Monday, October 16, 1995
Bill C-309. Motion for second reading 15369
Mr. Mills (Red Deer) 15369
Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood) 15373
Mr. Mills (Red Deer) 15376
Bill C-64. Consideration resumed of motion forthird reading 15377
Mr. Harper (Churchill) 15394
Mrs. Gagnon (Québec) 15397
Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais 15398
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15398
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15398
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15398
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15399
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15399
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15400
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15400
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15400
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15400
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15401
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15401
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15405
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 15406
Mrs. Gagnon (Québec) 15412
Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 15413
Motion to adopt 90th report 15414
Bill C-64. Consideration resumed of motion forthird reading 15415
Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 15417
Mr. Mills (Red Deer) 15438
Division on motion deferred 15440
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Monday, October 16, 1995
The House met at 11 a.m.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.)
moved that Bill C-309, an act to
amend the Access to Information Act (disclosure of results of
public opinion polls), be read the second time and referred to a
He said: Mr. Speaker, most Canadians believe that this is the best
country in the world. However, that does not mean they agree with
the status quo and do not want changes. Canadians want
constructive change and near the top of every list is the desire for a
more open and accountable government.
Open government means a free flow of information between the
government and its citizens. It means that government informs the
public rather than manipulating them. Open government means
that when tax dollars are used to commission polls about the
thoughts and opinions of Canadians, everyone has the right to
assess the results of these polls in a timely manner.
Canadians who want access to poll results should not have to
jump through bureaucratic hoops in order to get the answers.
Unlike the last Parliament which was very secretive this Parliament
must change the system. Never again should Canadians be faced
with the situation where the information commissioner has to take
the Prime Minister to court to force him to release publicly funded
poll results as happened in the Mulroney regime.
The kind of backroom government that has been so common
here in Ottawa must change and it must change quickly. The
Canadian public will not accept that sort of secrecy any more. They
will not put blind faith in their politicians. They have learned
through experience that left to its own devices, government will
take advantage of the situation.
Government will selectively release important information to
manipulate the public and advance its own agenda. In fact, we
recently witnessed a perfect example of just this type of behaviour
by the Parizeau government in Quebec. While this example did not
involve polls, it did involve a series of publicly funded studies that
examined the consequences of separation.
As all members are probably aware, the Parizeau government
realized that some of the studies cast serious doubts on the viability
of a separate Quebec. These studies responsibly pointed out the
economic pitfalls that would invariably be associated with
separation and the Parizeau government did not like it. Instead of
releasing all of the taxpayer funded studies, Mr. Parizeau only
released those that reinforced his own position.
The point therefore is to make all polls public in a timely
manner. Not only was this manipulation by the Parizeau
government dishonest, it also was an example of the need for
legislation that specifically prevents this kind of behaviour.
The current government has not been as secretive as the previous
one. If the Liberals truly believe in the concept of open
government, then they should not be afraid to put their money
where their mouths are. By making open government the law of the
land, Parliament can show all Canadians that times have changed
and that the rights of citizens to know what their government is
doing is a fundamental one. If Parliament is really serious about
open government, then all members should give their consent to
make Bill C-309 votable and then we should pass it.
The bill would amend the Access to Information Act to ensure
that all federal departments, boards or agencies that commission
public opinion polls gave notice to the designated minister and the
Speaker of the House of Commons. The designated minister would
then be obliged to submit to the House of Commons the results of
the polls and report the following: a description of the nature of the
poll; a copy of the questions asked and a summary of the responses
given; the period when the poll was conducted; and the cost of the
poll. The minister would be required to lay this report before the
House no later than 15 days after the poll was completed. If the
House is not sitting, the report would be deposited with the
information commissioner within the same deadline, published in
the Canada Gazette and then presented to the House of Commons
during the first five days after it resumed sitting.
If Bill C-309 was made votable and passed, the results of all
public opinion polls commissioned by federal government bodies
would become public in a very timely fashion. This prompt
disclosure would make the results available while the information
is still relevant to the current concerns of the public and is what
the Canadian people are demanding.
Although I hope I am wrong, I predict Liberal members will
speak against the bill. Members opposite know very well that they
made election promises to ``make open government the watchword
of the Liberal program''. I doubt they are willing to live up to that
This reluctance of the Liberals to honour their red book promises
was clearly demonstrated earlier in the year when they were the
only members from any party to vote against open government by
defeating Motion No. 304. I proposed this motion. It would have
opened up Parliament and crown corporations to scrutiny under the
Access to Information Act. I was told it was not to be passed at that
time because the whole question was under review and massive
changes were to be made to the Access to Information Act.
Everyone agrees that it needs revision. I wonder if we will hear the
same reasons now.
Even though Liberal members had been given assurances that
M-304 would not breach the confidentiality of their offices or
disrupt the competitive edge of crown corporations, Liberal
members unanimously voted against that motion. This was
especially strange considering that several members had told me
privately they favoured the motion and thought it was a great idea.
We all know what really happened. Instead of allowing their
members to vote freely on the matter, the top brass stepped in and
cracked the party whip. Even though the chief government whip
has given his word to the House that Liberal members are allowed
to vote with their consciences on private members' business, those
members are told what to do and as always they do it.
I would now like to anticipate the line of argument from my
colleagues opposite. I predict they will say that since they have
been in government Treasury Board policies on communications
and information management have been changed in order to
address the problems of disclosure of public opinion research. I
predict we will hear that these guidelines and the promises of the
public works and government services minister make Bill C-309
unnecessary. The problem is already solved, they will say, but this
is not correct.
It is true the change in the Treasury Board guidelines tinkered
with the old Mulroney system but this did not mean the problem
was solved. It was not and the government knows it. News
clippings abundantly reveal the continuing problems with the new
and improved Liberal system. Two headlines in the Globe and Mail
recently say it all: ``Liberal poll results rules much like the Tories'',
``Liberals will still allow polls to be kept secret''. A Winnipeg Free
Press article entitled ``Imitating Mulroney'' says:
Public Works Minister David Dingwall called the new guidelines a
``breakthrough''. In fact, they are little more than Brian Mulroney's policy warmed
over with a little red sauce for artificial flavour. These flimsy guidelines will not
require ministers to reveal information gathered at public expense, if in the opinion
of the minister that information is considered advice to the government.
What does it mean, advice to the government? By tradition,
advice must stay locked up in a bomb-proof vault until the minister
passes on to a better place or until the paper it is written on turns
yellow and disintegrates.
Let me move on to a very interesting article that was published
in the normally Liberal friendly Toronto Star after the new
Treasury Board guidelines were put in place. Its title is: ``Liberals
restrict access to poll results''. It reads:
-previous Conservative governments were attacked for keeping taxpayer
paid for polls secret, including constitutional polls. Now, the Liberal
government seems determined to do an even better job of delaying and hiding
We are talking about millions of dollars of taxpayers' money
being spent on public polls and their findings not being made open
to the public or to this House. The author of this article, Ken Rubin,
correctly calls the government's new access scheme fraudulent. He
describes the flawed new process as follows:
1. The lengthy up to 90 day period for publication of poll reports goes far
beyond the already too long 30 day release period possible under the Access to
Information Act. There will be instances in which publication is well after 90
2. The up to 90 day period for publication release begins only after a final
written report is received from the pollsters. That's even though the polling
results are immediately conveyed-sometimes months earlier-orally or in
draft written form to the government.
3. A summary report of polling results could be all that is published, leaving
out the guts of the research usually found in the technical tables.
4. Some polls still will be kept secret through applying partial or total
exemption of poll results under the Access to Information Act.
It will be up to the minister to decide.
5. The Treasury Board directives formally encourage departments to
consider applying for exemptions under the Access to Information Act. This
policy endorses the view that polls are something other than publicly paid for,
routinely released results of public response to government commissioned
6. The Treasury Board's practices will make more progressive federal
departments think twice before publishing certain ``sensitive'' poll data; after
all, departments have to go to the Treasury Board to fund their polls and focus
7. Once the government has decided to publish a poll result, that poll is no
longer covered under the Access to Information Act. This means recipients could
lose the right to complain, all the way to the federal court, about the polling results
received after late receipts and publishing delays.
There is much more in this report, but we all get the point of the
problems with this new legislation. The change in Treasury Board
guidelines was a finesse by the government, not an honest attempt
to address the existing problem. This is unacceptable and more
concrete steps have to be taken.
I do not claim Bill C-309 by itself can fix the problems of
secretive government. It cannot and no one would say it could.
However, if this legislation were passed it would be a step in the
Parliament can talk about open government until the cows come
home but unless we are willing to legislate change it means nothing
more than words. It is time to legislate open government.
In the sincere hope that members will have the courage to act, I
ask for unanimous consent to make C-309 a votable item. If this is
done all members of Parliament will have a chance to get on the
record on this very important issue.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Does the hon. member have
the unanimous consent of the House?
Some hon. members: No.
Ms. Susan Whelan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
National Revenue, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise to commend the hon.
member for this proposal to extend the application of the Access to
I am a firm believer that open government is essential to the
preservation of the respect which members of the public give us as
politicians and to the trust they place in their government. The
Liberal Party is committed to the principle of open government.
I am not sure, however, this amendment is necessary. It is my
understanding the act already provides for access to public opinion
polls. Section 4 of the act provides that everyone has a right of
access to any record under a government institution. In so far as
opinion polls constitute such records, they are covered by the act. If
specific poll results are not disclosed to the public it is because in
specific circumstances a legitimate interest that competes with
presumption of access is invoked. It should be noted the act
performs a careful and complex balancing between a variety of
interests. I am concerned that amending the act to address a
specific and limited aspect of the act would disturb the various
balances within the act.
In 1992 the trial division of the federal court pronounced on the
question of release of public opinion research in the case of
Information Commissioner v. Prime Minister. That case dealt with
public opinion polls commissioned during previous constitutional
negotiations. The decision of the federal court trial division of
November 19, 1992 provides guidance on disclosure of such
In addition to section 4 of the act, the Treasury Board secretariat
has issued guidelines for federal institutions on the release of
public opinion polls. The Treasury Board communications policy
amended last July provides that first, government institutions must
make every effort to disclose results outside the formal resolution
process prescribed by the Access to Information Act of public
Second, in the spirit of the Access to Information Act,
institutions are encouraged to make the final report of public
opinion research available within 30 days of receipt and should
resort to the 90-day allowance only if constrained by publishing
Third, in those cases in which a minister elects not to disclose
the final report in response to an access to information request, the
minister must send a letter to the information commissioner
informing the information commissioner of his or her decision
inciting the provision of the Access to Information Act that the
minister has exercised. A copy of the letter will be sent to the
Treasury Board for purposes of monitoring implementation of this
With section 4 of the act interpreted by a recent court case
dealing with opinion polls, and with a new government policy
which guides government institutions on the disclosure of public
opinion polls, it is not at all clear to me that there is a present and
pressing problem with respect to the release of public opinion
research that justifies an ad hoc amendment.
Another reason I would not support Bill C-309 is that the
Minister of Justice has announced his intention to reform the
Access to Information Act. I understand a review of how public
opinion polls are disclosed or not disclosed to the public will be
part of that review.
I trust the Minister of Justice will reform the act in providing for
more open government, including greater access to polling
information. I am concerned that Bill C-309 would amend the act
in an ad hoc fashion.
It has been about 12 years since the act was first passed. A
parliamentary committee and the information commissioner have
both made extensive recommendations for reform. I believe it is
time for a fundamental review that would look at all aspects of the
In addition I have concerns with specific details in this proposal.
The requirement that every public opinion research contract be
reported to the minister and to the Speaker of the House of
Commons and that reports be tabled in Parliament or with the
information commissioner and published in the Canada Gazette
seems like overkill.
An amendment that provides that no exemptions apply to the
release of public information opinion research would have been
sufficient for members' purposes. The media, citizens and
parliamentarians are quite familiar with the relatively easy process
of filing access requests. In any event the Treasury Board policy
calls for informal dissemination public opinion research. New and
duplicated reporting requirements merely add red tape and cost,
which we can ill afford at this time.
Another problem I have with Bill C-309 is that it would apply to
any department, branch, office, board, agency, commission,
corporation or other body established by or pursuant to any act of
Parliament or established by or pursuant to any proclamation, order
in council or other instrument made or issued by or under the
authority of the governor in council.
By defining which institutions are covered by this proposed
amendment in this way the proposed amendment goes entirely
against the way the rest of the Access to Information Act is
structured. The act applies to all government institutions listed in
the schedule, approximately 140. The purpose of listing the
institutions is to make it clear to everyone which institutions are
covered by the act. Going away from a list approach creates the
possibility of confusing the issue of whether the act applies to a
particular institution. It may mean having to go to court to find out
whether the act applies to a particular institution in a given
As a result of Bill C-309 some institutions not currently subject
to the act will be subject to the specific amendment. For example,
Canada Post is not subject to the act but will be subject to the
proposed clause 5(1).
I am also concerned about the definition of public opinion poll,
which I find extremely broad. It could include quantitative and
qualitative research conducted among members of the public using
a prepared questionnaire or interview schedule. A good proportion
of this research would be of very limited public interest.
I do not believe Bill C-309 is needed. There is already a right of
access to public opinion poll research under the Access to
Information Act. There is recent case law that provides guidance to
the government in disclosing such polls. There is a government
policy on disclosing poll results. The Minister of Justice has stated
his intention to reform the Access to Information Act.
Given all this, I do not think it is appropriate or necessary to
proceed with an ad hoc amendment on the specific issue of public
opinion polls. I have problems also with the fact the bill would
introduce significant new bureaucratic reporting requirements,
deviate from the way the rest of the act defines government
institutions and potentially could apply to research of very limited
public interest. For all these reasons, I cannot support the bill.
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the purpose
of Bill C-309 tabled on February 22, 1995 by the hon. member for
Red Deer is to amend the Access to Information Act. Its main
objective is to oblige the government to disclose results obtained
and methods used in public opinion polls commissioned by the
government through various agencies.
The proposed legislation provides that the government shall lay
before this House a report of the results of public opinion polls it
We support this initiative because it encourages openness and
the democratic exercise of power. The debate on public opinion
polls and the need for making this tool more transparent is mainly
about whether these polls undermine the democratic process by
influencing the behaviour of society in general.
Recent studies have shown that publication of these polls can
have an impact on a close race, especially towards the end of the
campaign. The publication of public opinion polls can have a
positive or negative impact on the morale of volunteer campaign
workers and donors.
Party strategists complain that it is hard to retrieve lost ground
when the media have decided, on the basis of public opinion polls,
that a party is no longer in the running. Opinion polls may be
purposely misinterpreted, if the technical information provided is
too incomplete to assess the validity of the results.
Clearly, the secret use of this powerful instrument is a first step
towards arbitrary use of power and a practice that is a threat to
democracy. What seems to be a highly scientific instrument that
confers a certain authority becomes, in the hands of unscrupulous
politicians, a tool for political propaganda and manipulation. I am
thinking, for instance, of the group for Canadian unity, a special
unit of the Privy Council of this government.
Working on behalf of the No coalition, the intergovernmental
affairs office, located in an office tower in downtown Ottawa,
attempts to implement the vision of the No forces, the status quo,
which will make debtors and paupers of all Quebecers and even
Canadians. This anti-referendum unit funded with public money
has a budget of more than three million dollars. Part of this money
is spent to commission public opinion polls whose methods and
results are used to influence the democratic process in the Quebec
This Canadian unity group, more obscure and secretive by far
than the centre for Canadian unity was during the 1980 campaign,
commissions public opinion polls on a weekly basis and uses them
to manipulate public opinion in a democratic society. In fact,
because of the secret nature of these polls, nothing prevents this
government from using methods that are questionable from a
scientific point of view and thus commissioning results that will
influence the vote.
Nothing prevents the government from only disclosing polls that
are favourable and eliminating those that might be less favourable
to its negative vision. Polling companies play a role that has an
impact not only on elections but also on policy development.
Governments use public opinion polls to define their positions on
various controversial issues and to determine their priorities.
Federal ministers therefore take the initiative of commissioning
polls to test public reaction to various options. In short, the
government is no longer concerned about the content of its policies
but focusses on their form based on public opinion polls. The
famous Axworthy reform is an excellent example.
The amounts allocated by the federal government for public
opinion polls are astronomical. During the period from April 1990
to November 1991, a mere 19 months, apparently over $10 million
in expenditures were approved by the Department of Supply and
Services and committed by the federal government for public
opinion polls. That amount does not include contracts awarded
directly by departments.
For all these reasons it is essential for transparency to become
the main objective of democratic governments when they make use
of public opinion polls. Bill 309 calls for effective measures to
ensure government transparency when public opinion polls are
used. The report submitted to the House of Commons must
therefore indicate the nature of the public opinion poll, the
questions asked and a summary of the responses given, the name of
the person or firm commissioned to conduct the poll and finally, its
cost. This is a bill with the potential to change the face of Canadian
Speaking of surveys, I would like to comment very briefly if I
may on the results of the survey carried out by Léger and Léger for
Le Journal de Montréal and the Globe and Mail, released last
Saturday, the day before yesterday.
With two weeks to go until referendum day, the yes side shows a
solid 49.2 per cent compared to 50.8 per cent for the no side. In
only a few weeks we have taken over five of the federalists'
percentage points, reducing the difference to a mere 1.6 per cent.
This considerable advance is in large part due to what the press is
calling the ``Bouchard factor'', but it must be pointed out that this
week we gained only two percentage points.
Before distribution of the undecided voters, 45 per cent of
respondents stated that they would vote yes to the referendum
question, while 42.4 per cent indicated that they would vote no.
Among those whose minds were definitely made up, I must point
out that 52.2 per cent of francophone respondents stated that they
will be voting yes, compared to only 34.3 per cent who will vote
There are a number of explanations for this upturn in support for
the sovereignist camp. We have the most popular, most credible,
most loved leaders in Quebec on our side in Mr. Bouchard, Mr.
Parizeau and Mr. Dumont. Lagging far behind them are the
spokespersons for the no side, the Prime Minister of Canada, the
Minister of Labour, Mr. Johnson, and the hon. member for
We will win this coming October 30 because we are promoting
the project of a just society that is fair for all, a project of
generosity and compassion for the most disadvantaged segments of
our society: the unemployed, welfare recipients, immigrants,
refugees, pensioners and so on. On the other hand, the blueprint for
society of this government, of the Liberals, the Conservatives and
the Reform, is to protect big capital, those who are already
advantaged. The program of the ministers of finance and of human
resources development, of Ontario's Mike Harris and Alberta's
Ralph Klein is to protect the rich and neglect the poor.
In conclusion, I state that the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill
Mr. Dennis J. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I should like to speak for a few minutes in support of the
private member's bill of the hon. member for Red Deer who has
done some excellent work on the issue.
In 1980-81 I had the privilege of working on the original access
to information bill. I believed then and I still believe now the
intention of the government at that time was to do the very thing
the private member's bill suggests.
In the last 13 years to 14 years the whole access to information
process has become locked in a system I call the bureaucratic MAD
treatment, maximum administrative delay. As a government
member I have had great difficulty on more than one occasion in
getting the access to information system to work for me.
The objective of the hon. member for Red Deer is to refer the bill
to committee. He has not asked the House to accept the bill line by
line, comma for comma. If small amendments are required I
believe they can be accommodated in committee.
The whole discussion on access to information is something that
would serve the government and serve the House well. What the
member is saying in the bill is very much a part of our
government's red book wherein we were committed to operating a
much more transparent, a much more accountable, a much more
Day after day the Prime Minister lives a life of transparency. We
all know that these polls are being conducted and there are the
results of the polls. We have nothing to hide when we conduct
polls. They are done to advance public policy in a more refined and
better way for all Canadians.
We on this side of the House celebrate that members of
Parliament should work hard at developing and thinking some of
their own ideas. This example very much fits that description. The
member for Red Deer has put forward the idea that all public
opinion polls should be much more accountable to Parliament and I
support him in that regard.
Mr. Philip Mayfield (Cariboo-Chilcotin, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
I am pleased to rise in support of Bill C-309, an act to amend the
Access to Information Act (disclosure of results of public opinion
As I look through the bill it makes complete sense to me. I am
sure that anyone who believes in the democratic process would
agree that the bill is simply common sense. Every day public polls
are conducted by media outlets, associations, academics, and
especially by government departments.
There are two principal differences between the groups I have
listed. First, the government is the only one funded solely by the
taxpayers of Canada. Second, the government is the principal one
that does not make the results of its polls easily and readily
available to the Canadian public. Is there a paradox in this
situation? Last year the Winnipeg Free Press in an editorial wrote:
During the election last fall, the Liberals made transparency and openness in
government a central theme. What a difference a victory makes.
Yes, what a difference a victory makes. We all know that the
former Conservative government was obsessed with public polling.
In 1992 the Conservative government spent an unprecedented $140
million on public polling. Most of that money was awarded to
chums of the Conservative Party, a firm called Decima polling.
How nice it would have been to be working at Decima in 1992. I
see why the Liberal government criticized the Conservatives
during the 1993 election campaign. Expenditures on polling prior
to 1992 were about $10 million a year. With an increase to $140
million, who would not want to make it an election issue?
I will briefly outline the history. It is important the House knows
why the Liberals are arguing against Bill C-309. Liberals will tell
us that there is no problem when comparing their policy to that of
the Progressive Conservatives. This may be true. Hopefully no
government will ever again reach the total polling expenditures as
the Conservatives did in 1992.
The one key point that must be clear in the debate is that the
Liberal government is doing very little to change the old style
polling established by the Conservative government. The Winnipeg
Free Press stated last year:
By tradition, advice from polling must stay locked up in a bomb-proof vault
until the minister passes on to a better place or until the paper it is written on
turns yellow and disintegrates.
This tradition is still alive and well with the Liberal government.
In May 1994 the Liberal government introduced what it said was an
alternative to this tradition. It introduced a series of polling
measures that the Minister of Public Works and Government
Services said were based on ``principles of transparency and
openness''. The only thing transparent is the Liberal commitment
to tell the Canadian people what the Liberals want them to know.
The only thing that is open is the Canadian taxpayer's wallet as he
or she pays for the veil of secrecy created when government polls
Bill C-309, an act to amend the Access to Information Act,
prohibits the blatant manipulation of public information gathered
by government departments. The bill would force any government
department or unit that commissions a public opinion poll to give
notice to the appropriate minister. The minister is then obliged to
submit to the House of Commons the results of the poll. The
minister would present four key components of the poll: first, a
description of its nature; second, a copy of the questions asked and
a summary of the responses given; third, the period of time when
the poll was conducted; and fourth, the cost of the poll.
This seems to be a logical progression of events. Ministers of the
crown should not even need legislation compelling them to submit
poll results. By their very nature as chief representatives of
departments in a democracy, all information gathered at the
department should be open to public scrutiny. As it stands, the
ministers are picking and choosing the poll results that are most
beneficial to them in promoting their policies.
The government will argue that it has answered all the concerns
of Canadians about access to public polls. The government will
claim that in May 1994 it released guidelines to ensure that
information was made public. However last December the Toronto
Star called the guidelines ``a fraudulent new access scheme''. The
Toronto Star was absolutely correct.
There are a few catches that the Liberal government failed to
mention when it introduced the new guidelines. It failed to
mention that the government still has the ability to keep some poll
results secret. It is able to do so if the individual minister feels
the results would be injurious to the public interest or to
federal-provincial relations. That seems to give the ministers room
to impose total personal discretion. What one cabinet minister may
see as injurious to public interest may be necessary information
to the average Canadian.
Mr. Kenneth Rubin, an expert on government documents, called
this ethics package ``so vague it is hard to criticize it precisely, but
the specific rules for withholding polls are what the Tories
practised''. This vagueness is a blessing only for cabinet ministers
as they are able to interpret it to their own benefit.
Another benefit to cabinet ministers and their friends in the
polling companies is that they are given 90 days to release poll
publications, which is an absolute absurdity. After 90 days the issue
is likely dead and Canadians have little interest in old news or dead
issues. Also quite often the government has already used the
information to its advantage by this time.
The 90-day period of silence is stretched even further as often
the polling companies give the government a verbal or a brief
written synopsis of the results. There is no requirement to release
poll results until 90 days after the government receives the final
written report. This in reality can add months to the 90-day period.
The information commissioner in his annual report in June called
this ``a loophole of monumental proportions''.
Even then, if the 90-day period is not long enough, the minister
can still apply to have it extended indefinitely. In effect a minister
can sit on an issue as long as he or she chooses. The government
can also use the extended period provision to avoid criticism and
legal action. Once the government has decided to release the poll
results the poll is no longer open to further scrutiny under
provisions of the Access to Information Act. That means any right
to complain to the federal court about information quality or delays
is no longer an option.
If all this security is still not enough for cabinet ministers, they
have even more ways of ensuring the Canadian public does not
receive poll results accurately. They can instruct their friends at the
polling companies to provide only summaries of the results and
leave the real meat and bones of the research in the technical tables.
Another creative method of avoiding the public is that the
government can purchase omnibus polling packages from
companies that are providing them to other organizations as well.
These poll results then remain the property of the polling company
and do not have to be made public, even though government
money paid for this information.
Bill C-309 responds to all these loopholes by offering a
straightforward method of dealing with the publishing of poll
results. It requires the ministers to submit polls to the House of
Commons no later than 15 days after the poll is completed. If the
House is not sitting the report must be submitted to the information
commissioner, published in the Canada Gazette, and presented to
Parliament upon its return. This is simple logic and is democratic.
Bill C-309 eliminates all the vagueness that allows the government
to abuse the system.
The information commissioner wrote in his 1995 annual report:
``The Liberals promised to do better than the Conservatives, much
better. Many Canadians thus anticipated a new government with
the self-confidence to be candid''. In my opinion, it is quite clear
that this government is no more candid than the former
government. This is not merely my opinion. The information
commissioner, who is an expert in the field, agreed when he added
in his report that ``expectations for a bright new day with sunshine
in all the old dark places were unrealistically high''. The
information commissioner is clearly not satisfied with this
government's commitment to openness. Canadians are not satisfied
The information commissioner and the Reform Party are not the
only ones that are not content with the government's lack of
commitment to open government. The Ottawa Sun criticized the
government accurately last fall when it stated: ``Who knows, one of
these days the government might even poll you for your opinion on
whether it should be forced to release the results of all its opinion
polls. Tell them what you think, just don't ask them for the results.
You might be told it's none of your damn business''.
It is the business of Canadians to know what questions and issues
are being polled. Canadians deserve the right to know what is the
popular opinion of the nation. They deserve to know what the
government is doing with the results it receives. They deserve to
know if the government departments are polling for legitimate
reasons or for the government party's own political gain. Finally,
Canadians deserve the right to see how much money is being spent
by the government and for what reasons.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Colleagues, I find myself in
a situation we all do from time to time. I know the practice is not to
recognize people in the gallery. However, I would want the group
from St. Timothy Catholic School to know that if I could recognize
them I would, but it is not our practice to do so.
Mr. John Bryden (Hamilton-Wentworth, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, that was very well done, if I may say.
I will make my remarks brief. I rise to speak in support of Bill
C-309. It is a pleasure to do so. I believe reform of the Access
to Information Act is very necessary and long overdue. My feeling
on Bill C-309 is that while I support it wholeheartedly, it does
not go anywhere near far enough. The time has come, in the name
of opening up government, in the name of opening up the
bureaucracy, to review the provisions of the Access to Information
I have had a lot of experience with the Access to Information Act
over the years, particularly in the matter of getting historic records.
As the member for Broadview-Greenwood said, the act as
originally designed is not the act as it is currently practised. We
have a situation where an act that was originally intended to open
up government documents is now being used in many instances to
withhold government documents.
I want to say to the member for Red Deer that I join him in
supporting this bill and putting this bill forward. I hope it is a first
step for a complete overhaul of both the Access to Information Act
and the Privacy Act.
Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I wish to
recognize the individuals on the other side who are supporting this
bill. I would like to ask those members who do not support the bill
why they do not support it. Why did we not have unanimous
consent to have this bill made a votable bill?
When these people were in opposition to the Conservatives they
ripped at the Conservatives all the time. They said we have to
change the access to information laws, open government up, and let
Canadian taxpayers, who are footing the bill for this information,
have access to it. Why the change of heart once the Liberal Party
was elected as government? Why the difference?
I think the fundamental reason for that lies at the very heart of
what is wrong with our approach to governing in this country. It is
because we have among the three old-line parties an elitist, top
down approach to governing. Once the political party of the day
gets into power it is not much interested in listening to the people in
the sense of shaping policy or developing legislation. It is very
much a command and control government that we have. It wants to
have information so that it knows how to shape its messages and
sell its policies but it is not really interested in having policy
developed or shaped by the Canadian people. In this milieu, it is
not particularly helpful to have information available to the public.
It is much more advantageous to keep that information to yourself
and use it for your own purposes and not allow the Canadian people
to have access to it.
I would use the gun control bill as a perfect example of a bill that
is widely hated by Canadians. The government is refusing to
acknowledge that fact. It is using polling as a means of trying to
determine how it can best sell this odious piece of legislation. It is
not really interested in listening to the views of Canadians from
coast to coast who take real offence to this legislation.
I would make the argument that the situation we find ourselves
in is not likely to change. We will have opposition parties forever
decrying the lack of access to information and ridiculing and
condemning the government of the day for not changing the access
to information rules. However, once these parties get into power
they will act the same way unless we have a fundamental change in
our whole approach to governing.
That is what the Reform Party of Canada stands for. We believe
that not only do we come here with a set of policies and principles
we would like to put in front of the Canadian people, but we also
suggest there has to be a fundamental change in the way Canada is
governed. Ordinary Canadians should have much more say through
referenda, through initiatives, and through recall to have their
views and wishes incorporated into the policies and legislation of
Until we have these fundamental changes, until we have a break
away from this elitist, top down approach to government in which
information is always going to be very tightly corralled, where
there is no advantage in making that information known to the
general public, we are never going to have the changes we would
all like to see. I would suggest that while the members opposite talk
about opening this up and having better access to information, it is
not going to change until we change the system.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Seeing no other members
rising, I wonder if the House might be disposed to this. The motion
stands in the name of the hon. member for Red Deer. The
understanding is that no one else will speak after the hon. member
for Red Deer closes the debate. I would seek the member's
co-operation, if he would reply under the right of reply for two
minutes and no more, to in fact close the debate on Motion No.
M-309 which stands in his name.
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, what we have
heard is a general agreement that the access to information
legislation needs to be reformed. I would like to believe there is an
honest will to do that and that the justice minister will deliver on
the promise to change the legislation.
The problem is there are a lot of issues on the justice minister's
plate and I honestly do not believe he will get around to the changes
in the legislation or will be able to deal with them in this
Parliament. For those of us in the House who believe there should
be changes, I believe that the onus is on us to continue to bring
forward these ideas and the desire of the Canadian people to have
more openness in government. The people are demanding it. They
are saying that it must happen. I believe that we as parliamentarians
must respond. I would urge all members to get behind the changes
and to pressure their parties to make these changes.
I would like to thank the House for this opportunity. I would like
to thank the members who spoke in favour of the bill. We should
keep up the fight to ensure that the justice minister does find the
time to change the access to information legislation.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I thank all members for their
The time provided for the consideration of private members'
business has now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 96, the order
is dropped from the Order Paper.
The House resumed from October 6 consideration of the motion
that Bill C-64, an act respecting employment equity, be read the
third time and passed.
Mr. Jack Frazer (Saanich-Gulf Islands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
it is my privilege this morning to rise to speak to Bill C-64. I will
be speaking against the bill.
Bill C-64 extends and supersedes the 1986 Employment Equity
Act, which covered crown corporations and federally regulated
private sector employees. It covers banks, airlines, railways, and
telecommunications, which employ about five per cent of Canada's
According to the government, the purpose is to ``achieve
equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied
employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to
ability and, in the fulfilment of that goal, to correct the conditions
of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, aboriginal
peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible
minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity
means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires
special measures and accommodation of differences''. It is to be
reflective of Canada's population as a whole.
While it does not bear directly on the federal scene, it certainly
impacts on the bill at hand. I would like to quote from Friday's
editorial page of the Globe and Mail. It is entitled ``Why merit
matters'', and reads as follows:
Ontario's new Conservative government has introduced legislation to repeal
the one-year-old Employment Equity Act. All Canadians, whatever their status
or background, should be glad.
Despite the denials of its supporters, Bill 79 was unquestionably a ``quota
law''. Employers were expected to set targets for creating a workforce that
reflected the racial and gender make-up of the community at large. The bill was
also clearly discriminatory. By requiring employers to favour members of the
designated groups, it effectively required them to discriminate against members
of the undesignated group: that is, able-bodied white men.
But these are not the worst aspects of Bill 79. The main evil of the law is its
implicit attack on the principle of merit.
Appeals for the importance of merit tend to have an elitist sound to modern
ears. In fact, merit has always been cherished most dearly by the disadvantaged,
who regard it as a ladder to better things. For generations, even centuries,
disadvantaged people have pleaded to be released from the pigeon holes in
which others place them and evaluated on their ability as individuals. ``See me
for who I am, not what I am. Judge me on what I can do, not what I look like''.
The supporters of employment equity would throw all this out the window. The
merit principle, they will say in their honest moments simply hasn't worked. The
disadvantaged are still disadvantaged. The colour blind, gender blind world is an
impossible dream. We need to try something else. So instead of disregarding the
group identity of people in hiring and promotion, we will fixate on it. Instead of
encouraging employers to hire the best person for the job, we will require them to tot
up their workers like so many jelly beans. Instead of encouraging new immigrants to
become part of the wider society, we will tell them to define themselves by race.
In a diverse society with high levels of immigration, this is a terribly dangerous
thing. Designed by well meaning people to encourage integration, employment
equity in fact works against it, encouraging Canadians to huddle together in groups
and feeding the unhealthy obsession with race and gender that has seized Canadian
society in the 1990s. This obsession has already infected universities, museums,
writers' organizations and women's groups. Bill 79 would have made it a law. Every
Canadian should give it a hearty, ``Good riddance''.
