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House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

Main Estimates, 2000-01Government Orders

7:50 p.m.

Trinity—Spadina Ontario

Liberal

Tony Ianno LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to rise in support of the supply bill. We are here this evening to talk about government expenditures; the money the government will spend this year on its many programs, services and initiatives.

Before I continue I want to take this opportunity to clarify a term that has been used. There has been much discussion about government money. There is, in my opinion, no such thing as government money. There are only public funds.

As parliamentarians we are well aware of this fact. The vast majority of the funds that we discuss in this House are tax dollars of our neighbours, colleagues and friends, farmers, fishermen, high and low tech workers, small business persons and others who work across this country from coast to coast to coast. They have the right to expect their government to spend this money judiciously, wisely and fairly. They have the right to see that their tax dollars are making a difference and improving the standard of living in their lives, in their children's lives and in the lives of all Canadians.

The Government of Canada is committed to investing in programs, initiatives and services that Canadians want and need. This commitment is reflected in the supply bill. The funds for which we are seeking approval in the supply bill are essential to our ongoing efforts to improve the lives of all Canadians and to deliver good government to all Canadians.

It is realistic to state that these funds will have an impact on each and every Canadian in some tangible way. This money will help continue the fight to make sure that our accomplishments are achieved; accomplishments in continuing to make our streets safer, preserving our environment, or furthering the development of our programs which help the less fortunate.

We are investing in numerous initiatives. Why? Because each contributes to a common goal, the goal to provide Canadians with the high quality programs and services they need and expect in their daily lives. These are the investments that continue to make us the number one country in the world with the United Nations rating systems for literacy, distribution of wealth, education and the many forms of tolerance and compassion that make us who we are.

Yes, I will echo my colleagues' sentiments when I stress how important it is to ensure that these important investments are being made responsibly. It is not enough for this government or any government to simply say “Trust us”. We know the importance of having clear accountability in place. We also know that having the appropriate control of frameworks and regulations is essential to ensuring that funds are being administered in a way that best serves the public good.

We must ensure that every dollar goes a long way and that we leverage it to get better results, such as the very successful Canada infrastructure program for which the member opposite has commended the government many times.

Mr. Speaker, as you, my colleagues and most Canadians know, we have those frameworks and regulations in place. They are in place and they work.

It is the framework and smart spending that allows for all of these improvements in the daily lives of Canadians. We know that the job is not complete. We know that there are further improvements to be made and that is why we need to continue to build on our success.

I welcome this opportunity to elaborate on some of the comments my hon. colleague, the President of the Treasury Board, made a few moments ago. I would like to focus for a few moments on the Treasury Board Secretariat's revised policy on transfer payments which came into effect on June 1, 2000.

The revised policy is important to strengthening the management of public spending. The member opposite has helped in the process of formulating the new policy that the government has put forward and has commended it.

The origins of the revised policy can be traced back to the 1997 report of the independent review panel on modernizing comptrollership in the Government of Canada. This report recommended that the Treasury Board Secretariat establish government-wide administrative standards and policies. As a result, we started a review of our policy on transfer payments, particularly as it related to grants and contributions.

That review began in the summer of 1999. It built on the panel's recommendations. A working group was struck, composed of both the departmental and central agency representatives. The idea was to obtain broad input and balanced viewpoints. The working group met to review, provide input and ultimately facilitate the drafting of a revised policy.

The objective was to develop a policy that would meet departmental needs while fulfilling the government's requirements for accountability, managing for results and ensuring responsible spending. This policy meets the objective.

Some of the departments involved in providing input to the revised policy included Health Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Western Economic Diversification, Canadian Heritage and Finance Canada.

I would like to note that feedback on an earlier draft of the policy was provided by the office of the auditor general, which fully supported its direction. The revised policy has a single but very important objective: to ensure the sound management of and control over accountability for grants and contributions.

