The House met at 11.00 a.m.
The House resumed from October 26, 1998, consideration of the
motion that Bill C-302, an act to establish the rights of fishers
including the right to be involved in the process of fisheries
stock assessment, fish conservation, setting of fishing quotas,
fishing licensing and the public right to fish and establish the
right of fishers to be informed of decisions affecting fishing as
a livelihood in advance and the right to compensation if other
rights are abrogated unfairly, be read the second time and
referred to a committee.
I have a few concerns about this bill. However, I give my
qualified support to the member for bringing it forward. I
believe some of my concerns can be addressed at the committee
The intent of this bill is to bring accountability to the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
We have travelled to both coasts of this country. In Atlantic
Canada we visited some 15 to 20 communities. We visited
approximately 15 communities on the west coast. We listened to
fishers from all of these communities who raised a number of
concerns which consistently involved the department.
The member for New Brunswick Southwest has a very large presence
of fishers in his riding and he is trying to offer some
protection to them with this bill of rights, to which I give my
The intent of what the member is trying to do, first and
foremost, is to ensure that there is some form of accountability
within the department. We often see a lack of accountability in
many areas of government, such as the decision which was brought
down a few weeks ago in British Columbia by the judicial system.
We need to address accountability within our judicial system when
decisions are made that are completely outrageous. I am making
reference to the child pornography decision. There are many
examples where there is no accountability and we have to do
something about that.
I have a concern about the right to compensation. The bill
states that if the rights of fishers are abrogated unfairly they
have an absolute right to compensation. I do not think we can
put that into legislation.
I have always been a strong believer that the fishery must be
both environmentally and economically sustainable. I accept the
fact that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is the largest
single factor. There are other factors, but without question the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans has not been held accountable
for the collapse of the cod fishery in Atlantic Canada where we
have seen over $2 billion of taxpayers' money being paid to
fishermen who sit at home.
There is no question that the fishery was mismanaged, but I do
not believe the answer is to send out more money, bad money on
top of bad money. The one area of concern I have is with putting
something in legislation which would give a group of people the
absolute right to compensation. I think that is something that
has to be addressed on a case by case basis and we have to be
very careful in doing that.
I look forward to addressing that concern at committee. Again I
would offer my qualified support for this bill and suggest that
we look at it when it comes back from committee to decide if we
should support it at that time.
Fishermen and mariners alike know how easy it is to get lost at
sea, especially in fog. Debate on this bill seems to be like
sailing in a particularly thick fog.
The debate has wandered all over the map and has been lost in the
fog of rhetoric and politics. It has strayed far from the facts
and facts are what we need when we talk about Canada's fishery.
Facts are what are needed here, not emotion, not fed bashing, not
rhetoric and not scoring political points. Few facts have been
advanced from the other side of the House.
One important fact is that none of the opposition parties would
support this bill in the unlikely event they were to form a
government. Why? Because it is a bad bill that would become bad
law, one that would neither preserve fish stocks nor help fishing
During early debate on this bill my colleagues spelled out its
many deficiencies, but today I would like to return to the issue
of compensation which was raised by the hon. member for
Nanaimo—Alberni when this bill was last debated.
He said that the right to compensation for those whose rights
were taken away or abrogated by the federal government was
probably the most controversial aspect of the bill. It would be
hard to say which is the most controversial aspect of this bill
but this one certainly ranks close to the top. The strangest
assertion in the hon. member's qualified defence of this bill
came when he said that government and DFO bureaucracy will fight
this clause tooth and nail because it attempts to make them
accountable for decisions they make about people affected by
How does this clause contribute to making the government and the
so-called bureaucracy more accountable than they already are?
Presumably by making them pay for the so-called damage their
policies have caused. But who pays here? What did the architect
of the bill have in mind? Where does the member think the money
would come from to compensate fishers harmed by a government
decision? Not from the minister and the so-called bureaucracy,
but from the taxpayer. This is from a party that prides itself on
The government cannot afford the luxury of throwing taxpayer
money around. The government has to be responsible to all
Canadians. Sometimes that requires making tough calls, the kind
which do not please everyone but which hold the greatest hope for
When the hon. member says that it is far easier for bureaucrats
or ministers to sit ensconced, buffered and unchallenged and be
securely protected from the results of their decisions, he
implies several things.
First, he implies that public employees and the minister are
somehow unaccountable, but the fact is the government is
responsible to the people of Canada. When the people of Canada
vote they pass judgment on the government's performance. If the
government needs to be held accountable for mistakes every
Canadian can do so at election time.
Second, he implies that instituting a regime that would hand
over millions of taxpayer dollars would somehow punish those who
make decisions in Ottawa. To this I can only say that it seems
as if the fog has rolled in and completely obscured the hon.
Leaving aside the strange notion that public employees should be
punished for doing their jobs to the best of their abilities,
this clause would punish no one but the member's constituents and
those of every member in the House.
What would it accomplish other than to burden the taxpayer and
take money away from other worthwhile causes? Nothing.
Would it create more fish? No. Would it preserve the fish that
are left? No. On the contrary, if the bill succeeded in
discouraging DFO and the government from taking steps to conserve
fish stocks it would do just the opposite.
I am taking time with this argument because the hon. member for
Nanaimo—Alberni said it was the crux of the bill to bring
accountability to the bureaucracy. The women and men of the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans are already accountable to
their superiors who report to the minister, who is in turn
accountable to the people of Canada.
Once more we can say how badly conceived and unnecessary this
bill is. The member went on to say the DFO bureaucrats would
prefer not to deal with people affected by their decisions
because plainly it is uncomfortable for them.
Again let us look at the facts. In September the Minister of
Fisheries and Oceans convened a meeting with fishermen for a mid
season review of the cod stocks in the gulf of St. Lawrence. He
took with him to the meeting those same DFO scientists and
managers the member says would prefer not to deal with people
affected by their decisions.
The member would have us think that DFO does not seek input from
fishers, but my colleagues have already recounted in detail how
fishers across the country are participating in fisheries
management decisions that affect their industry. Fishers are
actively involved in stock assessment, fish conservation and
monitoring. They participate in the development of integrated
fishery management plans and the setting of fishing quotas. Many
fishers are already involved directly in managing fisheries
through co-management or joint project management with DFO. DFO
developed co-management to give the people who work in the
fishery more say in how it is managed.
The new fisheries act will offer individuals and communities
even more say over the decisions that affect their lives. We need
to bring this debate to a speedy conclusion so this bill can come
to the floor of the House and be rejected, as it should be.
There are far better ways to serve the needs of Canada's fishing
communities and preserve the fishery for future generations. The
government has taken a number of important steps and is moving on
others. I urge the House to reject the bill.
Most people do not think of Yukon as being a place where there
is a fishing industry, but it certainly sustains the first
nations fishing industry. The Yukon River starts at Skagway, an
American city, and comes up through Whitehorse. This year the
salmon did not come. The fish ladder was almost empty by the
time the river got to Carmacks. Alma Wrixon, a first nations
woman, could not put her fish net in and that is part of what she
has done every year for generations to sustain her family.
At Pelly Banks they would catch perhaps three fish in a week if
they were fortunate.
We are talking about their winter food. In Dawson City they
could not fish. By the time they got to Old Crow there was no
fish. The Gwich'in people depend on the fishery and the
caribou. They have one caribou herd that is under stress. They
could not catch any fish to make it through the winter. That is
like their savings account, their money, their potatoes, their
way of life to get through winter to the next spring when the
This bill brings accountability to the department of fisheries.
It is another mechanism to make sure the public resource of our
water and the fish in our water are available to the people who
depend on and need them. It is not necessarily for profit, though
profit is an important part of it. It is the benefit of having
food to make it through a year.
There are families and towns that depend on fish. Again I
stress it is a public resource. It is not anything that is
privately owned. They have a right to have a say in how our
fishery is managed. So far we have not seen a good record of how
our fishery has been managed under the federal government.
To allow this fishers bill of rights would be an important
in-road in the bureaucracy so that those who live on fish have a
say in how they are distributed. It devolves some powers to
those who need it.
Since 1988 the federal government has spent $4 billion to
restructure the fishery. What it has meant is a total collapse
in our fishing system.
On behalf of the folks who depend on fish but who do not get the
limelight, and those who live inland and whose resources are
dependent on decisions by people they never see, this would give
them an avenue to have a stronger and clearer say in their
I preface my remarks by saying that my northern Ontario riding
abuts Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The commercial fishery is
something that is important to my area as well. Even though an
inland fishery, the Great Lakes are among the great waters of the
world. The commercial fishers who extract fish from this
resource are among the finest fishers anywhere.
Although I believe the genesis of this legislation relates more
to the difficulties facing fishing communities and fisher persons
on the east and west coasts, it is important that the House be
reminded that there are a great number of people involved in the
commercial fishing trade in the Great Lakes of Ontario. I hope
they will take some comfort in the comments being made today that
their concerns will be addressed as well.
Let me come to Bill C-302. We have heard that while this bill
is well intentioned there are many flaws. This is not unusual
when one attempts to make a simplistic response to a very complex
problem. This is not to denigrate in any way the initiative of
the sponsoring member, but the issues are complex.
When it comes to our fish resources the most important thing is
that sustainability be our primary objective. It does no one any
good and no fishing community any good if the long term
sustainability of the fish stocks on which they depend is
compromised. As the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has said,
above all we must ensure the viability of this fish resource.
It is only from that principle we can ensure the long term
viability of the communities, businesses and individuals that
depend on it.
As a number of my colleagues on this side have said, fishers do
not need a bill of rights. They need a healthy fishery, a
fishery that is sustainable and that can support fishermen today
and their children, grandchildren and future generations.
The average citizen who is not involved in commercial fishing is
well aware through the media and news stories of the plight
facing fishing communities and fishers. While there may be some
merit to ensuring that fishermen are involved in planning for
sustainable use of the resource, I do not believe that a bill of
rights for fishermen is the way to go.
The goal of the government is to protect and conserve Canada's
oceans and great lake resources on all fronts. As the minister
has said, fish must come first so that people can then be taken
No so-called bill of rights will protect fishers when the fish
are in jeopardy or gone altogether. A bill of rights cannot
prevent the disappearance of fish stocks. Only sound management,
conservation based management can do that.
I would like to spend my remaining few minutes outlining some of
the initiatives the government has taken. It is not by one
silver bullet that all the problems can be solved but rather by a
series of well targeted and well managed programs that objectives
when it comes to preserving a sustainable resource of fish can be
Members opposite may be quick to point out what has not been
done, but we know that politics is the art of the possible and
much has been accomplished. We are living in a world where real
achievement comes through patience, persistence and negotiation,
not grandstanding. So much has been done that I can only
highlight some of those accomplishments.
Last June was a particularly productive month. On June 19 the
minister announced the $250 million Atlantic groundfish licence
retirement program, which is part of the federal government's
$730 million worth of measures for restructuring an adjustment in
the Atlantic groundfish industry. The licence retirement program
will help to reduce the number of groundfish enterprises in
Atlantic Canada and Quebec. It provides financial assistance to
groundfish licence holders who retire their licences and leave
the commercial fishery.
Also in June the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the
Minister of Human Resources Development announced $400 million
worth of additional measures to restructure and rebuild the
Pacific salmon fishery and to help people adjust to the reality
of a smaller conservation based fishery. There is no denying the
scientific evidence shows that wild coho are declining and that
some stocks are at extreme risk.
As the minister said at the time, “permanent change is
necessary for the future of fish and fishermen. We must get
ahead of the curve and shift to a conservation based fishery”.
Canada made a major breakthrough on the east coast in June when
member states of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation
Organization followed Canada's lead and agreed to a number of
strong conservation measures. Among these was NASCO's formal
adoption of the precautionary approach in Atlantic salmon
fisheries management. Canada had already adopted a precautionary
approach in its 1998 Atlantic salmon management plans. Greenland
joined us in this approach when it agreed to restrict its 1998
Progress is being made. It may seem at times that progress is
slow but such is the way of the world. The inexorable flow is
toward a better and better understanding of our fish resources
and a better and better approach to sustainable conservation.
Just rounding out those June accomplishments, the minister
announced that the Davis Strait turbot fishery had been fully
Canadianized and that no foreign vessels would be used in this
fishery. This should help allay the fears of those still raising
the spectre of foreign overfishing.
The five year management plan the minister introduced was
developed with the advice and recommendations of the Nunavut
Wildlife Management Board and the views of the industry. These
measures and numerous others are quite a record of achievement,
one that demonstrates conviction and determination to put
conservation first. It is not enough to say that mistakes were
made in the past. What good is it to criticize the mistakes of
the past and then advocate the same behaviour today?
We have to change our behaviour, as painful as that may be.
That is what the minister has been telling Canada's fishermen. I
believe that Canadians in my constituency, in particular in the
riding of Algoma—Manitoulin which as I have said is a beautiful
Great Lakes riding, understand the importance of making change.
They trust that the government will make change in a responsible,
caring way. Above all, as a government we have always tried to
put people first. While I would be the last one to say we have
never made any mistakes, I would put our record as a government
up against any record of any government anywhere in the world,
particularly against recent past governments of this country.
A bill of rights for fishers is certainly not necessary,
especially when we consider the record of the government.
I am even more pleased that I am speaking on a bill initiated by
my colleague, the member for New Brunswick—Southwest. The House
is addressing a matter that is of great importance to a number
of Canadian communities. The fishery is not the focus of the
economy in the majority of ridings represented here.
Still, there must not be indifference to the ongoing crisis in
the fisheries sector in my province, in the Atlantic region and
in the Pacific region.
With all due respect to the scientists in the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans, as well as the minister and senior
departmental officials, those who earn their daily livings from
the sea are the ones who know it best. That is why I applaud
the initiative of my colleague from New Brunswick—Southwest.
His intent in this bill is to ensure that fishers have a say in
decisions which may affect their work, their community and their
way of life. What could be more praiseworthy?
Allowing fishers to have their say is not so far fetched. It is
something we as elected persons have been struggling to do for
For instance, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
visited 15 communities over a period of nine days in the late
fall of 1997. The committee spoke with fishermen, plant workers
and others involved in the east coast fisheries in Newfoundland
and Labrador, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Many of the witnesses who appeared before the committee felt
betrayed by the federal government. In their opinion the federal
government was responsible for managing the fishery and did not
meet its responsibility. The committee heard about the
inequities and the arbitrary designations of those ineligible for
the TAGS program.
Many plant workers were ineligible because of small breaks in
employment despite a long attachment to the industry.
It was felt that the licence buyout portion of TAGS was not
successful because the boats, gear and other licences were
transferred to other fishermen. Therefore the capacity was not
reduced. Fishermen have little confidence in the ability of the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans to manage the fishery. As
well fishers question DFO's scientific estimates.
There is a concern about the independence of the fisheries
resources conservation council as the council used DFO staff and
office space. Fishermen from all areas are criticizing the
quotas for foreign fishermen. One fisherman quoted in the
committee's report said “The fishery is the biggest foreign aid
program around”. The east coast communities want fish caught in
Canadian waters to be processed in Canadian onshore plants rather
than on foreign vessels that process onboard.
The standing committee travelled in January 1998 to west coast
communities where it heard many of the same concerns it heard on
the east coast.
The west coast fishery has experienced a rapid restructuring,
due in large part to the Pacific salmon revitalization program,
but also to various other factors affecting fishers and coastal
Very many fishers are of the opinion that DFO no longer has any
interest in the future of their communities, but has centralized
its decision-making process in the regional offices and in
Many witnesses have criticized the lack of resources allocated
to new fisheries.
Downsizing at Fisheries and Oceans has resulted in a shortfall
of personnel available to develop new fisheries.
DFO policies have raised serious concerns in many communities.
For instance, the village of Ucluelet has invested massively in
enhancing its water supply system because the processing of hake
requires huge amounts of water. Then, DFO announced it planned
to review its hake policy.
Also, DFO imposed on municipal governments in the Fraser Valley
complex and expensive requirements with respect to cleaning
ditches, while not taking any responsibility or sharing any
Such departmental decisions may be warranted, but they are being
made without any consultation or paying any attention to their
impacts on the individuals and communities concerned.
That is what needs to change. They must be accountable to these
There is a wealth of information and plain good common sense to
be had from simply listening to the people who know the fishery
best. It is time to rely on more than just the good graces of
the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. The time has
come to formally recognize the voice of fishers in the decision
The bill endeavours to establish the rights of fishers so they
will be involved in the process of fishery stocks assessment,
fish conservation, setting fish quotas, fishing licensing and the
public right to fish. The bill would establish the rights of
fishers to be informed in advance of decisions affecting fishing
as a livelihood and the right to compensation if other rights are
abrogated unfairly. The livelihoods of people in Atlantic Canada
and Pacific coast fish industries have been affected by arbitrary
decisions made with little or no consultation with those directly
It is nothing short of a crisis. Fishers are increasingly
frustrated and discouraged with the government's inability to
deal with real issues affecting their lives. The fisheries
industry should be a sunrise industry, not a sunset industry as
seems to be the case today.
The bill before us today is a votable one. I urge all my
colleagues to vote in favour of this bill.
There has been such turmoil recently in the fishing industry
that the least we can do is to involve fishers in decisions
affecting them personally.
—provided that, when no additional members rise to speak, or, in
any case, no later than seven hours after consideration of the
said business is commenced, the House shall adjourn to the next
Provided that, after 6.30 p.m. on February 1 and February 2, the
Chair shall not receive any dilatory motions or quorum calls or
requests for unanimous consent for any purpose.
I believe there is consent for the motion which has been
circulated to the whips' desks of all parties in the House.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): I have been asked to
have the government House leader repeat that but I think we will
dispense with repeating it.
This will be a two stage process. The first will be to seek
unanimous consent for the motion to be presented and then to be
Is there unanimous consent for the motion as presented by the
government House leader?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is there unanimous
consent to adopt the motion as presented by the government House
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: No.
* * *
FISHERS' BILL OF RIGHTS
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-302,
an act to establish the rights of fishers including the right to
be involved in the process of fisheries stock assessment, fish
conservation, setting of fishing quotas, fishing licensing and
the public right to fish and establish the right of fishers to be
informed of decisions affecting fishing as a livelihood in
advance and the right to compensation if other rights are
abrogated unfairly, be now read a second time and referred to a
Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, it really is a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill
C-302. I commend the member for New Brunswick Southwest for
bringing forth this bill. He is absolutely right in the fact
that fishermen need more rights in this country. We only have to
look at what government has done in the last 10 years on
We have spent $4 billion on fishers. What has that got us? It
has got us an east coast fishery that does not work, loads of
unemployment and nothing positive in the future that we can see
right now. What has it done on the west coast? It closed down
coho salmon fishing last year.
Money does not solve the problem but consultation in the fishing
industry would solve the problem. With this minister and
ministers before him we have not had consultation with the
fishermen, whether that has had to do with commercial fisheries
or sports fisheries.
Members of the committee travelled all across Canada. If members
of this House would read the report, east coast and west coast,
they would see that the government has not consulted the
fishermen in any part of the country. That is why a bill like
this one is a very good bill. I would implore the backbenchers
on the other side who have been speaking against this bill to
read the reports written by members of the House, including the
Liberal side, to see what the recommendations are. Those
recommendations are in this bill. More consultation. Not just
more money thrown at a problem. That will not solve the problem.
There are two examples of lack of consultation. The first is on
the west coast in my own constituency. The minister wiped out
coho fishing this year in British Columbia. This put a lot of
people out of work. There was a great deal of sadness because we
had a great run of coho but nobody was allowed to fish it.
A hatchery in my constituency a couple of years ago put some
coho in Porpoise Bay. The minister had to lift the embargo of
fishing coho and allow people to fish in Porpoise Bay because
there were so many coho. The coho were going to spawn and if
there are too many of them they lay eggs one on top of the other
and a disease starts which could cause a real problem. There was
fishing in Porpoise Bay for coho. That was not good planning by
the government. The fishermen told the government the year
before that it could not put a ban in that area.
Fishermen were also told that they could not seed the open ocean
because, and these are the words of DFO, there are already too
many coho out there. DFO said not to put any out there. Then
what did DFO do? It banned the fishing because it said that
there were not enough. That is the department of fisheries
without consultation with the fishermen. This bill gives
fishermen rights to consultation.
Another story concerns herring roe on kelp. This was not a
native fishery. This was a fishery started by a man and his
family who live in Lund, British Columbia. They built it into a
fishery where they were getting $40 a pound for herring roe on
kelp in Japan. Over the years some of his employees left and
started up their own herring roe on kelp business because they
had learned the business and wanted their own business. Over the
years it dropped down to about $30 a pound, but it was still a
very lucrative business. Four companies were doing it and making
good money at it.
This government came along and gave one of those four people $2
million to buy the licence back. What did the government do with
that $2 million licence? It gave it to an aboriginal group in
British Columbia. The government said, “It is not a natural
fishery for an aboriginal group but it is a good business so
let's get you into it”. Since then the government has given away
in excess of a dozen more licences in this area of herring roe on
kelp to aboriginal fishermen around the province.
What has happened to the market in Japan? It went from $30 down
to $20 down to $10 as the government kept on giving licences away
The other three licence holders wanted to be bought out too.
They said, “If you can buy out this other guy for $2 million,
why won't you buy us out. There is not going to be any industry
if you keep on passing out these licences for free to the
different native bands around the province”. But the government
said it did not have any money to buy them out.
The sad thing is this lack of planning, lack of consultation.
The herring roe fishery is zero because the native bands are
shipping it to Japan on consignment and the other people are
going out of business. That is the lack of planning in this
If we wonder why people get angry when DFO does not consult, how
would any member of this House like to be one of those fishermen
with the herring roe on kelp who are now having to compete
against people who got their licence for free and can ship it to
Japan on consignment? It is not right. It is not proper. We
all should be voting for a bill like this one to allow the
freedom and the consultation.
As I said, I commend the member for New Brunswick Southwest.
His bill says that it endeavours to establish the rights of
fishermen so that they are involved in the process of fishery
stock assessment, fish conservation, the setting of fishing
quotas, fishing licensing and the public right to fish. As well
the bill would establish the rights of fishermen to be informed
of the decisions affecting fishing as a livelihood in advance.
The example I just gave on the herring roe on kelp is a great
example of why people should be advised in advance.
These are people who put good money into their industry. They
are not being advised.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that fishermen
have a problem in this country. What does the government do? It
just throws money, $4 billion over the last 10 years. This has
not solved one problem.
We need to move DFO out of Ottawa. Put a head office on the
east coast for the east coast, and on the west coast for the west
coast. We need to get these 1,200 bureaucrats out of the
business. There is no fishing in the Rideau Canal. The fishing
is on the east and west coasts. There are too many bureaucrats
making too much money who have made wrong decisions. This is out
of a report written unanimously by all sides of this House. It
is being ignored by the minister of fisheries and it is being
ignored at the peril of this country's fishermen. It is time for
a change. We ask all members of the House to vote for this bill
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): It being 11.55 a.m.,
the time provided for debate has expired. Pursuant to order made
earlier this day, the question on the motion is deemed to have
been put and a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred
until Tuesday, February 2, 1999, at 5.15 p.m.
* * *
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
There have been further consultations. Hopefully without
re-reading the motion into the record, perhaps you could ask the
House if it would now agree to adopt the motion read into the
record a few minutes ago.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is it the pleasure
of the House to allow the government House leader to present the
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is it the pleasure of the
House to adopt the motion as put by the government House leader?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to)
Hon. Jane Stewart (for the Leader of the Government in the
House of Commons) moved:
That this House take note of the 11th report of the Standing
Committee on Finance presented on Friday, December 4, 1998.
Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (Vaughan—King—Aurora, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, for all of us in the House of Commons, politics and
government are about one thing: people. They are about helping
them build better lives for themselves and their families, about
helping them make their dreams work, the dreams they have for
themselves and for their children: a better quality of life, a
higher standard of living, a fair shot at a good job that pays
well, and a society that gives them the support they need when
they need it.
Making these dreams a reality has been our overriding objective
since the government first took office in 1993. That is how we
won the confidence of Canadians. The progress the government
made in its first mandate earned it a renewed majority mandate in
1997. It is that focus on what matters most to Canadians that is
how this government aims to keep the confidence and trust in the
A strong economy is the key to building a more secure society.
For proof, all we need to do is remember the Canada of five years
ago. The government faced a $42 billion deficit, the largest in
Canadian history and it was growing.
Unemployment was at 11.4%. High inflation and high interest
rates were dragging down the economy in a big way. The debt to
GDP ratio had been rising steadily for almost two decades. Taxes
seemed to know only one direction: up.
Serious questions were being raised about our ability as a
nation to maintain our cherished social safety net. Worst of
all, we had lost our characteristic confidence in ourselves as a
people and in our future.
In the past five years the government has shown what happens
when we roll up our sleeves and get down to work. When we listen
to Canadians as we did during our prebudget consultation hearings
and when we work side by side with them, when we trust their
courage and their willingness to make sacrifices, and when we
reflect on values and priorities, what happens? Positive change
Five years ago the Wall Street Journal compared Canada's
economy to that of a third world economy. Recently the
Financial Times of London referred to Canada as the top dog
of the G-7. The $42 billion deficit is now a $3.5 billion
surplus. The debt to GDP ratio is on a firm and permanent
downward track. In fact the Government of Canada has not
borrowed new money on the markets for more than two and a half
Personal taxes in the last two budgets have been cut. They were
cut by $7 billion in the last budget alone. Our inflation rate
is at its lowest level since the 1960s. Our interest rates are
also at the lowest levels in three decades.
Canada has enjoyed the strongest economic growth of the G-7.
Even with the recent global turmoil, the International Monetary
Fund recently forecasted that Canada would be among the G-7
leaders for economic growth in 1999.
Unemployment in Canada has fallen by almost 3.5 percentage
points since we took office to its lowest level in nearly a
decade. Last year our job growth was number one in the G-7.
Best of all, there has been a resurgence of optimism among
Canadians and a renewal of confidence among Canadians that
government can in fact make a practical difference for the better
in their lives. This was evident during the prebudget
consultation hearings held across the country.
A secure society is one in which people can count on their
fellow citizens for help and support when they need it. If they
lose their job, if they need income support in retirement, to
give their kids the good start they need in life or when they are
sick, compassion and sharing are deeply held Canadian values.
They are reflected in some of our proudest national achievements:
insurance for the unemployed, the Canada pension plan, supporting
children in need and our universal medicare system.
Safeguarding these pillars of our society was a primary
motivating factor behind the fight against the deficit and
impressive work has been done to protect and modernize them.
To meet the needs of our new labour market, the government
redesigned and refocused assistance to the unemployed, creating
an employment insurance system aimed at helping people get back
to work as soon as possible.
In co-operation with the provinces the federal government
established a new child benefit to help low income families with
children. By July 1, 2000 the federal government will be
investing $1.7 billion in this initiative.
Working with the provinces, it also achieved an historic package
of reforms that will guarantee the Canada pension plan remains on
sound financial footing, even in the face of an aging population,
increasing longevity and retiring baby boomers. The CPP will be
there for future retirees. They can count of it. Securing our
public pension system is something no other industrialized
country has been able to do. Moreover, the success in saving the
CPP combined with a balanced budget and a stronger economy have
allowed the government to reaffirm its commitment to old age
security and guaranteed income supplement programs.
Canadians have told us that access to quality health care is
among their most urgent concerns. The government has listened.
Since it was first elected in 1993 protecting our universal
medicare system has been a top priority. As soon as the fight
against the deficit gave the government financial room it
followed the recommendations of the National Forum on Health. It
increased the cash floor of the Canada health and social transfer
from $11 billion to $12.5 billion. That means close to $7
billion beyond previously budgeted levels, over six years, will
go to the provinces to fund health care, post-secondary education
and social assistance.
Additional funding will permit the enforcement of the five
principles of the Canada Health Act: universality,
accessibility, comprehensiveness, portability and public
The government has shown its openness to modernizing the health
care system. In its first mandate the Prime Minister chaired the
National Forum on Health which brought together Canada's wealth
of talent and knowledge in the health care field to assess how
the system could best respond to emerging health care issues.
The 1997 budget allocated over three years to implement key
recommendations of the national forum: $150 million for the
health transition fund to help provinces launch pilot projects to
investigate new and better approaches to health care, including
home care; $50 million to establish a new Canada health
information system to give health care providers timely access to
quality health information; and $100 million to boost funding for
the community action program for children and the Canada prenatal
During our prebudget consultations Canadians from coast to
coast stressed the importance of health care in their lives.
They said that the government should continue with its strong
commitment to health care. We believe that health care is a
priority. In the upcoming budget we will strongly endorse
measures to strengthen the health care system in Canada.
Maintaining a strong economy and a secure society in the new
global, knowledge based economy requires that we invest within
our means and in carefully targeted ways so that Canadians have
the knowledge, the skills and the opportunities they need to
One of the key reasons the government fought so hard against the
deficit was to regain our ability as a nation to make such
strategic investments in our people. For example, the millennium
scholarship fund will generate over 100,000 scholarships each
year for low and middle income post-secondary students over the
The Canada education savings plan is another example. Our
government is topping up new contributions to registered
education savings plans, which are an enormous hit with parents
saving for their children's future education.
Another example is the Canada foundation for innovation, whose
$800 million endowment is being used to fund cutting edge
research facilities in our universities and teaching hospitals.
There is the connecting Canadians strategy, the goal of which is
to make Canada the most connected country in the world by the
year 2000, with our own fast lane on the information highway. A
key part of that strategy has been SchoolNet, which will mean
that every one of our more than 16,000 public schools and
libraries will be connected to the Internet by the end of the
fiscal year. We will be the first major nation in the world to
do this: ahead of the Americans, ahead of the British, ahead of
Then there is the youth employment strategy which consolidated
approximately $2 billion in new and existing funding for the
programs and services that young people need to acquire skills
and work experience, find jobs and build careers.
The measures that we are taking are important because we compete
in a global marketplace. I am quite happy to see that as a
nation we are getting ready for the challenges ahead. However,
let us be clear: we are building on a solid foundation.
Canada is number one of the G-7 in home computer, cable and
telephone penetration. We have the lowest telephone rates of the
G-7, the lowest Internet access cost of the G-7, the lowest cost
of doing information technology business of the G-7, the lowest
software production cost in North America and we are ranked
number one in producing knowledgeable workers.
Investing in R and D and the skills of our people, expanding
educational opportunities, cutting taxes, investing in health
care and reducing the public debt make perfect sense if we want
to improve the standard of living of Canadians.
There is no question in my mind that Canadians want their
political and business leaders to focus on improving their
standard of living. They are quite tired of the turf wars that
exist between levels of government. They are quite tired of the
politics of finger pointing. They are not interested in that any
more. They want results from their elected officials. They want
results from their corporate leaders. They want a brighter
future for their children. That is the focus which was quite
clear when we travelled across the country listening to students
and listening to people involved in R and D. We listened to our
educators. In every city people told us that the standard of
living is the issue on which we, as a society, must be focused.
Let us put an end to the era of confrontation. Let us build an
era of co-operation, one in which people's standard of living and
quality of life are key issues. This is not simply a debate that
needs to be had in the halls of the House of Commons. It has to
happen in the communities and in corporate board rooms because we
all have a responsibility to improve the standard of living for
One thing that is certain is that although in the past two years
Canada has seen an improvement in its productivity, it has, like
every other G-7 country, seen a decline in productivity. We need
to improve that because productivity essentially means a better
standard of living for Canadians. What can we as a government
do? What is our role to enhance productivity?
I want to make sure people understand that it is in the context
of increasing the standard of living for Canadians that the
recommendations were made in the finance committee. Before we
talk about the recommendations we made as a committee let us look
at what the government has done to increase productivity in
Canada. What kind of measures or channels has it used to make
sure the productivity gains seen in the past two years continue?
When looking at the government policies that promote a higher
standard of living, they can be broken down into fiscal and
monetary policy, tax policy, support for education and skill
development, support for R and D, social and labour market
policies, trade policies and policy that understands there is a
role for the marketplace.
When looking at fiscal and monetary policy and clearly
understand that a stable macro economic environment with low
inflation and lower interest rates can boost confidence in the
economy, enhance productivity growth and boost employment, what
has the government been able to achieve? There are a number of
accomplishments we should take note of.
The federal deficit has been eliminated. The debt to GDP ratio
is in a clear downward path. There has been substantial fiscal
progress at both federal and provincial government levels, and we
have the low inflation records of the 1990s. That is pretty
clear, low interest rates, reducing the debt, reducing the burden
on Canadians. What happens when we do that? We increase
productivity and increase employment opportunities for Canadians
and that is essentially what we heard throughout the country.
What did the finance committee have to say about that? We found
a great deal of satisfaction on the part of Canadians when it
came to these issues. When it comes to fiscal and monetary
policy the finance committee recommended that the Government of
Canada continue to use prudent economic assumption in the
formulation of budgets, that assumptions about short term and
long term interests continue to be set at 50 to 100 basis points
higher than the private sector average, and that the minister
alter the prudence factor as circumstances warrant.
The committee recommended that the federal government continue
to employ a contingency reserve which has set aside $3 billion
per year. At present the contingency reserve should not be used
on increased program spending or tax cuts. The committee also
recommended that the government continue to use two year planning
horizons for the conduct of fiscal policy.
We recommended that the federal government establish a long term
target for a sustainable debt to GDP ratio. We said that an
interim debt to GDP target range of 50% to 60% should be achieved
in this mandate.
Fiscal and monetary policy is one issue but what are the other
contributors in achieving a higher standard of living? If we
look at tax policy, taxes can affect the allocation of resources
and alter the incentives to work, to save and to invest.
What has this government done, what are its accomplishments?
We have seen the beginning of general tax relief, the national
child benefit system to support working parents and the HST to
reduce compliance costs. These are three of the measures.
While the world, in particular the group of seven countries, is
spending a lot of time devising strategies for productivity, in a
measured way this government is putting in place the types of
policies that speak to the worldwide debate on productivity. In
the past three years we have seen an increase in productivity,
which I hope is a trend.
Does the finance committee feel the federal government should
continue to cut taxes? Absolutely. We have made a number of
recommendations in relation to taxes. Last year we called for
the elimination of the 3% surtax. This year we call again for
the elimination of the 3% surtax for all Canadians. We call for
the announcement of a timetable for the elimination of the 5%
surtax. We do that because these taxes were introduced as
deficit fighting mechanisms. Now that the deficit is gone it is
time for the minister to announce a timetable for further tax
As we did last year, we recommend that the 1998 budget measures
to increase the basic personal amount and spousal amount by $500
for lower income taxpayers be increased by a further $200. That
would bring to $700 the amount of additional income that can be
earned tax free. The committee further recommends that this $700
increase in the basic personal and spousal amounts be available
to all Canadian taxpayers.
I will discuss what the government has done to enhance
productivity. We must make sure the people who work in our
companies have the proper skill sets and education to do things
better and quicker, that they can produce more, enhance and
generate wealth for our companies and in aggregate for the
country. Support for education and skills development gets more
people into the workforce by boosting the employment rate. It
helps people get higher wage jobs and achieve greater
Is this not essentially the type of society we want to build? Is
the reason an industrially advanced country like Canada entered
free trade agreements not because we wanted to compete and
generate high paying jobs that require highly skilled workers?
That is where our competitive advantage is.
Looking at education and skills development, what has this
government done? There are the Canadian opportunity strategy,
Canadian millennium scholarships, Canada study grants and tax
relief on interest on student loans, the Canada education savings
grant, the increased education and tuition tax credits, SchoolNet
to give young students Internet access, increased funding for
youth at risk who lack basic education and job skills.
This is what it takes to build a country. We need to invest in
people. We need to create the economic environment where we as a
nation and as a people can generate wealth.
Another key component of a productivity strategy must be
researched and developed because it provides the innovation
needed to improve production processes, thereby boosting
The government has moved on several fronts with the Canada
foundation for innovation, technology partnership Canada, tax
support for R and D, and networks of centres of excellence.
We need labour market policies that work so Canadians can work.
They influence work incentives and facilitate workforce
participation by removing barriers.
I remember this debate quite clearly when I was parliamentary
secretary to the minister of human resources. I remember how we
needed to modernize and restructure Canada's social security
system so that it would serve our people well.
As a 1990s car cannot be fixed with a 1960s repair manual, the
same thing is true of our social security system. We need to
modernize it. I think EI reform did that.
Productivity is also impacted by our trade policy. What does
trade policy do? It increases competition and allows countries
to specialize in products they are good at making. There again
the end result is a boost in productivity and competitiveness.
What has this government done in the area of trade policy? We
have NAFTA. We are a leading player in the WTO. There are
ongoing efforts to ensure the free flow of goods and services
within Canada. These are characteristics of a government and a
nation that are forward looking, that understand that the route
to a higher standard of living is higher productivity.
Another very important component of productivity strategy is
letting the market work. Regulation and subsidies can dampen
market signals and distort the allocation of resources,
inhibiting growth and inhibiting essentially productivity growth.
Privatization can enhance and boost productivity.
There is a difference between individuals who talk about these
things and governments that do. When we look at the government's
record on the important component of increasing the standard of
living for Canadians, we see that the government reduced business
and transportation subsidies. We have had partial or full
privatization of Air Canada, Petro-Canada, Canadair, De Havilland
Canada and CN.
It is clear to me that the agenda of the government is working
quite well. I heard this throughout the country. It is an
agenda that looks to the future with a great deal of optimism. We
have eliminated the deficit. We have lowered taxes. We have
made key investments in education, research and development.
I am proud to be a Canadian. I am proud to be a member of the
House of Commons. It is due to the recommendations of members of
parliament that we have been able to build a society and an
economy that work. Our next frontier is to work toward a higher
standard of living, to secure that our children and our
children's children will live in a better country than we live
Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.):
Madam Speaker, it gives me pleasure to enter into the debate on
the report of the Standing Committee on Finance. My purpose will
be twofold. I would like to make some comments on the report of
the committee and then I would like to serve the broader purpose
of offering some advice from the official opposition to the
finance minister and the government prior to the finalization of
the federal budget.
The official opposition has also consulted with Canadians with
respect to their expectations in terms of federal finances. While
we appreciate the consultations that have been conducted by the
committee, we think that from our own consultations Canadians are
much more specific on the expectations they have in mind.
In particular, Canadians are telling us and anyone who will
listen that it is what the federal government is doing to our
taxes and our health care that concerns us most. They expect the
budgetary policy of the government in the next number of months
to focus specifically on addressing their concerns in that area.
It is our view that the report of the committee and the
statements to date by the government are not sufficiently focused
on these priorities. Therefore, my colleague, the member of
parliament for Medicine Hat, the official opposition finance
critic, and a number of his colleagues have produced their own
prebudget submission entitled “Taxes and Health Care: It's
Critical”. That is being released today. I thank all those
responsible for its development and commend it to the committee,
to the House, to the finance minister and to the government.
The report has three emphases. First, it proposes a real,
substantial tax relief package. For example, under that package
a single income family of four earning $30,000 would receive an
annual pay hike of over $4,000, not the pathetic $143 offered by
Second, on the health side it not only proposes an additional $2
billion per year of reinvestment in health care but complementary
measures to start putting the patient first in the rebuilding of
the crumbling health care system.
Third, on the debt side it proposes a comprehensive debt
repayment schedule designed to reduce the national debt by $19
billion over the next three years.
I turn to the report of the Standing Committee on Finance
entitled Challenges and Choices. I do not want to begin by
slamming the report or by dismissing its recommendations or
analyses out of hand. Like many of us I think there is too much
of that in the House.
It is not our intention to slam every effort or proposal that
comes from the government simply because it comes from the
government. I think the government tends to do that a bit: if
it comes from the official opposition, particularly if it comes
from Reform, it is automatically banned. Those attitudes on
either side of the House cannot encourage debate. They do not
earn the respect of the public and they are not very productive.
We do not want to fall into the same trap.
With respect to the report we commend the committee for its
extensive consultations. I commend the committee on the first
chapter of the report which provides a summary of where we are
financially and in relation to the economy and the performance of
the government financially.
I commend the committee for devoting at least two of its eight
chapters to the priority areas of health care and taxes. I also
commend the committee for adopting some of the proposals of the
official opposition, in particular the proposals for eliminating
the 3% surtax, eventually the 5% surtax, and reductions in
personal income tax.
When we think that three years ago the subject of tax relief was
not in the government's vocabulary, we have to take some
satisfaction in the House that the government is at least talking
about it. We are encouraged by these signs of progress.
Having said that, I would like to point out two major
deficiencies in the report. The first is that the report devotes
an entire chapter to a prudent budget making process, chapter 3,
and then omits the most important step in prudent budgeting.
Prudent budgeting begins with accurate, transparent, principled
accounting and reporting of the government's financial position.
Concrete measures are required to prevent the finance minister
from playing a shell game with public finances and giving the
appearance, rightly or wrongly, of cooking the books.
The shell game on taxes, for example, is that the government is
taking $40 billion more per year in taxes than it was in 1995. It
gives $2 billion to $3 billion per year back to the taxpayers and
calls this token tax reduction tax relief and hopes the public
does not notice the difference between what was given and what
was taken. This type of rhetoric, this type of approach to
presenting tax reduction fools no one. It increases public
skepticism about anything said regarding tax reduction at the
The government also plays a shell game on spending, something
that even the auditor general has commented on and gone further
than commenting on: he will not sign off on the financial
statements because of this shell game.
In the old days when the federal government was running a
deficit it practised what is called back end loading. It tried
to push costs, if there was any accounting way of justifying it,
on to the next year to make the deficit look smaller.
Now that we are into the era of surpluses the government is
practising front end loading. It is trying to pull as many costs
as it can into the current fiscal year to make the surplus look
smaller so that it is under less pressure to reduce taxes.
I pointed out on numerous occasions that if this was done in the
private sector and the finance minister was the vice-president of
finance of an oil company, he would end up making licence plates
in some provincial penitentiary for practising that game.
The shell game is also played particularly with respect to the
surplus. Everything is done now to try to make the surplus look
smaller so as to reduce the pressure for tax relief. This
includes spin doctoring of the projected surplus.
We find the initial projection of the surplus by the government
was $10 billion to $13 billion. A series of press releases came
out, particularly over the last couple of weeks, indicating why
those initial projections were out of line and that probably it
would be less and less and less. The purpose is to make this
surplus appear smaller and, I am certain, to minimize public
pressure for tax relief.
The official opposition therefore recommends that if the
government wants to practise prudent budgeting Canada should
follow the example of New Zealand and pass a financial
responsibility act that creates a legal requirement for the
government to produce financial statements in accordance with
generally accepted accounting principles, specifies what those
principles are in the legislation, and holds officials legally
liable for violating those rules.
There is a second deficiency in the report which should be
emphasized. It centres around the report's recommendation that
the federal government enter into a productivity covenant with
The word covenant is a religious term. I do not know whether
the intention was to deify the government or to imply that the
Minister of Finance would go up the mountain and return with two
tablets of stone prior to the budget. If he does that, I hope
the tablets will have something in bold print about thou shalt
not steal and thou shalt not bear false witness. However that is
not my main point.
The definition and elaboration of productivity in the report
strikes me as curious. I spent 20 years in the private sector as
a management consultant working with companies for whom
productivity was a real term which was measured. They even
developed computer models in the company to try to measure the
development of productivity.
In this report the vague definition is used that productivity
simply means getting better results with the same effort. It
looks like it was written by a Liberal spin doctor, not by
somebody responsible for productivity.
The definition of productivity that is used in the real world,
in business, in unions and in the marketplace where people have
to produce, where this means something and where they will be
measured against it, is a ratio. Productivity is a ratio of the
value of production over the cost of doing business. The cost of
doing business is the denominator in that fraction. It includes
taxes imposed by the government. Anything that increases the
cost of doing business without increasing the value of production
decreases productivity. It hurts productivity.
If the government wants to talk seriously about productivity and
the productivity covenant with Canadians who are not
stupid—there are thousands of people in my constituency who can
define productivity better than in this report—it needs a clear
definition of productivity that makes crystal clear the negative
impacts of Liberal overtaxation on the competitiveness and the
profitability of Canadian business and employment. I urge the
committee to address that point. It fits in with public
understanding of what the government is doing to our taxes.
I now turn to a bigger and broader framework than is contained
in this report for analysing the government's financial position
of what should be in the budget. When Reformers came to Ottawa
in 1993 we had a four point list for fixing federal finances that
is as relevant today as it was when we first came here: control
and prioritise the spending, balance the budget, reduce the taxes
and reduce the debt. It is pretty simple.
Five and a half years later under this administration only one
of those matters has been dealt with. The budget is now
balanced, but that was done not by controlled spending but mainly
through revenue increases and offloading to the provinces. There
still remains much to be done on the simplest fiscal agenda that
is possible to get Canada's fiscal house in order. That is the
thrust of our prebudget submission and our advice.
Let me take these categories one by one. With respect to
controlling the spending, the federal government is still not
doing it. In the 1997 budget plan the finance minister projected
that government program spending last year would come in at
$105.8 billion. He called his assumptions prudent, taking into
account normal demographic and inflation changes. The problem is
that when the final numbers came in, program spending for 1997-98
was $108.8 billion or a $3 billion spending hike. All the talk
about spending control, all the talk about balancing the budget
through cost reduction, and the first year into a surplus
position spending escalated $3 billion over the estimate.
This year it is déjà vu all over again.
In the same 1997 budget plan the finance minister projected
program spending for this year at $103.5 billion. By the time
his 1998 budget came out he had upped those spending predictions
to $104.5 billion. Now, according to the most recent financial
information, program spending is slated to rise even further, by
3.1% so far this year.
This means that if the finance minister follows last year's
pattern and continues this year's already documented schedule of
overspending, his spending is going to come in around $107.5
billion or another $3 billion over what he told this House it was
going to be. That is spending control. What it reflects is a
Liberal predisposition to spend and the need for even stronger
What the official opposition recommends is really three things.
First, to freeze program spending for three years at $104.5
billion to generate the surpluses necessary for real tax relief
and debt reduction. That is not an unreasonable figure. It is
the figure that the finance minister himself said was adequate
for last year.
This does not mean that we cannot increase spending in priority
areas. But during the three year freeze it means that can only
be done by reducing spending in other areas. In other words, it
forces the government to do what every household in the country
has to do when there is not quite enough money and that is to
prioritize. Why should we not do what millions and millions of
Canadians in households and businesses are forced to do every
year and every month?
The official opposition therefore recommends increases in both
health and defence spending, but primarily from reductions in
handouts to business, interest groups and government to
government foreign aid. We propose increases in spending, but we
would get the money by reducing spending somewhere else rather
than adding to the deficit or adding to taxes.
Other members and the government may disagree with our spending
controls and our spending priorities. That is fine. That is
what we are here to debate. But if they disagree, then it is
incumbent upon the government to set out its own spending
controls and priorities which will still have the effect of
generating the surpluses we need for tax reduction, debt
reduction and health care reinvestment.
Let me turn to debt reduction. Again the federal government
just is not doing it. We have a $580 billion federal debt. All
we see is token debt reduction. Under this government Canada
continues to spend almost 30 cents out of every revenue dollar on
interest on the debt. That is a burden on the capacity to
finance social services. We bleed ourselves white paying out
over $40 billion a year and then we wonder why there is not
enough money for transfers to the provinces.
It is a drag on productivity. The government says it is
concerned about productivity. The greatest thing it could do
about productivity is to get the debt burden down. If we work
out its own calculation on its productivity, that $43 billion a
year on debt service knocks the ratio out the window.
Lincoln once said that excessive debts were like rats gnawing at
the vital organs and sinews of the state. I cannot for the life
of me understand how the finance minister can sleep at night with
$580 billion rats gnawing at the vitals of the Government of
Canada. I use rats of course in a general sense, you understand,
Mr. Speaker; not attributing it to any personality.
What the official opposition recommends is not rocket science.
The problem here is not figuring out what to do; the problem here
is to get doing it. We recommend, first, that a debt retirement
sinking fund be established; second, that a law be passed to
direct a portion of the debt to be retired each year; and third,
that a schedule be established to reduce the debt. We recommend
that the debt be reduced by $19 billion over the next three years
and by $240 billion over the next 20 years. Let us get serious
about debt reduction and the mortgaging of the future of the next
I want to talk about real tax relief, and I will draw a
distinction between token tax relief and real tax relief. I will
draw a distinction between the shell game, where the finance
minister pushes a shell that says a $2 billion reduction, a $3
billion reduction and tries to pull to the back of the table the
fact that the government is taking $38 billion to $40 billion a
year more than when it came here in 1993. I am not talking about
the shell game. I am talking about real, genuine tax reduction
that can be felt in the pockets of consumers and can be seen on
the financial statements of businesses.
Let us consider the taxation record under the government.
Personal income taxes are up almost 38% and now account for 8.2%
of GDP, up from 7% in 1993, for a 17% increase. Is it any wonder
Canadians are struggling to get by? I have asked public
audiences all over this country “Government income has gone up
35% to 40% since 1993. How many of you can say that your
personal income or your family income has gone up 38% during that
same period?” Not very many hands go up. There is a rumble
through that audience that the government ought to take into
According to Statistics Canada taxes paid by the average
Canadian household were 15% higher in 1996 than in 1992.
Canadians pay 46 cents on every dollar earned toward taxes, while
Americans, our greatest single competitor and the American labour
market being the great drawing card to many of our young people
right now, pay only 33 cents. In other words, as a percentage
Canadian taxation represents 140% of the U.S. tax rate.
Government members cannot get out of this argument by saying
“Oh, but we spend so much on health care”. The Americans spend
much more than we do on defence. They wash each other out. It
is not that simple. Our rates are simply higher, consistently
higher, than those of our principal trading partner.
To put it another way, our personal income tax burden has gone
up 136% in the past three decades compared with only 31% in the
The federal government collects $11.2 billion from 7.7 million
Canadians who earn $30,000 a year or less. We hear these great
protestations of social concern from the government and the
finance minister. He wrings his hands in public about child
poverty and he wrings $11 billion a year out of families, with
children, which make $30,000 a year or less. He sits in the
House devising all kinds of programs to try to deliver some help
to those families when the best help he could give them from a
poverty standpoint would be to simply leave more dollars in their
Bracket creep is another area where the shell game is played.
