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36th Parliament, 1st Session


EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 157

CONTENTS

Monday, November 23, 1998

VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

. 1100

VFIREARMS ACT
VBill C-236. Second reading
VMr. Darrel Stinson

. 1105

. 1110

. 1115

VMs. Eleni Bakopanos

. 1120

. 1125

VMr. Michel Bellehumeur

. 1130

. 1135

VMr. Myron Thompson

. 1140

. 1145

VMr. Peter MacKay

. 1150

. 1155

VMr. Dick Proctor
VMr. Darrel Stinson

. 1200

VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VCANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT
VBill C-53—Time Allocation Motion
VHon. Don Boudria

. 1205

. 1245

(Division 265)

VMotion agreed to

. 1250

VReport Stage
VBill C-53. Report stage
VMr. Roy Bailey

. 1255

. 1300

VMr. Gary Lunn

. 1305

. 1310

VMr. Gordon Earle

. 1315

VMr. Lee Morrison

. 1320

. 1325

VMr. Ken Epp

. 1330

. 1335

VMs. Val Meredith

. 1340

. 1345

VMs. Susan Whelan

. 1350

VMr. Peter Adams
VMotion
VMotion agreed to
VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

. 1355

VOSTEOPOROSIS AWARENESS MONTH
VMr. Ovid L. Jackson
VROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
VMr. Jack Ramsay
VOXFORD COUNTY
VMr. John Finlay
VLEBANON
VMr. Denis Coderre
VHEALTH CARE
VMs. Val Meredith

. 1400

VGREY CUP
VMr. Reg Alcock
VJOURNÉE NATIONALE DES PATRIOTES
VMr. Stéphane Bergeron
VSTANLEY FAULDER
VMr. David Pratt
VQUEBEC ELECTION CAMPAIGN
VMr. Claude Drouin
VGREY CUP
VMr. Preston Manning

. 1405

VQUEBEC ELECTION CAMPAIGN
VMrs. Marlene Jennings
VVETERANS AFFAIRS
VMr. Gordon Earle
VYVES BLAIS
VMr. Benoît Sauvageau
VQUEBEC ELECTION CAMPAIGN
VMr. Denis Paradis
VBILL C-68
VMr. Charlie Power

. 1410

VHIV-AIDS
VMrs. Karen Redman
VVETERANS AFFAIRS
VMr. Peter Goldring
VNATIONAL DEFENCE
VMr. David Price
VINTERNATIONAL FISHING DAY
VMr. Charles Hubbard
VORAL QUESTION PERIOD

. 1415

VAPEC INQUIRY
VMr. Preston Manning
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Preston Manning
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Preston Manning
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMiss Deborah Grey

. 1420

VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMiss Deborah Grey
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Gilles Duceppe
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Richard Marceau
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Richard Marceau
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1425

VMs. Alexa McDonough
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Peter MacKay
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Peter MacKay
VHon. Marcel Massé
VMr. John Reynolds
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1430

VMr. John Reynolds
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VCANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Sheila Copps
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Sheila Copps
VAPEC INQUIRY
VMr. Myron Thompson
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Myron Thompson

. 1435

VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VICEBREAKING POLICY
VMr. Yves Rocheleau
VHon. David Anderson
VMr. Yves Rocheleau
VHon. David Anderson
VAPEC INQUIRY
VMr. Preston Manning
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Preston Manning
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1440

VSOCIAL UNION
VMr. Pierre Brien
VHon. Stéphane Dion
VHOUSING
VHon. Charles Caccia
VHon. Alfonso Gagliano
VHEPATITIS C
VMr. Greg Thompson
VHon. Allan Rock
VVETERANS AFFAIRS
VMrs. Elsie Wayne
VHon. Fred Mifflin

. 1445

VHEPATITIS C
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Allan Rock
VEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
VMr. Yvon Godin
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VMr. Yvon Godin
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew

. 1450

VYEAR 2000
VMrs. Sue Barnes
VHon. Marcel Massé
VHEALTH CARE
VMrs. Diane Ablonczy
VHUMAN RIGHTS
VMr. Réal Ménard
VHon. Anne McLellan
VABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
VMs. Bev Desjarlais
VHon. Jane Stewart
VVETERANS AFFAIRS
VMrs. Elsie Wayne
VHon. Fred Mifflin

. 1455

VNATURAL DISASTER
VHon. Sheila Finestone
VHon. Lloyd Axworthy
VHEALTH CARE
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Paul Martin
VCANADA POST
VMr. Ghislain Lebel
VHon. Alfonso Gagliano
VHEALTH CARE
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
VHon. Allan Rock

. 1500

VHEPATITIS C
VMr. Greg Thompson
VHon. Allan Rock
VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
VGOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
VMr. Peter Adams
VCOMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
VProcedure and House Affairs
VMr. Peter Adams

. 1505

VFinance
VMr. Maurizio Bevilacqua
VPETITIONS
VMarriage
VMr. Myron Thompson
VThe Senate
VMr. Bob Mills
VBill C-68
VMr. Bob Mills
VMMT
VMrs. Rose-Marie Ur
VMarriage
VMr. Roy Bailey
VHuman Rights
VMr. Paul Szabo
VMarriage
VMiss Deborah Grey
VMr. Brent St. Denis

. 1510

VBill C-68
VMr. Lee Morrison
VMarriage
VMr. Lee Morrison
VPublic Interest Groups
VMr. Lee Morrison
VCanada Pension Plan
VMr. Lee Morrison

. 1515

VQUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
VMr. Peter Adams
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VCANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT
VBill C-53. Report stage
VMr. Bryon Wilfert

. 1520

. 1525

VMr. Roy Cullen

. 1530

VMr. Antoine Dubé

. 1535

VDivisions on Motions Nos. 2 to 5 deemed demanded and deferred
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VMotions Nos. 6 and 11
VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 1540

. 1545

VMr. Ken Epp

. 1550

. 1555

VMr. Roy Bailey

. 1600

. 1605

VMr. Dennis J. Mills

. 1610

. 1615

VMrs. Marlene Jennings

. 1620

. 1625

VMr. Lee Morrison

. 1630

VMr. Walt Lastewka

. 1635

VMs. Val Meredith

. 1640

VMr. Gary Lunn

. 1645

. 1650

VMr. Dale Johnston

. 1655

VMr. Rob Anders

. 1700

. 1705

VMr. Jim Jones

. 1710

VDivisions deemed demanded and deferred
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VMotion No. 7
VMs. Francine Lalonde
VMotion No. 8
VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 1715

. 1720

VMrs. Francine Lalonde

. 1725

. 1730

VMr. Lee Morrison

. 1735

VMr. Walt Lastewka

. 1740

VMr. Rob Anders

. 1745

V>(Divisions deemed demanded and deferred)
VMotions Nos. 9 and 10
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VMr. Rob Anders

. 1750

. 1755

VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 1800

. 1805

VMr. Walt Lastewka

. 1810

VDivisions on Motions Nos. 9 and 10 deemed demanded and deferred
VMotion No. 12
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VMr. Rob Anders

. 1815

VDivision deemed demanded and deferred.
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VMotion No. 13
VMr. Francine Lalonde
VMotion No. 14
VMr. Jim Pankiw
VMotion No. 15
VMr. Francine Lalonde
VMotion No. 16
VDivisions deemed demanded and deferred

. 1835

VSUPPLY
VAllotted Day—Health Care
VMotion

. 1845

(Division 266)

VAmendment negatived
VMotion negatived
VCANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT
VBill C-53. Report stage

(Division 267)

VMotion No. 1 negatived.

. 1850

(Division 268)

VMotion No. 2 negatived
VMotions Nos. 3, 6, 7 and 12 negatived

(Division 269)

VMotion No. 4 agreed to

(Division 270)

VMotion No. 11 negatived
VMotion No. 9 negatived

. 1855

(Division 271)

VMotion No. 8 negatived

(Division 272)

VMotion No. 13 negatived

(Division 273)

VMotion No. 14 negatived

. 1900

(Division 274)

VMotion No. 15 negatived

(Division 275)

VMotion No. 16 negatived
VMotion for concurrence
VHon. Diane Marleau

(Division 276)

VMotion agreed to
VADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS

. 1905

VPoverty
VMs. Libby Davies

. 1910

VMs. Bonnie Brown
VImmigration
VMr. Lynn Myers

. 1915

VMr. Jacques Saada
VHealth
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis

. 1920

VMr. Jacques Saada

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 157


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Monday, November 23, 1998

The House met at 11 a.m.



Prayers


PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

 

. 1100 +

[English]

FIREARMS ACT

 

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Ref.) moved that Bill C-236, an act to repeal the Firearms Act and to make certain amendments to the Criminal Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to debate Bill C-236, an act to repeal the Firearms Act and to make certain amendments to the Criminal Code.

 

. 1105 + -

Today I will direct my remarks first to the people who are concerned about their own safety from criminals, especially criminals who misuse firearms.

Hon. members can imagine what it must be like for senior citizens to suffer home invasion at the hands of criminals with firearms. That is becoming a common crime in our bigger cities. It is one that is starting to make everybody sit up and pay attention. It was bad enough when somebody's mother or grandmother was afraid to go out at night and walk to the corner store to buy a little milk for her tea. Now those folks are afraid inside their own homes. Where is this going to stop?

The government and the media like to claim that crime is decreasing. But people I talk to tell me that crime is so heavy where they live that police do not even show up to investigate a break and enter unless somebody has been injured. The police are just too busy.

A big part of the reason for such crime is the lack of teeth in the Young Offenders Act. That is another part of the crime story. It is a fact that no single change is going to make Canadian society safe again. It is going to take hard work by politicians to make Canada a safe place again for our citizens.

We need a new young offenders act. We need a victims bill of rights. We need, as my bill provides, tough penalties for the criminal misuse of firearms. Instead of enacting these useful measures, which would produce measurable results, the government chose to require law-abiding owners of rifles and shotguns to file papers, jump through hoops and pay fees in another Liberal tax grab.

My private member's bill would repeal Bill C-68 and replace it with real protection against criminals and the misuse of firearms by enacting minimum jail terms that cannot be plea bargained away.

My bill states that using, having or claiming to have a firearm during the commission of or the attempt to commit a crime or in flight after committing a crime would require a judge to impose a minimum of five years' imprisonment or not more than 14 years.

My bill also states that if a firearm is actually discharged, not just waved around or pointed at victims of crime, the penalty will increase to a minimum of 10 years or a maximum of 14 years and that these sentences will be served consecutively, that is, after or in addition to other sentences.

Some people argue that five or 10 years is too harsh and too long a time for the poor criminal to spend in jail. The way many of our prisons are run today it is really like a trip to the country club, not serious punishment. But that is another matter not directly addressed today. Prison reform is one more piece of the puzzle that the government could have enacted to achieve measurable results in the fight against crime, but it abandoned that responsibility and instead decided to target law-abiding citizens.

If my bill were passed at least convicted offenders would be deprived of their liberty and kept where they could not do more harm to society in general. If some people object to this as being too harsh, I remind them to look at the victims of crime. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, it sometimes takes a victim many years, sometimes a lifetime, to recover from the ill effects.

Let us remember the parents all across Canada who have lost a child through the criminal misuse of firearms. Or let us think of those who got shot themselves, sustaining such injuries as loss of sight or even paralysis. Think of the many fine police officers who have been shot in the line of duty. When the criminal gets out of jail their victim or victims will still be serving their sentences.

Even what passes as a small offence today, like the waving around of a shotgun during the commission of a crime, may lead victims to have to change jobs or take medication or even get counselling because they cannot cope with the endless nightmares which result from being threatened with a firearm in the course of their supposedly normal working day.

When we let people out of jail after they have committed crimes like this we send a message if the sentence has not been harsh enough.

In some countries the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime is treated as a terrorist act, punishable by death.

 

. 1110 + -

Perhaps we in North America have seen too many crime shows on television and tend to take such things for granted. That is unfortunate. The North American society would be much better off if we considered the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime as the terrorist act it really is. It strikes a blow against the very foundation of our law-abiding society when criminals armed with firearms can prey on law-abiding citizens and be released with little or no time in jail.

Society must take a much more serious attitude toward the use of firearms in the commission of a crime. The best way to demonstrate that serious attitude is to demand that significant penalties be imposed on the criminal. That would send a message strong enough to shrink the demand for illegal firearms and to help dry up smuggling. It would be much easier to reduce smuggling if the smuggled items were not in demand. Criminals would soon learn that they cannot use many aspects of the law and loopholes such as using young people in the commission of crimes because those young people are dealt with by the Young Offenders Act.

Enacting serious penalties for the criminal misuse of firearms is a key component of Bill C-236.

Another key component of my private member's bill is the repeal of Bill C-68. Today some of my colleagues will focus on reasons to repeal Bill C-68. For example, it will do absolutely nothing to stop crime with firearms. Its cost is much higher than the government promised. The stats used to support its passage have since been shown to be grossly inaccurate. The funds could be much better used. It gives cabinet excessive powers. It infringes on the fundamental rights of citizens to enjoy private property without government interference. It crosses the line into provincial jurisdiction. It provides police with the excessive powers of search and seizure. And it can hand criminals a computerized list of the homes that have firearms for them to steal.

All of those points are serious and deserving of many hours of debate in the House. However, I will talk about one aspect of Bill C-68 which may be more serious than any of the others. That point is based on the fact that normally law-abiding citizens have not consented to register their firearms and shotguns. When I talk to them most of them tell me that they will not do so. As with the legislation to enact the GST, Bill C-68 will have the rare distinction of turning literally millions of normally law-abiding Canadian citizens into criminals.

When the general public not only does not agree with legislation but believes it to be wrong, that lack of agreement creates a climate which broadly tolerates what some people might describe as civil disobedience. Firearms owners generally view Bill C-68 as bad legislation. I certainly agree with them, as do many of my colleagues, not only this side of the House but also on the other side of the House. I know many people in rural Canada and nearly everyone assures me that they will not comply with the requirement to register their rifles and shotguns.

We are already well aware that millions of Canadians have lost faith in our governmental process to such an extent that they do not even vote. Their parents or grandparents may have shed blood on foreign soil to defend our democratic rights. Nevertheless, millions are ignoring their right to vote because they have lost faith in government.

In addition to the falling percentage of voters, millions of Canadians see themselves as being so overtaxed that they cannot get ahead no matter how hard they work. There is a widespread trend of people doing anything they can to avoid paying taxes, especially the GST. We even have a name for it. We now call it the underground economy.

When I was a child the only underground economy was mining. Those were the days when the average Canadian regarded the responsibility to vote as a primary concern and no law was lightly broken. Average Canadians cared about their country and their government because they believed this country and its government cared about them.

 

. 1115 + -

Instead today a broad cross-section of Canadians believe we are politicians who only care about ourselves, not statesmen acting in the best interest of the country. That sad fact has become the source of many jokes. One of the most feared sentences today in Canada is: “Hello, I am from the government and I am here to help you”.

Due to the passage of Bill C-68 soon we will have buried rifles and shotguns in backyards all across Canada. Some people, especially those who suffered under totalitarian regimes in other lands, view their firearms as the last defence against tyranny. Others who learned to hunt with their fathers and grandfathers see firearms as a basic element in their family traditions.

Ranchers, trappers and farmers as well as sport shooters and collectors do not look at firearms as weapons for criminals to use. They look at them as tools and an essential part of their everyday lives. It is not only the first nations people who see Bill C-68 as a threat to their culture. For many, Bill C-68 is the latest example of the urban lifestyle and urban values being crammed down the throats of the people living in rural areas today.

Together with the majority of people who live in my riding of Okanagan—Shuswap I see Bill C-68 as a sharp axe being used to hack at the base of the tree of our Canadian lifestyle. It is a solemn obligation of elected members of government to nourish that tree.

Instead we passed Bill C-68 which is helping to kill some of the most treasured aspects of our Canadian lifestyle. I believe every responsible member of parliament should work hard to repeal Bill C-68 to restore the Criminal Code to what it was before legislation was enacted and to pass tough new penalties for the criminal misuse of firearms.

As I mentioned, there are many other reasons parliament should repeal the act respecting firearms and other weapons, which is the formal title of Bill C-68 and which would happen by passing Bill C-236. First it was presented in parliament under false pretences. It was supposedly to reduce accidents by encouraging safer storage, but the fact is safe storage was already required by earlier legislation.

It was supposedly to reduce crime with firearms by requiring law-abiding owners of rifles and shotguns to fill out some papers and pay some fees. However the fact is that registration of handguns has been required for many years yet small guns remain the criminal's weapon of choice. It was supposedly to reduce the number of crimes in which firearms were involved. We have since seen RCMP Commissioner Murray write former Deputy Justice Minister George Thomson to take exception to how the 1993 stats of the federal police force were distorted to promote Bill C-68. Commissioner Murray wrote:

    We determined that our statistics showed that there were 73 firearms involved in violent crime compared to the Department of Justice's findings of 623 firearms involved in violent crime.

Apparently some police forces consider a firearm to have been involved in a violent crime if a drug dealer happens to have firearms and ammunition stashed in his basement when he is arrested. Members of the House did not have such an interpretation in mind when they fell for the government's flawed arguments in support of Bill C-68. I will end on that note and hope everybody considers very carefully where Bill C-68 will take the country.

Ms. Eleni Bakopanos (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in Canada we acknowledge and respect that there are legitimate uses of firearms by responsible and law-abiding Canadians. That is not at question at all.

Responsible law-abiding firearms owners have nothing to fear besides the fearmongering on the other side from the new Firearms Act. Canadians do not want to live in a country in which people feel they want or need to possess a firearm for protection. Further, if we in Canada want to retain our safe and peaceful character as a country—and it is the best country in the world to live in for the fifth time in a row—we should signal in every possible way that we will not tolerate and we will severely punish the use of firearms in the commission of crimes.

It is unfortunate the hon. member of Okanagan—Shuswap did not recognized that Canadians understand the Firearms Act and that the amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada which comprise Bill C-68 are an investment in crime prevention which will help build upon the culture of safety practised by responsible law-abiding firearms owners in Canada.

 

. 1120 + -

It might be a surprise for the opposition that 82% of all Canadians support the registration of all firearms, a majority in every province.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Ms. Eleni Bakopanos: Of course they find this very funny. Seventy-two per cent of rural Canadians approve of registration. There is strong support for the universal registration of firearms across Canada. Bill C-68 establishes a framework to achieve a number of goals that relate directly to the safety of Canadians in their homes and on the streets.

It creates stiff sentences for those who use firearms in the commission of a crime. It creates systems and sanctions to deal with the smuggling of guns into Canada. It provides that all firearms in Canada must be registered, a cornerstone measure that will help police fight smuggling and do their job more effectively. It does all these things within a framework that respects the rights of responsible law-abiding gun owners.

Let us review for a moment the background of how the legislation came to be. The opposition keeps forgetting how many times we have debated the issue in the House. We were elected on the second mandate because of that piece of legislation. It was introduced into the House of Commons on February 14, 1995 through successive debates including an extensive list of amendments brought to the bill by committee and debated at third reading.

On and on we have debated the issue in the House of Commons. It has gone to committee. Canadians have had a chance to bring forth their opinions. Two major sets of regulations have been processed, the first being tabled in November 1996 and the second set being tabled in October 1997.

The standing committee reviewing the first set of regulations made 39 recommendations, 30 of which were accepted in whole or in part. The government accepted more than 93% of the justice committee's recommendations following extensive hearings on these regulations.

My point in this brief review is to ask the opposition why, in view of the extensive parliamentary involvement in both the legislation and the regulations and in view of the number of changes in accommodations which were made as the legislation passed through the House, we would even consider repealing Bill C-68, legislation that enjoys the support of 82% of Canadians.

[Translation]

Bill C-236 would have us believe that parliament's legislation does nothing to address the criminal misuse of firearms. Opposition members may wish to consult the Criminal Code in this respect. A significant number of offences in the code were modified to carry a minimum punishment of imprisonment for four years.

A significant number of offences in the code were modified to carry a minimum sentence of four years' imprisonment. These Criminal Code offences are found under the headings of causing death by criminal negligence, manslaughter, attempt to commit murder, causing bodily harm with intent, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, hostage taking, robbery and extortion.

Other offences are found for a variety of criminal offences including activities such as weapons trafficking, possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking, manufacture of automatic firearms, automatic firearms importing and exporting when knowing it is unauthorized, and tampering with the serial number of a firearm.

We were very attentive to criminal activities in formulating the offence provisions of Bill C-68. Increasing the minimum terms, as the bill proposes, would add nothing useful to the general approach approved by parliament when it passed Bill C-68.

If the supporters of Bill C-236 really took the time to study the issue, they would also find that there have been a number of appeals of the four year minimum sentences over the past two years. All of them have been upheld on appeal as appropriate sentencing, expressing the will of parliament. They also express the will of the Canadian people, 82% of whom support this legislation, as I mentioned.

The licensing of firearms users is one of the central features of this legislation. Under Bill C-68, only people who are responsible and have not within the past five years been convicted of Criminal Code offences, of an offence involving violence against a person or the threat of such violence, of an offence involving criminal activity or of the contravention of the Food and Drugs Act or the Narcotic Control Act are eligible for licensing.

 

. 1125 + -

Registration is an important component of the act. Let me remind proponents of Bill C-236 that this aspect of the legislation was recently validated by the Alberta court of appeal. People who sell guns should know to whom they are selling. If the person buying the gun has a licence, there is some reasonable assurance that the person is a law-abiding, responsible person.

Safety is an essential component, and this is why persons with licences will have completed and passed the Canadian firearm safety course and will have at least the basics in respect of the safe handling and use of firearms.

Many of the lost or stolen firearms eventually come to the attention of the police. A system of registration will assist the police in returning these firearms to their rightful owners.

Since licensed users will have shown they were not involved in criminal activity and are otherwise responsible, and since guns will be registered, the police will have an invaluable tool to assist them in their fight against crime.

Opponents of the legislation contend that criminals will not register guns. However, the licensing and registration provisions will assist the police by providing them with additional tools to charge criminals and to fight organized crime.

Many guns come to Canada from the United States. The attitude in the United States with respect to guns is significantly different from that in Canada. The illegal movement of firearms into Canada is a problem of considerable magnitude and we recognize that. The registration system will register guns coming into and leaving Canada and the movement of those guns within the country.

Illegal shipments will be easier to stop. Customs officers will be able to identify shipments against the registration database.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

[English]

Ms. Eleni Bakopanos: Obviously the opposition finds this very funny. This is not a funny subject as far as we are concerned.

[Translation]

It will be possible to track down any firearm imported into and sold in Canada. Contraband reduction is an important tool through which the Firearms Act can contribute to crime reduction.

The Firearms Act allows honest and law-abiding sportsmen to continue to practice their sport. It is possible to buy and sell firearms, to hunt with a gun, to target shoot, to collect firearms, to display them in a museum and to practice all sorts of other sound activities favoured by gun owners.

[English]

To counter criminal activities in the country, the Department of Justice is attending to a wide range of criminal justice issues such as our crime prevention program, our efforts to improve youth justice, our intentions to address organized crime issues, which we have done, and our approach to firearms control.

In short, Bill C-236 seeks to return the system of gun control to the status it held before Bill C-68. In so doing it ignores the benefits of better licensing screening. It ignores the benefits of registration. It ignores the cherry picking that members opposite are suggesting in terms of the legislation. It is simply regressive legislation. Above all it is not responsive to Canadian people.

I said before, and I will close on this point, that there is strong support across Canada for the direction we are taking. We were re-elected on that point. We are implementing a reasonable system that respects and encourages responsible firearm owners in the safe practice of their sport.

Our legislation, which was ruled upheld by the Alberta Court of Appeal, respects the rights of responsible law-abiding gun owners at the same time as building a culture of safety in Canada.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier—Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, today we have the opportunity to discuss Bill C-236, an act to repeal the Firearms Act and to make certain amendments to the Criminal Code.

This bill, sponsored by a Reform member, proposes the total repeal of the Firearms Act, nothing more and nothing less. Unfortunately, the hon. member seems unaware that there is a very strong consensus that a certain degree of firearms control is desired by the people of Canada and of Quebec.

Thus, in stating that the Firearms Act does not meet any real need, and consequently does nothing except unduly infringe upon the property rights of honest citizens, the hon. member is engaging in a debate that is pointless, to say the least.

Prudence is in order when addressing the matter of gun control—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Mr. Michel Bellehumeur: —something the Reform members clearly lack this morning—in order to clearly grasp the issue as a whole.

 

. 1130 + -

It must be recognized that in proposing the repeal of the Firearms Act the hon. member appears to wish to defend a legitimate right, the right to unrestricted right of ownership. The importance of that right cannot be overemphasized. Enjoyment of property is a fundamental right, and one that is protected by a number of important legal instruments.

In Quebec, for example, section 8 of the charter of rights and freedoms recognizes the following: “No one may enter upon the property of another or take anything therefrom without his express or implied consent”. The protection of right of ownership is nothing new.

There is a common law principle four centuries old and well entrenched in law, which states “a man's home is his castle”. Therefore, one cannot intrude on someone else's property with impunity, without incurring the anger of his fellow men. However, it would be against good citizenship to contend that our rights can be exercized irrespective of the common good.

Gun use cannot be viewed from a strictly personal point of view. Any argument solely based on individual property rights would just not fly. Living in a community necessitates compromises and, sadly perhaps, gun registration is one of these compromises, these reasonable measures to ensure our collective safety.

Living in society requires limitations on the exercise of our rights. These limitations are justified when public interest is at stake. Combating crime is certainly a collective concern. Rights may legitimately be limited when the safety of our fellow citizens is the basis for the proposed measures. On the face of it, the firearms legislation met that criterion.

As lawmakers, we could legitimately pass legislation for greater firearms control. We had to do it to ensure the safety of our children and the people around us.

Let us not fool ourselves: firearms are not like any other property, firearms can kill. In many cases, firearms are manufactured for a specific purpose: to harm or even to kill. That is not insignificant. Few if any people will argue with the fact that, even in the hands of conscientious individuals like police officers or hunters, firearms have all the makings of dangerous and potentially lethal weapons.

Out of respect for the victims of the misuse of firearms, we had to do what was necessary. As legislators, we had to approach this issue responsibly.

I have no doubt that, deep down, the Reform Party member is, as I am, very concerned about the safety of his fellow citizens. But suggesting that the Firearms Act be repealed is taking this concern much too far. There is no denying—and I am choosing my words carefully here—that the legislation has a number of flaws, but this does not mean it should be repealed.

One flaw is undoubtedly the fact that the Liberal government is moving much too quickly, criminalizing something that should not be criminalized, in order to look good or cover up its failure to give the public what it wants.

The government's bill is poorly drafted, costly and unenforceable, and the government has failed to build a consensus among the main groups of firearms users, particularly hunters and suppliers, who are fiercely opposed to it.

Nonetheless, it is very important to remember that a gun control bill is primarily intended to reduce crime and bring about a drop in the number of accidents caused by the mishandling of firearms. It is thus possible to be in favour of gun control but to question certain important aspects of the legislation, the unfortunate effects of which could have been avoided. That is the position in which I find myself.

However, the Reform Party member questions the very legitimacy of the Firearms Act, and that is where he loses me. Repeal is not the same as improvement.

 

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By suggesting that this legislation simply be scrapped, the member is closing the door to any constructive discussion that might lead to a workable consensus benefiting everyone.

In the circumstances, it will come as no surprise to anyone that I have great difficulty supporting such a bill.

[English]

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to my colleague's private member's bill which I support fully. Before going directly to the bill I think we should pass out some warnings.

On December 1 Bill C-68 will come into effect. We want to send a warning to all smugglers. Bill C-68 is coming in, so all smugglers beware. As of December 1 they can no longer smuggle guns as Bill C-68 will be in effect. But wait a minute. I thought smuggling was against the law long before Bill C-68 came in. This is what is so hilarious about this government. Suddenly it has come up with a bill that is probably going to cost $1 billion to implement. It is going to stop such things as smuggling.

We should send a warning out that effective December 1 all smuggling will cease. Mind you, we do not have any officers at the borders to prevent a lot of the smuggling from happening. We do not have money for that. We cannot supply any more police officers to enforce this because they are going to be very busy with the paperwork. They have to register all these guns that are causing such a problem. And according to their statistics that was totally false. The head of the chiefs of police was quite concerned that they supported this bill on false information put out by this government. He has been quoted from his letters to the justice minister as stating his disappointment about this false information being presented.

The idea that smuggling is going to be stopped because of Bill C-68 is just another farce. I imagine smugglers are having a good time laughing about that one. At no time has this Liberal government taken any initiative to put a stop to smuggling.

Standing on the bridge at Port Erie I watched the traffic coming and going across the border. I watched boats going across the river. I asked how they knew what was on the boats as no one was checking them. They said “We watch from the bridge. If they are like this, it is probably cigarettes; if it is like this, it could be booze; if it is like this, it is probably guns; and if it is like this, it is probably people. So if it is like this, maybe we will go after it”. They do not have any manpower. I asked what was on a truck that was going through the line and they said they did not know. I ask if there was somebody in pursuit and they said no, they did not have the manpower for that.

The government comes out with this huge document giving Canada's justice minister all kinds of power and authority through order in council to change things, that it will make a difference.

Two people were shot with shotguns in my riding. The people who did that are really going to be in trouble. They are going to face the Liberal law. They will probably get a life sentence, although wait a minute, they will be paroled in 25 years. I think that is mandatory. But who knows, even with Liberal justice, under section 745 of the Criminal Code, they could be out in 15 years. Yet we are getting tough with Bill C-68. Under Bill C-68 they will still get life and will have to be paroled in 25 years and they will still have the opportunity for a section 745 hearing. That is Liberal justice. And they wonder why people laugh.

In 1993 this government was elected and it was going to do something with the Young Offenders Act. It is almost 1999 and nothing has happened. The attorneys general across Canada are asking the Minister of Justice “When are you going to do something with that act?” Of course she is having a difficult time doing anything about it. I understand her caucus is not in agreement with it, but then I think she is glad they are balking about changing the Young Offenders Act. After all, it is a wonderful old Liberal document. It was enacted in 1984. Since then youth crime has escalated like we would not believe and it still is going up.

 

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There are cries all across Canada. There is a member yapping off on the other side of the House. People in his riding are saying do something about youth crime. Since 1993 the Liberals have done absolutely nothing. But we have Bill C-68. According to the auditor general it is going to cost probably $1 billion to bring it into force. That is the auditor general's figure. We have already spent several hundreds of millions of dollars.

Let us look at another thing. In 1993 the government announced that there were over a million young people starving and in poverty in this country. Guess what it will announce in 1999. There are a million young people still living in poverty. Why does the government not take the money it is wasting on such things as Bill C-68 and do something for the needy? Why does it not take hundreds of millions of dollars and do something for them, instead of wasting its money on a document that will not have any effect?

Going back to those two people who were shot by shotguns in my riding, the next sometime somebody shoots somebody with a shotgun it will be registered. That will make the victims feel much better. I am sure a husband or a wife will be very glad that their spouse was shot with a registered shotgun. And the government wonders why people laugh at what it says. Liberal justice is a joke and people laugh at jokes.

There was an incident in Saskatchewan. Mrs. Lorraine Dewetter's husband was out in the field and his half-ton pick-up got stuck. He died in the field from a heart attack. The police discovered the fellow had a .410 gauge shotgun in the pickup. They picked the shotgun up and rightfully so. They went to the house to inform Mrs. Dewetter that her husband had died from a heart attack in the field. While they were there, they searched the house and confiscated three more weapons: a .22, another shotgun, and I do not know what else, all because of such things as Bill C-68. That is what those things bring in.

