Thursday, April 14, 1994
Motion for adoption of fifteenth report 3013
Mrs. Gagnon (Québec) 3014
Mr. White (North Vancouver) 3014
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) 3020
Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 3024
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville) 3031
Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 3039
Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 3041
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3045
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3045
Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 3045
Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 3046
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 3046
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 3046
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 3046
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 3047
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3047
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3047
Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 3048
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3048
Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 3048
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3048
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3049
Mr. Mills (Red Deer) 3050
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval) 3050
Bill C-18. Consideration resumed of motion forsecond reading. 3050
Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 3054
Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 3064
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac) 3065
Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 3066
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval) 3070
Mrs. Gagnon (Québec) 3073
Mr. Gagnon (Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine) 3075
Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 3076
PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Thursday, April 14, 1994
The House met at 10 a.m.
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and
Mr. Speaker, to hold Canadian citizenship is our
greatest honour and responsibility. It is also recognized around
the world as a symbol of opportunity, equality, freedom,
fairness, and above all hope.
If we are to move forward as a nation Canadian citizenship
must be strengthened and appreciated even more.
Next week is National Citizenship Week, a time when all
Canadians are encouraged to reflect on the principles, rights and
responsibilities of our citizenship. Therefore this is a most
opportune time for me to make two announcements on behalf of
the government and the people of Canada.
First, I am pleased to announce plans for the development of a
new Citizenship Act. We have had a proud history of citizenship
legislation in the country, a history of generosity and
progressiveness, but the Citizenship Act as it exists today is
almost 20 years old and we have rarely amended it in any serious
I wish to propose far-reaching changes to citizenship
legislation that will be part of the renewal of our identity as
Canadians-changes to strenghten the ties that hold us
together-whether we are Canadian by birth or by choice.
There are compelling reasons to undertake this initiative at
this time. It actively addresses an issue important to all
Canadians, affirming a sense of pride in ourselves and
confidence in our nation.
We also require a new Citizenship Act both to respond to the
realities of our changing society and to guide us into that future.
We need a dynamic act that underscores the significance of an
active, aggressive, enthusiastic citizenship. We need a
Citizenship Act that also ensures fairness and integrity, one that
removes certain discriminatory aspects of current legislation,
eliminates inconsistencies in the granting of Canadian
citizenship and improves the process of acquiring that
citizenship and that Canadian passport.
These important issues need the input and deliberation of
Canadians and the careful consideration by members of
Parliament in this Chamber.
That is why I am pleased to say that the Standing Committee
on Citizenship and Immigration will be examining the
principles, rights and responsibilities which are fundamental to
the Canadian concept of responsible citizenship.
I have asked the committee to consider the reciprocal
obligations inherent in the relationship between Canadian
citizens and our society.
I hope the committee will make recommendations on ways to
enhance the value and visibility of Canadian citizenship. I am
hopeful that a report can be completed by June and make way for
preparations of a bill to come to this place in the fall.
Creating a new vision of citizenship for all Canadians is vital
but it is not enough. Too many of those who are currently
entitled to become citizens and desperately want to do so are
blocked by an administrative system which has become
overburdened and unable to cope.
Denying would-be citizens the chance to participate in and
contribute to the life of our society is unacceptable for this
minister and this government.
In Toronto, for instance, people have had to wait as long as
two years to get their citizenship after meeting all the basic
requirements and criteria of being landed immigrants for three
years. That is unacceptable as well.
There are a number of serious bottlenecks in the system. We
are one of the last countries, one of the last jurisdictions, for
instance, to grant citizenship through a one on one interview
basis conducted by citizenship court judges. In essence we are
saying yes too slowly and at too high a cost because 95 per cent
of all applicants get accepted. Why make them wait and why do
taxpayers have to pay the price for that process to take shape?
Clearly there is a better way.
That brings me to the second announcement. I intend on the
part of the government to streamline the system by eliminating
the role of citizenship judges and replacing them with a more
efficient and effective administrative process. However we will
not wait until legislation is passed in order to do away with the
position of citizenship court judges as a way of enhancing the
processing of time.
We will move instead immediately on a series of
administrative and regulatory changes to speed up the process
today. This includes increasing the daily number of hearings,
establishing group hearings to test knowledge and language
requirements, encouraging applicants to file by mail rather than
the long administrative process they have to go through today,
extending business hours to evenings and Saturdays for
citizenship courts which is also more convenient for the working
public, as well as inviting distinguished Canadians to preside at
These measures will speed up the process. They will also
strengthen the fairness of the system and ensure that all
citizenship candidates meet the essential requirements that we
as Canadians would want. My ultimate goal and that of my
government is that applicants obtain citizenship six months
after applying for this privilege.
Our judges have done a fine job and we are indebted to them
for their work. Let us be perfectly clear. The political and
partisan appointments of citizenship judges will become a thing
of the past. As vacancies arise new citizenship court judges will
not be appointed. Current judges will become part of the new
administrative process and help us in this transition until the
expiry of their terms.
Mr. Speaker, I have discussed this issue with my hon.
colleague the President of the Privy Council and Minister of
Intergovernmental Affairs. I am pleased to say that these
changes are in step with the initiative taken by government to
streamline its agencies and commissions, and to reduce to a
minimum the number of order-in-council appointments.
I propose to ask eminent Canadians, for instance, those who
have received the Order of Canada, to preside over citizenship
ceremonies. I also intend to move more of those ceremonies out
of the citizenship courts and into the heart of all of our
communities, the heart of Canada, so that citizenships can be
celebrated in school gymnasiums, in cultural auditoriums, in
community halls, in church basements where many more people
from the entire community can join in honouring and welcoming
the new members of the Canadian family and where all of us,
young and old, can be reminded of the importance of our
citizenship. Sometimes the things we value most are the things
we take for granted. We must start to view citizenship as more
than just the aspirations of immigrants and newcomers to
Canada. We must come to celebrate citizenship as a bond among
all of us.
I am counting on the members of the House of Commons, the
members of the committee and my parliamentary secretary,
whom I wish to thank, to help make this initiative truly
meaningful and inspirational.
I will also work closely with my colleagues, the Minister of
Canadian Heritage, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism
and the Status of Women, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of
Intergovernmental Affairs and others in the development and
promotion of our new Citizenship Act.
A country's citizenship act should be a proud, bold and
enthusiastic statement of its history, its hopes, its principles and
its dreams. A revitalized citizenship act should be a symbol of
what we hold to be important as Canadians.
There is an appetite across the country for us to strengthen
those symbols and to articulate the vision that ties us all together
as Canadians, irrespective of the fierce loyalty we feel for our
regions, our provinces and our own backyards.
We need a symbol that unites us, east to west to north. I invite
all hon. members to join with me and the government in this
exciting endeavour and to seize this opportunity for progress
and renewal of the Canadian spirit.
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa): Mr. Speaker, I listened
carefully to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration's
statement announcing plans for the development of a new
Citizenship Act as well as measures, some quite vague, to speed
up the administrative process involved in processing citizenship
We, members of the Bloc Quebecois, recognize that, in the
rest of Canada, the Citizenship Act reform announced by the
minister may seem meaningful, especially in view of the many
obstacles to obtaining citizenship which, as the minister
indicated, are attributable to a slow administrative process.
We believe that doing away with citizenship judges is a step in
the right direction. It is a fact that this structure is costing
taxpayers a great deal and is partly responsible for the backlog
in the processing of citizenship applications.
Everyone agrees that a great many of those appointments
were actually partisan or political ones. This kind of patronage
by the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party in our
citizenship courts has to stop. That such a backlog exists in the
processing of citizenship applications is incredible. As we
speak, 220,000 people are waiting to be heard by a citizenship
judge, and their numbers are growing by 10,000 every month in
spite of the fact that we have 32 citizenship courts across
In his 1990 report, the Auditor General severely criticized the
absence of performance standards within the citizenship
registration and promotion program.
The amount of time required to process applications had
increased considerably. In 1986, 91 per cent of all citizenship
applications were processed in less than nine weeks, whereas in
1989, only 30 per cent of applications were processed in the
same period of time.
Despite the fact that there have been no follow-up checks,
delays continue to be a major problem, one that needs to be
corrected as quickly as possible. Under the circumstances, the
decision to close the citizenship office on St-Denis Street in
Montreal is baffling. Will the delays be shortened as a result of
this closure, Mr. Speaker?
Clearly, we can no longer accept delays of two years between
the filing of the application and the actual administering of the
oath of citizenship. Moreover, this anachronistic oath requiring
a person to be faithful and to bear allegiance to Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II of England and to her heirs and successors
should also be carefully reviewed.
Having said this, I would also say how surprised I am that the
minister has asked the Standing Committee on Citizenship and
Immigration to make recommendations to him by the month of
June. This is not very much time, considering that all aspects of
the citizenship issue need to be addressed. Why does the
minister not table his bill right away so that the Committee can
examine it in the usual manner?
I also want to take this opportunity to criticize the minister's
decision to hold consultations outside Parliament and the
committee framework on immigration levels for the next ten
years. This issue is vitally important to the future of the country.
Furthermore, the Official Opposition has no representation in
such an outside consultation process. This goes against
parliamentary standards worthy of a democratic society.
It is necessary and useful to discuss the administrative,
regulatory and legislative measures needed to improve the
situation. It is surprising, however, to hear the minister say that
one of the objectives of the committee should be to redefine the
true meaning of Canada and citizenship, as if somehow these
concepts became blurred with the passage of time.
Clearly, the common vision which he would like all
immigrants to share is not one-dimensional, but rather
multidimensional. We have already said here in this House that
there is not only one Canadian reality, but at least three: one for
francophones, one for anglophones and one for first nations or
aboriginal peoples, whether in Quebec, the Prairies or the
As far as we are concerned, the Canadian reality is not the one
painted by the minister, one where citizens form one big family
united by common values and the desire to fit into the same
mould. As members of a society with its own distinct
characteristics, Quebeckers feel a sense of attachment first and
foremost to Quebec's economic, social, cultural and political
institutions. This was the case long before the Bloc Quebecois
sent members to Ottawa, or the Parti Quebecois sent
representatives to Quebec City. This attachment to Quebec soil
and the unique identity which flows from this sense of belonging
are historic realities, ones which must be embraced not only by
those who have lived in Quebec for several generations, but also
by immigrants like myself wishing to settle permanently in the
This morning, I read the statements made by the minister. He
is concerned about the vision of Quebec that is being projected
by the COFIs in the province. There is nothing unusual going on
here, since it is the minister's Liberal colleagues in Quebec who
run these centres. Above all, I would ask that the minister not
interfere in education as this is a provincial field.
National pride and a sense of attachment to a society, be it
Quebec or any other, flows above all from the welcome extended
to immigrants, from the way in which their differences are
respected and from the process whereby immigrants learn about
the history and culture of the people of their adoptive land.
The residents of the Prairies, British Columbia, the
Maritimes, Ontario and the Northwest Territories all have their
own distinctive cultural features.
In conclusion, while we do not oppose the reform of the
Citizenship Act, we must not allow ourselves to be deluded into
believing that national identity comes only through citizenship.
No, it stems from a desire to live and work in, and to help build a
Mrs. Sharon Hayes (Port Moody-Coquitlam): Mr.
Speaker, it is my privilege to rise in response to the
announcement today of the plans to develop a new Citizenship
Act. It is of great importance to all Canadians and to the future
of the country that we are all proud citizens and contributors to
the economic growth, the cultural diversity and the social
renewal of Canada.
Citizens of Canada should have a commitment to the future of
the country and to their fellow Canadians. I would like to take
some time to briefly comment on some aspects of the
announcement of the minister. Today the Minister of
Immigration described his department's response in seeking to
eliminate the patronage aspects of citizenship court judges.
With Canadians I have talked to, I have felt that we are truly
fed up with the perceived misuse of partisan privileges. I asked
them and members can be sure they are. I am pleased with this
first step in the right direction in getting rid of patronage
Of the 48 judges who now occupy the benches of the
citizenship court, 34 full time and 14 part time, there surely will
be a long delay before full implementation of this program.
They must complete their five-year, average $64,000 a year
Some appointments are recent and no announcement of the
particulars of what their severance arrangements might be has
been made. As well, there is no comment as to the hundreds of
other positions within the department and what sort of
arrangement might be made.
We still do not have a concrete government response to the
issue of patronage within the system or of government
interference. For instance, we have just seen an election where
candidates have been appointed. Even in this very department,
what about all the recent refugee board appointments? They are
much more numerous than the citizenship court judge
appointments and just as lucrative.
I applaud the government's willingness to include the
standing committee in the process of the review of the
Citizenship Act. Hopefully this involvement will be more than
just recognizing general principles and ideas. I for one have
input from Canadians for that process.
I have a polling system in my riding and just recently I asked
this question to do with citizenship: ``Should citizenship be
granted automatically to those who were born in Canada
regardless of the status of their parents' citizenship?'' The
response I had has been two-thirds against this notion which is
now in the system. These things have to be looked at and I hope
that our committee will have input in these areas.
The idea of streamlining the process, as in all processes of
government, is to be applauded. Other attempts at amnesty and
streamlining have happened in the past. In fact what comes to
mind is the streamlining process in immigration between 1991
and 1992. That addressed a pressing refugee demand need
within the system.
Those very stresses are now facing the citizenship courts.
There is a three-year wait between the time people arrive and
the time they can apply for citizenship. The three-year wait and
the right of citizenship are putting the onus on the citizenship
Canadians are again faced with fast tracking of these
individuals. For the sake of security in our country and the
maintenance of the value of our citizenship, I demand full
accountability of any acceptance system.
It came to mind that over a century ago people moved from
one country to another on what was known as an underground
railroad. We must not be too hasty to change our present
citizenship system to a Bombardier bullet train.
Of greatest importance to me and I believe to all Canadians is
the elevation of the concept and value of citizenship within this
country. Does Canadian citizenship at the present time have the
value it deserves? Has the government helped make that
citizenship a value by some of the choices it has made? Has it
helped Canada be an economically viable place in which to live
where the citizens can be a proud part of that viability?
I look at the budget and I see sinking credit rates. I ask if the
government has helped citizens become part of a country that is
to be a full player in the trade and economy of this world. I ask
the government whether citizenship has been helped with the
continued fractionalization of our country.
I look at present policies of bilingualism and
multiculturalism. I believe they created a country that does not
stress the equality of Canadian citizens as individuals but stress
the individual's association with a particular group. I challenge
I ask the government if it has enhanced citizenship with the
notion that was introduced in that act in 1977, that citizenship is
a right rather than a privilege to all who qualify.
Reformers believe that Canadians should have every reason to
be proud of their citizenship. It is a pride that should not be
devalued but strengthened and encouraged because it is a
privilege to be a Canadian, not just a right.
Those who are Canadians by birth or those who become
citizens by choice should honour this privilege as we work
together to make this country all it can be. Citizenship should be
the first step in our commitment and investment toward a
brighter future. That future is our responsibility in this place as
the law makers of the country and not only within the
Citizenship and Immigration Department, but in all
departments. I challenge the government to make this country
the best place in which anyone could want to live.
* * *
Mr. Bob Speller (Haldimand-Norfolk):
Mr. Speaker, I
have the honour today to present the first report of the Standing
Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food which deals with
bovine somatotropin hormone, often referred to as rBST.
The issue of rBST was picked up by the standing committee
on agriculture to study because it was an issue of great concern
to those in our farming communities. They wanted the commit-
tee to come forward with certain recommendations to deal with
The committee concurs with a recommendation of a one year
moratorium on the use of rBST. The committee also concurs that
during this year a cost benefit analysis of the dairy industry be
undertaken and that animal health including the stress placed on
target animals, animal genetics and U.S. consumer reaction be
studied in order that we as Canadians may get a greater
understanding of the effects this will have on our consumers and
on our dairy industry.
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons):
Mr. Speaker, I
have the honour to present the 15th report of the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning the
membership of committees.
With leave of the House, I intend to move the adoption of the
15th report later today. Mr. Speaker, I believe that you will find
unanimous consent to dispense with reading of this report.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent for this
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons): Mr. Speaker,
with leave of the House, I move, seconded by the hon. member
for Rimouski-Témiscouata, that the 15th report of the
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented in the
House this day, be adopted.
(Motion agreed to.)
* * *
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons):
I ask, Mr.
Speaker, that all questions be allowed to stand.
The Deputy Speaker: Shall all questions stand?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House resumed from April 12 consideration of the motion
that Bill C-17, an act to amend certain statutes to implement
certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on
February 22, 1994, be read the second time and referred to a
The Deputy Speaker: Before beginning the debate, I wish to
inform the House that because of the ministerial statement and
responses thereto, Government Orders will be extended by 28
minutes, pursuant to Standing Order 33(2).
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons): Mr. Speaker, I
previously addressed the House on the amendment that was
moved by the member of the Bloc who spoke second in the
I know there are members in the House who apparently
oppose the bill.
I can understand the position taken by members of the Bloc
Quebecois because they are the Official Opposition in this
House and as such they are obliged to oppose the government's
proposals, especially the budget. But they fully realize that we
adopted a budget here in this House and presented it to the
people of Canada. It is a fair and equitable budget, which is very
popular throughout Canada.
I know it is not popular with some members of the House, but
the Canadian public thinks the government has performed
extremely well in the budget. I know members of the Reform
Party in their heart of hearts know that too, but of course they
have to oppose it because they want to make more unspecified
I would love to go on at length today but I realize there are
many other members who wish to participate in the debate, and
having spoken once I feel it would be unfair for me to continue at
length. On the other hand, we are into 10-minute speeches. The
speeches are very short.
I commend to hon. members opposite in preparation for their
speeches later today the opportunity to reread the words of the
President of the Treasury Board which he spoke on the
introduction of this bill on March 25. If they have time and if
they want to continue, they could read my speech on that
occasion which I must say was a masterpiece of clarity and
explained all the provisions of the bill in great detail.
With that in mind, I move:
That the question be now put.
The Deputy Speaker:
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: Debate.
Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Quebec): Mr. Speaker, we say no
to Bill C-17; no to the so-called reform of unemployment
insurance; no to this government's budget measures; no to the
$735 million grabbed with impunity from Quebec workers; no to
the $1.620 billion lost by Canadians; no to misleading and
devastating savings; no to reducing the benefit period; no to
reducing benefits, sole means of subsistence for many workers;;
no to offloading expenditures onto the provinces; no to regional
inequities penalizing Quebec and Eastern Canada once again; no
to social assistance as the only recourse left after unemployment
insurance benefits run out; no to undue delays in reducing
unemployment insurance premiums.
We reject any policy conceived and adopted under pressure
that penalizes workers and the provinces under the guise of
economy. These savings are achieved at the expense of workers
who lost their jobs because of the dismal state of the current job
market. Moreover, half of these so-called savings, in the order
of $635 million in Quebec alone, must be absorbed by the
provinces through social assistance payments.
Finally, negative consequences will not be distributed equally
among the provinces. When we hear that the benefits paid to
Quebec taxpayers will be reduced by $735 million while those
paid to Western Canadians will only go down by $430 million,
we must reiterate vigorously the disadvantages suffered by
Quebec within the Canadian federation.
We say no to the harmful attitude perpetuating the idea that
the unemployed do not want to work. It is not the unemployed
who lack vision, it is their governments. People cannot be
blamed for the lack of jobs, but governments can. We say no to
unsound, ineffective and unfair policies; no to government
mismanagement; no to the systematic overlooking of the real
problems and the real solutions. Young people say no to the
alarming unemployment facing them. They say no to the
unpalatable placebo called the Youth Service Corps. Young
people need jobs, not measures which will penalize them right
from the start. We say no to harassing the poor and the
unemployed; to conducting underhand attacks against poor
working women; to letting civil servants interfere in the private
lives of mothers; to tolerating paternalism toward women; to
having to prove everything to get some minor benefit; and to
creating tensions between spouses regarding who will have
custody of the children.
We know, and this has been repeated time and again, that
women have precarious jobs, which do not pay well and which
are very vulnerable to the swings of the job market. Women need
permanent well-paid jobs. They have no need for new
constraints in their family and private lives.
We say no to precarious and poorly paid jobs; to the lack of
job-creation measures which has the shameful effect of
increasing the number of unemployed; to overlappings in
training programs and to political decisions which favour the
rich at the expense of the poor.
Until this government takes the required objectives measures
to ensure that the rich share their wealth with others, we will
oppose any legislative policy penalizing young people,
low-income workers, women and the unemployed.
We say no to misleading statements to the effect that savings
will be reinvested by businesses.
The government's evaluation regarding the reinvestment of
such miserly savings is not based on any solid ground. Nothing
is provided to promote or control this aspect. Moreover, only
large corporations might be able to create a few jobs because of
the lowering of contributions. We know that small and medium
businesses are the ones which create the most jobs. How can we
expect them to pay a full salary with annual savings of $40, for
example? Employers need real job creation programs.
We say no to the dead-end in which Quebeckers and
Canadians find themselves and we say no to despair.
We would have loved to have the opportunity to support real
job creation initiatives, as well as the transfer of training
programs to Quebec, the promotion of social justice, the respect
of privacy and the implementation of programs which would
have generated some hope.
However, in light of these phoney measures, the people of the
riding of Quebec say no.
The women of Quebec say a flat ``no'', not even a ``no thank
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver): Mr. Speaker, although
the bill is mainly of a housekeeping nature it once again reminds
us of the tax grab of the previous government. That tax grab is
being expanded by the present government.
A businessman I know got pretty angry recently when he was
writing his month-end cheques for his business. He had to write
about six cheques, five of which were for various forms of
taxation. There was money that had to be sent to the Workers'
Compensation Board, Revenue Canada for corporate tax, the
B.C. government for PST, the municipality for a business
licence tax, and Revenue Canada for the GST.
In small businesses taxes have become a major disincentive to
expansion and job creation. There is some evidence that the tax
saturation point has been reached.
For example, the Department of Finance figures list tax
revenues for September 1992 at $11.07 billion and a year later in
September 1993 at $10.17 billion. That is down 8.3 per cent in
one year. The revenue for April to October 1992 was $64.94
billion. For April to October 1993 it was only $61.22 billion.
That is down 5.73 per cent from a year earlier. These drops are
pretty serious because they really interfere with a government's
ability to raise additional revenues to fund the programs we all
If we look at something like the GST, recent figures from the
GST branch of Revenue Canada show that GST revenues
dropped about $.2 billion between 1992 and 1993. It is
interesting that although the GST revenues dropped the actual
cost of collection jumped 25.4 per cent in one year from $268.5
million to $336.7 million.
In one year the number of GST employees increased by 23.3
per cent. I wonder how many businesses would deliberately
increase their workforce at a time when revenues were dropping.
To increase them 23 per cent is a disgrace.
A number of votes have already taken place in this House on
the recent budget of the government. Predictably every Liberal
MP voted in favour of both the budget bill and the bill
authorizing borrowing of up to $37 billion.
Of course every Reform MP voted against both those bills. We
proposed an amendment that would cap spending but that was
rejected by both government members and the Bloc. I had hoped
that some government members would respond to an intelligent
debate in the Chamber and would change their votes but it was
not to be.
On Monday, March 8, 1994, the hon. Secretary of State for
Multiculturalism spoke in favour of the borrowing bill. During
her speech she turned to the public gallery where there were a
group of high school students. She said she was talking about
their future and how important the $37 billion borrowing effort
When her speech was over I asked the hon. member whether
she had ever asked her children or grandchildren or the people in
the gallery whether they wanted $37 billion more added to their
mortgage for the future. The hon. member replied that her
children told her the government was moving in the right
direction. Frankly I found that hard to believe. I really find it
hard to believe anyone would approve of someone else
borrowing $37 billion on their behalf and leaving them to carry
the can. I find that quite difficult to believe.
On the same day I gave a speech about the budget. I explained
how I felt as I had listened to the Minister of Finance deliver the
budget. I said I had felt a bit of anger and despair but mostly a
terrible sense of sadness because of my background with New
Zealand and understanding the debt crisis situation that had
developed there. I had seen the same symptoms and problems
before: the denial that there was a problem; the failure to act
soon enough; the rejection of the idea that there would be a day
Unfortunately we have now been committed to another $40
billion in debt this year. The national debt federally now exceeds
$510.7 billion. It is growing by approximately $1,400 per
second, every second of the day. The debt per taxpayer is around
$36,500 and per capita is almost $18,000.
In relation to this tax load the government has been increasing
its spending in some programs. It constantly praises the student
job creation program and brags about its increases of
expenditures on it. I think that is mainly because it is politically
correct to do so.
An internal audit of the program last year concluded it was
very poorly monitored. It was rife with political patronage and it
was a questionable benefit in terms of genuine job creation.
That raised a few red flags for me when I received about 80
applications for grants under the student job creation program,
the challenge program, in mid-March. As I looked through these
grant requests from Employment Canada I was shocked to see
the sorts of things previous MPs had authorized taxpayers'
money to be spent upon.
One of Reform's basic promises is that we will be the fiscal
watchdogs looking for ways to cut unnecessary spending and
government waste. Regardless of the party that was in power
previously, NDP, Conservative or Liberal, all of them were
rubber stamping these terrible grants that really were quite a
questionable use of taxpayers' dollars.
I quickly arranged for a small group of North Vancouver
citizens chosen at random from the voters list to come in and
have a look at some of these applications. Without exception
every single one of those people rejected at least half of the
applications that were put before me. That is a very telling piece
of information about the value of this student job creation
We are caught between a rock and a hard place. If we do not
automatically approve these challenge grants we perhaps are
ruining the prospects for student jobs. On the other hand if we do
rubber stamp them we are authorizing the wastage of taxpayers'
hard earned dollars.
Debt should be a major concern to youth. We know many
Canadians have become very cynical about politicians. Young
people especially find it very difficult to take part in politics and
to get involved in the votes. The lack of participation by young
people in this political process is a major concern for us in the
Today in the House we are really mortgaging the future of
Canada's young people. There are many vital government
activities which young Canadians have a direct stake in
protecting. These include education funding and student loans,
job training, and the building of infrastructure.
However the most important issue facing the youth of today is
this debt and taxes problem. Young people need to know that
every year this federal government is spending approximately
$40 billion more than it takes in. By next year Canada will owe
$550 billion to its creditors. That is $20,000 for every person in
Canada. Approximately $40 billion more is being added to the
national debt every year.
Deficit spending is of critical importance to young Canadians
because every time the government borrows money to fund
programs it is picking the pockets of future generations. It is
guaranteeing they will have to pay more taxes and have a lower
standard of living than did their parents.
Today's high tax burdens are already holding back company
expansion and job creation and driving businesses out of
Canada. If the trend is not reversed things will get much worse. I
urge all young people who are watching this program today and
hear about the bill which will increase spending to write to the
Prime Minister: Tell him you want this intergenerational
transfer of wealth stopped and you want it stopped now. Tell him
you do not want higher taxes and you do not want your job
prospects, your take home pay and your health care system put at
risk by this deficit spending program. Tell him you do not want
to be left with the bills of my generation. If you are between 18
and 24 years old and watching this program today, virtually the
entire $500 billion debt has been incurred during your lifetime.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. member and all
members need to be reminded that the procedure is designed to
avoid any kind of outbursts. The member will please put his
remarks to the Chair and not to anybody who might be watching
on television, be they 10 years of age or 99 years of age.
Mr. White (North Vancouver): I apologize, Mr. Speaker. I
got carried away with the excitement of the speech.
Through you, Mr. Speaker, if there is anyone watching today
who feels they should write to the Prime Minister about these
things, I encourage them to do so.
It is important that the young people of today should try to
take part in the political process. They should become involved
so that they can direct us as their representatives to work on their
behalf to minimize the impact of this borrowing and the
mortgage on their future.
Thanks to a lot of publicity by the National Citizens'
Coalition over the years, the shocking details about a lot of
government mismanagement of funds have become apparent.
One of the most public aspects is the MPs pension plan. MPs
who have served just six years can retire on a pension for life.
Unfortunately the previous Prime Minister just missed out with
only five years of service. She was unable to pick up a pension
for the rest of her life. However many people who have served
here for just six years have managed to pick up a pension for life.
One of the things the Reform movement would like to change
is this gold plated pension plan. It is just one of the many things
which contribute to the high tax burden of Canadians and which
is totally unjustified. Members can be sure that Reform MPs
will continue to be the watchdogs for the Canadian citizens to
make sure that we spend less, tax less and add less to the
borrowing burden for the future.
The Deputy Speaker: It should be put on the record that we
are now on 10-minute speeches. Perhaps some members are not
aware of that.
Mr. Mac Harb (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for
International Trade): Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party and
opposition members are trying to really paint a very bleak
picture in terms of what is happening in our society in terms of
what this government is doing.
One would have to put things into perspective. We have two
types of problems in our society. One is what we call a structural
problem in terms of the infrastructure as a whole. It would have
to be looked at.
The second problem is matter of the spending habits of
governments of the past. I would suggest that the budget which
was tabled by the Minister of Finance specifically addresses
those two issues.
On the notion of government spending we have seen measures
in the budget that specifically deal with government spending. It
has been the practice of the government that every time we
introduce a program we look at ways we could see a cost
analysis of it in order to ensure a net benefit for the community
as a whole.
On the issue of infrastructure, the structural problems, the
Minister of Human Resources Development is undertaking one
on the most aggressive reviews of not only the ways we deliver
our social programs but the way we handle our youth across
Canada as a whole. I commend him for taking this very
aggressive initiative along with the Secretary of State for
Training and Youth.
Unless we address the whole notion of our educational
system, as everybody will know, we are going to continue in this
limbo. We are going to continue to see those structural problems
in our society. To that end the government has fulfilled its
commitment prior to the election of reinstating funding for the
literacy secretariat. We now have a capable minister in charge of
That in itself does not solve the problem. We can talk all we
want in the House but unless we have the elective co-operation
of the provincial government as well as of the municipal
government we will not be able to move further. The problem is
not only in the House. People might think the government can
with the stroke of a pen solve a lot of social and economic
problems. That is not the case.
To that extent there has been a very proactive approach taken
by this government with a minister specifically dedicated to
dealing with provincial governments, the Minister of
Intergovernmental Affairs. He has undertaken a review in terms
of how the government at the federal level does provide the
services to the community as a whole. He is having a lot of
consultations with other levels of government in order to have a
collective approach of providing services to the community as a
The same thing this minister is doing is carried out by all
members of cabinet, by all members of the government.
Therefore we are quite aware of the fundamental changes that
need to be addressed in our society and we have taken action,
unlike the previous government which talked and talked and the
community did not see tangible action. We are taking action.
Rather than painting a bleak picture in society, the opposition
should give credit to the government where credit is due, that
this is a government in action.
The Prime Minister on a regular basis, every time he has an
opportunity to speak anywhere, has clearly stated that
government agencies, departments, ministers and members of
Parliament are always on the lookout for ways to save
taxpayers' money so at the end of the day we can show the
Canadian public that we are taking action by example and at the
same time we are serious about seeing the economy turn around.
I say to the hon. member that for better or for worse Canada is
on the leading edge of all the big G-7 countries around the world
in terms of economic growth. That goes to the credit of both the
private sector and the public sector in recognizing the need to
The youth are going to continue to be on the leading edge in
terms of the changes that are required. Institutions, federally,
provincially and municipally, have to recognize that unless we
get to the bottom of the problem, which is the educational
system, we are not going to be able to find a long term solution
for our economic ills.
To that extent it will only be fair for the opposition to give
credit to the cabinet, to the Prime Minister and to the
government for taking a leadership role in trying to address the
whole fundamental structural problem faced by our society
within the area of training, literacy skills, and for that matter
working with the provincial level to address the educational
In closing, I am really proud to be part of a government which
in a very short time has taken so many aggressive, progressive,
dynamic, tangible actions and steps to deal with the ills that
have faced society for the past 15 or 20 years.
Not everything is bleak. We still live in the best country in the
world. We still have the best social programs in the world. We
still have one of the most accessible educational systems in the
We want to make it even better. Let us stop telling Canadians
that things are so dark, so bad. They are not that bad but they
could be a lot better.
This government recognizes the fact that we must reach a
minimal level of unemployment. As long as there is one
unemployed Canadian the government will continue to work to
ensure there is an opportunity for every Canadian.
We will continue to work but it is time for us as
parliamentarians from all sides of the House to start working as
a team in order to address the difficulties faced by our society.
It is my hope that when this item comes before the House it
will receive the unanimous approval of Parliament, that we will
all vote and give a strong mandate to the Minister of Finance,
and to the government so it can continue to do the excellent work
it has begun during the last 115 day or so.
We have to start working in a positive fashion. Canadians
have told us they want us to work together. They want to see a
team effort in order to address some of the social and economic
difficulties and challenges facing our society.
They are sick and tired of seeing the type of bickering that
takes place not only in the House but I suggest at all levels
among politicians from different political parties. Canadians
have told us clearly they want to see positive steps taken by
everyone to solve some of the difficulties we are faced with.
To that end the call is out for every member of the House to
work together so we can move forward with tangible steps to
respond to the needs of Canadians from coast to coast.
I thank my colleagues for their positive comments this
morning and it is my hope that they will support the bill before
Mr. Jean-Paul Marchand (Québec-Est): Mr. Speaker,
Bill-17 now being debated is an omnibus measure. It contains
some good provisions of which we would approve, as well as
some harmless ones. However, this bill primarily targets the
To decrease the budget allocated to unemployment, the bill
proposes a reduction in benefits and an extension of the number
of weeks of insurable employment required for benefit
entitlement. This certainly represents the biggest part of the
budget. This year, the cuts will total $750 million, next year,
$2.5 billion, and the following year, another $2.5 billion, for a
total of $5.5 billion taken from unemployed Canadians. On top
of that, another $2 billion in cuts will be made to transfers to the
poorest provinces, bringing the total to $7.5 billion. This was
the crux the budget tabled last February, a budget which is
totally ineffective given the present debt and unemployment
levels in Canada. Not only is it ineffective or useless, it is also
totally crazy, because we have a government that, just like the
previous speaker, the hon. member for Ottawa Centre, is crazy
to pretend that they are acting, when in fact they are doing
absolutely nothing to deal with the debt and the unemployment
situation. Not only are they refusing to do anything positive, but
they are going after the unemployed, the disadvantaged, the
poor, the weak, the women, the elderly, and that is crazy.
That goes to show the evil side of the current Liberal
government that picks on the weak in our society. It clearly
shows the total lack of imagination of the government when it
comes to measures that could be introduced to straighten the
situation our country is in. The government has got no
backbone. There are a lot of concrete, fair and equitable
measures it could introduce, but does not, because it does not
have the guts to act.
Why pick on the poor and the unemployed like the
government does in this budget, when we could ask healthy
Canadian corporations to pay their fair share of taxes? Several
thousand corporations have managed to stay healthy these last
few years. And when I say several thousand, I refer to the 90,000
corporations that have paid no taxes at all in Canada over the
past few years.
There are over 200 millionaires who paid less than $100 in
taxes. These corporations and these individuals should at least
pay their fair share, especially when the country is in the middle
of a serious crisis, so serious in fact that it is attracting the
attention of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF is about
to intervene because the debt in Canada is getting out of control
and the government is ineffective. In fact, the money markets
have reacted very badly to this awful and sick budget. There is a
whole series of concrete, fair and equitable measures that could
but will not be introduced.
Let me give you other examples of how to take the fat out of
government operations, and God knows there is a lot of fat to
take out and the government is not doing anything about it.
Duplication of federal and provincial services, what is usually
called overlap, costs us an incredible amount of money. In
Quebec alone, it is estimated that such duplication costs $1
billion because the province of Quebec is delivering the exact
same services as the federal government. Not only is it an awful
waste of money, it creates more problems. It delays the
implementation of major programs.
Take, for instance, manpower training, an area where an
estimated $250 million will be wasted. Not only are we wasting
this money, we are not providing any training.
