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House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The Chair has to be able to hear the question of the hon. member and I know other hon. members will want to hear it too. The hon. member for Macleod has the floor.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me try again. The wasteful spending we are talking about is home heating fuel rebates to the dead. How is that for wasteful spending?

The Minister of Finance has increased the payroll tax, and this is killing jobs. He has done nothing to reduce the debt, and has not cut back one cent on waste.

Can the Minister of Finance explain to the public why he has not done the smart thing and cut back on waste?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member speaks of payroll tax, if he means contributions to the Canada pension plan, there is an agreement between the federal government and the provinces, one signed, I might point out, by the former treasurer of Alberta and his former leader, the man he would like to replace.

Furthermore, if he is referring to employment insurance contributions, what can I say? We have just cut these once again, for the eighth time in a row. This makes $6.8 billion that have been put back into the pockets of Canadians.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, opposition politicians often get accused of just being critical for no good reason, but listen to what Brian Costello said yesterday about the finance minister's budget. He said not to let this finance minister trick anybody into thinking there were tax reductions in this budget and that taxes had in fact gone up.

Why did the finance minister try and trick every single Canadian with his “fiberal”, Liberal budget?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if he would like, we certainly can exchange quotes. Ernst & Young said:

(The government's) determination to preserve the promised, and largely enacted, tax reductions and to maintain the fiscal discipline that has led to the dramatic improvement in the federal financial picture...

I have quote after quote, and I would be delighted to give them to number eight if he wants them.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

December 12th, 2001 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, page 207 of Monday's budget addresses surpluses in the EI fund as follows, “The Report recommended, therefore, that employment insurance rates be set on the basis of levels of revenues needed to cover program costs over the business cycle looking forward, and not take into account the level of the cumulative surplus or deficit”.

Will the Minister of Finance admit that, in plain English, what this means is that the government is unilaterally paying down its debt and officially sanctioning the theft of $44 billion from the EI fund?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what we are doing is following the auditor general's 1986 recommendation that we include the revenue from EI premiums in our consolidated revenue fund. That is what we did.

This money is then invested in health, education, and job creation, sectors Canadians view as priorities.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general also said that the government had an unacceptable surplus.

On Monday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance confirmed that the surplus in the EI fund is fictitious, that it has been spent.

Will the Minister of Finance confirm what his parliamentary secretary said and admit that, in fact, the fund's $44 billion surplus has been used to pay for more than just EI benefits?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear, this is an accounting practice. It has been discussed on many occasions in the House.

I remember giving this same answer to the member for Roberval at least three or four years ago.

It does not exist. It is an accounting practice. The money comes in like other revenue, and the expenditures go out like other expenditures.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Canadian Alliance Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance once said “We believe there is nothing more ludicrous than a tax on hiring, but that is what high payroll taxes are”.

If the Minister of Finance still believes that, why are hard-working Canadians paying $610 more in payroll taxes than they did in 1993?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have said it here, and the numbers are very clear, that we have reduced employment insurance premiums substantially. They were $3.07 when we took office. They are now $2.20. That is a $6.8 billion reduction.

If the hon. member is referring to the Canada pension plan, it has now been judged to be very secure and one of the best in the world by an independent actuarial evaluation. Is the hon. member now saying that we should scrap the Canada pension plan? Is he now once again raising that spectre before the Canadian people?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Canadian Alliance Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was a specific question on payroll taxes. Yes, the numbers are very specific. Since 1993 payroll taxes and CPP premiums have gone up $916 while EI premiums have gone down $306, which is still an increase of $610 in payroll taxes. It is very simple. The numbers are clear.

We are in a recession. The finance minister has practically admitted that. Why then on Monday did the finance minister hike payroll taxes and kill jobs in this fragile economy?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member ought to know, and if he does not I will tell him, that Canada's payroll taxes are among the lowest in the world. They are substantially lower than those in the United States. It is for that reason that our priority has been to cut personal taxes.

