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House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parks.

Topics

Selkirk--Interlake ConstituencyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, for what may be my last S. O. 31 due to the rumours of an imminent election call, I would like to tell the people of Selkirk--Interlake what a pleasure it has been to serve as their voice in Ottawa.

For the information of the House, Selkirk--Interlake is populated by Canadians with a tremendous diversity in ethnic backgrounds. We live in harmony with each other and work hard to make our region, our province and our country a better place in which to live. Agriculture, commercial fishing, light manufacturing industries, tourism, along with jobs in all economic sectors of Manitoba's economy are how we earn our living. Artistic efforts, along with many cultural activities enrich our lives.

Geographically the riding contains the largest southern portions of beautiful Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. Beautiful ranch and farmland, along with dynamic small towns nestled in a clean environment, make it a wonderful place to live.

Our future success as a region called Selkirk--Interlake is totally dependent on the opportunities for our children and grandchildren. Our youth and their futures are why I have spent the last seven years as the MP for Selkirk--Interlake doing the best I could, with my wife Faye by my side.

Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Claude Drouin Liberal Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the hon. member for Laurentides suggested that the Quebec caucus of this government was lacking arguments to prove the uselessness of Bloc Quebecois members in this House. Our government does not need arguments to demonstrate this reality. The empty rhetoric and the apathy of Bloc Quebecois members tell the tale.

The hon. member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis will agree with me, since she once said that her caucus was particularly good at scoring in its own net. The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie will also surely agree with me, after telling the media that he cannot prevent the Prime Minister from being re-elected, and after admitting to the daily Le Soleil that the Bloc Quebecois never does anything good and takes its orders from its head office, which is the Parti Quebecois.

Finally, our government is so acutely aware of Quebec's distinctiveness that a candidates manual was specially prepared for our Quebec caucus and will be distributed at the appropriate time.

I can assure the House that we will have no problems proving—

Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Dartmouth.

Cathryn PrinceStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, when the rookie NDP members of Parliament arrived here in 1997, we were welcomed by the smiling face of Cathryn Prince. She helped us through our first days, eased our fears, talked about the mechanics of the job and inspired us even more about the importance of the House of Commons.

Cathryn loved this place. She worked on the Hill for over 25 years with a number of NDP MPs and with the public service. Cathryn believed passionately in the principles of social democracy, the union movement and the importance of reaching out and helping people. She had a twinkle in her eye and a warm smile. An incredible number of people counted her as a trusted, loyal friend, so great was her generosity of spirit.

Cathryn was also a loving mother, sister, wife, and an especially loving grandmother.

Cathryn Prince passed away on March 10 with one of her sons by her side. She passed from this life the way she lived it, feeling the love of her friends and her family.

Today in the House we want to celebrate the lasting contributions of Cathryn Prince.

Sustainable DevelopmentStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Liberal Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, the Minister of the Environment attended the session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development to discuss world challenges related to water.

It is estimated that diseases communicated by undrinkable water are costing in excess of $250 million annually. Economic progress and quality of life in developing countries are increasingly restricted by the poor quality and the lack of water. Access to water can become a source of conflict and a threat to peace and security.

As the Prime Minister mentioned yesterday in his speech delivered in Washington, there is an urgent need for the international system and multilateral institutions to operate more efficiently.

This is why Canada is playing a key role to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme and to improve the United Nations' ability to deal with the issue of water.

Also, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment will examine the best way for Canada to meet its international commitments regarding the development of integrated water management plans by the year 2005.

Bill C-250Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week the Liberal majority in the Senate passed Bill C-250. It was indeed a sad day in Canadian politics.

Many of my constituents in Skeena and I as their MP vigorously and vociferously opposed the bill as it moved through the House of Commons. The Liberal majority, with the help of both the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, supported Bill C-250 on its way to the Senate.

A government that supports such biased and undemocratic legislation as Bill C-250 does not deserve to be in office, much less re-elected.

