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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

FoundationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, the fiscal realities of foundations are still a source of concern for Canadians. Yesterday, the government told us that the Auditor General or any individual can ask for copies of the foundations' audited reports. However, Ms. Fraser told us that she has neither the authority nor the resources to adequately protect taxpayers.

Why will the Prime Minister not let the Auditor General audit these foundations to protect Canadians?

FoundationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as you know, the foundations that have been created by the government in the past number of years have been a tremendous success. They are staffed by some of the best and the brightest that Canada has to offer. They do some of the best work in innovation and research and all their statements are audited and are available.

There are certain requests that have been put in through the budget whereby the minister can call for a review of those things. We have a tremendous system that is working very well.

FoundationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals may be prepared to call these a success but before taxpayers can call them a success we need to make sure that all the money is being spent properly and effectively.

What the Auditor General is asking for is the ability to do compliance and value for money audits so that Canadians know whether they got precisely what was stated with regard to their taxpayer dollars.

If the Prime Minister really believes in accountability, why does he not give the Auditor General the effective powers to ensure that taxpayer money is not wasted in a scandalous manner like all Canadians saw with regard to the sponsorships program?

FoundationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, these foundations are all audited. Annual statements are made. The opportunity is there for members of Parliament, or indeed committees, to call, at any time, any one of these foundations and ask how the money is being spent.

Parliament has a supervisory jurisdiction. If the hon. member wishes to engage in that supervisory jurisdiction, he is more than welcome.

FoundationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, just after the Prime Minister announced his tighter system to manage spending in the 1995 budget, which we know did not really work out that well, he started stashing $9 billion in off the books foundations, like Canada Health Infoway.

Those foundations are not open to access by the Auditor General or to access to information requests.

A month ago the finance minister acknowledged the problem and said that the Auditor General should have access to those foundations.

Why did the finance minister mislead Canadians and fail to follow through on his promise to allow the Auditor General access to those foundations?

FoundationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I noted in the newspaper today that the former prime minister is being recognized by Queen's University for his work in foundations. This was a significant achievement on the part of this government. The former prime minister is being awarded a doctorate for the ability of the government to put universities back in the research game.

Queen's University has recognized it. I know the University of Toronto recognizes it. I am sure there are other universities as well.

FoundationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, that was very nice but it was completely irrelevant to the question I asked.

The Auditor General said:

I am concerned that these huge amounts of public money are provided up front to foundations when there is such limited assurance of proper controls and accountability.

I wonder if she was thinking of Canada Health Infoway which is now on its fourth CEO in four years?

Why did the finance minister commit to letting the AG have access to these foundations only to break his promise?

FoundationsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that these people do not believe in an organization that changed leaders four times in the last four years. That means that Canadians should not trust them to lead Canada.

As far as Canada Health Infoway is concerned, I can tell the House that it is doing a lot of good for Canadians. It is helping us to work on the electronic patient security and safety with our partners in the provinces. Health Infoway is doing a lot of good to ensure the long term sustainability of our health care system.

Social DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Social Development.

The birth certificates of constituents are accepted by the Department of Foreign Affairs to issue passports. At the same time, Canadian passports are rejected by her department to issue social insurance numbers.

Why is a Canadian passport deemed inadequate for the purpose of identity and citizenship?

Social DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles Québec

Liberal

Liza Frulla LiberalMinister of Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member that, in her 2002 report, the Auditor General indicated that 2.6 million social insurance numbers were inactive. Following this report, an interdepartmental committee was set up and made recommendations that were approved by the federal-provincial-territorial council on identity in Canada. Following these recommendations, we no longer accept the passport, because it is not a primary document.

We have stricter requirements for issuing a social insurance number. We need the original of a birth certificate or an immigration document.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister attacked Conservatives for supporting the Iraqi war, yet he never showed his face at anti-war rallies and he hid behind the curtain while debate raged here in Parliament.

Now he apes the Conservatives on ballistic missile defence, despite pleas from every member of the Canadian Council of Churches and the Canadian Islamic Congress, along with growing numbers of Canadians, that Canada not participate in NMD.

How can the Prime Minister slam Conservatives on the Iraqi war and missile defence while pursuing the exact same policies?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, as so often happens in the House, is wrong on both counts, not just one count.

The Prime Minister has been totally consistent in terms of the Iraq war, and this party's policy and this government's policy has been totally consistent in terms of NMD. We will examine this and if it is in the interests of Canadians we will enter into it. If it is not, we will not.

