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37th Parliament, 1st Session

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 008

CONTENTS

Wednesday, February 7, 2001

. 1400

VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
VAIR CANADA
VMr. Denis Paradis
VGOVERNMENT SPENDING
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VGERRY MORIN
VMr. Rick Laliberte

. 1405

VTOYOTA CANADA
VMr. Janko Peric
VFULGENCE CHARPENTIER
VMr. Eugène Bellemare
VBARIYA IBRAHIM MAGAZU
VMr. James Moore
VHUMAN RIGHTS
VMr. John McKay
VDAVID IFTODY
VMr. John Harvard

. 1410

VFULGENCE CHARPENTIER
VMr. Benoît Sauvageau
VTHE FAMILY
VMr. Grant Hill
VDAVID IFTODY
VMs. Anita Neville
VNOVA SCOTIA
VMs. Wendy Lill
VSAINT-CÔME FESTIVAL DE SCULPTURES SUR GLACE
VMr. Michel Bellehumeur

. 1415

VNOVA SCOTIA
VMr. Geoff Regan
VHUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
VMr. André Bachand
VORAL QUESTION PERIOD
VGRANTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS
VMr. Stockwell Day
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Stockwell Day
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1420

VMr. Stockwell Day
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMiss Deborah Grey
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMiss Deborah Grey
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VCINAR
VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VHon. Martin Cauchon

. 1425

VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VHon. Martin Cauchon
VMr. Stéphane Bergeron
VHon. Martin Cauchon
VMr. Stéphane Bergeron
VHon. Martin Cauchon
VNUCLEAR WEAPONS
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1430

VMs. Alexa McDonough
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VETHICS COUNSELLOR
VRight Hon. Joe Clark
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VRight Hon. Joe Clark
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VGRANTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS
VMr. Monte Solberg
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Monte Solberg
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1435

VAUDITOR GENERAL
VHon. Don Boudria
VHon. Don Boudria
VGRANTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS
VMrs. Diane Ablonczy
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMrs. Diane Ablonczy
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VSOFTWOOD LUMBER
VMr. Pierre Paquette
VHon. Pierre Pettigrew

. 1440

VMr. Pierre Paquette
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VETHICS COUNSELLOR
VMr. Jim Abbott
VHon. Brian Tobin
VMr. Jim Abbott
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VHEALTH
VMr. Stan Keyes
VHon. Allan Rock

. 1445

VPOVERTY
VMs. Libby Davies
VHon. Jane Stewart
VMs. Libby Davies
VHon. Jane Stewart
VFOREIGN AFFAIRS
VMr. Bill Casey
VHon. John Manley
VMr. Bill Casey
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1450

VINTERNATIONAL LOANS
VMr. Charlie Penson
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Charlie Penson
VHon. Paul Martin
VFOOD INSPECTION
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Lyle Vanclief
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Lyle Vanclief
VHEALTH
VMr. Preston Manning

. 1455

VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Preston Manning
VHon. Allan Rock
VRESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
VMr. Gérard Binet
VHon. Gilbert Normand
VTHE ECONOMY
VMr. Brian Pallister
VHon. Paul Martin

. 1500

VMr. Brian Pallister
VHon. Paul Martin
VASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS OF PYRITE DAMAGE
VMs. Pierrette Venne
VHon. Alfonso Gagliano
VNATIONAL DEFENCE
VMr. David Pratt
VMr. John O'Reilly
VPRESENCE IN GALLERY
VThe Speaker
VPOINTS OF ORDER
VOral Question Period
VHon. Herb Gray
VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

. 1505

VFINANCIAL CONSUMER AGENCY OF CANADA ACT
VBill C-8. Introduction and first reading
VHon. Jim Peterson
VFEDERAL-PROVINCIAL FISCAL ARRANGEMENTS ACT
VBill C-241. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-242. Introduction and first reading
VMs. Alexa McDonough

. 1510

VHEPATITIS AWARENESS MONTH ACT
VBill C-243. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Peter Stoffer
VINCOME TAX ACT
VBill C-244. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Leon Benoit
VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-245. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Leon Benoit
VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-246. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Maurice Vellacott

. 1515

VCRIMINAL CODE
VBill C-247. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Rick Casson
VCOMPETITION ACT
VBill C-248. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Dan McTeague
VACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT
VBill C-249. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Rick Borotsik
VQUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
VMr. Derek Lee
VMOTIONS FOR PAPERS
VMr. Derek Lee
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS

. 1520

VSPEECH FROM THE THRONE
VResumption of Debate on Address in Reply
VMr. Brian Pallister

. 1525

. 1530

VMr. Alex Shepherd

. 1535

VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 1540

. 1545

VMr. James Moore
VMr. Ken Epp

. 1550

VHon. Martin Cauchon

. 1555

. 1600

VMr. Yves Rocheleau

. 1605

VMr. Roy Bailey
VMr. Serge Marcil

. 1610

. 1615

VMr. Benoît Sauvageau

. 1620

VMr. Scott Reid

. 1625

. 1630

VMr. David Pratt

. 1635

VMr. Dale Johnston

. 1640

. 1645

VMr. Peter Adams

. 1650

VHon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew

. 1655

. 1700

VMs. Wendy Lill

. 1705

VMr. John McCallum

. 1710

. 1715

VMr. Robert Lanctôt

. 1720

. 1725

VMr. Gérard Asselin

. 1730

VMr. Marcel Gagnon

. 1735

. 1740

VMr. John Bryden
VMr. Yves Rocheleau

. 1745

VMr. Lynn Myers

. 1750

. 1755

VMr. Dominic LeBlanc

. 1800

. 1805

VMr. John Bryden

. 1810

VMr. Howard Hilstrom

. 1815

VMr. John Bryden

. 1820

VMs. Val Meredith

. 1825

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 008


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Wednesday, February 7, 2001

The House met at 2 p.m.



Prayers


 

. 1400 +

[Translation]

The Speaker: As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, led by the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

[Editor's Note: Members sang the national anthem]



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Translation]

AIR CANADA

Mr. Denis Paradis (Brome—Missisquoi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today we learned that Air Canada has undertaken a study which might lead to its providing unilingual English counter service as well as service on certain flights in western Canada.

Although Air Canada is a private company, we wish to remind Air Canada of its moral obligation, at the very least, to provide bilingual service on all its flights and those of its subsidiaries within the country.

The Liberal MPs wish to remind Air Canada that both official languages are greatly valued by Canadians in all parts of this Country and we expect Air Canada to respect all Canadians.

*  *  *

[English]

GOVERNMENT SPENDING

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, starting tomorrow the city of Saskatoon will be witness to another flagrant and irresponsible waste of taxpayers' money by the Liberal government. In this instance the amount is $20,000, small potatoes compared to last year's scandalous misuse of billions by the Liberal government's human resources minister, but wasteful spending nonetheless.

I am referring to the federal government's cash handout of $20,000 to the Queer City Cinema Film Festival, notorious for playing such films as the one about lesbian bikers who use children as sex slaves.

Taxpayers may not know which is more peculiar, the strange misuse of taxpayers' money in this instance or the Queer City Cinema Film Festival itself. One thing they do know is that both are somewhat at odds with, much less appreciated, by hard working families who pay taxes to the federal government expecting that their money will not be wasted.

*  *  *

GERRY MORIN

Mr. Rick Laliberte (Churchill River, Lib.):

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

Mr. Gerry Morin was sworn in on February 2 as a judge in the province of Saskatchewan. Mr. Morin is a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and has had extensive experience in northern Saskatchewan. He has served as a probation officer in various communities. His aspirations in the legal profession were realized when he graduated from Saskatoon's University of Saskatchewan.

Mr. Morin started his law practice in the city of Prince Albert and served northerners in the justice circles and as an adviser in major negotiations. He gained national prominence when he was appointed chairman of the RCMP complaints commission.

Mr. Gerry Morin will be utilizing his Cree language to conduct his responsibilities and make his decisions as a judge in our aboriginal communities.

I am honoured to stand today to acknowledge our friend, our partner and our fellow Canadian for such a profound achievement for his family and his people.

*  *  *

 

. 1405 + -

TOYOTA CANADA

Mr. Janko Peric (Cambridge, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada of Cambridge, a leading North American auto manufacturer, recently unveiled the 2003 Matrix. Blending outstanding performance, versatility and affordability, the Matrix will be built at Toyota's award winning plant in Cambridge.

Production of the Matrix will create 300 new jobs and will bring Toyota's total investment in Cambridge to $3 billion. This announcement follows last year's decision to build the new Lexus RX and places the Cambridge plant at the forefront of Toyota's new products and technologies.

The excellence and hard work of team Toyota in my riding of Cambridge has long been recognized. I congratulate Toyota for its ongoing success and its bold vision for the future of the auto industry.

*  *  *

[Translation]

FULGENCE CHARPENTIER

Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Ottawa—Orléans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues, I wish to express our great sadness to learn of the death of Fulgence Charpentier at the age of 103 years.

A native of Ste. Anne de Prescott in eastern Ontario, Mr. Charpentier was Clerk of French Journals and Chief of Debates and Procedures at the House of Commons.

He was a diplomat, journalist, parliamentary correspondent and president of the National Press Gallery. He will be remembered for his many years with the newspaper Le Droit.

With his passing, Ontario francophones have lost a great man.

Mr. Charpentier has left a great heritage. His professionalism and grace will be greatly missed.

I extend our most sincere condolences to his family, his colleagues and his many, many friends.

*  *  *

[English]

BARIYA IBRAHIM MAGAZU

Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Canadian Alliance caucus and millions of Canadians from coast to coast to condemn the brutal caning of teenage mother Bariya Ibrahim Magazu in the Nigerian state of Zamfara on January 22 of this year.

Ms. Magazu had no legal representation at her trial and, according to Amnesty International, the evidence surrounding the allegations, charges and trial of the girl can be brought into serious question.

The young mother received a cruel 100 lashes after having given birth, despite the fact that Nigeria is a party to various international human rights treaties that prohibit torture and inhumane or degrading punishment.

I join with my caucus, party members and all Canadians in denouncing this brutal act and call on the government of Nigeria to ensure that the human rights treaties it signed are respected and enforced.

*  *  *

HUMAN RIGHTS

Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, our charter of rights says that everyone has fundamental freedoms, two being freedoms of conscience and religion. Almost every bill of rights and the UN charter says the same thing. It is almost universal. The abuses of those freedoms are almost as universal.

The Prime Minister will be on a trade mission to China this month. The abuses of people practising their religious and conscience freedoms are well documented: Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Falun Gong.

Why is it in Canada's interest to raise these issues? Are these matters not best left to internal Chinese authorities? Is Canada not somewhat hypocritical about raising this issue as opposed to some other issues?

In a word, it is the rule of law. How can Canadian businesses do business if the rule of law is routinely abused? If fundamental rights of conscience and religion are routinely abused, how can a Canadian business person expect that matters of undertakings and contracts be recognized? What are personal undertakings and WTO undertakings worth if these things occur? It is good for business to recognize these issues.

*  *  *

DAVID IFTODY

Mr. John Harvard (Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, members of parliament were shocked and saddened Monday to learn of the death of a former colleague.

David Iftody died as a result of internal injuries sustained in a snowmobile accident near his home at Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba.

David was first elected as the Liberal member for Provencher in 1993. He was re-elected in June 1997. For two years he served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

David was a man of integrity who cared deeply for his constituents of Provencher. He pursued issues that were central to Provencher with passion and conviction, which took him to every part of his riding. He never let disappointment get in his way. He always followed his conscience and did what he thought was best for his constituents and his country.

David will be missed by all who knew him. His life was far too short at only 44 years, but he made the best of what God gave him.

On behalf of my colleagues, I extend sincere condolences to the family.

*  *  *

 

. 1410 + -

[Translation]

FULGENCE CHARPENTIER

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Fulgence Charpentier, the dean of journalists, passed away yesterday at the age of 103. A citizen of the world, he achieved his dream of witnessing three centuries of history through which he followed his exceptional career.

This Franco-Ontarian, one of the most prominent representatives of the French Canadian culture, was a source of pride and will remain a model for us all. He said recently that one of the reasons he had wanted to be a journalist was so he could defend the cause of French and speak without restriction of the life of francophones of the region and the country.

In the final years of his life, he felt that things were not really changing and that history was continually repeating itself. Still, he defended the cause of French throughout his life.

We thank him for his secular wisdom and the example of perseverance and integrity he set for us and hope that many of us will draw on it.

On behalf of my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, I offer his family and friends our most sincere condolences.

*  *  *

[English]

THE FAMILY

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, last week in New York, the United Nations held a special session on children. This was designed in part to monitor progress of the convention on the rights of the child, which came into force some 10 years ago.

Many citizens have been dismayed by language and practices supported by some delegations to the UN that have diminished the role of the family.

What a treat to read U.S. Ambassador E. Michael Southwick's release in which he stated that we need to be “emphasizing the vital role the family plays in the upbringing of children”. This was good common sense, spoken clearly so no one could misunderstand.

I applaud the U.S. position on the family. This statement is accurate and significant and, in my view, is supported by the vast majority of Canadians. I hope it will be reflected in future UN documents on the rights of the child.

*  *  *

DAVID IFTODY

Ms. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today as chair of the Manitoba caucus. On Monday this week we experienced the sudden and tragic loss of our friend and colleague, David Iftody.

David was more than a member of the House. He was an active member of his community and a kind, caring and dedicated Liberal. David fought tirelessly for his beliefs and brought the voices of not only his constituents but all western rural Canadians to Ottawa.

He was outspoken and persistent but always good-natured. There was never a doubt that David knew his actions were in the best interests of his constituents.

My office in Winnipeg received many calls yesterday and today from people across the province of Manitoba who wished to let me know how much David meant to them and how his seven years as the member for Provencher made their communities better. This is truly David's legacy.

The residents of my riding and members of my staff join me in the mourning of the passing of our friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Iftody family.

*  *  *

NOVA SCOTIA

Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia needs to be given equal opportunities under our federal equalization and social transfer regime.

I refer specifically to the need for a temporary exemption of offshore oil and gas royalty revenues in the calculation of equalization payments, similar to the one granted to Newfoundland for Hibernia. This temporary measure has obviously helped boost the economy of that province and Nova Scotia deserves no less.

I also call on the government to increase its support for post-secondary education in Nova Scotia through a bilateral agreement recognizing the extra costs we pay for a high number of out of province students. Our provincial government could use these funds to reduce Nova Scotia's tuition fees, currently the highest in Canada, and to increase the inadequate student aid program.

Now is the time to correct the crippling impact of underfunding on our education and health care, on our schools and hospitals in Nova Scotia.

Now is the time to revisit the equalization formula to ensure that all provinces are afforded an equal level of services and all Canadians an equal level of citizenship.

*  *  *

[Translation]

SAINT-CÔME FESTIVAL DE SCULPTURES SUR GLACE

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, as the honorary patron of the 10th Saint-Côme Festival de sculptures sur glace being held now until February 10, I take this opportunity to congratulate the organizers, volunteers, artists and sponsors who make this event such a success. This festival introduces thousands of visitors to one of the most beautiful corners of the country.

Again this year, there will be over 70 ice sculptures by artists in my riding for the public to admire.

 

. 1415 + -

The festival also offers a multitude of activities, including skiing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides and a tribute to lumberjacks.

I extend an invitation to our audience, the members of the House and to you, Mr. Speaker. If you come on the weekend to Berthier—Montcalm, dress warmly, because generally at this time of year, the temperature in the kingdom of Saint-Côme is a lot lower than it is in Ottawa.

*  *  *

[English]

NOVA SCOTIA

Mr. Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's PC premier is campaigning for fairness. Let us talk about fairness.

What is not fair is that Nova Scotians should have to face the fiscal mess made by a previous PC government. What is not fair is that a party, which promised it could fix health care for $46 million, has not kept its word. What is not fair is that Nova Scotia taxpayers are stuck with a royalty deal made by two PC governments in 1986.

What is not fair is that a party that claimed it could cut taxes 10% cannot do so without outside help. What is unfair is that young Nova Scotians are paying and will pay a terrible price for Tory mismanagement.

*  *  *

[Translation]

HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT

Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is important to remember certain facts concerning the Prime Minister and Auberge Grand-Mère.

In 1996-97, the Prime Minister made representations to the Federal Business Development Bank on behalf of Yvon Duhaime. The application for the initial $3.5 million loan had been rejected. Later, following the meeting held at 24 Sussex Drive between the Prime Minister and the president of the bank, the loan was approved.

In September 1999, François Beaudoin, the president of the bank, left his position. During the course of legal proceedings, he admitted to having been forced to resign, following his suggestion that the loan granted to Auberge Grand-Mère be recalled.

The Progressive Conservative Party will not be muzzled. The Prime Minister and his government are asking us not to point the finger.

If the Prime Minister conducted himself properly, he will show transparency and ask, among other things, the ethics counsellor to table in the House a complete report on how he conducted his investigation regarding this issue, before drafting his findings.



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[English]

GRANTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign the Prime Minister was asked whether immigrant investor funds were invested in the Auberge Grand-Mère as a result of his meeting at 24 Sussex Drive with immigrant investor Gordon Fu. The Prime Minister replied, and forgive my language, “He has not invested a damned cent in that”. That was his quote.

We have now obtained documents, which are available today, that show that in fact immigrant investors put $2.35 million into the hotel after the meeting with Mr. Fu. Will the Prime Minister try to explain this serious contradiction?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the investor fund is managed by the provincial authorities. I was not aware that there was any investment there.

At that time I received people from my riding. We discussed many things. All the members of parliament from all the provinces were asked to preserve that fund. All provincial governments insisted that the investor program be kept in operation, including the government of Alberta.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): That is not the issue at all, Mr. Speaker. The meeting took place at Sussex Drive. The Prime Minister denied following the meeting that it had anything to do with Mr. Fu, that these investor funds would flow. Yet it is very clear now with the information received that $2.35 million began to flow from the immigrant investors fund alone.

Can the Prime Minister understand that Canadians have a right to ask whether his own involvement with the golf course, and therefore with the hotel, had anything to do with his very serious, intense involvement, and what appears to be financial gain?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the taxpayers never had to pay a cent because of my errors, as was the case for the Leader of the Opposition.

The member should also know that I receive members of parliament from both sides every day at 3 o'clock and visitors also come to see me. Every day of the week people from my riding or members of parliament visit with me. We shake hands, discuss things for two or three minutes and then they leave. This visit was of the same nature.

 

. 1420 + -

[Translation]

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we have proof right here that the Prime Minister is not out of the woods as regards the auberge. He hosted meetings that allowed Auberge Grand-Mère to get close to $3 million. Worse still, two of the participants in these meetings were people who had previously been convicted of criminal activities.

Does the Prime Minister realize that he used his office to collect money that benefited a business of which he is a beneficiary? Does he realize that?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, these are totally unfounded insinuations.

The issue was discussed several times in the House. In fact, the hon. member is saying that he came to 24 Sussex Drive, and that is not true.

The investment fund is managed by the provincial government. In 1996, the provincial government was led by Premier Bouchard. I am pleased to learn now that he tried to help out businesses, probably as a result of representations made by members of the National Assembly.

[English]

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, one wonders if Mr. Bouchard made these decisions on his own.

