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House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was missiles.

Topics

Government ProgramsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claims that as the former finance minister he knew nothing about the advertising scandal. That is a red herring. At least two years ago every MP in the House knew, so obviously he knew as well.

The real question is not whether he knew but rather why, as the finance minister, he did nothing about it. As finance minister he cut funding to health care, defence, the justice system, training, education, all areas important to Canadians.

Why then, as the government's key financial man, did he not do anything to curb the scandalous skimming of funds through the Liberals' money laundering advertising scheme?

In December the billion dollar firearms registry was forecasted to cost $113 million for the fiscal year ending March 31. The Prime Minister introduced changes to cut costs and now the firearms registry is $20 million over budget. The government temporarily suspended funding but the program kept on spending.

If the Prime Minister is not as guilty as anyone in this money laundering and kickback scheme, then at a minimum he is the most incompetent money handler and leader this country has ever had.

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too want to speak today to the misleading statement of the member for London—Fanshawe which depicted the Israeli security barrier as a provocative measure against the Palestinian people.

Canadians should remember that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a dispute between two peoples with a legitimate claim to the same land where the Palestinians remain unwilling to abandon the strategy of terror and accept Israel's right to exist.

Without a peace partner, Israel is forced to protect its people unilaterally.

In the past three and a half years Israel has intercepted 313 attempted homicide bombers. Nonetheless, more than 130 others were able to maim and kill innocent Israeli civilians.

It is unfortunate that Israel has to contemplate this barrier, however, a similar security perimeter has stopped all suicide attacks from the Gaza Strip.

The Canadian government correctly objected to the politicization of the barrier in the International Court of Justice.

The Israeli government continues to make every effort to minimize the barrier's impact on Palestinians. However a tide of suicide bombers continues. Israel does not have a choice.

Arts and CultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year, 14,435 authors in Quebec and Canada will be hit with a 15% decrease in their public lending right earnings. The public lending right is an amount paid to authors in recognition of the presence and use of their books in public and university libraries. The decrease is the result of the $631,000 budget cut made by the Canada Council for the Arts.

This program is a tangible form of appreciation and celebration of the creative and intellectual contributions of authors and for a good number of them, some support as well.

I will borrow the words of one author who said, “The poor writers and poets receive their public lending right cheque with relief and for one day, they can have steak and fries instead of peanut butter”.

Considering the growing number of new authors, every year more money—at least $500,000—should be added to the program, and not taken away as it happened this year. This is a good example of where the $100 million wasted on sponsorships could have gone: to provide money to artists.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Claude Duplain Liberal Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 18, 2004, KPMG released the results of their latest study of international business costs. The annual KPMG study is the world's largest objective comparison of operating costs in the G-7.

In this year's version, for the fifth consecutive time, Canada was ranked the lowest-cost country in which to do business. The Minister of International Trade and his colleague the Minister of Industry welcomed these results yesterday at simultaneous press conferences in Montreal and Toronto.

The KPMG study is clearly good news for our economy and our communities. The results show that our country is well positioned to build a 21st century economy that will be a global magnet for capital, creative entrepreneurs and innovative ideas.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, there is much concern in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador surrounding the recent decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal regarding maternity, parental and sick benefits through the EI program.

The ruling claimed that these were matters of provincial jurisdiction and that the federal government had no right to ensure that all Canadians receive equal access to these benefits.

There are also concerns that the government is considering carving up the EI moneys to cover the cost of these benefits which would ensure the poorer provinces, like Newfoundland and Labrador, will be hit hardest as a result.

Canadians everywhere understand the federal government has a crucial role to play in maintaining national standards and the national program in order to prevent balkanization of the EI program.

If the Quebec ruling stands, it will set a dangerous precedent and will eliminate the current standards that exist with respect to special benefits.

I therefore urge the government to do the right thing and immediately appeal the ruling of the Quebec Court of Appeal.

Hoops UnlimitedStatements By Members

February 19th, 2004 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to report that this evening in my riding of Etobicoke North we are celebrating an organization called Hoops Unlimited.

