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House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question that is not hypothetical. We know that there are Canadian officers in Qatar at this time, and that they are helping American officers plan a potential war on Iraq in what is termed a joint command.

How can Canada be involved in a joint command in Qatar and yet not now be complicit in the illegal building of landing strips in Iraq?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, for some months we have had military representatives in Florida obtaining information from the Americans. Those same officers are now in Qatar for the same purpose.

The government has made no decision. We hope there will not be a war. If there is one, however, the government will reach a decision at the appropriate time.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the former Minister of Finance built up a $45 billion EI surplus on the backs of Canadian workers and firms. What many Canadians do not know is the EI surplus does not exist in practice. Instead of it building up over the years, the Liberals have spent all that extra EI money. It is long gone.

I ask the current Minister of Finance to stop this cash grab. Will he stop overcharging Canadian workers and firms?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first of all, this is the government that for nine consecutive years has reduced EI premiums.

I realize the member on the other side sometimes does not pay attention but the reality is that the government has been reducing it, continues to do that and is committed. I hope the member will pay attention as we move forward after the next budget.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to the Auditor General, a $15 billion surplus would be more than enough to deal with an economic downturn but for years the former Minister of Finance has been fleecing Canadian workers of billions of dollars in order to add to his bottom line.

Would the current Minister of Finance finally leave the legacy of Enron style bookkeeping behind, correct this practice and stop overcharging on EI?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the Alliance Party's new math, but the reality is when we reduce it every year, that means it goes down. Therefore, that is a major saving, over $860 million last year alone, to employers and employees.

I would suggest that is what Canadians are looking for and that is what this government is committed to do.

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said it would surprise him greatly if Donald Rumsfeld had said that the United States had considered using chemical weapons in Iraq. Yet, the defense secretary testified before a committee of the House of Representatives that there are times when the use of non-lethal agents for riot control purposes is totally appropriate, although an international convention states the opposite.

Will the minister continue to contend that the defense secretary's remarks are a figment of our imagination?

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. Secretary of Defense explored before a congressional committee the possibility of using non-lethal riot-control agents. He also clearly indicated that he would examine this possibility in the context of international law. I am convinced that our ally, which promotes international law around the world, will always live up to its international obligations.

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister must go much further. The U.S. Secretary of Defense also stated that a presidential waiver could be used to circumvent the treaty banning the use of chemical weapons.

Now that the minister knows what the U.S. Secretary of Defense said, will Canada, which is a signatory to this treaty, be willing to denounce the remarks made by Donald Rumsfeld?

IraqOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there are two things. It should be clearly pointed out that, contrary to what the hon. member opposite indicated, the U.S. Secretary of Defense did not talk about using chemical weapons. He talked about non-lethal riot-control agents, which is very important and very different.

Canada has always encouraged the United States and any signatory to the convention to comply with their obligations under the convention.

Airline SecurityOral Question Period

February 13th, 2003 / 2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, Air Canada and WestJet have reported less passenger traffic in January 2003 than in January 2002. This confirms what analysts have feared, which is that taxes more than terrorism are contributing to fewer people flying in this country.

The $24 air tax is the largest tax increase in the final budget of the former finance minister. Will the current finance minister concede that the air tax implemented by his predecessor was a big mistake and will he agree to scrap it next Tuesday, yes or no?

Airline SecurityOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the member across the way knows, on November 8 the minister announced that he would have a review of the air security charge. Over 300 submissions were sent in. I would tell the member that currently that is under review.

As the member knows, February 18 is budget day, as was mentioned earlier. I hope the member will stand and applaud the government for the type of budget we will bring forward.

Airline SecurityOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, there is no way will I ever applaud such a tax.

Air Canada and WestJet have informed us that there has been a drop in passenger load factors between January 2002 and January 2003. Clearly, it is not terrorists who are discouraging Canadians from travelling, but the $24 tax.

My question is clear: is the Minister of Finance prepared, yes or no, to eliminate the $24 security tax, which was his predecessor's mistake? Is he going to cut the tax, yes or no?

