This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning I released, along with representatives of the other opposition parties, a unanimous report on the scandal at Human Resources Development Canada.

Considering that light still needs to be shed on many HDRC files, including Placeteco, will the government agree to set up a public and independent inquiry which, in the opinion of all opposition parties, is the only way to restore the public's confidence in Human Resources Development Canada?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the work of a standing committee provides a wonderful opportunity to advise and inform the government, to advise a minister in a department, in this case mine, on improving its operations.

I have had the chance to take a cursory look at the majority report. I see it begins to look at the six point plan and to provide information. When I look at the minority report however, I see that the opposition has been unable to get beyond the rantings that we see day after day in the House. To tell the truth, I am really disappointed in that.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, enough is enough. The waste of public moneys at Human Resources Development Canada has lasted long enough. All the parliamentarians on this side of the House are unanimous in demanding clear, fair, transparent and consistent rules to put an end to the Liberal system of granting favours to their buddies.

Will the government regain a sense of honour and act as it is being asked to by all opposition members and by the public?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I would agree. Enough is enough. We have heard day after day the rantings and ravings of the opposition on this issue. Canadians have identified, as has the government, that we have a program that we are implementing to improve our system.

Canadians would appreciate, I am sure, the opposition working with us to do what the auditor general suggests is so important, to find a way of providing good service to citizens in this country and at the same time balancing that with an appropriate accountability structure for taxpayers.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP has been investigating CITEC, a company based in the Prime Minister's riding, since February.

An audit released last week reveals irregularities in the management of the $2.8 million grant from the Canada jobs fund. In spite of these disturbing facts, Human Resources Development Canada intends to give CITEC an additional $5 million.

Is the Prime Minister wasting public money strictly because that money is going to his riding?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, with respect to funding, we have received a letter from CITEC requesting a continuation of funds. The department will be reviewing this and will report when it has a response.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Reform Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, we were not surprised to learn that the directors of CITEC have close political affiliations to the Prime Minister. One of the men, Mario Pépin, is a veteran Liberal Party organizer in the PM's riding. What is surprising is that these men paid themselves large salaries and generous stipends. They invested $2 million of the grant money in high risk funds and nobody knows where the interest is.

How can the Prime Minister just turn a blind eye to these activities and approve his friends' blatant abuse of spending taxpayers' money?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, again, the way the question is worded I would judge that it does not deal with the administrative responsibility of the government. If the hon. minister wants to respond, I will permit that.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, only to say that as the hon. member points out, this file is with the RCMP. It would be inappropriate to comment further on it or to prejudge the results.

Banking ServicesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the public is scandalized by the billions of dollars in profit being made by the banks every year.

Despite banking fee packages, the six major banks in the country have recorded a $140 million increase in their revenue from service charges in 1999. Yesterday, the Royal Bank announced a 30% hike in certain charges, and this is likely to affect people with small amounts of savings in particular.

My question is a very simple one, directed to the Minister of Industry. When will the government be sending a clear message to the banks that these practices are totally unacceptable to consumers?

Banking ServicesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as you know, bank service charges are set by the private sector.

That said, in our new fiscal policy, we are in the process of putting in place measures aimed at consumer protection.

Banking ServicesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is planning to introduce a bill in the near future that will allow bank mergers, among other things.

Is satisfying the major Canadian banks the minister's sole objective, or will he also be taking advantage of the opportunity to ensure that consumers have access to affordable banking services?

Banking ServicesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member across the way had studied the policy set out by the government back in early June, he would have seen we are in the process of creating not only an ombudsman position but also a consumer protection agency, which would have answered his question exactly.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

April 13th, 2000 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have heard today another example of how the human resources minister allows Canadians to be ripped off. Two lucky friends of the Prime Minister, both already with comfortable incomes, used grant money to give themselves $3,000 unearned a month plus a handsome bonus for attending board meetings.

The minister has some explaining to do. Will she tell Canadians why taxpayers were forced to foot the bill for this kind of profiteering?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I would just say again that this file is with the RCMP. It would be inappropriate to comment on it or to prejudge the results.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Here is something else, Mr. Speaker. Now there is a new twist on the misuse of the minister's grant money. How about using grant money to buy a motorhome? That is what someone did from the Strathroy Community Resource Centre, an organization that is supposed to be “a proactive support system for adolescents”. We cannot find out how this motorhome generated jobs because our access request is past the legal due date.

I invite the minister to explain to Canadian taxpayers why they had to buy someone a motorhome.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question gives me a chance to update the House on the number of access to information requests my department has received this year. We are up to 602. I would remind the House that while we have had 602 in this first quarter, in all of last year we only had 531. We are working diligently to provide the information that has been requested. The department takes this very seriously and the answers will be forthcoming.

CinarOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Income Tax Act gives the Minister of National Revenue all the powers necessary to shed light on allegations of tax evasion. We feel that, over the past six months, the Minister of National Revenue has had ample time to do his job regarding CINAR. A report must be forwarded to the Minister of Justice when an investigation seems to support the laying of criminal charges.

My question is simple. Did the Minister of National Revenue forward a report on CINAR to his colleague, the Minister of Justice?

CinarOral Question Period

2:40 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, once again, as members know, I cannot comment on a specific file, because of the rule of confidentiality.

That being said, the mandate of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency includes a responsibility to ensure that the Income Tax Act is complied with throughout the country.

I want to assure this House that, whenever issues are raised and investigations must be undertaken, the department acts with great diligence and does an excellent job.

French Language CollegesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rick Limoges Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced the signing of the Canada-Ontario agreement on French language colleges.

Can she tell us how this agreement will be beneficial to the development of the Franco-Ontarian community?

French Language CollegesOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have this question from a member from the Windsor area, an area in southwestern Ontario which, along with northern and eastern Ontario, will benefit from our investment in these three colleges, through the opportunity provided to Ontario students to be educated in their mother tongue wherever they live in the province. This is good for Canada.

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week both the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister promised to provide the documents with respect to the Minister of Finance's involvement in the tainted blood scandal now being investigated by the ethics counsellor.

Today we were told we would receive those documents. What did we get? Two pages for six years worth of board meetings and half of those pages were whited out. What is the government trying to hide? Why will it not provide the board minutes? What is it hiding?

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that the ethics counsellor, following a very thorough investigation, has reported fully on this and confirmed what I have said, that there was no discussion on tainted blood at the CDC board.

All the pertinent documents were part of the ethics counsellor's report, including the ones to which the hon. member is referring. At the same time he knows that a thorough investigation is being carried out by the information commissioner to look into this whole matter. All of that will also be revealed in due course.

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know the ethics counsellor told the Department of Finance to release the board meeting minutes. It is not believable to have two pages of minutes for six years, and to have half of them whited out. That is not believable. What is it trying to hide?

Why will the government go to great lengths to make sure that these documents do not get out? It is very selective about what it releases. To wait six years for two pages is not believable. We want the board meeting minutes. Why will the government not release them?