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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

Departmental SpendingOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that we do not have the finance minister on his feet. This is an issue that goes right to the credibility of the government's numbers.

In the 1995 budget speech the Liberals said departmental spending will fall 19 per cent. They did not say anything about program review. They said departmental spending will fall by19 per cent. Their own numbers show it has only fallen by 8.3 per cent, a $5 billion difference.

My question to the finance minister is why the $5 billion difference. Why are they fudging their numbers 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, I have a document before me with the program spending and it has each department. Our statistics show 18.8 per cent.

Linguistic MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is time to leave demagoguery aside and to set the record straight once and for all.

The hon. member for Québec-Est made an analogy and said that comparing the situation of anglophones in Quebec to that of francophone minorities in Canada was like comparing a Cadillac to a wheelchair. This analogy is not meant to be derogatory to paraplegics. There comes a point where we must leave grandstanding aside and deal with the real issues.

The President of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, Jacques Michaud, said he did not want their organizations to be used to promote Canadian unity. On the other hand, the federation is quite prepared to protect francophone and Acadian community groups.

In light of this, could the minister tell us whether her statement means that, in the future, these groups will have to pursue the government's political objectives on national unity, instead of promoting the rights of official language minorities in Canada?

Linguistic MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to know what the member from Témiscouata thinks of the comments made by the member for Québec-Est. How would you like to be called a paraplegic in a wheelchair?

Linguistic MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

An hon. member

It is an insult to all Franco-Ontarians.

Linguistic MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

These are the words of the member for Québec-Est, who himself learned to speak French fairly well in Penetanguishene, Ontario.

That being said, it is obvious that if Canada did not exist, there would be no official languages policy.

Linguistic MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister can understand the analogy made by the hon. member for Québec-Est, because I am sure Canadians and Quebecers can.

Can the minister assure us that the $4.5 million given to the Council for Canadian Unity and the $4.8 million given to Option Canada, which were diverted from the budget earmarked for official language minority communities in Canada, will be returned to these minorities? This amounts to 22 per cent of the money set aside for minorities. Will the minister give back to official language minorities what she fraudulently took from them?

Linguistic MinoritiesOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out the lack of logic in the member's question. He claims the Government of Canada has no interest in having a country. How can he claim there will be two official languages if this country ceases to exist? The Government of Canada obviously cares about this issue, considering that, yesterday, it gave an $8 million subsidy to Collège Boréal, in Sudbury.

Similarly, if we support the efforts of those who are fighting to save the Montfort hospital, it is because we believe in the million francophones living outside Quebec, right across Canada.

What is so pitiful is that the same member of Parliament who compared francophones to paraplegics in wheelchairs now claims to be defending their rights, which is absolutely untrue. The only thing he is defending is the separatist cause, which would deprive francophones outside Quebec of their right to live in a truly bilingual country.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the first 10 months of this fiscal year the unemployment insurance fund ran up a surplus of $6.1 billion. That could actually hit a surplus of $7.5 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Is there no limit to the tax he will place on Canadian jobs in order for him to make his deficit numbers look good?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, when we took office unemployment insurance premiums were scheduled to rise to $3.30. We stopped that.

Every year since then we have reduced the unemployment insurance rate. In the last budget we announced that at the end of this year it would be at $2.80. In the last three years of the Tory regime they raised the unemployment insurance premiums every year. In the first three years we have been in office, we have dropped the premiums every year.

This year there is going to be a saving to Canadian workers and companies of $1.7 billion as a result of the actions taken by the government. That demonstrates tax reductions.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, this minister has built up a surplus in the EI fund like we have never seen before. The surplus this year amounts to a $500 tax on every job in the country. The minister has the gall to stand up in the House and say that he has not raised taxes. That is a disgrace.

The minister said that payroll taxes are a cancer on jobs. Will he announce a cut in employment insurance premiums to give the unemployed some hope that there will be a job created for them?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member certainly has a strange way of looking at what is a premium increase or a premium decrease.

When we took office premiums were roughly $3.07 going to $3.30. We stopped that. The next year we brought premiums down to $3.00, then down to $2.90 and then down to $2.80. Those are not increases, those are decreases.

We have stated as a government that it is our intention to continue to bring those premiums down. We will do this responsibly, not in the way the leader of the Reform Party stated the other day, that there would be a massive cut.

Virtually every commentator has said that if there was a recession, the first thing a Tory government would have to do would be to hike those premiums, which was exactly what it did in 1989 and 1990. This is how the Tories put us into a terrible recession.

If members wonder why I talk about the Tories, it is because they are the kissing cousins of Reformers, on the extreme right.