The Prime Minister said that not one cent of immigrant investor money went into the Auberge Grand-Mère. He was out a whopping 235 million cents. It was $2.35 million that went into a business, which would increase the value of a golf course that was still owned by the Prime Minister.

Is that not the real reason that the Prime Minister tried to cover it over?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is another false statement. The ethics counsellor replied very clearly that I had sold my share in the golf club in 1993 before I became Prime Minister of Canada.

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the entire country knows that money was still owed to him in 1996. It was taken care of in 1999.

The Auberge Grand-Mère received, just for instance, $50,000 from economic development for Quebec, $60,000 in HRD wage subsidies, $165,000 in TJF grants, $615,000 in Business Development Bank money, and now a whopping $2.35 million in immigrant investor funds.

The Prime Minister needs to tell the House what impact that had on neighbouring real estate.

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, all the programs she referred to are public programs and are applied to all ridings. I have nothing to add beyond what I have always said, which is that I had absolutely no conflict of interest. I sold my 25% interest in the golf club in 1993 before I became Prime Minister. My assets were then given to a trustee to be managed.

As members of cabinet when our assets are in the hands of the managers we do not have any right to intervene any more.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CINAR

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in the case of CINAR, the minister told us that the voluntary disclosure program resulted in an agreement between his department and CINAR. He told the House, and I quote:

    Access to this voluntary disclosure program requires exactly that: voluntary disclosure.

This seems logical.

What we saw in the case of CINAR was not a voluntary disclosure but the result of complaints and investigations into serious allegations of fraud.

Without going into the details of the affair, can the minister tell us what mechanism was used to reach an agreement with CINAR, because one such mechanism could be a discriminatory decision by the minister?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have said repeatedly, one of the fundamental principles, one of the cornerstones, of the Income Tax Act is the confidentiality that must be observed by the minister responsible for the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, myself in this case, and the opposition is perfectly aware of this.

It will be understood that when there is a reference to a particular case in the House, I am bound by this duty of confidentiality, which is fundamental and which has the support not just of the House, but of all Canadians.

 

. 1425 + -

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, if such an agreement was reached between CINAR and the department—and we know that one was—this agreement is based on figures submitted by CINAR.

But CINAR's financial statements have been questioned by the accounting firm engaged by CINAR, Ernst & Young, which has refused to endorse them, saying that they did not give a faithful and accurate representation of the situation.

How can the minister stand by while his department concludes an agreement over something that does not even have the backing of the accounting firm engaged by the company?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, very generally speaking, I must say that the Minister of National Revenue would often like to be able to comment on certain cases. Unfortunately, and still generally speaking, I am bound by the duty of confidentiality.

Again generally speaking, and with reference to no particular case, I must also say that investigations are conducted internally by officers of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, without any interference. They are conducted by individuals with solid expertise who, in my view, do an excellent job.

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. In the CINAR affair, the company apparently obtained millions of dollars fraudulently.

An agreement was reached with public servants, and these same public servants have refused to co-operate with the RCMP. It seems there will be no court case and the minister tells us that he cannot make any comment, that everything was done properly. And he asks us to trust him.

What we want to know, however, is quite simple. Without going into detail, under what provisions of the Income Tax Act was the agreement with CINAR entered into?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am not asking the opposition to trust me as a minister. Essentially, what I am asking it to do is respect the underlying principles of the Income Tax Act, in this specific case those set out in section 241.

I would also like to make the general comment, with no reference to any particular matter, that it is a regular occurrence when the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency is working on a case—and I am not in the least involved in such things—for it to also co-operate with provincial administrations.

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, of course we have nothing but trust in the minister's answer.

The agreement between CINAR and the Minister of National Revenue represents millions of dollars. Can the minister tell us whether he gave approval to this agreement between his department and CINAR?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have always been told I was pretty clear.

First, section 241 of the Income Tax Act says that there can be no disclosure. It is very simple; we have a duty of confidentiality, and this goes for all files.

Second, I would also like to point out that, when the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency carries out an investigation, the minister is not the one who intervenes to terminate it. The minister does not intervene in any of the agency's investigations.

This is all done by a department made up of experts, and they do an excellent job.

*  *  *

[English]

NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the U.S. yesterday announced they are proceeding with another missile defence test.

A lot of ink has been spilled on the pros and cons of the American nuclear missile defence system but not a lot about Canada's position. In fact, the purpose of my question is to find out if Canada has a position.

Clearly Canada faces a choice, a choice between bowing to Bush and supporting the American position or standing against the spread of nuclear weapons.

My question to the Prime Minister is, which will it be?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, when we discuss this problem with the Americans we say that we are listening to what they have to say.

When I talked with the president I made sure that before the system proceeded there would be consultations with all concerned citizens in Canada. We have to make sure that NATO will be well protected.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said, and as I have said to the president, this system has to be developed in a way that will not be offensive to the Russians and the Chinese. They know this and they said that they will take the time to do the proper consultation before they proceed. I know it will take some time before—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Halifax.

 

. 1430 + -

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Canadians want to know about the government's position. A wise person recently said about Canada's non-position on the nuclear missile defence system “it is not something you can duck much further”.

The person who said that is the former minister of foreign affairs Lloyd Axworthy. His position is clear: Canada should reject the American missile defence system. Now Canadians want to know the current government's position. Does it support the American nuclear missile defence system? Yes or no.

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the decision has not been made. The technology is not finished yet. It is a bit difficult for us to come to a conclusion before we know exactly what will be the system.

I had a discussion with the president on that and he confirmed to me that some of the tests which occurred last summer did not produce good results. I insisted that if they wanted to do that they should have discussions with all the affected people including Canada and all NATO members.

*  *  *

ETHICS COUNSELLOR

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

In a letter to me dated November 21, 2000, the ethics counsellor noted that the involvement of ministers with crown corporations was not dealt with when the guidelines affecting him were first written. He went on to say that he intended to “undertake a review of this issue in the coming weeks”.

Could the Prime Minister tell the House if recommendations on potential conflict of interest guidelines for ministers and crown corporations have been received from the ethics counsellor and if so, will he table them in the House?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the answer is no.

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC): Mr. Speaker, was that one no or two? When he gets it, will he table it in the House of Commons or will he keep us in the dark?

My supplementary question relates to answers given by the Deputy Prime Minister to me, who took as notice my question on whether Mr. Jean Carle was involved in any way in the Auberge Grand-Mère file, either during his tenure in the Prime Minister's Office or in his work with the Business Development Bank.

As well, I asked the Prime Minister, and the answer was fobbed off by one minister earlier, if Cedric Ritchie had been briefed on the auberge file before he assumed his position as chair of the board—

The Speaker: I am afraid the hon. member has run out of time.

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the first answer is no; the second is no; and the third is no.

*  *  *

GRANTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we should remind the House that on January 27, 1996, the Prime Minister called the ethics counsellor to tell him that the sale of shares in the Grand-Mère Golf Course had fallen through. In other words, he still owned the shares. This is an important point.

During the election campaign the Prime Minister tried to leave the impression that immigrant investor money was not going into the Grand-Mère Hotel, not one cent. Now we discover he hosted meetings at 24 Sussex that resulted in $2.35 million going into the Grand-Mère.

Why did the Prime Minister try to hide his lobbying activities on behalf—

The Speaker: The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, I just explained that some people come to visit me in my office at three o'clock. I do this every afternoon with members of parliament from all parties.

Second, I never discussed this problem.

Third, the immigration fund is managed by the provincial government of Quebec. I was not aware because it does not come under federal jurisdiction.

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the Prime Minister owned shares in the golf course that bordered the Grand-Mère Hotel.

If that hotel had gone down the tubes, so would the value of the Grand-Mère Golf Course. Is that not the real reason the Prime Minister used the power and the trappings of his office to pour money into the Grand-Mère Hotel?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have explained many times, and the ethics counsellor has looked into it, that I sold my shares before I became Prime Minister.

Not only that. The hotel was not owned by the golf course. It was only a lease and it was taken over six months before I became Prime Minister and four months before the start of my political campaign.

*  *  *

 

. 1435 + -

[Translation]

AUDITOR GENERAL

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the auditor general is criticizing the government for the partisan nature of appointments to the boards of crown corporations. He points out a total lack of expertise in business management. In short, the auditor general confirms that it is “buddies” first and foremost. As for ability, it is a plus if there is some.

Has the Prime Minister not taken partisanship too far when he puts the management of $129 billion of public money at risk?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite must know more than he is saying today. He must know that the appointment of people like Julie Payette, a well known astronaut, to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is a good one, and that Phil Fontaine, who was appointed to the millennium committee, is a highly qualified individual. He must also know that Benoît Bouchard was certainly not a Liberal MP, but was well versed in the field of transportation. A number of his friends opposite must know that for sure.

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the government House leader should know that, for each of the names he has given us, we can name him at least 50 partisan appointments each.

According to the 1993 red book, a Liberal government would ensure that appointments reflected abilities when filling still vacant positions.

How does the Prime Minister explain this lack of ability in his appointments, he, who promised a return to healthier practices more in keeping with the principles of good management?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite is accusing us of appointing more women to boards, it is true. We have appointed 30%, three times more than in the other sectors. It is true. He would be right in saying that women represent 18% of board members as compared with 6% in the public sector as well. If he said more native people are being appointed by this government than in other sectors, that too is true, and we are proud of it.

*  *  *

[English]

GRANTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, evidence keeps mounting that raises questions about unusual amounts of money flowing into the Prime Minister's riding.

We have now obtained figures from the immigrant investor program in Quebec. On average four times as much money has gone into the Prime Minister's region as into any other in Quebec, including much larger regions based on population.

What influence has the Prime Minister exerted to obtain such skewed results?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am happy to explain again that the management of this fund is done by the provincial government. I am very happy to learn today that Mr. Bouchard was very keen to make sure I was re-elected.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, there are so many things that do not add up in the way money goes into the Prime Minister's riding.

For example, he says that he did not own the golf course because he had sold it before the election. On January 27 he phoned the ethics counsellor to say that the sale had fallen through and asked what he should do. The ethics counsellor said that he still owned the shares. He cannot have it both ways. Money keeps going in and the answers do not add up.

Will the Prime Minister give us some straight answers about why all of this money goes into his riding with his fingerprints all over it?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this was dealt with extensively by the ethics counsellor. I sold my shares and eventually I got paid many years later.

*  *  *

[Translation]

SOFTWOOD LUMBER

Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in endorsing the appointment of the new U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Robert Zoellick, U.S. senators have asked him to play hard ball with Canada, particularly in the softwood lumber issue.

Will the Minister for International Trade contact his American counterpart to find out if he shares the senators' view?

Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I intend to phone Bob Zoellick—with whom I had dinner on Monday evening, along with the Prime Minister—this afternoon.

 

. 1440 + -

We congratulated Mr. Zoellick for getting the unanimous support of all 98 senators yesterday. This is quite an achievement. I will certainly have the opportunity to discuss this matter, but Mr. Zoellick has already expressed his opinion during the senate hearings last week.

I must say that I was very pleased to see that the new U.S. commerce secretary is determined to have with Canada a constructive dialogue, which will lead to trade. The U.S. economy has a need for Canadian softwood lumber.

Mr. Pierre Paquette (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the rigid position of the U.S. senate, which we have all read and heard about, is in stark contrast with the minister's optimism, and also with the Prime Minister's optimism following his meeting with President Bush.

How does the Prime Minister explain these warnings on the part of U.S. senators?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the minister just said it. We had a meeting. We explained to the U.S. president, the vice-president and the ambassador responsible for this issue in the United States that we have a free trade agreement with their country.

If we have a free trade agreement, it only makes sense that it would apply not only to energy, natural gas and oil, but also to lumber.

We made it clear to them that, in Canada, we are complying with the rules and that our lumber should be allowed to enter the United States without any restrictions.

*  *  *

[English]

ETHICS COUNSELLOR

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Justice Ted Hughes, the B.C. conflict of interest commissioner, has established this rule for the ministers of B.C.:

    A minister must not make personal representations on behalf of a constituent to—a commission, board, agency, or other tribunal established by the government.

The Prime Minister obviously violated this principle in lobbying the president of the Business Development Bank on behalf of Yvon Duhaime. Why do the Prime Minister and the federal cabinet ministers practise a lower standard of ethical conduct than the ministers in B.C.?

Hon. Brian Tobin (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor has written recently to the Leader of the Opposition and has responded to the most recent correspondence from the Leader of the Opposition. He has made crystal clear that all these matters, all the allegations being raised today, have been addressed. There were no private benefit by the Prime Minister whatsoever and no conflict of interest.

If the member wants to talk about private benefits from public funds to leaders in the House, we could talk to the leader of the Alliance Party.

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, let us take a look at another province. Ontario's integrity commissioner has ruled that:

    Parliamentary convention prohibits all ministers from personally appearing or advocating on behalf of a private party with any agency, board, or commission of the government.

The federal ethics counsellor has stated that the Prime Minister did not break any rule or parliamentary convention in lobbying the federal agency. Why has the Prime Minister set up the ethics counsellor at the federal level with lower ethics than the ethics counsellor in the province of Ontario?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we appointed the ethics counsellor. We never had one before this government came in.

Before we named this person, we consulted with the opposition. Both the leader of the opposition of the day, Mr. Bouchard, and the leader of the opposition of the other party were consulted.

Both parties made statements in the House of Commons approving the appointment. They told everyone that Mr. Wilson was a man of great integrity.

*  *  *

HEALTH

Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. While we are waiting to receive results from labs in Winnipeg to determine if in fact a critically ill woman at Henderson General Hospital in Hamilton is infected with the ebola virus, the concerns of Canadians, in particular Hamiltonians, are rising.

What steps has the Minister of Health taken to protect the people of Hamilton and Canadians everywhere from such deadly infectious diseases?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I understand the hospital in Hamilton will be holding a news conference at 3 o'clock with the appropriate Health Canada, regional and provincial health authorities to discuss this case.

I take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the officials from the local and regional authorities for their collaboration on this difficult case.

 

. 1445 + -

In the world we now live travel is so frequent and so fast that we will be facing these challenges into the future. This case was a good example of the importance of having a national strategy in place. Authorities worked together in an effective partnership to make sure that the risk was contained.

*  *  *

POVERTY

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, following on the heels of the Vanier Institute report, how much more evidence does the government need to understand what Canadians already know, that a decade of failed Liberal policies has resulted in Canadians working harder and longer with deepening poverty for millions?

How could the Prime Minister feel content, sitting on a massive surplus while millions of Canadian families lag behind and are living in poverty? How could he tolerate that?

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as does the hon. member, we welcome the work of the Vanier Institute. Indeed we recognize that some work has been done toward the effort to reduce poverty in Canada.

The last thing we want is a society of haves and have nots. That is why it continues to be important for us to invest in the national child benefit. That is why it continues to be important for us to recognize in the employment insurance regime that low income families should receive an 80% benefit, not just the 55% benefit. That is why it is important for us to focus on our youngest citizens, our children.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. It is this government that has created a society of haves and have nots. If that is all the government can come up with then clearly it is socially bankrupt.

What is of even deeper concern is that in the throne speech we now hear reference to a national project on poverty, which is nothing more than a new guise for a workfare program to drive low income parents into low wage employment.

Is that her government's vision of the new economy? Is that what parents can look forward to?

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear that on this side of the House we are pleased to be working with provinces right across the country, including New Democratic governments in the hon. member's province of British Columbia and those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba that believe, as we do, that investing together in the national child benefit, increasing the number of services available to low income families in support of their children and investing $2.2 billion in the lives of our youngest citizens are precisely the things we need to do in a modern Canada to reduce poverty.

*  *  *

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This morning a Conservative caucus of MPs and senators had a unique joint meeting with Israeli and Palestinian diplomats. Several proposals were made by the Palestinians and the Israelis on how Canada could play a key role in facilitating a joint lasting peace.

One of the suggestions was for Canada to host a further joint meeting between parliamentarians from Israel, Palestine and Canada. Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs work with all of us to establish the process requested by the Palestinians and the Israelis?

Hon. John Manley (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, of course Canada is anxious to be a positive force in encouraging the continuation of the Middle East peace process. I would certainly be prepared to look at any proposals that either side has for us and to consider them.

The Prime Minister spoke this afternoon with Mr. Sharon to assure him of our continuing interest in the peace process in that troubled region.

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, both the Israelis and Palestinians acknowledge that Canada has a unique place, has tremendous respect in that region and can play a role. However, both Palestinians and Israelis have also projected that commercial trade could triple between Canada and their region.

Will the Minister for International Trade begin the process of expanding trade talks with this region as they both requested?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of talking with the new prime minister of Israel. I wished him good luck in the very difficult task of being the prime minister of Israel. I said that Canada wished that the peace process would continue. We have offered to do whatever we could to help in these very difficult circumstances.

The member talked about trade. We are trading with Israel and we are trading with all the nations of this area. They are all happy with the relationship they have with Canada.

*  *  *

 

. 1450 + -

INTERNATIONAL LOANS

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada recently announced that it would fight Brazil's subsidies to its aerospace sector by using Canada's good credit rating to provide low interest loans to Bombardier's customers.

However, even that low interest loan did not compare to the one Canada provided to Brazil in 1999: $500 million at an interest rate of 4.3%. How does the Minister of Industry know that the low interest loan to Brazil did not go directly to subsidize its aerospace industry, which is in fierce competition with Bombardier?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, at a time of financial contagion following the Russian default it was very important that the nations of the world pulled together to make sure the Latin American crisis and the Asian crisis did not continue.

As a result, all of the G7 nations participated in the particular loan, Canada among them, and I am very proud that we did.

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, that was the same time in those four or five years that there was a fierce fight over aerospace subsidies going on between Brazil and Canada.

I think it is an awful strange signal that the Liberal government is sending to Brazil. It talks tough about Brazil's subsidized financing of its aerospace industry, but it turns around and gives sweetheart loans to the same government. What kind of priorities does the government have? How will it deal with Brazil in the next dispute that comes up?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member obviously ought to understand that Canada as a G7 country has responsibilities internationally and that we have exercised them responsibly, as indeed have other countries.

The hon. member also perhaps ought to know that the loan was not exercised by Brazil.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

The Speaker: Order, please. We were making good progress in question period. Hon. members know that however much enthusiasm questions and answers generate, we need to have some order so that we can hear the next question.

*  *  *

[Translation]

FOOD INSPECTION

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la-Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, according to the auditor general's report, the inspection of meat destined for Canadian consumers is less rigorous than that done for meat sold to Americans.

Does the minister, who said yesterday that consumers had nothing to fear because the system in place was naturally the best in the world, intend to correct this situation?

[English]

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, all the food in Canada is inspected according to the Food and Drugs Act and regulations of Canada.

We sell meat products to some 40 to 50 countries outside Canada. Some of them ask us to do the inspection in a certain way that satisfies their method of doing it.

We have a method in Canada that gets to exactly the same result at the other end. The equivalency is there and no meat is sold to anyone unless it meets those high standards.

[Translation]

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la-Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, are Canadians not right to be worried when the auditor general himself raises serious questions about the quality of the inspection of meat sold in Canada?

[English]

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, everyone in the food system is concerned about the safety of our food.

We have one of the best food safety systems in the world that has equivalency with those in the rest of the world. It is better than some in other parts of the world. I can assure consumers, whether they are in Canada, in the United States or in any of the other dozens and dozens of countries to which we sell food, that our system inspects it to ensure it is safe.