The minister stood in the House and told us how many people he
would take off the tax rolls. That is the shell that is pushed
to the front. What government members do not show us is the
other shell which they pull to the back, the people who are being
pulled onto the tax rolls through bracket creep. They outnumber
by far the ones who have been taken off. More than a million low
wage workers have been pulled onto the income tax net since the
government took office. More than 1.9 million taxpayers were
pushed from the bottom to the middle tax bracket and 600,000
taxpayers were pushed from the middle to the top bracket. That
is the government's record on taxation. There is no tax relief.
There is a consistent record of increased government revenues
connected to increasing taxation.
In place of this token tax relief proposed by the government the
official opposition proposes real, substantial, broad based tax
relief. The proposals contained in the paper “Taxes and Health
Care” include a reduction of $26 billion in federal taxes over
the next three years, starting with a $7 billion reduction in
employment insurance taxes, payroll taxes that kill jobs, and a
$19 billion reduction in personal income taxes and capital gains
taxes. If members work out the impact of these numbers on the
take-home pay of a single income family of four making $30,000 a
year, the family gets an annual pay hike of $4,628 under these
tax relief reforms.
In case this is too complex for some of our colleagues, it is
the intention of the official opposition to go across this
country showing people what their take-home pay is under the
Liberal tax regime, including the token tax relief measures
contained in the budget, and what their take-home pay would be
under these tax reforms.
I do not think there is going to be much doubt as to which
paycheque the public would prefer.
The finance minister plays the shell game and tells the
government caucus that if it gives substantial, broad based tax
relief the country will be back in a deficit position. Some hon.
members actually believe that argument. That is simply not the
case if one puts in place the other measures required to maintain
the balance, such as the spending controls and the spending
priorities referred to, the debt reduction measure that would
reduce the interest on the debt, and tax relief that is
substantial enough to stimulate economic growth.
If the government truly wants to enter into a productivity
covenant with the Canadian people, let it be based on this
proposition: that at Canada's levels of debt and Canada's levels
of taxation, a dollar left in the pocket of a Canadian taxpayer,
consumer or employer is more productive than that dollar in the
hands of a federal politician or bureaucrat. That is a statement
on productivity. It lies within the power of this parliament to
increase the take-home pay of millions of individuals and
families this year simply by substantially reducing the demands
of the federal taxman. It lies within the power of this
parliament to free up billions of dollars for future investment
in health care and essential services by paying down federal debt
I therefore conclude by asking, by imploring, the Prime
Minister, the finance minister and the 156 members opposite not
to stand in the way of such noble objectives.
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am
pleased to speak on the report of the Liberal majority on the
Standing Committee on Finance, which was tabled last December
and suggests certain approaches with respect to the next budget.
The Liberal majority's report is a blatant piece of propaganda.
It could have been—and was, I believe—written by the office of the
Minister of Finance, so completely is it at odds with the
comments we heard from individuals and from business and
anti-poverty organizations in our travels across Canada.
What is more, the report touts the marvellous achievements of
the Liberal government. This is a change from the reports
produced by the Standing Committee on Finance over the last five
years. They were mildly propagandist but this one is nothing
The report glosses over the nasty tricks and lack of consensus
on such issues as the millennium scholarships. Nor does it make
any mention of the fact that Quebec's opposition to this new
Liberal government policy, this new intrusion into the education
sector, is unanimous.
The report also refers to issues that never came up during this
consultation, such as the famous productivity covenant. I do
not know where this came from. Again, the likeliest source is
the office of the Minister of Finance, who has the chair of the
Standing Committee on Finance to do his bidding. This is the
first time the committee chair has been nothing more than a
puppet controlled by the Minister of Finance.
I was also appalled at the arrogance of this report on such
issues as employment insurance.
I will quote the report of the Liberal majority, at page 55.
Members are aware of the many problems with employment
insurance, the increasingly limited access to it and the fact
that fewer than 40% of the people contributing to it can now
draw benefits. These benefits have shrunk in the past two
years, since the employment insurance reform.
So what do we find on page 55 of the Liberal majority report?
This is what we find, and I quote “The committee thinks that the
phenomenon is misunderstood. The unemployed receive nothing
because the system was not designed for them”.
Never have I seen or read such arrogant remarks in a Liberal
So, even though statistics come out every week telling us what a
total fiasco the employment insurance plan is, how it does not
serve the interests of the unemployed in Quebec and Canada, the
Liberals say the Quebeckers and Canadians who appeared before
the Standing Committee on Finance do not understand the plan
when it is the plan that makes no sense at all.
Another arrogant remark in the Liberal majority's report is when
they say that the Canadians consulted want the Minister of
Finance to continue his very prudent management of public funds.
The comments gathered across Canada are not self evident. On
the subject of prudence, they do ask the Minister of Finance to
be prudent too, but next
above all, what Canadians across the country asked the Minister
of Finance to do was to stop making up all sorts of stories, to
stop saying things that do not make sense.
For example, as regards the surpluses, the minister was told to
stop viewing Quebeckers and Canadians as gullible and to stop
being off the mark by close to 100% in his forecasts. This
cannot go on.
During that consultation, Canadians and Quebeckers asked the
Minister of Finance to show greater transparency and honesty.
Such comments were made by organizations from various sectors
across the country. Honesty yes, but also accuracy, which is the
very foundation of democracy and the basis of effective
processes, such as the prebudget consultation process.
If the prebudget consultation is conducted while relying on
falsehoods and lies, how can we expect the citizens of this
country to have a clear mind and to propose sensible ideas based
on the real figures?
How can we be expected, as lawmakers, to have a solid and
credible basis to urge the government to make decisions, if the
Minister of Finance is always fibbing about the state of public
finances? He stated recently that the surplus—based on his own
document, that is the last budget—would be somewhere between
zero and three billion dollars, when in fact it will be in
excess of six billion dollars.
The content of the Liberal majority report confirmed that we
were right, last year, to have decided to conduct our own
During the months of August and September, the Bloc
Quebecois—led by its leader, the hon. member for
Laurier—Sainte-Marie and myself as its finance critic—toured
Quebec to hear the comments, ideas and suggestions of the people
of Quebec regarding the content of the upcoming budget and the
use that should be made of the huge surpluses collected by the
Minister of Finance, primarily to score political points. We did
What we heard is very different from what is found in the report
of the Liberal majority. We look at the real issues. The people
whom we consulted told us about the real issues.
They said they had had enough of being told just any old thing
by this government, of being told to continue to behave, to
continue to make sacrifices, when the result of the
sacrifices—far from seeing the benefits of these sacrifices, if
we can believe the recent remarks by the Minister of Finance,
they are not likely to see the benefits in the upcoming budget
either—these people see the money saved on the backs of the most
disadvantaged and the middle income earners reallocated to the
most favoured classes. This is not normal.
Quebeckers and Canadians told us three things during these
consultations. First, they said their first priority for
federal transfers was to fund higher education, social
assistance and most importantly health care.
They discussed the Saskatoon agreement. Remember that the
agreement signed by all the premiers in Saskatoon provided two
things, essentially: that the federal government stop cutting
some $6 billion year in and year out in transfers to the
provinces, and Quebec in particular, for health care,
post-secondary education and social assistance, as it had set out
in its 1995 budget.
They also called for the right to opt out with full compensation
in areas of provincial jurisdiction.
They asked that, if the federal government wanted another
initiative there, provinces wanting to withdraw from a federal
program in a provincial jurisdiction be able to do so with full
I think it is in the public interest to know what the Minister
of Finance decreed in his 1995 budget. He decreed it once, but
nobody mentions it anymore and nobody will mention it until
2003. We are making a point of putting it back on the table.
In 1995, the Minister of Finance decided that announcements of
cuts to social programs, health care and education year after
year were really unpopular. So, he said, “I will do it once,
and it will be valid until 2003”. That is the plan for
systematic cuts the Minister of Finance, the pretender to the
leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, set in motion in 1995.
Under that plan, every year, without any warning, provincial
governments have to put up with an average shortfall of $6
billion in the areas of health, higher education and social
Based on the federal decision announced in the 1995 budget of
the Minister of Finance, it was initially anticipated that, by
the year 2003, federal transfers to the provinces for health,
higher education and social assistance would be subject to
cumulative cuts totalling $48 billion. During the 1997 election
campaign, that position became so untenable—and the Bloc
Quebecois contributed to this by constantly attacking the
Liberal Party on this issue—that the Prime Minister of Canada
announced with great fanfare that he would put back six billion
dollars into social programs.
What he really meant was that, of the $48 billion that he had
originally planned to cut between 1995 and 2003, $6 billion
would not be cut. This meant that there would still be cuts
totalling $42 billion, with annual cuts of $6 billion in
transfers for health, for instance. These cuts have not been
The premiers made it clear when they met in Saskatoon, that
these are the cuts they want the federal government to eliminate.
The government talks about giving back $6.3 billion to the
provinces to finance their social and health programs, but what
the provinces want is for the federal government to cancel the
cuts mentioned in the 1995 budget until the year 2003.
In their wisdom, the provinces told the federal government they
were prepared to accept an arrangement, whereby the $6.3 billion
they are requesting to offset the cuts in health, higher
education and social assistance could be paid over two years.
The discussions were not about $1 billion but rather $6.3
billion. Since then, however, the federal government has gone to
great lengths to allege that this $1 billion is a big deal, that
it was the amount discussed in the negotiations, and that the
government has a role to play in exclusive provincial
jurisdictions like health. The Minister of Finance himself, in
establishing the Canada health and social transfer, which
combines all three federal transfers into one, stated its
purpose was to give the provinces greater freedom to use their
funds as they see fit.
The outcome of the negotiations concerning the social transfer
and the provinces' demands on the basis of Saskatoon tell a
completely different story. The federal government is intent on
having a say in every decision on how funds are allocated, in
spite of the fact that these funds belong to the provinces and
that it could choose to give them back to the provinces for
health, higher education and social assistance.
I think that, with respect to this budget, the Minister of
Finance should immediately initiate a process leading to full
compensation for all cuts made since 1995, thereby cancelling
the cuts in health, higher education and social assistance.
People must understand that the problems currently experienced
in emergency rooms must not be blamed on their provincial
government, on the Quebec government, but on the federal
government, which has left the provinces broke with funding cuts
averaging $7.3 billion a year.
Nor are we interested in their bleating about the misfortune of
the disadvantaged and the ill, as the Minister of Human
Resources Development has done, when it is the Liberals that are
behind the cuts and that will be maintaining them until 2003.
The people of Quebec told us about another priority they had, a
real priority, as opposed to the crass propaganda in the Liberal
When we consulted people throughout Quebec, which we did with
the assistance of all Bloc Quebecois members, they told us that
their other priority was a substantial cut in personal income
taxes. Not in the taxes of the rich, of millionaires, or
ministers, but of low-and middle-income taxpayers. These are the
folks who helped put the fiscal house in order. These are the
folks who, since 1995, have been footing the bill in one way or
another, either through increased taxes—over the last four years
they have been paying $20 billion more in taxes than they did in
1993—or through various cuts that affect them directly.
It is low and middle income taxpayers who are responsible for the
improved public finances.
They are the ones who should be reaping the benefits of the
lowered deficit. They should be the first to enjoy tax breaks
and relief in general.
They should be the first because middle-income taxpayers—who are
defined as those earning between $45,000 and $70,000—face the
highest taxes of all Canadians. They are the ones facing one of
the highest tax rates compared with American taxpayers. If
there is going to be tax relief, it should not be for
millionaires or friends of the Minister of Finance. Nor should
it take the form of a tax reform that would benefit
international shipping companies such as Canada Steamship Lines,
which is owned by the Minister of Finance.
Nor will the taxpayer be helped by giving preferential treatment
to the very rich, for example by allowing them to transfer
millions, if not billions, all over the world in the form of
This will be done by enacting a general lightening of the tax
burden on two groups, the low and middle income groups. This
can be done by fully indexing the tax tables. It can also be
done by raising the minimum threshold, or in other words
allowing people to earn more before they have to start paying
income tax. This would help those with low and middle incomes.
In this consultation, we were clearly given a third priority—I am
talking here of the true consultation, not the one that led to a
Liberal majority propaganda report, but the consultations
carried out throughout Quebec by the Bloc Quebecois—and that
priority was improved employment insurance.
There was unanimity on this in Quebec. If I recall, during the
prebudget consultations across Canada, people were also saying
“It no longer makes any sense at all to have reformed the
unemployment insurance program, changing its name to employment
insurance, and to have severely cut back on benefits, so much so
that fewer than 40% of people paying into the fund—everyone pays
now—can draw employment insurance benefits”.
There are three ways of ending up with stupendous surpluses in
the employment insurance fund, as we have seen over the past
three years. The first is by maintaining employers' and
employees' contributions to the fund at an artificially high
level. The second is to successfully reduce access to the
program. The third is to reduce benefits.
These are the three objectives of the employment insurance
reform, which it achieves so successfully that every year we end
up with a $6 billion surplus. These surpluses are generated off
the backs of the contributors, that is, employers and employees,
and the unemployed.
In recent weeks, they have gone so far as to exert pressure.
This has happened in a number of regions in Quebec. I have seen
it in Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot as well. The officials at the
employment centres are putting pressure on the unemployed, on
those appealing decisions on overpayments. Pressure is put on
them to subtly take away their right to appeal. This action is
The unemployed are being called and told not to appeal, there is
no point. There is a limit to the harassment of these people.
Do you know why they are being harassed? Because the more they
harass them, the bigger the surplus there will be to swell the
popularity of the future leader of the Liberal Party of Canada,
the Minister of Finance. That is awful. My colleagues and I
discussed this at the latest caucus meeting. We are going to
wage all-out war against these claims by a little mafia gang
trying to intimidate the unemployed and take away their right to
be treated fairly.
While things go awry with the employment insurance system, as
things are a total fiasco, while everybody is criticizing the
Minister of Human Resources Development, this gentleman is
writing a book on his deep thoughts.
In response to our questions in the House, he answered all sorts
of things making it clear to us that he was not on top of his
responsibilities and that he did not know what was going on, but
we did not know why. We thought it was a matter of
intelligence. But now we know that he was writing his book,
dashing off his deep thoughts.
He even had the nerve to talk about the disadvantaged in his
book, when he actually had a hand in creating this situation
where the unemployed, who no longer qualify for employment
insurance thanks to him, find themselves marginalized. Do you
know who this minister reminds me of? He reminds me of Lucius
Domitius Tiberius Claudius Nero, commonly known as Emperor Nero.
Nero set Rome ablaze and declaimed his sorrow as the city
burned. I find it despicable.
What the unemployed see is a human resources development
minister, who is supposed to be taking care of business and
fixing a system that does not make sense anymore, out promoting
the sale of his book and using his own intellectual resources,
and probably departmental resources as well, to boost his
Under other circumstances, had he not had other
responsibilities, one might have said he was provoking thought,
but for a minister who has been doing a poor job since taking
over his department, has been sharply criticized and is putting
everyone in the street, to put his deep thoughts in a book as he
did, is an absolute disgrace.
To conclude, we hope that Minister of Finance will show common
sense in his budget and put any surplus to use in the interest
of the public at large and not a select few.
We hope he will
show respect for the unemployed and those who pay into the EI
fund and show more respect than his Prime Minister did for the
provinces that have had it with all this being done on their
backs and having various conditions imposed on them as well.
Hon. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I have been listening to the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
Let me suggest that what is shameful and scandalous is the
manner in which he has criticized two ministers, as he has just
done here in the House, because he does not have the backbone to
do so outside.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: I will. I have done so before.
Hon. Sheila Finestone: Go ahead and do it outside the House, and
you will see what reaction you get.
I would like to ask the member who has been so busy being
negative in making his comments in this House, why Quebec and he
representing the Bloc Quebecois, never calculate the amount of
dollars saved by the Quebec government and the Quebec people by
the reduction of interest rates to benefit them and to use their
priorities in the allocation of funds both as a result of the
reduction in tax rates and the fact that they have had not only
lower interest rates, but have had an increase and a transfer in
tax points worth many millions of dollars?
With the tax points and the lower interest rates, Quebec has had
a savings of hundreds of millions of dollars which the Bloc
members do not care to announce, do not care to acknowledge but
just care to criticize and be untruthful in their approach to the
things that are going on in Quebec. They are certainly not
interested in health care, certainly not interested in the
citizens and certainly not interested in the education of their
youth with the highest school dropout rate in the whole of
Canada. The member should be ashamed of his remarks.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: Mr. Speaker, if the member had read the paper
this morning, she would know that I have already commented on
this to a journalist, from the Gazette furthermore. As far as I
know, she can read English.
I made exactly the same comments about the Minister of Human
Resources Development as those I made in the House, so it is not
a question of having the backbone. If she thinks the government
is so wonderful with its tax points, she is mistaken. In any
event, she has been mistaken as long as we have known her. As a
member of Parliament, she is often mistaken. But this time, she
shows her ignorance by constantly harping on the tax points
ceded to Quebec in the 1950s and 1960s.
These tax points were ceded at a 1964 meeting between Mr.
Pearson, a very sensible Canadian, and Mr. Lesage.
I would like to put a question to the member.
If there had been no cuts, if things had been left as they were
in 1994 where federal transfers to the provinces were concerned,
what would the level of tax points transferred to the provinces
have been? Exactly the same as they are today. This is
undeniable proof that the changes in tax points are completely
independent of federal government decisions. This is a given.
Is someone going to go after the person who sold him a house 50
years ago because the roof is now leaking? It is the same
thing. As futile as debating how many angels can dance on the
head of a pin.
As for her reference to the good things the federal government
has done, my colleagues and I have tried to find some.
An hon. member: We are looking.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: We are still looking, and maybe one day will
But if one reads between the lines of the prepared words that
come out of the PMO or the office of the Minister of Finance,
one can see there has been nothing positive.
How could there be when, since 1995, it has been decreed that
there will be cuts year after year until 2003 in the health
field? How could there be, when they have the nerve to want to
use the contributions of employers and employees to the
employment insurance fund to finance tax cuts for the rich?
Where are these positive actions? How are the interests of the
people of the people of Quebec and of Canada being served? We
are still looking, and maybe one day we will manage to find some.
Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank the Bloc Quebecois member for his comments.
He is very familiar with the employment insurance issue, and he
is aware that it is a very important issue in New Brunswick. Our
province has suffered losses of $927 million in revenues.
Whenever we put a question to him, the Minister of Human
Resources Development tells us that he is giving back $5 million
here and $2 million there, through various programs. My riding
of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac is losing $35.8 million every year.
People in Albert County only collected employment insurance
benefits for 18 weeks, even though they live in rural areas.
Also, fewer and fewer women qualify for the program.
We have a surplus that keeps increasing and that will exceed $20
million. We know that poverty is on the rise in every region
where unemployment is high.
Could the hon. member tell us what he thinks the government will
do, more specifically the Minister of Human Resources
Development, who is always trying to make us believe that 72 per
cent of workers qualify for unemployment insurance benefits and
that his government is putting money back into the regions? Is
the Minister of Human Resources Development telling us what his
government is really doing?
Mr. Yvan Loubier: Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. What the
Minister of Human Resources Development tells us is the total
opposite of the truth. He twists the figures. He twists them
in a scandalous way. Fewer than 40% of people can draw
employment insurance benefits.
From December 2 last until March 31, employer and employee
contributions to the employment insurance fund have been and
will be used solely to increase the employment insurance fund
Even with the 15 cent decrease in contributions set by the Minister
of Finance last November, the surplus in the fund is still going
to end up over $6 billion. This is going to be used for
something other than helping the unemployed in New Brunswick or
anywhere else in Canada.
As I have said, the situation is so serious that not only has
access been reduced, thus adding to the surplus, but the
unemployed are, as well, now being harassed into not challenging
claims for supposed overpayments before the Commission. This is
serious. It means that the rights of the unemployed are being
denied, while the members opposite are pretending everything is
just great, because there are not many appeals.
One day, the self-same Minister of Human Resources Development
will be getting up to say “Judging by the number of complaints
there have been in the past six months, things are going well.
The number of complaints is dropping.”
I understand, throughout Quebec and Canada people are being
discouraged from appealing overpayments, and that will be
reflected in the statistics the minister likes so much to refer
to, although he does it all wrong. This man has not served, and
does not, serve the interests of the unemployed.
As I have said, I find it rather distasteful that he speaks in
his report of the most disadvantaged and of his priorities, when
in fact he is the one responsible for increasing collective
Ms. Angela Vautour: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his
I wonder if he is aware of the situation in which the Department
of Human Resources Development could accuse an individual
applying for benefits of fraud and force them to repay money,
even though they have never received a cent from the government.
This situation has occurred in the Atlantic provinces. There
are people there who apply and then go on to find a job. They
report it on their card, but if the amount is not exactly what
they earned, even if the department has not paid them a cent,
officials can come after them a year later and ask them to repay
the difference between the amount they reported and the amount
they actually earned working.
But neither the Department of Human Resources Development nor
any other department paid the individual applying for benefits a
The individual never got a cent, but can be asked to repay the
difference. Is the hon. member aware of this situation?
Mr. Yvan Loubier: Mr. Speaker, I must say this is the first time
I hear about such a situation. However, there have been a number
of other cases where small overpayments were claimed. People's
initial reaction was “I will settle this and pay the amount”,
even though they knew they had not received that money. Since
they could not prove their case, they paid the amount that was
But what they did not know—and these people are not told about
their rights in human resources development centres—is that
once they recognized that an overpayment had been made to them
and once they paid the amount, they became, in the eyes of the
minister and his henchmen, guilty parties. They now have a black
mark on their employment insurance file, and the next time they
have the misfortune of being unemployed and make a claim under
the employment insurance program, the department will take a
look at their file.
Because they spontaneously paid the money back, these people
will be penalized in terms of the number of weeks required to
get their first benefits. People must be made aware of that
situation and it is our duty to do so.
Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am
pleased to have the opportunity this afternoon to participate in
this prebudget debate.
I know that traditionally this debate focuses on the report of
the finance committee's fall hearings, but today I want to take
the opportunity to report on prebudget consultations that I and
my NDP colleagues have been holding around the country. We have
returned to parliament having consulted with a lot of Canadians
on their vision for a renewed Canada and on the budget priorities
needed to translate that vision into reality.
People we have met in every corner of Canada are concerned about
the crisis in health care, the escalation of child poverty, the
gutting of unemployment insurance and the national emergency in
homelessness. These are the devastating deficits created by this
government's reckless disregard for the health of families, the
health of communities and the health of our national economy.
In a series of community based economic round tables over the
past two months bringing together people from all walks of life
and all segments of the community to share their ideas on job
creation, we heard very different views and priorities from those
advocated by the Liberal majority on the finance committee
telegraphing no doubt what the finance minister will say on
budget day. Those Liberals think it is enough to cut the surtax
for those in the highest income bracket and to throw a few token
dollars back into health care.
Now that they have made the sacrifices to balance the budget,
Canadians want the federal government to reinvest in the social
programs that bring security to their lives and stability to
their communities. They want some leadership from the government
in tackling the challenges of the new economy.
When it comes to health care the Liberal government refuses to
listen to Canadians. Emergency rooms are overcrowded. Waiting
lists are getting longer. Hospitals are discharging patients
earlier and earlier without publicly provided home care being
there for them. That is why only 30% of Canadians give our
health care system a favourable rating today compared to 60% in
1991. It is why there are growing fears that our health care
system, a uniquely Canadian combination of innovation and social
responsibility, is going to surrender to a foreign American style
two tier health care system.
This government is busy advertising the upcoming budget as the
so-called health budget, and yet having taken $2.5 billion out of
transfers in each of the past three years, all finds would
suggest it may restore less than one-quarter of what it has
ripped out of the health care system. Having reduced the federal
share of health spending from the original 50% to 11% today, the
Liberals have the gall to lecture the provincial governments
about their responsibilities for health care. An immediate
injection of $2.5 billion into health transfers to the provinces
this year is the minimum required to get our health care system
off the critical list.
Second, any health accord between the federal and provincial
governments must generate secure long term federal funding to
enable the provinces to deliver home care and pharma care
programs at a standard adequate to meet the needs of Canadians
regardless of where they live.
A decade has passed since parliamentarians in the House
unanimously endorsed Ed Broadbent's motion, my predecessor, to
end child poverty in Canada by 2000. It will be the shameful
legacy, the most lasting and damning legacy of this finance
minister that on his watch child poverty was proclaimed a
national tragedy and homelessness a national emergency in
communities right across the country.
Canadians are disheartened by the federal government's
abandonment of all responsibility for social housing. They are
humiliated at the UN's condemnation of federal Liberal policies
that have dramatically increased poverty and homelessness during
a period of economic growth, fuelling deeper and deeper divisions
in Canadian society, and deteriorating conditions most
drastically of all among our aboriginal peoples.
Millions of Canadians do not need experts to tell them about
poverty and homelessness because they experience it every day in
their lives. Others who may not experience directly the
punishing effects of this abandonment nevertheless share the
sense of loss. Canadians want a recommitment of a significant,
not token, federal role in social housing and leadership in the
reduction of poverty in our midst. If this government's betrayal
of the poor and homeless has resulted from heartless neglect,
erosion of our employment insurance system has been an act of
The government set out to destroy deliberately what little
security was offered by employment insurance, and it succeeded in
spades. Over 70% of unemployed Canadians received insurance
benefits in 1989. Less than 40% do so today. In my riding of
Halifax it is down to 29%.
Tragically and predictably, this has imposed great hardship on
many families. It has driven many more into the ranks of
poverty. It has also sucked tens of millions of dollars from
local economies in communities right across the land.
The federal government must stop funding its general programs
with resources collected from employers and workers for the
benefit of the unemployed.
The upcoming budget must recommit employment insurance funds for
their intended use, for adequate income replacement for
unemployed workers and for investment in training and other
active transition measures.
The government has acted with the same lack of social
responsibility with regard to post-secondary education. The
Liberals have simply transferred a portion of the federal debt on
to to the personal debtloads of Canada's young people. In some
parts of Canada we have a university system today that is public
in name only. Tuition fees have skyrocketed beyond the reach of
most working families. Our so-called public universities are
being transformed into institutions for the privileged elites.
This government has betrayed a whole generation of young
Canadians in much the same way that it has betrayed its own women
employees in its refusal to negotiate in good faith on
outstanding pay equity claims upheld by Canadian courts.
The first call on the budget surplus therefore is for government
to begin repairing the damage that its policies have inflicted on
our social fabric, on our communities, on our hospitals, on our
schools and on the programs which extend support to the
unemployed and our most vulnerable citizens who for whatever
reasons are not able to fend for themselves. Canadians insist
that their government fulfil these social responsibilities in a
fiscally responsible manner.
For decades we have watched Liberal and Conservative governments
adopt policies that led to annual deficits, a ballooning debt and
rising personal taxes. This happened not because the government
was providing more and better social programs. It is quite the
opposite. The mounting debt and higher personal taxes resulted
from the artificially high interest rates forced on this country
by the Bank of Canada. In an act of supreme irresponsibility,
the Bank of Canada knowingly deepened the last two recessions
leaving lasting scars on both the public finances and on the
lives of millions of ordinary Canadians.
As a result of that colossal blunder, Canadians are now paying
higher taxes for fewer public services, paying more on interest
payments on the debt than on any single social program. It is a
bit like a family paying ever higher and higher mortgage payments
on a house that is getting shabbier and more run down every year.
We must reverse this situation and we must begin with badly
needed renovations on our house while also reducing the burden of
our mortgage payments.
Canadians therefore want and deserve a fairer tax system. They
want the debt problem addressed. It is not a question of whether
these things should be done but a question of how.
On taxes the Liberal majority on the finance committee
apparently thinks that the first priority should be to remove the
surtax on those in the highest income bracket. We in the New
Democratic Party think there is a fairer and more effective way
to grant tax relief. The first priority must be the tax
reduction that will benefit the most people, a reduction in the
Let me remind the House that a 1% reduction in the GST will give
the biggest boost to the economy and create the most numbers of
jobs while giving desperately needed tax relief to ordinary
On the debt, indications are that the finance minister wants to
spend most of the surplus on direct repayment of the fiscal debt.
This would be as imprudent and irresponsible as incurring another
round of deficits.
With the uncertainties in the global economy Canadians could
face a recession in coming months. We have already seen the
terrible impact that the collapse in commodity prices has had on
farm incomes. The federal government has been desperately slow to
respond to this crisis in our farming communities and must do so
now, adequately and decisively in the upcoming budget.
Because of the threat of a severe economic downturn resulting
from the crisis in international markets it would be
irresponsible to add to these risks. Overly aggressive debt
repayment would put an additional drag on economic growth.
Ironically such an ill advised course of action could slow down
the economy to the point of forcing us into a deficit situation
next year. That is something we must avoid. We need an approach
that balances the need to lessen the burden of interest charges
on the debt with the obligation to avoid risks with the economy.
Recommitment to social responsibility and a responsible balanced
approach to spending, tax relief and debt reduction are the
things Canadians want in the upcoming budget. These questions
have been on the agenda for more than two decades. Canadians are
looking for some leadership, some vision and some imagination in
dealing with the challenges of rapid technological change in a
world of global economic uncertainty. That leadership is needed
to tackle the continuing high rate of unemployment and severe
under employment that plagues too many Canadians.
The most recent disastrous decision that shows the government's
insensitivity and unwillingness to respond to those continuing
high levels of unemployment is its decision last week to pull the
plug on Devco, an important engine of economic activity and
growth in the Nova Scotia economy, a community suffering from an
official unemployment level of over 20% and unofficially
estimated to be above 40%.
Leadership is also needed to reduce the insecurity and stresses
on families struggling to deal with deteriorating health care,
escalating education costs and the erosion of vitally important
public services. In the past 15 years the two parties holding
government in this country has pursued virtually the same course,
reduce inflation, cut the deficit, slash social programs, weaken
worker ability to bargain selectively and somehow we will all be
in economic clover. This government calls it getting the
economic fundamentals right. It has not worked. It is not going
to work to improve the living standards of ordinary people. It
has not worked to lift families out of poverty. It has not
worked for the homeless. The earnings of low and middle income
Canadians have fallen rather than risen in the past decade.
Ordinary Canadians are working harder and harder for less and
The government's formula has not worked in its own terms.
Getting the economic fundamentals right, as it loves to say, has
not got the economic fundamentals right. The Canadian dollar has
declined to a level that would have been unthinkable a decade
ago. Economic analysts are unanimous in condemning the Canadian
economy for one of the worst records in productivity growth among
the major world economies. Despite generous tax measures in
place, corporations in Canada, especially foreign multinationals,
rate very poorly in research and development, one of the keys to
future economic prosperity.
To ensure the vibrant economy that we need, to create the badly
needed jobs and to sustain the social programs that Canadians
cherish we must get beyond the complacent and lazy notion that
getting the economic fundamentals right is enough. Canadians
need government to encourage the kind of economic practices that
will lead to a genuine widely shared prosperity that enables
ordinary Canadians to make a rewarding life for themselves.
The first challenge is to reinvest in our social programs. This
will benefit the economy in general and it will generate decent,
rewarding jobs in health, education and other vital public
services like environmental protection and clean-up, benefiting
those who fill the new jobs but also the community where those
jobs are created.
The second challenge is to ensure that the savings of ordinary
Canadians are channelled into the long term responsible
investments that will lead to improvements in productivity. Our
current tax system treats short term speculation in exactly the
same way as long term investments that create productivity
improvements and sustainable jobs. This has to change. Our
productivity challenge is to find practical ways of encouraging
pension funds and other pools of savings into the kinds of
investments that will improve productivity and assist community
We must make sure that everyone, not just computer wizards, gets
the training they need to keep up with the dizzying pace of
technological change. Canadians need ready access to educational
opportunity and we must find ways to get employers to do a better
job of investing in on the job training.
When profitable companies like Bell Canada sell off one of their
divisions to avoid paying their pay equity obligations and to
drastically reduce the pay and benefits of long service
employees, there is something seriously wrong with our economic
culture. An economy without expectations of corporate
responsibility, where decision makers put shareholder value above
all other values to the exclusion of their commitments to long
serving employees and above their community obligations is one
that is surely failing. As long as employees have no reason to
trust in the good faith of their employers, no sense that their
loyalty and service will be respected and rewarded, our economy
will not be as productive as it needs to be.
In the case of Bell Canada the CRTC must review whether Bell
Canada's actions violate federal regulations, but in general
Canadians expect their government to start building the framework
for an economic citizenship where economic decision makers are
bound not just by the short term bottom line but to their
responsibilities to communities where they do business, to the
environment and to their employees.
The performance of our economy is not only a question of the
quality of our technology. It depends on the social capital of
trust between employer and employee in a democratic workplace and
on the good citizenship of economic decision makers. To build
such an economic citizenship in the context of globalization is a
huge challenge and one that cries for federal leadership.
Another economic challenge requiring imagination is the
situation facing Canadian families who are increasingly stressed
out trying to juggle work and family responsibilities of
children, of frail family members and of elderly parents. There
is a shortage of affordable quality day care and no financial
support for parents who care for their young children or elderly
parents at home. Inflexible work arrangements make it difficult
for parents to be at home when kids are forced to stay home sick
or when kids return after school.
Neither the government nor the private sector has begun to meet
the challenge of creating arrangements that reconcile a thriving
economy with a thriving community that meets the needs of
families. Canadians need their government to make this a
priority. They need solid progress toward this important
In conclusion, to make progress in these areas will take
imaginative visionary leadership. Canadians are not getting that
currently from the government or their Prime Minister. How
typical of the Prime Minister's arrogance and petty mindedness
when before Christmas he said to Canadians that some mornings he
wakes up and he feels like giving the provinces some more money
for health, and other mornings he wakes up and he does not feel
like giving Canadians more money for health. He might as well
have said let them eat cake.
Canadians deserve better, and on their behalf we demand better
in the upcoming federal budget.
Mr. Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
listened intently to the leader of the New Democratic Party. I
am reminded of listening to Tommy Douglas in the 1960s and 1970s.
The speeches do not seem very different to me.
The issue I hear coming across loud and strong is that we should
spend more money. Canada is the second highest spender on health
care in the western world. We have to recognize that we are
spending exceedingly great amounts of money on health care.
I do not deny that the member's argument contains a lot of
concern about the delivery of the system. However I wish the
member would have taken more time to say how we could deliver
health care more effectively to the citizens of Canada within the
parameters of our current spending envelope rather than simply
writing more cheques.
My constituents are telling me that they do not want governments
to spend more money in spite of the consultative process they
claim to have gone through. The people of Durham are saying that
they do not want governments to spend more money. In fact they
want governments to have accountability for the money they are
spending. They want more service for the money being spent. The
answer is not simply to spend more money.
The member went on to talk about labour productivity. I am very
concerned about the issue because labour is hiding behind a
deflated and imaginary value of the Canadian dollar. The day the
Canadian dollar starts trading anywhere close to 85 cents there
will be massive unemployment in the country. The the association
between labour productivity and the unemployment insurance system
Does the member have any commitment at all to balanced budgets
in the future?
Ms. Alexa McDonough: Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that
not only the Prime Minister is not listening to Canadians. It is
not just the finance minister who is not listening to Canadians.
Backbenchers in the Liberal caucus are clearly not listening to
Canadians. This backbencher certainly did not listen to what I
There is no rule in the House that requires him to do so. I
acknowledge that. However, if he rises to ask questions one
would hope that he would have listened to my making a point that
I will make again very clearly for him to hear one more time.
Canadians are looking for accountability in how their governments
deal with health care. That is why they are offended by his
government ripping billions and billions of dollars, massive
amounts of dollars, out of the health system unilaterally and
refusing to be accountable for what it has done in that regard.
Accountability is needed but Canadians are sick and tired of the
hypocrisy of the Liberals saying to the provinces that they
should be accountable for health care dollars. The provinces
should be accountable for health care but so too should the
federal government be accountable for health care.
Mr. Jim Jones (Markham, PC): Mr. Speaker, I heard a lot
of fluff in the speech from the leader of the New Democratic
If she became leader of the country what would she do
differently than when her cousin, Bob Rae, took over the Ontario
government? In his tenure he lost close to 500,000 jobs for
Ontario. He virtually took a balanced budget and Ontario into
roughly a $14 billion deficit in a short period of four or five
years. Meanwhile Mike Harris, since he has been in office, has
created 500,000 jobs.
What would the leader of the NDP do differently than her cousin
Bob Rae did in his tenure as leader of the Ontario NDP?
Ms. Alexa McDonough: Mr. Speaker, it is extremely
disappointing to think that opposition members in that distant
corner are so disinterested in holding the federal Liberal
government to account that they want to divert attention, to
divert pressure and to talk about a provincial government of a
different political stripe in a bygone era of almost a decade
ago. I do not think that is doing what constituents elected
federal members of parliament to come to Ottawa to do.
The government needs opposition members who are seriously
interested in demanding accountability, in focusing on the
challenges we face today and tomorrow in delivering an adequate
government and quality social programs, in balancing the budget
and in seizing the important economic challenges we are facing in
an increasingly complicated global economy.
Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, does the leader of the newly business friendly New
Democratic Party want to see a combination of cutbacks and higher
spending, or has it entered her mind that perhaps some tax cuts
might be useful?
Ms. Alexa McDonough: Mr. Speaker, we have just seen a
demonstration of one more way in which government members and
official opposition members behave in the exact same manner.
Members from neither party listen to a single word said in the
House by anybody but their own apologists in their own caucuses.
Members from neither party seem to understand the notion of
walking and chewing gum at the same time.
It is absolutely clear that Canadians do not want either/or.
They do not want better and more accountable spending but
recklessness with respect to dealing with the budget. They want
both/and. If the government cannot deliver both, it is darn
clear the official opposition cannot deliver either. That is why
we are prepared to present a real alternative.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Mr. Guy St-Julien (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
January 1, 1999, will always be a sad day for the people of
Kangiqsualujjuaq, in the Nunavik. We are not about to forget
that, on that day, an avalanche destroyed the school's
gymnasium, injuring many people and killing nine Inuit.
Seconds after this tragedy occurred, without hesitation, dozens
of members of this Inuit community rushed out to get the search
and rescue operation under way in the middle of the night to
prevent further loss of life.
I wish to draw the attention of all Canadians to the magnitude
of the work done since this tragic event and the difficult
conditions in which it was performed following the avalanche.
The constant co-operation of experts from various Inuit
organizations and from provincial and federal departments
throughout this operation must be commended.
We must also commend Mayor Magie Emudluk and the Inuit staff of
Nunavik, of the Kangiqsualujjuaq health center and of Kuujjuaq
for their contribution. Their tireless efforts have brought
great comfort to the affected families.
We will continue to support your efforts to help the families
affected, to rebuild and to get back on your feet.
* * *
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, an Alberta boss has set a new standard for
employer-employee relations. Norbert Reinhart, an executive of
Terramundo Drilling, courageously walked into the jungles of
Colombia and voluntarily gave himself up as a hostage. He placed
himself in jeopardy in order to secure the freedom of his
employee, Ed Leonard, who had been seized by Marxist guerrillas.
Mr. Reinhart remained a hostage of the guerrillas for 96 days
before he was released for ransom last month.
This Alberta businessman showed true compassion toward his
employee and had the courage to risk his life for another's
Today we honour Norbert Reinhart for being a model of the values
that build a strong, caring society and for being a true Canadian
* * *
WHITE CANE WEEK
Mr. Lynn Myers (Waterloo—Wellington, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the first week of February is White Cane Week in Canada. This
event, organized by the Canadian Council of the Blind and the
Canadian National Institute for the Blind, is designed to focus
on the abilities, concerns and needs of people who are blind,
visually impaired or deaf-blind. The white cane, associated with
people who are blind since the 1930s, has become a symbol of
blindness, courage and independent spirit.
White Cane Week was first launched by a group of blind people
who felt there was a lack of understanding about what the white
cane represented. It continues to be an event to educate the
public and to make all Canadians aware of blind people's
White Cane Week is an opportunity for everyone to find out more
about the blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind. We should all
be more aware of this condition that affects so many Canadians.
If anyone wishes to find out more about White Cane Week they can
contact their local Canadian Council of the Blind or the Canadian
National Institute for the Blind. They are deserving of our
* * *
THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF OLDER PERSONS
Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the United Nations has designated 1999 as the
international year of older persons. At its launch it encouraged
all nations to take advantage of the year so as to increase
awareness of the challenge of the demographic aging of societies,
the individual and social needs of older persons, their
contribution to society and the need for a change in attitude
toward older persons. The UN has designated this year's theme as
“A Society for all ages”.
In this context I would like to salute the hard work of the
Community Older Persons Alcohol Program, or COPA, which is
situate in my riding. Founded in 1993 as a specialized
home-visiting addiction treatment service for individuals 55
years of age and over, COPA is committed to addressing the
treatment needs of the older adult in the west Toronto area.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all
organizations who believe in improving the lives of older persons
and to salute a community which built this country for
generations to come.
* * *
Mr. Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, no other
sport defines our nation as does hockey and no other sport is
more exemplary of our culture and our pride in our country. That
is why I was especially proud that my own Durham federal Liberal
riding association was able to sponsor the Olympic women's Team
Canada versus Team Finland hockey game in Oshawa on January 20
I want to thank the Minister of Canadian Heritage for being part
of the ceremonies. It was the first time Team Canada has played
in the Metro Toronto area. The minister's commitment to
fostering and advancing our unique culture in the mainstream of
public life was recognized by all.
With standing room only, 4,000 Durhamites in a sea of Canadian
flags was an inspiration for us all. A great display of skill
and perseverance ended in a six-all tie that was a real fan
I extend thanks to the CHA, the staff of the Oshawa Civic
Auditorium, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Clairington
women's hockey association, the Clairington girls' hockey
association, as well as all the other women's and girls' hockey
associations that made this event a great success.
* * *
THE PRIME MINISTER
Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it
would be nice to say that the Prime Minister has extraordinary
vision for the country, but ironically the PM only sees 20-20
when it involves his blind trust.
While it is in the Prime Minister's best interest to keep
Canadians in the dark, he should come clean before the House
about his conflict of interest. The Prime Minister is required
by law to put his business in a blind trust so Canadians know he
is not abusing power. But the Prime Minister ignores the law and
gropes around in the not-so-blind trust anyway.
This raises two questions: What kind of ethics commissioner
would have an open discussion with a public office holder about
holdings in a blind trust? Only one appointed by and dependent
upon the Prime Minister for his job.
What else has the Prime Minister not told us about his business
dealings? Bombardier gets a lot of lucrative, untendered
contracts. Maybe the PM has stock. We do not really know.
Canadians deserve to know.
This is a case of three blind mice: the Prime Minister, the
ethics commissioner and the public, but only the public is in the
* * *
THE 1999 FEDERAL BUDGET
Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce—Grey, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
later on this month the Minister of Finance will be bringing down
our 1999 federal budget.
Last summer I conducted, as did many members, a survey of my
constituents of Bruce—Grey. I asked them about their priorities
for our communities. They said to me, in no uncertain terms:
health care, debt reduction and tax relief. That is what I hope
the finance minister will come up with when he brings the budget
down on February 16.
I want to say to my constituents that the finance minister
listens to the needs of Canadians.
As well, I hope the finance minister will be listening to my
appeal for help for families and children.
* * *
Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
Canadians were horrified when a judge in the B.C. supreme court
recently ruled that it was legal to possess child pornography.
The B.C. government is appealing this decision and even though
it is not binding on other provinces it could set a precedent for
other jurisdictions to follow.
Child pornography is violence against children. It is child
abuse and the possession of it must be treated as such.
There are many things that are illegal to possess, as well as
illegal to produce. Child pornography should be no different.
The full force of the government must be brought to bear against
the possession of this filth.
The youth of today are this country's future and our
responsibility. We have the duty to shield our children from the
scourge of child pornography. I support the Minister of Justice
in her efforts to quickly achieve intervener status in order to
defend the legislation and protect our children.
* * *
Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it was
terrifying. The bandit forced me to go from room to room in my
house and watch while he and his accomplices loaded half of
everything I owned into his truck to haul away. I was powerless
to stop him. When he was done and left I phoned the police. But
they would not help.
Why did the police not come to help? The answer is simple. The
bandit was the tax collector.
If an ordinary criminal were to come into my house and take half
of everything I own, we would not let him get away with it. But
when it is the tax collector, he is authorized to take half of my
earnings every year and the only person who can get into trouble
is me if I do not help him load.
It is high time that we gave Canadians some tax relief. It just
is not right to take half of their earnings year after year after
* * *
Mr. Claude Drouin (Beauce, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on January 13,
the Quebec City region received very good news for its economy.
Indeed, the Canadian government, through the Export Development
Corporation, agreed to join Investissement Québec in funding the
construction of the Spirit of Columbus platform in the Lévis
Now that funding has been secured for the platform, anything is
The Government of Canada was involved in the search for viable
solutions, which open up interesting perspectives for the
The Bloc Quebecois had accused the Liberal government of not
abiding by its promises in this respect. Once again, they have
been proven wrong. The government did deliver on its promises to
the workers of this shipyard. The funding granted will have a
positive impact and boost the economy in the Quebec City and
This is further proof of the Canadian government's vigourous
involvement in this country's economic development.
* * *
Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Speaker,
on December 31, while the community of Kangiqsualujjuaq was
ringing in the New Year, a terrible avalanche destroyed the
school gymnasium, killing nine and injuring 25.
But for the vigilance and determination of members of the
community who rushed to free people from the snow, the toll
would have been much higher. Let us pay tribute to the
community spirit of the Inuit of Kangiqsualujjuaq.
To the families who were touched by this tragedy, and to the
entire population of Nunavik, the Bloc Quebecois extends its
* * *
Mr. Chris Axworthy (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, in 1993 this House passed Bill C-121 which made the
production, dealing and possession of child pornography
indictable offences. But the recent B.C. court decision has
reminded us that child pornography remains a serious problem in
Depictions of child pornography comprise a permanent record of a
child being sexually abused. People who possess child
pornography may not have participated in the original crime, but
they are certainly accomplices. Each time a pedophile taps into
this pornographic underworld the children portrayed are
victimized over and over again.
Preventing the sexual abuse of children is a battle that must be
fought by all Canadians, regardless of their political stripe or
I and my colleagues in the NDP caucus urge parliament and all
parliamentarians to reaffirm their commitment to Canada's
children by voicing loudly society's utter condemnation of this
form of child sexual abuse. We must send a clear message: When
the rights of children, our most precious resource, and the
rights of pedophiles and predators come into conflict, the rights
of children must prevail.
* * *
Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the
Bloc Quebecois wishes to congratulate the chief prosecutor for
the international criminal tribunals, Madame Justice Louise
Arbour, for her courage and determination in the present crisis
By trying to get to the bottom of the events that led to the
deaths of 45 Kosovars, among them women and children, in Racka,
Madame Justice Arbour has shown once again that she takes her
job seriously and that she has no intention of caving in to
those seeking to escape international criminal justice.
With a new round of fighting under way and the parties summoned
to Rambouillet with a view to a ceasefire and the resumption of
negotiations, it is to be hoped that the agreement to be signed
at the international peace conference will give Madame Justice
Arbour the tools to bring to justice those who have committed
the massacres and atrocities that have so appalled humanity.
* * *
Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the referendum game is on again, since this past
At the Parti Quebecois national council meeting, the party and
Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard did not exclude the possibility
of public funds being used to promote the secession of Quebec.
The Parti Quebecois has not understood that, not having obtained
a majority vote in the last Quebec election, it cannot do
anything it wants. The Parti Quebecois has not understood that
the population of Quebec has given the government a mandate to
govern within the framework of Canadian federalism, not one to
pave the way for another referendum.
The population of Quebec has given the Government of Quebec a
mandate to work effectively and in collaboration with the
Canadian government, not to seek to harm and destroy our
* * *
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT WEEK
Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, PC): Mr. Speaker, today, on
behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus, I would like to
draw attention to International Development Week.
This week affords us the opportunity to celebrate the
exceptional work being done by the thousands of Canadians
actively involved in developing countries in helping to bring
about peace, reduce poverty and injustice, preserve our shared
environment, and forge links of trust and friendship world-wide.
International aid, which plays a decisive role in the social and
economic transformation of increasing numbers of developing
countries, must remain one of our national priorities for this
By continuing to invest in sustainable development in the
developing countries, we shall succeed in meeting the needs of
the present without compromising those of the future, thus
building a safer and more equitable world.
* * *
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, on December 14, 1995, on a motion introduced in the
House, the House of Commons declared February as Black History
From the earliest period of our history to the present, people
of African origin have contributed toward making Canada one of
the most envied nations in the world.
Black people, both as slaves and as free men and women, gave
greatly of themselves to the development of our nation. As
fishermen and domestics in New France, soldiers and labourers in
Nova Scotia, fur traders for the Hudson's Bay Company, prairie
farmers, skilled tradesmen, teachers, and businessmen in
pre-Confederation British Columbia, African Canadians have
brought a wealth of skills to our country and continue to do so.
I encourage all members of parliament to take advantage of the
opportunity to meet with members of the Black community in their
ridings and to join in the celebration of Black History Month.
* * *
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
Canadians were shocked and deeply hurt to learn recently that an
organizing committee chaired by a federal bureaucrat
discriminated against the Christian faith at the Swissair crash
memorial service held on September 9.
Christian clergy were not allowed to mention the name Jesus or
use their New Testament scriptures. The remarks of other
religious groups received no such censure.
As when any basic human right is transgressed, there are
unfortunate and painful consequences. This censure was unfair to
the Christian clergy making presentations and it was a disservice
to those Christians at the ceremony seeking comfort, solace and
healing from their terrible pain.
Appropriately, the federal government offered an apology and
expressed some responsibility.
However, Canadians want to know that religious discrimination
like this will not happen again. They demand constructive
Therefore it is now up to the government to put its apology into
actions. It is time for the Prime Minister to develop strict
guidelines to ensure that religious discrimination like that
which occurred at the Swissair memorial service never happens
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, our Prime Minister is a funny guy. Whenever he talks
about taxes he gets a twinkle in his eye. I am serious. He has
it there now.
