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House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Bras D'Or—Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-423, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act.

Madam Speaker, the bill I am introducing today is one of great importance to a number of different people.

First, bills do not stop coming because one loses one's job. My bill would eliminate that two week waiting period. It is a very important issue.

The second thing the bill would do is that if people are denied benefits because they were disqualified, they would get a rebate, as would the employer, of the premiums paid. This is particularly valuable to students.

I have other issues as well but I do not think I should give my whole speech at this time. I will be pleased to do that when 196 comes up on the list.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I am presenting a petition on behalf of the people of Ontario requesting that Parliament recognize that the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College is essential to training Canadians for emergency situations; that the facility should stay in Arnprior; and that the government should upgrade the facilities in order to provide the necessary training to Canadians. Now, more than ever before, it is so necessary to have our first responders ready and able.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Madam Speaker, I have a petition signed by 802 residents of Canada who draw to the attention of the House that hundreds of thousands of Canadians suffer from debilitating illnesses and diseases, and that Canadians do support ethical stem cell research to provide cures and therapies for these illnesses and diseases.

The petitioners would like that non-embryonic stem cells, which are also known as adult stem cells, receive the focus of legislative support and dollars such that we find the cures and therapies for treating the illnesses and the diseases of suffering Canadians.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Bras D'Or—Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 102, 128 and 164.

Question No. 102Routine Proceedings

Noon

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance Delta—South Richmond, BC

With regard to agreements since 1992 between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and various aboriginal organizations that contain provisions for the sale of fish on an annual basis under the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy: ( a ) what quantities and species of salmon caught for aboriginal food, social and ceremonial purposes in British Columbia were stored in cold storage, processing or other facilities in British Columbia on an annual basis since 1992; ( b ) in what year were the salmon being stored caught; ( c ) what quantities and species of salmon caught for aboriginal food, social and ceremonial purposes in British Columbia were stored in cold storage, processing or other facilities in the United States on an annual basis since 1992; ( d ) in what year were the salmon being stored caught; ( e ) which agreements required the collection of royalties by the aboriginal organization on the sale of fish caught under the agreements to support management or other activities of the aboriginal band or DFO and which did not require the collection of royalties; ( f ) what is the value of the fish sold under each of these agreements; ( g ) how much was the required royalty, both in terms of a percentage of the total value of the fish sold and in dollars; ( h ) in terms of percentage and in terms of dollars, how much royalty was collected in each of these agreements; ( i ) who collected the royalty; ( j ) by what means was the royalty collected; ( k ) was a special fishery required to catch the fish to pay the royalty; ( l ) for what was the royalty expended; ( m ) who spent the royalty monies; ( n ) in cases where the royalty was not collected or was less than the amount required by an agreement, what were the reasons for the shortfall; ( o ) what action was taken by DFO to recover the shortfall; ( p ) if no action was taken, what were the reasons for not taking action; ( q ) in cases where no royalty was required to be collected, what was the approximate market value of the fish sold; and ( r ) in cases where no royalty was required, what was the reason for the absence of a requirement to collect a royalty?

Question No. 102Routine Proceedings

Noon

Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok Québec

Liberal

Georges Farrah LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

The answer is as follows:

a) Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) does not collect this particular statistical information on the food, social and ceremonial fisheries. Fish stored in freezers are stored in the name of a company or individual and not by fishery or species.

b) As per the answer to a) above, DFO does not collect this type of data.

c) As per the answer to a) above, DFO does not collect this type of data.

d) As per the answer to a) above, DFO does not collect this type of data.

e) In the early years of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) program (1992-1997), two AFS agreements on the Fraser River, the Musqueam/Tsawwassen First Nations joint agreement and the Sto:Lo First Nation agreement, required a percentage of the landed value of salmon harvested under the pilot sales fisheries and then sold to be returned to the fisheries management program of the aboriginal organizations. Pursuant to the AFS agreement, from 1993 to the present on the Skeena River, 10% of the landed value of salmon harvested under the pilot sales fisheries and then sold under the AFS agreement is required to be returned to the Skeena fisheries management program during years when there is an excess salmon to spawning requirements (ESSR) fishery in place. No funds were required to be returned to DFO.

f) DFO cannot determine the value of fish sold under the pilot sales fisheries. DFO does not record the portion of pilot sales fisheries that is retained for food as compared to the amounts sold. With respect to the ESSR fishery on the Skeena River, due to concerns from the Skeena first nation regarding commercial confidentiality, available information regarding commercial catches and values for individual bands and companies has not been provided.

