Skip to main content Start of content

House Publications

The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at accessible@parl.gc.ca.

PDF

36th Parliament, 2nd Session

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 133

CONTENTS

Friday, October 20, 2000

. 1005

VBUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
VHon. Don Boudria
VMotion

. 1010

VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VINTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT
VBill C-15. Second reading
VHon. David Anderson

. 1015

. 1020

. 1025

. 1030

VMr. Deepak Obhrai

. 1035

. 1040

. 1045

VMr. Bill Blaikie

. 1050

. 1055

VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
VURBAN LAUGHLAN
VMr. Wayne Easter
VLIBERAL PARTY POLICIES
VMr. Dale Johnston
VATOMIC ENERGY OF CANADA LIMITED
VHon. Charles Caccia

. 1100

VUNSAFE DRIVING
VMs. Jean Augustine
VEQUAL RIGHTS
VMr. Irwin Cotler
VECONOMIC POLICY
VMr. Jay Hill
VECONOMIC POLICY
VMr. Bill Blaikie
VHEALTH
VMr. Rey D. Pagtakhan

. 1105

VLIBERAL GOVERNMENT
VMr. René Laurin
VMEMBER FOR CHARLESWOOD ST. JAMES—ASSINIBOIA
VMs. Raymonde Folco
VMEMBER FOR CYPRESS HILLS—GRASSLANDS
VMr. Lee Morrison
VPERSONS DAY
VMs. Sarmite Bulte

. 1110

VECONOMIC POLICY
VMrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral
VBREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
VMrs. Marlene Jennings
VPICTOU-ANTIGONISH REGIONAL LIBRARY
VMr. Peter MacKay
VELECTION CAMPAIGN
VMr. Mauril Bélanger
VGOVERNMENT OF CANADA
VMr. Gerry Ritz
VTHE ROYAL ASSENT

. 1115

VThe Speaker
VORAL QUESTION PERIOD
VAUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT
VMr. Stockwell Day
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Stockwell Day
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Stockwell Day

. 1120

VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Stockwell Day
VHon. Don Boudria
VMr. Jay Hill
VHon. Herb Gray
VLIBERAL GOVERNMENT
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Don Boudria

. 1125

VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Don Boudria
VAUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT
VHon. Don Boudria
VHon. Don Boudria
VTHE ENVIRONMENT
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VHon. David Anderson
VMs. Alexa McDonough

. 1130

VHon. David Anderson
VTRANSPORT
VRight Hon. Joe Clark
VHon. Ralph E. Goodale
VRight Hon. Joe Clark
VHon. Don Boudria
VAUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT
VMr. Grant McNally

. 1135

VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Grant McNally
VHon. Herb Gray
VECONOMIC POLICY
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VHon. Jim Peterson
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VHon. David Anderson
VSTANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
VMr. Ken Epp

. 1140

VHon. Don Boudria
VMr. Ken Epp
VHon. Don Boudria
VSOCIAL HOUSING
VMrs. Monique Guay
VHon. Jim Peterson
VSEASONAL WORKERS
VMr. Maurice Dumas
VHon. Don Boudria

. 1145

VINFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S REPORT
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VHon. John Manley
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VHon. John Manley
VCANADA LABOUR CODE
VMr. Gérard Asselin
VHon. Don Boudria
VCRIMINAL CODE
VMr. Ian Murray
VHon. John Manley

. 1150

VMINISTER OF INDUSTRY
VMr. Charlie Penson
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Charlie Penson
VHon. Herb Gray
VECONOMIC POLICY
VMr. Yvon Godin
VHon. Jim Peterson
VMr. Yvon Godin
VHon. Don Boudria

. 1155

VTHE ENVIRONMENT
VMs. Angela Vautour
VHon. David Anderson
VDIGBY WHARF
VMr. Bill Casey
VHon. Ralph E. Goodale
VAGRICULTURE
VMr. Ovid L. Jackson
VHon. Lyle Vanclief
VABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
VMr. Gordon Earle
VHon. Herb Gray

. 1200

VINFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S REPORT
VMr. Lee Morrison
VHon. Herb Gray
VPOINTS OF ORDER
VSpeaker of the House
VHon. Herb Gray
VOral Question Period
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VMrs. Francine Lalonde

. 1205

VMESSAGE FROM THE SENATE
VThe Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)
VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
VGOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
VMr. Eugène Bellemare
VSTANDING COMMITTEES
VPublic Accounts
VMr. Alex Shepherd
VPETITIONS
VHealth care
VMr. Gordon Earle
VEmployment Insurance
VMr. Gordon Earle
VCanadian Broadcasting Corporation
VMr. Gordon Earle
VHealth Care
VMr. Gordon Earle
VFood labelling
VMr. Derrek Konrad

. 1210

VImportation of Plutonium
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VEmployment Insurance
VMs. Angela Vautour
VPornography
VMr. Loyola Hearn
VQUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
VMr. Eugène Bellemare
VHon. Jane Stewart
VQUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
VMr. Eugène Bellemare
VSTARRED QUESTIONS
VMr. Eugène Bellemare
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS

. 1215

VINTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT
VBill C-15. Second reading
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold

. 1220

. 1225

. 1230

. 1235

VTHE ROYAL ASSENT

. 1250

VThe Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VINTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT
VBill C-15. Second reading
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold

. 1255

VMs. Angela Vautour

. 1300

. 1305

. 1310

. 1315

VMr. Pat Martin

. 1320

VMr. Ken Epp

. 1325

VMrs. Francine Lalonde

. 1330

VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
VCANADIAN FORCES DAY
VMr. David Pratt
VMotion

. 1335

. 1340

. 1345

VMr. Ken Epp

. 1350

. 1355

VMr. René Laurin

. 1400

. 1405

VMr. Gordon Earle

. 1410

. 1415

VMr. George Proud

. 1420

VAmendment
VMs. Angela Vautour

. 1425

VMr. David Pratt
VAppendix

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 133


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Friday, October 20, 2000

The House met at 10 a.m.



Prayers


 

. 1005 +

[English]

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there has been consultation among all parties in the House and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:  

    That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts shall meet this day at 12.30 p.m. for the purpose of hearing evidence from the Auditor General of Canada and that, if the chair or vice-chairs of the committee are not present—

Although I understand one of the vice-chairs is available now.

      —the committee may choose any other member to be acting chair of the meeting and that the committee be authorized to broadcast its proceedings.

For the information of hon. members, the room that has been made available is Room 237-C if members wish to note it.

The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Hon. Don Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have another motion that I want to bring to the attention of the House. I ask hon. members to pay close attention to this one. It relates to the fact that I received a communication from the other place late yesterday evening indicating that if by 10.30 this morning we refer Bill C-44 to it, the bill will be passed this day.

Therefore, I would move that Bill C-44 shall be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole, reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage and read a third time and passed now.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, we could pass a motion at any time to do anything in this place, it seems, but I believe the motion really is not in order.

We have rules in this place that say there are ways to handle bills and motions. It includes a second reading debate, a referral to committee where witnesses could be brought in to answer any questions we may have, report stage amendments and debate, and a third reading debate.

To say that we are going to proceed with this bill, a bill that involves billions of taxpayer dollars, without debate and at all stages in order to get it to the Senate and into law just because there will be an election call on Sunday, is not wise use of House time. It circumvents the rules in a way that was never intended.

