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House of Commons Hansard #2 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was program.

Topics

Canada Steamship LinesOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if this response will satisfy the Canadian taxpayer. Here we have a Prime Minister who says “trust me”.

I will ask the question again that I just asked. Is the figure that we have now come up with through ATI, the figure of $161 million, the full figure, yes or no?

Canada Steamship LinesOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I did not compile those numbers. I have not been involved in the company for some 15 years. It is without a shadow of doubt the best answer that the government is capable of coming up with.

I am prepared to say that if the hon. member would like, I would be quite prepared to ask the Auditor General why there was a delay between the original question and the provision of those numbers. I am prepared to ask the Auditor General if she would like to take a look at this.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is no answer forthcoming. It seems to me unbelievable that a person would not know how much money they received from the government.

The Prime Minister capitulated on the issue of having a public inquiry into the Maher Arar case. The terms of that inquiry we know must be independent. It must be broad enough to get to the truth and to ensure that public confidence is restored.

The terms of reference currently do not appear to be broad enough to include an examination of what led the RCMP to raid the home of reporter Juliet O'Neil. Will the Prime Minister guarantee that the public inquiry will be broad enough to include delving into this issue of the raid, the home invasion of that reporter--

Maher Arar InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Deputy Prime Minister.

Maher Arar InquiryOral 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, the hon. member is probably aware that the terms of reference of the Arar inquiry are presently being worked out between government officials and Mr. Justice O'Connor. As soon as those terms of reference have been finalized, they will be made public for all to see.

Maher Arar InquiryOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, again that was a very vague answer and no commitment.

We know that the results of this public inquiry touch on areas fundamental to public access to information, the rights of citizens and public security, so they have to be broad enough to answer these allegations of a police state.

I am asking the newly minted Prime Minister if he will ensure that the secrecy provisions of the new Canada Evidence Act will not be used to prevent a full public inquiry into the reasons behind the home invasion of reporter Juliet O'Neil nor the criminal charges that are apparently still under investigation.

Maher Arar InquiryOral 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, we have made it absolutely plain that the terms of reference for this inquiry are being discussed between Mr. Justice O'Connor and government officials at this time.

We have also made it absolutely plain, and of course Mr. Justice O'Connor would expect, that he would have access to all information that bears upon the mandate of this inquiry, which is to look into the actions of Canadian officials around the deportation and detention of Maher Arar.

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, while people consider health to be the number one priority and the $2 billion from Jean Chrétien is already all spent, the Prime Minister could find nothing better to do in his throne speech than to create indicators to measure the damage that he himself has caused by his shameless cuts to the health transfer payments to the provinces and Quebec.

Will the Prime Minister admit that what is needed to provide people with health care is not statistics, but rather new funding, and new funding right now, to help Quebec and the provinces provide people with good care?

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that, given the aging population and the new technologies, more funding will be needed for health care.

The leader of the opposition ought not to downplay the importance of indicators. All experts in the country have made it clear that, taking the matter of waiting lists as an example, we need the ability to gauge the situation with indicators. These are very important; all the experts agree.

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, here we have a government that, basically, administers not a single hospital anywhere in Canada yet plans to tell the provinces and Quebec what to do. Here we are again with the same old “Ottawa knows best” attitude.

The Prime Minister puts his money in areas he considers true priorities. Can he explain to us why he puts money into the armed forces but no new money into health care? Let him explain that to me.

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, not only did the previous government invest $35 billion into health services, but we have just confirmed another $2 billion. We did that last week. The amount of $37 billion, to me, is real money.

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the number one priority for Quebec and the rest of Canada is health care, an area that has been underfunded ever since this Prime Minister reduced the federal share of funding from 22% in 1994 to 16% today.

Why has the Prime Minister not taken concrete action, as he did for the municipalities, and reimbursed the hospitals for the GST they are paying? This would have been a worthwhile and significant action, instead of mere words.

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, last Friday the Prime Minister took some very concrete action by confirming the $2 billion promised, provided, of course, there is a surplus. Since mid-December, this government has made sure that there will indeed a surplus, in order to be able to provide that $2 billion.

I can assure you that we will continue to work with my colleague, the Minister of Finance. That was the agreement between the Prime Minister and his colleagues, that there would be a meeting of finance and health ministers in order to solve the problems in health care. We are all aware of one thing: money alone is not the solution.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the same thing has been repeated three times.

In the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister said that the municipalities need stable and recurrent funding to meet their priorities. Does he not see that the same is true for health, that the system also needs stable and recurrent funding, as the provincial premiers told him, and that a full GST rebate would be the first solid step toward reaching this objective?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am astounded. The $34.8 billion over the coming years is a major investment for the next five years. We have increased this five-year $34.8 billion investment by another $2 billion. If that is not a significant amount of funding then I do not understand what more the Bloc Quebecois wants.