Last week in Switzerland he said a funny thing. He said he was
glad that Brian Mulroney had imposed the GST. At the time he
publicly criticized the GST and now he admits that he secretly
admired the tax.
I would like to ask old twinkle eyes over there, just between
you and me—
The Speaker: Colleagues, I would hope we would address
each other as hon. members rather than give ourselves nicknames.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, what I said in Davos is that we do not want the country
to be in the same situation as the government was in after years
of not balancing the books and having a huge deficit. The
government had to raise taxes just to pay unemployment insurance
because it had a very large deficit and it had no choice.
I said the same thing will not happen in Canada under the
present management and the people applauded me for that.
Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, twinkle toes.
The finance minister, who is not such a funny guy, is bringing
down a budget this month. It seems we just paid for our Christmas
presents and now we have to pay the taxes. Every Canadian
approaches tax time a little differently. Some people dread it.
Some people shrug their shoulders. Some people say one thing and
We know the Prime Minister has mixed feelings. Will he tell us
how he feels about tax time 1999?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the Prime Minister at tax time 1999 feels much better
than at tax time in 1994. He knows that the Minister of Finance
has reduced taxes in the last two years. He has reduced the EI
contribution in the last four years. I hope the minister will be
able to carry on with the policy of balancing our books as well
as payment on the debt, reduction of taxes, and money for social
and economic programs.
Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, surely the Prime Minister is kidding. When he was in the
official opposition he publicly attacked Brian Mulroney for
raising taxes. Now we know he actually secretly admired him for
How are we to know that when the Prime Minister says he favours
tax relief now, he really is not secretly hoping that he can
maintain high tax levels?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, we have reduced the taxes. We have balanced the books
since we formed the government.
The previous government could not manage it and it had to
increase taxes constantly. It did not prudently manage at the
beginning of its mandate as this government has done.
When I listen to the Leader of the Opposition I understand why
he needs a group therapist from the United States.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
* * *
Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the federal
Liberals say they are ready to reinvest in health care, but they
chose to cut $16.5 billion cumulative out of health care.
They chose business subsidies to cut health. They chose regional
giveaways to cut health. When every single Canadian would choose
medicare, why did they choose to cut it?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
soon enough this government will demonstrate in a very tangible
way its long term commitment to the health care system in Canada.
The real issue is how can the Reform Party stand and pretend to
speak in favour of medicare when it would spend nothing
additional on health? Let me quote from a document that was
distributed at a Reform meeting in Victoria recently. This is
what it would do with the surplus: “Half of the surplus should
go toward debt reduction with the other half devoted to tax
relief”. Nothing for health.
The Speaker: I ask the hon. member not to use a prop.
Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the
minister missed the $6 billion over the next three years for
medicare. He missed that.
What is the health minister trying to do? He is trying to get a
report card on the provinces for health. What does the federal
Liberal report card look like? When it comes to transfers to the
provinces, F. When it comes to 188,000 people on waiting lists
in Canada, F. When it comes to 1,400 doctors having left this
country in the last three years, F.
How could this minister look at others for a report card on
health care when his record is an F?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the Reform Party would not do well in mathematics. It might get
an F because it seems to me that if we devote half the surplus
toward tax relief and half toward debt reduction, we have not got
any money left for health care.
The Reform Party really has an agenda that is quite hidden. It
talks about privatizing medicine, about removing the restrictions
of the Canada Health Act, allowing Canadians a choice. We all
know what that means. It is code language for an American style
system of private health care. We will never be in favour of
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the
Liberal government has cut $6.3 in transfer payments, including
$3.2 billion in health care.
By doing so, it has forced the provinces to bear political
responsibility for federal cuts.
Does the Prime Minister not find it distasteful to impose
conditions on the provinces now that he has a surplus, which he
in fact accumulated on the backs of the provinces?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
all we are asking is that the provinces taking the money we want
applied to health care guarantee that that is where it will go.
I think that is what the House of Commons and the people of
We also want to make sure that the public and voters in each
province know exactly where the money will be spent, and this
way we will know too. We want to find a way to prevent disputes
between the federal and provincial governments. These are not
very dangerous requests, and I think that—
The Speaker: The hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in
the 1995 budget speech, the Minister of Finance said, and I
quote “Provinces will now be able to design more innovative
social programs—programs that respond to the needs of people
today rather than to inflexible rules”.
What happened to the good intentions of 1995? Did the Prime
Minister decide, rather than take the approach of the Minister
of Finance on federal spending power, to take that of the
Minister of Health?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the best example is the child tax credit, which was negotiated
in the area of social security between the federal and
We injected $1.7 billion in this area
after coming to a very good understanding with the provinces.
That shows clearly a solution can be found in the presence of
Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it is the
federal government which is responsible for the billions of
dollars in cuts that the provinces have had to contend with in
the health sector.
Yet, this same government has done its utmost to make the
provinces bear the blame for these cuts.
Considering the Prime Minister did everything he could to have the provinces
bear the blame for these cuts, how can the prime minister now
justify that, as he is about to give back to the provinces a
small portion of the money that he deprived them of, his main if
not only concern is to look like a saviour and ensure the
federal government's political visibility?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the federal government wants all Canadians to know exactly what
their government is doing for them.
A responsible government that collects taxes should be able to
tell taxpayers what it does with their money.
Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue, BQ): Mr. Speaker, if he has
any sense of responsibility, will the Prime Minister recognize
that it is the federal government that made cuts in the health
sector, that accumulated budget surpluses after making such
cuts, and that, consequently, it is the federal government that
must unconditionally give back to the provinces the money that
it deprived them of, so they can provide health services to the
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
in order to eliminate the $42 billion deficit which we
inherited, we had to make cuts that affected everyone.
Still, the provinces continued to receive federal payments in
the form of tax points. Half of the amount referred to earlier
by the Bloc Quebecois leader has already been paid back through
the tax points that have led to an increase in provincial
As I just said, the child benefit was used to transfer money to
the provincial governments. We hope to have the same kind of
co-operation in the case of health.
Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my
question is also for the Prime Minister.
After years of federal cuts, the government now wants a report
card from the provinces as a condition for reinvestment in health
care. Surely what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Canadians want the federal government to be accountable too.
After all, it is the federal government that massively and
unilaterally cut health care transfers.
Why is the federal government advocating accountability for the
provinces but avoiding accountability for itself?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
had the member read what we were saying, we were proposing
accountability by governments to Canadians, that both the federal
and provincial governments be accountable. We spend $80 billion
a year on health care and we do not know what we get for the
We are proposing that once and for all, governments work
together to measure outcomes and results and report to Canadians
on what they are getting for their health care dollar.
Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is
obvious that the health minister lacks clout, so I want to direct
my supplementary to the finance minister.
The minister hints that he may return 25 cents for every dollar
he has ripped out of health care. For this Canadians are
supposed to be grateful, to bow down and kiss his ring.
Meanwhile, some women are forced to drive 300 kilometres to
deliver their babies because there are no hospital beds nearby.
Will the finance minister today agree to return $2.5 billion to
health care this year and commit today to long term stable health
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the government has made it very clear ever since last
spring, the Prime Minister did so in a speech and the Minister of
Health has made the same statement as indeed have most of the
ministers on behalf of the government, that health care is indeed
a priority for this government in this particular budget.
I would simply remind the hon. member that in fact health
insurance was brought in by the Liberal Party in 1957, that
medicare has been supported by the Liberal Party throughout the
whole piece. The foundation for health care in this country was
an innovation of Liberal governments and this government is going
to protect it in the future.
* * *
Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC):
Mr. Speaker, most Canadians were shocked and outraged in the wake
of a B.C. justice's ruling dismissing charges of possession of
child pornography as unconstitutional.
There is an urgent need for clarification for law enforcement
agents, the judiciary and all Canadians. The protection of
children afforded by section 163 of the Criminal Code should be
Will the Minister of Justice do more than simply intervene in
the B.C. appeal and will she reference the Sharpe case to the
Supreme Court of Canada immediately?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I reassure the House this
government takes very seriously the protection of our children.
This government takes very seriously allegations of child
pornography and child abuse. As the hon. member is aware,
carriage of this case lies primarily with the attorney general of
British Columbia who has appealed this case to the B.C. court of
appeal. He has asked for an expedited appeal.
Last week I made the decision to intervene on behalf of the
Government of Canada and the people of Canada to defend the
constitutionality of this law before the B.C. court of appeal.
Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is
for the Minister of Justice.
Does the minister feel that child pornography legislation
constitutes a reasonable restriction on freedom of expression?
If so, should she not take immediate action, in the best
interests of our children, and refer this matter to the Supreme
Court of Canada right away?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the intervention of the
Government of Canada before the B.C. court of appeal points out,
we are defending the constitutionality of that section of the
Criminal Code. We believe that law to be constitutional.
* * *
Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
the Prime Minister's ethical questions grow longer every day. The
ethics watchdog has now become the Prime Minister's own personal
guard dog. I just received a personal letter from the ethics
counsellor defending the Prime Minister and his actions. Is this
the new Liberal definition of ethics?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, she should be grateful that the ethics counsellor is
willing to give all the information on the conflict of interest
rulings made public in this House in June 1994. He is the one
who advises every one of us, including me. He advises members
from both sides of the House. He is always happy to give the
information to anybody who wants it. That is why he met with
reporters in the past. I always follow the instructions of the
Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
it would be so handy if the Canadian public and this parliament
knew exactly what the ethical code and guidelines are. Nobody
seems to know what they are. The ethics counsellor simply has
coffee with and reports to the Prime Minister but not to
parliament. He is accountable to parliament. Could the Prime
Minister stand in his place and make this determination: I am
committed, as I said in the red book, to have an independent
ethics counsellor who will report to parliament and not simply to
the Prime Minister?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, there was none of that. We established this institution
to help all members of parliament. In the final analysis the
Prime Minister is responsible to the House of Commons when there
are problems of that nature. There were some cases where he met
with members of parliament to explain the situation. He has been
very open to the press. At the end of the day the responsibility
for the good conduct of cabinet is that of the Prime Minister.
This Prime Minister always discharges his responsibilities.
* * *
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the intentions
of the federal Minister of Health are clear. He wants to
control the provinces' exercise of their constitutional rights
with respect to health.
Will this federal interference in health matters not mean more
public servants, statisticians and inspectors, rather than more
doctors, nurses and clinical staff, which is what the public
Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for
Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, as always, the Government of Canada intends to respect
the Constitution fully.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Hon. Stéphane Dion: We intend to work with the provinces in a
spirit of respect for the Constitution as it applies to the
health sector, just as a certain federal minister wanted to work
with the provinces in the education sector 10 years ago.
That minister was Lucien Bouchard, and he said as follows: “We
must also remember that... what we are now tackling, in
co-operation with the provinces, are questions such as improved
accessibility to student assistance, increased funding for
university research, and funding for improved post-secondary
education research and information.”
That minister had respect for the Constitution.
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): What a lot of nonsense, Mr.
The five tenets of Canada's health system are: public
administration, universality, accessibility, comprehensiveness
Are we to understand from the behaviour of the federal
government that it is unable to ensure these five tenets and
wants to add a sixth, its own visibility?
Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for
Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, one can always look through the wrong end of the
telescope, the way the Bloc Quebecois does.
The fact remains that Canada is a modern federation and the
Canadian government has weighty responsibilities in the matter
of health, which are completely consistent with the Constitution
and which are as follows: drug licensing, screening for
epidemics, international health agreements, food inspection,
health research, collection of statistics, criminal law—it is
against the law to knowingly endanger someone else's health—,
aboriginal health care, monitoring of immigration at border
points with respect to health, public health information
campaigns, military hospitals, health services—
The Speaker: The member for Calgary Southeast.
* * *
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
Revenue Canada workers in Ottawa are being handed pink slips so
that the Prime Minister can spread more pork around his riding.
In December I asked the revenue minister just how many of his
employees were being moved from Ottawa to Shawinigan and he did
not have a clue at that time.
Again, how many public servants in the revenue department are
being moved from Ottawa to Shawinigan or are being fired so that
the Prime Minister can take care of business back home?
Hon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal (Minister of National Revenue,
Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member woke up. In
1996 the government announced a realignment to make sure we
utilize all the tax service offices across Canada, including the
ones in Surrey, in Summerside and in Ottawa to use high
technology scanning and make it an overall call centre.
This was announced two years ago. I am glad the hon. member
woke up to the realignment across the country to ensure we serve
taxpayers and provide excellent service. That is why this was
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
I am sorry the minister is still asleep at the switch. He still
has not given an answer. How many jobs have moved to Shawinigan?
When Brian Mulroney started filling his riding with pork, the
Liberals cried foul. Now this Prime Minister has become the king
of pork, the prince of pork in his own constituency, giving his
riding three new hotel additions, a new convention centre, tennis
courts, a theme park, a new armoury and of course the canoe hall
of fame, all paid for with tax dollars.
Is this why the tax centre is being moved to Shawinigan, because
that is where all the money is being spent?
Hon. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal (Minister of National Revenue,
Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is very typical of the Reform Party.
It wants to divide Canadians this way. It wants to divide
Canadians by region.
I have been informed that one job is moving to the Shawinigan
riding. I know the Prime Minister may not be happy but that is
* * *
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques,
BQ): Mr. Speaker, the government is demanding that the provinces
undertake to spend any increase in the Canada social transfer to
health in accordance with federal terms and conditions.
Is this not somewhat brazen on the part of a government which
misappropriated $20 billion out of the EI surplus to finance
numerous other projects, from debt reduction to tax cuts, not to
mention the purchase of new submarines?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if I
understand the hon. member's question, when we took office, the
previous government was planning to raise EI premiums to $3.30.
We, on the other hand, have lowered them every year and, this
year, they are down to $2.55, a reduction in excess of $1.5
billion over last year. This is money in the pockets of Canadian
workers and small businesses.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques,
BQ): Mr. Speaker, in his new book, the minister responsible for
the employment insurance program laments the plight of the poor
and the excluded who are the victims of globalization.
Is this not brazen on the part of a minister who imposed quotas
to his officials with respect to the number of unemployed who
should be excluded from the EI program?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, these allegations about quotas
are false. I have never heard anything about such quotas. It is
clear however that, like any responsible government, we want to
protect our system against fraud because, in order to serve
Canadians well, we must see to it that the money goes where it
is intended to go.
So, checks are run to ensure the integrity of the system, since
the best guarantee for the future of a system is its integrity.
* * *
Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, a British Columbia supreme court decision has made
the possession of pornography legal.
Over 70 Liberals have joined with Reformers in urging the
minister to use the special Constitution clause to override the
court in this instance.
Will the minister today take action and solve this problem for
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have already indicated,
we have taken action, as has the attorney general of British
Columbia. He announced immediately that he will appeal the
decision. He will seek an expedited appeal and we will intervene
to support him in the appeal of this case.
We believe that subsection of the code to be constitutional and
we will defend it.
Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, this decision has given pedophiles the right to
Over 70 members on that side have asked for action on this
issue. This minister and all members of this House in June took
15 minutes to give themselves a pay raise. Will this minister
speak to her House leader and in 15 minutes today let us solve
this problem of pedophiles?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have to point out and
express my deep dismay at the fundamentally incorrect
interpretation of the effect of Mr. Justice Shaw's decision in
this case. I think it is most unfortunate that the hon. member
would so misrepresent the situation.
We believe that subsection of the Criminal Code is
constitutional. That is why we are taking the extraordinary step
of intervening before the B.C. court of appeal.
* * *
Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ): Mr. Speaker, last June, the
Minister of Indian Affairs announced the creation of an
independent inquiry into the division of matrimonial property
between men and women when there is a divorce. At the present
time, aboriginal women have no protection whatsoever in this
area under the Indian Act.
How can the minister explain that, eight months later, this
inquiry has not moved ahead one iota, and the people who are to
take part in it have not even been named?
Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there has been advancement.
The hon. member may be making reference to Bill C-49 which is
under debate in the House now. In that piece of legislation 14
first nations will achieve control over the lands that are theirs
on reserve. Included in that is a commitment among those 14
first nations to present codes of review for marital property.
As we speak now there are no aspects in the Indian Act that
focus on matrimonial property. As a result of this legislation
there will be.
* * *
Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Public Works and Government
Recent municipal tax changes by the Ontario government have
created property tax chaos, especially for those municipalities
that depend on payments in lieu of taxes from the federal
What is the government doing to ease the tax burden on local
property taxpayers such as those in Ottawa-Carleton?
Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and
Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have just
announced changes in the way the Government of Canada will
calculate its 1998 payment in lieu of taxes to Ontario
representing a fair and equitable solution to assist local
Under the new procedure the Government of Canada will pay as
much as 43% more to Ontario municipalities than it did in 1997.
In total federal payments to Ontario municipalities will be $35
million more than they were in 1997.
This approach we believe is fair and equitable and will help
municipalities and municipal taxpayers to balance their
I would like to thank my colleagues of the capital region in
helping me solve—
The Speaker: The hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River.
* * *
Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
since introducing her magazine bill the heritage minister is
dragging Canada into a potential trade war with our largest
trading partner. Farmers, cattlemen and forestry are all looking
for breathing room from the U.S. on trade, but the minister is
upping the ante and threatening exports like wool suits from
Montreal, steel from Hamilton and lumber and wheat from the west.
Why is the heritage minister endangering thousands of Canadian
jobs with her personal agenda?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, first I thank all members of the House who set aside
their partisanship and wrote to express their abhorrence of the
measures that were taken by a certain U.S. magazine publisher.
I have made no threats. In fact I have a riding which has more
steelworker jobs than any riding in Canada. I also understand
that when it comes to the law of the land we must respect due
We have on this side of the debate respected due process
throughout. We retained the sovereign right to pass laws to
support our culture and we expect to do that in the full light of
all international agreements.
Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this
minister just does not get it. This is about jobs. She really
should get it because it is this type of answer that cost her her
job as deputy prime minister in the past.
Bill C-55 is a time bomb waiting to go off. What assurance can
this minister give that workers in the steel industry, wool
suits, wheat and agriculture will not be threatened just to boost
this minister's ego?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, this issue is about the right of Canadians to
protect and to promote our own culture. This is a recognition
about Canada. That is why members of parliament on all sides of
the House except the Reform Party have supported this
As a government we retain the right to use fair rules in steel,
fair rules in textiles and fair rules in culture. This bill is
fair for Canadians and Americans.
* * *
Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Prime Minister. Cape Bretoners have for
generations produced coal that helped build this economy and get
us through two world wars. Now the federal government is dumping
Devco. It is time to recognize that contribution with a real
commitment to rebuilding the Cape Breton economy.
Why is the government not offering an adjustment package
sufficient to give Devco workers and their communities a real
chance to rebuild their lives?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and
Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I am pleased to outline the package.
There have been $69 million written off in previous Devco
obligations; $41 billion to allow Devco to operate to March 31,
1999; $40 million to allow Devco to operate through to the end of
the year 2000; $111 million for human resources planning,
including pensions, severance arrangements and training; $68
million for economic development; $80 million over the next few
years through ACOA and the Cape Breton Enterprise Corporation;
and $140 million over the next four years through the normal
active measures of Human Resources Development Canada, for a
total of $550 million.
Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, dumping
Devco deals a death blow to $300 million annually in economic
activity. The government's package will not make a dent in that
annual loss. The livelihood of Devco employees and their
families and the lifeblood of the Cape Breton economy is under
Will the government make the commitment today and this time keep
the commitment that Cape Bretoners have a major say in developing
a better program for pensions, for severance pay, for retraining
and for economic diversification?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and
Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, Devco has already undertaken to discuss with the unions
the human resources development package. I believe some of those
discussions have already taken place.
With respect to community development and economic development,
those discussions began last Thursday night led by the Hon. Al
Graham and along with Senator Sister Peggy Butts. Indeed the
community will be intimately involved in the development of these
plans and strategies.
* * *
Mr. Bill Matthews (Burin—St. George's, PC): Mr. Speaker,
this year Canadian employees and employers will pay approximately
$80 billion in EI premiums and unemployed Canadians will receive
approximately $12 billion back in benefits. This leaves
government with approximately $6 billion in EI premiums for the
finance minister's slush fund. Employees and employers need
protection for their EI fund.
Will the Minister of HRDC take immediate action to protect for
employers and employees the unemployment fund for the benefit of
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have had the
opportunity of mentioning a number of times in the House, the
priority of the government is to help Canadians get into the
labour market. The employment insurance system has been
transformed to be more helpful for Canadians to get into the
Employment insurance is one of the programs that gives temporary
incomes to individuals who have lost their jobs. We also have a
number of other programs which we should take into consideration:
the youth employment strategy and the Canada jobs fund that
creates jobs in areas where unemployment is too high.
Mr. Bill Matthews (Burin—St. George's, PC): Mr.
Speaker, this year Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will pay $32
million more into the EI fund than unemployed Newfoundlanders
will receive back in benefits: $107 million paid in premiums and
$75 million back in benefits.
Unemployed workers in rural communities in Newfoundland are
being devastated by low EI benefits and the Newfoundland economy
In light of the growing surplus in the EI fund, let me ask the
minister if he will take immediate action to assist unemployed
Canadians and to improve EI client services and benefits to
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the population of
Newfoundland and Labrador is very pleased with the Canada jobs
fund which is money that is taken out of the treasury year after
year. It is now a permanent fund of over $100 million a year to
create employment opportunities where unemployment is still too
We also have the youth employment strategy to help young people
to enter the labour market by giving them that first job
experience with an internship. That is what Canadians expect,
not only passive support.
* * *
Mr. Janko Peric (Cambridge, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Transport.
The railways tell me that the law required them to blow a train
whistle each time they approach a crossing. My constituents tell
me they do not appreciate that annoying noise at 3 a.m.
What can be done to reduce loud and annoying train whistles
without jeopardizing public safety?
Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member feels very strongly about the
issue. His concern is one that many of us have in our own
ridings. However safety is paramount and there are exceptions
made to the operating rules as they currently exist.
I am pleased that Bill C-58, which hopefully will get third
reading this afternoon in the House, will make it easier for
railways to allow whistles not to be blown pending resolutions of
various local councils. Councils by resolution could request
this and the law will permit the railways to deal with the
annoying matter the hon. member is concerned with.
* * *
Mr. John Nunziata (York South—Weston, Ind.): Mr.
Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. Canadians across
the country are outraged by the B.C. child pornography decision.
The Prime Minister knows that his government has the power today
to rectify this miscarriage of justice by using the
As minister of justice he was responsible for the
notwithstanding clause. Will the Prime Minister do the right
thing to protect Canadian children from pedophiles and perverts
by using the notwithstanding clause immediately?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have already indicated twice
this afternoon that the government has taken immediate action. We
have taken the extraordinary step of intervening at the B.C.
Court of Appeal to support the B.C. attorney general in defence
of this law. We believe the law is constitutional.
Mr. John Nunziata (York South—Weston, Ind.): Mr.
Speaker, the Minister of Justice has not explained why her
government refuses to use the notwithstanding clause.
Why is she simply relying on the courts to do the right thing
when she and her government have the power to correct this
unconscionable decision? Why does her government not use the
notwithstanding clause today?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member and others
know, in our system of justice there are appeal provisions.
The appropriate course of action is to appeal the decision and
listen to what the higher courts have to say. After receiving
the decisions of higher courts some amendments to the law may be
required. To pre-empt that appellant process is silly and wrong
* * *
ATLANTIC CANADA OPPORTUNITIES AGENCY
Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry.
In 1994 the government made a deal with Shearwater Development
Corporation, a Nova Scotia company owned by a prominent Liberal,
Charles Keating, to develop a private industry at the Shearwater
naval base. The company is now pulling out and stiffing a
creditor for $500,000.
How many millions of dollars did ACOA contribute to this
boondoggle and where did the money go? Will the minister
immediately launch an investigation into this sweetheart deal?
Hon. Fred Mifflin (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary
of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the hon. member has his facts half right and half wrong.
What ACOA did was to ameliorate in Atlantic Canada areas in
which the defence department reduced its infrastructure in
Shearwater as well as in Cornwallis and other areas. ACOA took
great interest in developing the management agency as it did in
Argentia and in other parts of Atlantic Canada.
We worked with the management association, the management
organization which is still in place and is still doing a good
job in trying to ameliorate change in—
The Speaker: The hon. member for Mercier.
* * *
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, there is
concern among authors.
According to section 16 of the Official Languages Act, the five
members of the Copyright Board must be bilingual. Yet the
Minister of Industry has already appointed two unilingual
anglophones to this board and is apparently preparing to make
one of these two head of the board.
Can the Prime Minister assure us that his Minister of Industry
is going to respect the Official Languages Act by appointing a
bilingual person with recognized ability to this position?
Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we
are in the process of examining appointments to the board, and
as soon as we are prepared to name the other candidates, the
hon. member can be assured that we will comply with all
* * *
Mr. Peter Mancini (Sydney—Victoria, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
earlier today the finance minister boasted about the legacy of
the Liberal Party. My question is for the Prime Minister who may
remember the legacy of Lester Pearson.
After broken promises of full consultation the government
through the Minister of Natural Resources betrayed the people of
Cape Breton, betrayed its own legacy. Shame on them. Only a
third of the miners who have spent 25 years underground may
qualify for a pension.
Will the Prime Minister honour this legacy by guaranteeing a
full pension for the majority of the workforce of those people at
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and
Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I invite the hon. gentleman to look at the terms of the
human resources package with great care, particularly after the
corporation has had the opportunity to discuss some of the
details with the unions. The unions may have some suggestions to
make for modifications.
He will find that the average severance payment in this case
will be in the neighbourhood of $70,000 per person plus training
allowances on top of that. In comparison to other situations in
Atlantic Canada this package compares very favourably.
* * *
Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Natural Resources.
The minister's department has stated that one-third of the $200
million earmarked for Devco will be spent on an economic
development package for Cape Breton. That works out to $68
million for economic development. This is just not enough.
What guarantee can the minister give that the $68 million
earmarked will not go to companies with Liberal Party
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and
Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I have indicated repeatedly long before today that any
economic development package would need to be developed in very
close collaboration with the local community, including Mayor
Muise and others in the Cape Breton community who have vital
input to make into the entire package.
This one needs to be built from the ground up and shaped by Cape
In addition to the $68 million referred to in the question,
there is $80 million to be invested by ACOA and Enterprise Cape
Breton over the next three to four years.
* * *
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, my question is to the Minister for International
Following the tragic earthquake that has devastated the city of
Armenia in Columbia leaving tens of thousands in need of
assistance, can the minister tell the House what the government
is doing to help the victims of this earthquake in Columbia?
Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister for International Cooperation
and Minister responsible for Francophonie, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, Canada is providing $750,000 in humanitarian assistance.
Canada, by the way, was the first country to respond as part of
this through the Canada fund.
We will also examine our regular program to see how we can help
in the long term reconstruction.
* * *
POINTS OF ORDER
RIGHTS OF CHILDREN
Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, PC): Mr. Speaker, I
believe you will find unanimous consent for the following
important motion, seconded by the hon. member for
That, in the opinion of this House, section 163.1(4) of the
Criminal Code continues as a positive instrument protecting the
rights of children to be free from all forms of sexual abuse and
The Speaker: I take it the hon. member is asking for
unanimous consent to put the motion. We have a motion to proceed
without debate, as I understand, waive notice of motion.
Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
while we agree with this statement, before I give unanimous
consent, the House cannot allow more lawyers and judges to decide
on our behalf.
Tomorrow we will force debate and a vote on this issue. Could we
not further debate this today seeing that—
The Speaker: We are getting into debate. The motion is
very simple, to waive debate today and go directly to the motion.
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to)
MR. JUSTICE ROBERT FLAHIFF
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am
seeking the unanimous consent of the House to introduce a motion
seconded by the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast,
which reads as follows:
That this House, barring a decision in appeal quashing the
decision at trial level, recommend the removal of Mr. Justice
Robert Flahiff, judge of the Quebec Superior Court, because of
his inability to properly perform his duties due to
(a) a lack of honour and dignity;
(b) failure to perform his duties as judge under the Judges Act;
(c) a lack of integrity as set forth in the Ethical Principles
for Judges of the Canadian Judicial Council;
And that this removal have as its immediate consequence the
revocation of the current salary and the right of the said judge
to the enjoyment of a pension under the Judges Act.
The Speaker: Does the hon. member have the consent of the House
to introduce this motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
* * *
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
I wish to inform the House that Tuesday and Thursday, February 2
and 4, respectively, shall be allotted days.
* * *
Mr. Peter Mancini (Sydney—Victoria, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
appreciate the indulgence.
I rise concerning last week's Devco announcement. I was
informed by the minister's office on Wednesday that no
announcement was forthcoming. Subsequent events led to the
announcement the next day in my riding. As part of that
announcement there was a lock-up for media and for personnel
interested in the matter.
As I had no notice of the announcement I had to change my travel
plans and arrived at my riding by 3.30, not in time for the
lock-up. I had requested that one of my staff be allowed in that
lock-up as I had been given no notice of this most important
announcement to the people of my riding. My staff person was not
permitted by, I assume, the minister's office. I find that a
breach of my own representation and responsibility as a member of
I could not be there because the minister's office would not be
forthcoming with the date of the announcement. My staff was not
permitted in to hear the dramatic effects on my community that
this announcement would have. I ask that the government make
sure that members of parliament or their designated staff be
permitted into those types of briefings.
Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of
Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have asked for the minister in
question to be consulted and hopefully he can address this issue
when he is back in the House.
Convention is that when something affects parties in the House
usually these points are dealt with under votes. The minister
momentarily has stepped out and I am sure he will want to address
this issue immediately upon his return. Perhaps the Chair will
entertain waiting to adjudicate on this matter at a time when the
minister has been able to give his contribution toward the point
Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
I wish this were the only situation, but we have had a similar
situation with regard to my colleague and our immigration critic
which happened over the break.
Before you make a decision on this instance, I ask that you look
at the abuse ministers are taking on members in this House of
making announcements and not advising members when announcements
are being made whether in their own ridings or elsewhere.
I think it behooves this House to give at least some form of
credit and credibility to members on this side. This is not just
a one sided House of Commons where speeches and announcements can
be made throughout the country and not inform everybody else
about it, not letting us participate. It is a bigger issue than
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I reiterate the concern of my colleague from Cape Breton, myself
and all NDP members of parliament about the behaviour of the
government in this instance.
As members know, there have been previous points of order having
to do with announcements not being made in the House. That is a
separate point and I acknowledge it.
If announcements are not to be made in the House of Commons,
where many of them should be made and are not, then at least when
the government makes announcements elsewhere it should have the
decency to involve at least the members of parliament who are
directly affected through participation in the lock-up and
through prior notice of when the meeting is to take place and
when the announcement is to take place.
At the very least the government should not indicate the day
before the announcement is made that there is not to be an
announcement. What happened in this case is that the member from
Cape Breton was told in a bare faced way that there would be no
announcement. Then there was.
This is totally reprehensible and is something the minister
should answer for if not in the context of a question of
privilege then at least politically.
The Speaker: I will reserve judgment until the minister
involved is in the House. With regard to the point raised by the
hon. House leader of the Reform Party, perhaps there is a larger
issue he wants to bring to the House. If he wants to bring this
issue to the House, I invite him to do so.
What I have in front of me right now is a question of privilege
raised by the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria. I will reserve
judgment on this point until I hear from the minister.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the government's response to 40
* * *
COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Ms. Susan Whelan (Essex, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I have the
honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of
the Standing Committee on Industry. In accordance with Standing
Order 109, the committee requests the government table a
comprehensive response to this report.
PROCEDURE AND HOUSE AFFAIRS
Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I
have the honour to present the 52nd report of the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership
and associate membership of some committees.
Madam Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the
52nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House
Affairs be concurred in.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Does the hon.
parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House
to move the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The House has heard
the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to
adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to)
* * *
FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR
Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I have two petitions to present pursuant to Standing
The first petition bears the signatures of 228 residents of the
Mankota, Riverhurst and Swift Current districts in my riding.
The petitioners point out that the MacKay task force on Canada's
financial services sector has made recommendations that will
enable banks to retail property and casualty insurance from their
branches. This would have a drastically negative impact on
Canada's independent insurance dealers and would result in the
loss of thousands of jobs. The petitioners therefore call upon
parliament to totally reject the recommendations of the MacKay
task force report pertaining to the entry of banks into the
casualty and property insurance markets and not to give in to the
pressure of the banks on this matter.
Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, the second petition is another in the never ending
series of petitions I get from people who are opposed to the new
Firearms Act. This petition is from citizens of the Annaheim
district in Saskatchewan.
The petitioners point out that there is no evidence that the
criminal use of firearms is impeded by restrictive firearms
legislation. They state that the enforcement of regulations
associated with Bill C-68 would place an unnecessary burden on
law enforcement officers and that the search and seizure
provisions of Bill C-68 would constitute a breach of traditional
civil liberties and be an affront to law-abiding Canadians.
Therefore they call upon parliament to repeal Bill C-68 and all
associated regulations with respect to firearms or ammunition and
to pass new legislation designed to severely penalize the
criminal use of any weapon. This brings the total number of
signatures I have received on petitions on this subject to 4,571.
MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENT
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Madam
Speaker, I have a great many petitions here, the first bunch
having to do with the multilateral agreement on investment.
The multilateral agreement on investment has now died a well
deserved death at the OECD. Nevertheless, petitions continue to
flow in from Canadians who were concerned about the multilateral
agreement and who were calling upon parliament to reject the MAI
as fundamentally flawed and to recognize that Canadians reject
the MAI approach to globalization.
The petitioners instruct the government to seek an entirely
different kind of agreement by which the world might achieve a
rules based global economy that protects workers, the environment
and the ability of governments to act in the public interest. I
imagine that they would certainly urge the government not to
stubbornly persist in pursuing an MAI type agreement either at
the FTAA or at the WTO.
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Madam
Speaker, this petition calls upon parliament to enact Bill C-225,
an act to amend the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act and the
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I have a petition signed by members of my constituency
of Calgary—Nose Hill. They are asking that parliament ensure
that marriage as it has always been known and understood in
Canada be preserved and protected.
Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Madam
Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition today signed by
thousands of residents of British Columbia, including my own
constituency of Burnaby—Douglas, homeowners affected by the
leaky condominium crisis.
The petitioners urge the Government of Canada to provide a
significant contribution toward homeowners affected by the
residential construction crisis to ensure that the cost of all
qualified repairs are deductible from income retroactively and in
the future; to repeal and refund all GST on qualified repairs;
and finally, to permit RRSP funds to be used to undertake
qualified repairs without penalty and to permit previously
withdrawn RRSP funds used to pay repair special assessments to be
income tax rebated.
In presenting this petition, I want to acknowledge the work of
Carmen Maretic, housing advocate, and Nona Saunders, president of
the Condominium Home Owners Association of British Columbia, who
have done an outstanding job in drawing this very serious issue
to the attention of the Government of Canada.
Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.): Madam Speaker,
I am presenting a petition today signed by well over 300
residents of Scarborough Centre and surrounding areas.
These concerned petitioners call upon parliament to oppose the
potential sale of the Candu nuclear reactor to Turkey and to take
all possible measures to prevent this potential sale. They are
concerned that the area in which it will potentially be built is
a seismic area, but more so the petitioners are concerned that
whatever conditions are put on the potential sale Turkey might
not comply with these conditions in the future.
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Madam Speaker, today I
would like to present a petition from 271 people in my riding of
These citizens request that parliament enact legislation such as
Bill C-225 so as to define in statute that marriage can only be
entered into between a single male and a single female.
STE. ANNE'S HOSPITAL
Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I
have a petition by the students and staff of Beaconsfield high
school in my riding, which says:
There is a plan to transfer control of Ste. Anne's Hospital for
veterans located in Sainte Anne de Bellevue, Quebec from the
federal government to that of the provincial Government of
The petitioners request that parliament refrain from changing
the control of and responsibility for Ste. Anne's Hospital to the
provincial Government of Quebec from the federal government.
It is signed by 180 students and staff members.
Mr. Paul Steckle (Huron—Bruce, Lib.): Madam Speaker,
pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have before me a petition signed
by a great number of constituents from my riding of Huron—Bruce
and other points in southwestern Ontario.
The petitioners are concerned that companies are not explaining
in greater detail to the public why gasoline prices are
increasing so dramatically at certain times, in particular before
holidays and long weekends.
They call upon the Parliament of Canada to adopt legislation
which would require gasoline companies to give 30 days written
notice to the Minister of Natural Resources of an impending
significant increase in the price of gasoline, over 1% of the
current pump price per litre that is, and that such notice also
contain the reason or reasons for the increase and when it will
Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, today I bring yet two more petitions on the same issue
from my riding.
The petitioners speak to the majority of Canadians who
understand the concept of marriage as only the voluntary union of
a single male and a single female. Whereas it is the duty of
parliament to ensure that marriage as it has always been known
and understood in Canada be preserved and be protected, the
petitioners therefore ask parliament to enact legislation such as
Bill C-225 so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be
entered into between a single male and a single female.
Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am
pleased to present another petition on behalf of the 18,000
Canadians suffering from end stage kidney disease.
The petition is signed by 600 people from the Peterborough area
and beyond who support the development of a bioartificial kidney
as a replacement for dialysis or kidney transplants.
The petitioners point out that those on kidney dialysis and
those successfully transplanted recognize the importance of this
life saving treatment.
Ministries of health across Canada have difficulties providing
dialysis treatment and accessibility to dialysis treatment and
rates of organ donation are not sufficient for that need.
Therefore the petitioners call upon parliament to support the
development of the bioartificial kidney that will eventually
eliminate the need for dialysis or transplantation for those
suffering from kidney disease.
Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I have two petitions that I would like to present
pursuant to Standing Order 36. The first petition is among many
which I have previously presented from my constituency and other
constituencies. The petitioners are enraged about the decision
to change the definition of the term “spouse” which will
eventually change the Marriage Act.
FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR
Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I have a large number of petitions from my constituents.
They urge members of parliament not to give in to the banks as it
relates to the extension of the banks' privilege to get into the
insurance business. I am pleased to present these petitions.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Madam Speaker,
I am pleased to present a petition signed by a number of
Canadians including some from my constituency of Mississauga
South. It concerns the issue of human rights.
The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House
that violation of universal human rights continues in many
countries around the world, including Indonesia. The petitioners
also point out that Canada continues to be recognized as a
champion of human rights.
The petitioners call upon parliament to continue to condemn
human rights violations around the world and to work to bring to
justice those responsible for such violations.
* * *
QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, the
following questions will be answered today: Nos. 134, 152, 157,
174, 178 and 179.
Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien:
With respect to Ms. Nathalie Lecours, Chair of the Board of
Referees at Human Resources Development Canada's employment
insurance office in Thetford Mines: (a) on what date was she
appointed to this position; (b) over how many cases has she
presided; (c) how many of these cases were resolved in favour
of the employment-insurance beneficiary; and (d) what
remuneration has she received since her appointment?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development,
Lib.): a) Mrs. Nathalie Lecours, Chairperson of the Board of
Referees in Thetford Mines, was first appointed on October 18,
b) During her period of office, she has presided over 466
c) Of the 466 appeals considered, 139 were decided in the
d) The applicable per diem for employment
insurance chairpersons is $280.00. However, the exact amount
received cannot be released due to privacy considerations under
the Privacy Act.
Mr. Eric Lowther:
With reference to the Criminal Records Act provisions enabling
the Solicitor General of Canada to grant approval for the
disclosure of any record of a conviction in respect of which a
pardon has been issued or granted (section 6 of the Act): how
many times has the Solicitor General of Canada given approval
for such disclosure from November 1993 to the present?
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.):
1993-94—Not available; 1994-95—Not available; 1995-96—12;
1996-97—8; 1997-98—10; 1998-99—4 to date.
Mr. Jason Kenney:
What was the total value of payments in lieu made by the
government to the regional municipal government of
Ottawa-Carleton in the years 1997 and 1998?
Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government
Services, Lib.): Payments are not paid directly to the region
As per the federal Municipal Grants Act,
payments in lieu of taxes, PILT, are paid to the body who
collects a real property tax pursuant to an act of the
legislature of a province. In this situation, the area
municipalities within the ROC are the collectors of real property
tax, the grant is therefore paid to these municipalities and not
the regional government. The payments to the area municipalities
located in the ROC are as follows:
City of Ottawa—$80,200,000—$86,000,000
City of Nepean—$3,242,000—$3,600,000
City of Gloucester—$7,250,000—$7,300,000
City of Kanata—$110,000—$120,000
West Carleton Twp—$28,800—$31,000
The 1998 estimate takes into consideration the latest changes to
the Ontario tax reform concerning the cap of 10% on all
commercial and industrial properties.
Mr. Gurmant Grewal:
What is the total amount owed by third world countries to the
government of Canada and its agencies?
Mr. Tony Valeri (Parliamentry Secretary to Minister of Finance,
Lib.): The total amount owed to Canada and its agencies by third
world, i.e., low and middle income countries as defined by the
World Bank, was $17.7 billion as of March 31, 1998.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit:
What was the total number of skilled workers allowed into Canada
Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration, Lib.): Total landings under the skilled worker
category in 1997 were 105,569. Of these landings, 44,913 were
principal applicants with the remaining 60,656 accompanying
dependants or family members.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit:
For the years 1997 and 1998, what was the total number of
full time equivalent positions needed in the skilled worker class
under the economic immigrant category in Canada?
Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration, Lib.): A full time equivalent is not a measure used
in the determination of the range for skilled workers. The
determination of the number of arrivals under the skilled worker
category is based on factors such as labour market or
occupational demand and trends in international migration.
* * *
QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, if
Questions Nos. 160 and 161 could be made orders for return, these
returns would be tabled immediately.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mrs. Michelle Dockrill:
in the Nova Scotia Regional Municipalities of Cape Breton, the
Town of Port Hawkesbury, and the counties of Inverness, Richmond,
and Victoria received assistance through the Canada—Nova Scotia
Mrs. Michelle Dockrill:
organizations or projects received funding and in what amount
from the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation in the period from
1993/94 to 1998/99?
Mr. Peter Adams: Madam Speaker, I ask that the remaining
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Shall the remaining
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House resumed consideration of the motion.
Mr. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, PC): Madam Speaker, it is
with pleasure that I rise today to speak on the prebudget report.
We are going to see in the not too distant future in the
upcoming budget the clear direction of the government on the very
important financial matters facing our country. Members of the
opposition and all Canadians are waiting with some degree of
The world is changing at an unprecedented rate. Globalization
and the forces of technology create change on a daily basis.
Governments have to lead and it is going to take significantly
more response from the current government than what we have been
used to over the past five years.
This is a government without a real agenda, without a firm
vision. It is government by cruise control. The government
instead of looking well into the next century in terms of where
it wants to take the country is focused solely on the next
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
recently said that current trends in Canada could lead to a
substantial decline in Canada's per capita income relative to the
OECD average. I repeat that there could be a substantial decline
in our per capita income unless significant changes are made to
the direction in which we are going as a country.
The only economic policy that this government has had has been
in fighting the deficit. Our party and our members are as
pleased as any party or any member with the fact that we have
eliminated the deficit.
If we go back to 1979, it was the Conservative Party under the
leadership of Joe Clark that introduced a budget which was the
first fiscally responsible budget of a generation. At that time,
had that budget been implemented, instead of being defeated for
purely partisan purposes, Canadians would have been better served
and the deficit quite possibly would have been eliminated far
earlier than it was.
Canadians are responsible for the elimination of the deficit.
Canadians have borne the brunt of deficit reduction. We have
seen taxes in Canada increase from $114 billion in 1993 to $151
billion last year. That is a 23% increase. At the same time we
have seen transfers to the provinces cut by 35%. Health care and
education is reeling across Canada.
Our health care system is in tremendous shock, not just in my
province of Nova Scotia but across Canada. Every province is
reeling under the effects of the unilateral cuts to the transfers
made by this government.
The government tells us to look at the fundamentals. The
Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister tell us that the
fundamentals are sound. We have, as part of those fundamentals,
the highest personal bankruptcy rate in the history of our
country. Currently we have a negative savings rate. We have the
highest taxes of any of the G-7 countries.
The Liberals have cut the deficit by increasing taxes
significantly, by cutting and by offloading responsibilities to
the provinces. Canadians have the highest personal debt rate in
the history of our country. While the government can pontificate
about being in the black, Canadians are at an unprecedented rate
of being in the red.
The Economist magazine has published articles on the
Canadian situation. At one point it reported that it was a
miracle we were able to eliminate the deficit. It gave credit
not to the current government but to the previous government.
The Economist magazine specifically stated that the credit
for deficit reduction in Canada goes to the passage of time and
the successful reforms earlier this decade made by the previous
I will remind members opposite of those structural changes in
the Canadian economy. Quite possibly they are wallowing in their
own hypocrisy today because they fought these changes
vociferously during election campaigns. The changes were: free
trade, the GST, and the deregulation of financial services,
transportation and energy. These were the tough visionary
policies that were required then to provide benefits to Canadians
today. I would posit that those are the types of tough visionary
decisions that are required today to lead us into the 21st
Unfortunately, this government, a government of caretakership
and cruise control, refuses to provide the type of visionary
leadership that Canadians need.
The Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister keep saying that
the fundamentals are strong. These are some of those
fundamentals. We have an unemployment rate that is twice that of
the U.S. The dollar hit record lows throughout the summer. Our
productivity is lagging our G-7 partners. Our percentage of
global foreign direct investment has dropped from 8.9% to 4% in
recent years. The IMF and the OECD are both saying that taxes
are too high. Our comparative tax burden in Canada relative to
the U.S. continues to pummel initiative, productivity and success
Canadian families making $30,000 a year are paying out a
marginal tax rate of approximately 40% in combined federal and
provincial taxes. In nine of our ten provinces our top marginal
tax rate is more than 50%.
We hit that top marginal rate at approximately $60,000. In the
U.S. the top rate, federal and state combined, is in the mid to
upper 40% range. Americans do not hit that marginal tax rate
until they have an income of $271,000 U.S. or $410,000 Canadian.
This type of disparity, this type of spread between our tax rates
and the tax rates of our largest trading partner, is simply not
sustainable. It is one of the reasons that an unprecedented
number of our brightest and best young people are going to the
U.S., what is frequently referred to as the brain drain.
Since 1973 productivity in this country has been lagging behind
our competitors. We have seen a secular decline in the Canadian
dollar, which is closely linked with productivity. The Prime
Minister's erudite response this summer was that somehow the
dollar was not such a big problem and that it would help tourism.
The finance minister, the Prime Minister and other members
opposite seem to believe that Canada can devalue its way to
In fact it is quite the opposite. The contrary is true. If
these low dollar and low productivity policies continue we will
have a self-fulfilling prophecy in that many Canadian
manufacturers and employers will put off investing in the types
of capital investments and productivity enhancement
infrastructure they need to become better, more productive and
more competitive in a global environment. This will happen for
two reasons. First, many of these productivity enhancement
items, such as equipment or software, are imported and are more
expensive because of the low dollar. Second, the companies feel
that they do not have to become more productive and more
competitive because they are hiding behind a non-tariff trade
barrier, also known as a low dollar policy. When that changes it
is going to be a significantly difficult time for Canadian
employers and employees as we see the effects of current
government policies and inactivity in addressing the issues of
The issues the government should be dealing with are lowering
taxes, reducing the regulatory burden, working with the provinces
to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers and working to
address labour market flexibility. Those are the types of issues
that need to be addressed. But the government has focused on one
thing and one thing only. It has forgotten the fundamentals of
building a strong economy and making the types of investments
required to lead Canadians effectively in a very competitive
We are hoping that in the upcoming budget we do not see more
Liberal focus group economics. We are looking for leadership,
not politics. In the last budget, when there was a vague whiff
of a surplus, the Liberals brought forward a millennium
scholarship program which will only benefit about 5% of students
seeking higher education. Even then, it will only kick in in
2000. It is a scholarship program which is not even available to
students pursuing education in private career colleges.
There is a global trend toward private post-secondary education.
It is part of the labour market flexibility that will be very
important if we are going to compete. But this new scholarship
program does not recognize a global trend in education. In the
last budget debate we suggested an amendment that students
attending career colleges and private colleges, which are the
wave of the future, could receive benefits from the millennium
scholarship fund. Instead the Liberals did what was politically
expedient and not what was sound from a public policy
We are concerned with a government that would spend $2.5 billion
before it knew the degree of the surplus. There is nothing like
the smell of hard currency around the snouts of Liberal
backbenchers to incite a feeding frenzy.
The Liberals know a great deal about spending. It was the
Liberal Party in the late 1960s which was able to take a zero
deficit to $38 billion by 1984. The Liberals deserve some credit
for having developed a certain proficiency in spending. However,
we hope they do not revert to their old ways.
There is a concern on this side of the House and certainly in
our party that the Liberals are practising the politics of
signalling right and then turning left. We know in their own
heart of hearts that they have had to pinch their noses and
pursue policies of the previous government, which they knew were
right, over the last several years. We are somewhat happy that
they have done that. The only thing worse than the Liberals
stealing Conservative policies would be for them to implement
their own, which would be far more deleterious to Canadians in
If we are going to be proactive in this country, if we are going
to be successful in the 21st century, I would hope that the
finance minister would spend a significant amount of time
reviewing the prebudget report, and particularly the Progressive
Conservative dissenting report within which he will find some
very sound and forward thinking policy initiatives, such as the
reduction of EI premiums.
Payroll taxes are one of the single biggest impediments to job
growth in our country. The Minister of Finance has said in the
past that payroll taxes kill jobs. Now we are asking that he
actually live up to his rhetoric, reduce payroll taxes and put
the money back into the hands of employers and employees.
Employers can create jobs if we give them the tools. One of the
things we are putting in the way are payroll taxes which are
Any Liberal opposite who would argue that high payroll taxes do
not kill jobs would have to prove to me that the law of supply
and demand is no longer relevant. When the cost of input is
increased, whether it is for labour or anything else, the demand
for that input is reduced.
Unless the Liberals are proposing that we repeal the law of
supply and demand, I would suggest that we need to reduce EI
premiums. We are proposing that EI premiums be reduced to $2 per
$100 of insurable earnings.
We are calling for a full indexation of income tax brackets.