*  *  *

HEALTH

The Speaker: The hon. member for Calgary Southwest.

[Editor's Note: Members rose and applauded]

Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, that makes it difficult to ask a nasty question.

 

. 1455 + -

It has been eight years since a royal commission recommended that the government develop a framework for the regulation of reproductive and genetic technology.

As we all know, these technologies have an enormous impact on human health, both for good and for bad, and yet Canada lacks a regulatory framework or lags behind a number of other countries in providing that regulatory framework.

My question is for the Minister of Health. Does the Minister of Health intend to bring forward a bill to provide that regulatory framework and if so, when?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member can tell from the response that we missed him in more ways than one, I might say.

Apart from welcoming the hon. member back to the House, let me say that he has raised a matter which has to be dealt with by legislation. Right now in government caucus we are discussing and deciding how it is best dealt with.

One of the approaches we have in mind is the possibility of preparing draft legislation which sets out the way forward and then putting it before the health committee where all parties can sit, have hearings, look into the matter and have some public discussion. I will let the hon. member know as soon as possible what—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Calgary Southwest.

Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we await the draft legislation with interest, but as the minister knows our constitution assigns primary responsibility for health to the provinces.

In order for any regulatory framework dealing with a subject as important as this one to have the right kind of foundation, it is important that there not only be consultation with the provinces but that there be support for the framework. Has the minister obtained the support of the provinces for the regulatory framework he proposes in that legislation?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, not entirely. It is important that we do that. We are looking at various mechanisms, including potentially some equivalency clauses. That too may be something for the committee to look at.

I think, after we as a caucus decide on the best approach in our view, we will consult with the House leaders of other parties to see how the committee could be engaged on issues such as this one.

This is not a partisan matter. All parties want to get this right. We will find the best approach and we will communicate with the parties opposite at the appropriate time.

*  *  *

[Translation]

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Gérard Binet (Frontenac—Mégantic, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government announced in the throne speech that it would double investment in research and development by 2010.

Can the secretary of state tell us what impact this investment will have in Canada?

Hon. Gilbert Normand (Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in recent years, our government has invested more than $3 billion in new money in research and development.

We have created the Canada Foundation for Innovation, health research institutes, Genome Canada, and over 2,000 university chairs, and we are going to double this amount by 2010 in order to improve the quality of life and standard of living of Canadians.

The federal government cannot do this alone and that is why we are asking the private sector and provincial governments to do likewise. We are also prepared to adjust our science policy in order to allow the new investments that could bring about—

The Speaker: The member for Portage—Lisgar.

*  *  *

[English]

THE ECONOMY

Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage—Lisgar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, members of all opposition parties in the House agree that the current system of equalization payments is unfair and counterproductive to provinces that are struggling to develop their economies.

Many of the industry minister's Atlantic caucus colleagues have spoken out in favour of revisiting the equalization formula, as has he. However the finance minister and the intergovernmental affairs minister oppose any changes to the current system. They are clearly divided on the issue. Will the Prime Minister please tell us what his government's position is on the issue?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the fact is that equalization is an essential foundation of the Canadian economy. It is the one of a very few programs that was not cut when the country had its back to the wall. At the present time it is at an all time high.

I am delighted to hear that members of the opposition support the equalization program, but I must say that is a complete reversal of position. They spoke out against equalization in the previous parliament and said that it should be cut.

 

. 1500 + -

Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage—Lisgar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, besides the basic inaccuracy of the response, its insipidness is just what we would expect from a government that pays no attention and has no plan to face up to the regional diversities that exist and to deal with them.

The industry minister knows from his experience as the premier of Newfoundland the problems that exist in the system. So do members of that backbench. So do members of this party and those parties. When will the government face up to the challenges of dealing with this issue? When will the industry minister stand and keep—

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Finance.

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, before the hon. member opposite stands in the House and makes accusations, what he ought to do is take a look at what the members of his party said when he was not here.

They opposed equalization. They opposed regional development. They opposed every measure that the government brought forward to help the people of Atlantic Canada, and he is not going to turn that around.

*  *  *

[Translation]

ASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS OF PYRITE DAMAGE

Ms. Pierrette Venne (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, the Liberal Party committed to financial participation in the program to help the victims of pyrite damage introduced by the Government of Quebec in July 2000.

Pyrite is a mineral found in the broken stone used as fill under buildings; it swells and has caused considerable damage to a number of buildings.

My question is for the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. Can he tell us today whether he plans to meet that commitment, and if so, when?

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the answer is simple. It is yes, and soon.

*  *  *

[English]

NATIONAL DEFENCE

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, recent media reports state that the Canadian forces are facing a recruiting crisis.

Could the new Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence tell the House how DND plans to ensure that the Canadian forces continue to recruit and retain the qualified and skilled personnel needed to do the job?

Mr. John O'Reilly (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for a very important question.

There is no question that the military is facing a significant recruiting challenge. The Canadian forces are focusing on recruiting and retaining the qualified and skilled personnel needed for the job both now and in the future.

Efforts are already underway. They are streamlining the way we process results. They are building an advertising campaign so young Canadians know the Canadian military is an employer of choice that offers exciting careers. There is no life like it.

*  *  *

PRESENCE IN GALLERY

The Speaker: Order, please. I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable John Hamm, Premier of Nova Scotia.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

The Speaker: I also draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Edward Picco, Minister of Health and Social Services of the Government of Nunavut.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

*  *  *

POINTS OF ORDER

ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a correction to something I said during question period on Monday.

When answering a question about whether documents had been transmitted to the Russian authorities in the tragic case involving the Russian diplomat sent back to his home country, I said at that time that these documents had been transmitted.

I learned this morning that I was mistaken in this regard and I wish to apologize for any misunderstanding created, but I do understand that these documents will be in the hands of the Russians in the next few days.



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

 

. 1505 + -

[English]

FINANCIAL CONSUMER AGENCY OF CANADA ACT

 

Hon. Jim Peterson (for Minister of Finance) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-8, an act to establish the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and to amend certain acts in relation to financial institutions.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL FISCAL ARRANGEMENTS ACT

 

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Canadian Alliance) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-241, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act (work for welfare).

He said: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this enactment is to require every province to have in effect a work for welfare program established by law for every fiscal year commencing on or after April 1, 2002 in order to qualify for the full Canada health and social transfer payment for that fiscal year.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

CRIMINAL CODE

 

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-242, an act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal liability of corporations, directors and officers).

She said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce this bill, seconded by my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst, to amend the criminal code, establishing criminal liability of corporations and of their executives and officers with respect to health and safety practices, of which they were aware or should have been aware, that put their workers at risk.

Workplace deaths and injuries in Canada are at epidemic proportions. Following the horrifying deaths in Nova Scotia in a mine disaster at Westray, which resulted in the preventable deaths of 26 workers, there was a public commission that recommended such changes to the criminal code.

 

. 1510 + -

In the spring the justice committee unanimously recommended that the government bring forward such changes to the criminal code. It is very much hoped that this continuing pressure on the government will result in long overdue action. The immediate demand on the government to come forward with such a bill dissolved with the dissolution of parliament but the problem has not gone away.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

HEPATITIS AWARENESS MONTH ACT

 

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-243, an act to provide for a Hepatitis Awareness Month.

He said: Mr. Speaker, it brings me great pleasure to reintroduce this bill. It is a simple enactment that would make the month of May hepatitis awareness month.

Over 700,000 Canadians are afflicted by hepatitis of some strain. It is imperative for parliament to designate a month in order to get education out at the forefront of this terrible disease and its various strains.

At this time I want to thank two promoters of the bill, Mr. Joey Haché of Ottawa and Mr. Bruce DeVenne of Nova Scotia.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

INCOME TAX ACT

 

Mr. Leon Benoit (Lakeland, Canadian Alliance) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-244, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of mechanics' tool expenses).

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill again, a bill that I introduced about four years ago. It has been debated in the House and has been brought forth by other members since then.

The bill would allow mechanics to deduct the cost of their tools, the insurance costs on their tools, the rental costs and so on. It would also allow them to claim a capital cost allowance on the cost of tools above $200 when a requirement of their employment is that they pay for their own tools. This is something that is supported by all parties to some degree and is certainly supported by all mechanics.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

CRIMINAL CODE

 

Mr. Leon Benoit (Lakeland, Canadian Alliance) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-245, an act to amend the Criminal Code (search and seizure without warrant).

He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill would rescind part of Bill C-68, a bill that was introduced by the government some time ago.

What the bill would specifically do is remove the unusual search and seizure provisions put forth in Bill C-68 and bring them more into line with other search and seizure provisions, which is certainly something Canadians have asked for.

In the case of unreasonable damage being done during a search process, the bill would ensure that the individual involved would be compensated. It would fix part of what was put in place through Bill C-68, the gun bill, which was unfair.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

CRIMINAL CODE

 

Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, Canadian Alliance) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-246, an act to amend the Criminal Code to prohibit coercion in medical procedures that offend a person's religion or belief that human life is inviolable.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce today a bill to amend the criminal code to prohibit coercion in medical procedures that offend a person's religion or belief that human life is inviolable.

The purpose of the bill is to ensure that health care providers working in medical facilities of various kinds will never be forced to participate against their will in procedures such as abortions or acts of euthanasia.

The bill would not ban abortion or euthanasia but would make it illegal to force another person to participate in an abortion procedure or an act of euthanasia. Incredibly, there are medical personnel in Canada who have been fired because the law is not explicit enough in spelling out their rights of conscience. The bill would make those rights explicit.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

 

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CRIMINAL CODE

 

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, Canadian Alliance) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-247, an act to amend the Criminal Code (forfeiture of property relating to child pornography crimes).

He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to reintroduce this bill for the third time. When I introduced it last time I had support from all opposition parties and some support from the government. Hopefully this time the government can be convinced because Canadians across the country, the Canadian Police Association and others have come out in support of it.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code by allowing a court that convicts a person of a child pornography offence to order the forfeiture of anything in relation to which the offence was committed or the possession of which constituted the offence.

We believe it was an oversight in the Criminal Code and section 163.2 needs to be inserted after 163.1, which would allow courts upon conviction to take away the equipment that these people use to produce and distribute child pornography.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

COMPETITION ACT

 

Mr. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-248, an act to amend the Competition Act.

He said: Mr. Speaker, it must be as a result of the lack of energy in the country that I introduce a bill which was introduced in the last parliament.

As we know, section 96 of the Competition Act creates a veritable loophole for those proposing to take over other competitive interests and as a result create virtual monopolies which have an anti-competitive harm attached to them.

It clarifies the powers of the tribunal and ensures that mergers which ultimately create monopolies as an outcome are unacceptable, particularly if they have harmful effects for consumers.

It is for this reason and in the timely context of the cost of energy being what it is today that the bill is proposed to correct that loophole.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

 

Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-249, an act to amend the Access to Information Act (Crown corporations and the Canadian Wheat Board).

He said: Mr. Speaker, I too have tabled this bill in a previous parliament. The Progressive Conservative Party as well as other members on both sides of the House have always favoured openness and transparency in government. This bill would take the exclusion of crown corporations and the Canadian Wheat Board out of the Access to Information Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

*  *  *

[Translation]

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

Mr. Derek Lee (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib: Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

The Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

*  *  *

[English]

MOTIONS FOR PAPERS

Mr. Derek Lee (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

The Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

 

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[English]

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY

The House resumed from February 6 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session.

Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage—Lisgar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Surrey Central.

I begin by congratulating you, Mr. Speaker. I know you and I are just beginning our new roles and I am sure that we will both go through a wonderful learning curve very quickly.

I also offer my thanks to the constituents of my beautiful constituency of Portage—Lisgar. They have bestowed the great honour on me, an honour that all of us who are members of this parliament share, of having the opportunity to speak on behalf of those who we love dearly, who we care very much about and who we share so much with. I look forward to fulfilling, in any and every way I can, my role and obligations to those people who reside in my constituency, my province and my country.

I also thank my wife Esther and our daughters Quinn and Shawn. They have been a tremendous support and encouragement to me. Ultimately the sacrifices made by members of this Chamber are not sacrifices we alone make. There are sacrifices that are made by our families as well and I especially want to thank them for that.

I also thank our leader for giving me the opportunity to join a political movement where I am made feel welcome and where the openness to new ideas and new approaches on many issues is very real. The willingness to reach out and include other Canadians, not just in terms of theatrics or partisanship but in terms of real debate on real issues right from the grassroots level up, is a real and genuine thing.

Over the last several years I have tried to do my best to reach out to and get people across this country who share the goals of small c Conservatives to join together and fight for those goals effectively beside one another. The people of our country who share those goals to be divided plays only one role. It is a role of effectively perpetuating a government of people who do not share those values, the government that is presided over by the Prime Minister.

My constituency is Canada in microcosm and it is Canada in microcosm in many good ways. Portage—Lisgar has attracted people from around the world to settle there. It is an old constituency. It was a fur trading area originally. In fact, my home community of Portage la Prairie was one of the first settlements of Pierre La Vérendrye who was one of the first explorers of western Canada. He saw the shining mountains that some of my colleagues and other members of the House are so familiar with. It was that original sense of exploration, of reaching out, of going into new territory and into new lands that drove those people and that drives the people of my constituency to this very day.

If I can define the mindset of my constituents in an accurate and general way, I would say they are desperately fair-minded. They are people who are brutally honest and frank with one another. More than any people I have ever met, they are tolerant and understanding of the differences which exist within that riding and within Canada.

In Portage—Lisgar we have people who very much pride themselves on the diversity that exists within the riding and within the country. They see it as a source of great strength and as a brighter future for all of us. We are by every definition an inclusive people. I feel very comfortable and feel very supported by this inclusive political organization of which I am now a part.

The issue of regional equity is something that is not addressed in the throne speech to any satisfaction, in any way, shape or form. It is that inclusiveness that I, the people of Portage—Lisgar and the people on this side of the House value. That is missing from the throne speech. The lack of responsibility of the government opposite is so evident. There is a lack of a plan and a lack of any method or means to address the important issues of including everyone in this country.

There is a centrifugal reality of the way in which the government has governed. This centrifugal effect has pulled the people who do not reside in the centre of the country away from the centre of the country. The policies enacted by the government have exacerbated those circumstances. It has shown a disregard and a disrespect for the people outside that central area.

 

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An example would be in my riding. Agriculture is such a key industry to us. The government has no food plan for the nation. It has shown no respect for the trials and tribulations of long time family farmers, not just in Portage—Lisgar but across the country. That disrespect is resulting in a playing field being perpetuated that is not level. Foreign nations are subsidizing their farmers and their agricultural producers and we are, by default, adopting a policy of rural depopulation in this country. We are letting the nations of Europe and the United States establish policies which we cannot respond to. That is what the government is doing.

By our failure to respond, we are saying to family farmers across the country that it is time for them to move to the cities. It is time for them to leave. That simply is not right. The damaging effect that has on rural societies across Canada is very obvious to all of us on this side of the House. Basically, the only effort the government made in the throne speech to address the problems of agriculture was a comment made about connecting farmyards to the Internet. That should be increasingly easy as the number of farmyards across Canada dwindle.

The problem is that when the government addresses the need for adaptation it looks elsewhere. When it looks for adaptation within it does not find it. The reality is that the most adaptable and diversified people, in terms of the challenges they have faced and the reality of their lives, are the farm families and farm producers of the nation who have been forced by necessity to made tremendous adaptations. One of the principle adaptations they have had to make is to say goodbye to their children.

We would like to see these issues addressed in a real way. That is what we are committed to doing.

Today we raised the issue of equalization. The equalization formula seems to have a perverse incentive. It seems to provide a disincentive for certain provinces to increase their industrial job component and to develop the resources that are within themselves because of the problems of the formula which benefit the federal government but punish the provinces. We need to see those formulas revisited.

Other regions such as Atlantic Canada and the west have many shared goals and concerns. They also have concerns that are specific to their regions. Nonetheless, if we do not see a need to address the problem, as it is clear the government does not, it will not be addressed. There is no plan in this throne speech to address these problems.

Another longstanding issue to many of us is the issue of parliamentary reform. Parliamentary reform would give a greater sense of involvement and representation, not just to the people here but far more importantly to the people we represent. It is those people who we hear from on a regular basis. They are telling us that they would like to see us have a more meaningful role.

What better evidence of the truth of the disdain which Canadians increasingly feel for this institution than the absence of these same Canadians from the polling booths. From their absence they have said to us that it does not really matter. I am told that fewer Canadians turned out to vote in the last federal election than had for over a century. More Canadians came out to vote when they were two horse families than when they were two car families. That is a shame.

Parliamentary reform and other reforms such as electoral and Senate reform, and other aspects of measuring and addressing in a real way the need to include Canadians, to make their representatives more effective and with a magnified voice of effectiveness in the House, have not been addressed by the government in perpetuity.

The government has taken an approach to many issues which basically is threefold. First, ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Second, belittle and blame those who advance and articulate the problem. Third, if that does not work, throw money at it and maybe the people who articulated the problem can be coerced into supporting it.

That is a disrespectful approach. It is that disrespect most of all that is reflected in the comments of the intergovernmental affairs minister, the immigration and citizenship minister of all people, and also in the Prime Minister himself. Disparaging remarks about one region or another should not come from any of us. They certainly should be apologized for by the members who made those disparaging comments.

I close by quoting Donald Savoie in his book Governing from the Centre who said:

    While I argue that the centre and, in particular, the hand of the prime minister, has been considerably strengthened in recent years, this is not to suggest that the federal government is better able to define new strategic direction or a coherent plan to which all government departments can contribute. It is ironic perhaps that as the hand of the centre has been strengthened, its ability to manage horizontal issues has been weakened.

 

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I will close by saying that we need to reinforce the fact that the members of the House are not puppets of the Prime Minister. They are the tools for the people of our constituencies. The reality is that we have a plan to address those issues and we will do so. I look forward to doing this to the best of my ability with the support and help of all of my colleagues in the House.

Mr. Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the speech by the member, which I think is his first one in the House.

The member, who I believe is from Manitoba, talked about there being an exclusion in central Ontario. I suppose I am part of that process because I am from Ontario. He went on to talk about the agricultural community and how we have no understanding of it.

The province of Ontario produces more agricultural products than all the western provinces combined. The reality is that it rains on both sides of the field. We have agricultural problems in my riding. I used to farm at one time. Is the member telling me that there are no programs, that there is nothing the government has done to recognize the plight of farmers?

Our caucus has been very active in creating new moneys for farmers. We continue to make the argument that it may not be enough, but Manitoba and Saskatchewan in particular have received additional funding in the last three or four years. In fact, it was his former government that came here asking for money and we were receptive and listened to that.

We have tons of farm programs. I can think of programs like NISA, the Ontario market revenue program, CFIP and AIDA. Yes, we are very concerned about the issue of family farms. I talk to my farm group almost on a daily basis about their problems. Some of the things that the member is talking about is because of the people that he is hanging around with. They actually believe in western alienation. The reality is, it is all psychological. It is because of how long it takes them to get here that somehow they are discriminated against. It is nonsense.

There are more people in the province of Ontario who feel discriminated against because of agricultural policy than in all the west. We have a problem here in agriculture.

