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House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was accused.

Topics

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, one of the difficulties is in dealing with this whole area of the inquiry that the hon. gentleman is pursuing. I want to make sure that I understand because I do not know quite what type of response the hon. gentleman wants.

In the ethics bible of the Reform Party it says: "Questions should not be used to get straight information".

What I am trying to find out here is: Are you asking straight questions or do you want straight answers?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, you will please address all of your remarks directly to the Chair.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the Prime Minister that we asked these questions about Mr. Fowler two years ago and then he was hustled off to New York.

My business experience says that if you want to rebuild something that is not working you start from the top, not from the bottom. The problem is the Prime Minister has been protecting the people at the top. When things went wrong for the Prime Minister's friends in positions of responsibility he shut down the inquiry and let the people at the bottom take the blame.

When will the Prime Minister stop shielding his buddies at the top and show some integrity by holding them accountable?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if my hon. friend's business experience is going to do his party any good he has some mighty tough work to do at the top.

We are dealing now with whether or not the hon. member understands that there have been three extensions given to the commission. The commission is free to ask any witnesses it wishes to appear before it. It can determine who it wants to hear. It has until the end of March to do that and it can determine in its own good time as it always has.

Far be it for us to suggest to the commission or to the hon. gentleman who should be called. If the hon. member wants to make recommendations to the commission on who should be heard as witnesses then he is free to do so.

Airbus AffairOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister refused to question the integrity of his ministers, who obviously goofed in the Airbus affair. Perhaps he might be less forgiving of the obvious incompetence of the RCMP Commissioner, Philip Murray, who took two years to realize that his men were investigating a former Prime Minister.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Everyone agrees that it makes no sense for the top man at the RCMP not to be aware of the famous letter to Switzerland. Under the circumstances, does the Prime Minister continue to have faith in the RCMP Commissioner?

Airbus AffairOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the commissioner under the act passed by Parliament is responsible for the management and control of the RCMP. He is carrying out this work. He is assuming his responsibilities and I think that is the answer to my hon. friend's question.

Airbus AffairOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is left of the Liberals' wishful thinking, of this government's accountability, when a senior bureaucrat supposedly in charge of the RCMP can make mistakes costing taxpayers millions of dollars and yet continue to hold the respect and trust of this government and this Prime Minister?

Airbus AffairOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I reject the premise of my hon. friend's question because the investigation in question is active. It is ongoing. Brian Mulroney in agreeing to the settlement of the case against him said: "The parties have always acknowledged that the RCMP must continue investigating any allegations of illegality or wrongdoing brought to its attention". That is exactly what it is doing.

I do not know why my hon. friend questions this proper work of the national police force.

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Elijah Harper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of Indian affairs. Last November, the royal commission on aboriginal peoples issued its final report. The commission urges us to end decades of jurisdictional uncertainty and deal with aboriginal peoples on a nation to nation basis within the Canadian federation.

The minister has had two months to study this report. Will he tell the House what actions the government has taken toward considering the recommendations in the royal commission's final report?

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the member has an easier question. The royal commission has spent five years with many ups and downs. In the end it has created a very scholarly report. The commission should be commended. It is a living document, a touchstone as has been evidenced by 600 people who met in Montreal last week to discuss the pros and cons.

We could not wait for the report to be finished during our tenure. So many of the things that it recommended in the end we were already doing as they were being discussed: inherent right, general policy, specific policy, the Inuit Grise Fiord package, the contemporary treaty in B.C.

I know the Reform Party has no interest in aboriginal affairs. The 150 tables we had going across the country were interested in what happened to royal commissions. This is what happens. There are 150 tables. This will be a touchstone for our negotiators. It will be a light.

There are 440 recommendations of which 89 touch us. I hope all provinces and territories where they are affected will use that same report as a touchstone, as a light to get to do the job better.

AirbusOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, by November 8, 1995 the justice minister knew about the inflammatory contents of Kimberly Prost's letter to the Swiss authorities regarding the Airbus scandal.

At that time the justice minister had the opportunity to withdraw the letter and forward a second one, minus the libellous language. This would have stopped the $50 million lawsuit and saved the taxpayers a $1 million out of court settlement and would not have interfered with the RCMP investigation.

Why did the justice minister not withdraw the letter immediately on learning of its libellous content?

AirbusOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that a second letter was sent days after November 8, 1995.

A second letter was sent at the request of Mr. Mulroney and his solicitors. That letter made clear that the contents of the first letter were allegations only, unproven and part of an investigation. I hope the hon. member takes that into account when he assesses this situation.

AirbusOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, anyone who is familiar with the file realizes the contents of the second letter, and it did not do one single solitary thing about appeasing the complainant in this whole matter.

