June 1, 1993

PC

Elmer MacIntosh MacKay (Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; Minister of Public Works)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Elmer M. MacKay (Minister of Public Works):

Madam Speaker, I want to assure the hon. member that contrary to the premise of his question he is off on the wrong track on this one.

Public Works was asked to secure premises for the Atomic Energy Control Board. Expressions of interest, as I recall, were received from four or five interested parties. Subsequently a tender was called. The lowest tender was from Standard Life I believe. I will have to search my memory on this. However, I can assure the member of one thing. The leasing agent that he refers to had no part to play in the process whatsoever. It was done by Public Works in an open and transparent way. I would be pleased to give him all the background information.

As far as any statement of claim is concerned, my colleague is well aware that statements of claim and legal actions are very common on behalf of dissatisfied people who have not quite measured up to some of the tendering process. I would not put too much significance on that if I were he.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS
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LIB

Don Boudria (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell):

Madam Speaker, I guess this is the least that could be done for a Tory fund raiser.

According to the documents submitted, the transaction would cost Canadian taxpayers $5 million more, and the name of this person is on both the letterhead of the Conservative Party's Canada Fund and on the Public Works Canada tender documents. These are not false allegations. This is the truth.

My question to the minister is this: How can he justify such action today when suppliers brought similar transactions to the government's attention three times in the past three or four weeks?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS
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PC

Elmer MacIntosh MacKay (Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; Minister of Public Works)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Elmer M. MacKay (Minister of Public Works):

Madam Speaker, I repeat for my friend opposite that to the best of my knowledge the lowest tender was accepted. As a matter of fact I believe if he checks, the deal that was received from Standard Life was substantially less per square metre than the amount paid in the Martel building but I will have to check these facts.

I repeat that the leasing agent to whom the hon. member refers had nothing whatsoever to do with the process. As far as I know this transaction is entirely legitimate, entirely transparent. As the hon. member knows, I will be completely forthcoming in giving him whatever background information he requires.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS
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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

NDP

Lyle Dean MacWilliam

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lyle Dean MacWilliam (Okanagan-Shuswap):

Madam Speaker, British Columbia Telephone has just announced the lay-off of 820 employees over the next four months. This is a direct result of the CRTC decision that allows competition in Canada's long-distance market.

BC Tel's plans to upgrade service to outlying areas apparently have also been moth-balled. Service levels particularly to rural areas in British Columbia are going to suffer.

Does the minister recognize that this government's allegiance to deregulation is in fact already costing Canadian jobs? Does he recognize that it is also jeopardizing the traditional quality of telecommunications service in Canada?

June 1, 1993

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications):

Madam Speaker, far from it. What we are finding as a result of competition in the telecommunications industry is that Canada, which has long had the best telecommunications industry anywhere in the world, continues to make great strides.

If the hon. member wanted he could go to his House leader's constituency and say that he is opposed to the proposals to create new jobs in that constituency as a result of deregulation. If he would like to do that I would certainly invite him to do so.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS
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NDP

Lyle Dean MacWilliam

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lyle Dean MacWilliam (Okanagan-Shuswap):

Madam Speaker, the minister knows full well that for Canadians it is either job losses or increased consumer cost.

The incident of which he talks concerns United Telecommunications which I might add is 20 per cent owned by the American giant AT&T. It is easy money for United Telecom because it comes in and creams off the long-distance profits from this lucrative market.

Does the minister not recognize that our world-class telecommunications because of deregulation is beginning to unravel at the seams? Does he not see that this policy through deregulation has in fact exposed the jugular of the Canadian telecommunications industry to the American corporate knife?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications):

Madam Speaker, what I certainly am aware of is that the position of the NDP is to oppose competition. It opposes anything that will bring down rates, opposes anything that will encourage new technologies, opposes anything that will ensure that new services are provided for Canadians.

Evidently the NDP opposes the hundreds of new jobs which we created in the constituency of its House leader. We will make sure that those people are aware of that position.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS
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POVERTY

LIB

Rey D. Pagtakhan

Liberal

Mr. Rey Pagtakhan (Winnipeg North):

Madam Speaker, I direct my question to the Acting Prime Minister in the absence of the Minister of National Health and Welfare.