The policy on transfer payments applies to all Government of Canada departments and agencies, as well as to all transfer payments, including those between the Government of Canada and other levels of government. While it does not apply to crown corporations, several are using it as a guide to develop their own policies. This is a model that is being copied far and wide. This is how we continue to reinvigorate government and its processes to ensure Canadians get the government they deserve.

Aside from what the President of the Treasury Board has already explained from her overview of some of its most important features, let me elaborate a little on certain points.

The revised policy affects grants and contributions. In this respect it requires several things of departments. As my colleague has pointed out, it requires departments to guarantee that measures are in place to ensure due diligence in approving payments. Departments must also ensure diligence in verifying eligibility and entitlement whenever a new contribution program is being established or renewed.

Second, it requires that departments have a results based accountability framework in place. This framework must include performance indicators, expected results and outcomes, as well as evaluation criteria to be used in assessing the effectiveness of any given program.

Third, the revised policy requires that departments recommend specific limits to federal assistance in instances wherein recipients are receiving funding from multiple levels of government, including other federal sources.

Those are all positive measures and it does not stop there. The revised policy also adopts the principle that funds are provided only at the minimum level required to achieve the expected results and not in advance of need. In addition, eligibility criteria for assistance must be predetermined, made public and applied on a consistent basis.

Finally, the programs must be formally renewed through treasury board once every five years, or more often should it be deemed necessary. This ensures ongoing relevance and effectiveness.

Individually these are all important steps forward. Collectively they represent considerable progress. These measures will make a difference for Canadians. They will help ensure that funds are administered responsibly and that Canadians can have confidence that their money is being well invested by their government.

Of course I know that some questions remain. I have had several colleagues ask me about how this policy affects programs that are already in existence. There are three important ways.

First, effective June 1 as I mentioned earlier, departments must commence a review of their transfer payment management regimes to ensure they reflect all aspects of the revised policy.

Second, agreements entered into on or after June 1 should respect the principles of the revised policy. A three month transition period is provided however before new agreements must reflect all the revised policy requirements. This is only fair. It is a recognition of what is realistic from an administrative point of view.

Third, departments must obtain treasury board approval to replace or renew the terms and conditions of existing transfer payment programs by March 31, 2005.

The government has introduced some broad though necessary changes. Many of the requirements contained in the revised policy, such as the need for results based accountability and risk based audit frameworks, are already in place since they were implicit in the old policy.

However there is likely to be an initial workload increase as departments work to ensure existing management control frameworks are adequate and appropriate. They will also have to make sure that they have the data required to evaluate programs and to report to parliament.

For renewals as well as for new programs, departments will need to provide fuller proposals when coming to treasury board for approvals. This will no doubt require greater attention to detail and as a result, more work for departmental staff. This is essential however. Treasury board needs to be provided with the necessary assurances that the programs are sound.

Clearly there will be some initial expenses but I believe that these expenses will be relatively inconsequential compared to the savings we will ultimately enjoy as a result of more efficient and effective management of funds.

Let me conclude by once again stressing my emphatic support for this supply bill. It is good and necessary legislation. It will allow the government access to essential funding, funding for programs that are important to Canadians.

The government has a clear vision. We have a clear appreciation of what Canadians want. That is why our policies have helped produce the lowest unemployment rate in over 25 years. It has enabled us to deal with a surplus and in effect have more efficient and effective government.

As the policy of transfer payments demonstrates, we have the mechanisms in place to ensure that funds are administered effectively. Together these elements will ensure that Canadians get truly exceptional value for their tax dollars.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 15th, 2000 / 8:05 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Following more consultations, I think you would find consent for adoption of the following order. I move:

That the Subcommittee on Organized Crime of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights be authorized to travel to Toronto and Newmarket, Ontario and to a Canadian port, and that the necessary staff accompany the subcommittee.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The House has heard the motion as presented by the deputy government House leader. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion as presented?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

8:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of Motion No. 1.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the speech by the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board. He was basically reiterating what the president had already told us about the improvements they are going to be implementing. I have two questions.