The justice minister continues to absolve himself of any responsibility when clearly it was his irresponsible decision that cost the Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars. As soon as the justice minister heard of the libellous letter, it was his duty to act responsibly.

Why did the minister not withdraw the original letter and issue his apology immediately? Why did he take over a year and millions of taxpayers' dollars to settle this affair? How can the people of Canada trust this minister's judgment?

AirbusOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is entitled to his own opinion but he is not entitled to his own facts.

The facts of this letter are clear. Within days of Mr. Mulroney's lawyers coming to the department and complaining about the language in that letter, a second letter was sent. The first letter had already been acted on and was sent, but the second letter made it clear that what was said were mere allegations, that no conclusions had been reached.

The hon. member asks about my responsibility. I made clear from the outset that I take responsibility for the Department of Justice. The record shows that acting responsibly, I have changed the system inside the department.

The parties to the settlement of this case acknowledge-may I read briefly: "The parties acknowledge the procedure used in sending a request for assistance-".

National Forum On HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

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

This morning, the national forum on health presented its report to the federal government. The report contains no criticism of the federal government and contributes nothing to improving health care.

Does the minister understand that the national forum is just so much verbiage and that the real problems in health care are the cuts this government has made to transfer payments to the province?

National Forum On HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for raising the subject matter on the floor of the House.

The conclusions of the forum report were obvious to all. The problems in our health care system today are not as a result of lack of funding. It has to do with the management of the system.

In point of fact, the recommendations that are contained in the forum report suggesting that we, as Canadians, ought to move to a more inclusive system such as including home care and pharmacare are directions that all member ought to support for the benefit of high quality health care for every Canadian.

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, back to Krever. The Krever commission on tainted blood was designed to clear up a Canadian tragedy designed to explain to a 15-year old youth from Ottawa, David, why his life was shattered when he found on his lab report HIV positive.

Since the Prime Minister talks so much about accountability, since this Liberal government says its whole issue is accountability, can the health minister explain to Canadians why he tried to shut down Krever when he tried to find out who was accountable?

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, to repeat what the very eminent Minister of Justice has just said, the hon. member is entitled to his own opinion but certainly not entitled to his own facts on this issue. Quite the contrary.

Since we have assumed our responsibilities in the field of health care in dealing with the blood issue, we have attempted to provide all available information to the Krever inquiry. We have acted on many of the interim recommendations that he has made.

As I have said many times inside and outside this House, we await the final conclusions of Justice Krever so that we can incorporate those that will improve, restore and add confidence to the blood system in this country.

National Child BenefitOral Question Period

February 4th, 1997 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Bethel Liberal Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

For 27 per cent of Edmonton's children who live with their families below the poverty line, the child benefit offered hope. How will the national child benefit help these Alberta families?

National Child BenefitOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question. Indeed the government is very concerned about the situation of children living in low income families in this country. This is one of our top priorities.

We have already been investing a great deal. We have invested over $500 billion in the child tax benefit at this time and in the budget last year we increased the working income supplement by $250 million.

We need to do more and we can achieve better results if we work collaboratively with the provinces. I was extremely pleased when last week we actually achieved a consensus that the provinces and the Government of Canada will develop together a national child benefit, a very good policy for children.

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and it is also on the National Forum on Health.

As the minister knows, the national forum urged this government to bring medicare into the 21st century by including primary care, by including home care and of course by including prescription drugs.

Will the minister not only accept these recommendations but will he put an end to the destructive cuts in federal funding for health care to the provinces, restore that funding and tackle the runaway cost of prescription drugs?

HealthOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, again I think we have to be careful of the facts.

The report says very clearly that Canada has the second most expensive health care system in the OECD countries. Furthermore the forum has said very clearly that it is not an issue of funding; it is an issue of managing and substantially changing the direction in which health care is heading.

That is why I am very happy that the hon. member will support the directions in terms of further improvements as they relate to home care, pharma care and primary care. I appreciate his support

and the support of the NDP as we move forward on these important issues.

Employment Insurance ContributionsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

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

The federal government has very recently discovered a growing problem of poverty in Canada, including among children.

Since his government has just discovered this problem, I would ask the Prime Minister if he will not take immediate action to help overtaxed low income families on the labour market. Will he not recognize that, by overtaxing unemployment insurance contributions by $10 billion over two years, he is placing an unfair burden on them and would he not be prepared to reduce employment insurance contributions, especially for low income families, right now?

Employment Insurance ContributionsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development has just provided a good description of the current situation. The program we are working on at the moment requires provincial co-operation.

The meeting held last week in Toronto and the one held last month bear witness to a new approach and new co-operation between the federal government and the provinces in helping children in difficulty in our society.

I hope negotiations will continue quickly and that, together with the provinces, we will be able to set up a national program to protect poor children.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (production of records in sexual offence proceedings), be read the second time and referred to a committee.