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House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nation.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said on national television on February 13 about the sponsorship scandal, “There has to be political direction”. He also told the National Post , “...that's one of the things we have to find out”.

Now in the middle of a parliamentary committee to answer that very question with at least 90 witnesses yet to be heard from, the Liberal majority is forcing a premature report to clear the way for an election.

Why has the Prime Minister decided Canadians no longer deserve to know who gave the orders to break the rules in the sponsorship program?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, as has been said earlier, it was the Prime Minister who asked for the public accounts committee to hold hearings on an expedited basis. There have now been three months of hearings and approximately 40 witnesses, including former ministers of public works. We have had evidence. It is up to the public accounts committee now, in doing its work, to issue an interim report so the public can be up to speed with what has been heard so far.

What could be more reasonable and timely than to have an interim report summarizing the evidence to date?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, just this past weekend the Prime Minister told the National Post , “Do Canadians have all the information? No, they don't”, especially on his crucial question of, “Who gave the political direction?” Instead his Liberal majority blocked key evidence and used its majority over and over to keep some witnesses from testifying. It seems he has quit caring about getting to the truth and it is more important for him to toss out a mock report to voters and whitewash the ad scam for election purposes.

Is it not evident that the Prime Minister is very much a part of the Liberal culture of corruption?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect, that is absolute nonsense. It was the Prime Minister who demanded we get to the bottom of this and have the public accounts committee proceed on an expedited basis. We have had 40 witnesses and three months of testimony. Let us share that in a synopsis with the Canadian public as the other processes go forward.

The public inquiry has now formally started. The special counsel for financial recovery is about to start lawsuits to recover funds, and more criminal investigations and charges to show that the government has put in place and encouraged processes to get to the bottom of this matter.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, one does not get to the bottom of it by shutting down the investigation, shutting down the committee and then calling a snap election. That is not getting to the bottom of it in the way taxpayers expect.

Gas prices across Canada are reaching the $1 mark compared to 72¢ in the United States. About half the cost of a litre of gasoline is taxation. In the United States federal gas taxes are going into roads, but not in Canada.

Will the government either lower gas taxes or keep its word and transfer gas tax points to provinces like it promised to in its supposed new deal for cities?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there have in fact been no changes in federal taxes since 1995. Generally speaking, across the country the record will show that provincial taxes exceed the federal taxes.

What we are working on now is that new deal for municipalities where both the Government of Canada and the provinces do in fact share a portion of their fuel tax revenue with local communities to enhance local municipal infrastructure and other very worthy endeavours at the local level.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, provinces are doing the job but the feds are not. That is the point. As gas prices rise so does Ottawa's GST revenues.

Last year, with gas prices at 73¢, Ottawa received $1.1 billion in GST money, at 87¢ Ottawa would receive another $200 million, and it would jump by another $60 million if prices hit 90¢. Therefore, while the Liberals are gouging taxpayers, they are not giving any money back to infrastructure.

Is the reason the government betrayed its promise to have a new deal for cities that the tax taste on gas tax dollars is just a little too sweet to give up?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, no, the hon. gentleman is completely wrong. In the last budget we transferred $7 billion in federal revenue to the municipalities through the rebate of the GST. We have accelerated our program for infrastructure and we are anxious to work with the provinces to make sure we can find the right mechanism to share a portion of the fuel tax with the municipalities so the communities across this country can properly discharge their responsibilities.

I challenge the opposition to support us in supporting the municipalities of this country.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's real priority is not health but the army. After the budget was brought down, his government quickly announced military spending of $900 million, without even adopting a clear foreign policy. And for health? Nothing. The budget does not include any new transfers to Quebec and the provinces and, according to the Prime Minister, as far as health is concerned—unlike the army—a plan is required.

Can the Prime Minister, who had the means to reinvest immediately in health care, explain to the people why he has chosen the army instead?

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, of course Canadians have a number of very important priorities that they wish to see addressed. The Canadian Forces is one of those but so is health care.

In the last budget we transferred $2 billion to the provinces, plus we made provision for another $500 million to launch a new public health agency.