Now is the time, particularly in a post-deficit period, to
eliminate the bracket creep and reverse the trend. There have
been 1.4 million low income Canadians who have been pushed onto
the tax rolls and another 2.5 million Canadians who have been
moved into higher tax brackets due to partial indexing. We are
calling for full indexation of the tax brackets and we are hoping
that the minister will provide this in the upcoming budget.
We are calling for an increase in the basic personal exemption
to $10,000. In the U.S. a low income American does not begin to
pay taxes until reaching an income equivalent to $11,000
Canadian. In Canada, supposedly a kinder and gentler nation, we
start taxing Canadians at $7,000.
In the last federal budget the Liberals said that they provided
tax relief for low income Canadians. In fact somebody making
$10,000 per year received a tax benefit of approximately $78 per
year in the last federal budget. That is about one coffee per
week at Tim Horton's. If they go to Starbucks it is one per
month. That was the pittance, the insult, that the Liberals
threw at low income Canadians in the last budget.
We are calling for an increase in the capital gains exemption.
Throughout Canada we are seeing growth in high tech industries
and in small businesses, particularly in the area of technology.
The current amount of $500,000 simply does not reflect the values
of these businesses.
We must keep in mind that for many small business owners, really
their complete life, their entire capital accumulation is within
their small business. If we are to encourage small business
people and create an environment within which Canadians want to
grow and succeed in entrepreneurial ventures, increasing the
capital gains tax exemption makes sense and makes sense now.
We are calling for an increase in the health and social
transfers to the provinces. The Liberals have cut significantly
since 1993, some 35%, in their transfers to the provinces. What
is interesting is on the health care issue now the Liberals,
after having unilaterally cut the health care system across
Canada, forcing Canadians to face significant losses in the
quality of our health care system, they are saying they want to
reinvest but they want to ensure they can protect Canadians
against the provinces.
They are saying they want to make sure they can have some
control because they do not want the provinces making the wrong
decisions. It was not the provinces' fault what happened since
1993, it was the federal government's fault. The provinces did
not reduce their transfers from the federal government. It was
the federal government that reduced those transfers that set the
provinces and our health care system reeling across Canada. Now
we have the patriarchal big brother approach by the federal
government and the unbridled hypocrisy of federal government
members when they say they want increased accountability from the
provinces when in fact when given the opportunity to be
responsible with health care they blew it since 1993.
We are calling for indexing the child tax benefit. There was a
private member's bill by one of our members which was passed by
the House. We are calling for the government to follow up and
index the child tax benefit to ensure that inflation, even at a
very low rate, does not reduce and eliminate this benefit for low
We are calling for real and measurable debt reduction targets.
It is very important for our international markets to see that
the commitments Canada is making or is willing to make to debt
reduction are not simply going to disappear amidst new Liberal
spending. We need to see firm debt reduction targets with the
goal of reducing our debt to GDP ratio to the G-7 average of 55%
over the next five years.
We are calling for an increase in the RRSP foreign content limit
to 50%. It is inconsistent with asking Canadians to invest to
protect their future, invest and save for their own future, and
then denying them the opportunity to achieve geographic
diversification in their portfolios. The Canadians equities
market represents only about 1% to 1.5% of global equities
markets, yet we are forcing Canadians to invest in one small
equities market. That is simply not consistent with maximization
of the returns.
We are also calling for parliamentary control—
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): I am afraid the hon.
member's time has expired.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Madam Speaker,
the member referred in a number of instances to the effective tax
rates in Canada. He was talking about someone making $30,000 a
year as an example. I think he is mistaken and I would like to
set the record straight.
If a taxpayer has $30,000 of taxable income they are just at the
first, lowest effective rate federally, which is 17%. Provinces
have a variety of rates but they are roughly equivalent to about
50% of the federal taxes. So that someone in Ontario, for
instance on $30,000, would pay 50% of the federal rate overall.
That means an effective rate of 25%.
What the member failed to include in his calculation was that
all Canadians get a non-refundable basic personal amount of about
$6,500 which reduces the taxes otherwise payable. Therefore the
real tax out of pocket of a single person making $30,000 is only
19.6%, not the numbers the member was giving.
The second matter the member spent some time on was with regard
to the comparative brackets between Canada and the U.S. Clearly
there are some differences there. If all the member wants to do
is have a comparable bracket for someone in the $250,000 range to
be equivalent to the U.S., I suggest we establish a rate of
29.01% which is the highest federal rate plus .01% more and set
it at $.5 million and then we will be better than them. It is
really a frivolous argument.
The question I want to ask the member is on the CHST issue. As
the member knows, there is a lot of misinformation concerning
that. In Ontario the actual cuts in CHST were less than $1
billion and yet at the same time Ontario had tax cuts of $4.3
billion. It is clear that although there was an equitable
reduction across the country with regard to the transfers related
to health, the provincial governments themselves have to make
decisions. One of the decisions the province of Ontario made was
to reduce taxes and to cut health services at the same time.
These choices are provincial choices. They are not federal
I ask the member whether he had the same situation in his
Mr. Scott Brison: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member
for his question.
The member calls it a frivolous argument that the top marginal
tax rate in the U.S. does not kick in until the threshold of
$271,000. In Canada it kicks in at approximately $60,000. He
calls it frivolous that we actually tax at a higher rate at the
top marginal tax rate and we start at $60,000 and in the U.S. it
does not start until the equivalent of $410,000. How can the
member justify his assertion that this is frivolous?
In last year's prebudget debate the hon. member opposite when I
was speaking about the brain drain said that Canadians should not
want to leave this country because of our great health care
system and because of all the social niceties. He listed various
reasons why Canadians would not want to leave the country.
My response is that perhaps his time would be better spent
standing at the border explaining to Canadians who are voting
with their feet and choosing to go to the lower tax, higher
opportunity environment why they should not leave, because they
are leaving. They are leaving because the government continues
to tax at all levels of income far too high.
The hon. member still obviously does not understand the
impediment to economic growth that high taxes are. When he
mentions Ontario he forgets to mention that Ontario actually
increased its investment in health care. While the federal
government cut its investments in health care, the province of
Ontario and many other provinces increased their investments in
The member is right to identify there was a tax cut in Ontario.
This tax cut led to one of the strongest levels of economic
growth in our country. It led to one of the strongest levels of
job growth in our country. Perhaps the member should learn from
the evidence and the example of Ontario that tax cuts can create
economic growth and that governments can make the right choices
and cut taxes and invest more in health care.
Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, the comments from the member for Mississauga South
indicate once more that Liberal accountants may know how to count
beans but they do not understand how to grow the economy.
The hon. member opposite said that it really is not
consequential whether we have the highest marginal rate kick in
at $60,000 or a quarter of a million or a half a million dollars.
This really does suggest he does not understand the
disincentives to work, save and invest among the most productive
segment of the economy.
I am offended when I hear a member from Ontario, who stood in
this place and voted to cut billions of dollars in health
transfers from his own people and his own province, turn around
and blame the Ontario government for cutting taxes. Yes, the
Ontario government cut taxes but its income tax revenues went up
by $5 billion because more people are working, saving and
investing, something a Liberal could not possible understand as a
rational response to tax relief.
Does the member for Kings—Hants agree with me that the member
opposite does not understand the supply side dynamic that tax
relief provides as demonstrated in the crucible of Ontario in the
past three years?
Mr. Scott Brison: Madam Speaker, I do not always agree
with the hon. Reform member and this is not a message from the
united alternative. That being the case, I agree with him
completely in his assertion that the Liberals simply do not
understand supply side economics.
Liberals believe Canadians will not be bothered by being taxed
more and more and that the economy will not be stalled by this.
They believe employment insurance premiums and payroll taxes do
not kill jobs. They do not even believe in the law of supply and
demand. The Liberals believe in Liberal focus group economics.
They have no understanding of the types of economic principles
that are leading even their counterparts in social democrat
governments elsewhere to produce more tax relief, jobs and growth
than they are capable of producing.
The previous government gave the Liberals a great start on the
road to economic success with free trade, the GST, deregulation
of financial services, transportation and energy. We really gave
them every opportunity to succeed and yet they still do not
recognize what Canadians need now. More than anything else
Canadians need lower taxes, less regulation, more jobs, more
economic growth. We want Canadians to succeed here. We do not
want them to have to succeed in the U.S. or in other countries
where opportunities are growing faster because taxes are lower.
Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Madam
Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for
Scarborough—Rouge River. I had the distinct privilege this year
to be part of the Standing Committee on Finance and to have
toured across Canada. We heard that Canadians want and expect
from this government integrity, accountability, consistency and
above all that their voices be heard as part of this budget
The finance committee met with Canadians from all walks of life.
While it is important that we meet from time to time with the
leaders of national organizations, we also met with grassroots
Canadians across the country. One of the things they said loudly
and clearly is that they do not want quick fixes. Canadians want
us to operate on prudent estimates. They want us to use
realistic targets which are reflected in the finance committee's
recommendation that the government continue to employ a
contingency reserve by setting aside $3 billion per year. As at
present, the contingency reserve should be used to fund neither
increased program spending nor tax cuts but that it should go
toward the debt.
I did a survey in my constituency of Kitchener Centre. Eighty
per cent of respondents indicated that the government needs to
work on paying down our national debt. We must be attentive to
this issue. Our committee also recommended that the government
establish a long term target for a sustainable debt to GDP ratio.
Again we heard Canadians say “Give us realistic targets so that
we can move forward in a measured pace”. This government has
demonstrated its ability to do that by paying down the deficit
and we are now ready to take on the debt.
Our committee also recommended the establishment of an interim
debt to GDP ratio, a target of 50% to 60%, that should be
achieved in this mandate.
Another issue I heard about from my constituents in Kitchener
Centre was the lowering of personal income taxes.
Last spring the finance committee had the opportunity to deal
with the Mintz report which looked at Canada's corporate tax
structure as compared to the other G-8 countries. While the
report did make some recommendations, it also pointed out that
our corporate tax system is in the mid-range of other G-8
countries, roughly where we would hope to target.
Our payroll taxes in comparison to other G-8 countries, despite
what we read in the media, are on the low side. As a matter of
fact this government has in four consecutive moves lowered EI
premiums to the point where as of January 1 of this year they
were lowered to $2.55.
One of the areas where we need to be attentive is in our
personal income taxes. That is something the finance committee
suggested we look at as we can afford to do it. Again, it has to
be a change that is sustainable and one that Canadians can count
Across this country in every province we heard concerns
regarding health care, the universality of our health care system
as well as the standards of our health care system. It is that
message that the finance committee carried forward in
recommendation 17, recommending that the government strengthen
its involvement in health care by further increasing the cash
floor by $1 billion starting in 1999 to the year 2000.
It is important that we add money and help to give a federal
presence and federal leadership in health care. But the problems
facing health care are far greater than merely money.
Previously I served at other levels of government as well as on
a district health council. I know that health care, not only in
Ontario, in Kitchener Centre, but across this nation is changing.
It is evolving from an institutionally based health care system
to a preventive health care system. We need to look at how we
fund health care. It is not just a matter of dollars.
We also heard in many communities, my own included, that we need
to be attentive to the issues of both home care and pharmacare.
But again I hear the people of Canada asking for a vision, for a
strategic plan, not just merely dumping money on problems.
Recommendation 19 recommends that the federal government fund
health care research and that this research money be doubled.
This should be achieved within five years.
The issue of standards of reporting in health care is very
popular and certainly something which Canadians are interested in
seeing. A demonstration that has benchmarks so that we can
measure the kind of health care we as Canadians enjoy needs to
have the kind of research and statistics behind it in order to
make those yardsticks meaningful. Funding to medical research
will help to get us halfway there.
The finance committee also heard that research, not only on
behalf of government but to encourage the Canadian private sector
to enter this important industry, needs to be encouraged. It is
on that note that we suggested the networks of centres of
excellence program have their funding raised as well as
The community that I represent was largely manufacturing in its
historic base. I see that base evolving. My community is
looking for highly skilled technical workers. These are the
workers who will be needed to partner with business in the next
The committee also recommended that the government enhance its
financial support for the National Research Council. There are
two universities and community colleges in my riding. There is
talk about the brain drain. Giving funding to research and
especially the granting councils because of the peer review
aspect is the way not only to enhance research and the end
product, but also the way to create a milieu where we will keep
the best and brightest in Canada.
Poverty is an issue that I heard about across Canada. It is an
issue I care about deeply and certainly one that I have heard
about in my community. We are trying to address this issue
through some of the recommendations in the budget.
The committee recommended that we build on the 1998 measures
which increased the basic personal amount and spousal amount by
$500 to again increase it this year by a further $200, bringing
the amount to $700 of additional income that can be earned tax
The committee also recommended that we increase the basic
personal and spousal amount by $500 for lower income people.
We also suggested that we continue to take away the 3% surcharge
which was partially taken off in last year's budget, and it is an
issue of credibility that we now do it for earners above the
The committee recommended that the government reintroduce
indexation when the fiscal situation improves. In the meantime,
measures should be taken to offset the impact of deindexation.
Measurable, predictable actions of this government are what has
put this nation on a stable footing. It is essential that we
continue down the path that looks at the impacts of global and
domestic trends and that we respond to the evolution of health
care and our social system.
I am very proud to be a member of the finance committee that
brought forward what I think is a very thoughtful,
forward-looking prebudget document.
Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.): Madam
Speaker, I am pleased to participate with colleagues on both
sides of the House today in this prelude to the upcoming 1999
As I lead into my remarks, which will be made within the shared
time, I cannot help but think back to the way things were just a
few years ago when I was first elected to this House in 1988.
The backdrop of how we got here from there is still important to
Canadians. It is still important to all of us who understand how
we got here from there as we try to lay out some kind of
framework, some kind of direction on where we will go from here,
what kind of leadership we will exhibit and where we will try to
lead our Canadian economy within the ability that a federal
budget can offer.
One concedes of course that a government budget will not always
be able to provide leadership and direction in all elements of
the economy. We do not run the entire economy from our desks
here in the House of Commons, nor does the ministry of finance
run the entire economy from its ministerial offices.
Approximately seven years ago we had the recession of 1992. I
remember that it was supposed to be a difficult year. It turned
out to be for Canadians a very difficult three years. It was not
a one-year cyclical recession.
There were reasons for that. The cyclical recession of 1992 was
exacerbated by several other economic circumstances, each of
which was chosen by the government of the day as part of a policy
I know they were not selected to exacerbate the recession. They
were selected because they were seen as necessary. Some of it
was necessary medicine. Some of it was just the right time to
implement policy. However, it turns out to have been poor
I notice that our colleague from the Progressive Conservative
Party made reference to choices made by the Progressive
Conservative government in the very early nineties which perhaps
in some way laid some of the groundwork for our economy. Some of
those decisions that were taken did lay the groundwork. As I say
this, one has to remember that the timing was actually atrocious.
In opposition I and my colleagues did not spare the government
at all in our criticism, as much because of the timing as for its
effect on Canadians.
High interest rate policies were pursued by the Bank of Canada.
The timing was awful. High interest rates mean high
unemployment. At the time of the recession the bank decided it
would squeeze and crush inflation out of the Canadian economy.
The timing was all wrong. It succeeded ultimately, but at a very
high cost to Canadians.
The government decided to implement a new GST, replacing the
earlier MST. However, there are economic costs in implementing a
new tax like that.
There were adjustments to the free trade agreement. Those
adjustments would have to have been paid in any event, but those
adjustments, in terms of employment losses, occurred right at the
time of the recession.
Then there was the hopelessly out of control government spending
of the day that ran deficits from $25 billion to $42 billion.
All of these factors exacerbated that very difficult recession
I remember talking to constituents. Most of us in this House
have dealt with constituents who have been in difficult personal
situations. Some were unemployed. I remember saying “This is
just a cyclical recession. It will be over in a few months or a
year. Don't worry, the jobs will come back”. However, that
situation persisted for several years at a very high cost to
When it all ended, sometime in 1993, 1994 or 1995, as fate would
have it Canadians elected Liberals in October 1993. Our first
order of business was to deal with the deficit. We adopted a
plan, a process which was called a program review.
There were tax adjustments. There were effective tax increases
at the time. They were modest, but nonetheless they were
increases. The revenues increased, expenditures went down and we
ended up balancing our Canadian budget approximately one year
ahead of schedule.
We are now entering a second or third year in which we will have
a surplus. The result of that backdrop has produced a situation
that is described as “good fundamentals”.
Who can take the credit for it? Certainly those who were in
government. As a government member I will ask Canadians to give
us credit for dealing with the deficit. I think they have given
us credit for that, notwithstanding the desire of members
opposite to discount that fact.
Other things occurred. Interest rates came down, in part
because of government action, but in part as well because of
market reaction to other economic factors.
Our interest rates now are the lowest in 25 or 30 years. Our
inflation is down to the lowest it has been in 25 or 30 years.
That is very positive.
The free trade agreement then became the North American Free
Trade Agreement. We have adjusted to that and we are now seeing
the benefits of jobs and exports.
Our balance of trade has been in positive territory for a long
time. Our current account, which moved into positive territory a
couple of years ago, is now slightly under and is heading back
toward positive territory. That is all very healthy.
The deficit is gone. We are now faced with the difficult
problem of how high taxes should be and what kind of a surplus
there should be. Certainly we want balanced books. Maybe there
should not be a surplus. Maybe there should just be a balance.
Then we would not need to argue about a surplus.
Because of the finance minister's prudent planning we are facing
small surpluses this year and next year. That allows all of us
to happily debate over what targets the surplus should be
This government has undertaken to use the surplus in three
areas. It will use it to pay down the debt, which was sitting at
around $583 billion and has now been paid down in modest amounts
to $570-some billion.
That may be small progress with a billion here and a billion
there but pretty soon it adds up.
Our economy is growing at the same time, which means that our
national debt to GDP ratio is dropping. This is the measuring
stick most economists use in looking at our ability to sustain
and carry a debt. That ratio is now poised to drop below 50%. It
was riding up toward 60% at one point. We are now headed below
50%, which is positive territory for us. We have to deal with
debt management. Like it or not it is there and we have some
bills to pay.
Second, we will have to restore the effectiveness of our social
programs. There is more than one way to do that. Spending money
properly is one way as well as sustaining them and making sure
there is enough money to deliver on our objectives.
Third is tax reduction. In the last budget the government began
to deliver tax reductions in modest amounts. These reductions
are showing up at the low end of the income scale. This time I
as one member of parliament would like to see tax reductions
spread right through the economic spectrum. In its report the
finance committee mentioned the surtax which is still a part of
income taxation at the federal level. My constituents and I
would like to see that addressed seriously.
Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Madam Speaker, this is my
opportunity to speak to the prebudget debate. I will be
splitting my time with the member for Prince George—Bulkley
It is easy to criticize a government in power on a big issue
like health. I intend not to do too much of that today. I will
go over the record of the Liberal government on health and then I
will go to the comments of some people in the country as to what
they think rather than what I think on this issue.
I was around for the red book. I saw the promises in the red
book. The red book promised to preserve and protect medicare and
to have a national forum on this issue to be chaired by the Prime
Minister. The public took those promises at face value and I
expected those promises would be kept.
What have preserve and protect ended up meaning? Over the last
three years it has meant $16.5 billion in cumulative cuts. It
has meant 188,000 people today on a waiting list for surgical
procedures. Over the last two years 1,400 of my colleagues who
were trained in Canada and who practised in Canada have left this
country never to return. My latest information is that half the
medical school students in Canada are now being trained to
replace those who are leaving. Those are straightforward facts.
I will go over what a couple of Canadians have said to me
recently on this issue. This letter is from somebody who lives
in the town in which I practised medicine for over 20 years, a
hospital in which I gave this kind of care. She wrote to me
saying that on December 15, 1998 she slipped on the ice in front
of her home, a fall that caused multiple fractures to her right
ankle. She immediately went to the emergency ward at the High
River hospital where she received quick, caring and responsive
attention. As the break was significant the decision was made to
transport her to the Rockyview hospital in Calgary where she, as
well as the High River hospital personnel, were under the
impression that the surgery would be performed that evening as
arrangements had been made by telephone.
She went to Rockyview. The surgery was not performed on the
Tuesday. She was reassured the surgery would likely be performed
on the Wednesday. This was not the case. She was kept on
morphine without seeing a doctor until Friday.
On Friday she asked “Where is my doctor?” He came and told
her that he would try to do the surgery that day but that some
people in her condition had waited up to two weeks before they
could find the time and operating space to perform this
operation. She went on to say that luckily she had the surgery
That is absolutely unacceptable in a country like Canada. That
would have been so unheard of when I started my practice that the
patient would have come to me and said “Grant, that is
Let us think of what she did for those four days. She lay there
with the swelling in her ankle worse. She lay in pain on
morphine. She did not see a clinician. She saw only the nurses,
nurses doing wonderful work. It was unacceptable. She asked me
why this was happening in a country like Canada. I leave that to
my colleagues across the way.
I also have a letter from somebody in Qualicum Beach, B.C. I
picked two letters from the west because they were closest to my
home. I get letters like these from every part of the country,
from every province and every jurisdiction.
This individual addressed the letter to the Minister of Health.
He watched an interview with the minister on January 17 on the
CTV program Sunday Edition. He stated that the minister's
comments had generated a few questions. I will not go through
them all. I will go to the last and the main question. It is
the individual's understanding that the federal government
contributions toward health care in Canada had been reduced $6
billion per year. He asked if this correct was correct. If so,
he asked, why has the government seen fit to increase taxes in
over 35 areas during this same period?
He indicated that it appeared the finance minister's so-called
balanced budget had been to a large extent achieved through
reductions to health care and through increased taxes, not
through what he wanted them to do, which was to decrease
government waste and a severely bloated bureaucracy. He went on
to bemoan the fact that health care would be the place that the
Liberals chose to cut.
This is not a politician. This is not somebody with a vested
interest other than the fact that some day he may be sick. These
letters are coming like a blizzard to my office.
What do the nurses say? They are writing to me and asking me to
put questions on the floor of the House of Commons in question
period. The first question from RNs in Alberta was: Is the
government aware that Canadians' health and well-being are being
affected by an impending shortage of registered nurses? They
await an answer.
The supplementary question was: Is the government prepared to
invest in the future health of Canadians by investing in nurses.
They are saying that the percentage of money going to nurses has
dropped, that there is a recruitment problem, and that nurses
will not go to college to become nurses any more because of these
horror stories. They ask whether the health minister knows that
qualified RNs are no longer able to deliver safe health care for
What do Canada's physicians say? I am just one lone voice. They
have an association that involves all health care workers in
Canada. I have never seen such unanimity on an issue. They are
saying the federal Liberal health care cuts are dreadfully wrong.
I will not read what they say. It is very obvious what they say.
It is easy to criticize, is it not? An opposition politicians
can stand over here and berate the government for what it has
done. I would like to take a bit of a constructive approach then
and say what the government should do.
First, we need stable funding for medicare. The health minister
said today Reform would not put any more money into medicare. I
do not know where he has been. I would like to give his head a
shake. Let me give him the information: $6 billion over the
next three years is our proposal, to be reinfused directly into
medicare. New spending, not a chance; repriorized old spending.
That is the difference. These guys only look for new spending.
We do not need new spending. They are spending on areas they
should never be spending on.
We also need a thorough review of medicare. I had someone on
the phone just a few moments ago who said the wagon needed to be
stopped and looked at, that funding alone would not fix medicare
problems. That is true. We need to put the patient first.
Today the bureaucrat, the politician and the medical profession
are first in medicare. The patient is not first, and that must
change. We need to put more accent on prevention. Also, the
government has been very harsh on natural health products.
Reformers have talked a lot about hepatitis C. We need to have,
and this is a commitment, a billion dollars of new money put into
hepatitis C compensation. I want to spend a moment on hepatitis
C, a topic which is very timely. Parliament has not been sitting
for a couple of months and there have been some real significant
developments in the hepatitis C area.
First is the Arkansas prison connection. Many of us in the
country watched a TV show which showed a direct connection
between Canadian regulators and dirty prison blood from Arkansas
and Louisiana. The RCMP should be looking at that information.
There was criminal activity in the hepatitis C issue in Canada.
A big compensation package has just been announced for one small
group of infected Canadians. The Hepatitis C Society says it is
unacceptable and inadequate. It has major problems with it. It
is advising the public not to accept it.
It is very healthy to look at what is happening in other
countries on hepatitis C. This is brand new information.
Switzerland has just charged the Swiss blood agency with
endangering the lives of hemophiliacs. It looks like people will
go to jail in Switzerland. Italy has just ruled that the
ministry of health must pay compensation to everyone infected by
hepatitis C, not just a few. In France people are in jail. The
prime minister and health minister in France have both been
charged. In Canada we have zip. We do not have anything going
on except a few dollars being offered to a few.
The prebudget debate on health care is not over. The government
says it will reinvest the pittance it will put in of $1 billion,
$2 billion or $3 billion, until just before the next election
when it will say it is okay to have angina and give back the
money it took. That is not acceptable.
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George—Bulkley Valley, Ref.):
Madam Speaker, I listened this morning as the chairman of the
finance committee delivered his prebudget speech. Once I had
listened for awhile I had no doubt that it was written by the
finance minister's office, much in the same way as the activities
of the finance committee and the witnesses that were called were
organized by the finance minister's office.
As I listened to his report I wondered what finance committee he
was travelling with. I was also on that finance committee and on
most of the things that he was saying this morning I was hearing
quite the opposite. As we travelled across the country we heard
a loud and fervent cry for tax relief from average working
Canadians, small businesses, professionals and large businesses.
Everyone out there wants tax relief. The government has been the
instrument that has led them to seek tax relief because over the
last five and a half years the government has increased taxes
somewhere in the range of 36, 37 or 38 times in the billions of
While the Minister of Finance stands and crows about balancing
the budget which is not true, and I will talk about that next,
for any increase in revenue he has just pulled his magic tax
lever and the money has just flowed out of the pockets of working
Canadians. The average Canadian family has seen their household
disposable income decrease by over $3,000 since 1993. What kind
of treatment is that for hardworking Canadians who are trying to
have a better standard of living for themselves?
I want to set the tone by laying out exactly where we stand as
Canadians in the tax system with which the government has
burdened us compared with some of our neighbours, in particular
our G-7 partners.
The personal income tax burden on Canadians is a full 56% higher
than the other members of the G-7 countries. The corporate
income tax burden in Canada is 9% higher than the average of our
G-7 partners. These are countries that we compete with. Canada
also has the highest property tax burden in all the OECD
countries. Of the 33 countries, Canada ranks highest in property
In 1996 the average Canadian family paid a total tax bill of
$21,242, 46% of their gross income. This is more than they pay
for food, shelter and clothing combined which is around $17,000.
Picture it. The average Canadian family with a couple of kids, a
house, a mortgage, a steady job sees $21,000 a year go out in
taxes and about $17,000 go out in shelter, food and the basics of
life. That is disgusting for a country with the potential that
Over the last five and a half years there have been wage
increases for Canadian workers. They have worked hard for them.
Their companies have worked hard to improve their bottom line and
they have rewarded their employees.
What happened to those wage increases because of the Liberal
government's tax policies? The government has taxed back over
150% of any wage increases that the average Canadian worker got.
Imagine. If workers got a $100 increase, the government taxed
back $150. If they got $1,000 increase over the last five and a
half years, the Liberal government taxed back $1,500. If they
got a $10,000 increase over the last five and a half years, the
government taxed back $15,000. How do we get ahead in this
country when we have a government that wants to rip out of our
pockets not only what we get in a wage increase but more. It is
a sad situation.
It is clear that Canadians need tax relief. There is no doubt
about it. As the committee travelled across the country we heard
the call for real tax relief, not just tinkering around with the
surtax like the Liberals have done in the past. Canadians want
real tax relief, something they can hold in their hands.
I said earlier that we should not believe the finance minister
when he talks about balancing the budget. The fact is that this
finance minister may say he has a balanced budget but the money
he has used to make up that budget is the EI surplus which he has
taken out of the pockets of working Canadians. He has used the
pension funds of the federal civil service. He has taken that
and has put that against the deficit. All he has done is
borrowed within the family and he says he has a balanced budget.
He does not have a balanced budget. He is still about $16
billion or $17 billion short.
If the economy takes a downturn in the next couple of years,
those EI funds are going to be needed. Where are they? They are
in new spending programs the government has introduced, $3
billion last year and another $3 billion this year. What ever
happened to the promise by the government and the finance
minister to hold the line on spending? No new spending. It just
Let us talk about the EI fund. There is about $20 billion in EI
surplus. Before the Christmas break we talked about how the EI
commission has said that a $15 billion surplus would be fine. It
would provide not only sustainability for the fund but also a
rainy day fund in case the economy took a dramatic downturn.
It was also said that any finance minister who really cared
would probably want to return the $5 billion or $6 billion excess
in the form of premium reductions to the people who were paying
it. Has that happened? I do not think so.
The finance minister continues to rape and pillage the EI
surplus fund, to build his surplus to fund his increased spending
programs, to enhance his opportunity to become the leader of the
Liberal Party. One has to wonder whether the finance minister
has the best interests of Canadians at heart or his own best
interests at heart.
Earlier my colleague from Macleod talked about the crisis in
health care. We have a crisis. Over 180,000 people are on
This is a true story from my riding. A neighbour of mine had
been experiencing some severe chest pains and shortage of breath
for a number of months. He went to his doctor who tried to get
him to a specialist in Vancouver. Of course there are no
specialists in Prince George, we cannot afford it. He went to a
specialist in Vancouver and had an angiogram. It was determined
that he has one artery completely blocked so an angioplasty
cannot be done.
The next option is a bypass. In the old days a single bypass was
a routine procedure. These days there is no money for a single
bypass. Two, three or four bypasses are needed before someone
can get into the operating room. That man was sent home in pain,
in the same situation he was in when he went to Vancouver. He
was told “We cannot do anything for you. Get another artery
clogged and maybe we can look at you”.
That is the state of health care in this country. It is because
the Liberal government has ripped the heart out of health care.
Since 1993 it has taken out over $7 billion. When is it going to
put something substantial back and help Canadians who have
serious health problems?
Mr. Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I will
be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga South.
Throughout this debate there has been the odd mention from time
to time of the issue of bracket creep. This issue is close to my
heart and is something I would like to use my time to discuss. I
do not think many people really understand this issue. This is a
cancer which exists within our taxation system. It is as deadly
as a cancer because it has crept through our taxation system in a
slow and insidious way. It was ironic to hear the Conservative
member talk about going back to our old ways because we have to
go far back to understand how this insidious cancer became part
of our taxation system.
Back in 1984 the then Conservative government stated that it
would not allow indexation of tax credits and tax exemptions to
occur unless inflation exceeded 3%. Back in 1984 the rate of
inflation was 10%, so obviously people were getting a degree of
relief, that is that portion which exceeded 3% at that time.
There was very little debate about the issue of bracket creep.
However, today we note that it is the stated policy of the Bank
of Canada to keep our inflation rate within a narrow band between
one and two percentage points. Needless to say because inflation
is less than 3%, there is no indexation.
What does this all mean to the average taxpayer? Let us say
that someone earned about $2,000 a month in 1992 and that person
paid $800 in rent. By 1998, assuming they had kept up with
inflation and indeed a lot of people have not been able to do
even that, their income would have risen to $2,360 and their rent
would have been $944. The reality is of course that that person
is no better off. The dollars they bring into their household
buy less goods.
Revenue Canada taxes this incremental increase as if it were
real income. In this case the tax may be as much as 50% or $180
per month for something that quite frankly has never happened.
In real terms their income did not rise and the dollars will not
buy even the same amount of goods because we have implemented a
tax on them.
To give another example which is a practical one, a family with
two dependants from 1992 to 1997 saw their income rise by $900,
but their income taxes actually went up $1,400. This is the
double compound effect which is known as bracket creep. These are
not wealthy people. They are not the idle rich. They are in
fact middle to low income earners. We should be ashamed of what
we are doing to them.
The impact on the truly high income earner is almost negligible.
As one's income gets very high, personal exemptions are less and
less of concern because they represent such a small quantum of
I have done a number of graphs on this. They show that there is
about $840 million worth of revenue we bring in to our coffers
from this insidious tax called the bracket creep.
The other aspect of bracket creep is that it creates a burden
for people. Indeed we can look at marginal rates of tax. I will
give a quick explanation of what a marginal tax rate is. It is
that tax on an extra dollar of income, not on the dollars that
one has already paid or may have been eligible for, but the extra
dollar that one pays tax on.
With respect to bracket creep, over the years we have slowly
amplified this marginal tax bracket on low income earners who go
from basically paying no tax—people who earn under $8,000 a year
are not taxed—to paying some tax. Suddenly, not only do we get
the normal taxation coming into effect but we also have the
problem of bracket creep. As a consequence income earners
earning approximately $20,000 suddenly find themselves earning an
extra dollar which costs them 50 cents on the dollar.
Imagine the impact this has on many low income families. The
reality is that it is very difficult for them to get out of their
so-called poverty trap. I do not have to remind the House that
Statistics Canada regards the low income cutoff of $20,000 to be
I had a phone call from a constituent the other day. He told me
how he had become disabled and earned only $12,000 a year.
Miraculously he was able to get a part time job and double his
income to $24,000. When he looked at his take home pay, he
quickly came to the realization that he had hardly progressed at
all. I told him that he suffered from bracket creep but I had not
been able to come up with a cure.
The people are not versed on the virtues of fundamental
economics but they know something is terribly wrong. From low
income seniors to the working poor we are fleecing them to the
tune of $840 million a year, $840 million of tax money on income
that never happened. It is a tax illusion.
I remind this House that a voluntary tax compliance system is
operable only when people believe the system is fair.
Some have suggested a piecemeal approach to this such as giving
increased child tax credits and other benefits directed at this
group. This is just what it entails, a piecemeal approach, a
band-aid to cover a cut when the wound is still infected. Put
them back on the treadmill for a few more years and this
insidious aspect of bracket creep will catch up to them again.
This may be the expedient solution but it is certainly not the
Last month we read of the survey on Canada as reported by the
OECD. It had some alarming conclusions about the Canadian
economy. It stated that our standard of living would likely
decline so much so that by 2015 Canada's standard of living would
be lower than the average of all OECD countries.
There are many reasons for this but I would like to read one of
them, which is that indexation has pushed 1.4 million low income
individuals on to the tax rolls over the 10 year period ending in
1998. Over 1.9 million individuals have been pushed from the
lowest marginal tax bracket to the middle bracket while 600,000
were pushed from the middle to the higher income brackets.
We live in a remarkable time. People's income is not
increasing. Indeed it is declining. Taxes are going up. Savings
are being reduced and people are turning more and more to
consumer credit just to stay afloat.
Personal credit is reaching alarming levels made only possible
by lower interest rates. One hundred and sixteen per cent of
disposable income now goes toward personal debt. This is
unhealthy. A country that cannot save and maintain its level of
disposable income is a country that is not progressing but on the
Some have suggested other methods to reduce taxes, for instance
the 3% surtax. This will affect people with incomes in excess of
$50,000. One of my dreams for our budgetary process is to
adequately address the issue of bracket creep.
I hope in the short period of time I have had I have been able
to enlighten if not all at least some of our members of
parliament and some of the people watching us of what is meant by
bracket creep and how it affects the average income earner.
I hope that one of the things we will be able to address in this
budget is some move to eliminating the whole concept of bracket
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to rise on this pre-budget debate. As a member of the
finance committee I have had the opportunity to travel across
Canada with the committee to consult with Canadians and to hear
from a broad cross-section of groups.
The finance committee invited many of the groups to come before
it to discuss the application of our budget surplus. The groups
were asked in all cases to come to the finance committee with
their national priorities so we could report to the House and the
finance minister how we should approach Canada's fiscal
It was clear that notwithstanding the request, many of the
groups that came before the finance committee preferred to deal
with their own priorities in isolation rather than the overall
national interest. It does pose some difficulty to the finance
committee in terms of forming a consensus as to what Canadians
believe when so many groups come before the finance committee and
speak on behalf of their special interest.
One which concerned me at the time and still does was the
intervention by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. This group
obviously represents major business and industry across the
country. It came before us with some scenarios of how that
surplus should be applied.
I want to share with the House what the Canadian Chamber of
Commerce felt we should do with the surplus, the so-called fiscal
The first item was that 50% of any total surplus should be
applied against the national debt. The second was to reduce EI
premiums by 15 cents. The third was to eliminate the 3% general
surtax completely. The fourth was to increase basic personal
exemptions by $500 for all taxpayers. The fifth was to increase
RRSP contribution limits by an additional $1,000 bringing it up to
The sixth item was to introduce indexing of RRSP contributions
so that the amount of contributions could rise over time. The
seventh was to fully index personal income tax brackets and
credits to the CPI over the medium term. The eighth item was to
increase the foreign content of RRSPs to 30% from the current 20%
and the last item was that there should be no new government
In the written submissions and oral testimony given by the
Canadian Chamber of Commerce there was not one mention of health
care. This concerned me. It is reflective of the kinds of things
the finance committee dealt with. It had to segregate those
narrow interests of the wish list of particular groups and try to
put them in the context of a national interest.
This was of concern to me and I raised it at the time at the
finance committee. I referred to it as the presentation from Oz.
This was a presentation that demonstrated that they had the brain
to figure out all these details.
It also had the courage to list nine items, each of which would
benefit the highest income earners of Canada but not every
taxpayer in Canada. It was skewed or biased on behalf of the
highest income earners in Canada.
It had brains. It had courage. But what this proposal did not
have was a heart. We need a budget that has heart. We need a
budget from the finance minister that has the brains to figure
out the priorities, to make sure the important priorities of
health care, debt reduction, income tax reduction and social
conscience are reflected in the budget.
Much has been said before the finance committee about a subject
near and dear to my heart, child poverty. Child poverty is a
convenient political synonym for the broader issue of family
We have through Statistics Canada an instrument called LICO, low
income cut off. It establishes levels of income given population
areas, whether urban or rural, and the number of persons within a
family. That has been used from time to time to be the measure
of poverty in Canada.
Statistics Canada will clearly state that we do not have a
poverty level established in Canada. It is something that we
have refused to do and I find it really important.
In 1989 the House of Commons dealt with a motion to deal with
the elimination of so-called child poverty by 2000, a motion
tabled by Ed Broadbent.
Mr. Broadbent was in the House on his last day as a member of
parliament. He was leaving the place. Most of the dialogue was
giving tribute to Mr. Broadbent. Those who had the guts to talk
about child poverty were talking about food, shelter and
Today we talk about child poverty and listen to advocacy groups
talking about child poverty. One person, when asked for a symptom
of child poverty, cited as an example a case where a child would
not be able to go to a birthday party because they could not
afford a good enough gift.
It was at that point that I recognized child poverty had become
defined in a way that is much different from the perception and
concerns of Canadians. I raised the point with the finance
minister that a measure of poverty in Canada is important, not
relative poverty which is what LICO is, but real poverty. If
Canadians understood there are people who do not have the food,
the shelter or the clothing they need then we would not be so
desensitized to the seriousness of this problem in Canada.
The numbers have become so large and so fuzzy in terms of what
constitutes poverty in Canada, I believe Canadians have become
desensitized. I also believe that groups like the Canadian
Chamber of Commerce have become desensitized to the seriousness
of that issue simply because of definitions and soft numbers.
Under the health regime we have concerns about social poverty.
In Canada 25% of children enter adult life with significant
social or behavioural problems.
I have had many initiatives suggesting that we have to address
these from the standpoint of prevention because each and every
Canadian must pay for the cost of dealing with children with
problems after they have them. If we can get a better balance
between prevention and remedial action all Canadians stand to
Under the current Income Tax Act we have the child care expense
deduction which is up to $7,000 for a preschool child. As all
members know, the deduction is worth more to high income earners
versus low. It is my recommendation that the finance minister
convert the child care expense deduction to a refundable tax
credit and make it available to all families with children
regardless of whether they are working at home or in the paid
I believe there are some issues beyond basic fiscal issues. It
is the health of our children and the social deficit in Canada
that we also have to address. We must have a budget with brains,
courage and, most important, a heart.
Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
I was very interested in the member's comments about people in
the lower income area. He would be aware that this government in
its wisdom chooses to tax at a very high rate, for example, a
family of four earning $30,000 a year. Those people are still
paying at least $4,000 a year in federal taxes. He should know
that under the Reform proposal we would fundamentally eliminate
those taxes at that level.
Why does the member not understand the simple mathematics in
this case? If the government is to continue to extract these
kinds of taxes from people at the low end and then turn around
and give them back meagre pittances, meagre portions, meagre
initiatives, why does he not understand that dollars left in the
hands of those people, where those people at the low end of the
scale get to make the decisions for their family, are far more
productive than taking those dollars away and in turn turning
around and giving them back?
The reality is that since the Liberals came to power in 1993
they have taxed back 155% of all wage increases. It has not paid
to have a wage increase under the Liberals. Why does he not
recommend to his finance minister to leave the money in the hands
of the people who need the money rather than extracting it from
Mr. Paul Szabo: Mr. Speaker, if the member would broaden
his thinking a bit I think he would understand the issue better.
A family of four earning with $30,000 of taxable income pays
19.26% of income tax. What he has also failed to recognized is
that family of four is also eligible to receive non-taxable
benefits such as the GST credit, property and sales tax credits,
the child tax benefit, the national child benefit and other
If he would take all those things into account I think he would
see very clearly that for low income people who get non-taxable
benefits, if he incorporated those in, the tax burden on a family
of four making $30,000 is less than 10%.
I would be happy to sit down with the member and work out the
If we were to raise the non-refundable tax credit to which many
refer as the first $6,500 tax exemption, it would mean that more
Canadians would be able to earn income and not be taxed. The
member also has to remember that people with means, people with
high family incomes who work casually and have some part time or
on the side activities, can benefit by increasing that exemption.
We cannot target those in need by raising the lowest level at
which they start to be taxed. We have to balance the need to
target those benefits.
As the member may well know changes in the Tax Act take place
very seldom and very slowly, but the philosophy behind it is that
it is not just poor people who make $6,500 a year. It is people
who have some investment income because they split income with a
spouse who is not working. There are other situations where high
income working families have casual income they transfer to other
family members and on which they do not pay taxes in terms of a
Maybe the point is not to raise it on an across the board basis
so that more Canadians get an increase, which is a very expensive
proposition. Why do we not simply look for ways to target tax
benefits to those in most need. I believe that is what the
member has in mind.
Mr. Jim Abbott: Mr. Speaker,the member has unwittingly made
my point. He is an accountant. His explanation, as eloquent as
it is, is proof positive of how totally mixed up, convoluted,
thick and unworkable the Tax Act is presently.
We are talking about putting money back into the hands of low
income people. From the point of view of the sheer volume of the
words that he just gave us, I do not understand his answer.
Mr. Paul Szabo: Mr. Speaker, the member should listen
once again. If we were to raise the non-refundable tax credit by
$1,000, that $1,000 tax credit would be equivalent to $250 in the
pocket. He does not understand that an additional $250 in the
pocket would be for each and every taxpayer in Canada regardless
of their level of income because every Canadian is entitled to
the non-refundable tax credit.
If the member understands that it costs a lot to give every
taxpayer $250, would it not be better to find a way to give those
in need, the lowest income Canadian, the benefit of $500 by not
giving it to everybody across the board? That is the point I do
not think the member has understood.
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to
take part in this debate on the report of the Standing Committee
on Finance on pre-budget consultations.
I said I was pleased and I am pleased to take part, but perhaps
not happy to enter into the debate to once again try to show the
government how wrong it is and how it is building a surplus on
the backs of the most disadvantaged, the sick, the poor and the
This report marks the start of a new age, that of Liberal
arrogance raised to new heights.
The Bloc Quebecois vigorously dissociates itself from the
Liberal report, which is nothing more than a semblance of
democracy, than propaganda by the Minister of Finance. The
report is centralizing and makes a mockery of the provinces.
From the number of measures announced in health care and
education, we are guessing that the secret wish of the Liberals
is to govern a province.
The report by the Liberal majority says that only the Liberal
government is right and that Quebeckers and Canadians appearing
before the committee were wrong.
The report by the Liberal majority distorts reality in a number
of respects, in saying that the Canadians consulted wanted the
Minister of Finance to voluntarily hide the surpluses under the
guise of prudence, surpluses we estimate at $15 billion for this
fiscal year, whereas the Minister of Finance estimates them at a
maximum of $4 billion.
Last week, two female journalists were interviewed at a TV
station and they commented on the pre-budget consultations. They
are editorial writers very well known in English Canada. These
women reported exactly what would appear in the budget.
According to them also, the budget surplus was higher than what
the Minister of Finance had said.
From one week to the next, his story changes from $5 billion, to
$3 billion, to $7 billion, but I think he has led us to believe
it is a bit over $4 billion. These journalists said “We are
going to tell you what is in the next budget”, whereas normally
a budget must be kept secret until its release. They then set
out to tell what would be in the budget, and it was totally
believable, because there has already been a kind of leak and
everyone is talking about it now. So it will be no surprise.
It is known that $3 billion will be used for debt reduction.
Another $2 billion will go for health, provided
the provinces bend to the will of the federal government. There
may be $2 billion, but if the provinces refuse, wishing to
respect the Constitution, health being a provincial
jurisdiction, the federal government will make it just $1
billion for the entire health system across Canada. We call
So we have $3 billion, maybe $2 billion for health, and another
$2 billion, for they are going to lift the hidden tax on
Adding these figures together, I get $7 billion, apart from the
billion or so to be invested, or already invested, which will
also be in the budget. That makes a little more than what the
Minister of Finance tells us, a bit over $4 billion.
All the problems in the health system across Canada are
essentially a result of the brutal cuts by the federal Minister
of Finance, the $6.3 billion yearly since this government has
been in power. Page 64 of the Liberal report states, and I
By reducing the health services they provided, the provinces
challenged one of Canada's most cherished national symbols.
This is the height of arrogance, when we know that the federal
government has dumped its deficit onto the backs of the
provinces, the sick and the most disadvantaged.
The Bloc Quebecois finds it unfortunate that, when it comes to
health, there is no mention of the social union agreement signed
by all Canada's premiers at the meeting in Saskatoon.
Provincial premiers are calling on the federal government to
return to the provinces the $6.3 billion in cuts to the Canada
social transfer. That is not mentioned in the report. That is
not important. The 10 premiers want to see social transfer
payments back at what they were when this government came to
office in 1994.
This money does not belong to the federal government. It comes
out of taxpayers' pockets so that we can have decent social
programs, and health care is a provincial responsibility.
So the federal government should give the money back to the
provinces. That seems clear to me. But no, cuts are made and
the provinces left to deal with the repercussions at their
level, while health costs continue to rise because of the ageing
of the population and the acquisition of new technologies. The
provinces are told that they are running the system badly, that
it is their fault they have been cut.
They are told that, if they want money, they can have it, but
only if they get down on their knees. It is unbelievable.
I hope that those listening will understand the situation,
because it is not acceptable. This arrogant government is
boasting how well it looks after us. All that matters to them
right now is to make it into the history books. Prime Minister
Jean Chrétien wants visibility in everything they do. They
could care less about the disadvantaged, the unemployed and the
Quebec was cut almost $2 billion annually, $1 billion of it in
health. In just one term in office, Jean Chrétien's policies
have cut federal government health payments by almost half.
Jean Chrétien is going around—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Excuse me, but the hon,
member knows she must not name another member.
Mrs. Pauline Picard: I apologize for this breach of protocol,
Last week, we heard the member for Saint-Maurice, our Prime
Minister, say on television “Come and visit Canada, the greatest
country in the world.” This country is the home of 1.5 million
unemployed and another 1.5 million children living in poverty,
yet he brags about there being no quarrels, no problems, all
being well and harmonious between the provinces. Come on, what
planet does he live on?
The number of homeless people is growing, as one can see on the
streets of Toronto. I saw it on CPAC last week. It is incredible
to see that more and more people are forced to live on the
street. And we do not have any program for these people.
Yet, when travelling abroad, we claim to be living in the
greatest country in the world, when in fact, from coast to
coast, our health system is being dismantled because we are not
getting the money that belongs to us as taxpayers.
That is unacceptable, and I hope that the government and its
members will realize what is going on.
Mr. Gilles-A. Perron (Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague from Drummond for sharing her time with me.
I cannot say that I am pleased to address the report of the
Standing Committee on Finance on prebudget consultation.
To give a bit of background, I travelled across Canada in 1997
to listen to people and to their recommendations on what ought
to be in the 1997 budget. Bhat happened? Not a thing. People
were made to travel, much energy and money was expended to
listen to them, but none of their recommendations made it into
the last budget.
In the fall of 1998, in the latest consultations, once again
people put themselves out to appear and to tell this Minister of
Finance what should be in the budget. Still more surprising,
what these people had to say did not even make it into the
The report tabled before the holidays is one that was created,
thought up and written, by the boss, the real boss of the
Standing Committee on Finance, the Minister of Finance. If read
carefully, this report is there to pat the government on the
back, tell the minister what a fine, intelligent fellow he is,
what a really great job he is doing.
If the finance minister is going to show off, he should do it
properly. His forecast was a surplus of some $2 or $3 billion.
According to the Bloc Quebecois figures, the figure will instead
be $10 billion or more, if not $15 billion.
What is the source of these surpluses the Minister of Finance
boasts about? Where do they come from these billions of dollars
saved by the Minister of Finance? It is easy, no academic
studies are required to figure out where these billions of
dollars come from. They come first from the unwarranted cuts in
transfers to the provinces, health care services, social
services and education. My colleague from Drummond could talk
for hours about the negative effects of these cuts in health in
all the provinces of Canada, primarily in Quebec.
Where does the money come from? Quite simply from the fact that
over the years the government opposite has been raising income
tax on the middle class and the poor by not indexing tax tables.
Where do these surpluses come from? They come from this
government's shameless siphoning-off of funds from the employment
insurance fund, to which workers and employers contribute to
create employment insurance intended to help workers in trouble.
But they siphon the money off.
Our Minister of Finance is lucky, for the low interest rates of
recent years have provided him with lower debt service costs,
allowing him to save on income tax. The world economic
situation has also provided the government with more revenues
than it expected.
No, this Minister of Finance and this government have not kept
They told us “We will put a stop to this shameless wastage”.