g) According to the AFS agreements noted in the answer to e), the percentage of the landed value of salmon harvested under the pilot sales fisheries and then sold, which was to be returned to the fisheries management program of the aboriginal organization, varied between 5% and 15% on the Fraser River; and 10% of the landed value of salmon harvested and then sold for the Skeena ESSR fisheries.

h) The aboriginal organizations reported the following amounts collected under each of the agreements, which was to be returned to their fisheries management programs. (The requirement for a percentage of the landed value of fish sold under the AFS agreement to be returned to the fisheries management program of the aboriginal organization was not applied to fish caught for food, social and ceremonial purposes.) In 1992, the Musqueam and Tsawwassen first nations reported $4,996 was returned to their fisheries management program. In 1993, the Musqueam first nation reported $11,891 and the Sto:Lo first nation reported $25,457 (which was a payment instead of returning a percentage of the landed value of salmon sold under their AFS agreement to their fisheries management program). In 1994, the Sto:Lo indicated that $178,036 from a one-time only specific fishery was returned to their fisheries management program. In 1995, the Musqueam first nation reported that $48,373 was returned to their fisheries program. The Sto:Lo first nation did not have a pilot sales fishery in 1995. In 1996, the Musqueam first nation reported that $60,550 was returned to their fisheries management program, while the Sto:Lo first nation again did not have a pilot sales fishery. In 1997 the Sto:Lo reported that $67,053 was returned to their fisheries management program. With respect to the Skeena ESSR fishery, DFO has not collected this data.

i) On the Fraser River, the buyers of the fish withheld from the fishers the percentage of the landed value of fish sold under the AFS agreement that was required to be returned to the fisheries management program. Individual first nations or first nations’ groups collected the proceeds on the Skeena ESSR fishery.

j) On the Fraser River, the buyers of the fish withheld proceeds of the fish from the distribution of the sales and then provided them to the respective first nation.

k) In 1994, a specific fishery was provided to the Sto:Lo first nation as noted in the answer to h) above. There have been no special fisheries provided for the Skeena ESSR Fisheries for which the percentage of the landed value of fish sold under the AFS agreement was to be returned to the fisheries management program.

l) Revenues from the proceeds were to be used for the fisheries management programs of the aboriginal organizations in question.

m) The first nations in receipt of the proceeds spent the monies.

n) There were three reported instances concerning the Sto:Lo first nation where the percentage collected was less than the amount required under the agreement: in 1994, where DFO determined there were inconsistencies in some of the reporting of the fisheries; in 1995, when the salmon runs were poor; and, in 1996, when the pilot sales fisheries were severely hampered by protest fisheries.

o) In the case of the Sto:Lo first nation, with respect to the specific fishery in 1994, DFO contracted KPMG to undertake an audit because of inconsistencies in some of the reporting of the fisheries. As a result, the amount reported by Sto:Lo from this fishery as well as the amount of the shortfall, was deducted from the total DFO financial commitment to the group under their 1994 AFS agreement. In 1995, DFO was satisfied that poor salmon runs prevented the Sto:Lo from harvesting the amount set out in their agreements. In 1996, DFO was satisfied that the Sto:Lo first nation made every reasonable attempt to harvest their quota but were unsuccessful, and, therefore, DFO did not require Sto:Lo to collect the proceeds which were to be used for the fisheries management programs.

p) With respect to the years 1994, 1995 and 1996, see the answer to o) above.

q) Where there was no requirement for a percentage of the landed value of fish sold under the AFS agreement to be returned to the fisheries management program of the aboriginal organization, DFO did not collect this data.

r) The main reason for the non-requirement was the fact that the run size did not support a pilot sales fishery and thus no fishing occurred.

Question No. 128Routine Proceedings

March 28th, 2003 / noon

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

How does the seniority of personnel figure in the processes the Department of Fisheries and Oceans use to engage or release employees of the Canadian Coast Guard?

Question No. 128Routine Proceedings

Noon

Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok Québec

Liberal

Georges Farrah LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

The seniority of personnel does not figure into the processes the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) uses to engage employees of the Canadian Coast Guard. DFO along with all other federal government departments, is governed by the principle of merit as outlined in the Public Service Employment Act (section 10), which reads as follows:

  1. (1) Appointments to or from within the Public Service shall be based on selection according to merit, as determined by the Commission, and shall be made by the Commission, at the request of the deputy head concerned, by competition or by such other process of personnel selection designed to establish the merit of candidates as the Commission considers is in the best interests of the Public Service.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), selection according to merit may, in the circumstances prescribed by the regulations of the Commission, be based on the competence of a person being considered for appointment as measured by such standard of competence as the Commission may establish, rather than as measured against the competence of other persons.