In Quebec, 70,000 jobs are available but people are not
qualified enough to take them. Why? Because the Canadian
government lacks efficiency and has no backbone. They do not
want to move although the solutions are there; they prefer to
take it out on the poor, the unemployed and the destitute. This is
immoral and crazy. I could never be part of that Liberal
government. I would be too ashamed to agree quietly to such
This government is not even liberal. It has inherited the
Conservatives' spirit: it helps the rich get richer supposedly
because the rich will create jobs. This very old conservative way
of thinking has no basis whatsoever. I have nothing personally
against the rich but, in a society like ours, I feel that
corporations and wealthy citizens must pay their fair share like
everybody else. The poor and the destitute should not be asked
to pay for the government's mistakes or for the fact that
Canadian corporations are not taxed enough.
This is a conservative way of thinking which borders on
fascism, since fascism tends to widen the gap between the rich
and the poor and creates a very unfair situation like the one we
have in Canada today. That is what we see today: a lousy
government which merely introduce bills on the back of the
poor, the destitute and the unemployed, asking them to pay
more, while the rich and the family trusts are well protected.
Here is another example. The Minister of Finance has a family
trust. Apparently, it is worth $40 million. Others have family
trusts too. Family trusts in Canada are said to hold $80 billion at
least and maybe twice as much. This is money that is not taxed,
that the government does not want to tax.
This government is crazy, because it is ignoring the Auditor
General's recommendations. He said in his recent report that in
the last three years, $5 billion was wasted by the federal
government. We do not hear about it, but the government is
going to take almost $5 billion from the pockets of the
unemployed. It is forcing unemployed people onto welfare,
putting more pressure on the provinces. It turns the unemployed
into welfare recipients and it pretends that it is an aggressive
measure. The government says that it wants us to move ahead
with confidence, but I call that the Shawinigan Waltz: two steps
forward, one step back, change direction, three steps back, one
step forward. The government tries to solve the unemployment
problem with an infrastructure program that will create
temporary jobs for men, but it forgets about women and young
people. Moreover, this make-work project will be implemented
just after the government raised the UI premium rate from $3 to
$3.07. The finance minister himself said that cancelling this
increase would create 40,000 jobs.
In conclusion, I will tell you that the Shawinigan Waltz
dancers are having a ball. The government claims that it wants to
create jobs, but it turns around and does all it can to keep that
from happening or it implements very temporary, quite
ineffective measures. I say no to Bill C-17. It must not pass.
Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Carleton-Gloucester): Mr.
Speaker, I appreciate having the privilege of speaking on the
implementation of the budget that was presented for 1994.
First I would like to comment on the speech made by the last
speaker from the Bloc Quebecois, whose specialty is the
Shawinigan Waltz. I do not know if the hon. member is an expert
dancer, but I can tell you, from watching him and his colleagues
from the Bloc and from the Reform Party, that all opposition
members are pretty light on their feet.
The member from the Bloc accused members of the
government of being fascists and of creating mass injustice. He
also said that all Liberal members should be ashamed. Let me
tell him that the members who should be ashamed are those who
refuse to pledge allegiance to Canada and who are willing to
accept a salary to come to Ottawa with the intention of tearing
our country apart. I am telling you, members of the Bloc, that
you should be ashamed.
We are talking about finances, about money, but all you want
to do is laugh at the Bank of Montreal or at credit unions.
The Deputy Speaker: Since the hon. member was not in the
House earlier, I wish to remind him that he should address his
remarks to the Chair.
Mr. Bellemare: My remarks are about the budget and I am
just giving my impressions of our discussions on the subject.
The Reform Party is not being any more objective about the
bill. You heard the last speaker from the Reform Party say that
our youth program was a waste of money and that instead we
should ask our young people not to accept jobs but rather to
become politically active by writing to the Prime Minister, to
the Minister of Finance and others, which I find totally
I think that our bill is a very sound piece of legislation. We
have a good budget that addresses two major problems. First, it
addresses the national debt and deficit issues. The Reform Party
would like us to shut down the government and take what little
bit of money we have left to pay off the debt.
If we did that, we would not be able to provide services and no
one could pay a lot of taxes. The role of a government is to
provide services to the community; it is not a private industry.
Therefore, it has to address the debt problem and cut some
activities, some programs. It must also create jobs, and we can
see that the Liberal government is creating an atmosphere that
gives hope to everybody across the country. What was lacking
these last couple of years was hope; people were totally
desperate. Young people, students, university graduates had
become totally desperate for they had lost every hope of finding
We are now changing this attitude, changing this climate in
Canada, so that graduates and even drop-outs can find a job. The
youth program is in the works. I find that very encouraging and
very positive. There is something positive after all. There are
some budget items that I personally oppose. The budget is not
100 per cent perfect. I would give it a mark of 99 per cent,
perhaps, or of 98 per cent, at times, when I get up in the morning.
I deplore the fact that the government has put a wage freeze on
public servants, that the same wages that have been frozen for
three years will be frozen for two more years. I truly deplore it. I
also deplore the fact that employees will not be able to get pay
increments. I told the President of the Treasury Board and the
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs that I deplored the fact
that public servants would get no wage increases for two more
I appreciated the fact that both ministers promised me that if
senior management could find a way to further reduce
government expenditures, this two-year period could be
brought down to only one year perhaps, or even less. I truly hope
Although there is certainly no such thing as a perfect budget
or a perfect piece of legislation, contrary to what the members of
the Bloc Quebecois and of the Reform Party suggest, we are not
going backwards. We are not taking two steps back, two steps
forward, one step to the side and then one more step back. We are
trying to solve problems, the problem with the economy of the
whole country. Jobs have to be created. Temporary jobs, yes, and
permanent jobs too, but for that we have to create a positive
climate where people in the private sector can have confidence
in the economy, take risks and further develop their businesses.
It is not with the solution suggested by the Reform Party, that
is closing down government, stopping all operations and making
everybody jobless, that we will create a suitable climate for
developing this country. And we will surely not do it by
following the example of the Bloc Quebecois, with their strange
way of twisting everything towards their own goal, to destroy
this country. That, Mr. Speaker, I cannot accept.
I will be pleased to vote for this legislation. It is not perfect,
but I would surely give it a mark of at least 98 per cent.
Mr. Cliff Breitkreuz (Yellowhead): Mr. Speaker, the
member opposite just spoke of the budget inspiring hope in
Canada and among Canadians. Heaven help us if he thinks that is
what it is doing.
It is both unfortunate and undemocratic that the government
is forcing debate on the entirety of Bill C-17, the budget
implementation act. Bill C-17 is an omnibus bill. Essentially it
addresses four major issues and lumps them under one bill.
Therefore it could be difficult for members to vote totally in
favour or against the bill as I believe that each issue merits its
Having said that, I will be discussing one portion of Bill C-17
which deals with grain transportation.
Bill C-17 would increase production and the government's
share of freight rates under the Western Grain Transportation
Act from 10 per cent to 15 per cent for crop years beginning on
or after August 1, 1994.
A goal of the Reform Party is to change the way the
agriculture industry is dealt with by the federal government. The
movement of grain to export positions is highly regulated in
Canada and that is an understatement, to say the least.
Since 1897 when the Crows Nest Pass agreement became law,
the government has regulated and controlled grain freight rates.
It fixed and set freight rates western farmers paid Canadian
Pacific to move their grain to what is now Thunder Bay.
In the early 1920s legislation was passed expanding and
extending the effect of the original rate set in 1897 to all
shipping points on the prairies, to all railways and to additional
destination points. In short, the legislative action in the 1920s
was the most significant turning point in the history of the
Crows Nest freight rates for grain.
It changed the system from one governed by a two-party
agreement between the federal government and CPR to one by
which Parliament unilaterally imposed a national policy by
statute. The industry has been paying ever since because of
During the 1960s railways began to absorb losses as the cost
of shipping grain exceeded the revenue from fixed freight rates.
As a result, the railways could not afford to make necessary
investments in the grain rail system. The MacPherson royal
commission on transport which reported in 1961 concluded that
the Canadian railways were losing money on transporting grain
at statutory or government set rates.
In 1982 consultations with farm groups were held on
transportation policies led by Dr. Clay Gilson. As a result, he
recommended payments be made to the railways initially but
over a period years these payments would be phased to the
producers until producers received 81 per cent of the benefit and
the railways received 19 per cent.
One year later in 1993 the federal government's response to
the transportation crisis was to enact the Western Grain
Transportation Act. The WGTA provided for the continued
regulation of freight rates and a subsidy based on the difference
between what the producer paid to ship grain in 1982 and the
actual cost of shipping grain in the same year.
In essence the WGTA increases the freight rates so that the
railways would have enough revenue to maintain the grain
transportation system. What about the farmers? What does the
WGTA do for them? Government payments to the railways
would defray the cost to farmers of moving grain but producers
would pay an increasing portion of rail costs over time.
In the WGTA a system was born that has regulations
regulating regulations. The previous federal government
reduced the Crow benefit from last year of $720 million to $650
million in the current year. The Conservatives planned further 5
per cent reductions next year and the year after if Crow benefit
payments were not changed to be paid to farmers instead of
The current government dropped the Conservatives'
conditions and instead is proposing a 15 per cent cut next crop
year. That leaves the Crow benefit at about $614 million, a drop
of $106 million in two years. That means producers are left
holding the proverbial bag. They will be paying more for freight
while at the same time putting up with big brother, the federal
government and its stifling regulations.
I submit that the entire system is flawed, bordering on the
absurd. The WGTA prevents farmers, shippers and railways
from introducing savings into the system but at the same time
with Crow benefit cuts farmers have to use a high cost system
with less money to pay for it. The strangle hold that regulations
have over grain shipping is squeezing the life out of many
western producers. Farmers must put out more money for freight
and severe regulations prevent them from using cost saving
ways to collect and ship grain.
We are asking the government to consider introducing an
entirely new piece of legislation to govern the way farmers
move grain, a piece of legislation that is fair to the farmers and
The WGTA promotes provincial offsetting programs, distorts
domestic prices and promotes railway inefficiency. It is also a
barrier to investment in the industry. It is clear that something
needs to be done.
We advocate a trade distortion adjustment program to defend
exporting producers against foreign subsidies on competing
products. The program is all encompassing to the agriculture
industry and would benefit producers by taking into account
their individual needs.
The program would include an automatic triggering
mechanism based on the historic volume of exported products.
There would be no producer premiums and legislation would
ensure timely payout to affected producers within this same
It is important to vigorously support and defend Canada's
food producers against the effects of matters over which they
have little control such as foreign subsidies and trade distorting
influences. What Canada needs is a viable market driven
industry through the application of federal safety nets, programs
that are production neutral, not commodity specific.
Canadian producers need to be able to transport their grain to
foreign markets without barriers. The federal government is
only chipping away at the WGTA, thereby passing further
financial burden to the producers.
As the system now stands the backlog and confusion in grain
movement are a direct result of the inability of government
managed system to serve the agriculture industries. We need
only look at the rail car shortage which is not only cutting into
sales and costing farmers money but damaging relationships
with important customers as well.
Canadian railways are not meeting their unload targets at
Canadian ports as required by WGTA. More influence must be
placed in the hands of those who have a legitimate stake in the
industry, those who rely on the agriculture industry to make a
living, namely the farmers. They are the producers and must
have greater participation in how the industry operates.
The federal government is proposing to reduce its share of
freight rates under the WGTA in the bill. By doing so the
government is leaving farmers with the worst of both worlds,
increased freight costs and a high cost, inefficient and inflexible
The federal government has a good opportunity to change the
way things are done in the agriculture industry. Surely it can see
that over regulation is crushing the hope of Canadian producers.
We need a single program to protect our farmers, not a mix and
match of of programs.
There has been some movement in this direction, judging
from the recent meeting between the federal agriculture
minister and his provincial counterparts.
The government is only justified to protect Canada's
agriculture producers from international forces as other
countries are continuing to generously subsidize their
agriculture industry. I urge the government to continue
negotiating the GATT in an attempt to get international
subsidies down so subsidies in this country can go down
We must work to make the agriculture industry more
self-reliant, not only for today but for the future as well.
Mr. Paul Mercier (Blainville-Deux-Montagnes): Mr.
Speaker, the sudden flare-up of interest rates could kill the
economy which was slowly starting to recover.
To help it recover, to really put it back on its feet again, the
government should have given it a helping hand, but instead it
gave it a punch in the face.
We were waiting anxiously, but full of hope, for a recovery of
the job market. But it is more unemployment that we will have
because of rising interest rates. Has the Bank of Canada gone
crazy? No, it is only trying to cope, as well as can be expected,
with 10 years of mismanagement of this country. I will not pass
judgment on its present policy.
In the United States, France and Canada, we are now hearing
the old economic debates are coming to the fore once again.
How can we revitalize a sick economy, particularly with
monetary policy? Galbraith, Sorman and others have, I am told,
opinions on this subject which are as clear-cut as they are
divergent. People also talk about neo-Keynesianism. I will not
venture into this subject because whatever I said would surely
contradict one of these prominent economists.
You know what the argument of the Bank of Canada is, Mr.
Speaker. For Canada to stay competitive on the loan market,
Canadian rates must be higher than American rates. That is the
result of our enormous debt. However, American rates have
been increasing this past month to quell the risk of inflation
there. Consequently, we are told, Canadian rates must also go
up. Q.E.D., what perfect logic.
The problem, as you know, is that the American economy is
expanding rapidly. We are told that it will not be hurt by this
dampening measure. The American economy has a little fever?
Put an ice pack on its head. This therapy is quite defensible.
The problem for us is that our central bank thinks it has to
apply automatically the same medicine to our economy, which is
anemic and needs a tonic. If we cannot raise our rates higher
than the American rates, how will we find investors for the debt
securities that we have to issue because of our enormous debt? Is
that the financial independence advocated and promised in the
famous red book which will meet the same fate as Mao's little
red book and be thrown in the garbage with its promises of a
Do you know what it says in the Canadian red book under the
promising title of ``independence''? I will tell you right now that
the red book does not talk about the independence of Quebec,
but about the independence of Canada from other countries. And
I quote: ``A Liberal government will end the Conservatives'
junior-partner relationship with the United States and reassert
our proud tradition of independent foreign policy''. It is
mind-boggling! In terms of financial independence, Mr. Dubuc,
an editorial writer at La Presse, pointed out earlier last week our
complete dependence upon our creditors. The way things are
going with this government, our policy will be dictated to us by
the International Monetary Fund tomorrow, and the pill will not
be easy to swallow. Will Canada, which is ironically the most
indebted and potentially the wealthiest country on earth,
become part of the Third World?
This is the result of a decade of unacceptably frivolous public
management in this unfortunate country. We have accumulated
the heaviest per capita external debt in the western world. The
time has come to pay the piper. And we do not want to hear this
government claim that it has inherited this situation and that it
has no choice but to face the music. When did our external debt
begin to rise really? The 1970s. Who was in office at that time?
The same party as today. And back then, where was our present
Prime Minister who takes such pleasure reminding our leader
that he was once a member of the Conservative cabinet?
He was the President of the Treasury Board in 1974 and
Minister of Finance in 1977, 1978 and 1979.
I shall now come to the heart of the problem, the icing on the
cake. The increase in interest rates will jeopardize the recovery
and who is going to pay the price? The unemployed. However,
who or what is being targetted by the pitiful attempts of this
government budget to at least slow down the growth of our debt?
The wealthy? Those who benefit from tax shelters? The federal
civil servants who are responsible for duplication and
overlapping? Ministers' air travel? Not at all! It is always the
unemployed who must foot most of the bill we now have to pay
in order stop the deadly increase in the public debt.
If we are to go by what Pierre Fortin and his colleagues from
the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the Université de Montréal
say, the Canadian unemployed workers will have to pay for half
the predicted new drop in the federal deficit, even if we take into
account the budget for social reintegration.
As mentioned in the same study, since the unemployed end up
depending on social security, we are once again witnessing a
transfer of the deficit on the provinces. We are talking of at least
one billion dollars. The provinces, in turn, will pass a part of it
on to the municipalities, which will have no other choice than
pass it on to whom? To Canadian taxpayers. We are back to
square one. I know what I am talking about because I was a
mayor for sixteen years.
It is far from being decent, Mr. Speaker, it is most cynical and
unbearable. Only the legendary patience of our two peoples can
explain why no angry outburst has yet occurred among
unemployed workers and welfare recipients as it would surely
have been the case in other countries.
Social peace and the most elementary sense of fairness both
call for a fair distribution of the sacrifices imposed by the
situation. Since Bill C-17 completely fails to meet those
conditions, I will not support it.
Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean): Mr. Speaker, it is with
pleasure that I rise today. Naturally, I will follow my party line
in opposing Bill C-17.
Why will I oppose it? There are several reasons, the first one
being, and I will explain it immediately, my strong opposition,
which is not unknown to anyone, to the closure of the Saint-Jean
military college and military base. As you know, this will lead to
the loss of about one thousand jobs in the Saint-Jean area. When
we look at the provisions of Bill C-17, we realize that these
people will be doomed to a life of poverty in the short or medium
First of all, I would like to explain to this House the whole
history of the Saint-Jean area, which has always been
recognized as a very high level military region. Several factors
can explain that, including geography. We are very close to a
river, to the American border. When looking back at the region's
history, we realize that the Indians, the natives, were already
very much present, precisely because of its strategic and
Naturally, that was followed by the arrival of the French and
the building of forts. As a matter of fact, my region is known as
the valley of forts. Then came the British and their resistance to
the Americans, who attempted to invade Canada. In fact, had it
not been for that valley of forts, we would probably be American
What does Bill C-17 do in terms of the closing of the military
college? As I already said, an incalculable number of
unemployed people in the Saint-Jean area. I oppose it for those
reasons, but also because it is an illogical budget cut that I will
explain. It has been put forward in some arguments, and it is still
being done today, that Quebec is already under-estimated,
under-represented and under-budgeted in terms of national
defence spending. I think that in Quebec, National Defence
spending is 15 per cent, while our contribution is 25 per cent.
Same thing for the defence infrastructure. Only 13 per cent of
the defence infrastructure is in Quebec while our contribution is
25 per cent. The budgetary cuts in this area, as a result of
which-as you know-1,000 people end up unemployed, are
going to widen that gap since officer-cadets from the Collège
militaire royal de Saint-Jean who are going to leave for
Kingston are going to be the source of additional defence
spending and infrastructure in Ontario to the detriment of
The same applies to the military base and the language school.
Given the circumstances, teachers would have to leave Quebec
to go and teach in other parts of Canada, which would again lead
to an increase in the budgets everywhere but in Quebec and
widen the gap.
You certainly know also that Quebec will do without the
helicopter contract; in fact, we had asked the liberal government
to cancel that program. This already represents on the part of
Quebec a sacrifice of 1.7 billion dollars. Unfortunately, the
government has neglected our recommendation to establish a
fund for industrial conversion, which would be a better option
than cutting UI benefits and which would allow people laid-off
in the military sector to be retrained for positions in other
sectors of the economy. Unfortunately, for the time being, that
solution is not accepted by the government, which prefers to go
after the unemployed with Bill C-17.
I want to come back to the military college and say again that
it is an illogical decision from an economic point of view. It has
already been proven that in terms of costs per officer-cadet,
Saint-Jean College costs a lot less than the two other military
colleges. It costs $58,000 per year to train an officer-cadet at
Saint-Jean compared to $71,000 at Kingston. We can see
therefore the illogical situation created by the Liberal
government's decision to close down a military college clearly
more productive than other institutions.
As regards the military base of Saint-Jean, you know that it is
the most modern in Canada. So how can you explain that a base
which cost $180 million will be almost completely shut down
since its activities are going to be reduced by 75 per cent?
These are issues we cannot remain silent about. In the case of
the language school-and I have documents to prove
it-Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Addy of Saint-Hubert wrote the
following-and I have his letters here-to his brother,
Brigadier-General C.J. Addy: Maybe the issue should be
reconsidered because the solution will be more costly than
keeping things the way they are. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we are
also facing an illogical situation here.
We must also remember the historical context in which the
construction of the military base took place. That is very
important. It was built following a Liberal promise. At that time,
there where three major projects underway in the Montreal area.
There was Mirabel to the north; Place Guy-Favreau on the
island of Montreal; and the base of Saint-Jean to the south of the
Montreal Island. It is also illogical because these promises now
lie broken and it is Quebec and Saint-Jean that must bear the
I will say nothing on the death of bilingualism because it was
mentioned several times and I am trying to limit myself to fiscal
arguments. However, the government had other choices to
make. Take for example the ERYX missile project for which the
total is now $212 million. At the time, the current Minister of
Human Resources Development condemned that project; he
disapproved of the amount of money the Tory government
wanted to pump into it, some $11 million. Now the
government's budget projections show that this project will
reach $212 million. All this for a short-range anti-armour
weapon system which does not even appear on the list of
weapons required by the Canadian Forces in Bosnia. It is not
even recognized by the UN as an effective weapon.
So we have a hard time understanding why the government
chose to close a college with a long standing reputation and to
pump money into a weapon which produces no positive results
except the squandering of public funds.
It is often said that the Maritime Provinces are also victims of
plant closures, but nobody talks about the fact that they want to
build coastal defence vessels. Just imagine, Mr. Speaker, these
would would be used to clear mines from our ports and harbours,
as if the Russians were in a position to lay mines there these
days. That in our view is an absolute waste of $746 million. On
that point also, I think the budget choices of the government are
There is also the fact that if the officer-cadets currently in
Saint-Jean were moved to Kingston, we would have to expand
the facilities there and we will still have to pay grants in lieu of
taxes in Saint-Jean, even if the building is empty.
A very interesting CROP survey concerning the city of
Saint-Jean was published last week. It shows that the
government is not backing down and still intends to close the
military college and move it to Kingston. We think that the cost
of adding to the Kingston facilities and laying off surplus
teachers will more than offset any potential saving. This choice
was not about saving money, it was not about bilingualism, it
was not about culture, it was only, as I said before, about
politics. This decision to hit Saint-Jean with the closure of the
college was a political one.
The point I am trying to make is that it was a reckless gesture
and that the government is not seizing the opportunity to convert
the defence industry. We could put money in a defence
conversion fund which would help save military industries,
while at the same time ensuring that such monies are awarded in
a fair and equitable fashion across Canada, as it should be in the
eration we still belong to. If there are very few military bases
and colleges in Quebec, it is because, at the time, there was a
trade-off for more military contracts. But with the changing
international situation, these military contracts are going up in
smoke. Not only that, but the few that are left in Quebec must
have spin-offs across Canada.
So, as you can see, Quebec is a loser with this budget and, on
top of that, Bill C-17 hits it again. This bill victimizes the
unemployed instead of setting up a retraining program for the
1,000 people who will lose their job in Saint-Jean. Once again
we are sidelined. The government remains insensitive to our
plea. For all those reasons, I am very happy to announce that my
party and I will vote against Bill C-17.
Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay West-Revelstoke): Mr. Speaker,
I would like to raise a few points on Bill C-17. There are many
problems with it depending on which area one would want to
approach it from.
Often we hear the other side of the House say they are
concerned that the Reform Party does not support this or the
Reform Party does not support that. This certainly is a prime
example of what happens. They jam a lot of different areas all
together. If we turn one down because there is something in
there we do not like, they say we are against everything.
I mentioned in the past how they did that with the
Charlottetown accord. It was not just the other side but in fact all
parties at that time. They had this huge, all-encompassing
accord. Then after the people of Canada in their wisdom decided
to turn it down they forever more are saying each and every part
of that accord was rejected.
Some people voted against it because they did not like the fact
it was almost impossible to amend it. Some people did not like
the way the Senate was set up. Some people did not like the
arrangements for the province of Quebec. Some people did not
like it because of the concept of aboriginal self-government
with no definition as to what it really was. The aboriginal people
themselves did not like it. Yet every time now that we come back
to one of the issues in there the government says: ``You had your
chance and you turned it down''.
So it is with Bill C-17. The government likes to say we are
against the individual parts of this, but of course we cannot be
against the individual parts. We are not allowed. We either
accept it in whole or reject it in whole. There are many areas in
I talked in the past about the transportation subsidies.
Unemployment insurance is another example where the
government is saying we are turning something down that we
should be embracing. The government in fact is twisting our
Under unemployment insurance they are dropping the rates
from $3.30 to $3 and then we are chastised for making any
comment against its action. The reality is they were the ones
who put it up to $3.30 in the first place. Then they say a company
with 10 people or 50-I cannot remember the magic number
used-is going to save all these thousands of dollars with which
it can hire new employees. The reality is that nothing has been
saved because it was a charge imposed by the government in the
If it were true, and I pointed this out to the Minister of Human
Resources Development before, it should have put the rate up by
$3 instead of 30 cents and then dropped it back down. That way
the companies would save 10 times as much and all our
economic problems would be over.
The reality is whether we should be debating the
implementation of this budget at all. It is already out of date.
The budget will not work. It has not taken into account the
impact and the effect it has had on our economy already, how it
has shaken the confidence of international lenders around the
world. Our foreign bond credit rating has dropped. The stock
market has dropped. Interest rates have climbed and our dollar
has dropped. We are in big trouble and it started with this
It is time the government realized this is not a budget that is
going to work for Canadians. Instead of debating this we should
be setting it aside and working together to develop a new budget,
one that will really work and one that will address the real needs
of the Canadian public.
We have to oppose the bill because it is the implementation of
a variety of acts, some of which might be good but many of
which will not work. It works toward passing an overall budget
which itself is flawed and already out of date.
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford): Mr. Speaker, I rise to
support the position taken by my colleague for Mercier
regarding the amendment to Bill C-17 which changes the rules
applicable to Unemployment Insurance.
Using as a base provisions contained in the 1994 Budget, the
government has considerably changed the rules of the game as
far as UI is concerned, without resorting to a special bill. I stress
that fact, because the proposed changes are more than a simple
change of rules.
This is the end of the redistributional effect of Unemployment
Insurance. What people should realize is that workers should not
be penalized for the lethargic state of our economy, especially
when the government was elected on the promise that it would
create hundreds of thousands of jobs and now looks idly-yes,
idly, Mr. Speaker-at the waste of government money and at the
sclerosis of its finances.
Up to now, the government has refused to debate its fiscal
policy with the opposition. Moreover, it rejected the proposal of
the Bloc Quebecois to create a committee to study all budgetary
expenditures. However, without any consultation, the
government decided to cut into UI, without putting into place
the means to help workers. Mr. Speaker, my question is to the
Liberal members: Where are the jobs they promised during last
fall election campaign?
Now that Liberals are in power, do they not fear the mounting
discontent among taxpayers? It seems to me that my colleagues
opposite, high in their ivory tower, do not realize the seriousness
of the situation. They have lost touch with the reality of the
employment market. What we need is an economic policy based
on employment. We do not need unjustifiable and
discriminatory measures aimed at the less well-off, which leave
thousands of families with no alternatives and no hope.
As my colleague, the member for Mercier, said so eloquently
in the speech she made in the House on March 25, the
amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act do not reduce
the inequities between the rich and the poor of our country, on
the contrary. The announced changes do not provide for any
specific measure reducing youth unemployment. Finally, these
changes do not cancel out the raise in UI premiums of workers
and businesses as of January 1st, 1994.
Several things bother me. What is the real purpose behind
these changes in the Unemployment Insurance Act? Does the
government really want to tackle the problems of
unemployment and the labour market or does it simply want to
hide its true intentions and have the middle class and the less
well-off pay the bill?
The Minister of Finance announced recently in his budget that
public expenditure control was one of the main goals of his
government. I agree that such a goal of fiscal consolidation is
necessary and even noble, but I am surprised and worried that
close to 60 per cent of the projected drop in the federal deficit,
some $2.4 billion out of a total of $4.1 billion, will be assumed
by the unemployed, who are 1.607 million in Canada and
452,000 in Quebec.
According to the Minister of Finance, at least 85 per cent of
the unemployed will see their benefits reduced. It is easy to
figure out. Is it not strange when one is advocating social values
and equity, as the Liberal government did so well?
In terms of equity, the government is making the unemployed
pay the bill for its fiscal consolidation. That is an absolutely
disproportionate share of the burden. We ask much more from
the unemployed than from wealthier groups.
The Minister of Human Resources Development announced
drastic measures regarding workers who lose their jobs. He said:
``The proposed changes prejudge in no way of the social security
system reform. These interim measures were necessary and
constitute positive steps. At the same time, we are making
additional savings by reducing duplication''.
What the minister means is that tighter eligibility
requirements, combined to a shorter benefit period, will force
UI recipients off UI and onto welfare. These interim, positive
steps will cost taxpayers in the various provinces at least $1
billion; Quebec taxpayers alone will have to pay $289 million.
What do they take us for! Not all of us are wearing blinkers.
Basically, the federal government is making budget savings at
the expense of Quebec's 452,000 unemployed and Canada's
1,607,000 unemployed. I am afraid that reducing the benefit
period will be totally ineffective and that this measure will
actually be counterproductive and fall short of the official
Increasing the unemployment insurance qualifying period
from 10 weeks to 12 could affect many of the thousands of
seasonal workers in the eastern part of Quebec, to say nothing of
Sixty per cent of UI cuts will be borne by Quebec and the
Maritimes, two regions where we find the people who will be
most affected by the increase in the number of weeks required to
qualify for benefits. In other words, the fishing, tourist, forest
and construction industries will be the hardest hit by this reform.
That is unacceptable!
To wrap up, unemployment insurance reform reflects the
Liberals contempt for the unemployed. The Minister of Human
Resources Development admitted to pursuing the following
objective: to force recipients to work longer to be eligible for the
same number of weeks of benefits. As if the unemployed chose
not to work!
But that is not where the problem lies. So, it is not by
tightening eligibility requirements and reducing the number of
weeks of benefits that the unemployment problem will be
resolved. Unemployment in Quebec and Canada is due to a lack
of jobs for everyone and people have to go from one temporary
job to another. The proposed reform will do nothing to solve the
problem of insecure jobs, on the contrary.
The government claims that the decision to lower the
unemployment insurance premium rate from $3.07 to $3 per
$100 of insurable income in 1995 and 1996 will create 40,000
jobs by 1996. There is something wrong with that! Last
same government raised the premium rate from $3.00 to $3.07.
Moreover, this Liberal government, by its own admission,
eliminated 9,000 jobs on January 1 because of this increase in
premiums for employers and employees. Is that not sufficient
proof that the government's proposed reform is ineffective? And
part of this reform is already in effect, to boot.
What does the government really want to do with this reform?
Are all the facts that I have just given you not enough to prove
that the proposed reform is not appropriate and that it will do
more harm than good?
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley): Mr.
Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in the debate on Bill
C-17. I might point out that although I have spoken many times
during the questions and comments periods of the debate, I find
it hard to believe this is my first speech in the House. I hope all
the folks back home in Prince George-Bulkley Valley are
In my address today I am going to acknowledge some of the
good points of the budget, which I think is appropriate. Our
party is not here simply to criticize. Where credit is due we
certainly will applaud.
Accordingly I must inform the House that in our opinion there
are very few good points in the budget, so a great deal of this
address will deal with many of the problems in the budget
generally and the negative effects that we feel it is having and
will continue to have on the economy of the country.
First, I congratulate the government on certain aspects of Bill
C-17 which indicate at least some fleeting recognition of the
necessity to curtail government spending within the public
service and in the area of transfers to persons and provinces. For
example, the government has extended an existing salary freeze
for public service employees and has frozen the salaries of
members of Parliament. I applaud that. The government has also
frozen transfers to the provinces under the Canada assistance
plan for the fiscal years 1994-95. As well, amendments to the
unemployment insurance lengthening qualification times may
encourage some firms to hire and may discourage the abuse of
On that point, it possibly would have been appropriate if the
government had looked at putting a hiring freeze on the public
service sector as well and let attrition actually contribute to this
effort to cut costs in the public service sector.
Clearly these actions could be representative of a step in the
right direction. There is some indication that the government
recognizes problems surrounding expenditures devoted to
public sector salaries, transfers to the provinces and social
Unfortunately this is where the government's foray into the
realm of reality ends. Despite repeated warnings from domestic
and international investors there has been no significant
reduction in government spending. Overall government
spending has increased. The reaction of the markets in recent
times reflects the government's continued neglect to address the
financial problems of Canada in its recent budget.
On April 22, 1993, the present finance minister questioned the
Conservative government on its budget. At that time he stated
that the Conservative budget was a stop-gap budget that did not
address Canada's real needs. I suggest to the Minister of Finance
that perhaps he should apply his past comments to his recent
budget. In so doing he may just come to an understanding as to
why the financial markets have reacted in the way they have.
Quite simply, the budget brought down by the Liberal
government does not address Canada's real needs.
It is my opinion that the Liberals are on course to add $100
billion to the national debt over the term of their mandate. The
consequences of that will cause severe stress to our economy.
Specifically it could translate into such excessive tax increases
that the Canadian consumer will be left with a severely deflated
disposable income and those who would invest in this country,
the investors and the developers, would end up having a zero
Our standard of living and our way of life would begin to
become dramatically downgraded. The people of the country
could be transformed into minions of the state, simply working
to feed the government and its insatiable spending habits.
Some forecasters predict that government growth could be the
strongest among the G-7 countries in 1994. I believe industry is
looking to the government for stability in politics and in
taxation so that as a result of the forecast it may begin to develop
this comfort zone and take any advantage it can of any upswing
in the economy.
Unfortunately it is not the intention of the government to
allow industry to have that comfort zone and it has been
demonstrated in the recent budget. The government appears to
be well on its way to being a major deterrent to economic
recovery in Canada as a result of the budget. Nowhere is it more
pronounced than in the budget.
It is the opinion of our party and of millions of Canadians that
we need serious cuts in federal spending if we are ever to
transform Canada into an attractive country for investors. As
well we need serious cuts in government spending and some
clear indication that the government is getting its financial
house in order if the consumers of the country are ever again to
develop any measure of consumer confidence.
The government has introduced some cost cutting measures.
However the government will still be running a $40 billion
deficit this year. This is because it has introduced 18 new
spending programs and 15 new studies.
In the budget speech the Minister of Finance stated that
people told the government it should freeze spending and it
agreed. That is what he said.
The minister may have agreed with that point but he took no
action to implement it. In fact he did the opposite. Total
government spending is up from $160 billion to $163 billion.
Because of this action and the recent rise in interest rates it is my
opinion that the government cannot possibly reach its target of 3
per cent to GDP ratio in three years. It is impossible under the
Total debt as a percentage of GDP has been increasing
steadily over the last 25 years. In 1970-71 total debt represented
21.8 per cent of GDP. Forecasting predicts that in 1995-96 total
debt will represent approximately 75 per cent of GDP. By the
turn of the century, if current government spending habits
continue, total government debt will surpass our GDP. This
would mean that we would eventually owe more than we earned
in a year as an entire nation. I find this a national shame.
Our poor financial condition is evident in some recent trends
in the Canadian economy. The dollar has come under increasing
pressure and foreign investors are withdrawing their money in
response to the staggering government debt load.
The IMF warned of such a situation last year. It predicted that
the dollar would begin to slide if ``Ottawa and the provinces fail
to cut spending in their upcoming budgets''. This is exactly what
The Dominion Bond Security Rating Service recently
downgraded its rating on Canada's foreign currency debt from
AAA to AA high. Dominion stated that it had no choice but to
downgrade the rating since there were no ``meaningful
reductions'' in the government's recent budget.
This represents yet another harbinger that the nation's fiscal
house is in disorder and could be on the verge of collapse. None
of this has frustrated the Prime Minister and his government. It
has not frustrated them at all. The encouraging news that I have
just outlined has somehow prompted the Liberal government to
embark on a $6 billion credit card infrastructure program.
Interest rates have been edging up as foreign investors see
Canadian debt load increasing and as they react by selling off
their Canadian dollar holdings. The dollar has lost two or three
cents since budget day and as well the government deficits will
continue at unreasonably high levels in the short term.
The budget similar to the Liberal election victory is a status
quo entity, that is if they do nothing and say nothing they hope to
emerge undamaged by public scrutiny. Contrary to the claims of
the finance minister the budget is just nibbling at the edges of
The one area of spending that needs to be reformed and is not,
which is the largest government spending program, transfers to
provinces and persons remains relatively untouched by the
government. Over 50 per cent of our budget is spent on social
programs and transfers to provinces and persons. This huge area
has been virtually untouched.