If we want to look at the history of registration it is not too difficult. Look at it. The main purpose of registration, regardless of what the Liberals say, is confiscation. That is the final result. That is the purpose of it.

When the Minister of Justice is given the authority by order in council to declare which things are illegal and which are not, it is pretty easy to do. Just start snapping fingers and they will make things illegal as they go along. And then we are doing a great job of attacking the wrong people, the law-abiding people of Canada.

All the criminals must think this is funny. Sixty years of registration of handguns and we do not see much change. In fact it has gotten worse. It did not solve any problems. Then we heard from the parliamentary secretary. I remember. She had a great statement. It is really important to get these registrations done because if we find a stolen gun, then we know to whom to return it. That is worth a million or so. It is worth spending lots of money on documents and using up a lot of police time to make sure that happens.

I do not know what kind of a world the Liberals live in when they talk about justice. People across this land are not happy at all with Canada's justice system. They want it changed. If, as I just heard, somebody would say to hang them, I would certainly believe there are those who probably would do just that. Maybe we should ask the 11 or 12 families of the victims of Clifford Olson whether or not that should be the penalty. Maybe we should take a little more seriously how people feel about the justice system, but the Liberals do not.

 

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The government came up with Bill C-68 which will not change anything. I have carefully gone through the present Criminal Code. We have a safe storage law. We have laws against the criminal use of firearms in the commission of a crime. All those things are covered. The only thing that is not covered is registration, and the government had to write a huge document full of gobbledegook which does not change anything except the registration of firearms. It spent over a billion dollars, according to the auditor general.

When children are still facing poverty, when we have poverty on Indian reserves and on city streets it is a shame that we are spending money for things that will not be effective.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to take part in the debate today.

The bill brought forward by the hon. member from the Reform Party is consistent with a long held position of the Conservative Party that the registry system under Bill C-68 is ill conceived and is in fact a reactionary piece of legislation that will not accomplish the goals it was set up to achieve.

Although the well intentioned persons who support the legislation have bought in the idea that somehow registering a shotgun will be an effective way for the government to respond to organized crime and violent crime, the sad reality is that this is not the case. Millions and millions of dollars are being spent by the government as a ruse to somehow hold itself up as being in favour of tougher legislation when it comes to the criminal use of firearms.

The reality is that the legislation focuses on law-abiding citizens. We have heard many members of the opposition and government members discuss who it will affect most. It will affect most farmers, fishermen, sportsmen, hunters, collectors, and individuals presently engaged in an activity which under the current law they are lawfully entitled to do. The legislation is now criminalizing with sanctions something that individuals participate in by their own free will, of their own volition.

In all reality one has to question the priorities of the government in the area of justice when it has decided to target law-abiding citizens as opposed to those who have been referred to on this side of the House as being the true criminals, those individuals who make the conscious decision to pick up a firearm and use it for an illegal purpose and not those individuals engaged in lawful activities which they are entitled to enjoy.

Let us get down to the root of Bill C-68. It is a tax on a law-abiding activity. The cost of that bill has become somewhat prohibitive in the minds of Canadians when a person looks at what it will eventually attach as a price tag. The initial assessment of the Minister of Justice who first dreamed up the piece of legislation was to be in the range of $85 million. Within months of its passage and movement in the direction of the gun registry it became clear this was not possible.

By September, the opening session of this year, 1998, the tab had run up to $133.1 million. As we approach the start-up date of December 1, one can only assume that it is in the range of $200 million. As the hon. member for Wild Rose mentioned there are estimates in the range of $500 million to $1 billion, to which he received a lot of heckling and acrimony from the government side.

How much does it cost in human life? Not one iota of evidence suggests that the legislation will save lives. Not one bit of linkage, statistical or otherwise, shows that registering shotguns will somehow save lives. That is simply not the case.

The police reaction to Bill C-68 is quite interesting. There have been statistics from the Canadian Police Association. The Canadian Chiefs of Police have spoken in favour of it. However, frontline police officers, those who are tasked with administering and enforcing the legislation, will tell us very quickly that they would far rather spend their time and efforts fighting real crime, not going with warrants to individual houses based on some premise that they might have a gun stored there illegally or that they might have an unregistered gun. They would far rather spend their time and efforts fighting real crime, not going with warrants to individual houses based on some premise that they might have a gun stored there illegally or that they might have, more important, to tie it to the legislation, an unregistered gun. It will become an overbureaucratic, time consuming exercise. Police officers admit they could spend their time in a far more effective and worthwhile effort helping to keep Canadian streets free from crime.

 

. 1150 + -

One questions the priorities. One questions the emphasis the government has placed on Bill C-68. Let us talk about how the bill was originally sold to the general public. There were tremendous statistics showing that the criminal use of shotguns and long guns was impacting on a rise in violent crime. The assistant commissioner of the RCMP wrote to the government and said “Wait a minute. These statistics are wrong. This is not true”.

These statistics were spun to effectively support the government's position that these guns had to be registered. These statistics were wrong. They were grossly exaggerated 10 or 100 times. The same statistics were used in the Supreme Court of Alberta in arguing a case which favoured the government by a slim three to two majority. It has now been appealed further to the Supreme Court of Canada. It begs the question why the government is to go ahead with the registry on December 1 knowing that it is before the courts?

It is always possible when a case goes before the court that judges in their wisdom decide legislation is unconstitutional. It appears that more and more of the provinces and the territories are joining in this effort, this court action, to somehow question the government priority on the issue. If that happens, why would we spend more money? It is another blatant waste of money by the government, throwing bad money after bad to somehow preempt the court. One has to question why the government is choosing to do this, knowing that a court challenge is pending.

It is interesting to note the absence of members of the NDP from this debate. They have been all over the board when it comes to gun registry. It would have been interesting to hear their remarks with respect to this bill.

The spin doctoring that has taken place is something of note. It is increasingly discouraging for Canadians to hear the government misquote statistics and their wishes in the Chamber and outside the Chamber when it comes to gun registry. One can always find statistics to support a position. That is not a difficult thing to do. However when one goes into the court of public opinion, one hears a completely different version of what Canadians want with respect to gun registry.

I want to be very clear in stating that the Progressive Conservative Party is very much in favour of gun control and gun registry, for that matter, when it comes to pistols, the weapon of choice, but registering long guns is simply asinine. It is going in the wrong direction when it comes to trying to fight crime, organized crime or otherwise.

Efforts should be put into shoring up our borders, into putting more money into policing budgets which we know have been drastically cut, and into better legislation aimed at organized crime or more sanctions for the criminal use of firearms. I am sure Canadians would applaud the government for those efforts if it were moving in that direction, but that is not the case.

The spin doctoring that has gone on is remarkable. The government has become very good at it. It has high priced individuals who spin its positions and tell Canadians effectively what it wants Canadians to believe. This is incredibly irresponsible on the part of the government.

The benefits of Bill C-68 are very negligible. One only has to look again at the government's use of statistics. Where are the statistics the government is relying on to say that it will save lives? They are completely absent from the debate because they do not exist. Is that not what it is all about? Should criminal justice not be about protecting people and saving lives?

Bill C-68 does not measure up. It does not meet those requirements. That is why we are supporting the private member's bill that has been brought forward. Let us end it now. Let us stop spending money and throwing bad money after bad to try to register long arms and shotguns that are not weapons of choice when it comes to crime.

The cost is only one aspect of the legislation, the cost and the use the government has made of these statistics. Thousands and thousands of Canadians appeared on Parliament Hill at the beginning of this session to express their outrage as to what would happen with this tax, this burdensome bureaucracy that will be put in place.

 

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Bill C-68 is not indicative of what Canadians want. If anything, Canadians are crying out for a system that is simpler, more direct and delivers what it is supposed to deliver to Canadians.

Bill C-68 certainly does not deliver justice. It creates a false expectation for police and citizens. Police officers are already labouring under a CPIC system that they cannot rely on to be accurate. To suggest that we will have a national gun registry which will prevent a police officer from going to a house and knocking on the door, knowing there is or is not a gun behind that door, is completely asinine. It will not give the confidence police officers need to carry out their task.

Those are the reasons I put forward to support this private member's bill and I urge other members, particularly my colleagues in the NDP, to do the same.

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate although I must say that was not my intention when I arrived here a few minutes ago.

For six weeks all parties on this side of the House have been engaged in directing questions toward the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and solicitor general about what he did or did not say on October 1 on that now infamous airplane ride.

Frankly a lot of us, certainly in our caucus and in I suspect in other opposition caucuses, would have preferred to talk about other things than whether the solicitor general would stay in his post.

A farm crisis is going on in Saskatchewan. There is the employment insurance issue which my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst is trying to raise. What should we do with budget surpluses? There are any number of questions, but because of the intransigence of the government we have been stuck dealing with the future of the solicitor general.

Here we have a private member's bill which talks about something that will not be decided by the House of Commons until the Supreme Court of Canada rules some time down the road. The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled after September 21. The Reform opposition party members could not wait. Never mind uniting the right. They were busily concerned about uniting themselves by having the motion on firearms.

The case is going to the Supreme Court of Canada. It will not be decided here. It was decided here between 1993 and 1997 when Bill C-68 passed the House of Commons. I was not in the House at that time. I do not know whether it is a good bill or a bad bill, but I know that it will not come back to the House at least until the Supreme Court rules against it. Why are we wasting the time of the House of Commons and of the people of Canada talking about something that is totally irrelevant?

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise to me that the NDP member who spoke to bill has not even read it. That is quite typical.

Bill C-68 was sold to the Canadian public and the House under extreme false pretences. We like to talk about the Alberta court and what happened there. Need I remind the House that four of the five judges said that it was an infringement on provincial jurisdiction. Due to the government saying that it was a criminal act they decided three to two that the federal government had that right to infringe on provincial jurisdiction under a criminal act. Even that was sold as a guise to the Canadian public.

 

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We will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to enact legislation that most law abiding citizens who own firearms will probably not comply with in the first place. While we are doing this I remind the government of its responsibility. The government's foremost responsibility is to the safety and well-being of its law abiding citizens.

What did the government do when it was at fault in terms of the legislation to compensate all hep C victims who contacted hep C through the tainted blood system? It said that we had no funds. It said it could not afford to pay them, but it can afford to put hundreds of millions of dollars into firearms registration while those with tainted blood are dying. I have to ask where the government's priorities are.

For years navy merchant marines have been fighting to be duly compensated for their war efforts. These people have suffered, been left maimed and some have died in acts of war in order to feed our troops, yet this government has stated time after time that there are not enough funds to pay these people but it can spend hundreds and millions of dollars on a useless act causing total disagreement across the country.

I have to wonder where the government's priorities are. Government members will say anything to be re-elected, in order to come back to the House, but they think nothing at all of the true victims. Instead they would impose another tax or levy on law abiding citizens of Canada, which is shameful. I hope those people on the other side can sleep at night when they enforce this act after they read the letters of those suffering from hep C. It is a disgrace.

[Translation]

The Deputy Speaker: The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped from the order paper.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

CANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT

BILL C-53—TIME ALLOCATION MOTION

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.) moved:

    That in relation to Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and, fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interpreted if required for the purpose of this order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

 

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The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Some hon. members: Yea.

The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.

Some hon. members: Nay.

The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.

 

. 1245 + -

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 265

YEAS

Members

Adams Alcock Anderson Assad
Assadourian Augustine Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) Baker
Bakopanos Barnes Beaumier Bélair
Bélanger Bellemare Bennett Bertrand
Bevilacqua Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw
Brown Bryden Bulte Caccia
Calder Cannis Caplan Carroll
Catterall Cauchon Chamberlain Chan
Clouthier Coderre Cohen Collenette
Comuzzi Copps Cullen DeVillers
Dhaliwal Dion Discepola Dromisky
Drouin Duhamel Easter Eggleton
Finestone Finlay Folco Fontana
Fry Gagliano Gallaway Godfrey
Goodale Gray (Windsor West) Guarnieri Harb
Hubbard Ianno Jackson Jennings
Jordan Karetak - Lindell Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas)
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson Kraft Sloan Lastewka
Lee Leung Longfield Mahoney
Malhi Maloney Marchi Marleau
Martin (LaSalle – Émard) Massé McCormick McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague McWhinney
Mifflin Minna Mitchell Murray
Myers Nault O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly
Pagtakhan Paradis Parrish Patry
Peterson Pettigrew Phinney Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex)
Pillitteri Pratt Proud Provenzano
Redman Reed Richardson Robillard
Rock Saada Sekora Serré
St. Denis Steckle Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland)
St - Julien Szabo Telegdi Thibeault
Torsney Ur Valeri Vanclief
Volpe Whelan Wilfert Wood – 132


NAYS

Members

Ablonczy Alarie Anders Bailey
Bellehumeur Bergeron Bigras Brien
Brison Cadman Cardin Chatters
Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Davies de Savoye Debien
Doyle Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Duncan
Earle Epp Forseth Gauthier
Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Goldring Grewal Grey (Edmonton North)
Guimond Hanger Harvey Herron
Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom Johnston
Jones Keddy (South Shore) Kenney (Calgary - Southeast) Laliberte
Lalonde Loubier Lunn MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough)
Manning Marceau Marchand Mark
Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Mayfield McDonough Meredith
Mills (Red Deer) Morrison Perron Picard (Drummond)
Power Price Proctor Ramsay
Reynolds Ritz Schmidt Stinson
Stoffer Strahl Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) Thompson (Wild Rose)
Turp Venne Wasylycia - Leis Wayne – 72


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

 

. 1250 + -

REPORT STAGE

 

The House resumed from November 17 consideration of Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses, as reported (with amendment) from the committee; and of Motions Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I might say that the vote that we just had is somewhat alarming in that in the last parliament closure was moved 35 times either by time allocation or by closure motions. In this parliament we find that already time allocation has been moved nine times, including the bill we are now debating.

When I talk with people in the community I talk with them in private more often than in public because in private people are more apt to say things which they would not otherwise disclose.

The amendment that we are debating is designed to prevent one family member who is part owner of a small business from taking out a loan if another family member has already done so.

With respect to financing for small business, we only hear of the times when it proves to be successful. What the government never hears about are the disastrous effects of ill-conceived loans. It is my purpose this afternoon to draw this to the attention of the House. I could go from now to midnight talking about what is designed to be a positive thing which turns out in fact to be a negative thing.

I can assure hon. members opposite that it is not very pleasant to sit in the kitchen with people who have run a third generation family business and hear their story about being put out of business because of a government loan to a competitor while they continued to struggle to survive and eventually lost their business.

This is not a rare occurrence. It is very common throughout Saskatchewan. Depending upon whom a person knows at the right time, which could be a politician, they get a loan to build a business in an area when that general trading area cannot support another business.

I would like to draw the attention of the House to a couple of instances. There were four eating establishments in a small town. Of those eating establishments, three of the four were family businesses. They had been family businesses since the town virtually began. All of sudden two of those businesses received big government loans, one in excess of $100,000 and one in excess of $125,000. The total pie was divided. There was not sufficient business to support those six eating establishments in that town. Two of the businesses which were struggling went under, while the other two businesses which received the government grants continued. I might add that one of them is now closed. We never hear what happens when government makes small business loans which create competition for a family business or some other business which is struggling to survive.

 

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There is a long list of names. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been paid out.

There was a small cafe owner who had always paid his local taxes. He was a part of the community and supported every activity in the town. Government money came in, his money in effect, and another business moved in and forced him to dilute his business to the extent that it is no longer a profitable organization. Did that happen once? Not at all.

When we look at the budget and the amount of money that is given to small business we never know how many times it happens. I could take two hours going through all of the business places I know of that have gone out of business because the government, with disregard, put money into an area which could not support another business of that nature. It is a sad story.

I know of as many people who have been desperately hurt and ruined by the Small Business Loans Act as I do of those who have prospered. The government only tells us about those businesses which have prospered. In all fairness, we need to look from coast to coast to see those who have been hurt.

I draw the attention of members to another incident. This was in a fair sized town where there were two bakeries. Again they were both family enterprises. They were both doing well. They both supported their community. They were both engaged in such things as the town council. A person came in who knew the right person at the right time and a loan was floated. That loan was in excessive of $140,000. As a result, that person was able to keep going on government funding until they put a community owned bakery out of business. There was not enough business to support three bakeries.

This motion is designed to stop a current practice. This motion has been put forward to prevent one family member who is part owner of a small business from taking out a loan if another family member has already done so. In other words, at present it is possible for an individual who is a member of a family running a business to get another loan. Even though the first loan was not under his name, he can take out another loan for a different purpose when the business is already operating with a government loan.

What are we doing? We do not have a careful watchdog to monitor who is getting the loans and for what purpose. I am not just talking about the banks which guarantee the loans. In my province we have business development corporations that would be a better source to inform the government under this loan procedure as to what business is most likely to succeed without hurting the businesses already in place.

 

. 1300 + -

Where I come from I cannot afford nor do I have the time to sit and listen to those people in my cities, towns and in some cases my villages who have been totally put out of business and have moved simply because government money is going in opposition to them.

The government should reconsider this bill because a person does not deserve to lose his or her business of three generations and be wiped out with government money going in opposition to their business which has probably been in existence over the last 50 or 60 years.

I wish the government would consider this motion which I will be supporting.

Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to support the amendments put forward by my colleague.

These amendments will do two things. First, they will lower the maximum of a small business loan from $250,000 to $100,000. Second, they will prevent a second family member from obtaining a small business loan for a business when one has already been granted to another family member.

I would also like to comment on this whole small business loans program which, again with all due respect, I think has completely gone down the wrong track in what we are doing for the Canadian people.

This bill essentially will put $1.5 billion into the small business loans program where businesses that do not qualify for any other funding, that have been turned down by the banks and financial institutions for various reasons, would then try to obtain financing from the small business loans program.

I would argue this is the wrong approach. These people obviously are a higher risk. We are using taxpayer money as a poor investment. We are giving it to the worst business plans of this country, the businesses that are most likely to go broke and most likely to go bankrupt. The taxpayers will receive zero dollars on their investment. We are throwing money at bad business plans.

I would argue it is the role of government to be responsible for introducing legislation in this House that ensures there will be a strong economic climate. Again, I do not necessarily support subsidizing business after business by throwing money at it. Instead, we should be creating an economic climate where businesses can survive without government subsidies. In essence that is what this is. That is what we have failed to do.

My home province of British Columbia is in an absolute crisis state. As an example we can look at the forest industry in British Columbia. Many of my colleagues from British Columbia can attest to the fact that one of the principal reasons the forest industry and the business climate in the forest sector is in a crisis situation is largely government policy and the direction the government has been going in both provincially and federally.

The federal government cannot be let off the hook. It has created an economic climate, due to the quota system with the United States, where British Columbia has now lost a significant part of its quota to eastern Canada. The mills are suffering incredibly.

I was speaking with the senior forester in one of the forest product companies in British Columbia over the weekend. He tells me that their wood costs in 1994 were $43 a metre. Today their wood costs are $83 a metre. This has almost doubled. I asked him why they had doubled and what had caused the cost of the wood landed in the mill to be double to what it was three or four years ago.

 

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He said strictly government policy, both federal and provincial.

I am a big defender of small businesses. They are the economic backbone of this country. If we are to have successful businesses, let us not do it with government subsidies. We have the government saying here is $1.5 billion available for small businesses.

Many of the ones that probably are struggling and will survive do not have access to this. Again, only the highest risk business plans are going to get access to this. We may never recover this money. I would argue very little we will recover.

The government gives out but takes right back through high payroll taxes. The EI premiums are billions of dollars higher than what they should be. The list goes on and on.

Speaking with small business owners, even very small businesses with only a few employees, they say they get government forms, both federal and provincial, in the mail two or three times a week. It never ends.

A full time bookkeeper is needed to keep up with the bureaucracy, the paperwork, whether it is the GST or the payroll tax forms or worker compensation forms. Some of them are provincial but the list goes on and on. How can they possibly survive?

It is our role as legislators to cut that down, break down these barriers. What kind of taxes are these companies paying? Can they be competitive? It goes further. Some of our most entrepreneurial people who should be creating these small businesses are running down south of us to the U.S. the day after they leave school. Why? Because of the economic climate in this country. Why? Because of the taxes they pay.

People pay double the taxes to our friends to the south. These are realities. These are the things the government should be focusing on.

The small business loans program has been around for a long time, which would only reinforce that the government is absolutely prepared to accept the status quo. It thinks things are just fine. Let us not change, just send out another $1.5 billion and that will take care of itself.

Some people cannot go to the bank. They get turned down and then go to the finance companies and get turned down there. They cannot raise any money, but we will give them some taxpayer money. We likely will never see it again because their business plans are flawed to begin with. The point I am trying to make is that government subsidies are not the answer. It has been proven time and time again.

Let us look at the fishing industry on the east coast in Newfoundland and the Atlantic provinces. What has this government done since 1993? It has spend $2 billion paying fishermen to sit at home and wait for the fish to come back but it has not changed anything within the department and how it operates. It has not looked at the root problems. It has not focused on anything.

The idea was to throw money at it and hopefully the problems will solve themselves. It accepted the status quo. That is not good enough. We need change. It is the same thing with the small business plan. That analogy can be drawn with small business people. Throwing money at them and saying go create a new business, we will create another level of bureaucracy to help them with their bankruptcy in six months is not the answer.

We have to create an economic climate where these businesses will thrive, where they will create employment, where they will be valuable contributors to their local economies.

We are not doing that. It is in every sector whether fishing, forestry or mining. All these areas are suffering. We have our heads buried in the sand. We are not looking at it. Now the government has forced time allocation. It will shut the debate off on this.

Again I plead with the government to look at the real problem. Travel to British Columbia to some of these interior communities. Go up to Lumby. Go down to Duncan. Go into Cranbrook. Go up to Prince George and see what is happening. One and a half billion dollars in the small business loans program will not solve anything. It will just be a high risk. If that is what the government is going to do it might as well go down to Vegas and dump it into a slot machine.

 

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Some will argue I am against the small business programs. I am not. I will stand up and fight for small businesses. But I would do it differently. I would ensure that they have a strong economic climate. I would ensure that they are not being taxed to death on payroll taxes. It can be done without government subsidies. If I can leave one message, the answer to our problems is not government subsidies. It is our job to create the economic climate where they can survive.

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to lend support to Bill C-53 and to join in the debate around the motions that have been put forward.

The Canada small business financing act is designed to assist small business. We in the NDP feel strongly that small businesses are a very important part of our community, a very vital part.

We believe that small and medium size businesses are an integral part of successful communities. I am sure that all of us can think of our various communities and point to many of the small businesses within our communities, whether they be construction companies, restaurants or information technology businesses, and we can see examples of people who are working hard, people who are dedicated, people who put in long hours to earn their living and to contribute in a meaningful way to our society.

I think of a small business in my riding of Halifax West, a small family restaurant. I go there sometimes in the morning for breakfast. I am served the most beautiful breakfasts, home cooked by the lady who operates this restaurant. This business creates an aura of hospitality, an aura of friendliness within the community. A lot of the local people come to that restaurant. They sit there and talk over the affairs of their community. They relate one on one with their neighbours. There is an atmosphere which is really good to see, people in the community interacting around this family business.

But it is also very noticeable that the owner of this business works very hard. She is in there first thing in the morning. She bakes homemade goods. She then deals with the customers who come in on their way to work. She is going all day. At the end of the day she has worked very hard and many long hours.

In 1996-97 small businesses created 81% of all new jobs, we are told. In 1997-98 small firms with fewer than 49 employees created 56,516 new jobs. Of the businesses operating in 1989, 51% were still operating in 1995. This is a testament of the endurance of these small businesses.

It is very important to realize that the people who operate these small businesses are people of integrity. They are people of honesty and they are people who would not necessarily take advantage of the programs that are being offered in a negative way. It bothers me when I hear Reform talking about not making things easier for people to access loans and to have help with their businesses. The inference is almost that these people will automatically take advantage of the grants and the programs available. But we must realize that most people in their small businesses are people of honesty and integrity and they are people who want to succeed. If we as a government, if we as a society, can help them, we certainly should be doing that.

It is for this reason that I urge all members in the House to give full support to the kinds of initiatives and the kinds of effort which will assist small business persons.

 

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Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to the comments of the member for Halifax West. I think he misconstrues the intent of the amendments in Group No. 2, which is to protect existing small businesses.

I fully concur with his remarks concerning the little restaurant, the great service he gets and how hard the owner works. Full marks for that lady and full marks for the business. These amendments are aimed at preventing somebody from moving in and setting up another restaurant right beside it and getting a government loan which would allow it to unfairly compete and put that poor woman out of business. We have seen that happen in Saskatchewan. It is not an uncommon phenomenon.

In my part of Saskatchewan and in that part represented by the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain the towns and villages are dying. The small businesses that remain are hanging on by their fingernails. When another business moves in to a place where there cannot possibly be room for two, and that business has a small business loan or a government grant, the business that is already there and just barely hanging on goes down first. Then the business that came in with government help usually goes down within a couple of years because it does not have the feel for the market nor does it have the skills of the business that had survived in that place for two or three generations. Instead of having one struggling business making it on its own, we end up with nothing, thanks to the beneficence of our government in backing these loans.

That type of interference with the marketplace is not good for society. I am not here to get into a long ideological harangue about the free market. We can debate that at another time and in another place. I am sure the hon. member for Halifax West and I could have a wonderful time debating that. We are debating a specific government bill and some proposed amendments to it which, in our eyes, would make it a better bill.

I know there are men and women in small business on the benches opposite. I have talked to some of them and they appear to be very reasonable folks. I think that in their hearts they understand what we are talking about in these amendments.

I would be surprised if there is a member in this House who has not had someone say to him or her “A new business has opened just down the street from an existing business providing a similar type of service in my hometown. It looks like the new business is going to put the old one out of business. We think it must have got a small business loan or a grant”.

There is this cynical outlook. Whenever anybody starts a business in a place where conditions do not look good, the public immediately concludes it was done with government help and by George, I think that 90% of the time the public is right. That is not the way to run a country. However when push comes to shove and the big shepherd holds up his staff, those people over there who understand this phenomenon and who are small business people all say “baa” in unison and the bill passes. This is not parliament as it was intended to be, which brings me to the matter of time allocation.

We are now debating with a gun at our heads. In the 35th Parliament the government used time allocation 32 times and closure three times. In this the 36th Parliament the government has already used time allocation nine times.

 

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Instead of calling this the House of Commons, perhaps we should rename it the Dumas or the Reichstag because this is not parliament as parliament was intended to be. This is contrary to 300 years of tradition. It is contrary to the way that this parliament operated for the first half century or more of its life.

I believe closure was first used in this House by Borden. It was used extremely sparingly right up until the Trudeau administration. Then they started to lay it on heavier. Even that administration did not use it as many times in the several incarnations that it had as this government has used it in the last five years. The Mulroney government used it more extensively and with a heavier hand than the Trudeau administration but it was still a piker compared to this administration which is now routinely using it. The government uses time allocation time after time after time, no pun intended, and for no reason.

If there is an extremely important bill in the hopper and the opposition is being a little obstreperous and the bill has to get through or the country will collapse the next day at six o'clock in the morning, then yes. The technique was put in for a reason, but it was not put in to be used frivolously or habitually.

This is an affront to the traditions of parliamentary democracy. It is an affront which is practised routinely by this government. That is wrong. We have to get back to the tradition that parliament, not cabinet, but parliament is the overall authority in the country. Regardless of what the cabinet wants, parliament should be free to debate the issues of the day for as long as parliament wants and in any way it wants.

The heavy-handed manipulation has to stop. The whole institution is falling into disrepute. Unfortunately, people outside this place do not take us very seriously any more. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you have run into comments of this nature in your riding.

About three or four years ago I was severely taken to task by a clergyman in my riding for having made a comment to the effect that under the system of parliamentary democracy as it has evolved in Canada, we now have a system of an elected dictatorship somewhat akin to what there was in certain periods in ancient Rome. He was irate. He said that was disrespectful of the country and its traditions. A few weeks ago I met this gentleman at a function and he said “You were right”. And I was right. This place is decaying because we no longer observe the democratic traditions.

It is a sad thing for me to have to stand and make these remarks about an institution of which I am a part, but I think it is time for a little honesty and a little truth. I am not alone in my views. This view is widely held outside this place. It is hurting us, it is hurting the institution, and it is severely damaging Canada.

 

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Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this group of amendments today. I find it rather interesting that with over 150 Liberal members in this present government, none of them feel compelled to get up and defend why these amendments should not pass.

I believe that part of a debate is to put both sides of an issue on the table and to argue back and forth the merits of the case. What we have here today is a government which is totally abdicating its democratic responsibility. The Liberals not only do not want to debate this matter themselves, they just want to ram it through, but they have also said we cannot debate it. Both of these are rather insulting.

It is insulting that the government would use its majority to force through a closure motion, or time allocation as it is technically called, in order to restrict the length of time of the debate. It is also very insulting that the Liberals will not engage me in debate. I am really nonplussed by it. The silence on the other side probably says that they will support this motion.

When I am debating with someone, for example if I have a difference of opinion with one of my children, we debate things back and forth. I will say something and my son will say something else. We will go back and forth giving opposing points of view. Eventually we have to come to an agreement. I hope it does not characterize me as a soft father when I say that sometimes things go my way and sometimes my son is able to convince me of his point of view and things will go his way. That is what the process of debate is about. We do not have that here which is most regrettable.

Just as the government has used its majority to ram through the time allocation motion, it is also going to use its majority to pull the strings of the members opposite who will then dutifully vote against these amendments. These are good amendments. These are amendments which protect the taxpayer. These amendments protect businesses across the country. These amendments really are worthwhile. The government will not tell us its reasons for opposing them.

I do not know if this is parliamentary but I will be corrected if it is not. Is it because the government members are cowards? That is asked as a question so I hope the Speaker does not stop me. It is just a question. Why are the government members afraid to defend their position on this debate?

The government will go ahead and use this process and ram through whatever it thinks is right. We see this over and over in this government. We saw it big time when we were discussing the wheat board issue. This government was totally out of touch with the aspirations of farmers in western Canada. The government used time allocation, used closure debate and control of its members, even from the west, in order to do something which is diametrically opposed to what Canadian farmers need.

I know I am straying a bit from the specific amendments that we are talking about but I am using it to illustrate a very important point. The point is that democracy only works when we have true representation from the members who were sent here and elected by the people in their respective ridings. I wish that would actually occur. Instead we have another dog and pony show where the master in the centre of the ring snaps the whip and everybody else jumps through the hoops on cue. It is very depressing.

It is time for me to say a few things about the actual amendments. We should recognize a couple of things.

 

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It is absolutely true that small business is one of the most important factors in a vibrant economy, and in Canada there is no doubt that is the case. We are told over and over again that the highest proportion of jobs are created by small business. The role of the government should definitely be to provide an environment in which small business can thrive.

I believe quite strongly in the principle of free enterprise. I believe very much in the forces of the free marketplace in determining who is successful and who is not. I have observed over and over in my short life that individuals who have been risk takers and hard workers very often have good luck. There seems to be a correlation there. Those who are timid and pull back say “I want everybody else to look after me”. In Canada we often think there is an inalienable right that “I do not have to work. I do not have to take any risks. Somebody else has an obligation to look after me and my family”. This has become a way of thinking.

