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House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

GreeceStatements By Members

March 25th, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, this weekend more than 300,000 Canadians of Greek origin will be celebrating the 183rd anniversary of Greece's independence.

My constituents of Hellenic origin and all members of the greater Hellenic community of Montreal and across Canada have contributed to building this great nation by upholding the very same ideals of democratic principles, liberty and individual rights held by their ancestors and shared by all Canadians. These concepts and values originating from Greece have been the basis of the democratic system of government of all modern nations including Canada, my second “patrida”.

I am proud of my Greek origins, as I am proud to be a Canadian. Canada offers an excellent example of a country pursuing the ideals of Hellenism: freedom, democracy and justice.

Today and over the weekend, I invite all members of the House to join their constituents of Hellenic origin in the numerous celebrations, such as receptions, parades and wreath laying ceremonies that will take place across Canada and proclaim:

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Greek and provided the following translation:]

Long live Greece. Long live Canada.

Greek Independence DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada, the official opposition, I would like to extend to all members of the Greek Canadian community our most heartfelt wishes of support in celebrating Hellenic culture in Canada today, on this Greece's independence day.

On March 25, 1821 Greece declared its independence after 400 years of being under the siege of the Ottoman Empire. I commend all those who gave their lives for peace, justice and equality. I pay tribute to all the brave men, women and children who put their country ahead of everything else.

Canadians of Greek origin remember this day as the day of their independence. It is in this spirit of independence exemplified by the many Greeks in Canada today that makes this country stronger.

I invite all members of Parliament to join in congratulating the Greek community in Canada today.

Arts and cultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, on May 2, 2001, a major investment in Canadian culture was announced: more than $500 million over three years, in a program called “Tomorrow Starts Today”.

I am pleased to confirm that this investment is renewed for a fourth year, that is, for 2004-05. There will be an additional $207 million invested in 2004-05 in the arts, in book publishing, in heritage and historic sites, in electronic content, in sound recording and in cultural export.

This investment is being used to train a generation of young artists who are more representative of Canada's diversity; strengthen local cultural infrastructure across the country; make Canada's municipalities more aware of the great potential of local culture, using various means; improve the infrastructure needed to preserve Canada's historic sites; and provide on-line access to Canadian culture in both French and English—

Arts and cultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.

RacismStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, this week began with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at a time when new incidents of racism pose a serious challenge.

Parliament has risen to this challenge and so have communities everywhere. I think about the outpouring last night in Toronto against horrible anti-Semitism. I think about amazing developments in my own community of Winnipeg North.

The students at Shaughnessy Park School just won an award for their video What's Wrong With This Picture? in the “Racism: Stop It!” national video competition.

The Unity Group from Maples Collegiate has been awarded the YMCA Youth Peace Medal in recognition of outstanding anti-racism efforts.

Grades 4 and 5 students at Prairie Rose School recently completed an incredible project centred on the Holocaust inspired story Hana's Suitcase . I am especially inspired by one student's line, “The important thing about Hana's Suitcase was that we learned children have the power to change the future”.

I look at these achievements and the spirit they represent and I know we will win this battle against racism.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Sunday the hon. member for Portneuf, who was accompanying the Liberal candidate in the new riding of Charlevoix—Montmorency, declared, as reported in the March 22 edition of Le Soleil , that “the greater Quebec City region wants us to take action before the election” regarding the situation of unemployed workers who are suffering because of the unjust employment insurance program established by the Liberal government.

We must wait no longer. We must help the seasonally unemployed workers of the Charlevoix and Haute-Côte-Nord region who, for the most part, are receiving no benefits at this time and who are having problems putting food on the table. While the federal government keeps piling up surpluses, workers in the seasonal industries are going hungry.

For a long time, the Bloc Quebecois has been proposing the creation of an independent employment insurance fund. Nevertheless, the Liberal government is pretending to seek solutions that we have already found.

Let the government do its work rather than mocking the workers by refusing to meet with them to settle their problems once and for all. I hope that the Liberals will unanimously support the motion by the hon. member for Charlevoix that would give seasonal workers a special status, no matter which economic region they live in.

Greek Independence DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, March 25, marks Greek Independence Day. It is a day when Canadians of Hellenic descent will be celebrating the anniversary of the liberation of their former homeland from 400 years of occupation under the Ottoman Empire.

In 1821 the Hellenes revolted against their oppressors and embarked on their successful war of independence. On this day Hellenes will commemorate a dark period in Greek history when Hellenes lived under the repressive rule of the Ottoman Empire.

On this day also, Hellenes will be celebrating and paying tribute to the courageous spirits of their ancestors who stood up against their oppressors and successfully fought in order to restore the democracy and freedom that was lost for so many years.

As Greek Independence Day is observed today, Greeks everywhere are especially proud as they look forward to celebrating the return of the Olympics to their homeland in Athens. They will once again be given the opportunity to host this great event that brings together all nations in the spirit of peace and democracy.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Greek]

Adverse Drug ReactionsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, medication errors continue to claim the lives of Canadians.

Last week it was revealed that two dialysis patients lost their lives when they were given the wrong IV solution, potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. At least nine Canadians have been killed this same way in the last four years. Hospitals are taking steps to prevent this from happening again, but how many more lives have to be lost before Health Canada fixes this problem?