Industry, investors and individuals are looking for signs of
stability and thereby certainty of the future economic direction
of our country.
The Deputy Speaker: It is the hon. member's maiden speech.
I wonder if there might be unanimous consent to let him have a
little longer to finish it. Is it agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Harris: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am just about done.
The budget was supposed to represent stability and certainty
in the future economic direction of our country. Sadly, very
sadly, budgets such as the one presented on February 22 do not
provide any kind of stability or certainty. Continued deficits
point to higher taxation, individuals are cautious in the use of
their disposable income as they see it shrinking and as they see
their job certainty becoming more uncertain and industry is
looking south of the border for a more hospitable economic
The underground economy is running at about $70 billion a
year. This all represents definitive evidence that there are
problems with taxation on industry and taxation more generally.
Alberta has recognized the negative effects government debt
produces. Accordingly in its provincial budget it has taken
measures to eliminate the provincial deficit within a few years
and is predicting a surplus. Those people from western Canada
hope that will work and they are confident it will.
Other provinces and the federal government must take similar
action. Rosy revenue projections are simply no longer
acceptable. The federal government needs to take action on this
issue and we need action today.
I will just sum up. We in the Reform Party have been
constantly speaking about taking action. The government has
failed to listen to us. We in the Reform Party will continue to
speak on additional cuts that the government has to make to its
budget and we have been. We will do all these things in an
attempt to prevent the government's fiscal house from
crumbling and come crashing down.
The implementation of Bill C-17 and the budget generally
represent the removal of yet another cornerstone of our financial
house. It is on the verge of collapse and accordingly our party
and I must oppose it.
Mr. Jean-Marc Jacob (Charlesbourg): Mr. Speaker, Bill
C-17 is a direct result of the finance minister's great budget. So
just about anything having to do with the budget will impact on
Instead of touching on every aspect of the cuts achieved at the
expense of the unemployed, I will move in a more specific
The cuts in the finance minister's budget affect the
unemployed, seniors and, in large part, the national defence
budget. The defence cuts were wanted by the Liberal Party
before it took office; we in the Bloc Quebecois also wanted them
so I will not question their validity. Of course, I cannot help but
point out that the military college in Saint-Jean is not and will
never be part of the acceptable cuts, let alone justified by
economic arguments which, in my opinion and that of my Bloc
colleagues, have never been proven.
However, section 7.1 of Bill C-17, which deals with national
defence cuts, seems vague and shortsighted to me.
These cuts will translate into civilian and military layoffs.
Under section 7.1 of this bill, payments will be offered or given
to employees who have lost or will lose their jobs due to civilian
and military personnel reductions. We must also speak up about
staff cuts at the national defence research centres.
Section 7.1 is vague regarding the duration and amount of
payments to national defence laid-off workers. It is also
shortsighted because it does not offer future prospects to the
people who have lost their jobs as a result of the finance
The old saying ``instead of giving a fish to the hungry, it is
better to teach them how to fish'' can be applied at many levels
in our society. Why, as the Bloc Quebecois suggested during the
election campaign, did the government not implement programs
to convert defence industries to civilian production, in line with
the red bible of this good government full of good intentions but
very reluctant to take action?
When I see companies such as Paramax and Oerlikon after the
EH-101 helicopter contract was cancelled, and also in the case
of Oerlikon after the end of the cold war, I wonder what markets
these companies can turn to.
Unfortunately, I think that the programs under section 7.1
providing for payments to those who will be affected by the cuts
leave little hope to the many highly-skilled workers with very
limited retraining opportunities, given our current economic
Where do we find in Bill C-17 an incentive to employment
recovery? Throughout the campaign, the Liberal Party kept
talking about jobs, jobs, jobs, but we find very little incentives,
if any. Generally speaking, in life or in the private sector, when
corrective action is taken in response to some alarming
situation, you try to plan different options.
What options has the government included in Bill C-17 to
promote recovery? I have met with people in my riding and they
do not speak highly of this kind of reform which does nothing to
resolve the real problems. The gap between the social classes is
increasing irreversibly. The middle class, which is the
government's major source of income, is starting to wonder if
the measures we take are not aimed at its elimination. Overtaxed
and competing against the underground economy, the middle
class could hardly believe the budget. Why were big businesses
and trusts still spared, while members of the middle class, who,
given the present economic situation, have started to join the
ranks of the unemployed, were being squarely targeted by the
I said previously that if you taught someone in need how to
manage instead of giving him money, that person would become
self-sufficient. Here is an original example of job creation
incentive. My colleague from Joliette has introduced Bill
C-230, which is an amendment to Bill C-17. This amendment
would allow resourceful unemployed people to create jobs for
themselves and maybe even for others. There are many workers
who were employed for eight, ten or twelve years, who were laid
off because of the economic situation and who, thanks to their
entrepreneurial spirit, created small businesses, thus losing all
the UI contributions they made over those ten or twelve years.
Bill C-230 would allow a worker who becomes unemployed
and decides to invest in a small business to receive, over a
certain period, 50 per cent of the UI benefits to which he would
otherwise be entitled if he did not have the will and the desire to
start a venture. The break-in period for a small business is
somewhere between three and eight months. Such a measure
would be an extraordinary boost to job creation!
If a person who worked and paid UI contributions for many
years does not have the initiative to create something, that
person is entitled to UI benefits while staying at home doing
nothing. Yet, if that same person has the will to start a business
and needs help at the beginning, he or she simply loses
entitlement to UI benefits. If Bill C-17 included measures such
those proposed by the hon. member for Joliette, I would
probably support that legislation.
Unfortunately, the bill contains no incentive; it merely makes
it harder for the unemployed to survive and it will only
accelerate the transition from UI to welfare, without any
measure to help economic recovery. I have no choice but to
oppose this bill and hope that it will be amended by including
measures such as those proposed in Bill C-230.
Mr. Ian McClelland (Edmonton Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I
appreciate the opportunity to say a few words about the budget.
In particular I would like to say that as this debate has unfolded
in the last few days, time and time again hon. members of the
Bloc have risen and talked about what a horrible deal Quebec
gets at the hands of the rest of the country.
After the last such outpouring of emotion from the Bloc I
thought it might be interesting to do an analysis, an
investigation, and see how bad it really is. I would like to read it
into the record and bring some edification to some of the
members of the Bloc. Let me quote from the estimates of
equalization for 1993-94 by revenue, source and province.
An hon. member of the Bloc recently talked about the transfer
payments and equalization and the fact that: ``We recognize we
are the recipients of transfer payments, but we send a whole lot
of money into Canada, into the national treasury by way of
income and corporate taxes''.
Let me set the record straight as far as personal income taxes
are concerned. I will not go through all of the provinces, but I
will if I may outline Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and
Transfer payments from the federal treasury to the province as
a direct result of personal income taxes: Quebec is the net
beneficiary of $1,529,700,000 a year; Ontario pays out
$2,137,000,000; Alberta pays out $63 billion and B.C. $199
On business income revenues, Quebec pays out $78 million;
Ontario $175 million; Alberta $245 million and B.C. is the
recipient of $109 million.
Let us cut to the bottom line. There is a whole stream of
statistics here and any of my hon. colleagues from the Bloc are
quite welcome to ask the Department of Finance for the
information. They can get it by phoning the Library or the
Department of Finance.
Estimates for this year have Quebec being the net recipient of
$3.730 billion from the federal treasury. Ontario will contribute
$3.946 billion. Alberta with one-tenth of the population of
Canada will contribute $4.218 billion and British Columbia,
I thought it would be worthwhile to put this on the record so
my colleagues in the Bloc and the people of Quebec understand
that there is a net benefit to Quebec to remain in Confederation.
This is not a one-way street.
The other point I would like to raise in conjunction with the
debate on the budget is the changes to the Unemployment
Insurance Act. I am speaking in support of the changes that the
government has introduced and would ask it to consider
extending them to some of the recommendations that were
leaked in the press earlier.
The unemployment insurance program as it is today is not the
program that was envisioned when it was first announced.
Unemployment insurance today is a wealth transfer tax. It is a
transfer of wealth from those who are working to those who are
That is fine except let us call it what it is. Instead of calling it
unemployment insurance, let us call it a wealth transfer tax. It
transfers that wealth from one part of the country to other parts
on a sliding scale of entitlements and requirements. It certainly
cannot be considered unemployment insurance.
I ask members to consider the situation of an employee who
earns $15,000 to $18,000 a year, has never been out of work,
pays unemployment insurance on a weekly basis and has done so
for 15 or 20 years. Contrast that with a seasonally employed
person who might make twice as much money working six or
eight months of the year. That person is then entitled to
unemployment insurance for the remainder of the year. They
already make twice as much money as the person who works all
year long. Yet the person who is unemployed seasonally gets a
ton of money from the unemployment insurance program at the
expense of the person who works all year long and does not take
any time off.
Is it fair? We have to change the unemployment insurance
program to reflect reality. Just as individuals may take
advantage of the unemployment insurance program that exists
today, so do businesses take advantage of it.
If a business sees that it is going to have a slow time for a
month, a month and a half, or two months it is very easy to lay
people off and bring them back into the workforce. They can go
on pogey. The employer has no fear of losing them as skilled
employees because they are not going to find a job in a month
and a half.
When laying off employees the employer can tell them:
``Don't worry, we will bring you back in a month and a half''.
What happens? The unemployment program is subsidizing a
business and their employee pool. That is not what it was
designed to do. That is a business taking advantage of the
unemployment insurance program just as some employees do.
How do we go about fixing that? If we were to make the
unemployment insurance program a pure insurance program run
by the employees and paid for by the employees, there would be
natural checks and balances built into the program that would
prevent abuse. If premiums were abhorrently high because other
people were abusing it, it would not take very long for all the
people who found themselves being abused to get in there and
Therefore, what do we do in order to ensure that those who do
not have the resources or the employment are looked after?
Canadians are caring and compassionate. We are not going to let
people starve in the street. That is a basic understood
fundamental Canadian value.
How do we go about ensuring that does not happen? I submit it
is time that our country started dealing with situations and
problems as they are, not as we wish them to be. If that means
that because of the changing nature of work in our country and
around the world people are going to be working fewer hours
and getting more for it, having more leisure time, then we have
to reflect the realities that exist.
If it means that we are going to have to look at a guaranteed
annual income then let us look at it. Let us look at these things
honestly so that when we have an area of the country with
extremely high systemic unemployment, people can say: ``I can
choose to live here because I like living here. This is where my
family has always lived. I am only going to simply survive. If I
want to do well or if I want my children to do well I am going to
have to do the same thing that my forefathers did. I am going to
have to go where there are jobs and where the economy is
We have to deal with the reality of the economics in our
country and around the world as it is and not as we would wish it
to be. If we continue to look at this through the rose coloured,
rose tinted glasses that we have been we will never start dealing
with the fundamental problem we have in our country. The
fundamental problem is that there are areas where the nature of
work is changing.
We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the
unemployment in the maritimes is going to stay high for at least
our lifetime. It is tragic but the reality exists that if people who
live in the maritimes or in any other systemically disadvantaged
part of our country want to do better they are going to have to
move to another part of the country where their children are
going to have opportunity just as our forefathers had to leave
whatever their home country was and come here.
I thank the Chair for the opportunity to make these points. I
wanted particularly to make these points about the value of
Confederation to my hon. colleagues from Bloc from Quebec
who are constantly reminding the House of how historically
disadvantaged they are when the reality is they are not.
Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi): Mr. Speaker, first, let me
thank you for doing me the honou of asking me to replace you in
the chair for a few moments. This is a true historical event in this
House. Imagine, a sovereigntist, a member of the Bloc
Quebecois in the chair! Both you and I, Mr. Speaker, will go
down in history for that.
I want to discuss here Part V of Bill C-17 amending the
Talking about unemployment is talking about employment.
Last March, in the Great Chicoutimi-Jonquière area, the
seasonally unadjusted unemployment reached 15.5 per cent.
These kinds of rates bring us back to the inability of our leaders
to manage our primary resource, that is our human resource.
Wherever you stand, you have to acknowledge that the situation
The mechanism we put in place to counter fluctuations in the
economic cycle really comes into play when we go through a
period of high unemployment. That is when the Liberal
government chose to send a clear signal to Canadians. It makes
far-reaching changes to the unemployment insurance plan.
Moreover, the government promised jobs. That was the main
theme of its election platform, but it seems that the colour of its
red book has been fading in the last little while. I see it turning
from red to beige a little more every day. What are they telling
us now? They are tightening the screws. Following the changes
made by the Tories, the Liberal government is continuing to
undermine our social safety net.
The logical thing to do would be to create more jobs, not to
dismantle the system already in place.
Eligibility for unemployment insurance is reduced, the
benefit rate will also be reduced for the great majority of
recipients and the benefit period will be shortened.
We are told that the government wants to establish a better
balance between the period of employment and the benefit
period. It overlooks some countries which do not follow that
economic model. One cannot help feeling angry about such
disappointing measures which show that the government is
unable to create jobs.
According to the budget, there will be a net deficit reduction
of $8 billion in 1995-96, but only $4.1 billion of that will result
from the new measures announced by the Minister of Finance.
The unemployed are the ones who will pay for 60 per cent of the
deficit reduction effort, that is, $2.4 billion of a total of $4.1
billion. Even if you deduct the $400 million that the government
plans to reinvest in order to help unemployed Canadians get
back into the job market, their contribution is still 50 per cent.
How can the government ask the unemployed to make such a
large contribution? The government estimates that the
repercussions on provincial welfare programs will total $65
million to $135 million. According to three economists from the
Université du Québec à Montréal, these changes will cost the
provinces at least $1 billion, including $280 million in Quebec's
case. Why is there such a big difference between these
estimates? Who is telling the truth? The government or the
experts? I think that the experts have more credibility because
they are impartial.
The government says that it wants to strengthen the
relationship between work history and benefit entitlement. But
its proposal will only widen the gap between the various regions
of our country.
By increasing from 10 to 12 the number of weeks required to
be entitled to unemployment insurance benefits, the government
is shutting out a particular category of workers who would
barely qualify under the existing system. The increase in the
number of weeks required to qualify for benefits essentially
affects the Maritime provinces and Quebec.
By restricting accessibility on one hand and by favouring
applicants who have accumulated a larger number of work
weeks on the other hand, the government is forgetting how
shaky the employment situation is in many areas. Moreover, it is
not taking into account the structural changes that have occurred
in the job market. Instead of adapting the unemployment
insurance program to the new realities of the labour force, the
present government continues to reduce the protection given to
The government has made up its mind, even though it
indicates that these measures can be seen as temporary. They
lead us to believe that the choices have already been made and
that the broader reform of social programs will only serve as an
exercise in justification.
Finally, lessening the importance of the regional rate of
unemployment in calculating UI benefits will inevitably
penalize the regions with the highest rate of unemployment. The
reduction in the number of weeks of benefits will hit hardest the
regions with a rate of unemployment over 10 per cent, once
again the Maritimes and Quebec.
Indeed, eastern Canada is hit hardest by these measures. This
is how an internal document of the Department of Human
Resources Development estimates the cuts in benefits: $735
million for Quebec; $630 million for the Atlantic region; $560
million for Ontario and $430 million for Western Canada. Once
again Quebec bears the brunt of the cuts. One cannot say that
this is fair. Quite the contrary, regional disparities persist and
the gap remains. Provinces with a high rate of unemployment
will suffer higher cuts.
Finally, the government is increasing benefits for
low-income people with dependents. Their benefit rate will be
60 per cent, while it will be 55 per cent for others. According to
the Department of Finance, about 15 per cent of UI recipients
will belong to that group. That measure will require women to
prove that they have the custody of their children and will
necessitate the introduction of monitoring measures. Besides, it
was reported in broad headlines in La Presse, on Monday April
11, 1994, that the New Brunswick government wanted to require
single mothers to identify their children's father; that those who
refused would no longer be entitled to social assistance. Is the
Liberal government, our government, heading in the same
The government argues that the changes will contribute
significantly to job creation when the premium reduction will
come into effect on January 1, 1995. The government has
postponed until next year a measure it could have applied today.
There is no doubt that these changes reflect this government's
inability to offer a real recovery plan.
In closing, I will say that the government ought to fight
unemployment rather than the unemployed. And one of the ways
to offer a real recovery plan that would restore a balance and be
equitable to Quebec, Mr. Speaker, is to transfer jurisdiction for
labour training to the Government of Quebec, with the related
funding, of course. Quebec already has the expertise in this
field, being the closest to its constituents. It should have the
right to manage labour training programs for its workers.
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville): Mr. Speaker,
thank you for the opportunity to bring our concerns before the
I would like to focus my remarks on the government's
proposed changes to the unemployment insurance program. In
the budget tabled on February 22 the government proposed the
following changes to the UI program, some of which are
included in Bill C-17.
The government is rolling back UI premiums for 1995 and
1996 to $3 for every $100 in insurable earnings, down from
$3.07. It is reducing the benefits to 55 per cent of insurable
earnings, down from 57 per cent. It is increasing the benefits for
those UI claimants with low earnings and dependants to 60 per
cent of insurable earnings. That is up from 57 per cent.
The government is increasing the minimum amount of time a
person needs to work to qualify for UI from 10 weeks to 12
weeks. It is allowing more workers who voluntarily quit their
jobs or are fired with just cause to collect benefits. Also, the
length of time a worker can collect UI in regions with high
unemployment has been reduced from a maximum of 32 weeks
to a maximum of 26 weeks.
Finally, the length of time a worker can remain on a claim has
been reduced. For example, workers who work 20 weeks used to
be able to collect benefits for 17 weeks. Under the new schedule,
they will only be able to collect 10 weeks of benefits.
Those are some of the changes. The Reform Party is generally
supportive of the changes proposed by the government.
However we maintain that the government did not go far
On Tuesday of this week the leader of the Reform Party asked
the Prime Minister if there would be additional spending cuts to
those outlined in the recent budget and the Prime Minister
answered yes. Yesterday in the House of Commons the Prime
Minister and a number of his ministers, despite repeated
questions from the Reform Party, refused to identify which
programs would be cut.
We maintain there are billions of dollars to be saved by
returning unemployment insurance to a true insurance program.
This means to protect workers who become unemployed through
no fault of their own. That is what we mean.
I would like to comment specifically on each of the measures
proposed by the government and then put forward some
constructive alternatives for the government to consider. We do
not just try to criticize, but we also give positive alternatives.
The government is to be commended for reducing premiums
to employers and employees. UI premiums are simply payroll
taxes and payroll taxes are job killers. This is probably the only
thing I have ever heard all economists agree on.
The government is to be commended for reducing these job
killing taxes and restoring some confidence in the business
community by assuring the rates will not increase for 1995 and
1996. The government says this will create 40,000 more jobs
than if it had let the rates rise, proving once again that lowering
taxes creates jobs.
In fact the government's own reports show that reducing UI
premiums is a cheaper way of creating jobs than its own $6
billion infrastructure program, most of which will be financed
by borrowed money. That again will increase the deficit and the
national debt and undermine confidence in the economy.
I remind the House this is the same government that increased
UI premiums by 7 per cent on January 1, 1994 and less than two
months later announced a premium reduction for 1995. Talk
about being confused. This also shows the government can and
will change the rules anytime it wishes.
The government reports that reducing UI benefits will save
$725 million this year and $2.4 billion in each of the next two
fiscal years. Again the government is moving in the right
direction but not quite fast enough. The government's own
budget documents show that the cumulative deficit of the UI
account as of December 31 is $6 billion.
The Prime Minister was silent a few weeks ago when asked by
some angry fishermen in Atlantic Canada where it was written in
the red book that the government would cut UI benefits. At least
the Reform Party campaigned on cutting spending on
unemployment insurance. The Liberal Party did not campaign
on that. The government is finding out how hard it is to say one
thing during an election and then to do the exact opposite once
elected. Canadians will remember.
Increasing benefits to UI claimants with low earnings and
dependants is commendable. It is a recognition of the Reform
Party principle that assistance should be targeted to those who
need it most.
The Reform Party was vigorously attacked during the election
campaign for suggesting that universality was not financially
sustainable. Now the government has contravened the sacred
principle of universality. Will the government finally admit that
universality is dead?
As a final comment, the reduction in the length of time a
worker can collect UI benefits in regions with high
unemployment is a small admission that the current UI system
creates disincentives to work. It reduces worker mobility,
discourages self-employment, undermines personal and
community initiatives and impedes productivity for employers.
The Reform Party says it is time to use the government's
initiative to phase out regionally extended benefits altogether. I
would like to put the government's UI reforms to a simple test. I
am going to call it the taxpayers' test.
Question No. 1: Do the government's proposals make the UI
program financially sustainable? Look at it. No.
Question No. 2: Do the government's proposals help people
become less dependent on the system? A little, but how many
will return to welfare? The entire income security system is sick
and it needs to be fixed.
Question No. 3: Do the government's proposals reduce abuse
of the UI system? No. Abuse is still rampant. For example, there
are now 43 just cause reasons which will allow job quitters to
collect UI. There are 43 different ways.
Question No. 4: Are the government's proposals fair and do
they treat all Canadians the same regardless of where they live?
No. The UI program still allows people who live in uneconomic
regions of the country to become permanent wards of the state.
Question No. 5: Do the employers and employees who pay for
the UI program with their premiums have a real say in how their
money is spent? Do they have any say in that? No. The
government should democratize unemployment insurance. Let
the people who pay for it run it. That is the essence of
democracy, not this top down bureaucracy.
Question No. 6: Is the UI program a true insurance program?
No. Unemployment insurance rewards repeaters and seasonal
workers at the expense of permanent full time workers.
In closing, I reiterate that the unemployment insurance
program is still being used as a vehicle for social engineering.
The UI program still breeds dependence. The UI program is
overly generous when compared to other OECD countries.
The Minister of Human Resources Development will soon put
forward an action plan for the reform of social programs. This
review provides us with a remarkable opportunity to revamp our
unemployment insurance program.
I encourage the government to consider the principles the
Reform Party has put forward to ensure that any future changes
will pass the taxpayers' test.
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond): Mr. Speaker, with Bill
C-17, the government is asking us to amend 11 different laws to
implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament
on February 22, 1994. However, this budget, as could be
expected and as was denounced in this House, is making waves
in the financial community of this country because it fails to
meet either the expectations of the financial community or those
of Quebeckers and Canadians.
This government had the opportunity to take some measures
to put public finances in order, to put an end to wasting money
and to eliminate duplication and unproductive expenditures in
programs under both federal and provincial jurisdictions, but it
did nothing. This government had the opportunity, as it has
promised during the election campaign, to restore some hope
among Quebeckers and Canadians, but it did nothing.
Rather, the Chrétien government brought about a budget
which deeply affects our economy-and, God knows, it did not
need it-and thus deprives us of our hope for economic growth
and job creation. Those past two weeks, we have witnessed in
the financial community some reactions which clearly reflect
the low level of confidence they have in the direction that the
government wanted to follow in this budget.
This government did not go in the right direction: the
budgeted deficit has never been so high, reaching $40 billion
and when they propose to cut back on expenses, they bluntly
attack the most disadvantaged, the victims of a recession they
are fueling rather than fighting, they go after unemployed men
In the same budget exercise, the Liberal government is asking
us to spend every day some $110 million more than the revenues
it receives while the unemployed have to bear the largest
part-almost 60 per cent-of the new budgetary cuts announced
in the Liberal budget. In this regard, this budget is particularly
unequitable and unfair, and when the government is asking us,
through this omnibus bill, to implement measures so
devastating to the unemployed, we must object to it.
The government has announced a comprehensive review of
social security, including unemployment insurance, and hopes
to present a reform plan to this House next September. It is
therefore unacceptable for the government to proceed with such
important cuts and such drastic changes in the unemployment
insurance program before the necessary consultations have been
held and before this whole matter has been thought through.
Whether it be the increase of the premium rate for 1994, the
reduction in the length of the benefit period, the longer
qualifying period, the two-tier benefit system which will affect
85 per cent of claimants, or the lesser importance attached to
regional unemployment levels, these measures have, in our
opinion, been taken on the spur of the moment and have only one
purpose, to reduce the budget deficit on the backs of the
unemployed, in an economy where there are not enough jobs for
everyone. Instead of helping to reduce unemployment, these
measures only weaken the social safety net. By impoverishing
the unemployed, the government promotes the degradation of
the entire social environment in Quebec and in Canada and
thereby activates all sorts of ripple effects on such things as
welfare and health systems.
If the government thought that the social environment in this
country was bad enough to require social program reform, why
does it further aggravate the situation by improvising such harsh
measures for the unemployed? There were many areas where
there is fat to be cut, but the victims of the recession have none.
The Bloc Quebecois spared neither its suggestions nor its offers
of services to identify areas where major savings could be made,
and this, through a committee of this House looking at budget
spending as a whole.
But no, this government would rather pursue policies it once
condemned. I quote: ``Conservative fiscal and monetary
policies, as we have seen over the past few days, are having
disastrous effects on the economy and always ask more of the
We must not fail to mention one of the adverse effects of the
bill: the shifting of a portion of the deficit burden onto Quebec
and the provinces. By shortening benefit periods, the federal
government will more rapidly divert a greater number of
unemployed people towards provincial social security
programs. According to three members of the Department of
Economics at the Université du Québec à Montréal this new
shift from unemployment insurance to the welfare system will
cost Quebec an additional $280 million. The provinces as a
whole will have to pay an additional $1 billion, approximately.
Considering the government's promise whereby any social
program reform affecting provincial finances would take place
after due consultation, in order to get their prior approval, here
is a good example of a broken promise. First the cuts, and then,
the negotiations: what a nice way to instill a climate of
confidence in future public debate and negotiations with the
We must reject Bill C-17 out of hand because it is a rag-bag
containing radical amendments to the Unemployment Insurance
Act. Those amendments should have been dealt with in a
separate piece of legislation in the first place and, most
important, they should have been preceded by extensive
In the present context, the unemployed in Quebec and Canada
have enough incentive to find work and they do want to work.
They plead for jobs in our ridings every day. Fraud, which we
must continue to try to eliminate, accounts for only a very small
percentage of costs. The basic problem is that there are not
enough jobs for everyone as things now stand, and reducing the
amount of benefits and the benefit period will not put more
people back to work.
The government has estimated that every one-cent reduction
in contributions leads to about 1,300 new jobs. At the same time
it maintains an increase of 7 cents in contributions, which rise
from $3 to $3.07. In doing so, the government deliberately
prevents 9,000 people from going back to work, regaining their
dignity and taking part in the economic recovery. Mr. Speaker, I
like to use numbers on a smaller scale, those of a riding for
instance, since I represent people from a riding in the House of
Commons. Therefore, if you reallocate equitably on an
individual riding basis the number of jobs lost because of the
stubbornness of the government which maintains the
contributions at $3.07, 32 people are deprived of a job in every
You might say it is one case among many others. Maybe, but it
was not so when we were elected or when our government
colleagues got elected by promising jobs, jobs and jobs. Before
we vote on Bill C-17, I invite my colleagues to think of those 32
people and of all those who regularly come to our riding offices
to tell us about their hardships and their dismay because of the
Mr. Bob Ringma (Nanaimo-Cowichan): Mr. Speaker,
while Bill C-17 contains a good number of proposed
amendments to statutes with which the Reform Party agrees, we
find that the bill covers so many disparate areas that it is very
hard to deal with it. It was for that reason that Reform asked the
Speaker for a ruling on its status as a bill.
In any event, to the extent that the theme of Bill C-17 is to
restrain government spending, we totally agree. Since it is so
wide ranging I would like to seize one little area of government
spending to prove that the government not only should but could
cut back on its spending.
I would like to delve into the area of official languages and the
cost of official languages. More specifically I would like to
address the issue of bilingual bonuses.
The 1983 annual report from the Commissioner of Official
Languages states: ``Six years and let us say almost a quarter of a
billion dollars into the game any question of the real
contribution that the bilingualism bonus might be making to
federal language programs has been pretty much lost from
view''. That is from 1983.
Two days ago in the House was tabled the 1993 report of the
Commissioner of Official Languages. Allow me to read very
briefly from that: ``Unfortunately with regard to the issue of
bilingual bonus it is obvious that the commissioner's repeated
recommendations still have not been followed. This year
approximately $50 million was once again spent without any
assurance that the payment of such a sum was necessary to
ensure Canadians of the availability of quality service in the
official language of their choice. Given the present economic
circumstances we are more than ever convinced that the
bilingualism bonus should be eliminated gradually by
negotiating with the parties concerned. In the interest of public
finances, as much as that of the official languages program, it is
high time for the government to take this problem in hand''.
What does the government need to get the idea that it should
take things in hand? I stood in the House two days ago and read
from the same report to the Prime Minister. I asked him in effect
what his government will do about these continued
recommendations on the part of the Commissioner of Official
Languages. The Prime Minister's response to me two days ago
was: ``I do not think that the commissioner has made a strong
recommendation. He has recommended we look into that and we
will look into that''.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Ringma: I do not say hear, hear. We have been looking
into it for 15 years, 10 that the commissioner has put it on
record. Where are we? The commissioners have advocated
eliminating the bilingual bonus, not reviewing it again and
again. I put the Prime Minister's response equally with the
response that I received a few weeks ago from the Minister of
Human Resources Development to another question, and I will
The response that I get from the Prime Minister and his other
minister is, I am afraid to say, irresponsible. It is too vacuous for
There are millions of Canadians out there who are waiting for
some sign from the government that the government is serious
about its word on cutting back on its spending and getting hold
of the deficit, waving the red book.
This is not good enough. We have a tangible right here
recommended by the Commissioner of Official Languages
saying we can save $51 million in one year alone on this and the
government says it will look at it.
I brought up the case in the House of a new government
information centre being opened in May in Bathurst, New
Brunswick. I suggested to the minister of human resources that
instead of employing 65 fully bilingual people at that centre he
would give better service and save money in the bargain by
employing essentially unilingual people.
The minister did not respond, in my view, properly. He
attacked me rather than coping with the problem or taking it as a
suggestion well meant. He said instead: ``You are lucky that you
have a touch-tone phone and are you not privileged''. His
response I put with the Prime Minister's two days ago. This is
part of the problem, I am afraid, that we have not just in this
Parliament but in the running of the country. If we cannot stand
here as part of the opposition and honestly put forward some
ideas that we feel are of merit and have those ideas received in
kind then where are we? It is small wonder that the electorate out
there is unhappy.
Before we talk a little more on cuts, to shortcut any vehement
attack on me or the Reform Party I am going to reiterate that the
Reform Party is not against bilingualism. We encourage
We encourage everyone to speak French if possible.
Having said that, we are against waste. Let us give bilingual
services where they are required but let us also protect the
anglophone minority in the province of Quebec at the same time.
In the meantime, let us make cuts and cuts are indeed
possible. Let me give a few proposed cuts on the official
languages program. This is for one year. If we were to cut
one-third of the transfers to provinces for education we would
save $80 million in a year. We propose this on the basis that
education is a provincial responsibility.
If we also take from the Department of Canadian Heritage
transfers to the provinces for special interest advocacy groups
for promotion we would save $41 million. If we were to take
from the CBC second language broadcasting budget, eliminate
it totally, because that service should be market driven rather
than driven by Ottawa, we would save $80 million. If we would
cut out advertising in minority language newspapers we would
save $5 million. If we cut from Canadian Heritage the bilingual
bonus we have already mentioned, we would save $50 million to
$51 million. On second language training and salaries for
replacement workers we would save another $50 million. The
total annual savings are $306 million to $307 million. It can be
done. Would the government please look at it and do something
about it. Do not just study it again.
I will make my concluding remarks short. I implore the
government and everyone else to join with us, re-examine the
Official Languages Act and look at specific things like bilingual
bonuses. We can save money, be more efficient and be happier as
Mr. Maurice Godin (Châteauguay): Mr. Speaker, the
economic region of the Montérégie is plagued with an
unemployment rate that reached 11 per cent during the first
quarter of this year, according to Statistics Canada. What would
be the impact of Bill C-17 on the unemployment rate? That is
what we have to ask ourselves to understand fully why the
budget tabled by the Minister of Finance is an insult to all
The Martin budget is based on bad logic. For example, it
establishes a link between the problems related to economic
recovery and the labour market, employers and businesspeople,
and the contributions which help fund the unemployment
insurance system. Furthermore, since the beginning of the
1990s, unemployment insurance has become a program which is
supposed to be self-financing. With Bill C-17, the government
concludes that we have to bring back the rate of unemployment
insurance premiums to 3 per cent. By doing so, they think that it
will contribute 125 million dollars towards economic growth
and job creation-as shown in Table II of the Budget
Speech-and save 725 million dollars just in 1994-95-as it has
been written in the backgrounder on the proposed changes to the
unemployment insurance program.
Did the government ask itself what contribution it might have
done if it had reconsidered other measures? We still do not know
why the GST applies to essential commodities and not to stock
exchange transactions. What we do know however is that the
financing of unemployment insurance has been turned back
twenty years. This program is more and more restrictive and out
The government is again making the mistake of going after
the unemployed instead of unemployment, as if those people
had chosen to be without a job. The benefit period for new
claimants will be reduced. There is another measure which will
transfer to the provinces the cost of the government's inability
to strengthen the economy. Where do the unemployed go when
they have used up all their benefits and still have no job? They
join the ranks of those who are forced to live on welfare. And do
not think that these people do not want to work because they do!
The Chrétien government was happy with the last Statistics
Canada unemployment figures. However, it overlooked the
number of people who have lost hope and have stopped looking
for jobs. It also overlooked the figures showing an increase in
the number of welfare applications.
Another measure of retaliation against the unemployed is the
minimum requirements for benefit entitlement which have been
increased from 10 to 12 weeks of insurable employment. The
government is really striving to reduce the total number of
claimants on the books. Can such a measure help solve the
employment problem? Certainly not. The resulting savings will
cost a fortune. The Liberal government is only giving us the
impression it did something; in reality, it has done nothing at all.
The government said that it wanted to encourage small
business by increasing consumer demand. Do you think that the
unemployed will be able to contribute to this economic recovery
effort when their payments are being reduced to 55 per cent of
their average insurable earnings? Even at 60 per cent, for low
income earners with children or other dependants such as an
elderly parent, people are still below the subsistence level.
The government has made commitments that it is not keeping.
Yet, it would be possible to straighten up public finances and the
deficit, but it would take a major shake up with a view to
establishing a really equitable fiscal policy. According to some
experts, it would be possible to find $46.1 billion in additional
revenues for the Treasury through fiscal restructuring only,
without touching social programs, without attacking the poor
who try desperately to make ends meet.
Seventeen separate measures have been identified by
economist Léo-Paul Lauzon, from sources as diverse as the
Auditor General of Canada, Yves Séguin, Ernst Young, the
Liberal Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc
Quebecois and the Department of Finance. Among them, the two
most important are the closing of fiscal loopholes which would
bring $10 billion to the treasury, and the creation of a new tax on
securities which would bring in another $10 billion.
But the government did not dare touch anything which could
have displeased its rich friends. However, it did not hesitate to
do so when it came to the unemployed. That is the main reproach
we can direct to the government, and Bill C-17 proves once
again the public was misled by enticing election promises.
In the economic region of the Montérégie, an unemployed
person coming to an employment centre with 15 weeks of work
to his or her credit would currently be entitled to UI benefits for
30 weeks. After Bill C-17 is passed, the same person will be
eligible for only 21 weeks of benefits. That is what the Chrétien
government just offered. That is their initiative for economic
growth and job creation. The government just cut nine weeks of
benefits for this unemployed worker.
Do the government realize what they are doing? What they are
saying by this is that their management of social problems is a
complete failure. They are saying to Canadians that they would
be better off if this responsibility was transferred to their
provinces. It is proving the Quebec sovereignists right. Should
we go as far as to thank the government for doing us this favor?
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville): Mr. Speaker, I am speaking
today to oppose implementation of the Liberal budget which has
and will continue to cause hardship for Canadians and damage to
the Canadian economy.
