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House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was drugs.

Topics

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, there was a further $2 billion in the last budget. The Prime Minister and the finance minister have already acknowledged the necessity to increase the Canadian federal funding for health care.

We will stand by the commitment. We will be working with the provinces. We will be delivering at the next first ministers meeting a great health plan for the future.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

April 28th, 2004 / 2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, in 1999, Earnscliffe received a $1.2 million contract for a “brand Canada” pilot project through Industry Canada. In January, Earnscliffe provided a critique of the then minister of finance's speech in New York. The pricey report included indepth analysis of his performance and even commentary from the member for Calgary Southeast. Clearly Earnscliffe was providing the then minister, now Prime Minister, with political advice, and it had more to do with branding the Prime Minister than branding Canada.

How many more of these cozy contracts exist and why should taxpayers pay for them?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, all contracts are posted on the Contracts Canada website whether they are for Earnscliffe or any other consulting company that bids on government business. These are done in a competitive way with rare exceptions: unless they are under $25,000, whether there is some intellectual property, or whether it is an urgent situation.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is suffering from convenient political amnesia or, maybe, sore knees. He has denied knowledge of the sponsorship scandal, does not know anything at all about contracts to his shipping empire, and of course does not know anything about the unity fund.

The Prime Minister is embroiled now in a major conflict of interest with Earnscliffe boss Michael Robinson, who was simultaneously heading up Earnscliffe while leading the Liberal leadership campaign for the Prime Minister. Earnscliffe then got a $1.6 billion contract.

Why should political advice and repayment of political friends be paid for by Canadian taxpayers?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the statement made by the hon. gentleman is factually wrong. There is nothing on the public record, either of the government or in the media, that would support one shred of that allegation. It is simply false.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the past three years, the Liberal government has done nothing with a unanimous report by the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, which is recommending significant improvements to employment insurance. Then, suddenly, just before the election, as they did in 2000, the Liberals are dangling changes before the workers in seasonal industries.

Instead of again making promises they will later break, will the Prime Minister, who claims he wants to govern, now introduce a comprehensive plan to reform employment insurance as outlined in the unanimous report that the government has had for the past three years?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, right from the start, when changes needed to be made to employment insurance, the government made them. We recognize quite clearly that there are flaws in the system that need to be fixed. I can assure the House that it is in our interest and we intend to fix it.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is in the Prime Minister's interest to promise this, as was the case in 2000, but he has done nothing. It is in the Liberals' interest to have signed the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development in 2001, which made 17 recommendations that they immediately tossed. Guarantees are needed to prevent the Liberals from making more promises they have no intention of keeping.

I am asking this of the Prime Minister. From now until the House adjourns for the election, can he commit to tabling in this House a comprehensive reform, similar to the plan they signed three years ago?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as I have been saying for several weeks, I am currently considering all the recommendations, including ones made in the past.

Clearly, it is not realistic to think that a series of recommendations and changes can be tabled today. The leader of the unofficial opposition may not perhaps be living in the real world, but here, we are trying to work with all the recommendations made by those with—

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Matapédia—Matane.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, the real world is the world of the regions, the world that has suffered for 10 years because of this government's hard-heartedness as far as employment insurance is concerned.

The Minister of Human Resources sloughs off the unanimous recommendations of the House committee, made up of members from all parties, which propose changes to the employment insurance program, and opts instead for just the suggestions of a Liberal task force.

Will the Prime Minister admit that the minister's attitude is evidence of his intention to ignore a unanimous report he finds not to his liking, and instead to make use of only those suggestions from his Liberal colleagues that suit him, and will he admit that this is purely a vote-seeking tactic at the expense of the unemployed?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the members over there seem to be a bit confused. They say the government must take action but, when it does, they say it is only taking action in order to win votes.

The truth is that we have already put in place changes and measures that have injected $50 million more into the EI system in the form of benefits for those experiencing problems. We have also brought in other—

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Matapédia—Matane.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a huge gap between $55 million and the $45 billion that has been taken out of the EI fund, and the regions are the ones suffering.

The minister must be aware that two of his colleagues, one of them the member for Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok, signed the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development in 2001.

Why is the minister using a Liberal committee that still includes those same two members as a pretext, unless it is because he has decided to accept just the recommendations that suit him and ignore all the others, at the expense of the unemployed?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, no realistic and progressive recommendation is being set aside. As I have already said, if anyone has something positive to propose, I will take it under advisement, including the recommendations made two years ago by the House committee, but also, and particularly, the recommendations of the Liberal task force, because its members were obviously focussed on highly positive actions, on taking steps relating to today's labour market, as well as tomorrow's.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, if the Liberals are looking for a wedge issue with the Conservatives, perhaps they should look to something other than health, because yesterday the Minister of Health revealed what the NDP has been saying all along, that there is not one whit of difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives when it comes to the place of for profit delivery of health care in this country.

Is the Minister of Health not embarrassed to have been misleading the country for so long now with respect to the Liberal position with his mantra about the Canada Health Act, when all along he has known that the Liberal position has been to allow private, for profit delivery of health care?

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, that is simply not true, and let me repeat that this government is not advocating and not promoting private, for profit health care.

This government knows that Canadians demand and Canadians deserve a health act that is well enforced in this country and that will encompass all five principles of the Canada Health Act. We will enforce that act.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Health is so interested in the public delivery of health care, which incidentally he did not say in question period today, and neither did the Prime Minister, but apparently he said it earlier today, why was it not in his speech a week ago?

Why was it not in the throne speech? Why do we never hear from the government that it is committed to the public, non-profit delivery of health care? Why do we always get weasel words?

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I said exactly 35 seconds ago that the government is not advocating and it is not promoting private, for profit health care.

The provinces are responsible for delivering health care in a manner consistent with the Canada Health Act, and let me be clear that in exploring their delivery options provinces must not allow the burden of payment to fall to the sick. They must not compromise the quality of care Canadians demand and deserve. They must not allow any form of queue jumping.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

An hon. member

It is a different issue. We have Ralph Klein's position.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the public works minister said that we can “check with www.contractscanada.gc.ca, type in Earnscliffe” and we will have all the contract information we are looking for. If only that were true.

We know that Earnscliffe received a $1.2 million contract for a brand Canada pilot project, but we will not find it on that website the minister referred to. Why is the government withholding information? How much money has the government funnelled toward the Prime Minister's friends at Earnscliffe? That is the question.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, consulting contracts, like any other procurement contract with the Government of Canada, are handled in a transparent, competitive and accountable way. With the exception of smaller contracts, these are posted on the Contracts Canada website. If the hon. member has a specific question about a specific contract, I will be happy to get that information for him.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, maybe I will have to talk a little slower, then, because I have a very specific request. What we want to know is, how much money in contracts have this Prime Minister and the government funnelled toward their friends at Earnscliffe?

We understand that registries are not the government's forte. We know that. My question is directly to the minister, how much money in contracts for Earnscliffe? That is the question.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the contracts awarded by the government under competitive transparent processes are a matter of public record. They are on the Contracts Canada website.

However, if there is a specific issue or a specific contract that the member has a question about, please put it to me and I will ensure that he gets the answer.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, we know that this government spends billions of dollars on contracts that benefit its friends. When we put clear questions to the government, it refers us to its website. However, we have uncovered a contract of over $1 million to the Prime Minister's friends at Earnscliffe which is not mentioned on the website.

When will the Prime Minister stop this secrecy and tell Canadians the exact amount that his government has given to his cronies at Earnscliffe?