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House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday, we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore.

Canadian EconomyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economic upturn is indeed a reality.

According to a recent Statistics Canada report, the gross domestic product rose 0.5% in January. This is the 18th month in a row in which there has been an increase, the longest uninterrupted series since 1961, when the GDP began to be measured.

The economic and budgetary choices made by the Liberal government are now bearing fruit. Despite the opposition raised, of course, by the opposition, we have done the job. There are now some truly concrete results.

Everyone, including the opposition parties, is clearly forced to acknowledge that we have come a long way from the distressing situation of 1993.

The results are great, but what is still more important is that they are so full of promise and of hope for everyone in Canada.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Reform Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the government's tax them until they drop policy, the EI surplus will hit a whopping $35 billion this year.

Since only about $15 billion is needed as a hedge against a recession, Canada's premier payroll tax will be used to fund the government's pre-election spending spree. Workers and small businesses who struggle to feed this government's insatiable appetite for taxes are outraged that their EI premiums will be used to prop up Liberal electoral fortunes.

Debt reduction and tax relief are needed immediately to stop the brain drain and to stem the exodus of our homegrown industries. But these Liberals are so out of touch with reality that they think they can buy the hearts and votes of Canadians by simply reversing the changes they made to the EI rules.

Canadians want lower taxes and real jobs, not make work projects, grants or EI. Liberals are not going to give that to them, but a Canadian Alliance government would make it a priority.

FrancomaniaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Liberal Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the team at www.francomania.ca, who have just won an award, the Mérites du français dans les technologies de l'information 2000, in the category of Internet site in French and encouragement of the use of French in cyberspace. This is one of the awards given by the Office de la langue française of the Government of Quebec, as part of the festivities for Francofête 2000, the week celebrating French and the Francophonie.

Francomania doubly deserves congratulations, for it also won the Grand Prix Boomerang in December 1999 in the category of Internet site, cultural product. Francomania was created at the time of the 8th Francophone Summit in Moncton and the Year of Canadian Francophonie, by and for young francophones aged 16 to 25.

This recognition of the excellent work done by this team is a victory for the development of the Internet in French, an honour shared by its partners: Radio-Canada, the Department of Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada.

Coastal Sound Music AcademyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lou Sekora Liberal Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed listening to the musical choir of the Coastal Sound Music Academy on Saturday evening in my constituency.

The students in the choir range from 5 to 19 years of age. Ms. Donna Otto is the musical director. I applaud the efforts of Ms. Otto and the students of the Coastal Sound Music Academy.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Reform Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday members of the House had the opportunity to give rank and file Indians an effective tool that would enable them to hold their band leaders accountable for their actions.

My colleague, the hon. member for Wild Rose, had created a bill called the first nations ombudsman act that had the potential to empower Canada's most powerless people, those who live on reserves. The legislation was launched after extensive coast to coast consultations with grassroots aboriginals and was supported by them.

Last night the aspirations of those people were crushed when the Liberal, Bloc and New Democratic parties ganged up to defeat the legislation. Members of those parties have forgotten that the primary goal of government is to protect and serve the people.

Grassroots aboriginals will not forget this setback. Their struggle for accountability will go on and members of the alliance will continue to support them.

Irini MargetisStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 26, the Navy League of Canada awarded the title of sea cadet of the year 1998 to Irini Margetis, a young woman from the riding of Laval West, who has been a model of exemplary behaviour for the cadets in her charge.

Through her perseverance, self control and leadership, she inspired the young people in her charge and carried on the mandate of the sea cadet movement with young Canadians.

Thanks to the initiative and work of people like Irini Margetis, young people become Canadians better prepared to take an active role in our country.

Bernard LajoieStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 26, the night of the Oscar awards the people of greater Trois-Rivières swelled with pride.

Bernard Lajoie, the son of one of Trois-Rivières' best known families, gained world recognition for his work when the film The Old Man and the Sea , which he produced with Tatsuo Shimamura of Japan and Alexander Petrov of Russia, was awarded an Oscar as best animated short.

In addition, having won the Jutras award for the best film in its category a month ago, this work, inspired by Ernest Hemingway, is destined to have a brilliant international future. Indeed, it is already playing in four languages, and some twenty countries are expected to soon fall under the spell of this Quebec production.

