March 27, 2003

LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo

He was talking about being embarrassed about Canada. I am sorry he is embarrassed but Canada has nothing to be ashamed of. Canada has been beside our neighbour, our best friend and our largest trading party on virtually every operation that the United States has led, whether it was under the UN or otherwise. Kosovo was not under a UN umbrella, the member will remember as well. If he is going to--

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
CA
LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo

This is question and comments, so just cool your jets. Mr. Speaker, if he--

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
?

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. If in fact we are going to be respectful of this institution and its practices, well then let us practice them. I will give the member a few more minutes to wrap up his comment or question of his choosing, but please make all your interventions on either side of the House through the Chair.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo

Mr. Speaker, we are in very delicate times. The members well know that in times of war and severe conflict that affect the globe as a whole, every nation should be speaking with one voice, and in Canada that is the Prime Minister.

We all regret that some members have said things as individuals and I think their comments are reflective on them, but the member should also acknowledge that it is not a reflection on Canada's attitude toward the United States or the coalition in Iraq, and that Canada will never wear the label that he has given to it as being an embarrassment.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
CA

Randy White

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Randy White

Mr. Speaker, no one said anything about being embarrassed to be Canadian. The embarrassment is with the leadership on the other side, quite frankly. I cannot help but be embarrassed about that. I guess it is because I am proud to be a Canadian that I am so embarrassed about the other side.

I happen to have been speaking in San Diego as a guest of the Americans at the time the statement came out from the Prime Minister's Office about the president being a moron. I was speaking in front of many hundreds of people and I have to tell members that the situation was very embarrassing.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
LIB

Wayne Easter

Liberal

Hon. Wayne Easter

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member is implying there was a statement from the Prime Minister's Office calling the President of the United States a moron. That is not correct.

There were alleged statements made through the media, yes, but not from the Prime Minister's Office as the member alleges.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
?

The Deputy Speaker

As we say in this place, and I know we mean it respectfully, the minister in this case is engaging in debate and it certainly is not a point of order. On another point of order, the hon. member for Kitchener Centre.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
LIB

Karen Redman

Liberal

Mrs. Karen Redman

Mr. Speaker, I would raise the point of relevancy. I do believe the topic at hand is the budget implementation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
?

The Deputy Speaker

I think you would find that the Chair, when dealing with matters of relevancy, has been as generous and as flexible as members have in their interpretation of relevancy when they are debating the subject matter of any day.

In this instance it is a little bit easier for the Chair because, respectfully again, the comment and question that came from the government side dealt with the matter that the member is presently trying to address as being irrelevant.

The Chair will certainly accept and listen, as will everyone else, to the response by the member for Langley—Abbotsford to the question that was posed to him from the government side.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
CA

Randy White

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Randy White

Mr. Speaker, you said it better than I would have said it. The fact is that the individual said that it was the director of communications from the Prime Minister's Office.

I am only reflecting my point of view. I was standing in front of many Americans and Mexicans at the time not knowing what that statement was, but getting hit fairly hard as the only representative in that crowd from Canada. It was embarrassing, to say the least. I do not think I will ever forget that statement and how it impacted me as a Canadian in the United States at the time, quite frankly at their pleasure and hospitality.

I think the government has a lot of recovery to do and a lot of other recoveries to do in terms of presenting a budget that should have something specific in it as a result of the things that we have done in the House of Commons. We spent, I think, around $1 million, maybe less, to look at the issue of drugs, which is a severe problem in our country, and we do not see one red cent in response to that. Meanwhile, there are kids out there who need our help. They do not need lip service.

I am sick and tired of coming into this place after 10 years and saying that it is one thing to discuss this stuff but another thing to put one's foot forward and do something about it. All we get is this lip service. It is unacceptable.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
LIB

Alan Tonks

Liberal

Mr. Alan Tonks (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have not been in the House a long period of time but I have from time to time observed how a member can stand and speak in an expansive fashion on an issue, in this case the budget, and then at the end of it, as a tactic, undermine what was quite a decent overview with a really cheap shot.

