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House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is the contrary. I already mentioned in the House that the government had taken several measures to deal with workers who are trying to find new jobs. For example, I mentioned the $500 million that we gave to the province to deal with local labour market issues. I also mentioned the $300 million or more that we gave to regional agencies. I can also think of—

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, when it was time to pass retroactive legislation to enable his own company to benefit from the tax haven status of Barbados, the Prime Minister did not hesitate for one second. When it was time to permit wealthy family trusts to send billions of dollars out of Canada without paying taxes, it was quickly settled one December 23, in the evening. But when it is time to help the unemployed, there is unending delay upon delay.

What sort of prime minister is he, so eager to help the rich and so tied up in procedural delays when it comes time to help 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, we see today that the Bloc Quebecois is able to play with rhetoric to hide the fact that it has no practical solutions. It is still taking advantage of the poor people who are only looking for ways to find work.

I would like to point out that, under this government, there are many more who have found work, and the unemployment rate has declined.

HealthOral Question Period

May 4th, 2004 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not have a question for the President of the Treasury Board, but if I did, I would begin by telling him to pick on somebody his own size.

My question though is for the Prime Minister. On April 20 the health minister made what the Prime Minister's Office referred to at the time as a major speech on the future of health care. In that speech the health minister clearly spoke about flexibility on private for profit delivery of health care.

I have a very simple question for the Prime Minister. Can he tell us whether the minister was speaking for the government in that speech?

HealthOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course the Minister of Health speaks for the government. He also speaks for a publicly funded universally accessible health care system. That is the position of this government. That is the position of this party. This is the party that brought medicare into being and we stand behind it today.

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, this is the party that every time made the Liberals do the right thing or they would not have done it by themselves.

The Prime Minister used the word publicly funded. Will he talk to the House about whether or not he is in favour of private delivery of publicly funded services? What is the government position on that? How about a clear answer on that one?

HealthOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the very health plan we are developing right now in cooperation with the provinces is precisely for the expansion of public health care in this country.

We want an expansion of the services. We want better access to our health care services in Canada. We want to adapt it to the 21st century reality. This is what we are doing with our partners in the provinces at this time.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, there are witnesses prepared to expose the dirty little secret of the sponsorship program and how it was used for what the Treasury Board called money laundering.

The Ottawa Sun quoted an ad executive:

We do it all the time. You know, dry cleaning--we pick up the expense and charge it to you (the government).

Every time it gets close to hearing from a candid witness, the Liberals use their control of the committee to switch the witness list.

Why are the Liberals using their controlling vote to block certain evidence?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the credibility in this place, I have repeatedly asked members if they have accusations to make that they make all the time in the House, to step outside.

The member for Provencher made the accusations on the record in this chamber and other member have, and yet outside the chamber they say there never was $100 million stolen.

When it comes to credibility, we do not have to look very far.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, it was the Treasury Board, in its January report, that specifically discussed money laundering, using those very words. Does the minister read his own department's reports?

Senior political figures would buy luxuries on an agency credit card and it would get charged back to the government as advertising. The Auditor General, in her report, also referred to the hiding of the true source of funds.

Why are the Liberals so eager to avoid any discussion of the connection between ad scam and money laundering?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the government is hardly doing anything like hiding or not looking for the truth in this matter. We are assisting RCMP investigations with as much as evidence as we can bring together. We have a judicial independent inquiry. We are participating in the public accounts committee.

Let me say that in terms of these allegations of fraud, the member for Provencher asked on April 1, Canadians are asking who stole the $100 million? The Auditor General said on May 3 that--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. We will have to hear that in the next answer.

The hon. member for Calgary Southeast.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals seem to forget that it was Jean Chrétien who said millions were stolen.

The public accounts committee has yet to get near the bottom of the Liberal ad scam. There are over 70 identified key witnesses who have not yet testified, including key figures from the sleazy Liberal ad firms.