The budget will lead to a deficit of almost $40 billion added to
the over $500 billion debt the federal government has already
accumulated. The prognosis for ever dealing with this financial
mess we are in is becoming increasingly difficult to even
It has now reached a critical point. It is not too late. The
problem can be dealt with but it has to be done now by making
substantial cuts in federal government spending.
Before the federal budget was released, the finance minister
travelled across Canada in an attempt to discover how
Canadians wanted government overspending to be dealt with in
this year's budget. He received excellent advice from Canadians
at these conferences. However, in their budget documents the
Liberals merely acknowledge the direction that Canadians said
they would like the government to follow. Unfortunately they
failed to act on this advice.
In the budget debates, Reform MPs clearly laid out their
proposals for cuts in federal government spending. These have
also been ignored.
One of the first motions that Reformers put forward was for a
cap to be placed on federal government spending. This spending
cap would at least have given the Liberals a chance to meet their
own deficit target of 3 per cent of GDP in three years as outlined
in the red book. This motion was voted down by the Liberal and
During the pre-budget debate Reformers tabled a document
that outlines $20 billion in federal government cuts. There has
been no indication that any of these proposals were ever
examined by the government.
Before, during and after the pre-budget debate Reform MPs
have elaborated on our proposals for spending cuts which
include approximately $6 billion in cuts to government itself,
approximately $4 billion in cuts to business subsidies and about
$9 billion in cuts to social program spending.
The government completely ignored the message received
from Canadians and Reformers during the budget debate. The
early symptoms of the Liberal lack of action are now appearing,
for example, the rapidly dropping Canadian dollar and
increasing interest rates.
These symptoms alone would not be a cause for great concern.
However, what concerns us is the underlying problem of the lack
of confidence in the Canadian economy. This lack of confidence
has been illustrated clearly by Canadian banks in their hesitation
to lend to small business.
Lack of confidence has also been shown by private investors
who are taking their capital out of Canada at an ever increasing
rate. This is further illustrated by Canadian consumers who,
with good reason, are not convinced their jobs are secure enough
to spend freely.
A further problem is the reality of the huge government debt
which is increasing at an incredibly fast rate. It is quite possible,
and many feel even probable, that Canada will hit the wall just
like New Zealand did. If that happens the Reform's zero in three
plan will be replaced by the Liberal's zero in three plan, but it
will not be zero deficit in three years. It will be zero deficit in
three months, three weeks, three days.
This kind of concern is no longer just coming from Reform
members of Parliament and from the general Canadian
population. It is also coming from financial experts across the
country. Warren Jestin, chief economist with the Bank of Nova
Scotia, states: ``The finance department has to revisit its deficit
projections and interest rate assumptions before the economy is
Sherry Cooper, chief economist of Burns Fry Limited, shares
this sentiment. ``We need a mini budget outlining explicitly the
cuts in government spending that will significantly reduce the
budget deficit. The financial markets are demanding the cuts.
We are talking about averting a currency crisis'', said Sherry
Cooper. These sentiments reflect clearly what Reformers were
saying following the finance minister's feeble attempt at a
The weakness could be due in part to the fact that the Liberals
simply did not have time since the election to come up with a
real budget. I encourage the finance minister in the strongest
way possible to bring forward a mini budget in the next few
months. Joshua Mendelsohn of the Canadian Imperial Bank of
Commerce stated: ``If the rates keep rising, Martin will have no
choice but to bring in a minibudget''.
In the meantime it is essential that the Prime Minister and
each cabinet minister give Canadians at least a hint as to where
they will be making further cuts as promised by the Prime
Minister. These actions will instil enough confidence in the
Canadian economy, in Canadians and in foreign investors to
hold off a pending financial crisis.
To allow the Liberal government to make the changes
necessary to balance the budget changes must also be made in
Liberal philosophy. The Canadian mindset toward government
has been changing but government has failed to recognize it.
The Liberal philosophy of big government which was fostered in
the sixties has changed. The Liberals must recognize this change
and deal with the new political and economic realities we are
This outdated mindset was clearly illustrated to me in a
meeting I had yesterday with a Liberal member of Parliament.
During the meeting he referred to the relationship between the
Canadian government and farmers as a partnership. This is not
what Canadian farmers want or expect. This is not a concept
Canadians can afford.
The Liberal concept of government so heavily involved with
business is not working. Something else has to give. Canadians
want government to provide the basic infrastructure that
business cannot and the basic social programs and to foster
changes which will allow a market economy to work well,
Mr. Albert Friedberg, author of Friedberg's Commodity and
Currency, agrees that government involvement in the Canadian
economy is stunting economic growth. He stated: ``The major
problem is the rising size of the state and in the economy that
chases an enormous amount of capital away''.
If the government is afraid of making substantial government
cuts, take a look at Alberta's current situation. Changes in
Alberta did not happen because Ralph Klein and his
Conservatives wanted them so desperately. They occurred
because Albertans were pushing for these changes. Klein's
government recognized that in order to get elected again it
would have to make substantial cuts. The people forced their
wishes on the Alberta government.
The Klein government would not have been elected in Alberta
if it had not promised substantial government cuts. The Liberals
will not be re-elected if they do not make substantial spending
The Alberta experience has demonstrated this move is not
only a move that is good for Canadians and is good for the
country, but it is also good for the government politically.
Recent polls in Alberta verify that Albertans strongly support
the Klein government because of tough spending cuts it has
made. I certainly have heard this loud and clear in my
I know the Prime Minister feels that his great political savvy
can accomplish almost anything on its own, but I believe the
Prime Minister and the Liberal cabinet could learn a lot from
Alberta in a political sense.
Alberta is poised to reap the benefits in terms of jobs and in
terms of a buoyant economy which will lead it and Canada
economically in the future. Alberta's unemployment rate
instead of rising during these times of cuts is actually dropping.
Its economic growth rate is expected to increase by a full 2 per
cent for a projected rate of 5.3 per cent which will lead the
The Speaker: I regret to inform the hon. member that his time
Mr. Michel Guimond
(Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans): Mr. Speaker, a few
days ago I had the privilege to ask this House to accept an
amendment to Bill C-17. My hon. colleagues decided otherwise
and, as any good democrat, I accept their decision. That does not
mean that I agree with this bill, and for the second time, I will try
to explain my reservations to this House.
Some of the wording of this bill leads me to believe that it
would be premature to pass it. Let us take, for example, the wage
freeze. I already said yes to the freeze for certain categories of
public servants such as federally-appointed judges,
parliamentary agents, the Governor General, lieutenant
governors, Parliamentarians, and certain members of the
Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. But I
believe that it is very dangerous to remove any incentive for
public servants and to prevent them from climbing the wage
This bill also caps payments to provinces under the Canada
Assistance Plan after the 1994-95 fiscal year. The Canada
Assistance Plan cannot be modified without a national
consultation and, for this reason, I found it premature, at this
point, to cap payments for 1995-96.
I do not agree either with authorizing the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation to borrow money. The CBC is a
public corporation and as such should be funded by government
grants and advertising revenues. With a deficit of more than
$500 billion, this government does not need to authorize public
corporations such as the CBC to borrow money, thus adding to
the Canadian deficit. Anyhow, if the CBC chalks up a deficit,
Canadians will end up paying anyway. So, let the Canadian
government give the corporation the necessary budget to
promote Canadian culture and inform Canadians but we must
not authorize it to borrow money.
Although this bill contains many questionable and premature
items, the most questionable of all is the reform of
unemployment insurance. The changes proposed in Bill C-17
are unfair and will harm Canadians, especially in Quebec and
The government proudly proclaims that the proposed changes
will bring about savings in UI expenditures of $725 million in
1994-95, and of $2.4 billion in 1995-96 and 1996-97. Does the
federal government think it is doing Canadians a favour with
such a measure? Does it really believe that it will create more
jobs by lowering the premium? No, I do not think it will and I am
convinced that this government does not think so either. It is just
passing its financial problems on to the provinces, as it has been
doing for some time. What will Canadians and Quebeckers who
will no longer be entitled to unemployment insurance live on?
On welfare, which is of provincial jurisdiction.
The results of this decision are twofold. First, the human
person, and I often talk about the human person when I address
this House, will lose dignity, because in addition to being out of
work, they will no longer have the income to which they
contributed with their premiums. They will face the problems of
welfare recipients, despite the efforts of our provincial
governments to make welfare less painful. Mr. Speaker, human
dignity means being gainfully employed. As Félix Leclerc, who
is from Saint-Pierre on Île d'Orléans in my riding, said, the best
way to kill a man is to pay him to do nothing. With this bill, the
government is not creating jobs, it is shortening the
unemployment insurance benefit periods and forcing people to
depend on the state for subsistence.
Secondly, the changes to unemployment insurance will force
the provincial governments to increase their welfare budgets
and thus increase their deficits. That is what these premature
changes will do.
The people of Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans, whom I
have the honour to represent in this House, want to have
something fine, true and real to hang on to so that they can forget
the recession we are going through and the financial difficulties
they have had to put up with for several years. The people of
Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans are entitled to work so that
they can consider themselves full citizens. They are entitled to
believe in their elected representatives. They are entitled to
hope that their representatives will find solutions for the current
problems and prepare better days for the years to come.
This House where the people of Canada are represented does
not have the right for partisan reasons to pass legislation that is
premature and unfair to the people of the Atlantic provinces and
I therefore ask this House to reject Bill C-17 on second
reading and thus permit the House to go more thoroughly into
the proposals which were made to us prematurely in this bill.
The Speaker: The hon. member for Wetaskiwin would have
the floor if he would care to begin. If not, we can take a minute or
two and go on.
Mr. McClelland: Mr. Speaker, if we may, let us go on without
the hon. member being here.
The Speaker: This seems to work out well. I ask the hon.
member for Trois-Rivières to commence.
You can start now for about two or three minutes and then
Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières): Mr. Speaker, I
appreciate your giving me the floor at this particular time. I feel
privileged. I am anxious to discuss this government's lack of
vision in greater detail after question period-because I will not
have time to do so now, unfortunately. I will tell you about this
lack of vision in relation to numerous commitments made by the
government in its red book regarding the fight against
Last fall, the Liberal Party of Canada seemed aware of the
reality facing Canadians and emphasized in a very convincing
way-and, in fact, succeeded in fooling a few million
Canadians, especially in Ontario and in the Atlantic
provinces-that there were 1.6 million unemployed people in
Canada, a situation which was unacceptable and attributable to
the lack of vision, the lack of competence and the lack of
political will of the Conservative government.
Now we can see what kind of innovative solutions the
government has come up with. It wants to implement an
infrastructure program which will create 45,000 temporary jobs,
while there are currently 1.6 million people out of work. Such an
initiative requires a lot of imagination indeed. It illustrates how
this government, which was wise enough to hire good freelance
writers at the right time, does not have the wits to devise
innovative solutions which would significantly reduce the
number of unemployed. I cannot believe that unemployment
will significantly drop in the Atlantic provinces with the
creation of 45,000 jobs, nor with 15,000 of these new jobs in
Quebec where some 800,000 people are out of work. This shows
a lack of vision regarding the unemployment issue.
There is a lack of vision but there is also a lack of consistency,
considering what is written in the red book regarding the
reconversion of companies from military to civilian production.
There again, the Liberals had good intentions, but we have not
heard anything since regarding this issue, whether in the Throne
Speech, in the Budget, or from the Minister of Industry.
Yet, there are concrete examples such as Oerlikon, Paramax
and MIL Davie, which has its own conversion strategy. So far,
the government has steadfastly refused to get involved and
ensure that MIL Davie, among others, which has its own
conversion plan, can get federal support with the ferry to the
Magdalen Islands and the smart ship which would be used
The Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt, but the hon. member
may continue after three o'clock. It being two o'clock, pursuant
to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to
statements by members pursuant to Standing Order 31.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Mr. Janko Peric (Cambridge):
Mr. Speaker, many of my
constituents have expressed their displeasure over recent media
accounts of parliamentarians and government officials flying
first class when travelling on government business. While
business class seating is slightly more comfortable than
economy, those wider seats carry a higher price tag.
Given that there is a genuine concern among all Canadians
about our nation's financial situation, every penny that is saved
on government travel will help to eliminate the burden on our
I urge all parliamentarians, all civil servants and all others
who are required to travel on government business to fly
economy class. Let us all do what we can to save taxpayers'
* * *
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford):
Mr. Speaker, the first
survivors of the massacre in Rwanda arrived yesterday at
Mirabel Airport, leaving behind roads littered with corpses,
friends who had been killed and years of work wiped out in only
few days by a senseless, murderous rampage.
While not forgetting the suffering of the people of Rwanda, I
would like to pay tribute to the various religious communities
who work with the poor in Africa.
I was happy to learn that my friend, Brother Irénée d'Amours,
who is a member of the Order of the Frères de Sainte-Croix, is
safe and sound. Since the end of the war, Rwanda had been the
cherished destination of Quebec missionaries. I admire the
commitment of the men and women who devote themselves
tirelessly to making our world a better place.
* * *
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Okanagan Centre):
Jennifer Schuller and Tammy Carvallo are two grade 10 students
from Mount Boucherie Secondary School in Kelowna, B.C.,
who have organized a petition on their own initiative to demand
changes to the Young Offenders Act.
Jennifer and Tammy began the petition out of frustration at
the inaction of police in responding to threats from another
student. They were told that nothing could be done because the
person issuing the threats was a juvenile. To date the students
have collected over 950 signatures.
Our children are sending a loud and clear message to the
government. It is time to take action and provide a Young
Offenders Act that reflects the concerns of every member of our
Despite what the Minister of Justice has said in the House
about attaching too much panic to this issue when the very
people the act applies to do not think it is working, we have a
very grave problem on our hands.
* * *
Mr. Russell MacLellan (Cape Breton-The Sydneys):
Speaker, I draw the attention of hon. members present to the fact
that today is Law Day across Canada. Law Day recognizes the
anniversary of the charter. This year is the 12th anniversary.
The theme of Law Day 1994, Access to Justice, is one that I
strongly endorse. It reflects the right of every Canadian to have
equal access to information about the laws and the legal
institutions of Canada.
Information and education activities have been organized
across Canada involving the Canadian Bar Association and
hundreds of lawyers to make the law more accessible to all
Canadians and to expand their knowledge of their rights within
Canada's justice system.
As members of the House we should offer our active
encouragement to the Canadian Bar Association as well as to the
many Canadian groups across Canada in their endeavours on
Please join with me in extending best wishes to all involved
for a successful Law Day 1994.
* * *
Ms. Roseanne Skoke (Central Nova):
Mr. Speaker, people
are working hard in the province of Nova Scotia and in my riding
of Central Nova.
Michelin Tires Canada Limited has provided stable
employment for 4,000 Nova Scotians, an annual direct Nova
Scotia payroll of over $175 million and spinoff employment for
thousands more Nova Scotians.
Congratulations are being extended today to the dedicated
Michelin employees for reaching a significant milestone in
The Nova Scotia employees are proud to announce that 100
million man-made in Nova Scotia tires have been produced
since the first tire rolled off the line in 1971. This achievement is
a tribute to the dedication of all Michelin employees and
management working together over the past 25 years.
We look forward to Michelin and its employees continuing
the tradition of excellence and progress in Nova Scotia for years
* * *
Mr. Bob Wood (Nipissing):
Mr. Speaker, Global Vision is a
non-profit organization jointly funded by the private and public
This organization is dedicated to providing young Canadians
with a solid understanding of the international marketplace in
order that these future business leaders are able to succeed in the
highly competitive global market. This is accomplished through
regional seminars which are held across the country. These
seminars not only equip the students with a solid educational
background in national and international economics. They also
provide critical exposure to business and trade practices.
From the regional seminars some students will be selected to
participate in the junior trade core program. In addition to more
extensive academic training the program also provides
participants with the opportunity to visit some of Canada's
trading partners in the Pacific rim and in Latin America.
As chairman of Parliamentarians for Global Vision, I invite
all members of Parliament to support this worthwhile program
and to participate in the cross-country regional seminars that
will be held in their areas. This is a great opportunity for
members of Parliament to meet young leaders from their ridings
and from across the country.
* * *
Mr. Bernard St-Laurent (Manicouagan):
Mr. Speaker, in
my riding, over 300 employees have been in a lock-out situation
since January 14. Under federal legislation, their employer, a
mining company, is allowed to hire strike replacements. This
way, the company can avoid any form of bargaining with its
employees despite the fact they want to bargain.
I wish to give the House notice that I will be tabling a bill
similar to Bill C-201 presented by my colleague, the hon.
member for Richelieu, a bill which was introduced in first
reading on April 1989 and rejected by the Conservative
government of the day. The Liberals, including several
ministers from the present cabinet, voted for the bill at the time.
Let us hope that I will have the support of this House to pass
this important bill to provide a ``civilized'' framework for
labour relations and restore in many cases labour peace.
* * *
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast):
Mr. Speaker, as
members of the 35th Parliament entering the merge lane on the
information highway, our government vehicle can be fairly
compared with the Model T. Offices which are still equipped
with the 286-based computers and no modems make for a very
slow entry, and slow travellers better get out of the way for
surely they will be run over by communicators using more
efficient hardware and software.
We are expected to govern in the nineties and into the next
century. Using equipment from the eighties makes us less
efficient in governing. Rather than becoming road kill I suggest
we make the system on the Hill user driven by ensuring that we
have the tools to communicate effectively. With more effective
communications we can better serve our constituents.
This means a minimum of 486-based modem equipped
computers. Let us together make the 35th Parliament one to be
remembered for having made smart computer based connections
that put us in the passing lane on the super information highway.
Hon. Warren Allmand (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce):
Speaker, this week the Commissioner for Official Languages
presented his annual report and with it we have heard proposals
from the Reform Party and the Bloc Quebecois to cut back
provisions in the act or abolish it altogether. The Reform Party is
suggesting that official language rights should be put entirely
under provincial jurisdiction.
History shows that would be a complete disaster. The Bloc
Quebecois supports the act for francophones outside Quebec but
not for anglophones in Quebec. In this case there is a double
The purpose of the act is to protect minority language rights in
Canada and provide linguistic justice to the more than one
million francophones outside Quebec and the more than 800,000
anglophones in Quebec.
As the commissioner points out in his report, the act is not
always applied as it should be and there have been some
setbacks. Without the act and without the commissioner things
would be much worse. We should work to improve the Official
Languages Act, not to destroy it.
* * *
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South):
Mr. Speaker, from
time to time Canadians are fortunate to be served by outstanding
leaders who have distinguished themselves through consistent
high quality performance over a long period of time. On the
occasion of the retirement of one such outstanding Canadian
from the city of Mississauga, I am honoured to pay special
tribute to him.
Merritt G. Henderson is the president of the Mississauga
Hospital and after more than 35 years of dedicated service he
will be retiring. The measure of one's success is not a matter of
where one is but rather of how far one has come from where one
started. Mr. Henderson worked his way up the ranks and earned
the respect and recognition of his peers.
Under his leadership the Mississauga Hospital developed into
one of the most respected health care institutions in Ontario and
He is held in very high esteem by those who know him for
consistently providing the necessary guidance, wisdom and
knowledge we look for in our leaders.
To Merritt G. Henderson we extend our sincere gratitude for
his outstanding contributions to Canadian health care.
Mrs. Anna Terrana (Vancouver East):
Canadian citizenship is a very important gift bestowed upon
those who live in this country.
Many of us coming from different parts of the world chose to
become Canadians and often lost their original citizenship
because they felt that Canada had become their country. They
wanted to be true citizens of this country. At times it is not easy
to deny one's own citizenship but Canada is well worth it.
Canadian citizenship deserves to be celebrated. The week of
April 17 to April 22 will be Citizenship Week in Canada. Events
will occur all over the country.
I congratulate all those who chose to become Canadians over
the years. I also thank all those people and organizations that
will contribute to celebrating this important event. All
Canadians should participate in the celebration of their own
* * *
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup):
Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister and his colleagues from
the Liberal Party demonstrated once more that they are
incapable of understanding the legitimate aspirations of
Quebeckers, when they described as a ``whim'' the formidable
consensus achieved in Quebec around the need to patriate all
powers relating to manpower training.
This consensus was achieved among educational networks,
labour confederations, the Forum sur l'emploi, the Mouvement
Desjardins as well as the Conseil du patronat du Québec, which
can hardly be accused of being infiltrated by ``big, bad
Far from being a ``whim'', this demand is one of the
cornerstones of a real employment strategy to finally free
Quebec from the state of dependency it is kept in by inefficient
federal programs. It is essential to Quebec's development.
* * *
Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster):
Speaker, farmers have been very disappointed with the
performance of the government so far. They have been ignored.
There was no mention of agriculture in the throne speech. There
was no mention of agriculture in the budget. The Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-Food has been a virtual non-participate in
the House so far. It is no wonder farmers have grave doubts
about the government.
The minister appears to be losing a war of words with the
Americans. Farmers are worried and they have good reason to
be. The government is giving in to unfounded allegations of
unfair trade from our friends to the south. The Financial Post
``Canada to soften position in farm battle with U.S.''
In a free trade agreement with a trading partner, we should demand that the
principle of free trade be upheld. We shouldn't have to sell out on free trade by
imposing quotas on ourselves.
Farmers are not asking for special favours. Farmers are not
asking for more programs. Farmers are not even asking for more
government money. Farmers simply ask that the government
show a little backbone and go to bat for them.
The message from farmers is clear. The government had
better not strike out this time.
* * *
Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West):
Mr. Speaker, with national
Citizenship Week starting on April 17, I would like to highlight
the important contribution of immigrants to Canadian society.
Canada is a nation of immigrants. The country as we know it
would not exist without the struggle and determination of
millions of people of diverse origin and background who have
landed on Canadian shores in search of a better life.
The bilingual and multicultural character of Canadian society
is a source of wealth. Immigrants also contribute to the
Canadian economy through the actual inflow of capital
investment, the setting up of self-employed businesses and the
importation of required skills.
In time many immigrants become Canadian citizens and share
willingly the privileges and responsibilities that citizenship
bestows. As one immigrant Canadian I am both proud and
thankful and I look forward to next week's celebration of
* * *
Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke-Lakeshore):
I rise today to express my profound concern about the recent
shocking crimes of violence that have taken place in both our
nation's capital and in metropolitan Toronto.
As the member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, I
share the concerns expressed by other hon. members of the
House. Violent crime affects us all. Many of my constituents
have expressed to me their outrage and their fear of the rise of
crime in their neighbourhoods.
We must acknowledge that the incidence of crime, the
proliferation of guns, substance abuse and racial intolerance are
all related to instances of poverty and the lack of economic
opportunity for many in our society.
I therefore urge all the ministers responsible, and in particular
the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Human Resources
Development, to look at the root causes of this increasingly
disturbing phenomenon in Canadian society.
I convey my sincere condolences to the families and many
friends of those who have lost their lives through unprovoked-
The Speaker: The hon. member for Regina-Lumsden.
* * *
Mr. John Solomon (Regina-Lumsden):
Mr. Speaker, I rise
today to request that the Government of Canada do what is right
and give urgent and favourable consideration to the financial
plight of the NewGrade Heavy Oil Upgrader in Regina.
What is at stake is 500 jobs at the upgrader in the oilfields,
plus a $275 million loan guarantee from Canada and a $360
million loan guarantee from the province of Saskatchewan.
An independent commission in 1993 recommended a federal
financial contribution of $150 million is needed to save the
project from failure. Although negotiations with the federal
government continue, no resolution has been reached.
The NewGrade Upgrader is in imminent danger of shutting
down if a financial restructuring program is not reached very
I urge the Government of Canada to proceed in all haste to
reach an agreement with the province of Saskatchewan and the
Federated Co-ops Limited to save these 500 jobs as it promised
in its red book.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition):
Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Foreign
Affairs. We were shocked to hear that this morning in Sarajevo,
50 UN observers and 16 Canadian peacekeepers belonging to the
12th armoured regiment from Valcartier were taken hostage by
Serbian forces. This is indeed alarming news, especially for
their families with whom we all sympathize.
Could the minister comment on the hostage situation and the
dangers involved, and inform the House whether UN
spokespersons have managed to contact the leaders of the
Bosnian Serbs to negotiate the release of the hostages within the
next few hours?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for his
question and for giving me this opportunity to say that we deeply
regret what happened a few hours ago.
Apparently, attempts by UN representatives and by the
Americans and the Russians to get all parties to the conflict in
the former Yugoslavia to agree on a durable peace process has
met with a number of problems. Although considerable progress
have been made in negotiations between the Croatians and the
Muslims, the Bosnian-Serbs apparently refuse to fully commit
to this peace process.
According to our information, our peacekeepers are not at
risk, at least for the time being. Negotiations for their release are
continuing, and we are confident they will be released.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition): Mr.
Speaker, we know that a total of 150 UN peacekeepers have been
taken hostage by the Serbs. I hope the minister is taking
seriously the potential risk to our Canadian soldiers.
Could the minister also confirm that negotiations between the
Serbs and the UN spokespersons will not start until tomorrow,
and could he give the House the assurance that Canada will have
a representative on the UN delegations to negotiate the release
of the hostages?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, Lord Owen and Mr. Stoltenberg who previously
negotiated successfully with the Serbs are now on the spot. We
are counting on their good offices to bring these negotiations to
a successful conclusion. We believe that reason will prevail.
Although the UN representatives are at risk, the Bosnian Serbs
are as well, and in this kind of situation, there is no doubt that
reason will prevail and that the soldiers and the other UN
representatives who are being detained will be released.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition): Mr.
Speaker, in so far as this incident underlines the security
problems which face the peacemakers, I would like the minister
to tell us if he agrees that there is an urgent need for the UN to
take more efficient protective measures in order to guarantee the
security of the peacemaking personnel while carrying out their
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, I certainly echo the view expressed by the Leader of the
Opposition that these soldiers who are serving under the UN flag
are always in some difficulty and some danger. It is inherent in
their responsibilities and their duty as soldiers to risk their lives
or risk their security. It is part of their job. They understand it
and they perform it very well, to their credit.
We are very concerned by this incident. We are taking every
step possible through the UN and through the negotiation
process on the ground to ensure their release and I hope it will be
done very soon.
* * *
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is also directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Quebeckers and Canadians were appalled by the scenes of
slaughter and barbarism in Rwanda following a coup by the
Rwandan army. In fact, the situation continues to deteriorate.
Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs comment on current
negotiations between the rebel Rwanda Patriotic Front and
government troops on concluding a genuine cease-fire? And is
the minister prepared to ask the UN Security Council to help the
parties agree on conditions for a cease-fire?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, we deplore these unconscionable acts of barbarism,
and we think every attempt should be made to try to restore
peace in this country.
Over the years, Canadians who worked in Rwanda have
established close ties with the people of that country, and it is
clear we cannot let this relationship be compromised by these
events. When we are in trouble, we know who our friends are,
and I can assure this House that Canada is prepared to continue
to support the efforts of those who want to help the Rwandan
people develop in peace and harmony.
Finally, I can give the hon. member the assurance that this
morning I spoke to our representative at the UN who at this very
moment is considering the best way to initiate action with other
countries, through the United Nations, to help restore peace and
security in Rwanda.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères): Mr. Speaker, in the
same vein, will the minister, on behalf of the federal
government, make a commitment to participate in much needed
efforts to provide humanitarian and medical aid by supporting
agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, Canada will provide $1 million in aid immediately,
including $400,000 to Doctors without Borders Canada, to be
used to send surgical teams, including two Canadians, to
Rwanda; $300,000 to the International Red Cross Committee to
provide emergency assistance, including medical assistance;
and finally, $300,000 to the International Red Cross Federation
to help neighbouring countries prepare for the arrival of
* * *
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest):
my question is for the Prime Minister or the Minister of Foreign
I think it is evident that the Bosnian Serbs are now retaliating
for NATO's bombing raids on Sunday and Monday. What course
of action does the Government of Canada propose if this
retaliation continues or, worse yet, were to escalate?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, I beg to differ with the hon. member. He is drawing a
conclusion that is not necessarily the right one.
Quite clearly the bombing and the air strikes that took place
were because there was heavy artillery against the city of
Gorazde. This city was under heavy artillery bombardment.
Indications were given that if it did not stop there would be air
strikes. There were air strikes and we now know that the heavy
artillery has stopped following the use of air strikes. It stopped
the heavy artillery bombardment against the city.
We believe these incidents are regrettable but we do not
believe they mean an escalation of the conflict.
We hope that good judgment will prevail and the parties will
accept that the only course to be followed is to go to the table to
negotiate a lasting peace settlement.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I
thank the minister for his answer.
Whether or not these incidents are retaliatory, I wonder if the
minister could tell us what specific steps the government has
taken to make it clear to the Bosnian Serbs that Canada will use
its status as a recognized peacekeeper to marshal world opinion
against them and their supporters unless this type of activity is
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, we will certainly press for this type of message through
The countries that are involved under the auspices of the
United Nations are all concerned by this situation whether they
are Canadian soldiers, French soldiers or other soldiers who are
victims of this harassment. It is quite clear that we cannot allow
it to continue indefinitely.
This is why we have asked Mr. Owen and Mr. Stoltenberg to
go there to speak on behalf of the United Nations and to press on
the Bosnian Serbs the importance of participating in the peace
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I
have a further supplementary question. Various observers of the
Bosnian situation suggest that UN peacekeepers there really
have three options.
One is to do nothing different than what has been done in the
past and run the risk of the collapse of the peacekeeping effort.
The second is to issue the Bosnian Serbs an ultimatum with
respect to this form of harassment and be prepared to back it up.
The third is to prepare to withdraw.
Would the minister make it clear to the House whether the
government favours any of these options or perhaps some other
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, the Government of Canada has renewed, with the
support of Parliament, a further six-month commitment as part
of the UN forces.
Second, Canada is very active on the negotiation side and is
trying through the diplomatic route to bring the parties to accept
a peace settlement. We believe we are getting close to it.
Some of the parties still resist the process of a negotiated
settlement but if we pursue it diligently, if we do not lose our
cool, at the end there will be a peaceful solution. That is the
course we prefer.
* * *
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Prime Minister. The Premier of Quebec said
yesterday in the National Assembly that job training is,
according to Quebec's traditional position, a basic issue of
respect for our jurisdiction over what affects us directly.
Given these statements by the Quebec premier, a good
federalist, does the Prime Minister still think that Quebec's
demands are mere whims?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): As everyone
knows, a 1941 constitutional amendment gave the federal
government responsibility over an unemployment insurance
program. We have jurisdiction in this area. We use the funds we
collect for unemployment insurance to help the unemployed
receive education and training from provincial governments,
which have jurisdiction in these fields.
We want to eliminate overlap and that is why a meeting will be
held on Monday. Several meetings have already taken place with
Quebec and the other provinces to try to make the system more
efficient. That is what we want to do.
Both levels of government have jurisdiction in this area and it
is very important to work together to try to find a way to
eliminate duplication. As I explained in this House, it must be
understood that unemployment insurance programs were put in
place in Canada to allow the central government to use the
money of those fortunate enough to work and transfer it to the
unemployed in the provinces or in some regions. Quebec,
unfortunately, is among the provinces that benefited the most,
while Maritimers benefited even more. Canada has always
operated by ensuring a redistribution of wealth in this country.
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier): Mr. Speaker, does the
Prime Minister realize that, by reviving disputes between
Quebec City and Ottawa on an issue that is the subject of
unanimous agreement in Quebec, not only does he give his
Trudeau-style centralizing vision precedence over the interests
of Quebec's unemployed workers, but he also clearly shows to
allQuebeckers-federalists and others-that the only federalism
possible for them is one of confrontation and scorn for their
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
we have been in office for less than six months. We have reached
an agreement on the smuggling problem with the Quebec
government. We succeeded in setting up with the Quebec
government an infrastructure program that works very well.
Other agreements have been reached or will be in the coming
I am saying there is a problem of jurisdiction in this area and
we are looking for a reasonable solution. I know very well that
no solution within our system can satisfy people who do not
want to be part of Canada.
* * *
Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West):
Mr. Speaker, on
Tuesday of this week the Reform Party forced the Prime
Minister to admit that further spending cuts are necessary.
The Minister of Finance talks about deep and severe cuts but
the Prime Minister talks of millions and not billions. Could the
Prime Minister tell the House how cuts as small as millions will
resolve a deficit of $40 billion?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International
Financial Institutions)): Mr. Speaker, our budget was set out
quite clearly on February 22. We set out a plan that would reduce
the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP in three years and cut billions of
dollars from spending.
The member is quite wrong. We will continue to look for
savings in that budget.
Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West): Mr. Speaker, the
Prime Minister and his colleagues should know you cannot bail
out a sinking ship with a thimble.
Will the Prime Minister identify in the House today how many
millions or billions he has in mind for these additional
expenditure cuts or is this just a stall in the hope that the problem
will go away?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International
Financial Institutions)): Mr. Speaker, there is no stalling. We
have a clear cut plan to bring the deficit down to 3 per cent of
GDP. That is our interim target. We are going beyond that after. I
think the hon. member knows full well this is the best way to
handle our deficit.
* * *
Mr. Antoine Dubé (Lévis):
Mr. Speaker, my question is for
the Minister of Human Resources Development.
The apprenticeship program in the government's youth
strategy is another federal infringement on Quebec's
jurisdiction over education, which is clearly a provincial field.
The Financial Post reported this morning that national
standards will apply to more and more programs.
My question is this: Does the minister recognize that with this
new intrusion into provincial jurisdiction, he is going against
Quebec's demands and contributing directly to more costly and
inefficient duplication in the field of labour?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, I still stand in great awe of the
hon. member's ability to make judgments about details of
programs which have not yet been announced.
I would think as a result he may want to hold his profound
analysis until such time as he has the facts before him. I know he
does not want to get confused by the facts but sometimes facts
are very useful to have.
In that case, I would suggest to the hon. member that he might
review this fact. The co-chair of the Council of Ministers of
Education, which has made a direct call to the establishment of
national standards for things like science and mathematics in
English and French the minister of education from Quebec.
Mr. Antoine Dubé (Lévis): Mr. Speaker, the youth action
plan was announced several times in the media this week, so its
contents are an open secret.
Before presenting his youth plan, did the minister at least
have the decency to first obtain the agreement of the
Government of Quebec, since his apprenticeship program is
another offensive in the field of education?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, when there are over 400,000
young people below the age of 24 unemployed, it would seem
that rather than being critical and trying to poke holes, the hon.
member should be trying to support constructive collaborative
partnerships between all levels of government to get young
people back to work. That is our intention.
It would seem that he is engaging in the kind of debate which I
think many people in the country do not find effective. What
they really want is to get their sons and daughters and nieces and
nephews back to work. That is what we would like to do in
co-operation with the provinces.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat): Mr. Speaker, tomorrow
the federal government will announce the youth corps initiative
that will provide short term make-work positions this year for
less than 1 per cent of Canada's 400,000 unemployed youth.
Could the Minister of Human Resources Development tell us
why he is creating false hope by spending so much money on a
program of such limited potential?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member must be
drinking from the same speculative cup as the hon. member for
Lévis. They are making judgments about programs that have yet
to be announced. The details are not there and the money has not
been allocated. All that is there is in the fantasies or the
nightmares of the hon. member.
I would caution him that before he makes comments about a
program he should see what the program is.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat): Mr. Speaker, I think the
minister should acknowledge that he has great gaping holes in
his own department. That is where this information came from.
It is in the media and people have commented on it already.
Will the minister admit that what Canadian youth really want
are real jobs, not phoney government created make-work jobs,
and that the government's failure to address overspending is the
primary cause of chronic high unemployment in the country?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, over the last several months
members of Parliament of this caucus, the hon. Secretary of
State for Youth and Training and myself have gone across the
country and talked to thousands of young people.
They tell us that when they come out of formal education,
when they leave high school or community college, the most
difficult problem they face is to get into the job market. That
problem of making the transition from school to work is one of
the most serious, difficult issues that young people face.
Our purpose in putting forward ideas, as we did in the red
book, about internship programs, the community youth service
corps, is to give young people that first chance into the job
market, to get the resumé, to get the experience and to get the
work practice. That is what young people were asking us to do.
