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House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Canadian UnityOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about expenditures. I have with me the Government of Quebec's order in council.

Canadian UnityOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

That is not the question.

Canadian UnityOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

We have read in Le Soleil that the Government of Quebec, not the Liberal Party, spent $83 million on referendum activities. With $83 million, the government could have hired 1,769 more police officers. It could have hired 2,098 additional nurses or another 2,621 teachers.

The PQ government made its choice. It wanted to spend money on the referendum rather than on keeping its promises to Quebec's unionized workers.

Canadian UnityOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would like to make a suggestion to the Deputy Prime Minister: that she quit running in Hamilton East, resign one more time, run for the Liberal Party in Quebec and tackle Mr. Bouchard in the National Assembly. We have heard enough from her about Quebec. This is Canada here.

Canadian UnityOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Canadian UnityOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

I will ask her a third question regarding the topic that concerns us and which is seriously worrying Canadians. I ask her to listen attentively. This time, I am giving her a chance to reply on topic. I would like her to consult the right pages among those prepared for her by her assistants.

We learned this morning that Quebec's chief electoral officer wanted to hold an inquiry into this matter, which is of great concern to him. I ask the Deputy Prime Minister, who boasts that her government is completely honest and transparent, whether she is prepared to tell us in the House this morning that she will co-operate with Quebec's chief electoral officer to get to the bottom of this diversion of close to $5 million of taxpayers' money?

Canadian UnityOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, of course I will co-operate with the elections commission in any kind of investigation. But I would also have to underline that if Mr. Coté is really interested in getting to the facts surrounding the referendum, when he begins his investigation I would also ask him to investigate the secret plan of Jacques Parizeau which was revealed in Le Soleil of November 4, 1995: ``Parizeau admitted that he had a special slush fund of billions of dollars that he was going to use to defend the Canadian dollar against a plunge''.

I would also ask Mr. Coté to investigate the fake promise given by the the chief negotiator of the yes side to the unions. On the eve of the referendum he promised them a million dollars and today we saw what the promise meant. It meant zero.

Official Language MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the president of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada challenged the statement by the Minister of Canadian Heritage that the objective of the assistance program for minority language groups was to promote Canada. The government's documentation on the various programs available to official language minority groups does not, in fact, ever mention this objective.

Does the Minister of Canadian Heritage realize that, by declaring that the objective of the official languages program is to promote Canada, she is attacking the political independence of all official language minority groups in Canada?

Official Language MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, those of us on this side do not need any lectures from someone born in Ontario, who learned his French in Penetanguishene, and who now claims that francophones outside Quebec are nothing more than paraplegics in wheelchairs.

His policy is to separate Quebec from the rest of Canada, and to dump the million francophones in the rest of the country. We are never going to just dump one million francophones, who are counting on us and who can count on a Canadian government that believes in two peoples and two official languages.

Official Language MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, when Heritage Canada chopped subsidies to official language minority groups, the government claimed it had no choice but to do so. Today, we learn that the government has used that money for propaganda purposes.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage make a commitment to reimburse the official language minority groups for the losses they have incurred?

Official Language MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat this in English so the member for Quebec East, who learned to speak French in Penetanguishene-

-who was so fond of the city of his birth that he even ran for mayor of Penetanguishene.

Having been born in Penetanguishene, having learned his english in Ontario, he now is calling the Franco-Ontarians paraplegics in wheelchairs, which we are not. If we are to have two official languages, if we believe in two official languages, we need to have a country that does not believe in separatism.

The hon. member across the way is not interested in official languages, is not interested in minorities. He wants to create a country in which there is but one official language. He wants to dump all of the minorities throughout Canada.

SOMALIa INQUIRYOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, after months of trying to defend the shutting down of the Somalia inquiry and letting a political cover-up go unpunished, the Liberal government has finally admitted it was wrong. Unfortunately, instead of letting the inquiry commissioners get at the truth, the Liberals are trying to orchestrate a whitewash in the Senate.

My question is for the Minister of National Defence. Since the government now believes that the minister was wrong, why will it

not simply let the inquiry fulfil its mandate instead of trying to cover up the cover-up in the Senate?

SOMALIa INQUIRYOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, members of the Canadian forces look forward to an unequivocal statement from the Reform Party that Reformers believe the Somalia commission of inquiry should continue indefinitely. I hope at some point Reformers will come clean with the Canadian people and say without equivocation that they want the ticker to keep running.

Over $3 million has now been spent on lawyer fees and $15 million to $25 million, depending on how we calculate it, has been spent on the commission of inquiry.

With all due respect to the hon. member, the government has decided that after three extensions the Somalia commission of inquiry should report by the end of June.

The hon. member should respect the fact that this is a parliamentary system and the Senate is allowed to conduct its business as it thinks appropriate, as is the House of Commons.

SOMALIa INQUIRYOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, perhaps it would be better if the minister would come clean.

When it comes to covering up its nasty messes this government is as hapless as a cat on a concrete driveway.

One member of the cabinet, the defence minister, thinks that there was no political cover-up. Another member of cabinet, Senator Fairbairn, thinks there was a political cover-up and wants it investigated.

Who is speaking for the government? Do the Liberals think there was a political cover-up or do they think there was not a political cover-up?

SOMALIa INQUIRYOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, one of the obvious differences, and the member has recognized it, is that Liberals are able to think, unlike the hon. member and members of his party.

The fact remains that if Reformers believe the Somalia commission of inquiry should continue indefinitely, in other words, never mind the cover-up or the whitewash, but a carte blanche, then that is what they should say.

