This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #17 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was appointments.

Topics

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and a tremendous cheerleader you are.

Since 1993 the Liberal government has slashed the defence budget by 25% in real terms. It will brag that it has invested $5 billion but it is such small amounts going to such specific operations it leaves next to nothing to address the huge shortfall in defence budgets.

Given the government's abysmal record, we are pretty much assured the minister will walk away from the cabinet table with an empty loot bag.

When it comes to budget time, what will be the fate of our forces, trick or treat?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is not my decision but I very much hope it will be treat.

As for the cuts since 1993, the hon. member should realize that just about every department in government had major cuts post-1993 because the government was determined to eliminate the $42 billion deficit that we inherited from the fifth party.

Now that we have had several years in a row of surpluses we are rebuilding the investment in selective areas. I hope it will be time for treat for defence but only time will tell.

CurrencyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions.

A growing number of businesses are refusing to accept $100 bills and even $50 bills even though these bills are legal tender. In one case in particular that was brought to my attention, the refusal was from a postal outlet, an agent of a crown corporation, from the same government issuing these legal bills.

My question is simple. What is being done to put an end to this aggravating situation?

CurrencyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Vaughan—King—Aurora Ontario

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, the current legislation provides flexibility for merchants and consumers. Neither party is required to accept any particular denomination notes.

I understand that some merchants are not accepting $50 and $100 notes because they would bear the loss of course if the bills are counterfeit.

Customers can choose the merchants with whom they want to deal and merchants may lose customers if their practices are unreasonable. I would also note that it would be unfair to require small merchants to accept a large bill for small purchases.

I do want to make it very clear though that one isolated counterfeit operation involving $100--

CurrencyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Palliser.

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, four years ago the government introduced a debt reduction repayment program to assist individuals who had attended post-secondary institutions and incurred unmanageable debt levels.

Intended to benefit 12,000 such borrowers every year, it has been a monumental failure, even by HRDC standards, with fewer than 1,000 Canadians actually helped.

Would the minister please inform us when she will scrap this disastrous plan and replace it with one that will actually work for Canadians overwhelmed by student debtload?

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the government continues to be preoccupied with the question of access to post-secondary education. As I have said before, it is the provinces that set tuition fees.

However the government has not been slow in responding to the needs of Canadian students. I remind the hon. member that every year 350,000 Canadians receive Canada student loans to the value of $1.6 billion. In 2001-02, 90,000 bursaries worth $285 million were issued through the millennium scholarship fund. Our Canada study grants, particularly for those Canadians with disabilities, have been improved as of the last budget, and there is more.

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister says that her government is preoccupied by student debt but I can tell her that her government has done absolutely nothing to relieve that student debt.

Not only are students getting a raw deal in debt reduction, but graduate students are facing tuition fee increases almost three times higher than the general average. To make matters worse, money that is given in the form of scholarships is being taken away in taxes. They lose again. It is not good enough to slough this off as a provincial responsibility. This is a federal responsibility.

What will the minister do to ensure financial accessibility--

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Human Resources Development.

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I will continue with my list in response to this second question.

I would remind the hon. member that through the registered education savings program and the Canadian education savings grants program, we have paid $1.2 billion in grants to date to approximately 1.6 million children so that they have income to help them when they continue on with their post-secondary education.

In addition, we have had an increase in interest relief, an extended repayment period and a debt reduction program for borrowers. In addition to that, we continue to work with the provinces to look at the whole student loan process and will--

Student LoansOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kings--Hants.

Financial InstitutionsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, this summer the finance minister encouraged the Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank to discuss a potential merger. Two weeks ago the Prime Minister stopped these merger talks by telling the banks that he would be opposed to any merger prior to his retirement in 2004. One week later the finance minister asked the House of Commons finance committee to change the rules for bank mergers. This request led to bank shares gaining 3% in one day of trading.

When the Minister of Finance made that request, was he aware of the Prime Minister's ban on bank mergers?

