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House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

HealthStatements by Members

January 29th, 2002 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, after six months of consultations with my constituents which included two town hall meetings and a public survey, I am pleased to inform the House that I recently submitted a community health care report to the Romanow commission.

Our community report makes 13 recommendations aimed at improving our health care system across Canada. The report is available on my website at www.davidpratt.ca.

Without the active participation of our community this report would not have been possible. I thank everyone involved for their input and insights. Among other suggested reforms our report recommends placing a greater emphasis on home care, redefining the traditional roles of our medical staff, increased training, better funding for equipment and facilities, and a greater degree of accountability.

Through this exercise in participatory democracy one message came through loud and clear: The people of my community want us to reform our public health care system, not dismantle it.

Michael BelliveauStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the media reported the sudden passing of Michael Belliveau, the executive secretary of the Maritime Fishermen's Union.

Mr. Belliveau had been involved in the MFU since 1986. His dealings with the fisheries industry earned him respect as a hardliner.

His unflagging efforts in certain areas had positive effects for the fishers he represented. His devotion earned him the respect of his peers, the fishers, and all those with whom he had contact.

Atlantic Canada and the fishing industry have lost a staunch defender and a great builder. He leaves an incomparable heritage of accomplishments that have benefited coastal communities and fishers.

On behalf of the NDP, my sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to the membership of the MFU.

Middle EastStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the situation in the Middle East is degenerating; the atmosphere is hardening and some people fear the situation is beyond remedy. Given the recent death of an elderly Israeli in an attack by a young Palestinian woman student, who also lost her life, the recent statement by the Speaker of the Israeli parliament is a real balm.

Avraham Burg warned his fellow citizens with this lucid comment “An occupying people, even if it was led into being an occupier against its will, ends up being harmed by the occupation and its stains, which change and disfigure it... The occupation corrupts.”

At risk to his career, he agreed to go to Ramallah to meet with the Palestinian parliament. “I will go wherever there is a possibility of talking peace,” he said.

According to him, only the creation of a Palestinian state, coupled with a Marshall plan for the Middle East, will do away with the prevailing despair and bring peace.

Last week, he sent a message to the international community with these words. “If the world ignores the Middle East as it goes up in flames, it will eventually have the same problems in Paris, London, New York and Washington”.

Let us listen to this man of peace.

Veterans AffairsStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the anniversary of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award to honour gallantry in the face of the enemy. I ask the House to join me for a moment to honour all those brave Canadians who have been recipients of this award.

The Victoria Cross was established in 1856. It is awarded by royal assent to British citizens and citizens of the Commonwealth. There have been over 90 Canadians on whom this honour has been bestowed.

At this time, while Canadian troops are being involved in Afghanistan, I take this moment to ask the House to honour the bravery of every one of our wonderful soldiers.

HealthStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, during their meeting last week in Vancouver, the premiers reiterated their call for a dispute settlement mechanism in the area of health care.

In response to this decision, the new federal Minister of Health was quick to agree, and made a commitment to create such a mechanism.

I would like to congratulate the minister for this new openness toward the concept of intergovernmental cooperation. The provinces have long been waiting for such a gesture by the federal government.

I would also like to remind her that the target date to assess the framework agreement on the social union is February 4. This would be an ideal context in which to broach this issue, which is so important.

The minister's comments are welcome, particularly when compared to her predecessor's intransigence. We wish her success in convincing her cabinet colleagues. We will be following this.

Canadian Avalanche AssociationStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, every winter Canadians take to the slopes to enjoy skiing, snow boarding, snowshoeing and outdoor sports of all kind. While we love our mountain environments and all that they offer, we must also respect weather and snow conditions that can lead to avalanches.

I am therefore pleased that the Canadian Avalanche Association, a non-profit organization, is building public awareness about avalanche safety and prevention. The CAA provides a number of services, including a web based avalanche forecasting service for both industry and recreation.

In support of the important work of the CAA, Mr. Justin Trudeau is touring ski resorts this month to encourage people to take safety seriously in the back country and carry along proper equipment, including radio transceivers, snow probes and shovels. These simple precautions would save lives and enhance our enjoyment of Canada's great outdoors.

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today Canadians learned that the government has overpaid $3.3 billion because of incompetent accounting in Revenue Canada. The Prime Minister says that this is no problem, that these kinds of accounting errors happen all the time.

If a $1 billion HRDC boondoggle is no problem and a $3 billion CCRA boondoggle is no problem, I would hate to see a real problem.

Could the Prime Minister explain how even this government could be incompetent enough to lose $3 billion of taxpayer money?

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this was reported to the press by the Minister of National Revenue and the Minister of Finance. We only were officially informed of that problem yesterday and we informed the provinces.

I have said that every year there are adjustments. This error was not picked up, for example, by the auditor general either. It was a problem that occurred a long time ago, which has very important consequences.

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if the federal government wants to get this money back, it will have to come from somewhere else. The provinces are already facing a health crisis because of federal government funding cuts. Some of the provinces, especially Ontario and Manitoba, may face more cuts due to Liberal incompetence.