We are more than prepared to debate it. We are more than prepared to put forward our amendments and our ideas on it. However, we are not prepared to proceed, nor do I think this motion should even be accepted that we circumvent the rules of the House because an election is imminent on Sunday.

Mr. Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, as was indicated by the House leader for the official opposition, there are certainly some problems with the method by which the government is attempting to move this legislation forward.

That said, the lesser of the evils here is that many seasonal workers, many Atlantic Canadians and Canadians right across the country who would be the beneficiaries of this legislation, will not be able to avail themselves of the support that would be put in place.

All Canadians know and all members of the House realize that this legislation, were it really a government priority, could have been brought forward in a much more timely fashion.

What was alluded to by my friend is quite true. The government is in the death throes before an election. It is attempting to get this legislation through in a very cynical fashion. It is attempting to hold this in front of the faces of Canadians and tell them that this is fixed, that this is a done deal, just as it has with medicare. That of course is not the case, as we all realize.

What we do not want to do is hold up this legislation. If there is any way procedurally that we can proceed with this legislation to the benefit and greater good of Canadians who would therefore be eligible and able to avail themselves of this support system through the EI changes, we in the Progressive Conservative Party would be prepared to co-operate with the government to see that it happens.

The indication that the other place would also be open to receipt of this legislation to see that it would pass through before the end of the day is welcome news. I do not think any member of the House should throw up roadblocks to try to prevent that from happening.

 

. 1010 + -

It is with a very jaded view that the government is doing this. It is obviously doing so as more pre-election goodies, but we do not want to see this legislation held up any further if at all possible. It does circumvent rules. It does not allow us to have sufficient time to look at the content and the true inner mechanisms that would be brought about by this legislation, but it is done with the best of intentions, we hope, and therefore the Progressive Conservative Party would support passage of that legislation.

[Translation]

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the Bloc Quebecois will not give its support to this motion and the leader of the government knows why.

The bill includes a clause that legalizes the diversion of the employment insurance fund, and the Bloc Quebecois can never allow the government to set the rate by itself. This responsibility must be assumed by the commission. We conveyed the message to this government that we would not support the motion, even though it really saddens us to do so, considering all the positive measures, however temporary, that the bill may provide for, among others, seasonal workers.

We would have loved to support this legislation, but once again the government has shown its arrogance, cynicism and disregard for democracy. No matter how we put it, this sad week is still unfolding, even today. Unfortunately, we will not give our support.

[English]

Mr. Gordon Earle: Mr. Speaker, the NDP echoes some of the concerns expressed by my hon. colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party. We also are not completely satisfied with some aspects of this legislation. However, we are prepared to co-operate because we realize that employment insurance is very important for people in the Atlantic provinces. Even though this is being done, as has been indicated, as an election fulfilment or an election promise, we feel that in the end if the people benefit that is the important thing. We would be prepared to co-operate to allow it to be passed today.

The Speaker: We are faced with a very big decision but a fairly straightforward one. Is the House prepared to proceed in such a fashion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

Mr. Chuck Strahl: Mr. Speaker, there was a motion just put before the House that was denied unanimous consent but perhaps the House would consent to debate the bill if it were renamed the Liberal vote buying bill.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT

 

Hon. David Anderson (for Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.) moved that Bill C-15, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say at the outset what a pleasure it is to speak to this particular bill. I thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs for allowing me the opportunity of doing so.

I would also like to mention that the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound has been of great support to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and myself on this legislation and has indeed followed the issue of water quality in Canada with great care. Two other members I would like to quickly single out among the many are of course the member for Mississauga South and the member for Leeds—Grenville, who have been extremely supportive and helpful in the work of bringing forward policy in this particular area.

[Translation]

I am pleased to address the House on second reading of Bill C-15, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act.

 

. 1015 + -

In May 1998, a company proposed a project to export water by tanker from Lake Superior. This sparked a debate among Canadians on the future security and preservation of Canada's freshwater resources. However, this is not a new issue.

[English]

Anyone who has followed the deliberations of the House over the past 40 years will remember the grandiose continental schemes dreamed up to transfer water out of Canada. The views of Canadians and the Government of Canada on this have not changed. Canada's water is not for sale. Our freshwater resources are too precious to allow bulk removal or diversion. They must be protected for future generations of Canadians who will follow us.

Successive Canadian governments have opposed the diversion or bulk removal of Canadian water. However, to date this has been little more than declarations. The time has now come to deal through legislation with the issue, and that is why we are taking action.

[Translation]

Bill C-15 will protect boundary waters, including the critical resource of the Great Lakes, from bulk water removal under federal law.

The act implements the 1909 Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty. This is one of our oldest treaties and a landmark in Canada-U.S. relations.

With over 300 lakes and rivers along the Canada-U.S. border, the drafters recognized the critical role played by water and the importance of providing a structure and mechanism to prevent and resolve disputes between the two countries. Ninety-one years later we are using the same mechanism to ensure that these waters will be protected for future generations of Canadians.

[English]

The amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act in Bill C-15 are based principally on Canada's treaty obligations to the United States not to take action in Canada which affects levels and flows of boundary waters on the United States side of the border. I would note that the United States has the same obligation to Canada, that is, not to take action in the U.S. which affects levels and flows of boundary waters on the Canadian side of the border.

[Translation]

These amendments also have a second objective; to protect the integrity of boundary water ecosystems. The amendments have three key elements: a prohibition provision; a licensing regime; and sanctions and penalties.

The prohibition provision will give the Minister of Foreign Affairs the authority to impose a prohibition on removals of boundary waters out of their water basins. Exceptions will be considered, such as ballast water, short-term humanitarian purposes and water used in the production of food or beverages, for example, bottled water.

While there are many boundary waters along the Canada-U.S. border affected by the prohibition, its most significant effect will be on the Great Lakes. This will provide to Canada the ability to stop any future plans for water removal out of the Great Lakes.

Separate from the amendments dealing with the prohibition, there will be a licensing regime. These licences will cover projects such as dams and obstructions in boundary and transboundary waters. Under the provisions of the treaty, these types of projects must have the approval of the International Joint Commission and the Government of Canada.

 

. 1020 + -

I would like to stress that the process of approving such projects has taken place over the past 91 years without any problems under the general authority of the treaty. In essence, the process is not changing, except that it will be formalized now in a licensing system. Also, the licensing regime will not cover bulk water removal projects. These, if they are proposed, are covered by the Act's prohibition.

[English]

Bill C-15 will also allow for clear and strong sanctions and penalties. This will give teeth to the prohibitions and ensure that Canada is in the position to enforce it.

[Translation]

I would also like to set Bill C-15 in the general context of Canada's strategy announced on February 10, 1999 to prohibit bulk removal of water out of all major Canadian water basins. Why did the Government of Canada take this initiative? The removal and transfer of water in bulk may result in irreversible ecological, social and economic impacts. We want to ensure, for future generations of Canadians, the security of our freshwater resources and the integrity of our ecosystems.

However, to be effective, any approach must take account of two factors. First, no single government has the ability to resolve this question. Flowing water does not respect political boundaries. In the case of the Great Lakes system, two federal governments, eight state governments, two provincial governments, and a number of regional and binational organizations are involved in managing and protecting freshwater resources.

[English]

Furthermore, it would be a gross oversimplification to view the issue only from one angle. It is a multidimensional issue involving removals, diversions, consumption, population and economic growth, the effects of climate change, and last but not least, the cumulative effect of all those factors.

