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House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

Assistance To Ice Storm VictimsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, my impression is that we were not in the same place on the weekend, because no one has seen any sign of the additional $5 million.

I would ask the minister what he will do with the 250 maple syrup producers who have been promised help until November to clean up their maple operations, who are facing the fact no money is left and who are being left to their own devices?

Assistance To Ice Storm VictimsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have to interpret the words of the member for Saint-Hyacinthe as thanks for the $45 million already spent, particularly in his riding.

I think our department and our government provided a lot of help to the maple syrup producers who were affected. I made a quick trip to the region. The people there are quite happy.

The other $5 million was to go for equipment and to provide easier access for workers not eligible for employment insurance. If the member for Saint-Hyacinthe did not understand that, then he has not yet grasped how the system works.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the finance minister. Recently in Canadian Business magazine there is a report which points out that this finance minister continues to discriminate against single income two parent families. They pay 20% more in taxes. They have 6% less they can contribute to their RRSP. There is no recognition of the value of their parental care.

Why will the minister not stop his discriminatory practices to these Canadian families?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, surely the hon. member knows that there is a spousal credit already built into the system. There are benefits provided through the income tax system for families where only one parent is working. At the same time, my colleague the Minister of Human Resources Development put a second $850 million into the child tax benefit. The purpose of that is to help those families with low incomes and children at home.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the last budget we saw a 35% increase go to those who choose institutionalized child care and nothing to stay at home parents.

I ask the minister, and it is the same as my question before. Why will he not answer and why will he not treat these Canadian families fairly?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I just have. What I basically said to the hon. member was that in the same budget he is referring to, the child tax benefit was doubled. Another $850 million is going directly to families with low incomes and children. That is the kind of thing we are going to continue to do.

Assistance To Ice Storm VictimsOral Question Period

May 5th, 1998 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, with much fanfare, the Secretary of State for Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec announced a $100 million program to assist businesses affected by last January's ice storm.

Since the program terminates on June 30, could the minister make a commitment to provide a weekly report from now on, indicating which companies have benefited from the program and what amounts they received?

Assistance To Ice Storm VictimsOral 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, I can understand the frustration of the official opposition, when the Government of Quebec has refused to work with the Government of Canada to help small and medium size businesses.

If the Bloc Quebecois were following the program, it would know that, when I made a presentation before the Standing Committee on Industry, I had the opportunity to provide a rather detailed progress report on the program.

It would also know that, at the time of that presentation before the committee, we also announced a loosening up of the criteria in order to include professionals.

This good news is proof that the government is attuned to the public and wishes to serve its interests.

North American Free Trade AgreementOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Liberal Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, skilled workers such as electricians tell us that Americans are entering the country as technical experts under NAFTA and are in fact doing their work. Can the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration tell us what her department is doing to try to stop such abuses and keep jobs in Canada for Canadians?

North American Free Trade AgreementOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, NAFTA permits certain business persons from Canada, United States and Mexico to have access to each country to conduct some types of activity and under specific conditions. If a person does not respect these conditions, the immigration department is able to take some enforcement action. I would encourage any member who is aware of a situation like that to refer it to my department.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is intentionally twisting our questions.

We are asking about single income families, not low income families. In the finance minister's recent budget he increased the child care credit by $2,000. However it does not allow parents who stay at home to take care of their children to claim this credit. When is this grossly unfair system of taxation going to change?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first of all I did answer the question in terms of the spousal credit which of course is available to single income families. The real problem is why would I ever think the Reform Party would have any interest in asking a question about low income families?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, let me try again.

The minister is in charge of this nation's finances. He is in charge and he can change it but his last budget is discriminatory and he has increased that discrimination by 35%.

Research shows that his tax policies are harmful to families. I will ask the question again. When is he going to change his mind and change the tax act to treat all families equally and fairly?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, does the hon. member think that the 83% of Canadians, those earning below $50,000 who had their income tax reduced, are not Canadian families? The 400,000 Canadians struck from the tax rolls, are they not Canadian families? The volume of residential building permits increased in March, up 12%. Are they not houses that are being built for families? Mortgage rates are down. Does that not benefit families? Everything this government does has benefited Canadian families. That is why there is so much optimism.

BanksOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Finance. Today in the Globe and Mail the minister finally recognized what we have been telling him for months when he stated concern that bank mergers would hurt jobs, small communities and small business in this country.

Meanwhile, while the minister fiddles, thousands of bank employees are fearing for their jobs and bank presidents are making millions on their stock options. In light of that, will the minister finally lay down his fiddle, do the right thing and stop these mergers right here and now?

BanksOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what does the hon. member have against a parliamentary hearing so that Canadians can participate in the discussion? What does the hon. member have against waiting for the MacKay task force, the most fundamental and comprehensive report that has ever been done?

What the hon. member is asking for is no public debate, no enlightenment and no giving to Canadians an opportunity to pronounce on the most important financial resectoring in the country. What they simply want to do is envelope themselves in the cocoon they have been in since the 1930s.

BanksOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will take the minister up on his offer.

Last week, less than a month after mergers were announced by banks in the United States, the banking committee of Congress started public hearings quickly. Meanwhile in this country the minister is hiding behind an unelected task force that has no mandate to look into these specific mergers or the 30,000 jobs that are to be lost.

In light of that, will the minister at least agree to an immediate all party committee hearing on the issue, or will he continue to play off the public interest against his own leadership ambitions?

BanksOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if there is any political party that needs the MacKay task force it will obviously be the NDP for these public hearings.

I would like to take advantage of the hon. member's question to thank the Liberal Party caucus task force, all of whom are elected, all of whom have gone across the country and have met with all segments of society.

There is no doubt that when the debate takes place in the months of September, October and November, Liberal Party members of parliament will be the best prepared of any in the House.

Merchant Navy VeteransOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the men and women of the merchant navy who risked their lives supplying our troops on the frontline during World War II held a rally in front of the Peace Tower today. They were protesting the inequalities and benefits that have existed between them and other veterans for the last 50-plus years.

I wrote to the Minister of Veterans Affairs giving him a list of the 40 inequalities. What I would like to know today is whether he address these inequalities and when these veterans can expect to see corrective legislation to make them equal with all the other vets in Canada.

Merchant Navy VeteransOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member and I believe the House know, the current merchant navy legislation was passed in 1992. With the passage of the legislation it extended to merchant navy veterans all the same rights and benefits as those in uniform enjoy.

Finally, they were recognized for the tremendous key contribution they made to the freedom and peace that we enjoy today and that I celebrated with them in Halifax this past weekend.

Merchant Navy VeteransOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I know that is the standard answer from the minister, but all he has to do is ask those veterans, look at the list of 40 inequalities, the list that I gave to him, and address them.

I want to raise the issue of money with the minister. Bill C-84, the legislation that was to make merchant veterans equal with the other veterans, originally had a budget of $100 million. It was lowered to $88 million. According to the Merchant Navy Association it estimates only $7 million to $8 million were spent.

Will the minister tell the House if he is able to account for the rest of the money. If not, why not and where did it go?

Merchant Navy VeteransOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member and the House that three members of the Liberal Party caused this initiative to be taken, joined later by a member of the NDP.

If she wants to know where the money went, why does she not ask her own people who were forming the government of the day.

TransportOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

David Iftody Liberal Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

Rail line transportation remains an integral feature of agriculture in western Canada. What is the minister doing to ensure that abandonment of rail lines or the transfer of short line operators will serve the interests of all parties in western Canada?

TransportOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that this is a burning issue in western Canada, especially among farm groups. For that reason the government has decided to provide facilitation services between community groups and the railways so that short lines are being used for purposes grain farmers would like them used to haul those commodities.

We think this will result in a more equitable situation for all farmers in western Canada. The government is pleased to do its part in helping this along.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Gerry Ritz Reform Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, a constituent named Julie Hubbard has written to me to describe her situation. Julie is a single working mother of two. She has a total income of just over $20,000, placing her well below the poverty line.

The tax code forces her to add her child tax benefit money and the GST credit to her gross income. Now she finds herself owing another $186 to Revenue Canada.

With tax codes like this, will the finance minister acknowledge that his tax code is creating child poverty, not solving it?