This does not directly bear on Bill C-64 but I think the same
arguments apply against the imposition of Bill C-64. In our case
new equity laws will immediately cover approximately 230,000
Treasury Board employees. They will affect all federally regulated
businesses and businesses with over 100 employees undertaking
Due to the increased cost this law will cause, it will hold off
implementation indefinitely on certain agencies such as CSIS, the
RCMP and the armed forces. In practice Bill C-64 means enforcing
racial and sex based numerical goals to correct perceived past
discrimination. The numerical goals are quotas in disguise. If
numerical goals are enforceable they serve exactly the same
function as quotas.
For years employment equity has been at work within the public
service. It will be difficult or impossible to introduce it at the
moment because the government is cutting jobs and has a hiring
freeze in place. Public service employees declared surplus have
ironclad job security which guarantees them another reasonable
job offer within the public service.
Admittedly men still account for more than 50 per cent of public
servants and this is also reflected in the executive ranks. Most of
the top managers within the bureaucracy were hired 25 years ago
when government was growing. The bureaucracy still reflects a
nation of a quarter century ago. For those same 25 years women
have been entering the workplace with roughly the same
educational credentials and the same job aspirations as men.
In the private sector women have successfully moved into every
profession: medicine, law, accounting, advertising, banking.
Progress has been impressive. Why? The world has changed for
women. Gender alone is no longer a very big influence on
opportunity and life. Education and ability count for far more.
Unquestionably racism and sexism do exist but discrimination
alone does not explain the vastly unequal outcomes in life for
different groups of people.
Government and Canadians have an obligation to open doors for
the disadvantaged but they are not always who we think they are.
This matter is more complex than simply passing laws or imposing
quotas. Current data and statistics are not enough. With the
reduction in the public service the new laws will not radically
affect or change the face of the current bureaucracy. Most of the
data and conclusions are taken from self-identification surveys
which are to identify women, disabled, aboriginal peoples and
visible minorities, but the accuracy of these data is at best
Many individuals do not perceive themselves to be
disadvantaged or do not wish to admit it. Employer specific
surveys do not reflect information accurately. In many cases people
do not view themselves as disadvantaged unless specifically
required to address the issue but are protected with anonymity such
as in national surveys.
The 1992-93 report on employment equity in the public service
states the number of visible minority employees may be
underidentified by one and a half times. The number of disabled
may be underidentified by two and a half times.
With distorted data, conclusions based on the underidentification
of designated groups means there may be already higher numbers
of disadvantaged people in the workforce. Alternately there is an
incentive to falsify self-identification surveys based on perceived
advantages of being considered disadvantaged. For example, a
1994 annual report on the Employment Equity Act noted that as of
1991 nearly 2.3 million Canadians reported having a disability, an
increase of 30 per cent over 1986 surveys.
Due to fiscal constraints the government will be using
employment equity figures from the 1991 census until the year
2003. How reliable are these figures? Statistics Canada
acknowledges that in 1991, 10 per cent of the aboriginal population
was not even enumerated. Only 3 per cent of Canadians reported
their ethnic/cultural origin as Canadian.
The existing Employment Equity Act calls for a comprehensive
review every three years. The last review was in 1992, but the
mandatory review for this year has not been undertaken. Basically
the government is moving ahead with new legislation without
having the benefit of this review.
Since Canada has a shrinking bureaucracy there will be little
direct impact on government but there will be an impact on
businesses with over 100 employees who wish to conduct business
with the federal government. What does that mean for them? No
comprehensive study has been done in Canada on that outcome.
To quote the Reform minority report on employment equity, the
American magazine Forbes is the only source which has attempted
to calculate the costs of affirmative action. It cited that the cost for
regulation and compliance alone stood at $17 billion to $209
billion annually. It verified that U.S. affirmative action costs were
$113 billion per year since 1980, or 4 per cent of the GDP.
In 1992 the Conference Board of Canada defined small, medium
and large businesses and gave the annual average cost of
employment equity for each category. Due to the lack of
comprehensive studies in Canada, Reform took these figures, with
the assistance of the Library of Parliament, to cover businesses
across the nation. If all Canadian businesses were subject to equity
legislation which was in place in Ontario, where firms with more
than 50 employees were asked to have an employment equity plan,
the total annual direct costs would be $1,035,223,000.
These direct costs exclude compliance, opportunity and other
indirect costs. The Forbes study showed that total costs were six
times the direct costs. Based on this, the cost to Canadian business
would reach $6.5 billion per annum, nearly 1 per cent of our GDP.
The Library of Parliament has confirmed in writing the
reasonableness of our figures.
In essence this is another costly tax on business. The
government's debt and deficit are already choking our economy.
Taxpayers are unable to sustain even more expense, be it direct or
indirect. The department of public works is already implementing a
strategic procurement initiative which applies to all government
ments and grants preference to aboriginal businesses bidding on
federal contracts up to $2 million.
By giving preferential treatment to native businesses in
government procurement, the government hopes to provide a
sustainable economic base for native self-government. However,
employment equity carries a stigma and a presumption of racial or
gender inferiority. Equity programs do not remove sex and race
bias from the workplace; they institutionalize them.
Brian Lee Crowley's article ``Does counting bodies add up to
fairness?'' details findings of a 1987 study. What happens when
women are promoted under a program emphasizing gender over
ability is that they consistently rated their performance more
negatively, took less credit for successful outcomes, were less
eager to persist in their leadership roles. They also viewed
themselves as more deficient in leadership skills. In other words, it
diminished their worth in their own eyes.
In other areas such as education, law school, if doors are opened
to individuals who are ill prepared to take on the challenge, the
outcome can lead to failure and creates a dependency on
government programs rather than fair competition.
This spring the supreme court sent a clear message the charter is
meant to protect individual rights rather than group rights. Section
15 of the charter of rights and freedoms claims Canadians are equal
before and under law. It adds governments cannot override this
basic equality to enhance groups disadvantaged because of their
race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental
or physical disability.
Madam Justice McLachlin in the Miron case stated the larger
purpose is simply the protection of individual human dignity and
freedom which are violated whenever individuals are denied
opportunities based on the stereotypical application or presumed
group characteristics rather than on the basis of individual merit,
capacity or circumstance.
This hard hitting ruling clearly spells out that every person has
the right to be judged on his or her own merits and not on the basis
of group characteristics.
Reform's minority report to the standing committee's report
``Employment Equity: A Commitment to Merit'' has two very
clear messages: employment competition based on the merit
principle is key to both equality and productivity, and that
employment equity legislation is the denial of basic human rights. I
encourage all members of the House to read that report. It is not the
status quo, but it does contain pertinent facts that tend to be glossed
Politically, employment equity gives the appearance of being the
expedient means to achieve equity in the workplace; it is politically
correct. It is hard for the government to move into new directions,
to change the status quo. We grant that.
In the example I quoted earlier, on the Harris government's
scrapping the employment equity law we heard screams of
``unfair''. For some, change becomes uncomfortable and they are
unable to envisage innovative directions where there is equality of
The government is intent on moving forward with a new law
without a proper review. I stated earlier that some government
agencies would be exempt, defence being one. The Department of
National Defence has conducted a diversity survey which could be
and probably will be a step toward affirmative action. During the
defence review Liberal members pushed to have hiring quotas
official defence policy. The Canadian forces anti-racism policy
does exempt affirmative action programs from classification as
In the 1970s promotion of thousands of francophones was
distorted by going well down promotion lists to find someone with
a suitable background. By this I do not mean 10, 15 or 20 names, I
mean 40 or more. The same is going on at the moment for women,
although to a lesser extent. Eleven per cent of the Canadian forces
If all Canadians are equal before and under the law, we must not
continue to support laws that patronize designated groups, in
essence assume their mediocrity. Merit should be the underlying
principle. Anything that detracts from the merit principle, civilian
or military, is bad policy. Diversity studies clearly signal the
government is moving to introduce characteristics other than merit
to hiring or promotion programs.
Government's role should be to ensure equality of opportunity
rather than the equality of results in the public sector. It is
government's responsibility to provide a standard of secondary
education which is accessible to all, local responsive
post-secondary institutions, affordable student loans based on
need, bursaries and scholarships based on need and excellence,
sensitivity training in the public sector which supports inherent
equality, dignity and worth of all.
We should ensure that laws against discrimination are enforced.
Government should lead by example, by laying out objective
testing regimes, by broad based advertising of all job postings and
by offering facilities to accommodate disabled people wherever
they may work. As Madam Justice McLachlin pointed out, the
protection of individual human dignity and freedom is important
We are not all equal in ability. Those who wish to pursue
education or a vocation should not face discrimination barriers.
Those who pursue this course deserve to reap the benefits and
rewards of hard work.
Clearly, legislated equity does not achieve its goals. It is costly
and it is unfair. Merit should be the sole hiring criterion in an
environment free from arbitrary obstructions to hiring or
promotion. Merit must be restored as the sole basis for hiring and
promotion in the public service.
Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I often hear hon. members of the Reform Party referring to the
Ontario Employment Equity Act. Somehow they try to tell
Canadians that we are speaking about the same act.
I would like to take the opportunity to clear up some of the
misconceptions that have been stated by the Reform Party. I want
to put on the record that our legislation specifically prohibits the
imposition of quotas. Another fundamental difference is that Bill
C-64 takes a unique human resource planning approach. Ontario's
legislation is modelled more on a human rights approach with third
party complaints. I would point out that under the Ontario system
any person can lay a complaint, including interest groups, job
applicants, employees, unions, public or private corporations, or
any other individual. There is no such provision in our legislation.
With regard to the rules and regulations that govern the two
pieces of legislation, Ontario has set out the obligations of
employers in considerable detail and there are extensive provisions
for detailed regulations. Bill C-64, on the other hand, is much less
prescriptive and minimizes regulatory burden by limiting new
regulations to just a few essential areas. A criticism of the Ontario
act is the very broad regulation making power it confers on people.
There is a substantial difference in just what is covered by the
federal and Ontario legislation. The Ontario act has a much broader
scope. For example, the threshold for private sector coverage in
Ontario is 50 employees while under Bill C-64 it is 100 employees.
Keep in mind as well that the Ontario legislation covers about
17,000 employers while our act targets approximately 350
employers, and many are leaders in the business community.
To enforce its legislation Ontario established two new
independent government agencies, the Ontario Employment Equity
Commission and the Ontario Employment Equity Tribunal. Hon.
members know that Bill C-64 will utilize two existing government
agencies, namely Human Resources Development Canada and the
Canadian Human Rights Commission.
I trust that I have helped to clarify for the hon. member the key
differences that exist between the provincial and federal
If that is not enough, I would like to remind hon. members of
some very interesting survey results. Roughly two thirds of Ontario
businesses responding to a poll just after the recent Ontario
election reported that they are in fact in favour of reforming or
keeping that province's employment equity law as it is. The
business position is reform it but do not repeal it. Only 8 per cent
said they would cease implementing employment equity initiatives
if the law is repealed, with 69 per cent saying it would not have any
impact on their company's equity plans.
I appreciate this time to make some comments. I think that in
this debate it is important that the Reform Party face the facts and
Mr. Frazer: Mr. Speaker, that was very instructive. However,
when we talk about quotas, whether we take guidelines or equity of
employment for various groups, we are specifying they are quotas.
If we say that 5, 10, 20 or 30 per cent of the population falls into
certain categories, the implication is that 5, 10, 20 or 30 per cent
will be given jobs based on those percentages. This demeans
people. It tells them it does not matter how good you are or how
hard you can work or how capable you are, you will get your job
because you belong to this group. I think that is not only divisive
but also is totally and absolutely unfair.
As I said in my previous remarks, in the study on women it has
been found that the practice now instituted in the federal hiring
system of giving a certain quantity of jobs to women actually
undermines their self-confidence. They think maybe they got their
jobs because they are women, rather than because they deserve it,
they are qualified for it and are good at it. They measure
themselves as inadequate and they feel inadequate because they
were given preferential treatment for hiring.
The Reform Party wants equality of opportunity for all,
regardless of their race, their colour, their gender, their language or
whatever. Give them a fair chance at the job. If they are up to it,
they will do it and they will do it well; otherwise, they should not
be in the job.
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, of course I have to say that I support the hon. member in
his position on this bill.
The point the Liberals opposite are missing is the principle of
this bill. The principle is the social engineers of the Liberal Party
are trying to legislate that businesses in this country will have to
enter into hiring practices that will be based on things other than
merit or abilities.
This country was made strong by Canadian workers who got
their education and their training and did everything they could to
prepare themselves to be competitive in the marketplace. They did
that and achieved individual rewards as a result. As my colleague
has pointed out, this bill seeks to destroy that individual initiative
by placing special considerations on special groups. What
happened to merit? There is no merit mentioned in Bill C-64.
For this member to tell me that businesses in Ontario are
supporting this bill, this employment equity idea, over a
fundamental principle of hiring people based on their individual
merit is absolute nonsense. I would like to meet a businessman
who responded to that survey who would tell me in all truthfulness
that he does not care about the merit, the qualifications of the
employees, but would rather base his hiring practices on this
absurd legislation the Liberal Party is attempting to bring in here.
I ask these social engineers across the way to give us a break.
That is not the real world any more.
Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Secretary of State (Training
and Youth), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be associated with
this important initiative, Bill C-64.
I believe the hon. member does not know what we mean when
we talk about merit. I have worked with the under-represented
target groups for many, many years. In 1984 to 1986 I worked with
the Public Service Commission where we instituted a number of
initiatives because there was such a gross under-representation of
those target groups.
For instance, aboriginal people are the lowest paid on a national
average. They are paid less than all of the average working
population. If you are a disabled person you are grossly
under-represented. It is very difficult for a disabled person who has
merit to get a job on a meritorious basis.
These hon. members should be looking for ways to integrate the
under-represented people rather than keeping them out and
marginalized. Those aboriginal people who make it into the system
are still mostly located in the technical and clerical areas. That is a
fact and it has nothing to do with merit. Those people have merit.
The problem is that they are not getting promoted. Even though
they have merit, the qualifications, the experience and the skills,
they are being paid less than other people. Talk about inequality.
Those are the facts.
Let the hon. members know there is nothing wrong with sharing
an equal place in the workplace, shoulder to shoulder with a
woman, an aboriginal, a disabled person or a member of a visible
minority. There is nothing wrong with that. No one said that if you
are an aboriginal person, a woman, a disabled person or a member
of a visible minority you have to be stupid or unqualified to make
the employment equity program. That is not what this bill states.
This bill states that everyone will have an opportunity because of
systemic discrimination and because the opportunities have not
made themselves available over 125 years to those people to enter
with equality into the workplace. This bill states that they will have
the opportunity now. There are still fewer people of those four
target groups who are paid as much and who have as many
promotions. I do not know why the hon. members cannot accept
The other day the hon. member for Wild Rose put a rather
disparaging human face on employment equity by using his son. I
have three children, but I am not going to come out here and plead a
case for my children. I have worked to get them an education. They
can fend for themselves and work for themselves. This is about
broad public policy; it is not about one case.
If there ever was a case, listen to this. In my riding there is an
aboriginal man who is now severely disabled. He is an elder in the
community. In 1959, along with his four partners, he was working
in a sawmill. He was in a serious accident while sawing wood for
the government employees in a place called Rocher River. His
friend was decapitated and this man's arm was amputated. He made
a number of attempts to receive some type of compensation for his
loss but had no success. This is an employment equity issue, an
equality issue, a human rights issue.
Because this man lived in a harsh and inclement environment he
had to rely on his skills. He went to residential school in that area
but was not an educated man. He was a trapper. He had children.
His children could not pursue or finish their education simply
because he needed them to stay home and cut wood, haul water, and
do all those things necessary to survive. I am not sure where the
system failed. This man's wife has worked all of her life and has no
regrets, but it was a severely difficult case.
These are the kinds of things we are talking about. We are talking
about having a human mind and heart to the toils and the struggles
of the average Canadian. We are not talking about creating gross
inequality and promoting people so that they are falling off the top.
This is a very disparaging and discouraging kind of discussion
we are having with members opposite. Why is it so difficult for
them to understand the struggles of that kind of individual rather
than bringing in people who are saying they did not get a job
because they are not the right colour? That is not what it is about.
There are people who are disabled, women, visible minorities,
aboriginals, and a combination thereof who have severe
difficulties. On the national average, when these people make it
into the system they do not get paid as much as the person who is
already there. They are paid less for the same work.
There is another problem. When they get into the system they are
at the bottom. Aboriginal people, for instance, are mostly in
clerical and technical areas. They are not in senior management
areas. That is changing but very slowly.
We need some help and this provides help, but it does not step
on anyone to do it. I challenge the Reform Party to come up with
facts to prove that it does. The facts will not bear its position out.
As a country we value diversity. We support our many
communities as a source of social stability and economic strength.
As individuals too many Canadians continue to face enormous
barriers to employment which prevent them from achieving their
I have met with the disability groups. I have seen those people. I
have spoken with them. It is all right to stand in the House of
Commons and isolate oneself from that constituency, but
sometimes one should go to the source. We as elected members
have to go to the source, keep open minds and respond to those
people rather than criticize them and stomp on any opportunities
they might have.
It is ridiculous. We have to help those people. They have less
than we do in terms of opportunities. As a disabled person mobility
is a problem and the work environment can be a problem. Those are
the things we have to work on.
If people live in high unemployment areas or in areas of extreme
poverty as do some aboriginals, they are marginalized socially.
They do not have a mode of transportation. There are many barriers
facing them. Some are institutionalized; some are systemic. That is
true. That is a fact. That is something we cannot deny and we have
to face reality.
I spoke about an individual who has endured, who has worked
many years on the land with one arm. The individual said to me:
``My arm must be worth $100,000''. Any insurance company
would say: ``How can we put a value on the loss of one's arm or any
extremity?'' It would be putting a value on a life. It would be
putting a value on the man's capacity to provide for his children so
they can pursue and finish their education and his wife can be there
to raise their children with him. That was not made available to that
family. These are the kinds of situations that arise out of the
inequities, the barriers, the obstacles.
In 1994 the Employment Equity Act annual report painted a
depressing picture for people with disabilities, members of visible
minorities, women and aboriginal people. Since 1991 employment
has declined more severely for employees covered under the act
than for employees in the Canadian economy.
In spite of an increase in the population of designated groups
fewer of them found their way into the labour market. They are not
a threat. Believe me, the jobs are safe. They just want an
opportunity to do something, to make themselves independent.
Members opposite on a daily basis wail away about how people
have become so dependent, are on welfare and are living off the
system. Here is an opportunity for them to help those people to
integrate into the system, to be independent, to have self-respect, to
have a job and to support their own families.
Members of designated groups still find themselves at the lowest
end of the social and economic scale. Not only do they not have the
opportunity, many of them are also the poorest. It is not correct that
the wage gap between visible minority employees and other full
time workers has widened for men and remains almost the same for
women since 1987. There has not been that much movement.
I do not know why the intimidation. I do not know why the
perverse, twisted language that strikes fear into the hearts of the
average Canadian. It is so seductive to speak that way. It is so easy
to use colourful, provocative gross language that overstates the
case and sells it unfairly. That is not right; that should not be done.
Let the facts speak for themselves. There is something seriously
wrong when talented, educated women continue to be over
represented in clerical, sales and service jobs but under-represented
in upper management and technical jobs.
How can we call ourselves a caring and passionate society when
we deny people with disabilities accessibility and the dignity that
comes with a job? It is a source of national shame that our first
peoples account for only 1.04 per cent of the workforce, occupy the
lowest paying jobs and are on the losing end of the wage gap when
compared with other Canadians.
It is unacceptable that university educated aboriginal young
people experience an unemployment rate twice that of their white
male counterparts, considering the barriers that face them when
they enter high school.
In some places I have visited there is a dropout rate in excess of
85 per cent. Those children who make it into the system, who make
it through high school and who make it through university are in an
alien, foreign environment. It is different. It is difficult. I have done
it. I know. It is difficult for them. They need support. They do not
need criticism, opposition and confrontation. Leaving employable
people on the sidelines does us all a disservice. It damages
individuals. It wastes enormous talent. It hinders our economy and
diminishes society as a whole.
Employment equity is quite simply fairness in the distribution of
jobs. Bill C-64 is designed to ensure that nobody is denied
employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to
ability. Inequality by comparison is a drag on our economy. Passive
income support costs all Canadians, not the least of whom are the
individuals affected. There is a pressing need for the legislation.
By the turn of the century two-thirds of entrants to the workforce
will be from the four designated groups: women, aboriginal
peoples, members of visible minorities, and people with disabili-
ties. The country needs the wealth of their talents. We cannot afford
to overlook any segment of the population any longer.
Will those two-thirds be the unemployed? Will those two-thirds
be the ones on welfare? Will those two-thirds be the ones who are
not moving anywhere, not promoted, not given any employment,
not given any opportunities?
Those are the real questions to be answered. People are our most
important natural resource. Strategies that capitalize on the
underutilized capabilities of every employable Canadian are
clearly in the best interest of the country.
Employment equity improves the workplace environment and
promotes productivity by encouraging a more tolerant and
integrated workforce. This is the intent of Bill C-64. That is why I
ask members opposite what is so reprehensible. What is so wrong
with having the four designated groups standing shoulder to
shoulder and sharing the workplace with the rest of the population?
That is the way it should be. That is what our country is about.
We are a mosiac. We are not a melting pot. Canada is that kind of
a country. We do not try as in the United States to make everybody
the same. We are all individuals in the House which does not stop
us from respecting one another. We do not have to agree
ideologically with each other to respect one another as people. That
is not the way the country should be proceeding into the future.
That is not the way a country as diverse as Canada will work.
Individuals benefit from contributing to their communities.
Canada profits from the skills and strengths they have to offer. In
short we all benefit not just in better social conditions which are
critical but in realizing our national economic potential. It is good
business for Canada to have those people integrated into the
workforce. It is good business for Canada and for us as elected
officials to have those people independent, integrated, promoted,
and to have them utilize their skills and their merits as they should.
We can recreate our country in a way that better reflects us by
working shoulder to shoulder with designated groups and by
acknowledging the contributions of members of the designated
groups to the economic wealth and rich cultural diversity of our
country. Every one of us has a contribution to make but we can only
make it if we are given the opportunity.
Thank God for the opportunities given to those people. I have
seen them work. I have seen programs clearly targeted to those
groups and they work. They have given disabled people an
opportunity, such as some of the programs where disabled people
are integrated into banks and into some other areas. Be they clerical
or whatever, they are a start. We know that and are working on
another part of it such as promoting those people if they have the
capability and the merit to do it. Why not? That is the way it should
Employment is the great equalizer. Jobs give us satisfaction,
self-esteem and mutual respect. They also give us wages which
allow us to provide a better standard of living for our families.
Work gives us reason to believe in ourselves and for others to
believe in us. This is the equality women, persons with disabilities,
aboriginal peoples and members of visible minorities are seeking.
We can take an important step toward that goal by adopting Bill
C-64 and by doing so help our goal of building a more vibrant
economy and a stronger country through a more representative
workforce. We can make a positive contribution to Canada by
helping disadvantaged Canadians build better lives for themselves
and their families.
I appeal to my colleagues on the other side to take another look
and to have a more tolerant view of what equality and equity are all
about. It is not about rising above the rest, being better than anyone
else and pushing people out of the way. The numbers are not there
to substantiate that. They are stagnant; there is no movement there.
Those people are not a threat. They need our help. We can do
enormous good for those people. We can make a contribution to the
country by helping them lift themselves up.
I appeal to my colleagues and I appeal to all other Canadians to
take a tolerant view toward the bill and those people.
Miss Deborah Grey (Beaver River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
appreciate the remarks of my colleague. I should like to ask her a
question or two.
The minister related the incident about the sawmill accident. I
certainly give my regards to that family. I could imagine what a
disaster it would be in terms of the family income as well as the
personal and tragic loss. I appreciate that the fellow who had his
arm amputated was obviously unable to work in the sawmill
industry after. The minister said it was a human rights issue. I
suspect more specifically it might be a disability issue. Of course
he faced that and was unable to work in the same area and provide
for his family.
I can be called naive or whatever, but I cannot make the leap
somehow logically that employment equity would solve that
problem. Could the member enlighten me? I hate to plead
ignorance here but it seems incredible to me. If all of a sudden
employment equity or Bill C-64 had been an issue, how would it
have made life different for him?
Would it not be wiser for that company to say that he had skills
in the sawmill business? Maybe he could have been used in a
different capacity which perhaps was not so physical that he needed
to use his arms. If he had merit, capabilities and competence in the
industry, surely they would have been able to work him into that.
How in the world would employment equity all of a sudden solve
those problems? I cannot see it.
Ms. Blondin-Andrew: I appreciate the hon. member's question.
On a professional and personal level I felt the case had to be
highlighted and maybe this was the only opportunity I would get as
a member of Parliament. It also demonstrates that this person, who
is aboriginal and disabled as I emphasized in my speech and
members can check Hansard if they want, has struggles which are
many. Many programs and services are available but not all of
them can overcome the struggles.
Bill C-64 may not address this issue. However, I felt it was a
very important issue to be raised on behalf of a person who
belonged to one of the four under-represented groups or targeted
areas. That person has an opportunity to have a voice through me.
That happens with many of us in the House of Commons.
I do not have the opportunity to get up to make statements which
is something I would have done as a member of Parliament in the
previous session. I felt that because this person was a disabled
aboriginal person and his case was so specific that it needed a bit of
profile. I have provided the opportunity at this time.
In terms of employment equity, if we look at all of the
information I have provided, the hon. member will know that
perhaps this was stretching it a bit. However, I felt that because of
this individual case, which has had very little success, perhaps it
would be an opportunity for it to have a bit of attention.
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, I would like to make the observation that members
opposite, in particular the last member who spoke, are confusing
discriminatory hiring practices with the term employment equity.
We have laws in Canada that prohibit discriminatory hiring
practices. We have laws that prohibit employers from not hiring
qualified people because they happen to be a member of a certain
visible minority group or because they may be physically or
mentally disabled. There are laws which prohibit businesses from
discriminating against people based on who or what they are.
This bill ensures that if two people of equal merit, of equal
training, of equal ability, apply for a job and one happens to be a
member of a designated group and the other one is not, that favour
be bestowed on the person who is in the designated group and
disfavour be bestowed on the person who is not. I fail to see the
logic of the bill.
The government is trying to tell free enterprise how to hire
people. The fact is that the government is already in the face of
business too much and it is hurting the economy.
The hon. member related a very tragic case. She brought it down
to a personal level. I would like to bring it down to a personal level
My oldest son has a learning disability. He probably would fit
into one of the designated groups. I expect that my son will become
employable because my wife and I are doing everything we can to
ensure that he receives training and obtains the ability to become
employable, not because he is handicapped in his learning, but
because he has the skills to do a job.
I do not want the government to look after my son's future. I
want him to be independent. That is why I want him to be trained
and to have the ability to hold a job.
The state should not be determining the future of my son. When
it does that, it takes away his independence, his ability to function
as an independent Canadian, to acquire the skills and to merit
getting a job, not because of his disability but because of his
That is why I am fundamentally opposed to this bill. It will
diminish the qualities, the abilities, the training of individuals and
will place them in a category that will get them a job because of
who they are and not what they are or what they can do.
Ms. Blondin-Andrew: Mr. Speaker, throughout the course of
the constitutional talks I learned a very important lesson from
Canadians. Treating all people the same does not necessarily
express equality. Needs are different based on the individual needs
of a person.
I salute my colleague for the efforts he has made on behalf of his
son. However, we are not talking about one individual. We are
talking about four designated groups. Those groups have a
disadvantage in the system. It is not that blatant.
I know there is an appeal process. If a person feels discriminated
against he or she can go to the Canadian Human Rights
Commission. However, if a person is systematically ignored, not
promoted or marginalized year after year and if the statistics bear
out no movement for certain designated groups, systemically there
is a problem. It is very subtle because employers can ignore
employees they do not favour. They can engage in a very subtle
approach and make it difficult for employees by ignoring them, by
not promoting them or hiring them for other jobs. It is very hard to
As I indicated before, because these four designated groups get
paid less and are under-represented on promotion lists, they need
our help. That is something the hon. member should think about. It
is not to discriminate, not to make more dependent and not to hire
people who do not have the talent or merit. It is to enable those
people who have the merit and the talent to integrate into a system
that has not allowed them to do so. The doors have been closed and
we need movement there. We need to open not only our hearts, but
the doors to employment and training opportunities for those
Miss Deborah Grey (Beaver River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would
like to say to my colleague at the outset that I appreciate the fact
that there were serious differences in the comment she made and
she was, in fact, stretching it. Employment equity is not going to
solve those problems. That is in Hansard forever more. I do
appreciate the case of that family in the north.
This is an interesting debate. I find myself amazed as I look at
the charter of rights and freedoms, section 15(1), which states:
``Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the
right to the equal protection and the equal benefit of the law
without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination
based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or
mental or physical disability''.
That seems fairly clear to me and probably clear to everybody
else who is listening to this. The Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms protects us all, regardless of race, gender, language,
ethnic background, et cetera.
I want to know how in the world we can get from that, where the
charter protects us, to Bill C-64 on employment equity. Frankly, I
have not heard an answer from the government side. I have heard
stories, passionate story telling and all kinds of situations where
people have talked about individuals. I could relate all kinds of
them myself. However, when I hear my colleagues saying Bill C-64
is going to be the answer to all this, there is just no way on the earth
that I an convinced and I suspect that most Canadians who are
listening to the debate are simply not able to make that leap.
With the protections under the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms I question why we are even debating this bill. There
seems to be no reason. It is not going to resolve any situations. It is
not going to make people's lives easier. The very institution that
should be protecting the fundamental rights vis-à-vis the charter of
rights and freedoms of all Canadians is being used to suppress one
of those rights. It says: ``We will look after this person but we will
not look after that one. We will give one special treatment but not
for the other, I am very sorry''.
Bill C-64 will deny the right to equal protection and equal
benefit of the law without discrimination. Once we start travelling
down that fork in the road I see nothing but flag warnings and
signals ahead that we had better be careful. As was talked about in
the Charlottetown accord, once people start saying to particular
groups that they get distinct society status, they get special
attention because of this or there should be so many women in the
Senate, that takes us down a dangerous path where we do not think
we could ever get back to that fork in the road.
When I hear the stories being talked about this morning, the
alarm bells go off. I have to ask myself where it leads us. It is
exactly as we saw in Charlottetown. What road does that lead us
down? Are we ever going to be able to get back to that tributary? I
really do not think it will help us a lot.
This bill will officially sanction discrimination against
non-designated groups. As soon as somebody is designated, then
someone else becomes non-designated. As soon as an individual or
a group is committed to something, suddenly other people are left
out by the sin of omission. Why do we have this obsession in this
Parliament to make sure some people are labelled? I am sure my
friend the minister across the way does not think it is good or right
to label people. Yet here is legislation that he supports where he is
starting to label people, then by omission others are left off the
There has to be a hint of discrimination displayed against
designated groups. If there is, that is when there are problems. Just
let there be a hint against those designated groups and the equity
control patrol will suddenly swoop in. They are hot on the trail to
right those wrongs and impose stiff penalties on the offenders. It
amazes me when I think about it.
For instance, why should we have equity police? Heaven forbid,
we sit in a Chamber where there are 53 women, which I will talk
about a little later. I have heard colleagues, especially in the last
Parliament but certainly in this Parliament as well, saying that 51
per cent of the population are women so 51 per cent of members of
Parliament should be female. That is ridiculous. Later I will talk
about the fact that I am a female MP but I will do it on ability and
competence rather than just on the fact that I am a female.
The equity police are to be people going around checking up to
make sure that everybody is doing what they are supposed to be
doing. Mr. Speaker, you can see that will lead down a road to
trouble as well. Imagine if someone were on you all the time
saying: ``I do not think he is doing the right thing. I think his hiring
practices in his House of Commons' office are questionable''.
Mr. Speaker, can you imagine the fear, the nervousness, the
sense of being watched that you would feel? I am sure you have
read 1984 where George Orwell talks about how the thought police
are going to be on us all the time. Although I do not want to sound
like an alarmist it seems this legislation provides a possibility for
that. It may be setting up these equity police. They will be going
around making sure that everybody is hiring the right people and
doing all this stuff in their offices.
The human rights commission is to be the overseeing group that
looks after this. It will send in the equity police to make sure that
everything is going according to Bill C-64. It is interesting to note
that absolutely zero funding is to be given for that.
Suddenly this new bureaucracy or group is being set up that says:
``We are going to have the equity police to make sure that
everybody is hired properly. Maybe there is just the right number
of people at the table; maybe the House of Commons staff can be
broken down just fine''. It is impractical. It is divisive. It is not
going to work.
I get to these equity police. Dear knows how they are going to be
assembled. I am not sure. I suppose they would have to fit under the
right group. Who polices the police in this situation? There is zero
funding for this bunch that will work under the human rights
commission. How in the world are we ever going to be able to
police such a thing?
We want less government. We want people to walk around in
freedom, to be able hire who they think will do the best job for
them and make sure that everybody is going to do the best he or she
Knowing there is always someone trying to run a business, a
government department or whatever, there is nothing that would
make any of us, whether MPs, senators or whatever say we are
really nervous and we want to make sure all the right things are
being done. I am not sure the people who will be equity police will
have the qualifications to do the cop job the government will be
asking them to do.
The most amazing thing I find about this piece of legislation is
with regard to the province of Ontario. This is not my home
province but I visit here from week to week with my job. What an
incredible turnaround when the socialist government, which was in
power for several years, was thrown out on its left ear in June
because of the Conservatives and Mike Harris and all he stood for.
My friends will remember that just last year even a socialist NDP
government in Ontario could not get this type of legislation
I know my friends over here are in full favour of Bill C-64. I
have a question for one of them from Ontario. If the NDP socialist
government in Ontario cannot pass employment equity legislation,
how in the world will the Liberals do it? I know my friend from
Broadview-Greenwood is very concerned about this. Although he
is from downtown Toronto, a hair bigger than my hometown of
Heinsburg, I would like him to answer the question seriously. Will
it solve the problems? Will it make sure people have employment?
Will it help the employment situation? I know numbers in
employment are important to him.
He says it will and I have a great deal of faith in him, but I am not
sure we can make this leap of logic that it will make a whole lot of
difference. If an NDP socialist government could not even get it
through, how in the world will it fly across the country? It is not.
