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House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was companies.

Topics

Gasoline PricesOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I just gave an explanation a few minutes ago in response to the previous question and I will repeat it for the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc has been here in the House for 13 years and in all that time it has never understood how the free market economy works. It is my pleasure to explain it to them.

It is quite simple. The price of gas is set by world markets and depends on a number of factors: supply and demand, a basic economic principle. We are currently experiencing a supply problem.

Gasoline PricesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the minister that we are not talking about the price of gas as set by the world market. We are talking about the refining margin. The study found that oil companies used hurricane Katrina as an excuse to increase their refining margin from between 5¢ and 7¢ to more than 20¢.

How can the Prime Minister tolerate this laissez-faire attitude and what is he waiting for to rein in the oil companies by giving the Competition Bureau more power to conduct a thorough investigation into the price of gas?

Gasoline PricesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the Competition Bureau is an independent agency and if the Bloc Québécois wants to bring this matter before the Competition Bureau I invite it to go there and file a complaint.

That said, it is important for Quebeckers to realize that the Bloc Québécois and the Liberal Party are in favour of Bill C-288, which will increase the price of gas for Canadians and Quebeckers. That is the position of the Bloc Québécois. It is a position that does not respect market forces and goes against the interests of Quebeckers and Canadians.

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

May 10th, 2007 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, something has changed for the better here in the House today. The government has decided to stop calling people names who call for negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan. Let us hope it stays on that track.

On another subject, after the Minister of Labour, the NDP has learned that the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has regularly used a private jet but has not disclosed his travelling expenses. These ministers have been caught in a flagrant cover-up and lack of transparency.

Can the Prime Minister tell us who else among his ministers is not complying with the Treasury Board rules on transparency?

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP has some problems with the facts.

The fact is that all the expenses of ministers do get disclosed in accordance with government policy.

What I like about these questions is that they give me the chance to compare the record of Conservative ministers with their predecessors in the Liberal government. In fact, members will find that the Minister of Transport has been very mindful of taxpayer dollars and spends a lot less. For example, on hospitality in his first year he spent $965. His Liberal predecessor spent $15,000 on wining and dining. Who is being responsible? It is the Conservative minister.

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, despite all the bravado, the facts are rather clear, and that is that it took the NDP to uncover these expenses.

The labour minister and the transport minister have tried to fly under the radar when it comes to revealing the expenses of their travel. It is pretty clear.

Arthur Shafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba asked a very good question and I would like to ask the Prime Minister the same question.

If they are spending money in legitimate, appropriate and proper ways, they have nothing to fear from disclosing it. However, if it is appropriate, why are they not disclosing it? Why are they hiding it?

Ministerial ExpensesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, as I said, all these expenditures are disclosed in accordance with government policy. The leader of the NDP simply has his facts wrong.

However, I will stop picking on the Liberals for a change because this was a question from the NDP.

I did talk a few days earlier about his habit when he was at city council, even though he lived downtown, to use that chauffeur driven limousine 194 times in one year instead of his bicycle to get a few blocks to city hall, but I left one thing out. That was despite the fact that he had a free public transit pass at the same time. He was using a gas-guzzling limo instead of public transit. I cannot believe it.

FinanceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, today five experts at the Standing Committee on Finance were unanimous about three things: the Minister of Finance should abandon his deductibility plan; he should also create a working group as recommended today by the Liberals; and he should focus on dumping the debt and not on double-dipping.

Will the Minister adopt the Liberal plan that was unanimously endorsed yesterday by five experts?

FinanceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Nose Hill Alberta

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what the government has done is endorse recommendations from this House, from the public accounts committee, from the finance committee, from the Jack Mintz committee on business taxation and from the Auditor General to get rid of a loophole whereby the same expense can be deducted twice.

I do not know why the Liberals are against that, as far as the committee goes, to examine taxation. In fact, the Liberal Party is behind the curve because the government committed to do that in the budget two months ago.

FinanceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is the hon. member who is behind the curve. She should update herself from seven years ago.

Jack Mintz has abandoned the government and is opposing the government. The co-author with Jack Mintz is Allan Lanthier. Do members know what he said about the government plan? He said that it was the worst thing to come “out of Ottawa in 35 years”.

It is time she got her facts straight. Does she not understand? Everybody out there understands that the minister is out of his depth and that he is creating uncertainty and chaos. It is time to adopt the Liberal plan.

FinanceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Nose Hill Alberta

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, a great deal was left out in that torqued rhetoric. The fact is that many experts are saying that it is completely inconceivable that the Liberals would support a plan whereby the same deduction is claimed by a taxpaying corporation twice. The member knows that very well; in fact he himself said that these kinds of loopholes should be shut down.

I thought that was the Liberal plan. Why does the so-called plan keep changing every day?

FinanceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear the member name one expert who endorses this plan. The finance minister is in the process of doing a reverse takeover on himself.

First he says that he is against all deductibility and then he says that he is not really against all deductibility, only if it is two years from now. He then changes his mind again and says “after 10 years but not a minute more”. Now that is really decisive.

Now he is saying that we should forget all interest deductibility, that he is against double-dipping. What the minister knows about double-dipping could be learned at the Dairy Queen.