I have genuine concern for the many who have absolute needs such as those who are disabled and cannot work. We will make sure they do not suffer. However there are many people who are able bodied. We now have a string of governments that has arranged the affairs of the country in such a way that the motivation for people to take risks, to do things that are unusual, to work hard, to get up early and to go to sleep late because they are working hard all day, has been somewhat taken away. A principle has been adopted that somehow it is an appropriate role of government to take away from the person who has earned it and to use it to subsidize the person who has not earned it.

Small business is important but we need to be careful the public policy we develop is such that small business can survive and thrive because it is successful, not because of having made the correct political donations to the correct party and thereby being eligible for subsidies from the government, which is a legalized form of taking away from the person who earned it and giving it to the person who did not earn it.

Am I opposed to small business loans? Absolutely not. I have had experience with loans. I was fortunate in the sense that my partner and I had a good business plan and good backing. We went to an ordinary bank, got a loan, got our business started and away it went. I wish I could say that it was very successful, but unfortunately it was in the farming industry and in the end it did not work out that well, again partially because of government policies.

I emphasize that some people have very good ideas but do not have the capital or have not accumulated capital in their lifetime to be able to access loans. In this amendment we are saying that perhaps there is a role to play. I know that my colleagues and I have had representations from some individuals who say the Small Business Loans Act and the small business financing act have some merit and have helped people to get on their feet who otherwise would never have been able to do so.

Let us make sure that we do not put the taxpayers at a huge risk that ordinary financial institutions are not willing to take. If the bank down the street is not willing to give an individual with a business plan a loan, maybe it is because the business plan is not workable. Maybe it is because there are too many flaws. Maybe it is because the individual has not demonstrated a record of financial accountability. For us to say that we should limit the value of the loan is a valid comment.

 

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Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the amendments to the legislation. I want to give brief consideration to why I am a little concerned about the legislation in terms of dealing with funding to small business.

When funding businesses government does not often look at whether or not the businesses are new or whether they will be in competition with existing businesses that have not had government funding. People who have worked very hard, made sacrifices over a number of years, and built up businesses in communities often find themselves suddenly confronted with a government subsidized business that is working in competition with them.

To the business person who has worked for a number of years to establish a business it does not seem fair that the government is subsidizing someone to actually work in competition with them in an unfair and unequal way.

One has to ask what is the priority of government in funding small businesses and what the parameters of the decision to fund them should be. A colleague of mine has put forward an amendment that no two people in the same family can apply for a loan for the same business. This shows that the legislation has serious flaws.

If a business cannot get funding from a traditional source and goes to a government source of funding, it would only make sense that it be very controlled as to the risks of the taxpayer. It should be quite obvious although not explicit that the government should show due diligence in making sure that there is only one loan going to a particular family business.

Another motion under Group No. 2 talks about the level of funding that should be available. The amendment is suggesting that the level of $250,000 as set out in the legislation is far too extravagant. It is too great of a risk for taxpayers to put funds into a business that cannot get funding through a traditional source.

I will expand upon that concept. We have banks. As a matter of fact we now have a commitment from two major banks to establish a single bank responsible for lending money to small businesses. They have committed a substantial number of dollars solely to funding small businesses. If I remember a comment made by the CEO of the Royal Bank not too long ago, presently only a portion of that funding is used. I believe the number he mentioned was something like 70% to 80%. This means that 20% of the funds put aside for small businesses has not even been lent out.

The people who are applying for support from a government agency for whatever reason, and generally it is because the risk is too great, have not been given funding from traditional sources. When we start asking taxpayers to risk a maximum of $250,000 per applicant we are asking them to put at risk a fairly large sum of money.

 

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It is interesting that the average size of loans made under the old program was only $65,000. We have to ask why the government would feel it should raise the maximum loan amount from $100,000 to $250,000 when the average loan is only $65,000. It seems to me that the $100,000 was plenty. It allowed some discretion on the part of loans officer or the people putting together the finance package. It allowed them a considerable amount of support. The fact that most successful applicants only get two-thirds of it shows that $100,000 was adequate.

We have to question why the government feels it is necessary to amend the legislation. Why does the government feel it is necessary to put that kind of financial support behind small businesses?

Having been a small business person I do not want to say that the government has no role to play. However I am not convinced through my experience with community leadership. I watched governments fund industries that had no hope of success. The government ended up having to eat the investment in industries that had no hope of success. I have seen governments do the same with small businesses. I have to ask whether it should be an area of federal government involvement.

The government has no business in areas of responsibility where it is not needed. This is one area where we have private institutions, banks, credit unions and other areas where people can get financial help. If they cannot it is often because their proposal is not solid enough. Maybe individuals need to be encouraged to make sure their business plans, concepts and ideas are solid enough to make their own sacrifice and not look to the taxpayers to make a like sacrifice for them.

I have great difficulty supporting the legislation although some of the amendments proposed by colleagues, particularly the amendment limiting the number of family members who can apply for a loan and lowering or keeping the level at $100,000 instead of $250,000, gives me an opportunity to say I can support it to a lesser degree. I question whether the federal government would be satisfying more Canadian taxpayers and Canadians in general if it were to put that kind of money into health care, education and those areas where Canadians feel the federal government should put its dollars.

That is all I will say on the bill and amendments. I want to take a few minutes to talk about the government's response to debate on the legislation. It is deplorable that the government has chosen one more time to seek closure on debate. I question that in any democracy a government should have the right to say, because it does not agree with what we have to say, that it will not allow us to be heard.

It is shameful the government continues to use closure to limit debate and to try to minimize any criticism on the legislation it brings before the House. If it honestly feels that the legislation it brings before the House is good, it should not have any problem with people challenging and debating it. If the government cannot defend it in the House of Commons perhaps it should withdraw the legislation and come up with something that is better and meets the needs of the Canadian public.

 

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Ms. Susan Whelan (Essex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, after listening to the comments today I am a little surprised at what appears to be a lack of knowledge of Bill C-53. I say that with all due respect to my colleagues who have just spoken.

Members seem to think that there are no fees involved in this loan and that people who qualify for small business loans do not necessarily pay for them. The fact is that they pay administration fees and higher rates of interest. The loans are there to help those businesses which otherwise would not be able to get loans.

That being said, I want to speak specifically to the motions that were presented in Group No. 2. The first motion, presented by the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt, proposes that persons not be related. Obviously he has not read clause 3 where it is already defined.

If he would recall correctly from our discussions at committee, we had a very long and lengthy discussion on this very topic when we discussed the proposed regulations that will be coming down later. As a committee we wanted to ensure that everyone is entitled to apply.

We also wanted to ensure that one business is not beyond the aggregate amount, which I believe is already covered in the bill and regulations will further define it. As well, we wanted to ensure that if a husband and wife are in separate businesses neither one is prohibited from being able to apply for funding.

I also want to speak briefly to Motion No. 3. This is a proposal that would reduce the loan amount under the program to $100,000 from $250,000. Again I think it would be important for members opposite to go back and read the testimony that we heard at committee, the discussions that took place and to look at the groups that appeared, the witnesses and those who had benefited from the Small Business Loans Act in the past.

The fact is that even representatives of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said we should not go back. They suggested that it stay at $250,000. They suggested that it not be raised. They said that in the past they would have liked to have seen it lowered, but now that it is there we should not go back. They also suggested that we look at the types of businesses, and that is being done. They suggested that we look at who needs assistance and where the difficulties are in lending practices.

I remind my colleagues on the other side that the average loan amount is around $60,000 to $70,000 under the SBLA presently. Even though the limit is $250,000, the majority are falling much below that. There is no research at the present time which proves that larger loans pose any greater risk than smaller loans.

Several groups appeared before the committee. We asked the opposition for witnesses. The only groups that came before us to discuss the SBLA were those which had used the SBLA and were successful businesses. Some had borrowed to the tune of the $250,000 limit. Some of them told us that if the limit of $250,000 had not been there they would not be in business today. They have gone on to develop businesses that are worth $2 million or $3 million. Those businesses started with a small government assistance loan.

Let us remember that the assistance is paid for by higher than normal rates. If these businesses could go to a bank and get a regular small business loan without the assistance of the government or a guarantee then they would pay a lesser rate of interest. They are paying more money for this loan, but they are still doing well in their businesses. They were able to make it and survive once they got their foot in the door. If it was not for the government's guarantee they would not have been able to get that loan and they would not be in business today.

Motion No. 4 is pretty straightforward. Motion No. 5 is very much a housekeeping amendment because when the bill was originally introduced there were 85 loans under the Fisheries Improvement Loans Act that were still in existence. Those will soon be taken off the books, so we are just trying to ensure that the act and the legislation as it is written is as clean and understandable as possible.

I want to take this opportunity to talk about the successes of the Small Business Loans Act, the importance of continuing it, the new name for it—the Canada small business financing act—and the fact that so many businesses today will be able to get their foot in the door because it exists. The guarantee gives a little reassurance, when necessary; an extra push to get them in the door.

 

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Many witnesses appeared before the committee, in particular from the restaurant sector, who said it is very difficult. We have spoken to the banks and we continue to speak to the banks at committee about the restaurant sector in particular, which has difficulty getting small business loans from banks. New people in business do not necessarily have long credit histories or long records of doing business and they need that extra assistance. We want to be there for them as a government.

The government knows that it is small business that is creating jobs. We know the potential that exists in Canada. We want to ensure that all small businesses have access to financing. That is what the Canadian small business financing act, Bill C-53, is all about.

I am a little disappointed by some of the amendments that are before us today because we had many of these discussions at committee. We discussed very thoroughly the size of a loan and the importance of it and the fact that individuals, to be able to have their businesses, need to be able to renovate, need to be able to open their doors and to run a good operation. We also discussed the differences between different types of businesses, about leaseholds, about existing businesses, about how people can move on and what people want to do.

It is a little disappointing that we are discussing loan limits. I really find it surprising, considering the fact that we have moved beyond $100,000 to $250,000. Evidence before us indicated that some people do need that much. Even the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, as I said earlier, said not to go back.

There are many, many success stories. We had people before us who talked about a building they had bought. They renovated it and leased out space. They were able to attract tenants and to become a centre for that community. If it was not for the Canada Small Business Loans Act, soon to be called the Canadian small business financing act, they would not be in business today. They would not have had that opportunity.

They put up a lot of their own dollars. The government guaranteed up to $250,000. That was it. In this case, in particular, each of the individuals matched that with their own personal money and put up their own personal guarantees as well. There is a lot of investment in making small businesses grow, in making small businesses happen and I think as Canadians we want to see this happening from coast to coast.

We know that different areas go through different times. We know there is difficulty in financing from time to time. We are trying to ensure that everyone has access and everyone has opportuntiy.

Some ideas are too new for the banks to feel comfortable with in the normal scheme of lending. Again, some people do not have a credit history or a credit risk history. It is important that we be there as a government and that we continue to deal with small business.

I speak from earlier days, before I was elected, when I was practising law and the administration of loans. I think it is important that people realize that the borrowers are paying a higher rate of interest. They are paying a fee. It is not a freebie. It is not that the government gives money and gets nothing back. The majority of these loans will be paid over time. Sure, there will be losses, but the majority will provide jobs, the majority will be successful. Many of these businesses will go on to hire people and will continue to develop.

One group in particular that appeared before us started very small and now has several tenants. They are collecting thousands of dollars in rent and they are able to continue.

I think it is important that we all participate in the debate today. I am sure that many of my colleagues will join me in reminding the opposition that the SBLA in the past has done a lot of good for small business and will continue to do a lot of good in the future. We need to ensure that the economy moves forward, we need to ensure that small business has access to this money and we need to ensure that small business can create jobs.

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:  

    That all remaining amendments at the report stage of Bill C-53 be deemed to have been read by the Chair and to have been duly moved and seconded and that, when the time allocated for debate has expired, the amendments will be deemed to have been put and a recorded division requested.

The Speaker: Does the hon. member have permission to put the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Do members wish to proceed in this way?

Some hon. members: Agreed.  

The Speaker: I am going to recognize the hon. member on debate, but I am going to give you the option. I think you might get two minutes into your speech before I have to interrupt you. Those two minutes might give us time for a few extra statements by members. I will recognize you. You will be given the floor and you will have your full time right after question period.



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

 

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[English]

OSTEOPOROSIS AWARENESS MONTH

Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce—Grey, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that November is Osteoporosis Awareness Month.

Osteoporosis is an insidious chronic disease characterized by bone loss.

This disease makes people susceptible to hip, spine and wrist fractures, often leading to reduced activity and quality of life. Long term hospitalization and nursing home placement can be the result.

Osteoporosis is most common among women 60 to 69, and 42% of women over 79 have this disease. Younger women and men can also develop osteoporosis.

The month of November presents an opportunity for all Canadians to “bone up” and protect themselves.

On behalf of the House, I commend the Osteoporosis Society of Canada for its efforts and wish the society a very successful Osteoporosis Awareness Month.

*  *  *

ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE

Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, RCMP Staff Sgt. Fraser Fiegenweld took the fall for the botched Airbus investigation. The extent of Fiegenweld's responsibility was never fully determined as he was allowed to retire from the force before his disciplinary hearing. As a result, Canadians do not know who is responsible for the Airbus fiasco.

It appears that history is about to repeat itself. Once again an RCMP officer has been singled out as a possible scapegoat. This time “Hughie” will take the fall.

If this is true, RCMP officer Hugh Stewart will shoulder the full blame for the pepper spraying of students at last fall's APEC summit, while any role the Prime Minister played may never be revealed.

For the sake of justice and the reputation of our beleaguered RCMP, I implore the Prime Minister to establish an independent judicial inquiry to ensure the complete truth is revealed and the integrity of the RCMP is maintained.

*  *  *

OXFORD COUNTY

Mr. John Finlay (Oxford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on October 30 I had an opportunity to visit telecommunications projects in my county with a number of distinguished international visitors. Visitors from Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Honduras, India, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, the Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam visited Oxford county.

The tour showcased Canadian expertise in rural telecommunications and provided the international visitors with firsthand insight into how groups in the county are using new information technologies to improve their services to our citizens.

Oxford County is a leader in rural connectiveness. In the first round of community access program funding Oxford County libraries received 25% of the total approvals in Ontario. Now we are building an integrated network across Oxford County.

I am pleased to see the county expertise shared with representatives of this international delegation. The visit was a success due to the hard work—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Bourassa.

*  *  *

[Translation]

LEBANON

Mr. Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday was Lebanese Independence Day. Tomorrow, Lebanon's new president, General Émile Lahoud, will be sworn in.

On behalf of the Canada-Lebanon Parliamentary Friendship Group, I would like to tell our Lebanese parliamentarian friends and the Lebanese Canadian community that we are committed to Lebanon and to the development of co-operative relations between our two countries.

[English]

As Canadian parliamentarians, we are fully supportive of the construction process taking place in that country. We are also in favour of the full and immediate implementation of United Nations resolution 425 regarding the integrity of the Lebanese territory.

[Translation]

On behalf of the chairman of the Canada-Lebanon Parliamentary Friendship Group, my colleague, the hon. member for Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, who will be representing the Canadian government tomorrow at President Lahoud's swearing-in ceremony, in Beirut, I would like to wish every success to the new Lebanese president and express our solidarity with our Lebanese parliamentarian friends in meeting the great challenges ahead.

*  *  *

[English]

HEALTH CARE

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, when a Liberal government introduced the Canada Health Act and national medicare 30 years ago there was a commitment for the federal government to provide 50% of the funding. Under this Liberal government that commitment has dropped to 11.5%, yet it claims that health care is its top priority.

This government spends millions of dollars a year funding golf courses, ski hills and banks—not only Canadian banks, but foreign banks as well—yet it claims that health care is its top priority.

 

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While the premiers are unanimous in requesting that this Liberal government restore some of the billions of dollars that it cut out of health care, the response is that it would be foolhardy to do so.

The only thing that is foolhardy is to believe that health care is this government's top priority.

*  *  *

GREY CUP

Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, once again Winnipeg has demonstrated why it is the greatest city in the world. Despite the fact that our beloved Blue Bombers decided to take the year off Winnipeg nonetheless put on a terrific show for the rest of Canada.

In typical Winnipeg style more people offered to volunteer than were needed. Volunteers greeted incoming visitors, showed them the many wonders to be found in the city with the warmest heart in Canada. They taught them how to party and they saw them off at the airport.

Hubert Kleysen, a resident of the best federal constituency in the greatest city in the number one country in the world, organized the festival of lights parade honouring Winnipeg's central role in transportation.

The halftime show included the largest fireworks display ever put on in Manitoba. Susan Aglukark sang O Canada. Fred Penner and Donovan Bailey entertained young and old alike and, oh yeah, a couple of teams played some football.

The energy to be found in Winnipeg was felt by those teams and they played what is being called the greatest Grey Cup in the history of the league. Once again Winnipeg comes through and if that is not enough good news I am told that next year the Blue Bombers are coming out of retirement.

*  *  *

[Translation]

JOURNÉE NATIONALE DES PATRIOTES

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it is with pride that I rise to recognize the Journée nationale des patriotes, held yesterday in Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu to pay tribute to these men and women who fought for the fundamental values of freedom and democracy.

By demanding greater civil and political rights, a truly democratic and responsible government, and their homeland's independence, the Patriots have had a profound impact on the development of Quebec and Canada.

Regrettably however, this government has misrepresented the sacred trust of responsible government. Given how the Liberal government is spiriting away the surplus in the EI fund for instance, we have every reason to wonder what has become of this principle that cost the Patriots so dearly.

A government that is answerable to the legislative assembly and does not make any expenditure that has not previously been approved by Parliament is part of the Patriots' precious legacy.

I urge cabinet to act accordingly, that is like a responsible government.

*  *  *

[English]

STANLEY FAULDER

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, 17 days remain before Jasper, Alberta native Stanley Faulder is to be executed by lethal injection in Huntsville State Prison in Texas.

Stanley Faulder's case presents some very troubling issues. Although in custody since 1977, Canadian officials were only notified of Mr. Faulder's situation in 1991, an apparent breach of the Vienna convention on consular representation which meant that Faulder did not have access to proper legal representation.

No juror has ever heard testimony about the brain damage Mr. Faulder suffered in childhood that left his behaviour occasionally unpredictable. And no court has dealt with the fact that James Grigson, the forensic psychiatrist whose testimony was critical in convicting Stanley Faulder, was later expelled from the American Psychiatric Association for unethical and unscientific testimony in death penalty trials.

I urge my colleagues in the House and every Canadian interested in justice to write to Texas Governor George W. Bush and the Texas Board of Parole and Pardons seeking clemency for Stanley Faulder.

*  *  *

[Translation]

QUEBEC ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Mr. Claude Drouin (Beauce, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on November 30, Quebeckers will make an important decision for the future of Quebec.

They will have to choose between a Liberal government whose priority is economic growth and another government that wants to hold a referendum, whatever the cost.

They will have to choose between a Liberal government that wants to improve the Canadian federation and another government that wants to continue its endless battle with the federal government, to the detriment of Quebeckers.

They will have to choose between a Liberal government that is working for Quebec's interests and another government that is focussing its time and energy on Quebec's separation from Canada.

This is the choice that Quebec will have to make on November 30. My mind is made up. I will be voting Liberal and I urge all Quebeckers to do the same, for a strong Quebec in a united Canada.

*  *  *

[English]

GREY CUP

Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, while recognizing that national unity is a sensitive issue, I do feel it is important to draw to the attention of the House that yesterday the best football team from western Canada beat the best football team from central Canada in the annual Grey Cup classic.

The Calgary Stampeders from the heart of Reform country beat the Hamilton Tiger Cats from the heart of Copps country by a score of 26 to 24.

 

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We offer our sincerest congratulations to Sid Gooch, Wally Buono, Jeff Garcia, Mark McLoughlin and all the rest of the Calgary Stampeders. We also want to offer our congratulations to Ron Lancaster, Don Southern, Danny McManus, Darrel Flutie and all the rest of the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Congratulations to the Canadian Football League for a great Grey Cup classic.

*  *  *

[Translation]

QUEBEC ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Parti Quebecois is still spreading confusion. On the one hand, he talks about the need to discuss social union; on the other, he wants to prepare the way for a referendum on Quebec's separation.

The choice on November 30 is a clear one. A vote for the Liberals will be a clear vote for keeping Quebec within Canada and for economic growth.

A vote for the Liberals will foil the Parti Quebecois' wily efforts to prepare the way for another referendum. A vote for the Liberals will be a vote in favour of moving Quebec forward economically and socially.

On November 30, it will be up to Quebeckers to take a stand in the debate on the future of our country.

On November 30, I will be voting Liberal and I urge all my fellow Quebeckers to do the same.

*  *  *

[English]

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, with their return to Parliament Hill the merchant marines' fight for justice continues. It is very disturbing today to see that the concerns of the merchant navy veterans remain unresolved many years after faithfully serving their country. The current treatment of merchant marine veterans is one that I personally, and as the federal NDP spokesperson for veterans affairs, find deeply disheartening.

Just as other brave Canadian service personnel, the merchant marines served our country proudly and steadfastly. They risked their lives to transport to our armed forces the necessary provisions for war. Our merchant marines paid a high price for their service, suffering a higher rate of loss in the second world war than any other branch of the Canadian services. Yet the surviving veterans have received and continue to receive unequal treatment at the hands of this government. When it came time to serve their country, Canada's merchant marines did so with dedication and courage equal to their military comrades.

Why then are the merchant marines not receiving equal treatment in terms of veterans benefits and access to programs and services? There is no reason to continue to deny the merchant marines the rights and benefits due them. I urge—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Repentigny.

*  *  *

[Translation]

YVES BLAIS

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness and emotion that I rise today to mark the passing of my friend, Yves Blais, the MNA for the riding of Masson.

Mr. Blais was a member of the Quebec national assembly since 1981. I therefore had the privilege of getting to know him and of working with him and his supporters.

Yves Blais loved his work but, above all, he loved his fellow citizens. In spite of his health problems, he was convinced he could still be with them and work for them for some time to come.

Yves Blais was an enthusiastic and convincing sovereignist. He would often say “I am a sovereignist with hopes and dreams”. He will be greatly missed, but we will remember him for his fervour and determination in working to build our country.

I offer my condolences to his family, his friends, his supporters, and to his great companion and friend, Percival Broomfield.

Yves Blais, we thank you.

*  *  *

QUEBEC ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Mr. Denis Paradis (Brome—Missisquoi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the referendum race is on again with the PQ.

This weekend, at a rally held in the Quebec City region, Lucien Bouchard made a plea for sovereignty. He does want a referendum. On the weekend, the social union was all but forgotten.

A vote for the PQ is a vote for a referendum. A vote for the PQ is a vote for separating Quebec from the rest of Canada. A vote for the PQ is a vote for political uncertainty in Quebec for another mandate.

On November 30, Quebeckers must vote for economic growth. They must vote for job creation. They must vote for their Liberal candidate.

*  *  *

[English]

BILL C-68

Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, I want to express the displeasure and disbelief of all law abiding gun owners in St. John's West and indeed all of Canada. This poorly thought out law, Bill C-68, which requires legitimate hunters all across the country to register their rifles and shotguns, is still subject to a supreme court ruling.

To continue to spend a significant amount of taxpayer dollars to advertise this program is absurd.

 

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At a time when all policing agencies across the country are crying out for more money so they can do their jobs properly, government is spending an additional $1.3 million to advertise a law that will have no significant impact on crime. This advertising campaign is geared to rural Canada where crime rates are lowest, once again showing the absurdity of this law. This $1.3 million advertising campaign should be cancelled and the money redirected to fighting crime or, even more appropriately, to the victims of criminal acts.

*  *  *

HIV-AIDS

Mrs. Karen Redman (Kitchener Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, November 23 to November 30 marks the eighth annual National AIDS Awareness Week. The theme for this year's campaign is the faces of HIV-AIDS. Communities across Canada will help increase awareness about AIDS and raise funds for services and programs through red ribbon campaigns and other activities.

HIV-AIDS continues to be an international issue. Canadians have taken a proactive approach in dealing with this growing epidemic in the Canadian strategy on HIV-AIDS. Our national strategy focuses on research, treatment, care and public education. I believe it is an excellent example of how all levels of government can come together and work in the best interests of Canadian citizens. I encourage all members of the Chamber and all Canadians to support National AIDS Awareness Week activities in their ridings and their communities.

*  *  *

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, few finer examples of Canadian wartime success and magnificent effort can be found than in the annals of the battle of the Atlantic during which merchant seamen sailed the enemy infested sea to keep the Allies supplied. Canada's merchant navy of World War II kept England alive while the Atlantic war tide turned toward victory in 1943.

Now, fifty years hence, Canada's merchant navy veterans are still held hostage to unresolved concerns. Determined veterans threaten to fast on the steps of this House to garner government will to correct what has been wrong for far too long. Merchant navy veterans are not seeking great wealth, only the respect and benefits given their armed forces brethren, to be recognized as war veterans, to have prisoner of war status, to have compensation for years of denial of equality and to have recognition on ceremonial days.

The minister must respond to our merchant navy—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Compton—Stanstead.

*  *  *

[Translation]

NATIONAL DEFENCE

Mr. David Price (Compton—Stanstead, PC): Mr. Speaker, a month has gone by since the standing committee on national defence tabled its report on quality of life.

After visiting military bases across the country and the Canadian troops in Bosnia, the committee made 86 vitally important recommendations.

Today, unconfirmed reports are saying that the Minister of National Defence is asking cabinet for $700 million in order to implement the recommendations.

Is cabinet aware that the Canadian forces are facing a crisis? Is cabinet aware that some members of the forces do not earn enough to feed their family or even to heat their homes in winter? Is cabinet aware that the families of certain pilots are terrified every time they head out on a mission in helicopters that are over 30 years old?

Are the members of cabinet listening to their own minister? Are they not concerned about the life and future of the 60,000 members of the Canadian armed forces?

*  *  *

INTERNATIONAL FISHING DAY

Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, hundreds of young people from the Lafontaine community centre in Néguac took part in a march and in the raising of the orange flag. This was in preparation for the first international fishing day.

[English]

I was fortunate to spend some time on Saturday with the good people of Néguac in my riding of Miramichi to mark this important day. The livelihood and way of life of so many fishers have depended on the sea for centuries. However, over the past decades overfishing and environmental mismanagement have led to the problems we are facing today. Fishers from across Canada are on the Hill today to draw attention to the need to work together to protect the fish stocks of our waters. I congratulate and thank Madam Lucie Breau of Néguac for organizing these special events in my community and for all those who are here on the Hill today to celebrate with us the orange drapeau.



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

 

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[English]

APEC INQUIRY

Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): One down and one to go, Mr. Speaker, Now it is the Prime Minister's turn to come clean.

Six weeks ago the solicitor general was caught red handed prejudicing the RCMP complaints inquiry, but for six weeks the Prime Minister's response was evasion, excuses, covering up, and even attacking people who asked the hard questions.

Why did the Prime Minister not fire the solicitor general six weeks ago when it might have meant something with respect to the RCMP complaints commission?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I did not fire the solicitor general. He is an extremely honourable member of the House.

Because of the constant attack from the opposition he decided it was too difficult for him to do all his work and he decided to offer me his resignation. I have accepted his resignation with regret because he was a good minister. He is an excellent member of parliament. He is a man of great integrity and honour and that is why I was happy to defend him.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, for six weeks the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have been rabidly defending the integrity of the solicitor general. Even today, after he has been removed from his position for compromising the RCMP complaints inquiry, the Prime Minister defends him rather than give the proper explanation.

Is the Prime Minister's ethical standard to evade, to excuse and to cover up as long as possible and only to act when he is absolutely cornered?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the only thing the government wants is for the commission, which exists under the laws of parliament, to look into all the controversy of APEC as soon as possible.

The government has absolutely no fear of the commission. That is why we made available all the documentation and all the personnel it wanted so that it could look into all the facts. We want the truth to be known completely as soon as possible.

Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, if that is true, if the Prime Minister has nothing to fear, will he then appoint a full blown judicial inquiry and will he testify under oath before that inquiry with respect to his role in the APEC security staffing?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the commission exists under the laws of parliament to look into this matter. We want the commission to do its work absolutely.

I said and I repeat that the government is willing to help the commission as much as it wants because we have nothing to hide. The RCMP has done its job and always did its job. Now if it has to explain some things it will do it and the commission will have access to any people that it wants to interview. Even my own chief of staff has offered to testify if it wants him to.

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this resignation is the last nail in the coffin for the public complaints commission.

Peter Donolo from the Prime Minister's Office said today that the government does not consider the resignation an admission that the commission process is tainted.

My question is very simple. If the former solicitor general did not taint the process, why in the world did he resign?

 

. 1420 + -

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it was because the solicitor general was attacked unfairly by the opposition day after day.

Being a man of honour, he knew that it was not giving him all the time he needed to devote all his energy to his job. As a man who has great respect for his job in the House of Commons, and as he could not give all his effort to the job that needed all his attention, he decided to step down and I have accepted that with great regret.

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the only thing worse than that behaviour is defending it. We are going to attack the government for 30 days more, for weeks, and the only bonus would be that this Prime Minister would step down at the end of it.

On the very day that the solicitor general quit the Prime Minister is still stonewalling and talking about what an honourable fellow he is. The only way to get to the bottom of this is an independent inquiry with an independent judge to find out what the Prime Minister's independent involvement was.

Will the Prime Minister stand right now and announce immediately a full judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of this and quit this charade that has been going on for weeks?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I hope the opposition will let the inquiry, which has been set under the laws of parliament, do its job.

It is quite evident that the opposition does not want the inquiry to work. It wants to postpone it. It cannot attack the government on many fronts so it uses the inquiry. This is why the Reform Party is now behind the Tory Party in the polls.

[Translation]

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general's resignation is clear proof that he had no credibility left whatsoever. The solicitor general had no other choice. The Prime Minister has no other choice either.

Is he going to bow to the evidence at last and call for the creation of a commission of inquiry to cast full light on this affair so that everyone can know the truth Is he going to go right back to square one with the inquiry process?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, an independent commission of inquiry was struck under a law of Parliament, and is in operation at present. We have no intention of going back to square one. We want it to finish its work.

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, lets us keep in mind that this entire business of APEC and “peppergate” has its roots in actions by the PMO.

Now that he has lost his cover, will the Prime Minister create an independent commission of inquiry in order to cast full light on the actions of the RCMP, the actions of his own office, and his very own actions, if he is still able to recall them?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, again, this is exactly what the commission started to do months ago, and we hope that the House of Commons will let the commission get on with its work as the law of Parliament requires it to.

Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister needs to understand that the entire APEC inquiry process has been sabotaged by the former solicitor general.

Does the minister not consider it essential to go back to square one with the inquiry process so that everyone will know everything that happened in the APEC affair between the PMO and the RCMP?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the commission of inquiry is entitled to ask any and all questions that it may wish to ask. Besides, my chief of staff and Mr. Carle have already offered to testify and have said “If you wish to interview any other public servants, they are available to you”.

The commission has been working for months, and if people want to know the truth, let us allow the commission to get on with its work. I have no intention of going back to square one.

Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg, BQ): Mr. Speaker, everyone wants to know what really happened between the Prime Minister, the PMO and the RCMP in the shameful events of the Vancouver APEC summit.

The sabotaged RCMP commission cannot cast full light on these questions.

Are we to understand from the Prime Minister's answers that, by sacrificing the hon. member for Fredericton, he has done everything he was prepared to do and now thinks he can get away without an independent judicial inquiry?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a commission of inquiry is working on this at the present time, and we want it to ask all the questions it has to ask, and to answer all the questions the hon. member has asked.

