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House of Commons Hansard #28 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

It being Wednesday we will now have the singing of the national anthem, led by the hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore.

[Editor's Note: Members sang the national anthem]

National Kidney MonthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, March is National Kidney Month. I rise to recognize this and to recognize the needs of all those who suffer from kidney disease and their families.

I also want to recognize all those who care for those suffering with kidney disease and those who conduct research into ways of coping with and curing kidney disease.

In recent years I have presented petitions from literally tens of thousands of people in Peterborough, southern Ontario and further afield who also support this cause.

These petitions were initiated by Ken Sharp, who has been on kidney dialysis all of his adult life. The petitions focused on the development of a bioartificial kidney and the designation of one of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as a kidney institute.

I urge all members to support those with kidney disease, their families, friends and the medical professionals who work to help them.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to congratulate the residents of Red Deer in advance of National Volunteer Week.

Red Deer has a long, proud history of volunteerism. Our community alone has over 18,000 volunteers.

Volunteers made this year's Scott Tournament of Hearts the smashing success it was. Organizers turned away as many volunteers as they actually needed.

The Board of Governors at Red Deer College are an example of the great volunteers we have. That makes it a true community college. The activities of the board have seen a new library completed and many other community activities organized.

We have had the World Junior Hockey championships. We sell 50-50 tickets at the Red Deer Rebel games. The Festival of Trees is a great success. We have manning the phones for the annual jail and bail fundraiser. Those are just a few of the things that the residents of Red Deer do. They always come out in force to make this truly a paradise in which to live.

Red Deer is certainly the city of volunteers.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 2004 budget lays the foundation for a better future for all Canadians. This budget has two clear objectives. It demonstrates unequivocally the principles of financial responsibility and integrity, and begins to give tangible shape to the goals presented in the Speech from the Throne.

Investing in health care, our communities, learning, the well-being and development of our children now and in the future, that is how the government puts people at the heart of all it does.

We will not throw fiscal caution to the wind, nor will we engage in a pre-election spending spree. This is a solid budget that allows Canada to begin another decade of achievement with confidence.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the government and the Minister of Finance on its seventh consecutive balanced budget.

I was especially pleased that the government yesterday announced that it will restore its contribution to the Canadian television fund at $100 million a year over two years.

Since 1996 the government has contributed more than $800 million to the CTF. This funding has been instrumental in bringing approximately $5 billion worth of quality Canadian programming to the screen.

The messages from my constituents were loud and clear: that the CTF is essential to Canadian broadcasting. My constituent, Keith Ross Leicke, a professional Canadian screenwriter, wrote:

The CTF is a strong cultural tool in this country as it supports Canadian television shows that are written, directed and performed by Canadians.

I am pleased to note that the increased financial resources for the fund confirms this government's continuing commitment to support the production of high quality Canadian television programming.

St. Lawrence SeawayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Christian Jobin Liberal Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week I met with marine industry stakeholders in Quebec City who were floored by comments made by the Bloc Quebecois regarding the expansion of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Since day one, the Bloc Quebecois has been misinforming Quebeckers on certain subjects, including the expansion of the St. Lawrence Seaway. I come back to this today to save Quebeckers from the tall tales of the opposition.

As the Minister of Transport confirmed yesterday in the House, the Canadian government has no intention of expanding the seaway. Instead, it intends to integrate this natural resource into a process that will revive the Canadian marine industry while respecting environmental rules.

Surrey Central CityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate Surrey Central City, an office-retail-university complex, for winning the most prestigious award, the Special Jury Prize at the International Property Market Awards in Cannes, France. It is kind of an Oscar of the property industry.

Architect, Bing Thom, was recognized for transforming a struggling Surrey mall into a modern urban centre that is a landmark dominating the city's skyline.

Lost in the stories of grow-ops, auto theft, gang violence and homelessness in Surrey is the vibrancy of one of Canada's fastest growing cities. Construction is booming and over 800 new residents a month call Surrey home.

Known as the city of parks, it is home to North America's third largest rodeo, B.C. Hydro, Terasen, BC Biomedical Labs and TransLink, among many corporations.

Surrey, a city with heart, is a great place to live and an excellent location for business. No wonder Steve Malkowich and Gary Hollick of The Now newspaper have launched “I love Surrey” pins.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Claude Drouin Liberal Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 2004 budget recognizes the importance of the social economy, which is based on values we hold dear: sustainable development, equality of opportunity, inclusion of the less fortunate and community action.

