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House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

Speech from the ThroneOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, if it is so clear, why not spell it out in the Speech from the Throne? It would be even clearer.

On September 16, the Prime Minister called a first ministers conference for October 26 to discuss, among other things, “financial pressures facing provinces and territories”. This is consistent with the amendment to an amendment put forward by the Bloc Quebecois, asking “that the financial pressures the provinces are suffering as a consequence of the fiscal imbalance be alleviated”.

Since the Bloc's amendment to an amendment is along the same lines as his September 16 announcement, what is stopping the Prime Minister from voting in favour of the amendment to an amendment?

Speech from the ThroneOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc's amendment to an amendment is asking members of Parliament to vote in favour of Parliament's totally abdicating its responsibilities with respect to public finances. We are not prepared to do that. We are going to assume our responsibilities in this place.

Speech from the ThroneOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is such a misinterpretation that it reeks of bad faith. Everyone agrees that Quebec and the provinces are faced with a serious lack of financial resources. Even the Prime Minister recognizes that. On June 3, he said, “Are the provinces facing financial pressures? Absolutely!”

If the Prime Minister agrees with the facts, why does he refuse to include them in the throne speech supporting the amendment to the amendment proposed by the Bloc Quebecois?

Speech from the ThroneOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne and indeed the conduct of the government in the prior two or three months go a very long way to addressing the concerns of provinces, including the province of Quebec.

We are for example putting an incremental $41.3 billion into health care and an incremental $33 billion into equalization, not to mention things like child care and contributions to communities and cities.

The Government of Canada is behaving in the national interest on behalf of all Canadians.

Speech from the ThroneOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec minister Benoît Pelletier identified not only the equalization program as posing a problem, but the whole issue of transfers to the provinces, which should also be discussed by Quebec, the provinces and Ottawa.

If the Prime Minister agrees that these issues must be examined, why is it unacceptable to support the Bloc Quebecois' amendment to the amendment, which, precisely, reaffirms the need to alleviate the financial pressures that the provinces are facing?

Speech from the ThroneOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, on the money side of the question, the hon. gentleman might be interested to know that the total provincial revenues, their own source revenue plus federal cash transfers, have substantially exceeded federal revenues for more than two decades and they are expected to continue to do so.

MunicipalitiesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we learned that the government is about to say no to Canada's mayors. This is not very surprising because after all the Prime Minister did not even include the commitment to the fuel tax in the throne speech.

Mayor Miller told me today that the government is in the process of transferring the national debt on to the shoulders of the municipalities. This is unacceptable.

Will the Prime Minister honour his promise? Why can he not make that promise today and commit 5¢ per litre of the fuel tax?

MunicipalitiesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week I had a very good meeting with a number of mayors and the FCM. I can assure the hon. leader of the NDP that it is the government's intention to fully live up to the commitments it made during the election campaign.

MunicipalitiesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister were intending to live up to his promises, he would have put it in the throne speech. The fact is that he did not.

Nothing prevents the Prime Minister from listening to the mayors right now and sharing more of the fuel tax. Nothing prevents him, except that he has decided to put far more money against the debt, while cities build up an $11 million per day debt.

Why will the Prime Minister not come through with his commitment that we all heard?

MunicipalitiesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Again, Mr. Speaker, let me assure the hon. member that the government fully intends to live up to its commitment made during the election campaign. I made that very clear. It is in the Speech from the Throne and it was in my speech.

I also fully expect that the government will be able to retire debt. I think that it is our responsibility to those who live in the cities of tomorrow not to be burdened with a huge national debt.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

October 7th, 2004 / 2:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Public Works told the House that 10 million documents have been turned over to the Gomery inquiry. That is 10 million documents conveniently after the election campaign. Before the election, the documents submitted by the government could fit on a single book shelf.

Where were these millions of documents before the election and why did the government hide the truth from Canadians?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I draw the hon. member's attention to the statement by the Information Commissioner yesterday that lauded our Prime Minister and our government for its openness and transparency with information both for the public accounts committee and for the Gomery commission.

We have provided 10 million pages of documents to the Gomery commission and have in fact gone back to 1994 in a remarkable step for cabinet documents. We are cooperating because we want to get to the truth in this party and in this government.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, they hid the documents because these documents show that the cabinet had concocted a strategy to dupe the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party. These revelations would surely have had a bearing on the outcome of the election.