But they have not yet done so. They also said “We will cut
useless and outdated programs”, but they are creating other
useless and outdated programs, such as the millennium
scholarships. They are going to spend billions of dollars
rather than give the money to the provinces so they can manage
it efficiently. They are continuing duplication in areas of
The report refers to a productivity covenant. Rubbish! This
government should start by being effective and productive and by
doing a good job of managing taxpayers' money.
This year I did not travel across Canada listening to what
people had to say on the budget.
I sat down in my riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles—I am sure you will
not mind, Mr. Speaker, if I say hello to my constituents—and
asked members of the general public, bank managers and
presidents of chambers of commerce what the government should do
with the surpluses. They came up with three or four ideas.
First of all, there was unanimous agreement that the government
should return the cuts in provincial transfer payments so that
the provinces could do something about the problems caused by
the cuts in the health, education and social services sectors.
The second suggestion was to give the middle class and the most
disadvantaged a tax break. This could be done by indexing the
The third suggestion was to improve the employment situation and
reduce the premiums paid by employees and employers.
I suggest that the Minister of Finance pay a little visit to the
Gaspé and New Brunswick, that he pay a little visit to seasonal
fishers with EI problems. He should get out and see some real
Finally, everyone agreed that the government should clean up its
act, as it has been promising to do since 1993. Everyone
remembers the famous red book of 1993. This government should
not establish programs like the millennium scholarships.
Instead it should introduce the programs needed to create jobs
and get Canadians and Quebeckers working.
That is what an intelligent government should be doing, not
boasting of its achievements at the expense of the provinces and
the poor workers of Quebec and of Canada.
Mr. John Bryden (Wentworth—Burlington, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this debate.
It really is not a prebudget 1999 debate. It really is a
prebudget year 2000 debate. I think we all know that the budget
for this year is pretty well carved in stone, as it were. We
really should be directing the government toward what the
government should be doing in its budget for the year 2000.
Governments need a lot of time to prepare the budget. I think
eight to ten months is the normal timeframe that this government
works on in preparing its budget.
There are two issues I would like the government to address in
the course of this year in preparation for next year.
One pertains to charities. I think I am well known as someone
who has advocated very strongly that the government should reform
the charitable sector, should create rules of transparency,
should create better corporate governance and also should
redefine what charities are.
I draw attention to a supreme court ruling which came down just
this past week. It called upon the government no longer to rely
on the courts to define what a charity is, but to bring the
matter before parliament and before all Canadians to look at the
whole issue of the not for profit sector. I am confident that the
government has taken this issue very seriously. I am aware
through my own contacts that various government departments are
working on this issue.
The new issue I would like to bring before the House has to do
with the government's relationship to the aboriginals and the
fact that we are spending a lot of money on trying to help the
aboriginals in all parts of the country. There seems to be a
problem. We still have a widespread indication of poverty and
hardship among aboriginals both on reserve and off reserve.
I sit on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development. The Assembly of First Nations came before
the committee in April this past year. It made the observation in
its report that the average income of aboriginals was about
$14,000 and the average income of non-aboriginal Canadians was
around $24,000. The assembly actually made an error which it
later corrected in correspondence and noted that the average
income of Canadians was actually $20,000.
I took it upon myself, as sometimes is my wont, to examine these
figures in greater depth. I set the Library of Parliament on the
problem. I wanted to know not just what the average income of
aboriginals versus non-aboriginals was, but the average real
economic benefit of society that is accruing to both groups of
I do not find it very comfortable to actually look at any group
of Canadians based on racial background, but we have this problem
in this particular instance where the aboriginals are defined
separately in the Constitution and they receive separate
treatment by the Government of Canada in many respects. That
makes this question one which we should and can address.
Let me give a few of the figures. The first figures I have are
the average incomes. The document which the Assembly of First
Nations quoted from is a report produced by the Department of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development in 1991 or 1992. It
deals with per capita incomes of aboriginals and non-aboriginal
Canadians as of 1990.
An interesting aside is that one of the things the report notes
is that between 1985 and 1990 the income of aboriginal persons
rose from $10,000 to $14,000. The precise figures are $10,833 to
$14,198. It is interesting to note that this is an increase over
that period of some 31.1%, whereas over the same period the
incomes of non-aboriginal Canadians only rose by 6.9% to $20,264.
There are two figures, $14,198 average income per year per capita
for aboriginals and $20,264 a year per capita for all Canadians
I have something else here which is part of the Library of
Parliament study which it did at my request. It contains
Statistics Canada data and various data from other very good
sources. It points out that as of 1992-93 total federal
government spending on aboriginals was $6 billion and some
change. The provincial and territorial spending was $5 billion.
This totals $11.628 billion.
This is all very well and good but this chart I have before me
averages it out to show that per capita spending on aboriginals
both on reserve and off reserve in 1992-93 was $15,714. Members
should hold this figure in their minds because this chart also
did the same work to determine how much is spent on all Canadians
during the same period. When we talk about spending we are
talking about education, income transfers, housing, health care
and social services, everything a government does for its people.
The average for all Canadians from the federal and provincial
governments is $10,026 per year per capita. Just to repeat what
I said, all governments spend an average of $15,714 per year for
aboriginals and all governments spend an average of $10,026 per
In order to get a picture of the real situation with our
aboriginals and with the spending of all governments on
aboriginals, we add the figure for spending on aboriginals and
all Canadians to the figure for income of aboriginals and all
Canadians. The wealth we derive from society is what we can earn
with our own labour and what we receive in the form of social
services from the government.
When we add up those figures we find that the total per capita
economic benefit per aboriginal is $29,912.
The total per capita spending for all Canadians is $30,290, a
difference of only $378. Something is terribly wrong. For some
reason the total economic benefit going out to all aboriginals
and to all Canadians is within $378. Yet we have problems all
across the country on and off reserves with widespread poverty
and people living in social conditions that are an embarrassment
to the rest of the world. Canada has difficulty holding its head
high when we speak of how we treat our aboriginals.
I hope the government is listening. The problem revolves around
not how much money we are spending in terms of benefit or how
much income the aboriginals are getting per person. What is
wrong is that somewhere there is a major glitch. The $11 billion
as of 1993 from this government and the provincial governments is
not getting to the people effectively. It revolves around issues
of accountability and re-examining the entire structure of how we
fund the aboriginal community both on and off reserve.
We have here one of the most crucial and most difficult problems
that affects Canadians and that every Canadian should worry
about. I hope the government will look at my figures and
consider what it should do.
Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, the hon. member who just spoke has probably given one of
the best accounts of the situation with aboriginal people in
Canada today that I have heard in parliament since I came here in
September 1997. I cannot speak to the 1992 and 1993 statistics
and all those things. Figures can be twisted around so that we
are not too sure what they actually reflect.
The fact is that with the wise use of financial resources we can
make some immediate impact for poor people both on and off
reserve. The accountability issue is something that poor people
on reserves across the country have been raising. Accountability
is seen by the simplest explanation I have heard: “The chief
lives across from me in a $200,000 house. I am living in a house
with no running water, no sewage and very little insulation in
some cases”. The funding that went into reserves for housing
has been well documented over the years. Why do some have so
much and some so little? This is the funding the hon. member is
Will the member keep speaking to the Minister of Indian Affairs
and Northern Development and pressing his government along the
lines he spoke about today? If he does I would be pleased to
Mr. John Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I would like to share my
time with the member for Mississauga West. I thank the member
for his very kind comment.
Aboriginal affairs issues are very difficult because they
involve money and the privacy of individuals. We do not want to
interfere and deprive people of the ability to spend money in a
way in which they control their destiny. As I see the problem,
governments have been far too sensitive about that issue and have
not required the sort of performance guarantees we require of
other sectors of the community.
I tell the member opposite that I like the government's attempt
to bring self-government to various aboriginal communities across
the country, provided those self-governments have the same level
of transparency and accountability that we expect of every other
level of government and organization in the country that is
dependent on shareholders or the support of the people.
The government is moving in the right direction. There is a lot
of resistance. There is a lot of fear. There is a lot of worry
that we will upset the aboriginal community. However we know
that it has not been working in the past. In this one area of
politics we should all be on side, on all sides of the House, to
try to solve the problem in a compassionate and effective way.
Mr. Howard Hilstrom: Mr. Speaker, seeing as we have a
minute left I would like to ask one more question.
Does the member who just spoke see any opportunity for having an
auditor general type of accountability for moneys that go from
the federal government to aboriginal reserves to be used in
common for everyone?
That is what seems to be lacking at this time. There is the
lack of an independent auditor who cannot be controlled by the
people who are handling the money, in this case the chiefs and
Mr. John Bryden: Mr. Speaker, the problem is that we
would require an auditor general to oversee the spending of the
municipalities. Basically aboriginal self-government is the
creation of the municipalities by the federal government. They
are not really nation states; they are really like
The real answer in my mind is to require these organization to
have the same type of rules of disclosure that exist in something
like the access to information act or freedom of information. It
is the elected people who have to determine whether a government
at any level is doing its job properly. If we do not have those
rules of transparency the people will never know and cannot act
Mr. Steve Mahoney (Mississauga West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
it is delightful to be back. I thank my hon. colleague for
leaving me some time to discuss some of the issues around what we
are calling prebudget.
The member made an interesting point. He said we were debating
two things at this stage, given that the actual budget will be
released in this place on February 16. We are talking about the
budget in the year 2000 and we are also explaining to Canadian
people the impact the 1998 budget has had on the economy and on
our country as a whole.
We heard members opposite calling quite loudly for tax relief.
It is my sense that there will be some additional tax relief in
the budget. I am hopeful there will be. There was over $7
billion in tax relief in the 1998 budget, something that members
opposite tend to gloss over. The Canadian people know because
they can see it. They can see the actual benefits they get.
Just to share some of them with members, for example, there was
an increase in the child tax benefit from the $850 million
announced in the 1997 budget. An additional $850 million was put
into that. That will go directly to benefiting low income
Canadians who need assistance to go to work and to provide proper
care for their children.
In addition a caregiver credit was provided in the 1998 budget.
We do not hear members opposite talk about its importance. We can
think about health care and the impact on families of providing
care giving situations to their parents or other relatives. The
government recognized it in 1998 as important. To give the
detail, a caregiver credit will reduce federal tax by up to $400
for Canadians caring for an elderly parent or a family member
with disabilities. This is significant tax relief targeted to
help people who specifically need it. I hope we will see more of
that kind of budgeting in the budget coming up later this month.
In addition there was an exemption on GST and HST for expenses
incurred in the provision of temporary care to someone who by
reason of infirmity or disability needed the particular care.
Once again we would think we would hear members in this place
telling the Canadian people that this is good budgeting, good
financing to help the people who need it most.
Also in that budget the Canadian opportunities strategy provided
tax assistance for Canadians who wished to advance their
learning. It did a number of things. It provided tax relief for
interest payments on student loans. We heard from students at
various committees and in our offices. They have written letters
talking about the incredible burden of graduating from school
with a debt burden of $25,000 or more from student loans. We
provided some assistance and even an opportunity, if hardship
could be shown, where that particular interest could be written
There was an opportunity in the last budget for tax free RRSP
withdrawals for lifelong learning. In today's society with the
downsizing and the changes that have occurred there are many
Canadians, many of them middle income Canadians, who cry for tax
relief. Many Canadians have suddenly found themselves going from
being middle income to being no income simply because they have
been downsized, their company has changed their method of doing
business or whatever. In many instances they are not only middle
income but are also middle age.
This allows them an opportunity to tap into an RRSP fund that is
available for their retirement to allow them to take courses so
they can perhaps readjust and create new employment for
themselves. It is tax relief with some sense behind it to say it
will directly benefit those people who need the help. There is
also an education credit and child care expense deduction for
part time students.
In the last two budgets of the government there was a real move
toward providing some tax relief that made sense. It was
targeted to help people in either adjusting their lifestyle,
taking care of dependants who might be ill, infirm or disabled in
some way, or helping them provide education for younger members
of their families.
When we talk in terms of the next budget perhaps we as
parliamentarians will have some access to it. I believe, as my
colleague mentioned, this budget has been put to bed. Being only
a couple of weeks from now perhaps there are some i's to
dot and t's to cross, but at the end of the day the budget
policies have been hashed out in this place. The policies have
gone before parliamentary committees. They have been taken to
caucus. There has been input from Canadians. This budget is
probably done. The next budget will be for the year 2000.
It is interesting that this is really about fighting over the
spoils. When the government was first elected in 1993 it walked
into a situation where people were describing us in cities like
New York, Washington and others around the world as a third world
country because of the size of our deficit at $42 billion. I
stress the deficit being the overdraft, the deficit being the
shortfall in the operating budget, not the debt. It is a
different concept. It is important that Canadians understand
that in 1993 the government was spending $42 billion on an
operating basis more than it was bringing in in revenue.
The world was looking at us and saying that for the size of our
country of 30 million people, for the size of our GDP, for the
entire output of our nation, a $42 billion debt was unacceptable.
We were being referred to as a third world nation.
That does incredible damage. It is not just the psyche and the
problem it creates for Canadians who are proud of their country.
Canadians continually hear others outside the country saying we
are the greatest nation in the world. Canadians know that but
were very uncomfortable feeling that no one was properly managing
the financial store. I am sad to say that I think it was true.
The proof was in the pudding. The reality is that the deficit
has been eliminated and the government has retired $13 billion in
marketable debt. For the first time perhaps since the days of
Mike Pearson we see in a chart that there is a downward trend in
the debt. There is an upward trend in the economy. Canadians are
feeling proud not only of being from this great country with a
health care system, quality of education, our standard of living
and being proud of our flag, they are proud that this government
has dedicated itself to fiscal restraint and at the same time has
put in place opportunities to assist Canadians who need it
through our tax relief programs. We are going to see more of the
same and the country will continue to grow and prosper. Canadians
know that and they speak about it in resounding numbers every
day. Things are strong and will get stronger.
Mr. John Solomon (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I listened with interest to the remarks from the member
for Mississauga West when he talked about fighting over the
spoils of the surplus budget and resounding numbers of our
As we know if we have watched television or read newspapers
lately, we see there are some resounding numbers in our economy.
Homelessness, for example, is at a record level. It is almost a
national disaster and it is certainly a national embarrassment.
This is something the Liberals have been architects of, so I
agree with the member for Mississauga West about that resounding
The member should look at the resounding numbers of people
living in poverty. There are more than half a million children
living in poverty and in hunger since 1993 than before the
Liberals were elected. Those are resounding numbers and they are
resounding in the sense of absolute embarrassment of the Liberal
We are hoping that in the coming budget these issues will be
addressed. In Regina the employment insurance benefits for
people who deserve benefits because they are unemployed and have
paid into the system are no longer being provided. The worst
record in the country is in Regina where only 19% of unemployed
people who have paid into the employment benefit system qualify
for benefits. The government arbitrarily has attacked those
people who need the insurance help the most from the employment
insurance program. These are resounding bad numbers of the
I wonder what the member for Mississauga West has to say about
these issues which are very disastrous for the Liberal government
and what are its plans in the budget to address the issue of
homelessness, poverty and the unemployed who are not receiving
the benefits they deserve.
Mr. Steve Mahoney: Mr. Speaker, the member might find it
surprising that I agree with him on a couple of points.
We do have a national housing crisis. However, I separate the
issue of housing and homelessness. The problem of homelessness
needs to be tied more to health. Anyone who lives on the street
in Canada in February is not a well person and we have to address
issues around mental health.
We have seen the cuts. The member talks about his home province.
Let me talk about my province. We have seen the cuts that have
happened in mental health. We have seen the people who are on
the streets because the current Conservative government in the
province of Ontario has used its 30% income tax cut and taken
that money out of the health care system.
We can blame the federal government for downsizing the transfers
to the provinces. We have to accept collective responsibility as
a nation for some of that. The reality is that it is the
provincial Government of Ontario that has closed mental health
beds right across the province and those people find themselves
on the street.
I too would like to see a national housing policy. I believe
that all levels of government need to get back into providing a
social housing framework that makes sense for all Canadians. I
will support that and I will work toward that. If it does not
all show up in this budget, the government will work toward
seeing there is some equity and some housing put back in the
Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, I am sure the hon. member said he was proud of Canada's
health system. No matter where we go the health system
throughout Canada is a national disgrace. It is a disgrace in my
home province. So please do not refer with any degree of pride
to the biggest social problem facing Canadians. It will be a
problem for some time.
I wanted to make that point. I believe I heard the hon. member
say that. If it is not so I will withdraw that statement.
Mr. Steve Mahoney: Mr. Speaker, if I did not say it I
wish I had said it. I probably did say it. If I recall
correctly I said that Canadians are proud of their health care
system. Yes, there are problems with it.
It is quite interesting to have a Reform member stand here. We
heard Reform's solution that 50% of the surplus would go to tax
cuts and 50% would go to debt repayment. I guess the third 50%
would go to health care. Maybe that is Reform math.
Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if
no one else will pick up the cudgel then certainly I will. I
will speak about three things this evening, tax cuts, debt
reduction and transfers on the CHST.
First is the issue of debt reduction which in my submission has
been ably done by the finance minister. We have gone from a
situation where we had about $42 billion in deficit to a
situation where we are now running a surplus estimated at
anywhere between $4 billion and $8 billion. The question is
really one of how Canadians want to deal with the surplus which
is their own creation, a tribute to Canadian taxpayers.
I am more of a debt hawk than the finance minister. I would
allocate more moneys to debt reduction. I consider the debt to
be a burden on us and our country. To my mind the $3.5 billion
commitment is a minimal gesture given the size of our national
debt. I am something of a minority in this view. This
commitment to steady debt reduction is a first step and is
something the finance minister needs to be commended for.
I am very impressed by the finance minister's ability to see the
gross debt to GDP ratio reduced from something in the order of
73% down to something in the order of 66% to 67%. That is an
amazing accomplishment, an accomplishment for which he is to be
When the finance minister presents his budget I urge him to
restate the debt so it is somewhat more comparable to our
competition. When those people in red suspenders from
Switzerland, talked about by our Prime Minister, actually compare
our debt to GDP ratio with the ratios of other countries, they
will realize this is quite an accomplishment. When we are more
comparable we will achieve some savings in absolute terms on
interest rates. I hope that will prevent the dead loonie bounce.
We have achieved a great deal in absolute terms in the reduction
of the debt and I commend the finance minister on his
I urge the finance minister to make it very public in this
Chamber in two weeks that we have reduced or paid off market debt
by $13 billion this year alone.
This is quite an accomplishment and a significant sum of money.
This means that Canada, as a government, is no longer on debt
reduction. It is no longer in the market for debt.
The direct effect is that we will make the moneys that
heretofore had gone for government financing available to the
I was fortunate to have a conversation with Governor Thiessen on
this very point. He was saying that because Canada no longer
borrows money it therefore has money available to the nation in
general and also to private investors for corporate borrowings.
As we all know, borrowing on a bond market or borrowing in debt
instruments is a cheaper way of borrowing money than going to the
equity markets and borrowing on the equity market.
We have passed on to Canadians generally a tremendous benefit to
those who need to borrow in order to carry on the capitalization
of their companies.
That in and of itself is probably a bit of an unsung consequence
of doing things right in a fiscal fashion. This government in my
view has done it right. We have reduced debt in absolute terms.
We have committed ourselves to reducing debt in a steady downward
We have achieved a downward trend from 73% to 66% or 67%, which
hopefully by the end of this mandate will be either in the low
60s or the high 50s. That in and of itself is a tremendous
Finally on the issue of debt, I urge on the finance minister two
things, that he restate the debt to GDP ratio in a comparative
fashion so that it is readily comparable to our competition, and
that he celebrate Canadians' accomplishments in the absolute
reduction of our national debt by something in the order of $13
billion this year.
I now to turn to tax cuts. If there is a budget in which to
accomplish tax cuts, I would like to suggest this is the budget.
Surely the beleaguered middle class taxpayer deserves something
of a break. The surtax can be removed at this stage. This was a
tax imposed on Canadian taxpayers in order to fight the deficit.
The fight for the deficit is now over. Deficit reduction has
been completed and we are now into the realm of debt reduction.
The rationale for that tax no longer exists. I urge the finance
minister that this should be a priority tax cut.
In addition, 10% of the taxpayers pay 50% of the taxes. As
difficult as it may seem, we need to recognize these are the
people who carry the financial burdens of the country. When
someone is carrying the financial burdens of the country such as
this 10% group is they need to be recognized on this level of
I was somewhat disappointed that the finance minister found
himself a little politically boxed in with respect to the EI cut.
As members know, 10 cents costs the government $700 million.
This is a shocking figure.
The government found itself in a situation where it had to pass
on an EI cut. We ended up cutting 15 cents or just over $1
billion. That in and of itself uses up room for doing other tax
There is a good argument to be made that other kinds of tax cuts
could have been done in priority to the EI cut.
If we looked at a variety of charts with respect to the taxes
that Canadians pay, consumption taxes, corporate taxes,
employment taxes and personal taxes, we would note that as a
general proposition we are fairly competitive with other G-7
countries in virtually all categories, with the sole exception of
personal taxes where we compare somewhat unfavourably with our
nearest competitors, the Americans. There is something in the
order of a 4% gap between where we would like our competitive
taxes to be and where they are presently.
I for one would have liked that $1 billion in EI cuts to have
been applied to personal income taxes as opposed to employment
taxes. A dollar is a dollar is a dollar. However, on the other
hand it would have been nice to have spread those dollars over a
greater number of Canadians.
The additional cuts that I would like to see are in the area of
thresholds. I know there has been a great deal of discussion
about bracket creep. I suggest to hon. members opposite and
indeed on this side of the House that bracket creep is a little
understood concept. However, an area that is easily understood
is that of thresholds.
Our tax system, generally speaking, is fairly competitive up to
about $60,000 or $70,000. After that our competitiveness with
respect to our thresholds erodes rather rapidly, in particular as
it relates to our nearest competitors, the Americans. While we
cannot expect that changing thresholds will in fact solve all
problems, the only thing the Government of Canada can control is
the area of its taxation systems. We cannot control how much a
young engineer from Waterloo University might be paid by
Microsoft versus a Toronto or a Regina based company; however, we
can have some impact on the taxation system.
Therefore I would have liked to have seen something done in the
area of thresholds. My suggestion would be that we move the
highest threshold up to around $70,000 or $80,000 as the maximum
threshold and that we move the middle threshold up from $29,000
to about $35,000. That, in and of itself, would provide
considerable tax relief so that we would not be taxing Canadians
too quickly. If in fact the finance minister has the budgetary
room to be able to do that, I would think that is an area which
should be seriously explored.
There is also a certain level of hypocrisy in our approach to
this. As we see it, we are moving ourselves from a resource
based economy to a knowledge based economy. When we move from a
resource based economy to a knowledge based economy we can
reasonably anticipate that some Canadians will do very well
How are we going to expect people to put the effort into
improving their knowledge base if in fact the tax system takes it
out at the other end? We need to address this as a country as we
do our budgeting over the course of the next number of years.
The final area I would like to address has to do with the CHST,
the Canada health and social transfer. This is of course the big
block of cash and tax points which is transferred to the
provinces. It is in the order of $25 billion to $26 billion.
We will have noticed in the newspapers a great deal of whining
on the part of a variety of premiers concerning “reductions in
the CHST”. The biggest whiner of them all is the premier of my
province who is blaming his entire incompetence and mismanagement
of Ontario's economy on a reduction totalling something in the
order of $938 million from the federal government over the course
of six years. What he neglects to point out in the course of
generating his argument is that Ontario's revenues have actually
risen over the past six years to somewhere in the order of $10.5
Even with what we call Mike Harris math in Ontario, he is ahead
by something in the order of $9 billion. However, when one
philosophically commits oneself to tax cuts in priority to all
other priorities, one will in fact generate a situation where one
has to deal with other areas. One has to make cuts to health
care and education and one has to ratchet up the debt.
Surprise, surprise, but that is what has happened in Ontario.
The debt has risen under Mr. Harris' stewardship to something in
the order of $20 billion to $30 billion. Depending on when he
calls the election, it may be as high as $30 billion. Right now
it is around $20 billion. This year alone tax cuts will cost the
Ontario treasury something in the order of $4.5 billion. Those
tax cuts alone would wipe out the deficit and provide a small
surplus, if properly managed.
As other members opposite have said, there is some disgrace in
our health care system. It is not the system that we would wish
it to be. Those tax cuts could have been applied to educational
priorities, but they have not been applied to educational
Therefore, when one ideologically commits oneself to tax cuts in
priority to all other priorities one necessarily mismanages the
government's finances, and when one necessarily mismanages the
government's finances one has to blame somebody. Why not blame
the federal government which has cut back the CHST to Ontario by
a total of $938 million over the course of six years?
We must not neglect to point out that the effect of proper
management at the federal level has brought interest rates down.
The interest rate reduction benefit to Ontario alone is something
like $1.3 billion, which more than offsets the minimal reductions
to the CHST.
In government management there is always a choice in priorities.
What priorities are we going to take? If one looks at the
priorities of this government, first of all it gave priority to
the reduction and elimination of the deficit. That has been
achieved. It is a tremendous accomplishment to go from a deficit
of $42 billion to a surplus of something in the order of $4
billion to $8 billion in the course of six budgets.
This government then gave priority to reducing the debt in
absolute and real terms. Thirteen billion dollars off in one
fiscal year out of the market is an enormous accomplishment.
It then prioritized tax cuts and last year made a number of tax
cuts at the low end. I applaud the government for doing that.
Now I would like to see the upper end receive its tax cuts.
Finally, this government has done all of this with a minimalist
approach to the reductions in the CHST and it has accomplished it
over the course of the six years with a great deal of notice.
Canada is more than ten little fiefdoms with one taxing
authority. Canada is a nation. The priorities of our nation
have been set by this government and I support those priorities.
I urge this government to continue the absolute reduction of
the debt, to provide tax cuts to Canadians who have borne most of
the burden and to continue to prioritize the needs of our country
in the fashion that I have outlined.
Mr. John Solomon (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, NDP):
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to raise some questions
with the member for Scarborough East. He has stood in this House
and has talked about the priorities that he believes the Liberal
government has. He also outlined for us, in a surprising
fashion, that it actually has health care as a priority. I just
want to review that for a moment.
As I recall, in the 1993 federal election the Liberals had three
priorities: to abolish, get rid off, cut and eliminate the GST;
to re-negotiate and roll back the Canada-U.S. free trade
agreement, which they then embraced; and to support our health
I am a member of parliament from Saskatchewan. The hon. member
opposite talked about the Ontario experience. In terms of
Liberal priorities, the Saskatchewan experience has been
interesting to say the least, but they would not be viewed in
Saskatchewan terms or in any other terms as priorities.
For example, we used to have a 50% cost sharing arrangement with
the federal government for health care. Do members know what it
is now? It is not 50%. It is not 40%. It is not 25%. It is
not even 15%. The federal share of funding for health care in
Saskatchewan has dropped to 14%. That is how the Liberals define
priority for health care. They slash, hack and cut medicare so
it is bleeding from a thousand cuts. Fourteen per cent means
that 86% of the cost of health care is funded by Saskatchewan
people for Saskatchewan people. This is a priority that I hope
the member will address in the upcoming budget.
In five years we have seen $1 billion taken out of our health
care system by the Liberal government which has prioritized
health care. How much would it have taken out if it was not a
priority? Maybe it would have been $5 billion. We are not sure.
A billion dollars in Saskatchewan is $1,000 for every man, woman
and child. That is what we have lost from our health care
system. But the NDP government, in its wisdom, found that $1,000
per man, woman and child and did not pass on the cuts the feds
made to the health care system. We backfilled every dollar into
health care which those members opposite said was a priority.
We have also seen their wonderful priority in terms of tax cuts
for Saskatchewan people and other Canadians. They have
eliminated the Crow benefit, which is another $1 billion that has
been taken out of the Saskatchewan economy. On top of that they
raised railway transportation costs by between 25% and 33% to
every farmer selling and shipping their products by rail. That
is a priority.
When we look at the issues of health care, transportation and
agriculture, what we see in Saskatchewan is that even the
provincial Liberals are saying that health care is a priority and
that the NDP in Saskatchewan is not doing its job with respect to
health care. The NDP found $1 billion that this government cut,
but the Liberal cousins in Ottawa continue to attack the health
Will the hon. member put his seat on the line? If health care
is not the priority that he says it is come the budget, will he
resign his seat?
Mr. John McKay: Madam Speaker, I cannot speak with any
authority on the numbers with respect to Saskatchewan. However,
the hon. member forgets, as does Mr. Harris of Ontario, as does
almost every premier of Canada, that the CHST, which is the big
block transfer, is a combination of cash and tax points. I know
that in Ontario the combination of cash and tax points has not
amounted to a $6 billion reduction in moneys, as Mr. Harris would
argue, but has been slightly less than $1 billion. In the
process, the government's finances have been put back in order.
I would think that in Saskatchewan, which is arguably in
unemployment terms one of our better provinces, the numbers would
be similar and that in fact there has been very little reduction
in terms of the CHST.
I also note to the hon. member opposite that the equalization
payments have not been cut over that period of time, at
considerable sacrifice to this particular treasury and to the
taxpayers of Canada.
As well, cash reductions in the CHST were stopped at $12.5
billion, even though all of the provinces had signed on to a cash
floor of $11 billion. As a consequence, $7 billion was back in
the pot for all of the provinces to obtain.
I also note in the last budget $150 million was put into the
health transition fund. There was a further $50 million for the
Canada health information system.
Over the course of our deliberations the idea of a variety of
report cards on how the best health care dollar can be obtained
is being floated. I was shocked to learn that Manitoba's system
does not compare to Saskatchewan's system which does not compare
to Ontario's system.
Canadians spend something in the order of $80 billion annually
on their health care system and they have no idea what they are
getting for it. It is something like 9% of the GDP. Comparable
health systems in other countries spend something like 7% of
their GDP. How is it that they obtain a sophisticated, well
managed, accessible system for something in the order of 7% of
their GDP when we have to spend 9% of our GDP?
I would applaud the health minister who insists with the
premiers and with the respective health ministers that they be
accountable for the moneys that are to be put into the CHST.
Mr. Jim Jones (Markham, PC): Madam Speaker, it is always
interesting to listen to the member for Scarborough East and his
sidekick from Mississauga West. The trouble with Liberal members
is that we cannot pat them on the back because they are patting
themselves on the back.
With respect to the prosperity in Ontario, last year 73% of all
the net new jobs in the private sector was created by the
province and a high percentage of the remainder was created by
the province of Alberta. Is it not ironic that the two provinces
with the lowest taxes have created the majority of the jobs and
probably have also made the biggest contribution to reducing the
I heard the member from Scarborough say that the Ontario
government had an increase in revenues of almost $10 billion with
a 30% tax increase. Is it not ironic that tax increases or
decreases increase the revenue. I would like the hon. member to
comment on that.
The hon. member said that he was a debt hawk. Would he then
agree that if we had locked the $3 billion contingency reserve
into a repayment schedule with the servicing costs we could pay
the debt back in 35 years? Would the hon. member support that
type of a lock?
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The hon. member has a
Mr. John McKay: Madam Speaker, I do not know whether
within a minute I can deal with the simple-minded correlation
between the issue of tax cuts and proper management of the
It is true that Ontario at this point is experiencing something
of a renaissance and that there is a great deal of job creation.
However, there is not a correlation with tax cuts. I respectfully
submit to the hon. member that that is about as simple-minded a
correlation as he is going to find.
In fact Ontario's economy is booming because of a great deal of
investment in a knowledge based economy and a great deal of
investment in other areas of the economy and its location
vis-à-vis the United States. The tax cuts do not necessarily
correlate as the hon. member thinks they would.
All that it has done over the course of the period of the
premiership of Mr. Harris has been to ratchet up the debt by $20
billion to $30 billion. That $20 billion to $30 billion has to
be serviced on an annual basis. Even at the minimal interest
rates that we have now achieved by the good management of the
federal government, that is still going to add about $1.5 billion
in service costs on to the taxpayers of Ontario.
Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Madam Speaker, I am
sure when the government releases its budget it will sell it as
the answer to everything, the answer to the government's failure
to support our health care system, the answer to its failure to
improve child poverty.
As it has for the past year, the government will talk of the
surplus and the need to decrease the debt.
Canadians are tired of the government's doublespeak. Canadians
knew with the budget last year that by not going ahead with
further cuts the government was not putting dollars back in
Canadians know that dollars paid by workers and employers should
not be used for government favours. Canadians know that the
finance minister's surplus should not include EI dollars. We do
not need to abuse the EI fund to put an armoury in Shawinigan.
We do not need to use EI dollars to have a millennium scholarship
fund as a golden calf for the Prime Minister. Without those EI
dollars, the finance minister's surplus dwindles. His pat on the
back should be resulting in a small burp, not the belching we
must continually listen to.
In reality there should be no pats on the backs on the
government benches. The social deficit in Canada has reached an
all-time low. Let us recap a few of the government's wonderful
contributions since the Liberals took the helm. All that is
missing is the iceberg.
Child poverty has increased by $500,000. Homelessness is a
national disaster. Every province has called on this government
to react to the critical state of our health care system and then
the member for Scarborough East calls it whining.
Government members have taken a year to clean out their ears, or
is it just so bad that even they are feeling the shame and
embarrassment of Canada's drop in social standing?
I want to read from a letter that I received over the break:
It is very tough to survive on old age pensions in present times.
My wife and I are trying to do just that. My lady is 70 years
old and I am 76. The price of necessities is rising daily and it
is so hard to make ends meet.
In 1998 the government raised our medical target $300, so we now
must pay $600 before we get any discount on the price of drugs.
We are both on medication. This is a low blow.
The cost of living in the north is horrific. We pay top dollar
to operate our cars. We cannot afford a holiday which we should
be entitled to.
The federal government has seen fit to forgive a $700 million
tax bill to people who are already billionaires. This will
certainly fall in the laps of the average taxpayer to fill in the
This is the Liberal legacy as we enter the new millennium. The
government had best make a good showing with the next budget. We
cannot afford for conditions to get any worse. Canadians will
not tolerate this Prime Minister's lack of vision. This
government must make a serious commitment to the people of
Canada. What are the options to improve the sorry state of
Canada's social condition?
As a bare minimum, $2.5 billion must be put back into the health
care system. The bare minimum. Put the EI payments back into
the program. We have all heard the disgusting statistics
throughout Canada as to the number of workers no longer able to
collect benefits, not because the dollars are not there but
because the government changed the rules so less and less can
receive benefits. What good is an insurance plan if it is not
able to be collected by the people who most need it?
My colleague for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre mentioned the
deplorable numbers for his riding. Only 19% of the unemployed
are able to collect EI benefits. Some employment insurance. In
my riding $16.9 million less is being paid out in EI benefits.
Cut the GST by 1%. This along with dollars put back into EI are
the greatest encouragements to job creation and boosting local
economies. This way all Canadians benefit: workers, the
unemployed, the sick, local businesses, not just the billionaire
who got the $700 million tax write-off.
Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I would like to direct a comment and a question to the
hon. member for Churchill.
I agree with much of what she has said. One thing bothers me
with the talk leading up to the transfers, and I am sure the hon.
member will agree with this. Somehow with the transfers we now
need what this government says is accountability.
I have some problems with that because when the government says
it needs accountability, what the government is saying is that it
has not had it in the past.
Who knows best how to deliver a health care system in my
province in my constituency than the people who live there? What
is the point of demanding accountability? Are you going to
create an army of people to say this is where your health dollars
go, this is where your education dollars go and this is where the
welfare dollars go?
I would not have any idea at the present time how to deliver a
health care system to a village on the coast of Newfoundland.
Does the hon. member agree with the government that says this is
how much money you are going to get but you are going to be
accountable to us as to how it is going to be spent, as if you
are not capable of spending your own tax dollars?
Ms. Bev Desjarlais: Madam Speaker, I do not have a
problem with accountability. Canadians want accountability for
their tax dollars, but reasonable accountability is what we are
It seems again I am talking of the doublespeak that the
government uses. We all read the comments of the transport
minister when he talked about certain dollars that were signed
away and that the process really was not there to keep track of
it and there are toll highways in New Brunswick because things
were not accounted for. It is important to recognize that we have
to be accountable and the things that happened were wrong in that
We did not have a problem within the health care system in
Canada. There was not a serious problem until this government
took the helm and dollars became so scarce that the government
had to get on somebody's case over where the dollars were going.
We did not hear Canadians complain about the things they are
talking about now, of not getting surgery for six months to a
year and of not getting treatment for breast cancer until three,
four or five months down the road. That is the legacy of the
Liberal government and it is not because of accountability.
Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Madam Speaker,
I thought I heard that the member opposite wished to obtain a tax
cut in the area of the GST. Does the member know how much the GST
raised for the federal government? What was the net effect of
the moneys that were raised? How much did that contribute to the
federal treasury? Has the member contemplated how much a one
point reduction in the GST would cost the federal treasury? Is
that one point reduction in the GST a priority the member would
put in precedence to all other priorities?
Does the member know whether the consumption taxes set out in
this country are comparable to consumption taxes in other
Ms. Bev Desjarlais: Madam Speaker, to get to the end
result I am not aware of all the figures regarding consumption
taxes in every area.
I for one have never begrudged paying my dues for what I
receive. I personally have never begrudged my tax dollars. I
have benefited greatly as a Canadian. My family has benefited
through public schools, through roads and through the health care
system. Personally I pay my taxes and I do not begrudge them when
I receive the goods but that has not been the case.
With regard to the 1% on the GST, there is no question that the
benefits to the local economies and to individuals will be
benefits that will reach everybody if we use the 1% GST cut. That
is not the case when one person receives a tax break. That is the
problem Canadians want to address in the tax system. They want
something that is going to be fair for everyone.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Order, please. Pursuant to
special order made earlier today, the House will continue
consideration of Government Orders.
* * *
RAILWAY SAFETY ACT
Hon. Fred Mifflin (for the Minister of Transport) moved
that Bill C-58, an act to amend the Railway Safety Act and to
make a consequential amendment to another act, be read the third
time and passed.
Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Transport, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to rise
and speak in support of Bill C-58 which has received
consideration by the Standing Committee on Transport last
November and has been finally referred back to the House for
third reading. I commend my colleagues for their diligent work
on this significant piece of legislation.
Two in depth reviews have been conducted to date by independent
and departmental safety experts on the Railway Safety Act. One
was in 1994 and more recently another in 1997. These reviews
confirm the validity of the underlying principles of the act. In
both cases the overall excellent safety record of the Canadian
rail industry was clearly acknowledged, and we are very proud of
However these reviews also identified opportunities to further
enhance the legislation aimed at building and improving on this
effective safety framework. The amendments proposed in the
legislation were prepared following a thorough consultative
process with the railway industry, railway unions, the Federation
of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Safety Council,
Transport 2000, provincial officials and other interested
parties, and there was a great number of them.
Consultations were held as late as October of last year. These
sessions provided stakeholders with an opportunity to reach a
consensus on the intent of these proposed Railway Safety Act
amendments which reflect best practices used in safety regimes
from other modes of transportation.
The benefits of full consultation were amply demonstrated by our
stakeholder success in seeing their views integrated into the
improved legislative package. As a result they expressed to the
standing committee their high level of comfort with the bill.
I am pleased to inform the House that the proposed legislative
changes in Bill C-58 as approved by the Standing Committee on
Transport will enhance our ability to give assurance to Canadians
of the continuing health of railway safety in the country.
Some of the most important changes in the bill have been made in
order to make our railway system much safer. Among other things
these changes include a new policy statement; authority to
require railways to implement safety management systems with an
auditing process; authority to require railways to report safety
critical information, an absolute must; a new safety compliance
order targeted at safety management system deficiencies;
increased authority for railway safety inspectors which is
lacking at the present time; and an improved consultative process
with all partners concerned.
We believe that these and other measures proposed in the bill
will benefit Canadians greatly through the continuous improvement
of all elements of the railway system.
I can assure the House that Transport Canada considers railway
safety to be of utmost importance. As the Transportation Safety
Board has noted, Canada enjoys a commendable rail safety record.
To maintain this record departmental rail safety inspectors will
continue to monitor all railway company safety performance across
Transport Canada will also continue to take action to attend to
any safety deficiencies that may arise to ensure that the safety
of the Canadian transportation system is not compromised.
The history of this act is characterized by co-operation among
concerned parties. Railways and unions, provinces and
municipalities and professional associations have all contributed
to the development of this act over time.
At the Standing Committee on Transport last year many witnesses
came forward to voice their support of what they felt to be a
good piece of legislation. Stakeholders, industry and labour
commended the process by which the legislation had been
developed. In particular, they appreciated the opportunity to
fully voice their concerns and to see these concerns being
For example, as a result of comments made by stakeholders to the
Standing Committee on Transport the government was very pleased
to add a new section to the bill, section 26.2, which states that
railway equipment has the right of way at highway crossings. This
provision has the wide support of stakeholders and was
satisfactory to concerned parties.
It may seem obvious that railway equipment has the right of way
when one considers the mass of a train compared to that of a
measly motor vehicle. However, setting this out in clear
language may help Canadians to realize that railway vehicles,
unlike motor vehicles, require long distances to come to a stop.
This section will therefore help in raising public awareness and
advancing crossing safety.
Technical amendments put forward by members of the standing
committee have also been incorporated into the bill. The
Standing Committee on Transport has helped through its
considerable efforts to improve an already sound piece of
The bill contains a very innovative approach to the problem of
train whistles in our communities. The whistle signals the
approach of a train to a crossing. This very simple device has
historically been an effective safety warning. Yet it can be
very disruptive to people who live close to the railway line,
especially if the whistles are blowing at three o'clock or four
o'clock in the morning. Over the years railways have ceased
whistling at crossings in a number of communities. This was
initiated following strict guidelines established by Transport
The scheme set out in the bill, which was endorsed by municipal
representatives and in particular by the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities, will require railways to stop whistling where a
local government has passed a motion approving whistle cessation
and if the location meets Transport Canada's standards as set out
in legislation. We believe this will foster a co-operative
approach to solving problems between railways and communities.
To conclude, Transport Canada's first priority is the safety of
the transportation system in Canada. I believe these amendments
to the Railway Safety Act will strengthen the regulatory
framework governing safety in this critical mode of
transportation and will provide the means to ensure that Canada's
railways will continue to improve their safety performance as we
head into the 21st century.
I urge all hon. members of the House to give quick passage to
the legislation so that it can be considered by the other house.
Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, on December 7, 1998 Bill C-58, an act to amend the
Railway Safety Act, was passed unanimously at report stage.
Because the intent and general terms of the bill are beneficial,
my Reform colleagues and I held our noses, gritted our teeth and
voted for a bill that had been pushed forward with indecent haste
and had not received full and proper consideration in committee.
Contrary to what the parliamentary secretary has just said,
there were stakeholders who were unable to be heard. Moreover, I
am unaware of any amendments proposed by the opposition parties
having been even seriously debated in committee, much less
If the practice of adapting the committee's schedule to the
convenience of the minister's office is the shape of things to
come, I can assure the minister and the House that the official
opposition will be less indulgent in the future.
Tonight I bring to the attention of the House a deficiency in
the Canada Transportation Act which came to my attention as a
result of an alleged breach of safety relating to a level
In August 1997 Ms. Linda Meyer and a companion were walking
across a private railway crossing known locally as the Donatelli
Crossing near Mission, B.C. I have seen photographs of the
location. The right of way is not fenced and the crossing is
marked with a stop sign. From a safety standpoint the amount of
brush along the approach is certainly unacceptable, but that is
not the issue I wish to raise right now.
The couple were stopped on the crossing by a Canadian Pacific
Railway police constable dressed in civilian clothes and driving
an unmarked van. They state that the officer informed them
without warning or preamble that they were under arrest for
trespassing. They further claim that when they protested Ms.
Meyer's companion was pepper-sprayed and she was restrained with
such force that she required medical attention.
When I heard this story my initial reaction was to wonder if the
Prime Minister had been moonlighting as a railway policeman.
However, the incident took place a few weeks prior to the APEC
summit and it is therefore extremely unlikely that he would have
been in western Canada at that time.
The trespassing charges are still before the courts and I
understand that criminal charges against the constable are
pending. This legal escalation need not have occurred if section
158 of the Canada Transportation Act contained a provision for an
independent tribunal to review complaints against railway police
As it stands, citizen complaints are only dealt with internally
by other railway employees. In an age where almost every public
police force in Canada is subject to some sort of civilian
overview, it is an aberration in my view that a private force is
exempt from control or is exempt from external scrutiny. Even the
RCMP is subject to its actions being reviewed by the allegedly
impartial public complaints commission. It is unconscionable
that the security force of a private corporation does not have
this type of public accountability.
When Ms. Meyer's complaint was not dealt with to her
satisfaction by the railway company she appealed to government
and found herself in a Kafkaesque runaround where nobody seems to
be responsible for anything.
The Minister of Transport initially passed the book to the
Canada Transportation Agency. The Canada Transportation Agency
and the Minister of Justice both directed her to the solicitor
general who in turn directed her, correctly I believe, back to
the Minister of Transport where the matter rests.
As an aside, I gather from the response by the Minister of
Justice that she is not even aware that trespassing on railway
property is a breach of federal law under the Railway Safety Act,
but nobody is perfect.
In summary, I urge the Minister of Transport to introduce
legislation to amend section 158 of the Canada Transportation Act
to establish an independent commission to review and adjudicate
complaints against railway police constables.
Further, although we are now in the process of passing what is
supposed to be the be all and the end all of railway safety, I
suggest that the rather nebulous section 26.1 of the Railway
Safety Act be further amended in accordance with last year's
recommendation by the Transport Canada project team that “the
responsibilities of all concerned parties with respect to
crossings and trespassing be clarified”. This is less important
to me than the issue of lack of accountability of the railways
for actions of their constables, but it is nevertheless a matter
of public interest.
I would add that the potential, no matter how slim, for a
trespasser on a railway track to be charged with an indictable
offence pursuant to section 41 is overkill which should be
addressed in conjunction with the review of section 26.1 of the
Railway Safety Act.
If the minister would bring forward the necessary legislation to
address the inequities in the Railway Safety Act and in the
Canada Transportation Act to which I have drawn the attention of
the House, my colleagues and I would be very happy to support the
Mr. Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest, PC): Madam
Speaker, I am pleased for the opportunity to take part in third
reading of Bill C-58, an act to amend the Railway Safety Act and
to make a consequential amendment to another act. This act is
basically the same as the previous Bill C-43 introduced during
the last parliament. Unfortunately it died on the order paper at
the call of the last election.
The bill proposes amendments to the Railway Safety Act which
came into effect in January 1998. The statutory review took
place after five years. The result was the previous Bill C-43
and now the bill that has replaced it, the one before us, Bill
The bill will provide the necessary authority to require
railways to implement safety management systems. This is a
preventive measure that will work to enhance the procedures of
railway companies. The bill will also provide greater
involvement of the affected organizations in rule making. It
will allow communities to become involved in the issue of train
It does not sound very important but it is. For one living in a
community next to a railway track it becomes a disruption. I am
being told that this will ensure local communities will have
their say on how that is handled, not at the expense of safety
but by attempting to eliminate that disruption in certain
communities because of rail lines and their crossings. The
community and the railway will be able to work together under the
legislation to provide for minimal disruption of the community
and, as I said earlier, to provide the highest level of safety at
The bill will now clarify and strengthen the federal powers at
road crossings which will allow for safer crossings at a time as
speeds and volumes are increasing, which makes safe crossings
that much more important. Particularly with the increase of car
and truck volumes using our road system and the rail industry
competing globally with increased volumes, it is much more
important that we become vigilant to support or provide for the
safest possible system when these two modes of transportation
Increased crossing safety is the utmost importance considering
the circumstances when there is an unfortunate incident at a
crossing. Railway crossing safety will become even more critical
as volumes increase. The Maersk-Sea Land's post-panamax strategy
for North America may and most likely will include Halifax. We
are hoping Halifax will be the container port of choice by huge
new vessels which will increase traffic volumes immensely. Nova
Scotia's economy, indeed the Canadian economy, will benefit
greatly if Halifax is chosen.
I take this opportunity to impress upon the federal government
the importance of the Halifax bid. My seatmate from Nova Scotia
and our transport critic from Cumberland—Colchester have been
working very hard to make sure that the bid is given some
recognition by the government. Unfortunately the government has
been what we call shamefully silent on the issue. It has to be a
little more aggressive in that bid if Halifax is to be
I am getting off topic a bit but the Halifax terminal is up
against some pretty stiff competitors. It all fits into the
safety implications of the bill. The container line coming into
Halifax and the super port would increase volumes dramatically on
the railways and on the highways simply because of the loads
super carriers would be bringing into the port of Halifax if it
One thing that annoys me about the federal government is its
lack of support of the Halifax bid for the super port. I have
before me an article that was carried in the Halifax Chronicle
Herald in September 1998 wherein the federal international
trade minister was urging New England business leaders to back
the bid of Halifax for super port status.
It is interesting that Halifax is looking for $50 million from
the federal government to help with the bid to become the named
port in competition with ports along the American seacoast. Yet
here we have the Minister for International Trade urging New
Englanders or New England business to support our bid but not
coming up to the line on behalf of the Government of Canada to
support Nova Scotia in that bid.
Halifax is on the short list and it is coming down to a choice
between Baltimore, New York, New Jersey and Halifax. It is up
against some pretty stiff competition. The federal government
has to be a little more active on that file if Halifax is to be
successful. We can be sure that the Americans will use
everything at their disposal to make sure they are successful.
Just a week or two ago I was listening to a New York radio
station and I know hundreds of millions are now being spent to
dredge the New York-New Jersey harbour in anticipation of
receiving the go ahead; in other words that it will be the
The Americans are doing everything they can to secure that bid,
and we are sitting in Ottawa doing absolutely nothing. I urge
the federal government to talk to the industry minister and the
finance minister. It is time we did what our American
competitors are doing to ensure success by investing in the
future of Nova Scotia, the east coast of Canada and the Canadian
economy. This is a big money maker, a big job maker. It is time
the government at least acknowledges the writing on the wall and
plays hardball with our American counterparts. Otherwise it is
like rolling over and playing dead to the elephant. I do not
think that we can afford to do that any more.
