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House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was witnesses.

Topics

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, Bono might not mind getting used by the government but Canadian taxpayers are sick and tired of it.

The government seems incapable of understanding the impact that it has on individual Canadians. Consider the impact that high fuel taxes are having on farm families impacted by the BSE crisis. It is a big cost. A big portion of their inputs is gasoline taxes and fuel taxes. Half of that is the taxes they pay to the government.

Why can the government not begin to see Canadians as people with real problems and real challenges instead of just as a source of revenue?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government does indeed see Canadians as real people. Those real people live in real communities across the country. That is why we are in the process of developing the new deal for those communities.

We have already made a $7 billion contribution to that new deal. We have already accelerated our infrastructure programs from 10 years down to 5 years. We are also in the process of beginning the work on a multibillion dollar program of fuel tax contributions to those municipalities as we promised to do.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has had an entire term to prepare and adopt acceptable reforms in employment insurance. It made promises during the election campaign of 2000, and now it is 2004.

How can the government decently justify this week's announcement of just a few temporary measures, which do not come anywhere near to fulfilling the promises made in 2000, and especially to meeting the needs of workers in the regions? When will the government stop impoverishing them?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Ahuntsic Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, the measures announced this week will help at least 100,000 claimants throughout the country, including workers in Quebec. The measures, however, are directed at regions with the highest unemployment rates, 10% and up.

On this side of the House, we want to help the workers. We do not just want to give empty speeches and rend our garments. We are taking real steps to help them. They have access to five more weeks of benefits.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, they have had a whole term to correct the injustices in the EI system, yet they come up with a plan that will give out, at most, $135 million of the $3 billion stolen from the EI fund in the last year alone—that is incredible.

How can we not accuse the government of bad faith, when it has made the decision to spend less than 4% of its surplus on improving the system?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Ahuntsic Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the excellent work by the Prime Minister's Liberal task force, we have taken their recommendations into consideration. We have taken steps that put money into the hands of the workers of Quebec, and they now have five more weeks of eligibility. This is in addition to the measures already in place.

The Bloc always overlooks the measures we have already taken to improve the EI system. All of those measures are beneficial to the men and women who work in Quebec and all over Canada.

ShipbuildingOral Question Period

May 13th, 2004 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime minister will be travelling to Lévis tomorrow. One of the problems that has been affecting that area for many years is that of the shipyard, which is in difficulty because Canadian shipowners, such as Canada Steamship Lines, have their ships built in China.

Given that the Canadian Forces have plans for three new supply ships, could the Prime Minister, who will be in Lévis tomorrow, assure the workers that these ships will be built in Quebec and that having them built abroad is out of the question?

ShipbuildingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the government was very proud to make the announcement with respect to the joint supply ships. As I have indicated in the House in the past, they will be built in Canada should a competitive environment exist.

I am a little surprised by the question from the hon. member in the sense that the Bloc had an opportunity to vote for a recommendation from the defence committee report a number of years ago and failed to support the concept of procuring supply ships at that time.

ShipbuildingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

The Minister of National Defence says that contracts will be awarded on a competitive basis. Under NAFTA and the WTO, however, the minister may have ships built wherever he pleases, and competition does not enter into it.

Since international treaties allow these ships to be built in Canada, why does the minister not commit here and now to have them built in Quebec?

ShipbuildingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, let us repeat, to make sure that the Bloc Quebecois clearly understands what the Minister of National Defence has been saying for several weeks, which is that these ships may very well be built in Canada in a competitive environment.

Why? Because we have, in Canada, several shipyards to chose from, which can compete on the market. That is exactly what will happen.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the most troubling thing about the sponsorship scandal is how the Prime Minister let Canadians down. When the whole ugly mess was first exposed by the Auditor General, the Prime Minister took to the airwaves about how he was mad as hell and would leave no stone unturned to get to the truth.

However, just like his commitment to fix the democratic deficit proved to be empty talk, his vow to leave no stone unturned soon turned to Liberal stonewalling. Do Canadians not deserve better?

Sponsorship ProgramOral 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, far from stonewalling, the public accounts committee, as I understand it, has held more than 40 meetings. It has heard from more than 50 witnesses. It has heard 116 hours of testimony. I do not think it is unreasonable at this point for the committee to prepare an interim report and share with Canadians a summary of that which it has heard to date.

I would also remind the hon. member that Mr. Justice Gomery's judicial inquiry has begun and Mr. Justice Gomery has made it absolutely plain that he will get to the bottom of what happened in the sponsorship program.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals shut down the committee with over 90 witnesses yet to be heard. Justice Gomery at best will not report to the end of 2005.

Liberal procedural stonewalling has not just betrayed Canadians' trust, the Liberals have also given this great country an international black eye, because the world is watching as they duck and weave to cut off evidence that might even further damage their election chances.