The member goes on to say that we need to help farmers. The same party gets up day in day out and says no to subsidies. Its platform document in the last election specified no subsidies to farms. Those members do not believe in subsidies but that is exactly what they are asking for today. They cannot have it both ways. What is it going to be?

Mr. Brian Pallister: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his comments, erroneous and misguided as they may be. He makes the statement that he used to farm. I guess that implies empathy for agriculture generally. He makes the statement that Ontario produces more commodities than other regions. Therefore he is dismissive of the plight of grain farmers in certain jurisdictions.

This dismissive and arrogant attitude that is so evident in his comments shows an unwillingness to address the very vital issues that face real people regardless of region.

The member made reference to western alienation. I referred to alienation by region. In the households of people, regardless of region, there is a sense of alienation from the government.

The larger issue is the very powerlessness, which that member no doubt feels—although he will not admit it today in the House—as he sits in the backbench and knows that he has no input into the government's policy direction. More power and decision making has been centralized into the Prime Minister's office and into the Prime Minister's hands than in the history of any prime minister.

The Prime Minister has made announcements without consulting members of his own cabinet. The member opposite knows the sad truth of that fact. The member behind him, from Prince Edward Island, a former director and president of the national farmers union, knows how truly powerless he is in the equation.

When the most powerless agriculture minister in our history, a minister who presides over a department that is so important to our country, comes out to Manitoba during a disastrous circumstance, meets with a group of farmers and then tells them in their hour of need that the best thing that ever happened to him was when he quit farming, and then I listen to a comment by another member telling me about his former farming practice, I wonder at the ability and willingness of those members to genuinely empathize with people who are trying to continue to farm and make a living.

 

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These are the people who do not wish to give up and become members of parliament. There are only so many places over there for people to sit and pretend they care about farmers.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to respond to the Speech from the Throne. I thank the constituents of Surrey Central for re-electing me as their MP with triple the margin of the last election. I shall try my best to represent them and address their concerns.

I congratulate you on your election as Speaker of the House. I am sure you will receive the co-operation of the House all the time.

In my reply to the Speech from the Throne, I will address some of the issues brought forward by my colleague from Portage—Lisgar. The throne speech is supposed to be the illustration of vision by the government.

Traditionally members of parliament are invited to the Senate chamber where the speech is read. Members of parliament are not allowed to sit down to listen to the speech. Rather, they stand outside the Senate chamber, crammed in the hallway and scramble to listen to the speech.

Many of those who are seated inside have no business or role to play in implementing the contents of the speech. Frankly it would be more appropriate for members of parliament to sit in front of a TV set rather than march off to the other chamber.

Let me read a quote from my colleague, the former leader of the Reform Party, who said:

    The TV cameras panning the audience focus not on the innovative entrepreneurs or scientists of the new economy, but the TV cameras focus on political fossils, former senators, staunch resistors of change and defenders of the status quo.

What a great quote. What a great observation of the dinosaur government that fights change.

There are important omissions and inconsistencies in the empty throne speech. I will list some of them very quickly. The first is the concrete plan that reduces taxes and pay debt. There is a renewed need for the tabling of a budget as soon as possible, particularly in light of a substantive tax reduction in the U.S. and a sluggish economy, which is quite likely on the verge of affecting Canada.

In the last election we saw the lowest voter turnout. It signalled a warning to the Liberals. Despite this, there is no meaningful commitment to parliamentary reform. Western Canadians feel alienated like every other region in Canada. Since their concerns are not being addressed, the Liberals are fanning the fire of alienation instead of using the firehose to put out the flames by addressing the needs of Canada's regions.

The arrogance of the Prime Minister and the Liberals was evident even during the election when the Prime Minister made his infamous comments about his preference for dealing with eastern Canadians rather than with western Canadians.

Since 1993 the Liberals have failed to address these concerns despite the new west being the fastest growing region in Canada with a lot of potential. Here is a quick list of points worth listening to.

The Liberals have been hurting the B.C. salmon fishery, mining industry, softwood lumber industry and tourism industry. For years the Liberals have failed to negotiate a Pacific salmon treaty with the United States. They are killing jobs in British Columbia. They closed CFB Chilliwack and left British Columbia without emergency preparedness.

 

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The Liberals believe British Columbia is under-represented both in the Senate and in the House. They will not let B.C. elect senators. They do not give B.C. a fair share of government contracts and other resources.

Another issue deals with transit levies. The federal government raked in $700 million in fuel taxes from B.C. and returned only $35 million in the repair and maintenance of roads and highways. British Columbia is the only province in Canada that does not have four lane freeways.

It was the Liberals who cut transfer payments which affected British Columbia's education and health services. While the Liberals continue to ignore British Columbians, there are many reasons why British Columbians ignore the Liberals. They turned off Pacific lighthouses. They ripped the heart out of the Pacific coast guard and so on. The list is long enough and it goes on.

It was pathetic watching the Liberal finance minister being given a tour by helicopter of my constituency of Surrey Central during the last federal election. His handlers could not dare to have him listen to the concerns of the residents. It was a vain attempt to give him a tour of the city by air. Perhaps he saw more geese than people.

The finance minister was actually quoted in our local media as admitting how naive he was to the needs of Surrey. Following the helicopter ride he admitted that he was totally unaware of the transportation problem in Surrey. During six years in office the Liberals have not listened to the needs of Surrey, but at election time a cabinet minister appeared from the sky, out of the blue.

We all know that the Prime Minister spent more time in Florida than in the west. Mostly he comes to B.C. to rake in money from fundraisers, as if westerners are not already paying enough into the federal coffers.

On another important issue, the offices of members of parliament are overloaded with immigration case loads. That work should be done by the immigration department, but the Liberals keep our immigration system clogged with backlogs.

Why is the federal immigration department not able to work efficiently and effectively? That remains a big question. The people caught in the system are suffering and are victims of the government's mismanagement. Even refugee cases are taking too long to resolve.

Visitor visas present a different kind of problem. Politicians should not be allowed to interfere with the process, but the Liberals allowed their candidates during the election campaign to interfere in obtaining visitor visas for those who had been refused, even after repeated interventions by their members of parliament. The system should be so effective that genuine visitors should get visitor visas without political interference and without hassles.

I have already had corruption investigations initiated in our embassies abroad, and they produced successful results.

On another note, there is nothing in the throne speech concerning the federal taxes on fuel and our transportation problem. In B.C. the federal government takes over 10 cents per litre in excise tax. It charges GST on top of the excise tax and then puts GST on top of the PST. There are taxes on taxes.

Only $35 million of the $700 million from the gas taxes being taken from B.C. is reinvested in transportation and infrastructure in B.C. That is only 5%. These kinds of injustices are at the root of regional concerns throughout Canada.

I should like to comment on the Liberal government's lack of concern for British Columbia's emergency preparedness. There is nothing about this in the Speech from the Throne, even though we have recently seen terrible earthquakes in India, El Salvador, Turkey and Taiwan.

We know that scientists predict that British Columbia's lower mainland will have an earthquake. The government refuses to dispatch the Vancouver search and rescue team to areas around the world that have been struck by earthquakes. We should not be waiting to be asked. We should be immediately sending our rescue team that is always ready at a moment's notice so that it can get experience that is needed at home.

 

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The biggest threat Canada faces is from organized crime. As usual, there is nothing except a promise in the throne speech. The same is true regarding the RCMP. There is nothing which gives the RCMP contingent in Surrey, for example, which is the largest in Canada, the tools, resources, legislation and personnel for it to do its job.

I commend the Liberals for having listened to my cry to do something about recognizing foreign academic credentials. However the Speech from the Throne has not mentioned anything about standardizing the national academic standard.

The Liberal government is increasingly out of touch with Canadians regarding regional differences, particularly those of B.C. and western Canada. However the Canadian Alliance, the government in waiting, is here to continuously remind the government about these injustices just as I have done. The ball is in its court.

Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Surrey Central for his excellent speech outlining the grievances of the province of British Columbia.

Could the member comment on a newspaper item I saw just after the federal election campaign? The article quoted a senior minister from Victoria, British Columbia, who said that the results of the November 27 election were not a repudiation of the Liberal government in B.C. and that the Liberals between elections actually eclipsed the Canadian Alliance and Reform Party but that the Alliance seemed to pass the Liberal Party at campaign time. I found this astonishingly arrogant. It speaks exactly to the concerns raised in the member's speech.

Could the member comment on how this might impact on the capacity of the government to appropriately represent our province in the House and to address our grievances, when the senior minister from B.C. on the government bench has this mindset vis-à-vis our province?

Mr. Gurmant Grewal: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his excellent question and wish him good luck in the House. This is also an opportunity for me to welcome all of my other colleagues and members from all parties who have joined us with enthusiasm and excitement.

The alienation of different regions in Canada is a very important issue, particularly so because the federal Liberal government since 1993 has failed to apply the glue which would bind all the provinces and regions together to make a stronger Canada. If we put all our excitement together and address fairly the issues and problems of different regions, the federation will work.

The government's arrogant and ignorant attitude and its failure to listen to and address the problems are the root causes of the problems. The Prime Minister goes more to Florida to play golf and do other things than to western Canada or other regions to address issues and listen to people. We only see the Prime Minister in British Columbia when he is attending a fundraiser. That is ridiculous. That is the root cause of the problem that is causing this fire of alienation.

Rather than fan the fire of alienation by not listening to the concerns of the various regions, the government should hold a firehose and put out the flames so it can address the issues. The government should address the issues and keep the glue in place that is binding various regions together.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am impressed with the speeches we are hearing today, both from new members and members who are very well experienced in the House. The member from Surrey Central has been here three and a half years, since the Prime Minister called the election only three and a half years after the previous one.

One thing I would like him to comment on is the working of the House with respect to the representation by members of parliament of the wishes of their constituents.

 

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It has impressed me that whenever the member stands to speak his opening sentence is always that he is proud or honoured to represent the people of Surrey Central. I am sure he has observed the way some members of parliament are not able to do that. Would he comment on the effectiveness of parliament on that topic?

Mr. Gurmant Grewal: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member who is a very hard working member of parliament and represents the beautiful constituency of Elk Island. His dedication is highly appreciated.

It is the moral responsibility of members that when we are sent by our constituents to this great House of honour where we have the honour and privilege of representing them, that first and foremost we understand why we are here.

We are here to represent our constituents, not to represent Ottawa in our constituencies. That is what our constituents expect of us. That is why they sent us to this place. It is always important that we bring forward to the House the issues and concerns that our constituents have so that they can be addressed. Similarly I have brought forward concerns today about the whole region of my riding, to give a bigger picture.

However, certain things definitely need to happen before our issues can be addressed. There should be free votes in the House. The House should work more in a democratic fashion. The committees should work. We highlighted all these things that should work in parliamentary reform.

Since my time does not allow me to elaborate on that I give the blanket, bigger picture that parliamentary reform is the first and foremost important thing that should be happening in the House.

[Translation]

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to inform you that I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the newly elected member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, whom I salute and congratulate once again for his victory, which is a great source of pride.

I am happy to rise today in support of the Speech from the Throne read on January 30. Allow me to begin with a quote to express the essence of the government's vision.

    The Canadian Way recognizes that economic and social success must be pursued together. In co-operation with Canadians, our government will keep on increasing prosperity in our society based upon the capacities of our citizens, communities and companies and on the unique place that Canada holds on the international scale.

I am quoting the Prime Minister of Canada. He was expressing by these words the vision that we want to develop here in Canada to ensure that we not only exist on the North American stage, but also that we radiate around the world.

Our vision is a balanced vision, a respectful, reasonable and responsible vision. On the one hand, there is the issue of economic development, the positioning of our firms not only at the national but also at the international level.

On the other hand, there is the issue of all the members of our society benefiting from the collective wealth we have been developing here in Canada these past few years. That is also a vision that comes within the logical flow of things.

We will recall that, in 1993, when Canadians gave us the mandate to form the government, the situation was rather gloomy. We have since put our fiscal house back in order, launched a program review, and invested in some strategic sectors.

We also paid a great deal of attention to the Canadian social safety net that is the envy of many countries in the world. Today, our vision is a vision of the future, aimed at setting a balance among all these measures.

 

. 1555 + -

First, when we look at the plan as it is put forward, we can see that the government is banking a lot on innovation, which is the spearhead of the Canadian economy and which can help improve the competitiveness of all our businesses.

A large number of initiatives have been put in place. For example, Technology Partnerships Canada, a well-known Industry Canada program, has served all Canadian industries well . All things considered, it helped us not only to strengthen our competitive position but also to create good jobs.

There is also the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which is also supporting the government's desire to invest in innovation. We also have all the regional development agencies in Canada, including the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, which I am responsible for.

Under Industry Canada policy, these agencies operate in all the regions of Quebec, as is the case of the Economic Development Agency of Canada, and they try to support regional development according to the priorities, needs and policies of the regions. They also strive to assist in the acquisition and use of new technologies to help the regions cope with a new factor: innovation.

An important phenomenon is globalization. As a society, we must be able to use the various tools available to us. The first of these tools that comes to mind is the Internet, which eliminates borders between countries and opens up many opportunities socially, and with respect to economic development.

Here again, Canada has made tremendous efforts to become the most connected country in the world by the year 2000. The throne speech expresses the Canadian government's determination to be better connected with all communities in Canada by 2004.

All departments will be increasing their services and presence on the Internet. Certainly, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, which is under my responsibility, is one of the key players in the use of and access to services on the Internet.

Let us think about the pilot project that was launched by the agency last year and asking some Canadian taxpayers to file their income tax returns through the Internet. This year, the pilot project is open to the majority of Canadians.

Also, I would mention “Government of Canada's Connecting Canadians”, which is providing its services on the Internet. One of the sites that is widely used in Canada and even in the rest of the world is without any doubt Industry Canada's Strategis site, which is probably the finest and largest bank of commercial data in Canada, indeed in North America. This site, which gets an incredible number of hits each week, has been very successful. Its primary objective was to provide better service and information to people.

With our objective of being the most connected government by 2004, the philosophy underlying our efforts is to better serve all Canadians.

In the Speech of the Throne, we also find the issue of Canada's positioning in the world. How do we deal and interact with our trading partners, and how can we help our businesses to evolve in the era of globalization?

One of the major aspects of globalization is certainly everything that relates to customs. This is part of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and is being modernized, if I can put it that way.

As members know, last April, I tabled a Canadian customs modernization plan for the next five years, so that customs could continue to properly serve people and fulfil its dual mandate, which is to ensure the safety of our communities and to make economic relationships easier, particularly between Canada and the United States.

 

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As we know, a certain number of initiatives have been put forward.

I will end by talking about research and development. If we want to be able to compete with other countries, we have to be able to innovate and to increase the productivity of our businesses. R and D is essential in today's new economy, to which we are confronted.

By the year 2010, we will no doubt have to double research and development. This is an important commitment taken by the government. One only has to think about the tax credit for research and development. This credit, which is administered by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, may provide the Canadian business community with up to $1.5 billion a year in tax credits. These are all important tools which will help us increase our competitiveness and better position ourselves.

We cannot talk about research, development and innovation without mentioning the National Research Council of Canada, which does an excellent job and plays a major role in helping all Canadian businesses to position themselves.

I will conclude by talking about vibrant communities. We want to continue to support all Canadian communities from coast to coast. As we know, the Canadian government has been omnipresent in that regard. I think, for instance, of Community Futures Development Corporations. There are many in Quebec and they work to assist all communities.

We have launched a Youth Strategy which, according to the figures, has been a real success. Of course, the commitment regarding the broadband access to Internet project will provide considerable support to all regions. We do have a good Speech from the Throne with a great vision.

Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to congratulate the minister and member for Outremont on his victory in what probably was a hard fought battle.

We are aware of the traditions in the riding of Outremont, where the Liberal candidate must be strong and courageous, must be well known and must have good credentials within the party. My congratulations on your re-election. You will be here a long time.

The minister talked about research and development, and the projects, initiatives and claims of the Liberal government with regard to innovation.

I would like to know what he thinks of his government's attitude so far, unless he has new developments to share with us today, regarding the pulp and paper centre, a most important project for the Trois-Rivières area. That centre was created when the UQTR research centre and the CEGEP pulp and paper centre amalgamated into a new world class research centre, as the president of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières described it.

This new centre will ensure that at least 3,000 young people receive adequate training so they can adapt to the technological change the pulp and paper industry must undergo, having to go from newsprint to special types of paper.

The Government of Quebec has already offered a contribution amounting to tens of millions of dollars. However, the federal government, unless the minister has good news to tell us, has refused to grant $16.5 million as a financing package.

In light of the federal government's claims, I would like to know if the minister thinks it is acceptable for the government not to contribute to a project of such importance for Quebec, particularly for the Trois-Rivières area.

Hon. Martin Cauchon: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for referring to my beautiful riding of Outremont, of which I am very proud, in the preamble to his speech.

He seemed however to be saying that the Liberals take the riding of Outremont for granted.

 

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I just want to say that no riding in the province of Quebec and in Canada should be taken for granted. We must do as thorough a job in each and every one of them. The same goes for my beautiful riding of Outremont. We must respect the people, the will of the people and the election process.

What I understand from what the hon. member has said is that he takes his constituents for granted, something, of course, I would never do.

About the pulp and paper centre he was talking about, I have already had representations on this project. It is a nice project. Naturally, an application was submitted to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

I know that applications were also submitted not only to Canada Economic Development but to other departments. They are being reviewed to determine whether something can be done. There is no doubt that this could be an interesting project for our region.

I also note that the Government of Quebec has undertaken to contribute a large amount of money. Of course, I would like to see the letter of undertaking. If there is one, it probably states as usual that the province's contribution is conditional upon the Canadian government investing in the program after doing all the groundwork.

[English]

Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I was interested in comments made by the minister concerning Customs and Revenue Canada and its modernization. Having travelled on both sides of the 49th for my constituency, I am particularly interested because of the deep concern Customs and Revenue Canada has about the modernization of technical and electronic entry, moving back and forth across our border.

I have talked to these people. It is interesting to know that on the American side officials say that this is taking place to save on manpower. Customs officers in Canada tell me they have great fears, simply because many of the ports of entry would be 50 to 60 miles from the nearest RCMP office. Having the largest number of border crossings in Canada, I would like to hear comments on that.

Hon. Martin Cauchon: Mr. Speaker, the question is very interesting. The hon. member refers to the fact that Canada and the U.S. share by far the longest border in the world. I do recognize that. That is why we have within Canada Customs very good human resources. We have officers with very good expertise and experience. Today when one has a look at the situation and the management of customs not just in Canada but all over the world, one realizes that it is a question of risk management.

With the reform package we tabled last year we will be able to have much better risk management. On the one hand, we will be able to use what we call soft technology, such as CANPASS. We have started to establish CANPASS in some ports of entry across Canada. On the other hand, using soft technology will allow us to use human resources when we have higher risk situations. It is a much better system.

[Translation]

Mr. Serge Marcil (Beauharnois—Salaberry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my first words are for the constituents of my riding, Beauharnois—Salaberry. First, I want to thank them for having placed their trust in me during the election campaign, not only by choosing me as their representative, but also as their spokesman.

In making that choice, they have allowed the beautiful riding of Beauharnois—Salaberry to escape its turpitude so that the people of the riding can have access to the wealth that is growing from day to day, from week to week in Canada.