Before the minister changes his mind again, and because this is a budget measure, will he table before the House a precise ways and means motion on what he means?

FinanceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Nose Hill Alberta

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would urge my friend opposite to read the budget in which the minister said very clearly that our government would make the tax system more fair so that we could reduce taxes for everyone, and that included double-dipping, double taxation reductions, claiming the same deduction twice for the same expense.

The minister also said that we would form a panel to advise on going after more loopholes and more tax havens, which is exactly what we are doing.

FinanceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is the problem. We actually have read the budget, as have the witnesses at the finance committee today who were unanimous. They were all appalled by the budget provisions.

Amending the Income Tax Act, which was 14 years in the making, and amending 81 bilateral treaties without consultation, is unheard of and unthinkable.

Before the minister does more damage to the nation's finances and before he embarrasses himself further, will he table a precise ways and means motion in the House?

FinanceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Nose Hill Alberta

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member is well aware that the minister has made his intention with respect to this provision of the budget abundantly clear and will continue to do so until even the members opposite will finally get it.

Agriculture and Agri-foodOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture promised milk producers that cheese made here would be made with milk from here, by making regulations governing cheese composition standards. We now learn that the regulations would not cover all cheeses.

Does the minister intend to honour the commitment he made in February and assure us that the cheese composition standards regulations will cover the production of all types of cheese, and not just some of them, and that it will not be as full of holes as Gruyère cheese?

Agriculture and Agri-foodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the CFIA is undertaking a regulatory process that will deal with both domestic and imported cheese. It is currently in the prepublication phase of that regulatory process, consulting with both processors and producers of milk.

The consultative period will continue through prepublication and on to the gazetting. We will hear comments from all sides, from consumers, restauranteurs, et cetera. They will all be welcomed. They will be taken as part of that consideration but we are proceeding on two fronts, not only with article XXVIII, as we promised, but also on compositional standards for cheese products.

Agriculture and Agri-foodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is happening is serious, because this government is preparing to flat out swindle dairy producers. These regulations would jeopardize the supply management system, and would certainly jeopardize agriculture in Quebec.

The Conservatives are no better than the Liberals, who opened up the borders to imports of cheese sticks, butter oil and milk proteins. And now they would allow labels like “pizza cheese” instead of “mozzarella”, to get around the rules.

If the minister is serious when he says he supports supply management, is he going to do something concrete to support it and review all of the measures he is preparing to implement?

Agriculture and Agri-foodOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we are moving ahead with the regulatory process on compositional standards based on the moderator's report from the dairy industry working group.

I promised in my speech to the Dairy Farmers of Canada that we would proceed in that manner and that is exactly what we are doing. I also urged them at that meeting to sit down with the processors who deal with the issues contained in the moderator's report, issues like pricing and other things that are necessary for the sustainability of the industry.

We are proceeding. On compositional standards, I think up to 48 different cheeses have been identified and have compositional standards. It is proceeding as it should but there will be a comment period where all people will be allowed to intervene.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the conflict between shrimp fishers and processors could force 500 families in the Gaspé who make their livelihood from processing this resource to turn to welfare. While the minister drags his feet, factory workers watch the weeks go by, weeks in which they could be working.

What does the minister intend to do to help resolve this conflict, which profits only the processors in his province?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the member made it quite clear, I believe, in his introductory sentence what it is all about. He talked about the conflict between fishers and processors.

That is exactly what it is. Fishermen in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are making a deal with their processors and getting a half decent price.

The fishers cannot do it in Quebec. It is up to them. In the meantime, I understand the minister from Quebec is involved, meeting with them and maybe even the premier.

Certainly, we are ready and willing to cooperate, but we cannot solve the fishers' and industry's problem. They have to solve it themselves.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, that response is insulting to people who are out in the streets today.

Following a task force on the shrimp industry and a forum on fisheries, we expected to see some concrete action on the part of the minister, who, incidentally, has been given a very precise analysis of the problems facing the industry. They include exorbitantly high costs for fuel and permits, marketing problems, a tariff quota that is slowing down exports, and the unfair competition of foreign producers with questionable environmental standards.

The minister has the authority he needs to revive this industry. What is the minister waiting for?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I have absolutely no argument with what the member says.

There are a number of issues including the tariffs going to European markets. However, we have about a 60% increase this year in the amount that can go in at the lower tariff. We are negotiating a much larger one, which will happen. We are also looking at other things we can do in relation to fee reduction, et cetera.

These things cannot happen overnight. What can happen is that the industry can do the same thing it is doing in the other provinces and that is to treat the workers fairly.

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday morning, the Standing Committee on Official Languages was to discuss the court challenges program. However, a few minutes before the meeting was to start and without giving any notice, the chair of the committee cancelled the meeting. Language rights groups are obviously very worried. The committee chair stated that there had been enough discussion about the issue.

Why are the chair and the minister puppets of the Prime Minister's cabinet? Will the minister ask the committee to resume its work immediately?

Official LanguagesOral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the opposition knows very well that the committee makes its own decisions. But what about the position of the Liberals, who voted against our 2007 budget, a budget which allocated $30 million for minority communities? And what about the remarks by Justin Trudeau, the Liberal candidate in Papineau, who advocates nothing less than the abolition of separate French and English education systems?