House of Commons Hansard #227 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister talks about a surplus as though it is some kind of Liberal largesse. Taxpayers are the ones who looked after that. They looked after balancing the budget. It was not the Liberals.

Every Canadian is paying $2,000 more in taxes now than they were in 1993. Those are the figures. People have just finished doing their taxes so they know that.

The Prime Minister has a million and one excuses for why he needs these high taxes but he keeps getting mixed up with the facts. They just keep getting in his way.

I would like the Prime Minister to stand in his place and tell Canadians why they have such a big surplus and he still wants to keep his mud hooks on it. Why is that?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the reason Canadians are paying somewhat more taxes is because they have a lot more revenue. That is not a problem. That is what happened. It is because interest rates are the lowest they have been in a long time and productivity is increasing.

Perhaps I could quote somebody the Reformers know quite well who had this to say about the opposition's chances in the next federal election:

First, be realistic. There is no way that either the Reform or the UA will beat the Liberals in the 2001 election. Voters do not turf out governments that have presided over economic growth, new jobs and a balanced budget.

This was said by a guy by the name of Ted Morton, senator in waiting, member of the Reform Party.

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the damning criticism of Canada's information commissioner, the Minister of Human Resources Development boasts about the government's transparency and has even gone so far as to say that Quebeckers in general have great regard for that transparency.

How can a minister accused by the information commissioner of defying the Access to Information Act for 74 days and putting his own interests ahead of those of the public boast about the government's transparency in the House?

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let us step back a bit.

First, the documents requested by the journalist were provided. Second, there was a delay, for which I am sorry. This delay was due to the fact that my department has twice the number of access to information requests to process that it had one year ago.

We are doing everything possible to meet demand and to ensure that there are no further delays. This is truly making a mountain out of a molehill. There is no substance to the charge.

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a molehill that the information commissioner finds unacceptable. The minister held on to these documents during the quota debate to keep the House in the dark.

He responded 95 days after the legal deadline. That is four and a half months during which the information was withheld and concealed, two and a half of them in the minister's office.

How can this minister talk to us about transparency when he has knowingly contravened the Access to Information Act, an act of this parliament?

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I must say that the leader of the Bloc Quebecois is putting on quite a performance today.

I can assure the House that neither my office nor my officials ever knowingly held up this information. The process is totally transparent.

I admit there was a small delay, but I can honestly tell the House that we are taking very specific measures to ensure that this most admirable legislation of the Parliament of Canada, legislation which does Canadians proud, continues to be enforced.

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is so concerned about issues of integrity and honesty among the unemployed that he has established an integrity branch in his department, with quotas for harassing the unemployed.

This is the same minister who defies the Access to Information Act when documents requested could put him in hot water.

How can the minister demand integrity, honesty and transparency from the unemployed when he allows himself to defy the Access to Information Act and to deny us this information?

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, neither my office nor my department has knowingly delayed the process in this case. We have complied with the Access to Information Act to the letter.

We will continue to do so, unless there are twice as many requests this year as last. We do miss one sometimes.

I can assure you that my department's batting average is excellent. A look at the whole issue will make that clear.

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, their batting average may be excellent, but they have recovered so many millions they have exceeded the quotas. We knew that already, the minister did not need to tell us.

While the minister was in hot water in this House, while he was denying the existence, as we will recall, of quotas in his system, how, according to him, was it his office voluntarily hid documents proving that he was lying?

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask the hon. member for Roberval to withdraw the word “lying”.

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the word. I will simply say that what the minister was doing was completely—

Minister Of Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The leader of the New Democratic Party.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the Prime Minister back from Borden where he had a chance to meet with refugee families, play a little basketball and kiss a little concrete. Let us say he was quick on the rebound.

All levity aside, surely after being exposed firsthand to the grim experiences of these refugees, the Prime Minister is more sensitized to the unfairness of imposing a head tax on refugees who have lost everything and have nothing.

Will the Prime Minister today assure these refugees and all refugees coming to Canada that if they choose to stay they will not have to pay?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed to hear the New Democratic Party trying to raise a little problem which might happen if the refugees decide to become Canadian citizens. They are here as refugees.