Canada is one of the countries with the highest economic growth. Unfortunately, the problem for the riding is that it did not derive any benefits from this growth, so it has remained at a standstill since 1993.

 

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There is a reason for my coming back to politics. It is because I read a study conducted by the Seigneurie de Beauharnois CLSC, which clearly showed the problems in the riding, compared to the rest of the Montérégie, the riding of Beauharnois—Salaberry riding being the most underprivileged enclave of that area.

I am happy, therefore, to see that social justice is one of the main themes of the Speech from the Throne. This is something that will have specific applications in my riding. Why? Because the study, which was published but was ignored by members at the time, draws a parallel between the unemployment rate in the riding and in the Montérégie.

In this very vibrant region of Quebec, the unemployment rate is approximately 6%. Unfortunately, in the riding of Beauharnois—Salaberry, the unemployment rate is always twice as high, at approximately 12%.

The study also showed that the highest rate of suicide among young people in the Montérégie was in Beauharnois—Salaberry, of course.

In the Montérégie, the highest percentage of single parent families in the Montérégie is also in Beauharnois—Salaberry, as is the highest percentage of seniors living alone.

We realized, and so did the population, that this riding had been left to its own devices since 1993. This is understandable because a vote for a Bloc Quebecois member is almost a wasted vote, since that person can do absolutely nothing for the riding.

I decided to enter politics precisely to take on that challenge. I was asked to get involved and I presented a three-step action plan that will give the people of that riding a chance to catch their breath. They say that creating wealth is nice, but to be able to share it is even nicer.

The Speech from the Throne carries a strong message for us. In my riding, we have a high unemployment rate and a very high dropping out rate compared to the rest of Montérégie and we also rank last for economic growth. There are reasons for that.

The people of my riding already started to do something about the situation. Setting aside all political partisanship, they created a coalition. The leaders of the area got together to form this coalition with the Liberal candidate in the riding. Together, we put forward this plan. All the leaders were backing me. When I speak in the House, I do so on behalf of the leaders and the population of my riding.

Of course, we have a lot of work to do to put companies on solid grounds. We have ailing companies. There is very little funding for the companies in my riding. That does not bode well for the future. We decided to consolidate existing jobs. Meanwhile, we must also be in a position to create a climate that can stimulate investments from outside the area.

There is a road infrastructure problem in Montérégie and it is particularly acute in the riding of Beauharnois—Salaberry. That was one of the themes of the last election campaign because we wanted to complete what we had started in 1985, which is to disentrap our region as well as the greater Montreal area. The road system was therefore one of the major themes of the election campaign.

One of the basic reasons I came back to politics is the tragic situation of youth, something that was highlighted in the report. Earlier, I mentioned the high suicide rate among young people and the dropping out rate, which is also dreadful.

 

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We launched an initiative, which is perfectly consistent with the Speech from the Throne, to establish a foundation to help in the fight against poverty and dropping out among our young people.

All the workers in this region as well as entrepreneurs have shown some interest for this initiative. For some weeks now, young people have been building this organization and learning about the problems of the region. In the coming months, they will be able to develop an action plan.

In addressing these needs, it is very important to provide the people with an effective representative, one who will be able to communicate their concerns to the government. In my work as a member of parliament, I will use that victory, this seat that the people have given me, to address the needs of the region and to work aggressively with my government to get rid of the negative and pessimistic climate that has existed for a few years now. We want people to take charge of their own lives and to develop their region. Both the rural and the urban areas are concerned.

I said earlier that one of the major points that will help us get out of this state is to work in co-operation with the people in this, to put pressure on the federal and Quebec governments to make sure that a plan of action can be developed so that everyone can benefit from the economic growth that Canada is currently enjoying.

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I welcome the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry. I also want to wake him up from his deep sleep and tell him that he is not in the National Assembly but in the House of Commons and that issues such as dropping out and health are provincial jurisdictions.

The hon. member sat in the Quebec National Assembly through two mandates. He should know or remember these things. Considering that he even forgot about his promises to build bridges when he was sitting in the National Assembly, perhaps we should ask him about that now. That will be my main question later on.

The hon. member said there were no economic spinoffs in the riding of Beauharnois—Salaberry because voters voted for the wrong party. Was he an MNA under Taschereau or in a modern era? Because this is no longer how things work, or at least it should not be the case, unless the Liberals' policy is to penalize those who do not vote for them. It seems to me that this is what was implied in his speech.

As for the unemployment rate, I should inform the hon. member that, in Quebec, the riding with the highest unemployment rate is Saint-Maurice. Yet, for 33 years now, it has been represented by a guy who supposedly belongs to the right party.

In his mailer, which I have here with me, the hon. member clearly promises his voters—this is crystal clear, it is not a commitment but a promise—that two bridges will be built. Now that he has been elected, now that his constituents have put their trust in him, will the hon. member tell us if he intends to fulfil his promise and build these two bridges during the current mandate?

An hon. member: Let him put his seat on the line.

Mr. Serge Marcil: Mr. Speaker, a debate on the division of responsibilities between the federal government and the provinces was held with the Bloc Quebecois candidate at the Valleyfield Cegep. I would point out to the Bloc Quebecois member that when one is an MP, one represents the entire community. There is no breakdown of jurisdiction. One represents all members of the community. That is how I intend to operate in my riding.

If a constituent comes to me with a problem, I will not be the kind of member who might say “Go and see the MLA, because this does not concern me”. I was elected by the same people and I am going to represent them the same way.

 

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With respect to the bridges—and contrary to what the member said, this is not a promise but an undertaking—I would like to remind him that between 1976 and 1985, when the Parti Quebecois was in power in Quebec, there was a moratorium on road construction.

In 1985, we made this a major theme in Montérégie. Between 1985 and 1994, we went back over this issue from A to Z. None of the corridors were retained. We achieved consensus in Montérégie. We finalized one corridor, and built two segments of highway, which had not been seen in Quebec since 1976, and we concluded the impact studies in 1993. In 1993, Quebec's Department of Transportation wrapped them up.

Unfortunately, we were defeated in the 1994 election. So the impact studies were not filed with IBC until 1997.

I have now returned to politics to continue the work begun back then. But now the problem is no longer necessarily a local, regional one. It has become a national problem, because now all of greater Montreal is involved.

[English]

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I will be dividing my time with the member for Wetaskiwin. As is traditional, I will begin my comments by thanking the voters of my riding of Lanark—Carleton for placing their trust in me and for sending me to this place as their representative.

Lanark—Carleton is as large as Prince Edward Island and holds as many people as that province. It is in some respects the most diverse riding in the country and contains within its bounds large tracts of rugged wilderness, much rich farmland, many of the prettiest small towns in Ontario, and also Kanata which is Canada's fastest growing and most dynamic urban area and the home of silicon valley north.

The residents of the riding have long been among the most individualistic and creative of Canadians, from Dr. James Naismith of Almonte who invented basketball, to Captain Arthur Roy Brown who capped a glorious flying career in the first world war by shooting down the Red Baron, Manfred von Richtoffen. In Lanark—Carleton we are, to quote from the motto of Beckwith township, proud of our past and confident of our future.

I will also take a moment to salute a few individuals: my parents, Gord and Leatrice Reid, for their wisdom and perpetual support and my remarkable campaign team, headed by Frank Hall and Jerry Rice, who did so much to win the Canadian Alliance's easternmost seat.

There is one other individual to whom I extend my personal thanks. My primary opponent in the election was Ian Murray, the former Liberal member of parliament. In a national campaign that was characterized by negative campaigning, Ian ran a clean and honourable campaign and was always a gentleman. I salute him for that as he begins his life in private industry.

It is a great honour to serve as the critic within Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition for intergovernmental affairs. As such it is my obligation to set out the parameters of the position my party will take in matters relating to federalism in this new parliament, and to emphasize as well one policy in particular that will occupy my own attention, that of intergovernmental transfers.

On this side of the House we are federalists in the true sense of the term: in the sense employed by James Madison in the 1780s when he wrote The Federalist Papers; in the sense that the term federationist was used a century ago in Australia when a federal system was being considered for that country; in the sense that citizens of Switzerland mean when they speak of the way their country divides its powers between federal and cantonal levels of government; and, most important, in the sense that the term confederate was used by the fathers of our own federal system at the conferences in Quebec City, London and Charlottetown in the mid-1860s.

We believe that a federal system ought to consist of two orders of government, each of which is completely sovereign within its own areas of jurisdiction and each of which has no authority whatsoever in the areas of jurisdiction assigned to the other order of government. This is what the great British jurist Albert Venn Dicey meant when he made the startling but accurate observation that:

    A federal state requires for its formation...a body of countries such as the...Colonies of America or the Provinces of Canada, so closely connected by locality, by history...or the like, as to be capable of bearing, in the eyes of their inhabitants, an impress of common nationality.

 

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Of course our Fathers of Confederation viewed the U.S. model and chose to construct our own federation a little differently. They judged that the United States constitution had given the federal government too few powers and the states too many.

They therefore assigned to the central government certain powers which in the U.S.A. are given to the states. An obvious example of this is criminal law, which in most federal systems is the responsibility of the state or the cantonal government but which in Canada is a federal matter.

Our fathers were federalists nonetheless in the pure sense of the term and not advocates of a unitary state. Within the sphere of jurisdiction falling to each province the fathers clearly meant for that province to be absolutely sovereign. They also intended the federal government to be absolutely sovereign within its own areas of jurisdiction, with no provincial interference.

Wherever the fathers thought some form of joint jurisdiction would be the best arrangement, and they did not think this very often, they said so overtly, as in section 95 of the constitution which gives joint jurisdiction over agriculture.

Unfortunately this decision to create a less decentralized union has been misinterpreted in recent decades as proof that what was intended for Canada was a highly centralized union in which the federal government could justifiably tinker in matters that clearly fall within the provincial realm of jurisdiction.

The federal government does this by offering to share the cost of provincial government programs and then attempting to impose conditions not only on how the transferred money is spent but also upon the manner in which all provincial moneys in that area will be used.

This may seem a reasonable request, or at least tolerable, when speaking of federal grants amounting to 50% of total spending on a program, the so-called 50 cent dollars of the 1960s and 1970s.

Today when the federal government contributes less than 20 cents to every dollar of health care spending, for example, such demands for compliance to federal standards is clearly intended purely as propaganda, with the provinces bearing the lion's share of the cost of important programs but with the federal government taking as much credit as possible for maintaining standards that it does not take seriously.

This does not happen because the federal government is smarter than provincial governments. It has not happened because the voters who participate in federal elections are more responsible, more caring or more intelligent than the voters who cast their ballots in provincial elections. It has not happened because federal Liberals care more about health care and education than do provincial Liberals, Conservatives or New Democrats.

It has happened solely because the federal government has more revenues than it can reasonably expect to use for its own areas of jurisdiction while the provincial governments lack the revenue raising ability to directly finance their own constitutional responsibilities.

It should be noted that the so-called spending power stems not from any words to be found in the constitution itself, nor even from a supreme court interpretation of some unwritten emanation from a penumbra of the constitution, but rather from a straightforward assertion by successive federal governments that they have the right to disregard the boundaries set out in the constitution and to interfere directly in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

No less an authority than Pierre Elliott Trudeau argued in 1957 that the spending power was completely unconstitutional.

[Translation]

The disadvantages of a situation where taxes are levied by one level of government, and spending is done by another, are well known.

The preliminary report of the Liberal Party of Quebec says the following:

    The federal spending power leads to three types of problems.

    First, the predictability of funding; with respect to cost-shared programs, for example, the provinces find themselves faced with the progressive withdrawal of federal funding once the programs are established.

    Second, the unilateral imposition of federal standards; in the case of conditional transfer payments in areas of provincial jurisdiction, the conditions imposed by the federal government lead to pan-Canadian standards, despite the fact that the provinces have exclusive jurisdiction in the area in question. This is an especially delicate issue for Quebec, given the specificity of its society.

    Third, the duplication of measures; one example of this is when a federal program is added to an existing provincial program.

 

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[English]

Nor is any of this a recent discovery. In 1930 Mackenzie King stated in the House “It is a pernicious principle to have one government collect taxes and another government spend them”.

Over 100 years ago Sir Wilfrid Laurier warned “It is an entirely false principle according to which one government collects revenues and another government spends them. This must lead always to extravagance.”

I have outlined a serious problem that was not addressed in the Speech from the Throne.

In concluding my remarks, I would suggest that there is a simple solution that could be and should be considered by the House. It is to transfer tax points and tax room to the provinces to allow their tax base and spending base to expand to reflect their important constitutional jurisdiction. This would allow for our federal system to be represented, our constitution to be respected and our most important programs, such as health care, to be adequately financed now and in the decades in the future.

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Lanark—Carleton is using arguments in connection with Canada's constitution, which we are beginning to hear more of with respect to the Canadian Alliance's position on the constitution. In my view, it is a complete distortion of our constitutional history.

He talks about the federal government and the provincial governments being absolutely sovereign in their particular areas of jurisdiction at Confederation. Anyone who has read Canadian constitutional history will know that the government created by Macdonald, Cartier and others was looking very specifically at what was happening in the United States in terms of its federation. It saw the problem with states' rights and slavery. It saw a union and a federation dissolve after the civil war. That was the lesson learned from the American constitution.

There was always that toing and froing even within the American constitution's founding fathers, between Jefferson and Hamilton, in terms of whose theory of federalism would have ascendancy. As it turned out, Jefferson's theory took hold in terms of the U.S. supreme court's interpretation of the American constitution.

In relation to his speech, how does the hon. member's theory of absolute sovereignty of both levels of government at Confederation square with the power that existed at the time of reservation and disallowance? At that time the federal government had the power to nullify all provincial legislation, which was a very significant power. It was only after years and years of constitutional interpretation by the British judicial committee of the privy council that the power fell into disrepute.

How does the hon. member square the Alliance's theory of absolute sovereignty in its own particular areas of jurisdiction at Confederation with what actually occurred?

Mr. Scott Reid: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member, whose riding adjoins my own, for his questions and his comments.

When it comes to the question of federal transfers and the use of tax points and tax rooms, it is not a new innovation of my party, nor is it something on which we stand alone. This approach has been suggested by the Quebec Liberal Party in its recent report. The so-called six wise men in Alberta have also suggested it in their recent proposal. It is in fact a long standing proposal of various parties within Quebec. The Ontario government has expressed an interest as well.

When we look at Premier Hamm of Nova Scotia and his comments on the need to change the equalization formula, certainly the idea of using tax points is compatible with that.

 

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A broad based consensus is evolving and emerging in opposition to the Liberal Party and the government which basically holds that there is an effective way within our own system of dealing with the fact that there is a fiscal imbalance between the revenue raising abilities of the federal government and the spending needs of the provinces.

He raised questions with regard to the manner in which the Fathers of Confederation saw our country and the question of disallowance and reservation. I am surprised, in all honesty, that anybody at this time would want to defend the powers of disallowance or reservation. The power of disallowance was most recently used in the 1930s and conventionally speaking is no longer regarded to be acceptable.

The power of reservation, if I am not mistaken, was used most recently in 1961 by the lieutenant-governor of Saskatchewan. He was either dismissed or at least reprimanded for attempting to use it. Both of these are constitutional provisions which have fallen into disuse.

With regard to the original intention of those constitutional provisions, we may recall that when Canada was founded it was not an independent country at all. Nor did the Fathers of Confederation want it to be an independent country. The debates that took place in the predecessor to this Chamber over the provisions of Confederation are full of strong emphases on just how we do not want to be an independent country. We want to be part of the British empire. We want to be in the position of a protectorate of what was regarded at that time as the freest and greatest assemblage of people in the world.

Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your ascension to the chair. I also congratulate the others sharing the chair with you. We only demand of you perfection; nothing more, nothing less. I do not think that will be too hard a bill to fill. If that were not enough, perhaps we would also suggest that you could be an agent for some change in the House while you are at it.

This is my first intervention in the 37th parliament. I thank the people of the constituency of Wetaskiwin for yet another tremendous vote of confidence bestowed on me on November 27 during the federal election. I give a special thanks to my wife Dianne. As all members of the House know, their duties here also affect family members. certainly my wife Dianne has been a great supporter. I also thank our daughters Michelle and Dalene and our son-in-law Andy for their continued support.

I also mention the people on my campaign team who worked so hard in winter weather to get me re-elected. In particular, my campaign manager Janet Moseson did a marvellous job of working with a less than perfect product, myself. My official agent Gerald Grant has done a stellar job of looking after the finances, and his wife Averil Grant looked after the constituency office during a very busy time, and did it single-handedly. I thank all of them for their help, and the result is that I am back in the House of Commons for my third term.

Throughout the campaign I promised the voters of Wetaskiwin that I would bring their message to Ottawa. It would not be the other way around, that I would never bring Ottawa's message to them. I would be their servant.

My constituents have asked me to bring a message to the government and to the Prime Minister. Part of that message is that they want the government to be fiscally accountable and responsible. They want the government to treat all Canadians equally regardless of where they live or who they support.

 

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My constituents do not want and certainly do not need the Prime Minister's tough love. They want and deserve respect from the Prime Minister and his government. Last week's throne speech was not a great start. It had even more platitudes than previous speeches from the throne. It was notable in that it had very little to say and it was notable in what it did not say.

When the government came into power in 1993 the national debt and deficit had reached astronomical proportions. A responsible government would have made tough decisions to cut wasteful and unnecessary spending in order to get things back on track. Not these Liberals. Instead, they kept their patronage ridden, make work projects, and they balanced the budget by raising taxes and offloading expenses on to the provinces and municipalities.

The throne speech promised that the government would fund improvements to municipal water and waste water systems through the federal-provincial-municipal Canada infrastructure program. That is the same promise that we heard in red book one. Instead, millions of dollars were squandered on questionable infrastructure spending.

In the 35th parliament the government announced the $6 billion infrastructure program. Here are some of the examples of what the government thinks are infrastructure and how that money was spent, and I beg to differ with it. There were bowling alley renovations in Ontario. There were a $24 million tennis stadium and a $14.4 million circus training centre in Montreal. There were a fountain in Shawinigan and golf courses in Atlantic Canada. Hardly any of that in the wildest imagination is infrastructure.

It appears that municipal sewage and water treatment infrastructure was not a high priority for the Liberal government as bowling alleys or golf courses. In the short term, make work projects designed to provide Liberal backbenchers with photo ops better describe it. The main reason to invest in infrastructure should be to make sure that the economy remains competitive and buoyant.

If a municipality, a province or a country cannot offer clean water, a reliable transportation system and affordable housing, businesses will locate somewhere else. If the British Columbia companies participating in the upcoming team Canada trade mission to China win large contracts, they will be faced with the problems of how to get their products to port because of deteriorating, congested road networks.

If Canadian companies cannot get their products to market, they will simply lose those contracts. Workers will have to be laid off and there will be a deteriorating effect on the economy. The government will then have fewer tax dollars to collect from those people.

Canadians, whether they live in the west, the east, the centre or the north, expect the government to provide core services. They pay enough taxes to justify these expectations. Before the government embarks on another potentially frivolous infrastructure plan, it should recognize what was wrong with the first two and steer clear of culture and social infrastructure components that led to many boondoggles.

