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House of Commons Hansard #127 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was impaired.

Topics

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as usual, the Leader of the Opposition is mistaken.

The auditor general did not say these amounts were wasted. She spoke of improved management and confirmed that the steps for improving management of these contributions are being followed.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, whenever the government gets into trouble, instead of fixing the mess it does a two point strategy. It does the rope-a-dope. It goes in the corner, covers up, takes a few hits, and then it creates a diversion somewhere else in the arena.

This time it is budget leaks. It is budget leaks about the CBC, what the Prime Minister calls his own TV station, getting more money. It is budget leaks about private, pet, political projects like speeding up the high speed Internet chat rooms for the Minister of Industry.

I have a better, less destructive strategy. Will the Prime Minister stand up and announce an across the board cut in these wasteful political areas--

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Deputy Prime Minister.

Auditor General's ReportOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has spoken about a rope-a-dope strategy. Does this come from himself looking into the mirror? Is it a personal reference about himself when he speaks of rope-a-dope or does this come from the days of Muhammad Ali?

I would like to say that when the hon. member talks about cuts he must be calling for cuts in health care and cuts in aid for higher education. This is not what Canadians want and I am sure that on Monday we will see an excellent budget which even he will have to support.

TaxationOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, today we learned that unemployment increased again, this month to 7.5%, more than expected, with a loss of 43,000 full time jobs, thanks to this Liberal recession.

The government is showing us what its priorities are. Instead of reducing job killing payroll taxes, which it is going to hike next year, it is leaking billions in handouts for the heritage and industry departments.

Why does the government not get its priorities straight and give Canadians the job security they demand by reducing job killing payroll taxes instead of increasing wasteful spending?

TaxationOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, every time a job is lost in Canada it obviously is of great concern to the government. It also ought to be of equal concern to the opposition so that we can in fact have an intelligent debate. That means that the opposition critic should not stand up and essentially put out numbers which make no sense.

The fact is that the unemployment rate went up because more Canadians sought to enter the workforce. That action is a sign of confidence. The fact is that there were more jobs created last month in Canada than there were jobs lost, compared to over 330,000 jobs--

TaxationOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Southeast.

TaxationOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is happy to see 43,000 full time jobs lost and thinks it is a sign of confidence in the economy. Sure, some part time jobs are being created under his watch but they are replacing real, well paying full time jobs. That is happening in part because the finance minister is raising payroll taxes.

Perhaps he would like to blame that on the Prime Minister since we understand from the PMO that it is the Prime Minister and not the finance minister who is writing this budget.

Will he cut payroll taxes next year, like employers and employees demand, instead of increasing them?

TaxationOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the House of Commons and the Canadian people are entitled to more than the garbage, the nonsense, that the opposition critic is offering.

In fact, as I said in my opening remarks, we are worried about the loss of full time jobs but the fact of the matter is that there were more jobs created in Canada than were lost.

The problem we have in North America is the 330,000 jobs lost in the United States and the impact that will have on us in Canada. That is the kind of thing we have to worry about. How do we stimulate domestic demand? How do we make sure this economy operates? That is what the hon. member opposite ought to be worrying about.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is something strange with the way the employment insurance program works. Those who contribute to it have no control over anything. They have no control over what they pay and what they get, while the government, which does not contribute one penny, shamelessly skims off the surpluses in the fund. The employment insurance program is not designed to generate huge surpluses, but to provide insurance for workers who really need it.

Will the Minister of Human Resources Development admit that if the employment insurance program does not provide that guarantee, it is because it has become a payroll tax?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that, on the one hand, we just lowered employment insurance contributions and that, on the other hand, these contributions have been reduced by $6.8 billion since we took office. This is money that is in the taxpayers' pockets and that is very important for job creation.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the budget that will be brought down on Monday by the Minister of Finance will show how the Minister of Human Resources Development is unable to follow up on the recommendations of the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development.

Will the minister recognize that she shows more talent in justifying the misappropriation of the EI surpluses than in giving the unemployed the protection that they should expect from a real employment insurance program?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House that the Minister of Human Resources Development has worked really hard for Canadians.

This can be seen in the improvements made to the employment insurance program. I am thinking of parental leave and of the whole issue of small weeks to help Canadian workers.

The minister has worked very hard and this is why the system is so much better.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, the auditor general's report and the opinion of the chief actuary of Human Resources Development Canada, which all condemn the pointless surpluses in the employment insurance fund, the minister stubbornly refuses to make changes.