Up to 10,000 Canadians die each year due to adverse drug reactions. Less than 10% of those events are actually reported.

Last month I tabled a motion again calling for the government to consider mandatory reporting of all serious adverse drug reactions. The House approved my motion, but the government has still not moved toward mandatory reporting. Does a vote in this House not actually mean anything?

Men, women and children are dying because of medication errors. We can and we must do better. The problem will only get worse unless we act now.

Climate ChangeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into force on March 21, 1994. A decade after its adoption 188 governments, including Canada, are now parties to the convention and it is approaching universal membership.

The convention and the Kyoto protocol are important steps forward in the global effort to address climate change as laid out by the convention's ultimate objective, which is to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to a level that prevents man-made interference with the climate system.

The convention's objective provides us with a long term beacon to follow as we make the significant emission reductions and technological and behavioural changes necessary to properly address climate change.

We understand that we must plan to meet the Kyoto commitment in a way that produces long term and enduring results. That decision is a decision that all Canadians--

Climate ChangeStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General released her report which highlighted a number of significant problems in Canada's employment insurance program.

The program has a $43.8 billion surplus, a surplus created through the overcharging of workers. Workers who need to access the program get a busy signal 65% of the time. Those applying online have their forms filled out manually by bureaucrats after they apply.

Does the government care? No, the Liberals do not. If they did, I would not have been in committee this morning looking at empty seats on the government side before the meeting was cancelled by the Chair.

The committee has two parliamentary secretaries sitting on it. Where is the ministerial accountability? Shame on the Liberals for not showing up to discuss such serious issues.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in his 1995 budget the Prime Minister claimed he was going to eliminate waste and abuse. At the same time, he was converting unity moneys to a private fund dispensed on the signature of the Prime Minister.

Why did the Prime Minister allow this secret Liberal slush fund to exist under his watch?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, the unity fund began in 1992. It was started under the previous Conservative government.

At the same time, the 1995 budget was the budget that ultimately led to the elimination of the Tory deficit.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would like the Prime Minister to be clear on this because PCO officials have apparently confirmed the creation of this fund, disbursed on the signature of the Prime Minister in 1996, not in 1992, as the Prime Minister implied yesterday and today.

Can the Prime Minister be clear? Is he saying Mr. Mulroney also dispensed secret funds on his own signature when he was Prime Minister?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing secret. All of these moneys were expensed in the public accounts and in fact reserves were set up. Reserves were set up under the Tories and Liberal government.

The problem is that the opposition members are so full of innuendo and slander that they fail to understand what is a normal accounting procedure used by the Conservatives and the Liberals.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that for a fund we all know about, we have no lists of how the moneys were actually spent.

The PCO mandate was changed in 1996. Since then, nearly half a billion dollars have apparently been authorized on the authority of the Prime Minister.

Why did it take the Prime Minister nearly 10 years to eliminate this practice?

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, I have argued many times in the House that the opposition would profit from spending a little more time on the estimates. All of these funds are identified in the estimates. All the disbursements are identified in the public accounts.

If the opposition members would like me to walk them through the public accounts and show them where to find it, I would be more than willing to do it.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, this morning in the public accounts committee former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano had his credibility and testimony blown out of the water by a former projects manager, Huguette Tremblay, assistant to Chuck Guité at public works.

Gagliano's documentation is clearly even more important now with this powerful testimony that leaves his credibility in tatters.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Will he explain why Liberal members of the committee are blocking attempts to examine all the pertinent documents that will lead us to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the committee is requesting information. Whatever is requested that is relevant to chapters 3, 4 and 5 of the Auditor General's Report will be provided.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that is not happening.

Madam Tremblay testified that Chuck Guité met weekly with Mr. Gagliano during his tenure as minister. She testified that contracts were rarely in writing; there was a lack of control; things were deliberately sloppy; and MPs were involved in the decision making process, including the current minister of the Privy Council.

What other current ministers were involved in the decision making of the sponsorship scandal and what did that minister tell this Prime Minister about his meeting with Gagliano?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, some of these questions are starting to be rather interesting in terms of the rules of the House.

My understanding is that some of these matters are to be debated only if a report has been tabled. We are quite happy that this morning the committee adopted a motion stating that it will be looking at an interim report by mid-April.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, minutes after the release of the Auditor General's report, the Prime Minister stated that he did not know anything about the sponsorship scandal.

How can the Prime Minister plead ignorance when it was he who, as finance minister, for eight years, budget after budget, gave at least $400 million for the Canadian unity fund, which is the secret fund that was used to fund the sponsorship scandal?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing secret about this. There are a number of funds. If one looks at the government accounting procedures, whether it is a Liberal government, a Conservative government or a provincial government, there are funds set aside. Everyone knows that and it is public knowledge.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government did not announce the existence of that fund, but it announced its abolition. This is rather strange.

The Prime Minister is trying to put the blame on Mr. Mulroney regarding the creation of this fund. However, at the Privy Council, the Prime Minister's own department, they recognize that the conditions governing the use of this secret fund, the conditions that led to the worst abuse, were set in 1996, and it is also in 1996 that the sponsorship scandal began.

Who was finance minister in 1996? It was the Prime Minister. Under these circumstances, how can he claim that he did not know?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this is a perfectly appropriate fund and the money was used for regular programs in various departments. Those were projects that met Treasury Board requirements and each one appears in the public accounts.