Hoops Unlimited is a program that has young people playing basketball: young people who might otherwise be attracted to gangs, violence and drugs. This program is working very effectively to give young people an alternative to those types of activities, an alternative where they get together, where they have healthy minds and healthy bodies, and where they stay away from those other alternatives that are destabilizing our community and causing a lot of grief for our citizens.

We want to have safer streets. We want to have citizens feeling that they can walk around safely in the city of Toronto, and this program is helping to achieve that objective. I applaud their efforts and wish to congratulate them for their event this evening.

St. Clair RiverStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, two days ago another chemical spill was reported in the St. Clair River, the second in less than a month. There also was a major spill in the spring of 2003. It has forced water intake pipes shut and, once again, the communities along the river have had their health and environment threatened.

After Imperial Oil spilled the 350,000 litres of oil solvent into the St. Clair River two weeks ago, the Macomb County Water Quality Board voted to fine it $8 million, yet no charges have been laid or fines levied on this side of the border.

Under Canadian law, the price for illegally dumping toxins into our water is paid for by the people who live in affected areas. From corporate polluters we get apologies and tax write-offs, and from this government we get inaction.

It is time that the government gets serious with polluters and makes it illegal to write off fines for poisoning our environment.

Highway InfrastructureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, last December, I sent out a mailer detailing the progress regarding highway 50 and asked my constituents for their opinion on this matter.

To date, I have received more than 680 responses. It is obvious that the people of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel have given me the mandate to put pressure on the federal government and the Quebec government.

I ask the Prime Minister of Canada to personally intervene in this matter. It is disgraceful in 2004, after 40 years of unfulfilled promises, that the metropolitan communities of Montreal and the Outaouais are not connected by a highway within Quebec.

It is urgent, for the economic, tourism and social development of an entire region, that highway 50 be immediately completed according to the initial plans, meaning, four lanes and no tolls.

Cultural DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, for 25 years now, the aim of Music Arsenal has been to encourage the love of music in young people through concerts designed just for them.

Over the years, Music Arsenal has also played an important role as a cultural agency for young people by initiating them to the joy of cultural discovery.

On Tuesday, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announced $30,000 in financial support for this organization, so it can continue its work with young people.

I am extremely proud to mention this financial support, granted by the Department of Canadian Heritage through its Canadian Arts and Heritage Sustainability Program.

This example is a perfect illustration of our government's commitment to cultural development and access to culture and the arts by Canadians.

Goods and Services TaxStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have asked government ministers repeatedly to waive the GST on supplies and services donated to the reconstruction of fire-ravaged areas of B.C.

Many uninsured people in the North Thompson have rebuilt their homes and places of business thanks to volunteers from all over North America.

They and the businesses who supply materials should be exempted from paying GST.

Fuel donated to truck agricultural goods like cattle feed into fire-stricken areas in my area should have also been GST-free.

The brave men and women firefighters sold T-shirts to raise relief funds and this government is charging them GST.

I am sure all members of the House can see the unfairness of forcing good Samaritans to pay tax on their generosity.

I wish to thank and congratulate the many generous people who have donated labour and materials to assist fire victims and I call upon the government to do the right thing: waive the GST on those donations.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Guy Carignan Liberal Québec East, QC

Mr. Speaker, the month of February is officially recognized as Black History Month in Canada.

I am taking this opportunity to stress the significant contribution of our fellow citizens of African origin in the building of today's Canada. In this regard, I would like to mention the remarkable work done by an organization in my riding, the Regroupement des Africains et Africaines Résidant à Duberger-Les- Saules, better known as the REGARDS group.

Considering that the demographic weight of the Quebec City region is constantly diminishing, the arrival of newcomers must now be a core collective priority. More than ever, we must ensure that our residents of adoption get settled under conditions that facilitates their integration, without questioning their skills, values, traditions and intrinsic values.

The approach used by REGARDS helps achieve this dual objective by promoting the union of cultures in a spirit of harmony, tolerance and mutual respect.

The drive of the members of REGARDS and the relevance of their initiatives make them an example of social solidarity while also showing their desire to participate in the building of tomorrow's Canada.

