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House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was leader.

Topics

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. It has to do with the one time home heating fuel rebate announced in the mini-budget.

I am sure by now that the minister and many of his colleagues are aware of the unhappiness that this is causing in the country by virtue of the fact that there are so many people who need this rebate but do not qualify because of the particular way it has been administered through the GST tax credit.

Is the Minister of Finance considering changes to this program so that many families who need this rebate but do not now qualify will in fact receive some help from the government?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know that we wanted to get those cheques out as quickly as possible. Therefore it was important to find the most expeditious way possible, which was the low income credit.

That is why we proceeded in that way. Some 11 million Canadians who will be receiving $1.3 billion.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I understand what the minister is saying. However, the fact is that a lot of people who are not paying heating bills are receiving it and struggling families who have high heating bills are not receiving it. This is creating a lot of resentment and division among Canadians. The government should consider a way of alleviating that.

We acknowledge the good the Minister of Finance has already done, but we also acknowledge some of the flaws. I think he should as well. What changes is he considering to this program so that families who are now struggling with high heating bills will get some aid from the government?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there are obviously defects in a program in which one wanted to get the cheques out as quickly as possible and had to use an existing structure.

The fact is that it was the government's view to get those cheques out as quickly as possible to the vast majority of Canadians. The 11 million people who received them was by far the best way to go.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is now apparent that the Russian Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs knew of a long history of abusive and dangerous behaviour on behalf of a particular Russian diplomat. Yet nothing was done.

Will the Government of Canada spearhead an international initiative to change the rules of diplomatic immunity to stop protecting drunk and dangerous drivers?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first, I do not have evidence that is consistent with the preamble to the member's question that we had a long history of this behaviour by this individual. I assure him, as I did his colleague from the Alliance Party, that we will try to investigate that.

Second, I think it would be useful for us to discuss the rules of diplomatic immunity, although I do not believe they were intended to apply to a case such as this one. That is why we asked the Russians for a waiver. It is very important that our diplomats have the protection of the Vienna convention, particularly those serving in some countries where respect for the rule of law is not as it is in Canada.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is now apparent that the present Russian ambassador knew that there were repeat offences. He has already confirmed his knowledge of previous incidents about this driver. He also knows there was abusive behaviour at the scene of the accident. He confirmed that.

The same ambassador gave wrong information at his press conference the other day relating to a crime that resulted in an innocent woman's death. Has the minister asked for the ambassador to be recalled to Russia?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the answer to that question is no. The priority we are placing on the completion of this matter at the present time is to ensure that the individual involved in this tragic accident is brought to justice. We sought and received very strong assurances from Russian authorities as high as the minister of foreign affairs that it will be the case.

I can assure the hon. member that as far as I am concerned the matter will not be complete until we see the judicial process in Russia take its course and we see this individual go to a cold place for as long as possible.

Private Members' BillsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want their members of parliament to have a meaningful role in the Parliament of Canada. In the last parliament, apart from renaming ridings, only two private members' bills sponsored by members of the House received royal assent. That is the worst track record in the last 20 years.

Will the Prime Minister commit to allowing all private members' bills to be votable in the House?

Private Members' BillsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am not even sure the member's party advocates that position.

At present there are rules of the House that deal with which private members' bills are votable and which are not. There is a committee of parliament that recommends how to make changes to that. Thus far the committee has not recommended the change he is advocating.

Since 1993 there have been no less than 97 free votes on private members' bills and some government bills. That is probably greater than in the last 50 years combined.

Private Members' BillsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, only two of those bills received royal assent. That is the lowest in the last 20 years and that record cannot be changed.

In 1991 the Prime Minister, then leader of the opposition, in his reply to the Speech from the Throne said that he wanted more free votes in the House of Commons.

We have committees. All parties on this side of the House want reform to parliament. Will the government House leader commit to get this committee meeting right away, sitting down and talking about reform of the rules of the House?

Private Members' BillsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member is unaware but the motion to constitute the committee was adopted by the House two days ago and it can meet anytime it likes.

He referred to two private members' bills. The number is 19. I know he once served under the leadership of the right hon. leader of the Conservative Party. The hon member did not know how to count in 1979 when he was part of that caucus.