The first is what assurance do we have that treasury board is going to police these new rules to see that they are implemented? We all know about the billion dollar boondoggle at the HRDC camp. It was because the rules were there but ignored that all this happened. It is fine to introduce new rules, but if they are just rules on paper and nobody says they must be followed, then what is the point?

The second question I have deals with grants, not contributions. Treasury board has a rule that when it hands out money in a grant, the person receives it but it will never audit the recipient to find out if it was spent in accordance with the grant.

Millions and billions of dollars in grants are handed out every year. They are sometimes for old age security which is a grant. We do not want to worry about auditing that. They get it and they spend it the way they want. All kinds of grants are given out, such as $145 million to the millennium fund to celebrate the millennium using Canadian taxpayers' dollars virtually all of which was a waste.

However, treasury board does not even know after it wrote the cheque whether the money was spent in accordance with what the applicants said they were going to do with the money. Treasury board says it does not want to audit after the fact to find out if they actually spent the money or put it in their pockets.

Those are two simple questions to ensure that Canadians can expect value for their money because quite often that is not happening.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Ianno Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to get a question from the hon. member considering that he helped in giving direction to some of the policies. The hon. member has commended the President of the Treasury Board and the government for doing such a great job in listening to him and implementing a great policy. That is step one.

What we have done is taken some of his ideas, along with some of the ideas that we already had in place, to ensure that there is effective expenditure.

This government understands it is important that we spend taxpayers' money effectively, unlike the past government of which I am sure the hon. member was a supporter, even though he may not have had a membership card. They had a philosophical understanding on that side to the point where they were actually trying to align themselves. They get confused the odd day but generally speaking, they are on the same wavelength.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with regard to the subject of relevance here. I had two specific questions on the process of implementing new policy and now we are on to membership in political parties.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I am sure the learned parliamentary secretary is about to make the link. We are all fascinated.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Ianno Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am. The member gets all hot under the collar when we talk about the alliance between the Conservative Party and the reformed Reform Party.

Basically what I was getting at was that party of the past that he may have supported was in a deficit of $42 billion and it helped the debt rise tremendously. Canadians basically rewarded that group with a cleaning out of the system.

We have put in place many things to ensure that our dollar is very effective and that we are spending the way Canadians want. For the last seven years they have continually said that they agree with many of the policies we have put in place because we are looking at the dollar as if we were entrepreneurs. In a way we are trying to ensure that we get multiple returns from a small business person's dollar.

I alluded to the Canada infrastructure program which all members on the other side have commended the government on. We took a federal tax dollar and multiplied it sometimes three to four times to ensure that many of the municipalities which Canadians live in have the required infrastructure to ensure they have clean water, a safe environment and many other things so that the standard of living of Canadians can continue to improve.

The member also asked a question about the $145 millennium fund. I must mention one in my riding, the Evergreen Foundation. It has allowed for many schoolyards and unused urban areas to be regenerated. It has encouraged Canadians in urban centres from coast to coast to coast to give us back the green, to help us with the environment that we need for our daily living.

The government has been doing a lot of good work to ensure that Canadians benefit in many ways. We will continue to do that with the support of the hon. member on the other side.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:10 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Wild Rose.

I am pleased to debate about the government spending some $50 billion. Of course money has to be spent in order to run the government.

I want to make a comment with respect to the Liberal member who last spoke. He was trying to attribute a $42 billion deficit on this side of the House, especially to the Canadian Alliance. That is ridiculous.

I remind the member that I was 11 years old and in grade school when the Prime Minister was first elected to the House. That was the year there was any significant debt. That is when the debt started to skyrocket. Half of the $600 billion can be attributed to the Liberal Party of Canada under Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. That is when it started. The Canadian public was sick of that debt and elected the Tories.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

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8:10 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would ask to have a little bit of respect from that side of the House, please.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:10 p.m.

