The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.
For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.
If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mr. O'Brien 12713
- Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe) 12713
- Mr. Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca) 12713
- Mr. Bhaduria 12714
- Mr. McTeague 12714
- Mrs. Ur 12714
- Mr. Peterson 12714
- Mr. Bernier (Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead) 12715
- Mr. Gilmour 12715
- Mrs. Wayne 12715
- Mr. Simmons 12715
- Mr. Bélanger 12715
- Mrs. Barnes 12716
- Mr. Guimond 12716
- Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 12716
- Mr. Discepola 12716
- Mr. Malhi 12717
- Mr. Bouchard 12717
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 12717
- Mr. Bouchard 12717
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 12717
- Mr. Bouchard 12717
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 12717
- Mr. Bergeron 12718
- Mr. Flis 12718
- Mr. Bergeron 12718
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 12718
- Mr. Manning 12718
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 12718
- Mr. Manning 12718
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 12718
- Mr. Manning 12719
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 12719
- Mr. Laurin 12719
- Mr. Eggleton 12719
- Mr. Laurin 12719
- Mr. Eggleton 12719
- Mr. Mills (Red Deer) 12719
- Mr. Collenette 12719
- Mr. Mills (Red Deer) 12719
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 12720
- Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 12720
- Mr. Dupuy 12720
- Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 12720
- Mr. Dupuy 12720
- Mr. Cummins 12720
- Mr. Tobin 12720
- Mr. Cummins 12720
- Mr. Tobin 12721
- Mrs. Guay 12721
- Ms. Copps 12721
- Mrs. Guay 12721
- Ms. Copps 12721
- Mr. Arseneault 12721
- Ms. Copps 12721
- Mr. Stinson 12722
- Mr. MacLaren 12722
- Mr. Stinson 12722
- Mr. Irwin 12722
- Mr. Ménard 12722
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 12722
- Mr. Ménard 12722
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 12723
- Mr. Hill (Prince George-Peace River) 12723
- Mr. Irwin 12723
- Mr. Hill (Prince George-Peace River) 12723
- Mr. Irwin 12723
- Mr. Pickard 12723
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 12723
- Mr. Lefebvre 12724
- Mr. Massé 12724
- Mr. Lefebvre 12724
- Mr. Massé 12724
- Mrs. Hayes 12724
- Mr. Rock 12724
- Mrs. Hayes 12724
- Mr. Rock 12724
- Mr. Riis 12725
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 12725
- Ms. Torsney 12725
- Mr. Rock 12725
- Mr. Hermanson 12725
- The Speaker 12725
- Mr. Milliken 12725
- Mr. Malhi 12726
- Mr. Graham 12726
- Bill C-327. Motions for introduction and first readingdeemed adopted. 12726
- Mr. Thompson 12726
- Motion for concurrence in 77th report 12726
- Mr. Milliken 12726
- Motion agreed to. 12726
- Ms. Fry 12726
- Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 12727
- Mr. Thompson 12727
- Mr. Thompson 12727
- Mr. Thompson 12727
- Mr. Adams 12727
- Mr. Wappel 12727
- Mr. Wappel 12727
- Mr. Wappel 12727
- Mr. Bachand 12727
- Mr. Hill (Prince George-Peace River) 12728
- Mr. Althouse 12728
- Mr. Althouse 12728
- Mr. Valeri 12728
- Ms. Whelan 12728
- Ms. Whelan 12728
- Mr. Bélair 12728
- Mr. Stinson 12728
- Mr. Stinson 12728
- Mr. Mitchell 12728
- Mr. Pillitteri 12729
- Mr. Reed 12729
- Mr. Reed 12729
- Mr. Riis 12729
- Ms. Beaumier 12729
- Mr. Szabo 12729
- Mrs. Terrana 12729
- Mrs. Terrana 12729
- Mr. Bryden 12730
- Mr. Milliken 12730
- Mr. Ramsay 12730
- The Speaker 12730
- Bill C-86. Consideration resumed of motion for secondreading 12730
- Mr. Hermanson 12730
- Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac) 12732
- Mr. Canuel 12733
- Mr. Shepherd 12735
- Mr. Plamondon 12735
- Mr. Marchand 12737
- Mr. Shepherd 12739
- Mr. Solberg 12740
- Mr. Shepherd 12742
- Mr. Bernier (Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead) 12743
- Bill C-319. Consideration resumed of second reading 12745
- Motion agreed to on division: Yeas, 117; Nays, 67 12745
- Bill C-86. Consideration resumed of motion for second reading 12746
- Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee. 12746
- Mr. Nunziata 12746
- Motion 12746
- Mr. Langlois 12749
- Ms. Meredith 12749
- Mr. Gallaway 12751
- Mr. Malhi 12751
- Ms. Beaumier 12752
- Mr. White (North Vancouver) 12752
- Mr. Dhaliwal 12753
- Mrs. Terrana 12754
- Mrs. Wayne 12755
- Mr. Fontana 12756
HOUSE OF COMMONS
The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS[English]
His Excellency has just returned from Haines Junction where he addressed federal, provincial and territorial ministers of the environment on the real threat climate change poses to the very existence of Western Samoa and other small island states.
Later this afternoon he will also speak at a joint meeting of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development about this critical issue.
Hence it is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity to welcome to Ottawa our distinguished guest on behalf of all members of this House.
* * *[Translation]
Known for his work on organic synthesis and on the concept of stereoelectric effects, Mr. Deslongchamps has been a professor at the University of Sherbrooke since 1967. The Académie des sciences in Paris is one of the world's most prestigious societies in the world and brings together top researchers in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, natural sciences, biology and medicine. Its members are the 20th century's greatest scientific minds.
A highly respected scientist, Mr. Deslongchamps has been a fellow of the John Simmon Guggenheim foundation in New York since 1979, a member of the Chemical Institute of Canada since 1980, a member of the Royal Society in London since 1983, and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1988.
Professor Deslongchamps' international reputation brings honour to the University of Sherbrooke, the Eastern Townships and the Province of Quebec as a whole.
* * *[English]
In this House the Prime Minister assured me that Royal Roads would become an educational facility and would receive the same deal as Collège militaire royal in Quebec. The reality has been completely different.
CMR received $25 million over three years. Royal Roads received the same, but had $5 million promptly removed. Conditionality was linked to the deal on Royal Roads but not to CMR. Most appalling of all, ministers of this government are having secret negotiations with developers to sell up to 300 acres of pristine old growth of Royal Roads property for a condominium development.
The treatment of the staff at Royal Roads has been nothing short of reprehensible. Previous educational facilities purchased by the college, including the school's oceanographic teaching vessel, have been removed. No such parallel exists at CMR.
This government, in collusion with the province, is destroying this superb educational facility. Despite what the Prime Minister says, CMR in Quebec has been given preferential treatment and Royal Roads and the people of B.C. have been shafted.
The Bank of Canada's response is to once again jack up its rate for the first time in almost two months. High interest rates are having a devastating effect on our economy.
For more than a year and a half I have consistently been emphasizing that we must have lower interest rates. The interest rate must come down even if we are faced with a slight increase in inflation. The bogeyman of inflation did not succeed before; it killed the growth of our economy.
A country that is fully employed with some inflation would be better than what we have now. We have a 9.4 per cent unemployment rate that does not include 700,000 part time workers who cannot find full time jobs. We have a triumvirate of destruction of the economy in this country namely-
The Speaker: The hon. member for Ontario.
* * *
Unfortunately she is involved in a protracted dispute with Canadian Airlines International and the Government of the Yukon Territory over the alleged unauthorized use of a future album cover drawing, lyrics and music related to Ms. Shewan's song ``The Magic and the Mystery''.
The drawing, lyrics and music from this song about the beauty of the Yukon are similar to items used in certain advertising and promotional material by both CAI and the Yukon government.
As a single parent with limited finances, Ms. Shewan does not have the resources to pursue a lengthy and protracted legal action to protect her copyrighted material.
I call upon the Yukon government and Canadian Airlines International to respect the intellectual property laws of Canada and Ms. Shewan's copyrights to her original works and resolve this outstanding matter forthwith.
Community members are asked to show their support of the missing children's issue by prominently wearing a green ribbon. Proceeds generated by the green ribbon campaign will enable Child Find Canada to continue its mandate of assisting in the search process for Canada's thousands of missing children and the education of children and adults about abduction.
The concept of the green ribbon of hope was originated by the students of Holy Cross Secondary School in Ontario following the abduction and subsequent murder of one of its students, Kristen French. In memory of this tragedy, the students and faculty have generously directed that their idea for the green ribbon be used exclusively by Child Find Canada.
Child Find Canada receives no government funding, depending entirely on the corporate community and the Green Ribbon of Hope campaign. For the sake of our children, I ask all members to support this very worthwhile program.
* * *
Through its lodges, regional offices, League for Human Rights and Institute for International Affairs, it has built a national and international reputation for service to the community, promoting human rights and fostering tolerance and respect among all Canadians. It has been a world leader in the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination.
A grassroots membership organization, it has served the Jewish community and Canada with distinction on issues such as immigration and refugee policy, law enforcement, international human rights, the treatment of Jewish communities overseas, intergroup relations in Canada, as well as a host of charitable activities and voluntary action.
On the occasion of its annual meeting in Ottawa this weekend, I urge all members of the House to join me in applauding the work of B'nai Brith and in wishing it future success.
Unfortunately, in order to reach him, Canadians must subscribe to and use the services of an American company, CompuService, located in Ohio.
Why did the Prime Minister not use a Canadian network, which, in the opinion of experts, does exist and is currently available at no charge?
How can we believe a government that tells us it gives priority to Canadian content on the information highway when information on members and the House of Commons is being broadcast on the Internet from Switzerland?
The Prime Minister's electronic photo op yesterday sent a disquieting message to Canadians: in order to talk with their Prime Minister, they have to pay user fees to the Americans.
* * *[English]
We are now seeing why this minister has been such a failure as Minister of the Environment. She simply does not recognize an environmental question when she hears it.
How quickly the minister chooses to forget my recent questions regarding the clean-up of Canada's worst environmental disaster, the Sydney tar ponds in Nova Scotia, or my colleagues' questions regarding MMT.
When is the Minister of the Environment going to take charge and quit whining that her failures are due to the opposition? When is the minister going to take charge of her own department and pass some meaningful environmental legislation?
It is little wonder that the Prime Minister will be shuffling this minister off into oblivion come this summer. She is simply ineffective.
* * *
This funding has now been redirected to a tourist trail in the riding of the minister of public works. In lieu of the original federal-provincial funding agreement for the upgrading of route 104, a toll funded highway is now being envisaged.
This is unacceptable. There have been 40 tragic deaths since 1986 in death valley. People's lives are far more important than developing a tourist trail.
Yesterday in this House the Minister of Transport told us that his government had permitted this diversion of public funds at the request of the Government of Nova Scotia.
Given that the highway improvement program calls for a written agreement in these cases, I call on the Minister of Transport to table all correspondence and documents relative to this backroom deal.
* * *
In my riding for example, there is concern about the restructuring and downsizing proposals for Canada employment centres, and about the workforce adjustment policy, job security, seniority rights and the desirability of making departure incentives available to all employees.
Although the government has taken a step forward with its job swap offer, there still is a great fear that the level and quality of badly needed services will suffer at the worst possible time. I share those concerns.
With any changes in the status quo, the government must do everything in its power to ensure that fairness and equity prevail.
* * *[Translation]
To mark the opening of the festival, Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands took part in a midday ceremony at Major's Hill Park to launch the 1995 edition of the festival. The festival also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian troops.
This is a good opportunity to remember the thousands of Canadians who fought on Dutch soil and all those who died in the liberation effort. Again this year, the Canadian Tulip Festi-
val will probably stand out as one of the highlights of the national capital's tourist event calendar.
I wish the princess a most enjoyable stay in Canada, the organizers more clement weather than today, and a very good time to all those who will participate in the many activities scheduled.
I would also like to congratulate all the organizers and invite my colleagues to visit the festival in the coming days.
* * *[English]
Jesse cannot walk. He is afflicted with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder, and is wheelchair bound. John Davidson has vowed to wheel his son across the entire province of Ontario.
This remarkable undertaking is sponsored by the Foundation for Gene and Cell Therapy. The journey will raise public awareness about DMD as well as money so desperately needed for medical research.
Young people with DMD seldom live to see their twenties. Jesse is 14.
I urge all members of the House, particularly Ontario members, and all Canadians to get involved. I am proud to acknowledge the efforts of individuals who take action to make a difference not only for themselves but for all of us. It is now time to show our support for them.
* * *[Translation]
The report contains many negative comments on the supposedly excessive salaries and on job security. On the basis of two recent disputes, the committee recommends that a commission of inquiry be made responsible for reviewing all aspects of labour-management relations. The Liberals are set to call into question a smoothly operating negotiation system in order to resolve a problem that exists only at the Port of Vancouver.
May I remind you that, since 1975, only 27 working days have been lost as a result of strikes or lockouts at the Port of Montreal, out of a total of more than 7,000 working days.
The official opposition strongly urges the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Transport to reject this recommendation by the transport committee, which calls into question the basic rights of workers in Canada and Quebec.
* * *[English]
In the first period Liberals were given penalties for boarding, the gravy train that is. Another penalty was given for charging the taxpayer. The Liberal pork patrons went offside with Canadian voters. The overburdened taxpayer delayed the game and got five minutes for fighting and ten minutes for drawing blood. They will get the final score in the next election. When that comes the Liberal pork patrons will lose, the coach will be replaced and the team will be dismantled.
This game was brought to the people by greed incorporated, manufacturers of pork and patronage.
* * *[Translation]
In his press release, the minister claims that merging the two tax systems would permit Quebec to, I quote: ``-reap many benefits''. The minister stressed that taxpayers would have only one tax return to fill out, that they would have fewer officials to deal with, and that taxation measures would be harmonized and streamlined.
What is surprising is that the authors of this study made the conscious decision not to mention that Quebecers could already be reaping all of these benefits if the Quebec government would only agree to the changes already proposed by our government.
All of these changes could be made very easily within the current federal system and at a much lower cost to Quebecers
than those that would result from breaking away from Canada. But these are the kinds of things that separatists avoid mentioning.
* * *[English]
When we subtract the equalization payments to the poorer provinces, which Mr. Rae has frequently said he supports, Ontario's share of federal budget cuts is 39 per cent for 38 per cent of the population.
Bob Rae should stop whining, take a few Rae days and get out of the way so Lyn McLeod and the Liberal Party can put Ontario's House in order.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD[Translation]
Will the Prime Minister confirm that his government has definitely abandoned the minister's baby, and I am referring to the unemployment insurance reform proposal for a two-tier system, and is he prepared to make a commitment that the new proposals will not penalize frequent claimants, although the minister seems to be saying that he still has the same objective in mind?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.
As the member knows, we had a wide variety of representations, studies and examinations. It was certainly recognized that the primary objective of UI reform must be to help people get back to work. We can use that system not simply to pay basic benefits but to also enable people to get the tools they need to restore themselves back in the labour market. That is still the primary function of our intention on unemployment insurance.
We saw with the various options we presented, one of which was the two tier proposal, that it would add complexity to the system and probably additional cost. I think we can find a much better alternative which will simplify the system and at the same time provide a much better set of work incentives for people to get back in the workforce.
We are still very much on target and on aim to enable Canadians to get away from unemployment and get into employment, the whole purpose of our reform.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to what the minister said in his answer, and after trying very hard, I think I understood the minister was giving up his plan. I want to commend him for doing so, since a minister who admits his mistakes gains in stature. Would that others followed his example.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Bouchard: My question is directed to the Prime Minister, and I hope to get an answer from him. Since the government is about to review its unemployment insurance reform, will he promise to stop using the Unemployment Insurance Fund to finance new intrusions by the federal government in provincial jurisdictions, especially in manpower training?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development will table a bill this fall that covers all aspects of the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ): Mr. Speaker, since the Minister of Human Resources Development claims he will stay the course, in other words, restrict access to unemployment insurance for frequent claimants, does this mean, and my question is directed to the Prime Minister, that the government's real objective is not to make the system more effective but to reduce costs by restricting access and reducing benefits, which means it will again be hitting hard at the unemployed?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the minister said a few minutes ago, the government's objective is to ensure that people can work. This government's objective is to create jobs, and the aim of reforms in unemployment insurance and other social programs is to make it possible for people to work with dignity instead of being completely dependent on unemployment insurance or welfare.
That is why the minister wants to reform the system, and we will have a chance to discuss this when the minister tables his reform proposals this fall. This reform is badly needed, because
these programs were introduced 30 or 40 years ago, and the time has come to make some adjustments.
* * *
As fighting intensified in Sarajevo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated yesterday that he was unhappy with the current situation, stating that the peace plan was going nowhere. He also indicated that he would soon be consulting with the French and British authorities, hinting that a pullout from Bosnia could be closer than ever.
Does the Prime Minister confirm what his Minister of Foreign Affairs said yesterday about the possibility of Canada withdrawing its peacekeepers from Bosnia in a few weeks?
Mr. Jesse Flis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada calls on both parties to withdraw their forces from the zones of separation.
Canada's position all along has been that the conflict can only be resolved at the diplomatic table, politically, not by military means. That is still Canada's position.
The minister made it very clear Canada will not withdraw its forces unilaterally. We are consulting with our partners, France, Great Britain, et cetera.
