military by failing to uphold ethical standards. By rewarding Joe Thornley and Stephanos Karabecos with lucrative contracts they have shown that they put their personal self-interests and financial betterment of friends above rank and file troops in our Canadian Armed Forces.

To demonstrate to members of the Canadian Armed Forces that their interests and their morale are paramount, will the government conduct an official review of the tendering process for the Thornley contract?

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the allegations of the member opposite are simply incorrect.

Yesterday the Prime Minister indicated the number of contracts that have been allocated to people who were ex-candidates for the Reform Party. The criteria have to do with efficiency, ability to meet the requirements of the contract within the moneys allocated. This is what has been done.

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that he is clearly trying to confuse Canadians. He is comparing apples and oranges. We are talking about the executive branch of government issuing untendered contracts; leadership and responsibility with accountability, not interest at all costs.

While the defence minister was stuffing the pockets of his Liberal buddies, the family of Corporal Neil MacKinnon was trying in vain to find out exactly how its son was killed.

First, Mr. and Mrs. MacKinnon were lied to and then the lie was covered up for over a year. The command inspector will not be investigating this shameful incident. People have been charged in Corporal MacKinnon's death but no one is being held accountable for the lies his parents had to endure for over a year.

Why does the defence minister's leadership stop at the bank for his Liberal friends when it never made it to the home of Corporal Neil MacKinnon?

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Perth—Wellington—Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

John Richardson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite has imputed a lot of motives. The facts do not flow directly or logically. He is trying to evolve a web here that is so convoluted it is very difficult to answer his question.

Simply put, the accident that took place with Corporal McKinnon was a tragic accident. Upon its discovery, immediately the armed forces took forthwith a board of inquiry to get to the bottom of it. They have followed through to the very end with charges. People have been charged with negligence of duty. One cannot be more responsible than that.

Jerusalem TunnelOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister.

The opening of the tunnel in Jerusalem sparked a wave of violence which so far has claimed nearly 100 casualties. In a situation where Jewish colonization has started again and negotiations on the definitive status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are threatened, the opening of this tunnel constitutes a genuine provocation that further compromises the peace process in the Middle East.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister indicate whether, as other governments have done, the Canadian government intends to ask Israel to close the tunnel in order to restore calm and thus contribute towards resumption of the peace process?

Jerusalem TunnelOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Co-operation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, Canada is very concerned about the surge of violence in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank. I very much appreciate the concern shown by the hon. member of the opposition.

We are dismayed by the increasing number of casualties over the past few days. Canada is asking for an immediate ceasefire.

I can also inform you that today, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs is attending a special session of the UN Security Council on this important question. My colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, will present Canada's position, which is to ask Israeli and Palestinian representatives to resume direct negotiations and take immediate steps to restore calm.

The minister also met with senior Israeli representatives yesterday in New York to press them to refrain from any pressures that may be unhelpful to the Middle East peace process. I can also inform the member that some senior officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs met yesterday in Ottawa and gave the same message.

Jerusalem TunnelOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Co-operation just told us that the Canadian government, through the Minister of Foreign Affairs, intends to ask for a ceasefire. I asked a very specific question, namely whether he intends to ask for the tunnel to be closed.

Furthermore, does the minister also intend to support the request by Yasser Arafat for immediate intervention by the Security Council on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip?

Jerusalem TunnelOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Co-operation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs before the UN Security Council today is very important, and at this time I would not wish to commit Canadian diplomacy as specifically as the hon. member for the opposition would have us do, since these discussions are now taking place in New York.

Consultations are proceeding at extremely important levels, and I believe we would not be acting very responsibly by making a commitment at the very moment the Security Council is discussing this question.

QuebecOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice is sending out some fairly confusing signals. Yesterday and today he suggested that Canadians would have a full voice on any developments surrounding the future of their country in the event of Quebec's secession. However, today he stopped short of saying that Canadians would be involved and have a voice in a referendum campaign in the event of Quebec's secession.

Is it the government's position that a full and meaningful voice would mean that they would have a vote in a referendum campaign?

QuebecOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have said time and again, even in the speech from the throne, that our commitment is quite clear. It is that if a third referendum is to be held in Quebec we will ensure that the choice is very clear: remaining in Canada or separating. There is no middle ground and no suggestion of partenariat or some association which is in someone's imagination. That is the first item.

Second, the consequences would be clear. Those voting in Quebec would know that they are choosing between Canada and something very different, which is separation.

Third, the process would be fair. Canadians would have a right to express themselves in seeking to persuade the population of Quebec to remain.

Fourth, no matter what the decision, Canadians everywhere would have a say in the future. This would mean that unilateral action, no matter what the result of the referendum, is illegal and unacceptable and following a referendum in Quebec when the population of Quebec expresses its view, all Canadians must then participate in determining where we go from there.

QuebecOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, what I am trying to get to is how would they have a say in where we go from there? I am going to push on to another question.

Reformers maintain that Quebecers have the right to decide whether to secede from Canada, but this does not imply the right of the Government of Quebec to unilaterally establish the terms and conditions of secession.

The only way to ensure that Canada's interests will be well represented in the event of secession is to pass contingency legislation laying out the terms and conditions of secession. Is the government willing to consider such legislation or is the Supreme Court reference the sum total of its plan B?

QuebecOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court reference is a response to issues raised by the Government of Quebec. It was Mr. Bouchard and his minister of justice who said that the courts have no role to play. When they raised that issue in the Bertrand litigation we went to that courtroom, persuaded the hon. Mr. Justice Pidgeon that, indeed, the courts do have a role to play. He said as much in his judgment of August 30. After that issue was determined, Mr. Bouchard and his minister of justice left the courtroom and abandoned the process.

We have now taken the very issues he has raised and put them before the Supreme Court of Canada. That is what this reference is about.

In a more direct response to the hon. member's question, the issue of contingency legislation was raised yesterday by his colleague, the hon. member for Calgary West. As I said then, a number of suggestions have been made in the public discussion about how we might approach this issue. They are all useful suggestions. That public discussion should continue. It is very valuable and we encourage it.

I am sure that through that discussion in which all Canadians are participating a number of valuable suggestions will arise and they shall all be considered.

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

September 27th, 1996 / 11:40 a.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

This government is collecting scandals the way some people collect stamps. After the family trust scandal, yesterday the auditor general condemned Revenue Canada for allowing several major corporations to avoid paying duties and excise taxes to the tune of some $630 million a year.

Given that the time limit for a tax audit is four years, can the Deputy Prime Minister explain why Revenue Canada has conducted only one audit of all the major oil and tobacco companies, thus preventing the government from recovering several million of dollars with each audit?

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

London West Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

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

I also want to thank the auditor general for bringing these issues to our attention.

I would first point out that in the year after the government took office, lost revenues due to smuggling decreased by two-thirds. That is a result of government initiatives. It is a big $1 billion decrease.

During the time that the audit resources were reallocated into the anti-smuggling situation, all of the large industries were monitored. The department has recently completed several large oil company audits and the results confirm our risk assessments. The rate of compliance was excellent. It was in excess of 95 per cent.

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have noticed that the government acts only when it has its back against the wall, as was the case with smuggling. Every day, the revenue minister is allowing hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions in tax revenue to be lost. By not going after the $630 million owed her department, the minister is making a royal gift to major corporations on the back of taxpayers.

What are the government and its minister waiting to take action?

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

London West Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, we are going to continue these smuggling initiatives. In fact, it will be done department-wide. The assistant deputies are monitoring the situation and working together. Not only that, it involves other jurisdictions. It involves the police forces and the RCMP.

We are doing very well. This is a criminal element in our society and we are going after that money. It is important work in our department and we will continue to do it well, so that instead of a $1 billion decrease we look forward to getting rid of the extra $500 million. We are working on that and we have the plan of action to complete.

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand a document which appeared on a Liberal member's desk last Monday when the House was voting on the negative option bill. It appears to be on the letterhead of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. It says: "Government position on Bill C-216. Third reading. Government position: No".

It may be a forgery because the minister said outside the House that she had not tried in any way to influence the members of her caucus to vote the way that her department wanted to vote, which was against the consumer and in favour of the cable companies.

My question is very simple. Is this document a forgery or was her statement a forgery?

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I answered that question yesterday, the day before and the day before.

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is the problem. Her answers have been devoid of even the smallest particle of fact.

The issue is that on one side of the coin she is trying to imply to the Canadian people that the government is opposed to negative option billing; therefore, making the connection to this bill which is opposed to negative option billing as though she was supporting the bill, whereas, in fact, I have evidence that the government position was opposed to that bill. She is trying to have it both ways.

I ask her again, was her government in any way, shape or form trying to influence the members to vote against the negative option bill which was before the House, namely, Bill C-216?

TelecommunicationsOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to me that for the last several days the member has raised the issue of negative option billing, implying that somehow the government supports it.

I have said from the beginning of this process, as was repeated in the House by every single member who spoke on the legislation, that the Government of Canada opposes negative option billing.

We opposed negative option billing last year. We will oppose negative option billing next year. As long as we are the government there will be no negative option billing.

Canada Pension PlanOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

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

The Canada Pension Plan legislation places considerable limits on the exchange of information between the various private and public benefit schemes for the disabled. The auditor general is of the opinion that increased circulation of information between private and public schemes would result in improved service to clients and reduced program costs.

Does the minister intend to amend the Canada Pension Plan in order to rectify the shortcomings in the present system and thus ensure that only those truly entitled to disability benefits actually receive them?

Canada Pension PlanOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, we are aware of the auditor general's comments. I had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Desautels and to discuss his report.

Obviously, I and my departmental officials have a great deal of respect for the work that has been done on this issue. It is very complex. We undertook, in our response to the comments of the auditor general, to take the necessary action in order to try to be as effective as possible.

With all due respect to the auditor general, I wish to assure my hon. colleague that, when all is said and done, we are still very interested in ensuring that, where an error has been made, and errors are still made, we come down in favour of those applying for disability benefits, rather than taking a more stringent approach.

Canada Pension PlanOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general has noted that the government's reassessment activities are still falling short of the mark, despite the very firm recommendations he made in 1993.

When does the minister finally intend to take the necessary action so that only those who are eligible benefit from the public disability pension scheme?

Canada Pension PlanOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, at the meeting of social services ministers in Victoria almost two weeks ago, we all agreed that one of the major problems facing the systems that manage the workers' compensation boards, the private insurance companies, as well as the government of Canada, through the Canada Pension Plan, had to do with disability.

It is extremely difficult to define this whole question in absolute terms. There are many situations that are extremely complex from a medical point of view. But we undertook to try to work together, the private sector, the provincial governments-because they too have major problems with this-and the Government of Canada.

I hope that we will find solutions, but in the meantime we will continue to be effective and to protect the rights of the disabled.