It would seem to me that the hon. member should be standing
on his feet and saying thank God there is a government that
finally is going to do something about a real problem.
* * *
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot):
government ministers and even the Prime Minister were puffing
out their chests and bursting their buttons following the release
of the latest unemployment figures. Yet, we are still not out of
the woods. Taking into account the increase in population,
Quebec would need an additional 215,000 jobs today to return to
pre-recession employment levels.
Instead of celebrating prematurely, will the Prime Minister
not recognize that given the current pace of job creation, Quebec
will have to wait at least another three years before employment
returns to pre-recession levels?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
our government has been in office for five months and the trend
is improving. Last month, unemployment was down 0.8 per cent
in Quebec. That is not good enough. More improvement is
needed. Nevertheless, we are making progress. We must stay
this course and that is why we are trying to introduce job
creation programs. Such a high level of unemployment
throughout the country is unacceptable and certainly no cause
We must never stop working to reduce unemployment.
Unfortunately, the rate will not fall overnight. However, the
outlook is very good and we must work doubly hard to ensure
that we obtain ever better results in the years to come. I am
confident that the situation will improve within a few months'
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot): Mr. Speaker,
when I listen to the Prime Minister speak, I get the impression
that we are living on different planets. The outlook is not very
good. The recovery is more anemic than ever.
Will the Prime Minister not recognize that since he took
office, for every two jobs created in Quebec, another depressed,
discouraged person has joined the ranks of social assistance
recipients? Does he not realize that his outrageous scheme to
reform the unemployment insurance system will only make
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): No, it will not,
* * *
Mrs. Beryl Gaffney (Nepean):
Mr. Speaker, my question is
for the Solicitor General.
It has been reported that a woman who was sexually assaulted
by a co-worker of the RCMP was unable to receive redress from
her employers. Today the victim, a single mother, has been
forced to leave the job while the perpetrator of the crime is still
employed with the RCMP.
Does the RCMP really believe that it is outside the law? What
is being done to redress the job loss and harassment suffered by
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I
am deeply concerned about this case and the press reports
indicating serious questions about the way the internal
investigation was handled.
This morning I spoke about the matter to the commissioner of
the RCMP. He assured me that sexual harassment is not tolerated
in the force. He went on to say that he has ordered an immediate
and thorough review of the matter in order to determine how the
case was handled and if remedial action is required.
He assures me that the review is being given top priority and I
hope to have further statements, as does the commissioner,
before too long.
* * *
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville):
Mr. Speaker, my question
is for the minister of trade, the minister of agriculture, or in this
case a substitute.
Today's Report on Business states that the Liberal agriculture
and trade ministers will sign an agreement today. It will allow an
import quota on durum wheat of two million tonnes in exchange
for the United States dropping its challenge about the protection
of the supply management sector in Canada.
Are the ministers going to cave in to the United States by
allowing a quota where none is warranted? Furthermore, are the
ministers pitting one sector against another by caving in on
durum wheat in order to protect supply management as the
Mr. Lyle Vanclief (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-food): Mr. Speaker, I point out to the
hon. member the minister has made it very clear to all the
sectors and all Canadians that he is not pitting one sector of the
Canadian agri-food industry against the other. He will not be
trading one off against the other. Negotiations are going on in
Morocco as we speak right now.
The reports the hon. member read in the press are only that.
They are reports from the press only and do not necessarily
reflect the facts.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville): Mr. Speaker, I thank the
parliamentary secretary for the answer.
What specific guarantees could the government give to assure
grain farmers that the government will not cave in to the United
States and that grain farmers will not be sacrificed in order to
achieve a favourable outcome for supply management?
Mr. Lyle Vanclief (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-food): Mr. Speaker, a guarantee that the
government and I can give to the hon. member and to the
Canadian grain industry is that the minister has not done that to
date. He does not intend to do that and he is going to negotiate an
agreement with the United States in the best interest of
Canadians and Canadian farmers.
* * *
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata):
Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister. The
sovereignist option for Quebec includes a firm commitment to
recognize and protect the historic rights of Quebec's anglophone
minority and to enshrine those rights in the Constitution of a
sovereign Quebec. Yesterday in the House, in a disturbing and, I
would say, deplorable statement, the Prime Minister mentioned
the possibility that francophone minorities outside Quebec
would be denied their rights, should Quebec become a sovereign
The Speaker: Order. This is a hypothetical question. I would
appreciate it if questions were a little more to the point. If the
Right Hon. Prime Minister wishes to respond, he may do so.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I
just want to say that last week, presidents of associations of
francophones outside Quebec told a reporter for the Toronto Star
that considering the difficult circumstances in which they lived,
it did not help their cause when francophones in Quebec said
they were prepared to separate from Canada.
The French fact has survived in Canada because we
francophones have all stood together since 1867, and that is why
we are still francophones, not martyrs as members opposite
would have people believe. The Leader of the Opposition said
that in Washington, and he is a French Canadian francophone,
the Prime Minister is a French Canadian francophone and so is
our ambassador in Washington. They are telling the world they
are martyrs. Let us be serious.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata): If the
Prime Minister thinks it is our fault, he is wrong, and the
statement he made yesterday in the House was a disgrace,
coming from a Prime Minister. If he has any credibility-
The Speaker: I hope all hon. members would address
themselves as much as possible to the issue at hand as opposed
to in any way impugning any kind of motive by anyone else. I
would invite the hon. member to pose her question.
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata): Mr.
Speaker, my question is quite simple. Is the Prime Minister
prepared to make a commitment in this House that he will
reverse the budget cuts affecting francophones outside Quebec?
That is what people are asking. If he really wants to help
francophones, he should stop cutting their funding.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
we have provided very generous funding for a long time to
francophone communities outside Quebec. There may have
been a few cuts, but a number of other sectors in our society have
seen their funding cut as well. However, that does not mean we
are not committed to the survival of these people.
I am glad to see the members of the Bloc want to support
francophones outside Quebec. If that is the case, the best way to
do it is to work within Canada with all French-speaking
Canadians so that we can be strong and proud to be Canadians.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
* * *
Mr. John Duncan (North Island-Powell River):
Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and
Could the minister confirm that the Deloitte & Touche draft
audit of the Métis Society of Saskatchewan commissioned by
the federal government and the Government of Saskatchewan
has revealed fraud and fabrication of documents, a $1 million
operating deficit by the society and violation of the funding
agreement between the federal government and the society?
Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development): Mr. Speaker, as the question relates to the Métis
I think it should be addressed to the interlocutor. He has the
wrong minister. I will take it under advisement and bring it to
Mr. John Duncan (North Island-Powell River): Mr.
Speaker, my supplementary question is for the Prime Minister.
Rank and file Métis are concerned about the lack of
accountability of funding arrangements by the department of
Indian affairs and how it may affect Métis credibility and future
Could the Prime Minister assure the House that all future
funding arrangements with aboriginal groups will include
publicly disclosed annual audits?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
when we make arrangements with any groups in Canada, we ask
them to make their books available for the Auditor General and
other officials of the government to see if they have respected
We will do that with the Métis organization and the native
organizations as with any other organization. The federal money
they receive from us is taxpayers' money and we should make
sure we get value for our money.
* * *
Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds-Dollard):
my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In light of the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Israel and the
occupied territories, could the minister report to the House on
any Canadian intervention to help keep the peace process on
track as well as any communication Canada has had with the
stakeholders in the region?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, I accept the hon. member's question by recalling that
today is the 46th anniversary of Israel's independence. I can tell
the hon. member that we are particularly troubled by this act of
violence which killed some six people and injured thirty. We
expressed our condolences to the Embassy of Israel and offered
our heartfelt sympathies to the victims' families.
As for the broader question of the peace process in the Middle
East, I am pleased to point out that the chairman of the task force
on refugees is a Canadian and that Canada will continue to
support the peace process, and we earnestly hope that these acts
of violence will not derail the peace process which is well under
* * *
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa):
Mr. Speaker, my question is
for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
The minister wonders whether the teaching material used by
the COFIs, centres for the integration of immigrants into the
French community, refers enough to Canada. He is reported to
be about to intervene, despite the fact that this material has been
approved by the Quebec Department of Education.
Should I interpret that as an indication that the minister
disputes not only the know-how of Quebec when it comes to the
integration of immigrants, but also its exclusive jurisdiction
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration): Not at all, Mr. Speaker. We discussed that
yesterday with the standing committee. I made three statements.
First, I said that, during the 25 years of the agreement, the
government and the province of Quebec had done a good job of
Second, I said to the member of the media who made the
allegation that it would be a good idea for the committee to
review this allegation, not investigate, but talk with officials
from Quebec and Canada.
Third, I said that you could be proud of being a Canadian and
at the same time be proud of being a Quebecker or the resident of
a given region.
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa): Mr. Speaker, according to
the media the minister said that the COFIs were hiding the
Canadian reality. Does he not realize that by saying that he
challenges all that had been accepted under the
federal-provincial agreement, the Cullen-Couture agreement,
signed in 1978, which recognizes the distinctiveness of Quebec
and allows it to integrate its immigrants into the French
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration): Mr. Speaker, that is an absolutely false and
inaccurate allegation which the member just made on the floor
of this House of Commons. What I said yesterday in the
committee was in reaction to what two media reports suggested
about somehow low bridging or hiding Canada.
As the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, on behalf of
a national government we ought not to hide whether it is our
country called Canada or the loyalty that one feels for one's
province or region. Part of my responsibility simply is to
promote Canada, east, west and north.
When an immigrant comes to our country, he or she comes to a
country and lives in a province and ought to feel loyalty and
patriotism to both.
* * *
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer):
Mr. Speaker, my question is for
the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Prime Minister has indicated he wants us to tell of ways
of saving money in our committees. I would like to know from
the minister how a cost conscious MP can make a decision on
taking an international junket organized by his department
unless he has the answers to the following questions. What does
it cost? What is the itinerary? How will it benefit the taxpayers
of the country?
The Speaker: Just by way of explanation, usually when a
committee acts, it acts on its own and the minister per se is not
responsible for that committee.
Perhaps if the member could rephrase his question it might be
acceptable. I would give him a single question.
Mr. Mills (Red Deer): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the
minister if he would undertake to provide answers to those
questions for upcoming trips.
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, I believe there is some difficulty on the part of
members of the Reform Party to participate in international
visits. I tried to convince their leader to participate in these
activities on the grounds that they serve a useful purpose.
I take in good standing the request to submit in advance the
cost, the reason for going and the advantage of such a trip. I will
do so in the future because there are regular requests for
parliamentarians to go abroad to sustain the objectives of the
Canadian government or to promote the interests and points of
view of Canadians.
For instance, there was a request recently to send a delegation
to Washington to impress upon Americans the importance of
respecting the steelworkers of Canada. Unfortunately so far we
have not been able to convince the Reform Party to join forces
with other representatives of Parliament.
I believe there are a number of useful visits abroad. We would
like to have the support of that party in joining the two other
parties in Parliament to promote Canadian interests abroad.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval):
Mr. Speaker, I would like
to ask the Government House Leader what is the planned order
of business for the next few days?
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to provide the weekly business statement.
Today the House will continue with Bill C-17, the budget
implementation bill. When we have completed it we will be
debating Bill C-9, implementing some of the provisions of an
earlier economic statement.
This will be followed by Motion No. 10, authorizing the
procedure committee to provide the basis for legislation to
reform the system of adjusting electoral boundaries. If this
business is not completed today it will be followed in the same
Monday shall be an opposition day. I believe it will be the turn
of the Reform Party to present the subject for that opposition
Next Tuesday the House will resume the business not
This will be followed by consideration of Bill C-7 respecting
the control of certain substances, Bill C-11 concerning tobacco,
Bill C-4 dealing with the NAFTA side deals, Bill C-2 to
reorganize Revenue Canada, Bill C-8 regarding the use of
deadly force by police and prison officers, Bill C-13 respecting
GST technical amendments, Bill C-15 revising the statutes
respecting income tax, and Bill S-2 ratifying certain tax
* * *
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing
Order 83(1), I wish to table explanatory notes and a notice of a
ways and means motion respecting the Excise Tax Act, and I ask
that an order of the day be designated to debate the motion.
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill
C-17, an act to amend certain statutes to implement certain
provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 22,
1994, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and
of the motion.
Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières): Madam Speaker, I
would like to resume where I left out before Question Period. I
said that so far the main characteristic of this government has
been its lack of vision. I was talking about the conversion of
military industries to civilian production, something we have
not heard much about ever since the government wrote about it
in its red book, so much so that recently, no later than last week,
the Quebec Minister for Industry, Trade and Technology was
getting impatient and-no matter how federalist and Liberal he
is, just as this government-asked the Canadian government
what was implied in the statements made in the red book. And
since then, in spite of his influence, this minister has not heard a
word regarding three specific matters of some urgency, namely
Oerlikon, Paramax and MIL Davie.
There is another issue that brings to mind the notion of vision,
if we can use that word, but in this case it is a machiavelic
vision; I am referring to the Youth Service Corps. We know that
one of the three objectives of this planned corps, which should
involve 10,000 participants a year, is to promote a better
understanding of Canada, and this, strangely enough, just before
the Quebec referendum. We recognize there the consistency and
the persistence of these same Liberals who were already very
actively involved in the 1980 referendum and who used all
means, from Pro Canada to the Council for Canadian Unity, to
try to unduly influence the people in Quebec. Next time, they
will outdo themselves, for sure!
We find the same lack of vision and political courage when it
comes to the information highway. We know that in the United
States the whole project is being spearheaded by the
Vice-President, whereas here, all we have is a committee in
name only which, completely in the dark, is supposed to be
advising the government. This exemplifies the kind of political
courage and vision this government has.
This is what was written in the red book, but things seem even
worse when we look at what was not written down in its pages.
The situation is even worse when you consider the actions of this
government since the opening of the session, through the
budget. I am referring to measures which were not mentioned in
the red book. Indeed, when the government uses nice metaphors
about modernizing, revitalizing or undertaking major
initiatives, such as is currently the case with social programs,
we cannot help but wonder about how sincere it is, about its real
goals, and about the real motives of the Liberals even before
they were elected, considering the measures they are now
proposing to correct the situation.
The government targets the unemployed instead of
unemployment; it targets the poor instead of poverty. Indeed,
the government targets the poor when it decides to lower UI
benefits from 57 per cent to 55 per cent, a measure which will
affect 85 per cent of claimants.
The government is targeting the unemployed, when it decides
they will need 12 weeks instead of 10 to be eligible for
unemployment insurance. Does this mean that from now on
employers, in a show of social solidarity, will hire five, ten,
fifteen, twenty, twenty-four, fifty, eighty, or a hundred
employees for an extra two weeks so they can get their
unemployment insurance benefits? That is not how it works. An
employer needs an employee for a certain period, especially in
disadvantaged regions, and unemployment insurance criteria
are not a consideration when hiring people.
We should also realize that because of the latest amendments
to the Unemployment Insurance Act, people will receive less
money for shorter periods of time. So the government is
deliberately targeting people who work and often live in
unenviable circumstances. The government has decided that
from now on, they will receive less and receive it for shorter
periods, although they will have to work longer to be eligible. If
this is not hitting the unemployed instead of unemployment I
would like to know what is.
If we consider the amendments to the Unemployment
Insurance Act and if we recall the government's stated intention
to modernize and revitalize social programs, is it any wonder we
are extremely concerned about the government's underlying
motives for making such sweeping changes in the
administration of social programs and the whole concept of
government intervention in this area, especially when we
consider the following. Let me explain. In spite of consultations
that were held and others that will be held by the minister on this
subject in the months to come, we know, and this was made clear
in the Budget speech, that this modernizing and revitalizing will
save the public purse $7.5 billion at the expense of the most
vulnerable members of our society, with more than $5 billion
resulting from amendments to the Unemployment Insurance
When discussing these issues, we must not forget we are
talking about fellow citizens and the conditions in which they
live. We must realize that across this country, hundreds of
thousands of Canadian men and women are living in a state of
anxiety and poverty. We know how such conditions can lead to
criminal activity, family violence, undue reliance on
medication, malnutrition in children, and so forth.
I must say that I deplore the apparent lack of concern shown
by many members opposite, including the Prime Minister, about
a situation that is so disturbing and I would ask them to make
cabinet members realize that something must be done to find
intelligent and effective ways to improve the lives of these
people. I think we can all say the unemployment rates in our
ridings are intolerable, for instance in the Maritimes and Que-
bec, where levels are totally unacceptable, in Ontario, which is
experiencing problems, and even in western Canada.
However, we should talk about the causes as well as the
effects. In this kind of debate, which is a debate about the kind of
society we want, one issue is particular important, and that is
that in a few years, our society may start to resemble what we see
in other so-called underdeveloped countries, where there are a
wealthy few in a sea of poverty and a fast-disappearing middle
class. I think that is something we should consider, namely, the
kind of social structure we have and the kind of society we can
expect in the future.
In concluding, I would like to quote briefly what was said by
an economist at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.
André Joyal, a resident of my riding whose work I admire, wrote
the following in the Catholic magazine RND: ``What we have
experienced for the past 20 years is probably not, as is often
said, just another economic cycle, but a thorough transformation
of our society. A transformation as drastic as that caused by the
steam engine in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries or by
the agrarian revolution 10,000 years ago when our ancestors
realized they could sow and harvest crops, which meant they
could have permanent settlements. The society of tomorrow
may be totally different from the one we know today''.
In the same vein Louis O'Neil, a distinguished professor at
Laval University, wrote the following: ``There is no reason why
we should accept, without further analysis, the disappearance of
thousands of jobs, today's exclusion after yesterday's
exploitation, job uncertainty, the dismantling of health care
services, a return to inequality of access to knowledge, the
pauperization of rural areas, and regional population loss. We
have the right and the duty to oppose a return to unbridled
capitalism, to a system which currently puts 35 million people
out of work in industrialized countries and which triggers
disintegration and impoverishment.
Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin): Madam Speaker, I
appreciate the opportunity to speak on Bill C-17 today. I am
going to speak for a moment or two on debt.
In 1993-94 we all know that the provincial, federal and
municipal debt amounts to some $660 billion. This is an
increase of about 11 per cent over last year and it is quite a
Put another way, this amounts to some $23,000 for every man,
woman and child in the country. The net federal public debt
amounts to some $500 billion and that is an increase over last
year of some $45 billion or again around 10 per cent.
Federal debt divided equally among Canadians comes to some
$17,600 per person. The federal debt is increasing at the rate of
$123 million a day. This amounts to some $6,200 per year for a
family of four. To put this another way, the debt amounts to 93
per cent of our GDP at the present time. Ten years ago it
amounted to around 50 per cent. It nearly doubled as a
percentage of the GDP in 10 years' time.
As a matter of fact, the Vancouver Board of Trade, which has
done a considerable amount to draw the Canadian public's
attention to the debt situation, has placed its debt clock to work
out that if the debt, rounded off to $.5 billion, were converted to
hundred dollar bills there would, believe it or not, be enough to
cover the Trans-Canada highway from Vancouver to Ottawa.
If this deficit were reduced to zero, the average employed
person in Canada would see their taxes reduced by about $3,000
a year. Bill C-17 deals with budgetary measures and certainly
unemployment insurance. To me this reduction in the taxation is
one of the best things that we can do to reduce unemployment in
A recent Canadian Chamber of Commerce survey showed that
if the debt and deficit were reduced, payroll taxes and corporate
tax rates lowered, government regulatory burdens eased and
training and education of the labour force improved, small
Canadian businesses, any business under 100 employees, would
be able to create jobs at the rate of 14 jobs per firm for the next
three years. This is certainly another recipe for the reduction of
unemployment in Canada.
The budget has simply nibbled at the edges of the
unemployment insurance program. By reducing the generosity
of this program, certainly I have to give the government credit
for making a step in the right direction. After all, we are aware
that over generous unemployment insurance programs do have
the effect of increasing the number of people on UI, not
decreasing, not putting a lot of people to work. The number of
people on UI has increased as the debt ratio has increased.
We all know that the cumulative deficit in the unemployment
insurance account is in the neighbourhood of $6 billion. We also
know that it is a fallacy to believe that this is an
employer-employee funded program and that $6 billion has to
be picked up by the taxpayer of Canada. We pay the shortfall.
I have said in the House before that the Canadian
unemployment insurance plan has become an inefficient income
supplement plan rather than social insurance. We need to take
the ``un'' out of unemployment insurance. We should come up
with a scheme of employment insurance with extra emphasis on
The Reform Party's policy is to make employment insurance a
sensible, sustainable program of social insurance which
provides compensation for temporary loss of employment. We
believe the program should be funded by employers and the
employee and the level of premiums and benefits determined by
the employer and the employee. This, I am sure, would also go a
long way to reducing the burgeoning underground economy and
ultimately relieving the tax burden of Canadians.
Stephen Van Houten, president of the Canadian
Manufacturers Association, has extrapolated today's figures to
come up with a prediction that if the federal debt continues to
grow at the present rate, by the year 2001 and we will hit the $1
trillion mark. He has also predicted that when we hit the $1
trillion mark our deficit will be in the range of $60 billion to $70
billion. Should it remain the same, the interest on that amount of
money would amount to some $76 billion, and that is roughly
double what we have today. In my opinion that would be
extremely crippling to the Canadian economy.
I am convinced that percentage of after tax income has
decreased, and yet at the same time the same government that
allowed the debt to escalate to half a billion dollars continues
along the same path. Really when questioned or pressed on it the
Prime Minister even makes remarks about that line of
questioning being irrelevant. It is extremely relevant and we
look forward to the day when we can reduce taxation and have a
stimulative effect on our economy.
Economic growth is hampered by high social spending. As we
all know, high social spending is also accompanied by high
levels of taxation.
If Canadians were relieved of this burden of high government
debt and taxation and government intervention through
excessive regulation, I believe Canadians would be motivated to
work harder and to save more and invest more and ultimately
hire more workers.
Investors would be clamouring to invest in Canada and to set
up business here. It is high time that Canada was open for
business and took on that posture.
We noticed the other day that when the Prime Minister did
announce that he was willing to make further budget cuts there
was a dramatic change in the markets. The dollar went up and
the interest rate went down. I really felt quite heartened by all
Just the other day I noticed in the Financial Post the headline:
``Deficit rattles investors''. To say the least it would rattle them.
In conclusion, it is time to change this budgetary process and
admit that we do have a spending problem in Canada. This is not
a problem that can be solved strictly by revenue.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): The hon. member for
Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse): Madam Speaker, I
believe that the hon. member for
Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans spoke just before Question
Period. So, unless an hon. member from the Liberal Party wishes
to speak at this time, I would ask that you give me the floor.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Well then, the Chair
recognizes the hon. member for Bellechasse.
Mr. Langlois: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon.
member for Wetaskiwin for his remarks on Bill C-17. He made
several worthwhile points, some of which I will raise myself in a
Let me just say that today is an historic day because this
morning, for the very first time, the Chair was occupied by a
sovereignist member of Parliament, namely my hon. colleague
from the Bloc Quebecois and member for Chicoutimi. Having
said this and extended my congratulations to him, I would like to
speak to Bill C-17.
As history has it, Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned.
This government is doing the same thing. While the country is
crumbling down, while the poor get poorer and the unemployed
despair of finding work, while middle-income individuals and
families see their tax burden grow heavier and heavier, the
government does nothing. Just like the previous government.
You would almost think that they fit in the same shoes. This
government certainly took no time to adopt the same pattern as
its predecessor. My friend the member for Frontenac was
mentioning that these shoes are probably Kodiak boots because
we are not out of the woods yet with the current policies of this
federal Liberal government which acts the same way as the
Mulroney-Campbell administration did from 1984. That is to
say doing so very little. Words, words, words. They are all
words, but no action. None at all! The only movement we see in
this House is when the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands
walks from the table to his seat once in a while. Very little is
I agree with the hon. member who spoke before me, the hon.
member for Wetaskiwin, when he says that the key to economic
recovery in Canada and in Quebec as well is small business. We
have relied on big business, like Hyundai in Bromont, for too
long. Great hopes had been placed on businesses like this one
which is now in a very precarious situation to say the least, on
the verge of shutting down and laying off its workers. So, the
small and medium-sized businesses responsible for creating 80
to 85 per cent of jobs are really undervalued, underestimated and
undersupported in the projects they can initiate.
We see it at our constituency offices when a small
businessman or businesswoman comes to us with a proposal to
create two, three or four jobs. It is hard to get the government
interested in setting up or improving a small business. It still
likes to think big, an approach that harkens back to Mr.
Trudeau's era. And look where that Trudeau-style vision got us.
Our economy is in ruins. Our debt currently tops the $500
billion mark. Of course, the Mulroney-Campbell administration
has been blamed for the situation, but previous Liberal
administrations were responsible for fuelling the debt crisis in
the first place. It should be noted that when the Conservatives
took office in 1984, the national debt already totalled $189
billion. The red ink was already flowing freely. In fact, several
bottles had already been used up.
The budget measures now on the table offer no help to small
business, no help to middle income families, no help to
individuals as far as housing is concerned. There are no real
measures to provide social housing assistance to low income
families forced to spend more and more on housing. As Bernard
Derome said, if the trend continues, low income families will no
longer be able to afford proper housing. What the government
needs to do is reintroduce a real social housing policy.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Langlois: At least I am being applauded by my colleague
from Laurentides, as well as my colleagues from
Berthier-Montcalm, Lévis, Brome-Missisquoi, Frontenac
and Chambly and all those whom I could not see or hear, since
we sometimes recognize each other by the way we applaud,
What do we see in this budget for housing? The Residential
Rehabilitation Assistance Program, RRAP, is back. It is very
nice to have such a program, but first you have to have a home to
renovate, and there is no measure for home ownership,
especially for a first home. There is nothing for single people
and young couples, but they are told to improve what they do not
have. What a fine philosophy, putting the cart before the horse!
That is the finest example we could give. Our grandparents used
that expression. It is still current for describing the
government's economic policies or lack thereof.
As my colleague from Trois-Rivières just said, the
government is attacking the unemployed as if they were
responsible for their condition. The unemployed are responsible
for the poor state of the Canadian economy; the government is
responsible, because of its ineptness and inaction in this area.
There is no political will to fight unemployment in Canada.
All they are doing is to go after UI recipients, blaming them
for unemployment. They are being penalized. Their benefits are
being cut. The length of time they must work to obtain UI
benefits is increased. But hitting the unemployed does not affect
unemployment. Just as when a mortician does his work, he does
not attack death, he deals with someone who is already dead.
The government is the big funeral director of this country and it
seems it is about to celebrate a funeral mass for the economy. In
the next election, voters in Canada, the remaining nine
provinces, will decide this government's fate.
Probably our friends in the Reform Party will have
alternatives to propose or other parties will come along, because
we see some parties appear and grow like mushrooms in this
I am glad to see-again you are signaling me that I have one
minute left-with just a minute to conclude, I have to choose
between the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, of which we
have spoken a lot, and the Prime Minister's statements in this
House that there would be more cuts, although no minister wants
to cut in his department. We asked questions yesterday; no
minister wanted to cut, but the sum of the parts is greater than
the whole because the Prime Minister said that he was going to
reduce the deficit.
So in closing, I will say a few words about an issue that I care
about, MIL Davie in Lauzon, where 400 of my constituents
work. It is high time, and in the 30 seconds remaining to me, I
will say that it is high time for the government to stop thinking
about reviving the MIL Davie shipyard in Lauzon and to
immediately give it the contract for the Magdalen Islands ferry
to replace the Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West): Madam Speaker,
once again it is a pleasure to speak on a bill in the House of
Commons but it is not such a pleasure to talk about Bill C-17.
In question period today I mentioned the simile of bailing out
a ship with a thimble. That is what we have here, the government
trying to deal with the large problem of $40 billion and we are
playing around the edges with some of the cuts. Most people in
Canada know that just will not work.
I spent some time in Halifax during the spring recess with a
number of business groups and a model parliament. It was with
enthusiasm that I watched the prime minister of that model
parliament and his elected members from the school expressing
their views and frustrations about things that are happening in
the country; the criminal justice system, parliamentary reform
and so on, but expressing long term views of the problems that
exist in our economy. I do not think we should take this so
lightly. These young people have reason to be concerned.
A lot of people talk about our younger generation today and
refer to them as generation x, a generation some say that does
not have its own identity as far as music and other things. My
impression of generation x is one of young concerned
Canadians, a group that probably will have, very rightly so, very
little tolerance with us baby boomers who have managed to
spend ourselves into oblivion.
When it comes time for us to have a pension in the next 15, 20,
25 years I somehow think that generation x will be very
dissatisfied with us and our spending and will have no sympathy
whatsoever. Perhaps it is well deserved by us. The frustration is
across the country. I see it in my riding every day in Langley,
Aldergrove, and Max Lake.
The budget has created some serious concerns for Canadians
and as I travel and talk to people in this fair city of Ottawa you
can hear it every day. It is on their minds. The government has
not addressed the concerns of the economy.
I sense there are some members on the government side who
want to deal with it. I do not know what the problem is. Maybe
the cabinet ministers wish to hold them back but I sincerely hope
those members will convince their leaders that something more
serious has to take place.
I have talked to bankers in the maritimes. They expressed the
same concerns as bankers in Fraser Valley West. It is no
different. It is not regional. How can any rational person support
Bill C-17 which will provide for $3 billion more in expenditures
next year than the previous year?
The Liberal government has provided what I referred to some
time ago as a flaccid approach to managing Canada. The
dictionary definition of flaccid is limp-wristed, lacking vigour
and feeble. At the time when I talked about that I put my own
definition of the word flaccid. I made it an acronym. Flaccid to
me really means the federal Liberals are crafty Conservatives in
disguise. I do not see a lot of difference. Now I am getting a rise
from the members on the other side of the House so I am starting
to hit a few buttons here. I expect that will happen over the next
However, they should not take it so badly because I am going
to do my very best in the next 10 minutes to explain why
Canadians coast to coast feel this way and are disappointed in
the selection of the government in the last election.
Let us compare the short record of this Liberal Party with that
of the Conservatives who were annihilated in the last election. It
is necessary to make this comparison throughout this speech to
understand why we cannot support the Liberal budget and why I
predict that party will fail dismally in the next election. That is a
pity really but that is the way it is going to go.
I can remember back in 1984 when the Liberals were thrown
out and we brought in the Conservatives. Canada had so much
hope. What happened? They spent their way into oblivion. Now
we are just continuing on with the next generation of traditional
The budget is going to see Liberal spending increase by $3
billion at a time when our national debt is $40 billion.
The financial markets are reacting to it and businessmen have
reacted to it for the last 10 years. They are concerned. The only
group that is not reacting to it is the government itself. It is
The government does not have the intestinal fortitude to deal
with reality. It indicates also that the government cannot take a
tough stand on the big issues and will not. This Liberal
government really is a Liberal government. It is not
Conservative in nature and it is definitely not Reform in nature.
Some of the members are suggesting that is a good idea but we
will see in the next election.
Let me take you into some detail that will astound you,
Madam Speaker. I want to talk a little bit about just why we get
frustrated here and why the people out in all of the communities
in Canada get frustrated. I want to talk about a little organization
called the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
This council has existed for some years now. I do not know
how far back, but it existed in the Conservative reign and it
exists here today. I will just run by a couple of bottom line
budgets of this organization. In 1991-92 its budget was $90
million. In the next year, 1992-93, its budget was $101 million.
The budget has gone up and at one point it was $97.7 million.
One might say: ``Well what is wrong with that? It must be a
good organization and it must do a lot of good things''. I do not
doubt that. However, in this budget when we were looking for
some cuts there were no cuts to the organization. In fact its
Let me give you an idea of some of the expenditures coming
from that organization that have not been questioned at all. In
fact its budget has been increased. After I read these I think the
people watching and listening this afternoon and my colleagues
next will ask themselves the question: Why did we not look a
little harder at this in the budget? Why did we not take some
money out of this budget?
Payments: $15,435 to study eunuchs in Imperial China. Now I
ask: Do we have a better way to spend $15,000? The amount of
$147,827 was spent to examine lullabies, form and function in
infant directed music.
While that may be interesting to some, I doubt very much
whether there are many people in this country who have a lot of
interest in their tax dollars going this way.
An hon. member: The Liberals have.
Mr. White (Fraser Valley West): The Liberals have made no
changes to the budget. In fact they have increased it, so this is
the track we are going on.
I will just run by a couple more because there are so many of
them. Let me give members the one that might interest a lot of
people. There is $21,566 to examine experimental studies of
interactive gestures. Let members' minds roll a bit on that one.
I am sorry I am going to run out of time because I do have a
bunch of other things to talk about. If members want to look on
the bigger scale of things, here is a government that is talking
about spending $6 billion of taxpayers' money on infrastructure,
another $1.5 billion on child care seats and so on. It is all
taxpayers' money. There have been no cuts to the budget. It is a
disgrace to put this in front of the people of Canada.
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier-Montcalm): Madam
Speaker, to start with I would like to tell the member for
Saint-Laurent-Cartierville how pleased I was to meet her in
my riding before the Easter break, for the handing out of a
cheque. I hope that the day I run into difficulties, I will be able to
count on the government to help me out. I will be happy to meet
you in my riding for less auspicious events than the handing out
of a cheque. Madam Speaker, I mean that in a very friendly way.
Having said that, I welcome this opportunity to speak to Bill
C-17, an Act to amend certain statutes to implement certain
provisions of the Budget tabled in Parliament on February 22,
1994. Under this rather innocuous title, this act has far reaching
consequences for nearly everyone in Canada and in Quebec.
This bill affects every household, every family and every
taxpayer in the country.
When reading this piece of legislation, one can really see how
thirsty the government is for money. There is a problem
however, the government always digs into the same pockets to
take the money it needs. This time, once again, it goes after the
unemployed and pensioners and, as I said before, families, more
often than not low-income families who can hardly make ends
meet as it is.
I think that instead of bringing the unemployed to their knees,
the government should have helped them break out of that
vicious circle and get back onto the labour market. You do not
keep on hitting somebody who has already fallen to the ground,
you help him get up. One way to help the unemployed is to agree
to Quebec's many requests to decentralize manpower training.
This would improve efficiency and help unemployed workers
find their way through a maze of 75 programs with different
entrance requirements depending on whether they deal with the
federal government or Quebec departments. It would also help
reduce the cost of overlapping jurisdiction and duplication
which is estimated to be around $300,000 in Quebec alone. This
figure was not arrived at by the Bloc Quebecois but by a former
Quebec minister, a former minister who was a Liberal and a
federalist. Three hundred million dollars because of
overlapping is not chicken feed, it is a lot of money.
It is mostly because it has been recognized that a greater
decentralization, bringing training and re-entry programs closer
to the labour force, was more efficient than a strongly
centralized policy such as the approach the Canadian
government wants to impose on the provinces that the
government must meet our expectations regarding manpower
According to Statistics Canada and other government bodies
such as the Department of Employment and Immigration, each
year, there are between 50,000 and 90,000 jobs that go unfilled
in Quebec alone. With these figures, it is possible to see that
there is a problem with training. Based on these figures alone, in
difficult times such as these when everyone is looking for a job
and talking about jobs, the need to do something is obvious to
anyone who takes a hard look at the situation. In spite of all that,
and in spite of the fact that the decentralization of training is
unanimously approved in Quebec, we continue to negotiate, to
hesitate and to waver, not knowing exactly what to do. As the
hon. member for Roberval said yesterday, we discuss and these
friendly discussions go on and on between Quebec and Ottawa,
but no decision is ever made. I hope that the future will be more
promising. I hope that the powers that be in Quebec will wake up
and put their foot down once and for all.
Yesterday too, the Leader of the Opposition was right on when
he said that in Quebec the issue of training decentralization
generates a rare consensus. Indeed, it is not often that you have
Gérald Larose and Ghislain Dufour agreeing on something.
There is a real consensus and Quebec's position is very clear.
