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House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

New York CityStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, on December 1, 2001, several thousands of Canadians took part in the “Canada Loves New York” rally to demonstrate their support of the people of New York. Canadian dignitaries and citizens made their way to ground zero during the celebrations, and a Christmas tree was put up over the ruins of what used to be the World Trade Center.

I am very proud to point out that this fir tree came from Plantation Lavertu in Weedon, in the riding of Frontenac—Mégantic. It is a great honour for the region to have been able to contribute in such a special way to this great demonstration of friendship by Canadians to their American neighbours.

Merry Christmas to my fellow residents of Frontenac—Mégantic.

Parliament of CanadaStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, the definition of respect includes the words to “regard with deference, esteem or honour.” It also includes the phrase to “refrain from offending, corrupting or tempting.” Over the last year I have seen initiatives that have caused my respect for this institution to increase. I have also experienced things that have shaken my respect for this place.

I hope the reports that we had this morning were false. These reports suggested that there is a move from within the Liberal government by its members to provide each of its MPs with a constituency slush fund whereby money would be doled out not under the auspices of independent programs but as the member sees fit. More disturbing is the fact that this has actually been given serious discussion.

At times the arrogance of the government has shaken me but I have never seen such a disconnect from regular folks. I have never heard such a damning proposal and I have never before been embarrassed to be a member of parliament.

Respect must be earned. Let us not throw away the little public respect still left for us and for this institution.

Nobel PrizeStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the House's attention to the fact that this year is the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize. This prize rewards excellence in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and acts promoting peace.

Throughout the 20th century, people and institutions around the world have been honoured. For 100 years, the prize has been conferred on men and women who have made the world a better place through their commitment, their talent, their discoveries and their actions.

Think of Marie Curie, Melvin Calvin, the Prime Minister of Canada in 1957, Lester B. Pearson, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan.

The Nobel Prize reflects great discoveries, struggles and the political and artistic evolution of the world.

I wish the Nobel Foundation many more centuries of rewarding those who work to change the world.

Middle EastStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the cycle of horror in the Middle East is continuing. The Palestinian authority says that Israel has declared war on it. The Israeli government has decided to cut all ties with the Palestinian authority, which it holds responsible for the most recent attacks.

We cannot let the peace process derail. We cannot let the Middle East turn into a war zone.

The Palestinian state has a right to security. The Palestinian people have a right to a viable state. Only negotiation can bring peace. It is now up to the international community to make it possible.

Yesterday, in an interview on the CBC, the elected president of the Palestinian authority, Yasser Arafat, who is still recognized by Kofi Annan and the United States, made a plea to Canadians. He said “We need your help and support...to protect the peace process in this Holy Land”.

We answer his plea with a yes.

PolandStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in Poland on December 13, 1981.

December 13 holds a particular significance to the Polish community. On this date the communist government in Poland declared martial law in an effort to quell the democratic Solidarity movement. This rule brought extreme hardship to many people who opposed the government. Many were interned or escaped from Poland.

The Canadian Polish Congress, the voice of over 650,000 Canadians of Polish descent, worked with the Government of Canada to create a special immigration category for Polish citizens affected by the sudden imposition of martial law. Canada's gesture was immensely important, showing that people persecuted for their belief in freedom could find refuge in this great country. Many arrived in Canada and have made a positive contribution to their new homeland.

As a result of the Solidarity movement in Poland, communism was later overthrown in all of Europe and the cold war came to an end.

Government SpendingStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, today there are reports that the Liberal caucus is demanding a brand new slush fund and that some leadership hopefuls, notably the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, are backing the plan as a way of winning supporters from among the backbenches.

Under the proposed plan each MP would be given, according to reports in the Globe and Mail , “$100,000 to hand out at their whim to various groups in their riding”.

Some Liberal MPs are defending the plan by saying they can bring responsiveness to government spending, but this sounds suspiciously like an attempt to broaden to the constituency level the Liberal practice of taxing everybody and then using the money to swing key voters.

Our economy is going into recession and Canadians need respite from the endless cycle of tax and spend. The Liberal response of pouring hard earned money into what the Globe and Mail characterizes as slush funds is exactly the wrong answer.

