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House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, will the minister undertake, following this meeting, in fact, to take positive steps, either through the introduction of a bill, before the elections are held, or through the holding of an emergency debate, again before the elections, so that we may deal with this urgent matter here?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member and I share the same goal, that is, to improve the law and the Criminal Code, to help the police. If it is possible, after our meeting Thursday morning in Quebec City, to identify specific, valid, and constitutional measures, we will adopt them, we will propose them here, in the House, for debate.

If the hon. member or his colleagues have some ideas, I am open to them. As I said today to Mr. Perreault, the most important thing is to equip the police, validly and constitutionally, with the tools they need to fight organized crime and to protect Canadians throughout the country.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, as we saw this morning, mayors from the Quebec City area and the Quebec Minister of Public Security sent a letter to the federal Minister of Justice reminding him that, under Bill C-17, for which he is taking credit, he has additional powers, but that this is still not enough. The minister must go further to stamp out organized crime.

Given the reply he just provided to the Leader of the Opposition, I am asking the minister whether, when he refers to valid and constitutional clauses to stamp out organized crime and biker gangs, he is alluding to the "notwithstanding" clause in the Constitution, and whether he is prepared to go so far as to use that clause in the fight against biker gangs?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is premature to consider such an

option. The important thing right now is to meet with those involved and, as I said, to look at all the options with an open mind.

The hon. member referred to Bill C-17, in which we proposed several changes to the Criminal Code, so as to strengthen the legislation. I hope that with these measures, and perhaps other ones which I will discuss on Thursday morning with my Quebec counterpart, Mr. Perreault, we will be able to improve the situation.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, in their letter to the minister, the mayors and the Quebec Minister of Public Security talk about an exceptional situation. Exceptional measures are therefore required. I asked the minister a very clear question, but he did not answer it.

I want to know, if the Quebec government and the vast majority of mayors from the Quebec City area who are stuck with this huge problem ask him to go so far as to use the "notwithstanding" clause, whether the minister is prepared to go that route to follow up on the request made by these municipalities and those who are stuck with that problem?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is necessary to face such challenges calmly and to look at every option and every possible approach. As I said, it is academic and premature to discuss section 33, the "notwithstanding" clause.

I would rather first consult with Mr. Perreault and officials from the municipalities of the Quebec City area, to see if it is possible to act without resorting to section 33. Again, it would be premature to provide a reply to the questions put by the hon. member.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister likes to say that the federal government led by example when it came to reducing the deficit but the problem is that is just not true.

Departmental spending is $8 billion higher than the finance minister promised it would be.

The Liberals promised with their program review that they would reduce departmental spending by 19 per cent, but so far, as the minister knows, it has only gone down 9 per cent. This probably qualifies in his department as an "oops". That is a huge difference.

My question is this. Why does the government find it so difficult to tighten its own belt by $8 billion when it did not bother it a bit to slash health care and education by $7 billion?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

That was a real big whopper, that one.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

He's in trouble again.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Put a cork in it.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, we have implemented program review according to plan.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Douglas Young Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Getting people on these whoppers is just not acceptable.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Massé Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Today I checked the percentage of expenditure decrease department by department. We indicated that we would decrease expenditures from $120 billion in 1994-95 to $106 billion in 1997-98. The result this year is $105.8 billion. The figures are almost exactly at the right point for all the departments. There is nothing more to say. We have met our target.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is easy for the minister to make things look good when the government continues to bring in billions of dollars more of revenue every year. Taxes go up all the time but it just does not solve the problem. The budget estimates simply do not lie.

The Liberals had a choice and they chose to cut health care and education by $7 billion. Regional development spending should have been $567 million but instead it has ballooned to over$1.2 billion. That is a difference of $.5 billion. How many hospital beds would that $.5 million have allowed to remain open instead of the kind of nonsense we see happening here all the time? These people chose handouts over health care.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Why does the government care so much more about regional development than health care and education where it has made huge cuts of$7 billion?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, once again it is necessary to check the real figures. The reason there is a difference in the figures for regional development agencies is because they administer the infrastructure program and that cost has been added to their budgets. This is why their budgets are not comparable. Reconciling these figures has to be done by people who know the estimates well and know how they are done.

