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House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada , and we will be led by the hon. member for Calgary East.

Nagano Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute to two young athletes from my riding of Cambridge who represented Canada at the Nagano Winter Olympics.

Luke Sauder, a six-year national downhill ski team member and a regular on the World Cup circuit, gave it his all for Canada in his trademark crazy Canuck style.

As a member of Canada's 5,000 metre short track relay skating team, Derrick Campbell helped bring Canada a gold medal in the last event of the Olympics.

On behalf of the constituents of Cambridge, I congratulate Derrick and Luke on their tremendous efforts. Their determination, pride and dignity are what made this Canada's greatest ever winter Olympic team.

Saskatchewan Winter GamesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Reform Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise with considerable pride to speak about a set of games that are taking place in my hometown of Nipawin, Saskatchewan.

Nipawin is hosting the Saskatchewan winter games with athletes from all over the province competing. What makes these games remarkable is the gold medal performance of Nipawin itself.

While Nipawin is a town of only 4,800 people, there are 1,800 athletes, trainers and managers in town for the games, and an incredible 2,100 volunteers from Nipawin and area working in all facets of the games.

We look forward to some of the athletes competing this week to step up to the Olympic standard and carry on in the great Saskatchewan tradition of gold medalists Sandra Schmirler and her team, Catriona LeMay Doan, and silver medalist coach Shannon Miller from Melfort which is in my riding.

Way to go Nipawin. Way to go Saskatchewan athletes. Go for the gold.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, as Canadians we have much to be proud of today. We have demonstrated that this federal government has a vision for tomorrow, a vision that is based on the well-being of its people.

It is a budget that addresses our children, our youth and our elderly. We have demonstrated a commitment for the protection of those most in need. We have developed a dynamic millennium project, an educational plan to ensure Canadians of a leading role in the new technological society. Our young people are going to be prepared for the future.

The benefits of this budget are broad and far reaching. It comes at a most appropriate time, as the Black Community Resource Centre in the Mount Royal riding celebrates its first anniversary and as we all celebrate black history month.

While we rejoice in the achievements of the black community across Canada, we are at the same time able to apply this budget to one of its important local endeavours in the interests of black youth and their future.

McDonald's RestaurantsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, McDonald's recently announced the closure of its restaurant in Saint-Hubert, thus throwing sixty or so employees out of work.

The company claims the closure is justified by financial reasons. In reality, it is an obvious anti-union measure.

For a year now, McDonald's has been spending tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers and on public relations, using the biggest public relations firm in Canada, in order to trample the legitimate rights of some sixty young people who are working for minimum wage.

One of the young workers who lost his job for having tried to gain recognition of his rights summarized the situation very aptly “Just because we make hamburgers, that doesn't mean we don't deserve respect”. Basically, McDonald's scandalous anti-union attitude is sending a clear message to young people, giving them a choice between exploitation and unemployment.

McDonald's says “You deserve a break today”, but do its workers not also deserve a break?

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Liberal Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, many people and organizations have raised some very serious questions about Canada's involvement in negotiations on the multilateral agreement on investment.

I would like to congratulate the Minister of International Trade, who has announced that public consultations will be held on the draft agreement. He also stated that he had set ironclad conditions for Canada's signature, in areas such as health care, social programs, education, culture, aboriginal peoples, labour and environmental standards, and supply management.

The minister also pointed out that Canada would sign only when satisfied with the conditions set and the exemptions obtained, and would, if necessary, not sign at all.

This is an illustration of the government's sensitivity to the representations made to it, and offers an opportunity for the people and groups concerned to make their points of view known democratically within a public debate.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton West—Mississauga, ON

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to the Minister of Finance on his budget which underlines Canada's ongoing commitment to the land mine cause.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs in the interest of international social justice and humanity took the lead in having 123 countries sign the treaty banning anti-personnel land mines.

Once again a Liberal minister has made us proud. In yesterday's budget he announced we would provide $100 million over the next five years to help meet the goals of the treaty, one of which has greatly expanded humanitarian assistance for land mine victims to help with their medical care and to help rebuild their lives.

I firmly believe that to sign and ratify this treaty was important but not enough. In order to make it meaningful and not just principles on paper, we had to put our money where our mouth was, and we did.

