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House of Commons Hansard #83 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-23.

Topics

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, maybe it is not about the loss of money. It is about the massive mismanagement of money in every single department.

According to the auditor general, revenue plays favourites with who gets access to that cash. In fact, less than 10% of companies who apply get 85% of the money.

In one case the department spent nearly 10,000 hours trying to figure out how one guy could even qualify for the cash. He ended up getting twice as much as he asked for. Now, there is a real deal.

Why is it that every time anyone in the government sees a pot of taxpayers' cash, they just cannot resist the temptation to dish it out?

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 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, they obviously have no idea of what economic development is about, let alone tax credits for research and development.

What I explained, and this is important, is that, in 1994, for reasons of good management, it was announced in the budget that tax credits for research and development had to be claimed in the 18 months following the year in which the money had been spent.

The result was that all the claims, some of them dating back to 1985, were submitted at the same time. As a result, 16,000 additional requests were submitted within a four month period. I feel that the department did a good job and that the auditor general's report tabled today will be a good tool to ensure that our program can be improved.

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, only a Liberal could brag about that and think that it is just a terrific report.

They should be calling their department “Expenditure Canada”. Collect more in taxes this year? Well, quick, spend it as quickly as possible before the public finds out.

One applicant got a half million dollars more than he even asked for. He was told, “Do not worry about it. It is okay. It will not happen again, we promise”. Then they were told, “Keep the cash”.

That is unbelievable from the government. Why does every single day see another government boondoggle?

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 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, there are mechanisms within the agency to ensure that all tax credit requests for research and development are reviewed.

Discussions and appeal procedures were also used. Again, at the risk of repeating myself, the official opposition obviously cannot and will not understand. If the Canadian Alliance members were in government, there would be no business sector and no economic development in Canada. It is impossible to discuss program management with them. They cannot understand what it is about. As early as 1994, we began to deal with the 16,000 additional requests, and I am proud of the work the agency has done.

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, try this one on for size.

The tax auditor approves a scientific tax credit for tens of millions of dollars. The auditor sends it upstairs to head office for approval, and what do they do? They say, “Not tens of millions of dollars surely. Let's double that”.

My question for the Minister of National Revenue is simple. Why did his senior bureaucrats double the tax credit that was authorized by the auditor without any additional information?

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 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, within the space of four months in 1994, the agency received 16,000 requests. Nevertheless, the agency was able to handle them all, through a process of analysis, consultation, discussion and appeal.

I must point out that, looking at all of the auditor general's recommendations in his report, it is important to note that we in the agency recognized the need to improve tax credit management, and the report will be of great use in that connection.

Today, however, it is being brought up in the House in order to score some cheap points. Where were they when we were working on improving the system?

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

We certainly agree that they need improvement, Mr. Speaker.

Let us continue on. Would you believe in this same situation that they had already paid the subcontractor tens of millions of dollars for this particular work. When they sold it to the bigger company, they got the same credit all over again and the head office of Revenue Canada multiplied it by two. They were paid three times. The taxpayers paid three times for the same work.

The question is quite simple. Why is it when this government gets into a huge boondoggle it has to multiply it by three?

Revenue CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 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 get the impression that I need to say again several times: 16,000 applications in four months. I am proud of the work that was done by the agency staff in very challenging circumstances.

Moreover, the auditor general describes the situation as an administrative nightmare. It was very difficult.

However, I would like to ask the official opposition where they were when an action plan was put forth to try to improve the system? Where were they when a conference was organized in Vancouver to consult the business community? Where were they when meetings were held with the business community in Montreal?

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour for Canada to chair the Security Council of the United Nations.

But, how can we reconcile Canada's important responsibilities on the security council with the series of errors committed by the Prime Minister in the Middle East, where political equilibrium is so fragile?

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canada was elected a member of the security council, and it has been recognized that, as a member of this council, Canada is governed by the current Prime Minister, who is in a position to provide good leadership for this country in world councils.

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we can see how skilled he is in counsel at the moment in Israel. We wonder how well the Prime Minister was prepared for this trip.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister not think that the Prime Minister, far from continuing the Pearson tradition, is significantly tarnishing Canada's diplomatic reputation internationally?

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think the current Prime Minister walks along the same path as the late Prime Minister Pearson. He is working so that a region in the Middle East—and the world—can be at peace, and I think he is doing a very good job of it.