The transport minister's parliamentary secretary is here. He is
a very capable individual. I hope he impresses upon his minister
the importance of the bid so that we can move on with it.
Another measures contained in the bill is the authority to
regulate railway emissions. Our environment is a valuable asset,
one that we cannot replace. It is not as if it is a renewable
resource. We have one and we have to take care of it. We
support any measures to protect it, and that is included in the
The last feature to which I will speak is the security of the
railway system. Bill C-58 will improve safety, not only for the
travelling public who uses the rail system through VIA Rail but
also the vital link which has a major impact on the success of
the Canadian economy.
The Railway Safety Act which passed in 1988 was a significant
change in the way we regulate railways and how railways interact
with government. This has proven to be a very good approach, and
with the legislation before us today I hope it will become that
much better. I might add that I was a member of the government
that passed the legislation in 1988.
The member for Cumberland—Colchester examined the bill in
detail at the committee stage and was glad to hear the witnesses
who appeared before the committee, including CP Rail, Canadian
National, the Railway Association of Canada and three groups
representing labour. We are also pleased with the exhaustive
consultations that took place with the stakeholders involved and
their valuable input.
I emphasize that it is a top priority of our party to ensure
safe railway operation. In conclusion, I am glad to say that we
will be supporting Bill C-58, the Railway Safety Act, as we look
forward to the safer railway system which will be a result of the
Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Madam Speaker, I am
pleased to speak on behalf of the New Democratic Party in support
of Bill C-58, an act to amend the Railway Safety Act.
The bill is the product of an inclusive consultation process
with representatives of the railway industry, organized labour
and other stakeholders. These stakeholders have indicated their
satisfaction and support for the bill.
The process of consultation that culminated with the bill is a
rare and refreshing change from the autocratic way the government
usually operates. Most of the time the government takes its cues
from its business friends who are concerned with only their
bottom lines and not with what is in the public interest. This
obvious bias is most apparent in the way the Liberal government
has slashed health and social spending and finagled with EI funds
that are supposed to pay for unemployed workers and job training.
Most government bills come to the House from the bureaucratic
backrooms like lightning bolts from Mount Olympus with little or
no public consultation. When there is consultation it is usually
only with high priced lobbyists. That is why the bill is such
a rare and refreshing change.
It was a pleasure to see organized labour, municipal governments
and the Canada Safety Council consulted in the making of the
bill. It was rare to see a balanced process, rather than one
skewed by a one dimensional perspective.
New Democrats and social democratic parties around the world
know that business is fundamentally important to the public
interest. After all, it is the engine that creates our society.
Business is a valid and important contributor to society but it
is only one dimension in the multidimensional reality of the
public interest. In a healthy democracy business needs must be
balanced with the needs of communities, with individual liberty,
with compassion for the sick and the disadvantaged, and with
other values that its citizens hold dear.
When business interests gain supremacy over others democracy is
threatened. We see this in many third world dictatorships where
business thrives but the people are denied liberty and most live
The consultations that went into the bill are a case in point.
Business was well represented by CP Rail, CN, Via and the Railway
Association of Canada. Surely they made valuable contributions,
but other voices were at the table as well. Labour was there to
represent the workers. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities
represented communities and the Canada Safety Council represented
the general public interest. No wonder this process produced a
positive bill that we are pleased to support.
Among other things the bill allows for greater openness and
transparency in the making of rules and regulations. It
addresses concerns about train noise in communities and the
problem of train-car collisions at road crossings. It clarifies
jurisdictional issues over road crossings and extends the
jurisdiction of railway safety inspectors. It provides the
federal government with the authority to mandate safety programs
from railway companies and enables the government to regulate
I particularly welcome the provisions for greater openness and
transparency in rule making. The bill will ensure that unions
and other interested parties have 60 days to review and comment
on any new rules, rule changes or proposals for exemption.
I know the transportation unions take the safety of the public
and the safety of their members very seriously and will take
advantage of this opportunity to add their input into the
One of the most difficult issues this bill deals with is noise
pollution from train whistles. When these whistles blow at all
hours of the day and night they disturb people living near
railway crossing and lower property values. At the same time
train whistles are important for safety because they serve as a
warning to motor vehicles and pedestrians crossing tracks. Over
95% of train fatalities are caused by trespassing on tracks or at
crossings. So the challenge in this bill was to balance the need
for safety with the quality of life of people living near
crossings. After listening to the rather strange story the
member from Cypress Hills mentioned, the challenge will also be
to ensure that the rights of those people who are on those tracks
are dealt with in a fair manner. It would appear that is an area
that will have to be looked at fairly quickly.
The solution found was to turn responsibility over to local
governments which, as we know, are more in touch with the needs
of their communities than the Ottawa bureaucracy. This bill will
enable local governments to pass resolutions to limit train
whistling. In order to ensure safety, the municipalities will
have to consult with the relevant railway companies and other
stakeholders and the crossing will have to meet certain national
safety standards. Clearly this solution delegates a great deal
of responsibility to local governments and depends on the
vitality and good judgement of those democracies. New Democrats
and community activists everywhere will closely monitor this new
system to make sure it works.
Although I support this bill overall, I would like to note one
reservation regarding the section about the medical testing of
railway workers designated as critical to railway safety. Without
a doubt, the public interest demands that these workers be
medically fit to do their important jobs. My concern is with
section 35 of the bill which states that these persons shall
undergo a medical examination organized by the railway company
concerned. Medical records are personal and private and we, as
members of parliament, must take care any time we pass a law like
this one that violates the privacy of citizens. I am concerned
by the fact that this bill specifically states that the medical
examinations are to be organized by the railway companies
I have a great deal of experience with these kinds of issues,
having worked for 25 years in the health care field. For many of
those years I served as a union representative and I have seen
firsthand the kind of abuse that permeates with rules like this
one. It is possible that the railway companies will try to abuse
this section. Hypothetically they could have a company doctor
declare a worker unfit to work in order to get rid of a union
leader or to prevent an employee from having enough years of
service to qualify for their pension. On the other side of the
coin the company could have a doctor overlook some legitimate
medical problem to keep an employee on the job when they are
shorthanded. These kinds of abuses have happened before and we
must ensure that they cannot happen again. This underlines why
unions are absolutely essential for protecting the rights of
workers and why the railway unions must be vigilant in protecting
In summary, this bill attempts to improve the safety of Canada's
railways. It presumes that the railway companies will not put
profit before safety. Only time will tell if this confidence in
the railway companies is justified. Despite these reservations I
reiterate my support for the bill.
Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Transport, Lib.): Madam Speaker, regarding the presentation
made by the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands he stated
correctly that railway property is private property. Therefore
anyone trespassing can be arrested if there is an officer of the
railway or someone representing the law enforcing body of the
railway as it was possibly in that case.
However, I would like to point out to the member and to members
of the House that this bill is presenting a dynamic innovation in
the whole area of railway safety. In the past rules and
regulations were made and they were carved in stone. They
remained that way for a great number of years. The tools, the
processes and the regulations that were imposed in this bill will
provide a dynamic model which means that it will continually grow
based on concerns and input from all the parties concerned, not
only municipalities, not only victims of accidents on the railway
but all parties.
Safety will be number one throughout this entire process.
Changes will be in essence ongoing because this is a very dynamic
model with all parties concerned. I thank the member for New
Brunswick Southwest for his comments with regard to the harbour.
That issue has not yet been resolved because the Halifax harbour
has not been chosen. That issue will be dealt with at the
community, municipal and provincial levels before we are notified
of any decision. We certainly cannot step into the picture and
make declarations. In other words, we only deal with the facts.
I thank the hon. member for Churchill for her comments
pertaining to the process we were all involved in devising this
bill. I will take into consideration and pass on to the
government the kind of concern raised by the member at the very
end of her presentation regarding health management problems.
Ms. Bev Desjarlais: Madam Speaker, with regard to the
ongoing process it is important for the dynamic aspect so talked
about to really be there and for it not to be a lot of fluff.
There is a concern that might not be the case. I know the railway
workers and the municipalities involved will be very vigilant in
ensuring this bill really works to improve railway safety.
I know the parliamentary secretary has committed to ensuring that
what takes place is up front. We will see how things proceed.
Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I will comment on what the parliamentary secretary said
in terms of private crossings although they are disappearing in
my area. Right in the middle of most towns in the prairies are
private crossings, since the railway came in. Although they are
private crossings they have been used as public crossings that
give the railway the right of way.
If the parliamentary secretary had listened carefully to the
hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, he would know that it
was an unprovoked, unnecessary approach by someone employed as a
railway police officer. If this incident were to happen in my
town we would consider it gross indecency on the part of the
police. We have to take what he said as true. I know it is
true and I know the hon. parliamentary secretary will give
credence to what he has to say and that he will give some support
to this individual case. Eventually it will come back. Right
now it is laying in the hands of the Minister of Transport. I
would ask him to look into that.
Ms. Bev Desjarlais: Madam Speaker, there is no question
that the story related by the member for Cypress
Hills—Grasslands should be of great concern. Without knowing
exactly how it is proceeding through the Department of Transport,
I am sure most of us here will follow up with the particulars to
ensure it will not happen again.
I am sure most Canadians do not realize there are private police
and such on the railways and on that New Brunswick toll highway.
Authority is given to the companies that run that stretch to
police it. I do not think Canadians realize that and I do not
think they would be very happy to know that. As the word gets
out we might find that more and more comments come back if things
are not done in an acceptable manner. In this case it certainly
appears it was not.
Mr. Michel Guimond
Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Madam
Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of my party to address
Bill C-58 on railway safety. From the outset, I would point out
that our party intends to vote in favour of this bill at third
Shortly after the accident at Biggar, the Minister of Transport
announced he would be postponing the introduction of changes to
the Railway Safety Act in Parliament, to give his senior
officials time to examine the need for new improvements to the
act and develop mechanisms to assess safety and apply
To this end, as is the practice in all bureaucracies, a task
force was set up to examine railway safety that comprised
experts in risk management and in regulatory matters.
On January 31, 1998, the senior officials submitted to the
minister their report containing a variety of recommendations
arising from the work of the committee. On March 18, 1998, the
Minister of Transport announced his acceptance of the
recommendations and gave his departmental officials the job of
carrying out the statutory changes as quickly as possible.
On November 5, the Minister of Transport tabled the proposed
changes to the Railway Safety Act in the House of Commons. They
included a new statement of policy, the power to require railway
companies to report all important information in order to ensure
railway safety, the power to require railway companies to
implement safety management systems and, finally, among other
things, an increase in the powers of railway safety inspectors.
More specifically, the objectives of the Railway Safety Act as
amended by Bill C-58 are as follows: first, promote and provide
for the safety of the public and personnel, and the protection
of property and the environment, in the operation of railways;
second, encourage the collaboration and participation of
interested parties in improving railway safety. It could
perhaps be mentioned that there is a provision in this bill that
unions be consulted, that there be greater co-operation between
workers and railways. Our party can only give its hearty
Front line workers are the best judge of optimum safety
regulations, not managers in their ivory towers in Montreal,
Toronto or Calgary.
We are therefore delighted that this bill makes provision for
such participation and co-operation by the various parties
Third, this bill recognizes the responsibility of railway
companies in ensuring the safety of their operations. And
finally, this bill facilitates a modern, flexible and efficient
regulatory scheme that will ensure the continuing enhancement of
Generally speaking, this is a very technical bill, the purpose
of which is to improve railway safety, as I have several times
mentioned. This bill increases the government's power to have
railway companies correct irritants and risk factors with
respect to safety and the environment.
We saw a problem, however, when there was a need to improve the
safety of level crossings within a municipality. We introduced
an amendment at report stage. It read as follows:
That Bill C-58, in Clause 19, be amended by adding after line 7
on page 12 the following:
“Section 24 of the Act is amended by adding the following after
(3) A railway company that operates a line of railway shall
reimburse a provincial government, city or municipality for
expenses incurred by the provincial government, city or
municipality, as the case may be, in respect of the line of
railway for the purpose of complying with a regulation made
under subsection (1).”
In a fourth paragraph, we said:
(4) For greater certainty, subsection (3) does not limit the
scope of subsection (2) with respect to a provincial government,
city or municipality.
That was the amendment we introduced at report stage.
It must be pointed out, unfortunately, that, true to form, the
government has not made use of the solutions or constructive
suggestions offered by the opposition and has decided to do
things its own way. What we were suggesting were not mere
whims, but reflected our desire to reflect the reality of
numerous municipalities in Quebec and in Canada, and their
ability to pay.
In this connection, I will read a letter over
the signature of Mr. Pierre Gaudet, mayor of Aston Junction in
the riding of Richelieu. Mayor Gaudet wrote to his MP, my
colleague for Richelieu, a most hardworking, serious and
conscientious man, who referred the matter to me. Together we
discussed the matter and raised it within our party caucus.
This is the reason we decided to move an amendment to Bill C-58.
Mayor Gaudet wrote in his letter to his MP:
Under this order-in-council, the municipality of Aston Junction
now has financial and road maintenance responsibility for the
Vigneault Street level crossing.
Referring to order-in-council 1998/R402 of July 15, 1998.
Since 1993, the municipality has been objecting to this
responsibility. Now, without our consent, we have become
responsible for this level crossing.
We are calling upon your assistance in freeing us of this
responsibility. For our small municipality—
I should point out that Aston Junction is not the city of
Montreal, Longueuil or Brossard, with their rich property tax
base. The same goes for Saint-Lambert.
I do not have exact population figures, but—still quoting the
mayor—Aston Junction is a “small” municipality.
Resuming the letter:
For our small municipality, such a responsibility represents a
very high annual investment, since our role was to pay without
any right of review of CN's projected expenditures. We cannot
afford such an expense over the long term.
In order to familiarize you with this matter, we enclose a copy
of the order-in-council and of the resolution passed by the
What I want to illustrate with my comments on this is that,
concretely, when safety improvements are involved, relating to a
railway line which passes through a municipality—trains being
unlike planes, this cuts the road in half to let the train
pass—it is normal, logical, reasonable for the one responsible
for blocking the road traffic to pay for improving the safety of
I have tried to raise your awareness of the reasonable character
of this, but let us look at the ability of CN and CP to pay.
First of all, CN.
We are aware of the context in which the Liberal government
privatized CN. With passage of the act to privatize CN,
something occurred that has never been seen anywhere else in the
world. When CN was privatized, it was given the lines as well.
In Canada, the railway was an instrument of east-west
development. The rail lines, the rights-of-way, were paid for by
the taxpayers of Quebec and of Canada.
I remember very clearly what I had to say in 1994-95 in the
House: that the government ought not to hand over the rail lines
to the newly privatized CN, headed by that same Paul Tellier
who, we will remember, received $350,000 when president of a
non-privatized CN, then a crown corporation. He got an
interest-free loan of $350,000 to purchase a house in Westmount,
and then the same Paul Tellier, CN's president, benefited from
unbelievable treatment at the time of privatization.
I maintain that the government made a mistake in handing over
the railway rights-of-way when it privatized the railway. Today
this means that the passenger trains are at the mercy of the
This means passengers having to wait two or two and a half hours
in the middle of a field in Kamouraska or Mont-Joli, because
trains carrying Volvos from Halifax are arriving. There are
trains carrying rolls of newsprint. There are trains carrying
lumber that pass while passenger trains wait. That is what has
been happening since the privatization of Canadian National and
its newly acquired power over life and death on the rails.
I know the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport
is listening to me, and I would remind him that, regarding the
whole issue of the future of passenger rail service in Quebec
and Canada, a sword of Damocles hangs over the two big
companies, CN and CP.
I hope the government will stand up.
I am happy the Standing Committee on Transport said, and that
the Minister of Transport acknowledged, that freight companies
should find ways to facilitate passenger rail service in Canada.
There is a sword of Damocles over their heads.
I congratulate the government, but I hope it will stand up. But
I hope the lobbies, the bagmen—and I did not say “Batman”, I
said bagmen, those who carry bags of money for the Liberals'
campaign fund—will this once stay in their place and that the
government will respect passengers, because we are talking about
the future of passenger transportation. We are talking about
lines, about franchising Via Rail.
I see the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik is listening
carefully to me.
He is concerned about the sale of the Montreal-Senneterre line to
a private company. My colleagues in the Gaspé are concerned
about the Montreal-Gaspé and Montreal-Jonquière lines.
The government will have to give this serious thought. If CN
had not been given incredible benefits and unwarranted
conditions when it was privatized, we would not be at the mercy
of these companies.
Our amendment proposes that small municipalities, and
municipalities in general, taxpayers, those who live in small
bungalows and pay astronomical municipal taxes because
municipalities have had to absorb the costs of other levels of
government, not have to pay. The large companies should pay for
the cost of making railways safe.
I would also like to congratulate the government in another
connection—and I think that is part of our role as a reasonable
and responsible opposition.
When the government falls short, we stand up and say so, but
when it makes an interesting proposal, as it does in this bill,
I have no trouble congratulating it.
That is why we were elected. We are trying to fulfil our
responsibilities as best we can. When the government does
something well, we say so. When it falls short, we would like
the government to listen to what we have to say more often, but
unfortunately we do not always get our wish.
On several occasions my colleagues, the members for
Rimouski—Mitis, Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques,
and Beauharnois—Salaberry have told me about the problems of
whistles being blown at all hours of the day and night. I am
happy to see that clause 18 of this bill amends section 23 by
adding a section 23.1 that reads as follows:
I am speaking here particularly to the elected municipal
representatives listening to us this evening. I remember the
years when I had the joy and pleasure of sitting on the
municipal council of Boischatel, which is where I live. The
first Monday of the month is always the public meeting, so they
may be hearing the debates in replay. Still I am speaking to
them most particularly.
It is set out in clause (b) I had started to read you that:
(b) the government of the municipality by resolution declares
that it agrees that such whistles should not be used in that
area and has, before passing the resolution, consulted the
railway company that operates the relevant line of railway,
notified each relevant association or organization, and given
public notice of its intention to pass the resolution.
(2) The Minister may decide whether the area meets the
prescribed requirements and the Minister's decision is final.
(3) Despite subsection (1), the whistle may be used if [...]
there is an emergency
I think this is entirely reasonable.
The message I am sending municipal officials, members of the
public and municipal councils is that a municipal council
operates by means of regulations or resolutions. A municipal
council may therefore, by resolution, regulate use of whistles.
It is agreed that the municipal council will consult the railway
company and, if agreement cannot be reached, that it may forward
the matter to the minister, with supporting arguments.
Today, during Oral Question Period, there was a planted question
from a Liberal member to the minister. I always find this
amusing, and I think that those listening are anxious to see the
Standing Orders amended so as to put an end to this masquerade.
Opposition members do not plant questions. Ministers do not
know in advance what our questions will be.
This is a serious waste of the House's time.
There is so much work to be done, and each question period two
or three questions come from members on the same side as the
ministers. The member reads the question, the minister reads
the response and turns the pages. This is a charade from
another era that should have disappeared a long time ago.
I invite the parliamentary leaders of the various parties to
have this system of planted questions stopped. Nobody believes
it anyway. I hope everyone watching knows. When a Liberal
member rises to put a question to a minister, the minister knows
the question is coming and reads the response, which he had
ahead of time.
Today, because Bill C-58 was to be debated tonight in the House,
the minister had a question from the member for Cambridge,
concerning whistles as a matter of fact.
In conclusion, I would like to say we support the principle
behind the bill, because we all want to do the right thing, but
there are some interesting provisions. However, we would have
preferred that the government be more open-minded and accept our
amendment to clause 19.1 on giving municipalities relief from
major investments they cannot always afford and for which they
are obliged to borrow and tax an already overtaxed public.
We would have liked the government to listen to us, but, despite
everything, for all the reasons I have tried my best to
enumerate, I must say that our party supports Bill C-58, which
aims to increase railway safety.
Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, that is a pretty hard act to follow.
I have enjoyed listening to this debate. I want to inform hon.
members, and some of the members of my party that I really am a
railway man. I was born on the prairies where the only source of
communication was the mail which came in by train. Passengers
came in by train. All goods came in by train and the wheat went
out by train. The greatest social event every evening was to go
down to meet the train coming in to see what lovely girls were
getting off the train.
I am sure the hon. parliamentary secretary does not know that in
Saskatchewan we named a fruit after the railway. We called
prunes CPR strawberries and it was not meant in a positive way I
Railways were a part of my life and they still are.
The railway comes through most prairie towns with the station at
the end and the crossings on the outside of town. That is not
always true in some of the larger centres.
The parliamentary secretary will probably know of the disdain
the prairies had for railways, which they still have to some
extent. In grade six we had a special class. All students were
taught as they got older to hate the railways. That has been
part of our vernacular, to be very anti-railway. However, that
is coming to a close simply because the railways are
I want to pay tribute to the transport committee. I asked for a
video. It was a good video, although it was a little long, but
it was totally made in the U.S. I suggest once more what to do
for the thousands of school children in Canada who still play on
railway property. We need a Canadian made safety video, which
would be cheap to make nowadays, to send out across Canada. I
have tried to research this and as far as I know we do not have a
safety railway video available for teaching safety in our
schools. That is a must.
I was once present at a scene where the speed of the train was
not that great, but it hit a car and there were fatalities. I
will never forget that engineer stepping down from the engine.
It was impossible for him to stop. He had to live with that for
the rest of his life.
This bill is more than just a safety bill. I believe it is to
bring to the attention of the Canadian public that we still have
railways, we still have crossings, we still have people who
trespass and we need more education. I urge the parliamentary
secretary to take that message to the Minister of Transport, the
Minister of Industry or whoever. Let us design and produce a
really good safety video to give to schools across Canada. That
would not be a costly venture. One life saved would be worth the
cost of the video.
I will present to the House one of my intentions with respect to
Bill C-58. I wanted to have a firsthand glimpse of what has
become a very unique problem in my constituency. There are two
places in my constituency where what I am about to explain takes
Each aisle in the House will represent a distance of exactly one
mile. That is the way the west was surveyed. Most of the trains
currently in operation are unit trains. Both incidents happened
on the CPR Soo Line. In the new operation, with newer cars
coming on, the length of the train will only increase.
I want members to picture this centre aisle as being the centre
of the city. Half of the city lives on one side and half lives
on the other. The fire halls are all on one side. The train
approaches and the flashing lights block off that crossing. When
he gets halfway there, this one is crossed.
The engine comes over here, so we have two crossings now blocked
by the same train because a 110 unit train will be over a mile in
There is a fire alarm, but the fire truck is not aware that
there is a train blocking those crossings. The centre crossing
is the one which is used the most. The fire truck may arrive
before we get past the first crossing. By the time we have
blocked this crossing at least 12 minutes have passed. By that
time traffic has built up on both sides of the crossing, so the
fire truck cannot get through. Even if the train started to move
forward in five minutes or seven minutes, that crossing could be
obstructed for a period greater than 10 minutes. I witnessed a
period of 13 minutes.
The reason I bring this to the attention of members is because
this in itself concerns safety. I believe that the transport
committee should look at the three groups involved: the
municipality, the railway and the federal government.
There was no longer any need for rails, such as in the case of
Regina, as there was no longer any passenger service. When there
no longer is a need, as is fast becoming the case in these
smaller cities, it is incumbent upon the governments of the
province, the municipality, the federal government and the
railways to take a look at this situation because sooner or later
there is going to be a catastrophe because of the length of the
In my day, if there was a train which was a half-mile long, that
was a long train. The trains travelling now are well over a mile
long in most cases. These trains are presenting new problems.
First, they need a greater distance to bring the train to a halt.
Second, because of the length of the train they are often
blocking two crossings at the same time. They pose a
communications problem, particularly for police but mainly for
fire trucks in these centres. I would suggest that we take a
look at the problems that are being created.
I would like to mention one other point that was brought up
tonight. The hon. member spoke about the Halifax problem and the
amount of money that is needed. CN explained very clearly to the
transport committee that they can take goods from the port of
Halifax to the Chicago market, beating the U.S. not only in
dollars and cents, but by almost 24 to 48 hours depending upon
I think it is incumbent upon this government to take whatever
steps are necessary. Should the $40 million be spent? Yes. We
must make sure that our port of Halifax does not lose this
advantage to the United States. If that happens, I believe we
would find that the maritimes would suffer a very severe blow,
even a greater blow than that which is taking place on Cape
Breton Island at this time.
I am not sure if the Minister of Transport is really cognizant
of the importance of ensuring that this Canadian venture stays in
place and that we do gain this facility and keep it for the
welfare of Canadians.
Yes, we will be supporting this bill. Yes, it was a timely
bill. I personally enjoyed going through this bill because of my
background with the railways. But let us not ever take it upon
ourselves to think that this bill is the end all, that we do not
have to touch anything more. There are many other factors
concerning safety which will be coming up with the new modes of
transportation, the new cars, the new braking systems and the new
demands on the highways.
The railways and the department of highways have to work much
more closely together than they have in the past. That is a
foregone conclusion. It is not the case now, but it is up to
this government to do that.
If we could ever get into a pattern of having a national highway
program, then the ease of doing this and the ease of working with
the railways would become a reality and Canadians would benefit a
This is a plug for the railways and a plug for the highways. We
have a national railway policy. I see no reason why we cannot
have a national highway policy too.
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I have a comment. Although at the end of his speech the
member said that we have a national railway policy, sometimes I
am not so sure that we have one. Our policy in recent years has
turned over half of our railways, that is to say the CNR, to
American shareholders. That is not something which I think is in
the best interests of the country.
I want to commend the hon. member for raising the point about
the longer trains. That is what I came to the House to talk
about. He talked about 110-car unit trains. However, I have
information in my office, given to me by people who work on the
railways, which concerns trains of 157 cars. We are talking
about trains that, instead of being 5,000 or 6,000 feet long,
which was long anyway, are 10,000 feet long. These trains have
absolutely no possibility of clearing a crossing in the required
The most recent regulations are very vague with respect to what
is required of the railways in terms of clearing crossings in a
certain time. They have been made deliberately vague so that the
railways cannot be held to account for what they are now doing.
What they are now doing is having longer and longer trains.
This raises the problem that the member brought forward, not
just with respect to the clearing of crossings and the obvious
safety aspects concerning ambulances and emergency procedures,
not to mention just plain hassles for people who should not be
held up that long, but the time it takes to stop and the fact
that they are running these trains with fewer units, so that when
trains break down they are stuck for longer periods of time.
I want to reinforce the point that the hon. member made. The
government, instead of looking somewhat amused by the point that
I am making, which the member made before me, should take this
very seriously. Some day somebody they know could be at a
crossing, lying in an ambulance, wondering why they cannot
proceed. They have to wait for the trains running this way, in
defiance of safety concerns, merely so the American shareholders
who own CN can make more money.
That is what has happened since CN was taken over by American
shareholders. At one point, when it was run by the government,
there was some notion of safety and the public good. Now
everything is according to the bottom line. Everything is
according to what Hunter Harrison wants so that he can please the
shareholders in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans or wherever
they are. Who cares what happens in Transcona? Who cares what
happens in Saskatchewan? That is just a place to make money.
That is just a place to have Paul Tellier make more money, thanks
to the plan that the Liberals foisted on this country.
It is a shameful and disgusting tragedy for which these people
will be held accountable. A hundred years from now they will
still be talking about the betrayal of Canada that was foisted on
this country by that bunch.
Mr. Roy Bailey: Mr. Speaker, I want to go back in time a
little. I did some reminiscing and I would like to inform the
member that, yes, we have lost a number of railways. I have lost
a number of miles in my constituency, albeit we knew some time
ago that it was inevitable.
I am reminded of the words of Will Rogers who visited western
Canada. He made the comment that Canadians were building
railways just for the fun of it.
I do not entirely disagree with what my hon. colleague said, but
from my time as a boy until now, when I look at the various
safety factors that we have now compared to what we had then, we
do have more safety factors concerning the railways.
The hon. member is quite right. The unit trains of coal which
come out of Wyoming or come out of Estevan heading east are over
110 cars. Most grain trains are 110 cars.
Mr. Bill Blaikie: Just ordinary trains.
Mr. Roy Bailey: Unit trains.
I have seen more co-operation of late between the departments of
highways and the railways than I have seen for some time. I will
admit that it is not perfect. I do believe that we are on the
right wavelength as far as safety is concerned. As I said, it is
a never ending thing and I hope we do not just close this bill
and leave it to gather dust on the shelf.
I do believe too that the idea of the railways and the
deregulation and so on has nothing to do from my point of view
with this bill. It has nothing to do with the safety regulations
in operating the trains.
Mr. Bill Blaikie: Mr. Speaker,
I would say to my hon. friend that I think he is wrong. A lot of
this does have to do with deregulation.
I know he does not want to admit it because it would be
uncomfortable for him ideologically. This is a trend that the
Reform Party, the Liberals and the Conservatives have all been
together on: deregulation, privatization. The fact of the matter
is this does have a lot to do with it.
A lot of the ways in which the railway is behaving now,
particularly with respect to longer trains and these kinds of
things has everything to do with making short term quarterly
profit margins larger and putting that as a priority against what
might be in the public interest.
Even though we agree about the safety problem that longer trains
pose, I would have to respectfully disagree with him about what
one of the contributing factors is in the creation of these
I appreciate the historical lesson from Will Rogers that
Canadians were building railways just for the fun of it, but the
fact of the matter is these railways were built. They did serve
a public purpose, an economic purpose, a social purpose. They did
bring the country together. They ought not to be flippantly
destroyed in the way that I think much of the infrastructure in
western Canada has been destroyed.
This is not a romantic view of the railways. This is a future
oriented view of the railways. Sooner or later, and it looks like
it is going to be later with these guys, but sooner or later we
are going to have to come to the view that railways are the way
to go environmentally. If we are going to be dependent on the
internal combustion engine, then it should be two or three
internal combustion engines pulling a train rather than an army
of trucks going down the road clogging up the highways that
should be there for the use of ordinary Canadians and their
Mr. Roy Bailey: Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we have
been talking about in the transport committee. Even the Minister
of Transport would agree. In the hub, the central area from
Toronto, most of the trains going down will replace up to 274
trucks on the highway. It makes good sense that we do this.
Indeed I would like to see that happen. To me that is one of the
ways of solving part of the pollution problem. Eventually
southern Ontario is going to have to move to rail transportation
whether they want to admit it or not.
I just do not want to take the meaning and the purpose of this
bill and tie it up with deregulation because I do not think that
has anything to do with the passage of this bill. I want to make
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques,
BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-58, which
deals with railway safety.
The government has particular responsibility for ensuring
transportation safety. In the past, decisions were not
necessarily taken with full consideration to the importance of
safety. I will give the example of the creation of Nav Canada.
Nav Canada is the body which has taken over responsibility for
air traffic, and which at a certain point pits profitability
against the assurance of proper airport security and safety. We
see this in all that is going on concerning negotiations on
airport control towers.
In this case, where rail safety is concerned, the bill is
satisfactory as far as the Bloc Quebecois is concerned. It is a
bill which modernizes the issue of railway safety. It is a bill
which simplifies a certain number of actions in an interesting
manner, and it must be acknowledged that it is the result of
work in committee coupled with approval by the government.
It is also interesting that, when railroad safety is properly
organized, it makes rail travel even more interesting, and in a
way gives the environment of Quebec and of Canada a chance,
because train travel is a means of transportation which protects
the environment far better than many others.
From that point of view, then, this is worthwhile. It is
important that this be done properly, because we are in a period
of major change in the rail sector, a context of privatization.
I do not think that we need to decide between the pertinence of
privatization and railway safety. When making decisions on
this, safety is paramount, because when private companies are
involved, responsibility for safety takes on the legal framework
given to it by the government.
As the private sector intervenes increasingly in the railway
sector, it needs solid and proper guidelines to ensure the
safety of both those who ride the train and those who use it as
a means of transporting equipment.
In recent years, short line railways have sprung up. These rail
lines give new life to the network. For example, in our region,
between Matane and Rivière-du-Loup, the Société des chemins de fer
du Québec bought a rail line from the CN. This local company
will develop this section of line, possibly providing a link-up
with ports and other means of transportation.
These short line railways must operate in accordance with
adequate safety rules.
Things have happened in the past, for example in Mont-Joli, a
railway junction, proving the need for clear and compelling
regulations for both businesses and other stakeholders.
The other thing is that Via Rail is soon going to be franchised.
This will have an effect on safety too, because it carries
people. How will they organize in the event of accidents?
So this bill had to be considered taking account of all these
new railway market conditions.
There were some very good provisions in this bill, but
improvements that could have been made were not accepted. I
would like to return to an amendment that was proposed by the
Bloc Quebecois, by the member for Argenteuil—Papineau acting on
behalf of the member for Beauport—Montmorency—
Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, to ensure
that municipalities facing financial hardship occasioned by the
cost of maintaining level crossings be given proper financing
Not all municipalities can afford what it costs to upgrade level
crossings and introduce appropriate safety measures. That is why
the Bloc Quebecois proposed an amendment.
The amendment was set out in the letter sent by the member for
Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans to Pierre Gaudet,
the mayor of Aston Junction, on January 18, 1999. The letter
reads as follows:
The Bloc Quebecois recently proposed an amendment to the
legislation that would provide a solution by requiring railway
companies to assume the costs of maintaining their lines. After
all, it is only fair that a company maintain what it owns.
This amendment indicated, I feel, a willingness to assign
responsibilities appropriately and to see that negotiations
between municipalities and railway companies were on an even
footing. When a municipality of 500 or 1,000 people comes up
against CN in this sort of negotiation, the parties are not
always fairly matched. It would have been interesting to see
the company's responsibility spelled out clearly.
This was not done, but that is no reason to scrap the bill. It
would have been an interesting improvement for all small
municipalities in Quebec and in Canada.
In fact, this bill will modernize safety in our railway sector.
I would have liked to see provision made for experiments, such
as giving passenger trains priority over freight trains on
certain lines at particular times of the day, or setting aside
certain lines for passenger trains rather than freight trains,
and including this in the bill as interesting experiments. If
they were included in the bill, companies would not be liable
and this would have facilitated the introduction of new
The particular issue I am going to address concerns
municipalities in my riding.
By way of example, Saint-Philippe-de-Néri, a small municipality in
my riding, and Trois-Pistoles, a small city that is important in
cultural terms and because of its impact but that is part of a
region. I give Saint-Philippe-de-Néri as an example, because it
is particularly relevant. This municipality took steps to have
enough barriers to ensure safety. This way it could put an end
to the famous whistle that bothered people at night.
There are some interesting legislative provisions in this
regard. Now, with a resolution by the municipality, in
accordance with the regulations, the whistle will be heard no
more. This is much simpler than before. So there has been a
gain in terms of the bill.
The problem is that, as in the other example I gave earlier, the
financial responsibility for the studies required is not clearly
established. Specifically, Saint-Philippe-de-Néri was presented
with a bill for $2,500 by Canadian National for a feasibility
study to put the appropriate security measures in place.
For Canadian National, with the profits it makes, $2,500 is not
an astronomical figure. But for a rural municipality, it can be
I approached the minister on this. I think he lent me an
attentive ear. The minister's response today to the question by
the Liberal member seemed to confirm this. I hope that the
companies will take steps to assume the costs when they are
In a case like this one, I hope Canadian National will return
the money it demanded in order to have the change in place
before the bill passed. The bill was not passed, but changes
were coming and Canadian National could have taken them into
account before billing the municipality. That would have been
interesting. It would have been a good gesture on the part of
Canadian National as a show of social responsibility. Something
we did not see in the past with the job cuts.
This is a concrete example to help, with a little ad hoc
financial assistance, a number of municipalities to have changes
made to improve the quality of life of those living beside the
railway. At the same time, an appropriate safety system would
be in place.
Now municipalities would have a way of making changes simply,
under the law, without being hampered by the size of the cheque
they might get from CN or any other company owning the railway.
That would be important.
In my riding, there are a number of municipalities from La
Pocatière to Saint-Simon that are crossed by a rail line.
Some will be wanting to take advantage of this possibility, when
they see that the bill makes it possible. They will perhaps be
stopped by the size of the bill that will be run up if CN
maintains the same position it has to date.
In summary, then, the Bloc Quebecois is pleased to vote in
favour of this bill. Once again, this is proof that, when a
constructive bill is at stake, we are capable of going along
with the government position. In our first mandate from 1993
to 1997 the Bloc was the party that voted most often with the
On the other hand, when things runs contrary to the interests of
our constituents, we are capable of showing that too. We did so
with Nav Canada. Unfortunately, the reality is that these are
two different cases, seeing what is going on with airport
security and safety, and particularly the pressure that is being
brought to bear on this body to ensure cost-effectiveness by such
actions as cutting back on the number of control towers across
Where air travel is concerned, we would have liked to have seen
a result similar to what we have before us today. Is the
difference there because railway safety has been around a long
time? It is hard to know why, but we would have liked to see
the government taking the same attitude to both.
Let us hope that the bill is passed and that ultimately there
are fewer obstacles to the safety of passengers and goods
transported by rail, that this is achieved as simply as possible
and, as I was saying earlier, with the co-operation of the
companies, so that now that the administrative obstacles have
been removed, we are not impeded by unacceptable costs to
Let us see what this bill will make possible in the years to
come and, if in a few years improvements are required, let us
hope that the government has the wisdom to agree to the
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is the House ready
for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is it the pleasure
of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)
* * *
FIRST NATIONS LAND MANAGEMENT ACT
The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-49, an act
providing for the ratification and the bringing into effect of
the framework agreement on first nation land management, as
reported (with amendment) from the committee.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): There are seven
motions standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill
Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 7 will be grouped for debate and voted on
A vote on Motion No. 1 applies to Motions Nos. 6 and 7.
Motions Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 will be grouped for debate, but voted
on as follows:
(a) A vote on Motion No. 2 applies to Motions Nos. 3 and 4.
Motion No. 5 will be voted on separately.
Pursuant to an order made earlier this day, all the motions are
deemed moved and seconded and all the questions necessary to
dispose of the report stage of Bill C-49 are deemed put and the
recorded divisions are deemed requested and deferred until
Tuesday, February 2, 1999 at 5.30 p.m.
The House will now proceed to the consideration of the motions in
Group No. 1.
MOTIONS IN AMENDMENT
Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena, Ref.) moved:
That Bill C-49, in Clause 4, be amended by
replacing lines 39 and 40 on page 2 with the following:
That Bill C-49, in Clause 45, be amended by
replacing line 16 on page 22 with the following:
“so signed, that a land code has been developed and adopted in
accordance with this Act and that the governing bodies of
neighbouring jurisdictions have confirmed in writing that
consultations respecting the land code have been completed in
accordance with the laws of the province in which the first
nation land, for which the land code has been adopted, is
He said: Mr. Speaker, we in the Reform Party truly would like to
be able to support this bill because in many ways it fits with
the Reform principle of devolution of decision making closer to
the people who actually have to live with the effects of that
For far too long the decisions with respect to aboriginal people
in Canada have been made in Ottawa and the obvious results of
that are everywhere across this land. In that vein, we looked at
this legislation long and hard and really wanted to support it
and would really like to support it.
However, we see some flaws in the bill that can be fixed with
amendments. We see some flaws with respect to the disposition of
marital assets in the event of a marriage breakdown. We see some
flaws with respect to consultation with communities, surrounding
municipalities and so on adjacent to reserves to be covered under
the land act, and we see some real concern with respect to the
expropriation rights that bands will receive under this act.
However, in talking about the way the Liberals respond to
constructive suggestions, it is just typical for them to say “we
don't agree with you”. We could have had this legislation
through the House before Christmas had the Liberals and other
opposition parties agreed to fix these flaws in the bill. Of
course we have not been able to achieve that and that is why our
amendments are on the table now and why we are debating them.
I begin with Group No. 1 amendments. They deal with concerns of
adjacent municipalities, municipalities that were not consulted
with respect to Bill C-49. I think that is important because it
really does tell a story about how the Liberals approach
government and passing legislation.
It would have been a relatively easy exercise to have the
adjacent municipalities where this legislation was to have an
impact notified, consulted and asked for their opinions prior to
drafting the bill and prior to bringing the bill before
parliament. Sadly that has not happened. Sadly municipalities
have been left out of the picture. It also really does
demonstrate the Liberal government's lack of concern on what is
arguably a very sensitive issue. We all know that this is a
sensitive issue. Land is always a sensitive issue.
Good neighbours, in our view, always discuss development plans
which may affect or impact on their neighbours next door. It is
only sensible that people would do that.
Not long ago at my home I decided to build a fence. The fence I
was to build was on a property line separating my property from
my neighbour's. Before I constructed the fence I talked to my
neighbour and told him what I intended to do. I told him what
kind of fence I intended to build and asked him if he had a
problem with it. I told him that if he had any objections that I
would like to know before I spent any money on building the
fence. I told him that if he had a problem we could sit down and
talk about it to see if we could work out some sort of
Consultation is vital in these matters. In the matter of the
bill before us it is vital that bands that are to receive the
decision making authority under this legislation have some
requirement to consult with adjacent municipalities. That
requirement for consultation should run both ways. It should not
just be one way.
There are so many things we must plan for such as transportation
corridors, services and so on that there has to be some sense of
reasonable integration. All our amendment serves to do is
require neighbouring municipalities and neighbouring aboriginal
bands to sit down and talk about their plans, to make sure there
is integration and that there are not two communities working at
I underline that our amendments are not intended to provide a
veto for anybody else's decision making authority. That is not
so. They are intended to require that a band coming under the
umbrella of Bill C-49 actually proves it has consulted with
adjacent municipalities prior to implementing changes in its land
This lack of consultation goes further than with just
municipalities. I will discuss the expropriation provisions in
the bill. That is really important. It is important for
Canadians to understand that. It is important for those Liberal
backbenches who are not familiar with this bill. It is important
for them to understand the tremendous powers of expropriation
that are to be handed over in this bill.
This legislation grants the right to expropriate if “in the
band's opinion it is necessary for community works or other first
nations purposes”. The phrase “other first nations purposes”
is a very broad statement. It is very wide open in terms of
interpretation. It could mean virtually anything. You could
establish almost any reason as a reason for another first
nation's purpose. It could be a golf course, a condominium
complex or a casino. If the band were to determine that was a
first nation purpose within the meaning of this legislation, it
could expropriate people from their homes including band members
and non-band members who may be on leased land on that reserve.
That band could do this because it had decided this was a better
purpose for the land.
We all know municipalities, provinces and the federal government
must have a higher purpose than that before they enact
expropriation legislation. This bill would grant that kind of
power without defining the actual services that might be required
by the community for the band to enact expropriation proceedings.
The Muskoday people have already designed a land code which I
am familiar with. Within their land code they have defined the
reasons they would use expropriation. That is a much clearer,
more focused definition. We certainly find it is much more
I will talk about this lack of consultation because I think it
is so important. Most of us are familiar with what happened on
the Musqueam reserve in Vancouver. This has come about as a lack
of consultation. The department of Indian affairs induced
non-Indian lease holders to come on to the reserve in 1965 to
build homes and to enter into long term leases. The long term
leases were between the department of Indian affairs and the
lease holders. In 1980 without any notice or consultation, the
minister of Indian affairs of that day, a Liberal minister, Mr.
John Munro, signed an authority under section 53 of the Indian
Act that gave the band all rights to deal with the leases.
Although the department of Indian affairs was named on the lease
and that is who the lease holders had signed their leases with,
it was the band that was dealing with the leases from that point
No notice was given to the leaseholders. That is the crux of
the problem that many of those leaseholders face today. I have
just come back from Vancouver having spent hours in meetings with
the leaseholders on the Musqueam reserve. They have not been
consulted on Bill C-49. They are not familiar with the clauses.
They have not been told that this is coming. They have had to
find out from people like me and others in recent days that this
land management act could very much affect them, and this is
outside the problems they already face.
That is what is wrong with this legislation. There is no
requirement to consult. The people who are going to be affected
by this ought to have that right and expectation that they are
consulted. They have not been consulted. It is a flaw and it
must be re-thought.
Mr. Guy St-Julien (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I am honoured to speak to Bill C-49, the First Nations Land
Management Act, tabled sometime around June in the House of
Commons by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
It is also an honour for me to be speaking this evening because
we have chiefs with us here in the House of Commons, who come
from Ontario among other places. They are Chief William McCue,
of the Chippewa of Georgina Island, Chief Austin Bear of the
Muskoday First Nation in Saskatchewan, Chief Bill William of the
Squamish First Nation in B.C. and Robert Louie, acting chair and
former chief of the Westbank First Nation in B.C.
This bill will apply to the 14 First Nations that developed this
initiative and that signed the Framework Agreement on First
Nation Land Management in February 1996. It will allow First
Nation participants to establish their own land and resource
This government-to-government agreement puts an end to the
discretionary power of the minister under the Indian Act, by
allowing the 14 first nations to opt out of the sections of the
act governing land management. As well, it allows the 14 first
nations to implement a community consultation process for the
development of general rules and procedures respecting, in cases
of breakdown of marriage, the use, occupation and possession of
first nation land and the division of interests in case of
marriage breakdown. At the present time, the agreement and the
legislative measure apply solely to participating first nations.
This initiative, a significant component of self-government, was
drawn up totally in conjunction with these first nations. These
communities are opening up the way for changes to land
management by implementing a new land management regime and by
opting out of the Indian Act.
This legislative measure will return administrative powers to
the communities and will do away with the minister's
participation in the day-to-day decisions on land management and
in the activities of these first nations.
According to Austin Bear, Chief of the Muskoday First Nation,
“the framework agreement and the legislative measure recognize
our fundamental right to manage our reserve lands and our
resources. As well, they ensure protection of our lands for
future generations, by banning any transfer or sale, or any
expropriation by provincial or municipal governments, both of
which are now possible under the Indian Act.”
Chief William McCue of the Georgina Island First Nation said:
“I strongly urge all parties in the House to support this bill
and to pass it quickly. Once the framework agreement has been
implemented, we will be in a position to respond to economic
opportunities and to generate jobs and income for our members.
Georgina Island will then truly be open for business.”
The present government's message “Gathering Strength: Canada's
Aboriginal Action Plan” establishes the direction of a new
relationship between governments, native groups and
organizations, and the private sector, founded on the principles
of mutual recognition and respect, responsibility and sharing.
This initiative is built on the kind of partnership that makes a
positive contribution to the lives of aboriginals.
The land management initiative will promote economic development
on reserves, as well as make it possible to acquire experience
in developing other self-government approaches in the future.
In addition, environmental assessment and protection regimes
will be established by each first nation. These regimes will be
harmonized with federal and provincial environmental regimes.
As chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development, I call on the members in the House this
evening to support this bill so as to help our aboriginal
friends in Canada.
Ms. Louise Hardy (Yukon, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would like
to talk about the process of consultation that went on for this
bill to get to parliament.
Bill C-49 was Bill C-75 in the previous parliament. Just to
develop the framework agreement process the chief had to go to
his council to be allowed to continue a process. He next had to
go to his elders for approval in direction. He next had to go to
his community. They developed the framework agreement. We are
talking about 13 bands and the 14th joined later. They voted on a
framework and a land code. Then it had to be ratified by their
community before they could carry on further. We are talking
about six years and then into parliament.
For 14 bands out of over 600 in this country, this legislation
will allow them or hopefully will let them opt out of the Indian
Act. This is not a land claim we are talking about. We are
talking about a land management act for 14 bands. It would be in
keeping with some of the recommendations by the Royal Commission
on Aboriginal Peoples. It would be something that would give
some guts to the “Gathering Strength” document that is now a
year old and certainly needs something to show for the vision
that it put forward.
This bill would devolve power. It would devolve political
evolution for the first nations involved and it would give them
some self-determination. We are only talking about one section
of the Indian Act and only for 14 bands.
The land management will be the responsibility of the first
nations. I will give an example of something that came up at the
committee meeting. Some of the witnesses thought that first
nations should not be given the burden of governing themselves. I
disagree. They have the right to govern themselves and in this
small way we can assist them to do that.
There were other comments at committee that the Indian Act was
just fine, that in fact Bill C-49 was a racist document and that
we were giving them this power because they are Indians. The
fact is we took away everything, their language, their children,
their land, because they were Indians and enforced the Indian Act
because they were Indians. We are saying that it is all right to
take it away because they are Indians but we will not return
anything because they are Indians and therefore it would be
racist. That is just not fair.
This is only a small piece of legislation that will make an
incredible difference in the lives of these 14 bands.
The Union of British Columbia Municipalities met on November 13,
1998 and set out an agreement. The meeting was cordial and
resulted in a general agreement on a process for mutual
consultations between municipalities in B.C. and those first
nations in B.C. who are parties to the framework agreement.
This bill covers bands in many provinces and territories so
hopefully that will be a standard set for other bands and
communities to follow in order to come to mutual agreements. The
bands involved, as I said, are in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan,
Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. It is a pretty broad
coverage of our country.
There is a lot of controversy over this bill, as I think there
usually is when anything is in transition and means real change
for people. It is a major step in decision making power over
land. It has a lot of good points in it. It replaces the Indian
Act for these 14 first nations. It gives them lawmaking powers
with respect to their land and resources in development,
conservation, protection, management, use and possession but no
They will be able to develop or lease their land but they cannot
sell it. They may expand through negotiation. They can acquire
land for community purposes. It sets out very stringent
conditions of accountability between the first nations and their
citizens both on reserve and off reserve. That includes all
their members, not just those who live on the reserve but people
who for whatever reason had to leave a reserve to make a living
or get an education or who have chosen to live elsewhere.
The federal government retains the fiduciary responsibility for
first nations. A lot of these first nations would probably opt
out of the Indian Act if they could, but they cannot. This does
set out a community process that will be established by the first
nations people for their bands.
Another area of controversy is matrimonial breakdown. First
nations people have different cultures. My immediate thought was
that they should have divorce settlements and laws that are
consistent with what I think is just. Perhaps what I think is
just is not what they think is just, considering that the
property is community and my history is titled and property owned
The first nations would have a different thought process on how
they would look after families, women or children who do not have
the same access to property that I do. The fact is first nations
people have not had that process in place because the Indian Act
did not allow it.
What this bill will do is that within one year first nations
people will have to deal with how they will settle and look after
matrimonial property. They will do it based on their culture. It
has been explained to me that some are already doing it. This
has never been recognized because the Indian Act has not covered
it, but the first nations have been looking after their people
the best way they can.