We have seen what has happened to the NDP and socialism. I can
remember in the last Parliament I used to sit back there and the
NDP was down here. What is happening worldwide? There is a
move away from that government interference in our lives. We now
see the NDP as a fourth party in the House. We will see that
continue to move away. It has happened in Ontario and right across
Hiring habits are wonderful but as soon as someone tells us we
have to do this or they will come after us if we do not, we know
even in our human nature that as soon as someone says we have do
this they are toast. It is as simple as that. It did not work in Ontario
and it simply will not work here. Employment equity legislation
flies in the face of the merit principle.
Is the Revenue Canada document ``The Employment Equity
Action Plan for 1995-96'' a start or is it the be all and end all? Will
1995-96 be the big watershed year for employment equity or will it
be the start of something that leads us down the path of
divisiveness and danger?
A really good example in this document states how hiring quotas
would work, quotas being what we are talking about. The
government is refusing to acknowledge that. It says it is not talking
about quotas or specific numbers. It is numbers, it is quotas and it
is tokenism that we are really talking about here.
Under women the document states females are
under-represented in certain occupational groups, namely auditors,
managers and senior managers. The solution to the problem is the
following discriminatory statement from the document: ``Consider
only female recruitment when external hiring is undertaken as an
If the men in the Chamber cannot see through that, surely the
women can. Can anyone imagine anything so pathetic as somebody
saying we should consider only female recruitment when external
hiring is undertaken as an ongoing policy? That is absolutely
Let us look at our own situation in the House of Commons. I am
a woman involved in politics. I represent one of the 53 women MPs
out of 295. We are under-represented in the House of Commons but
let us keep working on it. There were 40 women in the last
Parliament. We are 53 in this Parliament. My friend over here is a
new MP which is great because we have more numbers. Would she
not sooner work with a smaller group of really committed, class
act, competent women rather than having 51 per cent of the MPs
here elected just because they were women?
Let us look at people who will have some abilities in this place. I
said this before in the Chamber and I am not ashamed to say it
again. If I go anywhere in my constituency and say: ``Hello, Mr.
Mills, my name is Deborah Grey, I am your member of Parliament,
I am your Reform candidate, please vote for me, I am a woman'', I
would expect him to take me into his house, sit me down, give me a
cup of coffee and say: ``Come on now''. It is incredible. That is
what this legislation would lead to.
Mr. Speaker, you know as well as I do because you sit with the
governing party and you were here in the last Parliament, when
people were getting ready for nominations-remember the wrangle
before the 1993 election-some women in this party, in the NDP
and, bless it, the memory of the Conservative Party anyway, did not
even have to go through a nomination process. Certain women said
certain ridings were for them. They did not have to go through a
nomination process because they were anointed or appointed to
that. My friends know this. There is absolutely no way they can
A few women in the House got the nomination by acclamation.
Is that right? Is that employment equity? Absolutely not.
I would like to think that I and the two women sitting in the
Chamber right now won the election because we are competent. Is
that agreed? Absolutely. They had some skills and they had some
ability and they would be effective members of Parliament. It is not
just because the leaders of the parties said they think we should
have so many women. The NDP gives extra funding for people.
There were nomination meetings held at which some men were
told they would not get the chance to run because certain seats,
NDP, Liberal or whatever, were designated for women. Let us look
at the numbers and see how effective that was. Many people were
nominated. I do not know the number of women nominated in
ridings who did not actually win their seat, but I do know my
numbers of women elected.
For the Liberals, 36 out of 178. That represents 20 per cent of
their caucus. We appreciate that and we celebrate it, up from 13 per
cent. I suppose that is a great start. It is interesting that it was up
from 13 per cent but they did not have employment equity to do it.
Of the Bloc Quebecois, eight out of the 53 are women, 15 per cent.
For the Reform Party, we are seven women out of 52, 14 per cent.
The NDP elected one, 11 per cent of its nine members. As for the
Conservatives, their numbers are quite interesting. Fifty per cent of
their caucus is female and I certainly respect them for that.
A record was set in 1989 when 100 per cent of the Reform
caucus was female, myself of course. Do members see what we can
do with numbers? It is absolutely ridiculous.
The sad part was there were so many more women who were
candidates in that election. They did not win their seats for the
Liberal or the governing caucus. Why? So many of them were told
they would be run in such and such a constituency. They knew they
did not have a hope.
Somebody said they were spear carriers for that, not even
dreaming they would ever get the seat. It is true. I know of a couple
of situations in B.C. in which some NDP fellows wanted to run for
the nomination and could not. I think they had a pretty good idea
they would not win the seat. Reform took most of the seats across
B.C. except in the lower mainland.
Nothing would be more pathetic than if my party leader or
someone else came to me and said they were going to put me in
here. They would like me to run in such and such a riding. They do
not think I have a chance of winning but they want a woman in that
seat. I would say no, forget it. I do not want any part of that. If I
cannot run fair and square regardless of my being a woman, I will
not participate in something like that and I hope these people would
say the same thing.
One of my heroes of this place is Agnes Macphail. She was cool.
I am sure all the women and men in the House would agree she was
a wonderful woman. She was the first woman ever elected to this
I was nervous in 1989 as the only Reformer and some of the new
members of Parliament may have been nervous because this place
is inspiring. We were all awe struck when we came.
Agnes Macphail was elected in 1921 for the Progressive Party.
She sat with the Progressives from 1921 to 1935 for the
constituency of Grey South East. She then moved to the CCF and
was the member for Grey-Bruce as it was called then from 1935
If Agnes Macphail were here today, I would love to hear what
she would have to say about employment equity and that the
government is trying to push through Bill C-64.
They did not have the blessing of microphones in the Chamber
then so one had to speak loudly to be heard. The best line I can
remember from Agnes Macphail, truly my hero, was when one
male member of Parliament said: ``Agnes, have you ever been
mistaken for a man in the Chamber?'' She said: ``No, have you?''
That is a class act. I do not think employment equity would have
helped her a whole lot. I think she would be absolutely scandalized
by Bill C-64. Someone asked her if she had ever been mistaken for
a man. What a ridiculous thing to ask. We have come a long way
This morning I was at the Governor General's residence for the
presentation of the awards to six women who did a wonderful job in
the Persons case with the famous five from Alberta. It was a
wonderful ceremony. I am not sure why my friend is laughing
across the way. It is a pity she was not there because these are great
women who were awarded the Governor General's medal today. It
was excellent. They have all done work on the Persons case and
they were all being rewarded for the work they are doing.
It was interesting when they gave us the history that Nellie
McClung, Emily Murphy and all those wonderful women from
Alberta in the 1920s were not even recognized as persons. They
took it to the Supreme Court and it was turned down. They did not
even get to be called persons. Then in 1929 they took it to the privy
council. They went to Lord Chancellor Sankey in England, trying
to get overturned the ruling that said: ``Women are persons in
matters of pains and penalties but are not persons in matters of
rights and privileges''.
Emily Murphy found that a bit hard and somebody challenged
her because she was a magistrate; imagine, a magistrate in Alberta.
They challenged her that she was not a person. Five people were
allowed to appeal that and away these women went. On October 18,
1929 they were granted by Lord Chancellor Sankey to be persons.
I find it pathetic that somebody has just snorted here and thought
this was a real laugh. I want to honour these people for what they
did back in 1929. Because of that, she was and I am able to sit in the
House of Commons. We are treated as persons. Then of course
women got the vote after that.
This is the kind of stuff that is important. I would like to know
what those women would think about it. Emily Murphy challenged
married women's property rights. If a woman had property with her
husband back then and her husband died, she would be tough out of
luck. She would lose the title to that land.
Things have come a long way since that day. I really appreciate
that. We need to celebrate that. I do think this legislation will take
us down a very dangerous, divisive road down and we will be sorry
we cannot turn around.
Again I tell my colleagues across the House that as hilarious,
scornful, mocking or whatever they think this is, they need to be
aware that it will not solve the problems. The NDP could not pass it
in Ontario. It will get rammed through the House of Commons but
there will be waves and repercussions making it very frightening
for people across the country.
Employment equity will breed resentment because it will be
assumed that designated groups attained employment not by the
merit principle but by legislated coercion. It will label designated
groups as being inferior and unable to compete on a level playing
field. It is patronizing, hierarchical and elitist. It assumes
designated groups need a higher order to run interference for them.
It is wrong. It is bad. I am really sorry the government will ram
through Bill C-64.
Mr. Ian McClelland (Edmonton Southwest, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, my colleague mentioned Agnes Macphail. I am presently
reading the memoirs of Eugene Forsey. For members who do not
recall Eugene Forsey, he was a force of the New Democratic Party.
He had a strong ethic for fairness in Canadian society when this
was an important thing for people to be doing, as it is today.
In the memoirs of Eugene Forsey he recounts a tale of Agnes
Macphail. Members will know that Canadians watching this debate
on television do not realize that just outside the Chamber of the
House of Commons is a bust of Agnes Macphail. Every time we
walk into the opposition lobby we can see the bust of Agnes
When Agnes Macphail was at the founding convention of the
CCF in Regina in the 1920s there was a motion put forward at the
convention in the true socialist manner stating that 50 per cent of
all people sitting on committees within the CCF would be women.
Women would have employment equity within the party. There
would be a balance. No matter what committee it was, 50 per cent
of the members would be women.
It was reported by Eugene Forsey that the shortest speech ever
made by Agnes Macphail was when she spoke to the convention.
She said that she had achieved what she had achieved in her own
right, not because she was a woman. It did not work for her and it
did not work against her. She wanted to be judged as a person who
was capable of achieving her own ends in her own right. She felt
that was the appropriate way for all people to be treated.
I thought I would share that little anecdote with members.
I do not suggest that the Liberals have evil motives in bringing
this forward. I think their hearts are in the right place, but I do not
think their minds are necessarily connected.
I would ask my colleague from Beaver River if she would
comment on the notion that perhaps we should be putting our
energies into the prevention of discrimination and we should be
using the facilities of the country to educate rather than to legislate.
What we really have to do is talk about how we can have values in
our country, values all Canadians can share, which have to do with
the prevention of discrimination and the fact that we are all of us
equal Canadians, no matter when we arrived here, no matter the
colour of our skin, no matter our gender. We should be addressing
the values, we should not be writing laws.
Miss Grey: Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the story about Agnes
Macphail. She realized that we are not going to get anywhere by
somebody saying we are going to give Agnes special treatment or
we are going to give babysitting money to someone when they are
running as a candidate.
When I ran as a candidate I ran thinking that somebody
somewhere might elect me on the basis that they thought maybe
I could string two or three sentences together, that I love my
country, and that I am committed to being a member of
Parliament. I am glad to say that it happened not only once, in
1989, but again with a larger majority in 1993. I appreciate that,
but never once would I be able to go around and say I am a
woman, so elect me or re-elect me; or that I am getting special
funding from my party; or if somebody wanted to challenge me
for the nomination in the constituency of Beaver River that my
party leader would say: ``No, you are not able to challenge
Deborah because she is the sitting MP and I want her there''. That
We need to encourage wide open nomination meetings for
people who want the job. It makes for a good race and it is
democratic. What could be worse for true democracy than a party
leader saying no, sorry, you cannot run because I have so-and-so
and she is going to run in this riding?
We have to put our energies into educating people. That is far
and wide the most beneficial thing we can do. We are not going to
legislate all the problems out of Canada. That is simply bizarre. We
have seen any number of times that it simply does not work. It does
not work when a government says we know best and we are going
to do all of these wonderful things, especially when the whole idea
of employment equity has just blown up in its face. The Ontario
members know that. They just saw in their own province that it did
How do we think we can legislate these things? We have to spend
our time educating. That would involve such things as starting here
in the House of Commons, where we would not see political
hanky-panky going on and party leaders engineering and telling us
who we will have as candidates and as MPs. Surely the House of
Commons would be a good place for education to start.
Some Wednesday, because almost everyone is here for question
period, I would love to see a show of hands from people who did
not have anyone challenge them for their nomination. Would that
not be a great educational tool to see how many people were
anointed or appointed as candidates? I bet members would be too
ashamed to put up their hands. I know I would.
If my party leader said: ``Deb, we are going to put you in here
and no one else can run against you'', I would be ashamed. If a
news reporter ever asked me how many people challenged me for
the nomination, I would have to say there were going to be two or
three, but I was anointed as the candidate so they were not allowed
to run. Can you imagine how pathetic that would be? Imagine the
signal that would send to the rest of the country. My friend knows
about it. What kind of signal would that send to the country? It is
pretty pathetic. Those are the kinds of educational things we need
to get going.
I would like to correct something I said earlier about the fact that
there would be employment equity or equity police for those of us
who are hiring our staff. I was wrong on that and I admit it. But this
bill does not even extend to the House of Commons. I ask some of
the experts over there if I am correct on that. Does it extend to the
House of Commons staff?
Could anyone, even in the gallery, explain to me how in the
world the House of Commons becomes exempt from this? Well, it
is good enough for everyone else in the public service, but this
group is exempt. By the very fact that the people who are working
here are exempt from it, we have the sin of omission again. As soon
as there is a sin of commission because we commit names and
groups to people, then there is the sin of omission and it does not
even extend to the House of Commons. I think people watching us
on television today should be well aware of that. It is absolutely
incredible that the House of Commons is exempt. All of a sudden
we are special again.
If anything takes us down the road of something that is
dangerous and divisive, it is that it is good for everybody else
across the country but we are exempt from it here. It sort of makes
me smell the MP pension issue all over again, as a matter of fact.
We are cutting out all the pensions for all these people and we are
sorry that we have to lay off 45,000 public servants, but we MPs
will keep our pension plan. Instead of $6 to $1 for employer to
employee contributions, we are just cutting back, folks. We are just
slicing the fat off this. Now our employers are only going to give $4
to $1. So MPs are exempt.
There is another group of people who all of a sudden become
special. I am sure my friends are well read and I am sure they
remember the novel Animal Farm by George Orwell. I am sure they
will remember the phrase in there that all animals are created equal
but some are more equal than others. If anything smacks of that, it
is Bill C-64. If anything smacks of that, it is the MP pension plan,
which no other person in the country is able to get.
My friend the President of the Treasury Board knows it full well.
I have spoken at public meetings and I know he has as well. If he
had asked for a show of hands from any of those groups he spoke
with asking if anyone qualified for this kind of a pension plan, there
would not have been a hand up in the place. But it is okay to tell
everyone else across the country they have to tighten their belts.
My friend over here just hollered out that I was going to get
$100,000 instead of $1.4 million that I am eligible to collect. I do
not know where he got that number. Let me put it on the record that
I am getting back only the contributions I have made. The President
of the Treasury Board told me: ``You take all of your pension or
you take zero''. Those were my options. He would not even grant
me a one to one contribution like anyone else would get. We were
exempt from the federal civil service pension plan, that act where
the employer would have to put in at least 50 per cent of the money.
I am not getting that. I am getting back $32,000 of my
contributions at 4 per cent. No mutual fund would ever give that
little money since 1989. I get $32,000 back that I can roll over into
my RRSP, and some $16,000, much like he gets, except he is not
rolling it anywhere, except into the trough for a very large pension
because we are about the same age. I get $16,000 back, which I will
have to pay tax on at 46 per cent, which is my tax bracket.
There it is. If it were a hundred grand I would love it, and I would
do what I could with it, but because I have opted out of that pension
plan, I will be exempt. I know I will certainly sleep with a clear
conscience, knowing that at least I am not ripping the taxpayer off
for that much money.
Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (President of the Treasury Board
and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I am pleased to rise as a co-sponsor of this piece of legislation, in
so far as it relates to the federal employees, the Public Service of
Let me first of all express my gratitude to my colleague, the
Minister of Human Resources Development, for bringing forward
this legislation, bringing the private and public sector together
under one piece of legislation, and for members on the Standing
Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons
for their significant contribution to the debate.
The committee's main report reflects the collective wisdom of
those who testified.
Together they described employment equity as a sensible and
balanced measure that strengthens our social fabric.
Canadians have an excellent understanding of what equality is
all about. They appreciate that for there to be a harmonious and
well-balanced society, all of its members must have an opportunity
to contribute to it as well as share in its benefits. That is what
employment equity and this legislation are all about.
Employment equity has been criticized, we have heard it in just
the last few minutes, on the grounds that it introduces
discrimination into the workplace. In fact, the opposite is true.
Employment equity helps individuals compete for employment on
an equal basis. Nobody receives special advantages, nobody
receives special privileges under this legislation. To claim that
anyone does represents a serious misunderstanding of the
principles involved in Bill C-64.
Employment equity simply seeks a diversity in the workplace
similar to what can be found in society. Therefore, we must remove
barriers to employment opportunities to better reflect the
population as it is today. These barriers are frequently buried in
systems and longstanding practices.
For example, if for no particular good reason except tradition all
police officers must be six feet tall, then most women could not
compete. This sort of systemic barrier was once commonplace in
this country, yet there would be few today who would argue that it
makes much sense now, if in fact it ever did.
Let me give another example, rather less obvious perhaps. If a
recruitment or promotion board were composed of three people, all
males, all graduates of the same university, and all about the same
age, one could be forgiven for wondering if this board would be
much open to the perspectives of persons with different values,
different experiences, different traditions. Selection boards require
greater diversity to ensure that no candidate's talents are
We must take measures to encourage equitable access to
opportunities for employment and opportunities for advancement
in the public service. This may mean, for instance, establishing
training positions, so that those who are disadvantaged can develop
skills and acquire experience to compete on an equal footing. When
we make full use of all available human capital, then our society
will truly benefit.
The face of Canadian workers has changed.
It has changed dramatically. Women, aboriginal peoples, persons
with disabilities, and people in a visible minority now represent the
largest share of new entrants to the labour market. In just 10 years
the representation of women in the labour force has risen from 40
per cent to 45 per cent. This 5 per cent shift represents some
750,000 women. Employment equity helps the labour market adapt
to changes of this magnitude.
It might be helpful to speak in more concrete terms about
creating an environment that takes advantage of diversity. The
Public Service of Canada is a good example. Diversity within the
workforce means more than just having people of different
backgrounds working together. It is not enough to hire an employee
with a disability without helping to build the employee's
relationships with his or her colleagues. It is not acceptable to
ignore the support and training that women need to advance within
an organization. Diversity within an organization calls for the
acknowledgement and accommodation of differences.
The Treasury Board has issued a publication called ``Alternative
Formats Access for All''. It provides guidance on how to produce
material in alternate formats for persons with disabilities. An
alternate format might be large type on a page or a cassette
recording of printed material. The alternate format not only helps
public servants but at the same time better serves the public.
The Treasury Board has also published a series of best practices
as well as guides to assist public service managers to implement
employment equity. Two most recent best practices that have been
published deal with women and persons with disabilities. Both
draw on practices that have proven effective in a range of
organizations across the country.
Also we have just printed guides concerning the management of
employees with psychiatric and developmental difficulties. We
have also produced guides with respect to retention of aboriginal
To ensure that employment equity is implemented effectively,
departments and agencies must prepare an employment equity plan
with goals and timetables. These are not quotas but goals they will
strive to achieve. However the merit principle still prevails.
The plans are public documents as are the reports on what has
been achieved under them. The plans will not be effective unless
they build on the advice that the diversity of employees can
provide. Some of this advice is provided by consultation groups
reporting to the Treasury Board but much of it comes from
advisory committees set up within departments.
The views of the public service unions are also important. I want
to acknowledge the spirit of co-operation that inspires public
service unions on employment equity matters. We are mindful of
the need for continued collaboration with them. We are confident
the provisions of the legislation will bear fruit.
We have established the framework to help the advancement of
employment equity in the public service of the nineties. The
framework places employment equity firmly within the practice of
good human resources management and business planning. The
legislation in front of us will continue to provide a solid legal
foundation. It is not a radical break from the past; it is indeed a
bridge to the future.
It is important to remember that although we tend to speak of
diversity in terms of groups the focus is actually on the individual.
It is not the group that is recruited as a filing clerk or that is
considered for promotion to executive ranks. It is one particular
person. Can anyone object to the need to reach out to all members
of society based on their individual qualifications and merits?
Some people would argue that employment equity encourages
candidate selection to be made on the basis of sex or ethnic origin
or a disability rather than merit. I beg to differ.
As a matter of fact the essential point is that appointments to the
public service are governed by the Public Service Employment Act
which enshrines the merit principle. It is far different from the kind
of legislation that was talked about earlier by the member for
Beaver River with respect to the province of Ontario. Our act
enshrines the merit principle. The administration of the act rests
with the Public Service Commission, an independent agency that
reports directly to Parliament.
Progress in the area of employment equity has been made in full
respect of merit. It is the principle on which a non-partisan, highly
professional public service has been built. This cornerstone of
human resource management will not be eroded.
Employment equity is not about preferences. It is a method of
creating a fairness that might not otherwise exist. Several years ago
the Conference Board of Canada issued an interesting paper on
employment equity. The introduction revealed that women, visible
minorities and persons with disabilities make up close to 60 per
cent of the new entrants into Canada's labour force. It then went on
to say that the full participation of these entrants to Canada's labour
force constitutes a vital resource and that their full participation in
the workplace will be fundamental to the ability of organizations to
understand and respond to the needs of the rapidly changing
marketplace. That is what the conference board said.
To achieve this goal organizations need solid policies and fair
practices. For example, the same board found that if we want to
attract minorities it is a good idea to advertise job openings outside
the mainstream media and put them into the ethnic media. The
conference board finding related to culture was of significance
because organizations which implement interviewer training
considered it a particularly effective measure in raising
employment levels for designated groups.
I have made it clear that employment equity is not about
introducing discrimination. It is not about reverse discrimination in
the workplace. Rather, employment equity is about providing
opportunities by removing barriers and establishing policies and
programs to address the needs of designated member groups.
Employment equity is about including everyone, not excluding
No one should be excluded from access to employment
opportunities for reasons unrelated to competence, for reasons
unrelated to ability. That is what Bill C-64 is all about and that is
why I stand to support it today.
Mr. Ian McClelland (Edmonton Southwest, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, I listened with great interest to the comments of my
colleague opposite regarding the legislation, in particular his
comment in our other official language which I thought was very
well done. While I appreciated the language I sure have a problem
with the content.
It is interesting the minister opposite just finished talking about
how the employment equity legislation has fairness as its
cornerstone, has no quotas and has to do with providing
opportunity, not providing opportunity to people specifically
because of their race, their gender or the colour of their skin.
Let me read into the record from the employment equity guide of
the Department of Justice some of the non-quota targets. The
heading of the chart is ``New Employment Equity Targets''. They
are not quotas. They are targets. The legislation will make these
targets into quotas because it has penalties for companies that do
not meet the target requirements. Somehow that seems like it could
be a quota. As a matter of fact the legislation repealing the Ontario
employment equity act of 1993 which the Government of Ontario
is using is the job quotas repeal act. It is strange, is it not?
In any event I will quote from the employment equity targets in a
Department of Justice document: ``Women by occupational
category, promotions 93 per cent; aboriginal people, promotions
1.7 per cent; persons with disabilities, 2.8 per cent; and visible
minorities, 2.7 per cent''.
I will continue: ``Recruitment for aboriginal peoples, 2.2 per
cent; persons with disabilities, 2 per cent; visible minorities, 4.4
per cent. Recruitment for women, 43.8 per cent; administrative,
39.9 per cent; technical, 49.3 per cent''.
I ask the minister opposite whether these numbers that are
targets have the force of law behind them and a penalty for
non-compliance through the equity police of up to $50,000 if
companies are not in compliance. What are they? Are they quotas
or targets? If this is not a quota, what is?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Before giving the floor to
the hon. minister I advise the House we have now passed five hours
of debate at third reading of the bill. From here forward members
will have 10 minutes without questions or comments when we
resume debate on the bill.
Mr. Eggleton: Mr. Speaker, numerical targets have long been
established as part of employment equity programs. They are not
quotas. It is not the same as the American system where they are
obligated to try to reach certain numbers. They become goals; they
become objectives. However for various reasons they may not be
able to be met. If an honest try or an honest effort is made and they
cannot be met, there are no fines involved in that.
It is expected that an organization will take a look at its
composition to see how it relates to the workforce in general and
will take some measures to try to have a balanced workforce. That
is what we are trying to do here. We do not have that at the moment.
In terms of aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities and
visible minorities, they are under-represented in the federal
workforce. They are under-represented in the federally regulated
companies that are also part of the legislation. We have greater
numbers in the workforce. They are having a hard time getting into
The bill is all about giving them the opportunity to get to the
door. On their own merit they still have to make it into the job.
None of that has changed in terms of the principle that guides the
employment service act of the federal public service.
Targets become a goal and objective. I am sorry the member
does not understand that. It has long been established. I can
remember when I was mayor of Toronto that we established those
kinds of goals. Sometimes we made them and sometimes we did
not but there were reasons why we did not. People put out the best
effort they possibly could.
Over time we make progress. It will not happen overnight,
particularly now that we are into downsizing. It takes more time to
reach the goals. It helps us to focus without getting into quotas,
without in any way abandoning the merit principle. It does not
relate to the province of Ontario legislation which it has now
decided for whatever reasons to repeal. This is not the same kind of
legislation at all. This clearly upholds the principle of merit.
Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it was
rather ironic that the President of the Treasury Board would stand
to tell us that this is always about merit. When we think back to his
nomination we think of the fight he had. He was picked by the
Prime Minister to fight the election in his riding rather than having
to go through the competition of a real nomination process so that
he could demonstrate to his constituents that he deserved their
merit by winning the nomination.
I would like to ask a question of the President of the Treasury
Board. If he is to try to achieve these quotas or targets that he
speaks about-he can choose his word-basically he can influence
only two opportunities in the make-up of the federal civil service:
first, when people are hired and second, when people are fired. He
has no control over those who go of their own volition.
Does the President of the Treasury Board intend to advance the
civil service toward achieving the targets he talks about through the
early departure incentive program, through the early retirement
incentive program, where he will end up with a different ratio or
mix in the civil service as we advance toward the numbers and
targets he has set out?
When he and Treasury Board go through this exercise of
downsizing, are those who dominate the civil service at this time
likely to find a pink slip on their desks because he wants to move
toward achieving the targets that he has set out?
Mr. Eggleton: Mr. Speaker, the nomination process in York
Centre has nothing to do with employment equity goals. However, I
have fought and won a lot more elections than the hon. member has
ever even thought about, some 11 of them. In this past election the
people of York Centre gave me a plurality of somewhere over
20,000. I won every single poll. The voters of York Centre spoke
quite well, as they have in most parts of the country, by electing a
very solid Liberal majority government to represent every aspect of
the country, not just some portion of it.
With respect to the downsizing, we are not being detracted in
terms of the employment equity goals by that. It is obvious that a
lot of people in those four target groups are going to be part of the
downsizing. Given that we operate on the merit principle would
indicate the reverse order of merit as being paramount in that case.
The situation is being monitored very carefully to try to maintain
the numbers as best we can. After all, we do not have enough
aboriginal people, the disabled, or people who are in the visible
minority groups, as well as women in executive groups. Therefore,
I do not want to make the situation any worse if we can help it by
staying within the principles of merit which the Reform Party
keeps telling us we should. We are monitoring the situation
I am pleased to say that as a result of the report issued last week
by Treasury Board, of the over 8,000 positions that had been
removed, there has been no change of that balance. In fact in some
of the groups a little bit less has been reduced. The one exception to
that would be people with disabilities. This would be largely
because a number of them are going out under the early retirement
incentive, people who are closer to retirement age perhaps, more
than disabilities, but those are people who are taking a very
conscious, positive decision about leaving.
I am very pleased to say that of the over 8,000 people who are
gone and in particular those who were in the indeterminate or
permanent positions, none of them went involuntarily. They all
went voluntarily. That shows we are trying to treat people who are
departing the public service in a fair and humane way, as well as
those who continue to stay to operate the programs and services.
After all, we have to bring about that reduction. We do not
particularly like it. The hon. member is critical of it but, at the same
time, he and his party are critical of the deficit. This is all part of
getting our fiscal house in order and reducing the deficit. We are
treating people in a very fair and reasonable way. We are keeping a
very close eye on our employment equity goals at the same time.
Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am
pleased to rise today to speak about Bill C-64 dealing with
Equity is one of the most important things that Canadians
should, and I believe do, stand for. However, there is a major
difference between the equity being proposed by the government
and the equity Canadians would like to see.
I think back to the pioneer days and the days the west was
developed because I am from St. Albert just outside Edmonton.
Equity back in those days was opportunity. If we are going to talk
about equity we should always talk about opportunity rather than
results. Tens of thousands of people came to this country, and still
do, for the opportunity to succeed, the opportunity to prosper and
the opportunity to make the mark that would have been denied
them in other countries. That is the type of equity I believe
Through the hard work of pioneers, they built a country of which
we are proud. They built a country that recognizes the equality of
all our citizens. That is one of the great platforms of the Reform
Party. It says we are not into hyphenated Canadians. There is only
one kind of Canadian and that is the ordinary Canadian who works
hard and makes the country work.
A letter on employment equity appeared in the Edmonton
Journal a few weeks ago. In some ways one might think it
superficially drew the situation out to the extreme. It talked about
the hypothetical situation of an Olympics with men and women
being equal. Of course 51 per cent of race winners would have to be
women and 49 per cent men. How would that be achieved? By
putting weights on the legs of the men and so on. While the point is
ridiculous there is a moral to this story. To have equality of results,
somebody has to be penalized. That is the point I want to drive
home. To have equality of results the obvious winners have to be
penalized in order to allow others to win their share.
Our position is that rather than penalize the winners, we should
do our best to give everybody the opportunity to win through
education. It is education that determines whether or not someone
is going to succeed. It is not because they are black or white, or
male or female, or handicapped or crippled, or whatever. The point
is if they are educated they have a chance to succeed.
Last week, a study was released which indicated that of the top
10 per cent of income earners in this country the vast majority
attributed education to their success, not who they were, not what
they were, not their family background, not whether they came
from a rich background. Education was the dominant factor which
determined whether they were able to succeed or not. That is why
the House should focus on making sure people have the opportuni-
ty to succeed through education, not by introducing quotas that will
penalize those who have the desire to succeed, those who have the
willingness to work hard to succeed, those who go far beyond the
others and want to succeed. Why hold them back? Unfortunately
that is the nature of the government's way of doing things.
We want to ensure we can get back to the days where hard work
is equal to prosperity rather than having it guaranteed by
If failure is to be eliminated, as this legislation tries to do in
many ways, it comes at a cost. The cost of eliminating failure is
equal to the price of success. If we do not let some people succeed
because we want no one to fail, then we will bring everyone down
to the lowest common denominator. We saw what happened in
eastern Europe in Russia. They refused to allow anyone to succeed
and the whole country failed.
While this legislation is but one small piece along that road,
Reform Party members feel that Canadians will be far better
pleased and a lot more confident that this country can dig itself out
of the hole if those who have the will to succeed are allowed to
move ahead and help the rest of us and to provide education to
those who need to get their feet on the ladder.
I have a constituent who has been in to see me several times. He
would like to be a Mountie. In the west the Mounties are a revered
police institution. Everybody knows the Mounties. They are known
throughout the world as that great Canadian police force. They are
recognized and revered around the world.
This constituent wants to be a Mountie. Every year he does 600
hours of volunteer police work with the RCMP. He sat the exams
and met the minimum standards. He has a university education.
The only thing that stops him from being a Mountie is the fact that
he is a white male. Other family members are in the force. He
would dearly love to be in the force but because he is a white male
he cannot be what he dreams to be. That is because this government
brings in what it calls targets, which I call quotas, and denies
someone who would be a first class policeman. We have denied
him his dream.
That is why we have to recognize that this legislation is out to
lunch and the fact that we need to build people up, not hold them
This past week while we have been away I attended three
graduation ceremonies in my riding. At a couple of them I
presented the Governor General's award. I had an opportunity to
talk to people about education. I cannot encourage them enough
because in this complex and technological age we live in we need
all the education we can get.
If we tell people that it does not matter how much education you
have, how much motivation you have, how much will you have to
succeed because you just happen to be in the wrong category, then
we are sending the wrong message to young people and we have
received the wrong message from the people who built this country.
In many ways that is part of the reason we are so far in debt. We
have lost our way and that is a great shame.
In an earlier debate the member from Beaver River talked about
the fact that this legislation is going to be forced on businesses,
forced on the civil service, but the House of Commons is exempt.
Why would the House of Commons be exempt? Why would we in
typical fashion tell the people to not do as we do but just do as we
This is why the Reform Party is totally opposed to this
legislation. I would gladly support anything the government would
do to ensure that education became the reason for equity.
The Speaker: It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5),
the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to
Standing Order 31.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Mr. Elijah Harper (Churchill, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, as the
member for Churchill, the polar bear capital of Canada, I would
like to commend the Royal Mint for choosing the polar bear to
appear on the back of our new $2 coin.
In addition to being a distinctly Canadian symbol of strength, the
polar bear also represents one of Manitoba's best known tourist
attractions. I would like to invite all members of this House and all
Canadians to come north to Churchill and see for themselves the
inspiration for Canada's newest coin.
* * *
Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, according to this
morning's Le Devoir
, the American computer industry giant,
Ameridata, intends to increase its share of the Quebec market,
regardless of the outcome of the referendum. The president of
Ameridata Canada, Jan Kaminski, stated that the company was in
business, and the results of the referendum were of little
The Toronto firm Falconbridge is not worried about the outcome
of the referendum either. It has just announced an investment of
$500 million in Quebec. Mr. Pugsley, the president of a subsidiary
of Falconbridge, summarized the situation by saying that the
company had been doing business in Quebec for 50 years, it was a
good place to do business and, as far as the company was
concerned, it was business as usual.
Some businesses are responding to the campaign of fear being
waged by Mr. Johnson and the no side by deciding to invest.
* * *
Mr. Hugh Hanrahan (Edmonton-Strathcona, Ref.):
Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona,
I was very pleased to learn that Mrs. Therese Chicoine, a
constituent, has been selected to receive the Canada Volunteer
Award Certificate of Merit. This certificate is awarded each year to
recognize those who have made valuable voluntary contributions
toward improving the health and social well-being of their fellow
Mrs. Chicoine is a key player in both the administration and the
delivery of the emergency services response team of the Canadian
Red Cross Society. She was also instrumental in the establishment
of the unrelated bone marrow donor clinic. Her list of volunteer
achievements seems endless and is a testament to Canada.
I know that my hon. colleagues would like to take this
opportunity to congratulate Mrs. Therese Chicoine on her award.