Airline SecurityOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, again I would like to emphasize for the member that there was a review process. Over 300 submissions were made, including from WestJet and Air Canada.

If the member listened carefully, although it seems he is not interested in the answer but is only interested in asking the question, the reality is that it is under review. The budget is on February 18. We are taking this issue very seriously. Stay tuned.

Smart Regulation StrategyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

I would like to follow up on a commitment that was made in the Speech from the Throne. What progress has been made in establishing an external advisory committee on smart regulation?

Smart Regulation StrategyOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to inform the House of yet another Speech from the Throne commitment that has been delivered by the right hon. Prime Minister.

As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister in his wisdom has recently announced the appointment of Mr. Hugh MacDiarmid as chair of the External Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation.

The government is committed to modernizing the regulatory process to make Canadian business and the Canadian sector otherwise work even better than it is at the present time.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Finance Minister had no difficulty getting in touch with a bank president to try to save the Ottawa Senators.

Now the minister has decided to let the Senators help themselves by giving the team a $60 million tax cut. Regrettably, this money is going to be taken out of the surplus in the employment insurance fund. It is unacceptable that millionaire hockey players are receiving this money.

The employment insurance fund has a surplus of $43 billion. Will the Finance Minister pick up the phone, call the Minister of Human Resources Development, and get the eligibility criteria for the employment insurance program modified?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, once again the member opposite has asked for information and it would be a Criminal Code offence if I answered. I know, Mr. Speaker, you would not want to see me off to jail if I answered the question, so I will not.

I do want to assure the member opposite and all members in the House that there never has been, there is not now, and there never will be political interference in the decisions that CCRA makes. They are done by professionals and there is always an opportunity for the courts to review those decisions.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources.

I understand that next week the Minister of Finance will be looking for money to build his budget. I can give the House some indication as to where he could find $3.2 billion. He just has to take the tax incentives away from the fossil fuel and nuclear industries.

Will the government announce that it will do that next week and begin by replacing it with a package that provides remuneration for energy efficiency and conservation and tax incentives for the renewable energy industry?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, we are doing a lot of those things already in terms of promoting renewable energy.

The hon. member should congratulate the government for spending $260 million to promote wind energy and to make sure that we look at all sorts of renewable energy. Our climate change fund of $1.6 billion is exactly the type of thing the member is talking about.

I thank the member for his support. We will continue to work on this to make sure that we tap all the renewable energy and make sure we do things to protect our climate.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transport recently posted an ad on the government website for intelligence analysts. There are now about a dozen departments and agencies adding intelligence officers to their lists, including Revenue Canada, immigration, foreign affairs, industry, environment, justice, transport, Privy Council, Parks Canada, defence, RCMP and CSIS.

Who is in charge of this security hodgepodge and how often do they meet to compare notes?

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would have hoped that the hon. member would have congratulated the government for heightening the intelligence efforts of all of the departments.

Since September 11 the Deputy Prime Minister has chaired a committee of cabinet that has dealt with security matters. Each department has intelligence requirements and that is reflected in the hiring practices.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, speaking of intelligence, the Department of Transport ad for intelligence officers indicated a number of permanent positions. The job requires a knowledge of intermodal transportation which mainly includes containers and container ships in ports.

The strange thing is that people who live in any port in Canada cannot apply for the job. A person who lives or works in Vancouver cannot apply for the job. People who live in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax or Saint John cannot apply for the job. Only those people living in the great port of Ottawa can apply for the job.

Does the minister think the only intelligence is in Ottawa? What is wrong with giving people in Vancouver, Toronto or Halifax an opportunity?

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians are equal. No matter where they come from in the country, they will be considered for any position.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the price of fuel is an essential part of the budget for many Canadian families, especially those in rural and suburban areas. Today's prices threaten their ability to heat their homes and take their children to family activities.

Why is the government taking excessive fuel taxes from struggling overtaxed Canadian families?