The New Democratic Party supports Bill C-49. We hope to see it
go forward very quickly.
Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to speak at report stage of Bill C-49, the first
nations land management act. This bill was introduced in the
House last June.
I am particularly pleased to speak to this bill as it will apply
among others to the Chippewas of Mnjikaning first nation located
in the riding of Simcoe North which I have the pleasure of
The bill is the final step in the process to allow 14 first
nations the power to opt out of the land management sections of
the Indian Act and establish their own regime to manage their
lands and resources.
The bill will ratify the changes brought on by a framework
agreement. It is an excellent initiative based on Gathering
Strength—Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan and will bring real
and practical improvements to the lives of aboriginal people
including those of the Chippewas of Mnjikaning first nation.
The process began with negotiations leading to the signature on
February 12, 1996 of the framework agreement on first nations
land management, known as the framework agreement, and 13 first
nations. The 14th first nation was later added to the framework
Several other amendments were made to the framework agreement,
including the application of the Atomic Energy Control Act and
the clarification regarding the use, occupation, possession and
division of interest in first nations land in the case of a
The framework agreement will require first nations to develop a
land code setting out basic rules for the new land regime. First
nations such as the Chippewas of Mnjikaning will also be required
to enter into individual agreements with Canada to determine the
level of operational funding for land management.
As I previously mentioned, provisions have been included in the
bill to address the concerns raised by native women and
associations representing them. These provisions should allay
their concerns. The bill will require a mandatory community
consultation process for the development of rules and procedures
applicable on the breakdown of marriage in relation to the use,
occupation and possession of the first nations lands and the
division of interest in that land.
One specific motion I would like to speak to from Group No. 1 is
Motion No. 6. This motion is to amend the bill that would
require confirmation in writing that consultations respecting the
land code have been completed with neighbouring jurisdictions,
thereby changing the whole intention of clauses 45 and 48 of the
The motion is ill defined as it does not set out who falls under
the rubric “neighbouring jurisdictions” and seemingly involves
consultations not on the land code but rather on
cross-jurisdictional issues, an altogether different matter.
I was pleased to note that other first nations had expressed an
interest in participating in a land management regime like the
one proposed in the bill. This is proof that the model being
proposed is a positive one that appeals to many first nations. A
provision is in the bill to permit other first nations that may
want to adhere to the bill the opportunity to do so subject to
The Chippewas of Mnjikaning First Nation is very much looking
forward to the rapid conclusion of the ratification process. I
have had the pleasure of following the issue and providing
assistance to the Chippewas of Mnjikaning First Nation regarding
this important initiative.
It is an exciting prospect for the Chippewas of Mnjikaning First
Nation to have an opportunity as a community to collectively
devise and manage a land management system tailored specifically
to its needs. It will also allow the Chippewas of Mnjikaning an
opportunity to generate additional revenue through economic
In conclusion, I quote Chief Lorraine McRae of the Chippewas of
Mnjikaning when she said:
This initiative is an opportunity for the full and active
participation of the members of our First Nations—elders, women
and men, both off reserve and on reserve—to collectively develop
land management systems appropriate for our communities based
upon fairness, equality and accountability. I am confident that
through this government to government partnership, we will
achieve true community decision making.
Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, as I
rise to my feet I ask for you indulgence as I have a question. As
I understand it, these amendments are at report stage and
specifically the amendments put forth by the hon. member for
Skeena, Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 7, are what we are debating at this
I have been following the debate closely and noticed that a
number of members did not follow that at all and actually got off
on some tangential items, including the next series of amendments
from the Bloc party which we will be debating after. Am I
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The member for South
Shore is once again proving just how wide awake he is. While all
the others assembled here did not pick up on that, he certainly
did and brought it to the attention of the House. He may be sure
that the Chair will ensure that from this point forward the
debate is strictly on the motions.
Mr. Gerald Keddy: Mr. Speaker, I will speak to the report
stage amendments to Bill C-49, the first nations land management
act, and specifically Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 7 put forth by the
hon. member for Skeena.
These amendments allow first nations to join the framework
agreement in accordance with section 45 but only on the condition
that the first nations prepare land codes in consultation with
neighbouring jurisdictions. Approval from neighbouring
jurisdictions would be required and they would have written
confirmation that they meet the laws of the provinces in which
they are situated.
These amendments would impose on the first nations provincial or
municipal laws without allowing the first nations to develop
their own laws in consultation with the people of the first
One of the advantages of the legislation is to allow first
nations greater autonomy over management of their resources and
to remove the restrictions placed upon them by the Indian Act. To
instead require compliance with provincial and municipal laws
without allowing the first nations to do so within their own land
codes and by their own decision contradicts the objectives of the
While it may be advantageous for first nations to follow
provincial laws—and some of the first nations have drafted land
codes that reflect provincial laws—there is no need to change
the legislation to make this mandatory. This would not allow
first nations to develop rules according to their tradition of
These amendments ignore the purpose of the legislation, namely
to allow first nations to manage their resources through
consultation with their members. This places an onerous
responsibility on first nations that is not reciprocated by the
neighbouring jurisdictions and is therefore not equitable.
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
must say the speaker who just spoke obviously has never been to
B.C. where we have the potential for 50-plus different sets of
governments with different rules if there is not some sort of
conformity in the way that municipalities relate to one another.
Also I was astounded to hear a member of the NDP, and woman at
that, standing and defending the right of bands to deprive women
of their matrimonial property rights on the basis of culture. It
is absolutely amazing that position would be taken.
That same speaker also mentioned there was an agreement in place
with the B.C. Union of Municipalities for consultation with band
members. That is simply not the case. There was an agreement on
a draft for a possible proposal which had to be submitted to the
chiefs. Since November there has been no confirmation from the
chiefs that they have accepted that draft. There is still great
uncertainty in terms of consultation.
The main reason I am taking part in the debate by discussing
these motions is the pressure from the three municipalities in my
riding affected by the bill that have no communication of any
meaningful level with the band which will have the power to
develop its reserve in my riding. In addition, I have had a
tremendous amount of submissions from rank and file Squamish band
During the early debates which took place at the beginning of
December I was approached by a delegation of 18 Squamish band
members who came to my office to urge me to oppose the bill.
These are the very people who are supposed to be beneficiaries of
the bill. They came to me to complain about it. Why? I will
read one of the petitions they sent today. About 150 signatures
came in on petitions today alone from Squamish band members in my
riding. Let us listen to what they say:
We urge you to vote no to Bill C-49. We are status members of
the Squamish Nation. Our band council did not inform us about
Bill C-49. We did not know that council signed a framework
agreement on February 12, 1996. We did not know that the
Squamish Nation made representations on our behalf in Ottawa in
December of 1998. We are concerned that the manner in which this
information has not been provided to us is completely contrary to
the openness protocol for treaty negotiations that the Squamish
Nation, Canada and British Columbia entered into on October 27,
1995, which we were informed about. We are concerned that the
power that can be legislated to council pursuant to some sections
of Bill C-49 will supersede the provisions of the band's own land
code. We are concerned that if Bill C-49 is passed our ability
to participate in a democratic process will fail to be realized
and we will not be able to define the future of the Squamish
This is an example of input from people who are supposed to
benefiting from the bill. There is something wrong if more than
100 people in one day sign a petition on that reserve saying that
they do not want the legislation.
I have an obligation to represent their interest in this place.
Their most serious complaint is obviously the lack of
involvement, the lack of consultation with band members, which is
the same complaint the municipalities are raising. Despite what
the NDP member said there is no agreement in place. There is no
process for communication.
The reserve in my riding probably has the most valuable land in
the entire country. It is a strip of land along the foreshore of
the harbour of North Vancouver with spectacular views of downtown
Vancouver. The concept that is contained in the bill is
tremendous: to allow the people who live there to develop those
lands without the constant bureaucracy of the Department of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
However the way it is being done is upsetting and causing fear
for band members who do not know what the chiefs will do with
this land. The main objection or concern raised by band members
was from those who hold what are called certificates of
possession. These are like our equivalent of fee simple titles
Band members can hand down these certificates of possession to
their children and grandchildren. However the provisions of
section 28 of the bill state that the band council for no other
reason than the council's deciding it is in the interest of the
band can expropriate anything on that reserve. People who have
lived their entire lives on this land could have their homes
The rumour on the Squamish reserve in North Vancouver is that
the members will be uprooted and moved to Porteau Cove, which is
on Howe Sound where there is another part of the reserve, so so
that the entire piece of reserve on the foreshore of North
Vancouver can be cleared and developed.
That is where it runs into the problem with the surrounding
municipalities. The bill permits the band to develop its land
code with no consultation whatsoever with the surrounding
municipalities. There is no requirement, not even the basics
that are present in the municipal act of B.C. It does not even
apply. In an urban setting in the middle of Vancouver we have
this little entity that does not even have to consult with its
neighbours and that can do anything it likes in its land code.
A delegation of 18 members came to my office to meet with me.
They told me they were terrified that even the voting on the land
code would not be democratic. It only requires 50% plus one of
the band members to vote and only 50% of them have to approve the
land code, which is about 25% of the total voting membership.
That 25% in the Squamish nation approximates roughly to the
members who work for the band council, the actual employees of
the band council. The fear being expressed to me as their member
of parliament is that this means one family can basically control
what is in the land code on this reserve. The lack of
consultation being expressed is a serious concern that we need to
I have encouraged the chief to be involved in more consultations
in the community. It would help things go much more smoothly if
there were a feeling of good will. If the band and
municipalities knew what was going on we could work together to
make this a really successful bill.
As my colleague from Skeena and I have already said, the concept
of the bill is good. We want it to proceed but surely we need to
put a few checks and balances in there to make sure certain
processes take place.
The bill says that the land code must be developed by band
members themselves. I have discussed this point at length with
the band members who have approached me. Many of them, more than
three dozen, have personally phoned me or come in to see me. I
have tried to convince them that they must take some
responsibility for their own future. They must get together, be
proactive and take part in the process. I cannot change that for
them. I urge those who are watching the debate to be active in
the development of the land code.
The bill will pass. We know it will pass because of the way the
House works. I urge members to listen to what I have said
tonight. I have not talked about ideologies. I have talked
about input from the people the bill is supposed to be helping.
They are expressing their concerns to me. We should listen to
the words they are passing on.
I urge members to support the amendment that at least requires
some consultation in accordance with the provisions of the
municipal act in the province in which a reserve is located. It
is not unreasonable for an urban riding smack bang in the middle
of Vancouver at least to have discussions with surrounding
municipalities about how to provide traffic access, how to
provide water, electricity, sewage services and all the
infrastructure needed to make it work properly. It cannot be
done in isolation. It has to be done with co-operation and
Let us put incentive in the bill to make it happen. Then let us
support the measures so the bill can be effective in helping
these first nation Indian bands develop their own land holdings.
I guess I have enough material here to speak for about 20
minutes. I know you are calling time, Mr. Speaker, but I will
stand on subsequent motions to this bill and add a little more
information about the input that I am receiving from rank and
file band members of the Squamish Nation.
Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am
happy to rise again and restate my support for Bill C-49. This
act will implement the framework agreement on first nations land
As I have said before, this bill is a major step toward first
nations self-government. I am proud that the New Democratic
Party has been the only party since our first days that has
fought for first nations self-government. This is their
inherent right as the first people to live in our great country.
I have listened to the words of the Reform members regarding
first nations issues. Their arguments have been misleading to
say the least. They have been trying to exploit negative
stereotypes about aboriginal people. The most absurd claim has
been that this bill will allow first nations to break federal
search and seizure laws. They have obviously forgotten about
section 8 of the charter of rights and freedoms which protects
everyone from unreasonable search and seizure.
The most dubious thing about this claim is the Reform Party's
unspoken assumption that first nations intend to abuse power.
They instantly assume the worst of the first nations. They
assume that if first nations have power they will abuse it. The
idea that first nations are unable to handle power or properly
govern themselves ignores their history. It overlooks the fact
that they governed themselves for thousands of years before
Europeans immigrated here and seized control.
I have 31 first nations in my riding of Churchill, over half the
first nations in Manitoba. I know that the first nations do not
want to manage their land so they can abuse power. They simply
want to end their dependence on Ottawa. The government has run
their lives for over 100 years. The result has been poverty.
First nations know that they can run their lives better than
government bureaucrats can. This bill will give them the chance
to do so.
A few weeks ago the hon. member for North Vancouver copied a
letter for me that he had sent to a mayor in his riding. This
letter expressed his opposition to this bill. It said that Bill
C-49 would let first nations pass laws. As a result, the member
said this would result in different first nations having
different laws. The interesting thing is that he left it at that
as if it were obvious that this would be a bad thing. The letter
also said that this bill would allow first nations to have
economic development without consulting neighbouring communities.
Even though it should not be necessary, I am going to address
the two points I just mentioned. Perhaps the Reform Party is not
aware that different first nations have different cultures. Each
has a unique history, a unique land and a unique economy. It
makes perfect sense that they have different laws in certain
areas. What a double standard for the Reform Party which
promotes decentralization in federal-provincial relations to
oppose it for first nations.
As for consulting with neighbouring communities on economic
development, I agree that it is desirable. I am of the
impression that there will be a process for consultation. This
is as a result of a meeting with the first nations and the union
of B.C. municipalities on November 13, 1998.
First nations would be wise to form friendly and open
relationships with their neighbours. These kinds of
relationships benefit everyone involved. In my riding many
communities have a first nation reserve and a non-reserve area
side by side. The ones that do best are the ones where the first
nation government and the town government work well together.
This bill is a great step forward toward the eventual goal of
full self-government for first nations.
I congratulate all the chiefs involved in reaching this
agreement. In particular I want to congratulate Chief William
Lathlin of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and Grand Chief Francis
Flett of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. The Opaskwayak Cree
Nation is part of my riding and is signatory to this agreement.
Both these leaders were instrumental in its reaching this stage.
Although I am very pleased with this bill I want to conclude my
remarks by reminding the Liberal government that there is still
much to be done. The United Nations has rightly slammed Canada's
treatment of aboriginal people. I quote from last
December's report by the United Nation's committee on economic,
social and cultural rights:
The committee is greatly concerned at the gross disparity between
aboriginal people and the majority of Canadians. There has been
little or no progress in the alleviation of social and economic
deprivation among aboriginal people. In particular, the
committee is deeply concerned at the shortage of adequate
housing, the endemic mass unemployment and the high rate of
suicide, especially among youth in the aboriginal communities.
Another concern is the failure to provide safe and adequate
drinking water to aboriginal communities on reserves—almost a
quarter of aboriginal household dwellings require major repairs
for lack of basic amenities.
I could not have said it any better myself. The words gross
disparity sum up the status of aboriginal people in Canada. The
Liberal government says it is concerned about this but its lack
of action says it is not.
The federal government has a duty to work in partnership with
first nations governments to address these problems. The Liberal
government has ignored almost all the recommendations of the
royal commission on aboriginal peoples. Instead it has only made
a few token gestures.
Whenever I criticize the government for its lack of action on
aboriginal concerns, the minister of Indian affairs points to the
aboriginal healing fund as though it solved everything. Yet I am
constantly hearing from my aboriginal constituents about this
money not being available for vital projects. It does
not go nearly far enough.
I and my colleagues have been calling on this government to
implement the recommendations of the royal commission. The few
it has implemented are not enough. Not implementing the rest is
a betrayal of all aboriginal people.
I repeat my call to the Liberal government to implement the
royal commission on aboriginal peoples recommendations.
Aboriginal people are tired of this government's stonewalling.
They are tired of half steps. The time for real action is now.
Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I rise to speak on report stage of Bill C-49, the first
nations land management act. This bill is a step forward. It is
an initiative that came about in partnership with 14 progressive
first nations peoples. I call on all of my colleagues to realize
that they cannot support Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 7.
The bill provides for an alternative land management regime
whereby participating first nations control their lands and their
natural resources by removing them from under the Indian Act
provisions respecting land management while the remainder of the
Indian Act continues to apply.
This is a positive model, a model not only to be implemented now
but for the future transfer of land management to other first
nations. There was also a protocol by which other first nations
could be added to this bill as a result of an order in council.
There are procedures in the bill regarding how this could occur.
Provisions have also been included to address the concerns raised
by native women. I know an earlier speaker brought up the
situation of native women.
Regarding the motion before us, it will in some way change the
intent of “Gathering Strength” and the intent of this bill. It
is important for our Reform colleague to recognize that
consultation cannot be mandated. To suggest at this point in our
history that we will legislate consultations between the first
nations and municipalities is unacceptable to the first nations
and to us as Canadians who are working to arrive at justice,
fairness, equity and all those things for our first nations
Therefore the motion before us would modify the conditions that
were already agreed on by 14 signatory first nations in the
framework agreement. The impact will somehow change the intent
of the bill, to mandate, to define or to limit. The intent is
really to change the bill in some way.
I think that we need the support of all members on all sides of
the House to resist such a transformation and such changing of a
bill which has so far the agreement of so many parties.
There are ongoing processes. We need to respect the
jurisdictional issues. We need respect the codes we have before
us. At the same time having had aboriginal people come together
and agree on the items within Bill C-49 we should go ahead and
So I stand not to make a lengthy speech but really to support
Bill C-49, to call on my colleagues on all sides of the House to
oppose Reform's intention to dilute, to change and to modify the
intent of Bill C-49.
Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley,
Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I do not appreciate the name calling. I
think it is very undeserved. I do not know about the other
members of this House but I have done more than just talk about
helping aboriginal people and native people in this country. I
spent 15 years in northern Alberta trying to bring
self-government to non-treaty Indians. I have nothing to
apologize for in the work I have done.
I would like to share some of these experiences in the north
because I think it is very appropriate for this debate on Bill
It was an interesting experience because I was helping
non-treaty aboriginals in a community immediately adjacent to a
reserve. It was a case in point of how when the federal
government moves in and hands over things to a community that is
ill prepared to deal with them it is for not. In the non-treaty
community where we were providing potable water, sewage
collection, land ownership, self-government we were producing
results that were never seen in the reserve adjacent to the
community although the people were related and from the same
The reason for that is the non-treaty Indians were accountable
for the decisions they made. They were accountable for the
dollars they were spending. They were accountable to the people
who lived in and shared the community with them.
We saw fire trucks going into the reserve with no support base
and they were never used for the purpose for which they were
On the non-reserve side we saw a fire truck, after a great deal
of debate and a great deal of work to get it, brought into the
community, treated with respect and which provided services not
only to the non-reserve community but to the reserve community.
We also saw the non-treaty community supporting the reserve by
providing sewage treatment for the school that was built and for
the health centre that was built. For whatever reason the
federal government under the Indian Act was ill prepared to deal
with that kind of development. It took the non-treaty, the
non-status Indians in their community to provide that kind of
community support and leadership.
I do not have to wonder what will happen with this bill if it is
not properly legislated. There are some areas where I have
difficulty accepting it as it is presented to the Canadian
I do not think people can foresee the future but we can look at
what has happened in the past with the experiences we have to
give us some indication of what might happen.
I would like to share with the House an instance that happened
in 1993 after I was first elected. The very first situation that
I had to deal with as a member of parliament was a community in
the Semiahmoo Indian Reserve. It was a community that was
leasing property. Some of these leases had been in their
families for 40 to 50 years. Because of a decision by Indian
affairs of removing itself from the responsibility, nine out of
the eleven people who came to my office looking for help ended up
losing their homes, ended up having to leave.
I would like to share some of the comments with the members of
the House. These are excerpts from letters received from a
couple of families. They state:
How can you dismiss the fact that your department put us in this
hell? They refused to issue one year leases on instructions from
the Semiahmoo band in September 1993. They refused to take our
lease money. They have not cashed cheques from persons remaining
on the land to date. They refused to talk to us after 20 years
of tenancy. They refused to quell the situation.
As for the remaining tenants, six have vacated as ordered by the
DIA in a letter dated January.... The penalty is double rent for
daring to speak out and the others have struck their own deal
with the bands knowing that if they do not perform it will go
People have lost their homes.
With our neighbours we formed associations to negotiate a lease.
We made an offer to lease. We did everything that we were
capable of doing. They wanted us to sign a non-negotiable
consent to lease offer before we had even read it. If we did not
agree we were out in nine days. We could not sign it. It would
be like signing a blank cheque.
That is the kind of situation these people were put in. I would
suggest that there has to be clarity in legislation to protect
We have recommended two amendments to Bill C-49. One amendment
would require a clause to be written that this would in no way be
considered to be a land claim under section 35 of the
Constitution Act. The second amendment would require that
proactive consultations be held with adjacent municipalities.
I would like to share another experience that I had in Slave
Lake, Alberta with the Sawridge Indian band. I was on the town
council when we negotiated a deal with the Sawridge band to
provide them with water and sewer facilities which they wanted
for a laundromat for the hotel they had built. In an agreement
with this band the town obtained the use of a little section of
land going through a corner of their band property in exchange
for providing them with water and sewer facilities.
Two years ago I received a call from the mayor of the town who
said “Val, you are the only one we can track down. We need to
know what has happened because Walter Twinn is suing us. The
Sawridge band is suing us for this piece of property that the
town is using for the road which runs across a corner of the
We had a written agreement with the Sawridge band that this
would be an exchange: water and sewer facilities for a little
chunk of road. Twenty years down the road that agreement was not
being respected and the town of Slave Lake found itself in legal
It is very important that whatever we do in this House be better
than what we have done before. The Indian Act has proven to be a
failure. It has left people dependent on government. People
have lost their independence. They have lost their self-respect
in many cases. It is a shame that we allowed that to happen.
I do not want to be a part of continuing in that kind of
environment. Our aboriginal people have the right to be treated
equally, to have equal rights and equal responsibilities, as does
every other Canadian in this country.
We should not be going down this trail without clarity,
expecting that the same thing will not happen. Somebody gave us
the definition of insanity. It was doing the same thing over and
over again, expecting a different result.
That seems to me to be what we continue to do. We continue the
same old policies over and over again. We may use different
words, but we expect different results. It is insane to expect a
We have to, with clarity, come up with an agreement with the
aboriginal people that will remove them from the dependent status
they have and will continue to have under the department of
Indian affairs. We have to release them. We have to encourage
aboriginal people to take on the responsibility which every other
Canadian has. Bills such as Bill C-49 is not going to do it.
We have to make sure that our legislation is clear and that it
is not open to misrepresentation or misinterpretation. We have
to make sure that our legislation today is taking a different
path, that it is trying something new and innovative, not doing
the same old thing over and over again, expecting a different
Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this evening to speak in
It was interesting to listen to the member for Churchill talking
about amendments that we wanted to make to this bill and how we
hoped that it would happen anyway. Other members have made
comments about the Reform Party and what its role is in this
Sure there are a lot of good things in this bill, but our party
asked for two amendments. Our members said that if those
amendments were accepted we would let this bill pass through the
House. However, the Liberal government refused those amendments.
Let me read into the record a letter which I just received a few
minutes ago. The letter is from the Lower Mainland Treaty
Advisory Committee. For those members who do not know where the
lower mainland is, it encompasses the majority of the population
of British Columbia, all of the municipalities in the lower
mainland. It is represented by mayors who represent the New
Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, the Reform Party and others.
This is what they wrote today to the Minister of Indian Affairs
and Northern Development:
The Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management is an Act
that will apply to 14 First Nations across Canada. Under the
Framework Agreement, those signatory First Nations will develop
their own land codes to apply to their reserve lands. The land
code will set out the principles, rules and structures that will
apply to the land. Once a land code has been adopted, the Band
Council may, in accordance with the land code, make laws
concerning the management, development, use, possession and
occupancy of the reserve land. The new Act will replace the land
management provisions (sections 53-60) of the Indian Act.
The Bill stipulates a number of requirements that a First Nation
must meet in establishing a land code. One requirement is a
community consultation process (Band members only) concerning the
development of general land code rules for the reserve lands.
Secondly, before a land code can be enacted, it must be approved
by a majority of eligible Band voters. Thirdly, a Minister and
the First Nation shall jointly appoint a verifier who will
determine if the land code is in accordance with the Framework
Agreement (the Act) and will monitor the community approval
process of the land code.
The concerns of the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee
Local municipal leaders and the UBCM have raised two specific
concerns with Bill C-49:
1. The legislation provides no requirement for consultation with
neighbouring municipal governments on land use and other issues
of mutual interest, nor with non-aboriginal people living on
2. Given that the Province of British Columbia is already
engaged in the British Columbia Treaty Commission treaty process
to address issues including land use and self-government, the
application of Bill C-49 appears to be creating a second parallel
Within the B.C. treaty process, municipal governments are full
members of the Provincial negotiating team. As such, their
representative sits at the treaty table as part of that team and
has the opportunity to provide comment and input to the
Provincial negotiator on the treaty. In the Greater Vancouver
area, municipal governments co-ordinate themselves under the
Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee. By contrast, with
respect to Bill C-49, municipal governments have had very limited
opportunity to consider and provide comments on its implications.
The Bill contains no provisions for any form of consultation
with neighbouring municipal governing jurisdictions concerning
the development of the land code. With respect to third parties
who have an interest in the reserve land that is to be subject to
the proposed land code, the Bill states only that the Band
Council shall, within a reasonable time before the vote, take
appropriate measures to inform those third parties of the
proposed land code.
The Squamish Band is one of the 14 First Nations across Canada
who are signatory to the Framework Agreement. The three North
Shore Mayors recently met with Squamish Chief Bill Williams to
discuss the Bill. The issue of lack of requirement for
consultation with municipal governments was raised at the meeting
and the Chief acknowledged that the Bill contains no such
provisions. He stated that it was his intent that consultation
with adjacent municipal governments will be a part of the
Squamish land code.
The member from North Vancouver and I met with the same mayors
and the chief and proposed the amendments to try to solve this
problem now and not wait for something to come along later that
will cause problems.
The letter continues:
While this statement appears reasonable, it actually leaves two
major concerns for municipalities:
1. Municipalities would greatly prefer that any such requirement
for consultation be included directly and specifically in Bill
C-49. This would provide the requirement for meaningful
consultation (not a veto) as part of the formal document, and not
be left up to whether or not any particular First Nation is
willing to do so.
To address the suggestion that this issue is primarily a concern
in British Columbia and therefore need not be included in an Act
which covers all of Canada and many other First Nations and
municipalities, we would suggest the wording in the Act requiring
a consultation would apply to:
“Those signatory First Nations in British Columbia to this Bill
and in other parts of Canada that do not presently have a formal
agreement requiring reciprocal consultation”. This would then
enshrine the principle of consultation in the Act, whether or not
such agreements already exist in other parts of Canadas.
The Municipal Act in British Columbia requires municipalities to
refer a plan to the council of an adjoining municipality if the
plan affects an area of that municipality. This does not provide
the adjoining municipality with a veto, only with the opportunity
to become informed and make comment.
2. Assuming that a First Nation does consult about a proposed
land use with its municipal government neighbours, with or
without a requirement to do so, what mechanism is there to
resolve disagreements? The only reference to dispute resolution
in the Bill centres on disputes between a First Nation and the
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, not with
The drafters of the Bill may not have contemplated the concerns,
raised above, particularly if their focus was on the many rural
reserves across Canada. However, not unlike the treaty process,
arrangements and approaches that may work in a rural setting may
be totally inappropriate in an urban setting. Given the
complexity of many different jurisdictions operating in our urban
area and the need for co-ordination on issues of land use and
transportation planning, it is essential that the Bill not be
enacted by Parliament without first providing an opportunity for
municipal governments to assess the Bill and provide comment to
the federal government.
Regarding Parallel Process Concerns:
There needs to be an opportunity for municipalities currently
engaged with the Provincial team in treaty negotiations to feel
assured that Bill C-49 provisions will not eliminate the
opportunity for negotiations to occur on important issues
including land use and self government.
Draft resolution from LMTAC meeting of January 27, 1999:
It was moved and seconded
That the Lower Mainland Municipal Association (LMMA) be advised
that the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee has not had the
opportunity to assess the ramifications and impact of proposed
Bill C-49 at the local government level and that the LMMA request
that the federal government delay further consideration of the
Bill pending consultation with local (municipal) governments.
Thank you for your careful consideration of our concerns.
Mayor Don H. Bell
Copies of this letter were sent to the Minister of National
Revenue; the Minister for International Cooperation and the
Minister responsible for Francophonie; the Minister of Fisheries
and Oceans, who is from British Columbia; the chair of the
northern and western Liberal caucus, the member for Vancouver
Kingsway; the chairman of the B.C. Liberal caucus, who is the
member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam; as well as the
member for North Vancouver and myself.
The chairman of the B.C. Liberal caucus, the member for Port
Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, also chairs the task force that
the Prime Minister has set up to tell him why western Canadians
do not vote Liberal. This is a prime example. The opposition
has asked very fairly that two amendments be made to this bill
which were recommended by all the lower mainland municipalities
of British Columbia, and many of the mayors are Liberal.
We are doing our job as the opposition to try to get this bill
through the House. As we said, if those two amendments were
adopted we would vote tonight to get this bill out of here.
The government will not adopt those two amendments. The
majority of the people of British Columbia want those amendments
to be made to this bill. Every other municipality in British
Columbia has to do what we are asking be put in this bill. If
they want to build something in my constituency in West
Vancouver, they negotiate with my colleague for North Vancouver
and tell him what they are doing and how they are going to do it.
The Squamish band is one of the wealthiest in the nation. It
owns the majority of the foreshore in North Vancouver and West
Vancouver. It leases that land at very high rates, including one
lease that the Liberals signed 20 years ago for land to build an
environmental building on. That piece of land is still empty,
with the lease at $4 million a year. The lease rate will
increase to $7 million this year for an empty piece of land. The
band is not doing poorly.
All we want is the right to know when they build on their land.
We have negotiated shopping centres and buildings with them. We
work very well together. All we want to know is that in the
future they will sit down to talk with us when they want to build
on their land.
Those two amendments could get the bill through the House very
quickly. That is all we are asking of this Liberal government.
Listen to the people of British Columbia. Do what they are
looking for the government to do. The government should not go
blindly into what its lawyers are telling it to do. That is the
problem here. Lawyers dealing with the ministry are saying “This
is what we want. Do not back down. Do not look like you are
giving something away”.
The people of British Columbia want these two amendments. We
are going to stand here and fight for this bill as long as it
takes to have this government admit that those amendments should
be in the bill.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Lakeland, Ref.): Madam Speaker, it is
a pleasure for me to speak to the first group of amendments to
Bill C-41 which includes Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 7.
I will start my presentation by reading a fairly lengthy paper
by Wendy Lockhart Lundberg entitled “Native Women Threatened by
Federal Bill”. The author is a registered status Indian and a
member of the Squamish nation in B.C. If the government is not
willing to listen to us on this bill, I hope it will listen to
the grassroots aboriginal people who have something to say about
this bill. I strongly encourage the government to listen.
This paper makes a case for the amendments we have put forth in
this group. It makes the point very clearly that this
legislation needs some change, that it is not as widely accepted
as some members of the governing party claim it to be. It is time
to listen. Maybe the government has not listened to the
grassroots aboriginals in particular but I encourage the
government to listen to Wendy Lockhart Lundberg now:
While media attention focuses on the formal treaty process,
federal actions are attempting a legislative end-run around
treaties by offering bands powers over land management. Native
women will bear the brunt of these legislative provisions and
will be denied the protections they could be afforded through
A little-publicized government bill, C-49, the first nations
land management act, is scheduled for third reading in parliament
next week and poised to become law. Bill C-49 would give legal
effect to land management agreements which have already been
signed by 14 bands. These include my band, the Squamish, as well
as Vancouver's Musqueam band and ones across the country, and
will be open to other bands in the future.
Bill C-49 grants participating bands almost unlimited powers
over the ownership, management, and expropriation of band lands.
The implications of C-49 for the rights and position of native
women are large, and the B.C. Native Women's Society (supported
by three major organizations) has lodged a court case against the
federal government to require that issues of native women's
rights be properly addressed before enactment.
When the marriages of native women fail, as all too many do on
account of poverty and related conditions, they and their
children typically lose the family home. Their ex-spouses
typically get possession of the family home, based on decisions
of the band council. The women often have nowhere to live on the
reserve, and may end up in the worst circumstances in urban
ghettos. Unlike all other Canadian women, native women on
reserves do not have the protection of property division laws.
Bill C-49 contains two provisions which are particularly
worrisome for native women. First, it states that rules and
procedures regarding the use, occupation, and possession of land
upon the breakdown of marriage will be determined by the land
codes of each signatory band. Yet, there is little assurance
that these future provisions will be any less tilted against the
interests of women and their children than the results of the
Second, Bill C-49 offers band councils draconian powers of
expropriation, which must concern native women as well as other
native people living on reserves and non-natives with leasehold
Specifically, “a first nation may ... expropriate any interest
in its first nation land that, in the opinion of its council, is
necessary for community works or other first nation purposes”.
The band need give at most 30 days notice to expropriate, and it
is obliged to pay “fair compensation” that can be disputed only
under rules set by the band itself.
I encourage the government to listen to this part in particular.
It is worth listening to some of the problems that come as a
result of the way this is being proposed. The paper goes on to
Not only may these powers be used against native women; they may
also be used against band members outside the governing elite.
For example, the Squamish nation has valuable waterfront property
in North Vancouver, rumoured to be the subject of band council
plans for commercial redevelopment. These plans could displace
many band members living there to a reserve area up the coast,
thus making expropriation powers very useful to the band council.
In addition, any party having a leasehold interest on a reserve
has reason to fear the strong expropriation powers for bands in
Bill C-49. With the sword of quick expropriation hanging over
their heads, current leaseholders will find few parties willing
to buy their leasehold interests, and their property values will
plummet. A band can then expropriate their property by offering
“fair compensation” at the depressed market values.
A band council's expropriation powers will be unlike those of a
municipal or senior government; it will be able to expropriate
for any “other first nation purposes”, not limited to the need
to build schools, highways, and the like. Many bands see their
lands as a major means for economic development, so that
leaseholders can expect their land to be expropriated whenever a
band finds a more valuable use (the band will fully control
zoning). But with this ever-present threat, how many non-natives
will want to make the investments needed for development or
leasehold arrangements with bands?
Again, I hope this government is listening to that thought which
is coming from a band member. It is well worth listening to
because it is an important point. She goes on to say:
My mother lost her native and band status when she married a
non-native many years ago. Her status was restored following the
1985 amendments to the Indian Act, but her father's property was
never returned to her. The Squamish band allows someone else to
occupy the property and uses its diverse powers to block my
mother's efforts to regain her familial home. Under Bill C-49
her land could be permanently lost through expropriation.
The Squamish nation has sent a council member to Ottawa to
support Bill C-49, while not informing the general band
membership of the existence of the bill.
I am going to repeat this because I do not think that message is
sinking in. She says that the Squamish nation has sent a council
member to Ottawa to support Bill C-49, while not informing the
general band membership of the existence of the bill. I think
that really shows the lack of knowledge on the part of band
members about this bill because they have not been told about it.
I digress. I will finish reading the paper:
The Squamish nation has even intervened, on behalf of all the
signatory bands, on the side of the federal government and
against the B.C. Native Women's Society's Bill C-49 lawsuit.
I believe that my mother's rights, and those of many other
native women, will be lost forever if Bill C-49 is passed in its
present state. Their chances of obtaining legally binding
provisions that restore their human and property rights would be
much better served through an openly debated treaty process.
Bill C-49 was introduced into parliament by a female minister of
Indian affairs, and its passage would be enacted by Her Majesty
in right of Canada. I doubt whether either of these women shares
native women's concerns about their lands, homes, and families.
I see that my time is up. I remind the members of the
government who are here that the author is someone who
understands this issue extremely well.
She has written a very thoughtful paper. I think she has
presented the case in balance.
Government members should listen to what they have heard
tonight. The member for Vancouver North said 100 people from the
band signed a petition in such a short time saying that they do
not want this to pass. The member for West Vancouver—Sunshine
Coast and the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee said that
they do not want this to pass as it is, as did municipalities in
the lower mainland. The list is growing and growing.
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York North, Lib.): Madam Speaker,
we have before us tonight a historic piece of legislation. Bill
C-49 is a piece of legislation that provides for an alternative
land management regime whereby the participating first nations
control their lands and natural resources by removing them from
under the Indian Act respecting land management.
I am very pleased tonight to stand in the House and
wholeheartedly support this legislation. I am honoured to
represent, as the member of parliament for York North, the
Chippewas of Georgina Island, one of the 14 first nations
affected by this legislation.
It is a real pleasure to know that Chief Bill McCue along with
other members of the band council and members of the Chippewas of
Georgina Island first nations are here tonight watching this
It is with somewhat mixed emotions that I stand here tonight. It
is really appalling to hear what the members opposite, the
members of the Reform Party have been saying throughout this
debate on first nations. It is a continued refrain we hear from
that party whenever we enter into debate in this House on first
nations. It is rather disturbing to know that I have constituents
here who have to listen to this. The Reform members show an
absolute lack of sensitivity and a lack of understanding of first
While there was a Reform member in this House who said that we
cannot foresee the future, it is clear that the members of the
Reform Party only see a bleak and negative future for first
nations. It is shameful. The Reform Party should be ashamed for
holding up this legislation. This legislation is urgently needed
by the Chippewas of Georgina Island.
In 1993 after I was first elected as the member of parliament
for York Simcoe at the time, one of my first responsibilities was
to attend a meeting with Chief Bill McCue, members of his council
and members from the regional office at Indian affairs. It was
through this meeting and subsequent dealings that I realized the
difficult challenges first nations in this country have in
controlling their own destiny and in controlling land that is
rightfully theirs to control.
Through the process of my dealings with the Chippewas of
Georgina Island and after the urgings of Chief Bill McCue, I
spoke to the then minister of Indian affairs and asked him to
consider this legislation. He met with the chiefs from across
this country and decided to go forward with this legislation. I
am pleased to say that the signing for the framework agreement
was held on Georgina Island in my riding. The chiefs from across
the country were at this very historic event which Chief Bill
It was a wonderful opportunity to see how these communities have
come together to work in a very progressive and enlightened
fashion, to deal with the special and unique challenges of first
nations. They have grassroots support.
We hear a lot about grassroots. I am not entirely sure what
grassroots the Reform members are talking about but I can talk
about the grassroots support I have in the riding of York North
on this legislation. They had 91% of the people of Georgina
Island supporting this very important legislation.
This work has been going on for eight years. These people cannot
wait any longer. They have 500 leases that must be negotiated
and are coming up for renewal this spring.
The Reform Party has shown an incredible level of
irresponsibility in holding the legislation back. It is
appalling and it is shameful. With regard to their concerns
about how first nations operate and relate to municipalities,
they take isolated situations and in typical Reform fashion blow
them up into stereotypes which they continually present over and
over again to the Canadian public.
I would like to tell the House about the kind of relationship
the Chippewas of Georgina Island have with their municipality.
They have a very positive, progressive, well founded
relationship. They have signed service agreements in the areas
of fire protection, garbage services, police, health and
education. They have shown themselves to be very substantial
members of not only their community but of the larger community.
I have a letter from the Snake Island Cottagers' Association
calling upon the government for speedy passage of the
legislation. The letter is dated December 2, 1998 and reads:
As president of the Snake Island Cottagers' Association (SICA) I
urge you on behalf of our members to expedite the second reading
of Bill C-49. This as you know will eventually result in
self-government for several Indian bands, especially the
Chippewas of Georgina from whom we lease cottage lots on Snake
Island. Our current 25 year leases expire as of April 1999. We
(SICA) strongly support the Chippewas band's quest for
self-government and feel that the passage of Bill C-49 will
facilitate a new leasing arrangement between our members and the
band. More importantly it will recognize the sovereignty of the
band over their lives and lands.
That is what this is all about and that is what members of the
House must remember. It is the sovereignty of our first nations
and finding a way to correct the abuses of the past. I tell
Canadians who are watching tonight that this is what Reform
members are missing.
All Canadians of good will and good intent see the necessity for
the legislation. I urge the House to speedily pass the
legislation. A few minutes ago I had a discussion with Chief
Bill McCue. For those who are interested, Chief Bill McCue said
“It's about time we determined our own destiny”.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I am
very privileged to be able to enter this debate. There are a
couple of points I wish to make particularly in reference to the
member who has just spoken.
There seems to be a feeling that the only reason the Reform
Party brought some amendments forward is that somehow we are
opposed to the step that is being taken. That is not the issue.
The issue is that this is not the final word on how to grant to
first nations some sovereignty over the lands and some of the
things they want control over. The issue is to determine a
relationship with which we can all live with greater comfort and
with greater harmony than has existed heretofore.
There seems to exist on the government side of the House almost
a feeling of arrogance that once its members have spoken and
presented a piece of legislation there cannot be a single iota of
improvement to it. How could that ever be the case?
There is not a human being in the House who cannot improve
whatever it is the government is doing. That includes my speech
this evening. I want to make it abundantly clear that the member
who just spoke deliberately misrepresented what the Reform Party
I want to make abundantly clear that I am not rising in this
debate to indicate to members opposite that I am totally and
unalterably opposed to the bill before the House tonight. That
is not the issue. The issue is that the bill attempts to do
something which I think is a step forward, but as usual it is a
tiny step forward. It is a timid step forward. It is an
inadequate step forward and it is an incomplete step.
We are trying to lift the legislation to a level that they can
be proud of, that the members of the House can be—
Mr. David Iftody: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of
order just to interrupt the hon. member for a moment. He used
language which I believe all of us would agree is
unparliamentary. He said that the member had deliberately misled
the House. I would ask him to withdraw those two words.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): I would ask the
member to kindly withdraw his remarks.
Mr. Randy White: I rise on a point of order, Madam
Speaker. I did not hear the same words the member said. In fact
I do not think that is what our member said. I would like you to
clarify with the Table exactly what was said prior to asking our
member to withdraw.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Very well. I will
ask the Table to look at the blues and I will come back later
with a decision.
Mr. Werner Schmidt: Madam Speaker, if I used the word
misled I withdraw that word, but I do not believe that I used
that word. I think what I said was misrepresentation, and there
is a big difference between those words.
It is another illustration of not listening properly to the
grassroots and not even listening properly in the House. The
time has come for us to get real and honest about these kinds of
We need to recognize what the legislation is attempting to do.
It is to draw some very clear boundaries. Some people would call
them fences. There is a proverb that says good fences make good
neighbours. My good friend who is one of these land surveyor
types says good laws build good fences.
What we are trying to do tonight is build a law that is better
than the one that is being proposed. A fence is being proposed
here but it has holes in it, some pretty big holes in it. It is
through those holes that we get some difficulties.
I want to put clearly on the record for members opposite to hear
and for my colleagues to support that we recognize among our
first nations that we have some of the proudest and most
respected citizens of the country. They are hard working people.
They are patriotic. They do the kinds of things we want done in
the country. The fact that they want some self-determination,
that they want to preserve their culture, is a demonstration of
how strongly they feel about themselves.
The first nations of the country have a tremendous reason to be
proud. In the face of tremendous opposition and difficulty they
have maintained their culture. That is why we have this
legislation before the House.
I recognize that and commend them for it. I also recognize that
they should not have powers that are unique, better or different
from those that exist for all other Canadians. We are before the
law, before the Constitution, equal Canadian citizens of Canada.
That is an issue we do not want to forget.
There are some technical difficulties with the bill as well. I
want to deal with them now. First I deal with the question of
powers. The bill gives powers to the council to enforce the
standards that exist under federal environmental law. It gives
it powers to go beyond the provisions in the environmental law
with regard to assessment and with regard to the process of
projects with environmental implications.
Let me read subclause 21(3). It is a rather interesting clause:
First nation laws respecting environmental assessment must
provide for the establishment, in accordance with the Framework
Agreement, of an environment assessment process applicable to all
projects carried out on first nation land that are approved,
regulated, funded or undertaken by the first nation.
There is a separate set of observations. They must be within
the standards set up by the legislation, but beneath that there
is a process and there are details that can be changed by the
first nation. As a consequence it can be delayed. It can be
altered. All kinds of things can happen. This is not to suggest
that they would do this. The idea is to create a law that
creates fairness and equity for all participants who are affected
by that law. That is what we are concerned about. That is a
very significant issue.
The bill before the House says that the band or the council
shall have a land code. That land code shall include, according
to subclause 6(1)(f), a community consultation process. However,
subclause 10(1) reads:
If the verifier determines that a proposed land code and a
proposed community approval process of a first nation are in
accordance with the Framework Agreement and this Act, the council
of the first nation may submit the proposed land code and the
individual agreement to the first nation members for their
That is interesting. In the first instance the council must
have a land code. That land code must provide a consultation
process. However, in terms of the actual land code there is no
approval process for the members who will be directly and
indirectly affected by that land code before it is approved. That
is very interesting. It puts the power in the hands of the
council utterly and completely.
We know that whenever we put absolute power into the hands of a
group, whether it is a first nation group or any other kind of a
group, it has the potential of abusing that power. I do not want
legislation to provide that kind of an opportunity. I want the
legislation to provide checks and balances to power so that it
will not be abused. I not suggesting they will; I am suggesting
we want to make sure that they will not. This is the business of
building a fence that does not have holes in it.
Motion No. 6 is a very clear motion. It says that there shall
be consultation with the band council that has a land code with
surrounding communities. It does not say that there has to be
agreement on everything. The best solutions are usually found
when there are opposing positions or there are different
viewpoints on something. We are asking for consultations so that
we can bring about a better resolution than is the case at the
present time. That is not provided for in the bill.
We must provide for that kind of consultation and make it
mandatory. Members opposite have heard the letters from the
bands, from municipal councillors and from the mayors. We are
trying to help them. Will they please listen.
Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, we are all products of our history and our environment.
We all view the world from our own vantage point.
It has been proven by medical authorities that it is more
stressful for a human being to listen than it is to talk. It is
for sure that you learn more when you listen than when you talk.
We have seen a diversity of circumstances, a diversity of
communities and name calling that does not suit the side over
there that has been doing it. How long will this work? We are
not here to advocate wishful thinking. We are here as
legislators trying to create the best possible piece of
legislation. This legislation is amendable. We could support
it with amendments.
The member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore said that consultation
cannot be mandated in the legislation but I beg to differ. There
is a lot of legislation in this country that mandates
consultation. That is what we are looking for. We are looking
for clarity. The fact that consultation is not viewed as
something that would contribute to the bill is one more reason
that it is not hard to understand why the Liberals need a western
task force when common sense is in such short supply on that
side. British Columbians are tired of imposition of a federal
native agenda in British Columbia that is not sensitive to local
The member for Churchill said that Reform thinks first nations
will abuse power. This has nothing to do with race. Any
legislation we design in this place must be designed with checks
and balances, native or non-native, it does not matter. We use
the same tests. This has nothing to do with race, gender or any
other circumstance. We are not doing our job if we do not do
this thing properly.
The purpose of this legislation is even getting lost in this
debate. This bill will impact on relationships between bands and
local governments in a number of areas, including land use
planning, environmental regulation and protection of third party
interests. The federal government is imposing its will in terms
of creating legislation that will disrupt local and provincial
relationships. The Liberal government is not saying that is what
it is doing and it does not seem to care. The implications are
potentially quite far reaching.
I spoke to this bill in November. I talked about lease holders
on reserve lands that would fall into being on land subject to
this bill because they would be lands leased to 1 of the 14 bands
to which this legislation applies. I spoke of my concerns and
why the bill needed to be amended. Lo and behold we have had a
seven week running story in British Columbia about the Musqueam
band and what has happened to lease holders with properties in
I cannot possibly support legislation that does not address the
issue of relations between communities and that does not deal
with consultations on an ongoing basis regarding decisions that
affect local and provincial jurisdictions in important areas such
as environmental issues, land use, roads, other infrastructure
questions and leases.
The minister of Indian affairs has been quoted as saying that
her hands are tied on the Musqueam escalation of leases in the
neighbourhood of $300 to in the neighbourhood of $30,000. The
reason her hands are tied is that the previous minister assigned
taxation authority to the Musqueam without any checks and
That is the very thing we are talking about here today. Now she is
blindly walking into an expansion of similar situations for the
Musqueam and others. The lease holders are unilaterally having
their leases rearranged so they are no longer with Canada. They
are subject to taxation without representation. Why is democracy
being negotiated away?
The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development allowed
three years of negotiations to occur in secret with the
Caldwell Band near Blenheim in southern Ontario and is now
suffering a public backlash. Surprise.
The minister now says the Caldwell land claim should have been
handled with more public consultation and she gives the example
of the Nisga'a comprehensive claim in British Columbia. I can
assure the House that is an empty statement. The public was not
consulted prior to the signing of the Nisga'a agreement.
The forestry representative and member of the treaty negotiation
advisory committee said publicly: “I cannot say we worked on
this document because we never saw it until February 15, just
hours before it was initialled. Not one page, not one paragraph
of this 150 page document was shared with the treaty negotiation
advisory committee or any of the local advisory committees or any
of the people with legal interests in the crown land that this
agreement would give to the Nisga'a”.
The way this government handles its aboriginal affairs is
archaic. There is no vision. The expropriation powers in this
legislation are sweeping: “A first nation may expropriate any
interest in its nation land that in the opinion of its council is
necessary for community works or other first nation purposes”.
At this point I wanted to quote from a document from the
Squamish Band but my colleague beat me to it. I think it is very
important to point out that these expropriation powers are above
and beyond anything that a municipality or other form of
government has. So why does the minister perpetuate reserves?
We heard about the definition of insanity. We take something
that is not working, repeat it over and over and hope that
somehow it turns out different.
The Caldwell Band circumstances in southern Ontario were
creating a brand new reserve. Have we not a better idea after
130 years of proving to ourselves that the reserve system is not
the way to go?
We had a very similar circumstance occur in the western United
States, a band with no land base. It was mandated to be given a
land base, so what did it do? The legislative authorities
decided that they better try to do something different that might
work for a change. They came up with a land base and they said
that land will belong to the band. That is your industrial base.
We are going to ensure that you have homes in the community. We
will buy every beneficiary in the band a home in the community.
It is yours. You can do what you want with it in the future, but
your land base is not zoned for residential use.
