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House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we all heard government lawyers give a very weak defence. The Liberal Party lawyers did not even show up at all.

Mr. Chrétien's attacks on Justice Gomery have disturbed the work of the commission.

Will the Prime Minister demonstrate leadership by picking up the telephone and telling Mr. Chrétien to stop threatening the commission?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the Prime Minister is head of the government for all Canadians.

The Leader of the Opposition wants to make this a partisan exercise when Canadians want the government to act. The Prime Minister has acted. The government defended Gomery and that is what is really important to realize here.

Furthermore, the former prime minister does have a right to defend himself in front of Gomery as an individual.

We know what that party believes about individual rights. We know what that party believes about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All Canadians deserve the opportunity to defend themselves.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, Justice Gomery is leading an inquiry into the biggest scandal in Canadian history. We are talking about $100 million being funnelled from a program into Liberal-friendly ad firms.

The Prime minister somehow expects to be congratulated for an inquiry that is looking into how his government allegedly stole money.

The Prime Minister himself is following in the footsteps of Mr. Chrétien in a vain attempt to cover his legacy of corruption. Why does the Prime Minister not publicly denounce his predecessor?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Government of Canada and the Prime Minister of Canada, as the leader of the government, has defended Justice Gomery at the commission.

What is also clear is that party, that deputy leader and that leader do not understand the independence of a judicial inquiry, do not understand the Constitution of Canada and do not understand the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If one does not understand the laws of the land, one is permanently disqualified from leading the country.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the commission of inquiry under Justice Gomery is well under way. Mr. Chrétien and his legal chain are now considering an inquiry into an inquiry.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The member for Central Nova is very popular but we have to be able to hear what he is saying. He is asking a question. We will hear the hon. member for Central Nova.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, clearly the Prime Minister has more in common with his predecessor than he cares to admit. He refuses to be accountable. He will not even get up in the House and answer simple questions, hiding behind apologists and ducking the issue.

Why is the Prime Minister continuing in the steps of his mentor and being stoney silent on this important issue? When will he end this Chrétien circus sideshow and let the commission get on with its work?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member talks about having things in common, let us look at what we have in common: the elimination of the deficit and the creation of the national child benefit. Who was the person who said that we would not send troops into Iraq when he was trying to be forced by the Leader of the Opposition as he is involved in that?

Yes, I am very proud of what the last government did and I am very proud that I was part of it.

We will get to the bottom of what happened, which is why we created the Gomery commission.

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, before the election, the Liberals promised that concluding the final agreement on parental leave would be just a formality. Eight months later, things are at a total standstill. Ottawa, with its surplus of over $10 billion, refuses to close the $275 million gap that separates it from the Government of Quebec.

How does the Prime Minister explain that his government, which has the resources, has nonetheless decided to prevent Quebec families from benefiting from a parental leave program that is more generous than the federal one?

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned about the situation of Quebec families and of all families in Canada. That is why the minister is having ongoing discussions with her counterpart. In fact, that is happening today.

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, in May of last year, before the election, it was settled. They were talking about a historic agreement; they said everything was going well; everything was done and only the formalities remained. The deadline was February 1: that is today. What was settled in May 2004 is still not settled today. Quebec has been waiting for eight years; in 1997, Ottawa decided to pay for the first year.

Why is it that what was acceptable in 1997 is no longer acceptable today? There is no election coming; that is why. It is another empty promise.

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc may get all worked up, but in concrete terms, we are still in intensive negotiations with the Government of Quebec. I spoke to my counterpart last night and again before question period. Discussions are continuing. Together we are working for the well-being of Quebec's families.

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the $275 million shortfall for parental leave is what still needs to be settled before the pre-election agreement signed by the federal government and Quebec can be finalized. This is $275 million for young parents.

How can the Liberal government justify still not coming up with the goods eight months later, on the date of the planned agreement, after reaping the advantages of announcing the agreement just days before the election was called?

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, we support Quebec's plan to broaden the parental leave program currently available at the federal level. We support it to such an extent that we are prepared to transfer to Quebec the funds usually paid to Quebeckers, and are currently doing so. We are still holding discussions with representatives of Quebec, and both governments wish to reach an agreement.

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, yet minister Béchard says the federal negotiating committee seems to lack political will and he is appealing to the federal ministers from Quebec to ensure that this gets settled.

This agreement, which needed almost nothing more added to it, according to the other side, afforded the Liberals a lot of mileage for campaign purposes. Now Quebec parents want the government to deliver the goods.

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, Quebec parents are well aware that we are determined to sign an agreement with the Government of Quebec that is totally fair and in keeping with the legislation.

This is why I am personally continuing discussions with my Quebec counterpart, Claude Béchard. Both of us still hope an agreement is possible.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. This month his natural resources minister said that he did not believe that we could meet the Kyoto targets.

If that is the case and the Prime Minister did not even rebuke him and in fact congratulated and supported him, what is going on here? If he cannot put in place a minister who believes in Kyoto why does he not fire the minister and put in place someone who does believe we can meet those international commitments?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I, the government, all members of the government, as well as our caucus, have made it very clear that we will respect our long term commitment to Kyoto and we will do so in a way that allows us to have a strong economy.

We believe that a sound economist and a sound environmentalist will come to the same conclusion, which is that we should not utilize our natural capital. That is the government's view and so we will adhere to our long term commitment.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, those are the classic weasel words in the debates. What we are talking about here is respect and long term commitments. It is very simple: we have targets and we need to meet them.

What we are hearing now are the Liberals suggesting that we buy air from Russia to meet our commitments under the Kyoto plan.

We have 5,000 people a year in Ontario dying due to smog. Why do we not spend money cleaning the air for people right here in Canada instead of buying Russian hot air with Canadian tax dollars?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I invite the leader of the NDP to calm down a bit and to slow down.

First, we will never buy hot air from Russia. He does not have to worry about that. Second, the Minister of Natural Resources believes in Kyoto and has said very clearly that he wants to develop the economy but not at the expense of the environment. We must respect what the Minister of Natural Resources said. He is a green minister himself too.

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

February 1st, 2005 / 2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, in January 2004, the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that the Government of Canada did not have the constitutional right to prevent Quebec from implementing a maternity leave program. at the time of the election, the Prime Minister even promised to reach an agreement. Yet, after the election, he appealed to the Supreme Court and is now blocking any agreement. The government has been dragging this out for eight years now.

When will the Prime Minister realize that he cannot obstruct Quebec's rights and finally make a reasonable proposal for women and families?

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, to make a distinction between the two issues, the Prime Minister said very clearly that the appeal to the Supreme Court was done in an entirely different context, since the impact is much broader on government programs as a whole.

He also said that with respect to parental leave, regardless of the outcome at the Supreme Court, we were determined to negotiate the transfer of authority over parental leave with Quebec. That is what we are in the process of doing right now.

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, the federal government should drop its appeal before the Supreme Court immediately and offer all the provinces the opportunity to implement a parental leave program funded by a transfer to the provinces from the employment insurance fund. While the Prime Minister is trying to have it both ways, the Government of Quebec and working women are being penalized.

If the Prime Minister is so interested in reaching an agreement, then why is he dragging Quebec into the Supreme Court? Why is he being dishonest with Quebeckers?

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The language used in this question in unacceptable. It is inappropriate to describe a member as dishonest. All members in this House are honest.

The hon. Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.