I have to say, with great respect, that we are here as parliamentarians to try to raise the bar of dignity, decency and honesty with respect to the discussions on an issue. We should not have to place our Speaker in the position of having to remind the House of that on the basis of something being raised that we have questioned, which is our right. I find myself in the position now of having, other than to ask a question on the budget, to take exception to the last statement.

In the context of alliances in the North American continent, Mexico, Canada and the United States have been the closest, similar to the initiative taken in Europe with the common market. We find that two members, led by the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, and our Prime Minister, have chosen through the United Nations to take a specific initiative and to stay with that, and they informed the president.

Where do we go from here in the view of the member? Do we continue to make it appear that we are not of one mind with respect to the future and the legacy of our people or do we continue along that line of cheap shots and bring the bar down? Is that what we are all about in this Parliament? Is that what they are all about in that party, because I think the people of Canada take great exception to that style?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
CA

Randy White

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Randy White

Mr. Speaker, my, my, what it takes just to press a red button over there.

I represent well over 100,000 people from Langley--Abbotsford in British Columbia. All I have heard for months and months were cheap shots calling a president a moron and a minister who said the president was not a statesman. These things embarrass the people I live with and work with. I have a right to come to the House of Commons and reflect to my colleagues, to the government, and to the Chair, that we are embarrassed by what has happened with the deplorable situation of name calling of a well respected office in this world and with the deplorable relationship that is now evident between Canada and the United States.

I can further legitimize that by telling the hon. member that I live on the border. My house is not three miles from the American border. My community counts on a great deal of income from the United States. Many of the businesses in my community exist primarily because we live and work with our friends, the Americans, and we do not expect the disgusting treatment that they are getting from that side that ought to know better.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
LIB

Wayne Easter

Liberal

Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the budget bill. Before I turn to some of the specifics in the portfolio of the Solicitor General I would like to make a few points in general on the budget itself.

I feel that the 2003 budget, being a balanced budget, is a people's budget. It is a true Liberal budget which deals with the areas of concern to Canadians. Be it health care, families and communities, policing and law enforcement for which I have responsibility, sustainable development, research and development, it is truly a Liberal budget. On top of that we are maintaining the kinds of tax cuts that were put in place in previous budgets which were a historic high in terms of tax cuts in this country, something even the other side asked for but is always demanding more no doubt.

I want to put the budget in perspective. I understand that the opposition parties have a job to do and have to be critical. They are a little over critical sometimes. I understand that sometimes they do not really mean it; they are just trying to play the part.

However, I want to put things in perspective. I will turn to a couple of media reports. Obviously, the business press is not always friends of the Government of Canada, that is for sure, but I will turn to the March 8 report on business in the Globe and Mail . The headline on the business page reads “Canada's job boom rolls on” and goes on to say “Flabbergasting employment gain comes in at more than four times the forecasts”.

The article by Janet McFarland states: “Canada's economy continued to far outstrip all economists' expectations in February, creating 55,200 new jobs across virtually all sectors”, and it goes on from there.

Robert Spector, who is a senior economist at Merrill Lynch Canada Inc., had this to say:

Canada is the only economy creating jobs in a meaningful way. It's got the only central bank raising interest rates, [and] it's the only G-7 country running a budgetary surplus.

That is pretty good news. Sometimes if we were to listen to opposition comments we would think nothing positive was happening.

However, let me turn to another newspaper, the National Post , which is certainly not a friend of the Government of Canada most times when we read its articles. Let us turn to the Financial Post page. The headline states on the same day, Saturday, March 8, “Economies out of step”. It states that the United States fears a double-dip recession and it talks about the difficulty the Americans are having. We certainly do not want them to have difficulty in their economy, but on the other side it states that Canada is on a roll, and that “job miracle stuns market, pushes dollar to three year high”. It goes on with something similar to what the Globe and Mail said, which was that this is the only country in the G-8 with a surplus.

That is pretty good news and we need to keep that in perspective. Our economy is doing well because of how the Liberal Party of Canada governed the country over the last 10 years. Let us not take that away from the Government of Canada today.

How did we get to this position? You know well, Mr. Speaker, because you were amongst us in the 1993-95 period when we had to make the hard decisions.