[Translation]

All levels of government must act effectively and in concert within their respective jurisdictions. Hence, Canada announced in February 1999 that the Government of Canada would be acting within its jurisdiction. Bill C-15 fulfils this commitment.

Canada also announced a reference from the governments of Canada and the United States to the International Joint Commission to investigate and make recommendations on consumptive uses, diversions and removals in the greatest of our shared waters, the Great Lakes. It said that it recognized the primary responsibility of provinces and territories for water management. My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, and I proposed a Canada-wide accord to prohibit bulk water removal out of major Canadian water basins.

As of today, all provinces have put into place or are developing legislation and policies to prohibit bulk water removal.

[English]

The International Joint Commission delivered a landmark report on March 15 of this year, that is, the protection of the waters of the Great Lakes. I would like to reflect briefly on the IJC's conclusions and its recommendations. They are consistent with and supportive of the broad environmental approach adopted by Canada on the issue of bulk water removal.

The International Joint Commission concluded that “water is a non-renewable resource” and the vast volumes of the Great Lakes are deceiving. Less than 1% of the water in the Great Lakes system is renewed annually. The other 99% is a gift of the glacial age. Taking water out of the water basin is in fact like mining. Once taken it will not return.

 

. 1025 + -

[Translation]

The report also stated that if all the interests in the Great Lakes Basin are considered, there is never a surplus of water. Every drop of water has several potential uses. Forty million Canadians and Americans depend on the waters of the Great Lakes for every aspect of life: day-to-day living, industry, recreation, transportation and trade.

On top of this, the ecosystem of the Great Lakes has its own, equally important, demands on the water. As we are dependent on the future health of the Great Lakes, the future health of the ecosystem is dependent on our action.

The IJC concluded that the Great Lakes require protection, given all of the present and future stresses and uncertainties. Recommendations for action were made to all levels of government in Canada and the U.S. These recommendations provide the basis for developing a consistent approach to protecting the Great Lakes on both sides of the border.

The Government of Canada agrees with the IJC's conclusions. The prohibition provisions of Bill C-15 will provide the protection to the Great Lakes called for by the IJC.

[English]

The Great Lakes are the largest reservoir of fresh water in the world. If the IJC, the International Joint Commission, considers caution is the watchword for the management of waters in the Great Lakes basin, is it not equally so for other smaller bodies of water and ecosystems across Canada wherever they are located?

[Translation]

I would also like to take this opportunity to address the trade implications of Canada's policy approach. A number of persons and groups have called on the federal government to use an export ban.

There is a consensus among Canadians that our water resources need protection. The issue before us, then, is not whether to protect the water, but how best to accomplish the goal.

Canada's approach, embodied in Bill C-15 and our overall strategy, is to protect water in its natural state in water basins. It is better than an export ban.

Water is protected and regulated in its natural state, before the issue of exporting arises and before it has become a commercial good or a saleable commodity. It is the most comprehensive, environmentally sound and effective means of preserving the integrity of ecosystems and is consistent with international trade obligations.

[English]

The critical point is that the Canadian government and Canadian governments of the past have full sovereignty over the management of water in its natural state and, in exercising this sovereignty, they would not be constrained by trade agreements. Canada's view of this matter has been supported by a wide range of expert opinion. The International Joint Commission, which is an independent binational Canadian-U.S. commission, came to similar conclusions in its final report after exhaustive public hearings and submissions that included government and independent experts representing every point of view.

The deputy United States trade representative, in a written submission reproduced in the IJC report, indicated that under customary international law, non-navigable rivers to a watercourse, including the right to control or limit extraction, belong solely to the country or countries where that watercourse lies. He further indicated that the World Trade Organization “simply has nothing to say regarding the basic decision by governments whether to permit the extraction of water from lakes and rivers in their territories”.

[Translation]

In this light, I am puzzled by the insistence of those who continue to recommend that we institute an export ban. It comes from people who apparently share our desire to protect Canada's water resources; however, it is clear their approach would make our water more vulnerable to trade challenge, not less, and make it harder to protect, not easier.

 

. 1030 + -

Unlike the Government of Canada's approach, which is focused on comprehensive environmental objectives in a manner that is trade consistent, an export ban does not address the environmental dimension, has possible constitutional limitations, and may be vulnerable to trade challenge.

An export ban would focus on water once it has become a good and therefore subject to international trade agreements, and would likely be contrary to Canada's international trade obligations.

[English]

Canadians are looking to all levels of the government to act. Bill C-15 will provide protection against the bulk removal of water from the Great Lakes and other boundary waters. Joined with the efforts being made in other parts of the federal government's strategy, including the Canada-wide accord on water and the Canada-U.S. reference to the International Joint Commission, it will provide the best protection possible for Canada's freshwater resources.

This is the best way to protect Canada's freshwater. It brings together a comprehensive, environmentally sound approach that respects constitutional responsibilities and is consistent with Canada's international trade obligations.

[Translation]

For all of these reasons, I urge members to support Bill C-15.

[English]

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to thank you for giving me a lot of advice when I came into the House as a rookie. You pointed out a lot of things to me, and I highly appreciated your help. I learned a lot from you. I guess when I do come back I will have graduated from being a rookie to second term MP. I take this opportunity to wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

I rise today on behalf of the constituents of Calgary East to speak to Bill C-15, an act to amend the 80 year old International Boundary Waters Treaty Act. I will begin by explaining why we are compelled to debate this issue. Water is an issue that touches the lives of all Canadians. It is part of Canadian heritage. Canadians are very concerned at the thought of losing control of the country's freshwater resources.

It is a legitimate concern. Canada will face an increasing demand for this precious resource in the new millennium. I remind members and all Canadians of the failure of the Liberal government to protect Canada's freshwater resources.

Canadians also deserve to be informed of the past mistakes made by the government on this issue. The export of water was never supposed to be an issue in Canada. Various federal politicians in the early 1990s claimed that Canada had a right to manage its own water and that water would never be challenged under any international agreement. Unfortunately this is not the case. The water issue is back on the table.

On May 28, 1993, a few days before the election, the member for Winnipeg South Centre, who happens to be the minister who introduced Bill C-15, expressed his concerns about NAFTA and its implication for Canada's freshwater resource.

 

. 1035 + -

The government is on record as saying that NAFTA should be amended to prohibit bulk water exports. Had Liberals kept their promise, Canadians would not have to worry about the issue of bulk water exports and we certainly would not be discussing this matter today.

The 1993 Liberal red book said that NAFTA would be an opportunity to correct any flaws that existed with the free trade agreement with the U.S.A. and Mexico. Liberals promised Canadians we would retain control of our water. They promised to review the side agreements of NAFTA to ensure that they were in Canada's best interest. Regardless of these promises, the government signed the NAFTA deal without a side agreement on water.

Raw logs and unprocessed fish were exempted from NAFTA, but the best arrangement Canada could get on water was the following side deal signed by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico on December 2, 1993: “The NAFTA creates no rights to the natural water resources of any party of the agreement”.

Ultimately this side deal is of little legal value. Unless water in any form has entered into commerce and has become a good or product, it is not covered by the provisions of any trade agreement including NAFTA. Nothing in NAFTA obliges any NAFTA party to either exploit its water for commercial use or begin to export water in any form.

Water in its natural state in lakes, reservoirs, water basins and the like is not a good or a product. It therefore is not traded and never has been subject to the terms of any trade agreement. The side agreement worked as long as Canada never allowed water to enter into commerce and become a good or a product.

