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House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

*Question No. 32Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt LiberalMinister of National Defence

The answer is as follows: a) The contract refit commenced on January 6 and is scheduled to be complete on November 19, 2004. When the Preserver returns to the Navy, an additional 8 weeks will be required for Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott to complete work related to the ship’s systems.

b) Following refit and fleet maintenance work, the Preserver will begin a technical readiness program to evaluate the ship’s major systems. It is anticipated that the ship and crew will be worked up to high readiness status, capable of full operational deployment, as early as August 2005.

c) Halifax Shipyard was awarded a contract for $17,958,179.27 (HST included). Due to a work arising of $45,429.73, HST included, the current value of the contract is $18,003,609, HST included. Note: The contract includes provisions to open and inspect equipment. Should these inspections reveal requirements for additional work, the work would be considered a “work arising” to the original contract. Based on previous refits, “work arisings” represent between 30 and 35 percent of the value of the contract, a potential $5.4 million - $6.3 million increase to costs of known work.

d) The Government has not yet taken a decision regarding the replacement of Canada’s logistic re-supply vessels.

*Question No. 33Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

With regard to the Finance Department’s regulations on employee stock purchase plans, are individuals participating in these programs charged income on the value of the shares they purchase, and, if so, what is the rationale?

*Question No. 33Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

When an individual acquires a share under an employee stock purchase plan, and pays less for the share than would an ordinary investor acquiring an identical share at the same time on the open market, the Income Tax Act treats the difference as a taxable employment benefit.

The fact that an individual acquires company shares under an employee stock purchase plan at a discount is clearly a benefit that the individual enjoys by virtue of his or her employment status. The taxation of such benefits ensures that the tax system treats all financial benefits received by virtue of one’s employment–whether paid in cash or in some other form–on a fair and equitable basis.

*Question No. 33Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Liberal Sarnia—Lambton, ON

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

*Question No. 33Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

*Question No. 33Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

*Question No. 33Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(b) to inform the House that the matter of the failure of the ministry to respond to Petition No. 3730014 is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 39(5) to inform the House that the matter of the failure of the ministry to respond to the following questions on the Order Paper is deemed referred to several standing committees of the House as follows: Question No. 6, standing in the name of the hon. member for Yellowhead to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts; Question No. 9, standing in the name of the hon. member for St. Albert to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates; and Question No. 20, standing in the name of the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

I wish to inform the House that, because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 27 minutes.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

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3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam had the floor before question period. The hon. member has two minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks.

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3:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have been investing wisely, but the return is only two minutes of my time. I also have to mention that when I first began speaking before question period, I failed to let the House know that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill.

In summation, the reason those of us in the official opposition put forward this motion is that the vast majority of Canadians are very much disappointed by the incumbent Prime Minister, his lack of a legislative agenda and the lack of any kind of direction for this country.

This country really does face some dynamic and important concerns and problems as we go ahead. We have some serious concerns with regard to infrastructure, housing, our armed forces, agriculture, trade, relations with the United States, relations with Europe, national defence, immigration, all sorts of issues. We have some profound public policy questions but instead, what do we see? In his first 100 days, we see the Prime Minister having photo ops with a piece of paper called Flat Mark. We see him doing photo ops in Lethbridge, Alberta with failed Liberal candidates. We see him doing all kinds of things rather than putting forward a substantive legislative agenda for a complicated G-8 nation facing serious struggles with urbanization, internationalism, globalization and an economy that is not nearly as strong as it should be for a country whose citizens are paying the taxes that they are.

With all that in mind, I am proud to stand with the new Conservative Party, with the new leader that we elected this past weekend, to provide Canadians with a new vision for a new agenda for this country. It is one that is based on the principles of lower taxes, less government, more freedom, democratic and parliamentary reform, and respecting the rights and powers of individuals to have more control over their lives. That is what the new Conservative Party is about. That is what our leader is about. That is what we will be presenting to Canadians in the next campaign as opposite to the tired, old, corrupt agenda of the Liberal Party of Canada and we are proud to do so.

With that, I am prepared to take any questions, should there be any.