 

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[English]

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, now that the solicitor general and the Prime Minister's cover are gone and now that the public complaints commission is hopelessly compromised, an independent judicial inquiry must be permitted to get to the truth about the role of the Prime Minister and his staff in the APEC fiasco.

When will the Prime Minister do the right thing and appoint a judicial inquiry?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there are three commissioners on this inquiry. They are three honourable people who have been in the job for months. They have invested a lot of time and effort into it.

We want this tribunal, set by the laws of parliament, to look into the operation of the RCMP, to do its job as quickly as possible and to interview all the people which it decides to interview.

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is the only living, breathing Canadian who continues to maintain that the former solicitor general did nothing wrong.

First Hughie was going to take the fall. Now the former solicitor general has taken the fall. How many more people will have to take the fall to protect the Prime Minister and his staff? How many more people will take the fall before the Prime Minister appoints a judicial inquiry into his handling of the APEC fiasco?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, she wants me to name an inquiry. An inquiry was named a long time ago by the laws parliament, with three independent people who are looking into that.

I want them to do their job. I want the opposition to let them do their job. Three times the leader of the NDP made affirmations in the House and later when she was proven wrong made no apologies to anybody.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the new solicitor general.

Now that the Prime Minister has one less fall guy it is time to focus on the real issue, that is one of serious political interference by the Prime Minister's Office at last year's APEC summit.

The public complaints commission has never had a mandate to investigate these allegations. The government has an obligation to pursue the truth over the entire APEC affair. When will the new solicitor general, in his first exercise of office, call a complete independent judicial inquiry into the security at APEC?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this question is a repetition of all the other questions.

At this time we have an inquiry under the laws of parliament. I have said and I repeat that it can ask questions on all subjects it wants to of anybody in the bureaucracy, and even in my office, and not only of the RCMP.

It has already started its work. I want it to finish it as quickly as possible.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister had such confidence in this process he would not have allowed his solicitor general to twist in the breeze for six weeks.

Why does he persist with Bill C-44 which will allow the government to fire the chair of the RCMP Public Complaints Commission at will. Will the solicitor general admit that a mistake is there? Will the Prime Minister remove this sword that hangs over the public complaints commission in the form of Bill C-44, which further politicizes the entire process?

Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like the member to listen to the answers that have been given in the House.

I announced last week that the government would amend that section in Bill C-44 so that CBC is seen to be as it is with all the possible freedom in its operational and program requirements.

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said the commission was not compromised. He can say it until he is blue in the face. The solicitor general's embarrassing resignation this morning proves that it was compromised. If this had happened in a court of law there would have been a mistrial.

Could the new solicitor general tell us that he will take his responsibilities on and ask the Prime Minister to create an independent judicial inquiry immediately to get to the bottom of this issue?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general has been the solicitor general for an hour. He has taken over the job and has to be briefed on everything.

I repeat that we have a commission that wants to do its job, but the opposition is not interested in the truth. The opposition just wants to debate that in the House of Commons because it cannot find anything else to seriously attack this government on.

 

. 1430 + -

If the opposition really wants the truth, it will let the commission do its work and not ask it to start all over again.

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, blaming the opposition for the solicitor general's resignation is like Brian Mulroney blaming the Prime Minister when he won the election.

The solicitor general resigned, a very serious resignation. The lawyers for the government and the RCMP have applied to have the APEC commission quashed. It is the government, the RCMP and the solicitor general's people who want this commission quashed.

When will the government give us an independent judicial inquiry just like its own lawyers are asking for in Vancouver?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I repeat again that the commission will finish its job. It was set up under a law of parliament, a law introduced in parliament and voted on by parliament. The member of parliament was a Tory at that time and voted for that law and today he is attacking the leader who got him to the House of Commons at that time.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

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

In Nagano, the Minister of Canadian Heritage explained that she could not intervene with the olympic committee to defend the French language, because the committee was independent.

Why did the Minister of Canadian Heritage decide this time to intervene with the Canadian olympic committee in the case of the city hosting the 2010 games?

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member opposite that her claim that I did not intervene in the case of Nagano is absolutely false.

I would ask her to withdraw the false remarks she just made in this House.

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, everyone thinks the minister should have abstained from political meddling with the olympic committee.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister not consider, once again, that one of his ministers was lacking in judgment by intervening as the Minister of Canadian Heritage did with the olympic association?

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the member does not remember, I will remind her that in a letter written in the hand of Suzanne Tremblay dated August 14, 1998, she said “I remind you that during a similar incident at the Nagano games—”

The Speaker: I would ask the minister not to use the members' names.

Hon. Sheila Copps: In a letter written in the hand of the member for Rimouski—Mitis, she says clearly that yes, I should have intervened in the case of Nagano, and congratulated me on doing so.

*  *  *

[English]

APEC INQUIRY

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, first there was a Mountie named Hughie who was being set up to take the fall. Now the solicitor general has sacrificed himself to protect the Prime Minister. That still does not get at what started this whole scandal.

My question is easy and is directed to the Prime Minister. What role did he play in having a crackdown on the students at the APEC conference last year?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the long answer is none.

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, now that the Prime Minister has said that, then surely he will be happy to set up an inquiry and testify before the inquiry that his answer is none.

The solicitor general said that a senior Mountie named Hughie was going to take the fall. Take the fall for whom, the Prime Minister?

 

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Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I repeat that there is an inquiry and the inquiry will do its job.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that in my reply to the member I thought he was still a member of parliament at that time but he had turned to being a Socred in British Columbia. So I do not know. Now he is a Reformer. It is difficult to follow. I am sorry. I made a mistake.

*  *  *

[Translation]

ICEBREAKING POLICY

Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans introduced the concept of intraharbour transit to exempt the Quebec City-Lévis ferry service from icebreaking charges. However, the Sorel and Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola ferries also run an intraharbour service.

Why, therefore, has the minister not announced an exemption for the Sorel—Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola ferry service?

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last week, I replied to several questions on this topic, and I pointed out that we were considering what we heard about the region's industry. When we have considered all submissions, we will announce our fee schedule.

Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, when all is said and done, does the minister realize that it is not just the ferries, but Quebec shipping in its entirety that will be penalized by his unfair policy on icebreaking fees?

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I must point out that the idea is to recover 17.5% of costs, leaving Canadian taxpayers to cover the remaining 82.5%. Two-thirds of vessels will be foreign owned.

*  *  *

[English]

APEC INQUIRY

Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister seems to be implying that the statements made by his former solicitor general did not prejudice the RCMP complaints inquiry. But there are two affidavits before that inquiry where his solicitor general, referring to someone being investigated by that inquiry, said “Oh Hughie. Oh you mean Hughie” and commented to the effect that Hughie might have to take “a” or “the” “hit” or “fall” for that.

Is the Prime Minister saying that that statement by his former solicitor general did not prejudice the RCMP complaints commission?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the affidavit of November 18, 1998 by Frederick Toole, the gentleman who was there, it very clearly said that in no way anything Mr. Scott said could affect the outcome of the inquiry. Some lawyers are arguing that at this moment in front of the commission and I do not want to comment. Let the commission do its work.

Mr. Preston Manning (Leader of the Opposition, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, that affidavit from which the Prime Minister just read and which he acknowledges must be valid also contains these words “Oh Hughie. Oh you mean Hughie” and commented to the effect that Hughie might have to take a hit or a fall.

Is the Prime Minister saying that this statement, not the one he read, the one I read, that that does not prejudice the RCMP complaints commission?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is a debate going on at this moment in front of the commission. The commission will look into the matter. The commission exists because there is a law of parliament which gave the commission the authority. It is being debated at this time in front of the commission. Just let the commission do its work. That is the only thing I am asking of the Leader of the Opposition.

*  *  *

 

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[Translation]

SOCIAL UNION

Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the premiers of Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan asked the federal government again, as they did last summer in Saskatoon, to restore by the next budget funding that was cut from health and to stop interfering in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

My question is for the Minister of Justice, who is responsible for the social union. Can the minister tell us if the federal government intends to settle the social union issue before the end of 1998, as unanimously requested by the premiers?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is definitely in the federal government's interest to co-operate with the provincial governments to improve one of the world's best social unions, a union that the member, his party and his leader in Quebec City seek to destroy.

*  *  *

[English]

HOUSING

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as winter sets in and the condition of the homeless grows more serious and urgent in Canada's urban centres, I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Would the government convene a meeting of interested parties, including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, for the purpose of launching an adequate program for the homeless for this winter and for the years ahead?

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are concerned about the homeless situation. As a matter of fact, the Canadian government has already contributed $300,000 to the task force headed by Mrs. Ann Golden.

I understand that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is involved in the discussion. CMHC is preparing regional workshops. We hope we can combine this together in a national conference. I am pleased to say that CMHC is also ready to give a financial contribution so that this conference can be organized.

*  *  *

HEPATITIS C

Mr. Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest, PC): Mr. Speaker, today the Government of Ontario followed through with its promise to compensate unilaterally pre-1986 and post-1990 hepatitis C victims. Recognizing the federal government's failure to do the same, will the minister provide us with an update on the unacceptable slow delivery of the compensation package several months ago? What is the status of that package? What is the minister doing to expedite the delivery?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in this context, I want to remind the member what the Government of Canada has done.

We have committed $1.3 billion for those who have contracted hepatitis C through the blood system; $800 million with the provinces to settle the class action lawsuit; $300 million to share the cost of medical services not covered by insurance for those who got the disease at any time; $125 million to strengthen the regulation of the blood system following on the recommendations of Mr. Justice Krever; $50 million for research; and $50 million for trace back programs.

We have taken our responsibilities very seriously. We have done what is right in the interests of those who have this disease.

*  *  *

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Mr. Speaker, the merchant navy men are back up here on the Hill. They have been wronged since returning to Canada after World War II. They were denied the same benefits that were provided to other veterans. Every other allied nation in the world has recognized and compensated their merchant navy men, even Germany. The Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion called last week and fully support the men. The Department of Veterans Affairs had over $46 million in lapsed funds in 1997, more than enough to compensate these men.

Will the minister please give these brave men what they deserve, or will he allow them to die fighting for their—

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Hon. Fred Mifflin (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, seven years ago I was very proud as a member of the opposition to put forward legislation with three other members that would give merchant navy veterans the same benefits as other veterans.

I am even more proud as the Minister of Veterans Affairs for this government to write the final chapter that will give them total fairness in all areas, not a few, not some, not many, not most, but all, every single one.

The hon. member should get out of Wayne's world and get in the real world.

 

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The Speaker: I would appeal to hon. members not to use each other's names in question period.

*  *  *

HEPATITIS C

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, today the province of Ontario announced hepatitis C compensation for every single victim. No lawyers. No hassle. Just help. Does that not prove Premier Harris has more compassion for hepatitis C victims than this minister has in his whole body?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was barely able to keep a straight face during that question. He knows along with everybody else in this House that it means no such thing.

To judge the measure of a government's commitment, look at what the Government of Canada has done. It has dedicated $1.3 billion to help. In terms of those before 1986 and after 1990, we have taken the position that those who are sick should get care, not cash; they should get treatment, not payment. That is the approach taken by this government. We believe it is in the interests of those who are sick.

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, Premier Harris made the promise of compensation for all the victims and today he delivered. This Liberal health minister made the promise of compensation for a few victims and what has he delivered? Zip. Nothing.

Do his actions not prove who really cares more for the victims of hepatitis C? I am not interested in rhetoric.

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, when I met some weeks ago with my provincial counterparts in Regina I offered to share the cost of medical services not covered by insurance so that no one who contracted hepatitis C through the blood system would have to pay out of pocket. I offered up to $300 million to share that cost. I have yet to have agreement from the minister of health for Ontario.

I wish Ontario would join with this government in making sure that those who are sick are looked after properly. In Ontario today it can cost up to $10,000 to get interferon, the only drug that can be used. Will the Government of Ontario not work with us to provide care to the—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

*  *  *

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development keeps saying there is nothing wrong with Liberal EI reforms. In my national tour on EI I am hearing a different story from Canadians. In P.E.I. alone 4,000 islanders are now waiting six weeks to have their claims processed. Does the minister believe this situation is acceptable? Does he still believe there is nothing wrong with Liberal EI reforms? If not, what is the minister going to do to correct the situation?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what I keep saying is that this reform has been such an important one for Canadians that we as a government will monitor very closely its impact and we will make the right changes when they need to be made, as we did not too long ago with the small weeks to address the concerns of my Atlantic colleagues.

A number of problems have been raised. We used to talk about the gappers. There used to be 7,500 gappers. That was the big problem the NDP kept talking about. We are now down to under 2,000 gappers because we have been working at it. We are solving the problems one after the other—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

[Translation]

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I trust the new minister from New Brunswick will be more sensitive than her colleague to the fate of the unemployed.

In my travels across the country, I met a young unemployed New Brunswicker who confided in me about his despair. He had accumulated 22 weeks of work, but this is not enough for a first-time worker to be eligible for benefits. The young man is no longer able to meet his payments. He is feeling suicidal.

What does the new minister from New Brunswick intend to do to put an end to this discrimination being suffered by unemployed young people?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, at the present time we have an hours-based system. The hon. member is well aware that there are many seasonal workers who benefit from the new system because they work a high number of hours over a short time. That is because, in the past, people were covered for only 30 or so hours per week and if they got up to 60, the rest were not covered.

 

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There are a number of situations where people are benefiting considerably by the new program. The program was necessary, and we continue to monitor labour market developments, to keep right on top of them. I will be extremely open to any suggestions the hon. member may wish to make to us after he has toured the rest of the country.

*  *  *

[English]

YEAR 2000

Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, with just over 400 days to go, the year 2000 is quickly approaching. If the government has not properly prepared there could be serious problems in the delivery of essential services that Canadians expect from their government.

Will the President of the Treasury Board assure this House today that the federal government will be well prepared for the coming of the new millennium?

Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Treasury Board is sparing no effort to be ready for January 1, 2000. At present, on government-wide critical systems, the government is 70% ready.

However, we will not leave anything to chance. We are continuing our efforts and we are hoping that in the next few months we will be able to complete work on all the critical systems in the government so that Canadian voters will be well served.

*  *  *

HEALTH CARE

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, tonight this House will vote on restoring $2 billion of the $7 billion the Liberals have slashed from health care.

The Prime Minister has an opportunity to declare a ceasefire on his attack on health care by calling off the whips for tonight's vote.

Will the Prime Minister cease attempts to prevent Liberal members from voting the will of their constituents on tonight's vote to put $2 billion back into health care?

The Speaker: The hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve.

*  *  *

[Translation]

HUMAN RIGHTS

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): Mr. Speaker, while Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms prohibits discrimination based on social condition and the legislation of seven other provinces tends in the same direction, the Canadian Human Rights Act is completely silently on the topic.

Will the Minister of Justice undertake to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act so as to prohibit discrimination based on social condition?

[English]

Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is probably aware, we are about to begin a broad review of the existing provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act and I have every reason to believe that the ground of social condition will be one which many will suggest should be added to Canadian Human Rights Act. I look forward to that discussion and the hon. member's participation in that discussion when it happens.

*  *  *

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government continues to ignore the crisis in the Shamattawa First Nation. Four out of every five youths in the community are addicted to solvents.

Last Friday the chief had another fruitless meeting with Indian affairs. At the same time there was yet another solvent related death in Shamattawa. A teenage boy, high on solvents, shot his 14 year old brother. This brings the death toll in the tiny community to at least 22 solvent related deaths since 1992.

In light of this latest tragedy, will the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development overrule her department's refusal to grant Shamattawa the healing centre and solvent treatment beds it so desperately needs?

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, indeed there was a terrible tragedy in the Shamattawa First Nation last week and our sincerest sympathies and condolences go to the family of Charles Redhead and to all community members in that first nation.

Indeed there is an issue before us in that community. I want to recognize and thank the Minister of Health for the support that he has shown that community in providing solvent abuse professionals and mental health professionals.

We have to work together to deal with this chronic problem in Shamattawa and we will do so.

*  *  *

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Mr. Speaker, the merchant navy men stopped their first hunger strike because they were led to believe there were going to be negotiations and discussions with the Minister of Veterans Affairs. These discussions did not take place.

If the minister thinks what he is doing is right, why does he not have the courage to sit down with these men in a room, look them in the eye and tell them that he will look at compensation?

Hon. Fred Mifflin (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was wrong when she said that every other country does this. No other country engages in retroactive legislation. I just want to correct the books on that.

With respect to the merchant navy veterans, I have met with them twice, my parliamentary secretary has met with them twice, and I will meet with them again as necessary.

*  *  *

 

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NATURAL DISASTER

Hon. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the world has watched in horror at the circumstances in Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador caused by hurricane Mitch. No clean water, mud up to their knees and now thousands of land mines are adding to the situation of horrible disease.

What is being done to help the people in these countries with respect to the land mines which are maiming and killing them?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to acknowledge the important work that has been done by CIDA and the defence department in the overall rescue effort.

Since then we have recognized the critical impact of the mines being dislodged by the flood waters. As a result the Minister for International Co-operation and myself announced on Friday $3.7 million in aid to work with the OAS on mine rehabilitation and to deal with the severe problems in Central America now and in the coming months.

*  *  *

HEALTH CARE

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the health minister said a few moments ago that we should look at the Liberal record on health. Let us do that specifically.

When the Liberals took office there was $18.4 billion in transfer payments for the provinces. It was going down to $11.1 billion, but they pulled the ripcord and stopped it at $12.5 billion.

The minister says that is an increase in funding for the provinces. Could he tell me what $18.4 billion decreased to $12.5 billion becomes? Only in Liberal math is that an increase.

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, since we have taken office the tax points allocated to the provinces have increased substantially in value.

Second, in the budget last year we increased the transfers by $7 billion over the next five years.

At the same time equalization for seven provinces to provide fundamental services has been increased.

In every single budget we have increased research and development funding for medical services. Last year it virtually doubled.

We have put in place transition funds.

This government, which is the government that brought in the Canada Health Act, stands behind the Canada Health Act.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CANADA POST

Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Canada Post is now in the process of renewing its retail postal outlet franchise agreements across Canada.

The goal is to recover $8 million annually. I need hardly point out that the negotiations amount to a thinly veiled threat to sign or be shut down.

When will the minister decide to step in, so that this kind of gun-to-the-head negotiation does not result in the bankruptcy of thousands of Canada Post outlets, as well as a major deterioration in Canadian postal service?

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the hon. member that I have already stepped in and imposed a moratorium on Canada Post until December 1, precisely so that it may sit down with franchise operators and negotiate a solution.

We will be following the progress of negotiations, and I will have an announcement to make on December 1.

*  *  *

[English]

HEALTH CARE

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, in Alberta today a debate about the unthinkable continues, and that is authorization for a private hospital under Canada's health care system.

In a book launched today about corporate control over Canada's health care system, author Colleen Fuller states “When the present Minister of Health was installed, Liberal rhetoric about a private hospital violating the CHA died down until finally the federal protector of medicare was comfortable with the corporation's for profit investment in health care”.

Does the silence of the minister today mean he has been silenced by the Minister of Industry?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member has not read my correspondence with the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons to which I wrote not once, but on two different occasions to express our commitment to the Canada Health Act, our concern about the privatization of services, and our request, which the college ultimately acceded to, to put off the consideration of the private hospital's application for a licence until after the debate on Bill 37 in the Alberta Legislature.

That debate is now going on and the Liberal Party in that province is making its position clear, as we do here, that privatized medicine is not acceptable.

*  *  *

 

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HEPATITIS C

Mr. Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest, PC): Mr. Speaker, before I get to my question, I want to recognize the hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, the latest addition to the cabinet from New Brunswick. It is nice to see her.

I want to ask the Minister of Health if there is any possible way that the funding of $1.1 billion for compensation to hepatitis C victims from 1986 to 1990, which has been agreed on, can be moved along through co-operation with the provinces. Many of these people are hurting badly.

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are increasingly optimistic that the claim can be resolved quickly. I inquired last week whether we could fast track the payments to the emergency claimants and I am told that the lawyers think they are close enough to an agreement with the parties on the overall claim that it might be reached before we would get payment to those in emergency need.

I am hopeful that progress is being made and I hope to be able to report to the member and the House soon that those claims have been resolved.



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Translation]

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS

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

*  *  *

[English]

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE

PROCEDURE AND HOUSE AFFAIRS

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present the 43th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding its order of reference from the House of Commons of Thursday, October 29, 1998 in relation to the supplementary estimates B for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999 with regard to vote 5b under Parliament, House of Commons. The committee reports the same.

 

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FINANCE

Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (Vaughan—King—Aurora, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Finance.

*  *  *

PETITIONS

MARRIAGE

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.): Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to table a petition today signed by several residents from the Calgary region asking that parliament enact legislation such as Bill C-225 so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

THE SENATE

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I have two petitions today from my constituents in Red Deer.

The first, signed by 175 people, states that Canadians deserve an accountable Senate. Therefore the petitioners call for parliament to request the Prime Minister to accept the results of the Senate elections in Alberta.

BILL C-68

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.): Madam Speaker, my second petition is for the repeal of Bill C-68 and to redirect the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to license responsible firearms owners to cost effective reduction of violent crime and improving public safety.

MMT

Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Lib.): Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am honoured to present a petition signed by residents of Grand Bend, London, and Newbury who note that all studies show how manganese based MMT in gasoline has been proven to foul emission control devices resulting in higher smog levels which will devastate our Kyoto climate change commitments. They call on parliament to ban the use of the additive MMT.

MARRIAGE

Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Ref.): Madam Speaker, once again I am pleased to present on behalf of my constituents another long list of Canadians who understand that the concept of marriage is only the voluntary union of a single, that is unmarried, male and a single, that is unmarried, female. I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of my constituents.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Madam Speaker, this year is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the UN declaration of universal human rights. I am pleased to present the following petition relating to human rights signed by a number of Canadians, including from my riding of Mississauga South.

The petitioners bring to the attention of the House that human rights violations continue in many countries around the world, including Indonesia. They also point out that Canada is internationally respected for its defence of universal human rights.

The petitioners therefore call on the government to continue its efforts to speak out against countries that tolerate human rights abuses and to do whatever possible to bring to justice those responsible for such abuses.

MARRIAGE

Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, Ref.): Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I present a petition signed by several people in Edmonton and surrounding areas.

Whereas the majority of Canadians understand the concept of marriage as only the voluntary union of an unmarried male and an unmarried female, and whereas it is the duty of parliament to ensure that marriage as it has always been known and understood in Canada be preserved and protected, therefore the petitioners pray that parliament enact legislation such as Bill C-225 to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

Mr. Brent St. Denis (Algoma—Manitoulin, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I present a petition from a large number of constituents of my riding concerning the lack currently of a definition of marriage in legislation.

 

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Their wish is that a clear definition relating to a single male and a single female be included to clarify any such confusion.

BILL C-68

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I have a number of petitions. The first two petitions are part of the continuing saga with respect to Bill C-68. The petitioners are residents of the districts of Nipawin, White Fox and Swift Current.

Basically these identical petitions express the opinion of the petitioners that C-68 will be a virtually unenforceable bill, that it will have no effect on criminal activity, and that it would constitute a breach of traditional civil liberties and be an affront to law abiding Canadians.

Therefore these petitioners call on parliament to repeal Bill C-68 and all associated regulations with respect to firearms or ammunition and to pass due legislation designed to severely penalize the criminal use of any weapon.

These two petitions are signed by 139 people which brings to 4,537 the number of petitioners who have contacted me recently on this matter.

MARRIAGE

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I also have two petitions from residents of my riding containing a total 71 signatures.

The gist of their petition is that whereas the majority of Canadians understand marriage to be a voluntary union of an unmarried male and an unmarried female, and whereas it is parliament's duty to ensure that marriage, as it has always been known and understood in Canada, be preserved and protected, therefore the petitioners pray that parliament enact legislation such as Bill C-225 to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

PUBLIC INTEREST GROUPS

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I have another petition bearing 1,048 signatures from many different districts in Saskatchewan which I will not attempt to name.

Because the financial statements of the Government of Canada have recorded annual deficits since 1970, which have led to a net federal public debt of over half a trillion dollars, because funding for public interest groups by the federal government is partly responsible for creating that public debt, and because these public interest groups further their own interests and force other Canadians to subsidize their causes, whether they agree with them or not, the petitioners call on parliament to eliminate all funding of public interest groups in each and every forthcoming budget of the Government of Canada.

CANADA PENSION PLAN

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, my final petition is signed by 724 residents of Saskatchewan, again from widely separated communities.

The federal and provincial governments are poised to raise the Canada pension plan's contribution rate from 5.85% to 9.9%, a $10 billion tax increase or $1,380 per year for the average taxpayer and his or her employer. Canadians cannot afford such a massive tax increase to support a pension plan that is unsustainable and will probably lead to further tax increases. A mandatory defined contribution, fully funded, privately managed plan or mandatory retirement savings plan would address the deficiencies of the CPP and negate the necessity of perpetual tax increases.

Therefore the petitioners request that parliament reject any further CPP premium increases and enact legislation that would abolish the CPP and replace it with an MRSP.

*  *  *

 

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[Translation]

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

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

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

CANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT

 

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses, as reported (with amendment) from the committee; and of Motions Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Mr. Bryon Wilfert (Oak Ridges, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I rise today to support Bill C-53, particularly because it improves existing loan guarantee programs that effectively stimulate economic growth. It helps to create jobs through small businesses. It encourages the kind of economic activity and entrepreneurial qualities among Canadians that can ensure our prosperity in the coming century.

There is no question that the proposed Canada Small Business Act would continue the existing act's history. That act's history over the last 37 years has been to support innovation. It has been there to support risk taking, a significant element of the government's investment for Canada's future. Most important, it is meeting the demonstrated needs of our small business community throughout Canada.

For example, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business released its survey of small businesses this past January, “Credit where credit is due”. Nearly 30% of the business owners who were surveyed listed availability of credit among their most serious business concerns. They need financing for buying and modernizing their equipment, for renovating, for purchasing premises and for buying land.

Two kinds of businesses face especially difficult problems in securing financing. These are very small and very young firms. It happens that these are also the financing gaps that the current act has been especially designed to help.

On the issue of size, nearly three-quarters of the firms taking out a loan guaranteed by the existing act have fewer than five employees, far more than regular bank borrowers who are of the same size.

On the question of the age of firms, the difference is even more striking. It is important to note that almost 38% of small businesses with a loan guarantee under the act are less than one year old. By contrast, among small businesses with ordinary financing from banks only 5% are younger than one year.

It is important to note that last year over 60% of loans under the act went to firms that had been in business for three years or less. The entrepreneurs who start these small firms and the spirit that drives them and moves them to succeed are Canada's economic hope for the future.

Small and medium businesses are the anchor of our national economy. They made crucial contributions to our collective economic well-being over the years. This is an important reason why we should be supporting the bill.

 

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Even giant multinationals started in a niche market, and some quite literally in the corner of a garage. I can point out that Magna International started in Richmond Hill over 30 years ago. Today Magna International is one of the leading, if not leading, international automotive part manufacturers in the world. That environment is exactly what is proposed in the bill to help create those kinds of opportunities. Small business people need the federal government to appreciate and encourage entrepreneurial spirit, the willingness to take risk, which has been the hallmark of our country.

Canada needs over 2.5 million small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs. They account for approximately 40% of the gross national product. Small businesses are responsible for the overwhelming portion of new jobs, 70% to 80% over the past three years.

The loan guarantee program is more than an investment in small businesses. It is an investment in jobs and an investment in job opportunities. We have to do more than talk about it. We have to provide those opportunities. We have to be able to act. The bill addresses those issues. In the last year alone borrowers expected to create an additional 74,600 jobs as a direct result of the loans. That represents more than 2.5 jobs per loan in just one year.

During the last five years borrowers anticipated creating over 480,000 jobs. We consider that the average loan guaranteed last year was approximately $68,000 and that the loan guarantee program is moving toward cost recovery. This is a remarkably cost effective way of expanding the nation's economy.

Governments, financial institutions and private lenders will certainly continue to come up with new ideas and plans for financing small business, innovative services, products and delivery channels. However it is important to note that none of them is primarily targeted to the young, small firms.

Mr. Lee Morrison: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe we are debating the amendments and the hon. member is speaking to the bill.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): At this point I would ask the hon. member to focus his comments on the amendments.

Mr. Bryon Wilfert: Madam Speaker, I was highlighting the changes that were made in the bill. Perhaps the hon. member thinks it is a bit of history. It is also helpful to put the amendments in some context, which I was doing, and to address those concerns to members of the House.

As I said, it is targeting the young, small firms whose needs are served by small business financing programs. There is no question that the bill will help assist in that regard. The measure of success of the program is the extent to which small businesses would have had to borrow money without the program being in place.

I would like to point out some key provisions the member was asking about. The bill would provide authority to the Department of Industry to conduct audits to ensure compliance with the act and regulations. It certainly will provide authority to create limited pilot programs, something that we need on a cost recovery basis, on capital leasing and lending to the volunteer sector.

 

. 1525 + -

The government's contingency liability would be capped at $1.5 billion over five years. This means again, regardless of the dollar value for the loans made under the act, the taxpayers would never have to cover more than $1.5 billion on loans during that period.

It is clear that economic impact studies also show that the program has been successful in providing funding to firms that predominantly would not otherwise be able to obtain it. The amendments in the bill, as pointed out, would strengthen the capacity and the ability of small business entrepreneurs to provide necessary jobs, to develop necessary technology and to expand their businesses.

Small business is the engine of the country. It is important that all members note that in giving support to the amendments and to the bill we will have a stronger small business community across the country, thereby creating the kind of economic output necessary to continue our strong recovery.

Mr. Roy Cullen (Etobicoke North, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-53 and the various amendments that are before the House.

Some of the amendments, if I am not mistaking, are enacting amendments or enabling amendments. I would like to focus on the substance of the bill, which is to provide access to capital to small business. The Small Business Loans Act has been an effective tool for helping small businesses access financing over the past 37 years.

Bill C-53 was designed to meet three objectives: to continue helping small young businesses access financing, to increase program accountability, and to move the program toward cost recovery. Bill C-53 contains no changes to the basic program parameters. The new provisions it contains are aimed at ensuring the program's long term viability, cost effectiveness and stability to better meet the needs of small business.

The recent and quite unexpected volatility in currency and trading markets that we have all witnessed confirms again the importance of sound, consistent public policy. Small businesses need stability, even more so at a time when we face the prospect of restructuring in the financial services industries.

Decisions related to the recommendations of the MacKay task force and the proposed bank mergers will have a direct bearing on the well-being of small business, which is the source of economic and job growth in every region of the country.

[Translation]

Small and medium size businesses are the cornerstone of our economy. Their contribution is vital to our economic welfare. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to support the bill before us.

In Canada, there are over 2.5 million small businesses, if we include the self-employed. They account for 99% of all Canadian companies and for between 70% and 80% of all the jobs created in Canada in the past three years.

[English]

The SBLA has been serving Canada's small businesses since 1961 and is widely recognized as a necessary and effective program. Last year it helped some 30,000 small businesses across the country to access nearly $2 billion in financing from Canadian lending institutions.

These firms acquired necessary financing that might otherwise not have been available to them for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of their businesses. Some 9,000 of these firms were in rural communities and the majority of loans averaging nearly $68,000 went to firms less than three years old.