For releases, reverse order of merit is applied, as outlined in the Public Service Employment Regulations (subsection 32 (1)), which reads as follows:

  1. (1) If the services of one or more employees of a part of an organization are no longer required in accordance with section 29 of the Act, the appropriate deputy head shall assess the merit of the employees employed in similar positions in the same occupational group and level within that part of the organization, and identify the employees who may be declared surplus and laid off in reverse order of merit.

Seniority could only figure into the process to release employees, in the event of a tie between individuals being assessed in the reverse order of merit.

Question No. 164Routine Proceedings

Noon

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

With regard to the Minister of Health’s oversight of tissue banks: ( a ) when did Health Canada first become aware of potential safety breaches at the British Columbia Ear Bank; ( b ) when did the minister or her predecessors first become aware of the problems at the British Columbia Ear Bank; ( c ) what actions is Health Canada taking to ensure that recipients of tissue from the British Columbia Ear Bank did not contract an infectious disease; ( d ) why did Health Canada wait until February 19, 2003 to inform Canadians, though the clinic was shut down in October 2002; ( e ) what national standards are in place to regulate the collection, use and dissemination of human tissues such as those collected at the British Columbia Ear Bank; ( f ) when will Health Canada adopt and implement its own national standards; ( g ) when was the British Columbia Ear Bank first inspected by Health Canada; ( h ) are such tissue banks subject to regular inspections by Health Canada and, if so, when was such a regime put in place; and ( i ) what actions is Health Canada taking to ensure that problems such as those incurred at the British Columbia Ear Bank do not occur again?

Question No. 164Routine Proceedings

Noon

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

The answer is as follows:

a) On October 9, 2002, Health Canada received information that the Vancouver St. Paul's Hospital B.C. Ear Bank, under the responsibility of Providence Health Care, may have been processing and distributing tissues which do not meet basic safety requirements. Providence Health Care is a legal entity providing health care services on eight sites in Vancouver, B.C.

b) A question period note was provided to the minister’s office on December 17, 2002.

c) Under its authority, Health Canada asked St. Paul's Hospital to recall the products and to notify the physicians who have used tissues from the Ear Bank in transplantation. St. Paul's Hospital complied. On February 19, 2003, Health Canada notified acute care hospitals, tissue banks and health professionals across the country of the situation in the B.C. Ear Bank and has recommended that recipients of tissue from the bank be tested for infectious diseases, as a precautionary measure.

d) On October 9, 2002, Health Canada received information that the Ear Bank may have been processing and distributing tissues which do not meet basic safety requirements, and that the distribution of tissues had been discontinued. Within 24 hours, Health Canada acted on the information received and subsequently initiated an investigation. As part of its investigation, Health Canada obtained from the Ear Bank information on their processing and distribution activities. Due to poor record-keeping, Providence Health Care provided most of the requested information in January 2003. Based on this information, Health Canada immediately undertook a risk assessment. This Health Canada risk assessment was completed on February 5, 2003.

On February 7, 2003, based on its risk assessment, Health Canada asked St. Paul's Hospital to mitigate the risk that may be posed by the tissues by recalling the unused tissues and notifying the physicians who have used tissue from the Ear Bank in transplantation. On February 14, 2003, St. Paul's Hospital complied. On February 19, 2003, Health Canada advised all establishments and individuals in Canada handling and/or processing human cells, tissues and organs for transplantation. Health Canada’s investigation is still on-going at St. Paul’s Hospital.

e) Moreover, Health Canada has published three additional documents respecting tissue and organ safety: Guidelines for Organ and Tissue Donation Services in Hospitals; Guideline for the Prevention of HIV infection in Organ and Tissue Transplantation; and Guidelines for Basic Safety Requirements for Human Cells, Tissues and Organs for Transplantation.

Health Canada also developed and published the standard Technical Requirements for Therapeutic Donor Insemination, which is required, by regulation, to be followed by processors of donor semen for assisted conception.

There are currently many sets of standards available to tissue banks in Canada. The American Association of Tissue Banks Standards for Tissue Banking, the Eye Bank Association of America Standards and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Hematopoietic Cell Therapies Standards provide comprehensive information on safety requirements for specific tissue types and are used internationally. These three organizations also provide accreditation services at the international level. Many tissue banks in Canada are accredited by one of these organizations.

