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House of Commons Hansard #55 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

Public ServiceOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the public service is in place to provide service to the public. That is what they are called upon to do by the government.

When they advance policy ideas, the government weighs those policy proposals from the bureaucracy and eventually makes the ultimate decision about how to proceed.

The very good work done by the public service over the long term and over the last number of weeks has produced very powerful results. They include, for example, the proposal by the Minister of Veterans Affairs for a brand new way to deal with veterans benefits in this country and also the recent action by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to defend Canadian rights off the nose and tail of the Grand Banks.

That is in the public interest.

Public ServiceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, this same Prime Minister who said he wants to change things asked ministers to put departmental staff to work to write tailor-made proposals for the Liberal election platform—all on the taxpayer's dime.

Will the government admit that the political direction to subsidize the preparation of the Liberal platform was given by the Prime Minister himself?

Public ServiceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I absolutely reject the allegation of the hon. member. In fact, what the Prime Minister asked us to do as new ministers was to work with our public servants to examine ideas, to talk back and forth about things that were challenging the departments in the continual search for improvement.

The goal in any government is to constantly put forward new and better proposals before the people of Canada.

Public ServiceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has federal public servants working hard to create a campaign platform for the Liberal Party of Canada at low cost to the party, thus, once again, diverting public resources to basely partisan purposes.

Since public funds are involved, are we to understand that the government intends to make its campaign platform public before the election is called, or must we, once again, rely on the Access to Information Act to get a look at it?

Public ServiceOral 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, in our system the public service—one of the most professional and the most competent in the world, I might add—has a mandate to support the government in its administration, in its governance.

I would like to give an example related to the circumstances described by my hon. colleague opposite. It is a very concrete example of governance in which we have been assisted. The allegation will not stick because we have just announced, barely two days ago, the creation of a Democratic Reform Secretariat, which has a web site and consultation procedures. All of this is part of the work that the opposition refuses to recognize. It makes no sense.

Public ServiceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, if we have an exemplary public service, it must not be used for base partisan purposes as the Liberal Party is doing.

Nevertheless, since the government named Mr. Gauthier as special counsel to recover the millions of dollars from the sponsorship scandal, does the government intend to broaden Mr. Gauthier's mandate to make the Liberal Party pay the salaries of the public servants who have been requisitioned by the Liberal Party to write its bargain-priced platform?

Public ServiceOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, once again, I certainly reject any allegation of improper engagement in the public service. They did the job that they are always required to do.

On the recovery of funds, I would note today we had the announcement of the recovery of $147 million in an agreement with HP, which is the result of very proactive work on the part of the very same public servants. They should be congratulated on behalf of Canada.

Liberal Party of CanadaOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, a recent appointee of the Prime Minister as the Liberal candidate referred to a vote for the NDP as a whisper, ignoring the fact that I seldom whisper, and neither do other NDP MPs for that matter, ignoring the election of progressive mayors in Toronto and Vancouver, the re-election of NDP governments in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the increase in proper support in other provincial elections, and of course what happened last night in Hamilton.

I ask the Deputy Prime Minister, does she think that turfing a progressive candidate like the former deputy prime minister and ignoring the steel industry had anything to do with this so-called whisper becoming a mighty big shout against the Liberals in Hamilton?

Liberal Party of CanadaOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, indeed the government is very pleased to be attracting great interest and strong support across the country. In my own province, for example, I am very pleased that Mr. Chris Axworthy is running for the Liberal Party. In British Columbia, I am pleased to see that the former premier, Ujjal Dosanjh, is running. Dave Haggard is running.

I would think the hon. gentleman might want to check his list before he declares victory.

FisheriesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, in 1997, 15 in-shore, independent, low income, hook and line fishermen staged a protest fishery and the Government of Canada threw everything it had at them. It prosecuted them over five years of litigation; six of them ended up charged and among them all, they had a few hundred pounds of fish. But when the Portuguese have 65,000 pounds of fish caught illegally, what does the government do? It gives them a warning, albeit a stern warning.

My question for the government is, why the double standard? Why does the government pick on the hook and line, independent, low income, single business-minded--

FisheriesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of the Environment.

FisheriesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, there is no double standard. In fact it is exactly the opposite. If we are to have success internationally in making sure that we get the Portuguese ships on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks which are in international waters to obey the North Atlantic fisheries agreement, we have to show that in Canada we also enforce the law.