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3:55 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I notice that the motion before us today from the Conservative Party talks about the past decade of mismanagement, corruption and incompetence. The member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam earlier took some issue with the member for Windsor—St. Clair, that somehow we were suggesting that all Conservative members along with the Liberal members could fess up, could own up to a long list of corruption. I think he pointed out that he was only seven years old when Mr. Mulroney was prime minister. I do not think there was a suggestion that all Conservative members belonged in that club. I would suggest that if he took the time to read a very good book, On The Take by Stevie Cameron, he would actually see a very interesting list of some of his predecessors.

There is actually a very interesting common thread between the Liberals and the old and the new Conservative Party and the old and the new Liberals. That is the very strong theme of cronyism that they share of having their friends and trading them back and forth and the corporate lobbyists.

I appreciate the comments of the hon. member, but I think he might want to do a little more historical reading to see the fine tradition that he and his party come from.

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that if I am looking for some factual data and concrete analysis of Canadian politics and certainly with regard to numbers, Stevie Cameron will not be the first point of information that I will search.

What Canadians are looking at is the Auditor General's report tabled just a few weeks ago which highlighted an astonishing level of corruption that has been described as shocking. In fact, Michael Bliss, a professor of history at the University of Toronto, hardly a bastion of right wing conservatism, has said that this is the most corrupt government in Canadian history. This indeed says a lot, given some of the scandals that we have seen in this country, given some of the scandals we have seen with provincial governments, both NDP and in past history some Progressive Conservative governments and in fact some Liberal governments.

The point that I was making for my colleague from Vancouver East was that it is not responsible to say that all people, because they happen to pay $10 and belong to a certain political party, are corrupt. I believe the NDP just passed 100,000 members nationally, something they are very proud of. The new Conservative Party has well over 250,000 members. The Liberal Party I believe has close to 400,000 members. It is certainly not fair to say that therefore all of the people who are members of all of those parties, because they happen to identify with that ideology, are corrupt.

However, it is certainly responsible of the House to demand accountability. That is what the new Conservative Party is going to do. That is what we have been doing for the past couple of months. In fact it is what we have been doing for the past 10 years in practice as the official opposition.

In the next campaign the Canadian public will have, as I have said, a very simple, straightforward and clear choice. They can have the status quo Liberal government described as the most corrupt government in Canadian history that is spending more money than any government before in Canadian history, or they can vote for a new generation of leadership and a new national Conservative Party that is providing a new vision based on lower taxes, less government, more freedom, personal responsibility, strong national defence and a strong reform of our democratic system. Those are the choices in the coming campaign and I am proud to stand with this party.

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I remember back in 1997 when I first came to the House, there was a situation where a Liberal fundraiser named Pierre Corbeil got hold of a list of companies that were receiving grants. He was basically shaking them down for cash saying “If you do not give $10,000 to the Liberal Party of Canada, you are going to lose your grant”. He was charged and convicted on four counts of influence peddling. I think what we saw at that point in 1997 was the tip of the iceberg, as it were.

I was wondering if my colleague might want to comment on the beginning of that scandal and the continuation of it as it has been culminating and growing every single day.

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, certainly if we look at the Auditor General's reports going back to Denis Desautels and even before that, and compare them to Sheila Fraser's report, there is an appearance that the Liberal Party has clearly learned nothing from the scandals of the past.

In closing, I did want to mention on the record that my colleague from Dewdney--Alouette has declared that he will not be running for re-election. I just wanted to say on the record that I am proud to call him a friend. He has been a fantastic member of Parliament. He is a fine gentleman and he has done a great job representing the riding immediately neighbouring mine. He will be sorely missed in the House and I think we are all proud to call him a friend.

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4 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read again for those who may have just joined the debate this afternoon the motion that we are debating. It is an opposition motion put forward by my own party, the Conservative Party of Canada. The motion reads as follows:

That, given the lack of new legislation introduced by the Liberal government during the Third Session of this Parliament, this House recognize that the current government is not new, but rather one that is intricately linked to the past decade of mismanagement, corruption and incompetence, and has accordingly lost the confidence of this House.

First, I would like to address the issue that the government lacks any new legislation. Only six days after we resumed sitting in this new session of Parliament the government brought in closure. It cut off all debate. Why did it cut off all debate? It wanted to bring back wholesale all the legislation that had already been in place when Parliament adjourned in November. This is in spite of the fact that we had a new Prime Minister. This is in spite of the fact that the new Prime Minister had spent not months, but years of his life travelling the country talking about how much better it was going to be once he led the Liberal Party.

