June 2, 1993

?

Hon. Chas. L. Caccia@Davenport

Madam Speaker, I can see that the level of rhetoric is pretty high on the government side but it is not backed up by action.

At the same conference in Rio the government also signed a biodiversity convention. However the government and the minister have failed to say one word on

June 2, 1993

Oral Questions

probably the most important biodiversity issue in Canada.

Does the minister agree that Canada's ecological integrity and in particular that of the Pacific Rim National Park depend on the ecologically rich Clayoquot Sound forests or not?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ENVIRONMENT
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PC

Mary Collins (Minister of Western Economic Diversification; Minister responsible for the Status of Women; Minister of State (Environment))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Mary Collins (Minister of Western Economic Diversification and Minister of State (Environment) and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women):

Madam Speaker again I am glad my colleague raised the question of the biodiversity convention.

Here Canada was in a leadership position. We were the first industrialized country to sign it and the first country to ratify it.

We are now working with a national biodiversity plan and with colleagues in the development of new national parks. Not long ago I signed the Haida Gwaii agreement. We recently announced the new park in the Yukon.

We are proceeding with every component of our biodiversity strategy, all those that are within-and I ask my hon. colleague to listen to this-within federal jurisdiction.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ENVIRONMENT
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THE ECONOMY

NDP

Lorne Edmund Nystrom

New Democratic Party

Hon. Lome Nystrom (Yorkton-Melville):

My question is for the Acting Prime Minister.

A couple of days ago the Minister of Finance met with his provincial counterparts here in Ottawa to discuss the problems of the economy. The provincial ministers made it clear that they have done what they can to keep the deficit in check at the provincial level. They now want help from the federal government on the monetary side in terms of interest rates.

I want to ask a question in light of statements made by the Quebec finance minister, Mr. Levesque, and the Ontario treasurer, Mr. Laughren, and in light of the fact that the government has had a high interest rate policy for a number of years which has helped ruin the economy. Will the minister now use his authority with the Bank of Canada to lower interest rates further in this

country in order to help stimulate the economy and create jobs for all Canadians?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ECONOMY
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

Madam Speaker, I think that points out more poignantly than any other words could why the NDP will never ever form a national government in this country.

Those interest rates are not dictated by the government and the hon. member has been around here long enough to know that. If he is truly interested in finding out how things work, he should go to committee this afternoon and hear John Crow, the Governor of the Bank of Canada.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ECONOMY
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NDP

Lorne Edmund Nystrom

New Democratic Party

Hon. Lome Nystrom (Yorkton-Melville):

Madam Speaker, the minister of finance in Quebec has asked the federal government to intervene. The treasurer of Ontario has asked for the same thing. Other provincial ministers have done the same thing.

Why does the government not use its authority and ask the Bank of Canada to lower interest rates in this country?

It was recently pointed out that the real interest rate in the United States federal reserve is some zero per cent; in Canada the real interest rate is about 4 per cent. Why does the government not intervene to reduce the gap between real interest rates in our country and the United States which would create jobs in Canada?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ECONOMY
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

Madam Speaker, again the hon. member is way off base. I was at those meetings of finance ministers and I did not hear the finance minister of Quebec or the treasurer of Ontario ask the government to intervene. I did not hear them ask that.

I did hear them say that we have debt and deficit problems. We do not have that under control yet. They all admitted that and that they have to continue to fight that. They also indicated they wanted to see growth and job creation in this country, as we all do and they believe we are on the right track to that.

However, neither of those individuals requested direct intervention in the Bank of Canada by the Government of Canada. Therefore, the hon. member is totally wrong in his question.

June 2, 1993

Oral Questions

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ECONOMY
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GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS

LIB

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

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, my question is for the Acting Prime Minister.

On four separate occasions in recent days my colleagues and I have raised the issue of Mr. Ami Thors-teinson's appointment to the board of directors of the Bank of Canada 16 days after his companies defaulted on mortgages, making Canadians liable for up to $6 million worth of debt.

