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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

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance says that he does not like being called a Conservative.

When the minister gets up in the morning and looks in the mirror, does he not see a Conservative rather than a Liberal? If he does not see a Conservative looking back at him, then why does he not allow the Minister of Human Resources Development to make changes to employment insurance, especially since the fund will have a $42 billion surplus by March, 2002?

Why does he not hand this money over to her, since it belongs to Canadian workers?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, once again, the member should know that, according to the auditor general, employment insurance premiums and government revenues have to be consolidated.

The member has to look at what we have done. We have invested in health, in parental leave, in job creation, and in research and development.

We have done this because when we on this side of the House look into the mirror, all we see are Liberals.

The MediaOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is a growing outrage over the worrisome new editorial policy in the Southam chain of newspapers. Now a national editorial will be printed in every paper and the local editorial board will be forbidden to contradict it.

This loss of editorial independence is a direct consequence of the concentration of ownership in the media and our worst fears are being realized because of the laissez-faire attitude of the government toward the issue.

What concrete steps does the government intend to take to prevent even further corporate centralization of the media and an even further erosion of the editorial independence in the country?

The MediaOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the government has no plans at this time to impose any new rules or regulations with respect to the operation of the free press in Canada.

The member's views about the state of play with respect to editorials are views that members on all sides of the House would, from time to time, have some sympathy for. Occasionally, there is an editorial or two that I do not like much myself but I do not want to go out and change the rules in the way in which newspapers operate.

The EconomyOral Question Period

December 7th, 2001 / 11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, in his response to a question today from our leader, the industry minister said that the economy was in a recession.

Does the finance minister agree with the industry minister that indeed Canada is in a recession?

The EconomyOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what the Minister of Industry said was that the global economy was in a recession. There is no doubt that when we look at the problems in the United States, Japan and Europe, members will understand the very difficult context within which the government is now doing this budget. It is in fact because of the slowdown that is outside of our borders. It demonstrates the extent to which we have a very important balancing act in terms of providing stimulus, in terms of staying out of deficit and in terms of making sure we do things consistent with our long term plan. I can assure the House that we are up to the challenge.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago the Minister of Human Resources Development used her crystal ball to interpret a question from one of her colleagues as to whether or not EI recipients will get their cheques before Christmas. The minister said that they would.

However, as late as today, her officials have said that the only way a recipient will get a one week cheque is if they go in and make an individual case.

Who is calling the shots and what will the minister do rectify the situation?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that I did not need a crystal ball. All members of the House realize that the opportunity for employment insurance claimants to get an advance payment before Christmas is a very important provision in the act.

I can confirm for the hon. member that we will ensure, as has been the case in the past, that EI claimants will be able to request in advance a cheque before Christmas.

CbcOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, last year when the CBC series Canada: A People's History was announced, the government took great pride in the quality of the show. However, I got an e-mail yesterday from a constituent which stated:

--I am a teacher at Pinetree Secondary in Coquitlam. I am currently the Humanities Dept. Head at the school. I would like to use the excellent video series Canada: A People's History at our school. However, the cost to the school (viewing rights) is $2,147.00.

Canadian taxpayers paid the CBC to create this series. Why is the government creating a disincentive for Canadians to learn about their history by charging them over $2,000 to watch what they have bought?

CbcOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, the independence of the CBC is guaranteed by parliament under the Broadcasting Act. Moreover, I would like to point out that section 39 of the Broadcasting Act provides that the board of directors is responsible for the day to day management and operations. As well, under subsection 46(5), programming independence is also guaranteed by the CBC.

I would submit that perhaps what the hon. member should be doing is asking the CBC the same question.

CbcOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am asking the government because it has the authority to do it. It brokered a deal with the province of Manitoba to undercut the prices so that Canadian kids could learn about Canadian history.

What is it about this government that it sees the need to tax taxpayers twice for the cost of learning about their own history with their own resources? Why is the government not stepping forward and showing leadership so that Canadians can learn about their own history?The government should step up to the plate and show leadership.

CbcOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the government has been investing in the arts and culture, and in our children and our history. On May 2 we announced the largest reinvestment in the arts. We invested $560 million in our stories, our identity and our history. I would submit that we are investing in our children, in our history and in our identity.

Interest RatesOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bank of Canada key interest rate keeps going down. It has dropped nine times this year, for a total of 3.5 points. The bank rate now stands at 2.5%, a 40-year low.

The gap between the Bank of Canada rate and the rates of the lucrative credit card market continues to widen and is now 16.4% in this unstable and difficult economic period.