I was very proud to be there and to see how well the refugees are being received by the dozens of volunteers who are working there. The refugees are very happy to be in Canada and are appreciative of what we are doing.

I told the refugees that we do not like being involved in the situation in Yugoslavia, but the reason we are involved is because we want them to have the opportunity to go back home to Kosovo with freedom and protection.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is not a little problem that might arise. This is a problem now that faces every refugee who comes to Canada.

The finance minister introduced this odious head tax as part of his harsh medicine in 1995. The UN high commissioner for refugees has condemned it. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has condemned it.

How does the Prime Minister justify that Canada remains the only industrialized nation in the world to shake down penniless refugees for $1,000 a head?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this policy was introduced some years ago. It is a policy that seems to be working because the people who are involved accept it.

The problem is not that people are refusing to come to Canada. People who know that they have to contribute to the cost of the operation are still arriving by the hundreds of thousands. The problem we face is that too many people want to come in and we cannot receive them all.

I think the hon. member is trying to score political points with this. Canada is a country that welcomes more immigrants per capita than any other nation in the world.

National DefenceOral Question Period

May 12th, 1999 / 2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, we have been informed that approximately 20% of the troops sent to Kosovo are reservists.

In an internal report it is suggested that the Minister of National Defence is about to cut our reserves from 51 units to 20 in the infantry, from 15 units to 7 in the artillery and from 17 units to 10 in the armoured unit. He has already cut the military from 80,000 to 60,000.

Is the Minister of National Defence and his staff about to cut the strength of the militia in half? If so, what can we expect if another emergency arises?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle Québec

Liberal

Robert Bertrand LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the reserves are an important pillar of the Canadian forces. They play a wide variety of roles, both at home and abroad. They have provided assistance during national emergencies and disasters, such as the ice storm and the Manitoba floods.

The document that the hon. member refers to is strictly a working paper. As yet, no decision has been made. The minister will make the final decision.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am on my feet today with regard to the reserves because we know how important they are.

The internal document outlines the government's plan to cut the services. The document states that these cuts will “result in a reserve structure that will not be viable to meet current or future needs”' if they make those cuts.

Will the Prime Minister give us his assurance that not one reserve unit will be cut or amalgamated out of existence, or will the government eliminate the Canadian forces altogether?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle Québec

Liberal

Robert Bertrand LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to state again that this is not a government paper, it is just a working paper. There were some suggestions made by DND personnel, but the final decision will be made by the minister.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister seems to be interested in quotes, so I will quote from the intergovernmental affairs minister “I am for the creation of a united alternative that could challenge a national party like ours, the Liberal Party”. Obviously, the intergovernmental affairs minister does not share the same views as the Prime Minister.

Speaking of inconsistencies, it is day two of American tax freedom day and Canadians are still sending their paycheques to our taxman.

Meanwhile, the Liberal government sits on top of one of the largest surpluses in Canadian history and tells us it cannot afford a tax cut.

Those surpluses belong to overtaxed Canadians. They do not belong to the government or the Prime Minister. When is the government going to give that money back to taxpayers?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course we want good national parties in Canada. However, the leader of the Reform Party, in trying to unite the right, managed to divide his own party in two. Rather than having two parties on the right, we now have three. If Reform keeps it that way we will be here for a long time.

We will continue having a balanced approach on taxes and social and economic programs in the country because that is the way to do it. We do not want to be single-minded about how to solve problems. We want to care about everybody, especially those—

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, maybe the Prime Minister should concern himself with his own party. He has the finance minister and the industry minister both gunning for him lately. He had better be careful. There is a lot to divide in that party.

The Prime Minister says that he wants to help poor Canadians. Why is it then that every year the government takes $6 billion out of the pockets of Canadians making $20,000 or less? That is an inconsistency. If he cares so much, why is he taxing the life out of low income Canadians?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have increased the tax exemption for people at the bottom end, and 600,000 people who paid taxes two years ago do not pay taxes any more. We are making much progress.

When we run a government we have to be preoccupied with all sectors of the economy. We have to invest in young people, for example. That is why we have introduced the millennium scholarship program. We have invested in innovation because it is very important for Canada to be ready to compete in the 21st century. I could go on and on with the good programs of this party that Reformers do not even read.