We intend to address the number one priority of Canadians as it should be addressed. In other words, we will continue to work on funding and reforming our system.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister found $100 billion to reduce taxes when he was the finance minister, but now he is dropping his progressive ideas from ten years ago, such as home care and pharmacare. There was not a word on the topic in the Speech from the Throne.

Why can the Prime Minister always do the right thing by the corporations, but he does not even appear to have given a thought as to how Canadians can deal with the rising price of drugs?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, at the meeting with the provincial prime ministers and the territorial leaders there was extensive discussion of health care. We agreed that we would meet again this summer on essentially the whole question of sustainability, financing and reform.

At the same time, there will be a meeting of finance ministers within the months to come, and many of the health ministers.

We made it very clear that the entire health accord, as agreed to between the provinces and the federal government, is an incredible priority for us. Home care and the other issues are a very important part of that.

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure Canadians would have felt more comfortable if the Prime Minister would have at least flagged these issues in his Speech from the Throne. He is good at flagging other things. He could have at least flagged this.

The other thing he never flagged was the Romanow report, not one mention of the Romanow report.

We had a little exchange on this earlier. The Prime Minister did not commit to meeting the Romanow gap, to meeting the Romanow recommendations with respect to the kind of money the provinces need, not a one shot $2 billion payment, but meeting the 25% goal, for instance, that Romanow recommended, and also other things having to do with privatization. What is the Prime Minister's position on that?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's position is very similar to that which Commissioner Romanow himself set out, which is we cannot cherry-pick. We have to look at the entire Romanow Report.

When we talk about the Romanow gap, which is after all a financial target, then we have to look at the wide range of recommendations made by Mr. Romanow. That is why the health accord between the provinces and the federal government is so important.

Canada Steamship LinesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, moments ago in response to our leader, the Prime Minister said that the $161 million was the best answer the government was capable of giving. We have already uncovered an error with the government's $161 million response with respect to another of the Prime Minister's companies, Canarctic Shipping.

I would like to ask this of not the Prime Minister, who obviously does not know, but of the House leader who sent this document over. How many more errors are in this document and when will Canadians finally know the truth about how much government money was given to the Prime Minister's companies?

Canada Steamship LinesOral Question Period

2:25 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, when I was given the mandate to look into this file, I did so very scrupulously, meticulously and thoroughly. I personally have gone through all kinds of cross-referencing of the figures provided to me. I made sure that we covered all the angles that were available to us. Documents are normally kept for six years in government. We went back 11 years for whatever was available.

If my colleague has anything else to add to that, I would be pleased to receive his documents.

Canada Steamship LinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, they had every government department at their disposal and they still got the information wrong.

The fact is it was what is called a non-repayable contribution to one of the Prime Minister's companies, a subsidiary of CSL called Canarctic Shipping. This company received a non-repayable contribution which, to translate for everyone here, is a situation where “I found a suitcase and I do not have to return the money”.

Again I wish to ask the House leader this. We have waited a year and a half for a straight answer. We have still not received it. How much money has the Prime Minister's former companies received from the Government of Canada?

Canada Steamship LinesOral Question Period

2:30 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, I have made sure to provide a document which is unheard of in terms of the size of what I posted on the website to make it public to Canadians. I have sent you a letter. I have sent a letter to each leader. I have covered all the angles I had to cover.

I repeat to my colleague, if he wants to be straight why did he not put this thing on the table in the first place?

Canada Steamship LinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, first there is the $161 million administrative error. Then the new revised list, the best answer the government is capable of, proves to be erroneous and incomplete. That is on top of the fact that the Prime Minister signed four false declarations of assets regarding the content of his blind management agreement. It seems somehow he forgot that he owned the one company that got the majority of the contracts from the government.

Finally, it was all made possible because his company's ships were registered in the one tax haven that he did not shut down as finance minister.

How does this square with the Prime Minister's statement that he wants Canadians to believe in government?

Canada Steamship LinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, I have had no involvement with this company, and indeed anybody who signs one of these blind management agreements has no such involvement. Under those circumstances, when one signs the declaration, it is prepared by the ethics commissioner's department and one basically signs it on that basis. The hon. member knows that.

Now I have made the offer. If the hon. member has doubts about the veracity of the procedures that were followed, I am quite prepared to ask the Auditor General to look at that. If that is what the hon. member wants, all he has to do is take us up on the offer.