These gentlemen of the Southwest Fishermen's Rights Association admitted that they deliberately went out and fished in the closed season for cod, haddock and pollock, which was in fact illegal--

FisheriesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, gasoline prices are set to soar over $1 a litre this summer. Much of the cost is to be borne by Canadians because the Liberals are charging GST on top of gas taxes. Between the excise tax and the GST, the Liberals are ensuring that they are squeezing Canadian drivers for everything they have.

Why will the Liberals not help Canadians by cutting this extra tax on gasoline?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government obviously shares the concern of consumers with respect to these higher prices.

In terms of the impact of the GST, I have had the opportunity in the last number of days to actually do the arithmetic. It would appear that because of the price increases of the last couple of weeks, the actual difference in GST paid is something in the order of 1¢ per litre.

That hardly changes the equation. I think we have to search conscientiously for more profound solutions, because 1¢ a litre will not make the difference that consumers would like to see.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, neither are the taxes that the government is charging now. The least it can do is leave some of that money with Canadians, especially leading up to this busy season.

The Liberals are trying to play Canadians for fools. They have collected billions in gas taxes and GST over the past 10 years, but cities like Edmonton are riddled with potholes. Obviously the only commitment to a new deal with cities is how much money they can milk from drivers.

Canadians deserve a break before this busy vacation time. Why will the Liberals not step up to the pump and axe this tax on the gas tax?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, to make the simplistic change that the hon. gentleman is proposing, as I said, makes a difference of about 1¢ a litre. That will hardly make an appreciable benefit to the consumers.

The search for a solution has to be a little bit more sophisticated than a glib opposition one liner.

With respect to the hon. member's point about municipalities, we are in the process of rebating the entire GST to every municipality in Canada, which adds up to $7 billion. That is a real benefit to Canadians.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, sophisticated or not, inflated gasoline prices are hurting drivers in Saskatchewan and across the country.

Fuel taxes account for more than a third of what we pay at the pumps. Yesterday the Minister of Finance said that raising the fuel tax and the GST is not a part of the policy of the Government of Canada.

Can the minister tell Canadians, does his policy include lowering the tax we pay on fuel?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am always interested in finding ways to reduce the tax burden on Canadians.

What we are presently engaged in with respect to the GST and fuel taxes is obviously finding the ways to provide a greater cash flow to municipalities so that they can improve local infrastructure and the quality of life in local communities across the country.

The point raised by the hon. member, as I said earlier, would make a penny or two difference. That, quite frankly, on $1 per litre, is not of sufficient benefit to the consumers. We have to look for something more significant than that.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government claims that the skyrocketing price of gas is an international problem shared by our friends in Europe and around the world. I would like to point out that travel in Canada is vastly different from travel in Europe. My riding of Blackstrap is largely rural. Many constituents do not have the option of hopping on a bus or a train to get to work.

When will the government recognize its obligation to Canadians to provide fuel tax relief?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if the solution were that easy and that simple, obviously it would be attractive to jump at it.

I would point out that the federal excise tax has not changed since 1995. The GST rate has not changed since 1991. There is no increase in rate that is imposed here by the Government of Canada.

In the course of the last two weeks, the difference in terms of the GST is purely a penny a litre. We have to find a better solution.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Industry showed her lack of interest in the concerns of consumers over the gasoline price increase and, more importantly, she showed that she and her government have no intention of assuming their responsibilities regarding this issue.

Considering that there are solutions, and considering that we are about to pay $1 for a litre of gas, what is the government waiting for to recognize that there is a major problem and to finally create what everyone has been waiting for, namely a petroleum monitoring agency?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the direct initial responsibility for action in relation to consumer prices has historically been the purview of the provinces.

Where matters cross the line from purely civil matters to be potentially criminal or in restraint of trade, or anti-competitive behaviour, that falls within federal jurisdiction. That is the purview of the Competition Bureau.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of merely parroting what he was told to say, why will the minister not listen to the former commissioner of the Competition Bureau, Konrad von Finckenstein, who said, and I quote “... the current legislation does not provide the bureau with the authority to conduct an industry study ... Such a big industry picture study should not be conducted by an investigatory agency, but rather by a neutral agency.”

In light of these comments, what is the government waiting for to finally act and set up a petroleum monitoring agency?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

May 14th, 2004 / 11:35 a.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw LiberalMinister of Labour and Minister responsible for Homelessness

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is very concerned about the price of gasoline. However, I should mention that the Competition Bureau is currently conducting a review of the price of gasoline. Therefore, it is important to let it continue the work that it was asked to do by the Government of Canada.