With the exception of international boundary waters, the vast majority of water in its natural state is owned and managed by the provinces. It is a provincial responsibility to manage the resources carefully, just as the provinces manage their forests and oil and gas. If one province enters the business of tendering contracts to export bulk water, then according to chapter 11 of NAFTA it must treat Canadian, American and Mexican companies in a similar fashion.

National treatment provisions give all corporations of our NAFTA partners the right to help themselves to our water the moment any Canadian company is given an export permit. In fact, water would not be exempt from NAFTA once we started shipping water. The government would be powerless to stop it. If it did, the government would have to compensate for lost income under the investor state provisions.

The government did not have the foresight to think that some provinces may one day look into the possibility of licensing the export of water, but recent examples show us the opposite. First, the province of Newfoundland granted an export permit to McCurdy Enterprises Limited to export water from Gisborne Lake. Second, in Ontario the Nova Group received a licence to extract water from Lake Superior.

Finally, in British Columbia, the California company Sun Belt wanted to export water from B.C. It is now demanding up to $10.5 billion in damages from the federal and B.C. governments alleging that its rights under NAFTA have been violated. Sun Belt is demanding restoration of the water export licence the B.C. government cancelled in 1991 and compensation for lost business opportunities.

Although the provinces eventually pulled out of these proposals, the agreements renewed fears about water export and the impact of our trade agreements.

Let us now look at the government's strategy that it believes will ensure Canada's control over its freshwater. This government, having failed to protect Canadian sovereignty over water during NAFTA negotiations, is now proposing a backup solution.

 

. 1040 + -

Liberals had six years to propose legislation since the ratification of the NAFTA but preferred to wait and be pushed to the wall before they reacted. This does not surprise me, since Liberal strategy can be defined as a wait and see approach.

Bill C-15 proposes to prohibit bulk water removal from boundary waters between Canada and the U.S.A. That covers only 15% of Canada's water resources. The provinces manage the remaining 85%. The government's water strategy includes a Canada-wide accord to prohibit bulk water removal. However, five provinces have refused to endorse the accord, leaving the country's water vulnerable to exportation.

The federal strategy was designed in the belief that all provinces would agree on a national ban. It is quite obvious after the two day debate in Kananaskis in late November 1999 that the government has failed to achieve this goal.

Bill C-15 legislates authority to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to impose a prohibition on the removal of boundary waters out of the natural water basin. It provides clear sanctions and penalties for violations. This means a licence will be required from the Minister of Foreign Affairs for any activity that would have the effect of altering the natural level or flow of water on the U.S. side of the border. Clearly another level of bureaucracy will be added. The government has shown in the past that it is exceptionally good at adding levels of bureaucracy when it is not needed.

Nowhere in the bill is the word export used. The government feels, and with good reason, the term will imply that water is a commercial good. What the absence of the word export really means is that water was part of the negotiations during the NAFTA talks. That is one thing the government should admit. The fact that the government is taking the route to ban bulk water export shows how little faith it has in the December 1993 side deal it signed after promising Canadians it would protect our sovereignty over water.

As it stands now we can say yes or no, but we have lost the right to say yes to Canadians only. Perhaps the government thinks the bill will somehow magically remove Canada from our international agreements on water. Unfortunately the bill is far from closing the door on the water export issue.

Several Liberal MPs, including the member for Davenport, have stated in the House that the proposed accord will lead to a patchwork of provincial initiatives making Canada vulnerable to trade challenges. He said:

    It seems quite clear that a meaningful protection of our water resources requires the federal government to face the reality of international trade agreements.

Does this mean the member thinks NAFTA should be renegotiated to exclude water? The former foreign affairs minister thought that way when he was in the opposition. I quote the member for Winnipeg South Centre:

    We should be making a direct proposal to the United States administration that in looking at the new environmental accords as part of NAFTA we include the exclusion of water as part of that accord.

He had the power to implement in government what he had said in opposition. Why did he refuse to do so?

The core issue up for debate today is the protection of our sovereignty and rights over water. Bill C-15 does not resolve that issue. The failure of the government to protect our resources leaves the impression that the government is using the issue of water export as a political tool, one that should give it enormous leverage as a future trade cash cow.

What should be done? In 1993 while the government was busy signing away our sovereignty over water, the Canadian Alliance made a specific statement on the protection of our fresh water. The Canadian Alliance stated that exclusive and unrestricted control of water in all its forms should be maintained by and for Canadians.

 

. 1045 + -

Canada possesses about 9% of the world's renewable water resources and 20% of the world's total freshwater resources. This includes water captured in glaciers and in the polar ice caps. Protection of our sovereignty over this valuable resource is critical to Canadians and to our national identity.

The Canadian Alliance believes that Canadians should retain control over our water resources and supports exempting water from our international agreements, including NAFTA. An outright ban on water export would run contrary to our NAFTA commitment because water was not exempt from that agreement.

A side agreement would have to be negotiated that would exempt water from NAFTA before a ban on water exports could even be considered. Until an exemption is achieved, we encourage the provinces to place a moratorium on commercial water licensing so that water in bulk form never becomes a good governed by NAFTA rules.

Once an exemption from NAFTA is in place, the decision to export water in bulk should rest with the provinces that own the resource. Natural resources fall under provincial jurisdiction and international trade is under federal jurisdiction. As a result of this constitutional division of powers, any water export scheme can only succeed with the support and co-operation of both levels of government.

In the absence of exempting water from NAFTA, the Canadian Alliance will support the proposed bill as it represents the only viable approach that the federal government can take and the only constitutionally valid NAFTA compatible ban on bulk water export. However, I would like to see the government propose real answers to this issue and show some leadership in exempting water from our trade agreements.

It would have been preferable to exempt water from NAFTA but failing that, Bill C-15 will have to do as second best. The Canadian Alliance is not asking the government to back out of NAFTA as has been proposed by my colleague from the NDP, but we wish the government had kept its promise for a side agreement.

Water is likely to become one of the hottest commodities in the 21st century. Because the government did a poor job of managing this resource, we will have to pay the price one day. Canadians should realize that we are no longer sovereign over our water. Neither will our future generations be if something is not done to change this reality.

Bill C-15 or not, the bottom line is that Canada's water resources are vulnerable to export. While I am a strong supporter of free trade, I believe it should not come at the expense of our sovereignty over water. Decisions about bulk water export should rest in the hands of Canadians only, not with Americans, NAFTA or WTO.

Perhaps one day Canada will decide to export water if it is proven environmentally sound. If that ever happens, and I strongly stress if, the tap should belong to Canadians only.

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to extend my thanks to my colleagues in the Bloc for making it possible for me to speak on this bill. Members will know that I do have a longstanding interest in this issue.

 

. 1050 + -

On February 9, 1999 I was the mover of an NDP supply day motion which called for a national ban on the bulk export of water from Canada. At that time that motion received the unanimous support of the House. It is in that context I would like to speak to Bill C-15 today.

Bill C-15 is not, as the Liberals are trying to suggest, a national ban on bulk water exports. It is not a piece of legislation one would have expected if they were actually trying to live up not just to their promises, but to the commitment they made to parliament that day when they supported the NDP motion.

This is a bill which aims to prohibit bulk water removals from boundary water basins only. This is a retreat from banning bulk water exports and this retreat is clearly, although the government will not say so, because of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The very language of removal tells the story. The Liberals refuse to use the word export because if they talked about water exports as opposed to water removal, then they would have a test case with respect to NAFTA because NAFTA deals with exports.