Is the government going to continue to do nothing while financial institutions continue to rake in $34 billion in profits of various sorts, including unpaid debts, to the detriment of consumers in this period of recession?

Interest RatesOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there are many kinds of credit card, as the member knows. There are cards with much lower interest rates, and there are also cards with higher rates, which offer various options. What the banks will say is that this is a way they protect themselves against fraud and so forth.

That having been said, there should be a much closer relation between interest rates and the interest on credit cards.

Interest RatesOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, some commercial credit card interest rates are as high as 30% in Canada, while the average rate in the United States is 14.4%. U.S. banks have thus dropped average rates by over 2% this year.

Is the government going to continue to let financial institutions rake in profits on the backs of consumers this way?

Interest RatesOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first of all, there are credit cards with much lower rates. The rates really depend on the options these credit cards offer.

As I said, however, there needs to be a much closer relation between the decreases in interest rates and the rates charged on cards.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, thousands of mill workers have been idle for months because of the softwood lumber dispute, with more than 1,000 in Port Alberni alone. The negative economic impact is spinning out of control. For example, E & N Railroad serves a 181 kilometre route on Vancouver Island. It is our only rail service. Now reduced rail freight will force E & N to close its freight division in January. This means more job losses.

While the trade minister sits on his hands, families face a bleak Christmas and a bleaker future. When will the minister stand up for our jobs and for our industry?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

London—Fanshawe Ontario

Liberal

Pat O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, it takes quite a nerve to criticize the Minister for International Trade when that criticism comes from a party that did not bother to have a trade critic for weeks last spring. It is incredible for me to hear that.

We are proceeding on a two track policy of litigation. On Wednesday a panel was struck at our request at the WTO. At the same time, we continue with discussions with our American partner. The minister will be raising these issues today with Governor Racicot in Washington.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is great. The parliamentary secretary is complaining about the defence critic. He does not seem to get it. Our communities are in a stranglehold. When a person is choking it is a life and death matter. Sending help in a year and a half is a moot point. The funeral will be long past.

Dispute resolution is meaningless once our mills are gone. Closure of the E & N freight division now threatens the future of the passenger service, the tourism industry and what is left of our fragile economy.

Since the trade minister seems to be sleepwalking, will the transport minister step in to help save rail service on Vancouver Island?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

London—Fanshawe Ontario

Liberal

Pat O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, let me try again. What I pointed out to my colleague was that he represents a party which last spring did not even bother for weeks to appoint a trade critic. Now all of a sudden when this issue is heating up, that party has some interest in finally raising some questions.

I have already indicated to the House that the Minister for International Trade is continuing to work very aggressively on this file, as is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has raised the issue repeatedly with President Bush, and it has also been raised by the minister at every opportunity.

Infrastructure ProgramOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, the need for municipal infrastructure improvements in the new territory is great. On behalf of my constituents, I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board if he would give us an update on the negotiations between the federal government and the territorial government of Nunavut on the Canada infrastructure program?

Infrastructure ProgramOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Durham Ontario

Liberal

Alex Shepherd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Nunavut who has been such a tireless worker for her constituents of Canada's north.

I am pleased to announce that the President of the Treasury Board, along with her colleague, the hon. Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, as well as the premier of Nunavut, the hon. Paul Okalik, signed the Canada-Nunavut infrastructure partnership agreement yesterday.

The agreement will leverage over $4 million for green municipal infrastructure over the next two years. I am especially proud that this partnership agreement will help strengthen the economy of Nunavut, as well as enhance the health of its people.

Health CareOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the upcoming budget must be about priorities. If it is going to reflect the real priorities of Canadians, then there must be some real increase in health care transfer money. The budget leak suggests that the government will not announce one penny more for health care.

Will the Prime Minister reverse his government's dismal record on health care cuts and get his priorities straight?

Health CareOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, surely the hon. member remembers the historic agreement the Prime Minister signed a little over a year ago which gave a $23 billion transfer to the provinces for health care and early childhood development. That money continues to flow. In fact, in many provinces, such as Ontario, it is only the federal money that allows the province to increase its funding because of its tax cuts.

Health CareOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether passing the buck to the provinces is a good idea because the government has not put back the money that it took in 1994 to the level that it was then. The Liberals' answer to health care cuts is to pull the money out of the system and then study it to death.

Do members know how much the Liberals have spent on studies since 1994? They have spent $242 million.

When will the government stop the studying and resolve the health care crisis that it created?