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, could the Prime Minister or, again, the parliamentary secretary tell us whether Canada is prepared to consider UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's suggestion that UN troops in Bosnia be reduced and regrouped?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the situation is obviously very complicated in that part of the world at this time. As the hon. parliamentary secretary said, Canada belongs to a group of countries ensuring a military presence in the area and we have agreed not to withdraw without first consulting with our partners. The French have indicated that they were contemplating pulling out, but if and when they do, it will not be unilaterally, since they have asked us not to withdraw our forces unilaterally.
As far as we are concerned, any suggestion from the UN secretary-general deserves to be considered because peacekeepers are under UN command.
So, consultations are under way with the secretary-general, and we will inform the House of any new development.
* * *[English]
The Minister of Human Resources Development has failed to reform anything. His plans for a two tiered unemployment system are now on the back burner, as are income contingent student loans and TAGS retraining. Canada pension reform did not even make it to the back burner. We fear the minister is going the way of the turbot, barely clinging to the front benches by his fingernails.
Why has the minister failed so completely to provide Canadians with a new vision and plan for social policy?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am happy to reply to this question.
Reform of social programs is a very high priority for the government. At the moment the minister is engaged in consultations with the provinces. Members of Parliament have held consultations across the land over many months. We will put all the discussions together and take them to cabinet during the summer.
There will be real reform, not fake reform which the member is trying to promote with the name of his party. I hope the Reform Party will agree with the reforms.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, reform may be a priority as the Prime Minister says, but the fact is Canada's social safety nets are in a terrible mess.
The federal government's influence over medicare is diminishing, CPP is headed toward bankruptcy, consultations with the provinces are going nowhere, UI is unreformed and Atlantic Canadian workers are quitting their jobs to get on TAGS.
A government that proclaims to be the architect and defender of social safety nets is now presiding over the demise of those safety nets through its inability to act.
Does the Prime Minister want to go down as the Prime Minister who presided over the demise of the social safety nets or does he have a fresh new approach to social policy to lay before the House?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, since the road to Damascus I have never seen such a
conversion. I am delighted the leader of the Reform Party now supports the safety net.
When we make it more effective in the fall I would be delighted to have his support. It is great that the Reform Party is now getting more and more Liberal.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the collapse of the government's social reform program hurts not only Canadians dependent on those programs but also taxpayers.
Every member of the House knows there is absolutely no way the federal budget will be balanced unless there is social program reform and reform of social spending. If the Minister of Human Resources Development cannot lead that overhaul, then someone else in the government must be assigned the job.
With the Prime Minister prepared to provide leadership on this subject, since his government's budget is undermined by the failure of this minister to overhaul social funding, is it the Department of Finance that will now be providing the leadership for social reform?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the kind of leadership I have shown in this area is when I named an extremely able minister to be in charge of this very important project.
The leader of the third party should relax because I am looking forward to the day he will get up and applaud the Minister of Human Resources Development.
* * *[Translation]
Given the condition of our public finances and the fact that the government is about to eliminate 45,000 jobs in the public service, how can the President of the Treasury Board still allow such a privilege for diplomats, which will cost over $8 million this year to Canadian taxpayers?
Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it has long been a tradition that those in foreign posts, particularly those considered to be in hardship posts, would have the opportunity for themselves and their families to return home from time to time, once a year in fact.
Of late the policy has involved a reduction in the amount of money to 80 per cent of the full economy fare. That has been on a test basis. All of that is subject to review. Every three years a review is automatically required. It is part of the union agreements. Therefore we will do it with the bargaining agents and it will be done this fall.
Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, will the President of the Treasury Board confirm that this privilege, introduced in 1993, was designed to allow diplomats posted overseas to avoid the salary freeze now affecting public servants?
Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Not at all, Mr. Speaker, as has been pointed out.
A number of diplomats serve in hardship posts in spots in the world that nobody would envy. We want to give them and their families the opportunity to be able to come home from time to time. That was the purpose behind all of this.
Having said that, we have to make sure of the best value for the taxpayers' dollar. The program has to be operated in an efficient fashion. We are reviewing it in the normal three-year cycle and will be negotiating this matter with the bargaining agents this fall.
* * *
My question is for the Minister of National Defence. For the safety of our peacekeepers, will the government pull our forces out now?
Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, though we are very concerned about the situation in the former Yugoslavia, the Prime Minister made the government's position quite clear last week.
There is good work still to be done by UNPROFOR. The Canadian government is still committed. We are consulting with our allies to see whether or not the mission should continue and if changes are required what could be implemented.
Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, there is no peace in sight in Bosnia. The UN is powerless facing the renewed fighting and no amount of tinkering with the UN mandate is going to change that.
Now is not the time for the Prime Minister to be timid, waiting for the governments of France and Britain to tell him what to do in Bosnia.
Will the Prime Minister stop wavering and initiate the process of withdrawal immediately?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the troops have done a great job.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice): I do not think it would be responsible for us to start a process that could result in many lost lives. Canadian soldiers are considered to be the best. I was told so by the president of Bosnia. It was also mentioned when I met last week with the president of Croatia. They both praised the quality of our soldiers' work. Our soldiers are committed to be there and will not leave unilaterally.
When we tell our partners we will do something, Canadians keep their word.
* * *[Translation]
According to the director of Telefilm Canada, the Minister of Canadian Heritage plans to charge the major American film companies a tax of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent on their revenues for the distribution and showing of their films and videos in Canada. The director of Telefilm Canada has confirmed that the Minister of Canadian Heritage discussed this matter during his now famous trip to Los Angeles.
Would the minister confirm having discussed such a tax with the representatives of the major film companies during his short trip to Los Angeles?
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that we have such a strong and imaginative individual, with an eye for change, at the helm of Telefilm Canada. My discussions with the major American companies, however, did not cover this particular point. They were much more general in nature.
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata, BQ): Mr. Speaker, as my supplementary, I would ask the minister what measures he is considering in order to force the major American film companies to reinvest in Canadian culture some of the billions of dollars they are making here, as is being done in France, for example?
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very happy that our colleague is interested in this matter. Now she understands why the Minister of Canadian Heritage wants a policy on the film industry supporting the interests of the industry in Canada.
There are a number of ways to go about it. This is in fact what I am looking at with representatives of the Canadian industry and with the American major film companies and independents.
* * *(1435)
A key recommendation of the Fraser report was that the federal government not expand the native only commercial fishery. In his rush to conclude the AFS agreements by Monday, the minister expanded this native only commercial fishery to include early chinook salmon on the Fraser River.
Can the minister explain why he broke his commitment to follow John Fraser's recommendation not to expand the AFS commercial fishery?
Hon. Brian Tobin (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Delta for his question. I know of his interest in the protection of the salmon resource.
However, the member will know that what the Fraser panel reflected on, both in the report and in the press conference which was held, was the need to ensure that early sales agreements were signed in order to ensure that proper management routines were put in place.
I would have thought that the member would have wanted to stand in his place, given his comments on this matter in the past, and reflect out loud on the fact that this year for the first time since sales have been implemented we have agreements in place fully two months earlier than was the case last year. All of these agreements were reached by the May 15 deadline put in place by the federal government. As a consequence of the early agreements, we will have the best managed, best conservation regime in place for salmon this year for the sales programs in British Columbia.
Mr. John Cummins (Delta, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the minister is quite correct. Mr. Fraser recommended the early signing of the native fishing agreements so that workable enforcement and management regimes would be established prior to the opening of the first fishery.
However, by allowing the native commercial fishery to start within days of signing the agreements the advantage of the early signing is lost.
Why are we proceeding at this time? Why is the minister giving up the advantage of the early signing? Why is he ignoring his commitment to implement Mr. Fraser's recommendation?
Hon. Brian Tobin (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, no objective individual who believes that it is possible for aboriginal people to make and keep agreements in good faith, and who believes it is possible for the people who represent the First Nations and the Government of Canada to sit down and come to reasonable terms on a reasonable sales agreement, would come to the conclusion that having reached agreements two months early, having met the requirements of the Fraser panel report and having negotiated in good faith, is a matter to complain about. That is a matter to celebrate.
I say to the member, let us have some faith in the people who first settled this land, the First Nations people. Let us work with them in good faith and make this agreement work.
* * *[Translation]
Last week, the auditor general reported that the Department of the Environment has not established a program for the disposal the federal government's PCBs, nor has it estimated the total cost of such an operation. The auditor general also confirmed that no funds have been earmarked to cover the cost.
Since the Minister of the Environment has committed herself to disposing of the federal government's PCBs before 1996, will she tell us what the total cost of this operation, which supposedly is already in progress, will be, and where the departments should cut in order to find the necessary funds to meet her objectives?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the federal government decided to put an end to the never ending search for a site precisely because $20 million was spent on the fruitless search for a federal site between 1988 and 1994. I felt that this expenditure related to the green plan was no longer justifiable, and I asked Public Works Canada to resume sending these products to Swan Hills in Alberta from the month of March onwards.
Negotiations are ongoing and, as the former minister of the environment will explain to the hon. member, the cost of disposing of PCBs is not Environment Canada's responsibility. Each department that is responsible for PCBs must pay the cost involved in shipping them to Swan Hills. In addition, under the supervision of Public Works, we are already negotiating with the Department of National Defence, among others, to also ensure that we will not have to absorb the storage costs and to ensure that we will be able to dispose of all of the federal government's PCBs by the end of 1996, as was promised in the green plan.
Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Mr. Speaker, if the minister is looking for sites, we can show her the ones we found last week.
How does the minister expect us to believe her promises when her colleague from Public Works has said not only has no contract been negotiated with Bovar Inc, the company which will be disposing of the PCBs, but also that it is still much too early to forecast the related costs or the timing of the disposal of the federal government's PCBs?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is precisely why I told the House last week that I took the decision at the end of March to stop spending federal money on the search for a site in addition to Swan Hills. I turned to negotiations instead. That is what I explained last week.
The Department of Public Works is in the process of negotiating with each department to find out the quantities of PCBs and where they will be shipped, and I am certain that negotiations have already begun in the Atlantic provinces. The hon. member for London issued a press release in March regarding PCBs and the disposal plan-
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Ms. Copps: Maybe you could not care less whether the PCBs will be disposed of. We will dispose of them. They are going to be shipped to Swan Hills, and the federal government will see to it.
Mr. Guy H. Arseneault (Restigouche-Chaleur, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment.
Brunswick Mining and Smelting is actively considering moving its operations from Dalhousie, New Brunswick.
Can the minister tell the citizens of Dalhousie who will be responsible for the estimated $50 million bill for the environmental restoration of the site and surrounding waters? Can the minister guarantee that she will use all the resources of her department to ensure that the company will be held responsible for the complete restoration of this site?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, to follow up on the points made by the auditor general last week on contaminated sites, it is the view of the government that when a company occupies a site and has a signed leasing arrangement with the
Government of Canada, if ever it vacates the site it will leave the site in the condition in which it was found.
It is our belief that the restoration project could cost in the millions of dollars. We intend to ensure that if any decision is made about a change in location of this operation, all the costs of the rehabilitation of the site will be borne by the company that is responsible for making the mess, not the taxpayers of Canada.
* * *
I would like to ask the Minister for International Trade whether it is true that our only strategy in the situation is to seek delays beyond the current proposed deadline of January 1, 1996.
Hon. Roy MacLaren (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, earlier indications from the European Union had been that the proposed regulation would be delayed beyond January 1, 1996.
Because of the more recent indications of the European Union's likelihood of moving on the issue, we are pursuing on an urgent basis with the European Union, with the United States and Russia, with other countries directly involved in the issue, to design and agree on what is called a more humane trap so that we can resolve the issue during the current calendar year.
However, I acknowledge to the member opposite that time is short. We shall need to consider as a fallback position, if the European Union does act, whether we would seek one of the various forms of trade remedies that are open to us.
Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan-Shuswap, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. I am glad he realizes that time is of the essence.
As a former trapper I can verify that the Conibear trap which kills the animal instantly rather than inflicting the suffering of leg hold traps, has been available for many years.
I ask the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern development what his department is doing to encourage Canada's trappers to change over to non-leg hold traps as soon as possible, in order to avoid a major blow to the local economies which such a ban on Canadian furs would cause?
Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as well as assisting the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of Foreign Affairs wherever we can in whatever format and whenever we can to get the matter settled because it affects industry, we have put significant amounts of money-I do not have the exact amount-into training and into the development of a more humane trap.
The problem is that we think no matter how humane the trap is there will still be European backlash against animal furs. We are doing our best to overcome it but it is a problem. To say it is not a problem would be misleading the hon. member.
* * *[Translation]
How does the minister explain his stubborn refusal to modify the Program for Older Worker Adjustment or POWA, which is now putting Montreal at a disadvantage, by extending it to layoffs involving 20 workers or more instead of 100 as is now the case?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased the Government of Quebec is offering supplementary assistance to older laid off workers in the clothing industry, but it is not correct to say that the federal government is not involved.
Under PATA, as the member knows, we cost share at a level of 70 per cent a major program for older workers in the province of Quebec as we do in all provinces. The province of Quebec agrees to the criteria of that program.
In the last month or so we have provided assistance to seven or eight major factories that laid off older workers in the clothing industry. I would be glad to give the hon. member a full list of joint federal-provincial support for older workers in the Montreal area.
Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, BQ): Mr. Speaker, surely the minister must know that the federal government is not investing a penny in the program I am referring to.
I will ask my supplementary question slowly to make sure the minister understands. Now that the Quebec employment minister has announced her intention of initiating talks with Ottawa to convince the federal government to make a financial contribution to Phase II, should it be implemented, does the minister promise that he will acquiesce to his Quebec counterpart's request?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, to make sure that each of us understands what is going on, I point out that under the present program for older workers Montreal has 4 per cent of the Canadian population and receives over 11 per cent of the full support for older workers right across Canada, which I think is a substantial contribution that we are making.
We have put forward as one major element in looking at social reform in the country how we could provide greater assistance to older workers. All we need now is the co-operation of the Quebec government to join us in that enterprise. Then we can jointly arrive at an effective answer.
* * *
I am now in receipt of a letter from a band member who says that the Indian affairs department has finally admitted that the $2 million deficit was due to ``incompetent bookkeeping''.
The band may have a financial management plan in place, but band members want to know what the minister has done to determine where the missing millions went.
Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I believe I responded to the question last week. I would be pleased to take the member's letter under consideration. Again I emphasize that there are 605 First Nations out there. Over 80 per cent run their affairs well, and I never hear the Reform saying that is good. Some 152 of the remaining 200 have remedial action plans in place and we are working with them.
We are working with the people to make sure they do the things the Reform allegedly wants. I quote the leader of the Reform Party when he said that his goal was to dismantle and decentralize my department's function, funding and responsibility and transfer them to local aboriginal agencies of government.
If the Reformers are complaining, that is good. That is democracy. At least they are showing an interest in what is happening.
Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George-Peace River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that the minister will take the letter under consideration, because it is addressed to him.
The minister of Indian affairs cannot continue to ignore band members requesting financial accountability of their chiefs and council. As the minister knows, this is not an isolated case despite what he claims.
To pay for the so-called incompetent bookkeeping band members must forgo much needed capital projects and social programs. They have called on the minister to uphold his fiduciary obligation to them.
My supplementary question is for the same minister. What steps will the minister take to hold chiefs and council financially accountable to all band members and guarantee that abuses like this will never happen again?
Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a letter is being drafted, in response to that letter, to the member. A full review is under way in this instance and I wanted to advise the member of it.
I repeat that members of the Reform Party never look at the good side of what is happening out there. They take isolated cases like they did on immigration and on anything else in the House that they oppose, such as the gun laws. I say they should go and talk with the people they represent. I can assure them that most people want to do the honourable and just thing for native people to get true self-government and to bring some dignity into the process rather than single out individuals in the House and come close to defaming them.
* * *
In recent weeks we have read about the projected closures of all agricultural centres across our rural communities. These services provide a very vital service for agriculture in Essex and Kent counties as well as other rural areas.
What will the minister do to maintain agricultural employment services across Canada?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I point out to the hon. member and members of the House that as part of our reform program we are presently engaged in a major reinvention of the way the department provides delivery of services. It is our expectation that by this time next year we will have substantially expanded the level
of service to rural areas by providing more delivery points at areas where they have major responsibilities.
In terms of the special activities under the agricultural employment service, we are prepared to sit down with the agricultural community, the Canadian Federation of Labour and the horticultural society to work out ways to have direct partnerships with the agricultural community in the rural areas and to both have a facility in which we share in the opportunities that the centres can offer for jobs and employment. That is part of the new partnerships we are trying to establish in reorganizing the department.
* * *[Translation]
In its budget, the federal government announced that the public service would be reduced by 45,000 positions over three years, including more than 12,000 in the Ottawa-Hull area. The Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal seems to be unable to give specifics about the extent of these cuts, stating that it should be a rather large number, but that he does not know the exact number because it varies from department to department and from day to day.
Are we to understand from what the Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal said that the decision to eliminate 45,000 public service positions was an impromptu, last minute kind of decision?
Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member from the opposition knew anything about public administration, he would know that, when plans are made that affect departmental administration, it is clear that each department will come up with a different plan and that surplus notices will be sent out on the basis of evolving needs.
It is therefore impossible for any department to indicate today what it has done because, obviously, its plans are implemented on a day by day, week by week basis, and the answer that was provided is correct.
What is important to know is that we are going ahead with our plans to streamline the public service; we are in the process of implementing the measures announced in the budget with efficiency and competence.