If the Liberals were as confident as they say they are that water is exempt in NAFTA, then why would they be afraid to use the language of exports? They themselves say they want to deal with the water question in the context of an environmental issue because otherwise, if they dealt with it in any other context, if they dealt with it as an export, this would, and I will use the government's language here, trigger its international trade obligations. International trade obligations is code for NAFTA.

The fact is that the Liberals are unwilling to admit that NAFTA is as inadequate as it truly is when it comes to water. If the Liberals did admit that, they would have to explain to Canadians why they are not actively seeking to either get out of that agreement or to change it, if in fact it leaves our ability to determine whether or not we want to export water completely subordinate to the agreement.

It is doubtful that even Bill C-15 is NAFTA proof. International trade tribunals have been more than willing to overturn environmental laws as disguised trade barriers. We have seen that happen. This is what has happened before to some of Canada's key fisheries conservation measures. The bill is therefore vulnerable to trade challenges even if the government claims it is taking an environmental rather than a trade approach. What is really being protected here is not so much our water but a certain part of the government's anatomy when it comes to its position on NAFTA.

Even on the more modest goal of prohibiting bulk water removals, Bill C-15 fails. It does not really ban bulk water removals or exports from watersheds, it only says it cannot be done without a licence. Bill C-15 is actually more of a licensing scheme for bulk water removal than a prohibition and it applies only to waters covered by the International Joint Commission.

The bill allows for huge exceptions to be provided for in the regulations. The government says these regulations will not deviate much from current practice. Indeed, but current practice allows for industrial withdrawals within a basin and many of these basins straddle the border.

The power to give out licences for bulk water removal is given to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, not to the Minister of the Environment. Again we see that water is ultimately a matter of relationships, fundamentally between Canada and the United States. If we think that is not covered by NAFTA, we have another think coming. The very fact that this power is given to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and not to the Minister of the Environment gives that away.

At a time when the activities of the Department of Foreign Affairs are being increasingly dominated by commercial concerns, one is not left feeling confident that environmental concerns will govern the licensing scheme.

 

. 1055 + -

Ultimately therefore, there is nothing really new in Bill C-15. It just formalizes in legislation what the International Boundary Waters Treaty already says and what the federal practice in these matters has been for more than 90 years.

The fact that the bill will die on the order paper means that yet another key part of the federal government's strategy on water is in tatters. Not only do we now lack protection for our water, we do not even have a serious plan to get one.

The government devised a hasty three-pronged strategy the day after the NDP motion was passed in the House. One of the prongs called for a national ban on bulk water exports. That never happened. One prong dissolved when the federal government's proposed voluntary federal-provincial water accord collapsed.

Now another prong, Bill C-15, will dissolve when it dies on the order paper. Perhaps that is as it should be because this never was a response to the motion that was passed in the House on February 9, 1999. This is a case of the Liberals continuing to deceive Canadians with respect to the reality of NAFTA.

One has to wonder though, in all these years with respect to water and NAFTA, were the Liberals deceiving themselves or deceiving Canadians? I think the cat is now out of the bag; they were deceiving Canadians and Bill C-15 is part of that deception. It is another broken Liberal promise. It is another example of federal inaction in terms of dealing with this issue. I regret very much that we are on the eve of an election and we do not have a chance to pursue this matter further.

If the government had been serious about keeping some of its promises not just with respect to banning water exports, but also with respect to health care, pharmacare, home care and you name it, we would not be here, Mr. Speaker, with you wanting to rise to cut me off. We would have a lot of time and a government program before us that actually kept the government's promises. Instead we have the pathetic emptiness that we see before us, broken promises and an election that should not be happening.

We should be having the government fulfil its promises on water as well as on many other things.



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[English]

URBAN LAUGHLAN

Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of my fellow islander, Urban Laughlan, to Canada's farm community over the past 40 years. If anyone can truly say they have contributed the better part of their lives to the cause of farmers and their community, then Urban certainly can.

Beginning as founding president of the Sherbrooke 4-H Club, continuing as president of the P.E.I. Junior Farmers Federation, and chartering NFU Local 102 in 1969, Mr. Laughlan fought strenuously for farm rights, rights based on sound principles. His dedication and activism grew and were fostered in others during his 21 years as district director of District 1 NFU.

Urban played a strong role at the national level as well, as a national director, as policy chair and as the strongest of advocates for the family farm.

Urban and his wife Mary are to be congratulated for their life's work on behalf of the farm community.

*  *  *

LIBERAL PARTY POLICIES

Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Liberals opposite will soon discover that their worst nightmare is about to come true. Canadians will not be fooled by the Prime Minister's last minute attempts to buy votes.

When the Canadian Alliance called for tax cuts, the finance minister laughed. When it became evident that Canadians wanted a tax break, the government said “We can't afford it”.

Now on the eve of an election, the Liberals have taken their hands out of the taxpayers' pockets long enough to open the goodie bag. Do they really think Canadians will forget the deficit was eliminated through excessively high taxes? Do they really think Canadians will believe that the Liberals will actually deliver on any of these promises?

After all, it was the Liberals who promised to eliminate the GST. It was the very same Liberals who promised open and accountable government and then boycotted a committee.

Canadians will remember these and all the other broken Liberal promises. When the Liberals pass out red book three on Halloween, Canadians will recognize that there are no treats, just more Liberal tricks.

*  *  *

ATOMIC ENERGY OF CANADA LIMITED

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government will have to pay $40 million to decommission one plutonium contaminated building at the Chalk River nuclear facility.

How much will it cost to decommission other nuclear facilities operated by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited? Future decommissioning costs could be very high and AECL expects the federal government to cover the costs as they arise.

 

. 1100 + -

Therefore, the auditor general has expressed concern about AECL's poor accounting practices. He estimated the total decommissioning bill for the federal government to amount to $850 million. An amount of this magnitude calls into question the credibility of this crown corporation.

One appreciates the Minister of Natural Resources' difficulties in intervening, yet ways must be found to make AECL adopt, as a minimum, sound accounting principles, and I ask the minister to urge AECL to comply with the auditor general's recommendations.

*  *  *

UNSAFE DRIVING

Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, every year in my riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore and across Canada the health and safety of hundreds of Canadians is being compromised due to unsafe, impatient driving on our streets.

Unsafe driving hurts us all through death, injuries and tragedies and costs for health care, property damage and law enforcement. Hundreds of Canadians lose their lives either through drunk driving or by being hit while crossing streets in their communities. The problem is becoming more acute as more and more motorists are driving with the added distraction of cell phones.

Many seniors live in Etobicoke—Lakeshore. Mr. William Lea spoke for all of them when he argued that they need to feel safe when they are crossing the streets.

In the name of all pedestrians, especially slow moving seniors, I call upon all motorists to exercise due care, especially at pedestrian crossings and stop signs.

*  *  *

EQUAL RIGHTS

Mr. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this has been an historic week for women's rights, from the women's march against poverty and violence to the commemoration on Parliament Hill of the Persons case and the Famous Five, the whole inspired by notions of equality and justice for all.

The lessons globally and domestically are clear that women's rights must be a priority on our public agenda as a matter of principle and policy, that women's rights are human rights and that there are no rights if they do not include the rights of women. As Nellie McClung and the Famous Five put it, “no nation can rise above its women. The degradation of any woman is a degradation of us all”.