Andy ShottStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Jordan Liberal Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that Andy Shott will retire at the beginning of next year. Mr. Shott became the official photographer of the House of Commons in 1993.

With his camera he captured the great moments of parliamentarians and Canadians. Thanks to his talent we now have a rich heritage of photography. This portfolio is a superb reflection of the atmosphere that exists in parliament.

I am proud to congratulate and thank Andy Shott for the excellent work that he has done for the House, and I am sure that the House will join me to wish him well in his retirement.

Missing WomenStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the number of women missing from the downtown east side is a tragedy. Earlier this month the joint police task force released the names of 18 more women who are missing, bringing the number to 45 women. Many of them were involved in the sex trade and were at risk of the most awful violence and death.

I believe all levels of government must co-operate with all possible resources to find out what has happened to these women and to prevent more deaths and harm from taking place. SFU criminologist John Lowman has said repeatedly that women will continue to disappear and be killed unless Canada's prostitution laws are changed.

I implore the Minister of Justice to pay attention. Her bent on security in Bill C-36 did not help these women. Yet their dangerous environment is caused by federal laws pertaining to the sex trade.

These women are not pieces of garbage that can be disposed of. They are human beings with every right to dignity, safety and hope for the future. They demand our attention.

2001 “Grande guignolée”Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this December 13, the big event in Quebec is the “Grande guignolée”. Collection points have been set up everywhere to collect money and food to help the poor in our society.

The money and the food collected will be given to organizations for distribution to those in great need.

We cannot remain indifferent to poverty and to the suffering that it generates. Contributions, however small, will bring happiness to thousands of children and brighten up the living rooms of many families that, sadly, are excluded from our collective prosperity.

On behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I add my voice to that of the patron of the “Grande guignolée”, actress Rita Lafontaine, who reminds us that “at Christmas, everyone wants to look very elegant and very sharp, but let us not forget the poor, because they are very important”.

It is so much better to give than to receive. Let us prove it by giving generously to the “Grande guignolée”. Congratulations to the generous volunteers and donors.

House of CommonsStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, as we look around the Chamber and as we go about our duties on Parliament Hill we sometimes forget to recognize the people that make all this possible. Behind the scenes are the many House of Commons staff without whom we could not operate efficiently.

They deliver our messages, greet our visitors and ensure that the Hill remains a safe place. Hill employees are devoted to their job and prove it every day through their good humour and kindness.

Before we all go home for the holidays to celebrate with our families and friends, I want to take a moment to thank all the House of Commons staff and to wish them a happy holiday and a happy new year, 2002.

Employment InsuranceStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, the HRDC minister has on three separate occasions provided the House with inaccurate information.

Most members of the House want the practice that ensures EI cheques will not be held up due to the holiday season to be continued. This act of generosity on behalf of the government dates back to 1971. The minister on December 7 assured the House the practice would continue.

She assured the House that as in the past employment insurance claimants will be able to make a request, make their claims in advance and receive cheques for the Christmas season.

As confirmed today by her department, the minister has backed away from this commitment. Claimants will now receive only half a cheque for the holiday season.

The minister should be forced to honour her original commitment on the floor of the House and not be the grinch.

Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational SchoolStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1826 the first classes of what is now the Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School were held in a log building near the river in what became Peterborough. The school moved in 1854 and again in 1859 to the old central school building. In 1909 the present magnificent building was opened.

PCVS is a downtown school that has served a varied community well. It has excelled in academics, sports, the arts and community service. Its graduates have served Canada in every possible way, including military service in all major wars and peacekeeping situations. For many years PCVS was the collegiate in Peterborough. Its staff provided the nucleus for other high schools as they were founded.

PCVS celebrates its 175th anniversary with a homecoming in May 2002. I ask all members to join me in congratulating the school on its birthday and wishing it well for the next 175 years.

Literary WorksOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, like many Canadians I was appalled to read in my morning paper that his excellency, the husband of the Governor General of Canada, has offered some strong, and in my view wrong-headed, opinions on political matters. In particular, it appears that in a forthcoming book his excellency blames in part the countries of the west, and this would of course include Canada, for the horrific acts of terrorism that took place on September 11.

Will the Prime Minister tell Canadians what steps his government has taken to disassociate the government from these comments?

