Section Home
Print format
 
Publications - May 6, 1998 (Previous - Next)
 

36th Parliament, 1st Session


EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 100

CONTENTS

Wednesday, May 6, 1998

. 1400

VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
VNATIONAL FORESTRY WEEK
VMr. John Finlay
VHEPATITIS C
VMr. Werner Schmidt
VVICTOR KOBY
VMr. Paul DeVillers
VCATHOLIC WOMEN'S LEAGUE
VMr. Stan Dromisky
VGUELPH STORM HOCKEY TEAM
VMrs. Brenda Chamberlain

. 1405

VONTARIO BUDGET
VMr. Jason Kenney
VALBERTA FOREST FIRES
VMr. Reg Alcock
VCANADIAN FORCES RESERVES
VMr. John Richardson
VALBERTA FOREST FIRES
VMr. David Chatters
VMULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
VMrs. Christiane Gagnon

. 1410

VST. CATHARINES COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE AND VOCATIONAL SCHOOL
VMr. Walt Lastewka
VCANADA POST
VMs. Bev Desjarlais
VQUEBEC ECONOMY
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VOFFICIAL LANGUAGES
VMr. Rick Borotsik
VNATIONAL FORESTRY WEEK
VMr. Réginald Bélair

. 1415

VORAL QUESTION PERIOD
VHEPATITIS C
VMr. Preston Manning
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Preston Manning
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Preston Manning
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Grant Hill
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1420

VMr. Randy White
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1425

VMr. Michel Gauthier
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Michel Gauthier
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMrs. Pauline Picard
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMrs. Pauline Picard
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VBANKING
VMs. Alexa McDonough

. 1430

VHon. Paul Martin
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VHon. Paul Martin
VHEPATITIS C
VMrs. Elsie Wayne
VHon. Allan Rock
VMrs. Elsie Wayne
VHon. Allan Rock
VMiss Deborah Grey
VHon. Allan Rock

. 1435

VMiss Deborah Grey
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VSPORTS AND CULTURAL EVENTS
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Sheila Copps
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Sheila Copps
VALBERTA FIRES
VMr. David Chatters
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. David Chatters
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1440

VATLANTIC GROUNDFISH STRATEGY
VMs. Hélène Alarie
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VMs. Hélène Alarie
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VTAXATION
VMr. Monte Solberg
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Monte Solberg
VHon. Paul Martin

. 1445

VHEPATITIS C
VMr. Michel Gauthier
VHon. Allan Rock
VFRESH WATER EXPORT
VHon. Charles Caccia
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VCALGARY DECLARATION
VMr. Rahim Jaffer
VHon. Stéphane Dion
VMr. Rahim Jaffer

. 1450

VHon. Stéphane Dion
VHEPATITIS C
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
VHon. Allan Rock
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Jean Dubé
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VMr. Jean Dubé

. 1455

VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VHUMAN RIGHTS
VMs. Raymonde Folco
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VTRANSPORT
VMr. Lee Morrison
VHon. David M. Collenette
VHEPATITIS C
VMr. Michel Gauthier
VHon. Allan Rock
VEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
VMr. Yvon Godin

. 1500

VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VPRESENCE IN GALLERY
VThe Speaker
VPOINTS OF ORDER
VOral Questions
VMr. Greg Thompson

. 1505

VHouse of Commons
VMrs. Elsie Wayne
VTHE LATE MARCEL DIONNE
VMr. Denis Coderre

. 1510

VMr. Rahim Jaffer
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VMs. Angela Vautour

. 1515

VMr. André Harvey
VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
VGOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
VMr. Peter Adams

. 1520

VBROADCASTING ACT
VBill C-398. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Ted White
VELECTIONS ACT
VBill C-399. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Ted White
VTOBACCO ACT
VBill C-400. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Sarkis Assadourian
VHOLIDAYS ACT
VBill C-401. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Alex Shepherd

. 1525

VPETITIONS
VPublic Nudity
VMs. Aileen Carroll
VTaxation
VMr. Paul Szabo
VFerry Services
VMr. Gerry Byrne
VQUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
VMr. Peter Adams
VMOTIONS FOR PAPERS
VMr. Peter Adams
VMr. John Duncan
VTransferred for debate
VMr. Ken Epp
VTransferred for debate
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VTransferred for debate
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS

. 1530

VCANADA LANDS SURVEYORS ACT
VBill C-31. Second reading
VHon. David Anderson
VMr. Gerry Byrne

. 1535

. 1540

VMr. David Chatters

. 1545

. 1550

VMr. Peter Adams

. 1555

VMotion
VMr. Yvon Godin

. 1600

VMr. Jean Dubé

. 1605

VMr. David Chatters
VMr. Gurmant Grewal
VMr. Derrek Konrad

. 1610

VMr. Derrek Konrad

. 1615

. 1620

. 1625

. 1630

VMotion for concurrence
VHon. Lucienne Robillard
VThird reading
VHon. Lucienne Robillard

. 1635

VMr. David Chatters
VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
VHOLIDAYS ACT
VBill C-369. Second reading
VMr. Bryon Wilfert

. 1640

. 1645

VMr. Jim Abbott

. 1650

. 1655

VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay

. 1700

. 1705

VMs. Wendy Lill

. 1710

VMr. Mark Muise

. 1715

VMs. Aileen Carroll

. 1720

VMrs. Karen Redman

. 1725

VMr. John McKay

. 1730

VMr. Jacques Saada
VMr. Bryon Wilfert

. 1735

VADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS
VSeniors Benefits
VMr. Jean Dubé

. 1740

VMr. Gerry Byrne
VHepatitis C
VMr. Greg Thompson

. 1745

VMr. Gerry Byrne
VShipbuilding
VMr. Antoine Dubé

. 1750

VMr. Walt Lastewka

. 1755

VReforestation
VMs. Louise Hardy
VMr. George Proud

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 100


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Wednesday, May 6, 1998

The House met at 2 p.m.



Prayers


 

. 1400 +

The Speaker: As is our practice on Wednesdays, we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Halton.

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



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[English]

NATIONAL FORESTRY WEEK

Mr. John Finlay (Oxford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this week Canadians are celebrating National Forestry Week.

For over 70 years National Forestry Week has reminded us that our forests are vital to Canada's economy and way of life. We should all take the time over the next few days to learn more about the important role played by forests in our economy and in our environment.

It is our responsibility to ensure that our forests are managed responsibly so that future generations can enjoy the many benefits our forests provide.

At this time I would like to salute all those who work to protect our forests, including those in Oxford County who work in conservation and forestry. Special mention should be made of those who maintain the Leslie M. Dixon Memorial Arboretum, the Brick Ponds Wetlands complex and the Oxford County forest.

*  *  *

HEPATITIS C

Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, more Liberal arrogance. The Prime Minister is rewarding his backbenchers for toeing the line on voting against hepatitis C victims last week. He is taking more than a dozen Liberal backbenchers with him on a trip to Italy.

I like Italy too. But a holiday is a holiday. He is paying them for denying their integrity. Tens of thousands of dollars are being spent to take Liberal backbenchers to sunny Italy, while hepatitis C victims and their families are suffering.

Ciao babies. Enjoy your Roman holiday. But arrivederci come the next election.

*  *  *

VICTOR KOBY

Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to pay tribute Victor Koby, a constituent of my riding of Simcoe North, for his work as a volunteer with the Canadian Executive Services Organization. CESO is a non-profit, volunteer based organization which transfers Canadian expertise to businesses, communities and organizations in Canada and abroad.

As a volunteer with CESO International Services, Mr. Koby provided business consultation advice to a Polish company involved in the manufacture of water heating systems.

Mr. Koby assisted the company to develop a business plan encompassing marketing and professional development. He also organized a three-day management conference to involve senior employees in the planning and decision making process.

On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to congratulate Mr. Koby for his outstanding and selfless efforts to assist a company in coping with the new economic realities of the Polish economy.

*  *  *

CATHOLIC WOMEN'S LEAGUE

Mr. Stan Dromisky (Thunder Bay—Atikokan, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, recently the Catholic Women's League in my riding of Thunder Bay—Atikokan kicked-off a campaign entitled “Raise Values Above Violence”.

After much study of the issue of violence and its impact on society, the Catholic Women's League decided that positive and energetic actions were necessary in order to raise awareness regarding the importance of dealing with violence.

The ultimate goal of the Catholic Women's League is to achieve through kindness and caring for others, values that are shared by Canadians and are also reflected in this government's foreign policy.

I call upon all members to join in the efforts of the Catholic Women's League to spread love, tolerance, kindness, compassion and patience—all virtues leading to understanding.

*  *  *

GUELPH STORM HOCKEY TEAM

Mrs. Brenda Chamberlain (Guelph—Wellington, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my time working in Ottawa has taught me all about winter storms, but today it is my pleasure and privilege to stand on behalf of all the residents of Guelph—Wellington and offer congratulations to our own storm, the Guelph Storm hockey team.

The Storm recently defeated the Ottawa 67's, winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup. They will now be representing all of the Ontario Junior Hockey League at the Memorial Cup in Spokane.

Their hard work and dedication both on an off the ice have made all the residents of Guelph—Wellington extremely proud. The Storm serves as an example that great things can be accomplished when you work together as a team. This is the second time in three years that the Storm has made it to the Memorial Cup, but this time to win.

 

. 1405 + -

I know I speak for all of my constituents when I say “Go Storm!”

*  *  *

ONTARIO BUDGET

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Mike Harris government is creating growth, opportunity and more and better jobs through tax relief. Having already reduced income taxes by 30%, yesterday's budget delivered a plan for 36 new tax cuts for families and businesses.

The Harris tax cuts are proof that it is possible to reduce the size of government while spending more on key priority programs such as education and health care.

Bravo, Ontario. By letting families and businesses keep more of their hard earned income, consumer spending is higher, confidence is up and economic growth is racing ahead of the national average. What a contrast to the tax and spend status quo at the federal level.

The Liberal government's $10 billion CPP tax hike, combined with huge personal income and capital gains taxes is undermining the economy, stifling the entrepreneurial spirit and hurting families.

But Ontario should take heart. Its efforts are not falling on deaf ears here in Ottawa. The official opposition is fighting for real tax relief at the federal level and we are going to give Canadians a chance at the next election to vote for Ontario style hope, growth and opportunity.

*  *  *

ALBERTA FOREST FIRES

Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as forest fires continue to rage in the Lesser Slave Lake region of Alberta we should take the time to remember the people of Swan Hills whose homes and livelihoods are threatened.

A little more than one year ago the rising waters of the Red River threatened both persons and property in my province. The people of Winnipeg South, in other words, know from experience the kind of havoc that nature can wreak. It is for this reason that I would like to say to the people of Swan Lake that they have our sympathy and support.

I am sure that the resilience and fortitude of the citizens of Swan Lake will see them through this crisis, but they should know that in their hour of need all Canadians, including those in this Chamber, are behind them.

*  *  *

CANADIAN FORCES RESERVES

Mr. John Richardson (Perth—Middlesex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute dedicated Canadians who serve with the Canadian Forces Reserves.

Reservists are the lifeblood of such illustrious units as the Rocky Mountain Rangers in Kamloops, the Fort Garry Horse in Winnipeg, the Queen's Own Rifles in Toronto, HMCS Montcalm in Quebec and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

Reservists have served on peacekeeping missions around the world and were instrumental in the disaster relief operations in Manitoba and during the ice storm.

Cadet instructors work year-round with young people and the rangers provide an essential military presence in the Canadian north and in isolated communities.

Today reservists can wear their uniforms to work to display the pride they have in serving their country and to allow their employers a chance to show their support for reservist employees.

On behalf of all members of parliament, I want to thank all reservists who don their uniform and serve Canada with dedication and pride.

*  *  *

ALBERTA FOREST FIRES

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, for the past few days fires have raged out of control through northern Alberta.

I would like to express gratitude to all those who are working day and night, putting their lives on the line to try to save homes, farms and businesses.

Our hearts go out to the many residents who, for the third year in a row, have had to deal with devastating natural disaster.

The residents of Smith, Hondo, Swan Hills and High Prairie have had to leave their homes not knowing if they will have homes to return to.

Our most heartfelt sympathy goes out to those who have lost their homes, businesses or places of employment.

At times like these, in the Canadian spirit, we must be ready to help in any way we can.

*  *  *

[Translation]

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ): Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, and the 22nd for its carnation campaign, which will be held on May 7, 8 and 9.

To the association, the carnation is a symbol of determination, and this campaign reflects the unending battle against this degenerative neurological disease which most often strikes young adults.

Allow me to quote from an upsetting testimonial by Alain Ouellet, who writes:

    I had just started up in business—I had to give it all up. Today I live in a tiny apartment in Sainte-Foy, the poorest part of the city.

There is hope, however, for Alain Ouellet and all the others whose quality of life has been affected. Research has cast more light on the disease, but there is much still to be done.

So let us give generously to the carnation campaign in order to overcome this terrible disease.

*  *  *

 

. 1410 + -

[English]

ST. CATHARINES COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE AND VOCATIONAL SCHOOL

Mr. Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand in the House of Commons today to congratulate the St. Catharines Collegiate Institute and Vocational School on its 75th anniversary.

To celebrate this historic occasion the collegiate is hosting a reunion for the many thousands of students and teachers who are alumni of the school.

When the collegiate first opened its doors in 1923 it was the only secondary school in St. Catharines. Over the next 30 years everyone who attended high school in the city went to this school. More than 20,000 students have walked the halls of the collegiate and grown up in the classrooms of this historic place of learning.

On the weekend of May 15 to 17 several thousand of these alumni are expected to return to the collegiate to celebrate its anniversary at a huge three-day reunion.

This is a very important event for the school and indeed for the entire community. It is an opportunity to celebrate our youth, our past and our present, to celebrate the teachers whose work has inspired and guided our young people and to gather together to commemorate 75 years of education in St. Catharines.

I congratulate the St. Catharines Collegiate Institute and Vocational School and send best wishes on this special 75th anniversary.

*  *  *

CANADA POST

Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have a legitimate concern that the arbitration process set up to settle their contract dispute with Canada Post has been irredeemably damaged by the arbitrator himself. Remarks made by the arbitrator suggest that in advance of hearing the union's position he has already made up his mind on certain issues and leans heavily in favour of the corporation's position.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has asked the federal court to remove the arbitrator in view of its “reasonable apprehension of bias”. From the beginning of this contract dispute there have been serious concerns that bargaining in good faith had been compromised by a government holding the threat of back to work legislation over the heads of the union.

Given the fact that the recent remarks of the arbitrator, Justice Guy Richard, have totally undermined the credibility of the arbitration process, the NDP today urges the Minister of Labour to disqualify the arbitrator, give Canada Post a mandate to negotiate and allow the parties to get back to the table to negotiate a fair settlement through free collective bargaining.

*  *  *

[Translation]

QUEBEC ECONOMY

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we were pleased and proud to learn that Quebec now has the second highest number of ISO 9000 registrations among the ten most industrialized American states, the four most industrialized Canadian provinces, and Mexico.

This survey by the American company McGraw-Hill confirms that Quebec businesses have been resolute in meeting the challenge of quality and innovation, with the increasing originality of their goods and services and with their management methods which allow much scope for worker input.

I invite the people of Quebec to continue their quest for new ways of improving performance and developing criteria of excellence.

As the new millennium approaches, Quebec's economy is placing it in a highly competitive position on the international level.

*  *  *

[English]

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC): Mr. Speaker, I rise today with great pride as Canada's official languages commissioner, Dr. Victor Goldbloom, presented a merit award to the host society for the Brandon 1997 Canada Summer Games in a ceremony this morning in Winnipeg. The commissioner presented the award for Brandon's excellent achievement in providing service in both official languages during the games.

[Translation]

English and French were both well represented at the Summer Games, starting with brochures and pamphlets and including interviews with participants.

[English]

Translation of the results was also completed in a quick and efficient manner in order to provide all who attended with the best possible services in both official languages.

I conclude by voicing my appreciation to more than 400 bilingual volunteers who made this possible and who are sharing in the pride of receiving this national award today.