Will the government claw this money back from transfers for health care or will it put federal taxpayers on the hook for this $3 billion mistake?

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, it is important for Canadians to know that an error was identified and action was taken to correct it. This does not have an impact on individual taxpayers. Nor does it affect mutual fund trusts. Nor does it affect the investors in mutual fund trusts.

It is premature for us, however, to speculate because we do not have all the information going back to 1972. We are gathering that and sharing it with the provinces and the auditor general. We will take appropriate action because we want to ensure that we are fair to all taxpayers in Canada and the provinces as well.

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, getting a straight answer from the minister is almost as hard as getting a Liberal membership in Ontario. The previous human resources minister blew $1 billion and got promoted to international trade. The revenue minister blows $3 billion and gets promoted to justice.

My question for the Prime Minister is this. How will he reward a minister who blows $5 billion; maybe appoint the minister Governor General?

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, one thing I would like to say is that when we took over we had a deficit of $42 billion. This is the fifth year in a row that we will have a surplus in Canada. It is something that even members of his party compliment me on when they talk to me in private.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister called the taking of prisoners in Afghanistan a hypothetical situation. However now we know it happened last week. The government has said that Canada would be following international law and the Geneva convention.

While the Canadian Alliance will always oppose torture and mistreatment, we do not believe that terrorists have exactly the same rights as legitimate soldiers do.

Could the Prime Minister confirm to Canadians that our soldiers were following international law by turning over captured fighters to U.S. forces?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for a clear answer for a change. I am shocked by that answer. I will be surprised if the answer to this question is that brief.

How can Canadians believe that this Prime Minister did not know that our troops have been turning over captured al-Qaeda fighters to the U.S. for detention when their pictures are on the front page of the Globe and Mail ? If the Prime Minister did not know, he is incompetent. If he did know, he has deliberately mislead Canadians. Which is it?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

I learned about it this morning, Mr. Speaker.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, the Prime Minister said that if there were prisoners, Canadians, the government would take measures to ensure that Canadian and international laws were respected, that there were no prisoners and that the government would let us know when there were.

However, when the Prime Minister was making that comment on Sunday, it had been a few days since Afghans had been captured by Canadians and handed over to the Americans.

Either the Prime Minister misled the public, or else he did not know. Both possibilities are a cause for concern and unacceptable. Which one is true?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I told the media earlier that I learned about it this morning.

The Minister of National Defence decided to inform me this morning, because until then he could not confirm with absolute certainty the validity of that information.

When he was absolutely sure of this information, he informed me, this morning, and he also informed the other members of cabinet.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who is appointed Minister of National Defence should normally be sufficiently qualified to be appointed.

Since when did he know that Afghans had been captured by Canadians and handed over to Americans? Why did he not inform the Prime Minister who, as recently as Sunday, stated that there were no such prisoners? Why did he not bother to tell him during yesterday's caucus meeting, before oral question period?

What is going on with this minister? Did he know or did he not?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I first became aware of the possibility on Friday. It required further examination to determine whether in fact Canadians were involved. I informed the Prime Minister and my colleagues in cabinet this morning to that effect.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister told us that there would be, or that there was, an agreement with the American authorities which respects Canadian law and international agreements, including the Geneva accords, before any prisoner was handed over to the Americans.

Was the agreement concluded before the prisoners were turned over to the Americans?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, my information is that, when we concluded an agreement with the Americans, they were going to respect all international laws, including the Geneva declaration.

That is the position we are taking. We will require that the Americans respect international laws, as they are obliged to do, as Canada is obliged to do. It is in this context that we handed over prisoners, as happens in many other circumstances.

Right now, for example, in the same country prisoners captured by the British in Kabul are being handed over, in the circumstances existing in Kabul, to Afghan authorities.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said “We will require”. In other words, it has not necessarily been required yet, nor was it necessarily required before the first prisoners were captured.

Speaking of agreements with the British and the French, those nations required that, if French or British nationals were among the prisoners captured, the laws of their countries be respected and the prisoners handed over to them.

Is there such a requirement in the agreements supposedly concluded by this government? And will they be tabled? This could have been done last night, during the special debate. Will it be done now?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about Canadian prisoners here.

Obviously, if Canadian prisoners were to be captured, we would do what is necessary under Canadian law. We would have to take— That is what the U.S. did. The American who was with the Taliban, or al-Qaeda, was not sent to Cuba. He was taken to be tried before U.S. courts.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House the Minister of National Defence claimed that we are not about to outsource our moral obligations in dealing with prisoners in Afghanistan. It turns out that the defence minister has known since Friday that Canada has been doing exactly that.

Now that the government cannot pretend that these questions are hypothetical, will the Prime Minister come clean and tell Canadians how many prisoners have been turned over to the Americans? When were they taken into custody? On what terms were they turned over? Is there an agreement with the Americans about the treatment of captives in Kandahar and if so will he--