On January 28 and 29, 2003, Health Canada issued a directive entitled Technical Requirements to address the Safety of Cells, Tissues and Organs for Transplantation (directive and guidance Document) and its corresponding guidance document entitled Basic Safety Requirements for Human Cells, Tissues and Organs for Transplantation to establishments and individuals in Canada who are involved in the handling and/or processing of human cells, tissues and organs for transplantation.

The purpose of the directive and guidance document is to advise these establishments and individuals of the importance of adhering to basic standards of safety with respect to the manufacture and use of these products for transplantation. These documents are based on the content of the National Safety Standards being developed by the Canadian Standards Association in consultation with medical experts from the field of transplantation and Health Canada. These are minimum standards that should be met by all establishments and individuals in Canada who are involved in the handling and/or processing of human cells, tissues and organs for transplantation in order to minimize the risk of disease.

f) Safety standards for Canada are available and have been communicated to stakeholders. In 1996, Health Canada appointed and funded a working group of experts in the field of tissue and organ transplantation to develop a set of standards for the safety of tissues and organs which would encompass all of the requirements of the documents referenced above and address any additional Canadian specific requirements. A General Standard on the Safety of Cells, Tissues and Organs, and five separate standards for specific tissue types were completed by this group of experts in 2001. Health Canada subsequently funded the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) to transform these six sets of standards into National Standards as recognized by the Standards Council of Canada. CSA has completed these standards in December 2002, and it is expected that the national standards will be published in the spring of 2003. These national standards will be maintained by the CSA under the terms of an agreement with Health Canada, to reflect new technological or safety issues which may arise in the future.

g) There was no prior Health Canada inspection of the B.C. Ear Bank. It is important to note that in Canada, the primary responsibility related to product safety lies with the manufacturer which is in this case, the tissue bank/hospital.

Health Canada has an important role in protecting the health and safety of Canadians; however, it is but one component of a complex system of health protection, which includes, among others, various levels of government, government agencies, the health care and medical professions, the academic and health sciences research and development communities, manufacturers and importers, patient groups, and individual Canadians.

Where Health Canada identifies or is notified of a potential problem, Health Canada will take steps to determine whether non-compliance has occurred.

h) Health Canada is conducting a national review of all establishments handling and/or processing human cells, tissues and organs for transplantation with the objective of assessing adherence to basic safety standards and to take appropriate action to prohibit the distribution of unsafe products. Health Canada will initiate investigations upon receipt of information of situations where cells, tissues, and organs may not have been handled and/or processed in accordance to basic safety standards.

In general, problems may be identified by consumer complaints, industry complaints, referrals from other provincial and federal regulatory agencies, international partners or Health Canada's compliance monitoring program. Investigations may also be triggered by the identification of problems via other Health Canada organisational units and various post-market surveillance programs.

Also see f) above.

i) Please see h) above.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bras D'Or—Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Madam Speaker, if Question 143 could be made an order for return, the return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 143Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Canadian Alliance Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

For each year from 1993 to 2001 what was the total amount billed to the government and its agencies by Leger and Leger Research Associates?

Return tabled.

Question No. 143Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Bras D'Or—Cape Breton, NS

Madam Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 143Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

Question No. 143Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-28, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 18, 2003, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, the Deputy Speaker allowed me to start my time after question period and I do appreciate that. I also appreciate you being in the Chair, Madam Speaker, to listen to this debate. Where else would you rather be on a Friday afternoon than sitting right here in the House debating and talking about and to a budget that was put forward by the government which seems to put as many spins as possible on it.

However, after having spent time in our ridings and time visiting the country we now recognize full well that there is very little support for this budget and very little that Canadians would like to say in a positive vein about the budget.

I will touch on a couple of points but I first would like to say that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance is deluding himself and living in a bit of a dream world when he tries to put the spin of having this budget accepted, not only the majority of priorities within the budget but the one with respect to infrastructure.

The individual himself, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, at one point in time being the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, certainly would have been singing a different tune. He would have been suggesting that the government has let down the municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities with the absolute sorry contribution that it has made to the infrastructure program.

As a matter of fact, yesterday I had the opportunity of dropping into an executive meeting of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities. These are people I know and the member for Oak Ridges knows. The very first thing these local politicians, people who have the real finger on the pulse of what is going on, not only in their communities but certainly within the province of Manitoba, asked me was, “Is it not a travesty that we were perceived to have been promised so much from this federal government with respect to infrastructure and we received so little?”

