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House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was hrdc.

Topics

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Nick Parsons arrived on Parliament Hill. He drove his combine all the way from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Ottawa to bring attention to the problems that Canadian farmers are facing right across Canada.

Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell the House how the government recognized Mr. Parsons' efforts?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, we recognized Mr. Parsons' efforts in a number of ways.

I personally spent an hour with Mr. Parsons yesterday, commending him for his initiative and the awareness he has brought to all Canadians of the importance of the family farm and the agricultural industry across the country. We shared thoughts and ideas about how we can do even more.

Even better than meeting with me, he met with our Prime Minister, and they too shared thoughts. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of the many things we have done for Canadian agriculture and that we are looking at doing even more.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, prior to 1984 the Export Development Corporation published a list of Canada account loans that included the amount and the recipients of the loans. Today the Minister for International Trade and the EDC rely on secrecy and confidentiality rules to hide these controversial and high risk loans from Canadians.

Past Liberal governments chose to lay their cards on the table regarding the EDC. Why is this Liberal government hiding the details?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. The EDC has earned the auditor general's award for annual reporting three times over the last six years. The auditor general has access to the board of directors' minutes—

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. We will hear the minister.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Liberal Papineau—Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, some people really do not like good news in the House.

The auditor general has given the EDC the award for annual reporting three times over the past six years. The auditor general has access to the board of directors' minutes of meetings, transactions, details and financial records.

In 1998 the auditor general said “In my opinion, the transactions of the corporation have in all significant respects been in accordance with the Financial Administration Act”.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the EDC is a government crown corporation that relies on taxpayers' money to fund its operations. Unfortunately for the Canadian taxpayer, the EDC remains unaccountable to parliament and the auditor general for its controversial lending practices.

What is the government hiding, another get rich scheme for Liberal cronies?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, this again is just another attempt by the political right in the country to misinform Canadians about this 56 year old institution.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I would invite the hon. minister to be very judicious in his choice of words.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Liberal Papineau—Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have the right to know. Let me be clear for the seven year old Reform Party. The EDC does not give out money or subsidies. The EDC lends money from its own coffers, not taxpayers' money, on a commercial basis. That is what it does.

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure the Prime Minister appreciates the damage he has done by refusing to take action on bill 11. His statements have been interpreted by Ralph Klein as approval for bill 11 and they amount to a betrayal of all of those Canadians fighting to stop this destructive legislation.

Is this the sum total of federal leadership: sitting on the fence with fingers crossed, hoping the problem will go away? Is this the best Canadians can expect from their government?

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister could not have been clearer. Alberta, like all provinces in their legislation, must respect the five basic principles of the Canada Health Act.

There is another question and it is whether this bill and the measures it represents will do anything about the problems facing medicare. In fact, the evidence is that it will not. With private for profit clinics the waiting lists are longer and the costs are higher.

We hope that Premier Klein will listen to the people of Alberta and withdraw the legislation.

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the health minister answered the question because it shows the contrast between his answer and how two former health ministers of the Liberal government would have responded to that question. They would have stood in the House and said absolutely no to Ralph Klein. In fact, Monique Bégin, a former health minister, would have said that Canadians want leadership, they want a person of courage.

I want to know from this minister if he will get off the fence and if he is prepared to show the courage of his convictions, the courage of the convictions of former health ministers, and give leadership to Canadians who want—

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Health.

HealthOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I invite the member to read the speech which I delivered in Calgary, which very clearly expressed my view on the question. Alberta, like all provinces, must comply with the Canada Health Act, and this legislation will not help.

However, Premier Klein's challenges go far beyond me. He now has to contend with the opposition to this bill expressed by the Alberta Medical Association, the Association of Registered Nurses, chiefs of medical staff in Calgary and Edmonton, the Consumers' Association and the United Nurses of Alberta. We hope that Premier Klein will listen to the people of Alberta. Perhaps he might decide to withdraw the legislation.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

March 21st, 2000 / 2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gilles Bernier Progressive Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, in response to the crisis in gasoline prices the Liberal government has done what Liberals always do. It appointed a committee to study the industry, and it is the 12th in the last 15 years. Does that make sense? The committee will cost Canadians $750,000 and it will not report until next year.

Why does the finance minister not cut out the doggie doodle and reduce the federal tax on gasoline that he himself raised in 1995?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would congratulate the member for reminding the House that the excise tax is a product of his party in the previous government. I also want to congratulate the hon. member for finally coming to the realization of the problems that exist.

I want to congratulate the members of this caucus who for so long have been concerned about this particular issue.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gilles Bernier Progressive Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, if the finance minister is so concerned, why has he not done anything about it? Fuel prices have gone up 40%. If they do not come down, inflation will rise. That means skyrocketing interest rates. High interest rates mean higher debt service charges. When that happens the finance minister can kiss his sorry surplus goodbye.

It is very simple. Will the government cut taxes on fuel at least until it gets the crisis under control?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I can hardly believe my ears. The hon. member is talking about high interest rates. When we took office our interest rates were substantially above those of the United States. Today they are lower.

When we take a look at what the federal government has done in terms of its own debt, our debt has come down, the deficit has been eliminated and unemployment is down. This is a different country from the one we took over in 1993.

National RevenueOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.

Members of the business community work long hours, far beyond the traditional nine-to-five workday. The last thing they want to hear when they call a government office is a busy signal.

What will the minister do to ensure greater access by Canadian businesses to the resources of this key government agency?

National RevenueOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his very important question.

We all remember that we launched the agency last November 1. The aim and goal was to provide the Canadian population with better services. I am pleased to report today that we recently launched a 1-800 number for the business community and that 97% of the people which have tried to get in touch with the department have been able to do so on their very first attempt.

I am pleased to report as well that the line is open from 8.15 in the morning until 8 o'clock in the evening. That is good Liberal government.

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Trade has said that the EDC is a very fine institution. Let us see what a fine institution it really is. China's Three Gorges Dam is built on an earthquake fault line. It was shunned for funding by both the U.S. government and the World Bank.

What happened? The EDC stepped in and funded the Three Gorges Dam, despite serious environmental, corruption and economic charges.

Why is the government using taxpayers' money to support a dam that is an environmental disaster?

Export Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear about this deal. Like so many others, the Government of Canada has certain positions which the member knows very well. The EDC works at arm's length from the Government of Canada. It has accepted the project. It is not the only institution. Similar financial institutions from France, Germany, Japan and Austria have also been onside with their exporters in this foreign deal.