*  *  *

NATIONAL FORESTRY WEEK

Mr. Réginald Bélair (Timmins—James Bay, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, forestry has always played a positive role in the lives of my constituents of Timmins—James Bay. The forest industry, through pulp and paper and lumber, has created some 4,000 jobs in the riding. It has helped to establish dynamic communities like Hearst, Kapuskasing and Smooth Rock Falls. It has secured economic growth in the whole area. Forests have also provided enjoyment through camping, hunting, fishing, hiking and snowmobiling.

The Canadian Forestry Association has proclaimed this week as National Forestry Week. It is a time for us to reflect on the vital role forests play in our daily lives and the great benefits we have inherited from our forests. However, is also a time for us to increase our awareness of the importance of preserving the health of our forests since they are equally important to the health of the local, national and global environment.

 

. 1415 + -

[Translation]

Canada is the top exporter of forestry products in the world. We therefore have a responsibility to protect this resource so that our forest may continue to meet the social, economic and environmental needs for future generations.



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[English]

HEPATITIS C

Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday Premier Harris wrote to the Prime Minister and urged him to compensate hepatitis C victims infected before 1986. He wants health officials to discuss how victims can be compensated and not whether they should be compensated, and he has committed up to $200 million for pre-1986 victims.

Will the government follow the example of Premier Harris and provide funding for victims infected before 1986?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as discussed and voted by the House yesterday, there will be a meeting of the ministers of health next week.

They will meet representatives of the people who have been affected. They will follow the instructions of the House of Commons. The Minister of Health will be there and will discuss with his colleagues the change of mind of the two governmentes that had signed the deal before, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Quebec.

Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the House wants to know whether the federal government is prepared to negotiate expanded compensation for hepatitis C victims before 1986.

First the government refuses to take responsibility. Then it refuses to put any more money on the table. After the caucus meeting this morning there are insults and attacks on the Government of Ontario for offering to do something in this very area.

Is it not true that the Prime Minister is deliberately trying to scuttle any further negotiations on this issue by his attacks on the Government of Ontario?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is not me who is changing my position every day. It is the Ontario government and the Quebec government. They are changing their point of view.

A few minutes ago I received a phone call from the president of the conference of the premiers of Canada at this moment, Mr. Romanow, who said that the venue was agreed upon yesterday, that there would be a meeting of ministers next week and that the meeting would be the one offered by the Minister of Health and demanded by the House of Commons.

Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, did the Prime Minister even read Premier Harris' letter? Harris did not break the deal. He confirmed his commitment to compensation to victims between 1986 and 1990. Then he expanded that compensation to victims before 1986, and what kind of response does he get from the government? Insults.

Are the government's attacks on Premier Harris not really designed to scuttle these negotiations rather than to help the victims of hepatitis C?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of insults.

On Friday the ministers of health of all the provinces had a telephone conference. The president of that group, the minister of health from Saskatchewan, made a public statement on behalf of everybody, on behalf of everybody. It was within hours that the Premier of Ontario disavowed the minister of health of Ontario. I do not know how she can still remain the minister of health.

Here the government speaks with one voice, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health.

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that during the conference call on Friday all the ministers said that they accept the old deal.

Premier Harris today is still accepting the old deal, but what he has done bravely is said that there must be a new deal for the other individuals.

I have a question for the Prime Minister. Does he accept that principle? Yes or no. Are they to negotiate or say no?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in reply to the hon. member, on Friday they all said that there should be in the statement further compensation for the pre-1986 victims. Go and read the statement before opening your mouth.

 

. 1420 + -

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Mr. Speaker this is getting scary.

The Speaker: I would ask my colleagues to always address questions and answers to the Speaker.

Mr. Grant Hill: Mr. Speaker, is it not interesting when you are cornered like a rat you come out fighting.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: I would ask colleagues on both sides to be very judicious in their choice of words.

Mr. Grant Hill: Mr. Speaker, the saddest thing about all this is that they seem to have forgotten what this is all about. This is all about—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: Colleagues, we all want to listen to the question.

Mr. Grant Hill: All we ask is that they remember what this is all about, and it is all about the victims. For the sake of the victims pre-1986, will the Prime Minister say if he is willing to go there to negotiate on behalf of those victims, or is he to go there and say “absolutely no way?”

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Leader of the Opposition was talking about negligence and responsibility. Now the words do not exist any more.

No wonder I was able to say yesterday that 10% believes that the Reform Party is doing that because it has compassion and 75% thinks it is doing that because of politics. He is a member of a party that is promising to cut welfare and social assistance programs by $3.5 billion, promising to slash pensions by $3 billion—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: Just as we want to hear the question, my colleagues, I am sure we want to hear the answer. The Prime Minister still has a few seconds. If he wants to use them he may.

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien: I do not have much to add. All those people for years have been advocating to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and now they are acting like a bunch of hypocrites.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: Colleagues, I would ask you to stay away from words that incite either one side or the other.

 

. 1425 + -

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the premier of Quebec has just announced that his government has decided to increase its financial contribution to the compensation of the victims of hepatitis C.

My question is for the Prime Minister. With position taken by Ontario first, and now Quebec, will the Prime Minister acknowledge that, for humanitarian reasons, he has an obligation to increase his contribution in order to resolve the hepatitis C problem?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the premier of Quebec changed his mind again. Maybe the ministers should meet and pool their ideas. The conference is in eight days. They can change their minds eight times between now and then.

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister of Canada realize how incredible it is for him to be mocking those growing in compassion?

With his heavy responsibility and the responsibility of those opposite, who are laughing at the moment, will the Prime Minister agree to do as his colleagues and half the members of this House have done and show some compassion toward the victims of hepatitis C?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Quebec premier has changed parties five times since his arrival in politics. He changes a lot.

These governments, a few months ago, would have nothing to do with this matter. They were forced to look at it by the federal Minister of Health.

The Quebec health minister and the others made statements last Friday and now they are changing their minds. We will make sure that all ministers meet and that each of them has paper and a pen so they can put their ideas on the table clearly.

Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the premier of Quebec has just announced that he plans to compensate hepatitis C victims using a mechanism that would allow provinces to spread out payments in order to accommodate provincial budgets.

Should the provinces make a formal proposal along these lines, is the federal government prepared to go along with such an arrangement, given the leeway available to it?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I must respond. The PQ government wants to make sure that Jean Charest's Liberal government gets stuck with the bill.

Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, such a response is unbelievable.

The premiers of Quebec and Ontario are aware of their responsibilities and are looking for a way to compensate hepatitis C victims.

Is the Prime Minister of Canada prepared to show the same compassion and open-mindedness towards victims as his counterparts, yes or no?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have been very open-minded, because it was the federal government and the federal Minister of Health who forced the provinces to contemplate compensation at this time.

Obviously, two premiers are in political hot water right now and they want to propose that future governments, and not their own, foot the bill.

*  *  *

[English]

BANKING

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Small businesses in Canada have reason to fear bank megamergers.

According to Canadian Bankers Association data, bank lending to small business decreased from 1995 to 1997. Small businesses in Atlantic Canada and Quebec were particularly poorly served.

The CFIB reports that many small businesses have been “so badly burned by their financial institutions that they would in future operate without bank financing”. If six big banks do not now support small businesses how could the minister seriously believe that two megabanks will?

 

. 1430 + -

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the numbers that the leader of the NDP has brought forth apparently having just discovered them are ones that have been available to this House for quite some time. In fact it was the industry committee under the chairmanship of the Liberal Party and it was the Liberal task force on the mergers that have for some time not only debated these issues but brought them out.

The hon. member is absolutely right in citing these numbers. I just wish that she had understood that these numbers are about two years old.

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, a little less bombast and a little more beef would be appreciated.

Unlike Canada the U.S. is currently holding congressional hearings on proposed bank mergers. In testimony last week before the committee Ralph Nader cited a federal reserve board study which concluded that large banking companies made very few commercial and industrial loans to small business borrowers. These loans are just too small for the mega institutions.

Is the minister afraid to hear from Canadians now because he does not want this kind of evidence to jeopardize his plans to approve the bank mergers in the end?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have made it very clear that there will be full public hearings following the submission of the MacKay task force.

I understand that the hon. member has to go to Ralph Nader and American sources for information. If she would like to hear Canadian sources she might like to come tonight when the Liberal caucus task force is having public hearings.

*  *  *

HEPATITIS C

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister maintains that Ottawa has no responsibility for those who have contracted hepatitis C except between 1986 and 1990.

The Minister of Health has said that he is looking for a consensus going into next week's meeting about compensating all the victims.

Will the Minister of Health tell us here today whether he has the approval of the Prime Minister and the finance minister to increase Ottawa's share of the compensation package to help reach this consensus?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wrong in referring to our position. In fact all governments of Canada have a responsibility to all people who have hepatitis C and every other illness and that is to provide the best and the most intensive health care system in the world. We intend to fulfil that responsibility.

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Mr. Speaker, that tells me he does not have the approval and that is unfortunate.

The Ontario premier called the Prime Minister's bluff and showed moral courage. That is what we are asking for. He increased his share of the compensation package to help all of the innocent victims of tainted blood in Ontario.

Why is the Prime Minister playing with the hopes of people who are sick by agreeing to another meeting when he has no intention of increasing Ottawa's share to help compensate all the victims?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I counsel the hon. member to do what we are doing, to wait for the meeting. We are waiting to see what the position of the provinces is. Apparently it is changing by the hour. Let us find out what the position of our partners is. The provinces and their governments are our partners as proprietors of the health care system in this country. Let us find out what their position is. As soon as we know, let us work toward a consensus because that is how we believe this country should be run.

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, Mike Harris did change his mind only after a few hours on Friday, but at least it only took him a few hours to realize what was right and he changed his mind in a positive direction. Now the province of Quebec has said that it is willing to look at opening up the package financially for compensation.

Why is the Prime Minister not prepared to do the right thing, change his mind, admit it and do what is right for all victims?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member refers to Mike Harris changing his mind—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: My colleagues, I think it is only fair. We listened to the question and we would like to hear the answer. The hon. Minister of Health.

Hon. Allan Rock: Mr. Speaker, the member refers to Mike Harris changing his mind Friday afternoon. He has changed his mind more often than that.

Last summer he said no compensation for any victim. Last March he joined with us in agreeing cash would be paid for 1986 to 1990 and health care for the others. Last Friday he reaffirmed that. Then he threw that position away for the reasons he gave on Monday. Mike Harris has changed his mind more than once.

 

. 1435 + -

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, at least I can admire Mike Harris for admitting he was wrong more than I can admit that this minister is just not able to do the same thing.

The Liberals have poisoned the atmosphere in this whole thing. The health minister has been discredited. He talks about statesmanship, leadership and this word partnership.

Let me ask the Prime Minister, is he willing to go into this partnership with the provincial premiers who want to do the right thing and compensate all victims?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are calling a conference next week with all the health ministers. We are working with the provinces and the president of the conference of the premiers this year.

The premier of Saskatchewan called me a minute ago to tell me that there shall be no change of venue, that there is a process of developing a consensus working with everybody and not trying to score political points like the Reform Party.

*  *  *

[Translation]

SPORTS AND CULTURAL EVENTS

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

While the government is toying with the idea of funding professional sports to the tune of millions of dollars, under the pretext of their economic impact, promoters of sports and cultural events are still waiting for the Prime Minister to meet the commitments he made during the last election campaign.

When will the Minister of Health finally introduce his amendments to the Tobacco Act, which still seriously threatens the future of sports and cultural events?

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as is our custom, we want to work in close co-operation with the other levels of government. In this particular case, we are still waiting for Quebec's answer.

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the argument used by those who support professional sports is the visibility provided by professional teams. Well, the Montreal Grand Prix provides worldwide visibility.

Will the government pledge to ensure the future of the Grand Prix and of cultural events, before investing any more money in professional sports?

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to wait for the report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, which is reviewing the whole issue of funding for sports.

I find it somewhat strange that the hon. member would ask us to provide some funding to what is, after all, a private company, but not to professional sports. Is the member saying that Jacques Villeneuve is not a professional?

*  *  *

[English]

ALBERTA FIRES

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, for the third time in as many years, disaster has struck northern Alberta. For three days now wild fires have been raging across northern Alberta destroying homes, farms, businesses and families.

Why has the Prime Minister not had the compassion and caring to so much as pick up the phone and call the premier of Alberta and ask how the federal government might help in this situation?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are very sorry that there is this disaster in Alberta at this time.

The premier is well aware that when there is a disaster like that, the government has a law and it will move very quickly on it.

At the moment the Government of Alberta is handling the situation very well. When the time comes for dealing with the problem there is a well-known formula that applied in Manitoba, eastern Ontario, southern Quebec and in Saguenay Lac St. Jean some years ago. It will be the same in Alberta if need be.

While I am on my feet I would like to say that I refer to—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Athabasca.

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, in the Saguenay flood and in the ice storm in Ontario and Quebec the government did not wait for formulas and for the provinces to follow protocol. The Prime Minister and his government were there within hours.

It has been three days and this is the first fire situation in history in Alberta yet the government has not responded. How would he know if the Government of Alberta is handling the situation well?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government knows very well and we have very good relations with the Government of Alberta.

 

. 1440 + -

I spoke with the premier a couple of days ago. He knows that the federal government will be there as it has always been whenever there is a disaster in Canada.

*  *  *

[Translation]

ATLANTIC GROUNDFISH STRATEGY

Ms. Hélène Alarie (Louis-Hébert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Very shortly, the Atlantic groundfish strategy will end, and thousands of people who depend on it are anxious about the future. Four months ago, the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec asked the Minister of Human Resources Development to take positive steps to reassure the people.

What does the Prime Minister have to say in response to the distress call from the Atlantic fishers and fishery workers who are anxious about their future?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, these past four years, the Atlantic groundfish strategy has provided assistance to fishers and plant workers to the tune of $1.9 billion.

The program will end in August 1998, and I can assure you that my cabinet colleagues and I are working very hard right now, based on the information available to us, to help those who will be living in an environment where, unfortunately, there are much fewer fish than we had hoped.

However, we do realize they are going through a tough time right now. This is a stressful time, but we are—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Louis-Hébert.

Ms. Hélène Alarie (Louis-Hébert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, given that, in Newfoundland alone, there are 30,000 workers affected, twice as many as in the Ontario automobile industry, does the Prime Minister not realize the social, economic and psychological cost of his inaction to those involved?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are so keenly aware of the importance of these 30,000 people in Atlantic Canada the hon. member referred to that we, as a government, established this strategy back in 1993-94. So we cannot be accused of not doing our job, quite the contrary.

I can assure you that we are being vigilant and that we have consulted closely with the communities and the provinces concerned. We have a good idea of the situation. We know this is a period of intense stress for many people right now. But the strategy will nonetheless end in August, and by then, we will be ready to act.

*  *  *

[English]

TAXATION

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, over the last three years the average family of four in Ontario making $60,000 has received about $3,500 in tax relief from the provincial government, but from the federal government they receive not even a thin dime, nothing. In fact taxes have gone up on the federal level.

Why is it that the Government of Ontario understands that that money belongs to the taxpayers? Why can it figure out but the federal finance minister does not seem to have a clue?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the last federal budget 83% of Ontarians received an income tax reduction. At the same time Ontarians of all classes, students and single mothers also received special tax credits. In fact it is one of the most substantial tax reductions in Canadian budgets for a long time.

I would put to the finance critic that the Reform Party's position is that no tax reduction should come until the deficit has been eliminated. Is it now swallowing itself whole in supporting the Ontario government?

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, a Reform government would have balanced the budget three years ago.

The fact of the matter is that since this government came to power it has hiked taxes 36 times. Taxes are $6 billion higher than they were when the government came to power. Suffice it to say, this government is the world champion when it comes to taxes, higher taxes than any country in the G-7 thanks to this finance minister.

When is the finance minister going to figure it out? That money belongs to taxpayers, not to his greedy caucus and greedy cabinet.

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first of all be very clear that the Ontario government has reduced taxes and it still has a deficit. That is in exact contradiction to the Reform Party policy.

 

. 1445 + -

We are entitled in the House to a certain degree of coherence and consistency. Does the hon. member support what they did or not?