Literary WorksOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it should be obvious that these comments were made by Mr. Saul as a private citizen. He is not an extension of his spouse. I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition is back in the 19th century in assuming that one spouse is the extension of another spouse for their ideas. He ought to get into the 21st century and realize that Mr. Saul is speaking as a private citizen on his own behalf.

Literary WorksOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Saul is no longer a private citizen. He lives with the Governor General and represents Canada as his excellency. One particularly offensive aspect of his excellency's comments included some derogatory references to the U.S. President George Bush and President Bush's handling of the crisis in the immediate aftermath of September 11.

Has the Prime Minister written to President Bush to apologize for these insulting comments from the viceregal household?

Literary WorksOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I invite the Leader of the Opposition to come into the 21st century. If he lives in Stornoway with his wife, does he mean his wife shares every one of his opinions?

Literary WorksOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I can tell the House that my wife would not insult the president of the United States on behalf of the Government of Canada.

This is not the first time that his excellency has overstepped his role. A leading constitutional expert and former governor general have been quoted in the media confirming that this sort of foray into the political debate is excessive and bad judgment coming from the spouse of our Governor General.

Will the Prime Minister tell Canadians what steps are being taken to ensure that his excellency keeps his opinions to himself until his viceregal role is finished?

Literary WorksOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is no such thing as a formal viceregal role for the spouse of the Governor General. Mr. Saul is entitled to express his opinions as a private citizen. I wonder why the Leader of the Opposition is so ready to confirm that things are going so well that this is the only topic he can raise, not the budget, not health care, not the war in Afghanistan. I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for his strong endorsement of the government.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, in October the finance minister said that Ottawa was reviewing its spending on an item by item basis to see where cuts could be made and “looking at...the lower priority areas and how...[to] fund the higher priority areas”, but on Monday the finance minister could not come up with one red cent to cut in low priority areas, not to corporate welfare, not to TV producers, not to the ways identified by the auditor general.

Why the flip-flop? How is it that he could not find one dime in savings in low priority areas? Why did he give up in his responsibility to set priorities?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the fact is of course that the government did reallocate within each department. That is one of the reasons that we are able not only to pay for the national security package but we are able to bring in what is the largest transfer in terms of health to the provinces in the history of the country.

The fact of the matter is that the hon. member has raised, for example, the television fund. Is the hon. member saying that he is against the private sector in this country being able to tell Canadian stories to Canadians? Is that part of that party's agenda?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, what we are against is a finance minister who cannot find one dollar in low priority spending out of a $130 billion budget.

The finance committee said that the government must balance any new spending with spending cutbacks elsewhere, a recommendation that apparently the finance minister agreed with in October. What happened since October when he said he was looking at cuts in low priority areas? What were those low priorities in October? Why did they get lost on the way to his tax and spend budget this past Monday?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have already said that we did reallocate within departments, but let us take a look at the areas that the Alliance would cut.

The Alliance would cut the CBC. We would not cut the CBC. We believe in public broadcasting. The Alliance would cut the private sector help to films. We would not. We believe Canadians have the right to tell each other their stories and understand what this great country is all about. The Alliance would cut regional development. We would not. We believe that Canadians who live in rural Canada have the right to an economic future.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

December 13th, 2001 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Finance said that the EI fund surplus was a myth.

But the premiums paid by workers and companies are all too real they are not myths—as are the expectations of the unemployed, who would like some real insurance when they unfortunately lose their job. Still, the Minister of Finance feels not the slightest remorse about using workers' money to pay down the debt and fund programs.

Will the minister admit that it is profoundly unfair to make workers alone foot the bill for programs which benefit everyone, even those who do not pay EI premiums?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is primarily because of EI premiums that the Minister of Human Resources Development has been able to increase EI benefits, parental leave and all the other improvements she has made over the past year.

At the same time, we have lowered premiums by $6.8 billion since taking office.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us get down to brass tacks.

While the government was paying down the debt by $35 billion, it just happened to be helping itself to $44 billion from the EI fund. In other words, it was unemployed workers and companies who paid down the debt.

Will the Minister of Finance admit that the reason he is refusing to create a separate EI fund is that he wants to continue to help himself to the surplus, which belongs to those who pay the premiums, companies and workers, not to the government, which does not put a cent into the fund?