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House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was taxes.

Topics

Leader of the OppositionStatements By Members

March 11th, 2005 / 11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the Conservative leader faces a review of his leadership next week, his position on matters of social policy remain unclear. To help answer the puzzle we call Mr. Muzzle, let us review what we do know.

On health care, he never supported the Canada Health Act. Instead he encouraged Alberta to take it on. On the environment, he denies global warming while his members repeatedly describe Kyoto as a communist plot. On child care, he proposes tax credits that would disproportionately benefit the wealthy instead of increasing quality child care options for parents. On improving Canada's communities, he claims a “New deal with municipalities is not a view he would subscribe to”.

With policies like these, it is clear why the word progressive no longer appears in his party's name. It is also clear why that party chose to sit on its hands when it came time to vote on our government's forward looking budget.

HousingStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week there was a disappointing but not surprising report on homelessness in Ottawa.

According to nationally accepted housing standards, families should be able to meet their housing needs on only 30% of their income. However, here in Ottawa, over 65,000 families are paying in excess of 30% of their income on housing, leaving them at serious risk of becoming homeless. In addition, at some point last year over 8,500 people in Ottawa actually were homeless. This is happening here in the Nation's Capital.

Last week's budget did not include the $1.5 billion new money that the Liberals promised for affordable housing. Instead, corporations were handed a $4.6 billion corporate tax break. Liberal priorities are clear: nothing for those who need housing and billions for already profitable corporations.

These are not the values that Canadians voted for last June.

Giani Sant Singh MaskeenStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the world Sikh community lost a towering figure with the passing of Giani Sant Singh Maskeen.

Maskeen travelled around the globe delivering discourses to religious congregations. An exemplary preacher, Maskeen had a gift to reach and inspire his listeners. For nearly five decades, he dedicated his life to religion and was the undisputed number one interpreter of Gurbani. He authored more than a dozen books on Sikhism and his daily discourses of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji were broadcast worldwide on Indian national TV.

Maskeen had a thorough knowledge of Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism and treated all religions with equal respect. He was down to earth and had a simple and frugal lifestyle. He never hesitated to speak the truth.

Maskeen's death is a great loss to the Sikh community, and Sikhs around the world grieve his passing.

I ask all members to join me in conveying condolences and prayers to Sikhs around the world.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 6, in my region, five women from Lévis approved the five fundamental principles set out in the historic document adopted in Rwanda on December 10.

Isabelle, age 30, who benefits from the support of the Maison Jonction pour Elle women's shelter, explained how she found peace again after seven years of spousal abuse.

Karine Dubé was there to say that she was happy to show solidarity with the most disadvantaged in society.

Patricia Allard, age 34, a single mother of three, who is benefiting from the support of the Connexion-Emploi movement, described all the efforts she had done to obtain justice.

Louise Foisy, who is involved with women social battles, described in the words of a mother and grandmother her struggle for equality for women.

Finally, Nassiba Hammou, an Algerian who immigrated to Quebec 12 years ago, delivered a vibrant speech on freedom.

The Bloc Québécois promotes the five principles that women in Quebec and around the world hold dear: peace, solidarity, justice, equality and freedom.

HealthStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, Ashern, Manitoba is being forced by the shoddy mismanagement of the government to depend on two semi-retired doctors to provide it with all its medical services. This should be done by five doctors according to the local health authority. These doctors want to retire, but the communities using the Lakeshore General Hospital cannot find anyone to replace them.

This hospital services five different first nations reserves. Therefore, the government should share some of the responsibility with Manitoba's NDP.

The Liberal government promised to help foreign trained doctors get certification, and it has failed to do anything on this file. The government has to take the blame for the doctor shortages in our rural communities. It is just another Liberal promise made, Liberal promise broken.

The government has to start helping foreign trained doctors get their accreditation and stop dithering. It needs to get them into rural communities and first nations communities like the ones serviced by the Lakeshore General Hospital in Ashern, Manitoba.

The Liberal government has the responsibility to ensure quality health care services are provided to all rural Canadians, including Canada's first nations.

Leader of the OppositionStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Russ Powers Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we eagerly anticipate the Alliance Conservative convention, one national newspaper is predicting, “Convention will be more tightly staged than Cirque du Soleil”.

First, the Leader of the Opposition decides to muzzle the grassroots members at their convention on social issues such as abortion and same sex marriage. Then, facing a revolt from party members and special interest groups, he lifts the gag order and announces there can be debate on those issues.

Having looked at the rules of procedure for the convention, I thought all members of the House would be interested to know that the debate on these important issues will last exactly two minutes. Four lucky delegates will be given 30 seconds each to air their views.

Is that what the Leader of the Opposition calls democracy in action?

Canadians should not be surprised at the heavy-handed measures that the Leader of the Opposition has used to hide his party's true agenda from the Canadian people.

Tobacco FarmersStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, tobacco farmers are in a catch-22 situation. The major tobacco companies are no longer buying Quebec tobacco, so the growers are forced to change crops.

These farmers need immediate assistance from the federal government. However, allocation of the aid package announced prior to the election, in the order of $70 million, is blocked because the stakeholders in Ontario cannot reach agreement. Nine months later, not one cent has been paid out. This is totally unacceptable. The financial crunch is likely to lead to farm land being abandoned.

The Office du tabac jaune du Québec has already made its expectations public and the Government of Quebec has already indicated what its assistance mechanisms will be. Our tobacco farmers are being held hostage by the problem in Ontario, and what is more the reality in Ontario is totally different from that of Quebec.

The federal government must respond to the needs of the Quebec tobacco growers now, without waiting for the Ontario problem to be solved. The situation is urgent. Tobacco farmers in Quebec need help immediately to convert to some other crop starting this spring.