Let us understand that most economists have said the reason that Ontario was able to lower taxes was interest rates have come down, economic activity has gone up and they have given credit to this government.

*  *  *

[Translation]

HEPATITIS C

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is in such a state over the hepatitis C case that he will say anything in his efforts to justify his position.

He said a few minutes ago in this House that, had it not been for his Minister of Health, no one was going to compensate the victims of hepatitis C.

What does he say to the resolution passed unanimously December 2 in the National Assembly that the federal and provincial governments compensate these victims? What has he to say?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last summer, the Quebec minister of health clearly did not want to compensate hepatitis C victims. That was his position.

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay: Answer the question.

Hon. Allan Rock: Then they changed their mind. Last Friday, they changed their position and now they have changed it again.

We have proposed a meeting of all ministers next week. And I suggest once again that the member await the meeting.

*  *  *

[English]

FRESH WATER EXPORT

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, considering that the value of water cannot be measured in dollars because it is priceless, will the federal government assert its jurisdiction over the export of water and take without delay the steps necessary to ensure that water will never be exported from Canada?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let me assure the hon. member that the security of our water resources is a major priority for the government.

In response to the specific event that took place last week, I consulted with the minister of the environment in Ontario. Because it is a shared body of water with the United States I have written today to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to ask that we have a direct reference to the international joint commission that will rule on this matter.

In addition, the Minister of the Environment has undertaken a major study of all fresh water resources in Canada, including the question of exports, and that will be conducted this summer in full consultation with the provinces. I think we can ensure protection of our water resources.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CALGARY DECLARATION

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, last September I asked the Prime Minister when he would be consulting the people of Quebec on the Calgary declaration. He did not answer.

I asked him again in October, November and December. He always said “soon”, but he did nothing. This week, Lucien Bouchard's separatists started their so called consultation.

Why is the Prime Minister leaving himself open to embarrassment this way? Is it laziness or fear of offending Lucien Bouchard?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the House leader of the Bloc Quebecois said that the Quebec premier's thinking was constantly changing. Indeed, on May 26, 1996 the premier said “I will not respond to any question on the Constitution, because I am going to create jobs”.

[English]

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the House passed a Reform resolution last fall promoting the Calgary declaration. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs even voted for it but he has done absolutely nothing to bring the details of the declaration to Quebec. He has left that job to Lucien Bouchard. Great, leave the job of unity to a separatist.

Is it not true that the only reason the Prime Minister did not consult Quebeckers is that he is afraid to upset Bouchard and the separatists?

 

. 1450 + -

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am really not afraid when I face Mr. Bouchard.

*  *  *

HEPATITIS C

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, all the Minister of Health is prepared to say today is wait for the meeting. In the meantime the spirit of co-operation and compassion so evident in the House yesterday is rapidly degenerating into squabbling and growing disunity between the federal government and all the provinces. Once again it is the victims of hepatitis C who suffer.

It is clear this mud slinging would end if the government would simply indicate that it is prepared to put some new dollars on the table. Will the government assure all Canadians that it is going to these discussions with new cash to ensure all victims of hepatitis C are compensated?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member should know that when I speak with ministers of health from across the country, as I am doing, many of them take very different positions. Some are urging that we remain where things are. Others are changing their positions within the hour.

If we are to be constructive and in the interests of all people with hepatitis C, we should work toward a consensus. The federal government should work with provincial governments to do what will help in the care of hepatitis C sufferers. I ask the hon. member to allow us to work with provincial colleagues toward a consensus in the best interests of those who are ill.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the minister could help achieve that consensus by making a simple public statement that he is prepared to accept federal responsibility and put new cash on the table. Will the minister show that he has learned from the tainted blood scandal by giving a commitment to the House that he is prepared to put in the garbage the documents from his own department considering watering down the Food and Drug Act and detaching Health Canada from the enforcement business?

This flies in the face of everything we have learned from the tainted blood scandal and all Justice Krever's recommendations. Will he give assurances today that report—

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health.

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member should know that as recently as this morning I spoke to ministers of health who are urging me not to take the very course advanced by the member. Let us work toward consensus. Let us talk to ministers and have governments work together constructively.

On the role of the health protection branch, I urge the member not to draw conclusions from what she reads in the newspapers. There is a public discussion going on about the role of the department which must be carefully considered by this government before a decision is made.

[Translation]

Mr. Jean Dubé (Madawaska—Restigouche, PC): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health and his parliamentary secretary both indicated to the House that our social safety net is able to meet the urgent needs of hepatitis C victims.

This sort of promise worries me, since we know that there is already a backlog of 4,000 CPP disability files.

Given the current delays, how can the minister assure us that victims' immediate needs will be met?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, with respect to hepatitis C victims, my disability pension officials have already been in touch with doctors and those who evaluate files so that we can be sure that, when hepatitis C victims meet with our experts, doctors in particular, they will be well treated, their symptoms properly identified and appropriate referrals made.

As for the file backlog, we are aware that there are sometimes delays. As you know, the auditor general has requested that we look—

Mr. Jean Dubé (Madawaska—Restigouche, PC): Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about those experts.

The fact remains that it takes no less than six months, and sometimes up to two years, before a disability pension is approved. Time is a luxury that many victims simply do not have.

If victims cannot rely on the disability program, what can they rely on in order to survive?

 

. 1455 + -

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in a great many cases, files are scrutinized much more closely.

A few years ago, when there was a considerable increase in the number of applications, the auditor general requested that we ensure that those approved for disability pensions did indeed meet the criteria proposed in the legislation.

We are in the process of appointing more people to the legal boards and tribunals in order to ensure that rulings can be made as quickly as possible.

*  *  *

HUMAN RIGHTS

Ms. Raymonde Folco (Laval West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the recent expulsion of two young Quebec women from Chiapas, Mexico, illustrates once again the need for ongoing dialogue with the Mexican government on human rights.

What specific measures does the Minister of Foreign Affairs intend to take to express Canadians' deep concern that the government of Mexico respect fundamental human rights?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wish to announce today that a parliamentary delegation will be going to Chiapas to look into the situation there.

The member for Brossard—La Prairie has agreed to head it during its visit to Chiapas and Mexico City between May 7 and 11. I would like to thank all members of this House who will be part of this very important delegation, and I look forward to their report with considerable interest.

*  *  *

[English]

TRANSPORT

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, last week 95% of the 2,200 air traffic controllers voted not to accept a contract offer from Nav Canada. The two sides are impossibly far apart.

The controllers want wage increases of up to 38%. Nav Canada wants to cut its costs by 17.5% over three years. My question is to the Minister of Transport. What contingency plan does he have in place to prevent a disastrous shutdown of the air traffic system in Canada?

Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we regret very much that the air traffic controllers have rejected a settlement that has been negotiated by their union representatives, but Nav Canada has said it will go back with the union representatives to look at other changes that can be made.

It is very premature to start talking about labour disruptions when the process has not come to a conclusion.

*  *  *

[Translation]

HEPATITIS C

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the victims of hepatitis C we cannot let that one go by.

Since, on December 2, 1997, at 11.30 a.m., the Quebec National Assembly was unanimously calling for a program of compensation for the victims of hepatitis C, how can the Prime Minister keep repeating in this House that, were it not for the federal Minister of Health, no one would be compensating the victims? How can he keep making such a claim? Let him say it from his seat.

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on July 22, last year, at about 2.00 p.m. I met my counterparts, including the Quebec minister of health. I raised the question of compensation for hepatitis C victims, and the minister refused to take part.

He maintained this position for months. Finally, following the leadership of the Prime Minister and the federal government, he agreed to take part and now, today, he has changed his position again. And that is the truth.

*  *  *

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, more than 700 fish plant workers in the Acadian peninsula are out of work after three processing plants closed down.

 

. 1500 + -

This year, crab quotas were lower, which meant fewer weeks of work. Entire communities are plunged into poverty, with no income. The economic and social effects are felt everywhere.>

Will the Minister of Human Resources Development show a little compassion and develop an emergency program to give these workers living in poverty access to employment insurance?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have not received any request or plan from the three plants mentioned by the hon. member.

What I can say is that employers and former workers are welcome to submit a proposal to my department with respect to the reopening of the plants in question. We will consider every possible way of financing worthwhile projects that meet the eligibility criteria and our program requirements.

I also encourage workers to visit our HRDC centres to take advantage of the active measures and programs available to them.

*  *  *

[English]

PRESENCE IN GALLERY

The Speaker: My colleagues, I wish to draw to your attention the presence in the gallery of the hon. Tito Petkovski, President of the Assembly of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

*  *  *

POINTS OF ORDER

ORAL QUESTIONS

Mr. Greg Thompson (Charlotte, PC): Mr. Speaker, first I want to thank you and congratulate you for keeping a raucous House under control today.

However, the Prime Minister has taken advantage of the situation. On numerous occasions today he stood when the light was out, his 35 seconds was up and he kept on going. At the end of the day, we lose—

The Speaker: My colleague, not only is your point well taken, it gives me a chance to compliment the House.

Every day since we opened this parliament discussions have taken place among the House leaders and, on every occasion, we have fitted in all the questions that were negotiated by them.

I find that on average we have been able to get as many as seven or eight extra questions in a day.

 

. 1505 + -

I am sure all hon. members, both in asking their questions and in giving their answers, will continue to do the wonderful job they have been doing since the beginning of this parliament. I thank the hon. member for raising that point.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Mr. Speaker, last night, with you and many other members of parliament, we attended a reception for the young people who were here from across Canada. We heard from a lot of the young people from across Canada about what was happening in our House. They were appalled at the screaming and yelling, back and forth.

I am just hoping, Mr. Speaker, that somehow we can appeal to all our colleagues to have better decorum.

The Speaker: Once again, my colleague, your point is well taken. I appeal to all hon. members to do just that every day that we are in the House. I encourage all of us to treat each other with civility and respect. I hope this will come about.

*  *  *

[Translation]

THE LATE MARCEL DIONNE

Mr. Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this past March a good friend of mine, the former member for Chicoutimi, passed away at the age of 66.

Marcel Dionne, a man of substance, a man of great importance to his community, a man of great commitment, is no longer with us. I feel that it is appropriate to pay tribute to him here today.

He was an MP from 1979 to 1984. I met him for the first time in 1983 when I was with the young federal Liberals of Quebec. He was always closely involved with young people. He was an untiring worker for his community.

I would like to review some of his accomplishments for which he never really got enough credit because of the Conservative sweep in 1984.

First of all, Marcel Dionne picked up on an old project of his predecessor, Paul Langlois. He convinced the federal government to upgrade the port of Chicoutimi by removing some huge oil tanks. Construction of the federal administrative complex of le Vieux Port was also part of this project.

The port of Grande Anse, of growing importance in the development of the region's economy, was another of the major projects for which he was responsible.

Taking advantage of a visit to the Saguenay by then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Marcel Dionne managed to convince him of the need to undertake capital projects at CFB Bagotville for F-18 combat aircraft maintenance facilities. The base's future was guaranteed by an agreement with the American government on the NORAD defence system, signed by President Reagan and Prime Minister Mulroney in the early months of the Mulroney years, during the U.S. president's visit to Quebec City.

In addition to his political career, Marcel Dionne was involved in a number of other areas. He was president of the Saguenéens de Chicoutimi and of the Quebec major junior hockey league, as well as president of the Quebec potato growers federation.

Originally from the Eastern Townships, Marcel Dionne moved to Saint-Ambroise in 1963 where he ran a potato operation for 13 years.

Unfortunately, almost immediately after he lost his seat in 1984, Marcel was diagnosed with cancer. Still, he returned to work in the Eastern Townships. He was a brave man who never gave up. At the time of his death he was an assistant commissioner with the Canadian Grain Commission.

Two of the five Dionne children still live in the Chicoutimi area, a son Yves, who is a police officer, and a daughter, Carole.

My most sincere condolences, on behalf of the government, to all of the members of the Dionne family.

So long, Marcel.

 

. 1510 + -

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is with great respect that I rise in the House today to pay tribute to one of my peers.

A native of the Eastern Townships, Marcel Dionne represented the federal riding of Chicoutimi from 1979 to 1984. During his term of office, Marcel Dionne helped bring about a number of important achievements for his constituents such as the redevelopment of the port of Chicoutimi and the survival of CFB Bagotville.

He was also active in his community. He was the president of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of Quebec's major junior hockey league and president of the Fédération des producteurs de pommes de terre du Québec. He had also successfully battled cancer and was working as an assistant commissioner on the Canadian Grain Commission.

On behalf of the Reform Party, I extend my deepest condolences to members of the Dionne family.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I am pleased to pay tribute to Marcel Dionne who died on March 3 at the age of 66.

A native of the Eastern Townships, Mr. Dionne quickly became a member of the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean community. He represented the riding of Chicoutimi in the House of Commons from 1979 to 1984 and held the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture.

I and my fellow citizens in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean area remember him as a very committed individual who spared no effort in promoting our region's socio-economic development.

Many people now recognize that he was a catalyst of important achievements for our community. Those achievements included the redevelopment of the port of Chicoutimi, in collaboration with the entire regional community and then MLA Marc-André Bédard. This undertaking required that giant reservoirs be moved and the Vieux Port federal administrative complex built.

The port of Grande Anse, which is now a hub in the development of our regional economy, was one of the major projects to which the former member for Chicoutimi contributed.

He was also responsible for the development of CFB Bagotville, which required major investments for the maintenance of CF-18 fighters.

It is unfortunate I must say that he was never given credit for these major accomplishments because of the Progressive Conservative sweep in 1984, which denied him the opportunity to continue his excellent work in our region.

In addition to his very full career in politics, Mr. Dionne worked in various other fields.

Before making a political name for himself, he headed a potato production company for 13 years. He made a major contribution to modernizing agriculture in our region, enabling us to attain self-sufficiency in the production of potatoes in the early 1970s.

He was active in his community as well, serving as president of the Saguenéens de Chicoutimi of the Quebec major junior hockey league and president of the Quebec federation of potato producers. At the time of his death he was an assistant commissioner with the Canadian Grain Commission.

On behalf of the Bloc Quebecois I offer my sympathy to all the members of the Dionne family and my condolences to the people in the riding of Chicoutimi and our region whom he served so well.

Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to pay tribute to the former Liberal member for Chicoutimi in the House of Commons, Marcel Dionne, who died yesterday at the age of 66 from a heart attack.

In addition to his career in politics Mr. Dionne worked in various fields. He was president of the Saguenéens de Chicoutimi of the Quebec major junior hockey league and president of the Quebec federation of potato producers. At the time of his death he was an assistant commissioner with the Canadian Grain Commission.

To the members of his family, on behalf of the New Democrats, I offer my sincere condolences.

 

. 1515 + -

Mr. André Harvey (Chicoutimi, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to pay tribute to my predecessor. Although we do not have the same political affiliation nationally, I think the fact remains that Mr. Dionne has been an efficient member of parliament.

Marcel never liked heckling and off the cuff remarks, but he would set goals for himself and usually achieve them.

What I have tried to share with Marcel for several years is first and foremost the love of our region and passionate dedication to our riding. I recall that during the 1984 election campaign a slightly negative article was written by a journalist from outside Quebec, which was somewhat unfair to our region and to the city of Chicoutimi in particular.

I remember how passionately Marcel set the record straight here in the House in order to restore the good name of our region and particularly that of our city, Chicoutimi, at the national level. He was successful because a correction was made in a national forum.

Marcel worked hard on very concrete issues like the ones mentioned a moment ago by my colleagues. The port of Grande-Anse was indeed his greatest achievement. Also the base in Bagotville benefited from his repeated representations. Goodness knows how important it is in a region like ours to look after an infrastructure such as the base in Bagotville. Otherwise its role diminishes. We must therefore continually remind the government of the value of having in Quebec a facility as strategic as this one.

On the social level Marcel was heavily involved with a team that is massively supported by the people of the region and a great source of pride to us, les Saguenéens. Then, of course, he was also the president of the Fédération des producteurs de pommes de terre. After coming to our region in 1963, he ran a potato operation which created a number of jobs and is a source of regional pride to this day.

I remember that Marcel and I had differences of opinion on occasion. I recall, for instance, that between 1981 and 1984 we did not see eye to eye about the old port of Chicoutimi where some housing was planned. We did not agree on this concept, but it was the one that eventually won out after public consultations.

