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House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-27.

Topics

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, I am pleased to get the report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development on this important part of the Canadian pension program.

We will examine it in detail and respond to the committee within the timeframe set by the law. We want to be sure that every Canadian entitled to the guaranteed income supplement will receive it.

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister could easily have approached the Association québécoise de défense des retraités to identify the persons involved.

How does the minister explain the government's creativity when it goes after money owed it and its inefficiency when the time comes to pay its debts to seniors?

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, as I also said yesterday, we are taking action to ensure that all Canadian seniors who are eligible for the guaranteed income supplement do have access to it. I am working with my colleague, the Minister of National Revenue, to do just that.

I would note that St. Christopher House has written us a letter stating:

We are so pleased to learn that HRDC will be working with CCRA to directly contact these seniors. This seems like an efficient and effective way to address the problem.

Heating Fuel RebateOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, we know that the Liberals are in favour of prisoners' voting rights, which perhaps explains why they sent 1,600 vote buying cheques to inmates last year, but it also appears that they were courting the cemetery vote when they sent gas rebate cheques to 7,500 members of the grateful dead.

Why did the government send half a billion tax dollars to the imprisoned, the dead and the wealthy, and when will the government show respect for real living taxpayers by apologizing for this atrocious abuse of tax dollars?

Heating Fuel RebateOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, when we set up this program we had two criteria that were necessary to fulfill. First, it had to go to those who were going to need it the most, and second, it had to get there on time. This is why we had to choose the existing vehicle and this was the vehicle that was available.

Heating Fuel RebateOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals had one criteria and that was to buy votes. They sure did not get there in time for 7,500 dead people.

When they say that they targeted low income people, that clearly contradicts what the auditor general said, that 40% of the cheques, $560 million worth, went to people who were not low income, who were either in prison, deceased, lived outside the country or were wealthy and had good incomes.

Why does the finance minister continue to refuse to apologize for this gross abuse of tax dollars? Why does the government not show some respect for taxpayers and just apologize?

Heating Fuel RebateOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I will not apologize for giving this tax credit to those who were going to need it the most.

What excites me is this newfound concern for low income Canadians. Perhaps the hon. member could tell us what the impact on low income Canadians as opposed to rich Canadians would be of his flat tax proposal, or has he scrapped that stupid tax?

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, seniors have been done out of $3.2 billion by the government, and, in our opinion, there is only one thing to do: Give them what the government owes them.

I call on the minister to rise in the House right now and tell us whether she will pay back the money she owes.

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the guaranteed income supplement is a very important part of the overall pension program. What is extraordinarily important is to ensure that Canadian seniors who are eligible for this supplement have access to it.

As I pointed out, we are very aggressively going into communities, working with voluntary organizations. I am working with my colleague, the Minister of National Revenue, to ensure that all seniors who have eligibility for this program do have access to it.

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have a hard time understanding the reticence of the minister, who, for the past eight years has denied our society's most vulnerable people $3.2 billion.

Why is the minister refusing to do the only honourable thing, which is to announce that she will be reimbursing the money?

Seniors have rights: Respect them.

Guaranteed Income SupplementOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, making sure that Canadians who are eligible for this important supplement know about it is a priority for the government.

The hon. member knows that there is a retroactivity provision in the act as it exists. The committee has made some recommendations that I am looking forward to reviewing and I will be responding to them in an appropriate fashion.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

December 5th, 2001 / 2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general says that the Minister of Canadian Heritage has no control over the spending in her department. Last year we went round and round this issue of waste and mismanagement of grants and contributions. One would have thought that by now the Minister of Canadian Heritage would have got the message that Canadians do not want their money wasted.

What does the auditor general say? Money is still being handed out with no documentation, money is still handed out in excess of the application and money is still handed out when there is a conflict of interest.

My question is for the minister. When is she going to get serious about waste and manage her department in the way that Canadians expect her to manage the department?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general also said that major changes in the way the department processes grants and contributions have been made and that we have made good progress in acting on the problems reported in 1998, so we have already dealt with the issue.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister said 1998. That is right. The auditor general said in 1998 there was a problem in that department. The auditor general said yesterday there was still a problem in that department.

The question is, when is the minister going to get that department cleaned up so that Canadians can be assured the money is not being wasted?

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact a statement from the auditor general that we have made good progress in acting on the problems reported is in the conclusion of the auditor general's report.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Bras D'Or—Cape Breton, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. We have been asked by constituents as to the status of EI rebate cheques.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member is making reference to the important practice of allowing employment insurance claimants to request advance cheques during the Christmas season. This very important practice is of value.

I want to assure 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 period.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general reported that in one recent year some 20 wealthy foreign actors evaded an estimated $10 million in taxes. Why did the Government of Canada ignore this $10 million in taxes that could have gone to paying for social programs and who gave the order not to collect?

I know that there is no business like show business, but why did it take until June of this year to close the tax loophole to prevent this outrage from happening again in the future? Why did it take so long to close that loophole?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 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, we all know that there is a tax credit that exists. We all know as well that based on Canadian legislation, there was a 15% withholding with regard to the non-resident actors on their contracts with Canadian producers.

We have been discussing that problem over the past decade. The government has had the courage to solve the problem. In consultation with CCRA and the finance department, we changed the legislation. Today there is a withholding of 23% on a contract. We are proud of what we are doing.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

In the softwood lumber negotiations, B.C. forestry workers and communities are being sold out by the B.C. Liberal government which is caving in to the U.S. government on raw log exports from crown lands. Exports of raw logs mean exports of good quality Canadian jobs.

Will the minister assure the House that he will not in any way weaken or remove federal controls on raw log exports from private lands as part of a deal with the U.S. on softwood lumber?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I totally disagree with the analysis made by the opposition member. He just throws out everything and every effort that has been done by the British Columbia government in managing its forests in a way that would be better for its industry and in trying to solve the long term dispute on softwood lumber with the United States.

We are working as a team, the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia. It has been audacious and courageous. I really hope that we can settle the dispute on softwood lumber for the benefit of our workers all across the country.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence continues to tell the Canadian people that the Canadian forces are more combat capable than they were 10 years ago but the auditor general says this is not true and we all know it is not true.

Our national media is flooded with the embarrassing and disturbing details of the results of the bad management and inadequate resources the government has offered our military.

How can the government expect our men and women in the military to do their jobs properly and safely, given the lack of support from the government?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Haliburton—Victoria—Brock Ontario

Liberal

John O'Reilly LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I once again thank the member for trying to get the military budget boosted.

Canada's defence policy calls for multi-purpose, combat capable forces. Time and time again our forces demonstrate their capability in a post cold war security environment: Kosovo, Eritrea, and now Bosnia. We are doing our part and doing it well. We should salute the Canadian forces and say job well done.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, we all want to salute our forces but we cannot salute the government.

Our military personnel are being put in harm's way by their own government according to the cold, hard facts of the auditor general's report: borrowed batteries; duct tape; the Aurora fleet not ready 58% of the time; Sea Kings not ready 70% of the time; training problems; no spare parts; lack of specialists; tour fatigue; scheduled maintenance cut in half.

What does the government intend to do to correct this injustice to our Canadian forces?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Haliburton—Victoria—Brock Ontario

Liberal

John O'Reilly LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I do not think I can cover all those topics in 35 seconds. I will say that we are pleased with the solid things that the auditor general has pointed out in her report. We always appreciate getting her report and making sure that the items she states in it are looked after on an ongoing basis.

The Canadian military is in better shape now than it has been for 10 years. The recruitment program is over the top. The Canadian forces are doing what they have been asked to do time and time again.