An hon. member

He does not deserve respect.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I think hon. members have to give and take. There has been a fair amount of giving and I think this is the taking time. If the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands needs me to admonish the other side of the House, I would be glad to do so, but the member has never needed it in the past and probably will not need it in the future.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:10 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will continue, but just because the decorum in this House gets down to the bottom of the trough does not mean that members have to participate or support it. Hon. members can actually try to show some decorum in this House, Mr. Speaker.

I want to talk about the $50 billion that is frustrating Canadians. What is frustrating Canadians is the lack of accountability and how the government spends money and the tax increases that have been forced upon them. There has been one hidden tax increase after another. It is the taxpayers who actually got the deficit to zero. It was not the government. It is the sneaky, hidden tax increases that have frustrated Canadians across the country.

In the last year in the House of Commons we have started to see the real skeletons of the Liberal Party of Canada come out of the closet. How the Liberals spend money is being exposed. We have seen billions of dollars go out to friends and contributors of the Liberal Party of Canada. There is absolutely overwhelming evidence. It is all documented. It has been revealed in the House that people who have received significant grants, most important, in the Prime Minister's own riding, and what have they done? They have turned around and donated part of that grant money straight back into the Liberal Party. If this happened in the private sector it would be called fraud, it would be called criminal, it would be called corruption and the people would be thrown in jail, nothing less.

Let me show the arrogance of all this. Day after day we watch the government members not try to correct it, laugh at it, make fun of it and ridicule it. They are not laughing at us. Yes, we can see them, but they are looking into the cameras behind me. They are looking to the Canadian people. They are making a mockery of the whole system. They are laughing at the Canadian people as these grants happen day after day in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The grants and contributions are ridiculous.

This has caused an incredible burning passion in the Canadians I speak to no matter where I go, whether it is in western Canada, in Atlantic Canada, in Ontario or in Quebec. It happens everywhere. People are very frustrated. We have to change that and that is why we will be voting against this bill, the $50 billion.

In the February budget that the finance minister brought in, the government increased the grants and contributions in the fiscal year 1999-2000 by $1.5 billion. That is how much money is in its own government documents for grants and contributions but health care supposedly only receive $1 billion. It is absolutely unacceptable.

It is time to bring in accountability. We have to depoliticize the process. These grants and contributions are going out to people who are personal friends of the Prime Minister and who, as we have heard day in and day out in the House, have absolutely incredible histories.

What I want to emphasize is that the Canadian people are looking to us to bring some respect, integrity and honesty back to this institution so that they will get value for their taxpayer dollars. People want to see a truly national health care system, whether they get sick in Newfoundland, in Winnipeg or in my home province of British Columbia, that they know they are going to be treated and that they are not going to have to die on waiting lists. Our health care system is an absolute state of chaos right now.

This is happening in my own riding. In Sidney where I live, and in the greater Victoria area, they have had to make changes. They have had to close down health facilities that have been there for a long time. They have had to close the intensive care unit for children level 2 at one of the only two children's pediatric centres in British Columbia. When I asked the CEO at the Victoria Regional Health Board why that was happening, he said that it started because of one reason, no money and the lack of funds. Those critically ill children will now have to be airlifted to Vancouver.

This is happening over and over again. The frustrating part is that it does not need to be that way.

The Liberals stand up and laugh at the grants going into hotels and golf courses in the Prime Minister's own riding. They make a mockery of it. They think it is a big joke. Well, it is completely unacceptable. It is time to bring change to this institution.

The last government that did this was the Tory government in the early 1990s. The Tories became arrogant and believed that they were above everyone who brought them here. They forgot about the people who voted for them. They put themselves on a pedestal so high that they thought they were untouchable. Well, the Canadian people judged them in October 1993 and they were not re-elected. The Canadian people threw the federal Tories so far that it was not even funny. They took a government with 211 seats, one of the largest majorities in the history of Canada, and brought them down to two seats. Why? It was because the Tories became arrogant, unaccountable and showed no respect for the Canadian taxpayer.

This is happening today but 10 times worse. If Canadians think what happened then was bad, they have not seen anything yet. It is pitiful what has gone on in here.

