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House of Commons Hansard #208 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

KosovoOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in one hour, I will have an opportunity to meet with the Premier of China and I intend to ask him to play a role.

It would be desirable for the United Nations to be involved, for all countries, therefore, to be involved. Since China is on the security council, I would like it to take part.

A few hours ago, the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke with his Russian counterpart. By tomorrow, or the next day, I hope to be able to speak with Mr. Clinton and Britain's Prime Minister. I have made arrangements to speak with them as soon as possible.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Foreign Affairs told us that the peace plan proposed by Germany had been discussed by NATO member countries this past weekend.

Never, I repeat never, either in the debate in this House or in his responses to our questions, did the minister so much as mention the existence of this peace plan.

Are there many other important things like this one of which we are not aware because the government is deliberately hiding them from us?

KosovoOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The word “deliberately” is a bit strong. I ask the hon. member not to use such words.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the statements made by the hon. member are false.

What I did say was that, last weekend, there was a meeting of senior G-8 staff. A discussion was held at that time, along with an examination of the possibility of proposing a peace agreement. Leaders of governments, ministers of governments, are holding discussions, but there is no specific agreement. A group has presented some ideas.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, the Americans were told by their government that the NATO air strikes could continue until the summer, that this could cost them between $4 and $8 billion, and that the President is contemplating calling up several thousand members of the Reserve, and sending over 300 more aircraft.

Can the Prime Minister go beyond mere generalities and tell us whether he knows how many troops and aircraft will be required of Canada, how long our participation will go on, and how much these operations will cost Canadians and Quebeckers? The people are entitled to know this.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, at this point in time it is impossible for anyone to predict exactly how long the operations will last. If President Milosevic were to agree today to pull out his troops, that would put an end to the problem. We have already said we would then be prepared to send over peacekeeping troops.

At this point, we have 12 aircraft over there, and 6 more have been requested. We have not yet made any decision, but we are going to play the role that is appropriate for us in these operations.

I do not know if it is going to go on until June, July or August. I think such predictions are impossible, and I do not want to create either false hopes or false concerns. I want to stick to today's reality.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Gordon Earle NDP Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Foreign Affairs recognized that Canadians and people around the world want to see a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Kosovo. Like us, the minister saw hope of achieving that goal in the German peace plan. Unfortunately Germany's proposal has stalled.

Is Canada now willing to press for a diplomatic solution by presenting a uniting for peace resolution to the UN security council?

KosovoOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has it wrong. I do not think anything has stalled. I think the proposal has now been made public. As I said, there is a series of discussions going on. The Prime Minister indicated his engagement with leaders of other governments. I am engaged in discussions with my counterparts. We also have discussed this with the Secretary General of the United Nations, and the five basic principles he put forward are encompassed in this plan.

As I said to the hon. member's leader yesterday, let us give this particular proposition a chance to work. Let us give it a chance to see where it goes and then we will determine what the next course will be. We are actively engaged to see if we can find a solution.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Gordon Earle NDP Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am truly surprised. The casualties of war are mounting. There is evidence that this peace plan has stalled. Yesterday the foreign affairs minister did not discard the idea of a uniting for peace resolution. He said he was ready to consider this option, but he wanted the German plan to be explored first.

Now that we know endorsement for this plan is limited, will Canada go to the security council, use the uniting for peace resolution and propose an emergency session of the General Assembly of the United Nations?

KosovoOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the hon. member gets his assessment. My sense of it is that there is a very active interest in trying to see how we can gain agreement. That is the essential ploy. There is no point in getting a resolution from the United Nations, whether it is the security council or the general assembly, if there is not agreement by the parties to the dispute to abide by it. We are trying to get that agreement. The essential diplomatic task is to get the Yugoslav government, Milosevic, to agree to withdraw his troops, to stop persecuting his people and to find some international force to make sure that implementation can be properly monitored. That is the issue. Get the agreement.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

David Price Progressive Conservative Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of National Defence answered yes to specific training. Our troops in Edmonton, the Princess Pats and the LSH, are training for ground operations and peacekeeping. A force of one infantry battle group, one recce squadron and one helicopter squadron was confirmed by the Liberal government leader in the Senate. The Kosovo observers training in Kingston were told by the J-3 of an option of 2,000 soldiers.

After three confirmations, will the minister admit that this is now fact?

KosovoOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member does not seem to give up. I clearly pointed out yesterday that what he is relating to is a classroom discussion, not the development of policy. That is developed at National Defence Headquarters and ultimately here in the House of Commons.