The Prime Minister spent years talking about what he was going to do, yet his first move was to bring back exactly the same discredited, in many cases fatally flawed, legislation that we had already been talking about for months and months. Not only did he bring back this legislation, but he brought it back with the hammer of closure. Imagine that. So devoid of ideas was the so-called new Liberal Prime Minister that he just had to fight and finally impose on Parliament the old agenda, the agenda brought in in this way in spite of his promises of correcting what he called the democratic deficit. What could possibly be democratic about forcing Parliament to simply regurgitate the old agenda?

At the end of February, about a month after the so-called new Prime Minister came into office, on the Maclean's magazine website appeared the following information:

Last week every deputy minister in Ottawa was given an astonishing assignment.

The lead civil servant in charge of every government department was given two weeks to deliver a 10 page memo outlining new ideas for government--“with an emphasis on thinking outside the box”...for delivery within two weeks.

This government-wide brainstorm represents [the Prime Minister's] response to what every pundit in town has noticed in the past week: If the sponsorship scandal does force an election delay then this government is dangerously out of luck because it is devoid of a governing agenda.

But there may be a delay, which means that the...government may actually have to govern. Hence the demand for revolutionary thinking across the government, with the ludicrously short deadline.

That is from our national affairs magazine, Maclean's , talking about how desperate the government is, putting the boots to deputy ministers in the departments to try to scramble to come up with something, anything new, anything that could allow the Liberals to keep going until they feel it is safe to call an election. How disgusting. How despicable.

Our motion also talks about the Liberal mismanagement, corruption and incompetence. I just want to mention a few examples. If we look at every department of the government, there is enormous mismanagement, corruption and incompetence. It is on the record. It is not some figment of the imagination.

For example, in the environment portfolio, the Auditor General has pointed to over 100 toxic waste sites that have been sitting there fouling and polluting the wonderful Canadian land for decades. The Liberal government has done nothing, in a whole decade, to clean up over 100 toxic waste sites.

Then we can look at finance and see the vendetta against François Beaudoin of the Business Development Bank. Why? Because he dared to say “I know the prime minister wants to give his friend a loan, but it is a bad loan. We should not do it”. For doing his job of protecting the money of Canadians, he was hounded and his reputation was tattered. In fact a judge said that the government appointees tried to destroy this man's career.

Then we have fisheries and oceans. We know about the devastation of the fish stocks under the incredibly incompetent mismanagement of the government.

In foreign affairs we have all the questions about why so many CIDA grants seem to go to corrupt foreign governments instead of to the people they are supposed to help.

In health we had the millions stolen from the Virginia Fontaine foundation, and all the fraud in that whole thing, including a deputy minister.

In heritage we had this big flag giveaway. It was supposed to cost $6 million. The figure now is $45 million, 6 or 7 times as much as the government originally told us it was.

Speaking of that, what about the gun registry? It was supposed to be $2 million. Now we hear it could be $2 billion, over 1,000 times as much. Is that what we can expect of that government?

Then we have immigration, my portfolio. We have a court of this land saying that the immigration minister and department misled Parliament. That is a court finding. That is not some accusation by a suspicious opposition. That is a finding of our courts.

Just last week 278 criminal charges were brought against someone whom the Liberals appointed, a patronage appointment connected with a Liberal cabinet minister, a judge of the Immigration and Refugee Board, for taking bribes to let people into Canada who would not have got in otherwise.

What kind of government are they running over there? That is why we brought forward this motion of non-confidence.

Then of course there is the missing money in defence: $160 million that went to subcontracts for computers, and apparently no one knows where the money is.

Of course the one we are keeping an eye on, the one the public is watching the most this week, is the sponsorship program, where $250 million was put out the door with very little paperwork, very little accounting and very little program description. It turns out, according to the Auditor General, that $100 million of it went out for no work at all. I guess it was commissions, or “just because”.

It reminds me of four years ago when we talked about the HRDC billion dollar boondoggle. According to another audit, $1 billion in program spending went out the door, with no financial tracking or controls over 97% of it.

Now we have this sponsorship scandal. Here is what one of our key political commentators in this city had to said about it:

The allegation is that senior political figures used the ad agencies to launder money so, for example, the wife of a senior politician goes shopping in downtown Montreal, buying very expensive clothes, and a person from the ad agency goes along with a Visa card and goes 'click' 'click' and it gets charged back to the advertising agency and gets charged back to the Government of Canada...