We can never insist too much on the fact that the Martin
budget taxes employment and jeopardizes an already weak
The minister who, not so long ago, so vehemently opposed the
Conservative policy, is now pursuing that policy and is doing
even more damage than the Conservatives before him. Indeed,
the minister pursues the Conservative policy of lowering UI
benefits for the vast majority of claimants. To ease its
conscience, the government threw in a few goodies in the bill,
including the provision concerning low-income earners with
dependent children. This is nothing to write home about, but the
government put that in the legislation to make it somewhat more
palatable. But this is only to save face; this is only to create a
This policy shifts the emphasis of the problem and makes it
worse. I represent the riding of Berthier-Montcalm which
extends to Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Saint-Zénon and all the
way up to the Indian reserve of Manouane. What did people tell
me every time I visited those regions during the election
campaign? They said: ``Michel, is there a policy to help our
young stay here in our regions?'' I understand these people
because the population of these communities and villages is
dwindling. Those amendments to the Unemployment Insurance
Act will not keep the young in the regions. On the contrary, they
will leave sooner for the city. The shorter the benefits, the faster
they will go in order to find a job. They will try to find a job
rather than depend on social welfare, and they will head for the
city to do so. The problem is they will not find more jobs in the
city than they do at home. And they will end up on welfare. The
Minister of Finance will be pleased because they will no longer
appear in federal statistics but on provincial social welfare rolls.
If that was his goal, he did succeed.
Let met give a few figures on the impact of unemployment
insurance reform. Eastern Canada and Quebec will be hit
particularly hard by the elimination of regional rates of
unemployment beyond 13 per cent. The last word I got from UI
officials is that the current rate in my riding of
Berthier-Montcalm is about 15 per cent. Those amendments
will have a severe impact in my area.
When the regional unemployment rate is higher than 13 per
cent, the number of weeks of benefits for people having just a
few weeks of insurable work will be greatly affected. The
impact on Eastern Quebec, where the needs are most acute, will
be severe. According to an internal document of the Department
of Human Resources Development, we can expect the following
reductions in benefits: Atlantic Canada, $630 million; Quebec,
$735 million; Ontario, $560 million; western Canada, $430
The Minister of Finance argued that the cuts were fair, saying
that Quebec and the Maritime provinces would still get more,
per capita, after the reform. If he meant the benefit to population
ratio, his argument does not hold water. It is natural for a
province with a high unemployment rate to get more than other
Since I only have one minute left, I will raise another issue
which is very dear to me. As you know, 1994 is the International
Year of the Family. I think this should be a golden opportunity
for the government to do something to help families.
Let me read you an excerpt of a letter I received from one of
my constituents. The subject is ``The art of being stupid in the
extreme''. That person wrote: ``You know when the new federal
policy regarding help to families was released, I was pleased to
see that children's benefits were no longer taxable.
Unfortunately, the government announced at the same time that
my husband and I were too rich to continue receiving such
benefits''. With an annual salary of $38,000, once daycare and
babysitting costs are paid, as well as other expenses, there is
only $11,000 left for the year and for the pension fund. Yet, the
minister said that these people were too rich and sent them a
notice of assessment for a $63 overpayment.
``I have a cute little case containing exactly $46.09 in pennies
and nickels from my little girl's piggy bank. I want to send it to
the Minister''. The person who wrote asked me to table it in the
House, but since this is not possible, I will send it directly to the
minister. This is a good example of the lack of policy and will to
help families raise children.
Mr. Bernard St-Laurent (Manicouagan): Madam Speaker,
Manicouagan, the riding that I represent, is one of the regions
most affected by the lack of jobs. Its geography is quite
particular. It is so special that to meet all my constituents in the
towns and villages where they live, I must often use four
different modes of transport-plane, boat, car, of course, and
Unemployment is particularly high because of the
demographics of the constituency. The latest unemployment
rate recorded by Statistics Canada, for March, I believe, was
17.8 per cent in my region, compared to 10.6 per cent nationally.
The eastern part of the riding is quite specific, made up
mainly of fishermen and/or people who depend on that natural
resource; unemployment insurance is a considerable source of
income for them. Between 80 and 85 per cent of the people east
of Natashquan depend directly on income from fishing. Now it
seems that the measures in Bill C-17 will especially affect
eastern Canada, including Quebec, and particularly eastern
Quebec, including my riding.
That is why I strongly denounce Bill C-17, especially clause
28. This clause will be disastrous for those, like many of my
constituents, who depend on fishing.
This is what might happen if Bill C-17 is implemented. For
one thing, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is reducing
fishing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence so that the stocks can
recover. That is most commendable and useful too, up to a point.
But at the same time, and there is the rub, Bill C-17 will raise the
minimum number of weeks of work required from 10 to 12.
So on the one hand people are prevented from accumulating
weeks of work and on the other, the number required is increased
from 10 to 12. These two measures pull in opposite directions
instead of converging.
In March, after the Minister of Finance presented the federal
budget, three teachers in the Department of Economics at the
Université du Québec à Montréal, UQAM, openly described
what they thought of this in the provincial media. They
expressed surprise and concern at learning that nearly 60 per
cent of the announced federal deficit reduction, namely $2.4
billion out of $4.1 billion, will be supported by unemployed
Canadians. Their statement speaks volumes.
It means that, once again, the government goes after the most
disadvantaged in our society and asks them to tighten their belts,
as if there was fat to be trimmed in the unemployment sector of
the economy. It is absolutely unthinkable. The Minister of
Human Resources Development himself said some time ago that
they wanted to force recipients to work for longer periods to
continue to qualify for the same number of weeks of benefits.
I will repeat only the first part of what he said, which is
revealing, namely that they want to force recipients to work. To
say something like that, they must be a little out of touch with
In Quebec, some 90 per cent of unemployed workers lose their
jobs through no fault of their own due to lay-offs, illness or
retirement. Most have no control over the duration of their
employment and, if they take casual or seasonal jobs, it is not
because they do not feel like holding a stable, well-paid job but
because they have no choice.
This bill appears to want to protect the country against an
attack or an invasion by the nasty hoards of unemployed whose
goal is to remain unemployed until they die. And this is not the
case at all. No one wants to remain unemployed. In 1987, the
Human Resources Directorate announced a competition to staff
positions at the Port-Cartier penitentiary in our riding. Many
people are familiar with this facility because it made the
headlines when it opened.
A total of 250 openings were announced-openings for
correctional services officers and for administrative officers.
The directorate received no less than 23,000 applications for
these 250 positions. Despite the unique aspects of working in a
correctional facility, because this is no easy job. There is a
certain amount of risk involved. Yet, 23,000 people discounted
the risks and applied because they wanted to work. That is what
we were told.
It is not that people do not want to work. Rather, the current
state of the economy is not conducive to hiring people. Why then
take it out on the unemployed?
Pursuant to clause 22 of Bill C-17, certain unemployment
insurance claimants will see their benefits increase from 57 per
cent to 60 per cent, while others will have their benefit rate
reduced from 57 per cent to 55 per cent. By the finance
minister's own admission, only 15 per cent of claimants will see
their benefits increase, while the remaining 85 per cent will see
their benefit rate drop from 57 per cent to 55 per cent. Perhaps
we did not say enough about this particular provision when it
was announced, but as Official Opposition, we are doing so now.
This government is merely cementing the policy of the previous
government. Furthermore, it now says that its priority is to
reduce the benefit rate, not to reform social programs.
Incredibly, I have only a minute remaining. I was coming to
the best part, Madam Speaker. In conclusion, let me just say that
in the riding of Manicouagan, just as in other ridings in Quebec
and Canada, people want to work. They are tired of being
accused of not wanting to work. They want nothing more than to
work, Madam Speaker.
I am opposed to this bill because I do not believe for one
moment that legislation like this will help to turn the economy
around. At best, it will lower the unemployment figures and
merely mask the true state of this country's economy.
Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Terrebonne): Madam Speaker, to
begin with, a Canada-wide committee was struck to examine the
proposed changes to the UI program, as part of the review of
social programs. I have talked many times about the creation of
committes up until now.
Even before the conclusion of the study, the Prime Minister
refuses to give Quebec what rightly belongs to it. Everybody in
Quebec, even the Liberals-and these are the Prime Minister's
words-who are not big bad separatists, is demanding it, but the
Prime Minister rejects out of hand what he calls the ``whims'' of
They are not whims, but Quebec's most basic demands; they
are also a way of asking that the Constitution be respected, as it
applies to education, which is explicitly described as an area of
At this point, I wish to announce to members of the House and
to you, Madam Speaker, that this very afternoon, the National
Assembly of Quebec voted unanimously in favour of a motion
giving Quebec exclusive powers in the area of job training.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
An hon. member: Quebeckers are standing up for their
Mr. Sauvageau: Madam Speaker, the party across the way is
acting like a parent who does not want to recognize the
autonomy of his children who have grown up. The Prime
Minister says that he has to maintain control over budgets and
decisions related to job training because we have unemployed
workers. Are we not big enough and responsible enough to know
our needs? Have we not proven our economic know-how and
buoyancy over the past 30 years? Let us go back a little to look at
the economic expertise of Quebeckers.
There are, for example, the Caisse de dépôt et placement, the
Société générale de financement, the REAs, the financial
institutions reform, and Hydro-Québec. I would like to point out
that these initiatives are mainly the brain-child of a single man,
who will most likely become the next Quebec premier in a few
months, Mr. Jacques Parizeau.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Sauvageau: Our expertise in the management of our
assets is well established, but given the persistent opposition by
the ruling government, I repeat, we have realized that it is only
by being sovereign that we will be able to patriate those powers
that are essential to Quebec's economic renewal.
We must also ask ourselves the following question: In its
deficit reduction plan, did the government opposite do its share?
Did it penalize only the unemployed and the old people by
taking away their tax deductions?
Here is a long excerpt from an article by reporter Claude Piché
which appeared in La Presse on February 22 this year. He wrote:
``Here are some figures. Let us not forget them when the
minister socks it to us while saying he has to put government
finances in order''.
It seems that the reduction and restriction spectre did not keep
our diplomats from sleeping. Last year, and the figures are
accurate, they are dated February 22, the Foreign Affairs budget
exceeded $3.8 billion, a 13 per cent increase over the $3.4
billion recorded in the previous year, when spending was up 5
per cent as compared to the year before. Alone, spending
directly related to representing Canadian interests abroad , such
as embassies, high commissions, consulates and other
diplomatic activities, including everything that goes with it,
planes, trips, and soon, increased by 23 per cent over two years,
a figure that does not show an obvious concern for austerity.
The Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA, by
far the main agency of this department, spent $2.2 billion last
year. CIDA increased its expenditures by $232 million last year
and by $133 million the year before, for a 19 per cent increase in
The budget of the Department of Indian Affairs exceeds $4
billion. This is another department where it is obvious that they
do not know about making sacrifices. Their expenditures have
increased by 7 per cent last year and by 9 per cent the year before
for a total of 16 per cent. More than half of their budget, more
than half of those $4 billion is made up of grants and
contributions to band councils and tribal organizations. These
payments have jumped 23 per cent in two years to reach $2.6
billion last year.
The inflation rate in Canada was 1.8 per cent last year and 1.5
per cent the year before. We have to wonder.
Let us now take a look at the Correctional Service of Canada,
the very agency which builds for criminals luxurious condos
such as the majority of honest workers could not afford. It has
spent $876 million last year, an increase of 7 per cent over the
At Fisheries and Oceans Canada, expenditures took a 30 per
cent leap over the previous year to $869 million.
The increase in Communications Canada's budget is close to
10 per cent. This department is spending $2.2 billion of your
taxes and mine, nearly half of this amount being allocated to
CBC. But the biggest chunk which makes all other expenditures
look insignificant by comparison is the debt service. This is
when we stop counting in millions and talk about billions of
Last year, Ottawa spent $39 billion to service its debt. If one
were to add all the expenditures, the subsidies, the
grants-whether justified or not-and multiply the total by four,
the result would be the cost incurred last year by the government
only for servicing its debt.
Such is the painful assessment of twenty years of poor public
This article tells us what is wrong. The government asks
Canadians to foot the bill and, at the same time, increases its
spending-in that case, by an average of 17.7 per cent in the
departments I have just mentioned. While the cost-of-living
index rose by 1.7 per cent, government spending increased
It is also important to recall the position of the Liberals when
the late Conservatives changed the Unemployment Insurance
Program. Remember the shouting and the insults of the Liberals
against such changes when they were in the opposition. They
changed their tune. Remember the position of the Liberals on
the issue of granting more authority to the Auditor General.
Now, they are opposing a motion proposed by their own party.
Change of side, change of heart.
What consistency! They wonder why there is a lack of
confidence on the part of the public. A used-car dealer is more
popular than they are! I therefore repeat my position with regard
to economic recovery and job creation.
In conclusion, the government is once again trying to fool the
public. But this time, it does not work because citizens are much
better informed than they used to be and cannot abide trickery.
The government must stop believing that it alone can create
jobs. You said it, we said it, we agree on that, small businesses
have been the main job creators for many years and they have to
keep on playing that job-creating role.
The failure of the previous government and the one foreseen
for the liberal government should get them to become a bit more
responsible. They have difficulty doing that. An efficient
government has to be a custodian of public funds, it has, in
principle, to keep its spending under control, to keep the deficit
under control and to restore confidence in the economy. I said so
That confidence is the basis of a healthy economy. The
illogical decisions that have been made by governments for too
long and that are still made today hinder the establishment of
that confidence, which is essential for the economy to recover.
It is not by creating temporary jobs and, while doing so, by
ignoring the role played by the small business that the
government is going to revitalize the economy, but rather by
restoring the climate of confidence which will stimulate
investment and, at the same time, will create real jobs, for good.
However, it is not a federal government, with its departmental
overlapping and its heavy management, that will meet that
simple objective, but a sovereign Quebec, sole master
responsible for its decisions and its management, which will
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): I am sorry, but the hon.
member's time is up.
Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides): Madam Speaker, I will
try to finish on time.
In Laurentides, the riding I proudly represent, the
unemployment rate is 18 per cent, a far cry from the national rate
that was leaked last week. As I said a far cry from the rate that
hon. members opposite are celebrating. A person would have to
be terribly naive to believe that your policies were able to bring
down the unemployment rate. All your decisions and initiatives
since October 25 have been a mere drop in the bucket.
These self-congratulatory statements are just an attempt to
mislead the public. You say your policies are working and
producing results, but you are just distributing a few crumbs
here and there. Your response is band-aid solutions and very
Where is the real vision? Where are the long-term plans that
would help us look forward to a stabler economy that would
generate more jobs? Instead of taking a serious approach to the
problems and the solutions they require, the ministers opposite
go on trips and come back with so-called good news. A trip to
Korea, and Hyundai will open its doors again. Good news? News
without much substance, which has raised a lot of concerns
among the public. This strategy, which I say is pathetic, is not a
winner, and no wonder.
The people on the government benches are handling problems
on a day-to-day basis. They do not know what is going to
happen tomorrow. The unemployed in Laurentides know
perfectly well nothing has changed. Since you took over the
government benches, there have been no more jobs for them.
They do know that after unemployment insurance comes
welfare, and that is what really made the unemployment rate go
down. It is true! Look at what is really happening in our ridings.
The federal government is passing the buck to the provinces.
This transfer of the tax burden, which is a disgrace, is a clear
sign of the Liberals' inertia and indifference.
Welfare, cuts in unemployment insurance, jobs without a
future, tax increases for the middle class and pretty speeches are
the only results produced by the government's red book.
People in Laurentides want work. They are willing to train, be
retrained and upgrade their skills to acquire the tools they need
to meet labour market requirements. The 18 per cent who are
unemployed in my riding-I repeat 30 per cent-want to see
some light at the end of the tunnel. They want the government to
implement programs that will help them go back to work. They
want long-term employment, jobs that will give them some
security, not the kind of jobs that last only a few weeks, created
under programs that are only intended get people the number of
weeks they need to go back on unemployment insurance.
Workers are caught up in a vicious circle that the government
merely encourages through these programs. We must change our
way of doing things, change our approach to get results that are
more useful and more attractive in the long run, both for workers
The economy of Laurentides is based mainly on spin-offs
generated by the tourism industry and the goods and services
sector. Except for greater Saint-Jérôme where you find
well-established small and medium-sized businesses that
provide good jobs, our economy depends on tourism. Now, the
nearly total dependence of jobs on the presence of tourists in our
area means that all workers are considerably exposed to
uncontrollable elements. As a matter of fact, poor seasons due to
low temperatures or a lack of money on the part of vacationers
directly affect employment opportunities in the riding of
There is no doubt that the economy in my region needs to be
diversified. A few dozen of strong small and medium-sized
businesses would be welcome. They would help reduce our
dependence on tourism and protect us against elements over
which we have no control.
A business that manufactures high technology products, for
instance, could certainly, while diversifying our economy, keep
it at an acceptable level, guarantee a certain number of jobs and,
indirectly, an adequate overall purchasing power.
Unfortunately, we do not have those small and medium-sized
businesses in the Laurentians. Moreover, I invite those of the
other side, the ministers, to come to my region and meet the
business people in order to develop the whole small and
medium-sized business sector.
We must face the facts. The Laurentians depend on tourism
for a living, as I have already said. Ski resorts, beaches,
campgrounds, summer theatres, hotels, motels, restaurants and
shops are the main source of employment for our workers. The
level of activity of those employers depends on tourism, which
fluctuates a lot, and on the purchasing power of residents, which
is linked to the economy of the region.
The results for workers who are concentrated in great
numbers in that sector are seasonal and precarious jobs,
unsteady and low paid jobs. Our workers are very much affected
by the fluctuations of tourism. That is why they must get
unemployment insurance benefits between jobs while they are
waiting for good seasons. Some wait for summer jobs while
others work in the winter.
At the end of every working season, people come in greater
numbers to ask for unemployment insurance because there are
no other jobs available to them in the near future.
The recent changes to the unemployment insurance system
make benefits even more difficult to obtain. In my riding, these
changes will affect a great number of workers who cannot
accumulate the required 12 weeks for the reasons I have already
stated. For them, it means a direct line to welfare. A nice move
on the part of the federal government. The decision-makers on
the other side have never realized that, given the economic
situation in the regions, some workers have a hard time finding
work for 12 weeks.
And the Liberals keep at it. You have to work more, but they
give you less. Less benefits and for a shorter period. Less money
to spend, less purchasing power; the economy cuts jobs and does
not create new ones, and so goes the spiral.
The Liberals reduce UI benefits without offering workers
alternatives. Their thinking is topsy-turvy on the other side. The
liberal processes follow a logic which is contrary to common
sense. It is disquieting and discouraging for my constituents. It
shows clearly that the Liberals have more consideration for
figures than for persons.
Another provision of this reform also seems to be
stress-generating. The benefit rate of 60 per cent for
low-income persons with dependent children leads us to believe
that there will be investigations made in order to confirm their
status. In Quebec, we already know the welfare
``boubou-macoutes''; we are aware of all the trouble and
tension they caused in our province. I hope the federal
government will not copy that kind of action which is most
aggravating and infringes on people's privacy.
Finally, the impact of these amendments will be disastrous for
the people of Laurentides. They prove that the Liberals are
disconnected from the grassroots and from the realities of
regional economic situations. Together they can shout ``Alleluia
for welfare'' which is an easy and shameful way for them to
shirk their duties and responsibilities.
Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly): Madam Speaker, the present
government was elected after campaigning on a single theme:
``jobs, jobs, jobs''. All of us here remember the answers the
Prime Minister gave to the questions of his opponents and of the
invited guests during the leaders' debate. To all questions the
Prime Minister would invariably and tirelessly answer: ``jobs,
To some of his unemployed constituents who were voicing
their disappointment in the riding of Saint-Maurice, the Prime
Minister said: ``-this was in the red book, they should have
read between the lines-'' To read between the lines is the role
of the opposition, and it will not fail doing so, whether the party
opposite likes it or not.
Any budget worthy of that name has to bring, first of all, a
degree of confidence into a failing, not to say moribund,
economy and to a population also craving security. How do you
reconcile the words of the Prime Minister ``jobs, jobs, jobs'' and
the budget of the Minister of Finance? Did the government
succeed in giving the degree of confidence it wanted to the
financial world, then to investors, and finally to consumers? I
doubt it, Madam Speaker.
Considering the figures contained in the budget with regard to
social programs, and unemployment insurance in particular, can
we say that social demands for security and stability have been
The people of Canada and Quebec have the right to expect two
things of a social policy with an economic goal: First, job
creation and, second, the assurance that the jobs created will be
permanent. What kind of jobs were created up to now? The
infrastructures program leads to the spending of huge amounts
of money for the creation of purely temporary jobs, almost
exclusively for men.
I agree that in the short term jobs will be created, but because
of the nature of the work being done, this only postpones for a
few years the inevitable crisis already obvious. In other words,
instead of buying chickens, they prefer to steal them from
someone else's henhouse.
What happened to job creation targeting, for example, young
people, laid-off workers aged 50 to 65, and young university
graduates, to name a few? Madam Speaker, there is absolutely
nothing for them in that bill. Instead, the government cut the
budget for forestry development by 5 per cent. There is nothing
either for young technicians, no structural project to create jobs
in companies such as MIL Davie, which could build the
ferryboat people in the Magdalen Islands have been waiting for
for so long.
There has been great uncertainty created by clause 25, and the
freeze of job-creation programs such as DEPs, which,
incidentally, we are told, will be managed by a discretionary
fund at the Department of Human Resources Development; it
smacks of partisanship. The cut in the unemployment insurance
premium is postponed till next year, even though the finance
minister claimed that dropping the rate from $3.07 to $3.00
would create 40,000 new jobs. Why not create them right away
instead of waiting until next January to effect this much talked
There is a complete unwillingness to discuss the conversion
of the defence industry, the HST, and Oerlikon's low-altitude
Poor Canadians, poor Quebeckers, poor jobless.
Since troubles never come singly, the brand new budget is in a
bad way and was off to a poor start from the very beginning.
Interest rates are rising rapidly, the Canadian dollar is falling,
which means our foreign debt will cost us even more, and some
plants have closed, like Hyundai, in Bromont.
What does the Minister of Finance have to suggest after the
fact, since he is really the one who is involved? Nothing,
absolutely nothing except to take it out on the jobless, in two
different ways: having them contribute longer by increasing the
number of weeks required to be eligible, and reducing the
number of weeks of benefits.
That is how the government reacts to the requests of citizens,
of Canadian and Quebec workers. For my part, I consider that as
killing them slowly.
This government will probably be remembered as the one that
did the least with the biggest budget. Let us not forget that we
have a projected deficit of $39.4 billion. It is not chicken feed!
There is only one law the government should adopt, because it
has been enforcing it since the elections, that is, the law of least
It would also seem that the Liberals favourite theme line
``jobs, jobs, jobs'' was for nobody, especially not the
heavyweight ministers of this government who systematically
refuse to carry out the job of creating jobs.
The eastern provinces are hit harder than any other by the
proposed UI changes, with cuts totalling $1.3 billion, and
Quebec in particular, with nearly $800 million in cuts. These
cuts hurt. That is why the last time changes were made to the UI
system more than 50,000 braved bone-chilling weather in
January or February 1993 to demonstrate their opposition to the
It is both urgent and imperative for the government to have a
vision for the society it is governing and to stop applying
poultice on a wooden leg by holding consultations which are
pointless because of this lack of a global vision of the society of
It is the Prime Minister's duty to assign to key positions
people with a vision, with innovative ideas, and capable of
seeing that they are implemented instead of choosing people, as
seems to be the case at present, based on their support during a
certain leadership race.
Again, the unemployed are going to be the ones to pay for the
Prime Minister's political debts.
A poet once said that many have died for their ideas, but many
more have died for want of ideas!
For all these reasons, my caucus will not hesitate to vote
against the bill before us.
Ms. Maria Minna (Beaches-Woodbine): Madam Speaker,
the budget reflects what we said we would do during the
election. Let me look at some of the aspects of the budget which
I find very, very positive and upon which we have already taken
action in the last little while.
Looking at youth for instance, I know that earlier the member
opposite from the Reform Party was talking about generation x.
I have some 20 years of experience working with young people
helping them deal with retraining and upgrading. The first
aspect of this to look at is apprenticeship.
At a conference recently young people talked about making a
decision by the time they hit grade 10. They said that is when
they decide whether they are going to continue with
post-secondary education or whether they are going to quit
school. The latter means dead end jobs and not much of a future.
In this country we have never valued apprenticeships. In other
countries apprenticeship is valued. In Germany there are
600,000 graduates a year. In other countries trades are not
something blue collar workers do, but trades are considered as
careers and professions and are valued by society.
In our culture we have not valued trades. We have not valued
tradesmen and people with skills. We have devalued them.
Therefore we have not built in infrastructures to be able to assist
young people to go into apprenticeship programs or a trade if
they choose not to go to an academic program at college or
We have built into the budget an apprenticeship program to
deal with this very serious problem. It is a serious structural
problem in our training and educational programs and affects
the future of the young people of the country.
As a country it is time to join the rest of the world in making
sure our young people have an option when they leave school.
Those who do not want to go on with academic studies at
university will have the option to follow a career. It is not just a
make-shift program but offers a career in technology, in trades.
It gives them the skills not only to get a job today but also to
become the employers of tomorrow. In many other countries the
artisans are the ones who create jobs in the small businesses.
By announcing an apprenticeship program in our budget we
are talking about finally filling the gap and joining the rest of the
world in the 21st century.
Another aspect deals with young people who have lost jobs.
When the jobs go they are the first to go as they do not have the
skills and are the most junior members of a company. There are
also those young people who do not have the skills and have
already dropped out and need assistance to get back into the
labour market. We need to develop training programs and
assistance for these young people.
Let us also look at the transition from school to work. Young
people who have finished a training program or have obtained a
college or university degree are unable to find jobs. Right now a
lot of them are looking for work but do not have the experience.
Quite often as many of us were told when we were looking for
work they cannot get the job because they do not have the
experience. They have not yet worked at or practised the trade
they studied in school.
The Canada youth corps program which the government
mentioned in its budget and which will be announced sometime
soon by the Minister of Human Resources Development will try
to address that problem. It will try to give young people at least a
year of experience in the workplace so they can add those skills
to their resumes when they go looking for work. That is very
Traditionally we have not valued young people in the country.
I know that sounds like a horrible thing to say and people will
say it is not true. We value certain types but not others. In
Ontario we have a 30 per cent dropout rate in the school system.
That means 30 per cent of our young people after grade 10 have
no skills, not much education and no hope of finding a job.
These are the things we are talking about in our budget. It is
not just false hope, not just unrealistic plans we are making. The
budget is very realistic, very credible and very practical in
dealing with the real problems and solutions that today's
economy requires and that we should have got into quite some
time ago frankly.
The other aspect I want to get into is small businesses. We talk
about jobs. All day today many members opposite have been
talking about jobs. They do not develop automatically. We are in
Small businesses create many jobs but they need assistance.
The budget directly addresses the problem of funding for small
businesses. It addresses directly the problem with banks and the
relationship of banks and the lending process. The budget deals
with setting up structures to create an environment where the
capital needed by small businesses to create jobs and to expand
businesses and to invest is there.
The budget deals with innovative industries. It tries to ensure
we can develop new technologies and bring them to market in
this country making sure that it will also create jobs.
These are infrastructures this country needs badly and we
need to work with. The Canadian Federation of Independent
Business said that this was a good budget and it was sensitive to
the needs of small businesses. That is something we said we
would do and something the budget addresses directly.
We have to create jobs but we also have to make sure this
country's companies and industries are able to do that.
Therefore we have to develop the environment that allows for
The infrastructure program has sometimes been reviled and
criticized by the opposition. It is not a program that simply
allows a few people to dig some ditches; it is a program that
creates very serious jobs.
The construction industry has been devastated. Thousands of
construction workers have not worked for three or four years at a
time and have had to collect assistance. Now they will be able to
work. Spinoff jobs will be created as a result of the
infrastructure program. This again will stimulate the economy.
It will get it going and will create some work and restore hope.
Finally, I want to make a point on some of the criticism I have
heard about child care. We talk about jobs. We talk about young
people. We talk about economic growth. But then, as some
members opposite like to say: ``But we must not spend money on
child care''. How can we assist parents and single parents who
work part time or work nights in finding jobs or being retrained
to enter the labour market if we do not provide support,
subsidize or assist with day care? It is just not possible.
We are being totally unfair and not very honest with ourselves
if we do not deal with the realities of the workplace. That
demands support and assistance to families and to people who
cannot get back into the workforce if they do not have that kind
of support. Therefore criticism about additional moneys as was
coming from the Reform Party a few minutes ago about child
care is not acceptable. The budget tries to deal with that.
We are looking at trying to deal with some very complex
problems in a very difficult time in our history but we need to
address some of the structural problems. We need to deal with
these problems. The budget tries to deal with them in a realistic
way, taking into account the fact that there is not a lot of money
around. That is true. We also need to deal with the deficit. But
we are trying to deal with these things with some very practical
For my part I hope members opposite will find it important to
support our young people, to support the small businesses and to
support those parents who need the assistance to get back into
Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil): Madam Speaker, first of all, I
wanted to ask a question at lunch time but I did not have time to
do so. I just want to ask it to the Liberal members in power.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Sir, the question period
if over. You have ten minutes for debate.
Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil): Madam Speaker, this is part of my
speech and it is also part of the budget. I wonder why the new
business centre of the Canadian embassy in Mexico will be built
by an American company. I think it is important to talk about
this because, if we want to create jobs and reduce the deficit, we
must help Canadian businesses to grow instead of asking foreign
companies to build our embassies and offices abroad. I put this
question to the Liberals listening to my speech today, so that
they can ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to look into it and
ensure that Canadian businesses will be approached first when
we have to build embassies and offices abroad.
Madam Speaker, I do not know who stole the notes I had in
front of me but they are gone. Ah, I just found them.
First I must explain what a budget is. When a family decides
to draw up a budget, it starts by calculating its income, just like
the federal government must determine how much it collects in
revenues. We know that our revenues amount to some $125
billion while our expenditures add up to about $160 billion.
We know that $40 billion go to pay interests on the
accumulated debt. We know that; this is easy to figure out. What
is more important in making a budget is to establish an order of
priority for expenditures. How are we going to spend the money
so as to improve our well-being. For example, a family may
decide to first spend on a car, on rent, on clothes, on trips or on
food. What proportion of our revenue are we going to spend in
order to improve our lifestyle, respect our priorities and meet
It is in that sense that a government must look at its
expenditures: It must ensure that spending is done in a way that
best serves people, and it must ensure that these benefits are
maintained. During the election campaign, it seemed to me,
based on the red book, that the Liberals' priority was job
creation. Even though we did not have the same vision regarding
the country, we fully shared the Liberal's view on job creation.
However, we realized, once they took office, that the Liberals
had completely changed their vision. For one thing, as several of
my colleagues pointed out, they targeted the unemployed and
overlooked manpower training. For five years now, Quebec has
been saying that it must absolutely have jurisdiction over
manpower training. Again, there is a unanimous motion before
Quebec's National Assembly-a motion supported by both the
Liberal Party of Quebec and the Official Opposition-asking
that jurisdiction over manpower training be delegated to the
province by the federal government. As you can see, this is an
When a government establishes its spending priorities, it
should first look at manpower training on a budget level, since
we are well aware that overlapping in that sector costs some 300
to 350 million dollars each year. Indeed, 300 to 350 million
dollars are spent uselessly because of this overlapping in the
manpower training sector. But the inefficiency related to this
poor management and this overlapping is also very costly. The
result is that we have people who get less training and who are
less prepared to face the competition.
I also want to reply to the Reform Party member who made a
speech this morning and said that Quebec is favoured in the
Canadian federation. He said that we were receiving more than
we were giving to Ottawa as regards unemployment insurance. I
think the hon. member is partly right, but the question is: Do
Quebeckers want to receive more money strictly to help those
who are in trouble, or do they want to ensure that they are not in
such trouble in the future? This is an important distinction,
We know very well that if we managed our own affairs in
Quebec, we would recover several billion dollars through
increased efficiency. This extra $800 million which the federal
government suggests it is paying to Quebec does not mean
anything, because this is in the context of the current
management structure. The day we run our affairs alone, we will
be much more efficient and we are convinced that we can reduce
our unemployment more and we will not need that extra money
because our economy will grow much faster.
Sometimes we in Quebec feel that the federal government
wants Quebeckers to stay unemployed so that it can say that it is
giving Quebec more money than Quebeckers pay. We almost
feel that they are acting deliberately in a way to keep Que-beckers out of work more and more. So that is sort of an answer
to the questions from Reform Party members, who are quite far
from Quebec. They do not seem to understand exactly what is
going on in Quebec.
I must also say to the people in the Reform Party that maybe
they should take a look at Quebec's economic structure.Quebeckers have had some successes these past few years,
although they had to fight incoherent policies that hurt Quebec's
development. Despite all that, Quebeckers set up some
institutions. For example, on the economic level, we have set up
mutual insurance companies, something quite extraordinary.
We have the Caisse de dépôt, the Desjardins movement and its
credit unions, the FTQ fund, the General Investment
Corporation of Quebec. We built some amazing financial
Of course, every time the federal government changes the
laws or regulations, it affects Quebeckers. If we Quebeckers
were able to set our own budget priorities and make our own
laws and regulations, we are sure that we could grow much
faster and solve this unemployment problem that we have to live
with and, again, be told by the federal government that we get a
little more than we give, especially when it comes to
unemployment and welfare.
You know that we Quebeckers have a lot more pride than that.
We want to have the honour and the privilege of being able to
develop and to earn our living honourably. For that, the only way
to succeed is to collect all our own taxes and to make our own
laws and in that way we can set our own priorities and develop as
we should, Madam Speaker, and the way to do that is
sovereignty for Quebec.
Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac): Madam Speaker,
regarding the budget, I would like to discuss two important
issues today in the House, namely the proposed changes to the
unemployment insurance system and the current state of
employment in the country.
I spent the last two weeks in my lovely riding of Frontenac.
Not only did I have the chance to bring myself up to speed on
certain issues, I also travelled around my riding. My
constituents were quite taken aback to see me and questioned my
motives. ``Is there an election on the horizon?'', some asked me.
``Is everything all right?'', others wondered.
Constituents were surprised that a mere five months after the
election, their MP would come and thank them for their support
and discuss their problems. It was certainly a politically
My colleagues opposite in the Liberal government would do
well to adopt the same approach. A visit to their ridings without
the pressure of an election would open their eyes very quickly to
the real concerns of their constituents.
It certainly would have been useful if the Minister of Finance
had taken this approach before tabling his budget and especially
before introducing changes to the unemployment insurance
system. His team of experts, so far removed from the
day-to-day world of the unemployed, could have learned a lot.
Madam Speaker, as you know, the unemployed in this country
have been left to fend for themselves. While a great deal of
lobbying went on in the case of cigarettes and alcohol, no one is
lobbying on behalf of the unemployment insurance or any other
Unemployment insurance reform. There, I have said it. Where
do we stand on this issue?
We are struck the most by the lack of respect the Liberals
opposite have for the unemployed. Several of the amendments
to the Unemployment Insurance Act create inequities between
individuals as well as between regions. I will give you three
examples of such clauses and provide a brief analysis.
Consider, for example, clause 22. It provides for an increase
in the rate of benefit with the introduction of a dual scale.
However, according to the Minister of Finance, this increase
will affect only 15 per cent of claimants, whereas the remaining
85 per cent will see their benefits reduced to 55 per cent. The
Minister of Finance has shown his true colours and we now see
where his social program priorities lie.
As for clause 26, it highlights the same kind of contradiction
on the part of the government. It repeals section 48 of the Act
and reduces the premium from the rate of $3.07 voted by the
Liberals in December to $3. This point was made several times
over the course of the afternoon, but I must emphasize it again.
With this measure, the minister thinks he will be creating 40,000
job in 1995, because clause 26 will take effect only in January
1995. Why did this Liberal government, which is apparently so
clever, increase the rate of premiums in 1994? Why not reduce it
immediately? This would mean a loss of employment for 1994
due to poor planning or lack of goodwill on the part of the
Finance Minister of a government which calls itself a champion
of employment and yet jacks up UI premiums. I just cannot
understand it! The Minister of Finance himself has recognized,
as reported in Le Soleil on April 8, that the existing UI premiums
constitute a form of taxation that is killing employment.