I urge all Canadians to remember which candidates stood for freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of expression in this country whenever the upcoming election is called.

Social EconomyStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 22, I had the pleasure of presiding the national round table on the social economy hosted by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development, in my role as the parliamentary secretary with special responsibility for the social economy.

The national round table discussion allowed me to meet with various stakeholders from across the country. I am pleased to have been given the opportunity to work with them and receive their views on key social economic issues.

Comments by such participants as Nancy Neamtam, from the Chantier de l'économie sociale du Québec, Rupert Downing, from the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet), David Driscoll, from the VanCity Community Foundation in British Columbia, Réjean Laflamme, from the Conseil canadien de la coopération, and many others, will enable us to refine our strategy to encourage even more growth in the social economy in coming years.

Our government and our Prime Minister are committed to the social economy. We will continue to build on the measures announced in the Speech from the Throne and in budget 2004 in order to achieve our common goal of building communities rich in social assets.

House of CommonsStatements By Members

April 30th, 2004 / 11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the 37th Parliament of Canada will soon come to an end. Many MPs will return to their homes in the various provinces with memories of having served their constituents here in the House.

My memories are many. I am grateful for the many friends I have on both sides of the House, but the friendships extend beyond that. What about the pages, the security staff, the personnel who help on committees, the people in the cafeterias and at the post office, and the bus drivers? The list goes on. They are all wonderful people who greet us daily with cheerfulness.

I will leave behind many wonderful people. As the MP of a huge rural constituency, I want to say thanks to them for their great support.

As I say goodbye, I offer my best wishes to all those people. I hope that perchance we will meet again somewhere, some time. If not, they will be part of my memories for the rest of my life.

Year of AcadiaStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday we unanimously adopted a motion by the member for West Nova declaring 2004 the Year of Acadia. It is appropriate to make such a solemn gesture, in this the 400th anniversary year of the founding of Acadia. My colleague benefited from the enthusiastic support of the Bloc Quebecois members, “separatist” though they are. We would have liked to have the same kind of support from him at the time of the debate on Motion M-382, following the royal proclamation last December.

Although it is appropriate to recognize the arrival of Samuel de Champlain in the Americas, 400 years ago, I believe we would also render justice to history by also pointing out the determining role played by Pierre Du Gua, Sieur de Mons, in the founding of Acadia.

Curiously, the Liberals have chosen the end of April, with an election looming, to make this gesture. I had put forward the proposal by the general assembly of the Société nationale de l'Acadie here in this House on June 12, 2003. As in the case of the motion recognizing National Acadian Day, this manoeuvre appears to have been carried out with the sole purpose of trying to make the public forget the Liberal government's dubious role in the debate on acknowledging the deportation.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government finally released some of the information surrounding the secret unity slush fund.

The Prime Minister previously claimed he knew nothing about this honey pot. I quote the current Minister of Finance who said “the current Prime Minister has not made any use of that particular reserve”. However, the chart shows that the Department of Finance got $1 million.

Would the Minister of Finance clear up this contradiction when he said the former finance minister did not get any money, but the chart shows $1 million?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the present Prime Minister has not said that he was unaware of the fiscal reserve for purposes related to unity and the well-being of the nation.

He said that the actual use of such a reserve was determined, not by the finance department, but quite properly by the PCO and by the former Prime Minister.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am not talking about the $700 million fund that he did not seem to know anything about. I am talking about the million dollars that he got directly.

The former finance minister got $1 million for his department while it was under the current Prime Minister's watch. All it says on the chart is that it was used for communications.

Could the Minister of Finance explain to us what ad firms got the $1 million and where did the $1 million go? What was the $1 million used for by the former finance minister at that time?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the particular project had to do with information pertaining to the five year tax reduction plan that was introduced by the government.

Generally, it had the impact of reducing taxes for Canadians in the range of 20% to 27%. This was a major improvement in our tax system and it was important for Canadians to know about it.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like the finance minister to provide us with information indicating what ad firms were involved with that $1 million.