They went on to say that there was such a desperate need for infrastructure dollars that they were actually embarrassed with the inability or the lack of funding that came forward in this budget with respect to infrastructure.

I can also say that my leader had a meeting with the mayor of Winnipeg who sits on the big city mayors' caucus. He also echoed the comments of the AMM, where he said that they were led to believe that there would be sufficient help in putting the infrastructure dollars into municipalities but that again they were very disappointed. Some $15 billion is needed to put infrastructure back into place. Right now there is $3 billion that was identified over 10 years, but of that $3 billion is a special infrastructure fund, one that is called strategic, which normally, if one were to look in a Liberal dictionary, we would see that the special or strategic infrastructure fund usually means political pork-barrelling infrastructure funds so that they can pick and choose perhaps the ridings, perhaps the contractors or perhaps the consultants they want to use for these projects. Unfortunately, there really is a lack of control and accountability on those dollars in the strategic fund.

Not only that, let us analyze this: $15 billion just from the cities themselves for infrastructure, but next year for budget year 2003-04, there is $100 million. I understand the Liberals are thinking of bumping that up. I do not know to what levels just yet but I know there has been some talk of bumping that up. However let us assume that it will be twice as much, and that would be about enough to do one major project of water and sewer.

Budgets are important and are necessary to identify priorities. I have a soft spot in my heart for the infrastructure priorities, not only for municipalities in sewer and water, but we see it now in the issue of what is going on in Iraq. The three major issues facing the people of Iraq right now are water, sanitation and transportation. That is what is necessary in our own communities, safe water, sanitation and sewage, and transportation; the roads, the bridges and the ability to move goods and services and people, not only within our communities but across the border, because that is what our economic lifeblood depends on.

The government certainly does not see that as being a necessity. What it sees as a necessity for the expenditure of these dollars are wonderful policy programs such as the gun registry which has wasted $1 billion. The government says it has not wasted it, that it is an investment of $1 billion in a registry that certainly will not be able to provide any return on that investment.

Certainly this is one policy direction all Canadians would like to see them stop spending the money on, yet it continues to throw the taxpayers' good, hard cash into that black hole. It is not prepared to put it into what I consider to be a priority, which is infrastructure, sewers, water, bridges and the like. The government's priorities seem to be different from our priorities.

In talking of infrastructure there is another area that has a soft spot in my heart. I have put forward a private member's bill to the House with respect to a national highways program.

It is very important to understand that the federal government has abdicated its responsibility. It takes no responsibility, no jurisdiction whatsoever of a national highways program.

There are many interprovincial and interconnecting highways, one in particular being the Trans-Canada Highway. In my province there are no dollars, zero dollars that go from the federal government into the capital costs for rebuilding or reconstructing that highway into a twinned highway, or for that matter the operating or maintenance costs for that highway. Those are totally provincial dollars that go into maintaining a national infrastructure, the national highway system.

I do not know if members are aware of this but there is a wonderful in today's newspaper. Canada is the only country in the G-8 that does not have a national highways policy. We are the only country in the G-8 that does not put any money back into a national highways program so that goods and services can move from point to point.

There is an organization in this country called the Canadian Trucking Alliance. If the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance wants to stick his head in the sand, I am sure he will not be happy to hear this, but the Canadian Trucking Alliance has been extremely disappointed with the lack of government direction on the national highways policy.

The United States has done a wonderful job. That federal government has decided unilaterally to put dollars into that infrastructure because it is absolutely mandatory that the lifeline and the lifeblood of the federal government in the United States remain open. As a matter of fact, our truckers now are using that highway system in the United States because it is certainly far superior than what ours is here in Canada.

I put forward a private member's bill and suggested that two cents per litre, which is half of the excise tax, be allocated to the funding of that national highways program. It was defeated on the floor of the House because the federal government obviously does not want to see that as a priority.

The federal government collects in excess of $4 billion in excise taxes on gasoline. It is probably more now because the price of gasoline has increased quite dramatically. It also collects the GST. However, of the excise tax of $4 billion being collected, none of it goes back into the infrastructure that it comes from. None of it goes into the highway system.

If we did not have the highways, as we are seeing now in pictures from Iraq, believe me, goods and services would not be moved to the necessary points. That is what we are facing right now in Canada. It is absolutely despicable that the government's budget does not speak to that infrastructure.