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, should the Prime Minister not realize that, with his comments on Jerusalem and Palestine's unilateral declaration of independence, he has succeeded in upsetting both the Israelis and the Palestinians, doing nothing to improve the climate for the pursuit of peace negotiations, and all in less than 24 hours?

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I in no way accept the premise of the hon. member's question.

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is an extremely important matter, because that part of the world has suffered too much for someone to jeopardize the slim hope of peace.

How can the Canadian government hope to play a useful role in future negotiations in the Middle East when its Prime Minister seems so oblivious to the impact of his statements?

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and Canada are continuing to work in support of the cause of peace in the Middle East and throughout the world.

HealthOral Question Period

April 11th, 2000 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I received a letter from Agatha Corcoran of Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland.

Dear Alexa:

I have been waiting for an MRI since December 1999. I have constant pain and spasms in my neck. I'm off work, have run out of benefits and can do very little. An MRI will determine what is causing the problem but it's not scheduled until July.

Meanwhile, she is staying at home with ice, trying to cope.

I ask the health minister, why must Agatha Corcoran and thousands of Canadians like her wait in pain while this government withholds desperately needed resources?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that over the course of the last 14 months the government has increased by $14 billion the amount of transfers to provinces available for health, that just in the last 14 months the cash portion of the transfer has gone from $12.5 billion to $15.5 billion a year. As the Prime Minister has said, we are prepared to sign on to even more funding long term if there is a sensible plan to address the kinds of difficulties the member has just referred to.

I suggest that governments working together can achieve it.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, yet again the health minister admits that more money is needed but Agatha Corcoran and others will just have to wait—wait, and go on suffering.

Let me ask about another patient who wrote from St. John's. Jody Ann O'Brien was referred to a specialist seven months ago for debilitating arthritis. She still has not seen a specialist despite the best efforts by her family doctor.

Would the minister please explain why his government is spending money on advertisements instead of helping patients like Jody Ann O'Brien?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, Canadians spend $90 billion a year on health care. Money is part of the issue, but a large part of the issue is also how that money is spent and the kind of changes we need to provide services to the people she has referred to.

No less a public personage than Bob Rae, former NDP Premier of Ontario, said that this government has it right: money yes, but connected with a plan to help solve these problems. The NDP Government of British Columbia takes the same position.

Will not the member work with us to make sure that if we spend more money, we spend it to solve problems and not simply to score political points?

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the Prime Minister will not receive any Nobel Peace Prize for help in building peace in the Middle East. Instead of supporting the creation of a new Palestinian state within the peace process, the Prime Minister endangers the peace process by saying that he will recognize a UDI by Palestinians.

These comments were improper and show dramatic change in Canadian foreign policy. Is it not time for parliament to call the Prime Minister back to Canada before he further jeopardizes Canada's international reputation with respect to foreign policy in the Middle East?

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the position of the Prime Minister in the Middle East and at home is to urge the parties to strive in good faith to reach a negotiated solution.

That is his position at home. That is his position in the Middle East. Surely that is something all should not object to, instead of being like the Conservatives and trying to make political capital out of efforts to reach a just solution in the Middle East.

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister should explain the Canadian position to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister claims to like clarity, but he generates confusion. After having always condemned the threat of a unilateral declaration of independence by Quebec, he would now give his blessing to such a declaration by Palestine.

There is no doubt that Palestine's situation may be different from that of Quebec but, according to the Prime Minister, there are similarities. In the case of Palestine, the Prime Minister says that if negotiations are no longer conducted in good faith by Israel, Canada would be prepared to recognize a unilateral declaration of independence, just as France seems to be prepared to do.

In the case of Quebec, paragraph 155 provides that if Canada refuses to negotiate in good faith, a declaration of independence by Quebec could be recognized, including by the international community. Is this a policy change?

Middle EastOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, here in Canada, there is no occupied region. There is no colony, and our situation is totally different from that of Middle East regions. I wonder why the hon. Progressive Conservative member fails to see the difference.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the new auditor general's report is out and it looks like the government is trying to outdo Rocky for bad sequels. This time it is the Department of Finance and the revenue agency that are starring in boondoggle four, revenge of the bureaucrats.

His report points out that $2 billion have been mismanaged by those two departments in the application of the scientific research and experimental development tax credit program. Why does the government think a $1 return for every $40 invested is a good return on taxpayer money?