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House of Commons Hansard #127 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was taxes.

Topics

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

I notice they are complaining. Yes, we have changed some taxes because we plugged some loopholes that were benefiting the rich. Yes, of course we have increased some taxes. Yes, we have increased the tax on the banks.

If it is the type of tax that he is complaining about I will plead guilty. We have plugged loopholes and we have made sure that the banks would pay a fair share of the profits they are making.

There was no tax increase on the income of individuals. We have reduced from $3.30 to $2.85 per $100 the employee contribution to the unemployment insurance fund. We have reduced by more than $500 million the level of taxes that were imposed at the border for imports to comply with international obligations. I could go on and on.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

More. More.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to keep the leader in good shape so I will wait for his third question.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government's tax increases only deal with tax loopholes?

Does the Prime Minister consider the tax on life insurance premiums that was imposed by the government closing a loophole? Does he consider the increase in the excise tax on gasoline as closing a loophole? Does the Prime Minister consider increasing the tax on tobacco products a loophole? Does he consider the reduction on RRSP contributions a loophole? Does he consider increasing the Canada pension plan premiums three times a loophole?

The tax increases imposed by his government have resulted in the collection of over $24 billion more per year by the government. Does the Prime Minister consider all of those tax loopholes?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. leader of the third party does not recognize that there is a factor in the economy that we call economic growth. Since we formed the government we have had growth in Canada every year, and of course the revenues are better than before.

Now he is complaining that after we reduced the tax on tobacco and we reintroduced some of it because we had to plug a big loophole.

Members remember when a lot of contraband was coming into Canada. We wanted to make sure that the contraband was ended. We had to make some moves but the fundamental taxes have not been increased. They have been decreased. That is why the economy is in better shape.

The hon. member does not recognize the fact that there has been growth, that the economy is in better shape, that now interest rates are lower than they have ever been, that we have to pay billions of dollars less on interest because we have provided the people of Canada with a good, responsible government in Ottawa.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

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

When asked for his opinion on the Government of Quebec's request to amend the Constitution so as to replace denominational school boards with linguistic school boards, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs told Le Soleil on December 9, and I quote: "If there is a consensus among Quebecers, then there is no problem".

At a time when the Government of Quebec is asking to be exempted from the denominational guarantees contained in section 93 of the Constitution, how does the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs react to the demands just made by the President of Alliance Quebec regarding linguistic guarantees?

ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, two and a half years ago, when the Liberal Party of Quebec was kicked out of office, Quebec's anglophone and francophone communities trusted each other. Relations were good.

I want to say that in English. The legal framework regarding language laws was acceptable for both communities. They were not in love with it but they found that it was an acceptable compromise.

Since then, separatist ideology has created a division between the two communities. The Government of Quebec thought it wise to tell its anglophone minority that there was legislation that it was not to use or it would be taken away. That was what was done to a minority.

The compromises made regarding access to health care have since been questioned, or at least that is what people are being given to understand. That is the situation facing us. We are beginning a difficult debate with respect to education, language, religion and the Constitution. I call on everyone to approach this calmly and with trust. Both communities want a good linguistic system. They must get together and find a solution that is acceptable to both communities.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, are we to understand from the minister's remarks, which are confusing to say the least, that the consensus already reached in Quebec and expressed by MNAs is not enough and that the minister is also requiring that the demands of Alliance Quebec be taken into consideration, thus ignoring the legitimacy of the National Assembly?

ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I had to give the hon. member a short course on the Constitution. I must say that the Government of Canada is not giving a right of veto to Alliance Quebec or to any other group in Quebec. That is not the issue.

The hon. member must understand that the concessions also exist in order to protect minority rights, that not all democratic decisions are taken with 50 per cent plus one, and if she believes that Quebec's anglophone community is not part of Quebec, let her say so.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, every time the Prime Minister opens his mouth he really demonstrates how out of touch he is with ordinary Canadians. His latest comments on the tax issue indicate he is clearly in denial.

The latest example of the Prime Minister's disconnectedness with the Canadian people was last weekend when he gave an interview to the Toronto Star . He indicated that he was proud of his record on unemployment: 1.5 million unemployed Canadians; 20 per cent unemployment in Newfoundland-he is proud of that; 17 per cent youth unemployment. He is kind of like the captain of Exxon Valdez being proud of his driving record.

Why will the Prime Minister not admit that he has clearly lost touch with regular Canadians who now suffer from his record of broken promises?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have always said that I would not be satisfied until the people who want to work in Canada get jobs. That is the goal of this government, to make sure there is a situation where the people will have occasion to find jobs.

But we have to compare our situation with others. From December 1988 to 1993 the previous government created 126,500 jobs. In the same period, for the same number of months, from November 1993 to January 1997 this government-no, not us, the Canadian

economy, because we created the conditions for them to create the jobs-created 715,000 new jobs.

If we compare ourselves with the previous government we feel satisfied, but we will never be satisfied until the people in Canada get the work they want. That is why in all the budgets we have developed so far, and the one we will present to this House a week from today, job creation is a priority.