The struggle for human rights, for women's rights, for equality, is the struggle for ourselves. In what we say and, more importantly, in what we do in this case and the cause for equality in general and women's rights in particular, we will be making a statement about ourselves as a people. We will be making a statement about ourselves.

*  *  *

ECONOMIC POLICY

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is very smug about his mini-budget election platform. As always, he is trying to be all things to all people. However, for the seventh straight year he has knowingly discriminated against the people of Mackenzie, British Columbia.

When the northern residents' deduction was changed in 1993, the district of Mackenzie was unfairly excluded. Mackenzie is a small, remote community more than 100 kilometres from a major urban centre. Much larger communities in the region, such as the cities of Grande Prairie, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, qualified for the deduction and deservedly so, but why the continued discrimination?

Over the past seven years I have repeatedly asked the finance minister to correct this. Each time he has studied the issue and then refused. I guess if the Prime Minister's office believed the change would increase his election chances, then it would have been announced last week.

How sad that this Liberal government only believes in buying votes rather than doing what is right.

*  *  *

ECONOMIC POLICY

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Wednesday was one of those days in political life when the truth could not be hidden any more, and the truth is, there is very little difference between the Canadian Alliance and the Liberals.

Despite what the leaders of the parties would have us believe, we are in a situation where, as it used to be with the Liberals and the Conservatives, we have two elitist parties catering to the same well-heeled corporate crowd while trying to trick their supporters and the Canadian public into believing something else.

When the Liberals bring in an Alliance budget, and when the Alliance holds a $25,000 a table dinner in Toronto, both left wing Liberals and the right wing populace that is the backbone of the Reform Party must know that they have been sold out by their leaders.

Canadians, many of whom earn less in a year than it takes to buy a table for one night at such fundraisers, and who do not want to be sold out by either of these two corporate henchmen, know they have a true friend in the NDP.

*  *  *

HEALTH

Mr. Rey D. Pagtakhan (Winnipeg North—St. Paul, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada in an historic agreement last month pledged to add $21.1 billion to the Canada health and social transfer to ensure the quality of health care for all Canadians.

 

. 1105 + -

The government also pledged $2.2 billion to help promote healthy pregnancy and infancy through prenatal nutrition, preschool, child care and family support programs.

The government further pledged that it would help students and decrease taxes for businesses and for all Canadians.

The economic statement and budget update announced two days ago delivers on this collective pledge, adding $1 billion into the hands of students and delivering the largest tax cuts in Canadian history, $100 billion.

In 1993 Canadians entrusted to the government their hopes to save the country and citizenry from national bankruptcy and despairing social conditions.

Together we confronted this national challenge. Now we harvest the faith of our trust and the fruits of our labour. The economic statement and budget update fulfils our collective Canadian dream.

*  *  *

[Translation]

LIBERAL GOVERNMENT

Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, what a sad end to this mandate. The cat is out of the bag at last and the reports by the information commissioner and the auditor general have brought in their verdicts: the economy is fine, the government is not.

Throughout its mandate, this government has systematically blocked information, held back documents and refused to co-operate with the information commissioner.

The commissioner has just released over his signature a damning report making unprecedented charges against the Prime Minister, his office, and a number of departments.

As for the auditor general, he has roundly criticized the sloppy management of public funds by Human Resources Development Canada and the fact that there are a number of files under police investigation.

What a sad end to a mandate: a government that is under the burden of criminal investigations, and a Prime Minister who has no fewer than four of these going on in his own riding. This is unheard of.

On the eve of an election campaign, I say to the government “We can hardly wait to get out on the hustings to start talking about Liberal values”.

*  *  *

MEMBER FOR CHARLESWOOD ST. JAMES—ASSINIBOIA

Ms. Raymonde Folco (Laval West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform this House that the Government of Canada has approved the awarding by the Government of Iceland of a distinction of honour, the Order of the Falcon, to the hon. member for Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia.

This is an award in recognition of the hon. member's activities involving his fellow Manitobans of Icelandic origin.

The hon. member has been involved for some years in bolstering cultural and trade links between Iceland and Canada.

We congratulate the hon. member for Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia on this well deserved honour.

*  *  *

[English]

MEMBER FOR CYPRESS HILLS—GRASSLANDS

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this will probably be my last day in the House.

I will not regret leaving what has become, under Liberal management, a totally dysfunctional institution. I will not miss the thrill of making well researched speeches in a virtually empty room. I will not miss working long hours on irrelevant ministerially guided committees. I will not miss the posturing. I will not miss the emasculated government members howling because they do not understand the difference between intelligent heckling and boorish noise.

Perhaps it is their subconscious recognition of their own political impotence that drives them to act like hyperactive children. I do not know what I will be doing for the next few years, but whatever it is I expect that I will be dealing with grown-ups. I am sure that it will be more useful than this past seven years that I have spent in this rubber stamp parliament.

I shall not look back.

*  *  *

PERSONS DAY

Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on October 18 the inauguration of the Women are Persons monument was an unique opportunity to stage a nationally significant event to commemorate the important contribution of the Famous Five and Canadian women as nation builders.

More than 71 years ago, groups had repeatedly requested that a woman be appointed to the Senate, naming Judge Emily Murphy as their candidate. Three consecutive prime ministers were advised not to appoint her on the basis that women were not persons within the meaning of the British North America Act.

Judge Murphy invited four Alberta leaders, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung and Irene Parlby, to join her and petition the supreme court for clarification of section 24. The Persons case of 1929 was a celebrated and landmark victory in the struggle for equality of Canadian women.

Today, to mark this historic date on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Status of Women, I am pleased to declare October 18 Persons Day.

*  *  *

 

. 1110 + -

[Translation]

ECONOMIC POLICY

Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday at 3.30 p.m., the House passed a ways and means motion. Once again, arrogance and disdain were the order of the day, because this motion served simply to implement the tax cuts announced in the minister's economic statement, including the child tax benefit and the heating allowance.

The statement of the Minister of Finance, duly amended by the Alliance and subamended by the Bloc, never made it to a vote and was therefore not passed. All of the other measures contained in this statement will be null and void with the dissolution of parliament.

In two words, this government has used parliament to mislead the public. It has used this House to launch its election platform. Respect for the House is the hallmark of the quality of democracy. At the end of this mandate, the government must recognize that this quality is lacking.

With Halloween 10 days away, the Minister of Finance has turned into a pumpkin full of saccharine candies. The winds of autumn are at our door, and the public will not be fooled by the Liberal deception—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

*  *  *

[English]

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House and all Canadians that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is a major health problem for women in Canada. It is estimated that 19,200 new breast cancer cases will be diagnosed this year and that 5,500 women will die from this disease.

The federal government is concerned about the physical and emotional burdens of this disease for Canadians. In 1992 the Government of Canada launched a five-year $25 million initiative to combat breast cancer. In June 1998 the federal government renewed its commitment to the Canadian breast cancer initiative with the announcement of stable, ongoing funding of $7 million per year.

Through federal leadership and with the help of a committed network of partners across the country, we are working to reduce the incidence and mortality of breast cancer and to improve the support and quality of life for these women who are affected by breast cancer.

*  *  *

PICTOU-ANTIGONISH REGIONAL LIBRARY

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today and congratulate the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library for recently being selected to be part of LibraryNet Best Practices 2000, recognizing innovative use of the Internet in Canadian public libraries. This is a much deserved honour for many of the people who work so diligently to keep this library strong.