Canada continues to play a prominent role in promoting and strengthening humanitarian initiatives. I applaud the minister for enabling us to make a difference.

PrisonsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have spent much of the past four years touring prisons throughout this country.

PrisonsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton West—Mississauga, ON

Eating your way around the—

PrisonsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

That is not even cute.

PrisonsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

These facilities provide convicts with three square meals a day, complete medical and dental care, big screen TVs, rumpus rooms, and now at Ferndale there is the possibility of a golf driving range.

Although it is good to see that a convicted murderer can reduce his handicap while behind bars, in the real world I have met hundreds of families that cannot provide the basic necessities for their children. Last week when I was at Drumheller Institution I met six inmates marinating a beautiful Alberta rib eye steak.

What I would like this government to explain to the needy children of this country is: why convicts eat steak when they cannot afford macaroni; why inmates get free education and the poor have to wait to win the millennium scholarship lottery; why a low income family cannot afford to take its children to the dentist, but the dentist will pay a house call to Millhaven; and why our seniors suffer from poor health but convicts can have a sex change on demand.

Tell me Liberal Party, what is wrong with this picture?

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Minister of Finance. The 1998 budget will provide increased funding of more than $400 million over the next three years to the granting councils which provide crucial support for our Canadian researchers, university professors and post-graduate students. By 2001 these budgets will be at their highest level ever in Canadian history.

All Canadians will benefit directly from this initiative. This increased investment in basic funded research to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Medical Research Council illustrates our government's serious commitment to transforming Canada into a strong knowledge based economy now and into the new millennium.

Yesterday Dr. Paul Davenport, the chairman of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada stated “The increased investment in research will help generate growth and jobs, create new products and processes and improve our ability to compete globally. This budget provides an excellent start if Canada is to close the research gap with its international competitors”.

Now Canadian researchers, the best and brightest, can realize their dreams and fulfil their promise right here at home in Canada.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we were able to announce the end of the deficit. The finance minister rose to tell us that we have and will continue to balance the budget.

The budget reflects the priorities of my community of Guelph—Wellington. Ninety per cent of all taxpayers will receive a reduction in taxes. Eighty per cent of the budget is made up of education and health care. This is in keeping with what all Canadians have told us their priorities are.

The students of Guelph—Wellington will be helped. Transfer payments to the provinces will be increased and more money will go to research and development. I am especially pleased to see the contract payment system become mandatory.

This government has listened and acted. Thank you Guelph—Wellington and Canada for making this possible. Balancing the budget has not been easy, but with compassion and determination, together we have done it.

The SenateStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Reform Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians, in particular Albertans, will be forgiven if they are sceptical about yesterday's budget promises. Only those with short memories have forgotten the Prime Minister's 1990 commitment that “the Liberal government in two years will make the Senate elected”.

This same Liberal leader can now boast the longest unbroken string of Senate patronage appointments in history. It is time to cut that string. Albertans are tired of waiting and they are demanding the right to choose their senators. After all it is their tax dollars he has used to fund this $50 million a year patronage haven.

An Alberta senator has offered to resign his seat if the Prime Minister would appoint an elected senator. This mechanism is in place in Alberta and we can hold a vote as soon as there are municipal elections this fall. This Calgarian recognizes the need for an effective Senate and is willing to put his prized seat on the line.

When will the Prime Minister live up to his promise of an elected Senate?

IraqStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

It was with great relief that we learned, last weekend, of the agreement reached between Iraq and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which headed off the worst-case scenario of war.

The Bloc Quebecois has always been in favour of a diplomatic solution. Circumstances have proved it right. Not only is this agreement a victory for peace, but it is the best solution for the Iraqi people, who ask for one thing, and one thing only: to be able to live in peace.

The Bloc Quebecois is particularly pleased with the outcome of this crisis, because the UN victory has given a new breath of credibility to an institution that is essential to good world order.

In conclusion, in my own name and on behalf of my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, I wish to congratulate the man, the humanist and the great diplomat behind this agreement, Kofi Annan.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the finance minister began by thanking the people of Canada for their hard work in bringing us to the historic budget that was announced yesterday.