What is really pitiful is the Liberals' reaction to all this. They stand up and make a mockery of question period. They laugh and make jokes and do not give answers in question period. We heard the Minister of Veterans Affairs, when he stood up in the House in the last two days, just make a big joke about this.

I am happy to talk about anything they want, and we will let the Canadian people judge. They can continue to laugh, make jokes and yell across the House but their day is coming. As we all know, we are less than a year away from an election. We will stand on our record and they can stand on theirs. Their record is a health care system that has disintegrated and is in a state of chaos. We have rising taxes and personal family incomes and disposable incomes have gone down. Frustrated Canadians have watched unaccountable grants go up. That is their record, and they cannot step away from it because there is too much evidence and hard facts.

I look forward to the next federal election when the government will be judged and we will see who gets the last laugh, the taxpayer or the government.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Trinity—Spadina Ontario

Liberal

Tony Ianno LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting to listen to the hon. member on the other side, who got very sensitive, taking into account that he is supporting the person who was an assistant to Brian Mulroney, and who, of course, must have advised him on how to do government. He is protesting that the Conservatives were voted down from 211 seats to two, but he is basically knocking one of the three people running for the leadership of his new party who was an adviser to Brian Mulroney. I do not understand how that works. I am curious. He despises the arrogance to which he was referring. He joined the new reform party, but the new reformed reform party is now trying to choose someone whom he detested.

I am trying to figure out how he reconciles that. What has changed? Does it have anything to do with the mindset that the new party actually is dealing with when the pension reform is taken into account, and things that its members fought very hard about until they realized that in reality many of the things that they had in their minds were really figments of their imagination?

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to state that I was elected on June 2, 1997 as a member of the Reform Party of Canada. I was as very proud of that then as I am today, and I will be forever. I have no shame being a member of the Reform Party of Canada. It brought a lot of influence on the government. I am awfully proud of that fact. I am very proud that the former leader of the official opposition, who is now a candidate, had the vision to move the party forward and offer Canadians a choice. I am proud that he was able to do that.

The member has asked me about one of the candidates, Tom Long. Let me tell the member a little about him. I am quite proud to tell the member about the $50 billion that he would not sink down a toilet. Was he involved in the 1984 election when the federal Tories were elected? Yes. Did he come to Ottawa after that election and work for Brian Mulroney personally? Yes.

Mr. Long told me that after what Pierre Elliot Trudeau did in the House, that he would have done anything to get him out. I want say on the record that Mr. Long was employed by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's office for 18 months. Eighteen months after he arrived in Ottawa he resigned for for his own personal reasons. I believe he wanted to see certain things done but he left 18 months after he got here and went to work with the provincial Tories. As we were building the Reform Party of Canada in the early 1990s, he was out there working side by side with the provincial Tories in Ontario building a parallel track. They have been very successful. I think they should also be applauded for what they have accomplished. They are one of the first governments that made promises and stuck to them. They did not get sidetracked. They did not succumb to the pressure. Did they make mistakes along the way? Yes, they did, and they are fixing those now, but they kept their promises. They promised to cut—

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I am sorry but I need to interrupt. The hon. parliamentary secretary to the finance minister.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member is picking up on the point made by my colleague for Trinity—Spadina.

In fact, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands I think for a very short period of time was supporting some Ontario cabinet minister but that only lasted a couple of weeks. I am not quite sure about his overall sense of judgment.

I am flabbergasted that the member would stand here and have the nerve to talk about respect and honesty. He draws the example of the grants and contributions being upped in the budget to, I think he said, $1.3 billion, drawing the conclusion or the inference that the money is for HRDC, when he knows full well or he should know that $900 million of that $1.3 billion is for the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Genome project where we are investing in new technologies and innovation.

I could go on but I will give the member a chance to respond.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, his number is not quite accurate, it is $1.5 billion. The point that I made was that in this fiscal budget, the grants and contributions of all departments went up $1.5 billion. How much did health care get? It got $1 billion. There is something wrong with that when our health care is in the state of chaos that it is.