Libraries are playing a key role in connecting communities across Canada and around the world. The information age is upon us and the importance of being connected has never been greater. Providing public Internet access in libraries ensures that all Canadians have access to the knowledge based economy and it will result in economic and social development.

Libraries are using websites to deliver services electronically, build community partnerships, support local economic initiatives and, of course, encourage literacy and education.

The Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library is being showcased as one of the very best in the world for using and integrating technology efficiently and making Canada the most connected nation in the world.

Congratulations to chief librarian Eric Stackhouse and to Fred Popowich of New Glasgow. Their exemplary practices and commitment serve as models for other libraries across Canada and around the world.

*  *  *

[Translation]

ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as it is becoming increasingly obvious that an election will be called soon, I would like to take these few minutes to ask my colleagues, and everyone carrying the colours of any political party whatever, to be models of civility and courtesy in the days to come.

Personal attacks and insults produce nothing. When ideas collide, understanding ensues.

[English]

Over recent months we have witnessed the Prime Minister and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs being targeted. In more recent days, the Leader of the Opposition has been the subject of unsavoury behaviour. This is uncalled for and unwelcome, and in the end I believe it weakens our democratic traditions.

[Translation]

Let us try together, in the coming days, to behave in a manner worthy of this great House, this Parliament of Canada.

*  *  *

[English]

GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, let us talk about the top 10 planks of this Liberal government's legacy. They are: $25 billion ripped out of health care; EI surpluses scooped and put into general revenues, and God knows where they went; the civil servant pension surplus savaged; HRDC grants and giveaways, with half of 1% of files investigated leading to 11 criminal investigations; complete disregard for all hep-C victims; the APEC inquiry and the Somali inquiry stonewalled and interfered with constantly; Bill C-68, the firearms registry, with a cost of half a billion dollars so far, which would be better spent on real policing and real public safety; promised reform of the Young Offenders Act dies again; criminal justice that holds criminal rights above victims rights; and priorities in law making that put the safety of poodles ahead of the safety of our children from pedophiles. Any of these top 10 would make a fitting epitaph for the Liberal government come election day.



THE ROYAL ASSENT

 

. 1115 + -

[Translation]

The Speaker: Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

    Rideau Hall
    Ottawa

    October 20, 2000

    Sir,

    I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Louise Arbour, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in her capacity as Deputy Governor General, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 20th day of October, 2000, at 12.30 p.m., for the purpose of giving Royal Assent to certain bills.

    Yours sincerely,

    Barbara Uteck
    Secretary to the Governor General



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[English]

AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the RCMP continues investigations into government dealings in the Prime Minister's riding.

We have the auditor general, with the most scathing report in a decade at least, being shut down by the Liberals from giving that report.

We have the information commissioner saying that the government routinely appears to be threatening public servants, and the Prime Minister says “We will see you in court”.

Now we have the former clerk of the privy council saying that there is a huge concentration of power in the Prime Minister's Office, away from cabinet and away from the democratic process.

Democracy itself is being threatened by all these moves. I would like to hear from the Prime Minister. Are all these responsible individuals wrong in what they are saying and if they are not wrong, will the Prime Minister—

The Speaker: The hon. Deputy Prime Minister.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, when we get good advice, as we have from the auditor general or the information commissioner, we look at it seriously and we act on recommendations.

The auditor general made very clear that we are acting effectively to deal with the kinds of problems that we first uncovered and that he has confirmed. We are taking these recommendations seriously. We are acting in the best interest of Canadians and in due course I am sure Canadians will agree with us.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the question was not answered, but that is fairly characteristic. I will pose it again.

These individuals are saying that democracy itself is being threatened. The former clerk of the privy council is a very responsible individual. The information commissioner is a very responsible individual. They are alluding to the fact that democracy itself is being threatened by the Prime Minister and his office.

We would just like to know if these responsible public servants are wrong. I am not talking about the auditor general right now. We will talk about him in a minute. Are they wrong? If they are not wrong, will the Prime Minister apologize for being a threat to democracy?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, proof of the fact that we have a democracy is that people can express their opinions, which do not have to be shared by everyone in question.

I am not passing judgment on the opinions of the people he has quoted, but proof that democracy works in Canada is that we are here today in the House of Commons exchanging ideas, debating ideas.

Proof of the strength of our democracy will come before too long when Canadians will make their decision on who should govern the country. That is democracy, not the empty words of the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we cannot get an apology for those other officers. How about for the auditor general?

Yesterday there was supposed to have been a report given, the most important one in a decade, by the auditor general. We have just heard that there is some kind of respect for democracy here. Yet Liberal members did not go to that committee meeting so there was no quorum. The committee had to shut down. The auditor general could not give his report. The Liberals said they could not find the room.

 

. 1120 + -

Is the Prime Minister sticking to the excuse that they could not find the room when all the opposition members could make it? Or, is it that he just cannot find the time for democracy? Is he sticking with—

The Speaker: Before the Deputy Prime Minister answers, the government is not responsible for the work of committees. If the Deputy Prime Minister wishes to answer he may.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member forgets that we undertook and carried out the undertaking to make sure the House was sitting to receive the auditor general's report and to make it public. We made sure the House continued sitting so that the Leader of the Opposition and the other opposition party leaders could question relevant ministers, starting with the Prime Minister.

This shows our commitment to taking the auditor general's report seriously. This shows our commitment to openness. We are not trying to suppress any report. The record shows that the Leader of the Opposition is totally wrong in making that allegation. He should not refuse to put on the record that there will be a meeting of the public accounts committee to hear the auditor general.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a very important question and it was not answered.

Liberal members said they could not find the room. That is the issue. As with so much of what the Liberal government does, only in the face of public outrage did it inch toward doing something responsibly, only in the face of public outrage time after time.

Is the Liberal excuse standing? They could not find the room. That is what we heard last night. Yes or no. Is that the excuse you are sticking with, or was there another reason for which you should apologize for disrespecting the auditor general?

The Speaker: I would ask hon. members to direct their questions to the Chair.

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if there is anyone who should apologize right now, it is the hon. member for making these allegations when he knows that the facts are otherwise, when he knows that his own deputy House leader was told by myself yesterday when his staff was phoned by myself to schedule a meeting today, which we have now done.

An apology is in order and it is from the feeble attempt of the Leader of the Opposition to try to make Canadians believe something which he knows is incorrect.

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, maybe Liberal members should have showed up yesterday instead of calling for another meeting today. The 1993 Liberal red book of promises said:

    If government is to play a positive role in society, as it must, honesty and integrity in our political institutions must be restored.

Yet this week, seven years later, the auditor general said:

    Our audit examined four of the grant and contribution programs by HRDC. We found breaches of authority, payments made improperly, very limited monitoring of finances and activities, and approvals not based on established processes.

Given the government's dismal failure to restore public confidence, why should Canadians trust it with their votes?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should be, shall I say, complete in his language, because the auditor general said:

    HRDC has initiated quite extraordinary corrective action to address these serious problems. We concluded that the department is on the right track.

Why does the hon. member not put that in his question and give us credit in the same way that the auditor general has done?

*  *  *

[Translation]

LIBERAL GOVERNMENT

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la-Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, this week was the darkest and most shameful one for this government.

The government demonstrated its arrogance and its contempt. Not only did it muzzle the information commissioner, it also tried the same trick on the auditor general by not showing up at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

The government was so arrogant as to present a virtual mini-budget, with many measures that will not be implemented because of the dissolution of parliament.

Does the government really believe that all its schemes will allow it to escape the true judgment of voters?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member surely knows that the facts are different.