The government and this party made those decisions so that we could be in this position today where we have choices, the choices I talked about in having a real, true Liberal budget that deals with the concerns of Canadians in their homes, communities, social programs, economic development, and research and development. That is the kind of progress we want to see. We should be congratulating all the backbenchers, cabinet ministers, and the whole party right to the grassroots in terms of the kinds of decisions and progress that we have made to get to where we are today.

Let me turn for a moment to the Solicitor General's portfolio. Specifically, I want to deal with the issue of public safety and national security because there are individuals out there who do not believe we are doing enough. I believe that this country has a lot to be proud of in terms of its national security and public safety position. We have done a tremendous amount in the last three years.

I want to speak about the public safety and anti-terrorism funding provided in budget 2001 because those moneys are still rolling out and we are still building on those initiatives. In terms of what is coming out of that PSAT funding, $7.7 billion over five years, we funded the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police workshops for communications and training so that police and law enforcement officials could do a better job on the ground in terms of policing.

Mr. Speaker, I neglected to inform the House that I will be splitting my time with the member for Kitchener Centre.

We have provided funding to the provinces on public key infrastructure for secure communications. We have implemented new legislation. Training is already being provided to police and prosecutors through Bill C-36, the Anti-Terrorism Act, and I have listed a number of entities under that act who we do not want operating or being supported by any individual in this country. We have also implemented Bill C-24 dealing with organized crime.

On policing and intelligence we have set up integrated border enforcement teams. I have had the opportunity to visit a few of those. In that area we are working together with our counterparts in the United States and doing a better job in terms of policing at our border where the RCMP, local jurisdiction police forces, CSIS, customs, and on the United States side the American coast guard and their local law enforcement agencies, sometimes the FBI or the CIA, are working together to provide better security for Canadians at our border. We are doing an excellent job there.

We have set up integrated national security enforcement teams. At the Canada-U.S. border security side, we have set up new technology at border crossings. We have put in place better equipment for detecting explosives. We have made infrastructure improvements in terms of highway and commercial vehicle processing centres. On critical infrastructure protection and emergency preparedness, we have improved our laboratories. We have put in place heavy urban search and rescue equipment and we are working, with training and equipment, on improving our ability to handle chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear problems.

In this budget specifically, building on our public safety and security aspects, we have put in place an additional $50 million this fiscal year and $25 million next year for security contingency reserves. We have put in place $46.6 million over the next two years to continue the integrated proceeds of crime initiative. We expanded our first nations policing program by an additional $42 million and put $30 million a year toward a coordinated national enforcement approach to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of the most serious corporate frauds in market illegalities.

I also want to emphasize that we are continuing to adequately fund and improve the funding for the RCMP, CSIS, Correctional Service Canada and for the parole board.

We can all be proud of the job that the government is doing, in terms of public safety and national security for Canadians, so we remain at our place on top of the world.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
NDP

Svend Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General. He spoke of the $50 million, I believe he called it a security contingency reserve. Would the Solicitor General, together with his colleague, the Minister of National Defence, be prepared to fund out of that $50 million contingency reserve for security the request that has been made by the International Association of Fire Fighters here in Canada?

Firefighters are asking for $500,000 to implement a program that would enable the education of Canadian firefighters, from coast to coast to coast, precisely in the areas that the minister is talking about, in the areas of responding to biological, chemical, radiological and, let us hope it never happens, nuclear problems. In many cases firefighters are the first responders.

This program, which is already in place in the United States, should be expanded to Canada. The International Association of Fire Fighters has been attempting to get support from the Liberal government. A number of members on that side of the House have said that they support them, but firefighters will be back on the Hill at the end of next month.

Specifically, will the minister work with his colleague, the Minister of National Defence, who is responsible for OCIPEP, the office that is co-ordinating in this area, to ensure that the $500,000 which is needed to enable this program to go ahead in Canada will in fact be allocated to the firefighters of Canada?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
LIB

Wayne Easter

Liberal

Hon. Wayne Easter

Mr. Speaker, that is a very sincere and legitimate question from the member opposite.

There is no question that first responders are extremely important in terms of biological, radiological, chemical, nuclear or any other emergency disaster. In fact in 95% of the cases, they are the first on the scene. They are an important element of our overall safety and security program.