Mr. Réjean Lefebvre (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, if, as the minister claims, this was not an impromptu decision, does he undertake to release the department by department program evaluation report, which resulted in the decision to lay off 45,000 public servants, and to tell us how the work force adjustment program will be carried out?
Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the budget tabled before this House clearly spells out the government's fiscal plan and its impact on each department.
The government had the courage to make the decisions required. Unfortunately, this means that certain positions will have to be eliminated. We acted in a humane way, providing programs such as early retirement or buyout packages and, so far, the unions feel that the budget is being implemented appropriately and efficiently, in an effort to accommodate the public service.
* * *[English]
Last June the minister stated that the government was reviewing section 43 of the Criminal Code. This section permits parents and educators to physically discipline their children using reasonable force. The minister also stated: ``I know of no plan at present to propose a change to this section''.
My question is for the justice minister. Will the minister state today the outcome of the government's review of section 43, and regardless of that outcome will he reaffirm his support for section 43?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am satisfied the section in the Criminal Code complies with our obligations. I can tell the hon. member and the House that the government has no intention to introduce any change to section 43 of the Criminal Code.
Mrs. Sharon Hayes (Port Moody-Coquitlam, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question. If the minister has no intention of changing section 43, why in the world is his government continuing to fund the Children's Bureau review of section 43?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I made clear in my response to the question when it was last put, because we are signatories to international conventions and treaties we are
obligated like other civilized countries to do an audit of our laws to ensure they reflect the values and the principles to which we subscribe with other nations.
The work to which the hon. member has referred is simply part of that effort and it must be done.
* * *
Will the Minister of Finance agree with his seatmate that the idea bears merit and that he will consider it in terms of changing the legislation presently before the House?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I certainly would like my colleague to answer the question and my colleague would like to answer it.
We are delighted as a result of the reform of House of Commons committee rules that we have a very active, dynamic and incisive finance committee of the House.
As to the particular comments of the chairman of the committee, as the hon. member for Kamloops knows, we will be sitting down with the provinces, and quite clearly we do not want to do anything premature in terms of those discussions with the provinces. It is very important for us to hear from the provincial finance ministers on this issue.
* * *
I ask the Minister of Justice if he feels the proposed gun registry contained in Bill C-68 will inconvenience Canadian gun owners.
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think it is telling that the question of the day did not come from the other side of the House, because the witnesses yesterday were victims of violence with firearms and they were not in a position that could be exploited by the Reform.
The very purpose of Bill C-68 is to address the kinds of tragedies the committee heard about yesterday. The point is perhaps best made by comparing on the one hand the inconvenience of filling out a form and mailing it in with $10 over the next five years and on the other hand losing a member of your family.
I am often asked for proof that registration of firearms will achieve something for Canada. For those who ask for proof, I suggest they speak to the parents, the mother who yesterday described the tragedy of losing a child, speak to the children whose mother is dead because she was shot in her home.
This government with this bill stands with the Victims of Violence for Change. This government stands with the police chiefs and the police across this country. We shall not fail them.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
The Speaker: This concludes the question period.
I have a point of order from the hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminster.
* * *
The Speaker: The hon. member is correct in stating that we cannot ask questions in the House that directly relate to a committee. In my interpretation of the question, it would seem to me that at the time I heard it, it seemed to be general enough.
I will take the hon. member's request under advisement. I will review the blues, and if necessary I will come back to the House.
* * *
The report makes 20 recommendations aimed at strengthening Canada's position heading into the G-7 economic summit in Halifax in June. It is a unanimous report of the committee.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee is asking for the government's response to the report.
Mr. Hermanson: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There has been some quick consultation here. I believe there might be unanimous consent to allow my colleague from Wild Rose to introduce a private member's bill today without the usual 48 hours notice, since he is not available to be in the House on Thursday and Friday. I would ask the House to give him consent to introduce his bill today.
The Speaker: I am informed that we have to have the bill. Does the member have the bill with him? We have the bill. Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
* * *
He said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to present this private member's bill.
The bill is an act that would amend the Criminal Code regarding bail in the case of assault with a weapon or criminal harassment. There have been a number of cases throughout the nation where people have been released on bail who have committed some very serious violent crimes and have followed through on their threats after bail has been issued. This bill would be an attempt to assist the victims so they would not be vulnerable in the future.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)
* * *
This important report deals with the form of the Journals in respect to supply proceedings in the House and in the other place. I think there will be consent to adopt the motion without debate this afternoon.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
* * *
We the undersigned residents of the province of British Columbia draw the attention of the House to the following: that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a real and hurtful form of discrimination in this country; that all forms of families in this country, those based on financial and emotional interdependence, are equally meaningful and important to the social well-being of Canada; and that both protection against discrimination and recognition of relationships based on financial and emotional interdependence are necessary to ensure the equal treatment of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals under the law.
Therefore, your petitioners request that the Parliament of Canada amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as a basis for protection against discrimination and to include recognition of relationships based on financial and emotional interdependence.
They are asking Parliament to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act so as to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The first is from petitioners in and around the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, where the petitioners request that Parliament recognize and address the concerns of this petition regarding the Young Offenders Act and that action be taken immediately to bring about results that would improve the situation.
In the first, the petitioners say: We are concerned that our children learn how to live as responsible global citizens. We know we consume too much of the world's resources and we want to learn how to change.
In the second one, the petitioners say: We believe in democracy and want to be actively involved in community discussions on Canadian foreign policy and global issues. We believe that global education is an investment to counter the social, economic, and environmental deficit facing the developing and developed world.
In the third petition, the petitioners say: We know non-governmental agencies are the best delivery system for global education and for overseas development assistance. We commend the work of the Kawartha World Issues Centre based in Peterborough and four surrounding counties as effectively linking global issues to local action for justice across many sectors of the community.
Therefore, in the three petitions, the petitioners request that Parliament reinstate public participation as a goal of Canadian foreign policy and request that Parliament reinstate global education through non-governmental organizations based in Canada.
The first petition deals with the Young Offenders Act. The petitioners, some 490 strong, from the metropolitan Toronto area ask Parliament to recognize that they wish stiffer penalties for young offenders convicted of violent crimes.
The petitioners pray that Parliament ensure the present provisions of the Criminal Code prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously and that Parliament make no changes in the law which would sanction or allow the aiding or abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.
The petitioners call on Parliament not to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act or the charter of rights and freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the act to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase sexual orientation.
they have to use voice mail technology. They want a more appropriate service, particularly as regards their income security claims.
They are asking that an appropriate service be provided and that the government give up its idea of using voice mail to answer queries.
The petitioners call on Parliament to oppose any amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which provide for the inclusion of the phrase sexual orientation.
I find myself in complete concurrence with this and it is my pleasure to present it.
The Speaker: When we present petitions it is not necessary to be either for or against a petition. We have been doing that on all sides as of late. I ask you to simply present the petitions.
The petitioners wish to express their opposition to the universal registration of long guns, restrictions and controls on the purchase of ammunition and the undue use of regulation by order in council.
They therefore call on Parliament to refrain from passing Bill C-68 as it presently stands.
They ask, therefore, that the Parliament of Canada support Canada's rural way of life by rejecting the policy proposals now before it which lift the prohibition orders on branch lines and instead develop agriculture and rural development policies for Canada in which rural citizens are considered to be necessary humans with spiritual, social and economic needs; not to treat them just as statistics.
The first petition I received from my constituents of Essex-Windsor asks that Parliament ensure the present provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously.
The petitioners are asking Parliament to deal more with crime control than gun control. The system should also concentrate its efforts on the criminal element of society instead of further eroding the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens.
The first two deal with the moral issues of euthanasia and also include sexual orientation legislation.
These were signed by over 6,000 citizens of my riding of Okanagan-Shuswap. These 6,000 Canadians are asking the government to reform the justice system to protect the innocent and deal more efficiently with criminals.
These requests are added to the request of many thousands of Canadians. It is time for the government to act.
The petitioners are calling on Parliament not to amend the human rights act or charter of rights and freedoms in any way which would indicate societal approval of same sex relationships.
I am also presenting a fifth petition signed by some 50 individuals calling on the government to amend the human rights act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Mr. Gary Pillitteri (Niagara Falls, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I present the following petition dealing with sexual orientation.
The petitioners from my constituency believe the term sexual orientation in Bill C-41 is ambiguous and therefore would broaden implications indicating societal approval of same sex relationships.
They humbly request that section 718.2 of Bill C-41, the sentencing bill, be rescinded. This petition contains 113 signatures.
Mr. Julian Reed (Halton-Peel, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions, the first containing 40 signatures.
The petitioners pray and request that Parliament not amend the human rights code and the Canadian Human Rights Act or the charter of rights and freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the human rights code to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase sexual orientation.
The petitioners are calling on government to keep dangerous sex offenders and pedophiles locked up for life, to eliminate statutory release, to impose stiffer sentences for violent offenders, have violent criminals serve their full sentence and have time added for bad behaviour, and on and on.
Members get the idea of the petition, basically calling for changes to the Criminal Code to make Canada a safer place.
I also have a petition calling on Parliament to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society. They also state the Income Tax Act discriminates against families that make the choice to provide care in the home to preschool children, the disabled, the chronically ill or the aged.
The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to eliminate tax discrimination against families that decide to provide care in the home for preschool children, the disabled, the chronically ill or the aged.
The first petition signed by 42 individuals deals with the issue of sexual orientation.
The petitioners request that Parliament amend the act to automatically try a youth in adult court for any crimes of violence and to provide for public identification of a convicted, young dangerous offender.
* * *
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
* * *
That this House do now adjourn for the purpose of an emergency debate on a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration.Both the council for the James Bay Cree and the Yukon Indians have agreements with the federal government which are appendages to the Constitution of Canada. Both groups claim their constitutional rights demand consultation with the federal government prior to the enactment of federal law touching on hunting, trapping or food gathering.
The testimony of both groups before the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs claims unequivocally that no consultation took place in the prescribed manner regarding Bill C-68 and therefore their constitutional rights have been violated by the federal government.
I believe the allegations of the violation of the constitutional rights of the aboriginal people are so pressing that the public interest will suffer if this issue is not given immediate attention. The foremost responsibility of members of Parliament is to uphold the Constitution of our country and that can only be done in the House.
The public interest and the interest of aboriginal people demand this matter be dealt with immediately.
At least at this time it would seem to me the hon. member's request does not meet the requirements for an emergency debate.
Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday when debate resumed I was the first speaker following a rather bad movie unfolding in the House called ``milk wars'' between the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois over what would happen to the dairy industry should Quebec separate. It was rather amusing at times.
The Reform Party supports the tariff levels agreed to under GATT. However, we should become proactive in this area and address future concerns.
I am concerned about the health of the dairy industry down the road. The trend toward more open and competitive global markets is happening whether we like it or not. Failure to adapt will undoubtedly result in the destruction of an industry that has provided Canadians with a quality product for many years. Dairy farmers must move to a more efficient means of producing milk.
I would like to address a few aspects of Bill C-86. I have already mentioned that the Canadian government had no choice but to make alterations to the supply management commodities. As with many of these programs that were initially developed by the Liberals, they, the creators of the system, are reluctant to change them or drop them entirely. Sentimental feelings are driving the government's agenda.
All we have to do is look at the GATT negotiations and the Liberals' position, who at that time were not the government, with regard to the GATT negotiations and article XI. They said that article XI was non-negotiable. They told people in the dairy industry to support them and they would defend article XI and it would be in the new GATT agreement.
A few days after the Liberals took office, history shows us that in fact article XI had to be negotiated away. We had no support in the international community for article XI. Tariffication was put in place to replace that article.
I might add the Reform Party anticipated this event. We said in our election platform that we believe the structure of national supply management agencies need not change at all as long as
these agencies continue to have the support of their producers. They should continue in any manner in which they feel best serves their interests. Tariffs will be reduced as other countries reduce their support. This will allow Canadian producers to remain competitive and will ensure that these sectors are able to adapt to the new market driven environment.
The point that we raised was that tariffs should initially be set at levels sufficiently high to protect the domestic market and industry. We said that supply managed producers should have access to our comprehensive income stabilization program. We went on to say that import control regulations as a defence against foreign dumping should be rationalized and strengthened.
We said that licensing and arbitration regulations as an improved safeguard against business which might engage in unfair practices should be strengthened. We also said that competition and anti-combines legislation intended to place limits on the power of buying groups should be strengthened and vigorously enforced. We concluded by saying that the impact to the sectors during the tariff reduction period should be carefully monitored.
The Reform Party believes that this approach will not only ensure the continued viability of supply managed sectors, but will build a bridge to a new era of opportunity and expansion.
Bill C-86 fails to address the problems it has set out to correct. While the intent of the bill is to help the Canadian dairy industry to comply with the GATT regulations, it is almost certain that industry will be open to other trade sanctions, especially from the United States.
The pooling market system which replaces the existing system of levies has long been a bone of contention with the United States. We have seen the response of the U.S. over the last five years to the effect of the Canadian Wheat Board. While the Canadian Wheat Board has been functioning in the manner it should and we have been winning the trade disputes, nevertheless the pooling is an irritant. If we are looking at pooling in the dairy industry we need to be very careful that we do not structure it in such a way as to become a trade irritant with the Americans, or at least not a trade irritant that we would lose a scrap over.
The Reform Party is concerned that this government has not been honest and open with those farmers that are within the supply managed areas. I believe this government has not reacted to the global trend toward a more open and a more competitive market. As we know, Canadian dairy farmers are capable of competing in these competitive markets.
More and more, Canadian farmers are going to have to compete in a global marketplace. As we see trading blocs forming, currently NAFTA is expanding with the inclusion of Mexico and negotiations with Chile and other Latin American countries, we realize that there will be more and more observation of our own trading practices here in Canada. We will have to be very careful as to how we design our marketing and our trade deals so that we do not jeopardize industries which at the current time are very sustainable and are functioning very well.
The Liberal messages to the industry have been misleading in the past and we are concerned that they may be misleading in the future. We will be scrutinizing the bill very carefully to ensure that we are not sending the wrong signals to the dairy industry with respect to what it can expect in the future from agreements such as the NAFTA and the GATT.
There have been some good questions brought forward in the House as to whether the NAFTA supersedes the GATT or the GATT supersedes the NAFTA. Those are important questions and we need more clarification from the government that in fact the legislation which it is proposing will not be challenged under the NAFTA and we will not lose the challenge.
The question I ask of the government is whether Canadian dairy farmers will be given the tools and the time to adapt to a new market driven economy. We need not look any further than the current fiasco with the WGTA and the Crow buyout. Imagine a government which would discontinue the Crow benefit and replace it with a one time payout and then talks about a transition period and a transition program which would take place one year following the conclusion of the Crow benefit. That is not very good planning in my mind and I am getting the same message and the same signal from my constituents and other Canadians who are affected by the elimination of the WGTA, the Crow buyout and this transition program.
It would seem to me that it would be much more logical to have a transition program spelled out before implementing legislation to end the Crow benefit and introduce a buyout to producers. We wonder about the logic of a government which would eliminate something and then a year later introduce an unspecified program to help the industry make the transition from transportation subsidies to an unsubsidized system.
We have the same concerns about the dairy industry. We are concerned that the government is not looking at the long term. It is not considering carefully the outcome of its policies with respect to the dairy industry. It is not looking at the need to access new markets. It is not thinking long term; it is continuing to look only at the short term situation.
Another important issue which needs to be addressed is whether supply managed industries should have access to income stabilization, in particular, a whole farm income stabilization plan. Many spokespersons in the dairy industry and other supply managed industries are suggesting they would not like to be a part of any income stabilization plan or a whole farm program.
I think part of the reason they are suggesting that is because the Liberals have made guarantees to them about the current supply managed system which perhaps are not supportable in logic. In fact, perhaps if the industry was given the true picture of what awaits it in the future it might be more interested in looking at belonging to some kind of income stabilization plan, something along the lines of NISA.
Again I would communicate to the House that the Reform Party envisioned the need for that to happen. We suggested that an income stabilization plan should be a shared federal-producer program having universal application, which means all sectors. It would include the supply managed sectors. This would be made available at the whole farm level. If a farm produced many commodities all those commodities would be recognized by the plan. Supply managed sectors would have access to the program upon the introduction of tariffication.
Of course, that was written before the tariffication was introduced. We were correct in anticipating that. I believe we were correct in anticipating that there will be a need for the supply managed industries to have access to a NISA type income stabilization program, given the market trends and the formation of a global economy in which eventually supply managed industries will have to participate and be in a competitive position.
I would like to conclude my speech by asking the government to be more honest and more open with the Canadian dairy farmers. The government promised that it would be very open and honest with the public. It is in its red book. We sense that those pages are being torn out of the red book and it concerns us very much. It should concern dairy producers across Canada as well.
Before the Liberals were elected it was very easy for them to say they would be open and honest, but they seem to be having some difficulty now fulfilling some of those red book promises. We are concerned that one of the casualties may be supply managed industries, in particular the dairy industry if the true situation of international negotiations and of course the jurisdiction of the NAFTA versus the GATT are not correctly and very clearly communicated to the industry. The Reform Party would like to see that honesty and openness with regard to this situation.
Hopefully, the House will get away from the milk wars I spoke about in my remarks yesterday. I think we should quit talking about marriage and divorce and start talking about birth and death. Let us let the old system die and let us see a new Canada formulated in which we all get along well and where we do not have milk wars and turf wars over just about every other issue in Canada. To be competitive in the global economy we certainly cannot be scrapping within the borders of this great country.
Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide a little background on the dairy industry in Canada. In the 1960s, there was no supply management in the dairy industry. Farmers were producing as much milk as they wanted.
In the summer, when they were out to pasture, dairy cows produced three or even four times as much milk. The milk was put into containers commonly called milk cans. To keep the milk fresh, these cans were placed in the spring or the river nearest to the barn. At 9, 9.30 or 10 a.m., depending on the transporter's route, the cans were picked up on tripods along the road.
The truth be known, freshness left something to be desired. Processing plants were drowning in milk in the summer, but come winter, farmers were having a more difficult time; in order to produce the milk, they had to buy meal, ingredients, inputs. It was not really worthwhile to produce milk in the winter. So they produced the maximum in the summer and stopped producing in the winter.
That is what was happening on our farms during the 1960s and early 1970s. In 1970, 1971 and 1972, milk producers got together with government officials and set up standards, agreements. They said that there is no use producing too much milk if we are not able to use it and if we cannot sell it outside the country.
They came up with supply management, that some people are decrying so strongly here in the House. Supply management requires a farmer to now produce 12 months a year, on a monthly basis. Our dairy farmer cannot keep the cream and give the whey to others. He has to produce milk in summer, fall, winter and spring. Therefore he must manage his herd in such a way that cows will calve all year long. He can non longer take advantage of geographical or climatic factors.
In that regard, I would ask my Reform colleague to explain the second point that his colleague and friend so brilliantly explained yesterday in this House. The agriculture critic and member for Vegreville outlined the four points his party's dairy policy. I would like to have the second point explained further this afternoon.
I quote: ``Second, Reformers acknowledge that the agriculture industry, including supply managed sectors, is moving toward a more competitive market driven system''. Where can there be any competition if a farmer is told that he has to produce 1,000 litres of milk for the local dairy, while one of his neighbours has to produce 1,100 litres, and the other has to produce 900?
Where can there be competition when, for milk of the same quality, one farmer is paid 47 cents a litre and another 46 cents, because he is a member of the Liberal Party, the Reform Party or the Bloc Quebecois? How can producers compete with one another under such circumstances, if they have to produce milk
of the same quality? I would like my Reform colleague to explain his view on competition.
Mr. Hermanson: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Frontenac for his question.
He began by talking about what farming used to be like back in the 1960s. While I was not a grown man at that time, I remember what farming was like. I remember my parents shipping cream back in those days, not quite the way the hon. member described it, but it did bring back some memories hearing his comments.
As the hon. member for Frontenac is aware, agriculture has changed substantially in the last 35 years. The industry and the producers are always far ahead of government. It is not government regulation or legislation that causes progress in industry, including the agriculture industry.
Whether it be a supply managed industry, a free market industry or the growing of wheat under the Canadian Wheat Board, which is in neither of the aforementioned categories, we have seen dramatic changes in the industry over the last 35 years as world and domestic conditions have demanded better operating practices from farmers no matter what the commodity is that they produce.
The member talked about the need for a consistent supply of milk over a 12-month period by producers. I understand what he is saying. He seemed to be indicating that my colleague from Vegreville was suggesting something that would be in conflict with that requirement. I was not in the House to hear what my colleague said yesterday on this issue, but he related to me that he talked about a need for a more competitive environment.
The hon. member for Frontenac indicated that would pit producer against producer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are talking about the need to be competitive as a Canadian industry. We are looking at the industry versus the needs of the consumers and what consumers expect of the industry. We are also looking at what will be required both internationally and interprovincially with regard to the dairy industry.
For the most part international agreements have already been signed. We know that Bill C-88 will be before the House very soon. It deals with internal trade in Canada. There are some real problems with internal trade, particularly in the dairy industry. Some things have to be dealt with. Part of that was the cause of the bickering between the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberals yesterday.
I am sure what my colleague was suggesting and what I would reiterate is that the industry needs to be competitive. However it needs to be competitive as a whole industry, not producer against producer. In this way we can compete in the new climate under GATT and NAFTA and break down the barriers to internal trade within Canada so that our agriculture industries and other industries flourish under that scenario.
Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia-Matane, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to debate Bill C-86, an act to amend the Canadian Dairy Commission Act, especially as I was invited to do so by the member for Frontenac.
As the member of Parliament for Matapédia-Matane, a rural riding, I have several reasons to be greatly interested in everything that concerns farmers. My interest in agriculture is not motivated by political or partisan reasons.
My region owes its existence primarily to this industry. Nearly all the villages and towns in my riding were founded by settlers, who were farmers, of course.
I like to remind people that, at the turn of the century, over 80 per cent of inhabitants of Matapédia-Matane eked out a miserable existence in the country. They worked from dawn to dusk, but they were happy. I do not want to wax nostalgic, but I am one of those who do not deny their past, being very proud of their origins. Without agriculture, the riding of Matapédia-Matane would probably have never been developed. These farmers are responsible for building what we have here and the best of what we have.
The result of their efforts is that the Lower St. Lawrence now boasts over 400,000 hectares of farmland and 2,600 agricultural businesses with sales in the order of $190 million a year. As I was saying, my contribution to the debate on Bill C-86 is motivated by several reasons.
The first reason is probably that the farmers in my region, like those elsewhere in Quebec and Canada, have become real entrepreneurs and built real businesses over the years. They have built small, medium-sized and even large businesses, with all the risks involved. While subsistence farmers at the beginning of the century did not lead very risky lives, the same cannot be said of today's farmers who face fiercely competitive international markets. It is difficult to live beside a giant neighbour such as the United States of America with its formidable economic power and its climate, which is much more suitable than ours, especially in the Gaspé region. Last week, I went snowmobiling, because there are still two feet of snow in the sugar bush, so there were not many farmers out in the fields.
Some farmers now administer thousands of dollars, and many jobs depend on their economic health and the continued development of their businesses. Bill C-86 should secure the future of milk producers for a while. This means that many farmers in my
riding will enjoy a better future and may even ensure their succession, something which is particularly difficult in my region.
Without the farmers, our small communities will not survive. They were built thanks to the solidarity and the strong will of ordinary people who, over the years, have become great men and women, the builders of our country. Bill C-86 is proof that Quebecers always show solidarity, including with their neighbours, when necessary and when they do not feel pressured by the big federal machine, which often blindly imposes its will.
If each region could plan its own development without having to meet countless standards, we would obviously have a more prosperous country which would surely work a lot better. If the federal government did not impose its standards and, instead, let the provinces decide freely and independently among themselves, the country that you call Canada would undoubtedly work a lot better.
In any case, when Quebec becomes sovereign, it will show solidarity with its neighbours. As I said earlier, virtually all the small villages in my region and my riding were built around agriculture, and they continue to depend on that industry for their livelihood. Should agriculture disappear, a very large number of them would be abandoned overnight. It would be unfortunate to see a country, which our ancestors worked so hard to build, slowly disintegrate because people, who have given so much, have had to leave their regions.
I am also pleased to discuss Bill C-86 because my region is one of Quebec's major dairy production centres. It took almost 50 years of efforts to get to the enviable position that we, Quebecers, now hold in that market. Moreover, we invested large sums of money over the years to diversify, to produce more finished goods, and to fight effectively against outside competition. We are used to defending ourselves, and Bill C-68 once again confirms our leadership, our vision and our courage.
Moreover, Bill C-86 contradicts the federalist big names who wrongly assert that the rest of Canada will reject any agreement with Quebec, if it were to become sovereign tomorrow. On the contrary, an economic union is crucial for both parties, and everybody knows it.
Bill C-86 embodies this principle. Six provinces have signed an agreement, and others will undoubtedly join in when they realize that it is in their own interest.
In my area, dairy production alone generates 75 per cent of farm income and the dairy sector accounts for over 50 per cent of the farm businesses. The other main sectors are cattle, sheep and pork. That tells us a lot about the importance of the dairy sector.
Looking at employment, that sector provides over 7,500 permanent jobs, and thousands more seasonal jobs. Forty-eight per cent of the workers are under 40, which is truly remarkable.
In spite of this, figures for the Matapedia Valley show a 22 per cent drop in farm acreage between 1981 and 1991. Over the same period, the number of farms fell from 420 to 285, a 32 per cent drop.
While many factors can explain these drops, the main one also applies to other sectors. Raw materials from the regions go to major cities for processing, and the finished goods are then sold back to regions. Bill C-86 sets up a national pooling system of market returns that will help the sale of milk products abroad. That goal is praiseworthy, because it will enable us to counter the constant threat of foreign competition.
GATT and NAFTA do not give us much choice. I think we should also consider the same approach in other areas, particularly research and development in agriculture, without any federal involvement. We could research and develop new farm products that could be processed in the regions. Specialized small regional businesses could revitalize rural areas.
I congratulate the proponents of the agreement that is incorporated in Bill C-86 and more particularly Claude Rivard, the president of the federation of dairy producers, and a resident of my region of Matapedia Valley. I urge them to go even further and consider the future of agriculture in regions, including mine, because strong regions make for a strong country and a strong Quebec. Our survival and prosperity depend on a strong and diversified agricultural industry at the regional level. Thanks to specialized producers evenly and fairly distributed throughout the country, we will be able to successfully compete on world markets.
There is no point trying to grow oranges in northern Quebec, but we sure can try to produce something else. There is no point trying to produce milk on a large scale on farms that are not suited to this type of production, but we sure can try our hand at something else. What I am trying to show through these examples is that the agreement underlying Bill C-86 is excellent, and that we should continue in this way. In Quebec, pooling of our resources is where our great strength lies.
If farming is doing so well in Quebec, it is because we gave ourselves the means to succeed. Our farmers are independent, but have set up huge co-ops, pools and marketing boards which serve them well. Canada should follow suit and have independent provinces which still feel solidarity with each other. Unfortunately, the dinosaurs of centralist federalism have no options to put forward.
We, in Quebec, will make the right choice, just like Quebec farmers have done recently. A sovereign Quebec will stand behind its Canadian neighbours. I want to tell you that, in my
rural riding, the people are very proud of this agreement, and I am particularly proud that one of my constituents, a resident of Matapédia, is behind this initiative.
The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments. I will recognize a member of another party, the hon. member for Durham.
Mr. Plamondon: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am convinced that I was on my feet before the hon. member, and I thought that the custom here was to recognize the first member to rise.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member is absolutely right, but as he may already know, it makes for a much more interesting debate if the Chair gives a member of another party the opportunity to ask questions or make comments.
So, I recognize the hon. member for Durham.
Mr. Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Matapédia-Matane for his dissertation on this bill.
As I listened to the member's speech I was taken aback by how he used a federal agreement to argue the case of an independent Quebec. Actually, as I read this piece of legislation it occurred to me that this is one of the powerful things of a federal state like Canada, which can actually come to national agreements in the best interests of all the people of Canada, including the farmers of Quebec.
The signatories in this agreement are not other independent countries. They are not states of the United States. In fact they are people who have agreed to make this arrangement within a federal state. Indeed, if my memory serves me correctly the whole concept of pooling and marketing board systems was created by the federal government in the first place.
Most of the farmers in Canada recognize the importance of the federal government in the area of marketing and in establishing national marketing standards. My riding is also a very important area of milk production, contributing 2 per cent of the total milk production for the province of Ontario. I can tell the hon. member that if things were different, if things were as he would like them to be, the people in my riding would do the economic thing and start producing more milk to service our own domestic market, excluding the people of Quebec.
Forty per cent of the industrial milk quota has been allocated to the province of Quebec. I want to assure the member that the people in his riding are very much taking advantage of the federalist system. I would like to bring that to the member's attention.
Mr. Canuel: Mr. Speaker, it is a fact that we are interdependent and that Ontario has a production level of 40 per cent. It is a fact that one province can reach agreements with other provinces, but that does not necessarily mean that these agreements will be overseen by the federal government.
Many agreements have been reached with Ontario, on a department to department basis, and both provinces have benefited from then. There were also agreements with New Brunswick. That is how I see the situation. The day we are sovereign, we will be able to negotiate our agreements without having to ask for permission from the head office, the federal government.
We noted that six provinces came to an agreement, and we hope that the other provinces will understand, because it is in their interest to operate with the other provinces. Under such circumstances, they will be ready to move on their own initiative, at their own speed. That is how I see things. This is how the federation should have been operating for a long time, but this is not the way things turned out.
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Richelieu, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I will start by congratulating my colleague for his remarks. I think it was very appropriate for him to talk about the contribution of the people who built his region, Quebec, and several other regions of Canada. The builders of both our nations, Quebec and Canada, are mostly farmers.
Agricultural development gave birth to small villages, some of which later became larger villages and then grew into towns, small and large. In this context, this historical review seemed important as part of my colleague's speech. He also used a rather harsh word to describe the federal government when he talked about the federal monster.
I want to ask him a question about that. What bothers farmers and the majority of people in both our nations, Quebec and Canada, the most is to see the federal government interfering in areas that are not under its jurisdiction. Whether in health, job training, environment or agriculture, the federal government has a tendency to become an administrative monster which sticks its nose everywhere and does nothing really to favour regional economic development.
Quebec would like to have a different kind of relationship with this federal monster. As my colleague mentioned, it would rather have direct agreements with the provinces. Quebec has a lot in common with Ontario. It may have less in common with the western provinces, but it does have strong ties with the United States. So this new kind of state that Quebec would like to become would allow it to negotiate directly with any province that would be willing to make a deal.
Milk is a good example of the economic life of various regions of the country. Of course, Quebec has a higher percentage of milk production quotas, with close to 50 per cent.
However, if we consider the Alberta beef production for example, we can see that Quebec buys nearly 75 per cent of the total production. In that sense, Quebec is a good friend of Alberta since it is a consumer of some of its products. The same thing happens when Quebec makes a financial contribution to the federal state and this federal state distributes the money. When the federal gives this money to western grain producers so that they can produce wheat and sell it on the international market, Quebec is giving back quite a lot to that region of Canada.
The Quebec population represents 23 to 24 per cent of the Canadian population. If we were to receive 23 to 24 per cent of the federal budget for agriculture, we would be getting $800 million more each year. So maybe our quotas are in fact more generous, but as far as financial fallouts are concerned, and I am talking here about direct annual statutory programs, we are losing $800 million a year. This figure does not even include special programs like those announced in the last budget, the $1.5 billion for western diversification for example. However, as announced, Quebec will also suffer cuts of 15 per cent this year and 15 per cent next year, but I heard nothing about a financial compensation for our region.
All the special subsidies awarded to western Canada over the last seven or eight years amount to more than six billion dollars. Quebec contributed one fourth of that sum through its taxes. We have thus been extremely generous towards Canadian products and it would be only fair that, when the time comes to share in another form of economic activity like milk production, we get a larger share. By the way, when the system for western wheat was put in place, sales to China or eastern countries were subsidized by the federal government. This type of production was a lot more profitable than milk production. Farmers in that part of the country were not interested in producing milk.
In other words, if you were a farmer, dairy farming was a job which paid less and was therefore less attractive. We agreed to do it, to develop our industry and improve its efficiency. Now that it is doing well, we are told: ``Maybe you got too much''. I was surprised by some of the chauvinistic interventions I heard in this debate, yesterday and again today, especially when my colleague from Frontenac was giving us market examples, examples of competition , and also examples from the Reform Party.
Speaking of the Reform Party, and I will conclude on that, I would ask my colleague whether he agrees with what I just said, since he talked about Mr. Claude Rivard, the president of the Fédération des producteurs de lait who said, and rightly so, quoting a respected American editorialist, that the system we presently have is quite exceptional and that the United States would do well to implement one like it instead of trying to destroy it.
I fail to understand the attitude of certain Reform members, when they say: ``Abolish it, let free competition take care of it. Let us do it the American way''. The most eminent analysts, however, would tell you that the result of the current American system is that they are investing 34 cents on the dollar instead of 49 cents as we do in product development in the dairy industry.
Therefore, that would be far from free competition, that would be abandoning Canada and Quebec to the American market. Regarding this, Mr. Rivard put it nicely when he quoted American economists and he is delighted with the agreement reached between six provinces a short while back at a meeting with 190 delegates. He is delighted that they voted unanimously in favour of the agreement. Bill C-86 is a step in the right direction as far as the Bloc Quebecois is concerned. It is also, I think, what Quebec and Canadian dairy producers have always wanted. They have a very fair system.
It is acceptable to producers, and very inexpensive for the federal government when compared with other interventionist systems, such as the Crow rate, subsidies for western farm production or the eastern fishery. Yes, it is relatively cheap compared to other economic policies.
So, when something is not broken, why fix it? Hence, I congratulate my hon. colleague on his representation and I would be interested in hearing his remarks regarding my comments which could only expound on his speech moments ago.
Mr. Canuel: Mr. Speaker, my colleague has described the situation very well. Over the last 50 years, all of Canada's agriculture ministers, or almost all, have managed to leave our farmers increasingly worse off. My colleague gave a brief description of the situation in Quebec's towns and villages in the 1960s. There were dairies everywhere. Each community processed its own milk, cream and butter. They were all self-sufficient, and there was some assistance from the federal government. Then, the government pulled out almost completely and left people to fend for themselves.
I am very pleased to see that the provinces today are trying to go back to the system of 20 or 30 years ago.
The Deputy Speaker: Before giving the floor to the member for Québec-Est, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is the following: the hon. member for Saint John-Infrastructure.