Existing physical infrastructure has long been one of the areas consistently neglected by the government. An infrastructure program should embody economic efficiency and be a patronage free zone. By the end of the program in 1999, the Liberals' inefficient manner of allocating taxpayer dollars was obvious.

They left the private sector out of the picture in helping to identify, finance and administer the projects. Unless the neglect is followed up by an innovative way of finding new areas of financing, Canada's infrastructure will continue to deteriorate to the point where governments will be required to spend more money for improvements. As a matter of fact, improvements might not do it. They might have to completely rebuild the infrastructure.

Treasury Board claims that the program was not renewed in 1999 because the economy was booming. That brings us to where we are today: another red book and another throne speech promising to fix Canada's roads and sewers.

 

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This time the government is still promising $2.6 billion, as announced in the February budget, for new physical infrastructure. Is it any wonder that westerners are skeptical and nearly shut out the Liberals in the last election?

If the economy is booming and Canada does not need another infrastructure program, we have to wonder why the government is renewing this program. Perhaps it has something to do with bringing goodies to certain regions of the country. For instance, Quebec got $515 million in federal contributions while Alberta got only $171 million. This is not regional fairness. Albertans have heard the same storyline over and over.

Yesterday the auditor general noted that Canadians get upset and angry when they see their tax dollars wasted. We cannot blame them. They expect the government to take the same care of and have the same prudence with their money as they themselves must.

I would like to point out that my former colleague in the House, the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Lee Morrison, authored a private member's bill that would have dedicated revenues from fuel taxes for repair of our crumbling highways. Our Trans-Canada Highway is a shame, a disaster, and I think his idea is one that is well worth exploring.

I want to conclude by saying that if the Prime Minister doubts what I am saying, he can visit the great riding of Wetaskiwin. We would be glad to have people meet with him and give him this exact message.

The other message the people of Wetaskiwin want me to deliver to this place today is that they want to see a country in which their children and grandchildren are treated with respect, have unlimited opportunity and have a government they can respect.

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed in the member's speech. If this is how he is going to start the new House I do not think we have much to look forward to.

He begins by saying that he is bringing us a message from his constituents. He is obviously very proud to be a member of parliament, as I am. He obviously believes in representing the people of his riding as well as he can.

However, in discussing the first two infrastructure programs he proceeded to malign the villages, townships, towns and cities of my riding, because within the guidelines of those first two infrastructure programs in the 1993 and 1997 parliaments, the choices were made by the municipalities themselves.

He also maligns the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. That was the design program municipalities specifically asked for and have asked for again this time. If he were to go to my riding he would discover that the elected representatives of my villages looked very carefully at their infrastructure needs. They effectively defined what was infrastructure and what was priority infrastructure at that time for their communities.

He went on to mention highways and water and sewage. What is the point when a small municipality that has recently spent large sums of money on its highways is given money to spend on highways? If there is a municipality that has recently invested in its water supply and has gone to great lengths to develop a good water system and a system of checking it, what is the point of giving that municipality infrastructure money for water?

Putting it another way, why should a municipality which has not done that get the benefit of a program simply because it is behind in checking its highways or water and sewage?

I believe that the purpose of this type of infrastructure program—and I do understand that there are others—is to deal with the smallest units in our system, which are the villages and townships of my riding and of the member's riding. I hope the design of this program is the same, because only the design of this program can do it. No one in Ottawa knows what the village of Havelock in my riding needs today. We just do not, but we can listen to the villages and townships and respond as well as we are able to with flexible programs that allow them to make the decisions.

 

. 1650 + -

I welcome the hon. member's comments. In his riding, in the 1993 and 1997 programs, was someone other than the municipalities themselves deciding what was infrastructure?

Mr. Dale Johnston: Mr. Speaker, what I did say in my remarks was that not even in my wildest dreams could I imagine a fountain in Shawinigan being infrastructure. What I certainly can imagine being infrastructure is the repair of the Trans-Canada Highway, and I cannot quite understand why it has not been done. To me that is infrastructure.

Certainly, as the hon. member says, if municipalities chose to repair their water and sewer systems before the infrastructure program became available to them, then he is right, it would not make sense to force money on them for water and sewer where it is not needed.

By the same token, I challenge the hon. member to tell me how a fountain in the Prime Minister's riding would qualify, even in the broadest terms, as infrastructure.

The availability of infrastructure money should come with no political strings whatsoever attached to it. From where I sit, it appears that quite a lot of the infrastructure money came with some political strings attached to it. It should be available on the basis of need for infrastructure spending in a municipality.

I agree with the hon. member when he says that it should be decided by the area of governance that is closest to the people. Those people should be able to make the decision because they are the ones who know what is needed in the community.

I am just having a very difficult time understanding how he qualifies a golf course, for instance, or a fountain as infrastructure.

Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Secretary of State (Children and Youth), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the representative from the Northwest Territories and the Secretary of State for Children and Youth, I am pleased to contribute in the debate on the Speech from the Throne. I am sharing my time with the member for Markham.

Had it not been for the support that I received from my constituents through four elections in a row I would not have the opportunity to speak today. I am grateful for having been returned to my seat in the House of Commons. To serve as a member of parliament is one of the highest honours. We are sitting in the highest court of our country, apart from the supreme court and the Senate, and we all take that seriously.

In regard to the Speech from the Throne, I am delighted to say that the emphasis is something that I really believe my whole life has been about in the work I have undertaken for the people I represent. The emphasis is one of inclusivity and innovation.

Our goal is to ensure that all Canadians can succeed and fully participate in today's society. As is said in the Speech from the Throne, the true value of a strong society in Canada is our willingness to include everybody and generate opportunities shared by all communities. Every region, every province, every territory, every community and every citizen has a strong voice and can contribute to building our nation.

That resonates with me specifically because I come from such a remote part of our country. I represent 33 communities in over half a million square miles, many of which are not connected by road and are only accessible by air. These words in the Speech from the Throne really mean something to my constituents, because when we are essentially physically isolated there is the sense that everything is happening out there and we are not connected to it. My community and the territory I come from can appreciate these words.

 

. 1655 + -

Allow me to state how much we are progressing in the north. Much more economic development is occurring at this time. Land claims are continually being settled. A few are well on their way to being settled and others are in different stages of completion and development.

The goal in the north is to become much more self-sustaining. As Canadians, we want to contribute. We want to be able to give back to this wonderful country what we have received in terms of transfer payments and equalization. Never in the north has there been an opportunity as great as there is today to position ourselves to do that. We are a part of Canada that is positioned, because of our resources and the region we come from, to be able to do that in a very short time if we are given the opportunity and the support we need.

Allow me to say that at this time I see a better future for the people in the north because of the opportunities there. I am honoured that the government has made a commitment to strengthen its relationships with the aboriginal people of Canada through the Speech from the Throne. The government will support first nations communities in strengthening governance, including more effective and transparent administrative practices.

In my community there is an ongoing debate about the Dogrib land claim. Embedded in that claim is the provision for self-government. These are constitutionally binding commitments. They are legal. They are constitutional once they are completely finalized. We have to recognize that. Those provisions are not put there so that these instruments become hollow vessels. They have to mean something.

Also in my riding is the community of Delenhe, which is working on a community self-government proposal. This proposal is progressing quite well.

These communities are serious in their negotiations and their intent and I believe the negotiators on all sides are negotiating with goodwill.

We also have a proposal from the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Gwich'in Tribal Council for regional self-government. Self-government does not have one mould. It can have many different structures. These are serious negotiations. The proposal would provide greater responsibility to those who would be governing once they complete their negotiations and arrangements with the federal and territorial governments and among themselves.

These are important negotiations. They speak to the actual substance of what the throne speech is speaking to in terms of strengthening governance for aboriginal people.

The government will work with first nations to ensure that basic needs are met for jobs, health, education, housing and infrastructure. This will be reflected in all of the government's priorities. This is good news.

Nowhere is the creation and sharing of opportunity more important than it is for aboriginal people. Too many live in poverty without the tools they need to build a future for themselves and their communities. Over the last 12 years I have been to many reserves in many parts of Canada. I have gone to touch the earth and be with the people, as have many hon. members. I have seen many diverse living conditions in Canada and many ranges in the quality of life of Canadians. That is being recognized in the throne speech. We need to help these people develop the tools they need to build a better future for themselves and their communities.

As we enter this new millennium in a faster paced, digital economy, the government will work with all Canadians to build a stronger, more inclusive Canada, fueled by innovation, ideas and talent, an innovative economy built on an innovative society whose people welcome diversity and are willing to explore creative approaches.

We can only achieve our potential in the north and elsewhere if we expect all of our citizens to do well in education, work and life and if we willingly support them in that achievement. We are already seeing progress. Many of our young people are very technologically savvy, outward looking and more educated than ever. They are managing very well. However, we are ever more determined to build on this momentum. The throne speech refers to instruments like the creation of the registered individual learning accounts to make it easier for Canadians to finance their learning. We will improve the loans available to part time students so more workers can earn while they learn. We anticipate many thousands of working Canadians will take advantage of learning opportunities like these over the next five years. This is good news for Canadians who need to upgrade their skills.

 

. 1700 + -

In the Northwest Territories we see tremendous opportunities opening up. We have two diamond mines that are in full swing and producing diamonds. They are the Broken Hill property mine and the Diavik Mine, which just started and is basically bringing in all its supplies because the winter road has now opened.

With all the spin-off effects on jobs and economic growth, it was said at one time that we could never cut and polish diamonds in the Northwest Territories, which is a value-added subsidiary of the diamond industry. We have two cutting and polishing facilities in Yellowknife. One of them is co-owned by Aboriginal people.

In addition to that, oil and gas companies have committed more than $1 billion in exploration in the Northwest Territories. This includes $750 million in the Mackenzie Delta, $85 million in the Sahtu region and $25 million in Liard area.

The demand for natural gas is robust. The development of a Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline has many benefits: $1 billion dollars in wages to workers; aboriginal people would have new opportunities and perhaps a chance for equity ownership of the pipeline; towns would have an increased tax base; and the service industry would expand.

When the next two diamond mines come into play, Diavik and Snap Lake Diamond mines, the Northwest Territories will be producing 20% of the world's diamonds. Diamonds have landed. We have become a big player in the diamond industry in Canada and it is happening in my region.

This is like every other part of Canada. Northerners want the opportunity to participate. They do not want a handout, they want a hand up. There are opportunities and the throne speech speaks about many of those opportunities.

Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, with respect to the throne speech, could the Secretary of State for Children and Youth tell us what some of her ideas are regarding the issue of young people with disabilities?

In the throne speech there is a section on support for persons with disabilities who have some attachments to the labour force. However, I see nothing that deals with the very real problems that young people with disabilities face in the education system in terms of mobility support. At the present time there are no adequate national standards for education and certainly not for children with disabilities.

In my town hundreds of parents struggle every year to make sure there will be a speech therapist, a teacher's assistant and a psychologist. We seem to throw all of these things into the provincial pot.

As a spokesperson for children and youth, I know that education and national standards for learning have to be part of any kind of a vision for the country. How does the hon. member feel the government is helping with the solution?

Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that the hon. member has a particular interest in the issue of disability. I and many other members do as well.

Specifically, in the aboriginal community in my area the incidence of disability is four or five times higher than the national average. It is a very difficult issue for that community to deal with. We have had a number of reports. We have a working group for aboriginals with disabilities.

I know that there is a particular concern for children with special needs. It was very well registered during the election by many of my constituents that we can do the integration into the labour market but that does not deal with the children who have FAE/FAS, or dyslexia, or impediments, or learning difficulties, or attention deficit or who have a number of other learning challenges.

 

. 1705 + -

The big debate right now is how will we be able to take the $2.2 billion of early childhood development and square that with the needs that are out there. That is the challenge.

The other challenge is that we must not focus on our jurisdictional differences between the provinces, the territories and the federal government. To a child, there is no difference. To families who need the help and to the schools that find this a tremendous challenge financially as well as in terms of human resources, there really are no differences.

We need to be able to come together as the representatives of various levels of government and come up with a strategy that will deal with children, specifically children with special needs. That can be done through some of the suggestions in the Speech from the Throne. The items that are listed there are for children, specifically early childhood development. The most preventable disability, FAE/FAS, also got a special mention. We have a national strategy for that as well.

That is not to say that there is a silver bullet and there will be a quick fix. It will take a long time. It will take greater dedication and more focus in terms of what is needed in the next report that comes out on the disabilities. There has to be some kind of reflection of those needs that are out there.

We have many considerations because it is not simple. It is very complicated as I indicated. However I do not believe that it is insurmountable.

[Translation]

Mr. John McCallum (Markham, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank my fellow citizens in Markham for electing me. I also want to thank my family, which has accepted wholeheartedly the family and financial costs of political life.

[English]

Often many things have a silver lining. For my two teenage sons, the greater availability of a car during my sojourns in Ottawa is a definite plus.

[Translation]

I thank the Prime Minister, who invited me to join his team by selecting me as a candidate.

[English]

Finally, I thank my Liberal colleagues, fellow rookie MPs from all parties and the staff of the House of Commons who have made this first 10 days a very exciting and pleasurable experience.

My theme today is that in at least two respects Markham, my riding, can be seen as a vanguard of the shape of things to come in much of the rest of the country. I refer first to the increasing multicultural nature of our country and second to the degree to which we are as a country leaping into the new economy and making it grow.

If we go back 30 years, there was a negligible percentage of the citizens of Markham who were visible minorities. Today it is about half. Thirty years ago there were 135 Chinese people, today there are 43,000. More than half of the people of Markham are new Canadians, people who were not born in the country.

As one such as myself with a relatively Caucasian or WASP background from Bay Street or McGill, it was a distinct highlight of the campaign to have the opportunity to meet so many new Canadians in their places of worship and in their homes during door to door canvassing.

One event sticks out in my mind as something I will never forget. While canvassing on a street with mainly new Canadians one evening, I noticed that as soon as they saw a Liberal sign a smile would come to their faces and the names of Trudeau and that of the Prime Minister would often be mentioned, both in a positive vein.

At that point I realized, as a question of reality, that rather than theory it truly is the Liberal Party that has traditionally been the one to welcome people to our shores from all parts of the world irrespective of culture, religion or race. This is increasingly the population of Markham and increasingly that of Canada. It goes without saying that the government will continue in that tradition. In addition, there are measures in the throne speech and a commitment to work with provincial governments to make it easier for the credentials of immigrants to be accepted and for them to be integrated more quickly into our society.

 

. 1710 + -

[Translation]

As a Quebecer, or at least as someone who was born in Quebec and taught at McGill University, and at the Université du Québec à Montréal, I appreciate not only the multicultural aspect of the Canadian way of life, but also our bilingualism or linguistic duality.

[English]

This reflects the sense of balance which to me is the hallmark of being a Liberal. We favour innovation and inclusion. We favour wealth creation and growth and helping those who need help. We favour multiculturalism and bilingualism. This sense of balance comes naturally to Liberals, just as easily as walking and chewing gum. However, without naming names, that ability to walk and chew gum at the same time seems to come less naturally to some of the other parties in the House. That is meant to be a relatively non-partisan remark.

I come now to the second element. I said Markham is in a sense the vanguard of multiculturalism. Now let me talk about the new economy. Markham describes itself as the high tech centre of Canada. Markham has more than 800 high tech firms. Whereas the whole of the country benefits from the policies of this government, favouring economic growth and the new economy, nowhere will these benefits be felt more strongly than in Markham. Let me briefly illustrate three dimensions of these.

First, there are measures to make the macro economy perform because the macro economy has to perform for both the old and the new economies. The Liberal government's impeccably timed and very substantial tax cuts are just what the doctor ordered to allow us to weather the storms that are coming from south of the border.

Not only that, there are also budgetary measures specifically favouring the new economy. I refer to the end of the income tax surtax, the slashing of the capital gains inclusion rate and the measures on stock options, all of which are specifically geared to favour the new economy.

I also refer to structural measures contained in the throne speech that will favour expanded research, increased commercialization of research, increased learning and an improved information infrastructure, all of which are essential to the new economy.

Finally, as a specific illustration and as an economist, it does not make sense for the new economy to be a pure unadulterated private enterprise activity. There has to be an element of partnership. This is perhaps my favourite example of that. In the past year Markham attracted an IBM facility with 1,500 new jobs, thanks in part to a $33 million federal investment. Absent of that investment, according to IBM, it would not be somewhere else in Canada. It would be in Ireland or Asia. The Alliance policy, which would abandon and outlaw such partnerships, would see such companies not locate in this country but locate elsewhere.

In my view, Markham can be seen as a microcosm or as a vanguard of where much of the country is headed with respect to both multiculturalism and the new economy. In both of those two dimensions, the progress of the town will be much aided by the measures taken previously in the budget and more recently in the throne speech.

 

. 1715 + -

[Translation]

Mr. Robert Lanctôt (Châteauguay, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with my colleague, the member for Champlain.

I am very pleased to make my maiden speech in this House. First, I want to congratulate you on your appointment and to mention the election of the Speaker of this House. I also offer you my full co-operation so that we can have respectful debates while dealing with the business of the House in the years to come.

You have perhaps the most significant job in the House. You must assist us so that, in our work, we respect of the rights of all members of parliament, particularly those in the opposition. I can assure you that I will support you to ensure that, even though the discussions between the opposition and the government are sometimes heated, they are never disgraceful nor disrespectful.

I also want to take a few minutes of my maiden speech to thank all the people in the riding of Châteauguay. I sincerely thank them for the trust they put in me on November 27. I can assure them that I will do my best to represent them and serve them here in parliament. I also want to pay my respects to the previous BQ member for Châteauguay, Maurice Godin, who, after having served his fellow citizens and Quebec for two terms, is enjoying a well deserved retirement with his family.

I am convinced that Mr. Godin, who is a fervent advocate of Quebecers' interests, will come out of retirement when there is another referendum, and that he will support Quebecers who want to choose freely and democratically their political destiny.

The throne speech read last week was quite a disappointment. To tell the truth, it was a bitter disappointment, for me and for many of my colleagues and fellow citizens. I was disappointed by the lack of a real government agenda and of any real vision of public administration. The throne speech was full of vague and meaningless phrases. The fact that the government has no agenda means that it will continue steering Canada day to day, with vague objectives in mind instead of clear goals. That this government should ask for clarity from others is the height of arrogance.

My colleagues in the Bloc have pinpointed some of the flaws of the throne speech, and we will continue to do so. The main theme of our remarks has been the lack of a real vision for the development of the Canadian and Quebec societies.

The various measures found in the throne speech remain vague and they lack clarity, in the areas of economic, social and cultural development. This is not the way to get Canadians and Quebecers interested in political life. The fact that four out of ten voters did not find the issues discussed in the last election campaign important enough to cast their ballot does not seem to bother the government.

It is certainly not with this kind of government agenda, which has absolutely no substance, that our fellow citizens will develop a renewed interest in politics and will give new lustre to this parliamentary institution.

I think it is important to say that the Speech from the Throne was a great disappointment to me, in terms of this government's vision of amateur sport. In fact, it has no vision whatsoever as far as our amateur athletes are concerned. The vision of the Bloc Quebecois is that amateur athletes must be our first priority. Right now, they have to get by without any formal support. Amateur athletes represent our country internationally, and yet they have to fend for themselves. The Bloc Quebecois is proud of our athletes.