 

. 1530 + -

Bill C-53 results from a comprehensive program and policy review conducted over the past year in consultation with both private and public sector stakeholders. It takes into account recommendations of the auditor general and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

[Translation]

The Canada Small Business Financing Act will keep the basic parameters of the Small Business Loans Act: loans granted by approved lenders for a maximum of 10 years; possibility for businesses of borrowing up to $250,000; requirement that lenders pay only once the 2% registration fee, which the borrowers can absorb; and requirement that lenders pay an annual administration fee of 1.25%.

[English]

Bill C-53 is a step forward in streamlining, improving and stabilizing the Small Business Loans Act. The key provisions are as follows.

First, the bill will provide authority for the Department of Industry to conduct audits to ensure compliance with the act and regulations.

Second, it will provide authority to create limited pilot programs on a cost recovery basis on capital leasing and lending to the voluntary sector.

Third, we are also proposing to replace the current sunset clause. Every five years Industry Canada will conduct a comprehensive review of the program. The resulting report on the program's performance would be tabled in parliament for committee consideration.

As a means of maintaining and ensuring cost recovery, the governor in council through regulation would have the power to restrict eligibility criteria for access to program loans.

[Translation]

The maximum amount of the government's potential liability would be set at $1.5 billion over five years. This means that, regardless of the monetary value of the loans granted under the act, the taxpayer would never be required to cover more than $1.5 billion of the loans granted during that period.

That $1.5 billion figure would only be reached in the highly unlikely event that all loans were defaulted on. Historically, the loss rate on loans is 5.6%, which means that over 94% of all loans were paid back without incident.

This potential liability would be renewed automatically every five years. Loans could therefore continue to be made while Parliament carries out its in-depth investigation.

[English]

Since 1961 the SBLA has served the small business community well. The Canada small business financing act will provide an even more effective mechanism for the government and financial institutions to share the risks of lending to small businesses to help them grow and create jobs.

[Translation]

Mr. Antoine Dubé (Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, BQ): Madam Speaker, I will not be using all the time available to me. I would simply like to take a few minutes to speak against Motion No. 3 in particular.

The purpose of this motion is to reduce the maximum available capital from $250,000 to $100,000. My main argument can be found in the title of the bill, which reads “an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses”.

When the stated goal is to increase financing, I have difficulty going along with cutting back on what was previously available to small businesses.

 

. 1535 + -

I would like to take advantage of the presence in the House of the Secretary of State for Regional Development for Quebec to point out that this particular program of small business loans is important precisely because of the shortcomings in the programs under the secretary of state's responsibility. Because of the absence of good regional development measures, businesses need access to such a program.

There are the CFDCs, of course, but they are of no help to small businesses wishing to expand. The emphasis is often on new small businesses, which are very important, and capital funding.

The amendment moved by the Reform Party member would not create problems for those wishing to start up a business. However, existing businesses sometimes need loans to consolidate their activities, to expand, to develop and to create jobs.

I often criticize the government's prime interest in big business or high tech companies. I have nothing against them, they are extraordinary. However, these businesses set up primarily around big cities and centres. This is unfortunate for businesses in rural areas, in the regions that want to keep their young people and staunch the flow to the major centres. This program will help local businesses create jobs or keep them. Businesses sometimes modernize to keep jobs. If they do not, they could have to close.

This program then makes this possible, and we in the Bloc Quebecois support it. Though sovereignists we may be in the Bloc Quebecois, we are not always negative, we do not always oppose government measures, although this measure, in our opinion, should have been improved. This bill should have been improved. We would have hoped for a broader vision for all government programs, not only those of the federal government, and that they would have been compared to those of the provinces, especially Quebec, and the financial opportunities offered by such organizations as the CFDC.

Failing the best, we will have to be satisfied with what is not too bad. This is why the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill. Obviously, however, we oppose any attempt to limit the availability of funds to small businesses.

[English]

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Pursuant to agreement made earlier, all motions in Group No. 2 are deemed put, recorded divisions deemed requested and deemed deferred.  

The House will now proceed to the debate on the motions in Group No. 3.

[Translation]

Pursuant to order adopted earlier today, the motions in Group No. 3 are deemed to have been moved and seconded. This group contains Motions Nos. 6 and 11.

[English]

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Ref.) moved:  

    Motion No. 6

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 8, be amended by replacing line 26 on page 5 with the following:

      “(a) 50%, or any prescribed lesser percent-”

    Motion No. 11

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 15, be amended by replacing lines 20 to 22 on page 9 with the following:

    “15. (1) The Minister will routinely conduct an audit or examination of the”

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I am delighted to lead the debate on the Group No. 3 motions. Before I do that, I would like to show my disappointment and that of other opposition members. We had an agreement that we were going to move to Group No. 3. The government knows there are more members who want to speak on this bill, however the government has put time allocation on this bill.

Mr. Walt Lastewka: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We were going to spend time discussing the motion directly. This was put by the member from the Reform Party. If my memory serves me right, the previous 25 to 30 speakers did not speak on the motion but decided to speak on the whole general bill.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): We are getting into debate now. I would ask the hon. member to please focus his remarks on the debate.

 

. 1540 + -

Mr. Gurmant Grewal: Madam Speaker, I was leading into the debate but I wanted to show my disappointment that the Liberal government has used time allocation or closure 44 times since it came to power. We have more speakers. I was sitting here waiting for my turn. More speakers are coming up and they will be disappointed.

Getting back to the bill and the group of amendments, I have read the bill very thoroughly. I attended the auditor general's briefing on Bill C-53 and the Small Business Loans Act.

From the beginning I have been addressing the issues on Bill C-53 and the particular amendments. I addressed this bill at the first stage. I proposed right from the beginning certain amendments or recommendations and I am very delighted to speak on those recommendations.

Group No. 3 contains two motions, Motion No. 6 and Motion No. 11. Motion No. 6 deals with clause 8 and Motion No. 11 deals with clause 15. I will go over these clauses separately. These amendments are put forward by the official opposition. I am very delighted to speak on them and I will support them.

Clause 8 deals with the liability of the minister. We are proposing that the liability should be reduced to 50%, or any prescribed lesser percent. The rationale behind that reduction of the liability of the government is that lowering the percentage of the government's liability for a defaulted loan means that the lender must also assume a larger portion of any loss. By lowering the government's liability from 85% to 50%, the lender also assumes a greater risk in making the loan. In fact the risk would be equally shared.

The default rate under the old Small Business Loans Act was nearly 10 times higher than that in the private sector. This bill does not provide an adequate review of risk analysis. There is no provision for losses. Borrowers are not guaranteed but financial institutions are guaranteed. If bad decisions are made by the financial institutions, they are guaranteed.

Furthermore the bill does not put a mechanism in place to prevent financial institutions charging administrative fees when small businessmen go to them for loans. They should not be charging a fee in the first place but the auditor general has reported that they have been charging a fee in the past.

By lowering the government's liability from 85% to 50%, it will be the lenders who will be given more responsibility to share the risks.

The auditor general has noted various cases where major borrowers were able to obtain numerous loans with totals exceeding certain limits because they were operating the same businesses. In one group, 23 related corporations obtained more than $4 million in loans.

This practice are contrary to the intent of the act. Currently there are no provisions under the Small Business Loans Act to prevent this practice, even though such rules exist under the Income Tax Act. That act has provisions designed to limit access to the corporate tax rate for small business and to prevent abuse by the creation of a number of related corporations. The government needs to address that issue more rigorously in the bill.

I am delighted to support Motion No. 6.

 

. 1545 + -

In Motion No. 11 we are making an amendment in clause 15 which deals with the audit or the examination of various files. We are recommending that lines 20 to 22 on page 9 of the bill be replaced with “the minister will routinely conduct an audit or examination of the” files.

Industry Canada does not audit any account until the file becomes a claim file, which is absolutely wrong. It should audit files that need to be audited.

The rationale in putting forward this recommendation is that as presently worded Industry Canada officials must give written notice to a lender before conducting an audit of the lender's records or documents. This change would allow officials to conduct an audit routinely. Moreover, they could do so whenever they desired. It would ensure federal accountability in the process.

The December 1997 auditor general's report highlighted examples where lending institutions have not exercised due care in making a loan. In short, better auditing provisions need to be in place and it becomes very important that we deal with these issues.

Industry Canada introduced a policy of full cost recovery for loans issued after April 1, 1995. The department reduced its loss sharing ratio from 90% to 85% and imposed on lenders a 1.25% annual administration fee. According to Industry Canada projections, these modifications to the program should result in full cost recovery over a 10 year period.

The auditor general has reservations regarding the department's ability to move toward full cost recovery, noting an increased proportion of riskier loans in its guaranteed loan portfolio.

An internal study undertaken in 1997 by the department confirmed a significant increase in risk in the program's loan portfolio, stating higher default rates which are occurring earlier in the life of a loan. As a result, the auditor general urged the department to undertake greater efforts to develop systems and practices to better evaluate program performance in order to assist in monitoring loan portfolio risk so that smaller businesses get the benefit from this whole program.

The auditor general recommended that industry take steps to ensure that lenders have complied with the regulations of this act. It was found that some loan files did not contain the information necessary to perform a total credit risk analysis.

This bill does nothing to address the shortcomings of the audit process outlined above. It is likely that the same criticism levelled by the auditor general in this regard will continue. As a part of its review, Industry Canada does not assess whether the lender has exercised due care when making a loan.

The amendments would make the process more accountable. The auditor general's recommendations would be in place. Small businesses would be getting the advantage, not the large businesses.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Madam Speaker, again it is a pleasure to speak on the very important topic of the well-being of small business in Canada.

I would like to say something very obliquely about the whole issue of closure. The government uses that technique in order to stop the debate. It wants to have the bill finished, in this case today, and it is at a loss to try to persuade us to pass the bill really fast. We want to discuss it and see whether we can persuade the government to make some amendments. This is very important to us. I believe that we represent the well-being of the taxpayers much more than does the government side. It is important for that point of view to be stressed.

 

. 1550 + -

We are talking about the government's inability or lack of desire to seriously consider our amendments. If the government would say that the amendment makes a lot of sense and that it would go along with it, that would be the end of the story. We would not have a long debate. It would not take a whole week of debate to come to a conclusion.

However, the government says “It is our way or the highway. We are the only ones who know perfectly how this should be done”. That is not an accurate assessment of the government's abilities. Undoubtedly the government has very capable members of parliament but their ability to represent their constituencies is severely hampered by the fact that they do not have the freedom to vote according to the wishes of their constituents, even on amendments to a bill. I cannot understand that. I want that to be changed.

This group of amendments has two very important components. One is Motion No. 6 put forward by one of my colleagues. This is an amendment which protects the people who earn the money, the taxpayers.

It has already been alluded to that some people and some small businesses are concerned because as taxpayers they have to pay their taxes both as individuals and as businesses. That money is taken by the government whether they want to give it or not. It is not a voluntary fund. It is not a charity.

It is not a case of somebody from the government or elsewhere coming to the people in the little towns which I represent and saying “There is a person in your town who wants to start a business and we would like to give them a little bit of help. They are just not quite solid enough to qualify for a loan from the bank, so we would like to give them your money. How much money would you like to give them?”

In the event that the person has a solid business plan, a good reputation in the community and is not seeking to undermine by direct competition a business which is already in that town, then perhaps the individual business person would say “Yes, having this business in my town is going to be helpful. I trust this person. I will give you a cheque for $500 to help”. That would be a voluntary way of collecting this money, but that is not how it works.

When the tax man comes, it is not a voluntary donation that we make. The tax man reaches into our pockets and takes our earnings, against our will in some cases. Certainly it is true in my part of the world that most Canadians whom I speak to are quite happy to pay a reasonable level of taxation. However, in this case, that money to be taken is to be given to another business person. We are taking money away from those who are successfully earning it and giving it to others in the hopes that they will also earn it, which is not entirely a bad premise.

However, statistics show that many of these small business people who get started have a much higher than average rate of default. I guess that is to be expected because not everyone's good dream will come to fruition. Some people unfortunately will not be able to put their dreams into action and things will not quite work out the way they wanted them to. That is why ordinary banks and lending institutions will not advance the money to them. Hence they come to the government, to the taxpayer.

The amendments we are proposing are reasonable. They are probably going to be rejected by the government. Instead of listening to reasoned debate, the government would rather call all its members on command to stand up and vote for time allocation so we cannot talk about it.

 

. 1555 + -

We will vote on these amendments and the government will say to vote against the amendments. All the individualized robots will stand up when their strings are pulled and say that they are against the amendments, without having heard the arguments, without having heard the reasoning. Meanwhile, it all comes to an end and the taxpayer gets to pick up the bill.

I am talking about these two amendments, the first of which says that the liability that the taxpayers should pick up should be restricted to 50% of the loan. This has two effects.

The first one is very important. When a loan is granted under this program, the bank or financial institution administering it on behalf of the government will be a little more careful. It is too easy right now to say “We will decline you. Go to the Small Business Loans Act people and they will give you the money”. The banks and other institutions basically cut their potential losses but they cut them at the expense of somebody else.

I have discovered over the years that people generally are much more careful with their own money than they are when they spend someone else's. This is the premise here. The administrators of the loan system are spending someone else's money. They say “Sure, we will pick up 85% of the responsibility if this person wants to start a business. We do not think it will work but it is tough to say no to someone. Let's just say yes. If they do not make it, we will pull it out of the taxpayers' pockets. We will pull it out of the pockets of those who are competing against this person. We will end up being covered. Spread out over all the taxpayers, it does not make that much difference”.

I appeal to the Liberal members, all the green Liberals over there. I am not permitted to point out to people that empty chairs in this House are green so I will not say that. I am making an appeal to the Liberal members to vote in favour of the amendment in order to protect the taxpayer. The taxpayer is footing the bill.

It is an added incentive on the part of the person granting the loan to say “We carry a full 50% of the responsibility and therefore we must be careful”. The second reason this is a good amendment is that it saves the taxpayers money. It saves the money of the person who has put a successful business together, is earning money and is paying taxes.

Hopefully by putting in measures like this one, we can look forward to that great and glorious day when we will actually have some tax cuts, some real tax cuts and not some phony declared cuts from the other side.

Madam Speaker, I would like to have another 10 minutes to speak on Motion No. 11. If you would seek unanimous consent, I would be quite willing to do that.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The hon. member would like to have an extra 10 minutes. Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

An hon. member: No.

Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this group of amendments.

I come from a province where $250,000 is a lot of money and $250,000 in risk capital would do a whole lot for my constituency and for industry at this time.

 

. 1600 + -

Let us take a look at the maximum of $250,000 and what it would do for my constituency which grows the world's best durum to produce the world's best pasta. That industry could not get a loan because the government would not allow it. I challenge members opposite the next time they or their spouses go shopping to see if they can find a pasta product in any mall in Canada that is packaged in Canada.

This $250,000 strikes home. I had some producers who wanted to borrow money to produce organic grain. They could not get a loan because the government said that grain could not be handled in that way. It is making quarter of a million dollar loans to people in some areas of Canada, but raw material producers cannot even get a loan for the grain and meat packaging that should be done in my constituency and in western Canada because it violates some government bill.

I want members to think for a moment about where I live. We have the largest inland terminals. We handle more grain in one town than in any other place in Canada. No one is allowed as a private individual to turn that grain into flour, let alone borrow the money from the government to do so. While the ceiling is being raised from $100,000 to $250,000 it is not going to produce raw materials in our province, particularly in grains.

There is hardly a butchering plant left in western Canada. Most of them have closed out. At one time the city of Winnipeg had four plants. The policies of the government removed the ability of wheat and meat producers to sell finished product.

It is against the law for individuals to obtain a loan of $250,000 to build a plant to sell organic flour. As a result, the people in my area of the province are not interested in increasing the ceiling of the loan or in increasing the risk of a business to the tune of $250,000.

Again I challenge members to go to a mall to see if they can find pasta produced and packaged in Canada. We do not do it. We do not allow for that. We ship it to Minneapolis by train load and buy it back, but it must never be produced in Saskatchewan because it is a crime.

At the present time prairie pasta producers have the biggest project going. Would they be able to get a loan? Not on their life. The government would deny them a loan because they are violating some antique policy in the Canadian Wheat Board. The government is telling the people in the west that they are hewers of wood and drawers of water and will stay that way. That is the policy of the government.

The state of North Dakota which borders my constituency is to put up millions of dollars to build a pasta plant near the U.S. border within a few miles of my constituency. Should I come to the House to congratulate the Liberals for moving the loan level up to $250,000 when they deny western Canada the right to produce its raw products and make a sale? I will not support it for the simple reason that most of this money would be denied entrepreneurs in my province.

 

. 1605 + -

For that reason and until the government recognizes that we in the west have a right to produce products from our natural resources—and I am talking about grain, flour and the packaging of meat and so on—I cannot support it. When it comes to raising the amount of money that we will be put at risk I will not support it, and the people of Canada should not support it either.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said $100,000 is plenty. If $100,000 will not get a small business going, $250,000 certainly will not either. I will not support it.

Mr. Dennis J. Mills (Broadview—Greenwood, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity to speak to the motions and to speak to the bill.

I return to the remarks of the member for Elk Island. When we were in opposition, which is almost 10 years ago, this bill was on the floor of the House of Commons. At that time Minister Tom Hockin from London, Ontario, was responsible for amending the Small Business Loans Act, amending the legislation, and we decided that the bill was so important for activating entrepreneurial spirit that we supported the government's bill.

I must say that it was not perfect. I have never seen an absolutely perfect piece of legislation in the House in the 10 years I have been elected or in the previous 10 years that I was a minister's assistant or a prime minister's assistant. The reality is that legislation is never perfect but we try. The art of politics is to try to design something that is doable and something we can activate as soon as possible. At the time when we were in opposition we put the legislation through the House in one day. We supported the government and in fact—

Mr. Ken Epp: If you put it through, why are we doing it again?

Mr. Dennis J. Mills: The hon. member for Elk Island is asking a question. Why are we amending the legislation? This is the nature of this place. We are constantly amending, updating and refining laws. This is the Small Business Loans Act. This is a bill which normally all members of parliament in all parties get behind. This is the first time in the history of this bill where we have the Reform Party using a delaying tactic.

In the end the bill will go through. The Minister of Industry and his parliamentary secretary have done a great job in listening to witnesses and in listening to literally thousands of small businessmen and women who participated in the Small Business Loans Act. Anything the government has done in the bill in consultation with opposition members and with the small business sector is a result of that listening experience. Yet here we are today and Reform Party members are almost being obstructionists. We should put the bill through with a snap of our fingers.

 

. 1610 + -

If there is one thing we have done in this House in the last 10 years—and I believe we have done it with the help of all parties—it is that we have created a sense of importance and a sense of urgency that we all must get behind the small business community.

Here we are on the eve of Christmas and they are doubting and questioning. I have heard remarks from members of the Reform Party on the bill over the past couple of weeks. They are wondering whether or not small business deserves the legislation. We have heard them say that the legislation is essentially no different from another tax on all Canadians.

There is nothing further from reality than that assertion. The loan loss provision in the Small Business Loans Act is absolutely minuscule in comparison to the number of jobs that are being created which are generating billions of dollars worth of income tax revenue for the treasuries of Canada, the provinces and the municipalities. That activity emerging from the small business community is something we can all be proud of.

The notion that the Reform Party would try to take us off focus by proposing amendments and distractions linked to tax reform is going in the wrong way. We will lose some of the momentum we have been building in the House. Over the last 10 years we have been a fist in support of small business. It does not matter whether it was the Reform critic of Industry, the NDP, the Bloc or the Conservative Party. We have all worked together. We have all been in unison. This legislation was one of the prize pieces that managed to go from first reading to third reading in no time flat.

I hope members of the Reform Party would reflect on whether it is good to be seen as breaking rank from the special collegial approach we have always had in terms of the Small Business Loans Act. Before they drag out the debate much longer maybe we could say they have some concerns and made their points, but it is time to put the legislation through the House and obtain royal assent so that all financial institutions in Canada use the Small Business Loans Act to keep the focus, to keep the morale and to keep the energy of small business moving forward.

I appeal to members of the Reform Party to end the debate so that the bill will go through all readings and bring the act up to date.

Mr. Ken Epp: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if you would seek unanimous consent for me to ask the hon. member a question or two.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is there unanimous consent of the House to let the member ask a question?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

 

. 1615 + -

[Translation]

Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to the motion of the hon. member of the official opposition. Yet I am sad at the same time because, as my colleague on this side of the House has just pointed out, all members of all parties worked together on the industry committee on this legislation introduced by the Minister of Industry, and I find it regrettable that the hon. member of the opposition has moved this motion.

Let us see what the motion is, and I shall then address the main points.

[English]

The member for Saskatoon—Humboldt is proposing in Motion No. 6 that Bill C-53 in clause 8 be amended by replacing line 26 on page 5 with the following:

      (a) 50%, or any prescribed lesser per cent.

What does that mean? It means that under the present legislation the loans which are awarded under the small business loans program are guaranteed up to 85%. He wishes to reduce that to 50%. What impact will that have on our small and medium sized businesses?

It is quite simple.

[Translation]

There are two types of businesses that run into particular difficulties in obtaining financing. These are the very small businesses and the very new businesses. The current legislation helps remedy this double shortcoming. As far as size is concerned, close to three-quarters of businesses obtaining loans under the present legislation have fewer than five employees. This is a far higher fraction than for those obtaining loans from the banks in general. That is one very important point.

Research and recent experiences with this program show that the level of loan guarantee has a major impact on use of this program and the banks' interest in it. I would point out that there are 1,300 institutions using this program in Canada, via 13,000 service points. Someone on the other side mistakenly referred to 13,000 borrowers. The right number is 1,300 borrowers using 13,000 service points.

Lowering the guarantee rate given by government on each of these loans would have a negative impact on the entire sector of small and medium size business, particularly the very small and the very new.

As far as the number of years in existence is concerned, the gap is still more striking. Some 38% of small businesses benefit from a loan guarantee under the act. These have been in existence for less than one year. When we look at regular bank customers, however, only 5% of small businesses are less than one year old. It is therefore clear that the act must maintain the 85% guarantee. This is one of the main reasons I cannot support the motion of the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

Another reason has to do with the businesses owned by members of ethnocultural communities. All the surveys tell us that members of such communities have trouble getting access to credit and capital. These are people starting small, and often very small, businesses.

 

. 1620 + -

If the figures show that the impact of reducing the guarantee from 85% to 50% would be very negative for small businesses in general, it would be even more negative for small businesses managed and operated by members of ethnocultural communities. The same would hold for businesses run by women.

I fail to see how someone with a certain degree of intelligence—and I have to assume that we are dealing with an intelligent individual, because he did, after all, have the trust of his constituents—cannot understand that lowering the guarantee from 85% to 50% would have a very negative impact on the development and growth of small businesses in Canada.

As for the second motion, I frankly find it a bit confusing. It asks, and I quote:

[English]

    The minister will routinely conduct an audit or examination—

[Translation]

This motion eliminates completely the notice of several days the minister must give a business subject to an audit.

[English]

This amendment completely eliminates the notice period for audits of loans under the act and provides that they be done on a routine basis. What does routine basis mean?

I am not an accountant, but I have taken accounting classes. I also studied fiscal law when I was in law school. When we talk about audits it is very clear that notices are given when we are talking about specific legislation.

The government is proposing that Industry Canada have the power to conduct audits on the basis of lenders' application of the program. However, neither the auditor general's audit nor the sample audit which was done for the department indicates pervasive or systemic compliance problems. Only such circumstances would justify routine audits without notice. It is quite clear that the member's motion calls for routine audits, but provides no notice period.

Research has shown that compliance is sufficiently ensured through sample audits. As well, the notice period of at least 21 days was added in response to the concerns which were expressed by the stakeholders. The lenders who deliver the program originally asked for a notice period of 45 days.

Eliminating that notice period would be a reversal of a commitment made to the financial institutions which deliver this program. This was a commitment negotiated by all parties represented on the industry committee. All of the members who sit on the Standing Committee for Industry negotiated that commitment. Now we have one of those members submitting a motion which goes completely against it. Here again, without calling into question that member's intelligence, I wonder where his head is. The member obviously has a short memory.

The proposed amendments are simply unacceptable. They go against all of the discussions that took place in the industry committee. The amendments go against the very objective of the legislation. I do not understand the member. I wish the member were here in the House right now. I would like to be able to ask him a question privately, outside of the House.

These two motions simply cannot be supported. They go against the very objectives of the legislation and they go against the objective of the government, which is to assist small businesses.

 

. 1625 + -

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Broadview—Greenwood made a very telling remark during his dissertation on these amendments. If I may paraphrase, he asked why we were bothering to debate this. It is all decided anyway. We are wasting time. The government knows what it wants. The government knows what it is going to do. This is all theatre.

I sincerely compliment the member for Broadview—Greenwood because he has reached the nub of what this place is all about. I could not have said it better myself. I know I was paraphrasing his words, but that in essence is what the hon. member said.

An hon. member: That is not paraphrasing, that is distorting it.

Mr. Lee Morrison: The hon. member says I am distorting it. I would invite him to check Hansard when he gets home.

With respect to Group No. 3, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine stated that it is totally unacceptable that the level of government responsibility for defaulted loans should be decreased from 85% to 50%. Why should the taxpayers of this country be on the hook to support bad management decisions by the poor, impoverished, helpless chartered banks? Good heavens. These are small business loans. These are small loans, period. Do we have to carry the can for people who are talking about annual profits of $1 billion or $1.5 billion? It is absurd.

The eminent economist Walter Williams once made a statement about this sort of thing which I think should be engraved above the Speaker's chair so that everyone can read it. He said “If someone with a business venture of doubtful credibility came to me and asked me to loan him $50,000 to support the business, I would tell him to go play in traffic. But when this gentleman who needs the $50,000 to support a dubious business venture wants money, he does not come to me but to the government, which has the coercive power of the majesty of the law to say `You have to give this business some money. If it goes broke, that is your bad luck. But you have to give it to him because we the government say that we are going to force you to do it through your taxes. Mr. Walter Williams, if you do not pay your taxes, we will put you in jail”'.

By a very direct and easily chartered course we can see that by giving this huge degree of guaranteed support to what may be loans of rather dubious quality we are telling ordinary taxpaying Canadians that they are going support to the utmost these dubious business ventures. If they do not, the government will put them in jail. That is the simple, very easily traced path of what we are talking about.

I do not feel as strongly about the second amendment as I do about the first. The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine became very emotional about this. I would like to know what is wrong with performing audits without notice. Do we have to allow loans of dubious quality not to be audited through the lending institutions? What is going on? Taxpayer money is being put up to guarantee these loans. Surely we can have the privilege or the right to audit these things without notice. But the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine says no, that would be a terrible thing to do. She has not heard of accountability.

 

. 1630 + -

Mr. Dennis J. Mills: It happens all the time.

Mr. Lee Morrison: The hon. member for Broadview—Greenwood should get together with the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine to discuss this because they are obviously coming from two diametrically opposed directions on this question.

Mr. Dennis J. Mills: You guys are just stalling.

Mr. Lee Morrison: The hon. member for Broadview—Greenwood says I am stalling. He said earlier that it was a waste of time to debate these amendments because the decisions have already been made. Having said that, I guess I should give him what he wants and not continue to debate this ad infinitum or ad nauseam. I will defer to the hon. member for Broadview—Greenwood and we will get on to the next group of amendments.

We will endeavour to show these folks opposite that some useful improvements could be made to their legislation, that there are improvements that could even cause my colleagues and I to support their legislation but we certainly could never dream of supporting it in its present condition.

Mr. Walt Lastewka (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Madam Speaker, the problem with these motions is that Reform Party members voted against this bill in the House and voted against the bill and the amendments in committee. They have tried every deceptive way to stop this bill—

Mr. Ken Epp: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not believe the rules of the House permit attributing to members motives of deception. I would ask you to require the member to retract what he just said.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): I am sure all members will be careful in debating these amendments.

Mr. Walt Lastewka: Madam Speaker, the Reform Party has tried to obstruct every part of this bill. I will first talk about Motion No. 6. It is very clear to me that the opposition is trying to completely water down the importance of this bill because it does not believe in small business and it is going to pay for that.

It is very important that small business be able to obtain a loan that is of higher risk than conventional loans. That is the objective of this bill. This motion would take away from that. Borrowers do pay a higher interest when they obtain these loans.

Motion No. 11 was debated in committee. It was agreed on by all parties. The industry committee is made up of all parties.

 

. 1635 + -

After much discussion with the stakeholders, including financial institutions, it was agreed that instead of 45 days it should be reduced to 21 days in order that a proper audit could be done, an audit that the auditor general experienced. We are using the auditor general's experience as we put information into this bill.

Remember, there are some 1,500 lenders and 13,000 points of service that have to comply with this request. It would be easier to have 21 days notice. On the other hand, it was also agreed that the minister would respond within 21 days to make the audit procedure in a proper manner.

Again I emphasize the importance of the small businesses financing bill. These motions water it down and should not be approved. I will continue to defend and make sure we have a Canada small businesses financing act that is valuable for small business from coast to coast. Therefore, I ask that members not vote for these two amendments.

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Ref.): Madam Speaker, speaking on Group No. 3 motions before the House for debate, I challenge the previous member who said that Reformers are not in favour of small business. That is a crock.

Reformers very much support small business. What we do not support is the Canadian taxpayer funding businesses that may or may not survive and being responsible for the debt incurred.

Motion No. 6 is simply asking for an amendment that lowers the percentage of the government's liability for defaulted loans.

What we are talking about when we are talking about the government's liability is that the government does not have any money itself. It is taxpayer money.

What we are talking about is making an amendment that lowers the percentage of taxpayer liability for a defaulted loan. What is meant is that the person who is lending money to a small business that is more risky, that has a higher chance of defaulting on that loan, has to assume a higher risk. That is a very logical move to make.

What we are asking for is instead of the taxpayer assuming 85% of the risk in covering a default that they assume only 50%. I suggest that if the lender is still responsible for 50% of a defaulted loan, they will be a little more judicious in making sure that some very extreme risk cases are not funded.

An hon. member: They just won't make the loan.

Ms. Val Meredith: The member opposite says that maybe they won't make the loan. If the taxpayer is paying for the default of that loan, maybe the person should not be getting a loan. Maybe small businesses that are too risky should either put up more collateral or be a little more responsible rather than putting the responsibility on to the Canadian taxpayer.

I do not know about the members opposite, whether they ever communicate with their taxpayers, the people on the street who vote for them. When I get letters from my constituents, from taxpayers, they are concerned that the priorities of government are skewed. That government is responsible for providing essential services to the people of Canada and by not putting its priority on funding special interests or businesses is a mistake.

We feel it is prudent for the government to be protecting the taxpayer by making sure that when it is covering loans or putting its neck out and supporting loans that may be defaulted there is a balance in that of what the taxpayer is responsible for and what the lender is responsible for.

 

. 1640 + -

The purpose of Motion No. 6 is to make sure that balance is kept, that the taxpayers are responsible for one half and that the lender is responsible for the other half. What we are talking about are high risk loans that are being loaned because traditional sources and vehicles of loans for small businesses are not available to them. We are talking about a very small percentage of small businesses that may or may not succeed.

Members across seem to feel it is the responsibility of the government and the taxpayers to make sure that everybody who wants to start a business is given money to do so. It does not work that way.

Not every child in this country has an education or has the available means for a post-graduate education. They have to earn that right. They have to go to school and get the marks. They have to show they are diligent in the requirements to go on to university or college. The same should apply to the small business community, to somebody who decides that he or she wants to be in business. There has to be an onus put on that individual to make sure that business has a market and is in a community that can support it.