Mr. Jean-Paul Marchand (Québec-Est, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I too am very pleased to speak to Bill C-86, at the invitation of my colleague from Frontenac, not only because he has asked me to take part in this debate, but also because agriculture is a topic dear to my heart, although in my riding of Québec-Est there are no farms as such, just a few retired farmers.
It is of interest to me because I recognize the great importance of agriculture to the economic health of a country, and in Quebec we must do everything we can to maintain and strengthen the agricultural economy, and especially the all-important dairy sector. And in addition, because Bill C-86 is a good bill.
Finally, the Liberal government has tabled a good bill, something we do not often see. It is worth mentioning because the very great majority of bills it has tabled to date have been, if not terrible, certainly mediocre and second rate. Take the budget, for instance, which was probably one of the worst proposals ever tabled in this House, a budget in which everything was done to protect the rich in this country and make the poor poorer. One more example of their lack of vision and understanding. Take the Lobbyists Registration Act, another rotten piece of legislation. In fact, there are several bills that have been really disappointing, at a time when the public expected so much of this government. They have been very disappointing indeed.
However, Bill C-86 before the House today is a good bill, I must admit. And maybe it is a good bill because, basically, it was not so much the government as the farmers themselves that initiated this legislation. They were the ones to start the ball rolling. The farmers convinced the government to table this bill. They did everything they could to ensure that this proposal to pool resources and dairy production became a reality. I may add that Quebec farmers and dairy producers were largely instrumental in getting these proposals off the ground. They were actively involved in these plans for pooling dairy production. This is important. We are aware of that.
As was mentioned by other members, there was a problem with dairy production in Canada. Formerly, $3 per hectolitre was collected to subsidize exports of dairy products, mainly butter and powdered milk, which represented about $160 million.
The money was used to support the sales and distribution of these dairy products. Because of the new GATT and NAFTA agreements, Canada can no longer collect this money, because according to GATT and NAFTA, for various reasons this is perceived as money used to support unfair competition.
Canada is eliminating this $3 levy per hectolitre, as a result milk prices will go down. Moreover, milk production in the six eastern provinces, except Newfoundland, namely New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba, which account for roughly 80 to 85 per cent of milk production in Canada, will be pooled and placed under the authority of one commission, with one price and one milk.
In the past, there was a difference between fluid milk or drinking milk and milk used in processing to make dairy products such as cottage cheese, butter, and powdered milk. From now on, there will be only one class of milk, one system and one price. All the quotas will be pooled, which means that all the provinces which currently have quotas will be able to retain them. Quebec, which accounts for 48 per cent of the total milk production, will keep the same production quotas, and so will Ontario and the other provinces.
This new commission, which hopefully will be able to get along with the provinces and operate as efficiently as possible, will have increased powers enabling it to deal with the export of milk based products. It would also be responsible for pricing and selling quotas, for instance. Provinces will be allowed to trade quotas.
However, we must admit that the main advantage of this new formula is that dairy production risks will be spread among dairy producers in eastern Canada, and that it will allow them to share the costs of managing the system. No doubt this will reduce the administration costs of the system, and we hope it does.
I will make the point, and it is a point that must be made: dairy production is very important to Quebec. In fact, the entire agri-food system is very important. For example, in 1993, Quebec exported over $1.5 billion worth of natural foodstuffs and, in 1994, it increased these exports by almost 5 per cent over the same period in the preceding year.
In 1989, for example, dairy products in Quebec represented 35 per cent of the province's total agricultural revenues and 38 per cent of Canada's dairy revenues.
The dairy industry in Quebec is beyond a doubt one of the largest industries and therefore it must be preserved and protected at all cost.
Bill C-86 will result in the economic integration of this whole sector, with milk production being consolidated under a new Canadian Dairy Commission. This is one way of protecting the common interests of all the provinces. Dairy producers are united in protecting themselves and this vital industry.
It must be said that the supply management system, particularly in the dairy sector, came under a lot of criticism in the past. The members of the Reform Party said it would be better to
eliminate the supply management system, because they prefer free competition.
My colleague for Richelieu pointed out that it was not a good idea to eliminate the supply management system. On the contrary, if we compare our system with the American one, we see that we are well off with our own. My colleague for Richelieu drew attention to an article by Claude Rivard, president of the Fédération des producteurs de lait, in which Mr. Rivard quotes two editorials in Hoard's Dairymen, which is apparently the Bible of American farmers.
The two editorials in this ``Bible'' noted that dairy producers had lost production value, in that an increasingly large part of the market had been taken over by wholesalers, food chains and supermarkets, to the detriment of farm producers. In other words, dairy producers in the United States have lost money. They have become poorer, they have suffered the highs and the lows of an insufficiently controlled market.
The editorial in Hoard's Dairymen recommended that the United States develop a system like Canada's, that is, a system in which supply can be adjusted to suit demand. It pointed out that the supply management system in Canada is highly efficient. We know it is.
We know that dairy production is volatile because production can be easily increased. Without a system to adjust production to supply, prices would vary significantly. Therefore the supply management system is a good one. It is better than the one in the United States and warrants keeping.
Bill C-86 does just that: it makes dairy producers feel safer, more secure about this system being maintained, now that they have pooled their resources. This strengthens this branch of the industry and gives some indication of what lies ahead for them. This bill clearly shows that, contrary to the fears raised by certain individuals about quotas going down in value, the supply management system disappearing or this entire sector declining in the coming years, the system will be maintained, and I might add, even after Quebec has become sovereign.
We must conclude from this bill that, even after Quebec has become sovereign, the supply management system will almost certainly be maintained. That is normal since, as we know, this bill was developed in response to international agreements such as NAFTA and GATT. It is an attempt to adjust to these agreements, which will be maintained after Quebec has become sovereign.
We know that Quebec as well as Canada will accept the requirements of both NAFTA and GATT, according to which there should be no unfair competition and no new tariff barriers or other barriers like those currently encountered.
Again, this is very reassuring to dairy producers since all dairy producers, from Nova Scotia to Manitoba, are now together in the same system. It will certainly be to their advantage to stick together, not only because this is an excellent system, a system that will maintain reasonable levels of production and income for them, but also because it keeps American producers at bay.
If this system were to disappear tomorrow or be rejected all of a sudden, then we would obviously have to compete with the Americans, and our dairy producers might have a hard time staying in business, in spite of the fact that they may offer higher quality products than the Americans.
This threat from the U.S. would be quite worrisome for producers, be they in Manitoba, Quebec or Nova Scotia, if they did not stick together, if they did not join in this pooling system. We can even predict that if Manitoba or Ontario decided to opt out of the pooling system after Quebec achieves sovereignty, this would create problems not only for that province and for Quebec but also for all the other provinces. The whole system could collapse, when it is beneficial to all dairy farmers in all six provinces.
It would therefore be illogical, even irrational, and certainly economically harmful to bring down the system being set up under Bill C-86. This system is beneficial to all dairy farmers and will be maintained after Quebec achieves sovereignty.
Quebec must achieve sovereignty, and it is in the farmers' interests to acknowledge that this will be good for the country as a whole because Quebec will want to repatriate the powers it needs in other sectors. However, dairy farmers in Quebec will be allowed to maintain this pooling system, which is beneficial to them and to their counterparts in other provinces. Upon achieving sovereignty, Quebec will be able to uphold the agreements in this sector and those that will be negotiated in other sectors.
In fact, some economists published a report yesterday that explained that because of GATT and NAFTA, similar economically sound administrative agreements in other sectors will be maintained and will continue to exist.
Once again, we have people saying that the end is near, that new borders will arise, that there will be customs check points between Quebec and Ontario. This is all purely hypothetical and just a lot of scaremongering. We know that even Europe has simple administrative systems that would work in Canada, between Quebec and Canada, and would not prevent free circulation of goods and services or alter generally beneficial agreements that exist now, like the pooling system to be implemented by Bill C-86.
All this will continue. There is no reason to believe it would not, and the same applies to other sectors. There is every indication that this is what will happen. In fact, farmers know
that the federal system here in Ottawa constitutes the greatest single threat to the agricultural sector. We have said this so often it has become a-
An hon. member: A truism.
Mr. Marchand: -a truism that Quebec has been treated unfairly by the federal government. This has been going on for years. If Quebec really received its fair share, it would have had as much as $800 million annually. Quebec got a raw deal under the federal system. In fact, one of the threats to the dairy system, for instance, is BST.
BST is a major threat, and this is very disturbing. The fact that they want to introduce BST in Canada is very disturbing indeed. I think it is totally unacceptable, and all dairy producers should be up in arms, and consumers as well. Introducing BST in milk, in this pure product, is almost sacrilege.
This is all very disturbing. I think Quebec is well advised to get out of the federal system because the system is falling apart and heavily in debt. Canada has been warned twice during the past three years. The International Monetary Fund warned Canada it would have to turn its economy around because it was teetering on the brink. It seems our public finances are out of control. It is like a ship sinking in the middle of the ocean, and people who think the federal system is here to stay should remember the Titanic.
Mr. Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the hon. member for Québec-Est. He often performs eloquently on agricultural issues. However he speaks of a fairy world in which we can have our cake and eat it too.
The member talked about the fear of the American market system and protecting his own people, the farmers of Quebec, from the American marketing system. The uniqueness of that is that America is a nation state. We are not talking about Canada being a group of 10 nation states; we are talking about Canada being a federalist state. Perhaps the member has not studied economic history, but sovereign states basically take care of their own people first. The concept is the welfare of the people who live within that country.
The GATT negotiation is a way of playing baseball. We are to play a game and these are the rules. Each team is trying to win. Each team is trying to be effective. It is an illusion to have a pooling system, keep all the good things and have a sovereign state. To argue that we are going to keep the good and do away with the bad is not how it works in reality. It has not worked in any country. Sovereign nations will take care of their own people first.
Farmers in Quebec are the highest per capita income earners of all farmers in Canada. How could the member argue that they have been taken advantage of or that they are at a great disadvantage in the federal system when they are the best off economically of all farmers in the country?
Mr. Marchand: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that Quebec farmers are disadvantaged. It has been written all over federal budgets for years. We had proof of that again recently. We are reducing subsidies to milk producers in Quebec by 30 per cent. That affects Quebec. It certainly affects Ontario as well. However it is a known fact that Quebec has never got its share of federal dollars in terms of agriculture. It has received much less than its share. There is no doubt about it.
If agriculture in Quebec is strong and well developed it is because we have good farmers. It is not at all due to the federal government. We would have had a stronger agriculture sector if the federal government had acted fairly with Quebec farmers.
It is not a fairy world to speak about the GATT and free trade. It is obvious that the GATT and free trade with the United States have rules. They set ways that commercial interests can trade functions. We know as well that the understanding and trade relations which exist now, today, tomorrow and every day before Quebec sovereignty will continue afterward because that is one of the principles of the GATT. Economic relationships will not disappear overnight.
My hon. colleague is the one who is dreaming when he thinks that the GATT has no weight. It is quite the contrary. The negotiations have weight. The structure that will be put in place by Bill C-86 will be respected by all other trade bodies, whether it be the GATT or anything else.
I am not dreaming at all. We are not speaking of any kind of fairy world when we say the agreements that were taken or will be taken now will continue after Quebec sovereignty. It is entirely logical and entirely reasonable. Farmers today are undertaking the agreements in a very economic, reasonable and logical way. There is nothing emotional involved. It is in their best interest and it will be in their best interest after sovereignty.
The milk producers of Manitoba and the milk producers of Ontario are not interested in United States milk producers competing with Canada or Quebec. The same reasoning is applicable elsewhere, like in Quebec and in every other province. They are not interested in having U.S. competitors coming into Canada. Besides, free trade does not allow it at the moment. GATT does not allow it either. It will not allow it after sovereignty. These agreements go beyond Quebec sovereignty. These are international agreements.
The minute Quebec becomes sovereign, it will belong to GATT. There is no reason to even deny that Quebec will belong to GATT. We are living in a civilized world here. We are living in a civilized world where people respect each other and respect agreements that are signed in a reasonable way. Some people are less civilized than others, certainly. Some people also see problems where there are no. problems. They create fear but there are no foundations to those fears.
The Deputy Speaker: Resuming debate. With apologies for not recognizing him earlier, the hon. member for Medicine Hat.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, no apology is necessary. The mistake was at our end but nevertheless it is a pleasure to rise to address Bill C-86.
Talking specifically to the bill, this is an act to amend the Canadian Dairy Commission Act. The purpose of the bill is to amend the act to provide for the replacement of the existing system of levies with a system of pooling market returns from different classes of milk. The idea of this bill is to bring that levy system into alignment with Canada's international trade agreements.
I am the first one to admit that I do not know a tremendous amount about milk production. I am certainly a milk consumer. I go to the 7-Eleven and buy milk. I put it on my cereal and am happy to drink it, but I have only milked a cow once in my life. Apparently it is all in the wrists, but I had very little luck with that.
I will speak a little on the idea of trade. I will also talk a little from my perspective as somebody who comes from a rural constituency about the obvious need to be sensitive to the farm community and the agricultural community while at the same time recognizing the realities out there.
Certainly the reality today in this country and around the world is that we are moving more and more toward free trade. My hon. friend from Québec-Est has just spoken at length about how Quebec is a sovereign country, and if it should ever become a sovereign country, heaven forbid, how it would somehow turn the tide against free trade or be a hold out to free trade. It would protect itself from free trade as though free trade were like a cafeteria where you could pick and choose the agreements you wanted to make.
Of course, that is unrealistic. It took around 100 countries to get a GATT agreement. I remind my hon. friend from Québec-Est and my friends in the Bloc that coming up in the year 2000, which is not very far away now, we are going to see another round of negotiations where undoubtedly tariffs will continue to fall. More and more pressure will be put on Canada and countries like ours that have supply management systems. We are eventually going to have to open up.
I also point out to my hon. friend that under the NAFTA agreement and certainly under any new NAFTA agreements that would come as a result of allowing countries like Chile and other Latin American countries in, we are going to have to see things open up.
Although I am somewhat sympathetic and I have heard from my friends about how supply management has served Quebec well in the past, particularly individual farmers, I can completely understand how important agriculture is to a province and to a country. It does not only produce agricultural commodities but it also produces a lifestyle. It produces income and people with fine character. That is very important and I believe in that.
We are doing people a disservice if we are not straight with them, if we do not tell them what the reality is. The reality is free trade is coming our way and the best thing we can do now is to begin to make adjustments so that we can survive in that free trade environment.
Yesterday I watched on television as members of the Bloc and members of the government debated back and forth about whether or not Quebec was going to stay in Canada, what it would be like if it was outside of Canada and so on.
People must remember that there is a third option. We do not have to settle for status quo federalism, which not only the people in Quebec are upset about, but also the people in the west. The people in my constituency of Medicine Hat are very upset with it.
We do not have to settle for sovereignty. In fact, I understand my Bloc friends are moving away from sovereignty. Pretty soon, who knows, maybe they will be committed federalists the way they are moving around here.
An hon. member: They voted for the pension.
Mr. Solberg: They did vote for the MP pension. That is notable. They are quite happy to take those Canadian dollars when it comes to pension plans.
There is a third option. It is important for dairy farmers in Quebec and all over the country to note that. Because only when we consider the third option can we make the argument that Canadian dairy farmers can still have a viable industry down the road. They need not fear the American juggernaut because there are ways to make dairy farmers in Canada competitive so they can not only survive, but can thrive in the free market environment.
Let me talk for a moment about that third option. Canadians have been telling us that one of the biggest issues of concern to them is the debt and the deficit. The government has taken some baby steps to deal with that but those steps will not be adequate. The reason that should be a concern to dairy farmers and anybody who is in business is that with every day that goes by, we go another $90 million to $100 million in the hole. Eventual-
ly we have to pay interest on that. Of course taxes have to go up to keep paying the interest on the debt and deficit. Every second that goes by we go in the hole another $1,036. It is $90 million to $100 million a day. Now our total debt is $551 billion and climbing.
One thing that must happen in order to make dairy farmers around the country competitive is we have to balance the budget. We have asked the government over and over again to the point where some people have become weary of it, but it is an important issue. We have asked the government to tell us when it will balance the budget. It has refused to do that. By refusing to do that it sends a very negative message which also hurts dairy farmers and anybody who is in business. The government sends a message to the markets that it is not prepared to deal with the problem seriously. Thus we have high interest rates which again penalize particularly people in the agriculture industry.
Before Canadian agriculture can be competitive with farmers around the world, we have to get those interest rates down. Right now there is an approximate 3 per cent differential with the United States. That is a huge competitive advantage for the United States. We have to beat that down.
If we can get a hold on the deficit and the debt we will slay two dragons. We will slay the dragon of high interest rates and the dragon of high taxes, which make it very difficult to do business in the country and compete internationally.
That is the option Reform is offering. It is one that the federal government certainly has not talked about. Of course, our Bloc friends would just as soon be out of the country so they have not really offered any constructive ideas for dealing with the debt and the deficit.
While we are on the subject, Reform has also talked about the need to pass language and cultural issues down to the provinces. That would solve a lot of concerns people in Quebec have about confederation and federalism as it is today. We are sensitive to the fact they wish to preserve their language and culture. Reform agrees with that. We believe there can be a way of accommodating the desire of provinces to have control over language and culture in a large country such as Canada where there are many different interests.