The training that goes on and the training he referred to yesterday in terms of the United States is something that has been planned for a long period of time. It is part of our ongoing training, our inter-operability with the United States forces, to keep combat capable. The only troops that we have been talking about in terms of Kosovo have been for peacekeeping purposes.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

David Price Progressive Conservative Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is not showing that it is very serious in defeating Milosevic if diplomacy does not work.

Will the Minister of National Defence confirm the following facts? Some 40 to 50 officers in Kingston were briefed by J-3 operations staff in charge of planning Canada's deployment to Kosovo. On the ground out of class exercises were carried out with a 2,000 force scenario. Is it now the intention of the minister also to deploy more CF-18s?

KosovoOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, with respect to more CF-18s, we have the matter under active consideration. I expect to be able to say something about that shortly.

With respect to our plans in terms of forces on the ground, our plans are only relevant to a peacekeeping force. If there is anything else, as the Prime Minister has said, as I have said and as others have said on many occasions, then of course there would be full consultation with the House.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister for taxes has no clue how much his high tax policies are punishing Canadians.

A 61 year old single woman who earned under $12,000 last year recently sent me her 1998 tax form. The finance minister forced her to pay $661.03 in federal taxes. That ought to be a crime.

Why is it the minister's policy to force a 61 year old woman who is living well below the poverty line to pay any tax at all? Why would that be?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is unseemly to see the crocodile tears of the Reform Party members when they talk about poverty. They never talk about poverty and it is not part of their agenda.

The basic issue is that we want to cut taxes as much as anybody. In fact we have cut taxes substantially for that person.

The member has a supplementary question and she could tell us. Three quarters of our spending was on health care and education. Would she not do that? We spent money on equalization. Would she not do that? We spent money on medical research. Would she not do that? If her questions are to have any credibility, she should stand up and say what she would cut.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, what we would cut is taxes. And I do not think the minister can talk about crocodile tears.

The minister knows that in his latest budget this woman would save a paltry $60. The tax experts have confirmed that and they are no rivals. She would still have to pay over $600 in her taxes this coming year. That is shameful. This same woman also had to pay $9.77 in the federal individual surtax when she made less than 12,000 bucks.

I would like the minister to get up and give a supplementary answer. Why does he force the working poor to keep paying so much money to him?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that is not the issue at all. The issue is the fact that that woman will be able to go to a hospital and get decent health care which she would not get if she followed the Reform agenda. That woman will get decent medical research for breast cancer which she would not get if she listened to the Reform Party. And that woman's daughter will get decent prenatal nutrition. There will be children's programs which they would not get if they listened to the Reform Party.

The Reform Party wants to cut taxes. It wants to cut taxes on the backs of the poor and low income people. That is its agenda and we will never follow it.

KosovoOral Question Period

April 15th, 1999 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the plan proposed by Germany and approved by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, would be acceptable as a solution to all the members of this House and may in fact be the key to the end of the conflict in Kosovo, should Canada not show some leadership?

Would this not be a fine time to be the first country whose House of Commons adopts the peace plan? Should Canada not seize this opportunity before it?

KosovoOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I spoke this morning with Kofi Annan on the peace proposal. Our discussions included the importance of a negotiating process.

There is no agreement at the moment. A group has put forward ideas. It is very important to develop a negotiating process. It is still too early to ask the House of Commons to express its view. When agreement has been reached, I would like an expression of support from the House of Commons, but at the same time—

KosovoOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Roberval.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, am I right in understanding the minister to say that the government would be ready, once an agreement has been reached, something committed and of substance, to put it to a vote in the House so members may decide on it?

If that is the case, it is an interesting proposal and we would ask the minister to reiterate it.

KosovoOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has said on many occasions, we are always prepared and interested to bring to parliament for its consideration important initiatives that we must take internationally. At the same time we are saying that we must carefully examine this question of a vote because it begins to provide serious limits on the fundamental issue of cabinet government. We are very interested in having the full Commons take note of these initiatives and express its point of view. Those were my words.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, 85% of Canadians and 80% of Quebeckers say that tax cuts should be a priority. They say that taxes are eroding their quality of life and hurting the economy, the dollar and the national standard of living.

Is the Minister of Finance so cut off from reality that he does not see the serious consequences of his heavy taxes on Canadians?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have said, and I will say again, that we want to lower taxes and that we have lowered them substantially, by $16.5 billion over 36 months.

That is not the question. The question is this: Is the member, who is his party's health critic, saying that he does not approve of our decision to earmark $11.5 billion in federal transfers for health? Is he saying that he is not in favour of our investments in medical research and development? Is he now going back on everything he has said in the last two or three weeks?