I am pleased to see the positive role played by groups such as REGARDS in the promotion and strengthening of our nation. I congratulate them for their work, and I encourage them to—

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member for Québec Est, but we must now proceed with oral question period.

The hon. member for Macleod.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, faster than a speeding bullet, that is what they say about Superman, but that is certainly not what they say about public inquiries in Canada. The average length for a public inquiry is about two years.

Has the government, has the Prime Minister, put a deadline on this public inquiry into the Liberal sponsorship scandal?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, quite clearly we want the inquiry to complete its task as quickly as possible, but also we want it to do it thoroughly. We want it to go into every single avenue. We want to leave no stone unturned and we are not going to cut it off on that basis.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the government actually is acting like it has a one goal lead and there are five minutes left in the third period. It is dragging its feet in the public accounts committee and it looks like it is going to drag its feet as well on the inquiry.

Will the Prime Minister let us know whether or not we will have a result before the next election is called, yes or no?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the whole point of an independent inquiry is to have the commissioner of inquiry act independently. He will set his own procedure. He will set his own timeline. He will produce interim reports where he thinks that is necessary.

The terms of reference are very broad. They cover all of the questions around sponsorship and advertising that have been raised in the Auditor General's report.

We have the public accounts committee sitting now, as requested by the Prime Minister. They are working. The commission will begin as soon as possible and report to the public as soon as possible.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we hear the terms of reference are really going to be quite broad, but we know it would take an army of lawyers to have the truth on this out before I retire back to my home in Okotoks.

This question is very specific. Will the government promise Canadians that they will have the truth before we go to the polls in the next election?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the member said that we are dragging our feet in the public accounts committee. I believe it was the member for Toronto—Danforth today who tabled a motion asking that all ministers on this file be before the committee next Thursday, with unlimited time. How is that dragging our feet?

I also noted that at the meeting this morning the Auditor General said the Prime Minister and the government have taken this issue seriously and have implemented measures along the lines recommended in her report. What is the problem?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, apparently yesterday the Prime Minister found some of the questions in this House despicable. I can tell members one thing Canadians find absolutely despicable: the use of taxpayers' money by this Prime Minister's government in the last 10 years.

Will the Prime Minister commit today to pay back the money that was used for Liberal polling, the millions of dollars used for Liberal polling? Will he pay that back from Liberal Party coffers so taxpayers are not footing the bill and subsidizing this party?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians find despicable is when someone brings into this chamber false information.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, this member and this government are certainly the experts on false information.

It came to light that high-ranking RCMP officers were beneficiaries of travel on VIA Rail. Both corporations are currently under investigation in the Liberal sponsorship scandal. Section 54 of the RCMP act code of ethics forbids RCMP officers from accepting gifts.

Could the Minister of Public Safety explain how RCMP officers currently under investigation themselves can investigate VIA Rail while simultaneously getting a free ride? What--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Deputy Prime Minister.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is probably aware, the administration and management of the RCMP is left up to the commissioner of the RCMP. I can reassure the hon. member that the commissioner is aware of these allegations. He is taking them very seriously. There is a code of conduct for RCMP officers and every Canadian has the right to expect that this code of conduct is observed.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as far as the Liberal Party is concerned, transparency has its limits. The Quebec wing of the party is getting its books audited, but we already know the source of its funds. Where they refuse to look, however, is in the hidden funds, places like Liberal Party Trust Fund 2, which paid $46,000 and $38,000 respectively to the member for Outremont and the President of Privy Council during the 2000 election campaign, without anyone knowing the source of the funds.

Will the government admit that, in order to thoroughly investigate whether the Liberty Party profited from the sponsorship scandal, what is required is a list of who was behind these secret Liberal funds, and that list must be released immediately?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brossard—La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, and my colleague as well, we passed Bill C-24 in this House. It is a systematic clarification of the situation as far as political party funding is concerned. Bill C-24, now an integral part of the Canada Elections Act, sets the contribution ceiling for organizations outside of a political party at $1000 a year for all ridings in the country.

The situation has been settled. If my colleague has any documents to table, I invite him to do so.