When an individual asks for financing, either from a bank or a government protected bank, there should be minimum risk. The banks must know the business has the ability to survive.

Motion No. 6 states the lender would assume 50% of that liability and the taxpayer would assume 50% of that liability. It would put the onus on the small business to show the lender and the Canadian taxpayer that it has done everything possible to make sure the business is viable and will go ahead. I suggest the number of loans written off would probably decrease.

My understanding now is the default rate is 10 times higher on these loans guaranteed by the federal government. I suggest that 10 times higher is perhaps too much to put on the Canadian taxpayer. I think they would feel the priority of their money should be in things like health care and education, the things they feel are far more important than perhaps taking 85% on the default of a loan.

I think Motion No. 6 is reasonable and logical. I also believe it would have the support of the people who pay the bill when these loans are defaulted, Canadian taxpayers.

Motion No. 11 is self-explanatory when it states that the auditor should not have to give a 21 day notice. They should be able to do what Revenue Canada does, phone up and say they will be there in three days to go through the books. There is no reason why the same degree of short notice that Revenue Canada can avail on should not be applied to this bill as well. I hope everybody will support these motions.

[Translation]

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Vancouver East, Poverty; the hon. member for Waterloo—Wellington, Immigration; the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, Health.

[English]

Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich—Gulf Islands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I would like to first of all set the record straight. I am very pleased to support Motion No. 6. It would in effect change the bill to ensure that the borrower would assume at least half the responsibility and the government or the lender the other half, which is sponsored by taxpayers. Right now it would be 85% to the lender and 15% to the borrowing. I suggest it should be an equal partnership if they have enough confidence in their own business plan when they come forward for that loan.

 

. 1645 + -

More important, I want to set the record straight with respect to Reform's commitment to small business. I think it is very important. We believe very strongly in small businesses and are a great defender of them. I think we would just go about it differently. We think it is very important that we provide small businesses immediate tax relief. We also want to make sure they have decreased payroll taxes as opposed to putting money into this small business loans program.

The initial legislation, as everyone well knows, would provide $1.5 billion to small business loans programs. I think there are other ways we could do it than again through government subsidies for businesses. I think there are other ways that would be more beneficial.

We could look at capital gains tax. Now the tax rate is 75%; perhaps lowering it to half that. There are other ways to attract investors, other ways for people to get money, without taking it out of the pockets of taxpayers.

This motion would decrease the liability of the lender or the bank down to 50% from 85%. That would make sure the person who is wanting to borrow this money would have enough confidence that they would assume liability for half. That is not a lot to ask when we are using taxpayer dollars.

Again, if the borrower is liable for only 15% of this loan, what kind of confidence do they have in their business plan to ensure that it will be viable and not be a burden on the taxpayers?

Small business is the economic engine which drives this country. We in the Reform Party believe that. We recognize that. In fact, 75% of our caucus are small business people. We believe very strong in that. But government subsidies are not the answer.

We have the government again giving out $1.5 billion for small business loans programs. But with incredibly high payroll taxes and incredibly high bureaucracy it is just not working. It is our job as legislators to create an economic environment where small businesses can succeed. Right now they are struggling through extremely high levels of bureaucracy, red tape, forms, paperwork and the list goes on and on. They are buried in it from all levels of government.

Again I would argue there are many other ways that we can help small business. Make no mistake, that is one of the principle objectives of the Reform Party of Canada. We believe strongly in ensuring that small business has an economic climate where it can succeed.

Unfortunately this small business program is just throwing money at it and hoping the problem will fix itself. I would argue that is not going to happen. I can never imagine in the private sector anywhere where anybody could borrow money and only be at a liability rate of 15%. They would be laughed at. The banks would absolutely laugh at them anywhere else in the private sector.

So assuming 50% liability, if a person has the confidence in his or her business plan, I would think what would be quite reasonable and would have been an excellent amendment to this legislation, equal partnership between the lender and the borrower in the liability of that loan.

I encourage all members of the House to support this Reform amendment to create an equal partnership. We need, more important, to move away from government subsidies and take away that liability on the taxpayer. These are high risk loans. The default rate is very high with taxpayer money. It is not our money. It is not our money to do as we please with. The people who send us here hope we will use tax dollars wisely. It is not that we would not invest the money in small businesses. We would do it different to ensure that they were getting the help they need.

 

. 1650 + -

Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I want to speak in general terms about the whole aspect of the government's loaning money to small businesses.

I guess the reason the government first got into the business of loaning money to small businesses was that the banks simply refused to take on some of these ventures that had a little more risk involved in them.

We have to look deep down into the purpose of government's loaning money to small businesses. I think everyone will agree it is to encourage entrepreneurship, to put people to work in order to allow these people to flourish and perhaps even expand their businesses.

Some of the speakers today came up with instances where businesses had started in somebody's garage and then grown to nationwide and international businesses. That is exactly what I think is the optimum goal of getting into a situation where the government loans businesses money.

Everything we do here with regard to the Small Business Loans ACT should be pointed in that direction but I had a constituent who came to me the other day with an absolute horror story about borrowing money from the government. She is 58. She was involved in a government sponsored loans act. The Alberta Women's Enterprize Initiative Association loans money under western economic diversification. I realize that is not exactly what we are debating but it is along those same principles.

This lady went to the organization and asked to borrow some money. She needed approximately $60,000. It wrote her a contract for $60,000 at the rate of 17%. This was in 1996 at a time when if you had any collateral at all you could borrow money for 6% or 7%. Here it was saddling this person with a 17% interest rate. If that is helping small businesses it seems like a rather underhanded way to do it.

On top of that the lender chose not to release all the funds. No doubt it was written into the contract. The lender kept about half the funds the person borrowed and on which she was paying interest. Half the funds were kept on deposit in the financial institution from which she had borrowed the money.

If that is helping small business that is a little like throwing a drowning person a cement life saver. If going into a new business were not risky enough, withhold about half the capital borrowed and charge 17%.

By the time the lady came to see me it was too late for me to intervene. She had declared bankruptcy. They had foreclosed on absolutely everything she had. She had signed over her condominium, her life savings, her pension plan, everything she had as collateral toward this debt in order to get into business and be self-sufficient. Now she is basically a charity case. She has had to move in with her daughter and she is in a terrible predicament.

I felt very badly when this lady came to me and asked what I could do to help her.

 

. 1655 + -

The short answer was that I could do very little if anything to help. Likely I could do nothing. At the time she came to see me this case was before the courts. She is being sued for outstanding debt.

All I could do was sympathize with her and say that if I had the opportunity I would bring her case before parliament. She agreed that there was nothing I could do to intervene. She wondered if there was something that parliament could do to prevent this from happening to other unsuspecting people. She admits quite freely that she was not cautious enough. She should have read all the fine print. She definitely made some mistakes.

I think when we are talking about small business loan programs we should bear in mind what our ultimate goal is. If our goal is to help small businesses that had the other more established conventional lending institutions turn their backs on them, then we must make sure we are actually doing that and not simply putting a mill stone around these peoples' necks that they simply cannot carry.

We have to make sure taxpayers money is secured and that there is reasonable expectation for the business to flourish. I think the people who are borrowing money to invest in a business must prove they have expertise to carry on this business and that they have the necessary training, some rudimentary understanding of how business works, rudimentary accounting abilities and also have some good independent counsel available to them.

I would like to leave today thinking that the House and the committee considering this bill will bear in mind the burden placed on them to ensure this legislation is fair and does do what people such as the lady who came to see me expect it to do.

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I rise on Motion No. 6 put forward by my colleague from Saskatoon. We support this amendment.

The amendment lowers the percentage of the government's liability for a defaulted loan. This means the Liberals want to increase the government's liability with regard to small business loans.

People are probably asking themselves have the Liberals not learned lessons with regard to liability. Obviously not. They are the masters of this. They have a $600 billion liability called the national debt that does not take into account the unfunded liability with the Canada pension plan, with native land claims and a host of other things we could toss on to the kitty.

The Liberal government, according to independent estimates such as the Fraser Institute, has put a total liability, in other words dug a potential hole, of two trillion dollars. The government wants to once again saddle taxpayers with future debt and future taxes with an even greater liability. The government does not think the way to solve the problems of small business is to actually lower taxes.

No, the Liberal solution for these things is always to increase the government's liability and therefore the taxpayers'. The government feels it at election but the taxpayers are the ones who feel it in the long term. The people of my generation are certainly going to be paying for all the boondoggles this government has got us into and for all the debt that it dug us into when it had some of its former prime ministers and finance ministers at the helm.

 

. 1700 + -

This amendment also means that the lender must assume a larger portion of any loss. Business is about calculated risk. That is something which unfortunately some of my Liberal friends across the way forget about.

If a business person is going to go to the government or is going to turn toward the Small Business Loans Act as opposed to going to a conventional bank or any other type of lender as they would for just about anything else, aside from any of these kinds of protections or special arrangements made through the Small Business Loans Act, they go ahead and negotiate a loan under normal circumstances. Under these circumstances, of course, the government picks up the liability.

It is only fair for people who want access to money, especially when it is arranged through some special contrivance with the government, to be willing to accept some level of risk. I do not think we would be asking them to accept too great a risk with the way the Small Business Loans Act would be structured by our motion. It means that there is some sort of individual responsibility. That is something that my Liberal friends across the way do not understand very well. They understand collective responsibility very well, but not individual responsibility.

I am going to digress and talk about the Charter of Rights an Freedoms to illustrate this point. The charter was based upon the idea of collective responsibility. That is something Pierre Trudeau believed in. He believed that rather than going ahead and representing people as individuals, the charter should safeguard their rights as groups. As a result, we have all sorts of groups across this land claiming victimhood status or some other sort of label. The charter does not protect people as individuals, it instead protects peoples' collective rights.

That is part and parcel of the Liberal philosophy here. It is representing collective rights. It is representing group rights. It does not talk much about the individual.

Motion No. 6, put forward by my hon. colleague from Saskatoon, states that by lowering the liability from 85% to 50% the lender also assumes a greater risk in making the loan.

The Liberals would like the government to have more liability which means that the taxpayer would have more liability. It also means that the Liberals are disregarding the idea of individual responsibility for small business accountability. They are trying to up the ante for the government to pick up the cost. As well, lo and behold, it was not bad enough that they beat up on two groups with a baseball bat, they took that bat to a third group. They actually now want the lenders, the banks or the institutions that give these loans, to have greater risk in terms of giving out this money. Is that not the solution?

When I talk to small business people they do not tell me that they want to have greater access to rope with which to hang themselves. They do not want unending supplies of rope to regulate themselves, to tie themselves up or to strangle themselves and cut off the creative juices of productivity. No, they do not want any of that.

They want lower taxes. That is what businesses are talking about. They want less regulation. They want less payroll taxes so they can employ more people and provide more jobs. But that is not something these Liberals understand very well.

Mr. John Richardson: Nobody does it better than the Liberals.

Mr. Rob Anders: Nobody gives out jobs to their political friends better than Liberals. That member across the way who heckled about Liberal jobs knows only too well about patronage. This institution is full of people who got jobs because of their friendship with the Prime Minister or other members across the way. But I do not think that is the way to provide employment in this country. I do not think that is the solution. I think the Liberal job creation strategy of patronage puts the taxpayers on the hook for these types of things and that is not the way it should go. I have never door knocked a small businessperson in this country who told me they want to make sure there is full employment in this country and, therefore, every Liberal hack across the land should get a job, and a good patronage one at that. I have never heard them say that yet.

 

. 1705 + -

The default rate under the Small Business Loans Act is nearly 10 times higher than in the private sector. The changes that the government wants to make will make it even worse. How is the government helping small businesses by giving them more rope to hang themselves with? That is not what they are asking for. Small business across the country is asking for tax cuts, less regulation and less government interference. They want government out of their face and the Liberal government will not give it to them. It comes back again and again. It is always meddling with private business in this country.

The Liberals think it is more important to give money to foreign aid than they think it is to give tax cuts. They think it is more important to forgive foreign banks their debts, to the tune of hundreds of millions or billions of dollars—

Mr. Walt Lastewka: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We are debating Motions Nos. 6 and 11. The previous speaker did mention after a request from the Reform Party that we should focus on the motions.

I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that we could continue to speak on the motions that are on the floor.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The parliamentary secretary makes a cogent point.

I invite the hon. member for Calgary West to return to his dissertation.

Mr. Rob Anders: Mr. Speaker, it is just like a Liberal to interrupt you when you are on a roll about some of the problems the government has.

The Liberals talk about the Small Business Loans Act. They talk about wanting to increase the problems for the banks and the lenders which will be left holding the bag. The government will be left holding the bag. The default rates are going to continue to increase because of Liberal policies. This whole philosophy is wrong-headed. It is Liberal wrong-headed thinking. It is not talking about allowing greater competition.

I know small business people in Calgary who, when they needed money to expand their business, did not go grovelling to the Small Business Loans Act or any of those types of places. To get entrepreneurial capital they went to the banks themselves, but they could not get it because of the conservative lending philosophies. That is the way banks operate. I understand that. Where did they go? They could not get it anywhere in this country. They went across the border to institutions in the United States because there was greater competition and less regulation. As a result, they got access to the capital they needed. That is a real solution that Liberals across the way are not talking about, greater competition and less regulation in banking. That would be a—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Resuming debate, the hon. member for Markham.

Mr. Jim Jones (Markham, PC): Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to speak to Motions Nos. 6 and 11.

I have heard a lot of inaccurate information coming from members of the Reform Party. It truly shows that they have a lack of understanding of what the Small Business Loans Act is.

I would assume that any financial institution would do proper due diligence on any person applying for a small business loan.

I heard somebody say that the loss is 10 times higher than it is in the private sector. That is not true. It is about double. The private sector has a loss of about 3.7% on its loans, and the average is 6%. I cannot see how that is 10 times higher.

There is also the 50% proposal. Reform members assume that it is 50% of all losses. It is not. If it is a financial institution and it has an accumulated loan portfolio of $100 million, it is 90% on the first $250,000, 50% on the next $250,000, and for any losses over and above that it is 10%.

 

. 1710 + -

They are saying there is going to be a huge amount of losses. That is not true. I have trouble understanding their logic.

Most small businesses would prefer to get their loans from financial institutions because to get small business loans they have to pay interest which is 3% above prime and another 1.5% in administrative fees. It is unfortunate that these people cannot get their loans from financial institutions, but they help to create a lot of jobs. Over the life of the Small Business Loans Act several hundred thousand jobs have been created. A lot of businesses have grown bigger and they will create a lot more jobs in the future.

Motion No. 11 concerns the 21 day notice period. A financial institution may have many loans across many of its branches. When it is given notice of an audit it takes a few days to collect the information. That is the reason the committee supported 21 days for the notice.

My party will not be supporting these two motions.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Pursuant to order made earlier this day, the questions on the motions in Group No. 3 are deemed to have been put and the recorded divisions are deemed requested and deferred.  

The House will now proceed to debate Group No. 4, Motion Nos. 7 and 8. Also pursuant to order made earlier this day, the motions in Group No. 4 are deemed to have been moved.

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Ref.) moved:  

    Motion No. 7

    That Bill C-53 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ) moved:  

    Motion No. 8

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 13, be amended

      (a) by replacing line 32 on page 6 with the following:

      “made to borrowers in the voluntary sector, to guarantee loans made to finance working capital or to guarantee”

      (b) by replacing line 4 on page 7 with the following:

      “voluntary sector, to guarantee loans made to finance working capital or to guarantee capital leases, the Minister”

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I spoke to the earlier amendments and I am delighted to speak to the amendments put forward in Group No. 4, Motions Nos. 7 and 8.

Motion No. 7 was put forward by the official opposition. Motion No. 8 was put forward by the Bloc. I will be supporting Motion No. 7, but I have no reason to support Motion No. 8.

Motion No. 7 would entirely delete two pilot projects aimed at expanding the loans program to the volunteer and capital lease sectors of the economy. Capital lease ventures are those in which the major assets of the business are leased. This serves to lessen the amount of money that can be recovered from the sale of assets in the case of default. The volunteer sector is made up of not for profit organizations. The Reform Party can rightly question why the taxpayer should be guaranteeing loans made to non-profit organizations.

The Reform Party opposes the initiative outlined in clause 13 of Bill C-53 as it represents a broadening of the program that we cannot support in principle.

The Small Business Loans Act is intended to help small businesses in our economy. Small businesses are the engine of the economy. They keep the economy running. Ninety-six per cent of the jobs in this country are created by small businesses.

The Liberal government promotes bigger and larger businesses. It forgets about the small businesses. Small businesses are already under pressure. They have to pay high premiums for employment insurance. They have to pay high premiums for the CPP. They have all kinds of red tape. Government is on the backs of small businesses.

 

. 1715 + -

On the contrary, the government is giving subsidies, guarantees, loans and all kinds of good things to big business. Recently the government gave a $25 million tax free loan to Bombardier. The government is taking care of big business, not small business.

When the government expands the scope of the SBLA to volunteer or non-profit organizations, it deprives smaller businesses of the opportunity to get financing from this program. The intent of the act is therefore defeated. Neither my colleague nor I can support this expansion of the Small Business Loans Act.

Motion No. 8 was put forward by the Bloc. It would effectively expand the loan provision contained in the pilot project advanced by Bill C-53. This pilot project includes the ability of industry to grant loans to the volunteer and capital sectors of the economy. This would deprive entrepreneurs of the opportunity to start a business and create jobs.

The Reform Party is fundamentally opposed to expanding the loans program to include volunteer organizations in our economy. All our MPs will support the initiative or any amendment to enhance prospects to help small business. Based on that our position is very clear. We cannot support any amendment or any of the sections which will expand the scope away from small business to anywhere else.

The auditor general clearly identified in his report that larger organizations had been taking advantage, that smaller organizations had been collaborating, and that subsidies applied to other organizations that had received further loans. The system has already been abused. The auditor general has made some clear observations in that regard.

Rather than clarifying the situation, making it simpler and focusing on small business, the government intends to diversify the scope so that small businesses will have to compete with medium and larger organizations for financing. Through this amendment they will have to compete with non-profit and volunteer organizations.

If government wants to support volunteer organizations there are other means to do it. We do not mean that volunteer organizations should not be supported, but they should not be allowed to compete with smaller businesses.

The government always gets things wrong. It has been supporting larger businesses. I gave an example the other day of being on the verge of an storm. When the storm comes the bigger trees will fall and the smaller plants such as the grass will remain green. Small organizations have this ability because they are grassroots organizations run by between two and five individuals, but they will only survive the storm if we support them. We need to nourish the small business sector of our economy if we want the system to work.

In summary, government should set things right in terms of how the economy works. The government should look at employment records to see who creates the jobs. Many times the government pats itself on the back because it has created jobs. It is not government that creates jobs. It is the small business sector or its entrepreneurs that create jobs.

 

. 1720 + -

I have been an entrepreneur. I have been involved with small businesses from time to time. I understand as many other small business entrepreneurs understand. Small businesses are independent organizations. The small business organization, the CFIB, has 90,000 members. It has been pleading with the government to ensure small businesses can take advantage of the act.

In a nutshell I ask government members to look into the effectiveness of the program to ensure that it achieves the objectives for which it was intended. With these observations in mind I am hesitant to support the amendment made by the Bloc, but I will support Motion No. 7 put forward by the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt which highlights the withdrawal of that clause.

[Translation]

Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate, especially as the fourth group is being considered, because I can speak of an amendment I made, which is supported by the Bloc Quebecois.

But I will not explain my amendment without responding to our colleague who has just spoken. I think we cannot say how important the small and medium businesses are to the creation of jobs and to economic development and yet not look at the difficulties they have getting financing. The Small Business Loans Act, as the auditor general pointed out, needed a tightening of accounting criteria. However, it works and its principles carry over to other sectors and to other credit requirements.

That is the aim of this part of the bill, which proposes—I would say even timidly—that pilot projects be set up to permit, among other things, what we in Quebec call social economics, that is, all the private projects that do not come from the co-operative sector, for example. The labour and other co-operatives sector live and develop in the private economy sector, but it has its own internal rules.

This part of the social economy formed by co-operatives includes businesses not trying for maximum profits, but to create jobs and provide services. Their objective being financial self-sufficiency, why would this sector not also have access to the government guarantee?

That is why I have no hesitation whatsoever in agreeing with this part of the bill. What I would like to see is to have another element added which would also be studied, in a pilot project, the operating capital fund. I shall explain.

Contrary to what the Reform members keep on saying about this bill, small and medium size businesses experience horrendous problems, particularly at time of setting up or of rapid expansion. They have enormous difficulty in obtaining credit. If the laws of the marketplace are the only things coming into play, they will not get any credit, or they will have to pay exorbitant rates reflecting the risk they represent.

 

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At the industry committee we receive representatives of the major banks every three months, and they tell us that, when fledgling or rapidly expanding businesses are concerned, there is a risk. If there is no government guarantee, they tell us that this risk will have a very costly impact on small and medium size businesses and on economic development.

I support the pilot project aimed at making the government guarantee accessible to businesses in the social economy sector, but I would also like to see another dimension added, the financing of working capital.

In the studies that have been carried out for some time on the review of this act, a recommendation was looked at for guaranteeing working capital under certain conditions. No trace of this was evident in the bill itself, but it was discussed a great deal. Some people were really very much in favour of this, because when financing is insufficient to cover the company until there is some revenue coming in, the project can fail completely because no credit was given at a certain point. This is a serious problem.

Of course, people can say that other solutions will be found, that there will be funds from this or that source. In Quebec there are a few of these, but they do not cover all localities and all municipalities. This holds true even more in the rest of Canada than in Quebec. Why not include, therefore, in the pilot project a means of studying the conditions under which working capital could be guaranteed, for instance through management advice? There is nothing to prevent adding such advice to the regulations.

I tried an experiment and proposed to a number of Bloc Quebecois colleagues to follow my example and send a questionnaire to SMBs asking them if they were in favour of guarantees for working capital. One of the questions was “Do you think that if SMBs had more ready access to sufficient credit in hard times and to management advice there would be fewer bankruptcies and greater development?” The number of yes responses was astronomical, because this is their experience.

Often the credit lacking, plus the management advice, makes the difference between a business going bankrupt and weathering the storm and developing. It is the governments' responsibility to be aware of this.

Business people often start up without the necessary training and background, but once they have started and invested money they have accumulated for years—or money from their brother-in-law, and so on—there is no question of leaving them there saying “Too bad, they will learn a lesson going bankrupt`'. We have to be there with management advice and loan capability.

The rate of bankruptcies is too high, but there is no need for that. It could be different. For things to change, SMBs need help and not just to be left to the market. The market will allow the big businesses to come through.

Right now, public companies can get financing by selling stocks. They made the fortunes of people who bought stocks for a while. The situation is uncertain at the moment, and I know that in Great Britain there is concern about the American bubble, but that does not affect SMBs. They need accessible credit, a sort of a blood transfusion, in conditions that are not too difficult, with a dose of management advice.

I hope my colleagues opposite, since I do not think I can expect this from those beside me, will understand that it is easy to include working capital in the pilot project because it is a pilot project.

 

. 1730 + -

If this were possible, I think it would a very important plus for a number of businesses that would otherwise be facing an unhappy ending to their adventure. They lose everything, because at some point they lacked sufficient funding and management advice.

I really hope that this addition to the pilot project will mean progress in understanding the conditions in which businesses grow and develop rather than die.

[English]

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Mercier was very passionate in her defence of small business people. I certainly appreciate her passion.

However, I wonder whether she has her priorities just a little skewed. The parts of the bill that we do not like are not about small entrepreneurs. They are about big banks and making their lives easier.

These 85% loan guarantees are not meant to be of benefit to the borrower. These are of benefit to the lender. I am sure the hon. member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre agrees with me on this point. It is probably the only thing in the world on which we agree.

We do not have to make the world safe for Matthew Barrett. This is exactly what we are doing. If we were to amend this piece of legislation to remove any reference whatsoever to lending money to people in capital leasing ventures, we would be improving the legislation because we would be lowering the risk to the taxpayer, not the risk to the banks. The banks do not take a risk. The parts of the bill we just discussed ensure that the banks are not going to get their hands burned. The only people who are going to get burned are you and me and all the other taxpayers.

As someone who was an independent businessman for most of his adult life, I find that this is unconscionable. I will go from unconscionable to obscene when I look at the provision for allowing small business loans to not for profit organizations.

Good heavens. What does this have to do with economic growth? This is just another backdoor handout by this Liberal government to people who really have no legitimate call on public funds. Of course for the Liberal government that is nothing new. There is always money for SNC Lavelin, for Bombardier and for the Desmarais family, for anybody who is really big and powerful and on the inside.

Mr. John Solomon: Liberals have to have friends too.

Mr. Lee Morrison: The hon. member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre says that the Liberals have to have friends and he makes a very good point because aside from the type of people I have been discussing, I do not know who they would have for friends.

I have spoken as much on this piece of obscene legislation as I care to. We know from what the hon. member for Broadview—Greenwood said earlier that it is a waste of time to debate things in this House. I will leave it to my colleagues if they wish to continue the debate. Perhaps my colleague from Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre will say a few words.

 

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Mr. Walt Lastewka (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I would like to focus my remarks on Group No. 4, Motions Nos. 7 and 8.

Motion No. 7 basically wants to eliminate the pilot projects as mentioned in the bill. We have had committee hearings and consultations with the stakeholders and we have had an indication of strong support for this innovative pilot project under Bill C-53. The removal of the clause would eliminate the proposed pilot projects which respond to the express support for innovation by the stakeholders and various Senate and Commons committees. As was mentioned in committee, the industry committee would be instrumental in designing the proposed pilot program which would operate independently on a cost recovery basis.

Given these measures the government sees no reason to eliminate an element of this bill which responds to the clearly expressed wishes of various parliamentary committees.

To point out what the Reform Party wants to eliminate, I will use as an example the Merritton Lions Club. It is a very strong club which is non-profit and is volunteer based. It has a large community centre and a large community arena which are operated on a not for profit basis and which address the concerns and needs of the community.

The Merritton Lions Club raises a lot of money to put on Labour Day parades and various other functions. It does good work in the community and returns everything back to the community. As far as I am concerned, it is a very responsible and accountable group and its objective is the betterment of the community.

This non-profit group could borrow money in a pilot program perhaps to renovate the kitchen facilities which have become obsolete. This would better serve the community at large and all visiting teams at the arena and various participants that use the community centre and bowling alley. That could be a typical pilot project.

Eliminating that pilot project would shortchange us for being innovative and looking to the future on how the citizens of Canada could benefit. For that reason I cannot support Motion No. 7.

Motion No. 8 would include working capital as one of the pilot projects. It was clear from the consultations that access to working capital remains a critical problem for small business. However, during our consultations on the Canada business financing act and specifically with the stakeholders, we heard over and over again that this was not the right tool for working capital. Stakeholders, including the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, believe that the risks are too high requiring business owners and lenders to apply more due diligence and monitoring than is currently needed for loans under this program.

The CFIB stated in its presentation to the industry committee just a few weeks ago “We have long been on record as saying that working capital needs should not come under the SBLA because it could ruin the entire program. Lending for working capital purposes is a very different game”.

I want to commend the member for Mercier for her desire to continue to help small business, which is not necessarily the same for most of the parties in the House, except one. Her efforts continue to help small business get on with doing business and creating jobs for this country. I would like to thank her for her work on behalf of small business.

I am sure as a result of her amendment that further discussion needs to be done in the Standing Committee on Industry. She brings forward a very good suggestion. It is probably not the right one at this time, but the industry committee needs to look at how to provide working capital for small business in a better manner. I am sure that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business would be able to add its remarks on how that should be done.

 

. 1740 + -

I want to thank members for the opportunity to spend some time explaining Motion Nos. 7 and 8 which are in Group No. 4.

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, if the government members are not willing to speak about the glowing virtues of Bill C-53, this bill they say they are so proud of, then they are going to have to listen to me critique it a bit more. That is the way this place works.

I want the folks back home to clearly understand what is happening here today. We have a debate on Bill C-53, the Canada small business financing act. The opposition has once again made some very useful amendments to this piece of legislation. Once again, the government has brought in closure and is trying to shut down the debate. It does not want to seriously consider the amendments that have been brought forward by the various parties on this side of the House to try and make it a better piece of legislation.

Before I talk at great length about Group No. 4, I would like to note that this is not the first time the government has brought in closure. This is not the first time it has used time allocation or closure motions. As a matter of fact in the 35th Parliament the government brought in closure 35 times. There were 32 time allocation motions and three closure motions. In this brand new 36th Parliament since I was elected on June 2, 1997, the government has brought in nine time allocation motions, including the one on Bill C-53. The grand total is 44 times. There have been 41 time allocation motions and three closure motions.

The government likes to say that Bill C-53 is a boon to small business yet the Liberals want to bring in time allocation. If this were such a boon to small business, if these Liberals were so generous to small business, all of them would be in here giving speeches and sending copies off to their constituents, preening themselves about how they love small business. But no. I think they are ashamed of the fact that they have raised taxes 40 times. They have raised payroll taxes.

Mr. Walt Lastewka: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We have had a number of discussions here today about staying focused on the motions. I have heard this member a number of times go far away from the motions.

The Speaker: I thank the hon. member for St. Catharines for raising this point. I am sure the hon. member was zeroing in on it.

Mr. Rob Anders: Mr. Speaker, focus we shall have. I shall focus on Group No. 4.

Motion No. 7, the Reform motion put forward by my friend the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt, would change the nature of Bill C-53. We would not have as much of an expansion of the loans program.

The government across the way knows only too well about expansion. It started off as a fairly small government when the Liberals first got their hooks on it many moons ago and it has grown and grown. The taxes have gone up and up and up to deal with this growing government and this expansionist philosophy.

Speaking with the great focus which those Liberal friends of mine would like me to speak, I will deal with Motion No. 7. The volunteer sector is the not for profit organizations. There is a legitimate question to be raised about why the taxpayer should guarantee loans made to some of those organizations.

More important, Motion No. 8 expands the loan provisions. As well, this involves the ability of industry to grant loans to the volunteer and capital leasing sectors of this economy.

Industry is not just industry in terms of other businesses. More specifically, it means the department and that touches on the minister. It touches on political interference and there certainly is a history of that. When we look at government involvement in loans and the granting of loans, we could rattle off a litany of political interference with regard to loans by the Liberal administration.

 

. 1745 + -

I hearken to think of just a few days ago when I talked about the blood bank scandals in the fair province of Newfoundland. People are on the hook for millions of taxpayer dollars there. Jobs have gone belly up. The government loves to bleed on about how it wants to create jobs when just a few close friends are the ones milking the best of that.

Another example of political interference with regard to loans is one of the reasons we are opposed to this type of thing. I think of Charlottetown, that failed constitutional agreement that was rejected by Canadians from coast to coast. I remember how there were threats and musings over the phone by people who represented the government, saying that not for profit volunteer organizations better back the Charlottetown accord otherwise their grants might not be approved.

They went ahead and supported the Charlottetown accord. Then after they were told they had better get their grants in right away because they had been good loyal supporters of the Liberal regime. That is the reason we cannot have political interference. That is the reason we have problems with this legislation. That is the reason the opposition is talking about amending it.

The Speaker: Pursuant to the order made earlier today, the divisions on the proposed motions in Group No. 4 are deemed to have been demanded and deferred.  

The House will now proceed to the debate on Motions Nos. 9 and 10 in Group No. 5.