He never held it against me. On several occasions he told me “I think giving the river back to the people instead of building housing in the old port was the right way to go”. He recognized that.

My most recent memories have been particularly of his courage in the face of his illness. God knows, he met the challenge with great courage and for a long time seemed to have gained the upper hand.

On behalf of my party and myself I express our most sincere condolences to his entire family.

[English]

The Deputy Speaker: I want to thank all members for their kind words of acknowledgement.



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Translation]

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

*  *  *

 

. 1520 + -

[English]

BROADCASTING ACT

 

Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Ref.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-398, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act (designation of cable channels).

He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill when passed by the House would make it possible for cable channels to be assigned on the basis of market forces rather than the CRTC compelling cable companies to assign them to certain positions on the cable spectrum.

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

*  *  *

ELECTIONS ACT

 

Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Ref.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-399, an act to amend the Elections Act (appointment of election officers).

He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill when passed would implement a recommendation of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada that patronage be removed from the process of appointing employees to Elections Canada.

Very few people realize that returning officers are all appointed by order in council, by the government in power. In effect they are patronage appointments. Passage of this bill would remove that ability of the government to patronage appoint. The employees of Elections Canada would be selected on their merit and their ability to do the job instead of the party they belong to.

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

*  *  *

TOBACCO ACT

 

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-400, an act to amend the Tobacco Act (substances contained in a tobacco product).

He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present this bill to the House today. The purpose of its enactment is to ensure that consumers are aware of the content of tobacco products.

My bill, an act to amend the Tobacco Act, will prohibit the sale of tobacco products that do not list substances contained in the product on their packages. Basically what I am asking for is to have the names of the chemicals on the package so consumers will know every time they smoke cigarettes what kind of chemicals they inhale.

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

*  *  *

HOLIDAYS ACT

 

Mr. Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-401, an act to amend the Holidays Act (Flag Day) and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

He said: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to introduce a bill respecting Flag Day. As we know Flag Day is totally recognized in Canada as being February 15. The purpose of my bill is to take that one step further and make it a national holiday.

The United States, being one country to which we often compare ourselves, has many more national holidays than does Canada. I think it is very appropriate that we take time to recognize our great traditions.

The flag is on either side of you, Mr. Speaker. Thirty-three years ago was its birthday and I think it would be appropriate to enshrine Flag Day as a national holiday so all future generations would remember that.

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

*  *  *

 

. 1525 + -

PETITIONS

PUBLIC NUDITY

Ms. Aileen Carroll (Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition on behalf of certain constituents in my riding who object to nudity in public and who seek a remedy by requesting an adjustment to the criminal code.

TAXATION

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by a number of Canadians including from my own riding of Mississauga South.

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 society.

They also agree with the National Forum on Health which stated that the Income Tax Act discriminates against families who make the choice to provide care in the home to their preschool children.

The petitioners therefore call on parliament to initiate tax changes which would eliminate that discrimination against families who provide direct parental care to preschool children in the home.

FERRY SERVICES

Mr. Gerry Byrne (Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present to the House of Commons a petition regarding the Newfoundland bulk ferry service.

The petitioners ask parliament to consider providing proper assistance to this essential service and to deem it so under the Canada Labour Code, part I.

*  *  *

[Translation]

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

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

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

*  *  *

[English]

MOTIONS FOR PAPERS

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

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would like Motion No. P-14 to be called.

    That an Order of the House do issue for a copy of all Observer Trip Reports and Data Packages for foreign boats fishing within Canada's 200 mile exclusive economic zone, plus those same Reports and Packages for all bilateral fishing agreements that Canada has outside the 200 mile exclusive economic zone, for the 1997 calendar year.

Mr. Peter Adams: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that this Motion for the Production of Papers be transferred for debate.

The Deputy Speaker: The notice is transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).  

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I request that we call Motion No. P-16.

    That an Order of the House do issue for copies of all documents relating to the Royal Canadian Mint building a coin plating plant in Manitoba.

Mr. Peter Adams: Mr. Speaker, I suggest that under the same standing order this motion also be transferred for debate.

The Deputy Speaker: The notice is transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).  

Mr. Ken Epp: Mr. Speaker, I am sure you will correct me if I am wrong, but is it enough for the parliamentary secretary to only suggest it? Does he not actually have to do it?

The Deputy Speaker: I guess technically the Chair does it on the request of a member. That is my recollection of the rule. It has been some time since I have read Standing Order 97, I do not mind telling the member, but my recollection is that when any member requests it, it is ipso facto transferred for debate.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to have Motion No. P-17 called.

    That an Order of the House do issue for copies of all minutes of meetings of the User Group on Firearms and for copies of all correspondence between the User Group on Firearms and the Minister of Justice and officials in the Department of Justice.

Mr. Peter Adams: Mr. Speaker, if the wording is correct, I request that this Motion for the Production of Papers also be transferred for debate.

The Deputy Speaker: The notice is transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).  

The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed that the remaining Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers stand?

Some hon. members: Agreed.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

 

. 1530 + -

[English]

CANADA LANDS SURVEYORS ACT

 

Hon. David Anderson (for the Minister of Natural Resources) moved that Bill C-31, an act respecting Canada Lands Surveyors, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Gerry Byrne (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to open debate on Bill C-31, an important piece of legislation that will transfer to the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors specific responsibilities related to professional standards of conduct, continuing education and skills development of Canada lands surveyors. I acknowledge the support of members and parties of this House as we proceed through this legislation.

Anyone who has ever purchased a house or a piece of property is familiar with the important work of land surveyors. Their job is to provide a detailed and accurate survey of the boundaries of the property for legal registration and for transfer of ownership. The Canada lands surveyor is specially qualified and commissioned to conduct legal surveys on Canada lands, lands which the federal government holds and manages in trust for the people of Canada.

Canada lands include the Yukon and Northwest Territories, Indian reserves, offshore areas of Canada and the national parks system. Anyone who requires a survey of a boundary of Canada lands must have the survey made by a qualified Canada lands surveyor.

I pay tribute to the tremendous contribution made by government surveyors both past and present. Dominion land surveyors, as they were known until 1979, literally opened up this country. Their stories are a part of our history. In 1874 Great Britain transferred Rupert's Land and the Northwestern Territory to the Dominion of Canada. The federal government needed land surveyors at that time to survey and subdivide the land for settlers.

We just have to fly over western Canada to be familiar with the results of the incredible work accomplished in the 1880s when dominion land surveyors conducted what was probably the largest survey effort in history. Their work made it possible for immigrants and settlers to obtain lands in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. We see the results of their labour in the straight as an arrow property lines. When hopeful miners flooded the Yukon territories during the gold rush in 1898, they found a dominion lands survey office already in business in Dawson where they could legally register their claims.

More recently, members of the House have seen the work of the Canada lands surveyors in some of the legislation we have considered in the House: the boundaries of the new national parks such as Vuntut National Park in the Yukon in 1994; the descriptions of the boundaries of land transfers affecting Indian reserves which appear as orders in council; even the boundaries of federal electoral districts. These are accomplished by the Canada lands surveyors through the office of the Surveyor General of Canada Lands.

On behalf of the federal government, Canada lands surveyors are currently making massive and critically important surveys in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Several thousand parcels of land, some small and some large, involved in aboriginal land interests and land claims must be legally surveyed and recorded. This survey effort will help to define and shape the legal boundaries of the Canadian north. It involves millions and millions of dollars and directly affects the lives of residents of these territories.

I have explained the historical and the present day role of Canada lands surveyors in order to demonstrate to this House the scope and importance of their contribution to the country. These professionals are experts in property rights, land management, land registration and the survey system used in Canada lands. Their expertise is acquired through university education, continuing education through their professional associations, and through hands on experience in the field.

To be granted a commission as a Canada lands surveyor, a candidate must first successfully complete a rigorous set of formal examinations and meet other requirements including basic work experience of at least two years. Surveying is a knowledge based activity and as such demands a great deal of the people who seek the right to use the designation of Canada lands surveyor.

Since 1872 the Surveyor General of the Dominion, now Canada Lands, has had the responsibility for the board of examiners. This body establishes professional qualifications and standards, sets the examinations and grants commissions as Canada lands surveyors. Under the present legislation the board also oversees the professional conduct of the Canada lands surveyors but has limited disciplinary powers.

 

. 1535 + -

Bill C-31 will transfer responsibility for the board of examiners from the surveyor general to the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors. The provisions proposed in the legislation are both efficient and appropriate.

For a number of years now at the provincial level, self-governing professional associations have been managing the responsibilities which we are now proposing at the federal level be transferred to the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors. Self-governing associations relieve government of the day to day work of ensuring that the members of the profession achieve and maintain professional standards of practice.

The government of which I am a representative does not hand over such important authorities lightly or arbitrarily. The legislation which we are now considering today touches the day to day lives of hundreds of thousands of people and concerns approximately one-half of the Canada land mass. Thus for some seven to eight years the federal government has undertaken detailed study, consultation and dialogue with the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors, with various other associations and with other federal government departments who rely on the services of Canada lands surveyors. This includes Parks Canada and Indian and northern affairs for instance. Our intent is to accomplish the transfer in an orderly and responsible fashion.

The Association of Canada Lands Surveyors has been actively involved in preparing for this important role since 1990. Formerly established in 1985 as an independent multidisciplinary association, the association is the successor to the Canada lands surveyors professional affairs committee of the Canadian institute of surveying.

There are four principal areas of responsibility involved in this proposed legislation: examination, admission, qualifications and discipline. I have already spoken to some extent about the examination and admission processes which are under the auspices of the board of examiners.

Under the proposed legislation the board of examiners under the management of the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors will continue to set rigorous technical and scientific examinations and issue commissions to successful candidates. What will change in this area however is the day to day management of the examination and accreditation process of the board of examiners which will be assumed by the association rather than by the Office of the Surveyor General of Canada Lands.

This is an important recognition of the stature of the profession and gives the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors authorities similar to those practised by provincial associations. Moreover the move is consistent with the government's commitment to improve the way government works by turning over to the private sector responsibilities in areas of activity that can be efficiently and effectively managed by the private sector.

I spoke earlier of the fact that surveying is a knowledge based discipline. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, which is of course a scientific and knowledge based department, I am very particularly interested in the enhanced role the association will be playing in the skills development, training and continued education of the Canada lands surveyors.

The demanding examination process ensures that Canada lands surveyors are well qualified at the time of receiving their commission and provide professional standards of service, but it is no guarantee that those standards are maintained over time. Under the proposed Canada lands surveyors act the association will have both the authority and the means to ensure that its members maintain their professional standards.

One of the key commitments made by the association in preparation for this legislation is to provide continuing education programs for its members. Given the critical importance of lifelong learning and skills development in the knowledge based society and the new economy, this commitment by the association is particularly significant.

The association has also committed to promoting the profession of Canada lands surveyor in order to ensure that there continues to be a pool of qualified Canada lands surveyors available across Canada. There must be a sufficient number of these people working in the Yukon and Northwest Territories and near Canada lands across the country to provide quick efficient services at a reasonable cost.

The association has already demonstrated its leadership in this area since 1990 by preparing videos and holding seminars across Canada explaining the survey legislation and the Canada lands surveyors examination process.

The fourth key area addressed by Bill C-31 involves discipline and complaints procedures and provisions which will be implemented by the association. These new provisions and procedures significantly improve the current system and better protect members of the profession and the public and clients who call upon the services of Canada lands surveyors.

 

. 1540 + -

Ninety-nine per cent of the people actively working in the field carry out their duties with full professionalism and respect for quality, standards and service. Common to self-regulating professions is the ability to investigate complaints concerning performance and standards. As a result of Bill C-31 the association will be able to investigate complaints and to impose a range of penalties appropriate to the situation should fault occur. This will both protect the public interest and safeguard the reputation and integrity of Canada lands surveyors.

Once this legislation comes into effect all Canada lands surveyors who want to conduct legal surveys on Canada lands will have to be members of the association and will be required to carry liability insurance. This will ensure that the association is in a position to monitor, govern and self police the professional standards and conduct of Canada lands surveyors.

The proposed legislation is carefully designed to preserve and maintain the integrity of the Canada lands survey system. The Surveyor General of Canada Lands will continue to be responsible for the standards of property or legal surveys of Canada lands. Likewise the surveyor general will continue to be responsible for the standards of survey documentation submitted to the Canada lands survey records. Boundary commissions, descriptions of federal electoral districts, and surveys required by native land claims also remain under the jurisdiction of the surveyor general.

The benefits of the profession to the clients and to the Government of Canada are clear. With the provisions of Bill C-31 in place, the standards of conduct required of Canada lands surveyors will be enhanced to the level already in place provincially. Members of the profession will be assured that their fellow Canada lands surveyors have all met and continue to meet the high professional standards and requirements of the commission they bear so proudly.

The Canadian public will have the assurance and protection of a self-governing professional association to whom they can turn with complaints and concerns about the professional competence or conduct of Canada lands surveyors whenever that may be necessary. The promotion of the profession by the association will encourage new recruits to join the ranks of the Canada lands surveyors ensuring that qualified people are available across the country to carry out these important surveys. The government will have at its service a pool of professionals whose skills are continuously updated and current as we continue to shape and define the boundaries of lands we hold and manage in trust for the people of Canada.

In conclusion, I would like to thank hon. members for providing me with this opportunity to speak to this important bill, Bill C-31. I also appreciate the level of co-operation which I understand exists in the House today in terms of the furtherance of this bill.

Mr. Peter Adams: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There have been consultations between the parties. I think you will find that there is unanimous consent that we deal with all stages of Bill C-31 today, including second reading, committee of the whole and third reading.

The Deputy Speaker: Is the parliamentary secretary suggesting that there be unanimous consent to change the motion from second reading and referral to a standing committee to referral to committee of the whole? Is that what he is asking at this stage? The House will not adjourn until the bill has been adopted at all stages, is that what the parliamentary secretary is suggesting? I am seeking clarification of what is being asked for at this point. Perhaps we could proceed with this understanding for the time being and if there are specific orders to be adopted at a given moment we can adopt them. On debate at second reading, the hon. member for Athabasca.

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in the debate on Bill C-31, the Canada lands surveyors act. The bill as the parliamentary secretary has stated transfers the responsibilities of the existing board of examiners for Canada lands surveyors to the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors.

The Association of Canada Lands Surveyors is a non-government association with mandatory membership. In other words, one cannot be a Canada lands surveyor without having membership in this association.

 

. 1545 + -

As with any bill introduced in the House for second reading, it stirs an interest, a curiosity as to why it is introduced and what efficiencies or benefits Canadians gain from either the change in legislation or the new legislation.

Upon inquiry and investigation this is kind of a curious situation with the Canada lands surveyors in that it seems to make perfectly reasonable sense to do what this bill proposes to do. However, one has to wonder why now. Every province in Canada has for years had a professional association of surveyors, and the surveyor general assures me that the reason for this is it will provide better service to Canadians than the Government of Canada has been able to provide in the past.

That raises questions as it has raised in previous times. If it is good for the country why did it take so long for this government to admit it and to get on with the business of introducing and passing the bill?

I would like to go through how the bill will serve Canadians better. First, it would transfer responsibility for developing and maintaining professional standards among Canadian lands surveyors from a federal agency to a non-government agency. This non-government agency, the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors, will be responsible for designing and implementing a complaints and discipline process that the government itself does not seem to be able to put in place, or to maintain to the same degree at least, as this non-government organization.

Currently there does not appear to be any formal process to deal with complaints of quality of workmanship or professionalism of Canada lands surveyors.

Under existing legislation the board of examiners must prove gross negligence or corrupt practices to discipline a land surveyor. Certainly those are pretty draconian measures and not an easy task to achieve.

Through the proposed changes, however, there will be very clear processes by which the complaints may be filed against individual surveyors. These changes call for the formation of a complaints committee and a discipline committee, the latter of which will have the power to discipline a surveyor in a number of ways if proved negligent or incompetent.

