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House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was debt.

Topics

Search And RescueOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is absolute nonsense. The government is committed to getting a helicopter that will meet our operational needs and that will provide good value for the Canadian taxpayers and to doing it as soon as we possibly can.

It is a serious matter of getting the right helicopter for the purposes of search and rescue of Canadians. We want to make sure the right decision is made and will make it as soon as we can.

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have heard the Minister of Finance state on a number of occasions this week that any fiscal dividend arising from a federal budget surplus does not belong to any government, it belongs to the people of Canada.

If indeed any budget surplus belongs to all Canadians and not to any government, why is he acting as if he alone had the power to decide what use to make of it?

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, prebudget consultations were held in every province of the country. My colleague, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, indicated that there had been an election in which the anticipated surplus was certainly discussed. It should be pointed out that, when I met with my finance counterparts this week, the use to be made of these surpluses was discussed.

We are working in perfect co-operation with the provinces.

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, one the reasons the federal deficit got so huge is precisely the federal government's excessive spending in areas under provincial jurisdiction.

With the Liberal government acting the way it is, can we not conclude that it did not get the message and that, now that a surplus is in sight, it is set to make the exact same mistake and fall back into the same old ways? Once a Liberal, always a Liberal.

Budget SurplusOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we have very clearly expressed our intention to use surpluses to reduce taxes and the national debt and to invest in areas where Canadians have the greatest needs.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Quebec's separatist premier asked that 75% of the surplus be devoted to lowering federal income taxes.

Finally, we have found something that can unite Canadians from coast to coast.

We know reducing taxes is the fair and humane thing to do. We know it will help unite the country. Why is the finance minister opposed to helping Canadians by lowering taxes? Why not do it?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Premier of Quebec suggested that 100% of any surplus be used to reduce taxes and that none of it be used to reduce debt. We know that the Reform Party has said that 35% of the surplus should be used to reduce debt. The position I took yesterday was that some of it should go to reducing debt.

The real issue is why the Reform Party engaged in petty partisan politics, threw its principles over and last night said that it no longer should be used to reduce debt. Why did the Reform Party give up on what it believes?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, as usual the finance minister is awfully confused about where the Reform Party stands with Canadians and about putting debt as the first priority. We want to pay down more debt.

Canadians of both official languages, federalists and separatists, want to deal with the tax problem. That is the point the finance minister is missing. Canadians have mortgages to pay. They have to pay for groceries. They want more tax dollars left in their pockets.

Why does the finance minister think he can spend Canadians' money better than they can?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the real issue is why the Reform Party's finance critic is saying one thing last night and another thing today. He sold out his principles for petty partisan reasons.

Let me make it very clear and tell where we draw the line with the Reform Party. The Liberal government stands for the national interest. We will speak for the national interest and for the interest of Canadians, which means we will invest where they require it. We will cut taxes and pay down the debt, but we will not sell our principles for a mess of pottage some night because some separatist premier said something.

Victoria BridgeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, because of a dispute between the federal government and Canadian National, the Victoria Bridge in Montreal could soon be closed.

The issue is the splitting of the renovation costs between the federal government and CN, and we learned that CN refuses to submit the dispute to commercial arbitration.

My question is for the Minister of Transport. Does the minister realize that tens of thousands of drivers in the Montreal region are being held to ransom because the federal government cannot reach an agreement with CN?

Victoria BridgeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, Transport Canada first learned in 1994 that CN intended to repair the Victoria Bridge, instead of building a new facility.

CN had said that repairs to the road section would not begin until next year. The closing of the bridge was never discussed with CN in our negotiations to find a solution to the financing of the project before work begins.

Victoria BridgeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I remind the minister that the Victoria Bridge has been due for repairs for six years and that the longer we wait, the costlier it gets.

Does the minister intend to use his powers under the legislation so that the bridge will be repaired to make it perfectly safe for motor traffic?

Victoria BridgeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate it was only three weeks ago that CN came to us and said that we should pay for the cost of the repairs. Otherwise the bridge would be closed to all traffic on March 1. That is why we replied by saying we would offer commercial arbitration.