Why did the government neglect to tell us that Ami Thorsteinson was moonlighting as the president and chairman of another Crown corporation, Petro-Canada Limited? What is he going to do about it?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

Madam Speaker, Mr. Thorsteinson was on the former board of directors of Petro-Canada. When Petro-Canada was privatized Petro-Canada Inc. held the responsibility of managing the debt of Petro-Canada and to make sure that the debt was erased. He has done an excellent job and as a matter of fact paid a dividend cheque from defeasance fees to the Government of Canada for their accounts over the last year.

For the hon. member to stand up here and make that silly accusation is totally unparliamentary and unbecoming of him as a member of this House.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS
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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, that sounds like the comments the Prime Minister made last week, two days after another minister said that we were right in asking the questions and quite right in asking for the person's resignation.

Yesterday the Minister of Public Works said in response to a question: "After all, the opposition quite properly pointed out some difficulties. Upon consideration of them, it does appear that it is not appropriate for Mr. Thorsteinson to continue with this appointment".

I want to ask the minister if it was so inappropriate for this person to hold public office yesterday, why is it so appropriate today?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS
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PC

John Horton McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John McDermid (Minister of State (Finance and Privatization)):

Madam Speaker, Mr. Thorsteinson has been in this job for some time and has done a good job. The job at Petro-Canada Inc. is winding up and therefore I have no regrets whatsoever that Mr. Thorsteinson ran Petro-Canada Inc. He did an excellent job and his record speaks for itself.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS
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NATIONAL DEFENCE

LIB

Bill Rompkey

Liberal

Hon. William Rompkey (Labrador):

Madam Speaker, my question is for the Acting Prime Minister.

In May I raised a question with him about an expenditure of $43,000 for the Somali board of inquiry which will last 90 days. I was wrong. The cost of the inquiry is more like $225,000 including furniture, computer equipment and renovations.

When there is empty office space in this town and computers not in use, how can the government justify spending $225,000 on an inquiry that lasts 90 days?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
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PC

Harvie Andre (Minister of State (Without Portfolio); Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Harvie Andre (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons):

Madam Speaker, the hon. member was correct when he said he was wrong.

He said that the commission spent $43,000 buying furniture. Wrong. The furniture was valued at $43,000 and they have rented it for the duration of the inquiry.

He said that computer equipment has been bought. He is partially right. The computer equipment is something DND has had in its acquisition program. It has been purchased, will be used by the inquiry and then will become part of DND's inventory to look after its needs.

Every step of the way, care is being taken by the commission and by DND to ensure the inquiry is done in the most cost-efficient manner possible. I think the hon. member should give credit to the integrity of the people involved. He should recognize they appreciate it is the taxpayers' money and they are acting responsibly.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
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LIB

Bill Rompkey

Liberal

Hon. William Rompkey (Labrador):

Madam Speaker, I appreciate that it is taxpayers' money and I appreciate that care should be taken to control the expenditure involved. Bearing that in mind let me ask the minister:

June 2, 1993

Oral Questions

Why was the $150,000 awarded without any tender at all? Why was that done?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
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PC

Harvie Andre (Minister of State (Without Portfolio); Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Harvie Andre (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons):

Madam Speaker, I am not sure what contract he is talking about.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
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?

An hon. member:

The computers.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
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PC

Harvie Andre (Minister of State (Without Portfolio); Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Andre:

The hon. member should allow me to answer because in fact what happens in respect to computers, given the government's requirements and needs for many of these, a broad general request for proposal is made to the suppliers. Based on the economics and the best deal possible, an agreement is signed that the government will purchase from that supplier the computers as they are needed.

In fact a competition, a tender if you will, was held but it was for the broad general purchase of these. As I say, DND requires them and has purchased them. DND is allowing the inquiry to use them and they will then become part of DND's stock as something that is needed. They are not a special purchase and it was not contrary to Treasury Board guidelines.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
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June 2, 1993