Why are the Liberals being so careless with Canada's good name?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, far from being careless with Canada's good name, I think if we see the actions taken by the Prime Minister and the government in relation to getting to the bottom of this, we are a model in terms of transparency and accountability.

We have the public accounts committee, Mr. Justice Gomery's judicial inquiry, special counsel to trace funds, whistleblower legislation and a review of governance between crown corporations and the Government of Canada. It is very clear that we want to get to the bottom of this and all those people want to do is filibuster.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether I can believe anything the Deputy Prime Minister has to say, because earlier this week she said “On behalf of the government, I encourage the public accounts committee to continue its work expeditiously”. Then the next day Liberal members voted to move the committee in secret and stop hearing witnesses this week.

This morning, every single Liberal committee member voted against my motion to continue hearing witnesses from Monday to Friday of next week.

If the Liberals really want to get to the bottom of the ad scam, then why did they shut down the committee's capacity to hear evidence next week?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, it is so strange to see the opposition complaining about this when it is the opposition that basically has stonewalled the committee all this week.

Indeed, in the words of the chair of the committee to the member for Calgary—Nose Hill, “I would like you to focus on the issue at hand rather than getting into trying to raise the political stakes”. If they will not do the work, why should they be there?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, last week the Prime Minister criticized and blamed everyone, rogue bureaucrats, the former prime minister, and now the opposition when he said that we only wanted to work a three day week.

We had a motion to work a five day week next week to hear from some of the 90 unheard witnesses. Guess what? The Liberal members on the committee, under orders from the Prime Minister, voted for a week long holiday.

Instead of acting for the public interest to get to the bottom of Liberal corruption, why are the Liberals running out of Ottawa and covering up the truth about the ad scam?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member raised the question of the public interest. I suspect it would be in the public interest, as reported in the Halifax Chronicle today, to find out who paid the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough to sell out the Progressive Conservative Party.

Apparently, the Leader of the Opposition thinks it is just fine that this information is kept secret. I think Canadians should know that before we go to the polls.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, currently excise tax is charged on all jewellery above $3 and all watches over $50 in value. The tax is discriminatory and punitive, since it was removed on luxury items such as cars and fur coats in 1991.

The annual household expenditure on jewellery is estimated at $130, which is less than the cost of a newspaper subscription.

The tax clearly puts the industry at a competitive disadvantage to all other retail sectors. Canada's major competitors in terms of diamonds, Australia and Russia, eliminated the tax two years ago.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. When will he create a level playing field?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, a number of members of Parliament, including that member of Parliament, have raised this issue. The member from the Northwest Territories has always been particularly strong on the subject as well.

I will obviously take this and other representations very carefully into account when we are preparing the next budget plan. I know many members of the House, including members of the finance committee, have a very real interest in this subject matter.

Automobile IndustryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the past two years complacency and arrogance has cost Windsor two DaimlerChrysler auto assembly plants. Currently, General Motors and Ford are asking for a Canadian national auto policy.

My question is for the Minister of Industry. Where is that auto policy? Why do we not have something tangible for the public and the private sector to look at to grow our national treasure in the auto industry? How many jobs will it take before we actually have action from this government?

Automobile IndustryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, it is clear, and it was said in the budget, that the government is preparing a national strategy for the automobile industry. We will do so in conjunction with the industry, labour and parliamentarians and through CAPC. This is the council with all the industry players and with the two ministers from Ontario and Quebec. We are engaged in that situation with them. I hope we will be able to do so this year.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The Regina media today is reporting that by the time I get home tomorrow gasoline prices may hit $1.05 per litre in Regina and elsewhere in Saskatchewan. They are high right across the country.

When I asked the Competition Bureau last year to investigate the link between high gasoline prices and increased corporate concentration in the oil industry, it said that it did not have the mandate or the resources to do so.

In light of that, and I think that is the real question and not taxes, will the minister now immediately give the bureau the resources and the mandate to investigate the link between prices and increased corporate concentration in the oil industry?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if there is some deficiency in the mandate of the Competition Bureau which in some way prevents it from acting in the public interest on behalf of Canadian consumers, then obviously the Government of Canada would be interested in ensuring that the Competition Bureau has the mandate and the resources it needs to do its job in the public interest.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the avian flu crisis hit the Fraser Valley, representatives of the poultry industry immediately sat down with government officials to discuss what steps would be necessary to clean up the disease and preserve the industry in the long term.

Government representatives led them to believe that an adequate compensation package would be paid quickly. Based on that understanding, the industry agreed to the depopulation order. Unfortunately, the government's compensation plan is incomprehensible and clearly inadequate, and now those who have received a payment have been told they will have it clawed back.

Why, three months after the crisis began, is there still no decent compensation package for the farmers?