January 19, 1994

LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development (Quebec))

As far as natural resources are concerned, Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General was referring to a specific case and, in fact, the government acted very quickly once the dispute was settled.

As far as tax shelters are concerned, we have already said that everything was on the table and that we would take a long, hard look at all existing loopholes and exemptions. Considering the hon. member's question, I hope the Bloc québécois will support us when we bring down the budget in this House.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Auditor General's Report
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REF

Keith Martin

Reform

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca)

Mr. Speaker, this is a question for the Minister of Finance. As the minister is no doubt aware, many Canadians rely heavily on their RRSP accounts for their eventual retirement. That is why the statement made in December by the minister's parliamentary secretary concerning a review of the system has caused so much concern among Canadians.

Will the minister please tell Canadians unequivocally that this government will not jeopardize their financial future by further limiting contributions to RRSPs?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Registered Retirement Savings Plan
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development (Quebec))

Mr. Speaker, I find that in government one is on one's feet more than in opposition.

The government said in the pre-budget consultations that it is reviewing not only every line of government expenditure but really all government policy. Certainly the matters to which the member has made reference are part of that review.

I can tell the member however that this government will never do anything that will put into jeopardy Canadians' retirement income. What we are going to do is make sure that the tax system in this country treats everyone fairly and equitably.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Registered Retirement Savings Plan
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REF

Keith Martin

Reform

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca)

Mr. Speaker, a supplementary for the Minister of Finance.

Will he guarantee or at least allay the fears of the Canadian people that he is going to continue the RRSP and that it is not going to be a tax concession to be reduced but rather a personal retirement safety net that is to be encouraged for these people in the future?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Registered Retirement Savings Plan
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development (Quebec))

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to my hon. friend that his supplementary is exactly the same as his first question and my answer must be the same, that RRSPs are an important part of the retirement savings program in this country. However we are in the process of reviewing all policies and there really are no exceptions.

When we bring down the budget my colleague's questions will be answered at that time.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Registered Retirement Savings Plan
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LIB

Derek Lee

Liberal

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough-Rouge River)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage concerning Scarborough's Rouge River Valley.

The minister will be aware of the existing commitment to negotiate with the Ontario government to protect this 10,000 acre area and the federal government's $10 million commitment for conservation of the Rouge Valley.

Will the minister confirm that the federal government remains committed to those objectives? Will he update the House on the negotiations with the province and provide assurances that further federal participation would be considered for this large urban environmental undertaking?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rouge River Valley
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LIB

Michel Dupuy

Liberal

Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage)

Mr. Speaker, the member for Scarborough-Rouge River is quite right in reminding us of the federal government's support for this wonderful park which was created in 1988 by a decision of the previous government.

The government remains committed to the creation of the park. It is a project which is a good illustration of the kind of co-operation there can be between the federal government, the provincial governments and private organizations.

Part of the federal government's contribution in the current fiscal year has been expended for the acquisition of the nationally significant Bead Hill aboriginal history site. It is the intention to bring this site into the Rouge River park when the necessary arrangements have been made.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Rouge River Valley
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BQ

Pierre Brien

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

Last night's news and this morning's papers reported that the federal government was not in favour of the Quebec government's proposal to reduce tobacco taxes as a way of eliminating smuggling. Can the Minister of Finance confirm that what the Finance Department spokesperson said is official government policy and therefore that Ottawa rejects the Quebec government's position of reducing the tax rate on tobacco as a way of eliminating the scourge of smuggling?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Tobacco Taxes
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development (Quebec))

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I fully agree with my friend that smuggling really is a scourge that must be dealt with. Certainly, considering the discussions and measures taken by my colleagues, the Solicitor General and the Minister of National Revenue, the laws which already exist will really have to be enforced.

That being said, there is no doubt that one option is to lower tobacco taxes and Quebec has put forward the case for it very well. That is an option to consider, but as you know, it will have to be coordinated with all the provinces or at least most of the provinces concerned.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Tobacco Taxes
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BQ

Pierre Brien

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance referred to other possible options, one of them being enforcement.

