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 #56 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, my position is clear. I said that Turkey was absolutely right to be ready. It is the neighbour of Iraq and there might be a lot of consequences for it if there is a war. We said, yes, NATO should help it to be ready, but at the same time we hope that it will not be needed.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, diplomatic efforts in the crisis with Iraq have been stepped up. The United States and Great Britain are trying to convince the Security Council to give the green light for a war against Iraq, while France, Germany and Russia are working on a peaceful solution through increased inspections.

Can the Prime Minister tell us which camp the government is in, with those wishing to disarm Iraq through war or with those wishing to disarm Iraq through peaceful means?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since July, Canada has been in just one camp, that requiring anyone wishing to wage war to obtain the approval of the United Nations. We were the first to speak about resolution 1441, which was, in fact, adopted, and we want Saddam Hussein to respect this resolution, so that there will be no need for intervention in Iraq.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is being interpreted differently. There is an international debate, in which leaders and heads of state are acting as heads of state, holding a debate and taking a stand. Here, there is silence and a wait-and-see attitude from the Prime Minister.

Will he measure up to his predecessors and play an active role, rather than waiting for other people to decide for him?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member would look at the facts, he would realize that, presently, the entire world agrees with Canada's position. Even the President of the United States has said that he hopes there will be a new resolution from the Security Council.

Since the beginning, we have said that intervention in Iraq was impossible without the consent of the United Nations, and that is the policy that everyone wants to follow. The world most definitely wants peace, and we will have peace if we follow the United Nations.

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday the President of the United States said, “The game is over” in connection with the UN inspection process in Iraq. The French Prime Minister's reaction was “It is not a game, and it is not over”.

Should the Prime Minister of Canada, in his regular contacts with President Bush, not let him know that Canada also does not consider the game to be over but, on the contrary, that Canada feels that utmost support must be given to the inspection process put in place by the UN?

IraqOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is precisely the position of this government, that the process put in place by the UN must be followed. As I said last week, and reiterate today, Friday will be a very important day, since it is the day on which the UN chief weapons inspector, Mr. Blix, will be reporting to the Security Council. That will be when we can reach conclusions. At present, mere speculation is not particularly worthwhile. We must stick to the process that has been clearly set out by the United Nations.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, President Bush is not just threatening Iraq but the UN as well, when he indicates as he has that the present situation constitutes a test for the organization.

Ought Canada not to make it clear to President Bush that we believe that the UN is not putting its credibility at stake by trying to avoid war, but is instead fulfilling its role, since this is precisely the reason for the UN's existence?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we have been saying since July; that, under the present circumstances, the United Nations process must be followed very closely. Resolution 1441 is very clear and was adopted unanimously. It calls upon the inspectors to do their job. Mr. Blix has already reported once and will be making another report this Friday. All of this is within the mandate of the Security Council. Everyone is working to try to have peace, not war.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, on the same topic, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister spoke of a possible second resolution from the Security Council. Would he indicate whether or not the position of the Government of Canada is that the government is open to a second Security Council resolution that would incorporate elements of the French, German and Russian proposal that comes as an alternative to what the Americans obviously have in mind as a follow up to resolution 1441?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have always said that it would be very desirable to have a second United Nations resolution but all that will depend on the report of Dr. Blix and the reaction of the members of the Security Council to it.

The Security Council is what everybody should follow at this time. We will advise the House on the best course of action after Dr. Blix's report on Friday. However it will be the members of the Security Council who decide how to react to the report by Dr. Blix.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, presumably the Security Council members are interested in Canada's opinion on possible options, so I will ask the Prime Minister my question again. What is the position of the Government of Canada with respect to the proposals put forward by France and Germany to increase weapons inspectors and to have a greater UN presence in Iraq as options to the kind of war that is being contemplated by the United States?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is no proposition by the Germans and French at this moment. In fact, they said that very clearly today.

When Dr. Blix reports, every member of the Security Council will have to react. Germany, of course, is a member of the Security Council at this time, and the French are always there, and so they will have to react.

I am saying that I hope Saddam Hussein will have complied and I hope that Dr. Blix will be able to report on Friday that Saddam Hussein wants to respect and will respect resolution 1441. If he does that then there will be no war. Saddam Hussein knows very well what he has to do and that is to satisfy Dr. Blix on behalf of the United Nations.