Does the minister realize in what spiral the employment insurance program is headed down into because of the government? On the one hand, the government is taking the money from the fund and, on the other hand, it is moving farther away from the original purpose of the program, which was to financially compensate workers who lose their jobs?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts. First and foremost, every year the employment insurance commission does a review of the employment insurance program. This is a commission made up of employers, employees and the government. The commission indicates that 88% of Canadians in paid employment would be eligible for employment insurance should they need it.

Let us also remember that the government has not hesitated to make changes to improve the employment insurance system when evidence is presented.

I remind Bloc members again that every time our government moves to enhance the employment insurance program they vote against it.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, we realize why the government does not want a separate fund. It is because the Minister of Finance would not be able to use the huge surpluses in the employment insurance fund as he pleases. The powerlessness of the Minister of Human Resources Development is all the more easy to understand, considering that the surpluses have already been spent.

Does the Minister of Human Resources Development realize that, after abandoning the unemployed, older workers and retired people, the only message that she is sending is that there is no longer any hope with her as minister?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that it is quite the contrary. It is this government that doubled parental benefits. It is that party that voted against it. In this government that voted to repeal the intensity rule. It is that party that voted against it.

It is this party that has moved to make the small weeks pilot project part of the national program and all they can do is say they do not agree.

On this side of the House it is clear. We are here in support of Canadian workers. They really are not.

The EconomyOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, the November unemployment rate is up and we have seen the replacement of 57,000 full time jobs by 43,000 part time jobs. The Liberal vision of a low wage part time economy is a reality. There is a widening income gap between the rich and the poor.

Is there any minister across the way who is willing to stand up to the Liberal minister who is a conservative Minister of Finance and call for a jobs budget for Canadian people instead of a budget for corporate Canada? Is any minister willing to do that, including the Minister of Industry?

The EconomyOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I and other ministers are standing together with the Minister of Finance, the outstanding Minister of Finance of modern times.

When we stand together with the Minister of Finance we are standing with every Canadian who has benefited from the measures in his budgets which we are proud to support. We will be proud to support the budget on Monday.

The hon. member should be ashamed of himself for not recognizing this reality and giving it his support as well.

The EconomyOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Such a defensive Deputy Prime Minister and defensive Minister of Industry, Mr. Speaker. The Liberal vision of a low wage, part time economy is a reality. Even in Toronto we now see tens of thousands of people about to be laid off in the hospitality industry. Meanwhile, bank profits are at a record high despite the downward trend in the economy.

The minister knows 80% of new jobs are created by small business. What will the Minister of Finance do to help small business create jobs and put Canadian people back to work? What will he do about that?

The EconomyOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right when he says that small and medium size businesses are the engine of growth. What he ought to know is that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has been doing regular surveys over the course of the last three to four months. Those surveys have shown a great deal of optimism in terms of the economy and their ability to create jobs. What they are saying is that they support this government's policies and they are absolutely right to do so.

I do not know if I am allowed to raise a point of order in question period, but calling anybody a conservative minister is surely unparliamentary language.

The EconomyOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

We will now hear from a former Conservative prime minister, the right hon. member for Calgary Centre.

Business Development Bank of CanadaOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is about the Business Development Bank document alleging that the BDC loan to the Auberge Grand-Mère would have been used in part to pay a $23,040 debt to the Prime Minister's family holding company.

The Prime Minister claims that allegation is a forgery. After an eight month investigation the RCMP finds no evidence to support the Prime Minister's claim but the RCMP wants to close the file.

Rather than having the Prime Minister's claim unproven, would the government agree to call in independent forensic auditors to see which document is a forgery?

Business Development Bank of CanadaOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Conservative Party is mischaracterizing what the RCMP has said. As was reported in the media this spring, I am told the bank compared the document with the original in its files and determined it was forged. I think that answers the question.

Business Development Bank of CanadaOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, which one is forged? I have three related questions for the minister responsible to parliament for the Business Development Bank.

First, did the information commissioner ask to review the BDC files respecting the loan to the Auberge Grand-Mère?

Second, could the minister give the House an unconditional guarantee that none of the BDC files requested by the commissioner were sanitized or otherwise altered before they were made available to the information commissioner?

Third, would he advise whether Mr. Luc Provencher and Mr. Jean Carle were among the bank officials involved in responding to the request of the information commissioner?