I wholeheartedly agree with the creation of two committees. We need to protect the good name of responsible and reputable surveys as well as the integrity of the Canada lands survey system. As my colleague the parliamentary secretary pointed out, the Canada lands surveyors have a long and glorious history of service in Canada and certainly in opening up this country for settlement.

I believe the implementation of a formal discipline process will help us to accomplish the goal of maintaining that integrity and that reputation. The complaints and discipline committees set up as a result of this transfer will have the power to discipline surveyors guilty of incompetence or professional misconduct.

It would be very time consuming and costly for the federal government to design and implement such a process. Therefore I was delighted to learn that through this transfer the association will assume financial responsibility for this process as well.

The association will not receive funding through the government but rather through the collection of membership dues from its member Canada lands surveyors. Second, through the transfer of responsibilities this bill will result in the creation and operation of a practice review program that will ensure that Canada lands surveyors maintain professional standards.

Lands surveyors will be required to continue to upgrade skills in order to ensure high quality and accuracy of surveys. The practice review program will be fully funded by the association, as will the continuing education program through which surveyors can continue to upgrade skills.

Currently each of the 10 provinces has professional associations operating in much the same way as the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors.

 

. 1550 + -

Like other professional associations, ACLS will have mandatory membership and similar standards to its sister associations in the 10 provinces. The proposed changes mean that surveyors surveying on public lands, including land in Yukon and Northwest Territories, on Indian reserves and in national parks as well as in offshore areas, will be adhering to the same standards as surveyors elsewhere in Canada. Surveyors across Canada will be expected to show the same level of skills and professionalism.

I support the government's efforts to eliminate and streamline government agencies. This transfer would not eliminate but streamline the responsibilities of the legal surveys division of Environment Canada. It would relieve this agency of the burden of setting and enforcing professional standards among Canada land surveyors. The surveyor general would continue to establish standards for and manage surveys made under the Canada Land Survey Act. The surveyor general will also retain custody of records of all such surveys. These changes will simply shift responsibly for the licensing and continual review of the performance of surveyors without infringing on the surveyor general's control over the surveys produced.

Such government downsizing and streamlining is purported to serve the interests of the Canadian public. However, in reviewing the proposed act I wondered if this act would truly benefit the average Canadian. The government has itself admitted that the introduction of this act was largely driven by the interests of the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors. The association has been asking for this role for 10 years. However, as history has shown, it is often the case that many professional associations act in the best interests of the professionals they represents rather than in the interests of the clientele the professionals serve.

Therefore I was interested in how this transfer would protect the interests of the average Canadian. It is, after all, the average Canadian I was elected to represent. In answer to this I found that the proposed changes would standardize the quality of surveying services received by all Canadians. This act will establish the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors as a non-government professional association that adheres to similar standards as its provincial counterparts. This means that residents in Yukon and Northwest Territories, Indian reserves and town sites within national parks will receive the same quality of survey service as Canadians living elsewhere in Canada. Approximately 450,000 Canadians residing on Canada lands will directly benefit from these changes.

This in itself does not positively reassure me that Canadians are being well served by the changes being proposed by this act. However, I am reassured by the fact that the professional association will not be completely autonomous of the federal government. The association will be a self-governing body within federal jurisdiction. Through this act the minister retains the power to take such measures as the minister considers appropriate to fulfill any objective of the association the minister is of the opinion the association is not fulfilling. Providing the acting minister has the best interests of Canadians at heart, this clause can be used as a means of government intervention should the association fail to meet its obligation under this act.

It is not uncommon for Canadians to engage in disputes over property lines. Many Canadians do not notice the errors in the surveys of their land until they go to build a fence, pave a driveway or plant a tree. Although this is only one small aspect of land surveying, it is my hope that this transfer of responsibility will raise the quality of surveys to a level whereby such disputes can be avoided from the outset by high quality surveys. It is also my hope that ACLS will honour its obligation to the Canadian public by serving the interests not only of the member surveyors but of the Canadian public as a whole.

I believe this act, if properly implemented, will result in an association of responsible, professional and reliable surveyors equipped with the most current skills and knowledge. Therefore I and my party support Bill C-31.

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I previously received some guidance from the Chair on this and some advice from members opposite. There have been consultations between the parties.

 

. 1555 + -

I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:  

    That all stages of Bill C-31, including second reading, committee of the whole and third reading, be completed today, and that all questions necessary for the completion of those stages be put no later than 5.30 p.m.

(Motion agreed to)

[Translation]

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Order, please. Pursuant to Standing Order 38, it is my duty to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche, Seniors Benefits; the hon. member for Charlotte, Hepatitis C; the hon. member for Lévis, Shipbuilding; the hon. member for Yukon, Reforestation.

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Madam Speaker, as the NDP critic for natural resources, I rise today in support of Bill C-31, the Canada Lands Surveyors Act.

This bill is the result of five years of consultation and development. This consultation involved several departments, including Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Indian reserves and lands that have been surrendered, land claims, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, offshore regions, Heritage Canada, Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the divisions responsible for petroleum, gas and subsoil and offshore mineral rights.

This legislation is required because of existing gaps in the complaints and discipline procedure. It is also required to ensure that complaints are handled fairly and properly.

This bill concerns surveyors working on Dominion lands, that is, lands in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, aboriginal lands, national parks and offshore areas.

This bill will transfer to the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors responsibilities with respect to the granting of commissions, regulations and disciplinary measures applicable to lands surveyors of Canada. Until now, these functions came under the surveyor general at Natural Resources Canada.

[English]

This will give Canada lands surveyors more voice in their own affairs. They will be able to elect some members of the council which will be responsible for running the association.

Currently it is the Minister of Natural Resources acting through the governor in council who appoints members of the board of examiners.

However, I have concern regarding certain sections of this bill. Section 12(1) stipulates:

    12. (1) The president and vice-president of the association shall be appointed or elected in accordance with the bylaws.

I believe it is important that these two positions be filled by the people elected by the membership. The positions of president and vice-president are key positions that will determine the direction the association will take.

For these reasons it is only logical that the membership determines who will run the association.

[Translation]

It is important to note that this idea of self-regulation is not new. Provincial surveyors are all regulated by provincial associations. The proposed change reflects what has already been implemented in 10 provincial jurisdictions. In my province of New Brunswick, the surveyors' association was established in 1954. As we can see, it works for the public and for surveyors.

Reforms such as this one often imply a loss of jobs in a government department. This is one of those rare situations where self-regulation does not involve any layoffs.

The fact that no one is directly responsible for managing the complaint and discipline processes shows how necessary this legislation is. Surveyors must be accountable for their actions to those who make use of their services.

This self-regulation process also has its limits. Even though some responsibilities are transferred, the Minister of Natural Resources reserves the right to intervene if he is of the opinion that the association is not fulfilling its mandate.

 

. 1600 + -

I talked to surveyors in my riding, and they assured me that their interests will be adequately served by the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors. They referred to the New Brunswick surveyors association as an example of a self-regulatory body that works well. It is important that we listen to these people. After all, they are the ones who will be most affected by the changes.

Finally, the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors will be able to fulfil a role which, until now, had been completely ignored by the Department of Natural Resources. Since the association is made up of surveyors, it will be able to design and maintain proper training for its members.

We all know how important it is to see that every group provides training for its members and ensures the renewal of its workforce. This legislation allows the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors to take over continuing education, to ensure that its members get the best possible training.

The only adverse effect of this bill seems to be the increase in fees for permits and liability insurance. This increase will have to be borne by the surveyors, which means they will be passed on to the consumers.

Except for this minor reservation, we should see pass Bill C-31 immediately. Canada's surveyors have waited five years for this legislation. The time has come to act.

[English]

Mr. Jean Dubé (Madawaska—Restigouche, PC): Madam Speaker, let me begin my comments by giving some background on Canada Lands Surveyors. Canada Lands Surveyors performs surveys required for the legal transfer and registration of rights to real estate properties in Yukon, Northwest Territories, Canada's offshore, Indian reserves and Canada's national parks.

Currently provincially regulated lands surveyors perform these functions in each province except for Canada's offshore, Indian reserves and national parks. The Canada Lands Surveyors at present operates under the authority of the Surveyor General of Canada which is part of Natural Resources Canada.

This bill will change this relationship, transferring responsibilities for the regulation to the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors.

This bill would authorize the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors to be a self-regulating association with responsibilities for all aspects of commissioning Canada lands surveyors.

The bill would authorize the association to establish the standards of qualification, knowledge, skill, conduct and practice of Canada lands surveyors.

Furthermore, this bill would authorize the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors to grant commissions to persons who have acquired the appropriate educational qualifications and work experience.

This bill will also give the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors the power to hear complaints and institute a discipline process concerning the conduct of Canada lands surveyors. Some of these discipline powers would include the removal of licences, as well as memberships and commissions of Canada lands surveyors who have been found guilty of professional misconduct or incompetence.

The bill also requires Canada lands surveyors to maintain a membership in the association and a licence to practise in order to be able to perform surveys on Canadian lands.

As well, this bill gives the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors the power to make regulations concerning professional examinations and professional standards for Canada lands surveyors.

This bill also provides for the appointment of a board of the association. The board would be comprised of five members. The current board of examiners under the old act would become redundant.

The Minister of Natural Resources would make appointments to this board. Remuneration for board members would be set by guidelines fixed by Treasury Board. Members that would be required to travel to meetings of the board would have their living and travel expenses covered.

The Surveyor General of Canada will continue to manage surveys under this legislation, as well as establishing standards for those surveys.

 

. 1605 + -

Also remaining under the authority of the surveyor general is the management and maintenance of the survey system and survey frameworks for Canada lands.

The Surveyor General of Canada will also retain control of the boundaries of Canada lands. The custody and record of the surveys will also continue under the auspices of the surveyor general.

The Progressive Conservative Party views this bill as a housekeeping matter. The possible exception is that the Minister of Natural Resources would make appointments to the five member board of the association. With that in mind, we support in principle the thrust of this bill.

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I want to ask the member a question of clarification. I thought he said that the board would consist of five members. It is my understanding that the board would consist of the president, the vice-president, the past president and three members, the Surveyor General of Canada and two persons appointed by the government. That is considerably more than five members. I was confused by his explanation.

I have some concerns, this being a non-government organization, a professional organization that will be responsible to its membership, with an ex-officio member being the Surveyor General of Canada, about what the requirement would be for the minister to have two patronage appointment positions on the board.

Mr. Jean Dubé: Madam Speaker, when I spoke of the five members I meant the five non-executive members. With the executive members I think the hon. member's number is accurate.

I believe the patronage appointments are more in the area of five, not three, because the five directors that are to be appointed by the minister are certainly going to be, as far as I am concerned, patronage appointments.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I listened to the debate of the previous three speakers but, as I understand it, we are not allowed to put questions to previous speakers. However, I have some questions which I would like to ask the hon. member who just spoke.

The Canada Lands Surveyors, as I understand it, is responsible for public domain lands of the Government of Canada, which include Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Indian reserves, national parks, offshore sites, national wildlife areas and migratory birds sanctuaries.

The purpose of Bill C-31 is to establish the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors as a self-governing association which will substitute its board of examiners to establish, under the Canada Lands Surveyors Act, the authority responsible for the examination, admission and qualifications of candidates for commission as Canada lands surveyors.

I have no hesitation in supporting this bill, particularly because this bill is an effort to transfer responsibility to the private sector. I believe the private sector can better regulate its members.

Furthermore, this transfer will result in a cost reduction to the departmental budget.

It is very important for us to define what a Canada lands surveyor is responsible for. Can the member throw some light on what is the definition of the role of the Canada lands surveyors?

Mr. Jean Dubé: Madam Speaker, I thank the member for being attentive to my speech.

If I was a minister of the crown I could probably answer better what the member is asking. I sort of agree with the member's comments, but I think his question would be better directed to government.

Mr. Derrek Konrad (Prince Albert, Ref.): Madam Speaker, the member called this a housekeeping matter. I would say that it is more in the nature of a motherhood issue that everyone could agree with. Housekeeping, to me, says that we are cleaning up something that previously existed, whereas in this case we are building something. We are establishing for the first time legislation to give the Canada lands surveyors self-governing authority. I would like a response to that comment.

 

. 1610 + -

Mr. Jean Dubé: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the housekeeping comment.

The reason for that comment was to identify the patronage appointments that the government will be making.

Mr. Derrek Konrad (Prince Albert, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte for his kind comments about lands surveyors because I am a lands surveyor myself and I agree with his comments.

As a member of a provincial lands surveyors association it gives me great pleasure to speak today to Bill C-31, the Canada Lands Surveyors Act.

Historically dominion lands surveyors, the predecessors of the Canada lands surveyors, had a special role to play in the development of this country. They were issued commissions for the purpose of undertaking surveys of dominion lands. The most obvious and enduring aspect of the work is the dominion lands survey system in western Canada which had its origin at the first principal meridian just west of Winnipeg and its first base line at the Canadian-American border.

The majority of the occupied land in the west is subdivided into one-mile squares which is the most noticeable feature from the air. When flying in to any of the western airports we see that the land is laid out in a rectangular fashion. It is very orderly. Even satellite photos of the prairies show the DLS system of subdivision.

The importance of surveys in the historic and future development of Canada is indisputable.

Surveyors were and remain Canada's explorers. It was surveyors who not only subdivided but mapped this country's frontiers. They also established the borders of this country on the ground after the political decision was made to accept the international boundary as the 49th parallel.

An interesting aside is that American surveyors usually ended up north of the British surveyors, or the other way around, when they made their astronomy shots to determine the exact parallel. Usually the decision was made to split the difference.

Furthermore, surveyors are called on daily to resolve boundary disputes, leading to peaceful relations among members of the public.

The prairies were surveyed during a few decades of intense work as the west was opened up for development and settlers poured in. Legislators of the time recognized the need for an orderly method of subdividing and conveying land to the settlers and also for setting aside the tracts of land reserved for Indians.

The system was developed by Colonel J. S. Dennis and the bulk of the work was carried out for many years under the direction of Dr. Edouard Deville, Surveyor General.

As the western territory was divided into provinces the new provinces assumed control of their lands and the survey of them. The task was undertaken by provincial survey associations which operated under provincial legislation. The legislation provided the means by which the associations governed themselves. They had the authority to elect their own councils, appoint educational and disciplinary committees and pass bylaws to ensure that a high level of competence and professionalism was maintained.

In the provinces land surveys are the responsibility of provincially legislated land survey associations. All provincial land surveyors' associations are self-governing and accountable to the public.

Through the years since provincial associations have been responsible for the maintenance and extension of the survey fabric within the provinces the only change the Dominion Lands Surveyors have had was incorporation in 1985 and a name change. Dominion Lands Surveyors are now officially known as Canada Lands Surveyors. They remain without an elected national executive. They do not have an association directed professional examination committee. They have no registrar nor do they have a discipline committee to investigate complaints and take action against a member found to be in violation of standards of professional conduct.

The legislation before the House today establishes the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors as a self-governing association with all of the powers and responsibilities that entails. For instance, the association will now be able to establish and enforce the standards to qualify for the granting of commissions. This means they will determine appropriate educational levels and standards of professional conduct and skill required both to obtain and maintain a CLS commission. Bill C-31 will enable the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors to create the necessary committees to investigate malpractice complaints and to establish discipline committees which will be empowered to conduct hearings and determine what disciplinary measures are appropriate in individual cases. This will advance the public interest.

 

. 1615 + -

Under the new legislation the association will be able to create a practice review committee charged with the responsibility for ensuring that those who are commissioned for the survey of federal lands maintain a high standard of professionalism.

In the same vein the new act will make it possible for the association to maintain a continuing education program for its members so that the public can have confidence that the surveyors engaged are well prepared for the task.

In line with other jurisdictions, the surveyor general has retained the powers necessary to ensure the ongoing integrity of the survey system. He will continue to retain control of the technical standards for surveys. These include ensuring that surveys comply in all respects with the Canada Lands Surveys Act and regulations, that the surveys meet standards for accuracy of the field work, proper documentation of surveys, including preparation of plans, and monumentation of the survey on the ground.