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

February 10th, 2003 / 2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, in 1995 the Liberals disbanded Revenue Canada's enforcement services unit, a 40 person intelligence unit whose sole focus was GST fraud.

Because of that decision, today there are no auditors specifically tasked with fighting GST fraud.

Will the minister commit immediately to restore the GST enforcement services unit created by the Progressive Conservative government to fight GST fraud?

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, we take all fraud very seriously. I want to tell the member opposite that in 1995 CCRA was prosecuting about 22 cases per year. We are now prosecuting 50 cases per year.

He is absolutely wrong when he says that we have disbanded. In fact, we have expanded our activities and the results are showing that we are doing the job.

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Progressive Conservative Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, in 1999 the Auditor General warned the government about GST fraud and urged it to stop handing out cheques without proof of transaction. A simple way to do that would be to require that receipts or bills of sale be attached to the refund request form.

Could the minister explain why three years later she has not followed through on such a simple recommendation?

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Again, Mr. Speaker, the facts are that in 1999 the Auditor General made very specific recommendations to CCRA, to my agency, and every one of those recommendations have been implemented.

Whenever there is a suspicion of fraud, the cheque stops. It does not go out.

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Alliance has been warning the minister for months that there is a crisis in the Department of National Revenue. Both the GST fraud conference held in 1994, and the Auditor General in 1999, warned that this fraud would occur.

The minister said that it was only $25 million, but in this case $22 million has been stolen and gone forever, and we know of two more cases, which brings the total to nearly $50 million.

Will she continue to downplay this massive theft as a mere pittance, or is she so incompetent that she does not know the real total?

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, what I have been telling the member repeatedly is that we have a number of cases before the courts. I have also assured him that we would be as open and forthcoming as possible; coming before the public accounts committee and sharing with it all of the information that we have, because we take this very seriously.

The fact is that to date, over the last six years, the courts have identified $25.4 million. We do not prejudge the court decisions. I would suggest to the member that he not do or say anything that would prejudice cases that are presently before the courts.

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, they take it as seriously as their promise to scrap, kill and abolish the GST. It is clear that the Liberals never intended to scrap the GST as they promised.

The former finance minister, and present finance minister, are guilty of incompetence and neglect. All the revenue ministers since 1993 have been guilty of incompetence and neglect.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Is a billion dollars stolen from taxpayers just a simple administrative problem, as he called it this morning, or are we on our way to another billion dollar scandal?

Goods and Services TaxOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have a friend in the gallery observing us who will be surprised that the ministers of finance of our administration in the last 10 years have been called incompetent.

We have had six consecutive balanced budgets. We have reduced the deficit from 6.2% of GDP to 6 consecutive surpluses. We have seen a reduction of taxes by more than $100 billion and we have invested money in social programs at the same time.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a major power struggle going on right now in Brussels with France, Belgium and Germany opposed to NATO implementing measures to defend Turkey in the event of an attack against Iraq and embarking on a logic of war.

How can the Prime Minister embark on a logic of war by saying that he supports the United States, when he has always inferred that he was waiting for the result of the report from weapons inspectors before taking any position? The Prime Minister is being inconsistent.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have always held the same position. Since July, we have said that there must be a UN resolution. Since July. We have told Saddam Hussein that he must comply with resolution 1441 and disarm.

The best thing he could do is to take us seriously. It is perfectly normal that countries neighbouring Iraq are preparing for a possible war provoked by the fact that President Saddam Hussein does not want to recognize the authority of the United Nations.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the same subject, Secretary of State Colin Powell described the attitude of Belgium, France and Germany as, and I quote, inexcusable.

Does the Prime Minister also share the opinion of the United States on this? Does he believe that these countries are wrong and that he is right?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there are many other countries in NATO. Therefore, it is not a question of my being right. I find it completely acceptable that a member of NATO would want to ready itself when it borders a country where there could be a war. There could be terrible consequences for Turkey if things are not resolved there. We continue to pursue the approach that we in Canada prefer, exploring every possible diplomatic avenue to ensure there is no war.