* * *
Mr. John Solomon (Regina-Lumsden, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I
am very proud today to stand in the House on behalf of the NDP
caucus to extend warm congratulations to our new leader, Alexa
Alexa was elected at the NDP convention held this weekend in
Ottawa. Over 1,800 delegates along with 1,000 visitors and guests
joined together to boost the NDP on their road to renewal.
We give notice to the Liberals and the Reform Party that New
Democrats across the country are rising up in solidarity and unity
to fight against their demolition of medicare and other social
programs and are renewing our efforts for jobs and fair taxation for
With our new leader, Alexa McDonough, Canadians have a
reinvigorated voice to hold this government accountable for the
destructive measures it is inflicting on Canadians. Canadians do
have a choice. It is to join us in recovering a more caring and
sharing Canada and reclaiming Canada for Canadians.
* * *
Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Lib.):
Speaker, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time for all
of us to remember that in 1995 an estimated 17,700 Canadian
women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,400 will die
from this terrible disease.
The leading cause of cancer deaths among women, breast cancer
can be eradicated through education, awareness, good health, and
with the support of our community. The collaboration of survivors,
health professionals, and governments must also continue in order
to address breast cancer issues and to ultimately find a cure.
Chances are we have all known someone who has had breast
cancer. I therefore invite you to visit the Canadian breast cancer
memorial tribute this week in the foyer of the House of Commons.
With this memorial we will remember the many Canadian women
who have battled courageously but have lost to this disease. In their
memory we must continue to provide support to those who are
fighting for their lives.
* * *
Mr. Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I would like
to draw the attention of the House to an award that was presented
on the weekend to the woman entrepreneur of the year. This award
is an initiative of the University of Toronto Faculty of Management
and it counts organizations such as the Financial Post
For the category of international competitiveness, my
constituent, friend, and client, Paula Lishman, was the recipient. I
have known Paula for many years. Her intuitive designs in
reversible furs are respected throughout the world.
Paula exemplifies the fight of small and medium sized
businesses, and women in particular in the country to get
established and win the confidence of the financial community.
Trading internationally and creating meaningful jobs in Durham
and in Canada have been the results of her efforts. I know about her
struggles because I was her accountant and sat with her on the other
side of many bank managers' desks.
Paula's perseverance in the face of adversity is a lesson for all
small and medium sized business operators. I am proud and happy
that Paula Lishman has earned the recognition she so justly
Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor-St. Clair, Lib.):
Speaker, I am sure that I am joined by all members of the House in
paying tribute to the six outstanding women who are the recipients
of the 1995 Governor General's awards in commemoration of the
Persons case, which were presented this morning at Rideau Hall.
We recognize Marthe Asselin Vaillancourt of Jonquière, Quebec
for her continuing efforts to prevent violence against women,
children, and the elderly.
We recognize Dr. May Cohen of Burlington, Ontario for her
leadership and pioneering work in the field of women's health.
We recognize Dr. Ruth Flowers of Makkovik, Labrador for her
community activism and dedication to improving the quality of
We recognize Sheila Kingham of Victoria, British Columbia for
her belief in the power of collective action and her tireless
advocacy on behalf of rural women.
We recognize Carolyn G. Thomas of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia for
her courage as a human rights activist.
We recognize Alice E. Tyler of Edmonton, Alberta for her
promotion of women's advancement through her art.
Our congratulations from this House go to these remarkable
women who have each contributed substantially to the furtherance
of women's equality.
The Speaker: Would these outstanding women please rise in the
House. We would like to recognize you.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
* * *
Mr. Jean Landry (Lotbinière, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, the
Government of Canada is inundating us with subliminal
advertising in the midst of the referendum campaign, which is not a
problem for Radio-Canada. The no side's messages state that the
sovereignist leaders are claiming to the be only real Quebecers,
when in fact they have never said such a thing. And yet,
Radio-Canada is airing this message.
However, the message of the yes side showing how the federal
government has systematically refused to listen to Quebec's
demands is not acceptable. Radio-Canada suddenly remembers its
advertising standards and refuses to air this message. This decision
is incomprehensible and surprises even the Telecaster Committee,
which approves its broadcast.
The truth is that the yes side's message was so effective
government officials demanded it be rejected. This is the behaviour
of a side in a panic and with nothing to offer Quebec.
* * *
Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, the
government has lost control of the public purse. Once again I stand
in the House to ask the Liberal government why it does not practise
fiscal restraint in these tough economic times.
While the government refuses to allow Parliament to reduce
public expenditures, it continues to curry favour by handing out
$11 billion in grants and contributions largely without the
knowledge of the Canadian public.
I have published the first issue of my waste report which
highlights some of these expenditures, many of which cannot be
justified. Examples are: United Steel Workers of America,
$108,000; Canadian Labour Congress, $10,000; Canadian
Chamber of Commerce, $4.5 million.
The Reform Party advocates eliminating all funding to special
interest groups and sees no reason why $11 billion in grants and
contributions cannot be cut at least in half.
* * *
Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, to
compensate for the weakness of his separatist arguments, the leader
of the Bloc Quebecois decided yesterday to resort to drastic
measures. He stated, and I quote: ``There is something magical
about a Yes vote. With a wave of our magic wand, we will stir up a
feeling of solidarity among Quebecers''.
The leader of the Bloc Quebecois has just traded his pilgrim's
staff for an all-powerful magic wand to convince the people to vote
in favour of Quebec's separation. This silly statement by the
separatist leader is a good indication of how desperate the Yes side
is two weeks before the referendum.
The way things are going, it would not be surprising to see the
separatist leaders criss-crossing Quebec astride witches' brooms
before the campaign is over.
* * *
Mr. Benoît Serré (Timiskaming-French River, Lib.):
Speaker, there is an article in today's La Presse
about a study done
by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington
on the economic impact of Quebec's separation and its effect on
existing trade agreements.
The author of the study starts out by announcing that an
independent Quebec would have none of the rights and obligations
resulting from Canada's membership in several trade agreements
with the U.S. including NAFTA, the World Trade Organization and
the Auto Pact. A Quebec separated from Canada would have to
negotiate access to all these treaties.
This study confirms what our Minister of Finance recently said.
An independent Quebec will have to renegotiate all international
treaties it is already a part of because of its status as a Canadian
The price to be paid for the separatist obsession is much too high
and, on October 30, the people of Quebec will say No.
* * *
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lib.):
Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has suggested that magic
powers would help bring Quebecers together again after the
He told participants in a meeting at a CEGEP: ``There is
something magical about a Yes vote. With a wave of our magic
wand, we will stir up a feeling of solidarity among Quebecers.
They will no longer be divided into sovereignists and federalists,
and I will be confident of negotiating on behalf of all Quebecers''.
Abracadabra, says the opposition leader.
We are pleased to see that the separatist leader is now taking an
interest in what comes after the referendum, when the magic
vanishes. Of course, we would like him, with his magic wand, to
have the same attitude and preach the same virtues of
reconciliation the day after a No victory.
* * *
Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, last
week, Senator Jacques Hébert displayed an unspeakable lack of
respect for Quebec women, in calling political scientist Josée
Legault a ``separatist cow''.
By heaping such abuse on women with convictions, Mr. Hébert
once again shows them that the Liberal Party of Canada and the No
side would not be able to meet their expectations in any way after
October 30. The number of women in favour of a sovereign Quebec
is growing day after day, and rude remarks like these can only
strengthen them in their decision.
Mr. Hébert, a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and the
government whip in the Senate, must publicly apologize to women
in Quebec, and take back his offensive comments.
* * *
Miss Deborah Grey (Beaver River, Ref.):
yesterday the Reform Party presented its new confederation
proposals, 20 measures to modernize and decentralize Canada.
One of the proposed changes is to the Senate of Canada. All
future appointments to the Senate would be made by means of
elections based on the model of the 1989 Alberta Senate selection
Stan Waters made Canadian history twice on this day, October
16, 1989. He was the first elected senator in Canada and he was the
first Reform Party member to sit in the Senate. His passing in
September 1991 left that seat vacant and the Prime Minister filled
it with a typical patronage appointment.
Canadians are tired of this old Liberal lament that we hear time
and time again that because the Charlottetown accord failed
Canada can never have an elected Senate. I say bunk. It has already
happened in Alberta. It can happen in every province in Canada.
I know traditional parties will not want to see the house of
patronage disappear. Where would they put the old boys and girls
like the last four Liberals appointed to the Senate? I know where
they should go. They should be put out to pasture.
The 21st century is coming. Let us democratize and have an
* * *
Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, on
October 14, the leader of the official opposition said: ``Do you
think it makes sense that we have so few children in Quebec? We
are one of the races of whites with the least children''.
What does the colour of the children born in Quebec have to do
with the referendum campaign?
First, several members of the Yes side suggested that non French
speaking Quebec residents would not have the same rights as those
of French origin, and now the Bloc leader is raising the issue of
race and colour.
Quebecers are not racists. They are well acquainted with the
values of tolerance, social harmony and justice, and they will vote
no on October 30.
Mrs. Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais (Madawaska-Victoria,
Mr. Speaker, over the last few days, the Bloc Quebecois
leader decided to focus his campaign on women. However, the
message that he is sending to Quebec women is dubious to say the
The Bloc leader said: ``Do you think it makes sense that we have
so few children in Quebec? We are one of the races of whites with
the least children. It doesn't make sense. This means that we have
not solved family issues''.
This statement by the official opposition leader is totally
unacceptable and is also an insult to the freedom of choice which
Quebec women have been exercising for years regarding
The opposition leader is sadly mistaken if he thinks that, in a
separated Quebec, women will readily comply with the
demographic demands of the government. Separation will not be
achieved on the back of Quebec women. On October 30, they will
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ):
Speaker, in desperation, Daniel Johnson mentioned a commitment
made in 1992 by the Liberal Party of Canada to recognize the
distinct identity of Quebec, in an attempt to convince himself that
the political will for constitutional change exists. However, on
September 11 this year, the Prime Minister of Canada told him, and
I quote: ``Distinct society-we are distinct, no need to put it in the
Constitution. When you look at me and hear me speak English, you
know I am distinct''.
My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I want to ask him
whether he intends to remind Mr. Johnson that the federal
government has no intention of amending the Constitution to
recognize the distinct identity of Quebec, as he himself, the Prime
Minister of Canada, said on September 11 this year.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, twice Canadians have been asked to vote on this. I
remember the distinct society was part of the Charlottetown
accord. I voted for the accord, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the
Opposition voted against it. The leader of the Bloc Quebecois
voted against it. The members of the Parti Quebecois voted against
it. Jacques Parizeau did. We were in favour of the accord.
They voted against it, but today they want it back. I think that is a
little ridiculous. As we said before, today the issue is not the
Constitution. Today we have to answer a question put by the Leader
of the Opposition and his former leader, the Premier of Quebec,
about whether we should separate.
When asked the question: ``Should we separate?'', the people of
Quebec will say no. Today we are not talking about the
Constitution but about answering the question put by the Leader of
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, so constitutional change is not important enough to
discuss at a time when it happens to be the focus of the debate on
the future of Quebec. That is rather strange.
The Prime Minister just referred to Charlottetown. He knows
perfectly well that the Canada clause made recognition of Quebec's
distinct identity devoid of all substance by subordinating this
recognition to the fundamental principle of provincial equality.
I want to ask him: Would he confirm that it is because of the
sacrosanct principle of provincial equality, he refuses to recognize
Quebec as a distinct society, as he is being asked to do today, alas in
vain, by Mr. Johnson who will not learn the lessons of Meech and
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, Mr. Johnson voted for the distinct society in the
Charlottetown referendum, while the Leader of the Opposition
voted against the distinct society when we had a referendum. Mr.
Parizeau voted against the distinct society when we had a
referendum. Funny how they have changed their minds today. Why
did they not consider what they were doing at the time?
They wanted to vote against the accord so they could go on
complaining and then have a referendum on separation. We will
have one two weeks from today, when people will answer the
question on the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada. The
people of Quebec know that their future is about remaining full
members of the federation of this great country, Canada.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, if the Prime Minister voted for Charlottetown, it was
because recognition of Quebec's distinct identity did not mean a
thing. That is why he voted in favour of the accord and that is why
we are going to vote against it.
I want to ask the Prime Minister how he expects Quebecers to
trust him after what he did the day after the No in 1980, when he
did a job on Quebec by isolating it and imposing a constitution that
Quebec still refuses to sign.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition likes to talk about the past. I
have nothing to hide. At the time we were, legally speaking, a
Great Britain, and we had to patriate the Constitution. We had no
Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada, something we wanted
to have. The Constitution at the time did not include the
recognition of French and English as Canada's two official
languages, which was done in 1980, fifteen years ago.
The country has continued to progress, while he is still back in
1980 and we are heading for the 21st century, and he says he has the
answer, the magic wand. You wave the magic wand and poof, the
studies commissioned by Le Hir vanish into thin air; another wave,
and all the risks of separation disappear; another, and the concerns
of everyone, from the Prime Minister of Canada to the leaders of
other countries, are no more. And then suddenly, another wave and
Mr. Parizeau, the leader of the No side, has vanished.
Mrs. Pierrette Venne (Saint-Hubert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Prime Minister.
Clearly short of arguments to defend the federalist cause, Liberal
Senator Jacques Hébert, government whip in the Senate, used
coarse, derogatory and unacceptable language in describing
political scientist Josée Legault as a separatist cow.
Will the Prime Minister publicly dissociate himself from this
inappropriate remark by his old friend Jacques Hébert and will he
offer an apology, on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, to the
women who have been offended by it?
The Speaker: My dear colleague, the government's
administrative responsibilities do not extend to the Senate. I would
ask my hon. colleague to rephrase the question, which will perhaps
Mrs. Venne: Mr. Speaker, given the unacceptable nature of this
remark and the responsibilities of the senator, who was appointed
by the Prime Minister to perform official duties, I am asking the
Prime Minister whether he will relieve him of his duties.
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice): Mr. Speaker, I would like to
The Speaker: Just a minute. I will allow the question, and the
Prime Minister will be able to answer it.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, if this remark was made, I deplore it. That is all I can say. I
was not present. I am told it was made in a private conversation. It
was not said publicly, but if it was made, I deplore it.
Everyone makes mistakes, perhaps the senator made one here. I
have also made mistakes. This senator has faithfully served
Parliament and Quebec society. He may have made a mistake-it
happens-I regret it.
Mrs. Pierrette Venne (Saint-Hubert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we are
not talking about deploring a remark, we are talking about
dissociating oneself from it.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
The Speaker: The hon. member for Saint-Hubert, on a
Mrs. Venne: Thank you Mr. Speaker. This is not a matter of
deploring a remark, it is a matter of dissociating oneself from it,
and this is what we are asking the Prime Minister to do today. Will
he dissociate himself from the remark Senator Hébert made about
Hon. Sheila Finestone (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism)
(Status of Women), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would much prefer the
apology come from Lucien Bouchard for his racist and sexist
The Speaker: We do not usually address each other by name in
the House in our comments. I find the language is getting a little
strong. The hon. member for Macleod.
* * *
Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, the health
minister has failed in her bid to squash semi-private clinics in
Canada. Two of the largest provinces just ignore her and four
provinces have bluntly said no to decreased medicare funding and
no to longer waiting lines.
However, it is never too late to operate co-operatively. We call
on the minister to put aside her silly squabbles. We call on her to
work with the provinces toward health care reform which puts
patients rather than bureaucrats first.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the Minister of Health is defending something voted on by
the House of Commons, the five principles in the Canada Health
We all agree with her that these principles have to be protected.
Unlike the Reform Party, we do not want a two tier system.
However, at the same time she has agreed to talk about some
specific problems with the provinces in order for them to operate in
a way that is completely acceptable according to the principles of
medicare. She has the support of this whole party.
Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime
Minister wants specifics. Maybe he will listen to the patients on
waiting lists throughout the country. The cardiac waiting lists in
Canada today are longer than they have ever been in history. Why?
They have no choice. The minister offers no choice and no
Does the minister have anything to say to Canadians on waiting
lists other than ``just line up and shut up''?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the hon. member should know that administration occurs
on a daily basis and discussions on how to operate medical services
within the provinces are completely provincial responsibilities. We
are not running hospitals. They are run by provincial governments.
However, it is very difficult for me to understand that these
people are always complaining that we should not spend money
and should cut all the time but then they want us to increase
payments to the provinces. I would like the member to say so and
by how much. I will listen to him.
Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime
Minister continues to say we do not need more money in the
system, but how much less do we need?
This rigid centralist solution will not work. This kind of
government is why we are in so much trouble with health care and
indeed with Quebec.
The provinces know this edict on semi-private clinics will not
work. I call on the Prime Minister to abandon this approach. When
will the Prime Minister join the provinces in real reform, real
health care reform?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, we have established a forum on that. We have experts
operating under my leadership on how to reform medicare. We
have a problem with that in Canada. I recognize that. We included
in our red book that it was to be reviewed. We have formed a
committee of experts listening to the views of Canadians.
However in the meantime, and we said it very clearly, we have to
reduce the cost of medicare from what it is today, 10 per cent of
GDP, to around 9 per cent. It will be done although it will not be
The provincial governments are also doing their share. They are
cutting and we have to benefit a bit from their cuts because the
federal government has deficit problems. Some provinces cut $500
million so we must have the right to cut in relative terms if we want
a balanced situation in Canada. We are having ongoing discussions
with the provinces on this. I am happy to know that the Reform
Party does not want us to spend more money on it.
* * *
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ):
Speaker, the No side shows how desperate it is when it distorts, the
way it just did, the comments I made on Saturday, by claiming they
I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he would agree, as I
said on Saturday, that the government must provide the right
socio-economic conditions so that couples who want children and
have none because they cannot afford it, would be able to have
I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he would agree that we
must create the right socio-economic conditions so that couples
who want children can afford to have them? I want to ask him
whether he would agree that we must give them that option by
creating conditions that will help them develop both their own and
their children's potential?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition is trying to do some
damage control, considering the terrible blunder he made when he
implied that since we are in Quebec, we are white. He then implied
You know, what is disturbing about the comments of the Leader
of the Opposition is that to be a good Quebecer, it is better to be
white than coloured and it is certainly better to speak French than
English. If you are a separatist, you are a good Quebecer; if you are
a federalist, you are not. If you happen to be a woman, maybe you
should have more children.
This is a matter of personal choice for every woman. We may be
in favour of certain policies in this respect but they should not be
connected with race and with relationships that deny the equal
status of men and women in society.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, it is simply appalling that a Prime Minister should stoop
to distorting comments to such an extraordinary degree. This is
intolerable. Everybody knows there is a problem with the birth rate
in Quebec and that it concerns all governments. Everyone knows
that in Quebec many couples, and we all know people like that,
would like to have children but cannot afford to.
So I want to ask him whether he does not realize that we will
have to introduce appropriate measures for financial support,
measures to make daycare available to everyone, and I want to ask
him whether he realizes that by threatening to cut social programs
as he has started to do and will continue to do more and more after
the No, he ignores the needs and interests of women and married
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, since I am being accused of misquoting the Leader of the
Opposition, I will read to you what he said: ``Do you think it makes
sense that we have so few children in Quebec? We are one of the
white races that has the least children. That does not make sense''.
Are Quebecers members of the white race? There are Quebecers of
every colour and every religion.
Is the decision to have children the responsibility of the
government and women themselves? That is where the Leader of
the Opposition made a blunder, and he made it clear where he is
coming from when he talks about these problems.
* * *
Mr. Jack Frazer (Saanich-Gulf Islands, Ref.):
both the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence have
said that they want to get to the bottom of the events in Somalia.
They have pledged to act after the commission of inquiry submits
However, section 69 of the National Defence Act requires that a
trial for most services offences must begin within three years of the
alleged offence. Because the commission is not scheduled to report
until June 1996, it seems that discipline and leadership failings of
late 1992 and early 1993 will go untried.
Was the minister aware of this limitation when he called the
inquiry? How exactly does he plan to get to the bottom of events if
charges cannot even be laid?
Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of National Defence and
Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government
is fully aware of the provisions of the National Defence Act with
respect to the statute of limitations on non-indictable offences. I am
sure the commission on Somalia is also well aware of it.
With respect to the question on charges, we do not presume that
further charges are to be laid, but we do not preclude it either. I
would ask the hon. member and his party to let the commission do
its job and we will do our job in government. Then we will have
Mr. Jack Frazer (Saanich-Gulf Islands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
this Liberal government took a year to announce a public inquiry. It
was almost another full year before the inquiry began to hear
Last November I asked the minister to suspend the courts martial
and proceed immediately with the inquiry. He refused. How can
this minister explain to the Canadian public that because of his
delays justice will be denied by a technicality?
Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of National Defence and
Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, unlike the
Reform Party, we have a profound respect for the justice system in
The hon. member is fully aware that we were precluded from
calling the inquiry because there were courts martial in process and
then subsequently there were appeals. Until we had the Westray
mine decision of the supreme court in May of this year, we could
not have started a commission without risking having the charges
quashed of people currently on trial.
If I had done what the hon. member advocated we do and people
who have subsequently been charged and convicted were then not
subject to the justice system, he would be the first one yelling and
screaming in the House of Commons that somehow the
government was responsible for the denial of justice.
* * *
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, a common
thread runs through the Prime Minister's entire political career.
Every time Quebec wanted to assert itself, he has stood in its way.
We just learned that Elections Canada has initiated the whole
process required for holding a Canada-wide referendum. This is
probably not a spontaneous initiative by Elections Canada.
Are we to understand that the Prime Minister is refusing to
recognize Quebecers' verdict in the referendum and getting ready
to hold a Canada-wide referendum in order to overturn the
democratic decision of Quebecers?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I did not speak to the Chief Electoral Officer. If he has
decided to set the whole machinery in motion, an election will
certainly be held within two or three years. For the moment, my
only goal is the one we all share: winning the referendum in two
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, since the
Prime Minister can see that it is less and less likely that he will win
the referendum in Quebec, I ask him again: Does he realize that by
staying extremely vague on the Elections Canada manoeuvres, he
is raising doubts as to his democratic intentions?
I ask him again: Does the Prime Minister reject the idea of
holding a referendum in order to counter the democratic decision
Quebecers will make in two weeks?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the Chief Electoral Officer reports directly to the House of
Commons. All the hon. member has to do is call and ask him why
he is getting ready to hold an election. An election can be called
any day. I could get up tomorrow morning and call an election.
That is a prime minister's privilege.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice): You should at least be here for
another two weeks because you would not be coming back.
Call the Chief Electoral Officer and ask him. As far as I am
concerned, the referendum is what we are working on at this time.
We did not need to get rid of the leader of the No side. Mr. Johnson
is doing an excellent job. We did not have to change our strategy
because we are clearly telling citizens that all statements by the
Leader of the Opposition or the so-called structures he might
develop by negotiating with God knows whom- We are simply
telling Quebecers that these people are separatists who do not have
the courage of their convictions and who are trying to sell them
something they do not want to buy.
* * *
Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, last May
when the justice minister was attempting to justify the Liberal
patronage appointments that his revenue minister wanted for
Vancouver Island crown counsel positions, he said that the sole
criterion for their appointment was that of competence.
Well, their competence showed up last week when one of the
Liberal appointees turned up in a Nanaimo court totally
unprepared, incapable of proceeding, and a serious drug case was
thrown out. Is this the Liberal justice department's measure of
Mr. Russell MacLellan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister
of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
what the Minister of Justice said on these appointments still holds
The matter to which the hon. member refers is an incident where
perhaps more through an administrative mix-up the new agent was
unable to get the files for the court. It had nothing to do with the
agent's competence. The matter is being looked into by the
Minister of Justice.
Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this
particular case has been before the court since September 1993, a
full two years.
In addition to this case, in Victoria last week another Liberal
appointee turned up in the court unable to even qualify with an
ordinary argument for law in the court. That case was thrown out.
In a second case in Victoria the crown prosecution witnesses
turned up but surprisingly the crown prosecutor did not. That case
was thrown out.
When is the justice department going to wake up?
Mr. Russell MacLellan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister
of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
if the agent is unable to get the information and unable to get the
files then the agent cannot do the job if the agent is not granted a
postponement by the court. If this is the case, as I believe it may
well be, then certainly there is nothing whatever to discredit the
As I have said, the Minister of Justice is looking into this matter.
* * *
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, my question
is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. His department
has speeded up citizenship processing in Quebec since the
referendum campaign has begun. Never, in any recent provincial or
federal election, had such an extensive operation been undertaken
to issue certificates of citizenship. Because of this accelerated
process, more than 15,000 new citizens will be able to vote in the
How can the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration justify this
eagerness to expedite the processing of citizenship applications in
Quebec, when his own officials have confirmed that never before
had such an extensive operation been conducted just before an
election anywhere in Canada?
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what is being done with respect
to citizenship processing in the province of Quebec leading up to
the referendum is nothing different from any lead up to any
My department has done likewise with the provinces of
Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario. If we compare the number
of citizenship processings with the year of the Ontario election, it is
up some 45 per cent.
Is the hon. member suggesting that we should somehow slow
down the process? Is the hon. member suggesting that it is not
proper to have the persons exercise their democratic right to vote?
Exactly what is his point?
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in my case it
took one year to become a citizen, and the minister did not do that
before the elections in Ontario and New Brunswick.
Will the minister admit that the explanation for his sudden
concern for democracy can be found in the letter he sends all new
citizens, asking them to help build a strong and united Canada.
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong on both
The government does not assume how newcomers or immigrants
will vote. Perhaps the party on the other side is assuming somehow
that new immigrants will vote a different way from the intention of
their party. That is not my business as minister of citizenship. My
business is to ensure that people have the franchise to vote, whether
it is in a referendum, a provincial election or a federal election. We
make no apologies for that.
The member of Parliament accuses me of writing wrong letters
to all the people who become new citizens. Let me quote from the
former secretary of state in the preceding government, who is
currently the leader of the Bloc Quebecois. He stated in the letter:
``I wish to extend to you my personal congratulations and those of
the Prime Minister on the occasion of your becoming a Canadian
citizen. Your government is pleased that of all the nations of the
world you have chosen Canada as your new home''.
* * *
Mr. Gordon Kirkby (Prince Albert-Churchill River, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation to allow
oil and gas development in the calving grounds of the Porcupine
caribou herd in the Arctic national wildlife refuge in Alaska. An
all-party report supported protecting the calving grounds of the
herd which migrates between Yukon and Alaska.
Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell the House what the
Canadian government has done to protect the calving grounds of
the Porcupine caribou herd?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, Canada has expressed its strong opposition to the
congressional proposal. Indeed I wrote to Warren Christopher
about the question. My colleague, the environment minister, also
wrote to her counterpart. The Prime Minister has spoken to
We certainly hope the congressional proposal will be amended.
If not, the president will exercise his veto.
* * *
Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, my question is for
the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
When the Liberals announced the Atlantic groundfish strategy in
May 1994 they called it a program to end all programs. Significant
funding was allocated to reduce industry capacity and for
The government has already siphoned money away from
retraining. Last week the minister announced funding reductions to
the $300 million buy back program, the heart of capacity reduction,
because TAGS benefits are running unchecked resulting in a
Will the minister admit to the House and to the fishermen in
Atlantic Canada that TAGS is in total chaos and will do nothing
more than perpetuate income dependency?
Hon. Brian Tobin (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I will make no such admission.
The Reform Party really has to sort itself out. Its members spend
most of their time calling for a total cancellation of the TAGS
program, cancellation of all forms of unemployment insurance
assistance and, if we read between the lines, cancellation of
Atlantic Canada on most days.
The Liberal Party announced last week in consultation with my
colleague, the Minister of Human Resources Development, the
beginning of the early retirement component of that program for
fishermen between the ages of 55 and 64, the first round of a
licence retirement program. The Minister of Human Resources
Development will proceed shortly with details on early retirement
programs for plant workers.
We are well on our way to achieving our 50 per cent capacity
reduction objective and we are on our way to rebuilding the
Atlantic fishery for the long term.
Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this is not our
program; this is their program. They are not meeting their own
Fishermen in Atlantic Canada tell me that TAGS has a $400
million projected deficit because, to be frank, just about anybody
could qualify for benefits. One fish plant operator told me that
one-third of his workforce left their jobs to go on TAGS. Another
fisherman told me: ``All you need to do to qualify for benefits is
show up at a TAGS office wearing a pair of rubber fishing boots''.
Will the minister admit that TAGS is an abject failure because it
has been totally mismanaged and will now do almost nothing to
reduce industry capacity?
Hon. Brian Tobin (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it is tragic when a member is on the job for a short
period of time as a critic and then perpetuates certain rather
destructive myths about a region of the country. ``All you have to
do to qualify for assistance is show up with a pair of rubber boots''
is the kind of cruel and twisted humour that does nothing to solve
the problems of Atlantic Canada.
The reality of the TAGS program is that 39,000 people qualified,
but only 25,000 have actually taken assistance. The others have
been able to find new kinds of work in the fishery or in other
sectors. Fourteen thousand people who qualify based on the criteria
have gone off to find a new start in their lives. Thousands more
have entered training programs and many more thousands are now
in the process of moving out of this industry and making a new
beginning in their lives.
If the member really cared about Atlantic Canada, really cared
about the fishery, he would take more than 60 seconds or a one-day
visit to write a new prescription for the problems of the region
and he would address the House with some sensitivity and with,
frankly, some intelligence.
* * *
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
The accelerated processing of citizenship applications during the
Quebec referendum, an operation conducted only in Quebec, leaves
very little time to carry out the security check required before
Canadian citizenship can be granted.
How can the citizenship minister explain that, all of a sudden,
during the Quebec referendum, the security checks required before
applicants can become Canadian citizens, and eventually Quebec
citizens, are four times faster than before?
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the deputy premier of Quebec,
their soulmate, said:
``We must assume that the federal government is acting in good
faith; the right to vote is sacred''.
We are not taking shortcuts on the applications. The applications
within the system are being processed. There is a view at the lead
up of every provincial and federal election, including the
referendum this time as well as in 1980, that if there is an ability to
speed up the processing with the viewing of granting the franchise
of the vote it will be done.
For instance, in the province of Ontario in the lead up to the
provincial election in 1994, instead of the 72,000 people that were
processed in 1993 there were 107,000 people processed or a 49 per
In Manitoba, in New Brunswick and in the other provinces the
same thing has happened. We are not questioning how people are
likely to vote as a function of whether or not we process. It is a
shame that party is doing just that.
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the
minister is misrepresenting what Minister Landry said. The right to
vote is indeed sacred. It is precisely because it is sacred that all due
diligence must be exercised to make sure that only qualified
applicants are granted citizenship.
Can the minister give us any assurances that Immigration
Canada is not skipping any crucial steps in granting Canadian
citizenship to immigrants?
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have tried to tell my hon.
friend and the critic for citizenship and immigration that
everything is being done according to law and according to
tradition; that is what we have been saying.
If she checks with her seatmate, the critic for immigration and
citizenship, he criticized us in the past for moving too slowly on the
applications. Now they are saying we are moving too fast. Which
one is it?
* * *
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary North, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, last
week in British Columbia two women were killed by their spouses
after restraining orders had been issued for their abusive partners.
They lived in fear for their lives and turned to the Canadian justice
system for help and that system let them down.
Restraining orders are clearly not effective without more teeth to
back them up. An electronic bracelet worn by the abusive partner
would help alert a victim and police to the approaching danger.
Will the government introduce changes to the Criminal Code
which would allow for greater use of electronic monitoring to help
enforce restraining orders, peace bonds and protect victims of
Mr. Russell MacLellan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister
of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
although tragic events such as the ones the hon. member has
referred to do not happen in great numbers, any one event like that
is one too many.
The Minister of Justice is looking into the particular situation to
see how the Department of Justice can perhaps help.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
remind the government that incidents where women are being
killed by their abusive partners are not isolated.
In Calgary where my riding is located, four women in the last
eight weeks have been killed by their estranged partners.
Something needs to be done.
Does the government have a study in the works directed toward
using modern technology to enhance the protection of citizens in
these kinds of circumstances?
Mr. Russell MacLellan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister
of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the hon. member is absolutely correct that any one incident of this
type is one too many. Women killed by abusive partners are an
occurrence that happens too frequently.
As I mentioned in my first answer, the Minister of Justice is
looking into the situation and are looking into electronic bracelets.
We are working with the solicitor general and other departments to
find a meaningful way of drastically reducing these types of
* * *
Mr. Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Public Works and Government
I understand the details of the Atlantic investment fund are near
completion and that provinces and banks are showing their support
for the fund. Members of the third party may criticize the idea but
Atlantic Canadians know the need for small business capital in our
Will the minister tell the House that he is going ahead with the
Atlantic investment fund?
Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Public Works and
Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada
Opportunities Agency, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I know the hon.
member's long interest in the subject matter. He should be aware,
as other House members ought to be aware, that Atlantic Canada is
the only region of the country that does not have a venture capital
With the co-operation of the four Atlantic premiers and the
Government of Canada, the private sector including the chartered
banks is in the process of coming together and consummating what
will become known as the Atlantic venture capital fund.
For the benefit of the House, the particular fund has as its goal to
assist small and medium size business and to increase the human
infrastructure in that sector in Atlantic Canada. It will be governed,
driven and operated by the private sector which has its roots and
resides in Atlantic Canada.
* * *
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ):
Speaker, thanks to a federal grant of at least $4 million, the Council
for Canadian Unity is pursuing its massive registration of out of
Quebec residents, under false representations. The council
encourages these people to say that they intend to move back to
Quebec within two years, even if it is not the case. The result is that
over 15,000 out of Quebec residents have been registered, which is
four times more than for last year's election, and which includes
4,000 duplicate listings.
How can the Prime Minister justify that the Council for
Canadian Unity encourages thousands of people living outside
Quebec to illegally get their names on the voters' list?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the Council is indeed an organization that has received a
grant from the government, but it also receives moneys from the
private sector and it urges people who have the right to vote to get
their names on the list.
It goes without saying that if the No side wins in two weeks,
many people who moved out of Quebec will want to go back there.
Thanks to its restored political stability, Quebec will become a very
interesting place to live, and these people will be very happy to
move back to our belle province.
* * *
Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the justice minister.