Water QualityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Fournier Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the throne speech, the government announced its desire to enhance the standards for drinking water quality in Canada. In the des Plages sector of Sept-Îles, the Department of Transport has contaminated the source of its drinking water and has done nothing since to remedy the situation.

The people of Sept-Îles want to know why the Minister of Transport has been dragging his feet on this until now, and what he intends to do to remedy the harm to my fellow citizens he himself has caused?

Water QualityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, to the contrary, my officials have been working with affected residents in Sept-Îles to come up with an acceptable solution. In the meantime we have been providing bottled water to those residents. That is not an acceptable long term solution, but there are other remedies that are being tested and some of the residents have taken us up on those remedies.

The number of people affected is very small but they are very important obviously in terms of their numbers. It is a priority for us to determine a fair solution.

Water QualityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Fournier Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has announced all manner of interventions that do not fall within its areas of responsibility. Now we have the water contamination in the des Plages sector, which is its responsibility.

Why can the Minister of Transport not tell us exactly, several years after the fact, what he intends to do and when? It is his responsibility.

Water QualityOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that question.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said the provinces were not doing enough to support farm families. The minister should stop worrying about what the provinces are doing and take immediate action to fulfil federal responsibilities.

This year's income for grain farmers will be 65% below the five year average. No other industry that suffered a 65% drop would be ignored by any government. Why will the government not offer immediate emergency assistance that will get to farmers before spring seeding?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the government has worked with the provinces. Last July I signed an agreement with all of the provinces which will mean that over the next three years $5.5 billion in support will go to farmers.

We also put in place the spring advance which is interest free support to farmers and last year it was $350 million across the country. That program will be in place again this year as will the other programs.

As I continue to say, I will continue to work on behalf of the farmers, as will the government, in seeking all the resources that we possibly can to support them.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, maybe it is time the minister walked in the footsteps of those farmers and cut his salary by 65%.

The agriculture minister claims to guarantee that the help he promised over two years ago will get out. Unfortunately there will be far fewer farmers by the time this happens. If we neglect farmers now, our industry may be damaged to such an extent that Canada's natural competitive advantage will be lost.

I will ask my question one last time. Why will the minister not do the right thing and pledge immediate financial help before spring seeding? The AIDA program and all those other programs are not doing the job.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I gather that is the hon. member's final question unless he wants to call someone.

The money is going out. I am guaranteed that the $1.6 billion that we announced to the provinces for 1998-99 will go out. The support is there. We will continue to work on behalf of farmers.

The government's track record has shown to the best of the resources available to us that we are there for farmers. We understand the situation that a number of farmers are in. We will do all we can to help.

PovertyOral Question Period

February 1st, 2001 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, while our economy is vigorous, a number of people are living in poverty, aboriginal families and children in particular.

Can the Secretary of State for Children and Youth tell us what the government will be doing to help aboriginal children and youth?

PovertyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Western Arctic Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew LiberalSecretary of State (Children and Youth)

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac on his election and his first question.

In the Speech from the Throne the government recognizes that too many aboriginal children live in poverty and too many aboriginal youth do not have the skills they need to enter the labour market. It also recognizes the fact that we invest $25 million for youth at risk through the aboriginal human resources development strategy.

We realize we have to do more. We have to expand the programs that are available in aboriginal communities for early childhood development. We have to expand the aboriginal head start program. We have to continue to work to reduce the number of newborns with fetal alcohol syndrome. We will continue to work together to ensure that every child gets a good start in life.

Gun ControlOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday the Globe and Mail 's front page headline read “Gun Law Creates 320,000 Canadian Outlaws”.

Even if anyone still believes the justice department's numbers, this qualifies as the biggest act of civil disobedience in the nation's history. Hundreds of thousands of gun owners are now in a catch-22. They cannot comply with the Firearms Act without admitting to the government that they are already guilty of owning firearms without a licence. Nor can they register their guns without one.

What will the Minister of Justice do with the 320,000 criminals that she created?

Gun ControlOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this gives me the opportunity to bring colleagues in the House up to date on the phenomenal success of our firearms registration program.

As the hon. member may not be aware, well over 2 million of the some 2.3 million Canadian gun owners have sought licences and have complied with this law.

We continue to work with those who at this point do not have their licences. Let me inform the House that the success of this program is phenomenal. Since December 1, 1998, over 65,000 potentially dangerous gun sales have—

Gun ControlOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Yorkton—Melville.