Coming back to clause 28 now, which provides for the
reduction of the benefit period and hits Quebec and the
Maritimes particularly hard. I can see several members opposite
who represent ridings in the Maritime provinces. The fact of the
matter is that any region with a rate of unemployment above 10
per cent will be affected by this measure which, combined with
tighter eligibility requirements, is causing serious problems,
particularly for young people, and will automatically shift the
load from UI to welfare. That is what we, in Quebec, call
shifting responsibility to someone else. And, according to three
economists from the Université du Québec à Montréal, it will
cost the province the tidy sum of $280 million.
As far as I am concerned, the idea behind all this, the spirit of
this reform is more harmful than the measures per se. There is a
punitive tinge to it. The Minister of Finance is punishing the
unemployed for not having jobs. In his mind, this is a choice
they have made. So, their benefit period will be shortened, their
cheques chopped, their qualifying period extended, and so on
and so forth. It is unfair to ask as much from the unemployed as
the Minister of Finance does. And this has prompted Pierre
Fortin and his team at the Université du Québec à Montréal to
say that, for the sake of equity, the government is actually
forcing the unemployed to make an absolutely disproportionate
contribution to fiscal consolidation.
This measure is forcing the unemployed in Quebec and
Canada to contribute to the government's efforts to put public
finances in order and to reduce the deficit. How do you want me
to sell that in the region of Thetford when, just a short while ago,
an influential minister, namely the hon. member for
Hull-Aylmer, was reported to have used a government jet, at a
cost of $135,000 or $140,000, to give a short speech on the
so-called benefits of sound management? Sorry, but the
unemployed in my riding do not buy that.
Furthermore, the UI reform is attacking indiscriminately
cheats, profiteers and unemployed men and women acting in
good faith. On these words, I will end my short speech on the
budget tabled by the Minister of Finance. Of course it is
understood that the Bloc Quebecois will not support it.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): It is my duty, pursuant
to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to
be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the
hon. member for Jonquière-Native Communities; the hon.
member for Verchères-Team Canada; the hon. member for
Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe-Agriculture; the hon.
member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Gun control.
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata):
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to
participate this afternoon in the debate on Bill C-17, An Act to
amend certain statutes to implement certain provisions of the
budget tabled in Parliament on February 22, 1994. If we read the
explanatory notes, we see that this bill deals with several issues
and I would like to mention those that interest me the most,
namely the wage freeze, the CBC, of course, and unemployment
insurance. I will touch on these issues in my short speech.
This morning while listening to the debates because I was on
today, I heard a member opposite give this bill 98 out of one
hundred. I have the impression that we did not read the same
bill. Although some sections are interesting-we cannot say,
even if we are in opposition, that everything is bad-I would
find it very hard to give such a high mark to this bill. True, when
I was a teacher I had a reputation for giving low marks, but I still
learned to read documents and assess their contents.
Wages are frozen for another two years. This time, they add
insult to injury by suspending pay increment increases, which is
worse as it will reduce even more the purchasing power of all
public servants and all those targeted by this bill. I did not take
any economics classes but, in my opinion, the more people's
purchasing power is reduced, the slower the economy recovers.
That is my impression, in any case.
So I do not see how this measure will put people back to work.
The government is always talking about job creation. I would
very much like to have, outside the Parliament buildings, a
thermometer that would allow us to see every morning the
number of jobs created by this government. We are used to red
mercury, but we would probably see the thermometer dip to the
freezing point quite often, without rising again because lost jobs
would also be recorded. It would be hard to get the mercury to
rise. The exercise could be extremely interesting, given how the
government side crows over that project saying it will create
40,000 jobs. They want people to believe them, but they can
never tell us how many jobs were really created the day before.
In my region, I hear people say: ``Yes, three jobs were created,
but yesterday eight jobs were lost. We are still five jobs short,
even if we have three new jobs today.'' I think they should stop
trying to convince people that so many jobs have been created. If
there were that many new jobs, we would not have such high
unemployment levels. This is self-evident, I would say.
With the wage and pay increment freeze, how will the pay
equity problem which affects mainly women be resolved?
Exceptional measures were adopted to provide for the Civilian
Reduction Program. Here again, this could have been handled
differently. We could have said: ``O.K. We will freeze the pay
increments and wages, but at the same time we will resolve the
pay equity problem.'' That would have been a positive measure
to take in order to revitalize the economy, since a good segment
of the population would have regained some of its purchasing
power, which it does not have because of a kind of
discrimination that is allowed to go on in the federal system. By
the way, the Quebec government was able to put an end to this
kind of discrimination, thanks to the settlement it reached with
the central labour bodies. In my mind, that would have been a
very positive measure to take, but they blew it!
The first time I spoke on the budget, I mentioned that a lot of
the workers in my riding have seasonal jobs. Fortunately for all
of us and also for the Japanese it would seem, crab fishing has
resumed. Some people will now leave the unemployment lines
and get back to work. This will make the unemployment rate go
up and down. And it is from these monthly figures, which do not
reflect the true situation, at least from my point of view, that we
are going to decide how many weeks of benefits people will be
entitled to or what percentage they will receive, and so on.
So, we are using a measure which is arbitrary and sometimes
far-fetched, because if you take the overall number of people fit
for work who are between the age of 18 and 55 and compare this
real number to the famous rate we hear about all the time, you
would be quite surprised.
Now, daycare was mentioned in the red book. But, it was
announced that no money would bet set aside in this year's
budget for daycare. So, we were not to expect a miracle, because
this party only does was it promised to do. Moreover, daycare
subsidies were linked to the GDP. However, we do expect
families to take care of their children, whether the GDP is rising
or over 3 per cent. To my way of thinking, it is important that
children be taken care of, whether the gross domestic product
stands at 3 per cent, 2 per cent, or 1 per cent. It seems to me that,
especially in this International Year of the Family, this shows a
severe lack of vision and long-term planning on the part of the
So, when it comes to job creation, if we look at Heritage
Canada, which is, as you know, my favourite department, we
find that the budget of the National Film Board was reduced by
$600,000. Why? To prevent independent directors from making
movies. They create jobs but we cut there too. We heard this
afternoon and yesterday about francophones outside Quebec.
When we cut what is set aside for francophones outside Quebec
by 5 per cent, we cut jobs. They cannot afford to keep their
employees. Thanks to this measure, francophone organizations
outside Quebec will undoubtedly disappear and very soon only
anglophone members will represent Canada in this House. There
will not be francophone members from Canada any more.
So, in my mind, this is also a serious problem. This
department is always cutting jobs. In the case of the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation, this great agency which receives
$1.2 or $1.3 billion yearly from the government, it has been
known for a long time that CBC has a major problem, that is a
structural loss of revenue.
In 1990, it was decided to cut the fat and to get rid of the
regions so that CBC would have the dough it needed to solve its
problems. Madam Speaker, the figures are astounding. This
year, that is in 1993-94, CBC will have a $41 million deficit that
will be covered by the staff pension fund surplus. Next year, the
estimated $31 million deficit will be met the same way.
I can go on and on. In 1998-99, the deficit is going to reach
$178 million. To top it all, CBC was just given authority to
borrow $25 million in order to unfairly compete against private
corporations and buy the broadcasting rights for the Atlanta
Games at a cost of $28 million. Obviously, there is something
wrong with that. This is a major problem. Assistance to athletes
is cut, but we are going to support the Atlanta Games by paying
two and a half times more for the broadcasting rights than CTV
or Tele-Metropole were ready to pay.
Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia-Matane): Madam Speaker,
many of us are newcomers in this House and we are here to try to
improve the lot of our constituents. Unfortunately,
unemployment plagues our country, especially in rural ridings.
In 1987, a Senate committee published a report containing
frightening figures. That was one of the rare occasions in which
the Senate was useful. Do you know what they said? They said
that keeping someone on unemployment was more expensive for
the government than creating a job for him or her. According to
this report, in 1985, an unemployed person earned an average of
$14,040 a year before losing his job.
Once on unemployment, the same person received more than
$14,645 in various benefits from the three levels of government.
That means that when a potential unemployed person works, he
or she costs $14,040 in salary and produces $14,040 in goods
So, society gets something back for the salary paid to that
person. When, on the contrary, we pay that person to produce
nothing, there is no benefit for the community. Where is this
government's logic? Does it really care about the dignity of men
The recent budget of the Minister of Finance shows that he
does not care at all about the reality I just described.
Since 1968, the cost of unemployment has equaled the
national debt. None of the measures put forward by previous
governments, neither new technologies nor export expansion
nor reducting the size of government, could make a dent in the
There are solutions. It is only by putting the unemployed back
to work that we will succeed in reducing the deficit. And it is
only by creating jobs that we will stimulate growth without
causing inflation to rise.
The solutions are within our grasp, but we must have the will
to implement them. This inaction has terrible consequences for
Allowing people to stay idle is to strip them of their dignity, to
tie their hands and feet and leave them in the dark, to make them
suffer. Allowing people to stay idle is also to drive them to
rebellion, to violence and to suicide.
In my riding, during the election campaign, some people
committed suicide because they had been jobless for five years.
Two brothers went around and knocked on every door. They
were told everywhere that there were no openings. I thought that
this would stop with the new government. But in my riding,
there are other problems. It is a rural area, an area where
unemployment is even higher than elsewhere, and you have no
idea of the kinds of problems that unemployment can create in
Finally, forcing people to become unemployed is to force
them and their whole family to live in shame. It is not only the
unemployed themselves, but their whole family, their whole
Would it not be more profitable for all communities to give
work to everybody at a minimum wage? I ask the question. Of
course, there are some problems with a minimum wage, but it is
a solution that we should consider.
The Economic Council of Canada simulated the
implementation of such a program under which, for the
production of essential goods and the provision of essential
services, unemployed people would get on average as much as
they were making when they had a job. The Council even found
that not only was this program workable, it would not increase
inflation, nor the deficit, nor the tax rate.
Would it not be worth considering? Through such profitable
programs, and without hurting organized labour-as everybody
has the right to work-and without additional cost to the
government, we could use these people to launch a national
child care program and a home care service program for the
elderly. How many senior citizens are in need of that service?
We have nobody to send to help them.
Moreover, we could set up a genuine manpower development
program. We could even launch a national program for the
revitalization of poor neighbourhoods in our large cities. We
could set up a program to help farmers deal with the new
realities of the marketplace. As you know, farmers work very
hard. They need labourers, but they do not have any.
In my district as elsewhere in the rural world, many people
can create jobs. I will conclude with the words of our great poet,
Félix Leclerc: ``The best way to kill people is to pay them to do
nothing''. Paying people to do nothing. I think the government
opposite is trying to organize something only temporarily
because people are being asked to tighten their belts again. They
will need twelve weeks of work to be entitled to UI benefits.
When they do not receive UI benefits, they live on welfare, and
that is how these people are being killed, in the end.
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa): Madam Speaker, Bill C-17,
that ill-advised legislation of the Liberal government on
unemployment insurance will affect three and a half million
Canadians. Workers in Canada and Quebec who lost their jobs
may not know it yet, but they also lost up to four months of
Workers are not and should not be considered as responsible
for the lack of jobs and the long unemployment spells before
they can find a new job.
By reducing benefits this government will only inflict greater
suffering and poverty on the jobless, their families and their
communities. Those reductions put the blame and the burden of
unemployment on them, and that is unfair and morally
unacceptable. Many jobless in my riding in the North End of
Montreal, some of whom voted for the Liberals in the last
election, are really angry about those kinds of antisocial and
But there is worse. The systematic attack by the Liberal
government against the most vulnerable in our society, against
the jobless is a disgrace.
Indeed, everybody remembers what the Prime Minister said
when he was Leader of the Opposition. Posing as the champion
of social rights, he decried the policies of the Conservatives
who, with Bill C-105, attacked the unemployed instead of
unemployment. Those are the very words of the Prime Minister.
It is mind-boggling.
Furthermore, in the red book, which served as bible and
election platform for the Liberal Party in the last campaign, we
can read word for word on page 74: ``The Tories have
systematically weakened the social support network that took
generations to build. Not only have they taken away billions of
dollarsfrom. . . people who have lost their jobs, but they have set us on a
path to becoming a polarized society, divided into rich and
Seeing how fast the federal government did exactly the
opposite of what it promised and went even farther than the
Conservatives in its attack on the most disadvantaged, we can
rightly say that this government cynically misled the people for
the sole purpose of getting elected.
In fact, not only has the government maintained the same
immoral and punitive policy that it denounced when the
previous government presented Bill C-105, but it has done
Since the UI program was created 54 years ago, no change of
this magnitude has ever been made. No government has ever
taken such odious, retrograde and unjust measures against the
very people this government publicly promised to help.
This project hits hardest regions where jobs are the most
difficult to find. Indeed, the deepest cuts will be made in areas
where the regional unemployment rate is the highest. So, in a
city with a 6 per cent unemployment rate, a worker who is laid
off after nine months will lose five weeks of benefits. But in
Montreal, where the unemployment rate exceeds 13 per cent,
and also in the Maritimes, the reduction for the same
employment period will be twice as big, that is a ten-week
The government seems to think that the system to which
workers are contributing is being systematically abused by
those people who most frequently rely on unemployment
insurance. Hence, it considers some citizens as being less
deserving than others, simply because they live in less fortunate
areas of the country or work in seasonal industries. It is as if we
were to refuse to give health insurance benefits to chronically ill
people because they rely on the system more often than others.
For ten years I was a part-time arbitrator at the
unemployment insurance office in Montreal. In that capacity, I
witnessed numerous disturbing tragedies suffered by people
who were seeing their benefits being cut off for different
reasons. These people who were already living under the
poverty level were then forced to give up their home because,
under these conditions, they were no longer able to pay their
These human tragedies have increased and have become even
more dramatic since April 1993, when Bill C-113 passed by the
Conservative government was implemented.
The government should take into consideration the findings
of a recent Gallup poll which sets at 70 per cent the number of
people in Quebec who oppose this unemployment insurance
reform which will certainly reduce the number of UI
beneficiaries, but will increase by the same number the total of
Reducing unemployment insurance payments, as the
government is doing, will not give jobs to the men and women
thrown out of the work force, even though the Minister of
Finance is claiming that the 2.28 per cent reduction in UI
premiums for employers will create 40,000 jobs. If this screwy
logic were true, all we would have to do would be to reduce the
premiums by another 85 per cent to find jobs for all the
unemployed in Canada.
In February 1993 already, 50,000 people braved an Abitibian
cold of minus 25 to demonstrate against a similar bill tabled by
former minister André Valcourt.
Yesterday, the caucus of the Bloc Quebecois received the
major leaders of the FTQ-the Quebec Labour Federation-for
which I worked for 19 years. They voiced their strong
opposition to the cuts in social programs, and in particular to
On May 1st of this year, the major Quebec unions will be
holding a gigantic demonstration against the neo-conservative
policies of the Liberal governments of Canada and Quebec. Rest
assured, Madam Speaker, that I will be there.
The Canadian union movement-I conclude, Madam
Speaker-is unanimous in its opposition to Bill C-17, and this
includes the CLC which has 2.2 million members. For all these
reasons, I will vote against the bill.
Mr. Gaston Péloquin (Brome-Missisquoi): Bill C-17
proposes many amendments to the Unemployment Insurance
Act. One of the first occurs in clause 21 and aims at defining the
word ``disentitled'', ``inadmissible'' in the other language. It
explains in a very specific and pragmatic way the reasons or
conditions why someone could be disentitled to unemployment
insurance benefits according to the government. The Minister of
Human Resources Development and his advisors have gone to a
lot of trouble to define a very simple word.
If the minister had simply looked in the dictionary to find the
meaning of the word ``inadmissible'', he would have recognized
the very essence of his bill.
Allow me to quote Webster's New World Dictionary, in the
hope that this will give the minister the inspiration he needs so
badly before his bill is passed. I ask the hon. minister to listen
carefully to the universal definition of ``inadmissible''. In the
third edition of the Webster's, they say: ``not admissible, not to
be allowed, accepted, granted or conceded''.
Therefore, that term defines Bill C-17. In drafting the
legislation, did the minister wonder about what is really
``inadmissible'', according to the unemployed of this country?
These people are deprived of one of their most fundamental
rights, the right to earn an honest living, the right to contribute
proudly to the economic development of their community.
What is ``inadmissible'' for these people, more than anything
else, is their inability to meet the conditions set forth in
paragraph B of section 28.3 of the Unemployment Insurance
Act. No, what is ``inadmissible'', what they cannot accept, is
that the government, on top of standing idly by as far as job
creation is concerned, is once again targeting the disadvantaged
as the solution to its debt and deficit problems.
During the election campaign, the Liberals kept promising
that they would not touch social programs. The last federal
budget contained some surprises in this regard. Of course, old
age pensions were left alone, but some tax credits were cleverly
The same thing happened to federal transfers for social
assistance: transfers were not reduced, but access to the UI
program was, which in turn increases the social assistance bill
for the provinces. In Quebec, these measures will not only result
in a loss of revenues for the unemployed, but also in a series of
additional expenses that all Quebeckers will end up paying for
sooner or later.
A recent study by the economics department of the Université
du Québec à Montréal revealed that the changes the minister
intends to make to the Unemployment Insurance Act and the
resulting transfer of expenses will cost the Quebec treasury
more than $280 million, or 28 per 100 of the $1 billion bill which
was dumped on the provinces.
Has the government not yet understood that it will only solve
its financial problems by creating permanent jobs? Instead of
constantly bearing down on senior citizens and unemployed
Canadians, the government should focus its energy on creating
jobs that would allow it to increase its revenues in a healthy
The closure of the Hyundai plant in my riding of
Brome-Missisquoi is a good example of the confusion that
exists within the government with regard to maintaining stable
and high-paying jobs, like those that the Bromont plant offered
until recently. We are talking here about 850 jobs that were lost.
The government does not know which way to turn and adds to
the confusion since Hyundai has announced that it does not
intend to reopen the Bromont plant.
The Minister of International Trade, like a heroic avenger,
rushed to Korea to obtain all the details concerning this matter.
Upon his return, he made a reassuring announcement, saying
that everything was settled and that the Bromont plant would
reopen in the not too distant future.
The next day, Hyundai announced that it did not intend to
resume its activities in Quebec until 1997-98. Who should we
believe? While the government is treading water on this matter,
the employees of the plant and their families and the entire
population of the Eastern Townships are waiting for real
answers about their economic future.
All they have learned until now is that if they manage to find a
temporary or seasonal job, it will be more and more difficult for
them to get unemployment insurance if Bill C-17 is passed.
In closing, I would like to say to the Minister of Human
Resources Development that he should consult the dictionary
before asking the House to pass his bill. Maybe he would see that
the word ``inadmissible'' applies to the way his bill is drafted
and maybe he would be more inclined to listen to the
recommendations put forward by the hon. member for Mercier
on behalf of the Official Opposition.
These amendments to Bill C-17 would perhaps help chase the
word ``inadmissible'' from the mind of every unemployed man
and woman across Canada.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval): Madam Speaker, it is an
honour to be able to speak in this House and it is a privilege that
most of us appreciate. However, it is sad that we sometimes have
to speak on a measure that would impose cuts on the most needy
in our society.
A few months ago, we would never have thought that we
would see the implementation of a budget whose main thrust is
to hurt and injure the unemployed. Our hopes were high and we
thought that the creative mind of the Minister of Finance would
lead him to choose the best mix of solutions to control the deficit
and put the government's finances back in order.
Our present finance minister is no better than the Liberal
Minister of Finance we had when our Prime Minister was
himself Minister of Finance and beat all the records for
increased deficits during his term.
One would have thought that a few years of reflection in the
opposition, a few new faces, some ideas mentioned in the
so-called red book would have given the Liberals a broader and
more humane vision of the problems our society is confronted
with. But no, the recipes are the same old ones. We blamed the
Conservative government for its erroneous forecasts, we said
that its finance minister was disconnected from reality, that he
did not understand a thing about the workings of the economy,
that his measures were counterproductive and that they were
wreaking havoc instead of helping put our house back in order.
We went from bad to worse. The last budget was produced by
an amateur, who made forecasting errors estimated at several
billion dollars. He is an amateur who, oblivious to the influence
of a finance minister's statements on financial markets, toyed
with the value of our dollar and the nerves of the financial
leaders. He is an amateur whose only solution to reducing the
deficit was to attack the most needy members of our society.
Some of my colleagues who took part in this debate have
given some really pathetic examples. With the human misery we
see nowadays, when 20, 22 per cent or more of the population
are jobless in some areas, our Minister of Finance, a man of
original mind who was promising us the moon, has found a
magic solution. He will cut UI benefits and shift the unemployed
on to the welfare rolls.
When I asked a question of the Minister of Finance and of the
Prime Minister, I was flabbergasted to hear them both candidly
tell us: Well, we will cut unemployment insurance and take that
money to create jobs, and the unemployed worker, instead of
receiving UI benefits, will be going to work. That sort of
reasoning does not stand up. If they do believe in their own job
creation strategy, we have an alternative formula for them. Why
did they not create jobs first and cut unemployment insurance
afterwards? That is what the Minister of Finance should have
done but did not do, and that is why we cannot accept these
measures attacking the poorest members of our society.
In the exclusive club of the finance minister's friends, it is
obvious that the easiest way to get back on the road to prosperity
is to slash transfer payments to individuals in the budget. Keep
shifting your problems onto the shoulders of the provinces.
What a nice federation, really, what a nice confederation this is.
Talk about responsible government. Keep unloading your
problems onto the provinces, as if provincial deficits did not
matter. Some people find this situation funny. But, Madam
Speaker, is it not the height of irresponsibility to be laughing and
making fun when the House is about to vote a bill that will cut
benefits for the poorest in our society. You really have to be
irresponsible to keep laughing when the government is about to
dump the unemployed onto welfare rolls.
The minister quoted employment statistics. Do you know why
unemployment is dropping? Because people are so discouraged
they do not even want to say they are looking for a job. There is
no hope in this country for the young, for seasonal workers, for
people who can usually earn a living by working five or six
months a year. There is no hope left for those people. They no
longer say that they are looking for a job. The worst part is that
the young are the most severely affected by this unfortunate
reform by the Minister of Finance and the Liberal government.
Those young people have no hope.
Somebody said that the best way to kill a man is to keep him
from working. The Minister of Finance is sacrificing future
generations because of his lack of originality, his inability to
come up with new and dynamic solutions, his inability to attract
social activists, entrepreneurs, unions, business people,
merchants, people with ideas to develop. The Minister of
Finance failed to create consultation forums from which the
original ideas he was unable to have could have emerged. It was
much too difficult, Madam Speaker.
The Minister of Finance traveled across Canada. He met all
his friends, economists, experts, people from different
backgrounds, but he was unable to create a dynamic of social
consultation which would have helped us find new and original
solutions. He wants examples? A simple one springs to mind: it
is Corvée habitation, a Quebec housing program which lasted a
few years. It was a marvellous program which associated
unions, entrepreneurs, business people and citizens around one
same cause, the pursuit of a noble aim, to put people to work and
to stimulate the economy. It was the finest example of a group
assuming its responsibilities for the unemployed and people
who are suffering. But because he acted irresponsibly, the
Minister of Finance did not get to know these original solutions.
If he really believes what he says, why did he not create jobs first
and reduce UI benefits after? No, Madam Speaker.
Time is a detail for a technocrat like the Minister of Finance.
The period of time during which an unemployed 25 year-old
man with two children exhausts his UI benefits and has to go on
welfare before he finds another job three or four years later is a
technical detail for a technocrat like the Minister of Finance. It
is an inhuman approach.
We cannot agree with such a piece of legislation. It is immoral
to propose such measures in the House. How do you expect us to
be able to show our faces in our ridings? How do you expect our
fellow citizens to believe in the work that is being done here,
when these people opposite promised jobs, jobs and jobs
throughout the election campaign? The first steps that were
taken were not creating jobs, but creating more poor people.
This government will have created the greatest number of poor
people; it will win the championship not for creating jobs, but
for creating poverty. That is what this government will have
done. That is what this minister of Finance will have done, a
minister without ideas, without imagination, incapable of
consulting people, incapable of taking his role seriously,
incapable of estimating his deficit and totally incapable of
evaluating the disastrous effects of unemployment insurance
cuts on the poor people of Canada.
Madam Speaker, let me say to you that this budget-you are
telling me that I have one minute left-will have been a terrible
budget in terms of cuts. Working people are facing cuts, people
who earn money, even very little, such as old people, are being
targeted. The provinces are being targeted because the deficit is
being shifted onto their shoulders. Everyone in Canada, all those
who deal with the Canadian economy have been wrongly
targeted. Here is a man without any imagination, a reform that
hurts and an insensitivity that will cost you dearly one day.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie): Madam
Speaker, this budget is an irresponsible budget. It is a budget
which does not reflect the promises contained in the red book.
Quebeckers knew that very well. They did not buy the promises
of the Liberals and did not elect many of them: no more than 19,
and mainly in Montreal's West Island. Quebeckers were aware
that it was all wind. This is the reason why Quebeckers will soon
break with this system. And I am sure the Liberals know that as
I see ministers confirming what I am saying. The members on
the other side know all about it, really. We can see them even if
they try to hide from the camera, but when we talk about that,
they are not comfortable. They know that when we go over the
commitments of the red book one by one, it is clear that they do
not appear in the Budget.
I am thinking of social housing for instance. I have discussed
that issue with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the hon. member
for Papineau-Saint-Michel who said again and again during
the election campaign: ``It's terrible what the Conservatives
have done. They have cut social housing but we, the Liberals,
will fix that.'' If you compare the Liberal budget to the
Conservative budget, they are the same, they contain the same
measures. There is nothing for social housing. So much so that
social housing interest groups in Montreal and the mayor of
Montreal denounced this week the federal government's lack of
action in the social housing sector.
They asked for federal intervention because for years the
federal government was active in that sector, investing in it,
creating expectations and then it pulls out, as it did in other
sectors, leaving all the responsibility to the provincial
governments. Now those governments are passing that
responsibility to municipal authorities, who pass it on to
taxpayers who can no longer afford to pay their taxes.
I know that taxes do not create any hardship for the hon.
member for Kingston and the Islands because his way of living
in Kingston has nothing to do with the conditions in which the
unemployed workers live in Quebec. There may be, of course, a
military college where francophones will not feel at home. A
city where high schools are not even equipped with toilets for
the students. I understand why the member for Kingston and the
Islands does not spend much time in the French high school in
Kingston. He has natural needs to be satisfied now and then.
As regards POWA, the Program for Older Worker
Adjustment, we have seen the whip of the Official Opposition
who is now whip of the government, the member for
Saint-Léonard, the member for Papineau-Saint-Michel, the
member for LaSalle-Émard present a petition of 10,000
signatures denouncing the fact that older workers outside
Montreal, Toronto and a few other large centres had no access to
programs. They have no access to those programs because a
given number of workers must be laid off at the same time.
Everybody was against that! There were demonstrations in
Montreal in February, there were promises: when we take office,
we will change things. Only to discover that nothing has been
done as far as the Program for Older Worker Adjustment, called
POWA. Not only that, an MP, parliamentary secretary to
Minister of Human Resources Development, has come to justify
the position of the government, using word for word the same
arguments used by a conservative MP and minister last year. A
Industrial conversion! The last straw! The helicopter program
is cancelled. Alright. Quebec was in favour. And this is in
Quebec, I remind you. On the other hand, the tank contract in
Toronto was left untouched. This is a different matter. The tank
contract has been respected. I suggest to you, Madam Speaker,
that if necessary rescue operations by helicopter are possible,
but rescue operations by tank are rare.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Duceppe: No cuts were made, but we were told that
money was going to be injected in a fund for industrial
conversion. However, there is nothing in this program. We are
told that there is still the program created a few years ago, a
program that the Minister of Finance disapproved, saying that it
was totally inadequate. What the Minister of Finance is telling
us this year is exactly what the Conservatives were telling us.
As far as women are concerned, the Deputy Prime Minister
came to Montreal for a political show, saying that specific
measures were going to be taken in favour of women. But what
is there in this budget? Social housing is a major concern for
women who are single parents. Nothing. When you say that from
now on, you will take into account whether or not there is a
supplementary revenue in a couple to make it clear as to the
unemployment insurance benefits a person will be entitled to
receive, that concerns mostly women. Then, you go witch
hunting. A bit like the Bourrassa hit squad, the
boubou-macoutes, in Quebec, there will be the Martin hit
squad-the Rin-Tin-Tin brigade?-which is going to check if a
person lives alone and is entitled to 57 or 55 per cent.
In fact, those measures are specifically designed for women.
Those measures are reactionary and aggressive. You also
promised health care centres for women and day care centres.
Then again, we are told that we will have to wait. In three to four
years, you will come back promising day care centres. A bit like
Duplessis, who said that anyone who promised to build the same
bridge at each election would be certain to hold power for ten
years or so. Day care centres were promised by the Trudeau
Liberals, the Turner Liberals and the Chrétien Liberals.
However, as long as the Liberals are in power, our grandchildren
and our great-grandchildren will never enjoy day care centres.
Just think of the cuts in the social programs. During three
Conservative budgets, all we heard about was cutbacks.
Meanwhile, the Liberals, who have sensitive souls, kept on
saying that it was terrible and, while referring to the fine words
the Prime Minister had on Canada, said that we had to restore the
help for assistance to social and minority groups. However, the
Prime Minister reduces help for all French-speaking groups. He
does not do what he says he is going to do. That is exactly how he
I believe that my time has expired. I will come back to that
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): It being 5.58 p.m., the
House will now proceed to the consideration of Private
Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Quebec)
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should reach agreements
with the government of Quebec to reactivate the co-operative housing program,
introduce a renovation assistance program for rental housing and reintroduce a
social housing program, while leaving complete authority for all these programs
in the hands of the government of Quebec.
She said: Madam Speaker, the motion I have the honour to
present today in the House is composed of two very distinct
parts, the reinstatement of several social housing programs and
the transfer of authority for such programs to Quebec. I will first
comment on the two parts separately before explaining how they
are linked together.
Let us begin with the reactivation of social housing programs.
Canada is one of the industrialized countries investing the least
in social housing. In fact, in 1990, the national social research
institute noted that social housing accounted for only 4 per cent
of all housing in Canada, whereas it varied between 15 and 40
per cent in most Western European economies. One can wonder
why there is such a difference in housing policies between
governments facing the same economic ups and downs.
This government replaced an administration renowned for its
weak commitment towards social housing. Nevertheless, if our
new government goes on the way it chose in the last budget, its
record after one mandate will be even worse than the previous
A review of the social housing situation over the last few
years is imperative. In accordance with a 1986
federal-provincial agreement, funding for social housing built
in Quebec was shared by Quebec and Ottawa. In the case of
low-cost housing, federal funding was at 59 per cent. For
housing cooperatives and non-profit housing for low-income
persons, it reached 75 per cent. Pierre Graveline, journalist at Le
Devoir, mentioned in an article published on April 5, 1994 that
one out of six households renting their dwelling must spend
more than half its income in rent and one out of three spends
more than 30 per cent. Since this is too much for some of them,
the number of claims presented by owners who want to cancel
the leases and recover their rent has increased by 250 per cent
between 1990 and 1993. In all, 341,000 households have a core
housing need in Quebec and would be admissible to social
housing, and I am not counting the 20,000 totally homeless
In fact, between 1989 and 1994, federal expenditures for the
building and renovation of housing units have gone from $112
million to zero. As for federal budgets for building new
cooperative housing, they went from $7.2 million in 1988 to
nothing in 1992.
Therefore, people who need housing in Canada have lost a
total of $119.2 million. Even if, during the last campaign, the
Liberals committed themselves to unfreeze the CMHC's budget
in order to make it possible to build 5,000 new cooperative
housing units annually in Canada, they have made no provision
for cooperative housing and the building of housing units. On
February 16, 1994, when answering a member of the Bloc
Quebecois who was asking if the rents of the recipients would in
fact increase by 5 per cent of their income, the Minister of
Public Works declared, in this House: ``One cannot put a hand
on one's heart and plead for new social housing for Canadians
across this country and only look at one side of the ledger, which
is to cut expenditures and duplication, without looking at the
other aspect in terms of revenue increases''.
How can this government make such statements? How can
this government calmly contemplate the idea of charging the
population it wants to help for the cost of the assistance it
brings? This is what will happen in fact. The government will
say to the have-nots of our society: We will help you find
housing because you are poor, but you will have to pay an
additional 5 per cent of your income for rent to cover the costs of
How can any government look at a social housing program as
if it were a business deal meant to bring in profit?
Does the word ``social'' mean anything to this government?
Madam Speaker, the poor should not have to bear the cost of
social housing. Governments should cut unnecessary spending
and reinvest these amounts in programs for the neediest
members of our society.
Different problems require different solutions. People on low
incomes who are home-owners need financial help to make
repairs. The RRAP program which has just been reinstated can
provide a partial response to this kind of situation.
Unfortunately, the program has its limitations: income criteria
are such that very few people living in urban areas can take
advantage of the program.
On the other hand, certain needs are no longer being met.
Take, for instance, people who would like to be part of a housing
co-operative. This type of housing meets a specific need. Often
it may be the only way for low and middle-income families to
In its report released in May 1991, the Conseil de la famille
said that ``a housing co-operative is an excellent way to help
families become acquainted with the responsibilities and
advantages of home-ownership''.
It is also a fact that housing co-operatives generate
employment, whether we are talking about construction or
renovation. Furthermore, every new co-operative housing unit
that is built provides governments with significant tax revenues,
including personal and corporate income tax, contributions to
the Canada Pension Plan, sales tax and development tax.
Finally, providing access to home ownership makes it possible
to free accommodation for other families that are in need.
There are also people on low incomes who want access to
low-cost rental housing. As we all know, there is no budget for
building new units. According to the FRAPRU, we would need
at least 195,000 new social housing units in Canada. In
Saint-Sauveur alone, in my riding, an estimated 3,000 new units
would be required. However, this government has decided not to
When he appeared before the Standing Committee on Human
Resources Development, Mr. Brown, president of the canadian
housing coalition, questioned payments made under the Canada
Assistance Plan for housing. Like other coalition members, he
feels that this money could be better spent. They decry the fact
that a good part of this money goes towards paying the rent and
ends up in the landlord's pocket. According to Mr. Brown, it is
not an investment. Instead of being invested in co-op or
non-profit housing programs, this money is just poured down
the drain. We agree with Mr. Brown.
Current rehabilitation assistance programs for rental housing
are inadequate. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that
instead of dealing with things that are important for tenants,
such as insulation and soundproofing, renovations are done for
purely cosmetic reasons. Between 1990 and 1992, in Quebec
alone, $44.84 million went towards painting against $7.31
million for insulation and soundproofing. One will understand
that poor insulation affects only tenants since they are the ones
who have to pay for their own power and heating bills. It was
also noted that there was no systematic control of rent increases
A study undertaken by the City of Montreal in 1989 showed
that renovations had disastrous consequences for tenants. It was
found that the average rent increase was $127 a month.
Similarly, a CMHC survey concluded that subsidies benefited
landlords, not their tenants.
Indeed, slightly more than half of these tenants stayed in their
apartments after the renovations and they experienced an
average rent increase of 11 per cent. So, we can draw the
conclusion that, in the end, tenants pay for part of the landlord's
investments and that rents still keep on increasing.
To remedy such a situation, we believe that the government
should implement measures to ensure that subsidies for
renovations benefit tenants.
The government could also be in favour of grants being
directly paid to tenants, which would allow them to get some
decent housing or even buy a house. This would help people who
spend more than 25 per cent of their income on rent. As we have
seen, the needs are great and the programs are inadequate.
Let us now talk of Quebec's control. The Canadian
government stresses the fact that it needs the cooperation of the
provinces. In Quebec's case in particular, we believe that this
cooperation is unnecessary, since the whole housing assistance
budget should be transferred to Quebec, and Quebec should have
total control over it.