We have been working with first responders in terms of training. There has been a fair bit of spending, under OCIPEP, for that area. I had the opportunity to attend a workshop in Calgary, Alberta, where first responders were talking about their needs and how they could better co-ordinate and operate together. We are doing a considerable amount.

In terms of the specific request of the member, the government, at an appropriate time, will respond to that question. One of the reasons we are in the shape we are as a government, being the only nation in the G-8 that has a surplus, is because we manage the financial aspects of the country well and we establish some priorities.

We will have a look at that proposal, in the context of all the other proposals that will come forward to the Government of Canada.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis

New Democratic Party

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister about two areas that should be near and dear to his heart. One has to do with agriculture.

The minister will know that agricultural spending in the budget of $2.7 billion over the next year does little to reverse the drop in support for agriculture over the next decade. In fact in 1991-92 federal spending in agriculture totalled $4.3 billion, almost twice what the government is offering desperate farmers today. My question on that issue has to do with his intentions to work to change the situation and ensure adequate support for our farmers.

Second, with respect to the government's decision to cut the number of weather stations from 14 to 5, which certainly has an impact on his region, I would like to know what he is doing to try to reverse this cut and, as a minimum, get before the House the cost benefit analysis of the Minister of the Environment in making that decision so Canadians can know how the government intends to ensure the safety and security of Canadians.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
LIB

Wayne Easter

Liberal

Hon. Wayne Easter

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to get into the portfolio of other ministers. However in terms of the agriculture spending, I happened to be a member of the Prime Minister's task force on future opportunities in farming. Out of the discussions with primary producers across the country, the discussions of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food across the country in his work and the Prime Minister's work and all the members of this party's work, we were able to achieve an announcement in the spring of $5.2 billion over the next six years for the agricultural community. The roll-out of that is still being worked on. The budget has $483 million in it, additionally, for primary producers.

The government is fulfilling its commitment in that area. We see primary producers as the foundation of wealth in this country and we are continuing to work in that area.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
LIB

Karen Redman

Liberal

Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a distinct pleasure to rise today. As the federal representative for Kitchener Centre, I have an ongoing challenge to bring the national focus and international issues to my constituents through a local lens. The recent budget was, in my view, good news for Canadians because of its focus on social needs and good news locally because it reflected the priorities that I have heard from my constituents.

Budget 2003 is built on the government's prudent approach to financial management as well as the stewardship of Canada's resources. At the same time, budget 2003 provides Canadians with the tools that are necessary to build a better nation.

Budget 2003 means building the society that Canadians value, building the economy that Canadians need, and building the accountability that Canadians deserve.

Specifically, enhanced funding for affordable housing and support for infrastructure development respond to specific concerns that have been expressed in Kitchener Centre. There is no doubt that dynamic cities like Kitchener are vital to our national well-being. That is why this budget presents opportunities to strengthen the quality of life in the city that I represent.

Infrastructure describes essential elements that enable a city to reach its full potential. In Kitchener, when I think of infrastructure, primarily I think of transportation, homelessness and air quality. I am pleased to see that this budget provides tools to address each of these challenges.

Canada's cities certainly need modern infrastructure to be healthy and prosperous. Since 1993, the federal government has invested $4.45 billion in urban infrastructure. These investments are expected to leverage contributions of municipal, provincial and private sector partners to secure 21,000 projects and $15 billion worth of investment in urban infrastructure.

The Waterloo region boasts a dynamic and vibrant economy with the potential for continued strong economic growth in the years ahead. All levels of government must be mindful of ensuring that growth is nurtured and supported rather than encumbered by the limits of an infrastructure program.

I have continued to advocate for federal funding to support the Waterloo region's light rail transit proposal. Public transit is the most viable alternative to reduced traffic congestion, ensure a cleaner environment and manage urban growth. Infrastructure is key to the prosperity of our cities as well as the health of our nation. This budget reinforces the federal assistance announced in previous budgets by investing an additional $3 billion over the next 10 years. This includes $2 billion for large projects and $1 billion earmarked for small projects.