There are many other things we could talk about and many other arguments we could make for our vision of federalism. I hope those two address specifically some of the concerns that Quebec dairy farmers would have about competing more in a free trade environment.
One thing that is going to be happening in the near future and which the government has talked about is the need to expand the NAFTA.
The talk is that Chile will become involved very quickly in NAFTA. When that happens there are many people who suspect that the Americans will argue for more of an opening up of some of the protection we now provide for supply management. If that happens, if government is committed to expanding the NAFTA agreement as it says it is, there must be some accommodation to some of our trading partners to open these things up. Frankly, I would be surprised if the government denied that it was going to have to open things up a little bit more.
Setting that aside for a moment, we have already talked a bit about the GATT agreement which will be renegotiated in a few years time and undoubtedly tariffs will be coming down more. Given that reality, I say to my Bloc friends across the way that they are doing the dairy farmers in their own province a great disservice by telling them, leading them on and making them think that there is some way we can preserve the status quo. Well there is no way.
The best example of that, which my friend from Kindersley-Lloydminster pointed to earlier on, is what happened when the government made changes to the WGTA. People out west are saying: ``Yes, WGTA is coming to an end. We do not have a problem with that, but it would be nice if we could have had a little notice. It would have been nice if we could have made some of the changes that we needed to make to the transportation system so that we could compete in that free market environment''.
On the one hand, we are moving away from the free market environment by dumping the WGTA, which is fine, but on the other hand, the transportation system is still not responsive to a free market environment. Unfortunately, in the next year or so at least and probably three years, farmers in the west are going to be caught in that situation. That is unfair and really reflects poor planning on behalf of the government. It hurts people. I believe many farmers in the west may have to go out of business because of that very poor planning on behalf of the government.
Let us not repeat that mistake now by permitting dairy farmers across the country to think that somehow we can hold on to the status quo. The fact is that free trade is coming.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my comments, I do not know a lot about the production of milk but I do know a little bit about the consumption of it. I want to address some of the comments the member for Québec-Est made with respect to how this benefits dairy farmers.
I remind my hon. friend that there has to be a balance here. Consumers need to be considered when we talk about these things. When my friend talks about how dairy farmers in the United States are suffering and this that and the other thing, he should know that consumers are benefiting by the fact that there
is that competition. If anyone doubts that, they need only cross the border and look at the difference in the price of cheese, butter or milk compared to Canadian prices.
I do not think the difference in those prices has to be the difference in profit margin between Canada and the U.S. If we could get our act together by getting our own input costs down, I think our own dairy people can be extremely productive and profitable. However, the key is for us to deal with that debt and deficit.
When consumers have more money in their pockets by virtue of lower prices for things like milk, butter and cheese, they can also buy more of them. However, when they are very expensive because supply management builds in what I think we would regard as some inefficiencies, then people are a little bit more squeezed when it comes to buying groceries and they just cannot buy the same quantities they would be able to buy otherwise. That is something I would like my friend from Québec-Est to consider.
I talked a little bit about the debt and the deficit and the need to offer a third option. One of the things that came up yesterday in debate between the Liberals and the Bloc was the whole idea of the status quo federalism versus separation.
One of the things happening lately with the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois is they have been sending out signs that they are moving more toward the idea of sovereignty association and who knows what now. There has been a lot of talk about their having all kinds of internal problems and about some people being perhaps more committed to federalism than they would like us to believe.
We would like to offer a chance to our friends in the Bloc Quebecois to take the extra step, come a little closer and consider Reform's vision of a decentralized Canada in which provinces will have their rights respected under the Constitution, in which we absolutely and completely support their rights to make some of the decisions that affect their well-being but on the other hand still allow them to remain part of one country and have more control of some of the things important to them in terms of international trade by virtue of the fact that they are part of one big country. They are not tiny countries among 150 in the world. They are part of Canada. Canada carries tremendous weight by virtue of its reputation and its size in terms of its economy.
We encourage our friends to consider this when they are talking about international trade. Obviously when we have more trade in the world because of a larger economy we will be able to make better agreements. We encourage our friends in the Bloc to think about that as well.
Any time the government brings forward legislation which brings rules and regulations in line with international agreements it is a step in the right direction. There are still some provinces concerned about the bill. We respect that.
I encourage the government and members of the Bloc Quebecois to continue to move toward agreements that recognize the reality that we must have free trade. It is where everyone is heading.
Mr. Alex Shepherd (Durham, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member.
He talked about competition. He envied the American agricultural system and its milk producers. In Canada milk producers are better compensated than their American counterparts.
Even so, the top 10 per cent of dairy producers only receive about 5 per cent return on their invested capital. Clearly from a business operation Canadian farmers are far from being wealthy. The hon. member is speaking about emulating a system that will make Canadian farmers far poorer than that.
It is interesting that we have had both the Bloc and Reform members on their feet today speaking about the same system. They are talking about decentralizing, weakening the federal system.
The NAFTA and the GATT have already weakened the federal government's ability to exercise economic policy within our borders. By decentralizing even further and allocating more powers to the provinces there is a point at which there would be nothing left. That is what both of these parties basically want to do. I am very happy to belong to the governing party which understands the need for national standards and national policy.
We are debating a pooling agreement which draws to our attention the importance of a federal system with provinces and the federal government setting national standards, in this case for the pooling of milk.
It has the possibility of being downloaded to the provinces by certain authorities. At the same time it is establishing national standards. I believe some of my colleagues in the Reform Party would do the reverse. They would have each province make its own agricultural policy as it affected them.
I would like the hon. member to address whether they are in favour of a supply managed system Canada or an American free market system with lower incomes to farmers than in the Canadian system.
Mr. Solberg: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has asked the wrong question. He asked if we are in favour of supply management as if that is a long term option. The hon. member should be
completely up front with his own constituents, the people of his province and the people of Quebec. He must know that although the government fought against NAFTA it has signed on to it. It said it did not really believe in the whole thing but it has signed on to it. He must know supply management as it exists today is not a long term option.
We are moving toward free trade so there is no point in pining in some sentimental way for the way things used to be 20 years ago. Tariffs are dropping every year. Ultimately we will see a situation, since the government signed the agreement, in which dairy producers will have to compete more on a premarket basis.
Let us not complain about the way things are and how they used to be. Instead, let us get ourselves ready. The best way to do that is to get rid of the taxes. The hon. member talked about the American system. The one thing I admire about the United States is it has been able to hold its taxes down which gives it a tremendous trade advantage.
We will be in the hole $32 billion this year. By the end of the government's term it will be over $100 billion. The Liberals are adding to it when they reap huge rewards through their MP pensions, but that is another debate.
The point is we have to get a handle on the debt and deficit so we can get the taxes down so dairy producers and all business people will be competitive. Let us not be sentimental about the past. The past is past. Let the dead bury the dead; let us get on with the future and start making the changes we have to make in order to be competitive.
Mr. Maurice Bernier (Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I see that the Liberals are anxiously waiting for my comments. I hope I will not disappoint them.
I am very pleased to take part in this debate for two specific reasons. First, there is the importance of agriculture for the economy of my riding and my region of Estrie, the Eastern Townships. However, I also want to discuss certain arguments raised during this debate on Bill C-86, particularly this idea that, according to our federalist colleagues, once Quebec becomes sovereign, it would be impossible to preserve any form of agreement between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
First, I want to point out that the Eastern Toownships, where I come from, and particularly the riding of Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead, which I represent here, produce 2.6 million hectolitres of milk every year. This translates into net annual revenues of over $130 million for producers.
Dairy producers in the riding of Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead alone provide 1.2 million hectolitres of milk per year, which amounts to more than $60 million in net revenues. Roughly 50 per cent of the milk produced in the Eastern Townships comes from the riding of Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead. Although I did not make an in depth study of the location of producers in my riding, I would say that three quarters of the production comes from the Coaticook region, which is known, not only locally, but throughout Quebec and even Canada, as the top milk producing region.
Each year, the beautiful city of Coaticook holds its dairy festival. This event is an opportunity to fully recognize the importance of that industry in my region and in my riding. It is also an opportunity for our fellow citizens to celebrate, to meet, and basically to enjoy the fruits of their labour. This is one of the reasons why I really wanted to take part in this debate.
I said a moment ago that I wanted to focus more on the relations between states, or to put it another way, between economic partners in the Canadian economic union, rather than on the actual substance of Bill C-86. My colleague from Frontenac, the Bloc Quebecois agriculture critic, has brilliantly, as always, explained why the Bloc Quebecois supported this bill.
He is very familiar with the subject, with all aspects of the bill, and was able to substantiate his arguments, unlike the Liberal members opposite, of course, and our colleagues in the Reform Party, who would like to see a system of free enterprise, with no constraints whatsoever, a sort of no holds barred capitalism really, such as we had a number of years ago, and such as can still be found in some parts of the United States.
Often our Liberal and Reform colleagues, and the member for Kingston and the Islands is a good example, use the word ``separation'' when speaking about the sovereignty of Quebec.
Mr. Milliken: That is what it is.
Mr. Bernier (Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead): The Liberal party, the Liberal government, which is using our taxes to conduct all sorts of opinion polls, saw that using the word ``separation'' worked to their advantage, because it struck fear into the hearts of Quebecers, and could lead to a ``no'' in the referendum.
When people look more closely at what sovereignists are saying, when they take the time to really listen to what they have to say, they see right away that the sovereignist message is one of openness, of self-confidence.
To put it briefly, what sovereignists want is for us to be able to look after our own affairs in Quebec, to be able to make our own decisions about the kind of society we wish to build, the kind of
society we wish to live in, and to be able to determine, on the basis of our needs, our interests and our values, what we want to share with our neighbours and with which of our neighbours we want to do business. That is what Quebec sovereignty would mean.
Let me give you a few examples. During Canada's 1988 election campaign on free trade, one of the strongest proponents of the free trade agreement with the U.S. was Bernard Landry, who is now Quebec's Deputy Premier.
I would say that he spoke up in just about every forum. He was then a staunch ally of the Conservative Party, arguing that it was necessary, not only preferable but essential, for the economy of Quebec and Canada as a whole to expand our markets and sell more products to the Americans, the U.S. being our closest neighbour.
This was acknowledged by then Prime Minister Mulroney, who, on several occasions, used the example given by Bernard Landry to say what a decisive role it played in that election campaign. Well, Mr. Landry is a convinced and convincing sovereignist, an active politician who, for more than 30 years-without adding years to his real age-, has been defending this theory with brilliance and eloquence.
A few days ago, at a fundraiser for the Parti Quebecois in Montreal, the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Parizeau, told business people, and I quote: ``We may be a small country in terms of population, but we are successful, fulfilled and wealthier''. Mr. Parizeau did not give any examples, but he could have mentioned Norway, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland, small countries whose populations are roughly the same as Quebec's. Mr. Parizeau went on to say, ``We may have a small population and still be a prosperous, wealthy society, on one basic condition: that we have access to large markets without ever giving up our identity''.
That is what was said by the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Parizeau, whom our Liberal friends call a separatist. In fact, Mr. Parizeau said this: ``What I personally want for my people, my nation, is for us to decide to take our collective future into our own hands and decide what we want to share with others''. Like all sovereignists, he acknowledged the need to have as open a market as possible.
In that sense, Quebec sets a fine example with this Bill C-86 before us, since it was based on the Quebec model that the agreement was entered into by all the provinces, and I repeat the provinces, because all the federal government has to do is pass legislation in the House of Commons recognizing this de facto situation. It is a good thing that the federal government is not involved; it would only make matters worse.
So, based on the Quebec model, it is possible to enter into agreements with our Canadian, American and international partners, as it is recognized that this kind of decision must arise from mutual interests and have something in it for everyone involved.
I want to stress that Bill C-86 is an excellent example. Six provinces have already approved the agreement, while three others still have reservations. We are letting them think it over. That is what co-operation is about. That is what I call openness. Why impose one's views on everyone else? Give people a chance to change their mind. We have to be open to the world. That is what Quebec sovereignty means.
In the minutes remaining, I would like to address government intervention and its negative impact on the economy in general, and the agricultural industry in particular, seeing that the debate is on agriculture.
I shall refer to an article published in La terre de chez nous, which, I should point out to our colleagues opposite, is not the Bloc's official newspaper. It really belongs to the agricultural community and provides farmers with information on what is happening in their region and elsewhere in the industry.
In the latest edition of La terre de chez nous, for the week of May 11 to 17, 1995, editor in chief Claude Lafleur quoted an example of inconsistent and harmful interference on the part of the federal government based on the implementation of the finance minister's budget that we have been debating in this House these the past few months. What example is that? I urge my Liberal colleagues to pay close attention to what Mr. Lafleur said, as it contradicts what their little red book says.
What did Mr. Lafleur say? The president of La terre de chez nous told the agricultural industry that it should expect the worst from the finance minister's budget, adding that it was a real Pandora's box, that new harmful effects were discovered every day, and that it would probably never end, unless, of course, Quebec decided to assume full authority.
Mr. Lafleur also had this to say: ``Indeed, this is not the last of the bad news coming from the Martin budget. For example, the federal government just announced that it was withdrawing from the agricultural employment services program''. That comment was made in reference to the red book. The Liberals were elected under false pretenses in 1993, when they campaigned with their red book and insisted on the importance of creating jobs.
But what are they doing now that they are in office? They axe agricultural employment services, a successful program which has been in place for over 20 years. During the last year, the minister-whom I once called the minister of human resources impoverishment, but whose title really is Minister of Human Resources Development-asked the UPA to reach an agreement with his department to ensure the maintenance of these agricul-
tural employment services, which provide farmers with a qualified manpower when they need it.
Only a few months ago, the minister said: ``We have an agreement with the UPA in Quebec to keep these services going''. Then in the Martin budget, the government decides to axe this program. It will be cut by 20 per cent in 1995-96, 40 per cent in 1996-97 and dropped altogether in 1997-98. This example does not come from the Bloc Quebecois or the separatist Minister of Agriculture in Quebec but from the editor in chief of La Terre de chez nous, Claude Lafleur, whose integrity is well known and whose objective approach to the issues can certainly not be faulted by our Liberal friends.
That is a very real example of the Liberal government's negative impact on agriculture. I will conclude, Mr. Speaker, since you are signalling I have only two minutes left. I would like to ask for more time, but I know it is no use trying since I would not get unanimous consent. So I will simply ask them to come back next time, and maybe some day they will understand.
In concluding, I would like to comment on what was said by the hon. member for Medicine Hat who expressed so well and so consistently the Reform Party's position on trade between regions and between countries. Reform Party members want to see a return to a genuinely free market without government constraints. The hon. member for Medicine Hat said that, if we want a more open market, which is what sovereignists want as well, as I said earlier, we cannot have a supply management system.
I simply want to say the hon. member is mistaken. Supply management is a way to deal with domestic problems. Its role is not to regulate international trade or trade between regions. So we can have a supply management system, and still open our borders to international trade.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS[Translation]
The Deputy Speaker: It being 5.30 p.m., pursuant to the order adopted on Tuesday, May 16, 1995, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on the motion by Mr. McClelland at second reading of Bill C-319.
Call in the members.
Before the taking of the vote:
The Deputy Speaker: The division will be taken row by row, starting with the mover and then proceeding with those in favour of the motion to the back of the Chamber. Then those in favour of the motion on the other side of the House will do the same.
Those opposed will then be recorded in the same order.
The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:
(Division No. 223)
Grey (Beaver River)
Harper (Simcoe Centre)
LeBlanc (Cape/Cap-Breton Highlands-Canso)
McClelland (Edmonton Southwest)
White (Fraser Valley West)
White (North Vancouver)
Harper (Calgary West)
Hill (Prince George-Peace River)
Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca)
PAIRED MEMBERSBernier (Gaspé)
The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
Mr. Milliken: Mr. Speaker, I think you will find unanimous consent in the House to revert to Government Orders for the purpose of disposing of Bill C-86, which was under debate before the interruption. I think there is consent in the House to complete that bill right now without further debate.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: On division.
The Deputy Speaker: Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food.
Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee.
The Deputy Speaker: It being 6 o'clock, the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed in today's Order Paper.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS[English]
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should take immediate steps to initiate a royal commission of inquiry into the Air-India disaster of June 23, 1985 which claimed the lives of 329 people.He said: Mr. Speaker, June 23, 1995 will be the 10th anniversary of what is and was the worst mass murder ever in Canadian history. Three hundred and twenty-nine people lost their lives on board Air-India flight 182 while over the coast of Ireland.
The flight originated in Vancouver. Of the deceased, 280 were Canadians, 80 of whom were children. In the 10 years since the tragedy, a royal commission of inquiry has not been held. There has been no parliamentary inquiry whatsoever into this terrorist act.
I remind hon. members there was an inquiry in Ireland. There was another inquiry in India. Notwithstanding that over 280 people on board were Canadians, the Mulroney administration refused to initiate a royal commission of inquiry.
It is essential an inquiry take place in order for the people of Canada, the people of the world, to understand exactly what transpired both before and after the tragedy on June 23, 1985.
There is evidence to suggest the Government of Canada in the months before June 1985 was warned there could be or would be a serious act of terrorism by Sikh extremists in Canada.
June 1985 marked the first anniversary of the storming of the Sikh holy temple at Amritsar. The Indian government stormed the most holy place in June of that year and a number of people were killed. As a result Sikh extremists worldwide were suspected of planning retaliatory measures to seek revenge.
The government of India, aware that the first anniversary was coming up, gave a specific warning to the Government of Canada and in particular to the foreign affairs department, at that time headed by Joe Clark, that there could be an act of terrorism.