[Translation]

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the motions in Group No. 5 are deemed moved and seconded. This group contains Motions Nos. 9 and 10.

[English]  

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Ref.) moved:

    Motion No. 9

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 22 on page 7 with the following:

      “subject to subsections (2), (3) and (3.1), on the recommenda-”

    Motion No. 10

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 14, be amended by adding after line 19 on page 9 the following:

    “(3.1) No regulation made under subsection (1) shall come into force unless and until it is affirmed by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament introduced and passed in accordance with the rules of those Houses.”

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, if government members were so proud of this piece of legislation I know they would stand in this place to defend it, but they do not. There is a general lack of interest on the government side in this regard yet they have brought in closure. Something smells funny.

My Liberal friends across the way would like me to focus on the motions actually mentioned in Group No. 5. They are Motions Nos. 9 and 10. This is all about making the process a more open process. The way it is done right now we need an effective check to be placed on the minister, the minister's departmental officials and their ability to arbitrarily implement changes in the legislation.

I will talk about these back door regulations that the government can bring in. I remember in the red book promises of 1993 and 1997 how the government across the way, the Liberals, talked about wanting a more open, transparent government. I support that. I think we should have a more open and transparent government. The reason I do not vote Liberal is that I believe in those things but I have not seen them deliver. That is the problem.

Once again I speak to the people at home. They are the ones who will have to make these decisions in the next election. They should make sure they get a hold of Motions Nos. 9 and 10 in Group No. 5 with regard to Bill C-53, the Small Business Loans Act. The government has brought in closure. It has tried to stifle the debate the opposition has tried to generate and the amendments to improve the legislation.

 

. 1750 + -

The hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt put a lot of time, blood, sweat, effort and tears into coming up with these changes so that we could improve the legislation. The people across the way do not want to listen to these things. Indeed I mentioned before how 44 times they have brought down closure in the House because they do not like listening to the ideas of the opposition.

Why do we want a more open process? Why do we want to prevent departmental officials in their ability to arbitrarily implement changes in the legislation? It is because small business owners want some sort of degree of predictability. They do not like being at the caprice or at the whim of the government and some of its back door officials or some of its henchmen. They do not like the idea of having legislation changed just because some bureaucrat some place, some hidden face in the bureaucracy, would like to make their lives a little more difficult or change the circumstances upon which they started their business and upon which they are going ahead and pushing forward with that business, or their ability to go ahead and access capital and financing. They do not need that type of intervention.

I spoke with respect to political interference. When one allows some bureaucrat or departmental official the ability to go ahead and tweak these regulations and do with them as they please and to treat small businesses as though they were puppets, that can lead to all types of interference and all types of corruption. We have seen that before.

It is not as though I stand in this place to speak about these things as something theoretical. They are very practical. On a day to day basis we stand in the House to put forward statements, to ask questions and to try to find out about some of the spurious activities that have gone on with regard to loans. Friends of the government have been able to benefit from loan arrangements to the tune of millions of dollars.

An hon. member: Name one.

Mr. Rob Anders: The Blood Bank Corporation. The hon member asked me to name one. I would only be too happy to talk about these types of things and how insidious they can be. It is not the only example.

Just in the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency one can count a number of problems where the Liberals promised to create jobs and did not do the job in a number of these cases just because of political interference. People overrode guidelines that were set for the granting of money or for providing a loan and the Liberals closed their eyes because they were political friends.

They covered them up despite the fact they knew it would not work and that they knew they did not have a commitment from the Chinese government for $300 million worth of business for the storage of blood. They went ahead and gave out over $2 million of federal taxpayer money. The Government of Newfoundland helped out with another $500,000. They used that to finance from private people $6.3 million. Now everybody is holding the bag for about $10 million.

With a million here and a million there, pretty soon we are talking real money. That is the problem when we allow tinkering behind the scenes by bureaucrats. They go ahead and they put taxpayers dollars at risk.

I look around and see the pages in the House. They are the ones who will have to pay taxes because of what the government has done. They are the ones who will have to pay for the mistakes. They are the ones who will be left holding the bag on some of these bad loans and these defaults.

Mr. Walt Lastewka: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I bring to your attention again, as I have numerous times this afternoon, the importance of staying focused on the amendments on regulation change. I would hope that we would stay focused on them, because I am at the point where I think my privileges as a member of parliament have been broken. I believe that if there is a ruling concerning—

The Speaker: The hon. member intervenes again. The first time I thought the member was going to come around and he did a little bit. I know the hon. member for Calgary West will focus his last three minutes or so on the regulations.

 

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Mr. Rob Anders: Mr. Speaker, let me read it verbatim for members across the way so they can make sure they get the full benefit of it. The amendment was brought forward by the member for Saskatchewan—Humboldt, a Reform colleague of mine. I want to focus the debate for them because I was talking about political interference. I will read it as it stands: “This amendment is brought forward in order to make the bill's regulatory process more open”.

That is what the Reform Party is trying to do. We are trying to make the regulatory process more open. I hope the member across the way has his ears open. We are trying to make it more open and make it more accountable.

That is speaking about as directly as I can to Motions Nos. 9 and 10. By tabling regulations in parliament and having the House of Commons or a committee subsequently pass them, we want to make sure an effective check is placed on ministers or departmental officials in terms of a bill to arbitrarily implement changes in the legislation. That is as straightforward as it gets. I am reading it straight up.

There is a widespread problem where departmental officials and ministers will bring through the back door via regulations what they would not or will not spell out in legislation. We are opposed to this practice and are attempting to remedy the problem. That is about as direct as I can be in terms of the problems we are facing and why we brought forward Motions Nos. 9 and 10.

The problem is that we have too many examples in this place of where the Liberals have said “Trust us”. They were to put the legislation forward and not cross all the t's and dot all the i's. They said “Don't worry. Some capable technocrat or bureaucrat will know what is best for you”. They will tinker with it and and make whatever changes they feel best.

Shame on them. Fool me once and shame on the Liberals. Fool me twice and what we have is a government that has broken trust too many times. We put our faith in the government and it went ahead and raised our taxes and brought in more regulation. It made it more difficult to do business and to generate jobs. The Liberals say they believe in creating jobs, jobs, jobs, but we see the record of political interference, bad loan policies and defaults. I am sorry I cannot put my faith in them on this one.

I want to see it printed in black and white. I want to be able to debate it in the House as we are doing now. Members across the way would be content to sit down, not debate and allow it to pass. It is evidence, point in fact, because they brought forward closure legislation that they do not want the legislation looked at with any great degree of scrutiny or a microscope brought to it. They want it shovelled through so they can leave for Christmas, not worry about it any more and pass it off to the bureaucrats.

That is what they would prefer to do. They do not like the business of governing. It would be a lot easier to set up third party arm's length relationships so that when something happens the minister cannot be blamed. It will be some nameless, faceless bureaucrat they can fire and blame the problem on. That is not good enough. They are the stewards of taxpayers money. They are the ones who vote for the increase in taxes.

If they do that, the onus is on them. They have a responsibility as Liberal legislators to make sure we debate these issues and that they are not being decided by some bureaucrat behind closed doors. They should be brought out for scrutiny so that we have a chance to debate the decisions. They should be accountable for them without arm's length relationships or firing somebody in the bureaucracy or in the ministry.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Group No. 5.

Group No. 5 contains two motions, Motions Nos. 9 and 10. Both these motions are presented by the hon. member for Saskatchewan—Humboldt. I appreciate his vision, the way he thinks, in terms of his amendments to the Small Business Loans Act.

 

. 1800 + -

Motion No. 9 reads:

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 22 on page 7 with the following:

    “subject to subsections (2), (3) and (3.1), on the recommenda-”

What this means is that two sections in the regulations under paragraph 1 shall be made on the recommendation of the Minister of Finance. Whereas under subsection (3) of the bill, the minister shall call for a copy of the regulations proposed to be made under subsection (1) to be laid before each House of parliament before it is made and the House shall refer the proposed regulations to the appropriate committee of each House.

This is a housekeeping amendment that I am delighted to put in order.

Motion No. 10 reads:

    That bill C-53, in clause 14, be amended by adding after line 19 on page 9 the following:

    “(3.1) No regulation made under subsection (1) shall come into force unless and until it is affirmed by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament introduced and passed in accordance with the rules of those Houses”.

Let me give our rationale for this amendment. This amendment is brought forward in order make the bill's regulatory process more open and accountable. What Canadians want from this government is accountability in Bill C-53 which deals with the Small Business Loans Act. We need the process to be more open, transparent and credible.

By tabling regulations in parliament and having the House or a committee subsequently pass them, an effective check is placed on the departmental officials' ability to arbitrarily implement changes in legislation. That is important.

The Liberals passed the following amendment at a clause by clause committee consideration:

    (3) The Minister shall cause a copy of each regulation proposed to be made under subsection (1) to be laid before each House of Parliament before it is made.

This is wholly inadequate. Reform's amendment at clause by clause stipulated that the regulation itself, not a draft of the proposed regulations, be put before the committee. Also, Reform's amendment placed a 15 day timeframe on the committee reporting the regulations back to the House. There is no similar requirement in the Liberal amendment. That is why this amendment becomes important.

There is a widespread problem where departmental officials and the minister's officials will bring regulations through the back door what they would not or will not spell out in the legislation. We do not want to fool anyone here. We want the legislation to be transparent, open and accountable. We do not want a back door open to introduce these regulations. Reform is opposed to this practice, and this motion attempts to remedy that.

The Liberals voted against our motion and passed their watered down version. That is why we are trying to move this one again at report stage.

The Minister of Industry tabled with the committee, on three days short notice, the parliamentary draft of regulations for Bill C-53. It consisted of 25 separate sections dealing with changes in the approval or application process. Not one of them dealt with the most contentious issues like expanding the parameters to include pilot projects for volunteers and capital leasing.

It is very important to discuss these issues in detail but unfortunately the government has put time allocation on this so that we cannot debate and argue those issues.

 

. 1805 + -

While every regulation made by the government stands permanently referred to the committee for the scrutiny of regulations, that committee does not have the authority to revoke the regulations. The hon. member knows very well. It merely has the power to recommend a disallowance. It cannot revoke. It can just disallow.

In the absence of a statutory disallowance procedure, abuse of the regulatory process by officials and ministers has taken place in the past. There is the recent example of aboriginal-only fisheries. Beyond that, the scrutiny of regulations committee has a very narrow band in which it can recommend action on any regulations. That becomes the place where Canadians cannot raise their argument, where Canadians cannot discuss the advantages and disadvantages. We do not get the opportunity to debate. That is the point I am trying to make here.

In many cases there is an unfair onus to prove through legal precedent that the regulation is ultra vires of the Constitution. In such cases this is impossible to do because the regulation has never before been implemented. It cannot have been challenged before a court because it has not been tabled before nor has it been implemented.

Like an iceberg, legislation like Bill C-53 provides only 10% of the equation. Only 10% of the equation is provided by the House. The other 90% comes from the back door via regulations from the minister after the legislation is passed in parliament. What good is this debate?

What good is this debate if we only have 10% of the agenda before us while 90% or some significant amount is added through the regulations? That is what we are trying to stop. That is why we want the system to be transparent and accountable right here in the House where we are debating the bill. Having regulations reviewed by parliament ensures a modicum of accountability rather than just a rubber stamp of approval by the minister. We cannot have that shoved through the opposition or through the members and we cannot have that pass through this House.

Bringing regulations before parliament ensures the publication process and review of regulations is more open to the public. Witnesses can add their concerns or bring about improvements. They can do so in more of a public forum. As it is now the publication period merely allows for the opportunity to comment. Comments are reviewed by officials within the department. In many cases they are the same people who drafted those regulations. So where is the justification? As such they must be seen to be in a conflict of interest position.

With respect to changing the wording of the regulations, the prime example is the Canadian food and restaurant association. It has serious problems with the regulations that were given to committee members only last week. The regulatory process is largely unacceptable to Canadians. Putting it before committee would to some extent allow for more public input by stakeholders.

I will be supporting the motions put forward by the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

Mr. Walt Lastewka (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 9 ensures the minister can only make regulations after first tabling in the House as provided in the new clause 14(3). The intent of this amendment is contained in the existing clause. Therefore this amendment is redundant.

 

. 1810 + -

Motion No. 10 would mean that a resolution of both Houses of parliament would be required before a regulation could be made. The proposed amendment is contrary to the established process for making regulations. Requiring a resolution of both Houses of parliament before proceeding to making a regulation is opposite to the principle of delegated authority.

Furthermore, it appears to contradict clause 14(1). This would amendment would impose significant limitations on the ability of the government to respond when regulatory changes are required for the effective administration of the program or when regulations must be adapted to respond to program abuse.

Subsection 3 already requires that the proposed regulatory changes be laid before each House of parliament, giving parliament and the standing committee notice of all proposed regulatory changes. These items were discussed very thoroughly in the committee meetings. As far as I am concerned it did the committee well in making this recommendation for the minister.

I submit the ongoing delay by the Reform Party and its continuous attacking of small business or the tying up of this bill so as to not make things happen is the debate that we have carried on this afternoon. There have not been any valid points brought forward. It is only an attempt to delay this small business financing act.

The intent to stop the bill in any which way, including the front door and the back door, is not going to work with this government. I propose that both these amendments be defeated.

The Speaker: Pursuant to order made earlier, the questions on Motions Nos. 9 and 10 are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred.  

The House will now proceed to the debate on Motion No. 12 in Group No. 6. Also pursuant to order made earlier, Motion No. 12 is deemed moved.  

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Ref.) moved:

    Motion No. 12

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 16, be amended

      (a) by replacing line 38 on page 10 with the following:

      “liable to a fine of not less than $500,000 or to”

      (b) by replacing lines 42 and 43 on page 10 with the following:

      “summary conviction and liable to a fine of not less than $50,000 or to imprisonment for”

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I care deeply about Bill C-53.

Once again for the folks at home so they know what is happening, Bill C-53, the small business financing act, is what we are debating. Motion No. 12 has been put forward by a Reform colleague of mine, the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt. He wants to make sure there is proper accountability with regard to this. Lo and behold, the Reform Party is once again talking about accountability and is trying to amend a government bill to make it a better bill and to make the world a better place.

As it does with most motions put forward by the opposition, the government has grouped them according to how similar they are. Reform Motion No. 12 is in Group No. 6.

We want to see changes. Members across the way like to see change. That is what I am going to talk about. They want to see changes.

We want to see a minimum sentence as opposed to a maximum sentence of six months which an individual can receive for making a false application for fraudulent claim in relation to the act. The motion also established that fines can also be issued in a minimum as opposed to a maximum. In severe circumstances the minimum length of incarceration, if warranted, would be six months. This is taxpayer money. Serious theft thereof should carry something more than a slap on the wrist or a fine.

Let me boil down what the Reform Party is trying to do. The government talks about a maximum sentence if someone makes a false—

 

. 1815 + -

The Speaker: I was just getting into this bill myself, but it is 6.15 p.m. and pursuant to order made earlier the division on Motion No. 12 is deemed requested and deferred.  

Also, all remaining motions are deemed moved.

[Translation]

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Ref.) moved:  

    Motion No. 13

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 17, be amended by replacing line 9 on page 11 with the following:

      “Consolidated Revenue Fund and the aggregate of these amounts for any fiscal year is to be shown as a separate item in the Main Estimates that are tabled in Parliament for that fiscal year.”

Mr. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ.) moved:  

    Motion No. 14

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 18, be amended by replacing lines 12 and 13 on page 11 with the following:

      “to be made a report on the administration of this Act during the preceding fiscal year, specifying in the report any macro-economic effects and any effects on employment.”

Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Ref.) moved:  

    Motion No. 15

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 19, be amended by replacing lines 15 to 19 on page 11 with the following:

      “months after March 31, 2001 and every two years after that, cause to be made a comprehensive audit and review, reporting on the provisions and operation of this Act during the preceding two years.”

Mr. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ.) moved:  

    Motion No. 16

    That Bill C-53, in Clause 19, be amended by replacing lines 16 to 19 on page 11 with the following:

      “years after that, cause to be made a comprehensive review and report of the provisions and operation of this Act during the preceding five years, specifying in the report any macro-economic effects and any effects on employment.”

[English]

The Speaker: All the questions necessary to dispose of the report stage of Bill C-53 are deemed put and the recorded divisions are deemed requested and deferred.  

Call in the members.

 

. 1835 + -

And the bells having rung:

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe that you will find consent that the House proceed first with the deferred recorded divisions on the supply motion of the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie followed by all questions necessary to dispose of report stage of Bill C-53.

The Speaker: Does the hon. member have unanimous consent of the House to proceed in that fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

*  *  *

SUPPLY

ALLOTTED DAY—HEALTH CARE

 

The House resumed from November 19 consideration of the motion; and of the amendment.

The Speaker: The question is on the amendment.

 

. 1845 + -

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 266

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy Alarie Anders Asselin
Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bachand (Saint - Jean) Bailey Bellehumeur
Benoit Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok) Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac)
Bigras Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brien
Brison Canuel Cardin Casson
Chatters Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Crête Dalphond - Guiral
Davies de Savoye Debien Desjarlais
Desrochers Dockrill Doyle Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière)
Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Dumas Duncan
Earle Epp Forseth Fournier
Gagnon Gauthier Gilmour Girard - Bujold
Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Godin (Châteauguay) Goldring Grewal
Grey (Edmonton North) Guay Guimond Hanger
Hart Harvey Herron Hill (Macleod)
Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom Johnston Jones
Keddy (South Shore) Kenney (Calgary Southeast) Laliberte Lalonde
Laurin Lebel Lill Loubier
Lowther Lunn MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Mancini
Manning Marceau Marchand Mark
Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Matthews Mayfield Ménard
Mercier Meredith Mills (Red Deer) Morrison
Muise Nystrom Obhrai Penson
Perron Picard (Drummond) Plamondon Power
Price Proctor Ramsay Reynolds
Riis Ritz Robinson Rocheleau
Sauvageau Schmidt Scott (Skeena) Solberg
Solomon St - Hilaire Stinson St - Jacques
Stoffer Strahl Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Vautour
Venne Wasylycia - Leis Wayne White (Langley – Abbotsford)
Williams – 121


NAYS

Members

Adams Alcock Anderson Assad
Assadourian Augustine Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) Baker
Bakopanos Barnes Beaumier Bélair
Bélanger Bennett Bertrand Bevilacqua
Bonin Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw
Brown Bryden Bulte Caccia
Calder Cannis Carroll Catterall
Cauchon Chamberlain Chan Clouthier
Coderre Cohen Collenette Comuzzi
Cullen DeVillers Dhaliwal Discepola
Dromisky Drouin Duhamel Easter
Eggleton Finestone Finlay Fry
Gagliano Gallaway Godfrey Goodale
Graham Gray (Windsor West) Guarnieri Harb
Harvard Hubbard Ianno Iftody
Jackson Jennings Karetak - Lindell Keyes
Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson Kraft Sloan
Lastewka Lee Leung Lincoln
Longfield MacAulay Mahoney Malhi
Maloney Marchi Marleau Massé
McCormick McGuire McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West)
McTeague McWhinney Mifflin Milliken
Mills (Broadview – Greenwood) Minna Mitchell Murray
Myers Nault Normand O'Brien (Labrador)
O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly Pagtakhan Paradis
Parrish Patry Peterson Pettigrew
Phinney Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex) Pillitteri Pratt
Proud Provenzano Redman Reed
Richardson Robillard Rock Saada
Sekora Serré St. Denis Steckle
Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) St - Julien Szabo
Telegdi Thibeault Torsney Ur
Valeri Vanclief Volpe Whelan
Wilfert Wood – 134


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Speaker: I declare the amendment defeated.

The next question is on the main motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the previous vote to the motion now before the House.

[English]

The Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Editor's Note: See list under Division No. 266]  

The Speaker: Therefore I declare the motion defeated.

*  *  *

[English]

CANADA SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING ACT

 

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-53, an act to increase the availability of financing for the establishment, expansion, modernization and improvement of small businesses, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

The Speaker: We will now proceed to Bill C-53 at report stage.

The question is on Motion No. 1.

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay with the exception of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Speaker: Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote no to this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members are in favour of the motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members present vote yes on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party will be voting in favour of the motion.

[English]

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 267

YEAS

Members

Alarie Asselin Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bachand (Saint - Jean)
Bellehumeur Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok) Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac)
Bigras Brien Brison Canuel
Cardin Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Crête Dalphond - Guiral
Davies de Savoye Debien Desjarlais
Desrochers Dockrill Doyle Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière)
Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Dumas Earle
Fournier Gagnon Gauthier Girard - Bujold
Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Godin (Châteauguay) Guay Guimond
Harvey Herron Jones Keddy (South Shore)
Laliberte Lalonde Laurin Lebel
Lill Loubier MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Mancini
Marceau Marchand Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Matthews
Ménard Mercier Muise Nystrom
Perron Picard (Drummond) Plamondon Power
Price Proctor Riis Robinson
Rocheleau Sauvageau Solomon St - Hilaire
St - Jacques Stoffer Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean)
Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Vautour Venne
Wasylycia - Leis Wayne  – 78


NAYS

Members

Ablonczy Adams Alcock Anders
Anderson Assad Assadourian Augustine
Bailey Baker Bakopanos Barnes
Beaumier Bélair Bélanger Bennett
Benoit Bertrand Bevilacqua Bonin
Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw Breitkreuz (Yellowhead)
Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brown Bryden Bulte
Caccia Calder Cannis Carroll
Casson Catterall Cauchon Chamberlain
Chan Chatters Clouthier Coderre
Cohen Collenette Comuzzi Cullen
DeVillers Dhaliwal Discepola Dromisky
Drouin Duhamel Duncan Easter
Eggleton Epp Finestone Finlay
Forseth Fry Gagliano Gallaway
Gilmour Godfrey Goldring Goodale
Graham Gray (Windsor West) Grewal Grey (Edmonton North)
Guarnieri Hanger Harb Hart
Harvard Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom
Hubbard Ianno Iftody Jackson
Jennings Johnston Karetak - Lindell Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson
Kraft Sloan Lastewka Lee Leung
Lincoln Longfield Lowther Lunn
MacAulay Mahoney Malhi Maloney
Manning Marchi Mark Marleau
Massé Mayfield McCormick McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague McWhinney
Meredith Mifflin Milliken Mills (Broadview – Greenwood)
Mills (Red Deer) Minna Mitchell Morrison
Murray Myers Nault Normand
Obhrai O'Brien (Labrador) O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly
Pagtakhan Paradis Parrish Patry
Penson Peterson Pettigrew Phinney
Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex) Pillitteri Pratt Proud
Provenzano Ramsay Redman Reed
Reynolds Richardson Ritz Robillard
Rock Saada Schmidt Scott (Skeena)
Sekora Serré Solberg St. Denis
Steckle Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) Stinson
St - Julien Strahl Szabo Telegdi
Thibeault Thompson (Wild Rose) Torsney Ur
Valeri Vanclief Volpe Whelan
White (Langley – Abbotsford) Wilfert Williams Wood – 176


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Speaker: I declare Motion No. 1 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 2.

[Translation]

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I think you will find unanimous consent to have members who voted on the preceding motion recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay.

[English]

The Speaker: Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote yes to this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members are opposed to the motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members vote no on this motion.

 

. 1850 + -

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party will be voting against the motion.

[English]

(The House divided on Motion No. 2, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 268

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy Anders Bailey Benoit
Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Casson Chatters
Duncan Epp Forseth Gilmour
Goldring Grewal Grey (Edmonton North) Hanger
Hart Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom
Johnston Kenney (Calgary Southeast) Lowther Lunn
Manning Mark Mayfield Meredith
Mills (Red Deer) Morrison Obhrai Penson
Ramsay Reynolds Ritz Schmidt
Scott (Skeena) Solberg Stinson Strahl
Thompson (Wild Rose) White (Langley – Abbotsford) Williams – 43


NAYS

Members

Adams Alarie Alcock Anderson
Assad Assadourian Asselin Augustine
Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bachand (Saint - Jean) Baker Bakopanos
Barnes Beaumier Bélair Bélanger
Bellehumeur Bennett Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok)
Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bertrand Bevilacqua Bigras
Bonin Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw
Brien Brison Brown Bryden
Bulte Caccia Calder Cannis
Canuel Cardin Carroll Catterall
Cauchon Chamberlain Chan Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic)
Clouthier Coderre Cohen Collenette
Comuzzi Crête Cullen Dalphond - Guiral
Davies de Savoye Debien Desjarlais
Desrochers DeVillers Dhaliwal Discepola
Dockrill Doyle Dromisky Drouin
Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière) Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Duhamel
Dumas Earle Easter Eggleton
Finestone Finlay Fournier Fry
Gagliano Gagnon Gallaway Gauthier
Girard - Bujold Godfrey Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Godin (Châteauguay)
Goodale Graham Gray (Windsor West) Guarnieri
Guay Guimond Harb Harvard
Harvey Herron Hubbard Ianno
Iftody Jackson Jennings Jones
Karetak - Lindell Keddy (South Shore) Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas)
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson Kraft Sloan Laliberte
Lalonde Lastewka Laurin Lebel
Lee Leung Lill Lincoln
Longfield Loubier MacAulay MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough)
Mahoney Malhi Maloney Mancini
Marceau Marchand Marchi Marleau
Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Massé Matthews McCormick
McGuire McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague
McWhinney Ménard Mercier Mifflin
Milliken Mills (Broadview – Greenwood) Minna Mitchell
Muise Murray Myers Nault
Normand Nystrom O'Brien (Labrador) O'Brien (London – Fanshawe)
O'Reilly Pagtakhan Paradis Parrish
Patry Perron Peterson Pettigrew
Phinney Picard (Drummond) Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex) Pillitteri
Plamondon Power Pratt Price
Proctor Proud Provenzano Redman
Reed Richardson Riis Robillard
Robinson Rocheleau Rock Saada
Sauvageau Sekora Serré Solomon
St. Denis Steckle Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland)
St - Hilaire St - Jacques St - Julien Stoffer
Szabo Telegdi Thibeault Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Torsney Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp
Ur Valeri Vanclief Vautour
Venne Volpe Wasylycia - Leis Wayne
Whelan Wilfert Wood – 211


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Speaker: I declare Motion No. 2 defeated.

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to Motions Nos. 3, 6, 7 and 12.

The Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Editor's Note: See list under Division No. 268]  

The Speaker: I declare Motions Nos. 3, 6, 7 and 12 defeated. The next question is on Motion No. 4. A vote on this motion also applies to Motion No. 5.

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting yea.

The Speaker: Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote yes to this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members will be voting in favour of the motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members present this evening vote yes on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party will be voting in favour of the motion.

[English]

(The House divided on the Motion No. 4, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 269

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy Adams Alarie Alcock
Anders Anderson Assad Assadourian
Asselin Augustine Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bachand (Saint - Jean)
Bailey Baker Bakopanos Barnes
Beaumier Bélair Bélanger Bellehumeur
Bennett Benoit Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok)
Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bertrand Bevilacqua Bigras
Bonin Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw
Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brien Brison
Brown Bryden Bulte Caccia
Calder Cannis Canuel Cardin
Carroll Casson Catterall Cauchon
Chamberlain Chan Chatters Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic)
Clouthier Coderre Cohen Collenette
Comuzzi Crête Cullen Dalphond - Guiral
Davies de Savoye Debien Desjarlais
Desrochers DeVillers Dhaliwal Discepola
Dockrill Doyle Dromisky Drouin
Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière) Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Duhamel
Dumas Duncan Earle Easter
Eggleton Epp Finestone Finlay
Forseth Fournier Fry Gagliano
Gagnon Gallaway Gauthier Gilmour
Girard - Bujold Godfrey Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Godin (Châteauguay)
Goldring Goodale Graham Gray (Windsor West)
Grewal Grey (Edmonton North) Guarnieri Guay
Guimond Hanger Harb Hart
Harvard Harvey Herron Hill (Macleod)
Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom Hubbard Ianno
Iftody Jackson Jennings Johnston
Jones Karetak - Lindell Keddy (South Shore) Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson
Kraft Sloan Laliberte Lalonde Lastewka
Laurin Lebel Lee Leung
Lill Lincoln Longfield Loubier
Lowther Lunn MacAulay MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough)
Mahoney Malhi Maloney Mancini
Manning Marceau Marchand Marchi
Mark Marleau Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Massé
Matthews Mayfield McCormick McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague McWhinney
Ménard Mercier Meredith Mifflin
Milliken Mills (Broadview – Greenwood) Mills (Red Deer) Minna
Mitchell Morrison Muise Murray
Myers Nault Normand Nystrom
Obhrai O'Brien (Labrador) O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly
Pagtakhan Paradis Parrish Patry
Penson Perron Peterson Pettigrew
Phinney Picard (Drummond) Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex) Pillitteri
Plamondon Power Pratt Price
Proctor Proud Provenzano Ramsay
Redman Reed Reynolds Richardson
Riis Ritz Robillard Robinson
Rocheleau Rock Saada Sauvageau
Schmidt Scott (Skeena) Sekora Serré
Solberg Solomon St. Denis Steckle
Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) St - Hilaire Stinson
St - Jacques St - Julien Stoffer Strahl
Szabo Telegdi Thibeault Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose) Torsney Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis)
Turp Ur Valeri Vanclief
Vautour Venne Volpe Wasylycia - Leis
Wayne Whelan White (Langley – Abbotsford) Wilfert
Williams Wood – 254


NAYS

Members

NIL


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Speaker: I declare Motion No. 4 carried and I therefore declare Motion No. 5 carried. The next question is on Motion No. 11.

[Translation]

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I think you will find unanimous consent to have members who voted on the preceding motion recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay.

[English]

The Speaker: Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote yes to this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members will be voting against the motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members present vote yes on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party will be voting against the motion.

[English]

(The House divided on Motion No. 11, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 270

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy Anders Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bailey
Benoit Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Casson
Chatters Davies Desjarlais Dockrill
Duncan Earle Epp Forseth
Gilmour Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Goldring Grewal
Grey (Edmonton North) Hanger Hart Hill (Macleod)
Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom Johnston Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Laliberte Lill Lowther Lunn
Mancini Manning Mark Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Mayfield Meredith Mills (Red Deer) Morrison
Nystrom Obhrai Penson Proctor
Ramsay Reynolds Riis Ritz
Robinson Schmidt Scott (Skeena) Solberg
Solomon Stinson Stoffer Strahl
Thompson (Wild Rose) Vautour Wasylycia - Leis White (Langley – Abbotsford)
Williams – 61


NAYS

Members

Adams Alarie Alcock Anderson
Assad Assadourian Asselin Augustine
Bachand (Saint - Jean) Baker Bakopanos Barnes
Beaumier Bélair Bélanger Bellehumeur
Bennett Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok) Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac)
Bertrand Bevilacqua Bigras Bonin
Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw Brien
Brison Brown Bryden Bulte
Caccia Calder Cannis Canuel
Cardin Carroll Catterall Cauchon
Chamberlain Chan Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Clouthier
Coderre Cohen Collenette Comuzzi
Crête Cullen Dalphond - Guiral de Savoye
Debien Desrochers DeVillers Dhaliwal
Discepola Doyle Dromisky Drouin
Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière) Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Duhamel
Dumas Easter Eggleton Finestone
Finlay Fournier Fry Gagliano
Gagnon Gallaway Gauthier Girard - Bujold
Godfrey Godin (Châteauguay) Goodale Graham
Gray (Windsor West) Guarnieri Guay Guimond
Harb Harvard Harvey Herron
Hubbard Ianno Iftody Jackson
Jennings Jones Karetak - Lindell Keddy (South Shore)
Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson
Kraft Sloan Lalonde Lastewka Laurin
Lebel Lee Leung Lincoln
Longfield Loubier MacAulay MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough)
Mahoney Malhi Maloney Marceau
Marchand Marchi Marleau Massé
Matthews McCormick McGuire McKay (Scarborough East)
McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague McWhinney Ménard
Mercier Mifflin Milliken Mills (Broadview – Greenwood)
Minna Mitchell Muise Murray
Myers Nault Normand O'Brien (Labrador)
O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly Pagtakhan Paradis
Parrish Patry Perron Peterson
Pettigrew Phinney Picard (Drummond) Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex)
Pillitteri Plamondon Power Pratt
Price Proud Provenzano Redman
Reed Richardson Robillard Rocheleau
Rock Saada Sauvageau Sekora
Serré St. Denis Steckle Stewart (Brant)
Stewart (Northumberland) St - Hilaire St - Jacques St - Julien
Szabo Telegdi Thibeault Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Torsney Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp
Ur Valeri Vanclief Venne
Volpe Wayne Whelan Wilfert
Wood – 193


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Speaker: I declare Motion No. 11 defeated. The next question is on Motion No. 9. A vote on this motion also applies to Motion No. 10.

