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House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.

Topics

PensionsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the proposed seniors benefit plan would claw back benefits by 20% on those with a family income of $26,000. This added together with the existing tax rates would mean a tax rate for middle income seniors of 70%. This would kill any incentive to save for retirement. They would not even be able to buy green for St. Paddy's Day.

Canadians are worried that their savings will be taken from them. What is the finance minister prepared to do today?

PensionsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, and a very attractive green it is.

We have made it very clear. There will be changes to the seniors benefit following upon the consultation with caucus. One thing is very clear. We are going to make sure that Canadians, regardless of their income level, have a safe and secure retirement. We do not believe it is fair that people should be in poverty in retirement. This party and this government have always stood to make sure that those who have devoted their lives to this country—

PensionsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni.

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals were in opposition they said they believed in integrity. They even wrote it in their red book. It has now been shown that this is absolute red book rubbish.

We can only imagine what the Prime Minister would have said in opposition if Brian Mulroney had appointed somebody like Fitzpatrick to the Senate.

My question is quite simple. Why are this government's ethical standards worse than those of Brian Mulroney's?

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the opposition is very short of subjects to attack the government with.

When I became the Prime Minister I put all of my assets in trust. This transaction happened at a time when I was not a member of Parliament. There is a rule, which we follow all the time, that the information be made public. It is all public information. Everything was done above the table.

Not being able to attack the policies of the government, the opposition tries to attack the person. Next month I will have been in Parliament for 35 years.

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about policies when $45,000 has gone to line the Prime Minister's pockets. We are talking about integrity.

Ross Fitzpatrick is not just the Prime Minister's friend, he is the Prime Minister's former employer. As I said, he lined the Prime Minister's pockets with $45,000 in stock market gifts—

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Order.

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask the hon. member to get directly to his question.

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the question is: Are Canadian Senate seats for sale?

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will not ask him to apologize for the lines he used. I have too much contempt for the member to ask for an apology.

It is very clear. I have explained this situation very clearly. I repeat that Mr. Fitzpatrick is an extremely competent person who has served his province very well. For many years when he was a private citizen he spent hours and hours helping people—

The SenateOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Assistance To Businesses Affected By Ice StormOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for regional development in Quebec.

Last February, the federal government refused to co-operate with the Government of Quebec and came up with its own program of assistance to businesses that suffered losses in the ice storm. We have just learned that, to date, two months after the crisis, only 28 of the 25,000 businesses affected have received federal assistance.

How can the minister justify the failure of his program of assistance when, at the time, he used the urgency of the situation as an excuse for refusing to reach an agreement with the Government of Quebec?

Assistance To Businesses Affected By Ice StormOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, the House will recall that the reason my colleague, the President of the Treasury Board, and I were forced to take unilateral action was because the Government of Quebec refused to take action and to co-operate. They wanted to drag things out and use the issue for political ends, but we would not go along.

I am proud to say today that, with the assistance of chamber of commerce representatives, we put together a program that meets their demands, which is to say it covers fixed costs. It is an innovative program delivered by 3,200 points of service and I will be giving an update on this program next Friday.

Assistance To Businesses Affected By Ice StormOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, one might well ask who is playing politics, because the Government of Quebec's programs are chugging along, while all the minister is doing is talking.

Will the minister admit that, by worrying more about the federal government's visibility than the effectiveness of its program, he and his Treasury Board colleague have associated their names with an appalling failure that does precious little to serve the interests of SMBs in areas affected by the storm?

Assistance To Businesses Affected By Ice StormOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to listen to my colleague, because things are going smoothly with respect to the disaster assistance program to which the Canadian government contributes up to 90%.

We are, however, asking for a 50% contribution from the Government of Quebec for our program of assistance to SMBs. It still refuses to take action and that is where pressure is required. My colleague should devote his energy to putting pressure on the Government of Quebec for that 50%.

The SenateOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, British Columbians are fighting mad about policies of the government and the latest appointment to the Senate.

B.C. does not have its fair share of seats in the Parliament of Canada. B.C. does not have a proportionate share of government contracts. B.C. does not get the same attention for the west coast fish crisis that the Atlantic fisheries does. B.C. lighthouses are shutting down and CFB Chilliwack, B.C.'s only army base, is being closed.

When will the Prime Minister return Mr. Fitzpatrick to B.C. to run in a Senate election?

The SenateOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I was there not long ago when we had the APEC meeting in B.C. That was a great success.

I was there for the open skies policy which has given a big boost to the Vancouver airport and has made it one of the most important air bases in North America. I have said that the future of Canada is on the Pacific. We have always helped B.C. to be the door to Canada on the Pacific coast.

The SenateOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the open skies agreement the Prime Minister talks about is a direct seat in the Senate, by air, by the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister sold that Senate seat and British Columbia—

The SenateOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Millennium ScholarshipsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

In recent days, the Minister of Human Resources Development has been trying to meet separately with various groups from Quebec's education sector to discuss the millennium scholarship program, without the Quebec government being present. However, the stakeholders in the education sector formed a coalition and they just called the minister to order by demanding that the Quebec government be present at any discussions on the millennium scholarships.

How can the Prime Minister refuse to meet Premier Bouchard regarding the millennium scholarships, while his minister is trying to organize meetings with individual stakeholders?

Millennium ScholarshipsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will answer the question. I am prepared to meet Mr. Bouchard at any time. It is perfectly normal that stakeholders should meet the responsible minister.

The minister met a number of them and they discussed every aspect of the program. Some people are just trying to get publicity, instead of working to find a solution through discussions with the minister responsible.

Millennium ScholarshipsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, by going over Mr. Bouchard's head, is the Minister of Human Resources Development not demonstrating that the federal government wants to bypass the Quebec government and is trying to buy the education sector with Quebeckers' own money?

Millennium ScholarshipsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, like young people in the rest of the country, young Quebeckers will benefit from the millennium scholarships. It is very important to ensure that young Quebeckers, like other young Canadians, have access to an education that will prepare them to face much stronger competition in the 21st century. This is why the millennium scholarship program was greeted with enthusiasm by students from across the country.

Auditor GeneralOral Question Period

March 17th, 1998 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, over the last few weeks the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister have boasted about their newfangled accounting policies that have rankled the auditor general.

Now, the government has sent a three page blistering letter to the auditor general saying “hold your nose, don't rock the boat, and approve the audit based on our rules, not your rules”.

Will the Minister of Finance withdraw the letter and apologize to the auditor general for interfering with his independence?

Auditor GeneralOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge a letter from the Department of Finance to the auditor general is not an interference with the auditor general's role.

What we have done is set out the government's position. The government's position is very clear and that is that we intend to be open and transparent. We see no reason why the public sector should hide things when the private sector reveals them. We will at least be as open and transparent as any private sector company and the hon. member should support that as a position.