Can the Minister of Finance give us specifics on new enforcement measures that could be more effective in solving a problem which has gone on for a very long time?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Tobacco Taxes
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development (Quebec))

Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is up to my colleagues, the Minister of National Revenue and the Solicitor General, to act on this. I believe that the Minister of National Revenue intends to make an announcement on it. I will let him speak about this at the appropriate time.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Tobacco Taxes
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REF

Bob Mills

Reform

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Last Sunday CTV disclosed the results of an internal study by CIDA in which nearly all of the Canadian advisers received a failing grade. Nearly 80 per cent of the 1,400 technical advisers interviewed were rated as ineffective.

On behalf of millions of hard-pressed Canadian taxpayers I would like to ask the minister precisely what he intends to do to end this enormous waste of public funds.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian International Development Agency
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LIB

André Ouellet

Liberal

Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the hon. member that the interview given by CTV was in relation to projects that took place some time ago. In fact CIDA has been aware of the situation.

Measures have been taken to correct the situation and hopefully in the future projects of this kind will be done in better fashion and will be more productive.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian International Development Agency
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Some allegations have been made to the effect that the brutal crackdown by the federal Mexican army to quell the revolt of peasants and zapatist infantrymen violates human rights in several ways. Indeed, several observers have mentioned that people have disappeared, have been murdered or have been intimidated.

Can the minister tell us what is the government's official position regarding this issue, and can he tell us if he has asked the Mexican government to ensure that human rights arerespected and protected?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Rights
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LIB

André Ouellet

Liberal

Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that representations have been made by Canadian officials to the Mexican authorities. The Canadian ambassador to Mexico has met with the minister of Foreign Affairs of that country to inform him of our concerns.

There is no doubt that the Canadian delegations which are now in Mexico will have the opportunity to meet officials from my department. In fact, a group has already met with the Secretary of State to discuss issues relating to Latin America. Later this week, I myself will meet with Mr. Ovide Mercredi

when he returns from his visit to Mexico, and I hope to discuss this issue very soon with the Mexican ambassador in Ottawa.

Obviously, we must take a very careful look at the situation. A great number of people have died and we certainly deplore that, but it is very important to let the Mexican authorities take appropriate measures to solve the problem, in their own country.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Rights
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie)

Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that I share the minister's concerns, and our party will support every effort made by the minister to protect human rights. However, I would like to know if, when he talks about taking a very careful look, the minister considers that trade has nothing to do with human rights and that the uprising of natives is but an unavoidable adjustment episode in a period of economic development?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Rights
Permalink
LIB

André Ouellet

Liberal

Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

Mr. Speaker, it is important to remind all hon. members in this House that in 1990 President Salinas created the National Commission of Human Rights which is now entrenched by law. We believe the Mexican authorities themselves want to take measures to ensure that human rights are respected in their country.

Second, I want to assure hon. members that through the NAFTA Canada will now be working more closely on a number of issues with our Mexican friends. We hope the criteria established here in Canada and in the United States in regard to human rights will be followed by the Mexicans.

Clearly through NAFTA we could be in a position to help the situation there. Hopefully the Mexicans will involve their people in this process and those who are poorer than others will benefit from NAFTA.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Human Rights
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REF

Jim Silye

Reform

Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.

In the throne speech the government stated that it would replace the goods and services tax. It did not outline any specifics or set out any proposed timetable.

Will the minister please tell members of this House and thereby all Canadians what he knows to this date about the substance of his party's new proposed tax?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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LIB

David Anderson

Liberal

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of National Revenue)

Mr. Speaker, may I congratulate you on your position and congratulate the member on his question.

Time is short. I would be unable to tell the House in the time available everything I know on this subject. I will say, however, that the Prime Minister has made it very clear that the goods and services tax is to go. A replacement obviously must be found because the government and the country needs the money and the revenue. Therefore, the process for eliminating the tax and finding an appropriate new tax will indeed be announced in due course by my colleague, the Minister of Finance.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
Permalink
REF

Jim Silye

Reform

Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre)

Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of National Revenue rule out categorically in this House today that any tax reform or tax invented to replace the GST will not in fact simply be an increase in taxes?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
Permalink

January 19, 1994