Moreover, French speaking athletes have to master the English language to be able to succeed in their sport. Nothing has changed. This is another disappointment.

French speaking athletes have to be very tenacious, needless to say, to persevere in their endeavour even though English remains the only language used in many Canadian sport federations. It seems that, once again, the Bloc Quebecois has to ensure that the rights of Quebecers are respected by demanding that our athletes be able to train and compete in French. All that in spite of the fact that French is one of our country's official languages.

 

. 1720 + -

The Bloc Quebecois filed a complaint about that with the Commissioner of Official Languages in 1999, but nothing has changed, which is another disappointment. Can we hope for a follow-up on that?

I am very disappointed when I realize that English has become the official language of amateur sport in Canada. The government must send a clear message to our athletes by investing the funds required to promote the use of French within Canadian sport federations.

The government must stop being so vague when it streamlines the budgets of the various federations and stop asking always more of French-speaking athletes, insisting that they work in English only if they want to succeed. Bilingualism must be a priority in amateur sports and the government must act now.

I am also disappointed that the government has not taken a clear position on antidoping measures. It is especially disappointing since, as harmful as it is, doping has become more and more frequent, something athletes need to do to win and keep winning.

Doping has also become a lucrative billion dollar business, dashing the hopes of any athlete who refuses to use drugs.

Doping has become a lucrative business by creating a demand for the athletes to always perform better, given all the money the broadcasters are paying. The bottom line in this business is profits, and to make profits, the athletes must not only win but put on a performance worthy of being broadcast. To have athletes push their limits is profitable, not only for the broadcasters but also for the athletes who use performance enhancing drugs.

Such superhuman achievement tarnishes any real athletic performance. Athletes find themselves facing quite a challenging dilemma. The choice they have to make is a tough one, because they do not have the support they need and there are no guidelines to fight systematic doping in sport.

Does the government have a concrete and real antidoping policy? No. Is there an arm's length agency to monitor and control doping? No. The government might say it is against doping but its commitments keep being shoved under the carpet. And so if the commitments have been shoved under the carpet, I ask you where are our athletes and where can they turn? I ask you, who will respond to our athletes when they have been irretrievably lost to the world of drugs?

We have a vicious circle already. By remaining silent in the throne speech, this government is making very clear its lack of desire to fight this growing tumour in the world of amateur sport.

What is the explanation for the government's lack of a stand with respect to our athletes? What message is the government sending our athletes through its silence? What are its intentions? When will it take a firm stand? Our only answer is disappointment.

I must shorten my remarks considerably. To conclude, my colleagues, the members of the Bloc Quebecois, can count on me, as the youth and amateur sport critic, to criticize and unmask the actions of the Liberal government, which is acting increasingly as if no other level of government existed in Canada. This arrogant attitude is especially true and verifiable in the case of Quebec.

The Liberal government seems to forget that the people of Quebec also put their trust in the representatives they send to the National Assembly of Quebec and give their national government important responsibilities. I will ensure, with my Bloc Quebecois colleagues, that Quebec's responsibilities are honoured. I will ensure, with the Bloc Quebecois team, that the national government of Quebec is consulted and respected. I will ensure, on behalf of all Quebecers, that the people of Quebec are respected.

You can count on me to criticize every attempt to use young people to promote Canadian unity under the cover of new policies or programs. The public is not fooled by this sort of arrogant and opportunistic attitude.

I will be constantly on the lookout to not miss any opportunity to respond to Quebec's detractors in these areas. The people of Quebec exist, whether the Prime Minister likes it or not, and they demand the respect and recognition of this government, and the fight, whatever they say, is not over.

 

. 1725 + -

Mr. Gérard Asselin (Charlevoix, BQ): Mr. Speaker, first I wish to thank the constituents of Charlevoix for having put their trust in me in 1993, in 1997, and again in 2000, electing me with a very clear majority of 63%.

The people of Charlevoix trust the Bloc Quebecois because we seem to be the best advocates of Quebec rights. I also want to congratulate the hon. member for Châteauguay, who just spoke, and congratulate his constituents on putting their trust in a Bloc Quebecois member since 1993. I take this opportunity to offer my best wishes to his predecessor, Maurice Godin, who is enjoying a well-deserved retirement and who is surely watching us from his cottage.

I want to assure the people of Châteauguay that their new member will continue Mr. Godin's very good work.

About this famous Speech from the Throne, I want to go back to the speech given by the revenue minister and member for Outremont, who told us this afternoon that he was proud of his government and of the Speech from the Throne. He said his government is the most connected ever. But connected to what? This government is no doubt connected to Internet, as we were abundantly told.

But when the minister speaks of connection to the Net, he is completely disconnected from society. In fact, voters in Charlevoix and in Châteauguay found no stability measures for seasonal workers in the employment insurance system. Let us not forget that they are often people working at minimum wage. Often they are women who are heads of single parent families, earning low wages at a certain period of the year. If they are seasonal workers, it is because their jobs are seasonal.

In the speech, nothing also is said about the World March of Women. Members will recall the 13 demands made by the women during the World March of Women and the demonstrations that occurred all over Quebec, in my riding, in Montreal and here in Ottawa. The Prime Minister said: “Wait for the next mini budget”. We waited in vain. “Wait for the election”. We waited in vain.

The question we are asking today is this: why do we have a throne speech that is a photocopy of the previous one? Nothing changed before or after the election. People are even asking why there was an election in the first place. Nothing has changed as far as the cabinet is concerned. Nothing has changed in the government party's agenda. The policies mentioned in the throne speech for the next four years have not changed. Nothing also was announced in terms of social housing. Nor was anything announced in the area of employment insurance, as I was saying earlier.

What I would like to ask the member for Châteauguay is: does he not think, like I do, that when the government says it is connected to the electronic world, the fact is that it is increasingly disconnected or out of touch with the people of Canada and Quebec?

Mr. Robert Lanctôt: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. Obviously, in a society such as ours, we must not only talk about getting connected to the Internet. We live in a society that is moving toward globalization and we have a choice. All of this must be controlled.

The government had an opportunity to improve, clarify and give more substance to the employment insurance bill, the first one introduced in this parliament. The government lost an ideal opportunity not to proceed in haste but rather to consider whether it should allow young people and students not to pay any premiums, as it is well known they will not get any benefits. Only one out of four students receives benefits.

 

. 1730 + -

In its employment insurance bill, the government did not deal with people who, in ridings such as ours, in Charlevoix, Châteauguay or Champlain, are self-employed workers. These people cannot contribute to the employment insurance fund.

All the clauses we find discriminatory for young people, as I just said, are also discriminatory for women. That discrimination is reflected in an excessively high number of hours of work. Instead of 300 hours, they have to work up to 600 hours. When these women want to get back—

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Champlain.

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I apologize to my colleague who could not finish his speech. I would have liked to have heard the end of it. He was eloquent, but it seems that it is my turn now.

I want to congratulate you on your being appointed Deputy Speaker of the House. I will respect your authority. I had the opportunity to act as deputy speaker of the National Assembly on a temporary basis and I know it is not always easy to ensure that the rules are adhered to.

I am very happy to be once again the member for Champlain, which is one of the greatest ridings in Quebec and even Canada.

The riding of Champlain covers 30,000 square kilometres. It is as big as some countries in Europe. The riding of Champlain is extremely varied. It goes from the river all the way up north. Its population is scattered across a territory which includes communities such as Champlain and La Tuque.

I take this opportunity to thank all my constituents for the trust they showed in me by re-electing me. I was an MPP from 1976 to 1984 with the team of René Lévesque.

There are also Indians in my riding, including the Attikamek, north of La Tuque. I take this opportunity to particularly thank them.

As everybody may know, I was elected in Champlain with a majority of 15 votes. I am the only member whose majority has doubled within a week since, after the recount, it went from 7 to 15 votes. It is not much, but I got all the Bloc votes.

It is wrong to say that the Bloc has lost some of its popularity, because in my riding the Bloc vote went from 43% to 46%. If a Conservative candidate had run in Champlain, as was the case during the last election, I would have had the same majority as my predecessor.

A 15 vote majority shows that we are not independent here. As members, we must devote ourselves to the people. Every time someone tells me “Marcel, I voted for you”, I thank him and say “Thank you, it is thanks to you that I was elected”. I had to wait 10 days, and I was increasingly aware of how important one vote is.

One may wonder why people did not get more involved than they did during the last election. The answer is that the election was not necessary. Every journalist said so. This election was meant to allow the Prime Minister, not so much to set a record, but to get what he wanted. If people had felt this election was necessary, they would have gone out and voted.

What brought me back into politics is, to a certain degree, the arrogance of the Liberal Party, the arrogance of the government. I believe it has given ample proof, in the past, that it ignores Quebec, among others. And it still does. The throne speech is another example of how it ignores us. It continues to intrude into areas of provincial jurisdiction, as is the case in Quebec.

 

. 1735 + -

During the last parliament, this government introduced contemptuous and offensive bills. I am thinking of Bill C-20 for example. I am also thinking of another bill that is coming back, the one to amend the Young Offenders Act. They government is always trying to interfere in areas that come under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the other provinces, and by doing so, in my opinion, it shows contempt for the people of Quebec.

I came back to politics when I was invited to do so, because I wanted to add my voice to the voice of all the Bloc Quebecois members who defend Quebec's interests. I want to tell this government that one day it will have to stop laughing at the people of Quebec. I believe in Quebec's sovereignty. At 64 years of age, I plan to use all the energy I have left to ensure that we achieve sovereignty as fast as we can.

There is a people in Quebec, even if the Liberal government across the way does not acknowledge it. We are a people. We have the right to emancipation. We have a right over our territory. The very existence of this people is being denied. This is what brought me back to politics, and I intend to say so as often as I can.

As far as I am concerned, Quebec sovereignty in not against anybody, it is for Quebec and for the people of Quebec. Our development does not mean we have to take anything away from others. We want everything we deserve as founding people, as a people who had to fight to survive in the Americas, which includes 400 millions anglophones and allophones.

European artists who come here are constantly congratulating us for the energy we have shown in surviving as francophones in North America. Maybe the natural wealth of Quebec is its distinct people, which is like no other, a people which has the right to live and the right to possess its own territory.

This people is the francophones, the Quebecers, not only the francophones but the whole people of Quebec, all of its 7 million inhabitants, who have the right to have their own territory.

As a Quebecer, I have had enough of seeing my government having to beg for what it is owed. I find it insulting that to get the money we are entitled to, money paid with our own taxes, we have to kowtow. It is insulting to be forced to resort to see overlap in Quebec.

Let us take, for example, the millennium scholarships. This is our money. Education is Quebec's jurisdiction and a jurisdiction of other provinces as well. This money belongs to us. The government has spent millions of dollars to intrude into Quebec's jurisdiction. Worse, Quebec has been placed under trusteeship. A certain Jean Monty, for whom we have not voted and who has never been elected, has been appointed to administer the millennium scholarships.

An hon. member: Two million and a half.

Mr. Marcel Gagnon: Someone said two million and a half. Such things explain why Quebec wants sovereignty. Not sovereignty against others but for us, and possibly with others.

Having in Quebec a strong and proud people, a people that fought for its survival and will continue to do so, does not deprive others of anything. That will not be taken away from them. Sovereignty is in the heart of Quebecers. There are latent periods. The government can pass whatever legislation it wants, raise the percentage required to reach it, but I can assure you that one day Quebec will be sovereign.

 

. 1740 + -

Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member opposite talks about a distinct Quebec people, does he talk about English speaking people like me, who live in Quebec? Does he talk about aboriginal people in northern Quebec? Does he talk about Chinese and Indian people who live in Quebec? I wonder whether it is true that the Quebec people is comprised of people of all origins.

Mr. Marcel Gagnon: Mr. Speaker, yes, Quebec belongs to Quebecers. I believe in Mr. René Lévesque's version. I think no one would deny Mr. Lévesque's great intelligence and respect for democracy.

In my opinion, a Quebecer is a Quebecer, no matter which language he or she speaks. It is someone who lives in Quebec, who pays his or her taxes in Quebec and who has the right to vote in Quebec. Quebecers of all origins are well treated. I think, for instance, of English speaking people who live in Quebec and I am proud of this. They have universities, schools, hospitals and services. I am proud of this, and I am one of those who would defend them.

Since the majority of people living on the Quebec territory are French speaking, we want French to be the first official language. This takes absolutely nothing away from the others. It would however allow us to grow and to continue growing, in association with the rest of Canada.

Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, before I respond to my colleague, the member for Champlain, I would like to tell my Liberal colleague that the members opposite should be careful when they talk about such sensitive issues.

The Secretary of State for Amateur Sport once said, speaking of our former colleague, Osvaldo Nunez, a Chilean-born Canadian and Quebecer, that immigrants with such sovereignist affiliation ought to be deported, because they are not worthy of the Canadian citizenship. Such comments from over there would be far better left unsaid.

I would like to greet and congratulate my new colleague, the member for Champlain, not only on his speech, but also on winning his seat following a fight to the finish against a very big Liberal organization. His riding just like mine, which border the Prime Minister's riding, were real targets. We had many visitors, in particular the minister and member for Outremont and the Minister for International Trade.

The member for Champlain won by a slight majority but brilliantly. Already he has shown us how much he believes in sovereignty, a cause he also served in Quebec.

Let me seize this opportunity to ask him to say a few words about Cap-de-la-Madeleine, the main municipality in his riding, which will be celebrating its 350th anniversary this year. I am proud to say that my father presided over the celebrations for the 300th anniversary, in 1951, as president of the organizing committee. Cap-de-la-Madeleine has played a very important role in the history of Quebec and America.

Mr. Marcel Gagnon: Mr. Speaker, indeed I should have mentioned in my speech that this year will mark the 350th anniversary of Cap-de-la-Madeleine. It is not just one city's celebration, it is a celebration for all of us. It is the beginning of our colony and it touches all of us on both sides of the House.

I take this opportunity to invite people to come to Cap-de-la-Madeleine to revisit the past and, while they are there, they can tour the whole Mauricie area, which is the forestry capital of Canada for 2001.

I intend to ask the member for Saint-Maurice to co-operate with us to fund these activities.

 

. 1745 + -

[English]

Mr. Lynn Myers (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the opportunity to speak today to the throne speech. It is a very important document in setting out the blueprint for the government's mandate.

I certainly take this opportunity to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, because I know you will bring great decorum to the House. I appreciate very much the fact that you are in the chair. I also indicate that I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac. We will hear from him in a short while.

I thank the residents and constituents of Waterloo—Wellington and show my gratitude to them in terms of my re-election. I go on record as well and thank the Governor General, and Mr. Saul for that matter, for the throne speech and what was contained in it. As I said at the outset, it outlined the blueprint of the Government of Canada over the course of its mandate.

The people spoke on November 27 and gave our government, a government of decency, respect and integrity, another mandate into the 21st century. As a result of that sweeping mandate we can now govern accordingly. That is in the best interests of all Canadians wherever they may be in this great country of ours, north, south, east or west. It is appropriate that we proceed on that basis, knowing that we govern on behalf of all Canadians.

I was slightly distressed when I read not long ago that the members for Okanagan—Shuswap and Wild Rose attended a western separatist meeting. That is offensive when we really think about it in terms of our great country. Even more offensive was the fact that the Leader of the Opposition did not take the time to condemn that kind of treachery. I think he should have, but then we are on the road to seeing the kinds of things he is prepared to do such as spending $800,000 of taxpayer money. It is tough to take when we hear from him time and time again about good fiscal responsibility and good fiscal order. Here we have a person who could have settled for $60,000 and instead spent $800,000 when all the legal fees were added up. It is quite remarkable. I have to say that my constituents resent the hypocrisy contained therein.

Speaking of hypocrisy, we have the member for Edmonton North. I was reminded not long ago of the pig buttons and pig noises that we heard in the House, which came mostly from her; the pigs out on the front lawn of parliament; and all the kinds of things that took place. Here the high priestess of principle herself flip flops and with the duplicity of only what a contortionist could do is now back into a pension plan that she condemned so totally, so outrageously and so egregiously. It really is, and my constituents share this view, hard to take from that party opposite.

Let us get to the throne speech. It is important to note that we have set out a blueprint in keeping with the government's commitment to the people of Canada. I re-emphasize here and now that it emphasizes our commitment to opportunity for all. I do not mean for a few folks, or for people in certain geographic areas, but for everyone across the country. It underscores the commitment of the government to work for, to build and to lead into the new economy, and to ensure in the process that our communities are safe and secure.

The plan of action we have set out will allow Canadian men, women and children, for that matter, because we especially had emphasis in that regard, the very best country we can possibly give them. That too is in keeping with what we have said all along, and the Canadian people quite frankly agreed with us.

As a result of the great endorsement on election day we are proud to proceed on the achievements we made in the first two mandates. Even more important, we intend to fulfil the commitments we made in our election platform and proceed in that manner with opportunity for all.

 

. 1750 + -

The overriding goal is to secure Canada's place as one of the most innovative nations in the world. Why settle for second best when we can take charge and widen the circle of social and economic inclusion? In this way all Canadians can benefit from the economic rewards that are flowing and will continue to flow, and can share in the great future that is ours for the taking.

Since taking office in 1993 we have worked hard step by step, sometimes more incremental than other times, but we have worked consistently. We have worked hard to build a strong economy and a solid social foundation so that Canada can enjoy excellence and prosperity and an even higher quality of life.

Our plan is simply to create a very smart, focused and practical plan that ensures a bright future for all Canadians. We want to create and share opportunity for everyone who can partake. We want to include everyone in this great endeavour and leave no one behind.

The Prime Minister, cabinet and our caucus have repeatedly said that in the process we will make Canada the most innovative and entrepreneurial nation in the world, a land of endless opportunity for the best and brightest, not only to stay here but to be attracted here as a result of new investments, ventures, ideas and talent.

If we do this, and I am convinced we will, can and must, we will enhance our unmatched quality of life by building a more inclusive society, one in which all share the opportunities I have spoken of and in which no Canadian is left behind. In such a society we all work together.

The plan for our third mandate is to build a world leading Canadian economy driven by ideas and talent. We plan to create a more inclusive society where there is quality health service and where children get the right start in life. All of that will be available to individuals and families who can enjoy strong, safe and secure communities.

We plan to ensure a clean, healthy environment for Canadians. We need more and more to redouble our efforts in this area to preserve what is ours by nature and what we need to do as good stewards of the land, the water and the air.

Finally, we plan to enhance our voice in the world and our shared sense of citizenship, something that is envied around the world.

As Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General I would like to emphasize the feeling of safety in our communities and its importance to Canadians wherever they live. Feeling secure in our homes, our neighbourhoods, our communities and our streets is a fundamental right for all Canadians. Taking action to protect this fundamental obligation of government is very important. We have lived up to this obligation over the last number of years with what I believe to be a firm hand and innovative solutions.

We have taken a balanced approach, which is very important. It underscores the commitment of the government to ensure that it always proceeds in a balanced way. As a result, it is fair to say that Canadians have confidence in what the government is doing.

Let me review some of the things we have done. We have tightened up rules for early parole hearings. We have made it possible to obtain DNA samples from suspects of crime involving physical violence. We have cracked down on child prostitution and child sex tourism. We have introduced amendments to the criminal code that will strengthen the voice of victims of crime in the justice system. These are all important things.