This is a growing sector all across the country. In Quebec, for example, 10,000 collective businesses and community organizations employ more than 100,000 people. These enterprises produce goods and services for the market economy, but direct their surpluses to the pursuit of social and community goals

We will be investing $162 million over 5 years in this dynamic sector; $100 million to increase lending to social economy enterprises; $47 million for pilot projects supporting strategic planning and capacity building; and $15 million for community-based research on the social economy.

Our government wishes to improve the social infrastructure of communities in all corners of the country, and the 2004 budget will provide us with the means to bring this about.

Nicole DemersStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 26, 2004, in front of more than 600 people attending the annual merit awards gala of the Quebec cooperative movement, Nicole Demers—a woman of caring and action—was honoured with the “cooperator of the year” award, volunteer category.

A recipient of the Persons Award in 2003, and praised at that time by my hon. colleague for Laval East, she has now been recognized by her peers for her commitment.

Deeply involved in the Laval community and active in many of its social sectors, she is especially devoted to the “Vivre chez soi” foundation that she recently established.

I am honoured to pay tribute to this great Quebecker, and of course agree wholeheartedly with the Quebec minister of citizen relations and immigration and the minister responsible for Laval, who said just a few weeks ago, “In Laval, Nicole Demers takes the prize for generosity”.

To the future Bloc Quebecois member for Laval, I say, bravo, Nicole and good luck.

Pay EquityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, all crown corporations must respect the Public Service Pay Equity Act. Recently, members have risen in the House to speak out against pay inequity affecting CBC employees, depending on whether they work for the French or English network and whether they are male or female.

Apparently, since these statements were made, bargaining between the CBC and the union representing these employees has hit an impasse. I am very concerned. All Canadians have the fundamental right to consult their member of Parliament and inform that member of problems with government entities.

I call today on the CBC to show respect for our democracy by bargaining in good faith with the union on the issue of pay equity.

Rail TourismStatements By Members

March 24th, 2004 / 2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, waterfalls, glacier cut gorges, forests and spectacular mountain terrain makes my constituency of Kootenay--Columbia a natural magnet for national and international tourism. Add the excitement of rail travel found all around us from Vancouver to Alberta and the U.S. northwest to Montana.

Last week I held meetings with constituents, representatives of Rocky Mountaineer Railtours and local rail proponents to discuss enhancing rail travel and tourism. Rocky Mountaineer Railtours has had 15 years of great success and hundreds of thousands of excited, satisfied clients.

Throughout my tenure as MP for Kootenay--Columbia, I have remained in touch with Rocky Mountaineer Railtour executives, working to describe our constituency's suitability for rail tourism and all the benefits it would bring to bolster our employment and economy.

I applaud and support all the rail travel proponents who are working diligently on this initiative which will benefit my constituents and show the world spectacular Kootenay--Columbia.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, a nation as blessed as ours should always aim higher and reach further. Canada is in a position to be able to launch a new decade of achievement, and we began that journey with our new government's first full budget.

Tabled yesterday, budget 2004 lays the foundation for a better future for all Canadians. This government has some very specific goals to create an even greater country, one that will give more Canadians the opportunity to succeed, to enlarge their ambitions and to pursue their dreams.

Tabled yesterday, budget 2004 lays the foundation for a better future for all Canadians. This government has some very specific goals to create an even greater country, one that will give more Canadians the opportunity to succeed, to enlarge their ambitions, and to pursue their dreams.

We have a responsibility to make sure our children and grandchildren lead even better lives in an even better land. This is the goal we have set for ourselves. A nation as great as ours should be able to reach it, and with this budget we are striving to do so.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has once again chosen to balance the budget on the backs of women. As child care, health care and education continue to be inadequately funded, it is women's unpaid labour that has to make up the shortfall.

Women are the primary caregivers and when health care, education and child care fall short, women take on the responsibility. I think it is time the federal Liberal government accepted its responsibility.

What do women want? At our economic summit this February, women said loud and clear that they needed affordable child care, housing and adequate health care for themselves and their families. What did they get? Nothing.

How is the 25% GDP ratio supposed to help the mother who is trying to feed her child and save up so they can go to university? How is this mother going to put money into an RESP when she cannot afford food?

There is virtually nothing in the budget that touches on the unique situation of aboriginal women. Aboriginal women's groups have been calling on the federal government to recognize their unique challenges.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the shameful conditions in which aboriginal Canadians live. Yet there was nothing for native women's groups and nothing to improve the third world conditions in which many are forced to live.