It is therefore with pride that the people of Trois-Rivières and the Mauricie will welcome Bernard Lajoie himself, who will honour us with his presence at a showing of his film at the Trois-Rivières ciné-campus.

Mississauga South Essay ContestStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, each year I have the pleasure to co-sponsor an essay contest for primary school students in Mississauga South. The topic for this year's contest was “The Place I Would Most Like to Visit”.

Today I am pleased to congratulate Ms. Sandra Falcone, the grand prize winner, who is here this afternoon with her sister Lucy to present her winning essay to the Prime Minister.

Sandra wrote an inspirational essay about what she describes as the magical land of Prince Edward Island. From Anne of Green Gables, to beautiful historic sights and landscapes, to potatoes, Sandra's essay painted a beautiful picture of one of Canada's great treasures.

Thank you, Sandra, for sharing your artistic work with us. Canada is indeed full of treasures from sea to sea to sea.

Eric BishopStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the sports community across Canada and all of Calgary bids farewell to a legend today.

Mr. Eric Bishop, an institution in Calgary for decades, passed away last week. Today is the day that his legion of friends will gather to reminisce and swap stories about one of sport's most colourful and insightful media personalities.

Eric Bishop was born in Lacombe, Alberta 74 years ago and very early on established himself as a pillar in the sports world.

To quote George Hansen, “One way or another, everyone knew who Eric Bishop was”. He was one of the best broadcasters to ever sit in front of a microphone and one of the most insightful sportswriters to ever sit at a typewriter. We all have our own idea of what heaven will be like. Those who knew Eric Bishop say that for him, there will be green felt covered tables, plenty of good cigars, unopened fresh decks of cards, and rooms full of family, friends and fans.

Our sincere condolences to his loving wife Joan, their seven children and nine grandchildren. He enjoyed life and was a good man who was well loved by all who knew him. He will be missed.

Vimy RidgeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, Vimy Ridge, April 9, 1917: Canada's nationhood was forged by the tremendous efforts of its soldiers. More than 66,000 Canadians died in action or of their wounds after the war, more than one in ten of those who had worn uniforms.

There are many memorials to this great battle of the first world war, from a simple stone plaque on the west side of this building near the Speaker's entrance, to the grand Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France which took 11 years and $1.5 million to build. At the base of the memorial in English and French are these words:

To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their sixty thousand dead, this monument is raised by the people of Canada.

Whether grand or modest, in English or in French, one thing remains true: the respect that we must show for those who fought and were wounded. I would ask all members to remember the veterans of the first world war and of this battle on the anniversary of Vimy Ridge.

United Church Of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express the objection of the NDP to the fact that Canada Post has turned down a request to issue a stamp in honour of the 75th anniversary of the United Church of Canada.

Census figures show that almost three million Canadians identify themselves as United Church members. Refusing a stamp that so many Canadians could relate to shows bad judgment at best on the part of the stamp advisory committee or at worst, more evidence of what one United Church spokesperson has called “the tendency to marginalize the place of an historic Christian communion in the cultural life of the nation”, in this case, the largest and most uniquely Canadian Protestant denomination in Canada.

I urge my former colleague, André Ouellet, chairman of Canada Post, to right this wrong against the United Church and restore some perspective to the issuing of commemorative stamps.

Violence On TelevisionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, I am pleased to introduce in the House the first bill aimed at reducing violence on television.

On December 18, 1992, Virginia Larivière, who was 13 years old at the time, delivered a petition to the government bearing the signatures of 1.3 million people calling for legislation against violence on television. This was a reflection of the desire of Quebecers and Canadians to take the necessary steps to reduce violence on the small screen.

As far back as 1993, the television industry created a voluntary code on violence on television. Among other things, it refused outright to show gratuitous violence. As well, programs containing scenes of violence intended for adult audiences were not to be broadcast before 9 p.m.

Today we are forced to acknowledge that this approach appears not to have resulted in any reduction in the amount of violence being shown on television. That is why action must now be taken.

HousingStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, April is New Homes Month, an annual Canadian Home Builders' Association event. For Canadians it is a good time to buy because our government has created a solid economic foundation through our deficit and tax reduction plans and low inflation rate.

In my riding of Kitchener Centre, building permit construction values are at a $190.8 million high. Over the past four years housing starts have ranged from 769 to 1,057 new units.