Additional initiatives have also been introduced to support Canada's urban centres. These measures impact on the environment, affordable housing, help for the homeless, help for aboriginal peoples in urban centres, as well as help for disadvantaged children.

We need more affordable housing in Kitchener. We need to continue to address the issue of homelessness. The supporting communities partnerships initiative has invested in excess of $880,000 in Kitchener to support locally identified projects that address the problem of homelessness in our city. This budget extends that program for an additional three years. The affordable housing program will be enhanced in the coming years and the housing renovation program is also being renewed. This is good news for the City of Kitchener.

I am pleased with the support heard across the Waterloo region for budget initiatives. Dr. Larry Smith of the University of Waterloo's economic department, describes the federal budget as “a very typical Canadian budget”. The moderate increase in spending is the benefit of the sacrifices Canadians have made in the past.

The Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce issued this statement on budget day:

We were also pleased to see restoration of the $3 billion contingency fund, which should be applied to thedebt at the end of the year. Lower EI premiums and an increase in RRSP contribution limits are welcomedby both large and small employers.

The chamber also stressed its support for the federal government's ongoing commitment to income tax reductions.

For myself, I was pleased with the commitments to the environment and health care that resounded throughout budget 2003. This budget is the greenest budget in Canadian history.

The ratification of the Kyoto protocol sparked a tremendous enthusiasm across Kitchener Centre, and the budget provides resources that will allow us to implement Canada's climate change action plan. The budget sets out three points that are critical to environmental preservation as well as sustainable development.

First, economic investments must support environmental objectives. Second, environmental action is essential to long term economic growth and sustainability. Third, environmental action achieves social objectives, such as good health and more liveable communities.

All of us in Ontario will remember the crippling effect of smog days in the summer past. Many people could not go outside. Any degree of physical labour was practically impossible. In many ways our community ground to a halt, much in the same manner that it would if there was an ice storm or a severe snowstorm.

Air pollution costs lives. It creates an enormous burden on our health care system. That is why clean air is a priority for our government. The $40 million announced in the budget builds on the previous announcement of $120 million as part of our 10 year clean air agenda. There is a clear link between health and environment. With an investment of $3 billion, we will promote sustainable development and a healthier environment.

Further, following through on the 2003 health care accord, the budget invests $34.8 billion over the next five years to renew Canada's health care system.

Canada's governments recently reached an agreement on health care renewal that set out a firm commitment and a plan for change. The ultimate purpose of the accord is to ensure that all Canadians have access to health care providers 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have timely access to diagnostic procedures and to treatment.

Budget 2003 also improves access to quality home care and community care services. This investment will improve on the quality and the accessibility of health care services and ensure sustainability as its number one priority, which is what Canadians have told us they want, not only today but in the future.

Specifically for Ontario, budget 2003 invests $11.5 billion over five years. There is $967 million in a special Canada health and social transfer supplement. This fund can be drawn down over the next three years. There is $3.7 billion over the next five years in Canada health and social transfer increases, $6.3 billion over five years for the health care reform fund, and $508 million for diagnostic medical equipment.

Reflecting their collective commitment to reform, Canada's first ministers have also agreed to pursue enhanced accountability for their health care expenditures through annual public reporting on the health care system performance. This will allow Canadians to monitor the progress toward reform, to track a level of access to health care services and to assess the overall efficiency of the health care system.

We have a lot to be proud of in Kitchener Centre. Our city enjoys diversity and culture, prosperity and innovation and compassion for our communal well-being. Indeed, with the initiatives announced in budget 2003, we will be able to be more supportive of our infrastructure and to allow our economy to continue to work and our society to prosper.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2003
Permalink
LIB

John Finlay

Liberal

Mr. John Finlay (Oxford, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, last week in a member's statement which I made on Thursday, March 20, I referred to the presence in the gallery of four young students from Norwich High School in my riding of Oxford.

These students were among the winners of a national video competition aimed at raising awareness about the harmful effects of racism in our society. After referring to these students, I then waved to them.

I do understand that such recognition of persons in the gallery is the exclusive prerogative of yourself, Mr. Speaker. Therefore, I want to offer my sincere apologies in this regard. I shall not repeat such a transgression.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Statement by Member
Permalink

March 27, 2003