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House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Speaker Of The HouseStatements By Members

2:25 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, on one of the rare times when the Prime Minister and I will be in agreement, I would also like on behalf of my colleagues to extend our gratitude and respect to you, Sir, for the job you have done.

I know how difficult it has been at times for you, and we have seen you rule in a very even-handed way. We have sensed that when you have ruled, as the Prime Minister said, against unruliness on that side, and occasionally on this side, that there is that moment of glare from your own colleagues that you have to live with. You have done that with honour and distinction and with even-handedness. We appreciate that and respect that.

It is not an easy job, as Canadians who watch question period must entertain, somewhat like herding cats at times, which is not a negative, pejorative statements on cats. It must be somewhat like that, yet in the short time I have been here the even-handed approach you have taken has been very well noticed, remarked on and respected by us.

Thank you for, as the Prime Minister said, the good mood that prevails now, for a very few moments. We know how quickly that dissipates.

Sir, you have served well. You have served with distinction. We are honoured to have served with you. Thank you on behalf of the people of Canada.

Speaker Of The HouseStatements By Members

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too wish to express our gratitude. You will leave Bloc Quebecois members with fond memories.

Like all members in this House, we have on occasion disagreed with your decisions, but it was your duty to make these rulings and you carry out that duty well, often under trying circumstances, particularly when we first arrived here in 1993. It was the first time that there were so many sovereignists, so many in fact that we formed the official opposition. In that context, you treated us with the same respect as other members.

I have fond memories of the numerous negotiations that we had in the Board of Internal Economy, which you chair, and of how you always made yourself available to members. We could always meet with you when things were not quite clear, and also to discuss in a democratic fashion issues on which we disagreed, in an attempt to find solutions and to find a way to agree on how to disagree.

You have performed this role with honour and I thank you for that.

Speaker Of The HouseStatements By Members

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think we know that from time to time most of us have tried to sneak a point of order past the Speaker in order to have a word on something we felt strongly about. On behalf of my colleagues I want to say that we appreciate your allowing us some latitude in speaking to this issue.

It has been well understood and much appreciated by all the members of the House of Commons how much you love this place and what it means to you to preside over parliament. No matter what our differences, it has been very much your view and the tone that you have set for debate in the Chamber that we are here as the representatives of Canadians to try to make Canada a better place.

I wish to thank you on behalf of my colleagues. During this mandate, 15 of us were newcomers and we had a lot to learn about the rules and traditions. You were always helpful.

I am sure I also speak on behalf of the five veteran members of the NDP caucus. We appreciate the fact that you have always been fair. From time to time, even though you have a very good ear and a very quick eye, you have overlooked the odd transgression, muttering under our breath words that might not be entirely in order.

On behalf of the New Democratic Party I extend our warmest good wishes and our heartfelt thanks for your generosity of spirit and for the role model you have been in terms of expressing the love for the Canada we are all here to work together to improve.

Good luck, and thank you very much.

Speaker Of The HouseStatements By Members

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if, as one of the newer members of the House, I might be permitted to extend my great appreciation to you for your service to the country and more particularly to the Chamber in a way that has enhanced the reputation of Canada.

While I have only served occasionally under your guidance as Speaker, I fondly recall the years in which we served together in the House before you took that post. We tend to have a slightly different evaluation of the election in which your constituents kept you home. You will not take this at all personally, but Sir, I rather wish there had been more of those.

All of us in the House know that the office of Speaker is not an easy one. This is a House that can often edge to the borders of being out of control. It requires not only firmness in the chair but the kind of geniality in the chair you have demonstrated and the kind of respect that everyone in the House knows that you hold for parliament.

I know, Sir, that you are a hockey fan. You have seen a little bit of high sticking here. You have called a few misconducts or certainly a few offsides. You have maintained the capacity to maintain the order and respect of the House and the respect for the rules and the game that make it essential.

If I might add one thing, it is that part of your success as Speaker of this House is, I believe, because you are more than just an MP. You are also a teacher, someone with a background in education. I believe it has always been important to you to communicate to our fellow citizens the essence, the very nature, of this House of Commons.

The skills you brought as a communicator, as a lover of the institutions of Canada, as someone who wanted to ensure that our institutions are well known in the country, have added to the high regard in which you are held by all members of the House. Thank you for your service et bon chance.

Speaker Of The HouseStatements By Members

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Speaker Of The HouseStatements By Members

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

If I had known you felt that way about me I would have changed my mind.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, just a few moments ago I was down the street at a coffee shop getting a cup of coffee. The woman who was working there asked if I was upset that the government was making a weak attempt to steal the Canadian Alliance tax plan.

The more profound question I was asked came from the gentleman who was working behind the till. His question in this cynical attempt before an election to capture votes was “Does the government really think Canadians are this dumb?” Will the Prime Minister please address that question?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when we returned in September the first question raised in the House was about having a mini-budget. They wanted the Minister of Finance to say what he would do with the great results he was having in terms of surpluses and so on. We obliged.