Financial InstitutionsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Vaughan—King—Aurora Ontario

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I do not comment on speculation about alleged discussions.

The hon. member is a very active member of the finance committee and he knows quite well that the banks, if they decide to propose a merger, would have to go through the Competition Bureau and OSFI, as well as hearings for the public interest assessment with the Senate banking committee and the finance committee.

Financial InstitutionsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, we have a finance minister saying one thing, a Prime Minister saying something else and now we have the junior finance minister having a third opinion.

The Liberals are playing politics with the Canadian banking system. The finance minister said yes to the bank merger this summer. The Prime Minister said no to bank mergers this fall.

Why did the Prime Minister contradict his Minister of Finance on this important public policy issue? Who is speaking on behalf of the government, the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister?

Financial InstitutionsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member asked me a question about authority. The Minister of Finance has all the authority under the Bank Act.

Student Loans ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, that was certainly enlightening.

Here is another example of how poorly the government safeguards our social insurance number. Brenda Pederson's 17 year old disabled son recently received a threatening letter that said that because he had defaulted on his student loan the government would seize all his future tax refunds, credits and benefits. However it was all a government screw up. Brenda's son had never applied for a student loan. The government had input the wrong social insurance number.

Harassed Canadians want to know why there are no safeguards in place when applying for benefits to ensure that their name is matched up to their social insurance number?

Student Loans ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me thank the hon. member for drawing this particular and specific case to my attention. I will be glad to work with him to make sure that we have it fully rectified.

Student Loans ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister misses the point. We are not just talking about a specific case. We are talking about the lack of safeguards in the department.

Mrs. Pederson calls the whole situation quite terrifying. The Auditor General thinks it is terrifying. We know that administration is not this minister's strong point but this is a pretty basic issue.

When billions of dollars and the public's peace of mind is at stake, why has the minister failed to put in place the most basic safeguards to ensure that government screw ups do not turn into harassment of people like Brenda Pederson and her son?

Student Loans ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

From that diatribe, Mr. Speaker, I would assume that the hon. member would be supportive of the changes that we have recently put in place to increase the integrity of the social insurance number.

We will be accepting only original documents. We will be marking those 900 series cards with an expiry date. We are also ensuring that increased training is provided to my staff because it is important to make sure that reference document is secure.

National DefenceOral Question Period

October 29th, 2002 / 2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, in response to a question I asked him yesterday, the Minister of National Defence acknowledged that he would seek increased funding for the armed forces, but that he had yet to specify what for exactly.

Does the Minister of National Defence understand that, if he hopes to have any success in his undertaking, he is first going to have to tell us to what this increased funding is for?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of reports from the Senate, from the House, reports written by experts, and others. We know quite well that the Canadian Forces are under tremendous pressure. We know what to do. We do not have all of the details right now, but we have a very good idea of the direction.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the minister has a good idea, but that he does not want to share it with us., and that is the problem right now.

The defence minister has a strange way of going about things. He is calling for substantial increases in funding for the armed forces, without specifying exactly where the money will be used.

Will the minister acknowledge that the only sensible way to approach this issue is to first debate the future role of the armed forces, before increasing their budget? When can we expect a new national defence policy?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I already answered this question. Perhaps I will simply say that this is a good time to be the Minister of National Defence. Before, we only had retired generals to support us. Now, we have good Liberals like Tom Axworthy, Lloyd Axworthy, and a good Liberal paper like the Toronto Star .

It is a great time to be Minister of Defence, Mr. Speaker.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Segregation has a human cost, Mr. Speaker. It hurts aboriginal people and it is hurting the community of Lynn Lake, Manitoba.

The government has committed $44 million to the relocation of aboriginal families from a shared community to a separate new reserve. The cost of this project is more than $600,000 per family.

How does the government justify the enormous cost of this segregation strategy?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I think the member unfortunately has dealt with this issue from the perspective of trying to suggest that people of course are being relocated. This community has never had its home territory as part of its community.

The objective of the Government of Canada is to build a community and a future for these people.