Despite the many positive features of this legislation there remains one concern. We note that there is a provision for the minister to appoint two members to the governing council. While we in the Reform Party endorse input from the public to ensure professional organizations act in the public interest, we have two concerns with this clause. First, it does not specifically state that the members are to be lay persons and not professional surveyors who may also be members of the civil service. This would defeat the purpose of this requirement.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not mean to interrupt the hon. member while he is giving a good speech but there does not seem to be a quorum in the House.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): There is now a quorum.

Mr. Derrek Konrad: Madam Speaker, I was talking about the possibility for patronage in this bill and I will continue in that line.

While we recognize that it would be impossible to legislate it, what a great day it would be if the Liberal government did not abuse the appointment process to reward loyal Liberal Party members, fundraisers, defeated candidates, friends of friends and that sort of thing. However, based on their recent record of patronage appointments we are not confident that this will not happen.

 

. 1620 + -

The legislation is important and timely so, despite the reservations expressed, the Reform Party will support it and seek amendments.

I also do not want to be uncharitable to the Minister of Natural Resources and the government but they really do not deserve credit for this legislation.

As a land surveyor, I am aware of the years of effort by the associations to have this legislation drafted and introduced in the House of Commons.

Most Canada lands surveyors also hold provincial commissions so they know the benefits of a self-governing professional society. Without their invaluable input this legislation would not have got off the ground.

This legislation is not ground breaking. It simply raises the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors to the same status as a provincial association. It has taken the government years to get from incorporation to legislation. Congratulations are due to the surveyors for their commitment to the creation of this new professional association.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and, by unanimous consent, the House went into committee of the whole thereon, Ms. Thibeault in the chair)

The Assistant Deputy Chairman: Order. House in committee of the whole on Bill C-31, an act respecting Canada lands surveyors.

(Clauses 2 to 12 inclusive agreed to)

The Assistant Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 13 carry?

Some hon. members: On division.

(Clause 13 agreed to)

(Clauses 14 to 16 inclusive agreed to)

The Assistant Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 17 carry?

An hon. member: On division.

(Clause 17 agreed to)

(Clauses 18 to 42 inclusive agreed to)

 

. 1625 + -

The Assistant Deputy Chairman: Shall Clause 43 carry?

An hon. member: On division.

(Clause 43 agreed to)

(Clauses 44 to 104 inclusive agreed to)

 

. 1630 + -

(Clause 1 agreed to)

(Title agreed to)

(Bill reported)  

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (for the Minister of Natural Resources) moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

Some hon. members: Agreed.  

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (for the Minister of Natural Resources) moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Peter Adams: Madam Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent that at the completion of deliberations on Bill C-31 the House will call no further business but will see the clock as standing at 5.30 p.m. and proceed to Private Members' Business.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is there unanimous consent to proceed as such?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

 

. 1635 + -

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Ref.): Madam Speaker, while we support this bill and the principle of what it is trying to achieve, there were some concerns with the bill. I was hoping that the parliamentary secretary might address some of those issues. The members opposite might have noted that there were only a few as we were going through it clause by clause.

I question the wisdom or the need for the minister to appoint two lay people. My colleague, who is a land surveyor, raised that question as well. When the minister has representation through the Surveyor General of Canada on the council, why is it necessary and why is it desirable to have two patronage appointed lay people on that council as well? I would be interested in hearing the government response through the parliamentary secretary.

The other point I wanted to raise is that we had some concerns with the power of a surveyor or a licence holder to have access to private land at any reasonable time as long as that person takes reasonable precautions to avoid damage during the survey. It seems to me that that is a powerful provision in the bill. Perhaps the private landowner would be entitled to some protection for the entry, or that the surveyor would have to go through some process to gain access to the land, to assure the landowner that their interests in that land are protected.

I wanted to raise those concerns on the record before this bill passed third reading. I would be interested in hearing some kind of government response to those concerns. We have not had that opportunity. Unfortunately, I am not sure if we have enough government members present to do that.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

An hon. member: On division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[English]

HOLIDAYS ACT

 

Mr. Bryon Wilfert (Oak Ridges, Lib.) moved that Bill C-369, an act to amend the Holidays Act (Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day) and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

He said: Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to my private members' Bill C-369 which would proclaim November 20 as Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day.

 

. 1640 + -

There is no greater gift we can give future generations than to honour our history, to leave them a memory of our past. This bill asks parliament to recognize the contributions and role that Sir Wilfrid Laurier played in our history.

In asking the House to proclaim November 20 Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day, his birthday, I am not asking the House to proclaim the day a statutory holiday, but rather a day of recognition for Canadians to mark an important milestone in our history.

A true Canadian, Laurier was a skilful and pragmatic politician with a charismatic personality. He was a dominant political figure of his day.

[Translation]

As a French speaking prime minister, he was one of the builders of the nation, from prairie towns to the Canadian navy, in 1909.

[English]

Under his leadership Canada continued its industrialization and urbanization. It was strengthened by the addition of two provinces and two million inhabitants.

In designating November 20, it will pay tribute to Laurier's vision, his determination that Canadians regardless of their ethnic or linguistic background could work together toward a common goal, that of nationhood.

Laurier pursued and consolidated the work of Confederation begun by his predecessors. He was a true nation builder. In these days of political uncertainty we can look to Laurier as an individual who embodied his love for Canada, his love for a united and prosperous country.

We live in an era where our children have little appreciation for our history and for our roots as a nation. Professor J. L. Granatstein in his work Who Killed Canadian History comments on the fact that our knowledge of our history is disappearing.

[Translation]

Those aspects of our past that reflect our traditions, our values and our ideas, and that have helped to shape our society are disappearing from our collective memory.

[English]

This bill will help us recognize and promote our history. The federal government has proclaimed several national days of recognition. February 15 is National Flag Day. We celebrate June 25 as National Aboriginal Day. We have built educational programs around these days. We have helped to expand the understanding and the importance of these days to Canadians but we cannot stop there. We must mark those occasions in our history that are important to our nation's survival and to preserve the memories.

In these times when our national unity is called into question, it is only through the dedicated efforts of concerned Canadians that we find occasions or situations which celebrate the very fact of being Canadian.

Whether by disaster as demonstrated by the ice storm of 1998, or by design as in the more formal declaration of national holidays, I believe we must find ways to come together to celebrate our very Canadianism.

[Translation]

Armed with a better knowledge of our history, we can promote national unity.

[English]

We can define what it means to be Canadian. We can help Canadians better understand their past. My private member's bill is a further step in that direction.

Canadians will judge what we do as legislators in part by how we treat and respect our past. It is worthy to note that this bill which I put before parliament does not infringe upon provincial legislative authority or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Rather, it seeks to enhance that which is truly Canadian, our common interests and sense of deep rooted history.

Joseph Schull in his work outlines the unique vision of Laurier, an individual who viewed himself as a Canadian both in terms of nationality and in terms of thinking.

If Sir John A. Macdonald is considered the Father of Confederation, Sir Wilfrid Laurier can be considered the author of Canadian independence. Such a title in and of itself is worthy of recognition.

[Translation]

Laurier was probably the greatest political orator in our history.

 

. 1645 + -

[English]

Warren Bennis says that leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. This applies to Sir Wilfrid Laurier. As prime minister, Laurier was determined to create a nation that embodied many elements. Laurier said of Canada:

    Our country is Canada. Our fellow countrymen are not only those in whose veins is the blood of France. They are all those whatever their race, whatever their language whom the fortunes of war, the chances of fate or their own choice brought among us.

    If there is anything to which I have devoted my political life, it is to try to promote unity, harmony and amity between the diverse elements of this country.

Laurier said:

    I am a Canadian. Canada has been the inspiration of my life. The 19th century was the century of the United States. I think we can claim that it is Canada that shall fill the 20th century. I cannot hope that I shall see much of the development which the future has in store for my country.

    But whenever my eyes shall close to the light it is my wish, nay it is my hope, that they close upon a Canada united in all its elements, united in every particular. Every element cherishing the tradition of the past.

    And all uniting in cherishing still more hope for the future.

These words of Laurier are as relevant today as when they were first spoken.

I read in the Ottawa Citizen of May 3 that research collected by a group of federal bureaucrats shows the Queen and the Mounties were once central institutions. They have found however that these institutions, and in addition the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, no longer provide Canadians with a common sense of identity.

It means, they say, that the federal government must strive in the coming years to refine a unifying vision for the country or risk its disintegration. In the words of the policy research committee:

    Canada will need a new sense of common purpose to preserve social cohesion and to take the country, intact and thriving, into the next century.

[Translation]

The purpose of this bill is to take into consideration the comments I have just cited.

[English]

Proclaiming November 20 a day of official recognition of Sir Wilfrid Laurier will in my view help Canadians focus on our roots and help Canadians appreciate the contributions of a visionary and leader such as Laurier.

We will be judged by how we treat our history. We will be judged by whether or not we are prepared to honour political leaders such as Laurier as nation builders, as representatives who were prepared to lead when others only wanted to stay quiet.

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak to Bill C-369 to make November 20 Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day.

We note that Sir Wilfrid Laurier was born on November 20, 1841 in Saint-Lin, Canada East in Quebec. It was Laurier's parents who first instilled in him the benefits of learning about both the French and English cultures. They sent him to an English school in New Glasgow before attending the French language classical college at L'Assomption. He studied law at McGill and delivered his first ever French valedictory speech at this English speaking institution.

His political career began formally in 1871 when he became a member of the Quebec Legislative Assembly. Three years later he was elected to the House of Commons. He became the minister of inland revenue in 1877 under Alexander Mackenzie. The Liberals became the opposition in 1878 when Sir John A. Macdonald returned to power.

 

. 1650 + -

He led the French Canadian protest against Macdonald's decision to allow the execution of Metis leader Louis Riel in 1885, and while not condoning Riel's action he gained national recognition in condemning the Macdonald government's mishandling of the northwest rebellion.

I might say in parenthesis that I as a member of the Reform Party, having done some research on the issue of Riel, would find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the position of Sir Wilfrid Laurier on that issue.

These actions established Laurier as a man of principle, a reputation which would stick with him throughout his political career. He became leader of the Liberal Party in 1887 following Edward Blake's resignation. He led the Liberals to victory in 1896 and remained Prime Minister until 1911.

Laurier's achievements as prime minister are often cited as including the settlement of the west and the building of an effective transportation system. During his 15 years as prime minister more than one million people moved into Manitoba and the western territories which became the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905.

Laurier said:

    I am a Liberal—I am one of those who think that everywhere there are abuses to be reformed, new horizons to be opened up, and new forces to be developed.

The idea of reform is fundamental to Laurier's liberalism. He had a recognition that reform and compromise were necessary for national unity. We as a party and the present day leader of Reform Party have acknowledged and recognized that Sir Wilfrid Laurier was one of the first reformers in Canada.

Laurier wanted to make changes and make changes in a very positive way. He was not satisfied with the status quo. We believe these fundamental principles still hold true today as we continue to search for new ways to reform the federation and lead Canadians into the 21st century in national harmony.

We would agree with the hon. member for Oak Ridges that our national holidays help to educate Canadians of our history through which we find a shared pride in all things Canadian.

I believe that we have a responsibility in this Chamber, and perhaps people of my generation have a responsibility to those Canadians going through the school system right now, to bring a focus on our Canadian ancestors. Again I agree with the member for Oak Ridges that we need to have a greater knowledge of our history.

I also agree that in supporting the motion there is no need for there to be a national holiday because of the unnecessary cost that would be incurred by it. However, with the stature of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the contribution he brought to Canada and the fundamental ways in which he reformed many of the aspects of Canada, surely he should be noted.

As heritage critic for the official opposition I am pleased to offer my support for Bill C-369. I hope in the event the bill is passed that the Minister of Canadian Heritage finds a way to include Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day, November 20, on her next calendar. I note she happened to miss Easter and Good Friday, so I am sure as she is making corrections on that calendar she would want to make this correction as well.

Anything we can do in the Chamber or as Canadians to bring forward the contributions and the strength of our Canadian ancestors will do nothing but build a stronger nation. As we set these people up, examine their lives and learn from them we can move forward strongly into the 21st century.

I very heartily support the bill proposed by the member for Oak Ridges.

 

. 1655 + -

[Translation]

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Madam Speaker, on March 11, the member for Oak Ridges introduced two private member's bills. Bill C-369 aims to have November 20 designated a national holiday in honour of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The aim of Bill C-370 is to have January 11 designated a national holiday in honour of Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada.

The bill before us today concerns Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the first French Canadian to be elected Prime Minister. Laurier pursued a number of ideals, but the one he considered the most fundamental was that of a united and bicultural Canada. I invite you today to give thought to his action.

Laurier was born into a family whose roots went back to the beginning of New France. He was born four years after the arrival of the troops in 1837 and at about the same time that the government of the union, or Province of Canada, which, according to the recommendations of Lord Durham in his report, was imposed by the British on Canadians of the day, who are now Quebeckers. The objectives of the 1841 government included punishing Canadians for the popular insurrection led by Louis-Joseph Papineau and assimilating them.

Laurier's father felt that both cultures were vital to Canada's survival. He sent Wilfrid to study in New Glasgow, where he lived with a Protestant family. After completing his classical studies at the Collège L'Assomption outside Montreal, he obtained his law degree from McGill in 1864.

The plan to build a Canadian federation dominated the politics of the day. Laurier campaigned actively against this plan with the Rouges and took part in the work of the national committee set up to examine the various plans for federation. The committee's recommendations were overwhelming; in particular, it concluded that the plan should be put to the people. During this period, Laurier even wrote that confederation would spell the death of the French race and the ruin of Lower Canada.

Despite vigorous opposition, Confederation became a reality and Laurier was elected with the Rouges to Quebec's Legislative Assembly. He was opposed to dual representation, as he felt that it signified the takeover by Ottawa of provincial jurisdiction. Laurier defended provincial autonomy, and the preservation of this autonomy would become for him the key to protecting the French fact in Quebec.

He was elected to the federal government in 1874 with Alexander Mackenzie's team. In 1878, he found himself in opposition, where he would remain for 18 years.

In 1885, Laurier took the side of the Metis in Saskatchewan and of Riel. It was in recalling the rebellion of the Patriotes that he said that there were times when the only course open to an oppressed people was insurrection.

In the House of Commons, he said that the real criminals were sitting across from him on the government benches. It was Laurier's view that minorities would have faith in their government if they were treated honestly, and their needs were met. He also held that patience and compromise were essential if violence in this country was to be avoided.

In 1888, buoyed by the support he had garnered in Quebec for the Liberals in the preceding election, in which, for the first time, the Liberals won a majority of seats in Quebec, Laurier became the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

In 1890, D'Alton McCarthy introduced a bill in the House of Commons calling for the abolition of French in the Northwest Territories. Laurier saw clearly that this was part of a movement that would eventually reach Quebec.

In his speech to the House of Commons, he said that this bill was a declaration of war against the French race and that the plan was clear, because the bill was designed to prevent French Canadians from speaking their language everywhere that it was used. For him, the only way to protect Quebec was to defend provincial autonomy, even though the price to be paid was sometimes high in other regions of the country where francophones were in the minority. He approved an amendment making it possible to abolish the use of French in the Northwest Territories.

In 1891, the Government of Manitoba introduced two bills: one abolishing the French language as an official language, and the other taking out of the hands of francophones the funding of their separate, Catholic schools. In 1895, the Privy Council in London, England, ruled that the federal government had the right to intervene to restore the constitutional right of francophones.

The Conservatives tabled a bill restoring the rights of the minority in Manitoba, but Laurier feared that, in reaction against the federal government's action, the other provinces would follow Manitoba's lead. He promised that, once back in office, he would find a solution that would satisfy the minority and serve justice in terms of equal rights, on which our Constitution is based.

 

. 1700 + -

Sensing that an election was imminent and that public opinion was on their side, the Liberals led by Laurier filibustered to delay passage of the bill. A general election was called.

On June 23, 1896, Laurier became the Prime Minister of Canada with the support of French Canadians in Quebec, who chose a French-speaking Catholic over an English-speaking Protestant in spite of the fact that Laurier had opposed the bill to restore French schools in Manitoba. Robert Rumily wrote:

    At the risk of displeasing Ontario supporters, Conservative leaders made an effort to be fair to Catholics and French Canadians. The Province of Quebec voted instead for a leader with a French Canadian name but English sympathies, who had hindered this effort and was not promising à and would not offer—anything for the future.