If this is the Prime Minister's vision for women in Canada, he and all Liberals should hang their heads in shame.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Finance showed once again that he cares nothing about the most vulnerable in our society. There are no concrete measures to grant fully retroactive guaranteed income supplement benefits. Yet he had no qualms about doing eligible seniors out of $3.2 billion in guaranteed income supplement benefits.

Rather than taking money from the most vulnerable to pay down the debt, the Minister of Finance would have been better advised to ask the Prime Minister to repay the money he saved in tax havens. When he was finance minister, the Prime Minister introduced Bill C-28 with its retroactive tax benefits for shipping companies.

Therein lies this government's real priority: retroactive measures for the rich but nothing for the poor.

Women EntrepreneursStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, March 8 to March 13 Canadians celebrated the Women's Enterprise Initiative Awareness Week.

This week was dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women entrepreneurs in the four western provinces. I want to recognize two particularly successful women who are this year's recipients of the awards of excellence.

Rebecca McCormack received the Emerging Business Award of Excellence. Her company, Cake Clothing, is located in Winnipeg. It has flourished well beyond her expectations. Using her knowledge and experience, Rebecca hopes to expand her company.

Rhoda O'Malley, founder and owner of Step Ahead Shoes in Saskatoon, was awarded the Existing Business Award of Excellence. The first location of her company opened its doors in 1996. Eight years later, her company thrives.

The Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, has initiated this program in order to build and expand businesses that would have remained merely as ideas and pipe dreams.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, shockingly, only a few days ago the Prime Minister loaded the public accounts committee so key documentation needed to get to the bottom of ad scam was refused.

Yesterday his entire budget was based on the premise that the Prime Minister needs a mandate to clean up his own party. Better yet was the raspberry winning display of the finance minister. His feeble and pathetic attempt to blame ad scam on a previous government was classic Liberal.

The present Prime Minister was minister of finance when he cut the office of comptroller general. The next excuse will be the Prime Minister's dog ate the surplus.

Meanwhile, Canadians wait in line for health care and infrastructure commitments. Worse yet, this budget was a classic missed opportunity to help Canadian students. Instead of helping students, the Prime Minister funnelled millions to his Liberal cronies. That is the fact.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget made an extraordinary claim that after a decade in power, the Prime Minister would better manage public funds. The problem is that he has promised this before. In one of his first budgets in 1995 he stated, “We will reform of government programs and procedures to eliminate waste and abuse”. That was the same year the sponsorship scandal was conceived.

We heard the Prime Minister's claims before. Why should anyone in this country believe him now?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made it clear for a long time now that he believes the office of the comptroller general should be re-established within the machinery of government. That office did exist prior to 1993. It was eliminated by the former Conservative government.

This government has determined that in an operation as large as the Government of Canada, the function of the comptroller general ought to be there, together with comptrollers in each government department and a strengthened internal audit, all in the public interest.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is pretty bad when the Prime Minister will not stand up and take credit for his own record of financial management.

The Prime Minister promised that he would start cleaning up the government by getting to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal. He promised that no stone would be left unturned. Yet he is now blocking the release of documents legally pertinent to Alfonso Gagliano's testimony before the public accounts committee.

How can Canadians believe the Prime Minister's claims of cleaning up the government when he is hiding the truth from the committee?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this matter was brought up yesterday. The government has confirmed that whatever information is requested by the committee, the government will provide.

The committee is master of its own destiny, as we well know, and the committee has decided to approve a number of recommendations. We will act on those. As soon as the information is collected and gathered, it will be made available, as we have in the past with cabinet documents.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I have another idea. If the Prime Minister is not interested in getting up out of his seat, I can come over and sit in it instead. We will have to change parties, of course.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. Perhaps instead of making helpful suggestions like that, the Leader of the Opposition could ask a question. It would perhaps speed things up in question period rather than create the disorder that these suggestions tend to do. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, what we did learn yesterday from the budget was that the government had been running a secret unity fund of $40 million a year that did not appear in the prime minister's budgets. Apparently, it was kept hidden from Parliament.

How many other secret Liberal slush funds has the Prime Minister had out there?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first, the hon. member would be welcome to come to this side. Most of his seat mates' former party members have come to this side of the House.

In terms of the unity fund, the hon. member ought to know about the fund. In fact it was set up in 1992 by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.