We indicated we were going to reduce actual spending by the government from $120 billion to $103 billion in 1998-1999. We are exactly on track. This is where we will be. The spending of departments is going to be reduced by $9 billion which is what we said we would do three years ago and we have accomplished it.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure there is anyone in the country who would buy that kind of mathematics except the people who are sitting on his own benches.

He talks about reconciling figures. The Canadian public are trying to reconcile the facts and the facts are these: Regional development is over budget. Canadian heritage is over budget and that is no surprise. Industry is over budget. Natural resources is over budget. Foreign affairs is over budget. The beat goes on. The only thing that the Liberals have managed to cut is funding to health care and education. Over and over again we see it.

Let me try one more time. How can the Prime Minister and the government justify slashing health and education by $7 billion when his government departments are $8 billion over budget? Plain and simple, what is the difference?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the figures have to be used in such a way that you compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges. The opposition is using figures that do not do this.

The truth is the expenditures in the departments have been reduced by 14 per cent while transfers to provinces have been reduced using not only cash but tax points by 9.9 per cent. We have reduced 40 per cent more than we have reduced transfers to the provinces. That is what we have done.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the solicitor general.

The RCMP is in the process of reorganizing its administrative services under four separate regions: Atlantic, Pacific, Northwest and Centre.

Will the minister confirm that the RCMP is set to consolidate at central region headquarters, in London, Ontario, all RCMP administrative services, including those for the Quebec region, which are currently located in Montreal?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:30 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 cannot confirm this information because, based on my own information, the hon. member's allegations are incorrect.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's source of information is probably in CSIS. Our latest information shows there is cause for more concern.

Does the minister not agree that transferring administrative services from Quebec to London, Ontario, would effectively take away any career prospects civilians who speak only French may have had with the RCMP?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, career opportunities for bilingual mounties are great, and I am very pleased to see the separatist member is now confirming the national role of our national police force: the RCMP.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

March 18th, 1997 / 2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to quote the finance minister in his recent budget speech. "We have always said that our targets were not the most we would do but the least we would do".

It looks like the lowest targets are not the law. In fact, the government is not even close to coming in on target. It has spent $8 billion more than it said it would spend. We wondered how long it would take the Liberal-Tory coalition to go back to its old pattern.

Why did the finance minister fudge his spending figures in this year's budget in order to cover up his failure to meet the spending reduction targets laid out in the 1995 budget?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, once again, I checked all the figures this morning and I can offer to the opposition, whoever wants to look at the figures and have them reconciled line by line, some help.

My experts will be available later this afternoon or tomorrow. They will be able to tell members exactly what the figures mean and what they contain. They will be able to confirm that all the reductions we announced in the program review have taken place. We have cut $9 billion in our expenditures and we are meeting, year after year, the targets we said we would meet.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, more Liberal math.

Let us look at some of the essential spending the government cannot bear to cut, such as the $8.1 million announced yesterday by the Minister of Human Resources Development for a sock factory in Montreal. That must be their high tech initiative. Then there is $600,000 for a hotel in Shawinigan. How about this? There will be $120,000 spent by the Department of Canadian Heritage for golf carts in the health minister's riding. All the while the government is closing hospitals around the country.

Why will the finance minister not admit that this pork barrelling is the reason the government has overshot its spending reduction targets by a whopping $8 billion?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I

guess we will let the Canadian population judge whether our management of the government and its finances has been good.

I must say, when I travel across the country, including the member's province, it is clear that the majority of Canadians find that the way we have spent money has been the right way. They find that the reduction in the deficit which has taken place was exactly what they were asking for.

When we look at the ultimate tribunal, which is the people, there is no doubt that what we have done is not only according to our promises, but it also goes in the direction of the interests of Canadians.