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House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was program.

Topics

EthicsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the fact that there is a sawmill in the minister's riding that he visits in order to observe the operations is not inconsistent with complying with the regulations. The ethics counsellor has made it clear that he accepts that.

This is another example of those members dredging for minor things in order simply to throw mud. It brings the whole system into disrepute. They should think about that.

EthicsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is one excuse after another why the cabinet does not have to abide by its own rules.

The labour minister broke the rules. She apologized and received a standing ovation from her colleagues. The industry minister broke the rules and gave a half-hearted apology. Now he is waiting for absolution from the ethics counsellor. The government House leader broke the rules and he was fired.

I would like to ask the government House leader, does he believe that this was fair?

EthicsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as far as I know the government House leader is still in cabinet. He is sitting right beside me.

This kind of question has trivialized important matters of ethics. It has debased the currency to the extent that nobody can take any of those members' allegations seriously any longer.

TransportOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, every once in a while the Liberals do something right, so I would like to commend the Minister of Transport for his commitment to passenger rail in this country.

I want to ask the Minister of Transport if he could explain the behaviour of some of his colleagues who seem to be at odds with him on this. I hope it is not because they are enthralled with the new Liberal leader who has a history of supporting bus companies rather than crown corporation rail companies.

Could he explain the behaviour of his colleagues and explain how he intends to make sure that this actually happens?

TransportOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to publicly thank all my colleagues for the hard work that they have done on the passenger rail file, going back to the “Renaissance of Passenger Rail in Canada” report, under the leadership of my colleague, the member for Hamilton West, when he was chairman of the transport committee some years ago. This was followed by the $400 million announced in the budget a couple of years ago. This follows on from a program that the government is committed to and it preserves the option for VIA fast by the next government.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it seems odd that some of those who support the new Liberal leader complain when a crown corporation gets money to do something that is long overdue in this country, but they are silent about the awarding of a contract to Lockheed Martin to do the census or for that matter, the contract that was awarded to Lockheed Martin to do health information services for our Canadian armed forces.

Has the Deputy Prime Minister had a chance to look at the Lockheed Martin file? Can he tell the House today that this contract will be rescinded and the census will be done in Canada, by Canadians, where it belongs?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell LiberalSecretary of State (Rural Development) (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that it is a Canadian subsidiary that will be conducting the census. The information will be maintained in Canada. It will be conducted in Canada. It will be a Canadian enterprise that provides a valuable service to Canadians, which we have always done in terms of the census.

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was just putting the finishing touches on it.

Sometimes one lands on the corner that says, “Go to jail. Do not collect $200”. But when Alfonso Gagliano found himself cornered, the Prime Minister said, “Step out of cabinet. Step out of Parliament. Step out of the country. Go to Denmark. Collect millions”. Then Mr. Gagliano had the gall to say on CPAC, “I am neither in government nor in politics any more--”

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Speaker

I am afraid the finishing touches were a little too lengthy. Perhaps the hon. member could let us have a supplementary question.

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, he says “I am not in government. I am not in politics any more. I am an ambassador”.

Why can we not get him back here to Canada where he is wanted?

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

I think it requires some continuing work, Mr. Speaker. What we are seeing now in a series of questions is a trivializing of issues that could be important instead of looking at things of serious importance.

The hon. member says that corruption is not important. Corruption is important. These people have so debased the currency of that word that they would not recognize corruption if they ever did see it.

HealthOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Quebec's finance minister, Yves Séguin, declared that it would be completely reprehensible for the federal Minister of Finance not to pay out the $2 billion he has promised to Quebec and the provinces for health.

As usual, Canada's finance minister states that he is in the red. Still, at the end of the year, surprise, surprise, we will find out that he has underestimated the surplus and that the money is there.

Since he has the money, will the Minister of Finance make a commitment, right now, to spend the promised $2 billion on health?

HealthOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I know this is rather complicated for many people.

However, the surplus we announced was for last year. The conditional commitment was tied to a surplus in the current year. In January we will calculate the expected size of the surplus and then we will make a decision on the basis of the conditions under which the commitment was made.

HealthOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, they keep singing the same old tune. They even use disasters to renege on their commitment.

I would like to remind the Minister of Finance that, despite the events of September 11 and the extra financial burden they imposed, the surplus did appear as expected. Instead of trying to put us to sleep, what is the finance minister waiting for to respect his commitments with respect to health? It is vital.

HealthOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, apparently the hon. member was asleep when the agreement was signed, because it was an agreement with a conditional commitment. That means there is a condition. The condition relates to the state of our finances in January 2004. Today is only October 24; it is not January yet.

TransportOral Question Period

October 24th, 2003 / 11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the $692.5 million announced by the Minister of Transport is nothing more than a thinly disguised down payment on a multi-billion dollar high-speed rail boondoggle. We know the minister went through cabinet, but that cabinet will not be in place in 2004.

Has the minister consulted with the incoming Liberal leader about the future spending commitment?

TransportOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the announcement today follows on the policy of the government for the last five years to revitalize passenger rail. There was general support for this on all sides of the House over the past number of years.

The deliberations on this announcement have gone on for about 18 months. We felt it was only right that a future government make a commitment to such a large expenditure as VIA Fast, but the work that will be done under this program will certainly facilitate VIA Fast at a later date.

I would like to thank my colleagues in my party and in cabinet for all the support they have given on this venture.

TransportOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian taxpayers have shelled out $3 billion for VIA Rail since the Liberals took office, exclusive of this new funding announcement. That works out to $10 million per riding. That is money that those ridings should have had go to things like hospitals, highways and their civic infrastructure instead of taking that money out of those ridings.

How much longer can the Canadian taxpayers be expected to subsidize the transport minister's personal rail fetish?

TransportOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the announcement today and the announcement of a few years ago of $401.2 million flowed from a unanimous report of the transport committee in the House of Commons that called for the revitalization of passenger rail.

I cannot understand why we are being accused of not following Parliament's will. I think Canadians want good passenger rail.

Part of today's announcement will refurbish the western transcontinental fleet that will serve the hon. member's province.

EthicsOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the close ties the industry minister and his cabinet colleagues have maintained with the Irving family make them more tolerant toward oil companies.

Are we to understand that the reluctance of the Minister of Industry to launch an inquiry into dubious practices involving oil companies, such as the preferential treatment the cabinet is preparing to give major polluters under the Kyoto protocol, can be explained by ministerial ties to the Irving oil companies?

EthicsOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell LiberalSecretary of State (Rural Development) (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, that is absolute nonsense. The Competition Bureau will do investigations as people bring up issues surrounding the price of gas. That has always happened in the past and it will continue to happen in the future.

EthicsOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first there was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence, then the Minister of Industry, then the Minister of Labour, and now we find that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans was also a guest of the Irving family.

Are they trying to tell us there was a Liberal cabinet meeting on the banks of the Restigouche River?

EthicsOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it has already been agreed that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has the right to visit people in his riding. Does the hon. member believe that it is unacceptable for a minister, who is also a member of Parliament, to visit anyone who is a shareholder in his riding? Some constituents are also important employees.

Airline IndustryOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, the International Air Transport Association notes that landing fees at Toronto's Pearson airport have increased 300% since 1997. Toronto's landing fees are now 50% higher than those in Hong Kong, which airport was built on a man-made island, and four times that of London Heathrow.

On April 11 the transport committee across all parties unanimously demanded that the government suspend airport rents across this country to help the air industry survive.

If the government can find $700 million for corporate welfare for a train boondoggle, why can it not find $200 million to help the air industry by relieving airport rents?

Airline IndustryOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

I should explain, Mr. Speaker, that all these airport authorities entered into negotiations in good faith with the federal government and knew full well that airport rents had to be paid. That is the first point.

The second point is that we have been reviewing the regime because we have been concerned as to whether it has been fair in the long run, and that is now before cabinet. I have some particular concerns with aspects of the rental policy of the national airports policy and I would hope that my colleagues will make some changes.

The significant amount of money involved really would be a budgetary item and would have to be considered by the Minister of Finance in a subsequent budget.