Let us get to the nub of this. Is the hon. member saying that he does not support the Canada pension plan? Is the hon. member saying that he does not believe that the Canada pension plan is a worthwhile endeavour? Is he now picking up the old Alliance position that the Canada pension plan should be scrapped? If that is his agenda, let him stand up, say it and take the wrath of Canadians.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, a couple of months ago, the Minister of Transport was opposed to the idea of putting air marshals on Canadian aircraft.

It would appear that he has changed his mind, judging by recent government decisions. Yet their presence represents a very real danger. Not only could the marshal be overpowered and disarmed, but as well a stray bullet could easily go through a cabin window at an altitude of 35,000 feet.

How can the Minister of Transport justify this abrupt about-face?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's concerns are the same as my own.

They are the reason we gave this some serious thought. We decided, however, that it was in the best interests of the travelling public to have the RCMP on board aircraft for general security.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only does the Minister of Transport want to put armed guards on our planes, his government has also today signed an agreement which might open the door to armed U.S. customs officers on Canadian territory, at airports and at the preclearance stage in factories.

The Prime Minister has said on several occasions that, when dealing with the terrorism crisis, our values had to be preserved, first and foremost.

Is it not a major assault on our values to allow armed officers on Canadian soil?

Air TransportationOral 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)

Speaking of customs preclearance, I would just like to point out to the House that we already have this in Canada, particularly in the international airports, for preclearance of U.S. customs.

The Americans are doing this in Canada without firearms, essentially by making use of local police forces. This has always worked out well and they have always done an excellent job.

Obviously, we are going to start discussing the matter of preclearance at border crossings. An excellent agreement was signed this morning, one that is in fact an excellent working plan. We are going to continue with a view to improving our border—

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary East.

Minister for International CooperationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister quoted from the Ontario Municipal Elections Act in an attempt to clear his minister from wrongdoing. Let me read another part of the act:

The place to which the person most frequently returned to sleep or eat during the five weeks preceding the determination is his or her residence.

Did the minister set up a cot in her constituency office five weeks prior to vote in the last byelection?

Minister for International CooperationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said yesterday that the minister had received information that she could vote there. She had received a card in her office indicating that she could vote. Of course, it is an interpretation of the law. Some argue one way or the other.

I have asked the ethics counsellor to clarify the situation and report. When he makes his report that will be made public.

Minister for International CooperationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberal MPP for Ottawa--Vanier faced an investigation for wrongdoing, the Liberal leader in Ontario removed her from her duties pending the outcome of the investigation.

With the serious allegation of improper voting, a behaviour serious enough to have the Prime Minister ask the ethics counsellor to investigate, why does the Prime Minister not follow the example of Dalton McGuinty and remove the minister from her duties until this matter is settled?

Minister for International CooperationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, every time an accusation is made very often the counsellor takes a look into the matter. He has looked into matters with many ministers. He has looked into a matter in relation to myself too. We are not going to resign every time. We would like him to do his job.

If there is something serious that leads to a need for a resignation, it will occur. However, an accusation like that is not enough. We have an ethics counsellor who has the responsibility to look into these matters and he will look into this one too.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have almost $1.9 billion of trade with the United States each day, yet infrastructure congestion and now security issues have ensured delays at the border. In my riding of Essex county and in the city of Windsor, our economic viability depends on a just in time delivery system.

Could the Minister of Finance tell us how this budget provides both the Canadian people and the Canadian economy with a secure and efficient border?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member for Essex has taken a very strong leadership position on this whole issue. Her position along with a number of the other members, border members of our caucus, has led the government to take very strong action, and I congratulate her.

Let me just say that $1.2 billion will be invested in new technologies, in advance information sharing technology, better equipment and detecting explosives. At the same time, over $600 million will be invested as soon as possible in improving the border infrastructure. That is a result of this caucus and that member.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, guns and planes do not mix. In September the transport minister agreed. He said that the government was really not moving in the direction of having armed personnel on airplanes.

Yet the budget provides for armed air marshals on our planes. Why has the minister now agreed to put guns on our planes? Why the change in course?