It is not going to lead to star wars however much they might try to persuade themselves and try to fool the Canadian electorate into believing that.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is no connection between what the Prime Minister says and what he does. He may have gotten some tips from George Bush on how to rewrite history, but the facts remain. He never said anything to keep Canada out of the war in Iraq.

How can the Prime Minister slam the Conservatives on the Iraqi war and missile defence, while pursuing the exact same policies?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is the same question in a different language, but the answer remains the same.

Canada CustomsOral Question Period

May 4th, 2004 / 2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, only three days after the Prime Minister's photo op with George Bush, Bob Zoellick , the U.S. trade representative, put Canada on the watch list as one of the world's worst offending nations when it comes to counterfeit goods.

Customs agents do not have the authority to protect Canadian markets from counterfeit material. If they see something illegally enter Canada they have to call the police.

Why have the Liberals not extended the proper authority to customs so that they can seize counterfeit goods?

Canada CustomsOral 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, let me reassure the hon. member that this government does take counterfeiting very seriously. The CBSA has the legislative authority to seize goods that are in violation of the Customs Act. If goods are also in violation of intellectual property rights, the CBSA will notify the RCMP for possible prosecution. Where the CBSA is supplied with specific intelligence, the goods will be detained for further action by the RCMP.

What this is about is constantly assessing our ability to protect our borders and the movement of goods across our borders. We do that in partnership with the United States, and we will continue to do that.

Canada CustomsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have continuously neglected their responsibilities to ensure our customs agents have the authority to do their job. They put them on the front line of our security but then refuse to arm them, preventing the protection of themselves let alone Canadians. Customs officers must ensure that goods do not illegally enter Canada but the Liberals then ask them to sit back and ignore counterfeit goods if there is no cop nearby.

When will the Liberals stop treating customs agents as border dressing and actually give them the authority and tools they need to do their jobs?

Canada CustomsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member is aware that on December 12 the Prime Minister created the new Canadian Border Services Agency. This new agency is at our land borders, our airports and our seaports.

Working in partnership with the private sector, the local communities and with allies like the United States, its goal is to identify high risk goods and individuals who would do harm to this country, including counterfeit goods.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, last week Canada scored a clear win on the softwood lumber dispute at NAFTA. Therefore, it might come as a surprise to some that the Minister of International Trade seems to be adamant on bypassing this with some kind of negotiated settlement.

The government negotiated with the Americans last fall but the proposed agreement was so bad that the provinces and the industry rejected it.

Why is the minister insisting on going down this road again when we are winning this dispute at NAFTA?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. We had another very strong victory at NAFTA for our softwood lumber. We will continue to pursue that litigious route, and at the same time we will continue on the two track policy of seeking a negotiated resolution to this issue if there is a prevailing view among the stakeholders.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the obvious question is: Why? Why continue to negotiate when we are winning the dispute and the dispute mechanism system is working well?

About $2 billion in duties have been paid by the Canadian softwood lumber industry and this money is sitting in U.S. coffers. When we win at NAFTA this money will be repaid, but if the minister insists on subverting NAFTA and striking a side agreement with the Americans that $2 billion will be up for grabs.

How much of this $2 billion is the minister planning on leaving on the table to sweeten the deal for the Americans?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Willowdale Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson LiberalMinister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, we will continue to pursue our two track policy. Yes, we have had great success but, as we have seen in the past, this does not necessarily guarantee that money paid will come back to us.

We will continue to pursue this route and we will continue to see if there is a prevailing view for a negotiated settlement.

Air CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Transport was trying to reassure us yesterday, he did not succeed. Although I was asking him questions about Air Canada Enterprises, he talked about Air Canada. These are two different companies.

Can the minister deny that, if Air Canada and its current subsidiaries were to become a part of a new holding company, a large proportion of these companies, no longer being subsidiaries of Air Canada, would therefore no longer be subject to the Official Languages Act?

Air CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I said the other day, we are very much aware of the Deutsche Bank and Air Canada agreement in principle. I said that Air Canada would be required to meet all of its obligations under the Air Canada Public Participation Act. Along with meeting the obligations under that act, it would be required to meet all the other legislation that would apply to an airline that wants to operate here in Canada.

Air CanadaOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that we are not talking about Air Canada.

Can the minister deny that the potential holding company, Air Canada Enterprises, which would include Air Canada and its subsidiaries, would no longer be required to keep its headquarters in Montreal, as Air Canada is currently required to do?