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House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agency.

Topics

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when discussions were held in Charlottetown, everyone bet on a miracle solution that only led to disaster. We, however, have been dealing with one issue at a time.

For 30 years, Quebec struggled with its school board problem. We introduced a constitutional amendment, the first one in years, to help the Quebec government remedy this problem.

For 30 years, a solution was sought to the manpower training problem in Quebec. What happened? After years of discussions, this government stepped in and solved the problem, as we have solved others, one by one and efficiently.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, last year, the Prime Minister said he was waiting for a federalist government in Quebec to proceed with constitutional changes.

However, he just said the opposite and last weekend he shut the door by stating “The Constitution is not a general store”.

Are we to understand from those comments that the Prime Minister is resigned to not having a federalist government in Quebec or that, even with a federalist government, he feels he can never go further than he already has?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, while all the provinces and the federal government have decided it was important to recognize Quebec's distinct character in the Calgary declaration, the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to any change.

This is why I say that when we have in Quebec a federalist government that believes in Canada, and not a separatist government, we will be able to move the agenda forward as we have in the past five years, in spite of the opposition of the BQ and the PQ.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, can the Prime Minister tell us if, when he said he did not want to create false hopes at the constitutional level, he was sending a very clear message to Quebec federalists to not say too much on this issue during the election campaign, because as far as he is concerned the door is shut?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said and I repeat that we have made considerable progress in spite of the systematic opposition from the BQ and the PQ.

When a federalist party with people who believe in Canada is in office, the other provinces and the Canadian government will be more than willing to bring about changes that are absolutely impossible to make with people whose only goal is to destroy Canada.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week the health minister insisted that health protection scientists appeared before the Senate agriculture committee with his full co-operation and encouragement. The facts are otherwise. The minister's office worked overtime to try to prevent the scientists from testifying. An internal document shows that the minister's office tried to engineer the assistant deputy minister appearing instead of the scientists.

Why try to silence the scientists? How does blocking the truth protect the public health?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I hope the hon. member's devotion to the truth will extend to her description of the history of these events.

What happened last week was that scientists from my department appeared before the Senate committee at my urging. I encouraged them to attend and to testify before the parliamentary committee.

The document she refers to which was disclosed yesterday from a bureaucrat does not represent the policy of the department. The policy of the department is set by the minister and the minister asked those scientists to appear. They did and they testified in full and answered all the questions.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, here we have a minister who knows so little about what is going on in his department and who is so scared to have the truth come out that he now has to distance himself from the spin control documents coming out from his own officials.

The fact is once the minister could not block the scientists, he tried to send the scientists to the committee chaperoned by their own boss, like parolees on a day pass.

My question is very simple. Why did the minister tell the House one thing when the documents tell a totally different story?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member talks about spinning. It sounds to me that the only spin doctor that has been advising the NDP is Dr. Kevorkian.

Let us bear in mind what the issue is here. The issue here is whether those scientists appeared before a committee to testify. They did. They answered all the questions fully and I urged them to do so.

Bear in mind also that what we are talking about here is rBST. That substance has not been approved and will not be approved by Health Canada until we are satisfied that it is safe.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, we still do not know what caused the crash of a search and rescue helicopter that killed six members of the Canadian armed forces on October 2. However, we have been informed that the Labrador helicopters will be returning to active duty.

Still not knowing the cause of the crash, why is the minister willing to put more lives at risk?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to put any lives at risk. Search and rescue is about saving lives and we do not put up aircraft unless it is safe to use, safe for crews and safe for the people who will be recipients of this service.

The chief of the air staff has examined this situation very carefully. He is a professional man, a very caring man. He knows the circumstances under which this decision had to be made. He believes, after consultation with crews, that this is the right decision to make and we will fly these aircraft only after further inspection and when they are fully safe to fly.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, on October 5 the minister said that he did not know how long the investigation into the crash would take but “as soon as we get the results, the better”.

We do not have the results, nor do the families of the victims. It has been reported that crews not comfortable flying the aging Labradors will not have to. Why are the crews being given this option?

If the minister believes the Labradors are safe and if none of them want to fly the Labradors, what alternatives does the minister have for meeting Canada's continuing search and rescue needs?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the cause is not known but there is no evidence also to support any systemic failure. So it has been decided by the chief of the air staff, and I fully support his position, that these helicopters can go back in the air.

The majority of the search and rescue crews want to get back in the air, want to get back to providing this service for Canadians. Some of them were part of the squadron where the six deaths occurred. They will be given a little more opportunity to make their decisions before going back into the air and I think that is a good way to move it.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government repeatedly argues that employment insurance money does not really belong to workers but the very fact that the government pays interest on the billions of dollars it borrowed from the EI fund is an admission that the government does not even believe its own story. Otherwise, why would it be paying interest?

If, as it has claimed, the fund belongs to the government to spend however it wants, then why in the world is it paying $711 million in interest charges this year on the money it borrowed from the fund? Why is it paying interest?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is the government's position that contributions to the government, whether they come from EI contributions from employers or employees or whether they are taxpayer dollars, they come from the taxpayers of this country and they must be administered with great prudence. That is what we are in the process of doing.

We do not regard taxpayer dollars as simply found money. That may well be the difference. That is why we provide good administration.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

So in other words, Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is saying the government is paying interest to itself. That is what he seems to be saying.

If you take money that does not belong to you, you go to jail. You do not pass go, you do not collect $350 per worker. Why doesn't the finance minister just give back that $350 per worker and quit this Liberal larceny?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I prefer that words like larceny not be used in question period.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, at a time when the climate outside our borders was benign, when Japan was not in a depression, when Russia's government was operating, the Reform Party recommended that the government use the EI fund to reduce the deficit.

Now outside our borders the situation is certainly stormy and the government must protect itself and the Canadian people. By what twisted logic does the Reform Party decide all of a sudden that we should abandon that cushion? The issue is what torturous minds develop economic policy for the Reform Party.

Election In QuebecOral Question Period

October 27th, 1998 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federalist camp is in disarray, and some people have even asked the Prime Minister to shut up for the duration of the election campaign in Quebec.

Does the Prime Minister intend to follow the advice of his Quebec federalist allies, who are asking him to shut up for 36 days and to wait until after the election campaign to say what he thinks?

Election In QuebecOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this has to be the first time the opposition asks the Prime Minister not to answer its questions. I sit in the House of Commons. It is my duty to do so and I answer all questions.

I would like to say that the PQ and the BQ do not want to talk about their mismanagement of Quebec. They are trying to pick a fight with the federal government, instead of talking about the mess they created in Quebec, particularly in the health sector.

Election In QuebecOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister should give a call to his friend Jean Charest, who said that it is not Bouchard or Rochon, but the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien that should be blamed.

Election In QuebecOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I remind my colleagues that they must not use names.

The hon. member for Témiscamingue.

Election In QuebecOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, if Jean Charest's friends are asking the Prime Minister to shut up during the election campaign, is it not proof that what Jean Charest is promising is precisely what the Prime Minister calls unachievable hopes?

Election In QuebecOral Question Period

2:35 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, let me say whom the member should ask to shut up. He should ask the only person who said something despicable last weekend to shut up, namely the person who did not hesitate to compare the Quebec Liberal Party leader to a dictator in exile. That was despicable.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, two families in Prudhomme, Saskatchewan. In one of them, Preston Tkatch is the sole breadwinner but his monthly take home pay after taxes is only $220 more than the welfare cheque a family of the same size receives. It is this government's tax policies which are pushing more and more Canadians into poverty.

Why does this finance minister allow a situation to exist in which there is more incentive for people to go on welfare than to work?