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House of Commons Hansard #65 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mai.

Topics

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his report to the finance committee on Bill C-28, the ethics counsellor raised a number of different hypotheses as to what could have been done to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. He stated that possible options had not been subject to prior examination, as they ought to have been.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister not agree that, by not consulting the ethics counsellor before the bill was introduced, the Minister of Finance showed a flagrant lack of judgment and placed himself in an apparent conflict of interest?

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance had no knowledge whatsoever of that amendment, and it was therefore impossible for him to consult the ethics counsellor. When the decision was made, he was not the one working on the amendment. It was the Secretary of State for Financial Institutions.

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is rather disconcerting that the Minister of Finance would introduce a bill without knowledge of its contents. I find that a bit disconcerting.

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

An hon. member

It's a bit odd.

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

What the Secretary of State for Financial Institutions may have done privately we do not know, but everything done publicly was done by the Minister of Finance.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister admit that the only conclusion that can be reached is that there is an apparent conflict of interest, because the Minister of Finance is the only one publicly identified with Bill C-28?

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is bothered so much by these amendments, why did his colleagues not oppose them either in the House or in committee? Their silence attests to the validity of the amendments. There is no basis for allegations of a conflict of interest, either real or apparent.

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the ethics commissioner said “If I had been informed prior to the introduction of the present bill or its predecessor, Bill C-69 introduced in 1996, we would have discussed the best way to resolve the question of introducing the bill in the name of the Minister of Finance”.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. How does he explain that, for two years, the Minister of Finance appeared to be in a position of conflict of interest and that, throughout that period, neither he nor anyone in the government thought it wise to seek the opinion of the ethics commissioner?

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, why did the hon. member and his colleagues say absolutely nothing for two years on this if the amendments created a conflict of interest or the appearance of one? This goes to show that their allegations are once again groundless.

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, for two years, the Minister of Finance appeared to be in a conflict of interest and it took the questions of the Bloc Quebecois to get a reaction from the government.

Are we to understand that the role of the ethics commissioner is not to ensure government ethics but rather to provide opinions after the fact in order to save the skins of ministers caught red handed?

Bill C-28Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, according to the Ottawa Sun , when questioned on whether the minister would have done anything contrary to the code of ethics, the Bloc ally, the member for The Battlefords—Lloydminster replied “Personally I do not think so. I believe the Minister of Finance is an honest man, I really do”.

We finally got the truth out of the Reform Party, now it is time to have the truth from the Bloc Quebecois.

EmploymentOral Question Period

February 23rd, 1998 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it appears that our finance minister had to leave the country to discover Canada's crisis of growing inequality and joblessness. Canadians were relieved to hear the finance minister advise the G-7 that tomorrow's budget will tackle social inequality and joblessness.

Will this government accept as reasonable targets for the year 2000 reducing poverty by one-third and reducing unemployment below 6%?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I hope the hon. member will accept that while there is a lot more to be done, since this government has been in office the unemployment rate has gone down by more than two percentage points. Furthermore 372,000 jobs were created last year alone.

That is a signal of our commitment. That is a signal of our efforts through this budget and through our policies in the months to come.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister told Canadians he was returning to the purple book for his post-deficit blueprint. What does the purple book say about unemployment? It claims that 8% is the natural rate of unemployment.

Given the horrendous human deficit amassed over the past four years, will this government throw away the purple book target of 8% and replace it with detailed plans to reduce unemployment below 6% by the year 2000?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I must say I question the accuracy of the premise in the hon. member's question about the so-called purple book. In return I ask her to throw away her purple rhetoric and get down to business working with us to help create jobs and a better life for Canadians.

YouthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has decided to spend the fiscal dividend in advance on the so-called millennium fund choosing to totally ignore the number one problem facing Canadian students, student debt.

I would like to know today from the government whether it will choose to continue to ignore the plight of 400,000 young Canadians out of work or whether or not it will make a commitment today so that every young person in this country will be in school, in training or at work.

YouthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, like the leader of the Tory party I expect to hear the Minister of Finance read his budget tomorrow.

What I can already say is that since the month of November our two departments have worked very closely together, as well as the Minister of Finance and myself to address the situation of students in Canada following a November stakeholders conference that my department organized here in Ottawa. Students, the lenders and the provinces were there. We reached a consensus which I hope has been very useful for the Minister of Finance in preparing his budget.

YouthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

All he can do is hope, Mr. Speaker.

I do not know what the point is in holding meetings with students, in trying to reach consensus, if the number one problem, student debt, is being ignored.

I would like to ask the Minister of Human Resources Development specifically if he intends to make a commitment that every young person in Canada will be either in the work force, in school, or in a training program. Why continue to ignore the 400,000 young people in Canada who have no jobs at the present time? Why not act in their interest at last?

YouthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, we have done something extremely significant in recent years with the youth employment strategy, and the Conservative leader ought to show a little more interest in it.

I can tell you that, at this time, the number one problem for young people is tomorrow's economy. We must ensure that they can stay in school as long as possible, because young people with insufficient education are the ones with the greatest difficulty in the job market.

As a government, we are going to do all we can to ensure that young people are not tempted to leave school too soon because of their financial situation.

The DebtOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, while the finance department spent the weekend leaking like a colander, there was one issue that the government really did not raise. There was one budget issue it did not want to talk about, our massive $600 billion debt. It is kind of like the crazy aunt the government has hidden up in the attic somewhere. It is trying to keep it a little bit of a secret.

The fact is the average Canadian family pays $6,000 in taxes a year just to pay the interest on the debt.

Given that shameful fact, why is the debt not the government's number one priority in tomorrow's budget?

The DebtOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, on the matter of debt, this government does not just have rhetoric, it has a record. Thanks to our success against the deficit, this government actually paid down $13 billion of marketable debt. We will continue to pay down that debt.

The DebtOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government's record is very clear. It has added $100 billion to the debt and the only debt it has paid down was paid down with borrowed money from the Canada pension plan. This is not a very good bargain for Canadians.

The fact is the $6,000 in taxes that Canadians pay every year in interest could be used for things like paying household bills, preparing for their own retirement or paying for their children's education and sending them to university, something the government claims it is very concerned about.

Given the shameful fact that Canadians pay $6,000 a year in taxes just for interest on the debt, why again is the debt not the number one issue in tomorrow's budget?

The DebtOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, once again as we quite clearly said in the fiscal update, we have made it clear that the contingency reserve will be used to pay down the debt once the deficit is eliminated.

The quickest way to lower the debt is a growing economy. That is why at the same time we pay down the debt, we will invest in Canadians, grow this economy and watch the debt go down.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Over the course of the weekend we learned that the Secretary General of the United Nations was successfully negotiating an agreement with the government of Iraq on the application of the UN resolutions. In other words, the diplomatic solution we advocated is within reach and the Security Council will be asked to vote on this solution tomorrow.

If the members of the Security Council move in one direction and the United States in another, which direction will Canada take?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first off, we were certainly encouraged by the proposals the Secretary General made to Baghdad over the weekend.

At this point, we, like the other countries, will have to wait to have a chance to examine the proposal carefully to be sure that all the issues have been properly dealt with. Then we will be able to consult the other members of the coalition in order to decide on a response.

Certainly, the initiative of the Secretary General is to be applauded.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the start of this crisis, the government has said, sometimes half heartedly, that it favoured a diplomatic solution.

Since a diplomatic solution has now been reached, negotiated by none other than the Secretary General of the United Nations, does the minister intend to promote this approach among his partners, including the United States?