In the trial of Royer, the jury decided that Royer could form
specific intent, that Royer was not extremely intoxicated and that
Royer knew exactly what he was doing when he murdered Sharon
Mohamed and attempted to murder Sharon's mother, Shadikan.
The government discussed and decided unanimously that
drunkenness is not an excuse. When will it enforce the legislation
that makes the final decision of a jury that hears all pertinent
evidence final and will not allow an appointed body such as the
supreme court to overrule the wishes of the people and the
Parliament of Canada?
Mr. Russell MacLellan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister
of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
with respect to the Royer case, the Supreme Court of Canada has
now been asked to look at it. As this case is before the supreme
court it would be improper to comment on it.
This case is different from the Daviault case in that this is a
crime of specific intent whereas the Daviault case was a crime of
The Minister of Justice is looking at the possibility of acting as
an intervenor in this case if it goes before the Supreme Court of
* * *
Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Prime Minister.
In opposition the Prime Minister opposed the Tory vision of
health care. He opposed cuts to the transfer payments to the
provinces and territories. He opposed Bill C-91 which has sent
the prices of prescription drugs sky-rocketing. He said he would
protect Canadian health care with more than just rhetoric.
Unfortunately some Canadians believed him but we have seen
no changes to Bill C-91. We have seen reduced transfer payments.
The real problems with health policy are the Liberal government
Will the Prime Minister stop letting the Minister of Finance set
health policy, present a vision to Canadians and ensure stable
funding for provinces and territories so we can have a truly national
health care system?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I will certainly tell the Minister of Finance the member
for Yukon is not very happy with him.
As the hon. member for Yukon has resigned as the leader of the
NDP, I take this opportunity to congratulate her on behalf of
everyone for having served her party and the House of Commons
very well. As the leader of her party, her contributions were always
of a very high level and extremely useful to the House of
Commons. Of course I did not agree with her all the time and I did
not expect her to agree with me all the time.
On behalf of everyone, I congratulate the member on a job well
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
* * *
I wish to draw to your attention the presence in
the gallery of His Excellency Jozef Skolc, President of the National
Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
The Speaker: We also have present in the gallery a delegation of
South African Provincial Speakers and Deputy Speakers.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
The Speaker: As a lead in to the tributes to the member for
Yukon, I wish to draw to the attention of the House the presence in
the gallery of Ms. Alexa McDonough, member of the Legislative
Assembly of Nova Scotia and the new leader of the federal New
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Hon. Sheila Finestone (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism)
(Status of Women), Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure today
to pay tribute to the Hon. Audrey McLaughlin, an outstanding
human being, a wonderful spokesperson in the interests of our
society and always very measured but very convinced in her
observations and in her remarks.
Audrey McLaughlin is one of the outstanding leaders and role
models of Canadian politics and female politics. She has
strengthened us all by her presence. She has been symbolic of all
we are about and why and what we wish to achieve in terms of
equality of opportunity, equality of access, equality by the very
right of our competence our skills and our personalities. She is a
woman who has all of those attributes.
In every way she symbolizes why we are all here. She has
contributed in very significant ways to the changing of the tone and
the substance of debate. That has been one of the most significant
observations I could make as we shared the other side of this floor
for many years. Audrey always had the ability to present her point
of view in a very deliberate and measured way. She did not agree
most often with the procedures of the House but she was never
disagreeable in her approach to her point of view and expressing
her firm conviction which she holds from depth of heart which
becomes very obvious.
It was a privilege to have the Hon. Audrey McLaughlin on the
trip we recently completed for the fourth annual conference in
Beijing on women's issues. Her presence was a symbol to the host
country as we travelled with four different parties representative of
the diversity of this country, not only the diversity of political
opinion but the diversity of our geography and the diversity of our
She is an eloquent spokesperson for the aboriginals of her
region, the people who have elected her to the House; not only the
aboriginals but certainly those she represents with such sincerity
and depth of commitment to their interests and to their well-being.
For this we owe her a very strong vote of thanks.
When Audrey would stand to make a speech or to pose a
question she did it in a very holistic way. It was never with the
finest of lenses, which I appreciate perhaps more than most. I like
that approach because it puts an issue into the context of daily
human life, of living. Living is so daily and, Audrey, you bring that
to our attention so succinctly and effectively.
As a woman she is a trailblazer. In 1989 she became the first
woman to lead a national political party in Canada, in fact in all of
North America. Sixty-eight years after Agnes Macphail, the first
woman was elected to the House of Commons. As a woman she
bears the legacy of womanhood, having many and diverse roles
which are rather in competition at many times. She is of course a
politician but say she belies the phrase ``you are too nice to be a
She is a leader who brings with her and believes in sharing power
and leadership and is a model to other women. We have stunning
proof of that in the House, which you have just brought to our
attention, Mr. Speaker. We all welcome Alexa McDonough as the
new leader of the New Democratic Party. We wish her well as she
takes on a very difficult and very trying role. I hope she does not
find putting together both roles of politician and general citizen too
Audrey McLaughlin the activist has served on many boards and
has brought a lot of interesting perspectives to these boards of
directors. Audrey McLaughlin is also a mother with two children
and it has taken the support of those children for her to be in the
House. She has also been an outstanding daughter to her mother
and we have all followed that with great heart.
On behalf of countless women and children across this land, we
take our hats off to you, Audrey McLaughlin. We wish you well in
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, I would like to add the voice of the official opposition to
that of the government spokesperson in paying all of the honour
that is due to Audrey McLaughlin as she moves from the life of an
elected representative to the life of a private citizen.
I would like her to tell her that we have all loved and admired her
and that we will continue to show her all of the esteem she
deserves. When I was on the opposition benches from 1990 to
1993, when the Bloc was not a recognized party, I had the
opportunity, since I was in the same corner of the House, to work in
close conjunction with Ms. McLaughlin as Leader of the
Opposition. I must admit that I learned lessons from her which I try
to put into practice daily.
I believe that we must acknowledge the work carried out by this
great lady who is leaving the House of Commons for another life, a
life in which I know she will be equally productive. We must tell
her how much she will be missed. The social awareness she has
shown in this House is something that has been building throughout
her life. She came to politics from social work. She has worked in
the health field, she has worked with children. When she spoke of
those causes in the House she knew what she was talking about, and
we sensed that in the sincerity of her speeches.
I would also like to remind people that she was the first woman
leader of a major federal party. She has blazed a trail for others to
follow. We must acknowledge that she has done a good job of
doing so, for now another woman will be leading her party.
I do not wish to see her leave the House right away, but I know
that the decision she has made to leave the leadership of a great
party like the NDP was a very big decision. I hope she will remain
extremely active in politics, for the party she has led which is now
to be led by Ms. McDonough and in fact has been led by her since
the weekend, is a party which represents in English Canada the
values to which all of us in the Bloc Quebecois adhere, but which
are not exclusive to the Bloc.
We know that social values are very important in English
Canada, that English Canada fought long for them. There must
therefore be a party in this House at all times to defend those
values. I hope that party will be the NDP.
Again, allow me to repeat our regrets that Ms. McLaughlin has
stepped down from the leadership of the New Democratic Party,
and to wish her from all of us a long and active life. At any rate, we
know that she will be following the excellent examples set by
Stephen Lewis and Ed Broadbent before her.
Miss Deborah Grey (Beaver River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on
behalf of the Reform Party I would also like to congratulate the
member for Yukon.
We have sat together in the House for several years. Although we
have all kinds of different political views, we also share many
things and have a lot of things in common. We first came to the
House via byelections, a very exciting situation. The member for
Yukon was elected in 1987 and I was elected in 1989. We are
women and that gives a certain situation and a certain leaning.
When you are in here you learn all kinds of things about being a
woman in federal politics certainly. We are both far from home as
we serve in this place.
When we live in far flung western and northern ridings, Ottawa
is a long way from home. There are people who we really cherish
and miss dreadfully when we are a long way from home.
We have sat as independents in this House. We have that in
common as well. That gives a certain perspective also in the House
of Commons. It lets us realize that things are not always just the
way we would want them to be but it is a good learning situation for
both of us.
What impressed me the very most when I first came here and
wandered around as a caucus of one all by myself was seeing
Audrey in her good business clothes and her Reeboks walking
through the Byward market. That really warmed me to you,
Audrey. I realized then that here was a party leader who was
practical and when she was going on a long jaunt from Parliament
Hill she was free and willing to wear her Reeboks. I have always
appreciated that about her. I will continue to think of her as I march
through the market in my Reeboks.
When somebody comes to Parliament Hill from so far away,
they give up an incredible amount of their personal life. I know,
Audrey, it is difficult to be so far away from home as you put many
relationships on hold as you come here and serve the Canadian
I want to thank you on behalf of my party and on behalf of all
Canadians who appreciate so much-maybe they do not say it
daily-the fact that you have also given up much. We want to thank
you and say that we appreciate all that you have done. Thank you so
much for your contribution to Canadian life, to the Canadian
political process and the incredible sacrifice that you have made to
your country. Good luck in all that you do in the future. God bless
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
this weekend the NDP elected a new leader. My caucus colleagues
and I were pleased to have our new leader, Alexa McDonough,
recognized in the gallery today.
The NDP caucus looks forward to working with Alexa. It also
looks forward to the day when she and many others join us in this
House to put forward our vision of the country and the world.
For the last six years, that vision has been put forward on our
behalf in this House and across Canada by the member for Yukon,
the Hon. Audrey McLaughlin. As chair of the federal NDP caucus I
am honoured to be able today to pay tribute to Audrey on behalf of
my colleagues and I am sure on behalf of Hill staff, party members
and many other Canadians, all of whom I believe came to very
much appreciate the member for Yukon and her way of doing
Audrey, like some of her predecessors, had some moments here
in Parliament that will be recorded in the minds and hearts of New
Democrats forever as richly symbolic of the dissent which we
express in this place about what is regarded by the conventional
wisdom as unacceptable or unavoidable, whether it is on matters
like NAFTA, privatization, deregulation, a whole list of things.
Your leadership in our opposition to the gulf war was such a
defining moment for many New Democrats.
And if I may say so while I am talking about courage, I
remember your support of the Charlottetown accord when you put
what you thought was best for your country ahead of what you
knew might be politically risky for your party.
As the first woman leader of a federal party, you made history
and you made it in such a way that our party was able to elect
another woman as leader without gender being an issue. Thanks to
your history-making leadership bid, the time when gender is an
issue in Canadian political leadership contests may well be history.
This is as it should be and for this all Canadians who value the
equality of the sexes are indebted to you.
The member for Yukon is no longer our leader, but we are
delighted that she continues to be our colleague, having put behind
her the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that sometimes
come with the leadership of political parties. We know that the
people of Yukon will be the real beneficiaries as Audrey will now
be able to give her undivided attention to a part of Canada that she
so clearly loves, and whose reality she brought home to us in the
NDP caucus and elsewhere.
I venture to say that the phrase coast to coast to coast, which
Audrey always insisted on, by way of recognizing northern Canada
and the northern coast it represents, has changed the lexicon of
Canadian politics in a way that brings recognition to northern
Canada and the constituency which you so ably represent.
On a personal note I remember as well the joy which you took in
having caucus go to the Yukon for a retreat. I remember even better
the experience of mushing on the back of a dog sled, thanks to the
care which Audrey took to make sure that we all had a taste of this
great northern tradition. The dogs were a little bit tired after pulling
Since the election of 1993 and her announcement of her intention
to step down as our leader, the member for Yukon has given much
of herself and her energies to the renewal process in our party, a
process which she gave impetus to originally and which has helped
to invigorate the NDP.
In this, as in all things, Audrey has earned the affection of many
New Democrats with her warm smile, her kind words and her
ability to remember so many of the countless faces and names she
encountered as a political party leader.
Finally, there is one word that seems to come to everyone's
mouth when we speak of the member for Yukon and that is dignity:
dignity in the day to day demands of politics. I remember Audrey
patiently putting on my son Daniel's rubber boots in order to
personally view the flooded yards and homes of south Transcona in
my riding. But most of all dignity in the face of difficult
circumstances, dignity in the face of electoral defeat, dignity in the
face of criticism and dignity in the passing of the torch to a new
For all these things and more, Audrey, we say thank you.
Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Carleton-Gloucester, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to pay tribute to
the hon. member for Yukon. This distinguished and elegant
member of Parliament was the leader of her party and the first
head a national party. For this, I offer her both praise and
I have had an opportunity to visit the Yukon and been impressed
by the work Ms. McLaughlin has accomplished there. The Yukon is
no easy place to visit. It is no easy place to serve. It is immense and
surely as far away as you can get in Canada from the capital. For
this I raise my hat to one who, probably, for many weekends has
gone home to visit her constituents and returned to work every
I have found Ms. McLaughlin to be affable, friendly,
distinguished and elegant. She always had time to chat, regardless
of one's political affiliation. She invariably had a smile and a kind
word to say. We will miss her. She served her party with
enthusiasm. She knew her subject matter. She spoke well in the
House, in both official languages.
I have always appreciated the fact that she recognized Canada's
two main groups and wanted to represent everybody all the time,
always with a view to improving quality of life. I am pleased to
have sat in the House with her as a colleague since 1988 and I will
remember her as an extraordinary individual. My congratulations,
Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
certainly thank everyone for their very kind comments. I also thank
my caucus colleagues for their support and their comments today.
I have been very proud to lead a political party that has
consistently stood for working Canadians and those who would be
working, for a strong national health care program, for Canadians
who really believe we have to have tax fairness and fair trade
agreements. It is a party that refuses to abandon the poor, the ill and
the vulnerable, when right now that seems all too popular.
Unfortunately, it was a time when political life seemed
somewhat suspect. There is less respect for politicians. However,
despite all of our country's problems, I am proud to be a member of
Parliament, proud to work for my country and for my territory, the
Yukon. We are a diverse country with a strong sense of history, a
country built by the first nations, the anglophones, the
francophones and the allophones.
We are a diverse country, made up of many peoples. We have
many challenges to meet in the 21st century. It will take the
contribution of every Canadian to move us forward with pride in
this heritage and hope for our future.
I have sometimes despaired about the political process and
wondered if we could really do this, but I have never doubted that
in this most imperfect of systems, we are engaged in the noble
process of public service. It is for this reason that I feel privileged
to continue as the member of Parliament for Yukon and to continue
to serve Canada and my constituents. I look forward to working
with our new leader, Alexa McDonough.
The Speaker: As always, the last few words go to your Speaker.
Although I do not allow the rules to be broken often, many
members addressed the hon. member for Yukon as Audrey.
Audrey, most of us in the House are honoured by this beautiful
House of Commons. I say to you, on behalf of our colleagues who
have chosen me Speaker, that you, Audrey, have honoured this
place and we appreciate having you with us.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
* * *
Colleagues, I am now ready to rule on the point of
order raised by the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls on
October 4, 1995 concerning the procedural acceptability of Bill
S-9, which is on the Order Paper today, an act to amend the
Canada-United States Tax Convention Act, 1984.
At that time the hon. member brought to the attention of the
Chair the possibility that a bill from the Senate, which had been
read a second time in the House and referred by the House to
committee, might impose expenditures on the Government of
As all members know, Standing Order 79(1) and section 54 of
the Constitution Act, 1867, require that the House of Commons
shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the
appropriation of any part of the public revenue or of any tax or
impost to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the
House by a message from the Governor General. In short, a royal
recommendation must be obtained.
In addition, section 53 of the Constitution Act, 1867, states:
Bills for appropriating any Part of the Public Revenue, or for imposing any
Tax or Impost, shall originate in the House of Commons.
It is the duty of every member of this House to be vigilant in this
regard and to scrutinize bills no matter where they originate.
Bill S-9 has not just arrived in the House. The message from the
Senate was received on May 3, 1995. The bill was read a first time
on June 14 and was read a second time and referred to the Standing
Committee on Finance on September 21.
Although the bill is now coming to the House for report and third
reading stages, the Chair does accept the explanation given by the
hon. member for having raised this matter so late in the legislative
process since his point of order is based on information received
during the finance committee's deliberations on the bill.
I wish to remind all hon. members of citation 319 of
Beauchesne's sixth edition, which requires that points of order be
brought to the attention of the Chair as soon as possible.
I want to thank the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls for
raising his concerns. I would also like to thank the hon. members
for Willowdale, Regina-Lumsden, and York South-Weston and
the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader for
taking an interest in this matter and providing the Chair with their
views on what is described in Erskine May's 21st edition at page 67
as ``the most important power vested in any branch of the
legislature, the right of imposing taxes upon the people and of
voting money for the public service''.
I want to assure the House that I view this matter very seriously
and I have thoroughly studied the situation.
In his presentation, the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls
argued that the provisions of Bill S-9 would impose expenditures
on the government by reducing taxes on profits made by American
multinational corporations in Canada. He also stated that the bill
would require the government to pay a tax credit to persons subject
to estate taxes in the U.S. Therefore, the government would suffer
``a loss in tax expenditures for all time to come''. The hon. member
for York South-Weston also spoke to this point.
In his submission, the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls
made reference to two rulings given by my predecessor Speaker
Lamoureux on November 12, 1969 and on June 12, 1973. I have
examined these rulings very carefully. In both cases, the bills
brought down from the Senate very clearly contained provisions
requiring expenditures by the government and Speaker Lamoureux
quite rightly ruled that these bills infringed the privileges of the
House of Commons. Both bills were set aside. However, these two
precedents do not, in my opinion, apply to our present
From my research, the substantive changes to the Canada-United
States tax convention dealt with in Bill S-9 appear to relate to
reductions in the rate of withholding taxes applied to different
types of payments, for example, to dividends paid by a company
resident in one country to a company in the other country owning
more than a certain percentage of voting stock in the first company.
The bill will also have the effect of granting some tax relief
retroactively and there may be some reimbursements payable for
taxes paid under the law as it now reads, should Bill S-9 be passed
by the House and receive royal assent.
The bill does not appropriate tax revenue, but rather exempts or
reduces taxes otherwise payable, in some cases retroactively.
As members know, when the House is dealing with tax
measures, members may propose amendments to such bills so long
as they do not exceed the scope, increase the amount or extend the
incidence of any charge upon the public.
No amendment may be proposed that would increase the rate of
tax nor extend its incidence to a new class of payers without the
recommendation of the Crown. In their search of such measures
committees may also propose such reductions. I would refer hon.
members to citations 988 to 991 of Beauchesne's sixth edition on
Citation 992, also dealing with the powers of House committees
with regard to tax bills, states:
So long as an existing tax is not increased, any modification of the proposed
reduction may be introduced in the committee on the bill, and is regarded as a
question not for increasing the charge upon the people but for determining to
what extent such charge shall be reduced.
It must also be borne in mind that members of this House can
initiate and have initiated bills to lower taxes. So too can the
Senate. And there is a longstanding practice for the government to
introduce such bills in the other place at its discretion.
The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader
noted in his intervention that Bill S-9 is not a bill for appropriating
any part of the public revenue or for any tax or impost and therefore
does not require a royal recommendation. There will be no
expenditure of public funds, though money already collected from
Canadian citizens pursuant to the tax laws of Canada may be
As the parliamentary secretary pointed out, the repayment of tax
revenues already received is not an appropriation of public money.
Thus, the bill could be properly introduced in the Senate.
In conclusion, Standing Orders 79 and 80 have not been
contravened, as Bill S-9 neither imposes a tax nor appropriates
money for any purpose. Since the bill relinquishes funds it might
wise have gained, it is not appropriating money but forfeiting
revenue it would have raised without such changes.
Once again, I thank the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls
for his diligence in guarding the privileges of the House by
bringing this matter to my attention.
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.):
pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the government's response to three
* * *
Hon. Sheila Finestone (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism)
(Status of Women), Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating
Persons day, the highlight of women's history month.
This is a time to celebrate the contributions of women to
Canadian society, a time to be proud of the remarkable progress
Canada has made toward equality for women and against actions of
racism and sexism.
The Fathers of Confederation made the original blueprint of
Canada in 1867. However, it took until 1921 for women to earn the
right to vote.
Nonetheless, throughout history, the women of Canada-in all
their diversity-have prevailed. They have shaped the values of
this great country: democracy, tolerance, generosity, fairness, and
respect for human and minority rights.
Today we celebrate five intrepid women from Alberta who won a
court case in 1929 that changed the lives of all Canadians. The
court's decision made women legal ``persons'' under the
constitution. And that made them eligible for appointment to the
Today we have the largest representation of women ever in the
Parliament of Canada, in the Commons as well as in the Senate.
With the charter of rights and freedoms, the constitution now
guarantees women and men equal rights and freedoms as full
partners in our society.
Women have made great progress toward equality, and that
means progress for Canadians and for all of Canada.
Today we recognize women's issues as societal issues. We
recognize and realize that women's equality is in the best interests
of Canada. All our talent and all our potential in all the
socioeconomic and cultural fields of activity must be used as we
progress to face the challenges of the 21st century. That is why we
must keep up the momentum toward our global goal of the
universality of women's human rights, for they are inalienable,
integral and indivisible.
The government has approved a plan of action to ensure that
women's equality is kept on track. The federal plan for gender
equality, equality for men and women, which was tabled prior to
our departure for the fourth world conference on the status of
women, deals with the real issues of the day. Those issues are
action for the economic empowerment of women, action to support
women entrepreneurs, action to promote employment equity so
women can have a fair chance at the jobs of today. These measures
and others, along with social support systems, can help women and
their families rise out of poverty.
Make no mistake, the family is the basic unit of society and must
be supported in all its forms. We need healthy, vital families and
women's economic independence. That can help. It can allow
women to escape domestic violence. There is a direct link between
economic independence and violence. That is just one reason why
we will continue to work on eliminating the violence that limits
women's ability to participate in and contribute to society. We have
taken measures such as stricter firearms control, a new
anti-stalking law, federal subsidies for shelters for battered women.
Economic empowerment means recognizing and valuing the
important role of women's unpaid work as homemakers, as
caregivers, as volunteers, as those who look after the elderly. This
work has value of great worth in our caring and sharing society.
That is why the 1996 census will include a question on unpaid
The federal plan also puts women at the heart of government
decision making. It requires that every policy, program and law be
developed with the impacts on women, as well as men, in mind. Let
us not forget that women represent half of Canadian society. We are
not a society of special interests but a society built by both men and
women over two centuries.
We also have a global plan: the platform for action on women's
equality adopted at the recent UN World Conference on Women in
I am proud to say Canada played a leadership role in securing
a strong agreement on the rights of women and girls in Beijing,
which was signed by 189 nations attending the conference.
I am also proud to say that Canada's leadership on equality was
recognized with two awards: a prestigious United Nations prize for
advancing literacy, thanks to the initiatives in New Brunswick; and
Canada was honoured with the global award for the most
improvement in the status of women over the last decade. In
making the award the International Federation of Business and
Professional Women commended Canada for its steady and
remarkable progress in advancing equality for women. This was
acknowledged and awarded after 110 countries were carefully
examined. Canada was not found wanting. Canada was found head
of the pack.
The way to the future is clear. Canadians must continue that
progress to a true partnership between women and men. This is
imperative as we face an increasingly complex global society.
In closing, I want to extend my heartiest congratulations to the
six women who were honoured today. Each of them were pioneers
in their own way. Each of them fought against violence and fought
for an integrated and accepting society. We owe them a great debt
of gratitude. I extend them my best regards.
Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Quebec, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am
very pleased to speak about this victory for women which my
colleague, the hon. secretary of state, has pointed out was a
concrete step toward equality for women. The 1929 legal victory
was an important step in this egalitarian undertaking, I agree. It
represented a significant milestone in terms of democracy.
Other victories followed, as we know, perhaps less striking ones
but equally important: women's influx into the work force;
improved education for women; their entry into non traditional
employment; the creation of daycare services; their presence on
various boards, I could go on and on. Yes, Canadian women and
Quebec women have made progress, and they must be
congratulated and encouraged to continue.
I shall make use of this opportunity to explain to my colleagues
why, very soon, Quebec women will be deciding to continue their
progress on their own. Although they have made definite progress,
as I have said, the women of Quebec will be able to progress a little
faster on their own, with the weight of the federalist yoke lifted
from their shoulders.
Quebec women will be well protected by the Quebec charter of
human rights, which will reaffirm equality and the rights of
women. They will continue to be well served by the civil law
system, under which they have equal status and equal rights with
In a sovereign Quebec, Quebec women will be ensured of the
survival and the dynamism of their language and culture. They will
no longer have to worry about the survival from generation to
generation of things I know are of concern to them: culture,
language, education, employment. Quebec women will continue to
progress under a democratic political regime, with an equal say in
drafting the constitution of their new country, with their rights to
Quebec women will make even more gains under a democratic
Quebec, within a system in which social rights will be the focus of
the state's actions. They will benefit from a family policy focused
on their needs and those of their children, a policy free of the
constraints imposed by the present federal system, which makes
policy harmonization impossible.
Mrs. Finestone: Really!
Mrs. Gagnon (Québec): Please, madam secretary of state.
In a sovereign Quebec, free of Ottawa's centralizing goals,
women will clearly benefit from a policy of full employment
coupled with a social policy that reflects the effect of their
participation in the working world. I am talking here of policy on
child care, working conditions in keeping with family
responsibilities and employment equity. Where are the daycare
places so long promised by the federal government? They were
promised, and we are still waiting. Yet we are paying the federal
government to have these places created.
Quebec women will have the advantage of a unique system of
manpower planning and training. They will have the benefit of a
system that is decentralized in favour of the regions, the prime
sources of human and business activity.
Finally, Quebec women will move far beyond the endless battles
and constitutional red tape and will focus their energies on
improving the quality of their life, that of their children, their
husband and their fellow Quebecers. This was the request of the
participants in the women's march on poverty, last June's bread and
roses march, which was undertaken on behalf of all Quebec
women. This is what the Government of Quebec is proposing and is
committed to promoting.
In conclusion, Quebec women will quicken their step toward
equality by dropping a level of government, which is preparing to
sacrifice them on the altar of economics and which is preparing to
impose cuts on their old age pension and unemployment insurance
cheques, by tying these benefits to the family salary in the new
reform of social programs. They will drop a level of government
that is useless, costly and more concerned about the interests of
major corporations than about the grocery bill of single parent
I am appealing here to Quebec women's common sense and
administrative talents to get them to realize that savings are
possible by eliminating overlap and duplication.
It is by taking control of their own destiny, by becoming
self-sufficient that Quebecers, like Quebec, will grow from now on,
in friendship with their Canadian sisters and without forgetting the
progress that has already been made. There is, however, much more
to be done in this area, and I think that the federal government
should first deal with women's economic equality.
Women in the public service still earn only 70 per cent of what
men make. Something must be done, and I urge the government to
move from rhetoric to action.
It is said that women's economic independence is important and
could reduce violence against them. I call on the government to
take measures to ensure that women are paid as much as men for
doing the same work. I urge the government to think about the
action plan for gender equality.
The study the minister referred to earlier, the federal plan, puts
women at the heart of government decision making. This plan
requires that every policy, program and law be developed with the
impacts on women, as well as men, in mind.
I exhort the government to be very vigilant regarding the reforms
contemplated by the Minister of Human Resources Development,
for example, cutting UI and old age pension benefits and setting
women's benefits on the basis of family income. We know full well
that benefits are often based on men's higher wages, and we fought
What does this mean for a woman who receives her first old age
pension cheque at 65 and whose husband earns a certain salary? It
is often the first cheque these women have ever received. This
cheque also represents economic independence, a little bit of
economic independence for women.
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is
indeed a pleasure to rise in the House today to recognize and
commemorate the Persons case from 1921, especially in the midst
of great parliamentary diversity of opinion and focus as we speak
I would like to first congratulate all of the women today who
received Governor General's awards: Marthe Asselin Vaillancourt,
Dr. Mary Cohen, Ruth Flowers, Sheila Kingham, Carolyn Thomas,
and Alice Taylor, who are all being recognized for their efforts
toward making Canada a place in which all are treated equally.
These women stand for everything that has gone right in Canadian
Look at the progress that has been made in Canadian society
since 1929 when women received the right to vote. Today I refer
and indeed also defer to those five Albertans, women all, who
challenged successfully the convention of their day to bring the
vote to women.
The secretary of state briefly mentioned the importance of
family in society. This is a message that is sometimes forgotten or
passed over when we are caught up in the singular focus of
women's issues. As a party we affirm the value and dignity of the
individual person and the importance of strengthening and
protecting the family unit as essential to the well-being of
individuals and society. Hopefully, this is a principle about which
we may all agree, because once we have agreement we will have a
fundamental basis from which to move forward.
We constantly hear comments and stories about women doing
things differently and having different approaches to
communicating. This is true, and perhaps more so for the women
we recognize today as they receive the Governor General's award
for their contributions to society.
Let us also look to history and in particular to Agnes Macphail
and Nellie McClung, extraordinary women indeed. They broke
ground for women today and they did it because they were focused,
had strong convictions, and they also had a creative edge to bring
their point home.
These women of the early suffrage movement had a sense of
humour, were thoughtful in their world view, and for the most part
could handle themselves well in difficult situations. For example,
at a rally held in 1915 a heckler yelled at Nellie McClung: ``The
Prime Minister would quit politics if a woman were ever elected''.
Well, Nellie did not wilt. Instead, she replied: ``This proves what a
purifying effect a woman would have on politics''.
McClung was no shrinking violet. She was fair minded, good
humoured, and determined. These qualities typify Canadians and
also my colleague from Yukon who was honoured by the House
We still need to work to guarantee equal opportunity for all. We
may disagree on the quality of outcome, but whether we agree or
not, when we as women engage in debate we must still struggle to
relay our message.
McClung staged demonstrations to make her point in her time.
In recent memory, one member of this House is said to have hiked
up her skirts and jumped over a desk to make her point. Another
member, this member, sat on the hood of a sports car to make hers.
John Crosbie and the modern feminist movement are still shaking
Let us look at Agnes Macphail. When she first entered the House
of Commons as Canada's first woman MP in 1921, a Commons
employee tried to stop her at the door of the Chamber. She entered
anyway, while he shouted, ``You can't go in there, Miss''. Once
inside, Macphail was touched to find a bouquet of roses waiting on
her desk, but was humiliated later to learn that they were the
penalty a male MP paid for betting she would lose the election in
her Ontario riding.
Since women were given the vote in 1929, tremendous
advancements have been made. Some of them have come
amazingly late, but still we achieve. We have gone through periods
when women and men toiled apart as changes occurred. We are
finally coming to a place where we recognize that men and women
together and as equals can create the kind of country we all want to
I would like to extend again my congratulations to all the
recipients of the Governor General's awards today.
* * *
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I
have the honour to present the 90th report of the very hard working
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding
membership of committees.
If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in
this report later this day.
Mr. Peter Milliken (Kingston and the Islands, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, with the leave of the House I move, seconded by the hon.
member for Ottawa-Center, that the 90th report of the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the
House earlier this day, be concurred in.
* * *
Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I would
like to table a petition pursuant to Standing Order 36 signed by
many people in the Ottawa area and having to do with euthanasia.
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley, Ref.):
Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a
petition from my riding of Prince George-Bulkley Valley that
deals with an opinion and a belief that is shared by a majority of
Canadians right across this country. It deals with the fear that the
privileges society extends to heterosexual couples could some day
be extended to same sex relationships.
The petitioners pray and request that Parliament not amend the
human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the charter
of rights and freedoms in any way that would tend to indicate
societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality,
including amending the human rights code to include in the
prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase of
This petition originated in the College Heights Baptist Church of
Prince George. I am proud to say that I concur 100 per cent with
Mr. John O'Reilly (Victoria-Haliburton, Lib.):
pursuant to Standing Order 36, it is my pleasure to present the
following petition from the county of Haliburton.
The undersigned residents of the county of Haliburton and
visitors draw the attention of the House to the importance of
national unity to our country at this time.
They therefore request Parliament to urge the government to
impress upon the leader of the Reform Party the need to promote
national unity in this very unfortunate situation in which our
country finds itself.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.):
pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present a petition which
has been circulating all across Canada. The particular petition has
been signed by a number of Canadians from Mississauga, Ontario.
The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House
that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is
an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its
value to our society.
They also state that the Income Tax Act discriminates against
families who make the choice to provide care in the home to
preschool children, the disabled, the chronically ill or the aged.
The petitioners therefore pray and call upon Parliament to pursue
initiatives to eliminate tax discrimination against families who
decide to provide care in the home for preschool children, the
disabled, the chronically ill or the aged.
* * *
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.):
the following question will be answered today: No. 193.
Question No. 193-Mr. Hanger:
What was, in fiscal year 1994-95, the total cost to the Department of Health of
providing health care to claimants of refugee status in Canada; what was the
projected amount for this line of spending in the 1994-95 estimates or
supplementary estimates; and how does the Department of Health expect to
cover any shortfall resulting from refugee health spending overruns?
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and
It should be first mentioned that as a result of
a memorandum of understanding between the former departments
of National Health and Welfare and Employment and Immigration
Canada signed on March 1, 1993, resources relating to the interim
federal health, IFH, program, formerly the non-insured health
benefits, NIHB, program were transferred to Citizenship and
Immigration Canada, CIC, from Health Canada, HC, effective
commencing in 1993-94. It was also agreed at that time that HC
would continue to deliver the program on the department's behalf.
Subsequently, CIC assumed responsibility for the delivery of the
IFH program on April 1, 1995.
In fiscal year 1994-95, under the interim federal health program,
Citizenship and Immigration Canada spent $7.1 million in
providing health care services, mainly to refugee claimants across
Canada. Until January 1, 1995, Ontario was the only province
which provided health care coverage to refugee claimants. As a
result of the recent decision of the Ontario government no longer to
provide health care coverage to refugee claimants and given that,
starting April 1, 1995, only emergency/essential services will now
be provided under the IFH program, it is estimated that total
program costs will increase by $15.0 million for a total of $22.5
million in program spending in 1995-96. This level of spending is
expected to continue in future years.
Pending Treasury Board approval, additional program funding
will be obtained through the supplementary estimates process as a
result of Ontario de-insurance of refugee claimants. Specifically,
the department's 1995-96 reference levels will be increased by an
amount of $15.0 million as will the future years' reference levels.
The projected amount for this line of spending in the 1994-95
main estimates and supplementary estimates was $7.5 million.