With all these things in front of the public, with all this wide range of mismanagement, with all this absolute poverty, of ideas for bringing Canada forward into the 21st century, this motion of non-confidence fully deserves the support of the House. I hope that even Liberals will hang their heads in shame and vote non-confidence so we can get on with it and give Canada the kind of future it deserves.

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4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Nose Hill for her speech and for the opportunity to speak about the issues that are facing our country, the issues that are grieving our country today. When we turn our television sets on and see parliamentary committees discussing the issues of the sponsorship scandal, it is a sad day in Canadian history.

I would like to ask the member from Nose Hill a question about ministerial accountability. One thing that grieved me the most, as I watched the former minister of public works, Alfonso Gagliano, speak at committee, was when he talked about not having control of his department. He was unable to realize that as a minister there were certain responsibilities that went with the post.

Could the member from Nose Hill tell us how we change the system? How do we put in place safeguards? How do we allow the public to know and to have confidence that the government is indeed wisely watching over the affairs of the nation?

I have one other question which the member might answer. I was not here in the House shortly after the 1993 election, but it is my understanding that the government got rid of many of the safeguards that departments had. That is they were changed so there were no watchdogs within departments to ensure things were going along in an ethical manner. I would pose that question for the member.

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4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the matter of ministerial responsibility, last week we had the most amazing, shocking and disgusting display by a former minister of the Crown who actually told Parliament in a committee meeting, “I didn't run my department. I didn't know what was going on. I'm not responsible”.

Canadians do not buy that. They know very well that ministers are hugely responsible. For example, we know that every minister for ACOA spends most of the ACOA funds in his own riding. That is not coincidence. That is not because the minister does not have anything to say. It is because ministers do call the shots, and for government to try to pretend otherwise is just ludicrous, sad and despicable.

The first thing that a Conservative government would do would be to state very clearly that the buck would stop with the minister. If there is wrongdoing in the department, the minister will be held accountable.

By the way, that is the way it was in the former Conservative government. It gets a bad rap, but how many ministers resigned from that government when they were found to not be handling affairs in a way that the public thought was appropriate? How many ministers resigned from this government? None, not a one, in spite of all the things I just talked about in my speech, so that would restore trust.

We need to restore trust by making the office of the ethics counsellor fully, completely and totally independent, not what government members are now suggesting. Theirs is not independence at all. The Prime Minister would still call the shots.

We need to have a fully independent Chief Actuary of Canada who would oversee programs like the Canada pension plan and the health insurance plan.

I would end by saying the following. If we cannot trust the government to guard the public purse, to put a stop to fraud, to have an absence of deep corruption and if we cannot trust the government with our money, then we cannot trust it with health care, the environment or to help cities in a way that it should. If a government cannot be trusted with our money, neither can it be trusted with the other important things in our lives.

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4:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think the Conservative Party member is trying to go some distance to differentiate her party from the so-called new Liberal Party, but on many issues there is really no difference at all whether it is like trying to put off a decision on equality for same-sex marriage, or $100 billion in tax cuts or supporting the government on national missile defence. What is the difference in terms of what the so-called new Conservative Party has to offer? It seems to me that the agendas have merged and blended. Therefore, the choice for Canadians from that point of view is not clear at all.

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4:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I understand an election is coming, and I understand that the New Democratic Party wants to make yards at the expense of the Conservative Party. We all do these things.

The fact of the matter is that two days ago this party chose a leader. We will be putting forward an agenda. It is pretty hard for the member, with all the will in the world, over there to criticize an agenda that has not been put forward yet.

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March 22nd, 2004 / 4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for York South--Weston.

Today is the first sitting of the House since the Conservative Party chose its leader on the weekend. I hesitate to use the words new leader because he is the same leader that the Alliance Party had. In fact this completes the takeover by the Canadian Alliance, formerly the Reform Party. It completes the takeover of the word conservative.

What has that party done the first day in the House after its convention? It has put forward a motion asking the House to recognize that the current government is not new. It is asking the House to indicate that it has no confidence in the government.