For decades CMHC has been helping Canadians become homeowners through its mortgage loan insurance plan which allows purchasers to buy with as little as a 5% down payment and by providing information to help sort through the choices and decisions involved in buying a home.

I encourage Canadians to visit the Canadian Housing and Information Centre and CMHC's website. One in twelve Canadians are directly or indirectly employed in the housing field. No other Canadian industry has such a large impact on our economy.

CMHC is committed to helping improve the quality of life in communities across the country.

Canadian Cancer SocietyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Cancer Society has been working to eradicate cancer and better the lives of sufferers for more than 60 years. It is the single largest provider of money for cancer research in Canada. It supports the work of doctors and researchers across the country who seek to improve treatment methods and increase survival rates.

In 1999, 130,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Canada and 64,000 Canadians died of the disease.

As we begin April, the Canadian Cancer Society's campaign month, please join me in wishing the society all the best in its fundraising activities, and in congratulating doctors and researchers in Canada for recent and continued progress in cancer research.

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister sat on the board of the Canada Development Corporation during the years that its subsidiary, Connaught Laboratories, was importing tainted blood products from the U.S.

After we raised this issue last spring, the ethics counsellor launched an investigation which took him to the new owners of the CDC in Calgary. Strangely, a finance official went along. Why?

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance referred the problem to the ethics counsellor. A spokesman for the office of the ethics counsellor told journalists that the examination of the matter was conducted without any trace of interference by anyone.

They had to look at all the files and they had to check with every department, which included the Department of Finance. They have done that and there will be a report by the ethics counsellor.

I said before, and I will repeat to the House of Commons, that I know there was absolutely no conflict of interest with the Minister of Finance.

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree.

Any cabinet minister who had even the slightest involvement with the blood products industry in the eighties would have been in conflict sitting at the cabinet table when they were discussing compensation packages for tainted blood victims.

The finance minister sat on the board of a company whose subsidiary was cited by the Krever commission for 10 counts of misconduct.

The minister must be concerned about what is in those minutes and why they are being sat on. Why else would he send a finance official to Calgary along with the ethics counsellor?

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance, like any other department, had to be consulted to make sure that all the facts were known.

There were no demands or instructions by the Minister of Finance to send anyone there. The ethics counsellor wanted to have some information from every department, including the Department of Finance. The information was provided to the ethics counsellor by the official of the Department of Finance, as requested by the ethics counsellor himself.

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, one would think the Department of Health might have gone along for the ride too.

The finance minister had a huge interest in boosting profits at Connaught Laboratories during the year it imported tainted blood from U.S. prisons.

Years later he sat at the cabinet table and denied the victims of that tainted blood scandal the right to compensation from his government.

While they discuss it over there, this is clearly a conflict of interest and he knows it. We can see that. Is that not the real reason he is so concerned about these minutes?

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is always the same thing.

This company was not a company with shares. It was a Canadian government corporation and the Minister of Finance, if he had any shares, had shares for qualification purposes only. There was absolutely no profit to be made by the Minister of Finance in his participation on the board of this corporation.

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the ethics investigators went to Calgary to investigate a conflict of interest situation involving the finance minister, Connaught Laboratories and the Canada Development Corporation.

They must have found something interesting because we know from a memo concerning that investigation that they faxed copies of certain CDC minutes to the finance department, but when we asked for this information under an access to information request the finance department denied that it had such minutes.

What is it that the finance minister does not want us to know about this conflict of interest?

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I hope that the deal cooked up by the Reform Party yesterday which led to the withdrawal of one of the candidates because of pressure under the table does not distract the hon. member. He should be the last to talk about lessons of ethics today.

I said that it was a crown corporation. The Minister of Finance was a private citizen. He was sitting on the board. There was absolutely no possibility for him to make any profit for himself.

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the memo from the office of the ethics counsellor dated July 6 noted that finance had undertaken to provide relevant documents should they come into its possession.

It then said “Finance cannot omit that we did fax a copy of the CDC minutes, and should work on the basis that it is probably known we faxed the minutes to them”.

It is known that finance had these documents which shed light on this conflict of interest situation. Why then on July 8, in response to our access to information request, did finance deny having any—

Canada Development CorporationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The Right Hon. Prime Minister.