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House of Commons Hansard #162 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was excise.

Topics

Games of La FrancophonieOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question was asked in the House several months ago. We were asked whether commissions had been paid on Canada's sponsorships to the organizing committee of the Games of La Francophonie.

The information we were given at the time, which to my knowledge still obtains, was that no commissions were paid on government contributions.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade. Yesterday in Monterrey, Mexico, the Prime Minister met with Presidents Bush and Fox to push for the fast tracking of the free trade zone of the Americas. Meanwhile in Washington the softwood lumber talks have collapsed.

How can the government say that NAFTA is working just fine when the softwood lumber situation demonstrates once again that NAFTA only works and is good for the U.S. lobbying groups and not good for ordinary Canadian people?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows very well, within NAFTA we have not eliminated national trade laws. Canada has maintained its national trade laws within NAFTA. The United States has as well maintained its national trade laws within NAFTA. Unfortunately it is those very trade laws that the United States is using and abusing for punitive measures against softwood lumber.

I would say that the Canada--United States bilateral trade is a very successful one, but of course we are extremely frustrated that we cannot have this free trade in softwood lumber as well.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the extremely frustrated Minister for International Trade. How can the government ask Canadian people to wait another two or three years for a WTO ruling when the penalties the Americans are now talking about will wipe out dozens of Canadian communities and thousands of jobs?

Will the government table in the House today an emergency package that will assist those communities and assist those workers that will include such things as loan guarantees and measures from EI to help the people involved?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the government will work very closely with industry. We will work very closely with the provinces. We have been doing this for a year and a half to two years on the softwood lumber file. I can say that we do believe in litigation unlike the member who seems to say that litigation is not the road.

We have identified a two track approach which we tried and spared no effort. That is what we have been doing this very week in Washington: sparing no effort at trying to reach a long term policy based solution. We said however that we would not sign a bad deal. We broke off the relations and the negotiations yesterday when we could not get that good deal. However we believe--

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. member for Calgary Centre.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the leader of the government in the House and relates to the breakdown of the softwood lumber negotiations last night. Crippling duties on Canadian lumber exports could be announced as early as this afternoon. Further mill closures will be announced today in British Columbia where there are thousands of Canadians out of work.

The government did not have a plan to deal with the expiry of the softwood agreement last year. Now negotiations have failed. It says it is working now on some second track. That leaves communities across the country, particularly in British Columbia, in a terrible situation. They cannot wait longer. What--

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister for International Trade.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I am a little puzzled by the attitude of the leader of the Conservative Party. Yesterday his member for Cumberland--Colchester said that we should not cave in, that the last thing to do was to negotiate a bad deal during the course of the day. Yesterday the Conservative Party accused us of being in Washington to sell off the country. It was a terrible thing.

I am telling the House that the government has been working very hard in harmony with the provinces and the industry and they are supporting us unanimously.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the simple fact is that the Conservative government to which the minister referred successfully negotiated a deal to keep the factories open, to keep the softwood mills going and to keep the workers going. This government has failed. The Conservatives succeeded where the Liberals have failed.

In the House the minister promised to come up with a plan with the industry and the provinces to help the thousands of people that have been thrown out of work and the communities that will be devastated. When is that meeting to be held?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party has a very hard time with the fact that this country has been standing united on an approach to the softwood lumber issue.

At least everywhere throughout the country from coast to coast the industry and all the provinces involved are supporting the government and have been supporting our approach. They understand that the problem is south of the border, not north of the border.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know that Groupaction has been a generous donor to the Liberal Party of Canada. We all know that Groupaction was paid several hundred thousand dollars to produce a second report that was virtually a mimeograph of the first. What is new is the revelation as to how this came about.

After receiving a contract on May 1, 1999, for $612,000 to perform what is called qualitative research services, Groupaction had managed within one month to negotiate a variance whereby it would be paid in full without actually complying with the terms of the contract. I would like the minister to tell me why.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is exactly about the 1998 and the 1999 reports. In view of the fact that the two documents provided, one to the House and the other subsequently from the computer disk, appeared to be almost identical I have decided to ask the auditor general to verify precisely those things.