The Conservative Party's time would have been spent far more usefully, this first day back after its convention, if it had put something positive forward in the House, something that would have indicated its vision for Canada, something that would have indicated what changes it would like to make and what policies it would like to see brought forward for the benefit of Canadians.

Instead, what do we have today? We have a motion before us that simply says the current government is not new. That is silly. It is the same party, but it is a new government. What is the point of spending a whole day debating that? What is the point of spending a whole day debating whether the House has confidence in the government? The Conservative Party well knows the composition of membership in the House. The majority of people here are Liberals and will vote confidence in their own party. Conservative members know that. Why are they wasting this whole day?

We are not hearing any positive contribution from those members. They are not telling Canadians what they stand for. What we are hearing is petty rhetoric and a lot of mud slinging. It is very cheap politics that we are getting in support of their motion in the House today, and that is regrettable. Those members have wasted a lot of taxpayers' time. They have wasted a lot of time for Canadians when they could have been talking something more positive, that is if they have something more positive to put forward in terms of how they see Canada in the future, which might be different from what we as Liberals see.

The motion states that we have not put new legislation before the House. The House has been in session for about 6 or 7 weeks now and has in fact passed 12 bills. It has passed legislation dealing with a wide range of issues important to Canadians. We should not belittle that. That is what the House is here to do. We are here to try to improve the conditions under which Canadians live. Twelve bills inside of seven weeks is a pretty good record, but it does not stop there.

New legislation will be coming forward. One piece of legislation, with respect to a promise made by the Prime Minister to protect whistleblowers, was introduced today. He promised that legislation would be introduced by March 31 and today is March 22.

Not everything finds its way into legislation. The government has a wide range of responsibilities to Canadians to act on matters of urgency. One of them was today. It may not be legislation in the current sense, but I am sure it will get into the finance bill. The government announced today almost $1 billion to the agricultural industry, particularly beef producers. This is a big boost to that industry at a very tough time. That is an important thing for the government to do, and it has spent the time to do it. It may not be what those members call new legislation, but it is part of the government's responsibilities.

The government's responsibilities with respect to the sponsorship program have been quite clear. The Prime Minister acted very swiftly on the report of the Auditor General. He acted very swiftly by appointing Mr. Justice Gomery to hold a public inquiry to look into the matter. We keep hearing about the work of the public accounts committee day in and day out. The Prime Minister also appointed a special counsel with a mandate to pursue all possible avenues for financial recovery.

I know that people across the country are upset about what has happened here, but the Prime Minister has moved very quickly and very decisively in action on that matter. This again shows that the government wants to correct this problem and to get on with the business of government, to get on with the issues that need to be dealt with, the issues that in fact were part of the active agenda that was promoted in the Speech from the Throne.

The Speech from the Throne on February 2 outlined a very ambitious agenda in many different areas. For example, on the issue that most Canadians feel is number one, health, some $2 billion in health care transfers to the provinces was confirmed. Two billion dollars goes a long way when we consider the other money that over the last few years has been transferred to help improve the health care system. That is going to help a lot.

On top of that was the announcement that there would be a new Canadian public health agency established, with a new chief public health officer. It would be something along the lines of the CDC in Atlanta, perhaps. This kind of operation that focuses on public health would help overcome some of the problems and would put us on a very positive course for being able to handle anything like SARS or any other public health disaster that may be inflicted upon us. That is going to involve legislation and that will involve the action of the government, so I do not understand why the opposition is trying to get away with the argument that there is nothing new.

On aboriginal Canadians, the Prime Minister made it clear that we are going work with first nations to improve governance in their communities. We are not going to just foist something upon them; we will work with them to create it. This will expand our successful urban aboriginal strategy. In my case, in Toronto there are many people of the first nations and the urban strategy is very vital to us. I know that people at times seem to be focused on what happens on reserves, but there are more of our aboriginal people living in cities and facing many very tough challenges. That was outlined in the Speech from the Throne.

The care of our children is another area. Part of that is accelerating initiatives for more quality child care spaces. In Toronto we badly need child care spaces to help families in which both parents are working. We need quality child care and quality early childhood education. Those are all important parts of helping our children. Our children are our most important asset, as has been said on many occasions. They are the investment in the future. Quality child care was announced in the Speech from the Throne. This is again another new direction.

Creating opportunities for Canadians with disabilities was also touched upon, particularly in regard to improving the fairness of the tax system for persons with disabilities and their supporting families.