On November 19, 1896, to settle the Manitoba school issue, the Laurier-Greenway agreement was signed. This agreement provided that English and another language would be the languages of instruction in bilingual schools, wherever ten or more students spoke a language other than English. This therefore put all other languages on the same level as French. According to historian Réal Bélanger, Laurier was laying the very idea of a bicultural Canada open to question with this action.

The year 1905 brought the Saskatchewan separate school crisis, and Laurier gave in once again, as he had for the Northwest Territories and Manitoba. According to him, it would be up to the provinces to decide whether or not to make separate schools available.

In 1912, Laurier was in opposition when the crisis broke over the adoption of Ontario regulation 17, which to all intents and purposes abolished French language teaching in that province. The people of Quebec followed the struggle of the franco-Ontarians with emotion. French Canadian solidarity with the francophones of Ontario even became the primary obstacle to recruiting French Canadians for the first world war. Laurier felt that he had given in enough to the anglophones. He saw that aggression toward the minority was coming close to the borders of Quebec.

The Soleil de Québec of the time voiced the following opinion:

    When the malice and bad faith of the adversaries of French has been proven, we in the province of Quebec will be forced to conclude that it is no longer possible to co-exist with those who betray us and cheat us.

This debate was to be followed with the one on conscription. Laurier was against it, because he felt that, if it was Canada's duty to sustain the British Empire, that contribution needed to remain a voluntary one.

That position prompted the following comment from the London Free Press:

    The Hun is among us—Just look at the situation in Quebec. A vote for one of Laurier's men is a vote for the Kaiser.

Laurier's political career was marked by many other important milestones: the massive immigration influx to the west, expanding trade, the country's economic growth, Canada's status in the British Empire. He is credited with moving Canada from colony to nationhood.

One of his greatest victories in Quebec was to have paved the way for the separation of political and religious power.

But as regards national unity, here is what historian Réal Bélanger wrote:

    The most negative aspect unquestionably remains the compromises made that sealed the fate of French-Canadian catholic minorities outside Quebec—Here, the illustrious leader lost some of his glory—The Anglo-Saxon character and mentality that prevails in 9 out of the 10 provinces is partly the result of concessions made by this great man who, strangely, always claimed to be receptive to the aspirations of the minority dispersed across the country—The Arthabaska lawyer even inspired his successors, all the way to Pierre-Elliott Trudeau. To preserve Canadian unity according to the Anglo-Canadian way, these people resorted to the “small steps” strategy—In the end, that strategy often had a negative impact on the cause that these men thought they were defending.

Today, the francophonie in Canada, outside Quebec, is eroding. It only accounts for 3% of the country's population.

 

. 1705 + -

I am not saying Wilfrid Laurier is responsible for this situation. He was, as are today the francophones of this government, the instrument of an English speaking Canadian majority that did not want Canada to become a united and bicultural country.

The Bloc Quebecois exists, among other reasons, because Sir Wilfrid Laurier's dream was a dismal failure.

[English]

Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP): Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today to Bill C-369, which would establish Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day, November 20, as a national holiday to be observed throughout Canada.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was born in Saint-Lin, Quebec, in 1841. He was the son of a farmer. He studied at McGill. In the 1896 election Laurier became our first francophone prime minister.

National unity was of supreme importance to Laurier. He saw how divisive the Riel and the Manitoba school issues were and he sought to reconcile the interests of French and English Canadians with his policies.

In 1885 Laurier supported Louis Riel as a French national martyr. He vigorously supported the cause of the Metis leader and the need to unite the French and English in Canada.

It is interesting and important to me that in 1917 he opposed the process of conscription. Instead he proposed a referendum and a continuous voluntary enlistment.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier believed in human rights. He believed in protecting people's democratic rights. As the hon. member opposite said, he was a nation builder. He was an interesting and valuable voice in our country, of that there is no doubt.

However, do we need a day to commemorate him? I think not. I appreciate that the hon. member opposite finds Laurier an instructive and inspiring leader and I respect that fact, but I do not feel the need at this point in time to name a day after him.

I agree with the member that Canadians should recognize their roots. It is very important for us to draw strength from our roots. We need to find inspiration and guidance from the people who came before us, but each one of us looks to different people for inspiration.

I have found inspiration in an early suffragette named Francis Beynon. She was an early journalist in Winnipeg in the 1910s. She worked for the Women Grain Growers. She worked for many years spreading information and communicating with isolated women on the prairies who lived on mile-wide farms and had no contact with anyone.

She taught them a lot about their rights. She was very involved in the struggle to get the first vote for women. When the first world war came along she fought very hard to get the vote for immigrant women. That was not an easy battle because, unfortunately, there were a lot of women even in this country who were unwilling to allow foreign women to vote during the war.

She took this important democratic stand. I respect her for that. It was not a popular stand. She also fought against conscription. I believe that she passed out of history because she did not take a popular stand.

I respect and find inspiration in people like Francis Beynon. I do not know whether I should suggest that we also have a Francis Beynon day, but I want to make the point that the inspiration in my life would not come from Sir Wilfrid Laurier, it would come from one of the early suffragettes who worked long and hard for some of the rights which I now enjoy in the House of Commons.

Other people might find inspiration in other places. Another inspirational person might be Agnes MacPhail. She was a political reformer, born in Ontario in the 1880s. MacPhail was the only woman elected to the Canadian Parliament in 1921. That was the first federal election in which women had the vote. She served until she was defeated in 1940.

 

. 1710 + -

In 1943 she was one of the first two women to be elected to the Ontario legislature. She lost her seat, but was again elected in 1948. She was also the first woman appointed to the Canadian delegation of the League of Nations where she insisted on serving on the disarmament committee.

Again, this was a very important woman in Canadian history. She was a peacemaker and an inspiration to many women. Perhaps some people would like to see an Agnes MacPhail day.

Very recently I had the privilege of being part of an unveiling of a plaque for Portia White in Preston, Nova Scotia. She was a very famous and inspirational black Canadian woman from my community.

Portia White was the first African Canadian woman to win international acclaim as an opera singer. She was a famous musician in our country. She was born in a musical family and taught choir in a church. She was a teacher and a community person who is remembered by thousands of people now scattered all over the country. She has become well known as an inspiration for thousands of young black Nova Scotians.

I too believe we should be celebrating our roots and our ancestors. We should be helping young Canadians to find inspiration wherever they can. I think it may be more appropriate, instead of having a day that represents one inspiration, such as Sir Wilfrid Laurier, to have an ancestor day. We accept the fact that we all have ancestors who we gain strength from and we should try to recognize them in a public way. I believe that would go a long way in encouraging us to gain strength from our roots and in helping us to understand our roots better.

I do not agree that a Sir Wilfrid Laurier day is a wise option at this point in time. I would instead suggest that we make it an ancestor day.

Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-369, an act to amend the Holidays Act (Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day), and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

I must admit that when I first saw this bill I thought it was just another example of Liberal partisanship, but then I noticed that the member had also introduced Bill C-370, an act to amend the Holidays Act to designate January 11 as Sir John A. Macdonald Day.

Yesterday the president of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation Board, Adrienne Clarkson, appearing before the Canadian heritage committee, illustrated the need to do more to encourage our youth to learn more about their country.

A recent survey revealed very disturbing findings on our knowledge of history. An alarming percentage of young Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 who were surveyed could not say in what century Confederation took place or who we fought against in the first world war.

Twenty-four per cent of university graduates did not know that our Constitution had been repatriated.

We need to do more to help educate our students and in fact all Canadians about our rich history and heritage. This bill is a step in that direction. I would like to thank the member opposite for his continued interest in promoting the history of this great country.

The PC Party wishes to see the great historical figures of our country commemorated and their exploits celebrated. Let me be clear in saying that our party would not have a problem with amending the Holidays Act to include Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day to be commemorated on November 20. We would support a day of commemoration, just as my colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough proposed a day of commemoration for our fallen police and peace officers.

However, we do not support a paid holiday. A holiday with pay does not guarantee greater awareness of key points in Canada's history and costs an excessive amount to the country's employers.

 

. 1715 + -

In preparing for this debate I came across a February 1997 edition of Maclean's magazine that reported the findings of a survey of 25 well-known Canadian historians and scholars. They were to rate our prime ministers. Sir Wilfrid Laurier came in third might I add behind Sir John A. Macdonald.

Many referred to Laurier's legacy to Canadians as that of being a splendid orator and a master of political compromise. It is quite obvious when we look across this House today that those Liberal shoes were too big to fill.

[Translation]

In closing, I am proud to note that Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the first French Canadian to become Prime Minister of Canada. The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada has no objection to November 20 being designated Sir Wilfrid Laurier day and the Minister of Canadian Heritage being given the task of recognizing the contribution by Sir Wilfrid Laurier and other great Canadians to the development of this country. However, it does oppose this day's becoming a mandatory paid holiday.

[English]

Ms. Aileen Carroll (Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, Lib.): Madam Speaker, many Liberals think of Sir Wilfrid Laurier as the real founder of the Liberal Party.

When Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, was in power the chief opposition to Macdonald came from two recalcitrant reform groups: les Rouges of Lower Canada, a group of French speaking radicals whose chief target was the Roman Catholic church; and the Clear Grits, originally an assemblage of discontented Presbyterian and Methodist farmers from the area southwest of Toronto. While the Grits disappeared as an entity in the 1870s the term clung to Liberals and was still widely used a century later.

Laurier was an attractive man, an elegantly handsome lawyer from a Quebec country town, eloquent, ambitious and sensitive. Early in his political life as one of the young leaders of les Rouges he had realized that if his confrères were ever to gain office they would have to form an alliance with the English and at the same time soften their anticlerical stance by identifying themselves with a political program acceptable to the Roman Catholic church.

Laurier proselytized that these goals could be reached through stressing the liberalism of his party, demanding the separation of republican and anticlerical dogmas. What he was saying to both races was that les Rouges could take a moderate approach compatible with the philosophy of William Lyon Mackenzie, the first Liberal prime minister, and Edward Blake, the only federal Liberal Party leader in Canada never to become prime minister.

He emphasized compromise and admiration for the liberal reform ideals that were then articulated by William Gladstone in England and that were to have a hold on the imaginations of Canadian Liberals for decades to come.

[Translation]

Laurier served four terms as Prime Minister, from 1896 to 1911. He taught us Liberals many of our greatest principles, including the most important: the need to find and maintain common ground between anglophones and francophones.

The Liberals realize that Laurier won the 1896 elections because the Conservatives had lost sight of this fundamental principle of the Canadian federation.

[English]

For Liberals the lessons of Laurier's leadership went far beyond the French-English entente. He buried dogmatism, abandoning the ideological rigidities that had plagued les Rouges and the Clear Grits. He built his electoral strength on the organizational backs of Liberal provincial premiers, Oliver Mowat of Ontario, William Stevens Fielding of Nova Scotia and Andrew George Blair of New Brunswick. He brought them into his cabinet as power brokers for their regions.

 

. 1720 + -

He launched the building of a second transcontinental railroad and sought support from the business community, modifying his party's commitment to free trade in order to appease the country's new industrialists.

Laurier supported the aggressive open immigration policy of his minister of the interior, Sir Clifford Sifton, whose purpose was the settlement of the west. He talked optimistically about the glorious future of Canada.

Laurier's successes were turned into principles that Liberals have followed for decades. Despite some setbacks, Laurier on the whole skilfully walked the French-English tightrope throughout his years in office, balancing French Canada's racial fears and

[Translation]

Nearly a century ago, Sir Wilfrid Laurier predicted that “it is Canada that shall fill the 20th century”. When we look back at it, who could call him wrong? The challenge before us now is to find a balance or a compromise among ourselves and among our many interests to make the 21st century Canada's as well.

[English]

Sir Wilfrid Laurier believed immensely in his country. He held strong views of what Canada could be or should be. More important, he possessed vision for Canada and for Canadians.

For all of these reasons, it seems very appropriate to celebrate the beginning of the 21st century by amending the Holidays Act to honour this remarkable Canadian by designating Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day.

Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak in support of private members' Bill C-369, an act to amend the Holidays Act, introduced by my colleague the hon. member for Oak Ridges. The hon. member's bill would set aside November 20 in recognition of the contributions made to Canada by Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Why would we commemorate Laurier? Many of us remember him from our early learning of history. He has been described as the golden tongued Laurier, the seventh prime minister, the first French speaking Canadian to hold our highest political office, a man of breadth and a man of vision, a hero even among those who disagreed with him.

Laurier travelled a vast and varied political road. However, whatever we have come to associate with his name, he was first and foremost a true Canadian. He stood for those key issues which remain close to the heart of all Canadians: tolerance, national unity, and the continuing development and growth of Canada.

In preparation for today's debate I requested a copy of Laurier's maiden speech in this House from the library. Some may be surprised to learn that it was delivered before the time of Hansard. All that is available to commemorate his remarks are the comments people made about them and the excerpts in the paper. Times certainly have changed.

Although many issues of the day have changed beyond what Laurier could have imagined, others closely mirror the challenges that he faced during his tenure here.

Some of the challenges which he met, members of this House have also met. He dealt with the question of denominational schools. This parliament has addressed that very issue. Under his government two new provinces, Saskatchewan and Alberta, were added to Confederation. We are currently working on the creation of Nunavut.

Laurier once said “I look forward to the day when Canada will have a population of 30 million inhabitants, of 40 million perhaps, and when its voice will weigh in the destinies of the world”. Over 100 years later we are there.

Canada is admired around the world for its quality of life and its international role in peacekeeping and peaceful actions, most recently through the realization of our goal for an international ban on anti-personnel land mines.

While we as a country continue to develop our strength within our national borders and across international boundaries, as we move into the next century and the next millennium, it is fitting that we pay tribute to the last prime minister to lead Canada into a new century, and to face and meet the challenges that lay before our country.

 

. 1725 + -

I am pleased to support the hon. member's bill. Here is to Laurier. In the words of the Prime Minister leading us into the next millennium, “here in this place that was home to Laurier, let us find inspiration for an even brighter future for us all”.

Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the hon. member for Oak Ridges and his bill. It is an excellent bill and one which is worthy of support by the House.

Canada is one of the world's oldest democracies. It was conceived in 1841 by LaFontaine and Baldwin in the context of some competing visions. Canada is a great idea and sustains itself as a great idea by virtue of its visionaries. It was conceived at the time when the competing visions were very strong indeed.

There was a competing vision of being closer to the British Empire which my ancestors frankly supported. People from British ancestry, British stock said that we needed a relationship that was closer to the British Empire.

On the other hand there was the emergent empire of the United States. It was quite a force in terms of its ability to attract people to populate the country and clearly was a force to be reckoned with and one of great attraction to many Canadians.

Then there was a third vision which was centred in Quebec. It wanted its relationship to be much closer to the mother country on a colonial tie basis.

In this maelstrom of visions emerged the vision of LaFontaine and Baldwin which led to the creation of Canada. Canada, being Upper Canada and Lower Canada, attracted in turn other provinces primarily from the Atlantic region and emerged from that in 1867 as a nation.

What has kept Canada together over these great number of years has been the visions of its leaders, particularly with Macdonald who brought the country together by virtue of a railway. The railway made absolutely no sense from an economic standpoint. It should have gone down through the United States and come back up into Canada. The point of the railway was not to make an economic livelihood for people but was to unite the country.

Similarly Laurier had visions such as that, visions which made for a country, nation building visions. One of the strongest ones was with respect to immigration to the west, the population of the west. It was an idea which allowed Canada to bring to its territory huge numbers of immigrants to populate the west, largely in response to the encroachments of people from the United States.

Around 1917 and 1918 over 400,000 people came to this country of six million at the time, something in the order of 7% or 8% of the population. It is an incredible thought when we think of it in the context of our own immigration policy which strives to do 1% of the population.

Similarly, Laurier resisted the encroachments of the British Empire, the attraction of being part of the trading agreement. He stuck out his political neck, shall we say, and tried to make distance between Canada and the British Empire.