We have worked very hard on that. We have had some success but it will not be enough until everybody who really wants a job gets a job.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, someone should tell the Prime Minister that unemployment is a problem in Canada and that his words are cold comfort to all those unemployed people out there. It is pretty clear that the little guy from Shawinigan has become the bubble boy from 24 Sussex.

Back on planet earth we have had record taxes, record personal indebtedness, record bankruptcies and 9 per cent plus unemployment for 76 months in a row. Why should we trust the Prime Minister to fix the jobs issue when he clearly does not believe we even have problem?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we say all the time that we have a problem. I see the hon. member downgrading the country. What we are telling the Canadian people is that we have problems and we are working on them.

When we travel, the financial press from around the world recognize that this government has done a very good job. All the experts outside the government are predicting that in 1997 we will see more than 3 per cent growth in Canada. It is the same thing for next year. They are predicting that there will more than 300,000 new jobs created per year in the next two years for Canada, and Canada is the country in the best financial position of all G-7 countries. I hope the hon. member will look at these facts once in awhile.

Seal HuntOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

On the eve of the seal hunting season in eastern Quebec and Canada, many questions are being raised regarding the cruel seal hunting practices shown yesterday on the Téléjournal . The video, which will be shown around the world, could undermine the work and credibility of the Quebec and Canadian fishing industry as a whole.

Last year, when the seal hunting season opened, did the minister have the necessary means to prevent such unacceptable behaviour?

Seal HuntOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question because it is a very important one. He makes reference to a video that was shown at a press conference yesterday. It is really the annual effort on the part of the IFAW to discredit the seal hunt.

I have to tell this House that my department is reviewing that video to see what charges, if any, have to be laid against those people in the video.

The hon. member knows Atlantic Canada and the Gaspé fishermen involved in the seal fishery. The majority of the seal hunt is conducted by responsible people in a responsible manner.

I find it passing strange that in its annual effort to discredit the seal hunt, the IFAW, with metronomic regularity, tries to do things to put the seal hunt down.

The hon. member and this House know that despite IFAW's effort, the seal hunt is increasing and this year will have a total allowable catch of 275 animals. This will help the people in Atlantic Canada and it will help the recovery of the cod stocks.

Seal HuntOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, to make sure there is no misunderstanding, since the credibility of the whole industry is at stake, will the minister pledge to order an investigation and to bring those responsible for such cruel and illegal acts before the courts? Fishermen and seal hunters from the Gaspé region also told me this morning that the guilty parties must be found.

Seal HuntOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I think I indicated that and in my enthusiasm to support the people who are involved in the seal fishery I said 275, but of course I meant 275,000 seal carcasses.

With respect to an inquiry, I think I have indicated that my department is reviewing the video and will do as we did last year. We will see what is involved and if charges are to be laid, we will lay them.

I have to tell this House that the seal fishery this year, because we are increasing the total allowable catch, and I know the hon. member knows this, will be monitored like it has never been monitored before.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, not only do we have allegations that the Prime Minister's friend Bob Fowler shredded documents about the murder investigation in Somalia but now we hear that when Kim Campbell tried to investigate the murder, Fowler threatened her by saying that her actions could be

regarded at disloyalty to her department and could hurt her leadership prospects.

All this Prime Minister continues to do is reward Mr. Fowler with one of the top diplomatic postings available. Why will the Prime Minister not hold Mr. Fowler accountable?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Perth—Wellington—Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as has been said many times in this House, the calling of witnesses is still open until March 31 and any witnesses the commission wishes to call can be called. It can also subpoena documents. It is open.

This government is not going to get involved or interfere with the commission's work.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the Canadian people are getting sick and tired of this sort of cover-up.

We have a former prime minister of Canada accusing a former deputy minister of defence of covering up a murder. If this is not a shocking enough revelation to get the Prime Minister involved, what will it take, Mr. Prime Minister?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Remember, my colleagues, address all your questions to the Chair.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Perth—Wellington—Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. member that it was the former defence minister who hired Mr. Fowler and kept him in that position.

That being said, we are not going to interfere, even with all the provocations and all the name calling that is being brought forward by this party, in the work of that commission.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

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

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Since the Liberal Government was elected, the refugee claim backlog at the Immigration and Refugee Board has risen to over 30,000, a 75 per cent increase, and more than half of these are in Montreal.

How can the minister explain these unacceptable delays, and what steps will she take to solve this problem as promptly as possible?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it is worthwhile pointing out right at the start that the Immigration and Refugee Board is a quasijudiciary tribunal that is independent of the department and that the chairperson of the board has just taken a number of steps to step up productivity within the board.

That having been said, a bill is currently under study here in the House with a view to helping them work even more efficiently: Bill C-49. If the opposition gives us its support in moving this forward, it will be enabling us to help the board enhance its efficiency, in that only one board member will be required for cases to be heard in future.

With all these measures, I can assure you that everything is being done to try to improve turnaround time in the Immigration and Refugee Board.