April 19, 2004

LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

Hon. Stephen Owen (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, quite to the contrary, government advertising informs Canadians on issues of health and safety, produces government notices and deals with issues that are important to Canadians in terms of services that they need and deserve.

As I announced on March 15, the government advertising budget and new placements were frozen until June 1, and for the next three years going forward there will be a 15% per year reduction in advertisement placement spending.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Advertising
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CA

Stephen Harper

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC)

Of course, Mr. Speaker, this advertising, this information just happens to be the same as the government's own election platform.

This government now wants to waste another $120 billion on partisan advertising. The Privy Council plan targets several government priorities—as the minister has already said—the same priorities the Prime Minister mentioned in his speech on Friday.

Will the Prime Minister explain this curious coincidence?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Advertising
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LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

Hon. Stephen Owen (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the issues made recently by the Prime Minister in his speech were the same issues raised in the Speech from the Throne, the same issues raised in the government's budget and the same issues that are of importance to Canadians.

I wonder if the hon. member would like to tell Canadians which of the government priorities in advertising for their benefit he would like to cut, such as anti-tobacco use, health and safety. These are issues that are of critical importance to Canadians. They need to know what services are available from the Government of Canada to address them.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Advertising
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CA

Monte Solberg

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I think the wing of government he would like to cut off is the Liberal Party.

It is a new Prime Minister and the same old Liberal pre-election pork-barrelling. It is the first two weeks of the fiscal year and the government has already handed out a billion dollars in loot bags to its buddies, including a quarter of a million dollars in a minister's riding for an archeological dig. Grandma cannot get a hospital bed but she is welcome to go to that minister's riding and dig for spoons.

Exactly when did the Prime Minister morph into Jean Chrétien?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would refer the hon. gentleman to today's edition of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix which deals with this issue in its editorial and condemns the opposition for its ridiculous accusations.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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CA

Monte Solberg

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, CPC)

Maybe, Mr. Speaker, it is not such a bad idea. Maybe the Liberals will uncover more ideas from the 1970s, more ideas like handing out pork to their buddies.

The Prime Minister coveted the Prime Minister's job for 13 years. Yet when he got there, why is it that the only thing he could do was parrot the ideas of Jean Chrétien, ideas like handing out pork to their buddies?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, included in the list that the opposition is referring to is for example $20 million being provided by the Government of Canada over the next six or seven years to support the operation of the largest science project ever undertaken in this country at the synchrotron facility in Saskatoon.

The accusations of the opposition also include such things as $1 billion for Canadian farmers to help them deal with BSE.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, while campaigning in the Lower St. Lawrence and the Gaspé, the Prime Minister stated that seasonal work is a priority for his government, but did not offer any solutions to the unemployed who today are demonstrating in the streets of Forestville. The Liberals are using the same strategy they did in 2000. They make promises to the unemployed before the election, but they let them down afterwards.

Will the Prime Minister finally realize that 6 out of every 10 people who lose their jobs are not eligible for employment insurance, and that changes are needed now?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Paul Bonwick

Liberal

Hon. Paul Bonwick (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Student Loans), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that quite simply that is not the truth.

The hon. member will recognize that the Prime Minister has been fully engaged in solutions to address this, as has the minister, not the least of which, of course, is the appointment of a task force. In that regard, there will be some very timely recommendations coming forward and I am sure the minister will act as he sees fit.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Exactly, Mr. Speaker; the Prime Minister tells us that a Liberal committee will consider the issue. Well, a committee of this House, the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, has issued a unanimous report.

Why is it that the Prime Minister, who says he wants to wipe out the democratic deficit, does not apply the solutions that have already been agreed to unanimously? Unanimously—that means that the Liberals voted in favour, as well, back in 2001. The solutions are well known. The answers are well known. The unemployed are still waiting, while promises upon promises are being made and nothing gets done.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Paul Bonwick

Liberal

Hon. Paul Bonwick (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Student Loans), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member would lead the House to believe that the Prime Minister has done nothing. I would suggest that there has been over $2 billion redirected as a result of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister has taken this issue very seriously. He has been very clear in his instructions in cooperation with the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and when the appropriate recommendations come forward, they will act.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la Mitis, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, while he toured the North Shore, Jean Lapierre, the Prime Minister's Quebec lieutenant, urged those who want to see thorough changes in the employment insurance system to trust the government.

How can the government keep telling people to trust it when the same promises were made to the same people before the last federal election, by at least two government ministers and many MPs and candidates? How can we trust a government that has not kept its promises even though it has had three years to do so?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Paul Bonwick

Liberal

Hon. Paul Bonwick (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Student Loans), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this is simply not true. The hon. member would suggest that the program is not working. The member should recognize that 88% of paid employees that become eligible to collect EI actually get an opportunity to do so. Facts are what are necessary, not rhetoric from the Bloc.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la Mitis, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the 88% who become eligible are part of the 40% who receive benefits. There are still 60% who do not receive benefits. He ought to quote the correct figures instead of misleading the public. We have had enough of that.

How can the government justify the fact that, even though it has had a unanimous committee report in hand since 2001, it has not acted? Where was the person answering our questions? Probably in another committee. Although the necessary changes to employment insurance have been recommended, the government has done nothing to honour the commitment it made to the jobless.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Paul Bonwick

Liberal

Hon. Paul Bonwick (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Student Loans), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, there is just no need for this type of rhetoric. The fact remains that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development have remained very committed to making the necessary changes that need to be made in order to address some of the challenges that not only Quebeckers, but people all across this country, are facing.

The minister has stated time and time again, as the recommendations come forward he is not opposed to making changes to the act. The Prime Minister has clearly stated that he is going to support the necessary initiatives to address these challenges. It is time for fact, not rhetoric.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Hon. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, welcome to son of ad scam. We are barely through the first sponsorship scandal and now we are into the prospect of the Liberals spending another $100 million, this time not to save the country, but to save the Liberal Party.

I want to ask the Deputy Prime Minister, why does she think it is appropriate for Canadian taxpayers to pay to save the political derrière of the Liberal Party?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Advertising
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LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

Hon. Stephen Owen (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we have a further question on this issue of $120 million advertising strategy which simply does not exist.

What I have said before to the House is that there has been a moratorium since March 15 on new placement of government ads until June 1. That in itself will lead to a reduction next year. In addition to that, there is a 15% reduction equalling about $12 million in this coming year of the overall advertising budget, together with a new competitive process for an agency of record and vastly revamped criteria to ensure competitiveness and transparency.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Advertising
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Hon. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, we agree that the government does not appear to have a strategy, or if it does, it is a pretty chaotic one.

The minister claims that there is no such advertising proposal on the table. Can he tell us in the House today that there will be no government funded advertising on behalf of the Liberal Party before the election is called? Can he give us that commitment now?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Advertising
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LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

Hon. Stephen Owen (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the government advertising policy, as set out under the new criteria, has been followed largely in the past but is being strengthened immensely during this moratorium period to ensure that the people of Canada know the public services that are available, that there are public notices for hearings and such. If there are medical or safety emergencies, Canadians can be told about them.

Going forward, there is a highly competitive and transparent process for all advertising which relates to the policy initiatives of the Government of Canada.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Advertising
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CA

Diane Ablonczy

Canadian Alliance

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks back the immigration minister made a big to-do about changing the way people get appointed to the Immigration and Refugee Board.

She boasted, “I’ve now swept away the old appointment system at the IRB”. Here we are a month later and guess what? She has just appointed a new IRB member and reappointed three others under the same old system.

Why can the Liberals not be trusted to keep their word?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Citizenship and Immigration
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April 19, 2004