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House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was system.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer, and I could do it as early as next week, to run a workshop for the members on mathematics and the files in question.

The member stands up and says that there are $250 million at play. It is the same thing they said about the $6,500 boondoggle for HRDC. The members simply do not get it. The Auditor General talked about this a lot yesterday. It is not $250 million. It is not $100 million. It is some figure quite a bit less than that. The Auditor General herself is having difficulty figuring it out.

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

There you go, Mr. Speaker, if you have nothing to say, say it loudly.

The Minister of Agriculture must realize by now that the agriculture sector in this country cannot heal itself.

Two weeks ago he said that he would go back to cabinet and ask for more money for our cash-strapped farmers.

I would like to know when he pled his case with cabinet and when farmers across the country can expect a bankable program.

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Sydney—Victoria Nova Scotia

Liberal

Mark Eyking LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Agri-Food)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for asking me my first question in the House. I will try to do my best to answer it.

Over the last eight months beef farmers have faced a crisis. We have many programs in place, such as the NISA program and the BSE program. We also had the CAISP rolling out last month in which we put $15 million. We also have the cull program that will be coming out. We are just waiting for inventories from the provinces.

I can assure the hon. member that we will be there for the farmers with more programs in the upcoming months.

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for staying true to Liberal form and not really giving us an answer.

For the first time in history Statistics Canada shows a negative $13 million balance for all agricultural sectors across the country. That is everybody. The primary producers of our safe quality food supply are in peril. They are going down hard.

Since the government is powerless to re-open borders, will it at least redesign its programs to get money to the farm gate? That is the trick.

AgricultureOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Sydney—Victoria Nova Scotia

Liberal

Mark Eyking LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Agri-Food)

Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with this from all angles. We are dealing with it on an international level in Washington and we are also dealing with it at the local level.

In 2002, $3.5 billion went to farmers. Last year we paid over $5 billion to farmers. We will be paying more.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the human resources minister completely dismissed the difficult situation unemployed workers on the North Shore are going through. It is so bad, these people have resorted to blocking highway 138 in order to be heard.

Will the minister act now to avoid sentencing the unemployed to destitution, and stop hiding behind her unfair employment insurance system?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Ahuntsic Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, no one here has sentenced these unemployed workers. We would like to remind the hon. member that we too are concerned about those without work. We have transferred some $600 million for employment insurance to Quebec every year, precisely to help people find work and keep it.

The issue affects all seasonal workers. We are going to continue to work with our partners, regional development offices, employers and community agencies in order to find long-term solutions for these workers.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can the minister continue to amass surpluses in the billions of dollars, while unemployed people are not receiving benefits to help them through the crisis? If they are truly concerned, let them act now.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Ahuntsic Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, we have already said we are taking action. We are working with our partners to find solutions for these workers. No one here is happy about the fact that people are without work. We are the ones who have created the most jobs in the past 10 years and we have lowered the unemployment rate. That is what Canadians want.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, in 2002 I pointed out to the then minister of public works that VIA Rail had laundered $1 million from the Liberal advertising scam and, worse, that Lafleur Communications Marketing was paid $112,000 to deliver the cheque to VIA and then donated $57,000 to the Liberal Party.

The minister, who is now the Minister of Finance, stated that he too was troubled by this file and had referred it to the RCMP for investigation.

Could he now tell us what the outcome of that RCMP investigation was?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, no. The police investigations are ongoing.

The hon. member did raise a concern, a concern that was also very much on the minds of members of the government and the Minister of Public Works at that time, which resulted in referrals to the Auditor General, a forensic audit of hundreds of files within public works, further administrative reviews and further referrals to the RCMP.

The government is taking these issues seriously. When we received the latest report of the Auditor General, we put in place, under the Prime Minister's direction, an unprecedented array of processes to--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order. The member for Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, is this not wonderful. There has been two years spent on a single file and there is still no answer.

Perhaps the reason the RCMP have not completed their investigation of VIA is that they themselves are the subject of an investigation as part of the same money laundering scam.