I support the hon. member's bill. One of Laurier's speeches says “Although Caesar once said that he would rather be first in a village than second in Rome, I say that it is my ambition to be a citizen of a great country. I look forward to the day when Canada will have a population of 30 million to 40 million perhaps, and when its voice will weigh in the destinies of the world”.

That day has arrived. Therefore I support the recognition of that day.

 

. 1730 + -

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): There is only time for the reply of the member who put forward the bill.

Mr. Bryon Wilfert: Madam Speaker, may I split my time with the member for Brossard—La Prairie?

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): If the hon. member has unanimous consent of the House I do not see any problem. Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Translation]

Mr. Jacques Saada (Brossard—La Prairie, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on Sir Wilfrid Laurier's contribution to our history.

I had hoped to do so in a non political fashion, as a Canadian recognizing the contribution of an eminent Canadian to our history.

However, before beginning, I must make a quick correction. In her speech, a few minutes ago, the hon. member for Rimouski—Mitis said that the Canadians of the time were today's Quebeckers, when she referred to a well researched document which I respect, even though I do not share the views of its author. This is not quite accurate because, at the time, the term Canadians referred to all francophones in America, in Canada, and did not just include those we now call Quebeckers.

Some 12 or 15 months ago, I attended a meeting with history teachers and I asked them point blank who, in their opinion, had been the best Prime Minister in the history of Canada. The answer to such a question requires one to think for a moment. However, two of the teachers spontaneously said it was probably Wilfrid Laurier. I asked them why. The first answer that came from one of the teachers was Laurier's sense of compromise.

It goes without saying that no political career can be perfect. Politicians face unavoidable obstacles. Their decisions may be arguable, but it is the spirit of compromise shown by Laurier, and by others, but particularly by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, that led to the building of a country which, while it may not be perfect, is nevertheless the envy of many.

Canada was built on compromise, on honourable compromise that was respectful of the other party. This is not just a philosophy or a concept: it is also reflected by concrete measures, such a equalization.

There are many writers, musicians, artists and authors who did not get the recognition they deserved in their day. The same is true for—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but I must leave the remaining two and a half minutes to the member for Oak Ridges.

[English]

Mr. Bryon Wilfert (Oak Ridges, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I thank the members who spoke to my bill today. It does not ask for a statutory holiday but a day of recognition.

My colleagues spoke of other very notable people who could be recognized. The major difference is that Laurier was a prime minister and certainly the father of Canadian independence.

It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. If one does not understand the past one has no concept of the present and is unable to contemplate the future. By recognizing and promoting Laurier Day, November 20, is to give Canadians a sense of who they are.

As my colleague has just said, the spirit of the country was built on compromise. The spirit of the country was built by Canadians working together, the settling of the west, because of Laurier and because of men of vision.

 

. 1735 + -

It is important that we as Canadians in the House look to that inspiration. By proclaiming November 20 we are able to point to this day and tell our young people how important Laurier was as a nation builder. Then, as we go into the next century, we will have a good understanding of what it means to be Canadian, the glue that brings us together as a people. That is extremely important.

I thank my colleagues for the debate and seek the pleasure of the Chair to make the bill votable.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is there unanimous consent of the House to make the bill votable?

Some hon. members: No.

[Translation]

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. This item is dropped from the Order Paper.



ADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS

[Translation]

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

SENIORS BENEFITS

Mr. Jean Dubé (Madawaska—Restigouche, PC): Mr. Speaker, on March 17, I asked the Minister of Finance why he continued to discourage people from saving for retirement.

I explained to the House that a number of financial experts were discouraging middle class Canadians over 50 from investing in RRSPs. With the new seniors benefit, the money they save today will not make up for the tax they will have to pay later.

This is only one of the weaknesses in the seniors benefit the Minister of Finance announced over two years ago.

Many have been critical of it. Here are some of their concerns. With current marginal tax rates, the recovery of 20% of income over $26,000 means that middle income seniors would have a marginal income tax rate of 60% to 70%.

Middle income Canadians will no longer have anything to gain by saving for their old age. Seniors choosing to remain in the labour market will discover they are keeping only 30% of their salary.

When the income of a couple entitles them to the benefit, the husband and the wife will each receive a cheque, but the wife's entitlement to a pension will depend on the husband's income.

A study commissioned by the Canadian Real Estate Association also revealed that seniors who live alone and who have an income exceeding $31,000 will see their financial situation deteriorate, as well as couples with a total income of $26,000.

When there is an increase from the present situation, that increase will not exceed $120 a year in most cases. However, middle income seniors could lose from $3,000 to $7,000 a year compared to what they are getting under the present system.

Even middle income seniors who choose to stay with the old system will pay more taxes since the age credit and the pension benefit credit will be abolished when the new seniors benefit is implemented.

Indeed, with the implementation of the seniors benefit, the Liberals propose to abolish the old age pension, the pension benefit credit, the age credit and the guaranteed income supplement.

They are still refusing to provide a thorough analysis of the impact of these measures on tomorrow's retirees.

Instead of encouraging individual responsibility, the proposed benefit will discourage everybody from saving for their retirement, except for the wealthiest people. It will also prompt a lot of seniors to get out of the labour force since they would keep only 30% of their salary.

The Progressive Conservative Party intends to force the government to fully disclose to Canadians the financial impact of the proposed seniors benefit. Canadians of all ages must understand the consequences of this new benefit.

We must prevent the government from destroying the foundations of our national retirement income system.

 

. 1740 + -

I encourage all Canadians to write to their respective MPs to express their opposition to the new seniors benefit proposed by the finance minister and to tell the minister to get his hands out of their pockets.

[English]

Mr. Gerry Byrne (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I rise in response to my colleague's intervention regarding the seniors benefit and the Canadian pension system at large.

The government has actually stabilized the nation's pension system in terms of the Canada pension plan. As well we are moving forward in terms of the seniors benefit and providing security and access to income for seniors. This is very responsible.

While the hon. member continued to discuss issues of partisan politics, I point out that the government actually stabilized the system after years of neglect under a previous administration by another prime minister.

The government is committed to developing the best policy for the public pension system and the whole retirement income system in Canada. That is why we took time last fall to consult extensively with seniors groups, social groups and pension industry experts on the proposed seniors benefit.

Meetings were held from coast to coast. We listened carefully to the issues that were raised and to the concerns that were expressed. We took time to consult with Canadians because it is important that the government be fully aware of the concerns and views of seniors. The pension industry and other interested parties also have points of view that we took into consideration.

We have done that and now we are reviewing the proposal based on what we heard from Canadians. That is the reason an announcement has been delayed on the seniors benefit issue. We are making every effort to ensure that the concerns of Canadians are reflected in our proposed policy for the retirement income system.

Members on these benches are listening intently to different ideas and to different positions on the pension system and the seniors benefit. I mention, for example, the member for Hillsborough who has done an admirable job working directly with the Minister of Finance on the issue as recently as today.

HEPATITIS C

Mr. Greg Thompson (Charlotte, PC): Madam Speaker, I wanted to put a few more words on record with regard to the hepatitis C package.

We know the federal, provincial and territorial health ministers are to meet next week to re-examine the package. We know the package is flawed. The government is very arbitrarily leaving innocent victims in an strict and totally artificial timeframe from 1986 to 1990 outside the package. I believe we have to compensate all victims.

The point I want to make this evening is simply in response to what the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health said today. I am a bit concerned because I do not think they have learned anything from the debate that has taken place and the displeasure expressed by Canadians from coast to coast to coast for the package as it presently exists.

They are basically saying that they will not change anything. If one listens to today's language of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health, that is exactly what they are saying. Why are they to meet with the health ministers if they are to stick to the original package? What is to be accomplished by that type of stance?

The Prime Minister today tried to twist the words of the premier of the province of Ontario and his recognition of the problem. What I have in my hand is the letter that was sent to the Prime Minister yesterday by the Premier of Ontario.

I want to quote from the second paragraph of the letter. The Premier of Ontario, Premier Harris, states “Ontario is committed to sharing assistance for pre-1986 victims on the same basis as the existing package for those infected between 1986 and 1990”. How much plainer can you be than that? The Prime Minister today stood in the House and tried to twist the words of the premier, but those words are on paper.

 

. 1745 + -

What I am saying is that I think he has taken the most reasonable approach that we could possibly take. He is committing dollars to innocent victims left outside the package. The Prime Minister is denying that. He stood in the House today and denied it. There is something wrong when the Prime Minister of Canada cannot accept responsibility for innocent victims and a botched plan on behalf of his health minister.

They are being sacrificed by the finance minister. The only person taking great pleasure in this package is the finance minister. He sits over there with a big cheshire cat grin on his face every time we debate this. Unfortunately it is politics being played out on the front benches of the Liberal government.

The responsibility for Canada's blood supply system falls totally and completely at the doorstep of the federal health minister. The federal government is responsible. What I am asking it to do is to act unilaterally because, unfortunately, not all of the provinces are rich. Not all of the provinces can afford to give more to that package.

As I conclude I want to put this on the record. Is the health minister willing to swallow himself whole to make this package work?

Mr. Gerry Byrne (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Madam Speaker, in response to the hon. member's comments regarding the hepatitis C package and his interpretation of the federal-provincial process involved in these particularly difficult negotiations, I simply would like to point out that if there has been any twisting of words it has been by the hon. member.

What this House understands and what the people of Canada understand extremely well and very thoroughly is that it was the Government of Canada and this health minister that provided an opportunity for health ministers and premiers from across the country to come to the conclusion that where there was fault there should be compensation.

Let me make this very clear. While the hon. member from the Conservative Party holds up a letter from the Conservative premier of Ontario stating that now he has seen the light and is prepared to initiate an action, I would like the hon. member to stand and say specifically where the hon. premier was in the last 12 months.

While no other premier, no other health minister in this country was willing to stand to support a compensation package to bring the parties to the table, this health minister was. This health minister, despite the objections of some, brought the parties together and came up with a deal.

That deal was signed and put in place by premiers and by health ministers from across the country, representing not just Liberals, not just Conservatives, but New Democrats, separatists—members from all parties and all walks of life.

Now we have a change of heart. We have members who are now suggesting they have seen the light and they want to twist the words of their colleague, the premier of Ontario. We have nothing to learn from Mr. Harris or from the hon. members opposite.

[Translation]

SHIPBUILDING

Mr. Antoine Dubé (Lévis, BQ): Madam Speaker, on April 2 in this House, I put a question to the Prime Minister about the implementation of a real shipbuilding policy. It was the hon. parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Industry who answered my question and I guess he will be the one answering again today.

I then reminded the House that the Liberal candidates in the Quebec City area, including the Prime Minister's current chief of staff, had promised to hold a summit on the future of shipbuilding in Canada in the year following the election and coming into office of a Liberal government. Here we are in 1998, five years later, and no summit has been held.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, I have suggested several times this year that the committee address the issue of a shipbuilding policy. I have written to the Prime Minister and asked questions in this House.

 

. 1750 + -

The last time he appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry, the minister finally told me he might have done something in terms of subsidies but, since he has no intention of doing anything, he steered me off in a different direction.

The parliamentary secretary seemed to indicate in his response that all was well in the shipbuilding industry. Yet, the Canadian shipbuilding association, which represents Canada's leading shipyards, has been asking the government for a year to implement a number of measures.

First, an improved export financing and loan guarantee program similar to the Title XI program in the United States.

Second, the exemption of new ships built in Canadian shipyards from Revenue Canada's current leasing regulations.

Third, a refundable tax credit for Canadian shipbuilders and ship owners who enter into contracts to build ships or conversion contracts involving a change in roles, mid-life refit or major refit.

Fourth, the elimination of the unilateral aspects of NAFTA which allow the Americans to sell new or used ships to Canada while denying Canadians any access to the American market.

These are but four measures. Others could also be taken. For example, in its 1997 budget, the Quebec government introduced tax credits for any type of shipbuilding and, 12 months later, extended these credits to drilling rigs. For the Lévis shipyard in particular, this is a very important niche in the market.

I conclude with the hope that the parliamentary secretary will be able to provide me with more information. What are the Liberal government's plans? Does it plan to follow up on its 1993 promise to hold a summit? Or, failing that, could the Standing Committee on Industry or the Standing Committee on Finance study the matter, as Liberal delegates requested at the last Liberal Party convention here in Ottawa less than two months ago? They too asked the government to do this, following similar requests by the premiers at their meeting in St. Andrew's last fall.

I ask the parliamentary secretary: When the government will honour its promises?

[English]

Mr. Walt Lastewka (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased that the hon. member for Lévis has given me the opportunity to speak on the subject of federal shipbuilding policy. I appreciate some of his concerns.

Let me first say that most Canadian shipyards are generally in good shape, providing repair and refit services and some new construction to the commercial marine market and government fleets.

However, Canada is only one of many players in shipbuilding internationally. We must recognize that fact and ensure that our industry is geared to realistic market opportunities. That is why between 1986 and 1993 the federal government spent nearly $200 million on an industry-led rationalization process. The industry itself decided it was necessary to reduce its capacity so that the remaining shipyards could survive and remain competitive.

I must also stress that this government already has a shipbuilding policy. It consists of support to the industry in the form of the following measures and the Minister of Industry has repeated them over and over in this House: domestic procurement by the federal government for all its ship construction and repair requirements where it is feasible to do so; a 25% tariff on most non-NAFTA foreign built ships; an accelerated capital cost allowance of 33.3% on new ships built in Canada, which many other sectors have requested; financing through the Export Development Corporation for commercially viable transactions; and a favourable R and D tax credit system that encourages shipbuilders to keep pace with new technology.

I work with various shipbuilding and repair companies. I encourage them to become more and more competitive, but subsidies are not an answer.

In summary, this government is now and always has been supportive of the shipbuilding industry and we will continue to encourage its development.

 

. 1755 + -

REFORESTATION

Ms. Louise Hardy (Yukon, NDP): Madam Speaker, since 1995 Elijah Smith reforestation funds have been collected and deposited in the consolidated revenue fund but they have not been available for reforestation in Yukon. The federal government has recognized that the process is not transparent or workable. The President of the Treasury Board says that it is necessary to amend the Territorial Lands Act to establish a separate account in the Accounts of Canada for reforestation in Yukon. It is unfortunate that it has taken so long to initiate this process.

At the same time Canada is in the process of devolving provincial like powers to Yukon. Considering that the federal government proposes that the Yukon government assume responsibility for the administration and control of lands, forest, water and mineral resources, I call on the government to modernize the Yukon Act so it is consistent with the powers currently exercised by the Yukon government and the powers to be conferred on the new territory of Nunavut.

The department of Indian affairs currently manages the inventory of Yukon forests. Rather than amending the Territorial Lands Act to open a separate account for reforestation, the federal government will better serve the people of Yukon by modernizing the Yukon Act so it is consistent with the devolution objectives and gives the provincial powers needed for Yukon to manage its own forestry.

Mr. George Proud (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Madam Speaker, on April 23 the hon. member asked a question about the Elijah Smith reforestation fund, in particular about the disbursement of the funds once deposited.

Since 1995 Yukon timber harvesters have been contributing to the cost of reforestation in Yukon. I assure the hon. member that reforestation activities have occurred. In 1995, 100,000 seedlings were planted. This number increased to 480,000 in 1996 and 800,000 in 1997. Other reforestation activities have also occurred such as the collection of pine and spruce cones and the purchase of site preparation equipment.

When the 1995 regulations were implemented the disbursement mechanism was put in place. Under the mechanism revenues from Yukon reforestation fees are deposited in the CRF. INAK is authorized to draw into its budget an amount equivalent to the value of the revenues deposited.

However we recognize that the current process of collecting and disbursing funds to reforestation could be more transparent to the residents of Yukon, particularly to timber harvesters.

To this end Treasury Board people have been working with INAK to establish a more transparent process. To do so legislation must be created, and this is consistent with the requirements of the Financial Administration Act.

INAK is currently working on a proposal to amend the Territorial Lands Act which would include a provision to establish a separate account in the Accounts of Canada. This would enable the collection and distribution of funds for reforestation to be tracked publicly. We hope to put this in place as quickly as possible with the co-operation of parliament.

[Translation]

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 5.55 p.m.)

 

ParlVU