Oral Questions

Today a two-year old girl named Jennifer in Winnipeg looks up, grabs her mother's arm and asks: "Milk, please". The mother has none in the fridge, only water and watery orange-flavoured Tang. She cannot afford to buy a single two-litre carton of milk. Jennifer is only one of 72,000 struggling poor children in Manitoba.

Now that the United Nations has condemned Canada for its lack of action on poverty, what plan does this government have to give these children a future and hope?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POVERTY
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PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Barbara Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Madam Speaker, all of us on this side of the House are very aware of the situation right across Canada and the number of people who perhaps are having difficult times and living in poverty.

It is quite interesting with regard to the UN report put out a couple of days ago. What has not been realized is that about three or four years ago this government realized that until we started targeting the resources that we had for those really in need, we were not going to resolve this.

What we did was we took the child benefit package of $2.1 billion, we took Brighter Futures which the minister of health introduced which specifically allocates $500 million to those children who are really in need. Indeed the Minister of Employment and Immigration has done two pilot projects to get those people, specifically single women back to work.

We recognize the problem and we are working toward solving it.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POVERTY
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LIB

David Kilgour

Liberal

Mr. David Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast):

Madam Speaker, a supplementary to the same parliamentary secretary.

In the Edmonton area, and I am sure in Calgary the figures are similar, there are currently about 42,000 children living in poverty, area food banks served 9,164 people in February alone and about 44,000 residents are officially unemployed.

Will the parliamentary secretary tell us if she supports spending half a million scarce taxpayer dollars to outfit a DND aircraft to Tory luxury tastes?

Oral Questions

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POVERTY
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PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Barbara Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Madam Speaker, I think the major question here has to do with the number of people who are in poverty across this country and we recognize that.

I did mention two or three programs with regard to consolidating the funds under these very difficult fiscal times to direct what funds are available at those particular people who need them most: the seniors, the single parents, the unemployed, and indeed the children.

With regard to the UN report, we have not cut funding of social services at all. Our transfer payments under the Canada Assistance Plan have gone up over 5 per cent every year since 1985. We have put more money into social services than any other program and we will continue to target those most in need.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POVERTY
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PENSIONS

LIB

Lawrence MacAulay

Liberal

Mr. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan):

Madam Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of National Health and Welfare I direct my question to the Acting Prime Minister.

Many seniors in Canada are worried about the future of their pensions. Seniors have been paying taxes all their lives and deserve decent incomes. Why are the members of the government attacking the universality of Canada's old age pensions?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Barbara Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Madam Speaker, we are not attacking what he called the pensions of senior citizens.

Dealing specifically with the old age assistance program certainly there is an area at $50,000 to $52,000 where a portion is taxed back. That is only using common sense when dealing with fiscal constraints. Those people most in need are receiving the funding.

Now if the hon. member is reviewing the area of the Canada Pension Plan, under law that is totally self-sufficient. We are not cutting back at all. In the legislation that co-ordinates the provinces and the federal government, we are not cutting back. We are making sure it is solvent.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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LIB

Lawrence MacAulay

Liberal

Mr. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan):

Madam Speaker, my supplementary is for the same parliamentary secretary.

Seniors have come to learn that promises from this government are wasted ink. Tory leadership candidates are questioning medicare and old age pensions and they have not consulted the people who will be most affected.

Why is the government unilaterally attempting to destroy Canada's pension system?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Barbara Sparrow (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Madam Speaker, I think I referred to that in my answer to the first question. We are not targeting universality, nor are we targeting seniors' pensions, not at all.

With regard to the OAS funding, it is there and those people most in need receive it. The Canada Pension Plan is self-sufficient.

If the hon. member wants to discuss the leadership convention he will notice very carefully that all the leadership contestants said that maybe all social policies should be reviewed and that all the people across the country would participate along with the three levels of government.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
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REFUGEES

NDP

Daniel James Macdonnell Heap

New Democratic Party

Mr. Dan Heap (Trinity-Spadina):

Madam Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Employment and Immigration.

As he no doubt knows the group headed by Sister Mary Jo Leddy at a press conference yesterday in Toronto has thanked the Prime Minister for his encouraging responses, through June Callwood, concerning 23 rejected refugee claimants now facing deportation. The group has sent the Prime Minister evidence that these are real refugees in danger of persecution in their homeland.

Will the minister assure this House that he will conduct a special review of these cases before July 1, 1993, examining new evidence on those cases and evidence of inadequate or insensitive processing of those cases?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   REFUGEES
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June 1, 1993