At present, in light of CIC's additional appropriations as a result
of Ontario de-insurance, no shortfall exists within program
funding. Should costs exceed available funding due to an increased
number of program beneficiaries and the health status of these
persons or as a result of amendments to provincial fee tariffs upon
which IFH payments are based, it is planned that additional
resources will be obtained through the estimates process.
Mr. Speaker, if question No. 146 could be made
an order for return, that return would be tabled immediately.
Question No. 146-Mr. Axworthy:
With respect to the government's actions to curb contraband trade in
cigarettes in Canada, announced on February 8, 1994, (a) what estimates, if any,
were made for (i) increased consumption of cigarettes in all populations, (ii)
increased smoking prevalence among Canadian youth, (iii) impact on current
and future mortality and morbidity; and, if not, why not, (b) what estimates, if
any, of future levels of contraband trade in cigarettes were made of the market
share of contraband cigarettes in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 and what estimate
was made of revenue loss due to contraband sales in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997
and, if not, why not?
Mr. Milliken: Mr. Speaker, I suggest that the remaining
questions be allowed to stand.
The Deputy Speaker: Agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-64,
an act respecting employment equity, be read the third time and
Hon. Sheila Finestone (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism)
(Status of Women), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Bill C-64, the new
employment equity act, was designed to resolve longstanding
problems with the existing legislation and meet our government's
red book commitments. It is part of the government's work toward
achieving an open and inclusive society.
The legislation reflects the values of the government. It reflects
the values of respect and understanding. The legislation is about
fairness. It is about providing an equal playing field. Above all, the
legislation is about making sure that all self-identified, qualified
Canadians have a fair chance to compete for federal public sector
jobs based on their merit.
The legislation continues to cover a total of 350 private sector
employers and crown corporations that operate in federally
regulated industries such as banking, communications and
tion. The legislation expands coverage of the employment equity
act to the public service immediately. It also includes the Canadian
Armed Forces and the RCMP.
There are four designated groups which continue to be
designated: aboriginal peoples, members of visible minorities,
women and persons with disabilities. The principle of self-
identification is reaffirmed and definitions of the groups are in the
The legislation carries enforcement measures. It ensures that the
Canadian Human Rights Commission has the mandate to conduct
on site compliance reviews. It also confirms the administrative
responsibility for the federal contractors program to the Minister of
Human Resources Development. It makes use of the Canadian
Human Rights Tribunal which when hearing employment equity
complaint cases will be called the employment equity review
tribunal. This body will hear appeals from employers and referrals
from the CHRC and ensure the final enforcement of the act.
With regard to the designated groups under the legislation they
continue to be under represented as well as under valued in federal
agencies and in federally regulated industries.
A recent study conducted by Krishna Pendakur of Simon Fraser
University and Ravi Pendakur entitled ``Earning differentials
among ethnic groups in Canada'' found that similarly qualified
Canadian born visible minorities earn about 11 per cent less than
Canadian born white people and that immigrant visible minorities
earn 15 per cent less than Canadian born whites.
We are also familiar with the term glass ceiling, barriers to upper
level management faced by many women and minorities in
companies and agencies. This issue is addressed in applying more
effective employment equity legislation.
We also found through partnership with the Canadian
Advertising Foundation, the Asia-Pacific Foundation and the
Conference Board of Canada that being sensitive and responsive to
diversity is good for business. It makes economic sense and it is the
fair thing to do. Companies that are sensitive to the diversity of the
reality of Canada, that is the Canadian population, and companies
that have made a commitment from the top down that they will be
reflective of the people of this land have the key to the future:
economic security. This is real at the local, national and
Fairer access, meritorious advancement and equality of
opportunity are key for all corporations that want to compete in the
global marketplace. Our Canadian people often reflect and know
the cultures of the new global markets. Why not use our diversity
as a valued competitive edge to our mutual benefit? Global
business is multicultural, multilingual and multiracial. Anyone
travelling would know that; anyone in international business knows
Applying the rule of self-identified employment equity laws is
an important tool to effect real institutional change, which is in the
best interest of all Canadians and is an incentive for people to
self-identify or to identify themselves.
This is a bill with a heart, one that recognizes the reality of
Canadian business life. It clarifies existing obligations and helps to
widen the circle of inclusion in our workforce at all levels. It does
not force employers to create new positions, require the hiring or
promoting of unqualified individuals, or contradict the merit
principle in the public sector. It is about fairness and merit. It
would be worthwhile if members opposite would keep all these
issues in mind when speaking to this matter and tell the truth about
what is in the bill.
It is about fairness and merit. It is about quality, not quantity.
The bill does not call for nor is it about quotas for non-qualified
members of designated groups.
Since the bill on employment equity was tabled for first reading,
the members of the Reform Party have had a great deal to say about
In fact, it would be more accurate to state that they have had a
great deal to say against it. They are rejecting the bill and the
reason for their rejection is either that they are against measures in
favour of employment equity or that they do not grasp the nature
and scope of this bill.
Hon. members must recognize that this will simply not happen
by crossing our fingers and hoping that we will achieve our goals of
access, equity, fairness and a starting chance for self-identified
minorities who wish to have consideration and to be included in the
enlarged circle of the family of Canada.
In order to reach this goal some of the CHRC's responsibilities
are education, awareness and sensitization to our multicultural
reality. It will enable companies touched by this law to effect
institutional change over time. We broadened the circle of
representation through encouragement and education rather than
through coercion. We do it because it is the right thing to do for
Canada's qualified population by addressing whatever systemic
barriers may be present that inhibit the representation of our
Before I close I highlight the Bank of Montreal as an example of
a corporation that has demonstrated its commitment to create both
an equitable workplace and a workforce that reflects the
community it serves and a leadership that believes in fairness and a
widened circle of service to the grassroots, the people they want to
do business with.
It has published a report of its task force on the advancement of
visible minorities. I would recommend close reading of the report.
The main purpose was to identify barriers to advancement faced by
members of visible minorities who were in business by the way and
were earning well, and to develop action plans to eliminate those
barriers for further upward mobility.
The task force recommended that the bank refine its workforce
planning process to foster a workforce that reflects the diversity of
the community at all levels. It recommended increased
participation of visible minorities in leadership roles and the
removal of barriers to the advancement of these persons and all
other employees. It recommended the bank take action to further
enable employees to take charge of their own career advancement
and to increase competency based on non-subjective candidate
selection. Its final recommendation was to enable employees from
all backgrounds to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and
behaviour critical to success in a diverse workforce.
When one wants to look at employment equity and when one
wants to examine the fairness of the approach in the bill, the
self-identification, the reality of who we are as a people, the
greatness of our diversity and the differences from place to place
across the land, it makes more and more sense that more and more
Canadians will want to report origins other than British or French
because that is who we are. Most of us have origins different from
British or French.
The legislation will help set a framework within which all
Canadians will have a fair and equal chance to participate in the
economic prosperity of our country and in which all Canadians
have an interest and a purpose to participate.
I wholly support the legislation. I hope all members of the House
join me in ensuring a truly just, fair, equitable and prosperous
society, one with which Canada can continue to be the world model
it is today.
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is
my pleasure to address the House on a topic that has thus far
provoked spirited discussion.
As its preamble states, Bill C-64, an act respecting employment
equity, was introduced by the government with the intention of
achieving equality in the workplace and amending the
disadvantages experienced by certain groups.
Underlying the bill is an approach to equality which suggests we
measure success in terms of results or outcomes. Herein lies a
difference in definition as we disagree on the bill. There are two
opposing ideologies in the debate: one focused on equality as a
process and the other on equality as an outcome.
Process people of which I am one direct their energies to the
supply side. They encourage people to train and educate, to deal
with values and habits, to promote an open environment where
specialization is fostered, to reward merit and to reject
discrimination on the basis of extraneous factors. Process people
accept the results of a world operating in this fashion, one where
the outcome is not predetermined but where individuals have the
capacity to manufacture their future. Process people believe in
remedial action but choose to limit their response to those truly in
Outcome people, such as those who support the bill, are not
satisfied with creating equal opportunities for this is not enough.
They prefer to manipulate a process, to consciously intervene and
to create the results they believe are justified. They construct laws
to ensure their overt interventions are safeguarded against legal
challenges. The government has already done this, providing a
constitutional guarantee that the principle of equality can be
supplanted for intrusive and sometimes coercive state goals. I am
speaking to section 15.2 of the charter which rejects in plain
language the brave assertion of its companion clause 15.1
guaranteeing to all Canadians equal treatment before the law.
The question of defining equality lies at the heart of this debate, I
believe. Unlike the equality of outcome as described in Bill C-64,
the equality of opportunity nurtures an environment where
outcomes are predetermined, allowing society to reward enterprise
and initiatives. Opportunity is the cornerstone of a prosperous,
creative and thriving culture. It provides a foundation for personal
fulfilment and self-actualization. Most important, it enables people
to believe in themselves in the sense that they alone control their
Bill C-64 corrupts this conceptualization of opportunity by
placing a higher premium on premeditated intervention to fashion
outcomes. This wounds all Canadians and cannot be supported.
Let us focus on the goals of employment equity for a moment.
The very goals on which this legislation is premised are flawed,
confused and contradictory. Notions of equality, numerical targets
and diversity are fraught with problems. Bill C-64 offers equality
for some at the expense of others. Numerical targets are flawed by
their very design. Establishing targets obscures numerical goals
with the idea of equality.
There is a substantial difference between recognizing that certain
groups have encountered historical barriers and assuming that all
social inequalities are attributable to discrimination.
We must ask ourselves whether men and women would fill
occupations in equal numbers in a world of perfectly free choice.
The answer is probably not. Similarly, would ethnic minorities
appear equally in all work environments? Again, most likely no. A
numbers game simply circumscribes choice and counters any
notion of equity.
Searching for the ideal of diversity is yet another confused goal.
Does anybody know what diversity in this context really means?
As someone aptly suggested, it merely reflects a language of willed
ignorance in which the words mean only that the speaker has good
How can we even begin to consider seriously such legislation
when its foundation is constructed on such faulty principles? There
is a serious danger in beginning a task when its objectives are
distorted by contradiction and imperfection. If I measure a value
and our sense of direction is unclear our efforts will surely be
Another concern relates to the basic question of whether a need
for employment equity exists at all. Evidence has surfaced in recent
years which calls into question the reasons on which employment
equity is based. By making reference to this evidence it is not my
intention to disavow the existence of racism and discrimination.
Instead I wish to make clear that discrimination and gender alone
are not enough to explain the vastly dissimilar outcomes different
groups experience in the course of their lives. Culture, religion and
family patterns are other reasons which keep people out of certain
For example, economist Thomas Sowell found that teen
marriages are more prevalent in certain ethnic populations. He
maintains that women who marry at very young ages do not pursue
post-secondary education and therefore limit the range of jobs for
which they might qualify. The answer then is not numerical goals
and timetables but one of culture and education.
Recent data from a 1995 Statistics Canada study reinforced these
ideas further. While it was found that visible minorities were less
likely than any other Canadian to be employed in managerial
occupations, most likely explained by the fact that they are on
average younger than other adults, members of visible minorities
were as likely as other Canadians to be employed in professional
occupations. In essence the report is confirming that at all levels of
the economy visible minorities enjoy rates of employment
comparable to those of other Canadians.
How then do we justify Bill C-64? Like other employment
equity legislation it treats members of visible minorities of
homogeneous groups having the same character, composition and
history. This is fundamentally wrong. For example, data reveal that
13 per cent and 19 per cent of Japanese Canadians are employed in
managerial and professional categories respectively, while only 8
per cent and 9 per cent are found in manual and service categories.
This type of breakdown will necessarily be different when
compared with the experience of Filipinos and East Indians for
example. All groups are different with compelling reasons
explaining their variable representation in the workplace.
Are there alternatives to employment equity? There is
considerable evidence to suggest policy alternatives based on
equality of opportunity do exist. Many are already an entrenched
feature of the Canadian work world. The systemic discrimination
found in many areas of an organization's structure suggest we can
approach problems without the use of quotas. For example, we can
do more as federal legislators to foster equitable hiring in both
public and private sectors through the improvement of education
which includes special training programs for target groups,
academic upgrading, pre-apprenticeship programs, training of all
staff in cross cultural awareness to promote a positive working
We can look at dismantling systemic barriers, which would
include policies promoting flexible hours which can be of
particular benefit to women with young children, people with
disabilities who need special transportation systems and workers
whose religious requirements may conflict with typical hours of
work, and support measures dealing with employment problems
including daycare facilities and revised rules for parental leave.
We can emphasize individual achievement so that an
individual's training, performance and knowledge, skills and
ability are considered paramount in all workplace decisions.
My remarks have addressed equality of opportunity, the
confused goals of Bill C-64 and the question of need, highlighting
the inherent problems with employment equity and Bill C-64.
Social democrats have historically sought to forge links across race
and gender lines in pursuit of a common citizenship with equal
In contrast, the government's policies reinforce the notion that
the interests of males and females and diverse ethnic groups are
distinctive and competitive. Does Bill C-64 really lead us toward
the better society to which we aspire? I think not.
The Deputy Speaker: I wish to inform the House that because
of the ministerial statement, Government Orders will be extended
today by 20 minutes.
Mrs. Beryl Gaffney (Nepean, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my
pleasure to address Bill C-64.
While listening in the House today I worry that some of the
members opposite have not really understood the vision for Canada
or the intent of the bill.
I have followed with great interest the developments in
employment equity over the years and it is my contention that
employment equity is a fundamental building block for creating
a better Canada.
Bill C-64 went before the Standing Committee on Human Rights
and the Status of Disabled Persons. This committee heard from a
very broad section of witnesses and in its report endorsed the new
features of Bill C-64 and recommended additional amendments.
The act covers all federally regulated companies with 100 or more
employees. Bill C-64 will bring the federal public service, its
departments, agencies, boards and commissions, into line with
standards already set for federally regulated corporations.
The changes Liberals will implement to strengthen the
Employment Equity Act include the federal public service and
federal agencies and commission under the Employment Equity
Act. We will also give the Canadian Human Rights Commission
the legislative authority to initiate investigations of employment
Efforts to eradicate discrimination in the workplace and in hiring
practices have been underway at the federal level since the
enactment of the 1970s human rights legislation. In 1993 it became
evident to the Liberal government of the day that voluntary
measures toward achieving equity in the workplace were failing to
bring about significant changes for women, aboriginal peoples,
visible minorities and persons with disabilities. That is the key
because they tried to achieve it through voluntary measures and it
did not work.
On December 12, 1994 the human resources minister tabled in
the House Bill C-64. He stated: ``This initiative is a significant step
toward ensuring equitable employment opportunities for women,
aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of
Most of us come into the House with a prepared speech, but
sitting in my office and watching the TV monitor I heard so many
nefarious statements from across the floor that I am going away
from my prepared notes to address some of the things that were
said. One that concerned me was with regard to quotas.
The bill is not about quotas. They kept referring to the charter of
rights and freedoms and quoting it. The bill is certainly not in
conflict with what is being said in the charter of rights and
The merit principle in the bill should be and is the sole basis of
hiring. I think anyone who sees anything different within the bill is
really not understanding what is being said.
I refer to the member from Beaver River, who went on at great
length saying she is a woman in the House and she came here
because she is competitive and because of competence. I do not
argue that point at all. I would like to think I got here that way as
One works hard, does as one has to do, does the same as anybody
else running for public office and gets elected. What about all the
people who want to run for public office who are just as competent
as I am? Maybe this is what the feminist movement is all about, I
do not know. Is it not my responsibility to assist if I see someone
who would make a wonderful member of the House of Commons?
If that person is competent, has the merit and a reason to be here
and yet does not have the confidence to project himself or herself
on the floor of the House of Commons, does that person not
deserve some assistance from someone? I say they do. I am using
this in simplistic language to point out not everybody has the
competence to get into the House of Commons.
Getting back to strong women, I want to relate a story in my life
before I became an elected official. I was an elected official for 10
years before I came to the House of Commons. Working in an
administrative capacity I applied for a position within my
organization. I did not get the position. The human resources
person said to me: ``You are more qualified than the person who is
getting the job. You have longer service than the person who is
getting the job but we must give it to him because he has a wife and
I had a husband and five children and I could not understand the
reason the job was being given to him over me. There was no valid
reason why he should get the job. Let us consider a visible
minority. In that same organization I was asked by the human
resources director to short list the people who were applying for
jobs in the department I was in. I gave my list of three people. One
was a Jamaican woman. The director's comment to me was: ``I am
not sure whether our organization is ready for a black woman''.
That is why we need to offer our assistance and our support for this.
That was not too long ago. I have not been here forever. We have
come a long way. We have all had examples in our lives of being
held down or held back for the wrong reasons.
Somebody from the other side of the House had said that white
young males will rise up in anger. My goodness, white young
women or black young women or whomever should have been
rising up in anger for years and years and never did until now. It is
about time they did.
I sat on the committee on human rights and the status of disabled
persons. We heard from people with disabilities about how their
rights are constantly being violated. I will tell a little story about a
This farmer had lost both his arms in a farming accident. He had
prostheses from the elbows down on both arms. He relied on his
son and his wife to help with the farming. When he appeared before
the committee he said: ``When I buy a huge harvesting machine I
have to pay about $60,000 more for this machine than what my able
bodied neighbour has to pay because I need to have equipment that
my two prostheses can handle''. Is that fair?
That man was in business and he was being discriminated
against through the cost of the machine because he had two
artificial arms. That man needs our help. We should offer him our
help. I love telling all these little stories but I sure have strayed
away from my speech.
Canada today is a very different society than it was 50 or even 20
years ago. Today we as women want and need to look after
ourselves financially. At the same time we want to know those who
cannot are being treated equally. Our aboriginal peoples are
demanding self-determination and persons with disabilities want to
be fully integrated throughout society. New Canadians want to
fully participate in all aspects of Canadian society.
Canada is a changed society, one where these four groups are
expressing specific needs that must be addressed. It is a society that
requires the contribution of all our citizens and this piece of
legislation addresses this changed society.
It is through employment equity that we will ensure that the
skills and abilities of all Canadians will be fully utilized. It is
through employment equity that we will one day eliminate the
social and economic costs of marginalizing big numbers of
Canadians. By ensuring that these four groups take their rightful
place in the Canadian labour force, a more vibrant and productive
society will emerge.
This bill will lead us toward a fair and just society by making us
examine our assumptions of what is the right way to do business. It
will make us question hiring procedures that have in the past
always found qualified individuals for the job. I will give you an
example of where it does not always work.
It will lead us there by teaching us through awareness training to
feel what it is like to be excluded from the workplace simply
because your disability stops you from getting up the stairs to the
It will lead us there by encouraging us to make accommodations
for mothers and fathers who take the needed time from work to
look after their youngsters. It will lead us there by teaching us that
those people whom we thought would be difficult to manage are
many of our most valuable employees.
For this reason I encourage all members of the House to vote
with a resounding yes for this legislation, a resounding yes to a
The Deputy Speaker: Colleagues, I would ask you please to put
your remarks to the Chair. The Chair feels very lonely often in
some of the debates that go on.
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-64. I want to preface my
remarks by making a comment on behalf of all the members of the
Reform Party. We do not support in any way, shape or form
discriminatory hiring practices. We do not support the premise that
a person from one of the four groups mentioned in Bill C-64 be
denied a job based on the fact that he or she is within one of these
four groups. To have some of the previous speakers of the Liberal
Party allude to that is utter nonsense.
At the same time, I do not support and I know many of my
colleagues do not support the fact that someone would be hired
specifically because he or she is part of one of those four groups.
Let us be very clear about what the Reform members are trying to
say in the House today.
I was really pleased that I was present today when we saw Ms.
Alexa McDonough presented to the Chamber today. She was just
elected president of the New Democratic Party, not because she
was a woman but because she had the confidence of the delegates
of the NDP convention that she was the best person for the job. I
congratulate her for that.
We heard today in the House from the hon. member for
Edmonton-Strathcona about a Mrs. Chicoine who was awarded a
Canada Volunteer Award Certificate of Merit not because she was a
woman but because of the efforts that she put into doing the things
that she truly believed in.
We heard earlier today from a member opposite about a woman
who had just received an entrepreneurship award of merit in an
international competition for a process that she created and
developed regarding the use of furs. She did not receive this award
because she was a woman. She received it because of the creativity,
the training and the work she put into her business.
We heard about the women from Alberta who were honoured
today in Ottawa for their service to their country. They were
honoured, not because they are women but because they believed
so passionately in something that they readied themselves for the
task and they succeeded. They succeeded not because they were
women but because they wanted to succeed.
If the principles of Bill C-64 were applied to the women who
were honoured today in the House, they might very easily find it
insulting. There could be the allusion that they received these
awards or accomplished their tasks simply because they were
women and not because of their own individual efforts.
All members in the House, including Liberal members even
though they will not admit it, are aware that Bill C-64 will impose
employment equity provisions on the public service and on those
firms that have over 100 employees and do business with the
federal government. I use the word ``impose''. They use the term
``employment equity''. The term ``employment equity'' was
coined by Justice Rosalie Abella in 1984. It is a convenient term
for our Liberal social engineers since it is much more deceptive
and less threatening than the term ``affirmative action''.
In the United States people call it like it is, affirmative action.
That is exactly what employment equity really is but it is called
employment equity to make it a less threatening term.
We are all aware that affirmative action or employment equity,
whatever one you choose, is not working in the United States.
Recently the U.S. Supreme Court dealt affirmative action a severe
blow. It ruled in favour of a Colorado company that brought an
action against the U.S. government because the government had
awarded a contract to an Hispanic controlled company despite the
fact that the Colorado company submitted a lower bid and was
more qualified to do the work. This was because of affirmative
action or employment equity. Naturally the U.S. government's
rationale for taking such a course of action was rooted in its
affirmative action policy.
While this recent decision in the states does not spell the end of
affirmative action in the U.S., I and those who believe employment
would be better based on merit would hope that it signals a return
some day to common sense and fairness.
The Americans have gone through the process and have
experienced the detrimental effects of affirmative action policies.
Here we are in Canada, with a Liberal government that is hell bent
on pursuing it. Do we not learn from the experiences of other
We cannot even find common sense and fairness in our
Constitution. Section 15.2 of the charter of rights and freedoms
entrenches employment equity in the Constitution. However, if we
read the section we note that it specifically overrides section 15.1,
which is intended to promote equality among all Canadians.
The charter of 1982 is drafted in typical Liberal fashion. It
promises something but only if the state can have absolute control
over it. That is a scary thought. Promise equality but deliver on the
promise only when the state decides where and when equality will
exist. Is that not a scary thought, that the state will decide where
and when equality will exist? This is the effect of section 15.2 of
Now we are facing Bill C-64, a manifestation of section 15.2, a
bill which arbitrarily discriminates against one group in favour of
another. However, these Liberals will tell us that discrimination
will not result from this bill. Just because some groups are being
promoted over other groups is not discrimination. It is equity. That
is the Liberal's definition of the word equity. Their social
engineer's vocabulary does not end there. It goes much further. The
Liberals argue that Bill C-64 will not set quotas but rather numeric
As David Frum wrote recently, speaking of numeric goals and
deceptive wording: ``It is also true that undertakers say casket
instead of coffin and loved one instead of corpse. Does it make
Aunt Tilly any less dead by changing the words around so that they
sound a little less threatening?''
We must ask if we really need Bill C-64. Where is this
systematic discrimination that is constantly referred to by the
proponents of employment equity Bill C-64? Where is the proof?
Where are the statistics and hard numbers? There are none. In fact
the Economic Council of Canada, which I am sure the Liberals
recognize as a respectable body, did studies in 1991 and 1992
which found Canada successfully assimilates its newcomers and
that there was no evidence of systematic pay discrimination.
Furthermore, a Statistics Canada report this summer demonstrated
that visible minorities enjoy rates of employment and rates of pay
comparable to that of other Canadians.
Therefore, we ask where is the proof. Systematic discrimination
is in no way entrenched in the Canadian workplace as these Liberal
social engineers would have us believe. Indeed, in pushing Bill
C-64 without any hard evidence to back it up, it seems that the
Liberal government and its special interest group cohorts that
helped it get elected, would declare Canadian firms simply guilty
I forget that these Liberal members have proven that they know
little about law and order. Therefore, such concepts as innocent
until proven guilty would simply mean nothing to them.
Ultimately, employment equity or affirmation action as it is
more correctly known, is in fact a lose-lose situation. People who
have become victims of employment equity legislation demand
that it be scrapped and merit be returned as the sole principle for
hiring and promotion.
Typical of the government, it tends to march to the beat of a ``we
know what is better for you'' attitude, in economic, judicial and
social matters and therefore it will continue to dictate to us. This
Liberal government and Liberal governments for the past 30 years
have been intent in getting in the face of free and independent
Canadians. I say Bill C-64 is another attempt to do just that. I
therefore must oppose it.
The Deputy Speaker: It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order
38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the
time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for The
Battlefords-Meadow Lake-Endangered species; the hon.
member for Mackenzie-Agriculture.
Ms. Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor-St. Clair, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I am pleased to be able to speak today. I have gathered up
some comments from the speeches of the members for Beaver
River and Calgary Southeast and the member for the Reform Party
who just spoke. What they have done is typical of what the Reform
Party does in debate, particularly on this legislation. They have
refused to either read it or, if they have read it, to acknowledge the
actual content of the bill.
If the bill were operating in a vacuum, if we were making no
effort in any other area of society or in any other form of legislation
to improve the lot of Canadians, I might oppose it as well. The bill
is part of a package. It is part of our platform set out in our red
book. Beyond that it is part of a package of legislation we intend to
use to improve the lot of Canadians. By improving the lot I mean
by making our communities healthier, economically healthier and
We have tried to take other steps to assist people who do not have
the same advantage as the last speaker. We have improved our
student loan programs so that we are offering funds to encourage
women into areas where they have not traditionally sought training
in the past. We have a student loan program which encourages the
participation of persons with disabilities.
We are revamping our social programs in order to take away the
systemic barriers that exist for single mothers who are untrained
and also unable to go back to work because they have no one to take
care of their kids. We are taking a look at child care as a form of
social program which will support our effort to get Canadians back
Bill C-64 is a clear example of how the Liberal Party delivers on
its promises. In the red book we said we would strengthen the
Employment Equity Act and that is exactly what Bill C-64 does.
This legislation is deeply rooted in our country's conscience. In our
Constitution every individual has ``the right to equality before and
under the law and equal protection and benefit of the law''.
The Reform Party in general and certainly the last speaker do not
like the charter very much because they think protection of the
individual should be limited, that the application of the charter
should be narrow and that only those they say are deserving of its
protection should receive that protection.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically
recognizes the rights of the individual and specifically recognizes
that special programs are needed and that they are allowed in order
to benefit those who are discriminated against in our society. That
is what this bill addresses after all.
At the end of the day the bill is there because there are people
who suffer in employment today because of accidents of their birth
or accidents of their lives, accidents like colour, race, sex,
We believe employment equity is about building a more caring
and a more just society. It holds up a mirror to the fundamental
principles that we all hold dear and it seeks to create a level playing
field while providing practical and reasonable employment plans
Employment equity was conceived under a Liberal government
initially drawing on the work of Madam Justice Abella and her
commission. It reflects our party's long history of commitment to
justice and equality for all Canadians, not just for the privileged
Yet many insist on making the false assumption that federal
employment equity is a carbon copy of the American affirmative
action policy or of the Ontario bill. This was apparent in the
comments of the last speaker and also in the comments of the
member for Beaver River.
These speakers claim that Americans and Ontarians are now
rejecting legislative efforts out of hand in the area of employment
equity. That is simply not true. Bill C-64 is not affirmative action
U.S. style. It is not the severe imposition of regulations put forward
in the NDP Ontario bill.
Bill C-64 is really about fairness in the distribution of jobs. It is
not about quotas. It is about levelling the employment playing
field. It is not about preferential treatment. It is about fairness in
human resources administration. It is not about complex
regulations or greater administrative burdens for business.
This is a made in Canada, made in Ottawa bill that has none of
the earmarks of the anti-discrimination legislation we might find in
other jurisdictions. It certainly does not seek as its goal to attribute
blame or to right past wrongs.
Reformers like to draw parallels to the American experience, but
our bill differs from American affirmative action bills because our
experience and our history differ from America's in significant
ways. Our law has none of the excesses of the American program,
excesses like inflexible quotas for jobs, quotas on college admis-
sions, quotas on bidding preferences and minority set asides in
procurement programs. That is not what is in the bill.
Bill C-64 is not punitive. Instead of penalizing citizens it
encourages employers to recognize and use the largely untapped
talents of women, persons with disabilities, aboriginal persons and
members of visible minorities, members of the so-called special
interest groups the prior speaker mentioned. These four designated
groups account for 60 per cent of Canadian citizens.
Reformers also cited the Ontario experience but they play fast
and furious with the facts. There are no quotas in the bill. Ontario
has a third party complaint scheme which is central to the operation
of its bill. Ours is more like a planning document for human
The Ontario bill has very broad regulatory powers which are not
present in our bill. The threshold for being caught by the Ontario
bill in the private sector is 50 employees. That catches 17,000
employers in Ontario. In our bill the threshold is just over 100
employees and catches only 350 employers. The Ontario bill
develops new agencies and tribunals to enforce its act. Ours has no
such new agencies.
Just after the Ontario election an omnibus polling of businesses
showed they have supported employment equity but not that
particular bill. Our bill, which is on a much different model, is
much more satisfactory.
Another central feature of our system is our firm belief in
flexible targets businesses can reasonably achieve. Under the bill
the law is streamlined and clear. There is none of the complex or
overlapping regulatory channels found in the United States, nor are
there the tremendous regulatory burdens which one would find
under the Ontario bill. Enforcement is streamlined, cost effective
and relies on negotiated solutions rather than expensive litigation.
One of the main criticisms of the other systems has been their
adversarial nature. Bill C-64 takes a consensual approach, an
approach of compromise; another great Canadian tradition of
helping to bring people together to work in harmony. It is practical.
It is well thought out. It addresses inequality in the workplace. It is
a uniquely Canadian solution to the challenge of getting the most
potential from our highly diverse workforce.
What I am referring to here is the same ethos of fairness which is
now driving many private companies to diversify their hirings.
Some of those employers have told us how well this can work. Bob
Sutherland, executive vice-president of Human Resources for the
Royal Bank of Canada, said: ``The Royal Bank has undoubtedly
benefited by gaining access to some very talented members of the
workforce, many of whom we might not have discovered
Dan Branda, CEO of Hewlett-Packard Canada, told a Globe and
Mail reporter that diversity ``is an absolute business imperative
because it gives us the edge in attracting the best and brightest
people''. Are they afraid of the employment equity bill? No.
Employment equity is about every Canadian having the
opportunity to know that dignity and security come with a salary.
Most of all we are putting into practise the very values which make
each of us proud to be a Canadian: fairness, justice and equality not
just for a chosen few but for all Canadians.
Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the
third reading debate of Bill C-64, an act respecting employment
The hon. Minister of Human Resources Development has
described the new employment equity legislation as follows: ``This
initiative is a significant step toward ensuring equitable
employment opportunities for women, aboriginal peoples, persons
with disabilities and members of visible minorities''.
The President of the Treasury Board has echoed the minister of
HRD, suggesting the legislation is necessary to ensure equity and
fairness in the workplace.
I suggest this is a snow job by the Liberal government which is
masquerading as a beacon of light when it is moving us back
toward the dark ages.
I suggest this because governments that have experimented with
employment equity have found it does not work and it does not
matter how you couch the term. It does not matter whether you say
it is not exactly the same as the American employment equity
program or not exactly the same as Bob Rae's legislation. The
principle is whether it is working. It has not worked in the United
States. It was rejected by the voters of Ontario. It was rejected even
by the Liberal Party of Ontario.
Meanwhile its elder brothers and sisters in Parliament are
pushing ahead Bill C-64, a bill respecting employment equity. It
talks about numerical targets or goals. It simply is talking about
quotas and it is federal legislation which means it is the law of the
It is wrong. It is draconian. It is against the will and wishes of the
Canadian people and it is against the prevailing wisdom of those
who have experimented with employment equity in its various
ways, shapes and forms and who have found it does not work.
The Liberal government has couched employment equity in
terms that mask the true intent of the legislation. I heard the hon.
member before me saying it is not what we think it is, it is sort of a
wishy-washy, mishy-mushy-wushy piece of legislation.
It is employment equity. That is what the bill is called and that is
what we are talking about here. I wish hon. members on the other
side would have the courage to say they are proposing employment
equity rather than saying it is something new that we have never
tried that we do not really understand.
The government is going about to ensure equity and fairness in
the workplace for all Canadians? I doubt it very much. I believe it
is imperative to provide the House with a non-biased, general
definition of employment equity. We picked one that members on
both sides of the House should agree is fairly accurate.
Employment equity could be defined as results oriented actions
that a government department or contractor by virtue of its
contracts with the government must take to ensure equal
employment opportunity. An employment equity program includes
such goals as correcting underutilization and correction of problem
areas. In addition, it may also include relief such as payback,
retroactive seniority, make-up goals and timetables.
I could speak on a lot of these but I want to briefly talk about the
unprogressive manipulation this legislation includes, the goals and
timetables the government will surely be following to implement
and cement the numerical targets it talks about.
This definition outlines the intent of the legislation. The Liberals
undoubtedly have timetables to indicate that certain percentages of
employees must be appropriate to women, aboriginal persons,
persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by a
certain point. The employment equity policies can be viewed as
results oriented, which indicates the results of proportional
representation, regardless of qualifications, are the main focus of
The Reform Party's position on this legislation is that an
employment equity policy is unnecessary. It is ineffective. It is
very costly. It is unpopular. Governments lose because they have
tried to implement employment equity. It is discriminatory. It is
intrusive. It is harmful to designated and to non-designated groups.
The equality of all Canadians is recognized by affirming that hiring
and promotion should be based solely on merit rather than on
gender, race or other distinguishing factors of that nature.
Employment competition based on the merit principle is the key
to both equality and productivity. The Reform Party has no qualms
with encouraging the recruitment of qualified visible minorities
and women through advertising and training programs. Visible
minorities and women should then compete on a
non-discriminatory, colour blind, gender neutral basis for jobs,
promotions or educational positions.
