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House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-17.

Topics

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it was only recently that the hon. member was talking about feeling very amorous and now he is into neutering. I am not quite sure what happened when they met in that orchard, but these marriages can be arranged sometimes with a shotgun.

We are prepared to hear what people have to say in preparation for the next budget. The government is perfectly capable of taking that onboard and taking it into consideration as the preparation--

Member for LaSalle--ÉmardOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier--Sainte-Marie.

TaxationOral Question Period

October 7th, 2003 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec minister Benoît Pelletier has reminded Ottawa that there is a real fiscal imbalance. He said that, with all its money, the federal government can afford to look after its own jurisdictions properly, start paying off the debt and invest in areas of provincial responsibility, while the provinces can barely keep their heads above water. That is what the Quebec Liberal minister said.

If Ottawa is serious about wanting to cooperate, what is the Minister of Finance waiting for to recognize the fiscal imbalance and give Quebec the financial means to look after all of its jurisdictions?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, while there is no fiscal imbalance, there is an obligation to support one another. The Government of Canada is doing its best to help the provinces live through difficult times in the western world. As the leader of the Bloc Quebecois may or may not know, the United States is currently faced with an enormous deficit. For the State of California alone, it is upwards of $30 billion. In Europe, it is increasingly difficult for countries to keep their deficits below the 3% of GDP target. In Canada, we are still able to generate a surplus, and we want to use it to strengthen the Canadian economy, including that of the provinces.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the minister may or may not know, there is a surplus in Ottawa, but there are deficits in nine provinces, and $45 billion has been stolen from the unemployed. He should also know that.

A change in leadership, whether in Quebec City or in Ottawa, will do no good, since the future prime minister also denies the existence of a fiscal imbalance.

Will the Minister of Finance recognize that, regardless of the party in power in Quebec City, be it the PQ or the QLP, the federal government will never admit that Ottawa has the money, while Quebec City has to meet urgent needs in health, among other things?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the fact that we have had sound management at the federal level. We now have the best record among G-7 countries in terms of deficit reduction and debt reduction.

Nevertheless, I might add that I understand very well why the Quebec finance minister is asking Ottawa for more money. It is because the PQ left them with a fiscal disaster in the province of Quebec.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Finance is not aware of this, but Canada's provinces are heading for a total deficit of $10 billion by the end of the fiscal year in March 2004, while the federal government continues to show a sizeable surplus.

While the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs floats in the calm waters of the federal surplus, the provinces are swimming for their lives because they must provide services to the public and they lack resources.

Is the Minister of Finance finally going to return to terra firma and notice the fiscal imbalance, as experienced right now by the provinces?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the hon. member is so optimistic about the surplus at the federal level. I would like to tell him that on November 3 I will present this year's economic fiscal update for the government. We will see whether there is a surplus, and whether or not it is large this year.

We all know that there have been some rather difficult situations this year, affecting us not only at the provincial, but also at the federal level.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, France St-Hilaire, Vice President--Research of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, recently declared, and I quote: “—the federal surplus is likely to growconsiderably--, while the provinces’ fiscal situation isconsidered 'precarious'.”

Does the finance minister not understand that it is always the same citizen who pays and who has had enough of paying Ottawa for programs he or she should not be paying Ottawa for if Ottawa got out of the areas of provincial jurisdiction on which it is encroaching, and if it freed up the necessary tax room so that provinces could assume their own responsibilities.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I do understand. But perhaps the hon. member does not understand that we have not only the same taxpayers, but also the same sources of revenue as the provinces.

We have had good management in the federal government, and because of that, we have had some success with our fiscal situation.

Nevertheless, this year, not only were we affected by a slower rate of growth than predicted, but we also had to face serious situations at home and even in Iraq and Afghanistan. There have been expenditures that were completely unforeseen back in February.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the wife of Maher Arar recently made public that the RCMP came to their home in January 2002 asking to interview Mr. Arar.

Will the Solicitor General confirm what the Arars have already made public?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that as Solicitor General I do not speak on operational matters of the RCMP. It would be inappropriate to do so and I do not intend to do so today.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the Solicitor General is very selective in what he will release and what he will not release, which is operational details.

He has said that the RCMP was not involved in the decision, which was an operational detail, but he will not release other information that we want.

The fact is that every person in that committee hearing today and every Canadian now know that information that came from Canadian authorities resulted in the incarceration of Maher Arar in Syria for a year.

