This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was benefits.

Topics

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, time is running out. Let me impress upon the Prime Minister what one D-Day veteran, Bruce Melanson, had to say:

What we got today and this scandal of monies being thrown around...why don't they throw a little bit at us, at the veterans?

This ceremony is to celebrate history but in this case we have living history. Does the Prime Minister not agree that sending our veterans to Normandy is a small price to pay for the service they have given this country?

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I very much share the views that have been expressed. There is no doubt of the tremendous debt succeeding generations owe to the veterans of all our great wars. The fact is that I saw Mr. Melanson on television last night and he makes a very strong case.

We, as Canadians, owe a tremendous debt to those who gave their lives and those who fought for us, and the government certainly intends to recognize that. That is what, in fact, June 6 is all about.

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I am going to continue to press the Prime Minister for a very clear commitment.

With the half a million dollars that he spent on all his various pre-election trips on the Challengers, we could have sent 60 additional veterans to Normandy. This is not a matter of money. It is a matter of priorities. This is not supposed to be a photo op for politicians. It is supposed to be to honour what the veterans achieved.

Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and commit the government to paying for any veteran who is willing and able to attend the ceremonies?

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as the minister for the department whose sole preoccupation is the well-being of veterans, and as one whose father was a second world war veteran, I sympathize very much with the situation.

However, following past practices and the practices of our allies, we invite the 60 regiments or military associations that were involved in D-Day to nominate their own representatives. Those people, along with the attendants, will be in the official delegation.

Standing Committee on Public AccountsOral Question Period

May 6th, 2004 / 2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

I guess that is no, Mr. Speaker.

The member for Hillsborough, with the backing of the PMO, seeks to put a stake through the public accounts committee. Today he tabled a motion to wrap up in advance of testimony from over 90 witnesses, making way for a whitewash and a spring election. This smacks of the Somali inquiry with important evidence missing and work not done. A flawed report is worse than no report.

Why has the Prime Minister broken his word by ordering the shutdown of the public accounts committee?

Standing Committee on Public AccountsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have not ordered anything at all. The public accounts committee is the master of its own destiny.

However, why do the members of the opposition, who ought to recognize that they are ultimately accountable to the people of Canada, and given the fact that the public accounts committee has now been sitting for quite some time, think that the committee should not prepare a report so that the Canadian people will know what has taken place over the last number of months? What is the opposition afraid of?

Standing Committee on Public AccountsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, because, quite simply, the work is not done and Canadians deserve the whole truth, not this government whitewash.

The exact problem is the absence of responsibility and accountability. It appears there are lots of smoking guns in this issue but nobody wants to identify the shooter. The victim in all this is the Canadian taxpayer. The committee has been deemed a farce by the Prime Minister. The judicial inquiry will not complete its work until December 2005, a full 18 months from now.

Why is the Prime Minister killing the efforts of the public accounts committee to deliver on his promise to the Canadian public to get to--

Standing Committee on Public AccountsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Standing Committee on Public AccountsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, let us understand that it was the Liberal members, the government side of the public accounts committee, who pushed the committee to publish the Guité report. It was the government members who pushed to have Mr. Quail back. The government members called the key witnesses, like the Auditor General, to define things clearly, like she did today.

The fact is that the government has done an excellent job on ensuring that we have the inquiry go and the RCMP go. Now it is time for the researchers to do their synopsis.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of assuming his responsibilities for health care funding, the Prime Minister is suggesting that Quebec collect more taxes. This suggestion was categorically rejected by the Quebec finance minister. What Yves Séguin wants instead is to see Ottawa transfer the GST to Quebec.

Does the Prime Minister intend to respond promptly, and favourably, to this request by Yves Séguin, in order to provide better funding for health care services?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the health minister and the finance minister have both said on numerous occasions, the reason we asked for a meeting this summer with the premiers is to have a proper discussion on health, health reform, and the required increases in transfer payments.

We realize the provinces are under pressure. We are certainly prepared to sit down with them and to help them out.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been reports, including the Romanow and Clair reports. Now the Liberal Minister of Finance of Quebec, Yves Séguin, is calling for the federal government to get its act together, reach a decision, act now, and transfer the GST so that patients can receive care immediately, rather than engage in a long process of meetings, sitting down and talking about how well they understand Canadians and Quebeckers. The Prime Minister is being asked to take action, and for once in his life, to make a decision.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I know Yves Séguin very well. He is the Minister of Finance of Quebec, and he is stuck with the financial difficulties that are the real legacy of the PQ government. He has problems because he has inherited them from the PQ.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would advise the Prime Minister to read the Séguin report. He will then understand why Quebec has problems.