Notwithstanding the advanced warnings, there was absolutely no enhanced security for this flight. The X-ray machinery that would examine the luggage boarded on to the ill-fated flight broke down and instead of the bells and whistles going off the luggage was simply loaded on to the plane and scanned with a hand scanner.
In view of the warnings given to the Government of Canada, the luggage should have been more thoroughly searched by hand or they should have waited until proper machinery was in place.
During the weeks preceding the disaster the Prime Minister of India was scheduled to visit the United States. The American authorities were able to uncover a plot to assassinate Rajiv Ghandi at the time. It was determined there was a link between those alleged to have conspired to assassinate the Indian Prime Minister and a Sikh extremist group in British Columbia.
The security intelligence service, our secret service, was monitoring the activity of Sikh extremists in Canada, particularly in British Columbia. Not only was it trailing a prime suspect in the Air-India and the Narita bombing acts of terrorism, it also tapped their telephone lines.
In the weeks preceding the Air-India disaster CSIS agents actually saw the two prime suspects detonate a bomb in the woods outside of Duncan, British Columbia. Notwithstanding this information and in spite of the fact that they were actually listening in on telephone conversations, they discontinued the surveillance on these two individuals. Why did they do that? They assumed these people were constructing bombs to be used in acts of terrorism outside of Canada. Why did they not take action on the wiretap evidence they had? The evidence obtained was in the Punjabi language. There was no Punjabi speaking CSIS agent to translate this information. The information received as a result of these interceptions could very well have led the police to foil this act of terrorism.
In my view the Government of Canada of the day was grossly negligent. Is it any wonder the government was subsequently party to a settlement with the families of the victims? It contributed an estimated $20 million to a compensation fund for the families of the murder victims, and that was also a big secret. If there was no negligence on the part of the Government of Canada, why did it contribute to the compensation fund?
There are many very disturbing unanswered questions in this tragedy. To put this tragic act of terrorism into perspective, this was and continues to be today the most hideous act of aviation terrorism ever. The Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist act took a significant number of lives but nowhere near the number in the Air-India disaster. It was the worst mass murder in Canadian history.
That is the backdrop and when we look at the involvement of the various government agencies we have to ask whether the response of the Government of Canada was adequate in the circumstances.
Following the act of terrorism in June 1985, the security intelligence service erased two-thirds of the tapes it had gathered in the months leading up to the tragedy and in the several years that followed. It says it was done inadvertently, that there were no regulations in place to maintain that evidence, that there was nothing on those tapes to assist in the criminal investigation. A transcript was never taken of those tapes.
If one is dealing with the worst mass murder in Canadian history, why would one not preserve every last piece of evidence the authorities were able to uncover or to gather in the investigation?
There is no doubt in my mind there was a cover-up. The Mulroney administration refused to initiate an inquiry because it was trying to cover up the actions of agencies of the Government of Canada for which it was responsible. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Transport and the solicitor general of the day were all ultimately responsible for the gross negligence on the part of individuals within that administration.
The erasing of the tapes is further evidence they were trying to destroy evidence that could prove the security intelligence service and the RCMP were grossly negligent. Not only did they erase tapes, but false affidavits were sworn. Members of CSIS broke the law by swearing false affidavits in order to convince a judge to issue warrants to wire tap the telephone conversations
of numerous individuals subsequent to the disaster. The security intelligence service started to panic. The RCMP started to panic realizing what it had done or what it had failed to do. Then it deliberately misled the court into issuing warrants.
Those people have not been held accountable. There has never been an inquiry to look into the actions of the agencies of the Government of Canada.
Throughout the last 10 years the government and the previous administration have continually maintained criminal investigation is ongoing. That is the excuse the RCMP has put forward over the years. It is a lame excuse. According to press reports today the criminal investigation is virtually non-existent.
There are two people working part time on the worst mass murder in Canadian history. If the Royal Canadian Mounted Police does not have the evidence in order to secure a conviction after 10 years, surely at some point it has to say the investigation is concluded and it cannot move any further.
As I indicated, I believe there are reasons. The RCMP or certain individuals within the RCMP and the security intelligence service do not want a royal commission of inquiry.
There is also an international element to this tragedy, not only because it was an Air-India plane blown up, not only because of the involvement of Sikh extremists, but also because there is evidence suspects involved in the bombing of Air-India were trained in the United States in Alabama. The operator of the soldier of fortune training school in Alabama, Frank Camper, has indicated Sikh extremists were trained at his mercenary training school.
One would think that if the RCMP was doing its work it would personally interview Mr. Camper and others who might have evidence in the United States. The FBI refused to allow the RCMP to investigate or question Mr. Camper or others in the United States. Why would the Government of the United States and the FBI refuse to co-operate with Canadian authorities with respect to this matter?
The theory put forward, with evidence, by a number of people in Canada and abroad is that the American government, the Pakistani government and the Indian government knew that Sikh extremists were being trained; that the Pakistani government facilitates the training of Sikh extremists abroad; that the American government needed the co-operation of President Zia of the Pakistani government at the time to ensure that Pakistan could continue to be used as a conduit, as a route, for arms for the Afghan rebels fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.
There is evidence to suggest that there was pressure by foreign governments, in particular the American government, the Indian government and the Pakistani government, on the Canadian government not to hold a royal commission of inquiry because of the international implications of what happened.
Notwithstanding the alleged involvement of other governments or the connection with other governments and other foreign nationals, this government has an obligation to the families of the victims to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. If there is insufficient evidence to bring those people to justice then the answers to all the disturbing questions must be answered. The only way to do that is through a royal commission of inquiry.
I believe that the government has a strong suspicion and in fact knows who was responsible for the Air-India disaster that killed 329 people. It lacks the evidence to secure a conviction. There is not the will to initiate a royal commission of inquiry. The reason I say the government is aware of who is responsible is because there has been a conviction in the case of the Narita bombing.
If you recall, Mr. Speaker, 52 minutes before the Air-India flight was blown out of the skies over Ireland, a bomb went off at the Narita airport in Tokyo. The CP flight originated in Canada. It landed in Tokyo. The baggage handlers were removing the luggage from the CP flight to an Air-India flight that was about to leave for Bombay when a bomb exploded and two baggage handlers were killed.
As a result of the meticulous investigation on the part of Japanese authorities, an individual by the name of Inderjit Singh Reyat was convicted and is now incarcerated in Canada for that crime. Mr. Reyat and Talwinder Singh Parmar were arrested in the Air-India disaster but were released after a preliminary inquiry in British Columbia.
There was a connection. There is no doubt that those responsible for the Narita bombing were also responsible for the Air-India act of terrorism, the Air-India mass murder. Yet we are unable to secure a conviction.
I have asked previous solicitors general about this. The Government of Canada has never offered a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the Air-India disaster. That act of terrorism was not the act of a single person. It was a conspiracy and several people were involved.
Why has the government refused over the years to offer a reward, whether it is $1 million or $2 million or $5 million? If the Government of Canada is able to pay the family of Clifford Olson $100,000 to locate the bodies of his victims, surely it can offer a substantial reward to close the final chapter on this ugly episode in Canadian history. However, for some reason a reward has not been offered.
In conclusion, there is no doubt in my mind that the Mulroney administration was party to a cover-up. As well, there is no doubt in my mind that the present administration will do the right thing and call a royal commission of inquiry before the 10th anniversary on June 23. The reason I say that is because the Prime Minister, two years ago, while leader of the opposition, wrote in a letter:
We will continue to press the government to create a royal commission to look into the Air-India disaster.I have every reason to believe that the Prime Minister will honour his word and a royal commission of inquiry will be appointed. However, I would still like to see the House take a stand on the issue.
The Deputy Speaker: Before I recognize the hon. member for Bellechasse, I would like to indicate that this is a very important issue to a number of members here tonight. I wonder whether members would agree to share their time.
Would that be agreeable?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse, BQ): Mr. Speaker, like my colleague from Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, I listened to the hon. member for York South-Weston present his motion M-293 regarding the Air India tragedy of June 23, 1985, with great interest.
To demonstrate just how lightly the government of the time took this tragedy, in which 329 travellers, 280 of which were Canadians, most of them of Indian origin, I would mention that the Mulroney government's first gesture was to send its condolences to the Republic of India. That is indicative of how the case was handled. It also helps to understand how the Canadian Security Intelligence Service carried out its investigation or, more exactly, did not carry out the investigation.
It is clear, and the hon. member for York South-Weston mentioned this during his representation, that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's approach to the investigation is questionable. The attitude of the RCMP, which apparently put a lid on its own investigation and only assigned staff to the effort part-time, is as questionable as that of CSIS.
Given the scope of this tragedy, 329 deaths as was mentioned earlier-the biggest mass slaughter in the air ever to have been executed at that time-it is obvious that we should go back and take a better look at this case.
Is the royal commission of inquiry requested by the hon. member for York South-Weston the ideal solution? Maybe not. Obviously, ten years after the fact, we will not be able to interview the victims of the tragedy. Obviously, parallel investigations were carried out by organizations in other countries. It may be wise to pool all of the knowledge collected. Nevertheless, the very serious allegations made about CSIS, while not meriting a royal commission of inquiry, certainly should be looked into by the sub-committee on national security.
It would appear that this sub-committee, which is comprised of parliamentarians and would cost taxpayers nothing, contrary to a royal commission of inquiry, is the appropriate body to study the way the Canadian Security Intelligence Service handled this and other cases, where its work has left to be desired. I think it is high time we cleaned up the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
That is why, given all of the investigations that have already been done, since it is highly improbable that the exact causes of the tragedy will ever be found and since almost all avenues of inquiry have already been exhausted, I am of the opinion that creating a royal commission of inquiry would be a waste of money. However, I am in favour of a parliamentary review of the way in which the Canadian Security Intelligence Service carried out its investigation into the matter.
Ms. Val Meredith (Surrey-White Rock-South Langley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the member for York South-Weston for bringing this motion to the floor of the House.
The timing is most appropriate. In just over one month's time it will be the 10th anniversary of the bombing of Air-India flight 182. It is with full confidence that I use the word bombing and not accident or incident or any other marginal term. What happened to Air-India flight 182 was an act of terrorism, an act of cold blooded murder and an act of cowardice.
Unfortunately no one has been brought to trial in this case yet. If my hon. colleague is accurate and others are involved, it is only a matter of proof that they have not been brought to court, I would like to stress, yet.
The member for York South-Weston seems to be of the opinion that charges will never be laid in this case so let us move on to a royal commission. If this was the case, I would have no problem in providing my unconditional support to the call for a royal commission.
However, I believe that the member for York South-Weston may be a little premature in his assumption that charges will never be laid. On April 4, when Commissioner Murray of the RCMP appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, I asked him if he was opposed to a judicial inquiry into the Air-India bombing. His response was:
We are not at all opposed to having a judicial inquiry. Our only concern was to undertake the judicial inquiry while the investigation was still active-The
investigation is still active-I have made a commitment to the Solicitor General that when we reach a point where we feel that we are at an impasse, I will at that time come forward and indicate so. But we have not reached that point. The investigation is still optimistically being pursued.I accept the word of the commissioner. I hope that this commissioner will make an intense effort in the near future to advance the investigation or to accept that the investigation is over and the time has come to move on. But until that time the question is, will a royal commission affect any subsequent criminal proceedings?
Again the member for York South-Weston is impeccable in his timing. Less than two weeks ago the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its decision on the holding of a public inquiry into the Westray coal mine disaster at the same time that criminal proceedings are under way.
The decision in that case was that the court should be most hesitant to interfere with interests of holding a public inquiry. However, the court limited its decision specifically to the Westray case and would not speculate on other cases.
For example, the supreme court pointed out that the Westray criminal case was being tried in front of a judge alone. As well, the court believed that the commissioner of any public inquiry would not compel the accused to testify at the inquiry until the criminal case was concluded. Thus some significant considerations have to be resolved before a royal commission into the Air-India bombing is conducted.
Do we want to sacrifice any subsequent criminal charges for the sake of holding a royal commission today? I think not. This is where a royal commission would create a great many problems.
In the Westray decision the supreme court recognized the protection of the charter to any potentially accused. They could be compelled to testify in front of the royal commission but their testimony could not be used at the trial. That is a given.
What would cause even greater problems in pursuing criminal charges against those responsible for bombing Air-India is the difficulty created by the derivative evidence.
This means that if any new information comes out at the royal commission, at a subsequent criminal proceeding the defence could claim that the crown was only able to proceed with charges with the evidence that was a result of compulsory incriminating testimony and therefore the evidence would not be admissible.
In addition, in the Westray case the court ruled that the testimony of the accused must not be published and the report of the inquiry must remain confidential to ensure that any accused received a fair opportunity at trial.
The whole point of a royal commission should be to bring the truth about Air-India to light, and this could not be done if the evidence could not be published. Our first priority must be to bring those responsible for the Air-India bombing to trial.
I know that my colleague for York South-Weston is concerned about the way both the RCMP and CSIS have handled the investigation of this terrorist act. And there should be a cause for concern. I have no doubt that when the evidence of how these two agencies handled their investigation comes to light, it will be apparent that mistakes were made.
Who will ultimately be held accountable for these mistakes? Most of the senior management who were in place at CSIS and the RCMP have retired. There is concern that the whole truth may never come out. But when it comes to choosing between pointing fingers at those responsible for some of the mistakes at CSIS and the RCMP or bringing the individuals who are responsible for the worst mass murder in Canadian history to justice, I am afraid there is no comparison. Bringing to trial those responsible for the bombing has to take priority.
To get back to the motion before us today, if there is any way a royal commission could be held without jeopardizing the crown's ability to bring those murderers to trial, I would fully support such a call. Let us put the speculation to rest and give everyone involved in the case the opportunity to give their testimony. I am sure that many investigators at both CSIS and the RCMP would love to have the opportunity to provide their versions of the event.
Let us give the families of the victims an opportunity to finally hear what happened to their loved ones. Let us give the Canadian public the truth about what happened with the bombing of Air India. We should be told what the Canadian government was doing in regard to this issue prior to the bombing. Could it have been prevented? We should be told about the subsequent investigation. Did a turf war between the RCMP and CSIS impede a proper investigation?
The member for York South-Weston is absolutely correct: all this information must be made public and a royal commission or a judicial inquiry should occur. The only question is the timing.
The first and foremost concern on this issue must be that those individuals involved in the cowardly bombing of Air-India must be brought to justice. If a royal commission will not interfere or jeopardize a criminal trial, then we should proceed immediately. However, if it is likely that this royal commission would provide these mass murderers with a technicality to escape conviction, I am afraid the commission should wait.
While it is important that we ensure that the bombing of Air-India flight 182 is never forgotten, we owe it to the victims and their families that those responsible are brought to justice.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Sarnia-Lambton is going to share his 10-minute slot with one of his colleagues.
Mr. Roger Gallaway (Sarnia-Lambton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the agreement was that I would share remainder time.
I am pleased to rise today to discuss private member's Motion No. 293. Ten years after, we cannot adequately acknowledge the suffering of those left behind, but we can look to the changes in our air travel safety that have occurred as a result of this very tragic event.
Immediately following the disaster, the interdepartmental committee on security and intelligence was instructed to study and report on airport and airline security in Canada. The recommendations stemming from this report have been implemented, resulting in significant improvements to aviation security in Canada.
New air carrier and airport security regulations have been introduced, which establish high minimum standards. These regulations are under constant review and adjustment to respond to the changing situation.
Monitoring and inspection of airport and air carrier security measures have been greatly increased. Also, more stringent security controls on passengers, carry-on baggage, checked baggage, cargo and mail have been introduced on international flights. Air carriers are prohibited from carrying the baggage of persons not on board the aircraft.
The range of enforcement mechanisms has also been strengthened with the introduction in 1989 of the designated provisions regulations, which is an administrative monetary penalty scheme. These regulations were amended in 1993, increasing the number of punishable aviation security regulatory offences and the size of maximum penalties that can be levied.
Additional X-ray detection equipment and explosive vapour detectors have been put into service. A training program for security screening personnel and their trainers has been developed and implemented by Transport Canada. Courses are regularly scheduled. Internal security training programs for Transport Canada security inspectors and other aviation security specialists are also in place.
In addition, new measures have been implemented that require air carriers operating in Canada to carry out a program of initial and annual recurrent crew member aviation security training. All persons employed at major airports who have access to restricted areas must undergo a security assessment to ensure they do not pose a threat to the security of civil aviation.
In 1994 new security standards were legislated for airport restricted area pass systems, which improved the ability of the government and airport operators to ensure that people in restricted areas of Canada's airports have a need and a right to be there.
Transport Canada has been actively pursuing stronger security provisions and bilateral air transport agreements with other countries to ensure that implementation of Canada's high aviation security standards is a mandatory condition for foreign air carrier operations in our country.
I would like to point out that in addition to these enhancements Canada has in place a three-level alert and response system to ensure appropriate security measures are taken in response to specific threats. I understand this system was fully updated in 1992 and is under constant review and fine tuning to ensure it responds effectively to changing circumstances.
In conclusion, the Air-India disaster has been the subject of exhaustive examination by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, Transport Canada, the Solicitor General of Canada, and the police investigation is ongoing.
Mr. Gurbax Singh Malhi (Bramalea-Gore-Malton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of the motion by the hon. member for York South-Weston.
