February 24, 1998

LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party will be getting his answer within a couple of hours.

I would like to tell him, however, that, since July 1 of last year, we have injected $850 million into helping poor families with children. We have made it part of our program to inject another $850 million over this mandate.

We are greatly concerned by the poverty of families and children in Canada. This is a priority which we included in the throne speech and one which will, of necessity, be reflected in the Minister of Finance's budget.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Poverty
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PC

Jean Charest

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Jean J. Charest (Sherbrooke, PC)

Mr. Speaker, in all honesty, the Prime Minister ought to also acknowledge that all that $850 million is doing is replacing what has been lost to de-indexation.

I want to ask a question about jobs, because if we want to help poor Canadians the first thing we should do is try to create jobs.

We quoted time and time the fact that the American economy has lower taxes, more growth and more jobs. Here in Canada also, in Alberta, there are lower taxes, more growth, more jobs.

Will the Prime Minister commit to lowering taxes to create jobs for Canadians?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Poverty
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, these deindexations were done by the Conservative government before we formed the government.

The second point is yes, we are very preoccupied with jobs. Because we made sure that the finances of the nation are in good shape, the economy is much better.

For example, we all know that more than a million new jobs have been created in the four years of Liberal administration, something that was the goal of the leader of the Conservative Party during the election for the coming five years, and we managed to do it in the last four years.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Poverty
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REF

Grant McNally

Reform

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, unlike the Prime Minister I have consulted constituents in my own riding about how any budget surplus should be spent, and 87% of the respondents indicated that at least 50% of any surplus should go to debt elimination.

My question is for the Prime Minister. He had a promise for Canadians, not a side margin promise but a promise when he said that 50% of the surplus would go to debt and tax relief.

How could he promise that when he knew all along that he would blow any surplus on new spending?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   The Economy
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LIB

Tony Valeri

Liberal

Mr. Tony Valeri (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, at 4.30 p.m. there will be the presentation of a budget in the House.

I am sure the hon. member will be here to listen to the budget, for a change. I look forward, in coming days as we move into the budget debate, to listen to the hon. member speak in favour of these government initiatives.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   The Economy
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REF

Rahim Jaffer

Reform

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, my family and I own a small coffee shop near the University of Alberta, so I know firsthand the problems of youth unemployment. Most of our employees are students but when payroll taxes go up I have to look for ways to reduce expenses. That usually means another hard working young person is out of a job.

When will the minister realize that job killing payroll taxes are robbing young people of a future? When will the government wake up and smell the coffee?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Taxation
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that payroll taxes have been reduced. We reduced payroll taxes by $1.4 billion starting January 1 when we reduced the employment insurance payments by employers and employees.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Taxation
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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, on the shipowner-legislator issue, we learned last week that it was not until the matter was raised by the Bloc Quebecois that the advice of the Prime Minister's ethics counsellor was sought.

I have a very simple question for the Prime Minister: What good is the advice of an ethics counsellor when it is sought after the fact?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Bill C-28
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, they are trying to attack the Minister of Finance instead of his actions. This explains why the members of the Bloc Quebecois have asked only one question on the economy since the House resumed sitting.

They had a single goal: to destroy the finance minister's credibility. They did not and will not succeed.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Bill C-28
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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I suggest the Prime Minister should come to the House more often, he might hear our questions on the economy.

Is the Prime Minister basically telling us that the reputation of the man who is about to table the federal budget depends only on the advice of an official appointed by him, paid by him and accountable to no one but him and who basically says what he wants him to say?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Bill C-28
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, now they are attacking the ethics counsellor, who appeared before the House committee to clarify his position and his actions.

They cannot attack the Minister of Finance on what he has done. I checked; as far as I could see, they have put only one question on the economy since the House reconvened. They are trying to destroy the Minister of Finance.

Again, the Minister of Finance is a man of integrity and honesty, who has the confidence of the Prime Minister. He will make an excellent budget speech today and this smear campaign will not take away from his merit.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Bill C-28
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REF

Darrel Stinson

Reform

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, Florence Shannon from Tappen in my riding of Okanagan—Shuswap is a senior citizen. She pays so much tax and has such a small pension that she wrote to the Prime Minister through me. I quote:

Thank you for dictating to me how I must spend my money. This means I do not have your permission to own anything. Thank you for making my old age like living in hell.

Will the Prime Minister tell Mrs. Shannon and other senior citizens why he is treating the taxpayers' surplus as if it was his own money?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Taxation
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LIB

Tony Valeri

Liberal

Mr. Tony Valeri (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, let us be perfectly clear. The government need not take any lessons from the Reform Party on taxes.

We are the government that with the support of Canadians has battled down a $42 billion deficit, which is the only reason why today we are able to talk about a potential fiscal dividend. It is because of the actions of this government, and we will continue on that front.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Taxation
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REF

Jim Pankiw

Reform

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, if the nation's finances are in the black today it is because Canadian taxpayers are in the red.

A constituent of mine, Robyn McGregor, is a single mother struggling to make ends meet because of the high tax policies of the government. Her 11 year old son Nathan requires dental work, but high taxes means no trip to the dentist.

Why is it so easy for the Prime Minister to say no to relief for taxpayers like Robyn but to say yes to lavish spending by his cabinet ministers?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Taxation
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LIB

Tony Valeri

Liberal

Mr. Tony Valeri (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I invite the hon. member to make sure that he is here at 4.30 p.m. so that he can stand and applaud the budget of the government and the speech of the Minister of Finance.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Taxation
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BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The media commented at length on the insulting remarks made by Don Cherry toward Quebeckers, on the CBC network.

Does the heritage minister disagree with Mr. Cherry's comments? If so, will she express her disagreement to the crown corporation?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Don Cherry
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I know Don Cherry well and I do not always agree with him, particularly when he talks about Jean-Luc Brassard who, after all, is a world champion and has been known around the world for years as one of the best skiers.

Having said that, I want to ask the hon. member a question. Given that Canada won 15 medals at those Olympic Games, our best ever, why would the Bloc Quebecois not congratulate the Canadian athletes for their achievements?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Don Cherry
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BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to forgive the minister. We have been congratulating our athletes during Statements by Members since last week, but as the minister was in Nagano, she could not possibly know that.

The minister is using an easy way out to avoid answering the question, even though she herself said, the day after the referendum, that Radio-Canada should change its tune and stick with its mandate.

Does the minister not agree that she should intervene and express her strong disagreement? Now is the time to defend Quebec.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Don Cherry
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I said clearly that I do not agree with Don Cherry's comments. But it is also true that if I told Radio-Canada what to say, the Bloc Quebecois and the hon. member would be the first ones to condemn us for interfering in the affairs of Radio-Canada.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Don Cherry
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REF

Inky Mark

Reform

Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the finance minister.

Kyle is from my riding. He is 21 years old, currently unemployed. He is a seasonal construction worker and owes more than $25,000 in student loans. How can Kyle afford to live, let alone pay down his student loan? Kyle wants to finish his education and cannot wait for, as the media calls it, the little guy from Shawinigan memorial fund.

How will the finance minister put more money into Kyle's pocket rather than his?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Youth
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February 24, 1998