Today I would like to add my thanks and mention specifically Katherine Kowalchuk, the president of the University of Manitoba Students Union, and the students at the University of Manitoba and students across the country who worked so hard with members of this House on the human resources development committee in drafting a series of recommendations. I am very pleased to say they were translated into statements in yesterday's budget, and shortly into laws in this House.

Congratulations to the finance minister. Congratulations to students across this country for the hard work they have done in developing a system that will allow them to manage their debt.

Bankruptcy LegislationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, you might ask what a recent graduate in Regina who was forced into bankruptcy because of student loans has in common with the Minister of Finance. Neither of them believes yesterday's budget will really help students in debt.

Today I heard from a woman in Regina who was forced into bankruptcy largely due to cuts in education funding. She is one of the people the Minister of Finance claims to help in his budget.

But while the minister's speech was filled with rhetoric about the opportunity to learn, behind the scenes there are cynical plans to change bankruptcy legislation to protect the banks rather than students.

Students want to ask the Minister of Finance why he is sticking up for the banks at the expense of students by changing the bankruptcy legislation. Shame on the Minister of Finance.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in his budget speech, the Minister of Finance announced an important measure for young Canadians that will help reduce the high level of student indebtedness.

Taxpayers who are repaying their student loans will receive assistance from the federal government. For instance, a student repaying a loan of $25,000, or $3,800 a year, will be entitled to a federal and provincial tax credit of $530, representing 17% of the $2,125 in interest.

This measure shows that the federal government is listening to young people struggling to repay student loans. Under no circumstances does our government wish to see student indebtedness jeopardizing the future of our young people.

This measure shows the Liberal government's desire to improve the quality of life of Canadian citizens, young people in particular, as they undertake or pursue job training.

Atlantic CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, not all Canadians are experiencing the economic prosperity the government loves to brag about. Many Atlantic Canadians are hurting and hurting badly. No place in Canada is hurting more than Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals did not get the message in last June's election. Regrettably they have not responded to the real needs of Atlantic Canadians. The numbers speak for themselves. There are record numbers of unemployed. Record numbers of Atlantic Canadians are moving to other parts of Canada and regrettably to other parts of the world to seek opportunities.

We are looking at a record high rate of unemployment in Atlantic Canada. The Liberals have done nothing about it since taking office. With their failure to respond they are crippling the economy of Atlantic Canada. But what else could we expect from a government that was elected with no plan for Atlantic Canada? Yesterday's budget reaffirms this.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Bonin Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government wants to create jobs for young people.

The finance minister's budget announced tax relief for those hiring young people. This measure was favourably received by young people looking for a job and wanting to get off to a good start in life.

This measure is part of a strategy to support youth employment. It consists of eliminating employment insurance premiums for employers who hire young people between the ages of 18 and 24, effective January 1999.

This age group is particularly vulnerable to more difficult economic situations. We hope this measure will put an end to the vicious cycle of young people unable to find work because they lack experience that they cannot acquire until they find work.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, what a disappointment. For the first time in a generation a Prime Minister could have charted a new course for our country. He could have set us on the path to debt reduction and tax relief but he blew it. Canada's debt: $583 billion this year, $583 billion next year, $583 billion in the year 2000.

Why does debt reduction always come last with Liberal governments?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, for the Liberal government it is very important to note that the Leader of the Opposition in the last campaign promised to balance the budget by March 31, 1999. So he would not have even been able to talk about debt reduction at this moment.

The hon. Leader of the Opposition has come into this House many times and has always said we were not preoccupied by debt reduction and tax reduction. But I would like him to go to the budget book and on page 17 it says that with the programs—

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the government did not balance the budget; the taxpayers did. Over the next three years this government is going to take $48 billion more in tax revenues out of the pockets of those taxpayers. It gives the taxpayers a pittance in tax relief and collects $48 billion more in tax revenue.

Why do Canadians still pay the highest personal income taxes in the free world?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I know that he knows that that is not true. Anyone who reads a little bit about the economy of the world knows that that is not true.

To go back to the question of debt and taxes, it is in front of the hon. member's eyes on page 17. For the next four years it states what will happen, and it will not be as good as we would like it to be. Sixty percent of what will happen will go for tax reduction and debt reduction and 40% for new spending. Really, we have to go to 50:50.