But, lo and behold, the Liberal majority is getting ready to shut down the only inquiry in town. Yesterday, the Liberal committee member from Charlottetown said, “Well, I certainly get the impression the committee is winding down the whole investigation”.

With the public inquiry not starting until the fall, why are the Liberals shutting down the only opportunity Canadians have to get to the bottom of Liberal 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, the hon. member speaks of the government-dominated public accounts committee. Who does he think called back the Auditor General to give evidence this week? On May 3 this week, the Auditor General said:

I think I have said, Mr. Chair, on numerous occasions that we have never said that the $100 million was missing or stolen or unaccounted for.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

That is right, Mr. Speaker, the Liberals do have the majority and, according to a Liberal member of the committee, they are about to use it to wind down the whole investigation.

The Prime Minister has planned this very elegantly. He was shocked and outraged to find out about corruption in his own party, in his own backyard. Then he plans the judicial inquiry to not start until the fall. Now, before the committee has even heard from 70 key witnesses, he is giving the marching orders to shut down the public accounts committee.

Why will the government not let Canadians get to the bottom of this? Why will the government not let public accounts do its job?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, what the opposition fails to understand is that an independent judicial inquiry is independent. It sets its own timetable. It will set its own witness list. It will ensure that there is a disciplined discovery of the truth in this matter.

We have a special council appointed for financial recovery. We will see action taken very soon by that independent council. The RCMP is conducting numerous investigations, with the full cooperation of the government.

All of these matters are entrained. Nobody is shutting down anything.

Older WorkersOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, before coming to power, the Liberals presented petitions signed by thousands of people calling for the continuation of the Program for Older Worker Adjustment. The Prime Minister himself demonstrated in Montreal and promised to improve the POWA once in power. Once elected, he did not waste any time abolishing it.

Could the Prime Minister keep his promises for once and reinstate POWA, as he promised several times, to workers in Sherbrooke in particular, in 2000?

Older WorkersOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is well aware, those were short-term projects for a specified period. Accordingly, a new system needs to be implemented to address this problem.

As I also said a few weeks ago, the unemployment rate among older workers has gone down. More than 21,000 jobs have been created—

Older WorkersOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us hope for everyone's sake that this minister is also here for the short term.

The Prime Minister keeps saying that he wants to govern. To govern is to make decisions. The labour unions are demanding changes.

I want to know what he is waiting for to reinstate POWA as he promised.

Older WorkersOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we will take the necessary measures to address specific issues. Clearly, however, members of the Bloc do not have any solutions. In our view, they are simply individuals who like rhetoric and make groundless accusations. However, that solves nothing.

Obviously I will propose what the Liberal task force has recommended.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, a spokesperson for Canadian Heritage, Anne-Sophie Lawless, made the following statement yesterday in connection with the money paid to Option Canada: “We tried to trace where that money went, but it seems that this was not one of the things that had to be reported to us at the time”.

How can the Minister of Canadian Heritage justify the government's desire to conceal from both public servants and the general public just what was done with the $5 million dollars turned over to Option Canada?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I continue to be surprised that the Bloc Quebecois is rehashing questions asked since 1995 and answered over the next four years.

All the documents are public. We have provided full answers to all of the questions. All they need to get answers to all their questions is to do a bit of research.

Might we perhaps also ask our colleagues in the Bloc whether they are prepared to be as transparent in connection with Mr. Parizeau and the creation of a department, and to produce all the documents on that matter?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I feel obliged to inform the Minister of Canadian Heritage that, if we have been bringing up the same question since 1995, it is because we have never had any answers from this government since 1995. That is the answer.

Who in government is responsible for the decision, in connection with Option Canada as well as the sponsorship program, to thumb their noses at all of the administrative rules for managing public funds? We want to know on whose shoulders this heavy responsibility rests. People want to know and the government has an obligation to tell us.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the same questions are being asked as in 1997, 1998 and the following years. The answers were provided at that time. Those answers are public. Internal reports have been produced.

I think that, with a bit of research, they could put their hands on the answers provided previously, which will not be any different today.