The Prime Minister has started a process to work with the provinces through this spring, leading to the summer where there will be a first ministers summit to devise the sustainability plan for health care, and the Government of Canada will follow that with cash.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, in an interview with the National Post , the Prime Minister—who claims he wants to govern—added a little more: he will need a new mandate before he is able to reinvest in health.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he did not think he needed a mandate to spend $900 million on the military, because military armament, after all, is far from a priority for the public?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that the hon. member for Québec has given me an opportunity to remind this House that, based on the 2003 accord, we have already worked very closely with the provinces; that we want to go beyond this commitment; that we will have invested $36.8 billion in new money over the next few years; and that the numbers show it is certainly our government's priority.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is trying to fool the public with this $37 billion, because one fact remains: the current federal government has withdrawn from health care funding, and the 16¢ it pays on each dollar spent is not enough. This government is largely responsible for the current problems in the health sector, because it has significantly reduced its share of the funding.

Given that the Prime Minister has admitted that the federal government must reinvest in health, why did it not take the opportunity provided by the recent budget to put more money on the table?

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, that is false. In the last budget, an amount of $2 billion has been confirmed, in addition to the $34.8 billion. So, beyond the figures—

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Liberal Papineau—Saint-Denis, QC

That is what the hon. member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis was referring to when she talked about “barking”.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government's strategy of waiting for the election campaign to announce the reinvestment that it wants to make in health is despicable.

After causing so many problems in that sector, how can this government be so cynical as to run its election campaign at the expense of health? That is disgusting.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, you know very well that, during an election campaign, a number of themes are debated. Health will be at the core of our program.

One thing is certain: when the time comes to vote, Quebeckers will know that it is time to vote for a government. They will ask themselves, “Who do we want to govern us? Do we want the Alliance to govern us, or do we want a Liberal government in which we can participate?”

The Bloc Quebecois wants to force Quebeckers to remain in the opposition, and therefore to lose by behaving like losers in the opposition. By contrast, we want Quebeckers to win and to participate in government.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

HealthOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

We had better not wait too long because the clock is ticking.

The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

Firearms RegistryOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, over the last 10 years the Prime Minister has played a central role in funding money pits like the EH-101 cancellation, the Pearson airport debacle, the firearms registry, the HRDC boondoggle, the Challenger jet fiasco, millions for his friends at Earnscliffe, and of course there was all that money that went to his buddy Chuck Guité.

The Prime Minister says he believes in accountability, so let us see if he will answer a question about his record. Why did this Prime Minister keep writing cheques for the firearms registry when it went 50,000% over budget?

Firearms RegistryOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to effective gun control, and in fact, as we well know, the vast majority of Canadians want to see an effective and efficient gun control program put in place.

We are committed to ensuring that we review the operation of our gun control program. We are not, however, reviewing our commitment to effective gun control. We are reviewing this program. We want an efficient, effective program in place to ensure public safety and to be user friendly for legitimate gun owners.

Firearms RegistryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the firearms registry, not gun control. There is a big difference. In one case, gun control is actually ensuring that we get the guns away from criminals. In the other case, it is about getting money away from taxpayers.

What I am really asking about, though, is accountability. This Prime Minister just revels in any praise that comes his way, but when there are problems, and there were dozens of them under his watch when he was finance minister, he runs away. I want to know why he will not take responsibility for some of the issues I have raised, including the firearms registry. Why will he not take responsibility?

Firearms RegistryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, this government takes its responsibility very seriously.

The hon. member is referring to the Prime Minister when as minister of finance he tackled a deficit left to us by a previous government. He in fact ensured that we dealt with the deficit and that we put the debt on a permanent downward track. I think that when we look at the record of the Prime Minister we see that he is accountable. He takes responsibility. He delivers on behalf of Canadians.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, since the much hailed visit of the Prime Minister and the agriculture minister to Washington, the situation in the cattle industry has become worse. Beef products that were flowing before that meeting with the president have since stopped and will remain stopped until the USDA rule change is implemented.

This step backward and the fact the border remains closed to live cattle clearly indicate the lack of influence the government has when dealing with this file, this crisis. I ask the minister this: What is the next step backward the beef industry can expect from his government?