Let us take as an example the national strategy of community safety and crime prevention and the money we have pumped into it to ensure that prevention is the order of the day. Let us look at the innovative youth justice strategy that we will soon reintroduce in terms of the Young Offenders Act. The act will be reworked for the benefit of all Canadians, and especially for our young people, to ensure not only prevention and consequences but rehabilitation as well.

The government's anti-smuggling initiative has resulted in 17,000 smuggling related charges in excess of $113 million and another $118 million in evaded taxes and duties.

 

. 1755 + -

We as a government have taken the measures and will be taking the measures that will ensure safety and security for all Canadians. It is very important because at the end of the day Canadians wherever they live in Canada will feel much better knowing that we on this side of the House will continue to fight for them and will continue to ensure their safety and security.

Mr. Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, permit me a moment to congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker of the House and to extend my congratulations to the Speaker on his election as well.

[Translation]

It is with both pride and humility that I rise for the first time in this historic place as member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac. The voters in my riding put their trust in me. I have already promised them and I promise them again today that I will work hard for them day in and day out.

[English]

The riding of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac is almost a microcosm of our country. As I found out in the last campaign it is geographically vast, almost evenly divided between French and English speakers, and is a mixture of rural and urban communities.

I am not the first member of my family to serve this riding. My father was the member for Westmorland—Kent for 12 years. Standing in the House today I am more conscious than ever of the big shoes I have to fill.

[Translation]

And it is with a great deal of emotion that I realize that I occupy the same seat that my father did for 12 years or so in this House. I thank all my family, particularly my mother, my father and my sister, Geneviève.

[English]

My father is not the only one of my family to serve in the House. My great-great-grandfather, George Elliott Casey, was elected in 1872 at 22 years of age. Like me, he was the youngest member of his caucus at that time.

I would be remiss if I did not mention another of my predecessors as member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac. The Prime Minister served my riding from 1990 to 1993. During part of that time I worked for the then leader of the opposition in his office. I had graduated from law school and had been called to the New Brunswick bar. The Prime Minister gave me the opportunity to see how our government works up close. I used to watch from up there in the gallery. I must say the view from down here is considerably better.

[Translation]

I will never forget the opportunity given to me by the Prime Minister. If I am here today, it is mainly thanks to him.

[English]

I also wish to make mention of the hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, the Minister of Labour. She holds the riding next to mine. Over the past few years she has been a good friend, a staunch ally and a mentor, both publicly and privately. Her 30 year commitment to her community and her commitment to social justice and economic development stand as an inspiration to all of us.

[Translation]

I also thank the Minister of Labour for her help during my campaign.

[English]

The campaign was perhaps a bit longer for me than for other hon. members. I had hoped to be here in 1997. I had campaigned to be here then and I fought hard, but I came in second. I am a little late, but better late than never.

[Translation]

Obviously, my deepest gratitude goes to my constituents. The election campaign was an opportunity to get to know their generosity and warmth.

 

. 1800 + -

[English]

I saw again in the last election how francophones and anglophones work together for the common good. I met and spoke to the decent, hard working people who work in our factories, who fish off our coast and who work the land as farmers.

[Translation]

I met with students, seniors, teachers and nurses, and I was impressed by their dedication to their community.

[English]

A major concern in my riding had to do with the changes that were made to the employment insurance system, changes that unjustly penalize workers in seasonal industries, many of whom live in my riding.

I am enormously gratified that the government has introduced Bill C-2 to restore fairness to the EI system.

[Translation]

During the election campaign, the Prime Minister made a commitment to proceed swiftly with these improvements, and he has kept his word by making this legislation the first bill introduced in this Parliament.

It should be emphasized that the proposed changes will be retroactive to October 1, 2000.

[English]

A promise was made and a promise has been kept. It is what the people of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac expected and it is what they deserve.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac is also the birthplace of College St. Joseph, the precursor to the Université de Moncton and also the home of Mount Allison University which, for the last 10 years, has been ranked as the number one undergraduate university in Canada.

My riding is a place of wonderful opportunities but it also suffers from many of the problems that have long plagued Atlantic Canada: seasonal employment, resource dependent industries and an unacceptable level of young people leaving the region to pursue jobs elsewhere.

We Atlantic Canadians know that the real brain drain is not from Canada to the United States, but from rural Canada to urban Canada and from Atlantic Canada to central and western Canada.

My friend, a leading academic on regional development, Dr. Donald Savoie, once told me that in Atlantic Canada we have three economies: a seasonal resource based economy largely in rural areas, an urban economy slowly and encouragingly transforming itself to new technologies and to a new economy, and some areas where virtually no functioning economy exists at all.

[Translation]

We know that we have to solve these problems ourselves, but we also know that we need a federal commitment.

[English]

Our government knows this and has committed $700 million to the Atlantic investment partnership, a fund that will help keep our young people from having to seek jobs elsewhere.

[Translation]

These major investments will help our young people build a future for themselves here at home.

[English]

The Atlantic region has also seen over the past year a crisis in the fishery. The integration of native fishermen into the commercial fishery has been difficult to say the least.

Behind the headlines, however, is a story of co-operation and goodwill on both sides. This is the result of the tremendous efforts of fishermen, both native and non-native, and the strong leadership of the current Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The minister's steady hand and commitment to conservation has earned him the confidence of all stakeholders. People of goodwill support the minister's efforts to enact a set of conservation rules that will apply equally to all fishermen.

[Translation]

The Maritime Fishermen's Union leadership, particularly its president Ron Cormier, deserves our support and congratulations.

[English]

I did not arrive here in the class of 1997 as I had hoped. The class of 2000 comes to the House at a time of tremendous opportunity.

[Translation]

For the first time in a generation we are not faced with deficits dictating the economic policy of our country.

 

. 1805 + -

[English]

The throne speech tells us that the national government is committed to sharing the wealth and opportunities of the nation with all Canadians. The national government can be a positive force in the lives of all Canadians.

I believe that this parliament will be remembered by future generations as marking a turning point.

[Translation]

More than 30 years ago the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau inspired Canadians by challenging them to build a just society.

[English]

I feel that I have, in this parliament and in serving in this government, the chance to dream of a Canada of even greater achievement, of an activist and prudent government investing in Atlantic Canada and bringing the wealth and prosperity of the last few years to every region; the chance to dream of the end to the threat of dissolution, when francophones and anglophones in all parts of the country can work together as harmoniously as in my riding; and the chance for all Canadians, particularly the people of Atlantic Canada, to once again dream of a just society.

I am here to share in that process and to serve this House and this government as we work together to continue building what is surely the greatest country in the world.

Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Liberal member for an excellent speech that went right to the heart of all of us who really feel a strong sense that this is a country that is united and united in its sense of compassion in all corners of the country.

He made reference to the proposed changes to employment insurance. He said that that the changes would have quite an impact on his riding. For the benefit of all Canadians, I wonder if he could elaborate on that a little bit.

Mr. Dominic LeBlanc: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments and his good wishes. The changes to employment insurance that were made a number of years ago had some positive elements, for example, the conversion of weeks to hours as a method of qualifying for benefits.

In New Brunswick alone, 87% of the people work more than a 35 hour week. With the changes that the government made, all those weeks now go toward qualifying for employment insurance benefits.

We on this side believe in incentives for work but we do not believe in punishing people who work in seasonal industries.

[Translation]

My colleague, the member for Madawaska—Restigouche, has often told me, and he is right, that in Canada there are no seasonal workers, only seasonal industries.

[English]

A fundamental difference that we must understand is that there are no seasonal workers in Atlantic Canada. There are seasonal industries such as the fishery, tourism and agriculture. These industries have been unjustly affected by the intensity rule.

It was a very important measure that the Prime Minister undertook when he visited my colleague's riding during the election in Belledune in northern New Brunswick. He made it clear at that time that the changes which had been introduced in parliament before the election to eliminate the intensity rule would be reintroduced as a priority.

The Prime Minister kept that promise. Bill C-2 was the first substantive piece of legislation introduced in this parliament and the changes, as the Prime Minister had committed, will be retroactive to October 1, 2000.

This was an important undertaking for the people in my riding. I hope, with the co-operation of other members of the House, that the legislation will pass quickly.

[Translation]

People in my riding are looking forward to these changes coming into effect. I intend to vote and to encourage the government so that these changes become law as soon as possible.

 

. 1810 + -

[English]

Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here in the 37th parliament and to make my first speech. I will be dealing primarily with agriculture as it pertains to the Speech from the Throne, and my reply to it.

Certainly in the time that I have I will not have time to talk exhaustively about all the issues but I will deal with some of them. I would also like to share my time with the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley.

First, I am pleased that I had the support of my constituents of Selkirk—Interlake. I intend to repay them with diligence and hard work while I am down here.

I will deal with the Speech from the Throne in a positive way.

The farm groups and farmers across the country have given many good suggestions to the agriculture minister and the government. I will go into some of those suggestions in a moment.

The farm community has had a reaction to the fact that agricultural issues were not dealt with in the throne speech nor by subsequent Liberal members during debate.

Bruce Johnstone, a writer for the Regina Leader Post, summed up how the farmers feel about the throne speech. He said that it set a new low for “vacuity, fatuity, banality and inanity”. He went on to say:

    The government will help Canada's agricultural sector move beyond crisis management—leading to more genuine diversification and value-added growth, new investments and employment, better land use, and high standards of environmental stewardship and food safety.

He also pointed out that all the Liberals had to offer were empty election promises of more farm aid bromides about the need to diversify and add value and a lot of hot air. He concluded by quoting another author. He said, and I have heard the same from farmers in Ontario and in the west, “This high-sounding rhetoric is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

Unfortunately, that is exactly how the farmers feel about the throne speech. Agriculture is having a real income crisis. It absolutely needs an immediate injection of additional cash over and above the farm safety net programs. Farmers are asking for that because the farm net safety program of AIDA, agriculture income disaster assistance, left out so many farmers with little or no assistance whatsoever. Farmers, whose family income from the farm is well below the $20,000 mark, are actually living in poverty.

Some of the groups that have come to Ottawa to protest and put forward suggestions have had meetings with the agriculture minister, but I would like to reiterate some of the things that have been said so that it gets recorded in the House of Commons.

I will start off by reporting first on the farmers from a town in my area called Beausejour. They told me that their backs were finally against the wall and that they had done their best. They said that they had done everything by way of diversification and efficiency but that they wanted me to report to the government that they needed a program which would deliver aid quickly, efficiently and without a big administrative expense. Their request, which was in the neighbourhood of $50 an acre, was what they felt they needed. I would like that passed along to the agriculture minister. I am not talking party policy here, but I am telling the House what farmers out there are saying.

The western barley growers is another good example of a farm group that has been in contact with the agriculture minister. They say that there are several areas of opportunity for government to assist agriculture without direct subsidies.

A lot of these things were put forward by the Canadian Alliance also: removal of the excise tax on fuel used by producers in off road use; removal of the excise tax on fuel used by the railways to haul grain; review of the Grain Transportation Act to ensure that the cost savings, which were envisioned by the Estey commission, were actually delivered to producers; review of user fees; and a review of government regulations to ensure that only those which are required to market Canada's agriculture production remain in force.

 

. 1815 + -

The Ontario corn producers have asked for money over and above the current safety net commitment, to be administered by the provinces. Once again, safety net programs have failed them. The grain growers of Canada are asking for an immediate infusion of public funds to restore equity between levels of direct income supports for grain and oilseed producers in Canada versus those in the United States. This is an issue of parity. They estimate that would work out to between $1.5 billion to $2 billion nationally.

That is a large sum, but let us remember that we all have to eat. It is in Canada's national interest that we have a viable agriculture and are able for the most part to supply ourselves with the majority of food we eat.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has requested $900 million in additional farm aid over the next three years. Once again it has identified that the agricultural policies the Liberal government has brought out over the past seven years have failed farmers in Ontario and across the country and need to be addressed in an emergency fashion, as opposed to the long term, efficient, effective program that should have been put in place by the government in these last seven years.

While these requests sound like a lot of money, once again I say that they are for emergency use.

The Saskatchewan rally group was here. That group was also talking in terms of $25 to $80 an acre. It is now talking about a plan similar to the one in the province of Quebec, where the cost of production is actually the basis on which farm support is provided. While that would be a lot of money across the country, we cannot have farmers producing food and working like serfs and slaves for the whole country.

In my own province, Keystone Agricultural Producers had its annual meeting, which I was happy to attend, and came up with a suggestion. Those producers said that they have identified to the government that a 1% food tax should be looked at. That is another suggestion the government could look at. They also made a suggestion for alternate land use services. That would be a 20% land set-aside over nine years, with payments being made for the land that is set aside.

Over the years, besides the immediate cash injection and the long term safety net program, the Canadian Alliance has talked about tax reduction. We have talked about harmonizing with the United States in regard to the use of chemicals so that there is no interference in trade with our big trading partners.

There are many things the government could do. The suggestions have all been put before the government. It is the duty and it is the responsibility of the government to address this crisis in agriculture income, part of which was of the government's making, and it is the government's fault for having let it occur.

I hope the agriculture minister and the Prime Minister listen to farmers and farm groups and deal with this issue before spring seeding.

Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows very well that one of the reasons why the benefits got out so slowly in the AIDA program is that the terms of dispensing those benefits were determined by the provinces. It was a shared program. The provinces did not want to put up the money any faster than they could help.

Second, all the member can really talk about is spending money. It is amazing that the party opposite is willing to spend billions on a problem. When the member talks about $80 an acre, he is talking about farms of 10,000 acres as an average. That is $80,000 a farm.

We know there is a crisis in the west. We know there is a crisis in Ontario, even in my own riding. The real reason for it is the unfair subsidies that are occurring in the United States. The member opposite did not even mention that. He knows that is the root of the problem.

 

. 1820 + -

In this past week, our Prime Minister, when talking to the President of the United States, said to the president that he has to do something about these unfair subsidies because he needs our energy, so he has to fix the farm crisis. That is a better fix than simply asking for more and more money. We have to do something with the Americans and we have the Prime Minister who has the credibility to do that something.

Mr. Howard Hilstrom: Mr. Speaker, I will quickly reply. Finally the Prime Minister has taken up the suggestion that I put forward to the 36th parliament, which was for the Liberals to get off their Liberal butts, talk to our partners there and get rid of the subsidies that are causing the distortion of production. The proof is in Hansard. We could have the clerk bring it forward right now and I could prove that. The Prime Minister has finally taken my advice.

The last thing I will say is in regard to the AIDA administration and is a strange fact. Some provinces administer the AIDA program and process the applications by themselves and in some places the federal government does it. Where the federal government is doing it, in Manitoba and in Saskatchewan for example, the applications are processed more slowly and the payouts are much lower. Where the provinces are administering the program, it is done much more quickly and the farmers get their money more quickly, so what the member said is not too accurate.

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to share some thoughts with the Chamber. We have decided that the theme of today from the official opposition is regional interests. As a member from British Columbia, I am delighted to bring some of the concerns that British Columbia has with the direction that the government is planning to take and has shown in the throne speech.

I will be addressing the omissions from the throne speech, the things that it did not address. There are a number of concerns that British Columbians have. One of the main concerns is the high level of taxation, both on a personal level and a business level, which prevents us from being competitive with our American partners.

British Columbia's economy is very much a partnership with the United States, as much as it is with Canada, so the high level of taxation that interferes with our relationship is certainly something we are concerned about. The brain drain that is happening, the loss of our medical people to the United States because of taxation reasons, all of these are concerns.

Another area of great concern to us is the low Canadian dollar. It affects each and every one of us, not just people in British Columbia. Part of the reason gas prices are so high is that the gas is bought and sold in American dollars so we automatically are paying half again as much as our American counterparts who are buying it. The low Canadian dollar causes people in my constituency and in British Columbia great concern and we see nothing from the government that indicates it plans to do anything about it.

There is the fact that for whatever reasons, and I will not go into what the reasons might be, we in western Canada and particularly in British Columbia feel that there is no support from the federal government. We have urban transit issues that need to be addressed and we do not seem to be getting any support from the federal government for that kind of program. We have trade issues that are very much a concern, softwood lumber being the most recent, and we do not see a commitment from the federal government to represent the interests of our region in these negotiations.

There is something as simple as the trade centre. When Toronto wanted to redevelop its harbour to make it more aesthetically pleasing and to offer something to the community with their trade and convention centre, the federal government was there to assist them. However, when Vancouver wants to develop a trade and convention centre to improve its harbour, the federal government is not there.

 

. 1825 + -

We wonder why there is this inequity? Why is it that a city in the east with the same type of project gets the support and a city in the west does not?

Of all these issues, the one that causes us the gravest concern is the government's lack of respect for the people of British Columbia. It is indicated in many ways. Some of them are very apparent, some are not. That lack of respect also plays out here in that British Columbia is under represented in the House of Commons. Our population deserves a greater representation in the House.

We are concerned that there is a lack of understanding that Canada has changed its dimensions since Confederation in 1867. It is not okay to leave things the way they are. It is not okay to continue to not respect the fact that there has been a massive change in the population in this country. It is not okay to continue to have British Columbia under represented, not only in the House but in the other place.

British Columbia was recognized by the House a number of years ago as a distinct region. Canada now has five distinct regions as recognized by the House of Commons. However, that is not taken any further than a piece of paper in Hansard. One of the smaller Atlantic provinces has 10 members in the Senate and British Columbia, the third largest province, has six representatives.

A province which is recognized as a unique and a distinct region, different from the rest of the country, has six members, while Atlantic Canada has thirty-two members, as a distinct region. Ontario has 24 members as a distinct region, as do the province of Quebec and the prairie provinces as distinct regions. There is something wrong when British Columbia, the third largest province, is shown such disregard for its true place in Confederation, our true place in Canada.

There is a lack of respect for the changes that have taken place. The country is different now, some 130 years later, than it was in the beginning. We need to recognize there is a different dimension. We have a very multicultural community on the west coast which is not recognized by government policies. There has to be a willingness for the members of Confederation to sit down and start looking at what is appropriate going into the 21st century.

British Columbians want to see a willingness to accept the fact that British Columbia is the third largest province, that is unique and that it has a lot to offer Canada as far as ideas and participation. There should be more interest shown by the federal government to include British Columbians in what happens in the country. We feel that not only through distance but through attitude there is an unwillingness of the government to recognize the contributions of people in British Columbia.

I hope that its omission in the Speech from the Throne was not deliberate. I hope the Liberal government will be willing over the next for our five years, a mandate given to it by the people of Canada, to show the people of British Columbia that it truly wants our participation, that it truly recognizes our place in Canada and that it will seriously look after the inequities of representation in both the House of Commons and in the Senate.

British Columbians would like to see signs of willingness by the government, not just talk, to recognize and acknowledge British Columbians as equals in Confederation. When that happens we will feel that we are a respected member of Canada.

In the Speech from the Throne that was not apparent and was missing. I hope that efforts will be made by the government in the very near future to show British Columbians that it was an omission, that it was not aware of some of these considerations and concerns and that it is sorry and will do something about it.

I am hoping it was only a big mistake. I hope there will be signs in the future days ahead that British Columbians can feel respected and wanted members of this confederation.

[Translation]

The Deputy Speaker: It being 6.30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow, pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.30 p.m.)

 

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