There is so much more I would like to talk about. One point would obviously be the mismanagement by the government. I have already mentioned in passing the $1 billion that was spent on the gun registry which could have gone into infrastructure, health or something else.

There is also the $1 billion that has been wasted on the EH-101s which the government did not purchase. It has invested $1 billion into helicopters, but it does not have any helicopters. The government wasted a $1 billion of taxpayers' money. That money could have gone into the highway system, the health care system or the education system.

There is so much that we could say is wrong with the budget. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to put all of what is wrong on the table.

Agriculture probably will be a mere shadow of itself after the government gets through with it. The starting point is April 1. The government has failed to deal with that issue. I feel very sorry for people who are involved in that industry because there is absolutely no assistance from the government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I cannot believe the comments my friend in the corner has made on infrastructure. He will be sitting in the corner for a long time with the comments that he has made on infrastructure, I can assure everyone. He should be ashamed of himself for standing and criticizing the government on municipal infrastructure. His party is the one that in 1984 when it came to power did not embrace the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' national infrastructure program.

As a former president of the FCM I take great exception. He should know better, being a member of the board for so many years, in our struggles to get the Conservative Party to support infrastructure. I have a letter from the president of the FCM dated March 5 stating that the FCM has enjoyed a long and productive relation with the Government of Canada and that many specific initiatives include the national infrastructure program, working with the homeless, affordable housing, et cetera.

The fact is that the relationships the government has with urban communities in this country are very strong. We have had three national infrastructure programs. We are about to embark on a fourth, leveraging money with municipalities and the provinces. The member forgets the leveraging. I should also point out the strategic infrastructure program.

I would like to ask him where his friends are in the province of Ontario now that the government has committed over $430 million to GTA transportation. We are still waiting for the Conservative government in Ontario to do something to match the funds in order to meet the $1.2 billion. Perhaps he could pick up the phone and call his good buddies in Queen's Park. I know they are not sitting but perhaps he could find them. I would like to know where the money is because this is an important issue.

The member cannot have it both ways. He cannot criticize the government for not doing anything according to him, and when we are doing things not recognize the valuable contributions being made with our partners.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, is that not usually the way the Liberal government operates. It does not take any of the responsibility itself but always blames someone else. By the way, that government has been in place since 1993, 10 years ago. The Liberals blame someone else because they do not want to take any of the responsibility.

I really am sorry that the member, whom I have an awful lot of respect for, is starting to believe the government's own propaganda and spin. I remember when the member would look at everything at face value and certainly analyze it to the point where he would look for the truth. Unfortunately, he is looking for something outside of the truth right now.

I have that truth. I have met with the people. I have met with the real people who are being affected on the front lines of the municipalities. I would ask the member to please talk to who used to be his friends and get their opinions on this because their opinions are not the same as the member is putting forward right now. They are ashamed of the infrastructure program that came forward.

The member held up a letter from the FCM. Of course the FCM is going to say, “We are not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. We will take what is given to us. We are not going to bite the hand that is giving us this little pittance”. I should also say it is that same membership of the FCM whom I have spoken to, the big city mayors. They are absolutely disgusted with the promises that were made and with what was delivered.

Let us get back to realities. The member and I agree on one thing. Infrastructure, sewage, water, bridges and roads are absolutely vital to the continued growth and the continued economy of this country. I know he agrees with that. What he will not say publicly is that with the pittance the government has put into this priority, it will be 100 years before the municipalities and provinces ever get to the level they should be at. Unfortunately, we are going to be left in the dust by our American neighbours. They will be far ahead of us economically, head and shoulders above us in the not too distant future, if they are not already today.

I am sorry that the member has not taken the time to listen to the people whom he serves and hear the real story as opposed to holding up one line of one letter and suggesting that is the fact.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, my question is simple. Does my hon. friend believe that the municipalities ought to have long term budgetary expenditures on the part of the federal government so they will know what long term moneys they are going to receive from the federal government? Right now they receive it on a year by year, ad hoc basis and cannot plan for the future.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for that softball lob.

Absolutely, there should be a number of issues if the government was really trying to put something in place. It should give a long term budgetary process that municipalities could follow.

It should also look at some sort of tax regime where municipalities could have other opportunities to raise taxes other than just property taxes. Perhaps there could be tax point sharing, where the municipalities could use the money. Perhaps the excise tax on gasoline should go to the municipalities to assist in their--

Budget Implementation Act, 2003Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I am sorry but 10 minutes does go by rather quickly. Resuming debate. We are now on 10 minutes with no questions and comments.