The Reform Party believes discrimination is a heinous offence
that needs to be rooted out of our workplace. However, this will not
be achieved through employment equity legislation being
orchestrated by the federal government. I believe private
companies doing contract work with the government and
government departments have the proper mechanisms to deal with
discriminatory practices. Any problems not addressed by the
company or the government department can be appealed to either
provincial or federal human rights commissions under the human
Private companies in particular have a vested interest in
maintaining a representative workforce because it makes good
business sense. According to Fazil Mihlar of the Fraser Institute:
The market solution of the problem as it stands is discriminatory employment
costs firms money; therefore if an employer refuses to hire the best candidate
for a particular job, the productivity of the discriminating employer is bound to
fall and consequently produce less profit. The more competitive the industry,
the less likely firms are to engage in discrimination.
The bottom line is that companies are capable of achieving
employment equity without governments imposing legislation.
I could talk about the American experience. We have already
been criticized in the House for doing that, but if time permitted I
We did a bit of research on the breakdown of electoral success in
the House of Commons by gender as calculated from the 1993
federal election. The numbers are interesting and also a bit
I will start with the Reform Party. We were successful in electing
29 per cent of the female candidates our party had nominated. This
was without any manipulation or any intervention whatsoever. We
only elected 25 per cent of our male candidates. In other words, one
quarter of the men who won nomination in our party were elected
to the House. A higher percentage, 29 per cent, of the women who
were nominated at the riding level by the Reform Party of Canada
were successful in the 1993 federal election. This is with no
manipulation by the leader of the party, no directives from our
party office telling the constituencies: ``Make sure you nominate
women. We want a lot of women nominated from our party.''
The members of our party who selected female candidates chose
excellent candidates who garnered the support of their constituents.
They were more successful than the male candidates.
If we look at the Liberal numbers, they are about even. They
were actually a little less successful in electing female candidates
than they were in electing male candidates. Now, as we know, the
Liberals elected a lot more MPs to the House, so the percentage of
successful male candidates was 60 per cent. That is why they have
a majority government.
With all the manipulation, with the bypassing of the constituency
nomination process and the anointing of star female candidates,
they elected 59 per cent of the females, one per cent less than the
male candidates they elected. So the wisdom of the Liberal Party
hierarchy was not the same wisdom as the constituents in the
ridings, who voted for who they felt was the best candidate.
This indicates the whole concept of employment equity, the
playing around with quotas and jiggering around with results not
based on merit but based on numerical targets does not work and is
not effective. It even hurt the Liberals in the last election.
I see my time is running out. I want to talk about the party that
has made the most noise about employment equity in Canada, the
NDP. Of course, they have suggested very stringent quotas. They
suggest that there has to be an equal number of women on their
party councils and committees from top to bottom, inside and
outside and around the corner.
They had 100 female candidates and they elected one, who
happened to be their leader, the highest profile candidate they put
forward to the Canadian electorate. So one per cent of their females
were elected. They did not do so well on the male side either, but
they did elect four per cent of their male candidates. This is from a
party that has indicated that there must be employment equity, that
it must be legislated and written in stone.
Instead of having the government on this side and the opposition
on that side, they would almost want to have men on one side and
women on the other and make sure it was equal. That is the
approach they have taken to employment equity, and it just does
not work. It has not worked for that party.
Why would the Liberals, who are intelligent people and a party
that has been around for over 100 years, want to give us Bill C-64,
which would try to impose upon companies and government
departments what does not work in practicality, does not even work
in their own party, which has been a failure everywhere it has been
tried and which is disgusting and discriminatory by its very nature
and is demeaning to the very people it is supposed to help?
I like to see visible minorities and female members in the House
of Commons and in business, who are there because they are
darned good, the best at what they do. I have a lot of respect for
those people, whether they be black, white, yellow or red, whether
they are male or female or whether they are handicapped in some
way. I have a lot of respect for those people who made it on their
own. If they are being given numerical quotas by a federal
government and are given a position just because they happen to fit
a certain category, it is demeaning to them.
I suggest this government should withdraw this legislation. It is
wrong, it is immoral, and it does not work.
Mr. John Bryden (Hamilton-Wentworth, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I am grateful for this opportunity to speak to Bill C-64,
which would amend the current federal Employment Equity Act
principally in the matter of introducing an enforcement regime. It
is targeted at private sector enterprises of 100 employees or more
that do business with the federal government. That encompasses
hundreds and possibly thousands of private sector companies, any
in fact who get a government contract.
I want to speak as a government MP because I am unhappy with
this bill. I feel it is my duty to do so, even though I am but a single
voice perhaps among my government colleagues. I must express
my deep, deep reservations about this legislation.
In my view, Bill C-64 is seriously flawed. It is being rushed into
law without the benefit of the careful consideration that is due any
legislation that comes before this House.
First let me say that I do not doubt the government's nobility of
purpose and sincerity of motive in bringing Bill C-64 forward.
Strengthening the federal employment equity legislation was a red
book commitment made by the Liberal Party prior to the last
general election. A government that tries to live up to its promises
cannot be faulted for trying to do so. Indeed, being faithful to one's
promise is something all Canadians admire and applaud. Moreover,
who is to argue against the desire to see that all Canadians have
equal opportunity for employment and that no one is discriminated
against on the basis of gender, non-relevant disability, or race? The
noble purpose is noble indeed.
However, the fact that Bill C-64 springs from a promise is
possibly one of the reasons it has come this far without adequate
consideration of the huge problems it seems likely to create. It goes
absolutely against some of the most basic concepts of justice and
fair play, and in seeking to eradicate discrimination sets the stage
for encouraging it.
I have to believe-and I do-that it has come this far because the
government bureaucrats who framed it clause by clause did so
more with a view to satisfying the government's desire to fulfil its
promises quickly than to writing competent legislation. I find it
hard to believe that professionals could have drafted something so
I am not a lawyer, but it does not take a lawyer to see what is
wrong with Bill C-64. Any Canadian knows the very essence of our
democracy and our freedoms is predicated on the concepts that all
are equal before the law and that everyone is entitled to a fair trial.
When Bill C-64 is tested against these two principles it fails.
Let us consider the fair trial aspect. Bill C-64 requires that the
target employers prepare equity employment plans and give an
accounting annually of their progress in fulfilling these plans. I
will spare the details, but suffice it to say that Bill C-64 describes
minutely what it expects of employers when it comes to trying to
achieve balance in the hiring of aboriginals, women, visible
minorities, and the disabled.
To ensure these employers are fulfilling the requirements of the
act, Bill C-64 provides for the creation of compliance officers, a
kind of equity police administered by the Canadian Human Rights
Commission, who are given the power to enter a company's
premises and demand to see its books to ensure the company does
have an appropriate equity plan and that it is acting upon it. Right
here there is a problem. Mr. Speaker, I would remind you of the
outcry that swept the nation when Bill C-68, the gun bill, proposed
similar entry and search provisions to ensure compliance. Here we
are apparently doing the same thing.
I suppose the argument, which I can hardly say is being debated
either through public hearings or in this House, is that these
compliance officers are equivalent to inspectors who come onto
your premises to inspect elevators or read a gas meter. However,
Bill C-64 gives these compliance officers extraordinary powers. If
a company tries to deny them, the company can be taken to court,
but not to any court as Canadians have come to understand the
term. The court, which decides the guilt or innocence of a company
and which ultimately decides on fines of up to $50,000, is a
sub-tribunal of the existing human rights tribunal panel, whose
president can name from one to three people to hear a case. There is
no bar exam for these people to pass, no vetting by the elected
representatives of the people. The president of the human rights
tribunal panel gets to select whomever he pleases.
Tribunal is an appropriate term in this case. The word is very
ancient, going back to Roman times, but it was in the Middle Ages
and during the French Revolution that it acquired the connotation
of drum-head justice, of people being hauled before citizen
adjudicators who meted out punishment according to the temper or
the distemper of the times.
The only real requirement to be a judge on the equity tribunals
that Bill C-64 sets up is that the person so named be familiar with
the equity employment theory and practice. Is that not the most
eloquent invitation to bias you have ever heard? Will not the
temptation to appoint employment equity activists simply be
overwhelming? Will these tribunal judges not have more of an eye
toward being politically correct rather than fair to the accused, to
the company contesting the assessment of a compliance officer?
It gets worse. The equity tribunals that Bill C-64 sets up are
courts of no appeal. The legislation specifically states that a
company convicted by the tribunal has no recourse to another court
unless on a technicality. There is no appeal. Whoever heard of such
a thing? Even convicted murderers have the option of trying to
appeal, but not an employer who fails to file an equity employment
plan to the satisfaction of an equity employment tribunal.
I should note, however, that the action of initiating the levying of
a fine against a company is to come from the Minister of Human
Resources Development. The tribunal's role is to concur or not
concur. Let us be candid here. The Minister of Human Resources
Development we are talking about is not the political minister but
the bureaucrats under him. If action leading to a fine is taken it will
be by the deputy minister or an assistant deputy minister or an
assistant to the assistant deputy minister. It will be a decision of the
bureaucracy based on the recommendation of the human rights
While I am entirely confident that the current Minister of Human
Resources Development will always stay on top of his department
and will personally review any proposal for a penalty against a
private sector employer, how can we be sure that some future
Minister of Human Resources Development will not get
preoccupied and leave such decisions to the deputy minister or the
assistant deputy minister or so on? This could be even worse than
the tribunal. The ultimate decision to penalize a company will rest
with the bureaucrats. They will decide. Although I believe that
Canada's federal civil service is the best in the world, I question its
understanding of and sympathy for the problems of private sector
There is another reality. I hate to sound cynical, but these
employment equity amendments may give even low-level
bureaucrats a big stick. Companies vying for lucrative government
contracts could be stopped in their tracks by the threat of
employment equity complaints. They could be held to ransom by
the unscrupulous. This may never be, but while 95 per cent of the
people are honest, we have to watch out for that 5 per cent who are
If a company is trying to land a $100 million contract and a
compliance officer suddenly says its employment equity plan is
inadequate, what will occur? Bill C-64 makes no provision for
policing the equity police.
The other major area of difficulty in Bill C-64 has to do with the
fact that it exempts employers who would hire only aboriginals. I
could speak at equal length about this problem, as it is equally
fundamental and crucial. Suffice it to say that a bill that purports to
try to eliminate discrimination actually condones it when it
exempts a large group of Canadians solely by virtue of race. This is
entirely contrary to the concept that we are all equal before the law.
It is better to throw out a law entirely if it requires a clause that
treats one Canadian differently than another based on birth rather
than merit. This is exactly what Bill C-64 does. This is
unfortunate. It sows the seeds of anger and conflict.
This all appears so obvious to me. I have to acknowledge that I
am only a layman in legal matters, as was the majority of MPs who
considered this bill in committee. Naturally I want to know what
Canada's legal community has had to say about this legislation.
Does it share my misgivings? There is no way of knowing. Other
than the National Association of Women and the Law no lawyers'
groups testified before the committee. I suspect they were never
invited. Government funded special interest groups however were
There is my dilemma as a government MP. I see fundamental
problems with Bill C-64 of a legalistic nature but little evidence
that the legal experts have been consulted. It is wrong to leave it to
the courts to decide after a bill has passed. We are supposed to iron
out the problems beforehand.
I do not believe this has been done. The trouble is I can do
nothing but stand here and speak. The bill went to committee after
first reading, enabling it to be flipped through report stage and
second reading to a vote in five consecutive sitting days of this
House of Commons. Five consecutive days, that is all.
There were no committee hearings following second reading as
normally is the practice. There has been no chance for me to see my
misgivings put to rest by asking the standing committee to summon
expert witnesses who could comment on my concerns.
I would like to have heard the opinion of the Canadian Bar
Association on this legislation. No chance now. I would like to
have lobbied my fellow MPs to get them to study the bill and
express their opinions. No chance now. I would like to have heard
from retired judges of long experience. No chance now.
It is curious. I am a first time MP. I never dreamed, ever, that
laws were created in this fashion.
Mr. Bill Gilmour (Comox-Alberni, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
must say that it is refreshing to hear a Liberal talk about some of
the concerns in a bill rather than just glowing over the top saying
there are no problems at all. I applaud the member for putting
forward his comments with the moral fortitude of speaking his
I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill C-64, an act
to implement employment equity. Bill C-64 aims to legislatively
entrench employment equity for the federal public service and
businesses of 100 or more employees doing business with the
federal government by setting up racial and sex based hiring
Canadians have several concerns with the proposed bill and so
they should. It is contradictory. It is discriminatory. It is
patronizing. The underlying principles undermine the values in
which Canadians take the most pride, fairness and equality for all.
In my view, public service hiring and promotion should be
guided by one principle and one principle alone and that is merit.
The government clearly has a role in ensuring equal opportunity
and employment competition based on merit. In this bill hiring and
promotion based on race or sex is in direct conflict with merit. If
the best candidate is to be hired, race or sex should not matter.
The bill patronizes designated groups. It assumes their
mediocrity and presupposes that certain groups of individuals will
not be hired or promoted in the workforce on their own merit, so
the only way they are going to get hired or promoted is to give
special favour to their race, gender or disability. This is nonsense.
Employment equity assumes that if people fall within a
particular category they need assistance. This is not the case.
Whether a person is male or female, a visible minority, disabled,
does not define a person's need for assistance and when we jump to
such conclusions it is called racism or sexism. Clearly entitlement
to government positions should be based on individual merit, not
the colour of the applicant's skin or gender.
In addition, race and sex based policies can be detrimental to the
workplace. They create tension and bad feelings among
co-workers. Equal opportunity means allowing the same
opportunity to each individual regardless of race, sex or religion,
not rewarding one group over another because of basic
Employees should have the right to be free of discrimination in
the workplace. This right should be protected by government, not
withdrawn as the bill attempts to do. The bill is not about equality,
fairness or hiring the most qualified people for the job. It is about
giving special status to one group over another based on race or
All Canadians should be equal before and under the law. This bill
violates those basic Canadian rights. On that basis alone, the bill
should not be allowed to pass.
Rights and privileges should not be based on race or gender.
These ideas went out in the 19th century with the growth of
universal democracy and individual rights and freedoms. The
government talks about equality of opportunity but at the same
time is introducing affirmative action legislation that is
fundamentally opposed to equality. How can Canada claim to be in
the forefront of human rights legislation with such discriminatory
Governments have mandated preferential policies toward
designated groups in the past. Bill C-64 establishes laws and
regulations that mandate Canadians treat people differently, to
consider race and gender when hiring or promoting. In so doing,
takes away individual respect and dignity and replaces it with a
racist or a sexist hiring policy. This is going the wrong way.
No one should be accepted or rejected for a job based on race or
gender. It is simply wrong to classify an applicant on the basis of
these characteristics. Employees should be judged on the merit of
their individual day to day accomplishments.
Blanket hiring of employees on the basis of race and gender is
simply not acceptable to Canadians. More fundamentally, it is not
the business of government to influence employment decisions in
the private sector. Governments should not be imposing their bill
on private business. Canadians do not need or want the influence of
a big brother government watching over the private sector. Once
again, the Liberals have underestimated the Canadian public.
Canadians do not want this big brother approach meddling in their
In addition, I am concerned with the cost of the legislation. The
government is proposing a program that could cost taxpayers
billions. The total cost both direct and indirect of employment
equity could amount to over $6 billion or nearly 1 per cent of the
gross domestic product because it is going to affect a lot of
businesses and people.
Where are the priorities of the government? It cannot guarantee
seniors' pension funds, but it is prepared to throw $6 billion into
employment equity. That is fundamentally wrong.
The legislation is misplaced by a government priority. Canadians
will be most concerned by the enormous amounts of money that are
going to be poured into this program because employment equity is
unnecessary. The government claims it is eliminating barriers with
this bill. It does not eliminate barriers, it creates them.
Obviously no one should discriminate against women, visible
minorities or the disabled in hiring practices. I fail to see why we
have this over reaction on the part of the government in an attempt
to correct a problem that Canadians agree simply does not exist.
The Ontario election was fought on the issue of employment
equity and the Liberals were defeated because they tried to force it
down the throats of the electorate. In addition, this legislation is
Bill C-64 states that no person should be denied employment
opportunities for reasons other than ability. Yet the very essence of
this act contradicts this statement. The bill promotes discrimination
and legislates race and sex bias in the workplace.
All Canadians must be able to compete equally for jobs
irrespective of race, gender or disability. Canadians should not be
denied employment opportunities for reasons that have nothing to
do with their abilities.
I must also point out that two wrongs do not make a right. Many
young people today have enough strikes against them as they
search the job market for whatever employment they can find.
Employment equity will freeze out more opportunities for young
people who do not fit into the preferential hiring practices, not
because they lack the skills or ability but because of their personal
hereditary characteristics. Any young person who has the
misfortune of not falling into those categories is left out in the cold.
Applicants should not have to disclose the colour of their skin,
their ethnic background, their gender or their religion. It is illegal
to ask a person's age or marital status but to ask a person's race is
all right? What is wrong with this picture?
Recently a Gallup poll showed that 74 per cent of Canadians
oppose employment equity. If we were to poll Canadians today I
am sure we would get the same results. In fact, the Ontario election
is the latest and strongest indication that Canadians reject
employment equity and are prepared to reject any government that
proposes it. When will the government stop listening to special
interest groups and start listening to Canadians?
In conclusion, I have to ask why the government insists on
pushing legislation which is contrary to the views of most
Canadians. This is the same mistake the last government made. We
all know the price it paid for not listening. The real question is: Are
the Liberals listening or are they going to force unwanted
legislation on Canadians and suffer the same fate as the
Conservatives? Time will tell.
Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Carleton-Gloucester, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, it is a privilege to rise in the House to participate in the
debate on Bill C-64, an act respecting employment equity.
When I listen to hon. members opposite, I sometimes have the
impression that to them, employment equity is just a numbers
game. That is not the case, The government has taken a holistic
approach to employment equity. Contrary to what members of the
Reform Party seem to believe, we are not just in the business of
adding or subtracting numbers.
To the contrary, passage of Bill C-64 will enhance
implementation of the Employment Equity Act so that we can
continue to fight systemic discrimination and build a federally
regulated workforce that reflects the diverse composition of
It is important to note it is not just the government which is
concerned about diversity in the workforce. We know there are a
growing number of employers who are getting behind employment
equity. They are not treating it as some kind of statistical exercise,
which seems to be the way members of the Reform Party look on it.
Employment equity is helping us to build a harmonious society.
Employers are learning how to manage diversity. Being able to
manage a diverse labour force will help business to draw on the
broad expertise of people from many different social and economic
There are some fine examples, such as the employer's leadership
skills course, which is helping managers to understand individual
differences and how to lead teams made up of diverse members.
Another employer gathers information on his employee's negative
experiences to determine the best way to improve their situation.
Some employers are providing video training to upgrade the
computer skills of employees with learning and visual disabilities.
Some employers are introducing flexible holiday arrangements for
employees who wish to participate in their own religious
ceremonies on specific days each year.
The point I am making is that employers are working with all of
their employees to create a productive and harmonious workplace
which represents the diverse nature of the Canadian population.
I submit it is the Reform Party that has a fixation with numbers,
not the government. The bill refers not to quotas but to equal
treatment. For example, let us look at the amendment on
self-identification that the government accepted during the report
stage of the bill. The amendment accepts the right of the employer
to make the case that under-representation of a group is due to a
lack of self-identification and there is a requirement for
compliance officers to take such information into account.
I want to tell the House something about self-identification.
Self-identification has encouraged individuals in the designated
groups to come forward. In the past many of these individuals have
tried to hide their minority status from society. We must remember
that for years people have felt that they had to keep their disability
secret and their racial origins to themselves. That is now changing.
Since 1987 more people in the designated groups are
self-identifying because they feel more comfortable about doing
We know that representation of women and members of visible
minorities in the labour force has increased considerably. In the
case of aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities, the process
has been slower but there has been an improvement.
Employment equity is not about adding a bunch of numbers and
throwing them into a statistical report. The Reform Party is
misleading Canadians by referring to employment equity in that
Bill C-64 accents reality. Its implementation will help us to use
scarce resources in a way that will enable all Canadians to
contribute their knowledge and skills to making a better Canada.
Many companies are already taking positive steps in that
direction. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a wide
range of measures to reach a representative workforce, including
special initiatives for aboriginal people and for persons with
Orth-McNeil, a drug company in Don Mills, Ontario, introduced
flexible hours so that its female employees can either work at home
or work part time after their maternity leave. York University in
North York, Ontario, is always trying to increase representation of
designated groups on its campus.
Even small and medium businesses recognize the importance of
employment equity. On my way to the House of Commons from
my riding office in Orléans at noon I stopped at a fast food
restaurant for a quick lunch. The lady who served me had a speech
impediment. I was served with politeness, speed and in a
business-like manner. I commend the manager for recognizing
employment equity and putting it into practice in the frontline of
Bill C-64 is not about adding up a bunch of numbers and patting
ourselves on the back because they look impressive. It is about
doing the right thing and allowing all Canadians to feel they belong
and can participate actively in a just and caring society. It is about
ending systemic discrimination in the workplace and opening the
labour force to all who are deserving based on ability. That is the
thrust of the legislation and I am pleased to give it my
Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I believe
Canada is a cultural mosaic made up of citizens with various ethnic
and religious backgrounds. Many of these people have overcome
tremendous adversities to be able to reside in Canada where all
citizens are supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law.
This sentiment has not always been shared or fostered across the
land. At various times in our history certain groups have been the
target of discrimination and persecution. These have scarred our
past and from these times we have grown to be a much more
tolerant and a much more civilized society.
I am not in favour of a homogenized Canada. I am in favour
of equal access for all Canadians. Bill C-64 is an impediment to
such access. By ensuring access to some, Liberals block access
It is important to ensure Canadians from traditionally
disadvantaged groups are given access to education and all the
other benefits of Canadian citizenship, but this should not mean
that special employment provisions are given to any group or
individual in lieu of merit.
The opinion of the government is that these disadvantaged
groups need special government legislated programs to be
represented in the workforce. However legislation is overkill.
Liberals will never achieve employment equity through divisive
means even if it is imposed by the heavy hand of the law.
As an employer I am looking for a person who will do the job
best. There is no race or gender attachment to that criterion; only
merit. Under the government's plan I no longer have to find the
best person for the job. I now have to find the best candidate from a
designated group. This is not equal opportunity under the law. It is
an enforced quota system.
The legislation states that employers with a workforce of at least
100 persons who are in the service of the federal government must
comprise their workforce proportionately to the make-up of the
population. The government has a fixation with numbers, quotas
and statistics, which is why the Minister of Industry is going ahead
with a census based on race, even on the nation of origin of
The Reform Party believes in an immigration policy that is
colour blind and says that immigration based on race or country of
origin is racism. If that is the case, what is legislation that is based
on race or country of origin? I suggest respectfully it too is racism.
The government would lead us to believe that under
representation of disadvantaged groups in the workplace is the
result of discrimination. This is preposterous. In Canada citizens
are free to choose the career of their choice. How could the
government impose a plan on Canadians which quantifies access to
certain jobs? If discrimination is wrong for one designated group, it
is wrong for all Canadians.
To select someone for a job based on race or gender is just as
wrong as not selecting the same person for the same reasons. All
people must be equal regardless of race, language, creed, religion
Canada's employment practices have evolved to a level where
we recognize the wrongs of the past. I would hope that we have also
evolved to a level where we recognize that redemption for the
oppression of one group should not be the oppression of another
group. There is still considerable room for improvement. However
Bill C-64 is clearly not the answer.
I should not expect the government to grasp the concept of equal
opportunity. Its party has passed some of the most divisive
legislation in Canadian history. According to Liberal dogma we as
a country are supposed to find unity and strength by focusing on
our differences and making exceptions for those differences.
Unfortunately we live in an intolerant world. We only have to
watch the nightly news to see the atrocities that occur daily in the
name of difference. Why would we in Canada, a country of
incredible opportunity, focus on the differences of the population
and legislate employment policies based on race, gender and
To identify a specific group as disadvantaged gives a perception
that it is incapable of succeeding on its own. This is clearly untrue
and is a disservice to those groups.
I should mention that many women in my constituency have
approached me on the issue. Uniformly they see quotas as
demeaning their personal value, developed skills and work ethic.
They want government meddling in the workforce eliminated, not
When will the government realize the ramifications of its
actions? The people of Ontario clearly voted against the unwanted
employment equity legislation. Does it not see the divisions and
animosity created by its policies? I wonder if the government has
taken into consideration the long term effects of its quota systems,
because they are quota systems. At what point do we reverse the
discrimination angle and again promote those who have been kept
down? This is a cyclical effect and the only solution is to end it
The government should be proactive, advocate equality in the
truest sense of the word, treat all Canadians the same, tax them the
same and educate them the same. As utopian as that may sound it is
a positive step for the future.
As long as the government keeps legislating discriminatory
ideology there is no possible means of attaining what is guaranteed
under the charter, that we are all equal in the eyes of the law.
Mr. John Murphy (Annapolis Valley-Hants, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-64, an act respecting
I support the bill. I believe it is an important step in ensuring
fairness and equity in the workplace. This is especially true for
women, aboriginal people, persons of disability and members of
visible minorities, all of whom represent segments of our society
that have not always been given a fair opportunity. These groups
continue to experience higher than average unemployment rates,
lower than average salaries, and are concentrated in the lower
In recent weeks we have had a valuable debate about
employment equity. It has allowed us to discuss an initiative that
will help ensure all Canadians have equal opportunities in the
However throughout the debate there has been one recurring and
unsettling element: the consistent effort of the Reform Party to
practise the politics of polarization.
As I have listened to the debate, far too often members of the
third party have chosen to misrepresent the intent and practice of
employment equity. In so doing they have chosen a dangerous
course. Instead of taking an important step forward they have opted
for the status quo. Instead of making our society stronger and more
inclusive they are spreading misinformation aimed at dividing
Before I deal with their politics of polarization, let me begin my
remarks by noting other elements of the position of Reformers on
the bill. The key element of their position is that infallible market
forces are enough to address employment barriers. That was
summarized in their minority addendum to the report of the
standing committee. They stated quite clearly that the market
would punish an employer whose employment practises had
systemic discrimination built into them. Yet market forces alone
cannot eradicate systemic discrimination. Voluntary measures
toward achieving equity in the workplace have not brought about
significant changes for many people.
There is another dimension to the Reform position, that is the
denial of systemic discrimination in the workplace, discrimination
that not only results from a conscious bias but from inadvertent
practices and systems. In other words a seemingly neutral policy
can have adverse impact on certain groups and individuals based on
race, gender and disability.
The term systemic discrimination refers to this type of
unintentional barrier to equality. However, when I listened to the
arguments made by members of the third party, they believe only
one kind of discrimination occurs when an employer says that he
will not hire a person because she is a woman, a visible minority,
an aboriginal person or has a disability. Systemic discrimination
has nothing to do with any intention to discriminate. Canadian
employers are fair. Many organizations have already recognized
the existence of such discrimination in their workplace and are
working hard to eliminate it.
That brings me to my final point, the politics of polarization.
Time and time again hon. members in the third party have chosen
to debate the issue in terms that can only create confusion and
division. They talk about quotas when the bill explicitly rejects
them. They claim the bill promotes a new kind of discrimination
when it clearly does not. They harp on this as an attack on merit,
yet the bill explicitly states that no employer will ever be forced to
hire an unqualified person. That bears repeating because the third
party is trying to confuse the people of Canada. The bill explicitly
states that no employer will ever be forced to hire an unqualified
I advise my hon. colleagues across the way to take some time to
sit down and read through the bill. They should read section 5
where they will see what employer obligations really are. They
should read section 6 where they will see what is not an obligation.
They should read section 10 where they will see what an
employment equity plan really is.
Bill C-64 is about making all reasonable efforts to build
workplaces that respect people. In listening to the arguments of my
colleagues across the way it is clear they have chosen to ignore the
experience of many employers covered under the existing
legislation. They are making employment equity work the right
way. They see it as a human resource planning pool. They know
that a key element of an effective equity program is
communication. People need to know what equity is and
conversely they need to know what it is not.
When members of the Reform Party suggest that the legislation
is about stealing legitimate opportunities from some to give it to
the undeserving, what kind of a response do they expect? It would
seem that they want a backlash. Rather than focusing on the issues
of real equity in the workplace, they instead focus on
misinformation about what the bill really stands for. They are
trying to capitalize on genuine concerns many Canadians have
about their jobs and their future.
Let us be clear. The Reform Party wants short term political gain
based on the politics of fear.
This bill responds to a real problem. It reaffirms our
government's commitment to equity for all Canadians. Our
government is living up to its responsibility and we are working to
make positive changes for Canadians. We realize that denying this
problem will not make it go away.
In closing, Bill C-64 is not about giving unfair advantage to
certain designated groups; it is about equality and removing
barriers to employment. When this bill comes to final vote I will be
on the side of building a stronger and more inclusive society in
Canada. I will vote in favour of Bill C-64 and I encourage all
members of this House to do the same.
Mr. Jake E. Hoeppner (Lisgar-Marquette, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in the House after a week's
break. Things have not changed too much. I heard Reform
mentioned quite often which is music to my ears. We must be
saying something right.
I always say that the proof is in the pudding and to practise what
you preach. For example, we have tried to be employed as
committee vice-chairmen in this House for a number of years. For
some reason it has not held true that we have been equally treated
to that extent. We have capable people who should be employed as
vice-chairs in the committees but it does not seem to work that
way. That is democracy Liberal style, I heard an hon. member say,
but let us get down to the basics.
It is a pleasure to address this bill, an act representing
employment equity. I would like to add my voice to those of my
colleagues in opposition to this offensive piece of legislation.
This bill sets out to achieve numerical equity by occupational
groups in the following workplaces that employ 100 or more
people: the federal public service; federally regulated private
business; and businesses that undertake contracts with the federal
government. The bill sets out to do this by correcting conditions of
the disadvantaged experienced by certain groups through the use of
racial and gender based quotas.
Under this bill all affected businesses would have to comply with
extensive reporting obligations, including filing detailed analyses
of their hiring practices and racial breakdowns of their staffs. This
is a costly imposition.
The Reform Party believes that all Canadians are equal under the
law and all Canadians have the right to be free from discrimination
in the workplace. No one should be denied an employment
opportunity for reasons that have nothing to do with inherent
ability. The Reform Party also believes that merit should be the
sole hiring criteria in the workplace. To pass over the best qualified
candidate in order to fill a racially based quota is a denial of the
merit principle and in itself is racist.
We believe in a system that is colour blind and gender neutral.
Canadians who wish to pursue a certain vocation should not face
barriers of discrimination. Those with ability and discipline
deserve the rewards of their hard work.
The key assumption underlining the notion of equality in Bill
C-64 is that equality means equality of numerical representation in
the workplace. Even in a perfect world it seems unlikely that
people from designated groups would enter each segment of the
workforce in numbers precisely equal to their representation in the
workplace. Yet this government persists in depending on numerical
equality as the standard of justice.
A 1993-94 report on employment equity in the public service
says that self-identification is the backbone of the employment
equity program. This raises a serious concern over the reliability of
the self-identification process. Many people may refuse to identify
themselves as a member of a designated group because they fear
they would be seen differently by co-workers. This avoidance
could then skew the statistical base. If enough people refused to
self-identify, then the appearance of discrimination would be
For example, the Clerk of the House of Commons appeared with
the result of a self-identification survey before the standing
committee studying this bill. This survey was sent to 1,700 House
employees. Just 23 per cent returned the survey. Of that number,
less than 50 identified themselves as a member of a designated
group. Clearly the appearance of non-compliance can be created by
A 1992-93 report on employment equity in the public service
stated that the number of visible minority employees may be
underidentified by one and one-half times and the number of
disabled by two and one-half times. This has serious implications
for employers. If some members of designated groups fail to
identify themselves as belonging to a designated group, the
employer would have to consistently report an unrepresentative
workplace. In this case the employer would be forced to report
non-compliance when in fact he or she might be complying.
There is also the aspect that employees would be tempted to
falsify self-identification surveys. Since no verification is ever
attempted, no studies have been conducted on the possibility of
abuse in this regard. However, the 1994 report of the Employment
Equity Act notes that in 1991, 2.3 million Canadians reported
having a disability, an increase of 30 per cent over 1986. Only part
of this can be explained by an aging population.
This bill gives Canadians a strong motive to count themselves in
as disadvantaged. Even more confusing is the fact there is no
uniform definition of disability used in Canada and disabilities are
often determined on a case by case basis.
This type of legislation results in reverse discrimination. It
attempts to fight racism or sexism by racist and sexist means.
For a while in 1992 the RCMP in Alberta stopped accepting
applications from white males. The RCMP now operates several
preferential hiring programs. Out of the 426 cadets in training this
year, 74 per cent must be selected from three of the four designated
Polls in Canada have consistently shown that Canadians do not
want employment equity programs. A 1993 Gallup poll showed
that 74 per cent said that qualifications should be the sole criteria
for hiring for management positions. The question is: When will
this government start listening to Canadians instead of forcing
legislation on them that they do not want?
This seems to have been the Liberal agenda for the last couple of
years: ``Do as we say or you will not do as you should be doing
according to your constituents''. This is another prime example of
the Liberal government trying to force through legislation that will
be detrimental not just to this country but to the economy of the
country. It is time we recognized that we have to listen to the
grassroots people, that we have to listen to the grassroots
businesses. They have the answers for this country and that is what
the people of Canada want.
Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (Parliamentary Secretary to
President of the Treasury Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on October
3 in this very House at the start of the debate on the amendment
motions to Bill C-64, the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest
said: ``The private sector by and large is light years ahead of the
government in its relationship with minority groups''.
That comes from one of the more enlightened members of the
Reform Party. Imagine what the rest of them must be thinking
when such a glaring error has been made. That is incorrect and
false information. It was not intended to be. It just happened to be
because that member did not know as his colleagues do not know
the truth of the matter. I want to set the record straight.
Our latest annual report was tabled in the House by the Minister
of Human Resources Development and the President of the
Treasury Board. It shows that for three of the designated groups,
that is, women, aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities, in
representation levels the ratios of designated group members to the
entire workforce are higher in the federal public service than in the
whole federally regulated private sector. Those are the facts.
The lower representation of visible minorities in the public
service as a whole is due in part to the fact that the public service
does not have an equivalent to the banking sector where
representation is 13 per cent.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Duhamel: The Reform Party does not get its facts straight
because when we attempt to put the facts on the table, Reformers
will not listen. I am going to continue to give them the facts and
perhaps some day they will sink in.