This only exemplifies the point. They want to talk about everything else but the budget and the $50 billion that we are supposed to be talking about. Again, we need to bring back respect and accountability.

The grants that have gone out under HRDC are just the tip of the iceberg. We know that is happening in all kinds of departments. The system is fatally flawed and it needs to be fixed. I look forward to the day when we are going to bring about those changes. I will stand on my record and my party's record to the voters of this country. We look forward to that in the coming months.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to speak tonight to these estimates, to the spending of money. I would like to be able to speak about the great move in tax reductions but we do not see that. We see a lot more spending. Spending is the topic that is on the minds of a lot of Canadians today.

I remember arriving here in 1993 and hearing the Liberals say that they were going to do something about the million children that are living in poverty. We are now in the year 2000, and they are still saying that they have to do something about the million and a half children living in poverty. It sounds to me like something is wrong here. They went backwards. They are going the wrong way. In 1993 we had a million children living in poverty. Now we have a million and a half children living in poverty and they want to pat themselves on the back and applaud the great things they have done in this category.

When I arrived in 1993 they were quite upset about the poverty and the lifestyles that existed on some Indian reserves. I have seen most of these reserves. I have seen the ones that are really good and I have seen the ones that are really suffering.

In 1993 we said that we need some accountability. The Liberals said that they were going to address that issue. They said they would take care of the situation. We are now in the year 2000 and we have coalitions building out there trying their best to get some accountability to make it happen, but it is getting worse.

My, my, my, what a track record. It would take hours to talk about the Liberal spending that really makes a lot of sense, like hanging dead rabbits in a museum.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

An hon. member

In a tree.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

I am sorry, in a tree. That does make a big difference.

Now that I am a senior citizen and at that magic age, maybe I would like to spend a little time talking about the money they spent on a committee to study seniors and sexuality. My that makes me feel good now that I am an old fella.

I wonder what it really costs Canadian taxpayers to send one of our famous stars to perform in the film Bubbles Galore which was authorized by the Liberal government. We could go on and on and on to talk about wasteful spending.

We could talk about the millions of dollars going into wonderful ridings, most of which are Liberal ridings, particularly Shawinigan, to build new fancy hotels for the sake of job creation. The Liberals are spending millions creating hotel beds. In the meantime they are spending nothing as we close hospital beds. What kind of priority is that? Maybe the million dollars to build a fancy hotel in Shawinigan would have been better spent in an area that could use more help with hospitals.

I often wonder where their priorities are. We brag about the freedoms we have in Canada. We have the freedom of speech. We have the freedom of expression. We have many freedoms, but who is responsible for them? It is soldiers. It is not reporters that gave us freedom of the press. It was the soldiers. It was not orators that gave us freedom of speech. It was the soldiers who put their lives on the line to make sure that all the freedoms we enjoy as Canadians were in place.

Yet look at what is happening in the department of defence. The way they treat that body of people is a disgrace. It is underequipped. We read about them being in soup kitchens. While the Liberals continually pat themselves on the back about the wonderful job they are doing, our defence is becoming the laughing stock of the world. They have no respect for the soldiers who made all these things happen. It was not the politicians. It was not Trudeau. It was not Mulroney. It was no one but the soldiers. When they start respecting the people of this land to the extent that they ought to, maybe we will see some sensible decisions made with regard to spending.

I could look at the areas for which my friend from Okanagan—Shuswap and I are responsible and what is going on in our penitentiaries. I am absolutely amazed by the amount of money they spend looking for dangerous offenders who walk away from a golf course. They are sentenced to penitentiary and when they are out playing golf they walk away.

Let me talk about one who walked away. He was a bank robber. He went to Edmonton and found himself a nice young lady whom he viciously raped. I am sorry for the incorrectness. He sexually assaulted her, viciously. Now a big search is on to find this guy because of decisions made by a government that has no priority for the safety of Canadians and allows those kinds of things to happen.

SupplyGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Oh, come on.