I want to ask the finance minister about the previous finance minister's handling of the $700 million. It went missing from the public treasury and the former finance minister said he knew nothing about it. He may have acknowledged that it existed, but he said he knew nothing about how it was used.

Could the finance minister explain how any finance minister could see $700 million slip through his or her fingers and not know where it went?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the question is utter nonsense. The fact of the matter is that every expenditure was duly included in the fiscal framework, duly included in the estimates, and duly included in the public accounts.

It is the obligation of every member of Parliament to review the public accounts and the estimates. It is all there.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, misleading financial reporting has become the norm for the Liberals

The Governor General did not spend $1 million on her circumpolar tour but $5.3 million. The Prime Minister's company, CSL, did not get $137,000 of federal business; it reaped $161 million. Now we know the ultra-secret unity reserve gave the Liberals not $500 million of taxpayers money but almost $800 million.

When will the Prime Minister tell Canadians, before they go to the polls, how many more scandalous accounting errors his government is hiding?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman's assertion is again simply nonsense.

My original estimate with respect to this matter had to do with how much my department felt we could save over the long term. It was a perfectly legitimate general figure.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is nonsense is the so-called details that the government provides to the House of Commons.

The Liberals are habitual offenders when it comes to lowballing federal spending. The skepticism of Canadians about what their own government tells them has turned into downright disbelief. The unity reserve has united Canadians all right; it has united them in the mistrust of what Liberals tell them.

When is the government going to stop its Enron style accounting and come clean with taxpayers?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the undertaking made in the House was to go through all of the official documents, including the public accounts and the estimates, and to put together a complete picture of the uses of the unity reserve over the course of the last 10 to 12 years.

A very comprehensive effort was made to do that. In the interests of full transparency, all of that information has now in fact been put before the House in a coordinated way.

Indeed, the information would have been there earlier because it is all included in the public accounts and the estimates.

National Unity FundOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal sponsorship scandal represents the misappropriation of taxpayers' money to the tune of much more than the $100 million out of a $250 million budget suggested by the Auditor General. Sheila Fraser did not know there was a hidden national unity fund, which, according to the list made public, was also used to fund sponsorships to the tune of $100 million.

Will the government admit that, with the regular Canadian unity program plus the secret funding combined, the sponsorship scandal cost a total of $350 million?

National Unity FundOral Question Period

11:20 a.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, it is still quite remarkable to see just how far reality can be twisted purely to win votes.

The national unity reserve was used for numerous projects, all of which aimed to promote fundamentally Canadian values, with which Quebeckers themselves also identify. I am referring specifically to promoting the Francophonie, the 2002 youth event in Toronto, the 400th anniversary celebrations of the French presence in America and other events I will refer to later.

National Unity FundOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the only thing he did not refer to is my question.

For the year 1996-97 alone, according to the Auditor General and the public accounts, $300,000 was directed into the sponsorship program, although, on the list we have been provided, that amount is $17 million.

So the government has doctored the figures to conceal the approximately $800 million for the hidden fund, the existence of which the Prime Minister denied. He said that he did not know it existed. It is strange nonetheless to claim ignorance of the existence of a fund when his own department received $1 million when he was minister—

National Unity FundOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

National Unity FundOral Question Period

11:25 a.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, is it normal to think that, by making allegations that are clearly false, they will end up becoming true? How is it possible to justify the remarks just made by the colleague opposite when no part of this was hidden? Everything was public, everything was disclosed and everything was subject to a transparent process.

Enough with the unfounded allegations. I think they are well aware that these allegations are unfounded.

National Unity FundOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the year of the 1995 referendum, more than $31 million was spent to promote Canadian unity. In 1996, the then auditor general, Denis Desautels, admitted to having hit a wall when he tried to find where the $4.8 million spent by Option Canada had gone. We still do not know who benefited from it, but we now know where the money came from.

Can the minister deny today that this money, which was meant for the Official Languages Program, was diverted to Option Canada instead?