We told the Canadian people that because of the good management we have provided to the country over the last seven years there was some money available. We were delighted to return some of it in the form of tax reductions and at the same time investments in education, research, medicare, and so on. I am sure the people of Canada will recognize that they have been extremely well served in the last seven years.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Prime Minister would be willing to test that sense of confidence. I know he has a busy schedule, but would he be willing to accompany me down to the coffee shop just a few blocks down and try that answer on the people who asked me the question? Would you like to try that on with real Canadians? Do you want to try that one on?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I ask hon. members to direct their questions to the Speaker.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I might be visiting a lot of coffee shops in the next few weeks. I am very confident. We are going into an election and members of parliament on this side are inviting me, the Minister of Finance and other ministers of the government to visit their ridings. We will visit a lot of coffee shops. When we come back perhaps we will find the Leader of the Opposition in another coffee shop.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the confidence of Canadians has been shaken by the most scathing auditor general's report possibly in our history, by the most scathing information commissioner's report possibly in our history talking about a government undermining democracy, and by one after another of RCMP investigations.

They will be remembering a previous tax commitment where the Prime Minister said he would abolish, kill and eliminate the GST. How are these tiny tax cut commitments any different than the big commitment you made and that you have never—

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition makes all sorts of accusations. I just want to say that in public administration we always have some problems and we have to cure them.

On the wire a minute ago there was an item. I just learned this morning that the company that owns and operates the Swan Hills waste treatment facility in Alberta announced that it would no longer operate the plant.

I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition is aware of this project as his former government subsidized it to the tune of $440 million, a figure confirmed by the auditor general. Apparently the word for a situation like that, I have a problem with this word in English, is boondoggle in Alberta.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

October 19th, 2000 / 2:40 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, seeing that there are at least four police investigations in the Prime Minister's riding about misuse of funds, perhaps the Prime Minister should keep those kind of comments to himself.

To return to reality for a minute, the auditor general has graded the government's fiscal management. The auditor general gave it an f for a grade. In fact he said that they have placed little emphasis on the importance of maintaining financial controls. Perhaps that is why its own budget estimates for last year were overspent by a few billion dollars.

The government wants to open the floodgates even more on the spending. Why should the voters of Canada give the Prime Minister another—

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have explained, and I repeat, that there are problems in public administration anywhere in Canada. Sometimes even in the private sector they have problems and they have to correct the situation.

Today the premier of Ontario admitted that all governments have administrative problems which need correcting. As he put it, “I do not want to be casting stones at glass houses”. It is a lesson for all of us.

This is why I have to show the hon. Leader of the Opposition that it was only one project of $440 million that went belly-up. I do not say they made a mistake. I just say that it is not a success. They probably did it in good faith.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals seem to think that there is a connection between massive spending and electoral success. They are right. After seven years of boondoggle spending and widespread mismanagement, the Liberals will find the more they spend, the less they will succeed at the polls.

Canadians want their governments to manage their money carefully and the government has failed them. Why should Canadians trust the government with more of their tax money when that trust has been so badly broken over the past seven years?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general has reported. He said there were some problems and we admitted that there were problems. The minister put in place a program of six points that he approved and said was working.

It is amazing and a great compliment to the Minister of Finance that they do not dare ask a question on the budget.

Economic PolicyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance's budget is a budget for the rich.

Those earning $250,000 and up a year will get tax breaks of $19,000, while those earning $35,000 will get only $550. So much for compassion and values.

Will the minister admit that the main purpose of his budget is to woo voters away from the Canadian Alliance, rather than to promote the supposed Liberal values he claims to espouse?

Economic PolicyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the bulk of the tax cuts in our statement yesterday are for Canadians earning under $60,000. There is a fundamental difference between our budget and the Canadian Alliance's position, which would see most cuts going to those earning more than $60,000.

Commentators in Quebec, such as Alain Dubuc, and the great majority of economists are saying that this is a budget for the middle class and for low income earners.

Economic PolicyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has not read all the newspapers. I also read that the money he has used to give big tax breaks to the rich is coming out of the EI fund. This means that he has used the money he took from the pockets of unemployed workers to pay for tax breaks for the rich. That is what has happened.

Does he realize that he is using the EI fund, which should be reserved for the most disadvantaged, that he has helped himself to $30 billion from this fund, to pay for these tax cuts? Does he not think this is just a little bit indecent?

Economic PolicyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget is a great victory for Canadians.

The reason we had surpluses is because of Canada's economic activity, which drove unemployment down from 11.5% to 6.8%. This was because of the creation of 360,000 new jobs this year. This was because of the efforts of Canadians.

If I might continue, Mr. Speaker, I much appreciate your forbearance on your last day.

Things are going well in Canada, and because they are we can now give Canadians—

Economic PolicyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Economic PolicyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's mini-budget neglected many: the victims of the major oil companies were left out.

This morning, we learned that Imperial Oil has reported profits of $1 billion, in the first nine months of this year alone.

What is the Minister of Finance going to say to taxi drivers, who find nothing for them in the budget, to the truckers choking on the price of gasoline, to the farmers whose profits are disappearing into the pockets of the major oil companies? What will he say to them?