Will the Minister clear the air, clear his reputation and call for a public inquiry now?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I categorically reject the premise of the hon. member's question.

What Canadians do know are the facts. The fact is that the RCMP was not involved in the decision by the United States authorities to arrest and deport Mr. Arar. The hon. member opposite may not like that fact but that is the fact and he need not allege otherwise.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and it has to do with the report of the national advisory committee on SARS.

It was pointed out that it has been over 10 years since not only this government but other levels of government were given warnings about what might happen in the absence of certain kinds of preparedness. There has been a recommendation for the creation of a national officer of public health.

Could the Minister of Health tell us today if that recommendation will be implemented and will she tell us that we will not have to wait, never mind 10 years but not even 10 weeks, until such time as this kind of recommendation is implemented?

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a very serious question.

First, I want to thank Dr. Naylor and the advisory committee for the outstanding report that they released today entitled “Learning from SARS: Renewal of Public Health in Canada”.

I want to reassure the hon. member and all Canadians that we take seriously the recommendations of Dr. Naylor and his committee, including those around the creation of a national public health agency and a chief public health officer.

I also want to reassure Canadians that my provincial-territorial colleagues and I are committed to working together toward renewing our public health infrastructure.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government came in for some criticism from this commission but health care workers were commended and yet, ironically, the government still has its job while the health care workers are losing theirs.

Is the Minister of Health prepared to intervene on behalf of those health care workers, who either have been laid off or are about to be laid off, with her new friend at Queen's Park and ensure that health care workers, who gave so much during the SARS crisis, are not paying for it now with their jobs?

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we are obviously all very aware of and thankful for the tremendous frontline efforts of health care workers in Ontario, and, in particular, in the city of Toronto, during the SARS outbreak. We know of the sacrifices that many of those health care workers and their families made to protect the health of others.

I think the hon. member is aware that health care delivery is a matter for the provinces and that therefore negotiations between health care professionals and the provincial government is a matter that does rest with the provincial government.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the cost of the immigration minister's pet project, a biometric ID card, keeps climbing. A new estimate pegs the price tag at a minimum of $7 billion. That is equal to the cost of Canada's immigration system for 20 years.

The minister lacks money for border officers, security checks abroad and to remove known foreign criminals and yet he has money to sell his ID card scheme.

Will the minister tell Canadians where he will get $7 billion for his biometric boondoggle?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

That is pretty funny, Mr. Speaker. Three weeks ago it was $3 billion, last week it was $5 billion and now it is $7 billion. If I am asked the question next week maybe it will be $10 billion.

The one thing that is clear is that society needs to have a debate on the use of biometrics.

I urge everybody to watch TV to see what will happen because tomorrow we will have experts who will talk about the need to discuss that issue.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Yes, Mr. Speaker, the minister's hand-picked experts.

The minister's own department is full of problems. He was caught red-handed by the courts misleading Parliament about his visa backlog. Seven billion dollars would also buy a lot of widows' pensions, health care, education, disaster relief and military equipment.

With all of those needs, why is the minister asking to waste $7 billion on his biometric boondoggle?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it is always a bit sad when people resort to personal attacks because they lack arguments.

I will give some figures, if that is what is wanted. Let us talk about the maple leaf card, the permanent resident card. The forecast total net cost for two million of these is $22.9 million.

It is all very well to bandy figures around, to talk of billions and billions, but what is essential and important for our society, since this is being done in the rest of the world at this time, is to hold a decent and factually accurate debate and determine what Canada's role will be in this era of biometrics.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General refuses to clarify whether the RCMP did indeed provide information to the Americans that could have led to Mr. Arar's deportation to Syria. Yet the Americans themselves, at the highest level, have not hesitated in saying that they acted on Canadian information.

Can the Solicitor General tell me, yes or no, whether the RCMP provided the Americans with information on Mr. Arar?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite might not like the facts but I just spent an hour before the foreign affairs committee, at which the member was there, and I, in fact, answered those questions.

I have been assured by the commissioner that the RCMP was not involved in the decision by the Americans to arrest and deport Mr. Arar. Those are the facts. Whether the hon. member likes those facts or not, those are the facts.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General has never said that the RCMP did not pass on information. That is not the same thing.

CINAR, Radwanski, sponsorships, all of these are in the hands of the RCMP. There is no longer any way of getting information here in this Parliament. The government refuses to speak. This is why the Arar case requires a public inquiry in order to exonerate this citizen whose rights have been trampled on and whose very life was put in danger.

Is this country being run by the RCMP?