With respect to the inquiry being terminated at the end of June, everyone knows it has gone on now for over two years. It has heard hundreds of witnesses. It has reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. I think Canadians look forward to the report, the conclusions and the recommendations of the Somalia commission of inquiry.

With respect to what happens in the Senate, the hon. member should respect that the question of looking into incidents surrounding the affair in Somalia was raised by a Conservative member of the Senate several weeks ago. Subsequent to a number of discussions it was determined unanimously in the Senate, as I understand it, that it should look into the Somalia situation. It has a right to do that. Constitutionally we are operating as two separate House, the Senate and the House of Commons. It has every right to look into whatever it wishes.

SOMALIa INQUIRYOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, since the hon. minister has just implied that he has such a magnificent intellect I want to draw him a little picture.

The government shut down an independent inquiry that was to investigate its political friends and buddies. Then it replaced it with partisan Liberal and Tory senators who will try to whitewash a political cover-up that occurred under Liberal and Tory governments. I hope the hon. minister got that.

Instead of trying to throw up a political smoke screen, why does the government not simply let the independent inquiry get to the bottom of a murder and a cover-up and stop these political shenanigans?

SOMALIa INQUIRYOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and his party over the last few months have demonstrated exactly what they think of the Canadian forces. They have not told us what they believe should be done for the Canadian forces. They have made absolutely no attempt to provide any input into the very thorough review we have made of the Canadian forces, the military justice system, the military police, all the questions dealing with the selection and promotion of people in the Canadian military organization.

All Reformers have been able to do so far to help the Canadian forces is insist that the Somalia commission of inquiry continue for as long as they feel is appropriate; it could be a year, two years or three years. Reformers might be interested in history but we are interested in getting things done. If they have the interest of the Canadian forces at heart, they should be here next Tuesday when I will report to the Canadian people and to the Prime Minister on what the Liberal government believes should be done for the Canadian forces.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a press release dated February 21, 1997, the Quebec minister of finance made the following comments, and I quote: "If the same

criterion is applied to Quebec's tax structure before harmonization and after total harmonization, Quebec's loss of revenue amounts in fact to nearly 20 per cent". If there is one person in a position to know the cost of harmonizing the GST and the QST in Quebec it is the Quebec minister of finance.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. How can the Minister of Finance claim that Quebec officials are unable to establish the true cost of harmonizing and why does he continue to insinuate that minister Landry is lying to the people of Quebec?

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if I may cite the figures for Quebec sales tax revenues, which in fact come from the Government of Quebec, they reveal that, compared to the year preceding harmonization, Quebec's revenues in 1990-91 increased by $240 million. The next year, they increased by $1 billion; the year after that, by $888 million; the next year, by $465 million; the following year, $319 million and, finally by $504 million.

Since Quebec's decision to harmonize, its revenues have increased by $3.4 billion, that is, Quebec has not lost money, it has made money.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, what the minister is not saying is that, in the calculations to establish Quebec's entitlement to compensation, the Minister of Finance overestimates Quebec's revenues from the harmonized GST and QST by $575 million a year.

Second, he is not saying that to harmonize the QST with the GST Quebec had to cut revenues from other taxes-on tobacco and gasoline, for example-by $355 million. Finally, he is not saying that, to harmonize the GST and the QST, the Government of Quebec had to increase the rate of taxation on corporate profits by 67 per cent.

In other words, if Quebec had been offered the same conditions as the maritimes, Mr. McKenna would not be on the roam so detestably giving Quebec businesses unfair competition.

Will the Minister of Finance finally recognize that Quebec's assessment are the right ones and that he must pay the Government of Quebec compensation of $2 billion, under the same harmonization and compensation criteria used for the maritimes?

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is an economist, an economist of the right in his field, he should know that the figures I have just given are those of the Government of Quebec.

The hon. member is quoting ministers of finance, so perhaps I could quote the former minister of finance, André Bourbeau-

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

An incompetent. He put Quebec in the hole.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Martin Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

-and I quote: "Nevertheless, on the very face of them, the figures published by the Government of Quebec totally contradict what the current minister of finance in Quebec is saying. He cannot prove that the Government of Quebec lost revenues with this tax. He cannot claim reimbursement from the federal government of money he claims to have lost, since the Government of Quebec's own figures prove that it has not lost anything".

Departmental SpendingOral Question Period

March 21st, 1997 / 11:35 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, while we appreciate that the finance minister pointed out the gaping holes in the Tory platform yesterday and that their numbers do not add up, out of fairness I think he should point out that his own numbers do not add up.

Somehow he missed the fact that in 1995 he said in his budget speech that he was going to cut departmental spending by 19 per cent. He said these are not going to be phoney cuts, they are going to be real cuts. That is in the budget speech. Today departmental spending has fallen only 8.3 per cent. That is a $5 billion difference.

Why is the minister failing to meet his spending reduction targets in departmental spending just like Michael Wilson?

Departmental SpendingOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bruce—Grey Ontario

Liberal

Ovid Jackson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, we are on target. Each and every year we have met our targets. As a matter of fact, the opposition keeps complaining because the minister has bettered his targets.

We have not reached the end of the fiscal year and this government has met its targets each year. The Reform Party is comparing apples and oranges. Our statistics show 18 per cent with program review saving targets that were identified in the 1995-96 budgets. Each one met its target. The required reductions were made in departments and the agency budgets in the time that they were announced. Planned program spending is on track in all years.

In the 1996 budget we forecasted $106 billion and this year it is down to $105.8 billion.