Airline IndustryOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, thousands of Jetsgo passengers are stranded today and they are asking two questions: “How will I get home? Can I get my money back?”

The Liberal government has no such worries because the money that Jetsgo owes in taxes is being held in trust so the Liberals protect the taxman and strand the passenger.

What is the government doing to help the passengers?

Airline IndustryOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I too am very sorry to see that potentially 17,000 passengers will not get service today from Jetsgo. We are in a free market economy and those things happen.

In the meantime, I have talked to the presidents of WestJet, Air Canada, CanJet and VIA also, and they are providing all the options possible to help passengers get home or get somewhere else.

On consumer protection, in many provinces if the tickets were bought through a travel agency, there is protection. If it is through a credit card, some have protection and some have insurance. There are all different cases.

Airline IndustryOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this is the ninth airline in eight years to go bankrupt because of Liberal dithering on high airport rents, high security taxes and high airline fuel taxes. That is the government's idea of free enterprise, high taxes.

The Conservative Party, the Standing Committee on Transportation, and the airline industry are all calling for these ridiculously high taxes to be reduced.

How many airline bankruptcies will it take for the government to start listening? When is it going to take action?

Airline IndustryOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I imagine that the leader of the Conservative party, an admirer of U.S.-style right-wing politics, also realizes that five major U.S. airlines are also under bankruptcy protection. I know that the U.S. serves as his model, but is this any better? No.

The reality is that there is fierce competition going on at the present time, which benefits the consumer. I thought he liked the free market economy and was even an advocate of that model. The consequences have to be accepted, both good and bad.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, tell stranded passengers that they are benefiting from the government's policies.

We hear today that the government intends to sue advertising firms that received millions of sponsorship dollars for little work and kickbacks to the Liberal Party. The irony is almost too much to bear. What happened to, let Gomery do his work?

Does putting this to the courts now not show the government knew the money was stolen all along and is it not just another way to avoid answering questions in Parliament about corruption?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, from the very beginning there was a parallel process aimed at financial recovery. The Prime Minister promised from the beginning that there would be a financial recovery process.

We established that Mr. Gauthier would do that work. This in no way, shape or form impedes the work of Justice Gomery. We look forward to recovering funds on behalf of Canadian taxpayers.

This is another case of a promise made by our Prime Minister, and a promise kept by our Prime Minister.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a bunch of nonsense. For months the government has been telling us that it cannot do anything until we have the Gomery commission report. Now we know it is about to launch a lawsuit. Who is prejudging the Gomery commission now?

The fact is that all the players in this sorry mess are friends of the Liberal Party. Why does the Prime Minister not get on the phone, call his friends at these ad agencies, ask for the money back and while he is at it, why not put a call into Liberal Party headquarters and get back some of the money that was diverted there?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, once again there has been a parallel process aimed at financial recovery from the beginning, immediately after the Auditor General's report. The Prime Minister committed to establishing that parallel process. We have done exactly that.

I am proud of the government's response and the Prime Minister's response to the issue and of the fact that we are recovering funds on behalf of Canadian taxpayers. That is the right thing to do and that in no way, shape or form impedes Justice Gomery. What does impede Justice Gomery is the opposition's daily commentary on the testimony before Justice Gomery here on the floor of the House. That is what impedes--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Niagara Falls.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, before the government starts spending millions on a lawsuit, and I would bet that all the money will go to Liberal-friendly law firms as well, why does the Prime Minister not get on his feet and admit that this whole sorry mess right from the beginning had little to do with helping Canada, but it had everything to do with Liberals helping themselves?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, are we to assume that the new Conservative position is that we should not be going after those people who may have participated in this? This would be a remarkable decision for that party.

Let me say that we do not need to take any lessons on transparency from that party, with a leader who muzzles his caucus one day then unmuzzles his party the next day, who tries on a ongoing basis to control the thought process and speaking process of his members of Parliament and his party members, a leader who is so afraid of what his party stands for that he tries to hide it from Canadians.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government just announced that it will prosecute the advertising agencies that were awarded fat contracts and that billed for much more than the work they actually did.

How can the Minister of Public Works and Government Services justify his eagerness to prosecute these agencies, considering that he keeps asking us to let the commission do its work when we question him about the Liberal Party giving back the dirty money?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, today we will be initiating proceedings before the Quebec Superior Court.

We filed to recover approximately $39 million from 19 companies and individuals. This is part of a promise that the Prime Minister made immediately after the Auditor General's report. It is a parallel process that has been communicated directly to Canadians and to Parliament throughout this process.

In fact, if the hon. members opposite were paying attention during the proceedings last winter they would be aware of this process, but I guess they do not have very good researchers or are simply dozing off during--

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is initiating proceedings against the agencies because it feels that there is enough evidence of extra billing. However, whether it is the generous contracts awarded to Jean Lafleur or the forced contributions of his employees, the existence of a Liberal food chain is just as obvious.

How can the Minister of Public Works and Government Services be satisfied with prosecuting these agencies while refusing to give back the dirty money? Is this not a case of a double standard?

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, first of all, we have been clear, the transport minister has been clear, the Prime Minister has been clear, and the party has been clear on the issue of partisan funds.

Beyond that, part of responding to the member would have us discussing a matter before the court and another part would have us discussing the testimony before an independent judicial inquiry. I will not stand in the House and comment on a matter before the court, nor will I comment on testimony before an independent judicial inquiry.

Sponsorship ProgramOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the different treatment reserved for the agencies and the Liberal Party is very puzzling. They are cracking down on agencies, but when it comes to the LPC, they would rather wait, drag their feet and find all sorts of excuses not to act.

I am asking the Minister of Transport again: why does the Liberal Party refuse to give back the dirty money, when the evidence is crystal clear?