How can we believe a government that hides the truth from Canadians? How can we believe you?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, on a day to day basis over the next several months we will hear testimony at the Gomery commission and we will not prejudge Justice Gomery's work by commenting on that testimony. Today's testimony could be contradicted by next week's testimony.

We on this side of the House, in this party, want to see the full report from Justice Gomery which will lead us to the truth. We are not going to interfere with that. The hon. member is prejudging a lot of the important work that is being done by Justice Gomery and I would urge him not to do that.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, we hear contradictions in testimony coming from the government every day. It was confirmed yesterday that the Prime Minister knew all along about the secret slush fund that fuelled the sponsorship program.

We also know that Treasury Board officials red flagged all kinds of problems in the sponsorship program at the same time as the Prime Minister was vice-chair of Treasury Board.

Does the Prime Minister really expect us to believe that he knew nothing at all about the problems in the sponsorship program until he read the Auditor General's report?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the Prime Minister has said repeatedly in the House that he was aware of the unity reserve. He was not aware of all of the individual projects and that is of significant difference. The hon. member is taking some pretty significant liberties with the truth in this case.

However, I am glad that he has once again drawn the attention to the House of the importance of transparency and openness. I would ask him to review what the Information Commissioner said yesterday when he said that the early signs were very positive, that this Prime Minister was sufficiently self-confident, courageous and honest to beat the secrecy that has been the--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, either the Prime Minister knew early on about the problems in the sponsorship program or he was asleep at the switch when the sponsorship train went over the cliff. It was one of the two.

Is the Prime Minister not a little bit embarrassed that his only excuse for not knowing about the sponsorship program was that he was neglecting his duties at Treasury Board?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is modest about his accomplishments and he will not brag about this, but I will. The fact is that the Prime Minister's first step was to cancel the sponsorship program.

Furthermore, he established the Gomery commission which has remarkable powers and a mandate to discover the truth. We have cooperated with that commission with the fact that 1994 cabinet documents are being provided.

We in the government are not afraid of the truth and I would ask the hon. member to have similar courage and wait for Justice Gomery's report.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 15, the Government of Quebec signed the premiers' agreement on health. Its acceptance was on the express condition that Quebec not be subjected to any federal accountability mechanism.

Now the throne speech makes no mention of the terms of the specific Quebec—Ottawa agreement on health. On the contrary, it repeats the obligation for all governments, Quebec included, to be accountable.

Can the Minister of Health again confirm that the agreement of September 15, 2004 imposes no obligation on the Government of Quebec to be accountable to Ottawa with respect to health, despite what is implied in the throne speech?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the fact that we entered into a historic agreement to provide $41 billion over 10 years to the provinces means that we are a successful federation.

Quebec would be setting the benchmarks in reporting to its citizens as will all the other provinces. We will be correlating all those reports through the Canadian Institute for Health Information, or CIHI, so that we have a national understanding of where the money is going, and whether or not we are successful in reforming, enhancing and improving our health care that all Canadians love from coast to coast to coast.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I asked whether he could impose penalties for non-compliance with the September 15 agreement, the federal Minister of Health replied as follows:

[...] we are going to take legislative action. A member of the Prime Minister's Office has said that a mechanism will apply to all, Quebec included, in order to ensure compliance with the agreement.

Are we to understand that the federal government is prepared to impose penalities on the provinces, including Quebec, should it feel that its requirements are not being respected?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this is a federation that works, contrary to what those people over there believe. The fact is that we want to depend on the good faith of all of the provinces and territories to ensure that the agreement is lived up to.

We have an obligation to the taxpayers across the country to ensure there is accountability and we will do so.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government announced in the Speech from the Throne its intention to establish a single environmental assessment process in Canada. Yet, the Minister of the Environment said yesterday that he does not intend to impose a single environmental assessment system.

Can he clarify this issue? Are we to believe the Speech from the Throne or the Minister of the Environment?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, both; there is no contradiction. The Government of Canada will improve its own environmental assessment process to ensure that the departments work together better, to make it better, more responsible, quicker and more effective.

We will immediately begin to increase harmonization with our provincial counterparts, who have been calling for the same thing, and all the stakeholders. Only the Bloc Quebecois does not agree because, by definition, the Bloc never agrees.