We hope CN will accept that and then the money will be available for the repairs. In the meantime, not to inconvenience all those people who we are concerned about in Montreal, the repairs could go ahead. I asked CN to accept a commercial arbitrator.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Gerry Ritz Reform Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, if we could figure out some way to tax the finance minister's overblown rhetoric we would be out of debt by January 1, 1998.

Canadian families have seen their after tax incomes shrink by over $3,000 since 1993. Frankly Canadians have had enough. Eighty-two per cent of them have made it abundantly clear that they could spend smarter than the government.

Why does the finance minister continue to think he can spend Canadians' money smarter than they can?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, does the hon. member think that talking for the national interest in the national parliament is overblown rhetoric? Does he think that talking about narrow sectoral interests or pitting one region of the country against another is what he was elected to do?

I will stand in the House and talk for those people who need the playing field levelled. I will talk for those Canadians who require help. I will talk for the people who want to invest in the future because that is what we were elected to do.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Gerry Ritz Reform Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this finance minister takes his marching orders from his cabinet and special interest groups and not from Canadian taxpayers.

Canadians are paying more in taxes than they are for food, shelter and clothing combined. Average families are paying $21,000 in taxes and only $17,000 for food, shelter and clothing. That is a $4,000 shortfall.

The minister and the government talk of balance. Where is the balance in forcing Canadians to pay more for taxes than for food, shelter and clothing?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, let us take a look at those special interest groups that we speak for.

They happen to be poor Canadians, young Canadian families, aboriginal Canadians, Canadians who want to invest in research and development to build a stronger economy, Canadians who live in Atlantic Canada, Canadians who do not want to see their equalization payments cut, senior Canadians who do not want to see their pensions cut, and Canadians who believe in medicare. If that hon. member thinks those Canadians are special interest groups then, yes, we will speak for them.

Spirit Of Columbus PlatformOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of International Trade. For more than a year now, Davie Industries Inc. of Lévis has been awaiting a response from the Export Development Corporation guaranteeing funding for the Spirit of Columbus platform.

Given that retrofitting work on the Spirit of Columbus platform has been under way for four months now, when will the federal government respond to the application of Davie Industries? When?

Spirit Of Columbus PlatformOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I spoke with Mr. Landry some months ago. I directed the EDC to speak with the Quebec SDI. Meetings were held. I have spoken with the MIL-Davie union president.

The federal government feels this is a very important undertaking. I respect the recommendations made by the EDC and the SDI on behalf of the governments of Quebec and of Canada.

Apec SummitOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, at the APEC summit in Vancouver university student Craig Jones stood on his dormitory lawn and quietly held up a sign that read “Free Speech”. For this he was wrestled to the ground by police and held for 14 hours.

We all know this is of no concern to Sergeant Pepper's crew over there, but I have a question for the government. What involvement did the prime minister's office have in directing the RCMP security operations at the APEC summit?

Apec SummitOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to advise the House that the public complaints commission is conducting an inquiry into this matter. We are awaiting the outcome of that inquiry in the interest of all Canadians.

RefugeesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, last week the auditor general stated that he “deplores the fact that it takes on average more than two and a half years to settle a refugee claim”. Today 38,000 refugees have their lives on hold as they wait to have their claims heard.

The fact of the matter is that the auditor general has been calling for an overhaul of the minister's department for the last 10 years. Now another promise has been made.

Will the minister commit today to the urgent implementation of the auditor general's recommendation?

RefugeesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I have said that I was favourable to the auditor general's conclusion that an in-depth review of the refugee determination process was necessary, and that is what we are going to do.

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

December 11th, 1997 / 2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

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

I have been hearing from veterans in my riding who are eligible for pensions but are having to wait months and even years before receiving them.

Could the minister indicate to the House whether his department can cut the red tape, as promised in the 1995 pension reform bill?

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member's question, the government made a commitment two years ago to considerably reduce the turnaround time.

I am pleased to report to the House that as a result of the passage of the pension reform legislation and as a result of the tremendous efforts of veterans affairs staff, veterans groups and improved technology, we have improved it considerably in two years. In fact we have reduced it by half.

It is another concrete example of the work the government does on behalf of all Canada's veterans.