Does the minister believe Canadians should ever expect to receive the real truth when one of the participants involved in the scam is tasked with examining the others?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, members on this side of the House have great confidence in the RCMP, as do most people in the world. It is recognized as one of the top law enforcement agencies in the world.

However, because of the involvement of an administrative arm of the RCMP in this situation, the Sûreté du Québec has taken over that part of the investigation.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the Speech from the Throne the government promised to do its part to ensure speedier recognition of foreign credentials.

All of us have heard of medical doctors who have no choice but to drive taxis and Ph.D.s and engineers who are working in bars and restaurants. This is not a new problem.

What different approach will the government take to finally address this escalating problem?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, this is an important and very complex issue crossing many departments. As the parliamentary secretary responsible, I am coordinating an interdepartmental action plan that is both immediate and long term.

There is a project in place to address the shortage of doctors and one ongoing to address the shortage of nurses.

We are partnering with stakeholders and provinces to facilitate language training, pan-Canadian assessment tools and apprenticeship opportunities. An Internet portal is being developed with information for potential immigrants about requirements for credentials and job opportunities.

IndustryOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, in September 2003 the previous industry minister confirmed in the House that there was an internal investigation into bribery and fraud in the industrial research assistance program and promised to report back as soon as possible.

According to the Globe and Mail this scandal involves at least half a million dollars, and three employees from the National Research Council have been fired.

The government has had plenty of time to get to the bottom of this scandal. Will the government finally table the full results of this investigation?

IndustryOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I will certainly take the question under advisement and look at providing that information as quickly as possible. Investigations do require thoroughness and I am sure that is what is happening in this particular case.

IndustryOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the former industry minister confirmed this in September 2003. This investigation involving the RCMP has been ongoing since August 2002.

At least three employees have been fired. At least half a million dollars and perhaps $25 million is at stake. The government has a responsibility to come clean on this issue. Canadian taxpayers deserve to be told when the investigation will be completed, how many employees were involved and how much taxpayer money was lost through bribery and fraud.

IndustryOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in fact when this information is fully completed and available to be tabled in the House and presented to Canadians, we will do exactly that.

The fact that there is an investigation shows very clearly that we want to get to the bottom of this. We will be very transparent with Canadians in every aspect of governing.

TaxationOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, clearly, the Liberal government has a real love affair with Barbados since CSL International moved its headquarters there.

Thanks to the government, Canadian investors in Barbados are winning on all fronts. On the one hand, the tax treaty allows no information to be exchanged and, on the other, the Income Tax regulations exempt them from paying taxes in Canada.

What is the government waiting for to resolve this totally immoral situation that the Bloc Quebecois and the Auditor General have been condemning for the last ten years?

TaxationOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Brome—Missisquoi Québec

Liberal

Denis Paradis LiberalMinister of State (Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, it is common knowledge that Canada has concluded tax treaties with over 80 countries.

The purpose of these treaties is, first, to prevent double taxation and, second, to restrict tax evasion.

We are closely monitoring all these tax treaties and we are continually seeking ways to improve them.

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

February 20th, 2004 / 11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Veterans Affairs announced a long overdue $50 million recognition program for Canadian veterans who were treated as human guinea pigs in the testing of chemical warfare agents by their own government.

Why after 50 years of silence has the Government of Canada now decided to recognize these brave Canadian veterans?

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the government is recognizing these brave Canadian veterans because now is the right time to do it.

On behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada, I want to express our deepest regrets to these veterans and their families who have suffered far too long in silence. All Canadians owe them a debt of gratitude.

We hope that yesterday's announcement of a payment and recognition program will allow these veterans who have served Canada with pride and distinction to move forward with the respect and admiration they so richly deserve.

Business Development BankOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, earlier in question period, the Minister of Transport confirmed that the government is reviewing the decision of the board of the Business Development Bank to keep Michel Vennat in place. That review could be done quickly and no one would want its results to disappear into the mists of an election campaign.

Can the government give us an undertaking now that that speedy review will be finished and a report made to Parliament by the 15th of March, a reasonable date?