The democratic deficit, as it is often called, was addressed extensively. The Prime Minister has been very committed to making the House work better for all Canadians and making all of us an important part of the decision making. This is as opposed to having it all concentrated in the Prime Minister's office or all concentrated in the cabinet. It is important that we all be part of it.

Addressing this not only will benefit the people on the Liberal side of the House, but it will benefit the people on the opposition side of the House as well and it will strengthen our committee structure. It also will strengthen our say in who gets appointed to the Supreme Court or many other different boards and commissions, and there will be a greater opportunity to scrutinize the estimates, the budgets and the programs of different departments. Those things are all important as well.

Finally, there is the new deal for cities or the new deal for communities, something I as a former mayor of Toronto am very interested in. We announced in the throne speech that in fact the GST was being waived on municipal purchases. This creates some $7 billion over 10 years. We announced that infrastructure was going to be expedited and that more would be done in terms of transit and housing. I hope we will hear more about that in tomorrow's budget speech.

It is wrong to say that the government has not introduced new legislation or has not brought about new work. It is wrong to say that the House has lost confidence. It is a waste of time to go through that kind of endeavour. We would have been far better to have heard from the Conservatives what positive contribution they want to make. All they wanted to do today was sling more mud and engage in petty politics.

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4:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I hear what the hon. member across the way says about wanting to engage in supposedly serious debate about serious issues, but I hope he understands the frustration on this side.

The reason we on this side have lost confidence in the government is that we have brought forward a litany of motions, even in recent history over the last two or three years, and either they get short shrift from the government or, even when passed in the House, they get completely ignored. For example, when the member for Wild Rose brings forward a motion dealing with child pornography, the House passes it unanimously and the government completely ignores it.

He mentioned the case when John Nunziata brought forward the motion to abolish section 745 of the Criminal Code, the faint hope clause for first degree murder. It passed. The government ignored it.

When we brought forward a motion to create an independent ethics commissioner, the current Prime Minister and everyone on the other side voted against it.

When we brought forward motions on free votes, the government voted against us and said it was preposterous, that we could not have that.

When the government said just recently that it is going to have a whole new package to address the democratic deficit, the very first question I asked the House leader in the procedure and house affairs committee was, just as one example, whether the Liberals would allow their members to vote freely on the abolition of the gun registry, the billion dollar waste of money. His response was no, they could not vote against that because that has already been passed.

Is it any wonder that we have lost confidence in the government? I think Canadians have too. It does not matter what we pass here. The meaningful--

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4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member for York Centre.

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4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are resolutions passed in the House, but it does not necessarily mean they are being ignored by the government. The government may not agree. The government may examine these resolutions.

In fact, some of the resolutions that I believe the hon. member is talking about are ones that ask the government to “consider”. The government does consider many of these issues but may not agree with the direction that some hon. members in the opposition want to take things in. We think they are a little too far out there, the Alliance or the Conservatives, whatever they are called, in many of the positions they take.

The ethics counsellor, okay, they were promoting that. They can take a bow because we had put it into legislation. I think it is something that we all agree is absolutely necessary and this Prime Minister gave it a priority that we would do it.

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4:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, one has to admit that we have a bit of a strange situation. On the one hand we have a motion from the official opposition saying that the government has lost the confidence of the House. That usually implies that we would go to an election, yet we heard today, as we have on other days, that the Leader of the Opposition does not want an election. He actually wants to wait until the fall; I saw a quote from him in the paper today. It is a bit strange.

Then we have the government side arguing that there really is a full agenda. I think the member for York Centre made a valiant attempt to put out the agenda, but one has to admit it is pretty thin. Other than what we have dealt with already, what else is there? Nothing else is coming forward.

Our point of view is that we should get into the election and let the Canadian people decide what their confidence is.

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4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is thin. Again I do not think there is recognition of the fact that everything that is done as an initiative of this government does not necessarily find its way into legislation. A lot of it does. There was one piece of legislation introduced today on whistleblowing, a very needed piece of legislation. I mentioned the ethics counsellor. There have been some 12 bills in 7 weeks, so there is work being done.

The government's announcement on the agricultural program today and many other announcements show that the government is working. The government has been working day in and day out since it came into power on December 12. There are various committees doing various activities to improve the quality of life for Canadians.