Seasonal WorkersOral Question Period

March 21st, 1997 / 11:45 a.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

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

The federal government's financial participation in the agricultural day haul transportation assistance program officially ends on March 31 in Quebec. This program gives labourers living in the city access to farm jobs they could not get if it were not for organised transit between urban areas and rural areas.

Does the minister agree that, by refusing to provide the $350,000 required to maintain this program, he is directly responsible for the loss of thousands of jobs for seasonal agricultural workers and that the resulting social costs will be much higher than the savings?

Seasonal WorkersOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's concern for this program, which was indeed very useful to many seasonal workers. As you know, in any program review, hard choices have to be made sometimes. Some of the decisions we have made are not the ones we wish we could have made.

Now, of course, we must look at what other programs and active employment measures are available to the workers to make their access to the labour market easier. I think that, on the whole, government policy and programs are quite satisfactory.

Seasonal WorkersOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

That is right, Mr. Speaker. The minister is replacing measures that worked well by ones he is unsure of.

Will the minister recognize that, by refusing to continue funding this program in the future, he will promote the hiring of foreign labour at the expense of thousands of workers in Quebec and Canada who will be denied the seasonal jobs available?

Seasonal WorkersOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have a hard time understanding how transportation could be easier from Mexico to Quebec farms than from one Quebec region to another. The logic in what the hon. member is saying eludes me.

TobaccoOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health.

The American tobacco company, Liggett Corporation, has publicly admitted that smoking is addictive, that it causes cancer and that the industry deliberately targets its marketing at young people between the ages of 14 and 18.

Can the parliamentary secretary tell Canadians the significance of this announcement and how it affects our efforts to curb tobacco consumption among young people?

TobaccoOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is important to understand that this confirms what the Government of Canada has been saying all along.

We presented a comprehensive strategy on combating tobacco use and its very serious and negative health impacts. It is a bad admission to make, but we are relieved that there is an indication, at least by the industry if not by the other parties, that we have been right all along. Tobacco is a cause of cancer and of heart disease and the companies have especially targeted young people.

Our bill, C-71, has attempted to address those issues and we are happy that at least the public is beginning to turn in that direction at last.

CorcanOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General.

Recently, a laundry in my riding bid for a contract to service hospitals in Granby and Brome-Missisquoi. They lost to CORCAN, which is connected to the Laval correctional centre and employs people being reintegrated into the work force. The private company, Buanderie Shefford, therefore lost a contract because it was competing with a company funded in large part by the taxpayers, and therefore able to offer a better price.

Does the minister not admit that this is a blatant example of unfair competition on the part of the federal administration, taking major contracts away from companies which are at least as competitive as Corrections Canada?

CorcanOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I do not accept my hon. colleague's hypothesis, but I would be most pleased to look into these allegations and to report to my hon. friend as promptly as possible.

CorcanOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have risen in the House today because I have twice written to the minister, to the minister's office, without any satisfactory response.

The jobs of 15 people in my riding are at stake. The Liberals like to boast of creating jobs, but not in this case.

What guarantees can the minister offer us that CORCAN includes all of its costs in the bids it submits, and respects the same ground rules as its private sector competitors?

CorcanOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, CORCAN operates in compliance with the criteria, according to my information. I am sorry he has not accepted the information I have provided him with. I am, however, prepared to look further into the case, and to provide him with an answer shortly.

FisheriesOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, department of fisheries officials in Vancouver tell me that four additional herring roe-on-kelp licenses have been created for the Heiltsuk band as a result of the Supreme Court's decision in Gladstone.

Could the minister confirm that the court's decision in Gladstone led to the creation of these licences?

FisheriesOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Fernand Robichaud LiberalSecretary of State (Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, yes, the Supreme Court clearly established that the nation in question had the right to commercial fishing and it was based on historical facts.

DFO, after several long weeks of discussion have come to some understanding, to an agreement with the nation in question whereby DFO and the Heiltsuk tribal council have agreed to harvest 100 tonnes of unallocated herring available in area eight for 1997, in three open pond licences. The 100 tonnes of unallocated herring now being allocated have a roe content of lesser quality which means, therefore, it is of lesser interest to the commercial fishermen.

FisheriesOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is no unallocated herring in B.C.

After hearing petitions from all parties, the Supreme Court recommended a judicial process to establish the limits of the Heiltsuk right. Why has the minister sought to subvert the judicially established process to develop constitutional law on the issue of native fishing rights, given that the fishing industry has spent millions of dollars on litigation to defend their rights and to establish sound, legal principles on which to allocate the fisheries resource.

Why has the minister replaced the law book with the red book?