The nonsensical thing about this debate on taxation is that in his letter in response to the National Assembly's unanimous resolution on the fiscal imbalance, the Prime Minister proposed that Quebec raise its taxes to cover its expenses.

How can the Prime Minister act so irresponsibly toward the taxpayers when his own government already collects too much tax, which would explain the surpluses that recur, year after year, in Ottawa?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Brome—Missisquoi Québec

Liberal

Denis Paradis LiberalMinister of State (Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to mention some figures, even though this is not the right place for a debate on numbers. For example, the revenue of the provinces last year was $201 billion, while the federal revenue was $145 billion. The federal debt was $510 billion, while that of the provinces was $289 billion.

As the Prime Minister has said, and as the throne speech indicated, why do we not sit down together and end this bickering? Everywhere we have travelled in the provinces, we hear people say they do not want this bickering. The important thing is to sit down together. The Prime Minister has proposed to the provinces that we sit down to discuss health care and other issues and reach an agreement.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. The federal government already has predicted a $5 billion surplus for this year, while the provinces predict a $5 billion deficit for the year. That is strange.

Is that so hard for the Prime Minister to understand? People want their tax dollars to go to the right place, that is, to the services they consider a priority—that is all. Can the Prime Minister understand that?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brome—Missisquoi Québec

Liberal

Denis Paradis LiberalMinister of State (Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, these are the same people who, along with their head office in Quebec City, invested $700 million in Toronto and let it sit, unused, in an account there for who knows how long. When we talk here in the House about equalization, from which Quebec benefits, these are the same people who oppose these bills. The same people.

I will say once again that the Speech from the Throne mentioned the words “cooperation” and “partnership” 14 times, as well as the idea of sitting down with the Liberal government of Quebec and the governments of the other provinces to settle the issues.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. I want to assure the hon. members at the far end of the House that there is plenty of room for personal conversations on the other side of the doors. The hon. member for Roberval and the other members around him can continue their discussion with the Minister of State outside the doors.

And now, the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

Standing Committee on Public AccountsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if there is such a thing as a parliamentary tranquilizer but perhaps some could be administered to those members. My question is for the right hon. Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister likes to talk about stark differences and yet the starkest difference in Canadian politics these days is between what the Liberals say and what they do. One law for the Liberals and one law for the rest of us.

The Prime Minister said he thinks it is urgent that the Liberal majority on the public accounts committee report, before the election presumably. He is not concerned that an independent inquiry will not report until over a year after the expected election.

Why does the Prime Minister think that Canadians should go to the polls with only the Liberal view instead of the independent view?

Standing Committee on Public AccountsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would simply remind the parliamentary leader for the NDP that the clerk is independent, KPMG is independent, the forensic accountants who are going to be coming in are independent, and the research branch of the Library of Parliament is independent. They are the ones who will be presenting the facts.

The issue really is, why is the NDP, along with the Alliance, afraid of the facts? Do they not realize that they are accountable to the people of Canada?

After this number of months the people of Canada are entitled to a report from the parliamentary committee which has been sitting. The people of Canada are entitled to know what the committee has found out.

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister acts like he has never been on a committee before and does not know anything about the dynamics of how majorities work. Perhaps he has forgotten.

I want to turn to another issue and that is the issue of gas prices in this country. The NDP has put forward the idea of a fair prices review commission for gas. The government has rejected that.

I have another question for the Prime Minister on another matter having to do with fuel. Why is he backing away on his promise to give a share of the gas tax to cities which they could then use for building public and mass transit in this country so that people would not have to pay high prices for gas?

Gasoline PricesOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the suggestion of transferring part of the gas tax to our municipalities is an excellent one. It is one that really came from this party. The government has said that we want to sit down with the cities and the provinces, and deal with it immediately. We are certainly prepared to do that.

The fact is that lengthy negotiations must take place. Our commitment is that part of the gas tax is going to be transferred to the cities so that they can live up to their very important responsibilities along with all of the other communities in this country.

Standing Committee on Public AccountsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Canadian Alliance Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister initially pledged to leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal, and we should be able to trust the word of a prime minister.

First, his Liberal majority blocked production of the Gagliano papers. Then the government blocked release of Privy Council briefings on the sponsorship program. Now it has moved to cut off evidence even though the clerks say there are at least 90 witnesses not yet heard from.

Why has the Prime Minister broken his word to Canadians?

Standing Committee on Public AccountsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, let me make it clear. The opposition blocked having Mr. Guité's testimony made public. It tried to stop Mr. Guité from coming here for two days. In fact, it insulted the government by saying that he would never appear, and he did appear. He was a very valuable and key witness.

The opposition also tried to block Mr. Quail from coming to the committee. I am very disappointed that this morning the member even tried to filibuster to stop the Auditor General from being there.