The federal government entered the social housing field by
virtue of its spending power, whereas social housing is first and
foremost a provincial jurisdiction. Mr. Justice Duff, on behalf of
the Supreme Court of Canada, stated in 1938, in the referral on
the Ontario Adoption Act: ``Provinces have the responsibility to
care for people in need''. Nobody will deny the fact that social
housing is for people in need.
We demand that the federal government give back to Quebec
total control over social housing programs. We demand also that
it transfer to Quebec the amounts that are due to it according to
the needs of the Quebec people.
As it was said over and over again, 25 per cent of all renting
households in Canada that spend more than 30 per cent of their
income on rent are in Quebec, and 33 per cent of those which
must set aside more than 50 per cent of their income just for rent
are also in Quebec. It shows how important social housing is for
Quebec. It is important that the Quebec government be able to
decide, according to its needs, its organizational structures and
its social priorities, where it wants to invest.
For investments to be more efficient, it is important that the
decision-making process be exclusively in the hands of
provincial and local authorities. It is important that the
allocation criteria be based upon the situation in Quebec, and
not the situation in other parts of Canada. Also important is the
harmonization of the social housing programs with other social
programs made for and by Quebec, for and by its citizens.
Quebeckers do not want the federal government to interfere in
areas of jurisdiction they consider their very own.
Thus, to get better social housing, we need massive
investments, under various forms, to meet the needs of all
Canadians and Quebeckers. However, Quebec wants these
investments to be managed by its own government, according to
its needs, its standards and priorities. Social housing is only one
of social programs, which fall under provincial jurisdiction.
Quebec must be put in charge as soon as possible.
Mr. Patrick Gagnon (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor
General of Canada): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in
the House today to address the motion.
Frankly I am dismayed by the apparent substance of the hon.
member's motion. From my reading of it, she is in favour of
receiving funding for housing but with no strings attached.
Not only does this go against all logic and common sense, it
goes against the spirit and the tradition of partnership of
governments working together in the Canadian federation.
I am sure members in this House will agree that the federal
government must ensure equal access to federal programs from
coast to coast. Moreover, publics funds must be managed in such
a way as to benefit all Canadians.
I would like to stress the fact that the Canadian government
has always worked in partnership with Quebec and the other
provincial governments. We deal with the various aspects of this
very complex housing issue by sharing responsibilities. Why?
Because Canadians want the same national standards to prevail
throughout Canada so that access to affordable housing does not
vary from one jurisdiction to another.
All governments recognize the need to find creative solutions
to facilitate the provision of affordable and accessible housing
because housing involves various levels of government, all of
which must be working in partnership to achieve progress. The
federal government believes in the need to adopt a
comprehensive and co-ordinated approach in this sphere.
This being said, the governments of Canada and Quebec have
a long tradition of working together in the area of housing. We
intend to maintain that strong co-operation for the good of all
Canadians. This co-operation has a name, we call it
compassion. This means that Canadians care for their fellow
Canadians, and the government will not abandon that
Abandon is, in my opinion, something to keep in mind. I
would like to remind the hon. member that it is the leader of her
party, when he was a member of the previous Cabinet, who
oversaw the abolition of all social housing programs, including
those for housing co-ops, for non-profit housing, and for
owners, whether they be occupants or leasers. The people who
used to benefit from these programs are the same the hon.
member seeks to help with this motion.
Madam Speaker, the government is presently reviewing these
programs to make them more responsive to the needs of the
people who were abandoned by the previous government and the
present leader of the Official Opposition.
In contrast to the actions of the previous government, I would
like to make known to the House some of the initiatives of the
Liberal government. The major effort on the part of the
federal-provincial-territorial partnership in the delivery of
social housing funds has been to meet core housing needs. The
objective is to assist families or individuals most in need, those
who would have to spend more than 30 per cent of their income
for suitable, adequate accommodation on the private market.
The latest figures, for December 31, 1993, show that there are
more than 140,000 family units administered in Quebec and in
1992-93, the Government of Canada spent over $318 million on
affordable housing in Quebec alone.
I am thinking, for example, of the Creesom housing initiative
which helps disadvantaged people in southwestern Montreal.
Madam Speaker, despite the cuts that governments must make,
the federal government will give this original and innovative
program $5.1 million in financial aid over a four-year period so
that it can continue to help people on low and moderate incomes
own property, individually or collectively. In co-operation with
the City of Montreal, the Government of Canada will commit to
100 co-op housing units as part of the Creesom program in
As well, the Government of Quebec recently announced a
renovation program for low income home owners, Réparaction.
In light of the reinstatement and provincial renovation program
the federal government will be working with the province of
Quebec to put in place cost sharing agreements.
In addition, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
offers financial assistance for victims of violence. The Project
Haven and Next Step programs provide emergency and
long-term shelter for victims and their children.
Under Project Haven, which expired on March 21, 1992,
commitments were made for 458 emergency shelters in 78
municipalities. The second phase of the family violence
initiative, Next Step, expires on March 31, 1995. This phase
provides for 150 independent housing units and 100 emergency
shelters, with a budget of $20.6 million. By January 31, 1994, 46
independent units and 53 emergency shelters had been
completed, at a cost of $4.5 million. That is far from nothing,
As for Quebec, the Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation is working in collaboration with the Government of
Quebec to create eight new shelters which will be completed by
the end of March 1995. Three are already in service and the
others are either under construction or at the design stage.
As I am sure members can appreciate, the demand for this
type of facility far exceeds the level of resources that we have
been able to direct for the establishment of new shelters and the
funds to March 31, 1995 have already been committed.
I think we all understand that the fiscal capacity of all
governments is extremely limited, and that includes the
Government of Quebec. However I believe we must also take
into account societal problems and priorities, and not simply
focus strictly on fiscal solutions.
To conclude, I will say that in this area it is difficult to have a
perfect balance, but the Government of Canada is trying very
hard and is having good results thanks to a close partnership
with all Canadian provinces, including Quebec.
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast): Madam Speaker, this
is the second time that the Bloc Quebecois has put forward a
motion on social housing. This is the second time that I have
risen to speak against it.
The first motion deplored the fact that the government had not
increased or re-established funding for social housing
construction programs. However this time its concern is more
In the first motion debated on February 16, the Bloc declared
that it was interested in social housing support for all Canadians.
Let me be clear, the Bloc carries a singular agenda. The only
care that the Bloc has for Canada is to take what it can and
separate post haste.
The motion before us is terribly wrong minded. It fails to
appreciate the economic reality our country faces today. The
taxpayers of Canada, you and I, Madam Speaker, my children
and my grandchildren will pay for this folly of overspending.
The combined debt is now over $600 billion and the federal
deficit is predicted to be about $40 billion. Despite this colossal
financial lodestone, the Bloc Quebecois is saying the
government has not yet spent enough. It is urging the
government to spend more, to increase the deficit and the debt,
to climb aboard this runaway debt train, giving no thought to
fixing its brakes.
It is important to clearly establish what is needed before we
blindly commit to throwing around millions of dollars.
A 1992 study stated that the majority of people on welfare
received adequate support to meet their basic housing needs. It
stated that the traditional solution has been to spend a fortune on
these programs and if things are not improving, throw more
money at them.
In its 1991 annual report the CMHC agrees that social housing
needs can be met under the existing funding plan. The report
states that more of an effort must be made to achieve greater cost
effectiveness so that more can be done with the available
I recognize that we need a major social revenue in Canada.
However, throwing money at a singular and specific problem is
not a good resolution. We need to assess what the problem is and
then address it specifically.
The clamour for federal funding support is not decreasing.
The demand is there but there are fewer dollars to spread around.
Given this, new innovative ideas are needed to ensure sound
fiscal management at all levels of government.
In 1988 all three levels of government spent under $3 billion
on housing or $114 for every person in Canada. That is up from
just $366 million or $17 per capital in 1970. Yet poverty
advocates claim the housing problem is as acute as ever.
Given that this funding spiral cannot continue unabated, it is
more important than ever that housing subsidies, like other
forms of assistance-and we said this over and over again-be
targeted to those in need. The Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation ensures that all Canadians, regardless of who they
are and where they live in Canada, have equal access to federal
resources allocated for housing. CMHC currently administers
more than 652,000 units.
Despite these enormous holdings, my hon. colleague would
have us believe that more money yet needs to be spent on social
housing programs in Quebec. In the fiscal year 1994-95,
according to the main estimates for public works and
government services, CMHC will receive $2,033,779,000 for
social housing alone. Of this approximately $366 million will be
going to the province of Quebec. That represents about 18 per
cent of CMHC's total budget for social housing.
In comparison, Alberta, my province will receive
approximately $150 million. For every dollar that Alberta
receives, Quebec gets $2.25.
Believe me, Albertans question this transfer payment ratio
even more so as they work through a seriously difficult time,
difficult days of deep, deep cuts to our provincial programs.
While we are doing comparisons, let us take a quick look at
the United States provision for social housing. When the leader
of the Queen's Loyal Opposition visited the U.S. I wonder if he
discussed social housing spending habits with the Americans.
Canada may not yet be a paradise of social housing but we are
sure not doing too badly in comparison with the U.S.
We spend approximately $114 a year per capita on social
housing while in the U.S. that expenditure is about $40 per year
per capita. We spend almost three times as much right now.
Therefore Canada is not facing serious social housing
problems. It is facing serious economic problems. This
government fails to recognize that we are facing a financial
crisis. This motion shows that the Bloc also fails to recognize it.
Canadian and international money markets are hugely
unstable because this government cannot keep its spending
under control and shows scant interest in doing so. The
Canadian dollar is in a sinkhole, interest rates are rising and
despite a decrease in the unemployment rate the dollar remains
unstable, an indicator that investors have lost faith in our
In principle the solution to the problem is simple. The
government needs to put a cap on spending. The government
needs to clearly demonstrate to the financial communities both
within and without Canada that it is serious about reducing the
I can assure the government that if it introduced measures of
this kind it would find support from my side of the House. All
members of this Parliament should be mindful that we cannot
spend ourselves out of a recession. Governments have tried this
for 15 years and it has not worked.
It is for these economic reasons that Gordon Thiessen, the
head of the Bank of Canada, stated on April 5 that to inspire
consumer and market confidence this government will have to
address its debt and deficit situation by cutting spending.
Given this, when members in this House put forward matters
for debate, especially when those matters involve the spending
of taxpayers dollars which are at a premium, they must ask
themselves: Who will pay? Where will the money come from?
Could this be done better and more cheaply?
I see no indication that the Bloc either heard what Mr.
Thiessen said last week or that it considered even asking
questions such as these. It must be too busy figuring out
strategies for separation.
We cannot condone yet more money being siphoned off by
Quebec. Constituents from my riding are getting very tired of
seeing their tax dollars inequitably flushed into the province of
Quebec, especially given the Bloc's mandate for separation.
Alberta's transfer payments have been capped and the need to
cut spending has been recognized there. But here is the Bloc yet
again with its hand out asking for extra money.
In its strategic plan for 1992 through to 1996 CMHC does not
mention a need for increased funding nor a need to increase
programs in Quebec. However, in a businesslike move in
keeping with the private sector, the CMHC is promoting cost
effective programming and management.
Finally, this demand for social housing support is an indicator
of a larger economic problem. Simply spending more money to
alleviate social housing problems is like trying to tend to a fever
of 105 by rolling someone in the snow. You may cool the body
for a short period of time but surely you have not found out why
that body is sick.
Quebec needs to look more closely at this problem. The Bloc
Quebecois is showing that as a province said to be on the verge
of separation, it clearly lacks an appreciation for its own
economic, social and political upheaval.
Mr. Robert Bertrand (Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle):
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on this
motion that raises important issues. However, since this is the
first time that I rise in the House, I would like to take this
opportunity to thank all the constituents of
Pontiac-Gatineau-Labelle for the vote of confidence they
gave me last October.
I am pleased to address the House in reply to a motion that
raises very important issues. Our country benefits from a shared
heritage based on compassion. We do care about the well-being
of our neighbours. We help them when they are in need and this
government is not about to end that tradition.
I am convinced that hon. members in this House agree with
me when I say that the federal government must be at the
forefront, along with the provinces, to ensure that poor
Canadians can live in adequate dwellings.
This government's vision of Canada includes all Canadians,
regardless of their income, their language or their social
condition. Our vision is that of a country where everyone can
enjoy a quality of life, where we are responsible for the
well-being of each other, and where people remain optimistic
about their future and that of their children.
There is no doubt in my mind that this vision includes the
provision of adequate dwellings to all Canadians. It is absolute-
ly out of the question to exclude people merely because they
need help to meet their basic need for shelter.
Our support is necessary and we have found ways to help
these people. I am referring to the Residential Rehabilitation
Assistance Program, or RRAP, and to the Emergency Repair
Program, or EARP.
In his recent budget the Minister of Finance has struck a
balance between the need for fiscal restraint and the need for
By reinstating RRAP including RRAP for the disabled and
EARP the government is making a real difference in the lives of
low income Canadians, families, seniors, people with
disabilities, aboriginals. Through this program with a total of
$100 million, $50 million over each of the next two years, we are
helping these people make basic repairs to their homes.
We know, however, that these public funds are insufficient. To
put an end to poverty, we must eliminate restrictive policies
which prevent innovative solutions.
Given the budget constraints, we will look for available
resources and tools to invest in Canadians, and to create a
climate allowing native peoples to develop their potential and
progress towards economic and social self-determination.
We are not alone in thinking that these programs are important
to the people of Canada. We have approached the provinces
about cost sharing to maximize the impact of these programs.
We have received favourable responses. With the provinces
contributing to RRAP and EARP, with the provinces working in
partnership with the federal government, we will be able to help
even more people than we expected.
The social impact of these programs is not to be overstated.
My colleagues need to be aware of an important element to these
programs. It is an element I should think they would appreciate
for not only is this government introducing programs to help
house Canadians. It is also providing a much needed economic
boost to the Canadian economy. There is economic stimulus.
Yes, RRAP and EARP will create thousands of jobs in
communities across the country.
It goes without saying that investment in renovating housing
enhances older modest income communities and encourages
other forms of neighbourhood improvement. What we are
talking about here is an investment in the physical and social
fabric of our communities, providing more affordable housing
of adequate quality with a relatively small investment per unit.
The RRAP and ERP funds are smart expenditures that will pay
off economically by stimulating the renovation sector and
creating much needed jobs and, at the human level, by helping
people repair their homes to bring them up to minimum health
and safety standards. That is the purpose of these programs.
We are talking about minimum standards and not luxury;
basic requirements for the health and safety of occupants and for
energy efficiency. What every Canadian expects. Something the
government should not have to justify.
I am proud of the fact that my government made a firm
commitment in its red book to reinstate the residential
rehabilitation assistance program. I am proud the Minister of
Finance included RRAP and EARP in his recent budget. How
many other programs do we know of that help low income
families, seniors, people with disabilities and aboriginals all at
the same time?
We believe we are making the right fiscal decisions and we
intend to continue to do more. We intend to stretch our social
housing dollars as far as possible.
The federal government currently provides approximately $2
billion in assistance to over 659,000 households across the
country. We know that the need is greater than our ability to
meet it. We know we have to find creative and innovative ways
to make our social housing dollars work better.
One way we intend to achieve this is by identifying savings
and efficiencies. Taxpayers have a right to expect an efficient
government. I have agreed with my provincial and territorial
colleagues that we will work together to ensure efficient
delivery of housing programs. We will continue to provide an
acceptable level of service and we will do it while making the
best use of taxpayers' dollars.
We are already moving in that direction. Last August, Canada
Mortgage and Housing Corporation started making loans to
finance and refinance social housing units to better use available
resources and reduce expenditures. Through direct loans,
CMHC will refinance social housing units at balanced rates,
thus reducing the cost of housing assistance.
We are talking about improving social housing efficiency.
CMHC will save about $120 million in grants over the next four
years, out of an $11 billion budget. CMHC will lend directly to
qualified social housing borrowers when loans come due or
when advances are required for new commitments.
This is only one measure, one case of using resources more
efficiently and reducing expenditures. I made a commitment to
work with my provincial and territorial colleagues to reduce
administration costs and make program delivery more efficient.
At the end of the day we expect to identify savings that can be
reinvested in social housing, to keep the existing social housing
stock in good repair and to allow for new commitments. Our
commitment to social housing must not simply be measured in
terms of public expenditure. We have to look at housing within
the broader and more comprehensive context of market forces
and overall economic and social policy.
Along with the provinces, territories and interested
stakeholders, we will be taking action to ensure that rules and
regulations do not impede the creation of affordable housing.
We will ensure that housing policies and programs encourage
people to seek new opportunities to break out of the poverty
We want to ensure that the private market is able to provide
affordable housing for Canadians. We are currently looking into
new financial instruments which will increase access to housing
for Canadians. We are also considering reintroducing indexed
link mortgages for co-operatives.
Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides): Madam Speaker, again
today, I have the opportunity to rise to ask the Liberal
government to act quickly to respond to the pressing housing
needs of 1,200,000 Canadians.
So far, the representations and lobbying by community
organizations, by members of the Official Opposition and even
by some members across the floor who have shown a little
interest and resolve, have yielded nothing. Zero, zilch. Since
January of this year, the government has invested nothing at all
in social housing programs. Low-cost housing, non-profit
organizations, co-operative housing were completely neglected
and forgotten by the Liberals. In fact, the members opposite do
nothing else but close their eyes and renew the policies of the
Conservatives. This attitude on the part of the Liberals is
shameful and totally unacceptable. Do they not remember that,
not so long ago, when they were the Official Opposition, they
spent a lot of time condemning the Conservative government for
withdrawing funding for social housing? Do they not remember
And that is not all. The Liberals said that they wanted to work
together with housing organizations in order to establish a
national policy on social housing. They even promised to fully
restore all programs. The Minister of Finance even wrote this in
a letter to various organizations dated September 22, 1993, and I
quote: ``There is no doubt that a Liberal government will ensure
funding for these sectors. We think that the state must adopt a
positive and dynamic national policy in this area. It is
incumbent on general management to ensure that over one
million Canadian families are provided with decent and
The minister ended that letter by stating, and again I quote:
``to that end, we wish to establish new partnerships with your
organizations. I believe that over the past three years, our leader,
our members of Parliament as well as our official critic for
social housing, Joe Fontana, have consistently showed our
commitment to social housing. We therefore rely on your
co-operation on this socio-economic issue, which is of the
highest importance'', and I stress ``of the highest importance''.
The letter is signed Paul Martin. Those are the words our dear
Minister of Finance wrote on September 22 last.
Where are they today, those members of Parliament, this
leader and this official critic, to show their commitment to
social housing? They have vanished! Gone too are all those
lovely speeches and the will to provide decent housing to needy
But what happened since then? Why did the members
opposite completely change their mind? It is unacceptable and
dishonest for elected and accountable people to alter their
course in mid-stream. How can the population now seriously
believe the Minister of Finance? How can he live with the words
he wrote without feeling shame, without feeling any remorse?
The minister looks a bit silly today and his credibility is no
better than his social housing programs which deserve a big
zero. They call him the sinister Minister of Finance.
And yet, the needs are obviously huge and urgent. The
Canada, I repeat, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
estimates that 1,200,000 families are in urgent need of housing.
How can you ignore this reality? How can you ignore such
glaring statistics? The members opposite so free with their
promises have no vision. All they are good at is damage control.
They are unable to plan for the long term. They do not manage
anything, they only hope and wait for things to get better on their
They put nothing on the table, no plan, no policy to deal with
the housing crisis. In the meantime, people in substandard
housing are waiting. They are hoping that the Liberal
government will be true to its promises and will immediately
provide funds to build low-rent housing, as well as non-profit
and co-op housing. Hundreds of thousands of families find this
wait increasingly hard to take. Several of them spend more than
50 per cent of their income on rent. Such poverty has devastating
Every month, these poor families living in substandard
housing have to make inhuman choices. Every month, in order
to pay for their rent, they have to deprive their children of such
essentials as food. Children go hungry and live in substandard
housing because the government is not acting responsibly. This
projects a very bad image in a society as affluent and developed
The government's lack of action is indecent. The minister in
charge of social housing is telling us his cupboard is bare and
that we must wait for savings that the CMHC could manage over
the next few years. The Liberals keep us waiting and waiting.
They are in favour of a wait-and-see policy. They sit back and
wait for some heaven-sent manna. We must admire the strength,
courage and inventiveness of this new government.
It is not ten years from now that we need social housing,
Madam Speaker, it is right now. All the organizations, all the
municipalities, all the big cities are asking tthe government to
reinstate and increase funding for social housing. The Liberals
are deaf and blind. They have been in place for six months now,
and they still ask the people to be patient.
We on this side of the House want the government to release
public funds immediately so that we can start projects now. You
do not have the money? Well, cut the fat, put public finances on a
sound footing and get rid of tax shelters for the wealthy. If you
had any guts, if you had the political will, you would do your
homework and find the money.
In Quebec, the situation is more problematic because more
people live in rental accommodation. The problem is more
acute, more urgent. The federal government is reneging on its
commitments and the provincial Liberals are not putting up
much of a fight.
Nevertheless, the federal government still has a role to play in
this area. We in Quebec pay federal taxes and we are entitled to
our fair share. We want the government to give Quebec its share
of those taxes and we will take care of our own social housing.
The Société d'habitation du Québec has all the tools and
expertise it needs to develop its own programs.
Soon Quebeckers will decide what their future will be. We
will then be able to administer our own social and economic
development. Meanwhile, give us our share and stop ignoring
the demands of the poor and people living in substandard
housing across this country. Patience may be a virtue, but
enough is enough.
Mrs. Georgette Sheridan (Saskatoon-Humboldt):
Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today on behalf
of the Government of Canada to speak to this motion.
I am pleased to have an opportunity to stress the commitment
of this government in the area of housing. This government
acknowledges the right to adequate and affordable housing for
all Canadians, not only in Quebec but all over Canada. This is a
most important commitment for this government.
I am sure every single member in this House thinks housing is
important for our quality of life and for the prosperity of our
Our government intends to keep contributing to housing and
working hand in hand with its various partners so that as many
Canadians as possible can find adequate and affordable housing.
This government also strongly supports social housing and
keeps its promises but it has to consider the present fiscal
Our approach balances the need to pursue fiscal restraint with
the need to recognize and respond to the social needs of the more
vulnerable members of our society.
The federal government is committed to a national
co-ordinated approach to ensure that Canadians are well
housed. The federal government has maintained its commitment
of approximately $2 billion in annual expenditures on social
housing assistance. Through this funding we are able to provide
support to some 659,000 low income households across the
country. These include singles, families, seniors, persons with
disabilities, aboriginals and fellow citizens who are unable to
meet their basic housing needs on their own.
Given the difficulties presented by the deficit, this is a serious
commitment that reflects the concern of the government for the
plight of society's most vulnerable citizens.
Let me underline as well that these expenditures provide a
powerful economic stimulus, generating considerable
employment in communities across the country year after year.
As my colleagues know, we have taken immediate action to
reinstate the residential rehabilitation assistance program.
Again this is a program that helps low income Canadians meet
their basic housing needs. RRAP grants are used to help people
bring their homes up to minimum standards of health and safety.
The federal contribution of $100 million over two years will
go a long way toward helping low income Canadians make basic
repairs to their homes.
This significant commitment of resources will also generate a
much needed economic stimulus by creating thousands of jobs
both directly and indirectly in the construction industry, real
estate, manufacturing and related services.
However, to meet the challenges we are faced with in the area
of housing, we need more than mere financial assistance. We
need a commitment from all levels of government and from all
stakeholders in the housing sector.
With everyone's co-operation, we will be able to reach our
goals. To meet the challenges, we must first create solid
The minister responsible for housing has met with many of
our partners in that area. In fact, he held two meetings with some
associations in order to better understand the problems facing
this sector and to invite them to suggest improvements in some
areas. Given the current financial situation in Canada, all levels
of government must co-operate more and focus their efforts on
protecting the social fabric of this country, which greatly
depends on the housing sector. We can reach this goal by helping
Canadians find good, affordable housing of the right size.
We have a long tradition of partnership in the country. Federal
and provincial governments have long worked together to create
cost share and deliver social housing to needy Canadians.
In this era of fiscal restraint we no longer have the funding
levels of the past. Just because our funds are limited it does not
mean that our imaginations need to be limited or our efforts cut
short. Partnership has brought us success in the past. It will help
us to achieve further success today and in the future.
Federal-provincial relations with respect to social housing
have long been defined by a set of principles. National standards
are the cornerstone of these principles. Productive partnerships
through which consensus is achieved have always been an
important part of relations between the different levels of
government. This must continue.
In an effort to consolidate partnership among levels of
government the minister responsible for housing met with his
federal, provincial and territorial colleagues last January. At
that meeting all ministers agreed on the need to work together on
behalf of those in need of social housing assistance. They also
agreed to undertake a concerted effort to identify program
efficiencies that will lead to savings and ultimately enable us to
do more with our social housing budgets.
The federal government's commitment to housing for
Canadians recognizes there are groups who have special needs
to meet. We must strive to meet their needs.
Coming from Saskatchewan as I do, I cannot help but think of
the aboriginal community. The plight of this particular sector of
society needs to be addressed. CMHC has a long tradition of
working in partnership with the aboriginal community to work
out solutions to housing issues. The government is focusing its
attention on supporting the native community in the goal of
achieving greater self-sufficiency and control over their lives.
Another sector are the victims of family violence. As
members of the House well know the rate of family violence
continues to increase. It is my fervent hope the day will come
when we no longer need to build and maintain shelters for
women and children who are fleeing domestic violence.
In the meantime however the government will continue to
address these issues in the best way it can by providing financial
assistance for Project Haven and Project Next Step. These two
programs provide emergency shelter and long term housing for
victims of family violence and their children.
The government is well aware there is still much work to do to
ensure all Canadians have access to decent, affordable housing.
We believe we are on the right track and that we are taking
positive steps and making a real difference in the lives of many
Canadians. We are committed to working in partnership with
housing groups and stakeholders in Canada to pursue our
objective of providing decent, adequate and affordable housing
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): The time provided for
the consideration of Private Members' Business has now
expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 96(1) the order is dropped
from the Order Paper.
PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38
deemed to have been moved.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères):
Madam Speaker, on
January 20 and 21 last, my colleague from
Rimouski-Témiscouata and myself questioned the Minister of
Canadian Heritage about the ever-present discrimination faced
by Quebeckers in amateur sport in Canada.
Just days before the Olympic Games opened in Lillehammer,
Hockey Team Canada still had not recruited a single player from
Quebec. We deplored at the time that the team setting out to
represent Canada in the Olympics in our national sport did not
reflect more accurately the complex make-up of the Canadian
Shortly after the Official Opposition had raised this issue in
the House of Commons, one player from Quebec was added in
extremis to Team Canada's lineup. I think that the contemptuous
attitude displayed at the time toward Quebeckers by Team
Canada officials must be deplored. It is appalling and it was not
the first, nor the last, time this kind of thing happened, as we can
In Canada, amateur sport is a real breeding ground of
discrimination against Quebeckers, yet the minister seems to be
indifferently washing his hands of the matter. In such instances,
far from expressing our collective pride, sport breeds nothing
but spite and injustice. What is the minister waiting for to
realize there is a problem and to take steps to remedy the
situation? Is he waiting for more cases of discrimination to
occur in the amateur sport?
Let us take the case of Myriam Bédard, twice a gold medal
winner, who was harassed and suspended by unilingual
English-speaking bureaucrats of Biathlon Canada who
threatened to throw her out of the national team of ``her''
country because she refused to obey unjust orders of a federation
that wanted to break its sole star. Mr. Réjean Tremblay, reporter
of the daily newspaper La Presse wrote an article on that.
There is also the case of the Quebecker figure skaters Paul and
Isabelle Duchesnay, bronze medallists in dance at the
Albertville Olympic Games, who were forced to wear the
colours of France because of the intransigence of the Canadian
Figure Skating Association.
Following the Lillehammer Games, Canada as a whole had to
acknowledge and appreciate the merits of athletes from Quebec
who had distinguished themselves by their talent but also by
their tenacity and determination. And God knows they need a lot
of tenacity and determination to overcome all the obstacles put
on their way by the Canadian amateur sport system.
Nevertheless, nine of the thirteen Canadian medals were won
by Quebec athletes. Is it not a clear illustration of a fundamental
lesson of life, that one should not be afraid to forge ahead and
One of the many problems in the amateur sport in Canada is
that the distribution of powers between the national and
provincial sports organizations makes the Quebec amateur sport
system literally dependent on the Canadian system.
For sports events outside Canada, the selection of athletes,
coaches, officials, volunteers and other sports professionals
depends nearly exclusively on policies developed by the
national sports associations with the result we know. Unilingual
francophone athletes have an additional obstacle to overcome,
in particular at the national selection stages since they cannot
communicate in their own language with the coaches and people
in charge of the selection and training of athletes who are
unilingual anglophones in the majority of cases.
Sports professionals who are unilingual francophones face
the same problem. They have less of a chance of getting a job in
a Canadian sports organization.
In fact, as Sport Quebec was stressing in its submission to the
Commission on the Political and Constitutional Future of
Quebec, commonly known as the Bélanger-Campeau
Commission, on November 2, 1986, and I quote: ``Because it is
directly related to Quebec's identity, the most fundamental
problem is that the present system considerably limits the
assertion of Quebec's policies in the field of sports, since all
management is directly governed by the Canadian associations'
That is another one of the many deep-rooted problems of
Canadian federalism, a chronic inability to respond to Quebec's
development conditions, an over-centralization aimed at
imposing uniformity at all costs. I think that it is a failure,
nothing less. Will the minister of Canadian Heritage finally
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons): Madam Speaker,
it is with pleasure that, on behalf of the Minister of Canadian
Heritage, I will answer to the question raised by my colleague
from Verchères. He knows very well that his arguments are
First, I would like to make a point: the selection of athletes for
the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team is ultimately the
responsibility of Hockey Canada, not that of the federal
Hockey Canada has a very vast network of connections which
allows it to be aware of the availability of players. The
organization is in constant contact with coaches, scouts, league
managers, agents and player representatives, team owners and
managers. It consults these resource-persons regularly in order
to stay aware of the schedule and the hours to which the players
The majority of the players are professional and Hockey
Canada had the task of dealing with numerous National Hockey
League clubs, European hockey leagues, and universities and
colleges in Canada and the United States for the services of the
players, not always an easy task.
The Olympic hockey team that played at the winter games in
Lillehammer had 23 players, including two francophones from
outside Quebec, Adrian Aucoin and Chris Thérien. Jean-Yves
Roy, from Rosemère in Quebec, presently with the New York
Rangers, was also a member of that team.
It is not true that there were no Quebeckers on Canada's
Olympic hockey team. Many Quebec players were considered
for the team, but were not retained, primarily because they
simply were not available.
A number of factors influence the formation of the Olympic
team. Certainly the team rose to the occasion meeting the
challenge imposed by the Olympics.
The players showed great determination and unparalleled
team spirit. Throughout the country, their achievements were a
source of pride and admiration. That is what is most important,
in my opinion, for Canadians.
Mr. Murray Calder
on March 18 I asked a question of the Minister of Agriculture
and Agri-Food regarding comments made by the American
Secretary of Agriculture. Secretary Espy wanted a cap on wheat
exports to the U.S. and zero tariffs on poultry, dairy and eggs. I
asked the minister for his assurance that Canadian farmers
would be protected.
Reports in the media are stating that Canada has softened its
position in the farm trade battle with the U.S. because of strong
American pressure. The fact is Canada is not the only country
that is suspect of its relationship with the United States. There is
a growing resentment about American bullying tactics from
several other nations at the same time.
What work is the government undertaking to establish
stronger world trading rules to ensure that we are not subject to
the continuing American harassment?
Mr. Lyle Vanclief (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-food): Madam Speaker, in response to
my colleague who raised that question earlier, I would like to
emphasize to my colleague, to the House and to all Canadians in
the industry that the minister certainly has not softened his
This is emphasized by the fact that the negotiations have been
completed in Marrakech and Morocco for today. They will
continue tomorrow. I spoke to the minister about 4.30 this
afternoon and our position there and his position there is still
firm, clear and forceful to the United States.
Let us not be fooled. We are in the midst of some very serious
and tough negotiations on bilateral issues with the United
States. We have a large two-way trade with the United States in
agriculture and agri-food. It is about $11.5 billion so it is
important that what we get a deal, a negotiated deal with the
United States, that is in the best interest of Canadians and in the
best interest of the agri-food industry in Canada. The minister
will accept nothing less than that.
These negotiations were going on before the settlement in
Geneva on GATT. Canada plays by the rules. Every country in
the world does not always play by the rules. We will be signing
on to the GATT rules. We have signed on to the NAFTA rules and
those negotiations will continue. I want to make that very clear
to the member and to everyone.
Our officials have been meeting over the last number of weeks
with the Americans and we are not going to roll over and play
dead. We have been firm. We will continue to be firm and get the
best deal for the Canadian industry and for Canadian national
Hon. Warren Allmand (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce):
Speaker, on March 24 the member of Parliament for
Saint-Hubert and I presented a petition in Parliament with over
200,000 signatures asking that handguns be banned for private
This petition was sponsored by Concordia University
following the murders with a handgun of four professors at the
university in 1992. The murderer, who was also a professor, was
able to acquire three handguns legally without much difficulty,
indicating a serious weakness in the law. Later on March 24, I
asked the Minister of Justice if he would give serious attention
to the demands in the petitions. I asked that same question again
Handguns are not used for hunting and have no other
legitimate use by ordinary citizens. Some members of the House
and some Canadians allege that the present gun laws are not
effective because we still have crimes with guns.
No laws are 100 per cent effective. On the other hand, there is
no doubt that without our present laws the situation would be
much worse. It has been proven over and over again that where
guns are less available and more difficult to obtain, there is less
crime with guns. That is an indisputable fact.
The simplistic slogan spread about by the gun lobby that if
one bans guns only criminals will have guns is total nonsense.
The professor murderer at Concordia University was not a
criminal until he easily and legally acquired his guns and carried
out his killings.
Marc Lépine, who killed 14 women at the École
Polytechnique, had no criminal record before he easily and
legally acquired his automatic rifle and carried out his massacre.
When guns are easily and legally available some, perhaps the
majority, will obtain them and use them legally. Unfortunately
some will obtain them and use them criminally.
The only logical action if we are truly interested in reducing
crime with guns is to make them and ammunition more difficult
to obtain. This means a total ban on handguns for private use.
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons): Mr. Speaker, I
thank the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce for the
opportunity to reply on behalf of the Minister of Justice to this
most important question that he raised.
Canadians are very concerned about violence and especially
about violence involving firearms. They have every right to be
so concerned. As recent incidents have shown there is a need for
strict gun control in Canada. I am sure hon. members of the
House share this worry.
After the tragic deaths of 14 young engineering students in
1989, almost 600,000 Canadians signed a petition calling for
stronger legislation controlling firearms. Now the House has
been presented with another petition in response to yet another
I join with all members of the House in sorrow and sympathy.
Our sorrow is not just for the victims of these tragic incidents
and their families but for the victims of violence everywhere.
We share their grief because in many ways it is our own.
Violence in society is a tragedy not only for the victims but for
all of us. It affects the quality of our lives and the way in which
we live them.
Canadians expect more than sympathy from the government
on the matter. They expect us to take measures to address their
legitimate concerns. It is a tall order but one which we must take
very seriously. As hon. members already know, the Minister of
Justice is aware of the problem and is looking at ways to address
In addition to specific changes, the government is also
looking at longer term crime prevention strategies. It is the view
of the government that reacting to crime with harsher
punishments will not serve to eliminate crime. We must try to
address the root causes and to respond to crime as a social
problem rather than on a case by case basis.
Finally, the voices of those Canadians who signed the
petitions calling for strict controls on firearms and other
weapons will be heard. We must be willing to look at any gun
control option if it will improve safety and help prevent the kind
of tragedies we have seen recently.
Every option should be carefully considered and decisions
will be made. That is the obligation of the government and I
want to assure the House that the government will take its
responsibilities very seriously.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Pursuant to Standing
Order 38(5), the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to
have been adopted.
This House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m.
pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 7.14 p.m.)