Jobs in the public service in contrast to the federally regulated
sector are not as concentrated in large Canadian metropolitan areas.
These are the urban centres where the vast majority of Canadians of
a visible minority are residing. However, visible minorities make
up 8.3 per cent of the relatively well paid scientific and
professional category of the public service.
It should also be noted that right now, one out of five executives
in the public service is a woman. What is it in the private sector?
One in ten. I suppose the Reform Party is going to tell me that is
better. I suppose Reform members are going to tell me that is
because women have been favoured. No, it is not because they have
been favoured. It is because there have been open policies which
have recognized the systemic discrimination and in part it has been
Professor Andrew Hede of the University of Southern
Queensland in Australia published a comparative analysis of
women executives in public services. Drawing from the experience
in Britain, the United States and Australia he wrote: ``Canada is the
clear front runner in the equity stakes''. Why will my colleagues
from the Reform Party not admit that we are leaders? I know why.
It is because they cannot possibly admit whenever the government
does something right.
Make no mistake about it. There is still a lot that needs to be
done, but we are making progress. These are sound policies. It is
unfortunate that some people would want to peg them as
discriminatory for political gain.
Now for my comments on Bill C-64. Some people have a poor
perception of employment equity and of Bill C-64 in particular.
They believe, and in my opinion they are wrong, that these are
radical social experiments. One wonders whether there is no
awareness or appreciation of the past and present policies of this
government which are aimed at helping the most vulnerable
members of our society and thus increasing employment equity.
Let me present the facts so that these people will understand the
historic background of this bill. I hope this will improve their
perspective and give them a better appreciation of employment
I will provide a history of the development of employment
equity at the federal level, with some specific examples of the
situation, past and present, in the public service.
What I am about to say will make it abundantly clear, and it may
even be understood by those who do not want to see it, that
employment equity is not a revolution that would target and punish
groups which may have benefited from the employment system in
the past. Rather, I want to paint employment equity in Canada as an
evolutionary social policy initiative consistent with the tradition of
fairness and dignity for all that is so prevalent in the mainstream of
Canadian society. That is what it is all about.
Let me give some examples of a few very significant historical
The Royal Commission on the Status of Women was a stimulus
for early efforts by the federal government in the 1970s to deal
systematically with issues of representation in the public service.
In the early 1980s the federal government introduced a program
to bring about the equitable representation and distribution of
women, aboriginal peoples, and persons with disabilities in the
public service. In 1985 visible minorities were included in the
The government also launched the special measures programs to
encourage the recruitment of designated group members. A
service-wide self-identification survey was carried out to provide
the numerical information for the program.
And in 1986, following the 1984 report of the Royal
Commission on Employment Equity, sometimes referred to as the
Abella Report, the federal government passed the Employment
Equity Act. The government also introduced Treasury Board's
policy on employment equity.
In 1988, the government appointed the Task Force on Barriers to
Women in the Public Service whose report Beneath the Veneer was
published in 1990. The report recommended a broad range of
measures to attract, train and maintain women in positions at all
levels. It provided the inspiration for a number of important
proposals made in the White Paper on Public Service Renewal,
Public Service 2000, and in the Public Service Reform Act tabled
in the House of Commons.
In 1989, Treasury Board introduced an annual program of
employment equity merit awards to celebrate outstanding
achievements by departments with respect to various designated
groups. That same year the Canadian Centre for Management
Development opened its doors. Among other things, the centre
encourages the implementation of key employment equity
objectives, including diversity management.
Also in 1989, Treasury Board adopted a policy on services
available to persons with disabilities.
In 1990 the secretary of the Treasury Board, with advice from a
deputy ministerial committee, set goals for the achievement of
equity for the four designated groups, reviewed accountability
mechanisms, monitored developments with respect to national
strategies and initiatives, and gave advice to departments on
communications strategies and efforts.
In May 1992 the government announced its intention to legislate
employment equity in the public service through amendments to
the Financial Administration Act, thereby confirming by statute
obligations on the public service that were comparable to those
placed on federally regulated employers under the Employment
On June 18, 1992 royal assent was given to a bill modifying six
federal laws pertaining to persons with disabilities, two of which
were a Treasury Board responsibility. These were the Access to
Information Act and the Privacy Act. The acts were modified to
facilitate access to government records and to have personal
information in an alternative format for persons with a sensory
In December 1992 Parliament passed the Public Service Reform
Act which amended various federal acts, including the Financial
Administration Act. As a result of these revisions, the President of
the Treasury Board is now required to table in Parliament an annual
report on the state of employment equity in the public service
during the immediately preceding fiscal year.
In 1993, the framework for better employment equity in the
public service in the 1990s was published. This framework was the
product of reflection by the secretary of Treasury Board with the
support of a group of deputy ministers. It described a new approach
to employment equity at a time when resources were few and
managers and employees were increasingly being asked to be
accountable by focussing service on the client and coming up with
their own ways to promote a positive corporate culture.
In April 1994, Treasury Board approved the implementation of a
new program of special measures replacing previous special
measures programs. This new program advocated more innovation
and flexibility in increasing representation by members of the
designated groups and changing corporate culture within the public
Finally, in December 1994 the government introduced Bill C-64,
an act respecting employment equity. It brings private and public
sector employers, including the public service, under a single
legislated regime. Employers would be subject to identical
obligations to implement employment equity and a uniform
process. The Canadian Human Rights Commission would be
authorized to conduct compliance audits.
This is the reality. I have just described it. I hope my colleagues
opposite will stop using this expression and this program in an
attempt to claim they hold the key to the truth. I hope that, finally,
they will stop and look, open their eyes and their heart, and admit
that, without such programs, women, aboriginal peoples, members
of visible minorities and other inadequately represented groups
would not be given favourable treatment.
I could go on at length, but I feel I have nevertheless set out the
facts. If they keep an open mind, something all members should
have, these hon. members will approve and support a government
bill in the end.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is not
a pleasure to stand and address this bill. I know it is customary for
people to stand and tell the Speaker and the House that it is a real
pleasure to be here. However, I can say quite honestly that this is a
horrible piece of legislation. I cannot believe that members across
the way would stand in support of legislation that started under the
Conservative government. I guess we can see that they truly are
I listened with interest to the hon. member from Manitoba
describe with religious fervour how much he supports the
legislation. He listed statute after statute, suggesting that somehow
this was great legislation that would bring about equity and we
would all be drinking free beer and there would be food and
happiness across the land. Unfortunately, that is not the way it
The hon. member talked about the need to have all kinds of
legislation and the wonderful things the government has done with
respect to employment equity. Long before the government got
involved in the game, people from different countries came to
Canada and somehow over a period of time they got along and
worked together and eventually they all worked together in
I am certain my hon. friend from Manitoba could tell us stories
about the experiences of his family and growing up on the prairies.
My family came from the prairies. When the prairies were settled
75 to 100 years ago there were people who came from all around
the world. They all spoke different languages and had completely
different heritages. After a while, as they got to know each other,
which took some time, they started to work together and they
became not only co-workers but friends. Eventually, of course, it
finds its way up the system and it is now seen in government.
I would like to point out to my friends across the way that society
is almost always ahead of the government on these issues. I believe
it is truly the case, even in the situation we had where a few years
ago the government started legislating through employment equity
in those industries that fell under federal jurisdiction. I point to a
study that was done a few years ago of the broadcast industry,
where it was found that the CBC was actually far behind some of
the private sector broadcasters. I refer to CITY-TV in Toronto,
where it has always reflected that community in the make-up of the
people who went on the air. The CBC was way behind. Of course
everyone panicked, because the government was not following the
legislation. CITY-TV was well ahead on that issue.
I worked for the same company that CITY-TV actually belonged
to. We ran into all kinds of problems with the legislation because,
among other things, people had to self-identify. Other members
have spoken on that issue.
In the little radio station I ran there was someone who was
aboriginal but who refused to identify as an aboriginal. And hair on
him. I think that is great. People do not want to be seen as victims.
They say ``I can make it on my own''. In fact, they were already in
our employ, so obviously we did not discriminate.
People have the capability of doing these things on their own.
They do not need the government standing there at every step,
saying: ``You are a victim, so we are going to step in; we are going
to stand on everybody else's fingers just so we can make sure you
get into the workforce''.
I would argue that society is always way out ahead of
government on these issues. If people want to see rough equalities,
give it a few years. People will eventually realize it is in their best
interest to hire people on the basis of merit alone. In fact we see
that in many successful companies today.
I would argue that it is very hard for the government to
micro-manage people's businesses to the point where they can say
that it is in the best interests of a company to hire these people from
such and such a group. The reason I would make that argument is
because people who are coming from a visible minority of some
kind perhaps are coming from another country where they have not
yet had training in a particular area, and until they have been in the
country for a while they perhaps do not have all the necessary
skills. But that is a function of education; it is not a function of
legislation by the government. Let those people find the education
they need and eventually they will find their way into those
We do not need the government to stand there and crack the whip
and say that because 40 per cent of the population in your area is
made up of blue people you have to have blue people, even if those
blue people are not necessarily qualified. That is crazy. I think you
will find that most people would regard that as degrading. It is
absolutely degrading. I think people will rise on their own merits.
We do not need to have some kind of a quota system, such as is
being proposed here.
My friends across the way shake their heads and say no, it is not
a quota system. If you were told that you have to hire from these
particular groups to fulfil this legislation, then of course ultimately
it is a quota. The numbers may not be on there, but as my friend
from Lisgar-Marquette has pointed out, in 1992 the RCMP in
Alberta were hiring all of their people out of employment equity
legislation, which means that nobody else had a chance to apply.
The numbers may not be written down specifically in the
legislation, but if the scope of the legislation is such that it suggests
that these are all you have to choose from, then ultimately people
do not have a choice. They do not have the ability to hire the people
they want to hire based on merit. That is ridiculous. That is
I would argue that public debate is always the answer in these
things. Not very long ago, and I could not believe it, we had people
suggesting we should have a speech code in the House of Com-
mons, that we should have some little kangaroo court passing
judgment on whether or not what people say in here is appropriate.
Public discourse and public debate will always be the ultimate
arbiter when it comes to these things. For all the improvements we
have seen in the country in terms of being tolerant to other groups
and that kind of thing over the last 125 years, the credit does not
belong to this place. The credit belongs to intelligent men and
women over the course of history who have realized that the person
next door may not be the same as me, but they are my equal and
therefore I accept them. That is an education process. It is part of
the public discourse. It is part of the public debate. And in every
case I can think of where we have brought legislation in here,
including in 1929, when we finally decided that women would be
recognized as persons, I would guarantee you that the politicians
were behind the public.
Certainly in 1929 men and women who worked side by side on
the farm on the prairies respected each other. They recognized each
other as people. In this place it took us until 1929 to figure that out.
That is ridiculous. Again, I say we are way behind the times in this
place on this particular piece of legislation.
Let us talk about sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander.
Let us talk about the fact that the House of Commons, while it
suggests this is good legislation for federally regulated industries
and contractors who do business with the government, would never
bind itself by this legislation. I do not see my hon. friends across
the way advocating that they should be bound by the legislation and
should have to hire people from particular groups. I see them
shaking their heads and looking nervously about.
Here we go again. This is just like the MP pension debate. The
Canada pension plan for seniors has to be cut but MPs are different.
Somehow the legislation should apply to everybody else but us.
Now they are shaking their heads. However, they cannot for a
moment justify why this legislation does not apply to them. Look at
those guys over here. They are reduced to heckling because they
cannot justify their position. They cannot justify why this
legislation would not apply to themselves. That speaks volumes
about where they stand on this issue when it comes right down to
their offices. They think it is good in theory. They think it is good
for the general public in abstract but when it comes to their offices
there is just no way.
Actions speak louder than words. The government by not
applying this to the House of Commons has shown that it really is
not as committed as it claims to be. It believes it is good in theory
for others but not for itself.
I believe Canadians have shown that they will reject this.
Seventy-four per cent of the people across Canada, according to
Gallup, do not want this type of legislation. We saw it hammered
down in Ontario. It is time the government woke up and smelled
the coffee and decided that it is going to get in touch with the
Canadian agenda, not its own agenda and not the agenda of some
special interest group or some bureaucrat who is completely out of
touch with what people think. We would not have this crazy kind of
legislation in this place any more if it did.
Mr. Peter Thalheimer (Timmins-Chapleau, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I am appalled at the way hon. members of the Reform
Party are misrepresenting Bill C-64 to the Canadian public. They
are consistently using terms that do not apply to this legislation
either in fact or in spirit.
In its minority report, the Reform Party makes it look like
employment equity and affirmation action are one and the same
thing. However, any astute Canadian reading Bill C-64 or the
current Employment Equity Act can see quite clearly that
employment equity is not affirmative action.
I suppose it is fitting, in keeping with its small r republican
status, that the Reform Party tries to equate everything with the
way things are done in the United States of America. However,
employment equity is a fair and just Canadian manner of
addressing the inequality of opportunity experienced by persons
with disabilities, aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and women.
Of course we know why the hon. members of the Reform Party
use the term affirmative action. For the Reform Party, affirmative
action is a code word for preferential treatment and in Reformers'
convoluted attempts to obfuscate and derail this legislation they
think they can pull the wool over the eyes of Canadians by taking
Canadians are a lot smarter than the members of the Reform
Party realize. They will not be bamboozled by smokescreen
language that fails to address the true spirit of Bill C-64.
Reform has a section titled ``Are Numerical Goals Really
Quotas?'' in its minority report. I am delighted to be able to tell the
hon. members opposite that the answer is no. Numerical goals are
I would like to take a moment to tell members of the Reform
Party what the difference is between quotas and goals since it is
clear from their arguments that they do not seem to know. I want to
say at the outset that Bill C-64 specifically states that quotas cannot
be imposed. Under the bill a quota is defined as a requirement to
hire or promote a fixed and arbitrary number of persons during a
given period. I refer them to section 33.
Most Canadians understand the difference between numerical
goals and quotas, even if the Reform Party does not understand.
Goals are based on the availability of qualified people to do a given
job. Quotas are arbitrarily determined.
The bill clearly states that employers will not be required to hire
unqualified people. Goals are percentages of anticipated hirings
and promotions that an employer aims to achieve but quotas are
usually fixed numbers of positions.
The bill specifically states that employers will not be required to
set fixed and arbitrary goals. Employers must make reasonable
efforts to achieve goals. Quotas must be attained regardless of the
circumstances. The bill clearly states that if employers make
reasonable efforts to implement their goals they will be found in
This is the Canadian way. The government's approach to
implementing employment equity can be described as flow based.
We are asking well-intentioned men and women to work in
collaboration with one another to achieve employment equity goals
within a reasonable time frame. That time frame is flexible
depending on individual circumstances. We know everyone is not
able to move ahead at the same pace and the commission will take
that into consideration.
We have a process for those few employers who do not comply
with the legislation. We know from experience that the majority of
employers bring a very positive attitude toward achieving the goals
set out in Bill C-64 and the Employment Equity Act.
Why is the Reform Party misrepresenting the legislation and
misleading Canadians regarding its intent? Canadians support
equality in the workplace for members of designated groups.
I can assure hon. members opposite that they will not score
political points by misconstruing the spirit of the legislation. The
goal of Bill C-64 is not to place undue hardship on any employer
who is making an honest effort to meet the spirit of the new act. I
repeat again, because it seems members of the Reform are having
as hard time grasping this, we are only asking for and we only
expect that employers make all reasonable effort to comply with
the act's provisions.
I ask the hon. members of the Reform Party to consider their
bogus argument about the necessity of meeting quotas. The bill
specifically rules out quotas. It is that simple.
We know from recent studies that the majority of people entering
the labour force will come from members of designated groups.
That is simply one more reason that employment equity makes
good economic sense. It will help employers focus on accessing the
skills of those productive and hard working individuals.
This legislation is a positive step for Canadians. It will help us
gain a diverse and highly skilled workforce that will ensure Canada
a competitive edge in the rapidly expanding global marketplace.
For that reason I am pleased to be able to support Bill C-64.
Mr. Vic Althouse (Mackenzie, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise to
speak to this bill on employment equity, a concept with which I
have no problem. We still need in our society, however enlightened
it might tend to be, some recognition that not all aspects of our
society are as accepting of visible minorities, aboriginals, females,
people with handicaps in the workplace or in our society as is
generally perceived to be most appropriate.
I have no objection in society attempting to use the law as is
being proposed in the equity bill to force this sort of compliance to
avoid discrimination for any of the reasons this proposal lists.
I am therefore basically in support of the idea of employment
equity and the requirement that employers give equal opportunity
for all people regardless of the circumstances of their birth or what
life may have imposed on them by way of disability after birth.
However, the bill has not done a good job of looking at the global
economy of the new world order we are now living in, which has
presented a much different form of employment than what this bill
and what most of the legislation that governments have put
together deal with. These kinds of bills and laws function on an
employer-employee relationship. They are virtually toothless when
it comes to a new world where more and more people are
self-employed, where contracting, subcontracting and
subcontracting the subcontracting goes on, so there are three, four
and five levels of contract.
As a consequence of that new practice it is virtually impossible
to supply the kind of protection this bill proposes to do. If members
do not believe me they should walk outside of the doors of this
House. There is a program going on, the Peace Tower project, in
which we have seen the most blatant treatment of an employee
because she was female. The House, on whose territory this
injustice took place, appears to be unable or unwilling to do
anything about it. It is under the aegis of the Speaker but he seems
unable to do anything. The job was contracted by the minister of
public works who cannot find 10 minutes of time to even discuss it
with me and whose officials actually aided the ejection of this
woman and her fellow workers from the site. They had to leave
their tools which they cannot recover.
The several times they have attempted to recover the tools
employees of Public Works and Government Services Canada have
told them that they are disrupting the building site and that they
cannot have their tools because the current contractor is using them
to complete the job. The contractor forced them to leave the job site
because they insisted on using a female engineer.
If we are going to be believable in this Chamber in trying to
deal with questions of inequality in the workplace we are going
to have to recognize that very often in this new world order the
workplace is run by people who have subcontracted and
subcontracted those contracts to the point that it is impossible to
hold the employer who makes those kinds of decisions, however
arbitrary, unfair and normally illegal, responsible. We cannot do
anything about it.
As a consequence, the subcontractor has forced the building
trades people, the masons who were working on the Peace Tower,
off the job because they persisted in using a female engineer. He
had no objection to her work. He was only objecting because she
was female. He made that quite clear. He forced them off the job.
They left their tools and they cannot recover them. They can go to
court. They have due process. I have talked to members on the
government side who have said: ``Use due process, that is what you
have to do''.
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, you are aware that due process in
this case is almost useless because her employer, the mason that
hired her to be the engineer for his part of the project, is not the
person who is forcing her off the site but the subcontractor above
him. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has some trouble
dealing with this.
Others have advised me. Others of the legal profession from the
government side have said: ``Look to the federal human rights
commissioner. He is obviously the one who has to do this because
it is on a federal site and it is for the federal houses of Parliament
for Pete's sake''. Again the person that has pushed her off the site is
not her employer and there seems to be nothing that the human
rights commissioner can do in the case of this injustice.
I raised this briefly at second reading and I remind members on
all sides that if this kind of injustice is to be permitted on our own
grounds literally and figuratively and we can do nothing about it,
what is the point of replicating the same type of legislation using
the same requirements only on employers versus employees
without taking into account the contractors and the subcontractors
and all the other permutations that occur in business?
What are we really accomplishing? We are accomplishing very
little except perhaps to make the whole process and the whole
political group of us in the House look rather silly.
I keep preaching from my far corner. Very few people are in the
House when I do my little rant on these things, but I hope the new
ears hearing this each time take this to the rest of their colleagues
and see if there is some way we can force compliance if not across
the country at least on the acres of yard in front of the House.
This is a great injustice and makes the whole process of
attempting to get employment equity to permit females equal
access to jobs as engineers or scientists or doctors or lawyers. It
makes the whole process of the last 15 or 20 years look absolutely
This woman is apparently considering going back to washing
dishes because that is the only employment she can find at the
moment. She had a job as an engineer. The subcontractor hiring her
firm to work on the Peace Tower forced it off the job because it
persisted in employing a woman engineer.
For his efforts that subcontractor was rewarded with a further
subcontract to work on the whole House of Commons instead of
just the Peace Tower after he engaged in this process.
I cannot let any debate or any discussion of an equity
employment bill go by without reminding members of the House,
and I hope some of the frontbenchers will take this to heart, that we
have allowed a grave injustice just outside our doors. If any of the
laws we pass in this place are to be taken seriously by people
outside of Ottawa, we should be able to enforce what we have
already made law numerous years ago when work gets done on our
buildings on the confines of Parliament Hill.
Until that happens I am afraid I will look sceptically at this new
effort at achieving employment equity.
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, listening to the
last presentation, it proves the point that so much of this comes
down to enforcement of what we already have.
We have laws to protect against discrimination and obviously if
those laws are implemented we need not to go any further or
introduce any kind of new laws.
I have not heard very much talk about what the business
community is saying. Coming from that area I have to put some
emphasis on what it is saying about the job equity program.
I am a little annoyed that we should be dealing with this bill in
the House which will basically institutionalize discrimination in
the workplace. This is exactly what I feel Bill C-64 does, and the
Liberal government should be ashamed of promoting this sort of
We have heard from many reform speakers now. It is absolutely
clear why we oppose this bill. We are not racist. We are not sexist
and those gurus of political correctness who try to pin that label on
the opponents of affirmative action should be publicly condemned
for their behaviour.
Reformers know that the huge majority of Canadians are utterly
opposed to setting up discriminatory quotas for the hiring and
promotion of target groups such as visible minorities. Such
discrimination is wrong, no matter what disguise we put on it or
what name we put on it. Calling it employment equity and calling
quotas numerical targets does not change a thing. Everyone in the
House should know that.
For those who argue the wrongs of the past have to be corrected
through measures such as these, two wrongs do not make a right.
There was discrimination in the past and not everyone got a fair
shake in life. That is terrible but we have come a long way and we
are moving very quickly to right those wrongs. We have come a
long way and now the UN even goes so far as to say we are the best
country. I agree with that.
The kind of big government, social engineering contained in the
bill is utterly unconscionable. Canadians want less government
interference in their lives, not more. This is especially true in the
case of affirmative action. The role of government is to provide
equality before the law and to prohibit discrimination. However,
Bill C-64 does exactly the opposite.
Bill C-64 enshrines inequality before the law. It encourages
reverse discrimination. Perhaps worst of all, it propagates a victim
mentality among our citizens. Minorities and women should think
of themselves as equal partners in building the future of Canada.
They should be encouraged to compete, to succeed and to provide
for their families.
Bill C-64 is absolutely terrible because it sends the wrong
messages. It tells our women and visible minorities they are
victims, that they are oppressed and that without special legislation
they will be incapable of succeeding in our society. This message is
not only false but is extremely counter productive and does nothing
to build Canada for the 21st Century.
Bill C-64 will create a tremendous number of problems for the
country. They will go on and on and become greater and greater,
much as the Americans have found since the introduction of their
legislation in the sixties. Now they are having to remove it. There
will be social costs and there will be economic costs among many
other problems associated with this kind of legislation.
As far as the social costs of affirmative action, there are many.
To begin with, the bill promotes an unusual them versus us kind of
confrontation in the workplace. This confrontation takes place on
two levels. There is a confrontation between workers who have
already been hired and there is a confrontation between job
For job candidates the situation under affirmative action is very
clear. If they are not a member of one of the target groups they are
penalized. If they are they are entitled to special preference. Not
only does this mean the all important merit principle is being
overridden, but such discriminatory treatment will foster
resentment among the majority against candidates who receive the
special treatment. As the resentment builds it could very easily
lead to an ugly backlash against people from visible minorities
when they are not really the problem at all.
The problem is bad legislation. The problem is the government's
ill conceived social engineering which will have very serious side
The first major social problem is that merit is not the sole reason
for hiring under Bill C-64. Once the country slides down that
slippery slope there is no telling where we will end up.
Among those who are already working there are other serious
problems associated with employment equity. The two most
significant problems involve promotions and layoffs. In both these
cases giving preference to certain employees over others can have
devastating consequences not only for the efficiency of the
business but for workplace harmony.
Imagine a company with 100 employees struggling to make ends
meet. Under these circumstances it is essential that everyone work
as a team. The very future of the company depends on it. Let us
assume ten people have to be laid off. Under market conditions the
business would get rid of the ten people who are the most
expendable. Under affirmative action, however, what would the
company do? If certain employees were seen as exempt from these
layoffs, how would this affect workplace team work and
camaraderie? The answer is obvious and everyone in the House
The exact same situation would occur in the case of promotions.
If employees feel their very livelihood and careers are being
hindered by affirmative action they will strike back, and this is
exactly what we do not want. The workplace should be an
opportunity to succeed through skill and hard work. It should not
be a place where Canadian citizens are penalized or rewarded for
their skin colour or their sex.
Beyond the very obvious social costs, there are also economic
costs to this legislation. If we use the Ontario employment equity
law as an example, the Chamber of Commerce estimated that a
company with more than 500 employees would have to spend
$100,000 just to comply with the paperwork. This figure does not
even begin to factor in the intangibles caused by hiring, firing and
promoting workers on the basis of race, sex or disability.
In the U.S., California particularly, the total cost of affirmative
action has been estimated as high as 4 per cent of GDP. That is
exactly the same as what is spent on all the education programs in
that state. Even if this is double the actual number it still translates
into billions of dollars lost. In a time of global competition we must
become efficient. We must not tie the hands of our businesses
behind their backs.
The U.S. is now abandoning this system of affirmative action
because it did not work. It was one of those social experiments of
the 1960s. In Ontario the Harris government has decided to scrap
the lousy affirmative action law of the previous NDP government.
Why? It was too costly and because it would not work. The Ontario
Liberal Party agrees completely and would also throw out this
program had it been elected.
I wonder why its federal counterparts are so utterly out of touch
with the wishes of the Canadian public. Maybe they know what
Canadians want but they simply do not care. Is it possible there is
so much arrogance on the government side of the House that it
thinks it knows better than the Canadian public? Will those
paragons of political correctness in the Liberal benches rise up to
save the country from its own folly?
There are many flaws in this bill, many things we could explore.
Unfortunately my time is soon up. It is late in the day. I ask
everyone to think about Bill C-64 and the institutionalizing
discrimination it causes. I ask everyone in the House to consider
before they vote on this and think about the consequences for this
Mr. McClelland: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. With
unanimous consent may we ask the House to consider it 6.51 p.m.?
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will
please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: At the request of the deputy whip the vote
is deferred until five o'clock tomorrow afternoon. Is there now
unanimous consent to call it 6.51?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed
to have been moved.
Mr. Len Taylor (The Battlefords-Meadow Lake, NDP):
Speaker, on June 11, 1992 the Canadian government signed the
United Nations convention on biological diversity in which it made
a commitment that this country would pass legislation to protect
More than three years later, eight of the twelve provinces and
territories still have neither federal nor provincial legislation.
There is no time to waste. Canada currently has 244 known
endangered species. The number of species at risk has tripled in the
past 10 years and the list continues to grow.
On August 17 of this year the Minister of the Environment took
the first step toward meeting Canada's obligation when she
announced the legislative proposal for a Canadian endangered
species protection act. Unfortunately the minister's proposal fails
to live up to either the letter or the spirit of Canada's international
commitment to protect endangered species. The proposal only
applies to species that live in national parks or on other specified
federal lands. It covers only 4 per cent of Canada's total land base
and eliminates the north entirely.
On September 28 of this year in the House I asked the minister if
she would ensure effective protection of endangered species by
strengthening the proposed new act. The minister admitted that the
legislation did not cover as many species as the government would
like and blamed it on the fact that provincial governments had
jurisdiction in certain areas. Canadians concerned about the
survival of these species cannot accept this excuse for ineffective
legislation. A species threatened with extinction is of national
The federal government has more authority than the minister is
willing to admit. Effective protection of endangered species
requires federal leadership when the provinces refuse to act. For
example, the provisions of the minister's proposal only apply to
species found in Canada's oceans and not to freshwater fisheries,
even though the Fisheries Act indicates that freshwater species are
clearly within the federal government's jurisdiction.
The proposed act could also be applied to all migratory species
and not just those that happen to wander on to federal land. A few
lucky species will have ``response statements'' prepared about
them but no time limits apply and the government will prepare
recovery plans for affected species only if it feels like it.
Truly effective legislation would require recovery plans for all
endangered and threatened species and would prohibit the killing
or harming of them. Habitat loss is the number one cause of species
decline in Canada and is the main threat for approximately 80 per
cent of Canada's endangered species. To effectively protect
endangered species the legislation must protect the habitat they
need to survive.
The government has completely ignored the recommendation of
the federal endangered species task force to prohibit any activities
that would destroy the critical habitat of an endangered species.
Realizing how important it is to identify and resolve potential
conflicts before development begins, the task force also
recommended that the legislation require advance review and
approval for any proposed activity which could affect an
endangered species or its habitat. This recommendation was not
followed even though experience in the United States shows that
advance review resolves almost all potential conflict between
development and endangered species.
I should mention on a related topic that today is the day the
endangered spaces campaign is releasing its second book, an
interim report or owner's manual. It is most important we
remember how integrally spaces and species are tied together. I
urge every member of Parliament to read the interim report and
support its recommendations.
The government says it is committed to protecting-
The Deputy Speaker: Unfortunately the member's time has
Mr. Lyle Vanclief (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the federal
government is strongly committed to ensuring effective protection
of Canada's endangered species, which is part of our rich biological
Although certain aspects of the proposed legislation directly
affect only a little more than 5 per cent of Canada's land base, it
would also apply to federally managed species everywhere and
federally managed marine areas.
The proposed legislation would establish a national listing
process that would give legal recognition to all species in Canada at
some risk of extinction regardless of where they occur. It is
intended to form the federal component of a comprehensive
national safety net for the country's most vulnerable species, a
safety net in which the federal government does its part in
co-operation with the provinces and the territories to ensure that
species like the polar bear will continue to grace not only our coins
but also our vast northern landscape.
With the co-operation of federal, provincial and territorial
governments the proposed legislation would provide a strong
national approach for the conservation of endangered species. This
action will not intrude in provincial responsibilities. The federal
government recognizes the common but differentiated
responsibilities of the federal, provincial and territorial
governments with respect to endangered species.
The proposed legislation is intended to complement, not
contradict, provincial and territorial actions. The federal
government is prepared to do its part and encourages the provincial
and territorial governments to do theirs to ensure a truly national
approach for endangered species conservation. We are confident of
Canadians have a moral responsibility to ensure that future
generations enjoy and benefit from the presence of diverse wildlife
species. The federal, provincial and territorial governments must
provide the required leadership and legislative tools.
Mr. Vic Althouse (Mackenzie, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, on October
3, I rose to put a question to the minister of agriculture asking him
to justify the apparent changes in policy direction that have
occurred with regard to the $1.6 billion ex gratia payment to offset
the decline in farmland prices that would result from cutting the
Crow benefit. It was contained in the budget. It appeared that the
$1.6 billion would go to land owners free of current capital gain
tax. It would simply accrue to the land and therefore would not be
taxable in the year received.
Since that time a number of changes occurred. Some of them
were hinted at in the budget speech but others were simply outright
decisions that were made, notably changes to permit people who
were renting the land to apply for some of the payment. However
there was no similar treatment for those people in terms of a share
they might negotiate from the land holder. Any share they might
negotiate from the owner of the land would be taxable as income in
the year received.
They could not apply it to any land or property they might own
now and were therefore treated differently. Because about 40 per
cent of land in most provinces is rented it seems to some observers
like a rather clever and devious way for the government to collect
income tax on money it had announced was to be paid out on a
non-taxable basis. That is one complaint that I raised.
The other was that there seemed to be a very ill defined standard
for what lands would be eligible. It looked as if all farmland,
presumably land that was cultivated at one time or now and used
for crops, would under the government's estimation lose value.
Therefore this payment was presumably to go to those lands. Yet as
the nature of the program became clearer land seeded to permanent
crops, forage, alfalfa and so on, were not eligible simply by
definition somewhere throughout the system.
Yet crops that were to be used for forage, such as barley or oats
for cattle feed or livestock feed either as silage or as grain, are
eligible. Even stranger, summer fallow which grows absolutely
nothing was eligible on the same basis as land that was growing
crops. This seemed to run contrary to everything the Department
of Agriculture had been attempting to convey to farmers over the
previous 10 or 15 years, namely to get into a diversity of crops,
to plant crops that would hold the soil in place and keep down
wind erosion. They were encouraging continuous cropping to keep
stubble. I would submit that forage crops are also a form of
continuous cropping. They hold the stubble and the ground. They
are part of the diversification program, not only for use within the
country but also for export.
The government and perhaps some of the farm organizations that
were negotiating with the government left those farmers off the list.
I wanted to raise that in question period and again this evening in
the adjournment debate.
Mr. Lyle Vanclief (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the federal budget
of last February did contain certain proposals on the payment to
compensate for the ending of the Western Grain Transportation
At the time of the budget, the government made very clear its
intentions to consult extensively with farm leaders on these
proposals so that the program would be as fair and as workable as
In the budget we proposed that land which would be eligible for
the $1.6 billion ex gratia payment was that land producing WGTA
eligible crops and summer fallow. These provide reasonable
approximation of the land base which benefit from the WGTA
subsidy. This proposal was taken to farm leaders for discussion.
Through these consultations, farm leaders accepted the
government's proposal on eligible acres and agreed that forage not
be included. Adding forage crops to the payment base would have
significantly diluted the payment.
In the case of who should receive the payment, again we took the
government's proposal to pay landlords to farm leaders for
discussion. Through consultations farm leaders told us they agreed
with the proposal but felt those who rent farmland should also be
somehow recognized in the program.
Based on this advice, the application procedures have been
designed to ensure that owners and renters reach an agreement on
how part of the benefit may be passed on to renters. It is expected
that in many instances this will occur through lower farmland
Through extensive meetings with farm leaders, the government
was able to reach acceptance of the proposals on eligible acres. It
was able to address the concerns of farm groups by adding a
provision for renters in the application procedures for the program.
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 38, the
motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted.
Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10
a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24.
(The House adjourned at 6.57 p.m.)