The hon. member is correct: it is high time for a royal commission of inquiry into the Air-India disaster. For too long the Sikh community has lived under a great shadow of suspicion created by the media reports that someone from the Canadian Sikh community may have been responsible for the deaths of 329 people.
Responsibility for the crash has been attributed to a number of groups. Accusations have been made that U.S. intelligence agencies withheld vital information from RCMP investigators. There are real questions about how much the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service knew.
The only clear fact is that on June 23, 1985, Air India flight 182 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean near Cork, Ireland. All 329 people aboard the plane lost their lives, including 280 Canadians. Most were of East Indian origin; some were Sikh families.
This was the worst mass murder in Canadian history. Yet 10 years later no one has been prosecuted in Canada for bombing the plane. Ten years later, the families are still waiting for answers. Ten years later, the Canadian Sikh community is still waiting to find out who was really responsible. We still have far too many questions and not enough answers.
Regardless of who placed the bomb, regardless of their motives, it is imperative they be brought to justice. I ask the Canadian government to initiate a royal commission of inquiry into the disaster as soon as possible.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for North Vancouver has very kindly offered to give up his normal rotation in the party line. Therefore the hon. member for Brampton has the floor.
Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, for most Canadians Friday, June 23, 1995 will be a day like any other. Parents will get up, have breakfast with their children, take them off to school and go off to work just as they would any other day.
However, for the families and friends of those Canadians who lost their lives aboard Air-India flight 182 exactly 10 years ago to the day, June 23 will be a day filled with remembrance and sorrow. It will be a day to reflect on the memories of loved ones lost in the blink of an eye, of entire families and children who never had a chance to grow up, children who never had the chance to experience the many joys and expressions of life.
There is nothing we can do to bring them back, but we must honour their memory and we must do all we can to ease the suffering of their families and friends. That is why we must properly investigate this terrible tragedy. That is why it is imperative that we conduct a royal commission into the most horrific mass murder in this nation's history. This is a commitment members of the Liberal caucus made while in opposition, and it is a commitment we must honour now that we are in power.
While in opposition, members of the Liberal caucus watched in horror as the then Prime Minister of Canada, upon learning of the tragedy, contacted the Prime Minister of India to offer his condolences on the issue. In doing so, the Prime Minister sent the message that this terrible tragedy was being mourned primarily by the citizens of India. This was the wrong message to send. These were Canadians.
That inquiries have been undertaken by foreign governments on this matter in the absence of an inquiry by the Government of Canada is cause for embarrassment to all members of this House.
Previous governments repeatedly turned down requests for a royal commission on the grounds that the matter was still under investigation and that it might prejudice the ongoing RCMP investigation. I believe that this rationale can no longer be invoked in good conscience.
A story in this morning's Globe and Mail states that the 10-year old RCMP investigation is winding down and that only two or three officers are working on this case on a part time basis. The cost of this investigation to date is in the order of $20 million. Ten years and $20 million later, we have still not solved this horrible crime.
There is another reason that came to mind as I was listening to my hon. colleague speak. We have heard about extremists from different groups of people being blamed, suspicions passed on to these groups. I have heard from many sources that this group of people did it. When I hear today the Sikh population being mentioned, it brings a great deal of pain to me. This only increases the misunderstanding of a community. To cast aspersions upon this group of people is an absolute sin. We must have a royal commission to remove this scar that has formed on this nation's history by failing to respond to the cries for answers from the families and friends of those who perished aboard Air-India flight 182.
We can begin by voting in favour of this motion today. Given the importance of this issue for all Canadians, I move that this motion be declared votable.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent that this matter be declared a votable one?
An hon. member: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: The nay having been given, the member still has the floor. She might wish to continue. If not, we will now go to the hon. member for North Vancouver and then we will close with the honourable parliamentary secretary.
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I will just take a few minutes as well.
In looking at this whole situation of the Air-India crash, I know that it has been dragging on now for 10 years, as other members have said. It is really getting to the point where we have to start asking questions about whether it has gone on long enough and how long do we allow the police investigation to keep going and winding down.
My colleague from Reform has pointed out some of the technical difficulties that are involved in starting a royal commission when there is still an RCMP investigation under way. That is an important consideration. However, we are 10 years downstream and many of the people who were involved in the RCMP are already retired. We have a situation where one of the major suspects is already dead, killed in a gun battle with Indian police in India.
According to a newspaper article in the Ottawa Citizen on April 14, 1994 another suspect, Mr. Manjit Singh, also known as Lal Singh, is in prison in India. We have two there. A third person who may have been a suspect was arrested the same day for the bombing which killed baggage handlers at Narita airport.
The evidence is fast disappearing. In the meantime we have spent about $20 million, yet we still have all the families of the
victims who lost their loved ones in this crash wondering what really happened and whether there was a cover-up.
My colleague who proposed the motion asked what happened. Was there a cover-up? What is the truth behind the crash of the Air-India flight? On balance, weighing the questions, weighing the technicalities, weighing the length of time it has taken and weighing the amount of money spent so far, I would have to support the member in his motion:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should take immediate steps to initiate a royal commission of inquiry into the Air-India disaster of June 23, 1985 which claimed the lives of 329 people.Mr. Harbance Singh Dhaliwal (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first let me congratulate the hon. member for bringing forward this long delayed motion. June 23 will mark the 10th yearly observance of the largest mass murder in Canadian history and the most tragic incident in the history of aviation, the bombing of Air-India flight 182.
On June 23, 1985, without warning, 329 innocent passengers were blown out of the sky. They were all killed instantly. There were no survivors. On flight 182, 295 passengers were Canadian and 82 of the passengers were children.
For the past 10 years the victims' families have suffered tremendous grief and endured great pain in virtual silence. They have waited patiently for the killers of their loved ones to be brought to justice and they have looked for answers. To date they have had none.
Air-India's explosion was not an accident; it was a planned and deliberate cold blooded act of violence that took the lives of 329 innocent passengers. It was an act of terrorism.
One decade is an eternity. For the surviving family members the past 10 years have been filled with hollow birthdays, empty anniversaries and missed graduations.
As a compassionate and caring society, as a country that has been built on the tenets of justice, fairness and equality, and as a country that believes in the due process of law, we cannot continue to ask these families to wait any longer. As Canadian citizens they deserve justice. For the sake of the victims and their families justice must be served.
There are two tragedies for these families. First, there is the horrific loss of innocent life. In some cases whole families were lost. In some cases one family member remains while the rest of the family was on the plane. I remember watching a vivid scene where a father wept out loud when he had lost his wife and his two children. As someone who has three children, I can imagine the nightmare that he will have to go through for the rest of his life. We need to give that person and all the other people some answers. It was a horrific loss of life. Second, 10 years after the bombing and $20 million later the murderers are still at large.
While in opposition we called for a royal commission. We promised the families of Air-India victims that justice would be served. We committed ourselves to finding the perpetrators of this brutal crime.
Today, nearly 10 years since the bombing, no charges have been laid. During the first two years there were up to 75 officers on the investigation. Today only one officer is dedicated to investigating this savage crime on a part time basis.
I want to re-emphasize that we do not know. People have not been brought to justice. I know some members have said perhaps it was one group or person. In Canada we are innocent until proven guilty. We need to bring the guilty to justice because we do not know. There are books written on the subject because there are so many questions and people do not know. That is one of the reasons we need a royal commission.
After reading the Security Intelligence Review Committee's report I have many concerns about the existing investigation into the Air-India disaster. CSIS has admitted that prior to the bombing of Air-India it did not regard the threat of violence stemming from extremist groups to be very serious. Few resources were allotted to the investigation.
Translators were not found. There is lots of evidence that CSIS simply bungled up and we need to know why. We need to know what the reasons were. At the time of the bombing CSIS was in its infancy. Its role and areas of jurisdiction were still being defined.
While there was a healthy spirit of co-operation between the two investigating parties differences emerged between the RCMP and CSIS after the bombing of flight 182 in terms of their responsibilities, jurisdiction and methods of evidence collection and retention.
I quote from the SIRC report:
One former senior officer told us that while the role was well understood by senior personnel, he was concerned that some CSIS investigators would conduct their inquiries as though they were criminal investigators and would compete with the RCMP to solve this case-Once again I quote from the report:
We saw no early instructions from CSIS headquarters that attempted to clarify the CSIS mandate vis-à-vis the RCMP criminal investigation or which set out CSIS policy regarding the sharing of information and intelligence with the RCMP. We consider this to be an unfortunate oversight on the part of senior management.We need to know what took place between CSIS and the RCMP. We need to have better information, and the royal inquiry will give us that information. We need to know why 159 of the 210 audio tapes with recordings of wiretapped conversa-
tions were erased. Many of these tapes were never heard. Translations were delayed or were not completed and significant backlogs of unprocessed tapes were commonplace. These issues were raised by SIRC in its report.
In accordance with established policies CSIS had already erased three-quarters of the 200 or so audio tapes of the principal targets, conversations before the disaster, so these were not available to the RCMP for its requested examination.
Given the number of inaccuracies, errors and oversights, given the absence of clear direction and a clear delineation of roles and the chain of command, it is difficult to see how CSIS could have done justice to the investigation.
The government has stated that the results of the investigation into the bombing of flight 182 are inconclusive. If they are inconclusive we need to know why. This is a Canadian tragedy. I do not think in any other situation government would not react. Any other government would have reacted. We have seen that in other governments. Why have we not reacted? We need to respond and have a royal commission to look into the matter.
Given this conclusion I believe it is in the best interest of justice to launch a royal commission of inquiry. There is precedence for such an inquiry. I refer my colleagues to past catastrophes, namely the Ocean Ranger tragedy and the Hinton rail disaster.
The issue is justice, justice for the 329 innocent victims of this aviation disaster, justice that has not yet been served. On April 13, 1994 former RCMP Commissioner Norm Inkster stated to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs: ``It was my hope that before I retired from the RCMP I could appear before this committee and say the Air-India case was solved. Tragically, this is not yet the case''.
We cannot bring back the innocent Canadians who lost their lives. We cannot make their families whole again. We cannot bring back their smiles or laughter but we can bring those left behind some peace of mind. We can bring the criminals who have inflicted this ceaseless pain to justice.
I believe we are on the right track. It is clear from the level of active co-operation between the RCMP and CSIS that a real desire to solve this crime does exist. It is also evident from the continuing investigation that this tragedy has not been forgotten and that the Liberal government intends to keep its word. Our new solicitor general has stated the appointment of a royal commission is under active consideration.
In light of the SIRC report, the continued anguish of the victims' families and the ever growing price tag on this inconclusive investigation, I strongly recommend we launch a royal commission of inquiry.
Once again, given the importance of this issue for all Canadians, I move the motion be declared votable.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. parliamentary secretary would be aware that he needs unanimous consent to make the matter votable.
Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: No.
Mr. Nunziata: Mr. Speaker, it was the parliamentary secretary to the solicitor general who denied that the matter be allowed to proceed. I wish he would have the courage to stand up and defend his position.
Notwithstanding, I ask the Chair to seek unanimous consent that the subject matter of this motion be referred to a parliamentary committee. I ask the parliamentary secretary to consider that.
The Deputy Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the mover of the motion. Is there unanimous consent that the subject matter of the motion be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs?
An hon. member: No.
Mrs. Anna Terrana (Vancouver East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion before the House presented by my hon. colleague. It is on behalf of the 329 people who were killed, on behalf of the 280 Canadians, and on behalf of their families tragically and instantaneously hit that I would like to see justice done.
We need a royal commission because if a train full of Canadians on Canadian territory were blown up we would find immediate justice. These Canadians cannot be brought back. We must find justice for them because they are silent.
The Liberal Party is known for being a compassionate party. Its members believe in justice and feel they have to ask for justice on behalf of the many communities of Canada, especially for the Sikh communities.
Vancouver East has a lot of immigrants; 45 per cent is made up of new immigrants. Some belong to the Sikh community. When I was elected I made a promise to fight on their behalf. Some of these communities do not have much of a voice and it is entirely up to us, to the government, to the members of the House to speak on their behalf. We were put here to do that.
In this tragic instance when no justice seems to have been served, when we value ourselves as those who speak about justice and human rights, we have to intercede on behalf of those who cannot speak.
I would like to see a royal commission struck to look into this accident. It took too long. We cannot let this go again. I would also like to move that this motion be votable.
The Deputy Speaker: Once again a motion has been made that the matter be a votable one. Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: No.
The Deputy Speaker: I will give the hon. member for York South-Weston one minute if he wants to close the debate.
Mr. Nunziata: Mr. Speaker, in the closing of the debate, I want to remind the House that several members have stood up, all of them Liberal members of Parliament, asking that this motion be votable.
I would like you, Mr. Speaker, to consider a point of privilege. This is private members' business. On several occasions there was one member, the parliamentary secretary to the solicitor general, who withheld his consent to having this matter voted upon. He has not spoken today and I do not know why he has not. Perhaps he does not have any worthwhile submissions to make today.
However, I would suggest that as the parliamentary secretary to the solicitor general, he does not have the right to interfere in private members' business. If his withholding of unanimous consent is as an individual member, then that is one thing, but if he is interfering on the part of the Government of Canada, I would submit that is improper. The Prime Minister and the government has committed itself to the integrity of the private members' business. If private members' business is in fact to remain private, allowing free votes on behalf of private members, then the parliamentary secretary to the solicitor general should keep his nose out of private members' business.
The Deputy Speaker: The time has expired. Is there unanimous consent to let the parliamentary secretary reply as a point of order?
Some hon. members: No.
An hon. member: It was a point of privilege.
The Deputy Speaker: It does not matter whether it is privilege or a point of order, the time has expired and there is not unanimous consent to go over the time. Therefore, the time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Pursuant Standing Order 96, the order is dropped from the Order Paper.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.
I asked the minister to explain to this House how he justified giving a $5.8 million grant to the port of Belledune after saying that he was ``not prepared to put a cent into Belledune as far as a grant or anything like that is concerned, any more than I would put into the port of Saint John or anywhere else''.
The minister gave an answer but it was not to my question. I was pleased to hear him say that he would consider forgiving the loan to the port of Saint John, but not surprisingly he flip-flopped on that promise once the cameras were off.
It is not just troubling that the minister continually goes back on his word but that he gave the port of Belledune almost $6 million when we have yet to see a plan on how the port intends to pay back its $20 million loan it has received.
Furthermore, the minister has failed to explain why the government is spending over $25 million on new berthage and cargo sheds in a town bordering the minister's home riding when there is excess capacity at the port of Saint John and the port of Dalhousie which is only 32 kilometres away. As the minister has stated, once the port of Belledune and the expansion takes place, the port of Dalhousie is out of business.
The House will understand my questioning the minister's motivations for this grant to Belledune in light of some of the decisions made by this government.
Just recently there have been hearings on the privatization of the pilotage authority of our harbour pilots. I ask again, is this because the port of Belledune does not need the harbour pilots and the port of Saint John does?
For example, in February we learned of a decision by public works to borrow $12 million to build a new office complex in the riding of the Indian affairs minister, even though the office building vacancy rate is 18.2 per cent in Sault Ste. Marie and despite the fact that a less expensive option of buying and retrofitting existing office space could save $5 to $6.5 million for the taxpayers of Canada.
Now the minister of public works and the Nova Scotia transportation minister have inexplicably diverted $26 million of the federal strategic highway improvement program, known
as SHIP, funds designated for Nova Scotia highway 104, death valley, toward the fleur-de-lis tourist trail in their ridings.
The SHIP agreement states that projects undertaken are to be part of the national highway system. The fleur-de-lis does not meet this criterion and everyone knows it. Death valley is an example, just as Belledune is an example, of blatant, unapologetic, pork barrelling with no thought to fiscal responsibility.
The Saint John Port Corporation told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport on March 16, 1995 that ``there is an overcapacity in Canadian ports with too much underutilization of infrastructure and the federal government as the shareholder of the port is competing against itself''.
Once again I ask the Minister of Transport to explain why he is pouring millions of dollars into expanding the port of Belledune when existing ports in New Brunswick are underutilized.
Mr. Joe Fontana (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate but as usual this member has it all wrong and misrepresents the facts.
The proposed marine terminal at Belledune represents an unprecedented partnership between federal, provincial and various municipal governments. All three levels of government working in concert will be putting funds into this project.
If the member were concerned about the future of marine transportation in Atlantic Canada, she would be supporting this unique collaboration. It is interesting to note the following comments from Paul Doiron, general manager of Logistec Stevedoring that operates the Rodney terminal. He said he did not expect that development of the terminal of Belledune on the north shore would offer threatening competition to Logistec.
He then said that Forterm operates the largest forest products terminal on the eastern seaboard and is in the top eight or nine forest products terminals in the world. That will not change. ``We will be able to compete just as we have for over 16 years,'' he said.
It is sad to note that the member wants to deny the people in this region the right to seek a loan from the federal government when she had no trouble supporting a request that the federal government write off a loan for the port of Saint John.
I would be interested to discover whether the hon. member opposite during her reign as mayor ever gave the port of Saint John money toward its operations. Perhaps if she had, the port would not be in this fix today.
It seems that I have to remind the former mayor that members should be reminded that Belledune and Saint John are in the same province and that the entire province will benefit from the increased economic activity.
The mayors and people of the municipalities surrounding Belledune are putting their money up front to support their region and the entire marine industry. They should be applauded, not hindered, and this member should be supporting New Brunswick, not voting against it.
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 38(5), the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed adopted.
Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 7.08 p.m.)