To me that is creative and avoids the problems of creating a
community that may not work like so many of our reserve
communities have not worked because of the fact that they are
away from where the workplace really is.
Why do we fail to recognize that checks and balances are needed
in aboriginal legislation? Why are we failing to represent the
interests of tens of thousands of lease holders whose original
leases were with Canada? Do not tell me this is not affecting
Ontario because I know it is. There are lots of cottage owners,
including a large group up in North Bay, I have been in touch
with on this issue.
The federal native agenda is out of control and there are going
to be predictable harmed stakeholders. This benefits nobody,
native or non-native.
Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton East, Ref.): Madam Speaker,
it is a pleasure to speak to this bill tonight. My colleague
from another party said earlier that Reform was approaching this
bill with a double standard. I think not. I think we are
approaching this with a single standard for enjoyment of property
and opportunity for all fairly. That is the reason we object to
I have heard a number of opinions on this bill and I think it is
important to keep the focus on how we can improve the
legislation. Our aboriginal people have been marginalized for
far too long and the government has rarely done something to
improve that for them. Hopefully we can change that this time.
There were a lot of problems and obstacles encountered by rank
and file band members during formulation of this bill. Many have
not been involved and they are concerned that their interests are
not being met in this lack of grassroots consultation.
The band councils have a responsibility to involve and include
all aboriginals in the process. There are a lot of grassroots
concerns when it comes to dealing with section 28 and the issues
surrounding expropriation. Some band members are even afraid
their own people will drive them out of their homes.
Section 28 also leaves many unanswered questions about the
process required when non-aboriginals are dealing with bands in
land and lease negotiations. The uncertainty is leading to
dramatic decreases in the value of the land in the disputed
Bill C-49 may only expedite land expropriations and escalate
tensions unnecessarily. It is important to remember that I am
referring only to a small number here.
Unless there is grassroots consultation there is a great chance
that development will not match the aspirations of the community.
This would be permanently divisive.
My family has had experience in the eastern part of the country
where they too leased from aboriginal people 15 years ago. When
they leased to develop their property, the lease rates were low
and attractive enough for them to move there and to develop
property. After 15 years the lease rates escalated to such
heights that it lost the viability of having the property. They
The problem was that when they sold it, they could not sell the
property for what they paid because the lease rates were too
high. There are dangers and risks of that happening.
Many problems already exist for the current government systems
on reserves. How could a proud people who receive a decent
amount of money each year end up in poverty? It is because so
much of the money does not get to the grassroots members. We can
understand their fears for granting chiefs additional power.
Some bands have millions of dollars in the bank but their
members are relying on outside charity assistance to fill the gap
left between the transfers to the councils and the transfers from
the councils. Many believe this legislation will only
concentrate that power further.
Section 28 is not the only problem area. There are also growing
concerns that the treatment of women under Bill C-49 would be a
big problem. There are not adequate provisions to govern
situations of marital break-up. The division of property,
possessions and use thereof are not adequately addressed in this
Bill C-49 contains two provisions that are particularly
worrisome for native women. First, it states that rules and
procedures regarding the use, occupation and possession of land
upon the breakdown of marriage will be determined by the land
codes at each signatory band. There is little assurance that
these future provisions will be any less tilted against the
interests of women and their children than the results of the
The minister of Indian affairs must get her head above the sand.
The very people she is claiming to assist are the ones who are
being left in the cold. She must develop a clear communications
network between all participants, particularly the grassroots
This is the only way we are going to develop trust between the
parties. An open and honest consultation process is essential.
Currently this is not the case. Many of the existing problems
can be traced back to these fundamental communication breakdowns.
A communication network is essential outside the bands too.
There are a lot of communities that deal with the band councils
daily on a business level. They need to be assured that there
will not be confrontational styles of relationships.
Bill C-49 will not provide enough assurances to outside
communities that land codes will be consistent and in harmony. We
could end up by having the new industrial area right next to the
newest park. We could have homes placed in the path of
pollution. I am sure we could think of many other examples. It
is important to co-ordinate these efforts with the surrounding
communities. We must remember that people who live together must
work together too.
There are also concerns that one level of government with powers
restricted from others will cause problems and inhibit the
co-operation I have been promoting. There is a concern long
before lawyers get hold of C-49. After lawyers get hold of C-49
we could be in for the ride of a lifetime, especially when
dealing with clauses 20 to 24.
How can lawmaking powers associated with criminal law be given
to band councils? Is this not the role of parliament? Is that
not unconstitutional? There are many, many questions that have
to be asked about this bill.
I fully recognize the good intentions underlying this bill and I
know a great deal of work has been done in developing it.
However, we cannot pass legislation that opens a legal can of
I support development on the reserves. It is important that
aboriginals be free to contribute to their immediate and
surrounding communities as they see fit. If C-49 passes, we will
see disputes and mistrust long before we will see co-operation
and harmony. We must remember that it has historically been
these disputes and mistrusts that have prevented many bands from
proceeding with development long before now.
This bill is not right and in my humble opinion it should not
Mr. Steve Mahoney (Mississauga West, Lib.): Madam
Speaker, I took the advice of one of the speakers from the Reform
Party and I listened for the past couple of hours to the debate
on the amendments to this bill.
After listening and talking to some of my colleagues and others
and getting some advice on this, I have come to one fairly
inescapable conclusion. The Reform Party simply does not support
self-government. I do not know how I could arrive at any other
It is quite clear to me that what the Reform Party has done is
to put forward amendments that are pure nonsense. I guess it has
done this in an attempt to hide what it is really saying under
the guise of supporting some minority individuals who have spoken
out and expressed concern which under normal circumstances would
be laudable. The Reform Party simply does not want to see any
self-government or any land claim agreements or any kind of a
deal made with these first nation communities that would provide
them with the dignity they have been negotiating.
How can we arrive at anything else when we look at the fact that
the provinces have been consulted and they are on side. The 14
chiefs of the first nation communities have signed and gone
through the democratic process on this.
What we are really hearing is that the Reform Party does not
trust them to be able to make their own decisions. It does not
trust these first nation peoples to be able to run a democratic
community, allowing for people to have a say and a vote in
establishing the land code. What other conclusion could we come
to if we look at the substantiveness or the lack of
substantiveness of these amendments?
I looked at one amendment and found it almost laughable.
Motion No. 7 is one of the three we are debating today. This
motion would delete the names of the 14 first nations from the
schedule but would keep the empty schedule. What is that? The
Reform Party says “We are out of new ideas, so let us just
delete the names of the 14 first nations that signed the
agreement”. That is the best the Reform Party can come up with.
Why do Reform members not at least have the courage to stand up
and tell the truth which is that they do not support
self-government. They do not support this kind of a deal for
these first nations. At least we could understand if they had the
courage to stand and say that and not hide behind nonsensical,
almost silly amendments, deleting the names of the participants
to the document. It is astounding.
I hear concerns about expropriation. I have looked at this. I
have read through the document. I have read through the
information in the bill. It is nothing more than fearmongering to
suggest that somehow in the middle of the night they are going to
come along and take away their family home with no opportunity
for any kind of democratic protection. It is just not true.
Members should not say things in this place that are not true.
We all know that. We learn that the first day we come here.
Mr. Howard Hilstrom: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of
order. I would like clarification, Madam Speaker. The other day
in question period I was shut down by the Speaker, so to speak.
I was denied the right to speak when I used the words “not
true”. I wonder if it has changed for this debate or not.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The hon. member has
raised a point of debate and not a point of order.
Mr. Steve Mahoney: Madam Speaker, I would like to help
out by saying that I was not directing my comments at any
individual member, to suggest that a member was actually uttering
a falsehood or an untruth. I was saying that it is wrong and it
is fearmongering to suggest that some grand powers of
expropriation are being placed in the hands of some people who
are going to ignore their own community and throw people out of
their homes. That is not true. That is what I said and that is
what I say again.
On the expropriation matter, it is like with any municipality.
If the municipality needs the land for the common good, then
there is a process. There is law in Canada. This does not
abrogate that law or the responsibility of the band signing this
agreement from living up to the terms of that law. They cannot
simply expropriate without due value, without due consideration
and without due process in law, just like a municipality, just
like a provincial government and just like the federal
To try to frighten these folks just because a few have concerns
and to look for loopholes or ways in which the Reform Party,
which happens to be the only party in this place taking this
position I might add, I think there is a hidden agenda. The
hidden agenda might be Nisga'a. It just might be the fact that
the Reform Party has placed a tremendous amount of political
capital on the table in the province of British Columbia.
The Reform members feel they have to cave in to some of the more
extreme municipal officials perhaps.
They are yelling so I am obviously making a point. I guess they
are getting their knickers in a twist. It is fine for them do do
that but they should stand up and tell people what they really
are opposed to.
In reality what we have here is a framework agreement that will
be established and which will lay out the rules. It is quite
clear that the first thing that happens under that framework
agreement is that a first nation must develop a land code. That
land code sets out the basic rules and procedures, reading right
from the presentation, that will govern interest in land and
resources after the land provisions of the Indian Act cease to
apply to these communities.
The first nations put in place the land code. People understand
the rules. The people in the actual community get to vote. If
they are over 18, they will get to vote on the land code. Sounds
reasonably democratic to me. I do not see anybody hiding. I do
not see anybody other than members of the Reform Party using
scare tactics on this. I do not see that happening.
In fact, this is putting in place framework agreements with 14
first nation communities so they can establish land codes through
a democratic process, through a duly elected council. One of the
members said that this agreement places the power for governance
in the hands of the council. My goodness that sounds radical.
Imagine that. Giving power to elected officials. And they get
elected presumably over a period of time on an ongoing basis.
They represent their constituents.
An hon. member: Not too long I hope.
Mr. Steve Mahoney: If the member wants to chirp she
should sit in her seat. She is eating an apple. I am sorry, she
The real truth of all of this debate here today is that the
Reform Party is against giving any kind of self governance, any
kind of authority to the first nations people. Members of the
Reform Party should be ashamed of themselves for standing in the
way of this legislation.
Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Madam Speaker,
I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to express our
opposition to Bill C-49, the first nation land management act.
When there is not an effective argument we have to listen for 10
minutes to political rhetoric and name calling. Let us focus on
the argument and look to the lands officials, not the unnecessary
political rhetoric from the other side.
I will argue from the point of view of women on this bill. The
implications of Bill C-49 for the rights and position of native
women are large. The B.C. Native Women's Society, supported by
three major native organizations, has lodged a court case against
the federal government to require that the issue of native
women's rights be properly addressed before the enactment of Bill
C-49. Yet this government still pushes ahead with this bill.
When the marriages of native women fail, all too often because
of poverty or related conditions, they and their children
typically lose the family home. Their ex-spouses typically get
possession of the family home based on the decisions of the band
council. These women often have nowhere to live on the reserve
and many end up in the worst of circumstances. Unlike other
Canadian women, native women on reserves do not have the
protection of property division laws.
Native women will bear the brunt of these legislative provisions
which we are debating today. They will be denied the protection
they could be afforded through treaties if we go ahead with this
This is for the information of members who are forced to toe the
party line, those who are just following the talking points given
to them. For the sake of those members in the House, Bill C-49
contains two provisions that are particularly worrisome for
First, it states that the rules and procedures regarding the
use, occupation and possession of land upon the breakdown of
marriage will be determined by the land codes of each signatory
band. Yet there is little assurance that these future provisions
will be any less biased against the interests of women and their
children than the results of the current system.
Second, the bill offers band councils draconian powers of
expropriation which must concern native women as well as other
native people living on reserves and non-natives with leaseholder
interests in the land.
Clause 38 of Bill C-49 grants participating bands almost
unlimited powers over ownership, management and expropriation of
band lands. These powers will be used against native women,
non-native leaseholders and band members outside the governing
elite, despite the fact that they may have been living there for
years and years and may have been paying taxes to the government.
Can any member in the House argue that two wrongs make a right?
I do not think so. This legislative proposal would allow 14
bands including the Musqueam in Vancouver to expropriate
leasehold and other interests with less than 30 days notice for
community works and any other first nation purpose.
For example, because of the refusal by the Musqueam band in
Vancouver to talk meaningfully to their leaseholders and because
of their hard line band leadership, the property values on
Musqueam land have already collapsed. Despite repeated calls on
the Indian affairs minister to intervene, she has not. She
refused to intervene. What is the definition of fair
compensation after the Indian band has destroyed all equity and
there is no market value left?
I always enjoy listening to my constituents and representing
them. Let me quote a letter that I received from one of my
constituents. The letter stated:
I am writing to request your assistance in dealing with several
problems we are experiencing with our lease of land on an Indian
I do not know to what extent the problems are due to the nature
of the lease or the nature of Band Administration or to the
dispute between the various levels of government and the native
bands, but I do know that they are producing substantial amounts
of frustration, exasperation and anger, not just in ourselves but
in many others in similar circumstances.
And while I sympathize with efforts of the government to at
least redress the balance, I am becoming increasingly resentful
that my rights, as a citizen, are being abrogated or at least
lost in the shuffle of the questionable deals that various levels
of government are offering to the Native Bands.
The primary problem is due to the expiration of the lease on
31st of March 2000 and the fact that I am financially unable to
continue to pay the yearly tax and lease. It is also due to the
fact that I am unable to sell the lease for the value of the
substantial improvements, or even a reasonable fraction thereof
that we have made on the property. With less than two years
left, no one is prepared to gamble that amount of money that the
Band will renew the lease. The Band has made no efforts to
instil any confidence in the few prospective purchasers we have
had that they would extend the lease and have acted in a manner
to diminish that confidence. Given that they provided us with a
letter of intent that they would extend the lease at the end of
the term, it is not understandable why they have actually refused
to give the same assurance to a prospective purchaser. This has
to be extremely shortsighted if not actually dishonest, given our
efforts and dealings with the Band over the last 10 years.
This is a frustrated constituent. This letter was sent to the
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and in her
reply she said:
I can appreciate your concern and frustration in securing a long
term lease for your retirement years.
As I am sure you can understand, we are both obligated to operate
within the parameters of the terms and conditions of the existing
lease agreement. Also, in keeping with the interests of
“renewing our partnerships” with Canada's Aboriginal peoples,
we would not enter into an extension of the lease.
The minister further states that therefore she cannot get
involved and her office cannot help. What will this constituent
do? He is living in Canada. He is paying taxes to the
government and the minister is showing helplessness to the
In conclusion, Bill C-49 must be rethought and amended. If
passed the way it is, without introducing any amendments which we
are suggesting, we would be passing legislation without any
reference to taxpaying citizens who are directly and drastically
affected. We will not be able to support the bill until the
amendments are passed.
Mr. John Cummins (Delta—South Richmond, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, it is definitely not a pleasure to be addressing the
bill tonight. Bills such as this one are not about
self-government. They are about special rights for special
people. They are about different strokes for different folks.
They are about rules for one set of people without any
consideration for another group of people.
Last September the auditor general in a section of his report to
parliament dealt with the ongoing treaty process in the country.
He noted that non-native neighbours were ignored. He said:
Settled claims can affect non-parties to the settlement—we
found indications that little opportunity had been provided for
their input on decisions on the allocation of land and other
provisions in settlement agreements.
He also stated in his report that government must represent all
Canadians and said:
In pursuing its objective, the government needs to fairly
represent all Canadians, who are ultimately bound by the
agreements reached.... Comprehensive land claim settlements are
modern treaties that are significant not only to Aboriginal
communities but to all Canadians.
The auditor general observed that the government must represent
all Canadians in the treaty making process. By extension it is
fair to say that the same should apply to the bill that is before
us. The government must recognize that the bill is not made
simply for the people it purports to cover. It will also impact
on the neighbours of those people. That is one part which
Another aspect bothers me which I want to mention right off the
top. It puts the whole issue into perspective. It is a story in
the fishing industry which occurred within the past year. Last
spring after the herring fishery two constituents of mine were
returning home to Delta. They were approached on the ferry by an
aboriginal Canadian who said “I heard you talking and I believe
you guys are commercial fishermen”. They said yes, that they
were. He said he used to be an a licence salmon fisherman.
In other words he had a licence that allowed him to fish in the
all-Canadian commercial fishery but when the government
introduced a separate native commercial fishery they let their
licences go and now they were fishing in the Musqueam fishery and
were not happy with that.
He sat down to talk with these fellows and explain his
unhappiness. He said that he had a licence which he held at the
discretion of the chief. The way it worked was as long as he was
getting along well with the chief he could fish but if they had a
falling out he would be off the list.
When he held the commercial salmon licence given to him by the
minister he held it with some certainty. There was comfort in
knowing it could only be taken away from him if he broke the law.
The way it is now he held his licence at the discretion of the
chief. If he were dating the chief's daughter and they had a
falling out, he would be off the list and would not fish.
He does not like that situation. There are a number of them on
the Musqueam reserve who want to see an end to the separate
native commercial fishery. We engaged them in negotiations. We
negotiated with members of the Musqueam band and the Tsawwassen
band to see if there was a way we could level the playing field
and bring it back to what it was prior to 1992. The native
people were eager participants in this discussion.
We met on the Tsawwassen reserve in a meeting room with a group
of non-aboriginal and aboriginal fishermen to discuss the issue.
We devised a way, knowing what government revenues were
available, whereby we would have asked the government to put
aside $12 million to buy licences for native people so they could
re-enter the all-Canadian fishery. They were happy to fish on an
equal footing again with the rest of us.
The negotiations went well. Unfortunately when it went back to
the Musqueam band, the people we call the double dippers, the
native people who still held commercial licences to fish in the
all-Canadian fishery and who were participating in the native
only commercial fishery, put the kibosh to it and it ended.
That was unfortunate but it showed that although people in that
community had received a special right, one for which they did
not have to pay and where there was no licence fee involved for
them to participate in that native only commercial fishery, they
wanted out of it. Somehow a sense of fairness was lost. They
felt their rights were not being protected. When we get right
down to it, that is what it is all about.
I could go through the details and could talk about the
expropriation principles as others have. Maybe I will come back
to them. However, another point is worth mentioning tonight in
this debate. It has to do with the rights of native people. My
friend across the way mentioned the Nisga'a treaty. He said that
all the Reform guys wanted to do was talk about it, that they
were uptight about the Nisga'a treaty, and that they wanted to
create uncertainty or discontent in these kinds of issues because
they wanted to push their position on the Nisga'a treaty.
I will talk about that treaty in the sense of fairness and how
the rights of people are protected in these circumstances. My
colleagues talked about the fact that if the bill were passed
native women could lose their property rights. If the bill goes
through, their chances of appealing it through the court system
would not be very great.
For example, in relation to the Nisga'a treaty both the federal
and provincial governments have stated time and again that the
charter of rights and freedoms will continue to apply. Our view
is that in a legal challenge that may not be the case. It will
apply in the case of Bill C-49 in terms of the rights we are
talking about here.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the
rights and freedoms defined in it, subject only to such
reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably
justified in a free and democratic society. There is a limit on
our rights under the charter, but it is simply those rights that
can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
If we look at how the charter deals with the rights section for
native people, it comes at it a little differently.
The guarantee of this charter of certain rights and freedoms
shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any
aboriginal treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the
aboriginal people of Canada including—any rights or freedoms
that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so
There is a constraint already built into the rights and freedoms
that these people enjoy and that constraint is built into the
How is that interpreted by the provincial government? I want to
read one quick paragraph from the factum of the attorney general
of British Columbia in the Delgamuukw case:
Most aboriginal rights, including the aboriginal title, are in
the nature of a shield that can be invoked by the aboriginal
community or its members against unjustified infringement by
provincial or federal laws; however what really distinguishes the
right of self-government is that it can be invoked as a “sword”
by an aboriginal community or one of its members to enforce
compliance by the members with an aboriginal custom, practice or
tradition relating to their internal affairs.
Therein is the limitation on property rights for women in this
bill. I think this bill should be rejected on that basis alone.
Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby,
Ref.): Mr. Speaker, we are at the report stage of Bill C-49.
Our significant amendment reads as follows:
That Bill C-49, in Clause 45, be amended by replacing line 16 on
page 22 with the following:
“so signed, that a land code has been developed and adopted in
accordance with this Act and that the governing bodies of
neighbouring jurisdictions have confirmed in writing that
consultations respecting the land code have been completed in
accordance with the laws of the province in which the first
nation land, for which the land code has been adopted, is
That is very important. It has to do with consultation and
We can say that the bill is well intended but is has holes in it
big enough to drive a truck through.
The bill ratifies and brings into effect the framework agreement
of first nation land management concluded between first nations
and Her Majesty in Right of Canada. It provides for the
establishment of an alternative land management regime that gives
first nation communities control over the lands and resources
within their reserves. It also gives first nations the power to
enact laws respecting interest in and licences in relation to
first nation land respecting the development, conservation,
protection, management, use and possession of that land.
The enactment also provides for a community approval process
that enables first nation members to vote on a proposed land code
and an individual agreement between the first nation and Her
Majesty. The community approval process is monitored by a
verifier jointly appointed by the Minister of Indian Affairs and
Northern Development and the first nation.
I will not speak to the whole bill, but at first blush when one
looks at the bill, it gives any reasonable person great concern.
If a band or council decides to be malevolent, I think there are
insufficient controls and balances to the powers given. In some
of the sections there are limits to the federal government but
not parallel limits to the bands. There does not appear to be a
balance of power between the federal government in the bill and
the bands in the bill.
Significantly, there is a problem with section 12 and I will
refer to it. In section 12(1) on page 7 of the bill it states:
A proposed land code and an individual agreement that have been
submitted for community approval are approved if
(a) a majority of eligible voters participated in the vote and a
majority of those voters voted to approve them;
(b) all those eligible who signified, in a manner determined by
the first nation, their intention to vote have been registered
and a majority of the registered voters voted to approve them; or
(c) they are approved by the community in any other manner agreed
on by the first nation and the minister.
Let us describe a typical situation in many bands. We have 100
eligible voter adults and of course the band has total control to
decide who is eligible.
In that case 51 votes are needed for the overall vote to be
valid and only 26 votes are needed to pass the code. This could
then certainly be reasonably within the realm of all the
relatives and kin of one family that happens to hold most of the
paid positions in the band administration.
Under the theme of accountability I am talking about, the bill
talks about a vote and the supervision of the vote but nowhere
are there assurances that the votes will be conducted by secret
ballot, nor does it refer to a standard set of rules for how
votes can be conducted. There are just general rules in the bill
that appear completely open to manipulation.
Then the bill grants statutes or status of freedom from judicial
review and grants immunity from prosecution in section 35 for
error. There are limits on liability and provisions of immunity
and freedom from judicial review.
When regular municipalities in a province are in conflict with
each other, the provincial government can intervene. In British
Columbia, municipalities are governed under the municipal act.
It is a creature of the province. The provincial authority is
the fallback power.
Who mediates the powers of the band and other regular
municipalities in a province? It is not very clear. There is no
obligation in this bill to talk, let alone co-operate for mutual
benefit between these jurisdictions.
The general intent of the bill is appropriate. It is trying to
go in the right direction but the details are an absolute mess.
There are reasons why there is cause to worry, for the best
predictor of future trustworthiness of how these bands will use
these newfound powers is the past. They likely will be used in
the same manner as has been in the past on reserves across the
country. The track record of band management so far tells us how
it will be managed in the future. That is a worry.
In contrast, clear and fair rules and open accountable processes
are the best protector of human rights. What we have been trying
to stand up to here are especially the rights of status Canadians
under the Indian Act. Those are the ones who have been
contacting us and they are the individuals for whom we have been
trying to stand up.
In conclusion, this bill appears to completely fail on those
very important basics.
Mr. Bill Gilmour (Nanaimo—Alberni, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
on behalf of the constituents of Nanaimo—Alberni it gives me
great pleasure to rise and speak to Bill C-49.
My riding is on central Vancouver Island and has a number of
native bands scattered throughout the whole riding. The
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which is in Alberni, is basically
the overseer of 14 bands that go from Bamfield into around Gold
River, including the Opitsat, the Ahousat, the Dididat, the
Theshat and other bands, including those on other areas on the
east coast of Vancouver Island than Nanoose.
I point that out simply to say there are many issues, many
different bands in B.C. I was quite surprised to hear the
government, particularly when it came to talking about the
Nisga'a treaty, saying that we did not understand the issue, that
we did not understand what was going on.
I was in the Alberni valley two weeks ago at a town hall. I was
very pleased that the native leaders were there to discuss that
Nisga'a treaty. It was actually an excellent forum because they
were there to debate their point regarding what they felt the
Nisga'a treaty was. I was there to debate what I got from the
different points of view.
There were many people in the audience who were most interested.
The Nisga'a treaty I suggest took up probably 40% of that town
hall meeting in the questions and answers. It is not an
insignificant issue in B.C. It is before the provincial
legislature at the moment and has great concern up and down the
coast of British Columbia.
People realize this is the first of perhaps 45 or 50 different
settlements. If this one is not accurate and correct, then the
ones subsequent and down the line also will have the same flaws.
Bill C-49 has some of those flaws. The issues are similar. Bill
C-49 lacks accountability or clarification on what accountability
means. Who is to be accountable? How are the band councils
going to be elected? How are the band councils going to
represent the individual people within their constituency?
Like many of my colleagues I have had representation from
different native bands, in particular women. They feel frustrated
because they do not feel represented. They cannot go to the
band. They feel the band does not represent them. They come in
frustration in many cases to their member of parliament because
that is the only vehicle they feel they can speak freely with
that will not be used against them in another forum.
In Bill C-49 one of the issues that has come forward is leases.
I was most surprised to hear one of the members opposite say who
is going to take their house away? It is all fearmongering on
this side of the House. If he had been in B.C. over the last six
weeks he would have seen the newspaper reports on the Musqueam
Band because that is the issue on the leases being taken away.
That is one of the key issues in this bill that needs to be
brought forward to this House and sorted out. Clearly it is a
huge issue in B.C. with the Musqueam, the Nisga'a. The issues
are very much in the forefront in British Columbia at the moment.
There are other areas in this bill, as my colleagues have
mentioned, such as consultation with adjacent municipalities. I
have been on the school board. Many members have been aldermen
or mayors dealing in municipal areas.
Where do the bands report to? Are they answerable to the
municipal act, for example, in B.C.? Are they answerable to the
department of Indian affairs? What is the hammer? Where is the
next level people can go to? That is not explained in the bill.
I touched on expropriation. In the town halls I heard from many
people within the Nisga'a area. The concern was non-natives.
They have no recourse. If we are in a municipal arena, and I
have been there where I have had land expropriated, there is a
vehicle to have that done fairly. If it is not seen to be fair
it would go to the next level. That is not covered in this
All of us recognize if the highest need for an area is a highway
to go through one's land, that may be the best way to go but
there has to be compensation. That is not spelled out in this
There have to be checks and balances. This legislation does not
have them. We need to know how the power is to be used. Again,
that is not spelled out.
The Reform Party has supported native legislation in this House
on many occasions. We will support and have shown that we will
support good legislation. However, this is not good legislation.
We cannot and will not support bad legislation. We will not and
cannot support Bill C-49 in its present form.
Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I
rise on behalf of my constituents of Okanagan—Coquihalla to
speak to the amendments before us today in Group No. 1 of Bill
C-49, the first nations land management act.
As I have been listening this evening I can tell that we in this
country have a lot of work to do when it comes to these issues. I
listened to Liberal members across the way making allegations
about the Reform Party which are without substance, without
I can tell members that in my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla I
work diligently with native bands. I have intervened with the
minister on several occasions. I have tried to assist when it
comes to economic development and when it comes to situations
regarding airport land transfers to our municipality. I have
worked with our native band in Penticton and I have worked on
developing our native university, which will be breaking ground
hopefully in the spring.
Therefore I take a great deal of exception to the comments and
remarks made by members across the way when in fact all we are
trying to do in the official opposition is put forward some
amendments that will make a piece of legislation better for all
It is important to note that the Reform Party does support
native self-government. The Reform Party supports a delegated
level of self-government for natives. That is very important
because what we see in this bill is self-government that is
totally under the control of the bands in question.
A couple of months ago I introduced a bill in this House of
Commons which arose from a problem on native land. What I was
trying to do was help my constituents by dealing with the issue
that the Residential Tenancy Act does not apply to native land.
In this particular situation, which I brought forward to the
House in the form of a bill, septic systems had failed and left
some 50 residents being evicted from their homes with no
protection whatsoever from the Residential Tenancy Act in the
province of B.C.
That bill did not pass because many parties in this House again
raised the question and said that this was somehow racially
motivated, that I was being insensitive to the cultural needs of
the economic development of Indian bands. That was not the case
at all. My bill was absolutely colour blind. This bill should
also be 100% colour blind. But it is not. It is not because it
is granting special status to a group of Canadians.
I will give members another example. In the Westbank Indian
band there are 514 natives. There are 7,000 non-natives living
on that band's land. What happens to those people's rights? Why
are those people's rights not considered in this piece of
legislation? Why is that not the case?
Last week I met with the residents of Bayview, a strata-type
development on Westbank land consisting of some 200 homes. These
people thought they were leasing land from the crown. No one
ever told them about Bill C-49. No one ever told them that the
life savings they put into their $200,000 or $300,000 homes was
not what is facing us today with the implications in Bill C-49.
That was never explained to those people. Now they have a
situation where some of the retaining walls are crumbing. They
are falling down because building codes were not followed. That
is leaving those residents with a $600,000 liability because
building codes were not followed on this piece of land.
This is not the only case in the province of B.C. Several times
tonight we have heard the situation in which the Musqueam have
found themselves. The property values of those homes, which were
$400,000 to $800,000, have plummeted to nothing. This piece of
legislation is not going to help those people.
We believe in a delegated type of self-government that would be
It was mentioned here this evening, and I mentioned it as well,
that the Condominium Act of British Columbia does not apply to
the people at Bayview and Westbank, nor does the Municipal Act
and the Residential Tenancy Act. There is no protection for
those people whatsoever. Bill C-49 does not do anything to
protect those folks. What do we tell them? Do they not deserve
to have the protection of their federal government as well?
I think they do. That is why we have brought forward these
amendments to this bill. It is not because of the ridiculous
argument that we do not believe in self-government. We do.
I want to see treaties in the province of British Columbia. I
want to end the uncertainty that is caused by not having
treaties. I want each and every person, regardless of whether
they are native or non-native, whether they live on reserve land
or on non-reserve land, to have access to the laws equally, with
every right and every power that they have at their disposal. We
cannot grant these leases, especially with situations like
Westbank and those that are happening throughout the province of
B.C., and not ensure that that will happen.
The official opposition desires a better relationship with the
Indian peoples of Canada. We want to see that all people have
the same powers and rights and that everyone is respected.
In particular, I cannot stand here and say that I will vote for
this bill because this bill is not colour blind. It gives
special powers to a designated group of people and that is wrong.
Until we learn that, we will never get this type of legislation
right. I urge the Liberals to pass our amendments because they
are the only things that will improve this bill.
Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise, despite the late hour,
to address report stage of Bill C-49.
At the outset I would say that this is an important piece of
legislation on which to have a full and open and debate in the
House this evening.
I find it a bit remarkable that so few government members
present this evening, at almost 11 p.m., here in beautiful
downtown Ottawa, are rising in their places to debate this
legislation. It is quite the contrary. What we have constantly
heard this evening is heckling from the other side and remarks
that we do not know what we are talking about with respect to
this legislation. They are the only ones who seem to have a firm
grasp on reality, so to speak, or that is what they would lead
the people to believe with respect to this particular
legislation. But nothing could be further from the truth.
I think the viewing audience at home is rapidly seeing that it
is only the people on this side of the House who want to actually
debate the legislation. If we could turn up the microphones, I
am sure the people at home would hear the rabble over there
babbling on rather than rising in their places to actually take
part in the debate. I think it is quite appalling for members of
parliament to act in such a manner.
I crossed the floor a bit earlier to consult face to face with a
few members. I actually encouraged them to take part in the
debate, but obviously to no avail.
What is it that the Reform Party, the official opposition, is
actually asking for here?
Is it really something so dramatic that we could not actually
see Bill C-49 improved with a few amendments? A number of my
colleagues have pointed that out. What is it about the Liberal
government that it brings forward legislation but does not want
to see it changed at all or does not want to see it improved?
What is it about these individuals that would have us believe
their legislation as brought forward cannot be improved upon?
Perhaps the word arrogant would come to mind. I would hesitate
to use that word because it might be considered by a few on the
other side as inflammatory. However the reality is that anything
can be improved.
What would our amendments to Bill C-49 do? They would require
the Indian bands to consult with the municipalities. What is so
terribly wrong with that? That is the question we must ask. What
is so terribly wrong with requiring these 14 Indian bands to
consult and negotiate with the municipalities that adjoin the
reserve lands or with ensuring that any rules and regulations
they would bring down or land codes they would develop would be
fair and supported by the neighbouring municipalities and
communities with which I am sure they work hard in a fair and
The concerns being expressed this evening by the official
opposition are very real. They are concerns about the
expropriation powers contained in Bill C-49. A first nation may
expropriate any interest in its nation's land that in the opinion
of its council is necessary to community works or for other first
As was pointed out by a number of my colleagues, the opportunity
for abuse is there. Far be it for me or any of my colleagues to
impugn motive in the sense that any of these 14 bands would do
something like that. However some very real concerns are being
expressed by people about the sweeping powers contained in Bill
C-49. All we are asking for is that there be sufficient checks
and balances, perhaps not for the existing band councils but for
some band council in the future which may make an inappropriate
ruling that dramatically impacts upon tenants or neighbouring
communities. The reality is that it could be done in an unfair
We are asking for a simple amendment to ensure consultation
takes place and that the neighbouring communities and
municipalities are apprised and actively involved in the
decisions being made. I do not see what is so terrible about
I have some firsthand experience with a very similar ongoing
situation in my riding of Prince George—Peace River involving a
band on the west side of the Rocky Mountains. The riding of
Prince George—Peace River is quite unique in Canada as it is the
only riding that is divided by the Rocky Mountain range. On the
east side of the divide the native bands are governed under
treaty eight. In other words they are treaty Indians. On the
west side there are no treaties. The band in my riding is McLeod
Lake. It has tried for years and years to adhere to treaty
eight. It wants to come under treaty eight. It has been
somewhat successful over the last while with its negotiations and
it appears they will be finalized.
As part and parcel of that ongoing agreement we find that a new
reserve will be established along with reserve lands. I must say
at this point that I am quite opposed to establishing additional
reserves in Canada.
I think that the whole reserve system has been an abysmal failure
from the very beginning. Yet we see this government continuing
down that road of setting up more reserves. I have to question
in all sincerity the wisdom in doing such a thing.
At any rate, what is taking place is that they want to have some
reserve land set aside when this Indian band, the McLeod Lake
band adheres to treaty 8, in the small logging community of Bear
Lake which is on the Hart highway just north of the city of
Prince George. The residents of Bear Lake have expressed a lot
of concern about this. They have no problem whatsoever with the
Indian people being granted certain lands that are adjacent or in
their community if it is on a fee simple basis and if they end up
being treated identically, equally and equitably as all the other
residents of Bear Lake.
On the surface I would not say that is such a remarkable thing
to ask for, that everyone be treated equally. They would welcome
Indian people to have those lots, to have their residence there
with all the other residents of Bear Lake. But they have some
very serious concerns when without adequate consultation the
federal government and the provincial government with their
negotiators negotiate with Indian band and arbitrarily decide
that they are going to set up a reserve at Bear Lake and this
will be part of the land settlement when the McLeod Lake band
adheres to treaty 8.
I know that this is outside the scope of this bill and the
amendments we are discussing. I wanted to point out to hon.
members on both sides of the House what happens when inadequate
consultation takes place. That is what we are discussing. That
is the essence of the amendments put forward by the official
opposition. We are merely asking the government to see fit to
amend Bill C-49 so that consultation is a requirement and that
the bands themselves are going to have to consult with the
municipalities in the neighbouring communities to ensure that
fairness and equity are in place when they develop their land
Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the
Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
know there have been a number of people in the chair during the
day, but I have been here on duty since 11 o'clock this morning.
As you can see, Mr. Speaker, it is now after 11 o'clock at night.
I have been listening very carefully and I have decided that
there are a few things I would like to put on the record with
respect to this legislation.
I want to begin with a little story from my own riding. It has
to do with our armoury. Earlier this winter very serious
problems arose with the structure of our armoury. This is a
historic building. It is one of the oldest functioning armouries
in Canada. There were serious problems with the roof. The
foundation was in terrible shape. It cost $1 million simply to
patch up the armoury. We are looking at many millions more
before the physical structure of the armoury is in good shape.
My concern is if we spend those moneys, after spending millions
of dollars on this armoury, how can we ensure that we do not get
the same problems again? Although up front the problem had
something to do with bricks, mortar, stone, tile and things like
that, the real problem was one of absentee management.
Our armoury in Peterborough was being managed through DND from
headquarters in Trenton. That has been the case for 90 years.
Someone in Peterborough would notice that there was a leak in
the roof and they would make a mental note to remember there was
a leak in the roof. The following week, because the rain would
stop, someone else would notice the leak in the roof and they
would make a mental note. Then one day there would be a flood in
the basement and someone would phone the general at the head
office in Trenton and tell him about the flood in the basement.
The general would make a note. Someone would then finally come
up and look. They would ask “Where did all this water in the
basement come from?” They would trace it through and discover
that there was a problem in the roof.
It is my fear with our armouries that even when we fix them with
millions of dollars that if we do not change the management
system, it will always be like that and one day our armouries
will just cave in.
I am amazed with the Reform Party members. They are people who
pride themselves in their interest in things local. There are
approximately 650 first nations across Canada, 650 very diverse
groups of people with different languages, cultures, histories,
physical settings, rural settings and urban settings. They are
managed by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern
It is our policy to get rid of the Department of Indian Affairs
and Northern Development at a pace set by the first nations. The
reason for that is that we know, and I accept this, that many of
the problems with those 600 or so first nations arise from the
fact that there has been absentee management, and in fact one
would say, as in the case of our armouries, absentee
It is impossible for someone here in Ottawa, someone in this
room or just down the road, to say what should be going on in the
elementary schools of one of these first nations, or to say
whether the sewer needs fixing, or to say whether one of the
buildings needs fixing in the way I described it with our
armouries. It is absolutely impossible and we know it. Yet, for
generations that is the way these first nations have been
managed. It is our objective, granted at a pace set by the first
nations themselves, to change the management system so that the
people of those first nations can manage themselves and improve
conditions for themselves.
We are not talking about more than 600 first nations here. We
are talking about 14 first nations scattered all across the
country. We have heard a lot about those in British Columbia but
it includes those in Ontario. They are all very different. We
can tell by their names that their languages are different.
I would like to mention one thing about the first nation that
happens to be closest to me, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island. I
do not know if anybody knows this, but the Mississaugas of Scugog
Island are distinctive in one respect. In World War II every
single eligible male volunteered and served in the armed forces.
Every single one. One hundred per cent of the male population. I
am sure many members already knew that fact. That is one of
these particular first nations.
Although none of these first nations are in my riding, I was at
Georgina Island when the chiefs initialled this agreement, the
one we are discussing here today. We and the people watching and
listening to this debate should know that this is the result of
years, not months, not 12 hours of debate from 11 o'clock this
morning until 11 o'clock tonight, even though we are here
debating it at this time of night; this is as a result of years
of negotiation. The proposal came to our minister from the first
nations themselves. Chiefs came forward and suggested this
Going back to the 600 first nations, because there are still 600
first nations out there who are not part of this agreement, the
idea is that here is one other experiment we might try of putting
some effective power in the hands of these communities so that
they can help themselves. By doing so they can help the regions
in which they find themselves.
That is where we are. This has come to our minister and our
minister is responding to the requests of these first nations.
On the question of consultation, we are talking about years of
negotiation and discussion. When I was at Georgina Island with
the chiefs and other people from all over the country for the
signing, there was an air of excitement that they had designed a
land management system which they felt would work and which might
well become an example for other first nations across the
country. If the other first nations do not want to try this
route, they need not. These 14 have decided to go this way.
I would like to put a few of the remarks of some of these chiefs
on the record. Some of this material has been used before. I
think the people who are watching at this time of night should be
aware of them.
Chief Austin Bear of the Muskoday first nation said: “The
framework agreement in this legislation acknowledges our
fundamental right to control our reserve lands and resources.
Furthermore they ensure that our lands are protected for future
generations by prohibiting surrender or sale or expropriation of
There has been some discussion of women on and off reserve.
Lorraine McRae, the chief of the Chippewas of Mnjikaning nation
said: “This initiative is an opportunity for the full and
active participation of the members of our first nations, elders,
women and men both off reserve and on reserve to collectively
develop land management systems appropriate to our communities
based on fairness, equality and accountability”.
These are direct quotations from first nations leaders.
I am glad to be here after 12 hours. I urge all members of the
House to support this legislation. Let us end all these delay
tactics and get on with it. Let us get on with it.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, tonight we are debating Bill C-49 which is the first
nation land management act. For those who have just joined this
debate, and I am sure there are many, I would like to reiterate
that this bill would allow individual first nations to opt out of
the land and property sections of the Indian Act and establish
their own land codes to manage reserve lands and resources.
In this narrow area the act would grant powers of
self-government to the first nations that choose to opt out of
the Indian Act, but only in this narrow area. It is interesting
for me to hear government members wax eloquent about the virtues
of self-government when here is a government which could bring
that into effect but after five long years has touched only one
narrow area in which to give aboriginal people and first nations
any kind of self-determination.
This bill would give first nations the authority first, to pass
laws for the development, conservation, protection, management,
use and possession of first nation land and second, to control
the issue of leases, licences and other property interests. This
is not an inconsiderable step that is being put forward. Some
people have mentioned in this debate that it would essentially
create a two tier Canada. It would give special rights and
privileges to some, and to some Canada's laws and Constitution
would not fully apply. They would be subject to different laws.
It does not take a rocket scientist so I have been able to
figure out that what this bill will lead to is a patchwork of
individual land codes which will inevitably be riddled with legal
ambiguities which will create chaos for the individuals affected,
the first nations people who are affected and for the larger
In light of the very realistic outcome of this bill even though
there may be a good purpose served, the official opposition is
proposing that there be a consultation process written into the
bill so that there would be at least some opportunity for the
people being affected not only within the aboriginal communities
themselves but within the larger community to have discussions
about proposals and intentions that will be carried out under the
authority of this bill.
For the life of me I cannot understand why this is such a huge
nut for the government to crack. Why is there such a resistance
to the simple idea, the simple Canadian value of talking to your
Yet in this debate if we listen to speakers opposite I heard not
one single speaker make a meaningful discussion of this proposal
which is supposed to be the reason we are here this evening, to
discuss the proposal that there be consultation.
What I did hear was the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, for
whom I have a great deal of personal respect, say, strangely,
consultation cannot be legislated. I must say that this is a
rather novel statement because we have a whole variety of areas
within our Canadian law and jurisdiction where consultations are
a part of a legislative process.
In my city of Calgary, for example, if a communications company
wants to put up communication towers for purposes of cellular
phone networks over a certain height there must be by law public
consultation. If there is development to take place within a
certain community there must be public consultation before that
can go ahead. There are federal-provincial consultations on a
wide variety of areas. So this is not a novel concept. It is
considered a civilized way of doing business with neighbours in
The only other comment I heard which was on the point about
consultation was by the last speaker who said there were all
kinds of consultation about this legislation. The member was
clearly missing the point that what the motion proposes is a
consultation process written as part of the bill to take place as
the bill's powers are being carried out.
It was interesting when the speaker who mentioned the
consultation that had led up to the bill being proposed said the
first nations themselves, the chiefs themselves, came forward
with this proposal as if because somebody brings a proposal it is
ipso facto a good thing and should be accepted.
I could put all kinds of proposals forward to the Liberal
government which I bet a dime would not be accepted. Yet somehow
because the first nations chiefs have put this forward that was
We have heard story after story that aboriginal people
themselves who are to be affected by this legislation and people
in the larger community who have lease hold interest which will
be covered by this legislation were not consulted.
This whole question of consultation adds up to the fact that
there was little or no consultation prior to this legislation and
its effect being brought in. Nor is there a consultation process
built into the legislation whereby communities, both inside and
outside first nations lands, can work together in a co-operative
manner to carry out the powers and intentions of this
Surely it is only sensible to accept the motion being put
forward to bring such a consultation process into the package.
Yet not only is the government stubbornly and perversely
unwilling to accept that sensible proposal, but it does not
debate it in a meaningful manner. We have no idea why this
proposal for a consultation process has been stonewalled and
rejected by this government.
Surely if we are in this House to have meaningful debate that
should be coming forward. I have not heard it. I invite members
opposite to give some sort of a rational rationale, if I might be
so bold, for rejecting this proposal.
I heard one speaker from another party make a rather startling
statement. I think we should put that on the debate table. The
statement was that the Reform Party is suggesting that because
the people carrying out these powers are first nations people
they cannot be trusted and their powers must be circumscribed in
Clearly speaker after speaker from the Reform Party has rejected
that allegation. Let us look at the flip side of it. The flip
side is that the speaker from that party is suggesting that
because first nations people are carrying out these powers, no
checks and balances are necessary. That is an equally ridiculous
When human beings of any stripe or colour have power there need
to be proper checks and balances on the exercise of that power
and authority. That is just the way civilized societies work. To
try to bring racial bias into this or to accuse people who are
suggesting sensible and moderate checks and balances of racial
bias is, I think, very unworthy of debaters in this House.
If we are to carry out our mandate on behalf of Canadians, which
includes first nations Canadians, and to make sure that there is
fairness in the rule of law properly carried out in the future,
we need to quit browbeating people in debate and assigning
motives that are clearly unreasonable and simply address the
Should there be a consultation process in this bill or not? I
think I have made the case as well as my colleagues that there
clearly ought to be and should be. I ask the government to in
all reason and fairness put that to the House, pass it and let us
get on with carrying out the intent of this bill.
Mr. David Iftody (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I stand with great pleasure to close the debate this evening.
There are only a few moments left but I want to make a number of
points that I think are particularly important to the debate.
In the intervention made at the outset by the member for Skeena,
the critic for the Reform Party, he said he cannot support this
bill because he wants to consult.
I want the member sitting next to him from Calgary and the rest
of the members of his caucus to know that it was before Christmas
that both he and the member from Prince George, the deputy critic
having sat at the standing committee, having listened to the
witnesses, having gone through that legislation clause by clause
in the committee, representing the Reform Party, voted yea to the
They voted for the legislation with one amendment providing
constitutional protections and those were agreed to. I want the
Canadian public to know and I want the people of British Columbia
who are watching this debate to know that both their members
agreed to it. They shook hands with the chiefs and council
members who were there that evening.
They had an agreement. We had an agreement of trust and guess
what we had here today? We had the member leading off the debate
saying that he wants to consult when he was trying to convince
the rest of his members to support the legislation.
He has done an absolute turnaround on this legislation to stand
in the House now and say he wants to consult. For the comments
made by the member from Calgary, there are 9 years of
consultation involving 14 bands that have reworked this again and
again. They brought the legislation forth in this House once
before only to have it defeated and thrown out. They went back
to their communities to consult again, to rework it one more time
and they come back in the House again.
This far from the goal line, after close to 10 years of
consultation, and they want to kill it. They want more
Mr. Jay Hill: We did not say that.
Mr. David Iftody: Mr. Speaker, that is not true. That is
false. That was a breach of a promise. That is not true and the
member knows it is not true.
Let us talk about one of their most recent issues in terms of
the Musqueam band case. Why are they up in arms? It is because
the Federal Court of Canada most recently ruled that the Musqueam
people have a legal right and title to fair rent based on market
values that we all agree to. It was the Federal Court of Canada
that made this rule, not the Musqueam band. It has set out the
In terms of consultation, in 1972 the Musqueam band asked the
tenants association to renegotiate the contract. They said no.
In 1980, as the member points out, they asked to renegotiate the
contract. They said no. In 1993 they asked to renegotiate the
contract. They said “No, we are going to court”, and have not
paid the rent from 1993 up until now, ostensibly using those
moneys for the court fees.
The Federal Court of Canada has said that an acre of land in the
best property in Canada is worth close to half a million dollars
a year, but they are paying $330 a month in rent.
The Indian band in this case is willing to negotiate, to sit
down with the people affected for a fair deal. That is
essentially what the bill does. It provides opportunity, fair
opportunity as equal Canadians.
The Reform Party wants to talk about equal Canadians. Here we
have two parties wanting to sit down and negotiate. They want to
break the deal. They want to create mischief and trouble and
break the deal. That is not right. That is not proper. That is
not representing the people of British of Columbia, the people of
Alberta. I am asking the member, as he did in the standing
committee, to do the right thing and support the bill again.
The people representing those 14 first nations have a right
after 10 years of consultation to good and decent representation
in the House. It is incumbent upon members of parliament
debating the issue—and we have heard today that they have an
obligation—to pass the bill and do the right thing for those
people. What do they want to do with their bill and their lands?
They want to commercialise it so that they can form commercial
contract relationships with non-aboriginal people.
They do not want it. The member from the Sunshine Coast
actually stood and said “We want them to consult with us before
they build something on their land”. I cannot remember a
municipality having to do that. They want to impose unfair rules
on the first nations, put chains on the first nations and drag
them back to the dark ages, but we will not let it happen. We
will stand here and represent these issues.
Also speaking of consultation, the B.C. Association of
Municipalities has met with the Musqueam band on eight occasions
and has recently submitted a letter concluding that the
discussion papers attached here are a very good starting point
for the negotiation and ultimately the finalization of a
reciprocal consultation agreement. They are working out these
processes with the affected band and it is working well.
Most recently the chief of the Squamish nation has met with the
mayor of North Vancouver, met with the mayor of West Vancouver
and the mayor of the North Vancouver District. They have set up
a consultation process. They did not mention that today. They
do not want that consultation process because they do not want
I suggest to them the reason they flip flop here so unashamedly
is that they are scaremongering. They are trying to scare the
good people of British Columbia. They are trying to set up a
scheme to pose to Nisga'a, but we will not buy it. The Canadian
people will not buy it and we will oppose it.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): It being 11.30 p.m.,
pursuant to order made earlier today this House stands adjourned
until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 11.30 p.m.)