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to Motion No. 9.

The Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Editor's Note: See list under Division No. 270]  

The Speaker: I declare Motion No. 9 defeated. Therefore Motion No. 10 is defeated. The next question is on Motion No. 8.

[Translation]

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I think you will find unanimous consent to have members who voted on the preceding motion recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay.

[English]

The Speaker: Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Reform Party members present vote no to this motion.

 

. 1855 + -

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members will be voting in favour of the motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members present vote no on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party will be voting against the motion.

[English]

(The House divided on Motion No. 8, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 271

YEAS

Members

Alarie Asselin Bachand (Saint - Jean) Bellehumeur
Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok) Bigras Brien
Canuel Cardin Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Crête
Dalphond - Guiral de Savoye Debien Desrochers
Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière) Duceppe Dumas Fournier
Gagnon Gauthier Girard - Bujold Godin (Châteauguay)
Guay Guimond Lalonde Laurin
Lebel Loubier Marceau Marchand
Ménard Mercier Perron Picard (Drummond)
Plamondon Rocheleau Sauvageau St - Hilaire
Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Venne – 44


NAYS

Members

Ablonczy Adams Alcock Anders
Anderson Assad Assadourian Augustine
Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bailey Baker Bakopanos
Barnes Beaumier Bélair Bélanger
Bennett Benoit Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bertrand
Bevilacqua Bonin Bonwick Boudria
Bradshaw Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brison
Brown Bryden Bulte Caccia
Calder Cannis Carroll Casson
Catterall Cauchon Chamberlain Chan
Chatters Clouthier Coderre Cohen
Collenette Comuzzi Cullen Davies
Desjarlais DeVillers Dhaliwal Discepola
Dockrill Doyle Dromisky Drouin
Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duhamel Duncan Earle
Easter Eggleton Epp Finestone
Finlay Forseth Fry Gagliano
Gallaway Gilmour Godfrey Godin (Acadie – Bathurst)
Goldring Goodale Graham Gray (Windsor West)
Grewal Grey (Edmonton North) Guarnieri Hanger
Harb Hart Harvard Harvey
Herron Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom
Hubbard Ianno Iftody Jackson
Jennings Johnston Jones Karetak - Lindell
Keddy (South Shore) Kenney (Calgary Southeast) Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas)
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson Kraft Sloan Laliberte
Lastewka Lee Leung Lill
Lincoln Longfield Lowther Lunn
MacAulay MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Mahoney Malhi
Maloney Mancini Manning Marchi
Mark Marleau Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Massé
Matthews Mayfield McCormick McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague McWhinney
Meredith Mifflin Milliken Mills (Broadview – Greenwood)
Mills (Red Deer) Minna Mitchell Morrison
Muise Murray Myers Nault
Normand Nystrom Obhrai O'Brien (Labrador)
O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly Pagtakhan Paradis
Parrish Patry Penson Peterson
Pettigrew Phinney Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex) Pillitteri
Power Pratt Price Proctor
Proud Provenzano Ramsay Redman
Reed Reynolds Richardson Riis
Ritz Robillard Robinson Rock
Saada Schmidt Scott (Skeena) Sekora
Serré Solberg Solomon St. Denis
Steckle Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) Stinson
St - Jacques St - Julien Stoffer Strahl
Szabo Telegdi Thibeault Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose) Torsney Ur Valeri
Vanclief Vautour Volpe Wasylycia - Leis
Wayne Whelan White (Langley – Abbotsford) Wilfert
Williams Wood – 210


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Speaker: I declare Motion No. 8 defeated.

The Deputy Speaker: The next question is on Motion No. 13.

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote yes to this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members will be voting in favour of the motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members present vote no on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party will be voting in favour of the motion.

[English]

(The House divided on Motion No. 13, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 272

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy Alarie Anders Asselin
Bachand (Saint - Jean) Bailey Bellehumeur Benoit
Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok) Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bigras
Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brien Brison
Canuel Cardin Casson Chatters
Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Crête Dalphond - Guiral de Savoye
Debien Desrochers Doyle Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière)
Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Dumas Duncan
Epp Forseth Fournier Gagnon
Gauthier Gilmour Girard - Bujold Godin (Châteauguay)
Goldring Grewal Grey (Edmonton North) Guay
Guimond Hanger Hart Harvey
Herron Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom
Johnston Jones Keddy (South Shore) Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Lalonde Laurin Lebel Loubier
Lowther Lunn MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Manning
Marceau Marchand Mark Matthews
Mayfield Ménard Mercier Meredith
Mills (Red Deer) Morrison Muise Obhrai
Penson Perron Picard (Drummond) Plamondon
Power Price Ramsay Reynolds
Ritz Rocheleau Sauvageau Schmidt
Scott (Skeena) Solberg St - Hilaire Stinson
St - Jacques Strahl Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Venne
Wayne White (Langley – Abbotsford) Williams  – 103


NAYS

Members

Adams Alcock Anderson Assad
Assadourian Augustine Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Baker
Bakopanos Barnes Beaumier Bélair
Bélanger Bennett Bertrand Bevilacqua
Bonin Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw
Brown Bryden Bulte Caccia
Calder Cannis Carroll Catterall
Cauchon Chamberlain Chan Clouthier
Coderre Cohen Collenette Comuzzi
Cullen Davies Desjarlais DeVillers
Dhaliwal Discepola Dockrill Dromisky
Drouin Duhamel Earle Easter
Eggleton Finestone Finlay Fry
Gagliano Gallaway Godfrey Godin (Acadie – Bathurst)
Goodale Graham Gray (Windsor West) Guarnieri
Harb Harvard Hubbard Ianno
Iftody Jackson Jennings Karetak - Lindell
Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson
Kraft Sloan Laliberte Lastewka Lee
Leung Lill Lincoln Longfield
MacAulay Mahoney Malhi Maloney
Mancini Marchi Marleau Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Massé McCormick McGuire McKay (Scarborough East)
McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague McWhinney Mifflin
Mills (Broadview – Greenwood) Minna Mitchell Murray
Myers Nault Normand Nystrom
O'Brien (Labrador) O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly Pagtakhan
Paradis Parrish Patry Peterson
Pettigrew Phinney Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex) Pillitteri
Pratt Proctor Proud Provenzano
Redman Reed Richardson Riis
Robillard Robinson Rock Saada
Sekora Serré Solomon St. Denis
Steckle Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) St - Julien
Stoffer Szabo Telegdi Thibeault
Torsney Ur Valeri Vanclief
Vautour Volpe Wasylycia - Leis Whelan
Wilfert Wood – 150


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Deputy Speaker: I declare Motion No. 13 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 14.

[Translation]

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I think you will find unanimous consent to have members who voted on the preceding motion recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[English]

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote yes to this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members support this motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members present vote yes on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party support this motion.

[English]

(The House divided on Motion No. 14, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 273

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy Alarie Anders Asselin
Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bachand (Saint - Jean) Bailey Bellehumeur
Benoit Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok) Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac)
Bigras Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brien
Brison Canuel Cardin Casson
Chatters Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Crête Dalphond - Guiral
Davies de Savoye Debien Desjarlais
Desrochers Dockrill Doyle Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière)
Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Dumas Duncan
Earle Epp Forseth Fournier
Gagnon Gauthier Gilmour Girard - Bujold
Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Godin (Châteauguay) Goldring Grewal
Grey (Edmonton North) Guay Guimond Hanger
Hart Harvey Herron Hill (Macleod)
Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom Johnston Jones
Keddy (South Shore) Kenney (Calgary Southeast) Laliberte Lalonde
Laurin Lebel Lill Loubier
Lowther Lunn MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Mancini
Manning Marceau Marchand Mark
Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Matthews Mayfield Ménard
Mercier Meredith Mills (Red Deer) Morrison
Muise Nystrom Obhrai Penson
Perron Picard (Drummond) Plamondon Power
Price Proctor Ramsay Reynolds
Riis Ritz Robinson Rocheleau
Sauvageau Schmidt Scott (Skeena) Solberg
Solomon St - Hilaire Stinson St - Jacques
Stoffer Strahl Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) Thompson (Wild Rose)
Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Vautour
Venne Wasylycia - Leis Wayne White (Langley – Abbotsford)
Williams – 121


NAYS

Members

Adams Alcock Anderson Assad
Assadourian Augustine Baker Bakopanos
Barnes Beaumier Bélair Bélanger
Bennett Bertrand Bevilacqua Bonin
Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw Brown
Bryden Bulte Caccia Calder
Cannis Carroll Catterall Cauchon
Chamberlain Chan Clouthier Coderre
Cohen Collenette Comuzzi Cullen
DeVillers Dhaliwal Discepola Dromisky
Drouin Duhamel Easter Eggleton
Finestone Finlay Fry Gagliano
Gallaway Godfrey Goodale Graham
Gray (Windsor West) Guarnieri Harb Harvard
Hubbard Ianno Iftody Jackson
Jennings Karetak - Lindell Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas)
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson Kraft Sloan Lastewka
Lee Leung Lincoln Longfield
MacAulay Mahoney Malhi Maloney
Marchi Marleau Massé McCormick
McGuire McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague
McWhinney Mifflin Mills (Broadview – Greenwood) Minna
Mitchell Murray Myers Nault
Normand O'Brien (Labrador) O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly
Pagtakhan Paradis Parrish Patry
Peterson Pettigrew Phinney Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex)
Pillitteri Pratt Proud Provenzano
Redman Reed Richardson Robillard
Rock Saada Sekora Serré
St. Denis Steckle Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland)
St - Julien Szabo Telegdi Thibeault
Torsney Ur Valeri Vanclief
Volpe Whelan Wilfert Wood – 132


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Deputy Speaker: I declare Motion No. 14 defeated.

[Translation]

The question is on Motion No. 15. An affirmative vote on Motion No. 15 obviates the necessity of the question being put on Motion No.16, and a negative vote on Motion No. 15 requires a question being put on Motion No. 16.

[English]

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote yes to this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members will be voting in favour of the motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members present vote no on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party will be voting against the motion.

 

. 1900 + -

(The House divided on Motion No. 15, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 274

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy Alarie Anders Asselin
Bachand (Saint - Jean) Bailey Bellehumeur Benoit
Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok) Bigras Breitkreuz (Yellowhead)
Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brien Canuel Cardin
Casson Chatters Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Crête
Dalphond - Guiral de Savoye Debien Desrochers
Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière) Duceppe Dumas Duncan
Epp Forseth Fournier Gagnon
Gauthier Gilmour Girard - Bujold Godin (Châteauguay)
Goldring Grewal Grey (Edmonton North) Guay
Guimond Hanger Hart Hill (Macleod)
Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom Johnston Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Lalonde Laurin Lebel Loubier
Lowther Lunn Manning Marceau
Marchand Mark Mayfield Ménard
Mercier Meredith Mills (Red Deer) Morrison
Obhrai Penson Perron Picard (Drummond)
Plamondon Ramsay Reynolds Ritz
Rocheleau Sauvageau Schmidt Scott (Skeena)
Solberg St - Hilaire Stinson Strahl
Thompson (Wild Rose) Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp
Venne White (Langley – Abbotsford) Williams – 87


NAYS

Members

Adams Alcock Anderson Assad
Assadourian Augustine Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Baker
Bakopanos Barnes Beaumier Bélair
Bélanger Bennett Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bertrand
Bevilacqua Bonin Bonwick Boudria
Bradshaw Brison Brown Bryden
Bulte Caccia Calder Cannis
Carroll Catterall Cauchon Chamberlain
Chan Clouthier Coderre Cohen
Collenette Comuzzi Cullen Davies
Desjarlais DeVillers Dhaliwal Discepola
Dockrill Doyle Dromisky Drouin
Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duhamel Earle Easter
Eggleton Finestone Finlay Fry
Gagliano Gallaway Godfrey Godin (Acadie – Bathurst)
Goodale Graham Gray (Windsor West) Guarnieri
Harb Harvard Harvey Herron
Hubbard Ianno Iftody Jackson
Jennings Jones Karetak - Lindell Keddy (South Shore)
Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson
Kraft Sloan Laliberte Lastewka Lee
Leung Lill Lincoln Longfield
MacAulay MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Mahoney Malhi
Maloney Mancini Marchi Marleau
Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Massé Matthews McCormick
McGuire McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague
McWhinney Mifflin Mills (Broadview – Greenwood) Minna
Mitchell Muise Murray Myers
Nault Normand Nystrom O'Brien (Labrador)
O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly Pagtakhan Paradis
Parrish Patry Peterson Pettigrew
Phinney Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex) Pillitteri Power
Pratt Price Proctor Proud
Provenzano Redman Reed Richardson
Riis Robillard Robinson Rock
Saada Sekora Serré Solomon
St. Denis Steckle Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland)
St - Jacques St - Julien Stoffer Szabo
Telegdi Thibeault Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) Torsney
Ur Valeri Vanclief Vautour
Volpe Wasylycia - Leis Wayne Whelan
Wilfert Wood  – 166


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Deputy Speaker: I declare Motion No. 15 lost.

[English]

The next question is on Motion No. 16.

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If the House would agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting nay.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there consent of the House to proceed in this fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party members present vote no.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members will be voting in favour of this motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members this evening will vote yes on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party will be voting in favour of this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 16, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 275

YEAS

Members

Alarie Asselin Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bachand (Saint - Jean)
Bellehumeur Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok) Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac)
Bigras Brien Brison Canuel
Cardin Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic) Crête Dalphond - Guiral
Davies de Savoye Debien Desjarlais
Desrochers Dockrill Doyle Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière)
Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Dumas Earle
Fournier Gagnon Gauthier Girard - Bujold
Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Godin (Châteauguay) Guay Guimond
Harvey Herron Jones Keddy (South Shore)
Laliberte Lalonde Laurin Lebel
Lill Loubier MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough) Mancini
Marceau Marchand Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Matthews
Ménard Mercier Muise Nystrom
Perron Picard (Drummond) Plamondon Power
Price Proctor Riis Robinson
Rocheleau Sauvageau Solomon St - Hilaire
St - Jacques Stoffer Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean)
Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Vautour Venne
Wasylycia - Leis Wayne  – 78


NAYS

Members

Ablonczy Adams Alcock Anders
Anderson Assad Assadourian Augustine
Bailey Baker Bakopanos Barnes
Beaumier Bélair Bélanger Bennett
Benoit Bertrand Bevilacqua Bonin
Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw Breitkreuz (Yellowhead)
Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Brown Bryden Bulte
Caccia Calder Cannis Carroll
Casson Catterall Cauchon Chamberlain
Chan Chatters Clouthier Coderre
Cohen Collenette Comuzzi Cullen
DeVillers Dhaliwal Discepola Dromisky
Drouin Duhamel Duncan Easter
Eggleton Epp Finestone Finlay
Forseth Fry Gagliano Gallaway
Gilmour Godfrey Goldring Goodale
Graham Gray (Windsor West) Grewal Grey (Edmonton North)
Guarnieri Hanger Harb Hart
Harvard Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom
Hubbard Ianno Iftody Jackson
Jennings Johnston Karetak - Lindell Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas) Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson
Kraft Sloan Lastewka Lee Leung
Lincoln Longfield Lowther Lunn
MacAulay Mahoney Malhi Maloney
Manning Marchi Mark Marleau
Massé Mayfield McCormick McGuire
McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague McWhinney
Meredith Mifflin Mills (Broadview – Greenwood) Mills (Red Deer)
Minna Mitchell Morrison Murray
Myers Nault Normand Obhrai
O'Brien (Labrador) O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly Pagtakhan
Paradis Parrish Patry Penson
Peterson Pettigrew Phinney Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex)
Pillitteri Pratt Proud Provenzano
Ramsay Redman Reed Reynolds
Richardson Ritz Robillard Rock
Saada Schmidt Scott (Skeena) Sekora
Serré Solberg St. Denis Steckle
Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) Stinson St - Julien
Strahl Szabo Telegdi Thibeault
Thompson (Wild Rose) Torsney Ur Valeri
Vanclief Volpe Whelan White (Langley – Abbotsford)
Wilfert Williams Wood – 175


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Deputy Speaker: I declare Motion No. 16 lost.

[English]  

Hon. Diane Marleau (for the Minister of Industry) moved that the bill be concurred in.

[Translation]

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, you will find unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting yea.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[English]

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote no on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Mr. Speaker, members of the Bloc Quebecois will be voting in favour of this motion.

[English]

Mr. John Solomon: Mr. Speaker, NDP members present vote yes on this motion.

[Translation]

Mr. André Harvey: Mr. Speaker, members of our party will be voting in favour of this motion.

[English]

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 276

YEAS

Members

Adams Alarie Alcock Anderson
Assad Assadourian Asselin Augustine
Axworthy (Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar) Bachand (Saint - Jean) Baker Bakopanos
Barnes Beaumier Bélair Bélanger
Bellehumeur Bennett Bergeron Bernier (Bonaventure – Gaspé – Îles - de - la - Madeleine – Pabok)
Bernier (Tobique – Mactaquac) Bertrand Bevilacqua Bigras
Bonin Bonwick Boudria Bradshaw
Brien Brison Brown Bryden
Bulte Caccia Calder Cannis
Canuel Cardin Carroll Catterall
Cauchon Chamberlain Chan Chrétien (Frontenac – Mégantic)
Clouthier Coderre Cohen Collenette
Comuzzi Crête Cullen Dalphond - Guiral
Davies de Savoye Debien Desjarlais
Desrochers DeVillers Dhaliwal Discepola
Dockrill Doyle Dromisky Drouin
Dubé (Lévis - et - Chutes - de - la - Chaudière) Dubé (Madawaska – Restigouche) Duceppe Duhamel
Dumas Earle Easter Eggleton
Finestone Finlay Fournier Fry
Gagliano Gagnon Gallaway Gauthier
Girard - Bujold Godfrey Godin (Acadie – Bathurst) Godin (Châteauguay)
Goodale Graham Gray (Windsor West) Guarnieri
Guay Guimond Harb Harvard
Harvey Herron Hubbard Ianno
Iftody Jackson Jennings Jones
Karetak - Lindell Keddy (South Shore) Keyes Kilger (Stormont – Dundas)
Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) Knutson Kraft Sloan Laliberte
Lalonde Lastewka Laurin Lebel
Lee Leung Lill Lincoln
Longfield Loubier MacAulay MacKay (Pictou – Antigonish – Guysborough)
Mahoney Malhi Maloney Mancini
Marceau Marchand Marchi Marleau
Martin (Winnipeg Centre) Massé Matthews McCormick
McGuire McKay (Scarborough East) McLellan (Edmonton West) McTeague
McWhinney Ménard Mercier Mifflin
Mills (Broadview – Greenwood) Minna Mitchell Muise
Murray Myers Nault Normand
Nystrom O'Brien (Labrador) O'Brien (London – Fanshawe) O'Reilly
Pagtakhan Paradis Parrish Patry
Perron Peterson Pettigrew Phinney
Picard (Drummond) Pickard (Chatham – Kent Essex) Pillitteri Plamondon
Power Pratt Price Proctor
Proud Provenzano Redman Reed
Richardson Riis Robillard Robinson
Rocheleau Rock Saada Sauvageau
Sekora Serré Solomon St. Denis
Steckle Stewart (Brant) Stewart (Northumberland) St - Hilaire
St - Jacques St - Julien Stoffer Szabo
Telegdi Thibeault Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) Torsney
Tremblay (Lac - Saint - Jean) Tremblay (Rimouski – Mitis) Turp Ur
Valeri Vanclief Vautour Venne
Volpe Wasylycia - Leis Wayne Whelan
Wilfert Wood – 210


NAYS

Members

Ablonczy Anders Bailey Benoit
Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) Breitkreuz (Yorkton – Melville) Casson Chatters
Duncan Epp Forseth Gilmour
Goldring Grewal Grey (Edmonton North) Hanger
Hart Hill (Macleod) Hill (Prince George – Peace River) Hilstrom
Johnston Kenney (Calgary Southeast) Lowther Lunn
Manning Mark Mayfield Meredith
Mills (Red Deer) Morrison Obhrai Penson
Ramsay Reynolds Ritz Schmidt
Scott (Skeena) Solberg Stinson Strahl
Thompson (Wild Rose) White (Langley – Abbotsford) Williams – 43


PAIRED

Members

NIL


 

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



ADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS

 

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[English]

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

POVERTY

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Madam Speaker, I rise today to follow up on a question I put to the government earlier in November.

I asked the Deputy Prime Minister if the government was planning to redefine the way poverty is measured in Canada. I have to say that the response I received was very pathetic. Rather than address the very serious question about changing the low income cutoff for the definition of how we measure poverty in Canada, the government fell back on its usual line which was to say that its commitment to eradicate poverty was nothing more than the child tax benefit.

Every single time members of the opposition have raised in the House the issue about the growth in child poverty and the growth in poverty in Canada, we have had the same response from the government, that $850 million has been committed to the child tax benefit. If any member of the government took the time to examine the statistics, the facts and the record about what really has happened with the child tax benefit, they would know that the reality is that the poorest of children received less benefit from the child tax benefit in 1997 than they did in 1984.

The only families whose support has increased are the working poor with incomes roughly between $10,000 or $25,000. I point this out because it shows the hypocrisy of the government program. It purports to be concerned about child poverty but the child tax benefit falls far, far short of helping the poorest Canadians, the poorest children. They are worse off than they were in 1984.

In debating this issue briefly tonight, we should recognize that tomorrow is the anniversary of the unanimous resolution in the House of Commons in 1989 to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000. The sad reality is that in Canada not only have we not made any progress but the situation has deteriorated.

To make matters worse, there are suggestions that the government is looking to change how it defines poverty. It reminds me of a statement made by a social policy consultant, Mr. Shillington, who said to beware of those who would address child poverty by discussing its definition rather than its root causes.

The question is still before us. We have not yet had an answer. Is the Liberal government planning behind closed doors to look at a redefinition of how we measure poverty in Canada?

The reason for bringing this up is that at the finance committee on October 14, the Liberal member for Mississauga South asked the finance minister “Do you believe the government should redefine or define in the first instance true poverty in Canada, true poverty where we are talking about food, clothing and shelter?” The response from the finance minister in part was “I think it would be quite helpful in fact to have a definition of poverty that is not a relative definition of poverty”.

That sends out huge warning signs that the government is looking at redefining the way it measures poverty. It really begs the question—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): I am afraid that the time has run out.

 

. 1910 + -

Ms. Bonnie Brown (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Madam Speaker, the idea that instead of acting to address poverty the Government of Canada is simply trying to define poverty away is a grave misunderstanding of what the government stands for.

Rather, the government has consistently demonstrated its concern and commitment to low income Canadians and especially the needs of children and youth. For instance, the government, in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, has taken action in the area of child poverty and has made children a priority through the national child benefit. The benefit will help low income parents to improve their circumstances.

By the year 2000 a total of $1.7 billion per year of new money will be directed to low income families. This is over and above the $5.1 billion the government spends on families with children year after year.

The member opposite has made clear that this $1.7 billion on top of the $5.1 billion does not impress her. Perhaps this is because she arrived in this place at a time when the government had begun to reverse the fiscal situation that we all faced when we first came here in 1993. Had she been here at that time she might realize that any new money was pretty miraculous, considering we had been through years of doing nothing but cutting. We are pretty proud of the fact, and maybe we do overstate it, that the first new money we spent was on families with children who are in poverty.

The government is concerned with the measurement of poverty as well but not in the way she implied in her question. The fact is that among experts there is no consensus around the existing measures of poverty. Some think existing measures are too high and some think they are not high enough.

Statistics Canada has stated that its low income cutoff, a measure used by many—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): I am sorry but I must interrupt the parliamentary secretary.

IMMIGRATION

Mr. Lynn Myers (Waterloo—Wellington, Lib.): Madam Speaker, illegal immigration is becoming a big problem in Canada.

A recent report given to the federal government has indicated that as many as 16,000 illegal immigrants are entering Canada every year with the help of smugglers. Whether they are entering the country by boat, on land or through the air, the number of illegal immigrants passing the borders and coming into the country is costing the Canadian taxpayer an enormous amount of money.

Whether it be in the processing of false immigration claims or in the fighting of organized crime in which a large number of illegal immigrants are involved, the money being spent in relation to this problem continues to grow.

The trafficking of illegal immigrants is becoming a profitable business and furthermore an international business. Smugglers have set up syndicates for these types of operations in countries around the world.

This demonstrates how vast the problem really is and how much of a global dilemma it is becoming. Not only should we deal with the problem here in Canada but the issue should also be dealt with internationally.

The costs that the federal and provincial governments have to cover also include over $400 million a year for the handling and processing of false refugee claimants. Moreover, it has been estimated that each claimant costs the government $50,000 in social benefits.

The study that I mentioned earlier indicates that between 30% and 60% of the claimants that approach the Canadian government lack proper documents. In addition, experts estimate that most of the people without documentation are linked to smugglers.

Some people can be expected to pay up to $50,000 to be transported into countries such as Canada, although the price does depend on the destination and complexity of the circumstances surrounding the trip. However, since most recently apprehended smugglers have received fairly lenient sentences, the majority of them claim that the risk is worthwhile.

These newly arrived people often enter our country with substantial debt due to the enormous price they had to pay to be transported across the border. Most really could not afford the high costs but often found it necessary to leave their homes anyway and head for another country. Imagining they would be able to repay it once they had found employment at their destination, they often arrive and have trouble finding a job, which becomes problematic. Many of them then become involved in low paying jobs or other things and some in fact become involved in criminal activity, which also becomes a problem. This obviously contributes to the rise in crime in Canada.

The organized crime problem in Canada is a multibillion dollar burden on society. This study given to the federal government maintains that the illegal immigration problem that we are encountering is doing nothing but adding to the already tremendous amount of money that is coming out the country's pockets. Illegal immigrants are adding to Canada's costs of operation, both in fighting crime and in processing false immigration claims. Something needs to be done.

 

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I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General once again what he proposes be done to suppress this problem. We need to do something about this on a national level and then bring it to the attention of an international forum. How can we as Canadians rectify this problem?

[Translation]

Mr. Jacques Saada (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Madam Speaker, first, I want to thank the hon. member for Waterloo—Wellington for his very pertinent question.

The fact is that the federal government has made the prevention and interdiction of illegal immigrants trafficking one of its priorities, precisely for the reasons mentioned by the hon. member. Indeed, according to the report to which my colleague made reference, it is estimated that, every year, up to 16,000 people enter Canada with the help of smugglers.

Based on that report, this illegal activity may generate up to $400 million in illicit profits. In light of this, I can certainly understand the hon. member's concern. To curb such activity, Canada has made the smuggling of aliens a criminal offence entrenched in our national legislation and carrying stiff penalties.

Also, Canadian officials from a number of federal departments are co-operating with their counterparts in other UN countries on a convention on transnational organized crime. One potential related protocol would deal with the smuggling of aliens. Canadian officials are actively involved in various international initiatives, particularly those of the G-8 Lyon group on organized crime, and conducting major international consultations on the asylum policies in Europe.

At home, officials from the RCMP and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration continue to co-operate across the country and through our missions abroad to put an end to these activities.

We will continue to work together with our partners in order to fight this criminal activity and any other form of organized crime.

I can only repeat how much I share my hon. colleague's concern and that, as he indicated, both national and international solutions must be sought. This is a priority. Fighting organized crime is the solicitor general's top priority.

[English]

HEALTH

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to pursue some questions I raised in the House on June 2, 1998.

My question pertains specifically to the issue of Meme breast implants and more broadly about the state of affairs in the health protection branch. The answers to both of my questions were incomplete and certainly not pertinent to the serious situation which I posed to this Chamber.

I raised specifically the concerns about the criminal investigation launched last June into the breast implant issue and asked why the government had taken so long to pursue this very serious issue after it had been raised nine years previously by a former colleague of mine, Joy Langan, from British Columbia.

I further asked the minister about the government's ability to assess and ensure the safety of current breast implant products on the market, along with my colleague, the Leader of the New Democratic Party. In both instances we found that the answers were very superficial and did not deal with the gravity of the situation.

It is absolutely clear that we are dealing with the two-pronged situation of women who suffered the consequences of inadequate protection from the government many years ago with respect to the breast implant product, and of the concerns we have today with respect to products now on the market. We have very serious worries about whether this government is actually ensuring the safety of those products.

Some of the experts in the field have actually said that present day saline filled breast implants are the same design over which a plastic surgeon sued the manufacturer in the mid-1980s. All such devices have the same leaky valves that cannot hold water. They grow algae and fungi like a dirty aquarium.

We would like to hear specifically what steps this government is taking to assess products on the market to ensure that they are safe beyond any reasonable doubt.

We also raised more broadly the issue of the role of the health protection branch because we are not just dealing with the question of a criminal investigation into breast implants, but also a criminal investigation into the safety of our blood supply. We are dealing with serious sworn testimony from scientists about gag orders, about intimidation, about threats, about pressure to approve a bovine growth hormone when they do not believe it is safe.

 

. 1920 + -

We are dealing with a pattern of inconsistency and secrecy throughout the department in a number of areas. We are dealing with a situation where the drug approval process is largely paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. This all adds up to a very grave situation that requires the government to take immediate and prompt action.

That is why we have called for a complete investigation into the health protection branch on an urgent basis. We have raised this suggestion on numerous occasions since last spring. We will continue our efforts to implore the Minister of Health to take these concerns seriously and get to the bottom of what many would call a culture of deception in the health protection branch.

Mr. Jacques Saada (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for her question.

[Translation]

I recognize that certain allegations have been made against the health protection branch of the department of my colleague, the Minister of Health.

[English]

The Ministry of Health is taking a number of measures to restore trust and morale among staff and credibility with the public. I repeat, credibility with the public. This includes the establishment of expert advisory committees to guide scientific decision making and resolve scientific disputes.

[Translation]

Over the longer term, the Minister of Health will examine the function of public health protection in the context of an integrated federal role. He will then have to consider three important issues.

[English]

First, we need a process for decision making that delineates each step in the development of risk management strategies.

Second, we need to expand the traditional communications function to have a broader public affairs orientation.

Finally, we need to address fundamental human resources and organizational culture issues, such as the need for scientific staff to understand the larger context in which their work takes place.

[Translation]

The Minister of Health is looking at the best possible standards of service to protect public health and safety, which is—I repeat—an objective that we share.

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

(The House adjourned at 7.21 p.m.)