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, a document provided by officials of the minister's department in response to a motion for the production of papers placed by the Alliance includes a history of the contract prepared by the president of Groupaction.

It states that on May 1 contract was received by Groupaction; that on June 1 there was a meeting with Mr. Guité where he confirmed the importance of remaining within budgets; and that the qualitative aspect of the report would either remain uncompleted or would be the subject of a request for an upward revision in the cost of the report above the originally agreed amount.

Will the minister still deny that Groupaction has been getting very special treatment from its Liberal friends?

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I will refrain from commenting on the accusation part and I will deal with the substance because Canadians are generally interested in substance as opposed to nonsense.

I have indicated, and I will repeat, that the auditor general would review the requirements of not only the 1998 and 1999 contracts but that we have added to that for greater clarity and transparency the 1996 one.

They will compare the deliverables and determine if the deliverables meet the contract requirements. Clearly that is what--

Grants and ContributionsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Jonquière.

Highway InfrastructureOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the fiscal year, the government will have accumulated a surplus of nearly $10 billion, in other words, quite enough to fulfill Liberal promises for highways in Quebec, which come to $3.5 billion.

The money is there. Does the Minister of Finance intend to free up the money needed to ratify the five memorandums of agreement for highways 175, 185, 30, 50, and 35 before March 31, or would he rather put all of the available money toward paying down the debt?

Highway InfrastructureOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I have already explained, we have three programs for highways, including the new infrastructure program.

There is enough money for a great many projects across the country and in the province of Quebec. We are prepared to continue the discussions with the Government of Quebec on all of these projects.

Highway InfrastructureOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals were full of promises during the last election campaign.

Will the minister commit to freeing up the money promised during the last election campaign for Quebec's highways before March 31, 2002, in order to sign, right away, the five memorandums of agreement submitted by the Government of Quebec?

There are only nine and a half days to make the right decision. Will he pay before the end of the year? Yes or no?

Highway InfrastructureOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is talking about the promises made by my colleagues from Quebec during the last election campaign.

As I already explained, we presented a new infrastructure program in the last budget.

What worries me is that we do indeed support building highways in the province of Quebec and throughout the country, but it would appear as though the hon. member does not, since she voted against the budget this week.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Canadian Alliance Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we would not be in this softwood lumber mess if the Liberal government had prepared properly for the expiration of the softwood lumber agreement.

Despite all the warnings from the Alliance Party all through the five years of the agreement the Liberals disregarded the impending crisis. The agreement expired and they had no plan.

Yesterday again they failed to come up with an agreement. Do they have some sort of contingency plan now? How will they protect the workers and the industry from this devastation?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, nothing could be more false than saying that the government had not seen the end of the softwood lumber agreement.

A year and a half to two years before the end of the softwood lumber agreement in March 2000 I travelled to British Columbia and consulted with the British Columbia government. I consulted with the Quebec government.

We all agreed, along with industry, not to renew the softwood lumber agreement of 1995-96. It was a choice of industry and the whole of Canada not to renew that agreement.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Canadian Alliance Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals may have chosen not to renew the SLA, and that was a good idea, but the fact is they had done nothing through the entire five years of the agreement to come up with some sort of plan when it ran out.

They did not work with the big lobby groups on our side in the states. They did not work with the industry to cobble together a plan to ensure that we would not be in this crisis. As a matter of fact the record will show that they only started discussing the expiry date of the SLA about six months before it ran out. This government did nothing.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the government of British Columbia has been a full partner in our approach and is supporting it. The British Columbia industry is supporting it. The industries in the provinces all over Canada are supporting the approach we have been adopting.

We have been working very constructively on this file all together. We are on the litigation track, which is perfectly all right. We have not worked with the consumers in the United States and the lobbies we have. I have here a quote of Madam Susan Petniunas of the American Consumers for Affordable Homes--

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Champlain.