With regard to the measures included in the budget, yesterday we adopted a ways and means motion with the support of two parties in this House. The hon. member is well aware of that. In fact, yesterday, all the parties except hers understood what this ways and means motion meant. All the other members of parliament understood that.

As for the auditor general's report, there will be a televised meeting today, at 12.30 p.m., to show that the government acted in good faith and was accountable in this issue.

 

. 1125 + -

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la-Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the actions taken this week by the government have nothing to do with the values that it claims to be upholding, but they have everything to do with the political agenda of the Prime Minister, who did not hesitate to use the House to launch his election platform and who, according to TVA, even paid $2 million to cancel the rooms reserved for the trip to China.

Does the government realize that by giving priority to its own agenda, it is showing its contempt for public institutions, which must first serve the public, not a political party?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the question is rather strange.

On opposition days, the hon. member opposite promotes the ideas of her party. When the government presents its agenda, it obviously promotes its ideas, as it did in the excellent economic statement presented by my colleague a few days ago and adopted in this House yesterday, which has been very well received by the overwhelming majority of Canadians.

*  *  *

AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, no one is going to be taken in, neither the general public nor the members of this House.

This is the second time, on the eve of a general election, that the Liberal government is trying to muzzle the auditor general. The government has gone so far as to dare to try to convince us that its MPs could not find the meeting room. This just shows the arrogance and disdain of this government.

Does the Prime Minister think that his attempts to muzzle the auditor general are really going to prevent the truth about the Liberal government's administrative scandals from breaking out into the light of day?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no muzzling going on.

First of all, this government is the one that made the change to having the auditor general report to this House, not once a year as in the past, but four times a year. That was an initiative of this government.

Second, the committee in question is meeting today. This is its second meeting this week to discuss the auditor general's report.

This government is totally transparent, totally accountable to the Canadian public.

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we are glad the committee is meeting today, but it took the intervention of the Bloc Quebecois and all the opposition parties to get the government to act.

Does the Prime Minister seriously believe that his crisis management techniques, which are nothing more than damage control, will prevent him from having to answer for all the scandals and criminal investigations he has hanging over him?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the matter of the auditor general's report is being discussed in a committee room a little later today, the hon. member knows very well that this is not because of intervention by the Bloc Quebecois. I myself proposed this initiative—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Hon. Don Boudria: —to all party leaders, last night and this morning.

Moreover, I thank them, as I have informally already, for accepting my suggestion.

*  *  *

[English]

THE ENVIRONMENT

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the government was elected because it promised to get tough on pollution. It promised to clean up our environment. It did not promise to sit on the sidelines while 20 million tonnes of Toronto garbage pollute the water in Ontario and Quebec, threaten the water that first nations and a great many other communities depend upon.

Why is the government so stubbornly and persistently refusing to launch a full federal environmental assessment into the Adams mine madness?

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the situation with respect to the Adams mine is this. The province of Ontario has carried out an assessment. It has come to a certain conclusion, which is that it is environmentally safe to carry out the use of the mine site for Toronto garbage.

On the other hand there are two aspects of federal jurisdiction. One is the transboundary aspect with Quebec, between Ontario and Quebec. The other is the transboundary aspect between the Ontario jurisdiction and the federal Indian reserve in the area.

As I have said in the House time after time, and the hon. member knows it, that question has been put to the environmental assessment authority. When it comes up with scientific conclusions I will make a decision on whether to proceed with a fully inquiry.

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, 80 billion litres of water are at stake. The health of people in thousands of communities is at stake. The government did not campaign on dumping 20 million tonnes of Toronto garbage into a lake and it did not campaign to let Mike Harris do whatever he darned well pleases with our environment.

 

. 1130 + -

Canadians expect the federal government to protect our water, so that when people turn on their taps they know that their kids are safe to brush their teeth.

Canadians do not want another Walkerton. Why is the government refusing to put an end to the Adams mine mess?

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the tirade of the hon. leader of the New Democratic Party there is one element that is totally absent, and that is the fact of the Canadian constitution. The federal government does not have the power to walk into every problem in the country simply because the problem exists, whether it is at the municipal level or the provincial level.

Why is it that she thinks that simply because there is a problem the federal government should take over? There is a problem with illiteracy. That does not mean that this government should set up educational programs for every child in the country.

*  *  *

TRANSPORT

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Kings—Hants, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

The Toronto airport authority was granted a $185 million rent reduction just after it signed its lease agreement. The auditor general said “The department could not provide us with the rationale”.

I have two questions for the Deputy Prime Minister. First, why was the rent reduced by a whopping $185 million? Second, was any minister directly or indirectly advised of or involved in discussions that led to that decision?

Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Transport, I am obviously not in a position to express personal knowledge of the subject matter. However, because of the interest of the leader of the Conservative Party, I will undertake to find a detailed response for him and provide that to him, if possible, later this day.

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Kings—Hants, PC): Mr. Speaker, that raises a very interesting issue about how this parliament is able to function and get at facts that need to be known and conduct public business that needs to be carried out.

There was obviously a range of questions raised by the auditor general. The government has agreed to a special meeting at 12.30 p.m. today. That obviously will not allow the House to pursue the questions that arise from the report.

Let me ask the Deputy Prime Minister, will the government agree right now to a second meeting of the public accounts committee on Monday to allow the House of Commons to have a full examination of the—

The Speaker: The hon. government House leader.

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, perhaps I can assist the right hon. member in answering the question about the Toronto airport authority.

The airport was treated in a comparable manner to other airports. However, in the case of Pearson airport, the financial projections could not be updated immediately prior to the transfer because of ongoing legal actions involving terminal 2, and three major projects had to be completed by Transport Canada prior to the transfer. That required a one time financial adjustment to the lease to take into account the three unfinished projects to which I have just referred.

*  *  *

AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the government House leader can huff and puff, but everybody knows that the reason a second meeting with the auditor general is being scheduled today is that the Liberals got caught trying to sneak away from their scandalous record.

They snub the auditor general—

The Speaker: Order, please. We are going a little bit far here in our language. We are not to impugn motives in any of our questions or in our answers. I will ask the hon. member to please to go his question.

Mr. Grant McNally: Mr. Speaker, given the track record of arrogance, incompetence and mismanagement on behalf of this government—

The Speaker: Order, please. Put the question right now, please.

 

. 1135 + -

Mr. Grant McNally: The question, Mr. Speaker, is, how can Canadians possibly trust the government to govern the country?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the question could be put to the Alliance, after we have the facts now about the $440 million Alberta Conservative government boondoggle involving the Swan Hills plant at a time when the Leader of the Opposition was part of that government. How can anybody trust the Leader of the Opposition and the Alliance Party when they seek the mandate of Canadians?

Canadians will know that it is this government and this party that deserve their confidence, not the Alliance or any of the other opposition parties.

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Canadians will not be fooled by another diversionary tactic by the Deputy Prime Minister.

The truth of the matter is the Liberal record. Their record is one of arrogance and mismanagement, obviously things that do not stand well with Canadians. I am wondering how they can possibly ask Canadians to put their trust in them when they have not earned it here in this place.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I reject completely the totally unfounded premise of the hon. member's question.

When it is a matter of trust, I suggest that whenever Canadians are asked to make their judgment at the ballot box they will agree that this government has earned the trust of Canadians, not only on its good record but its forward looking plan to bring Canadians successfully into the 21st century and not move them backward in a mean-spirited way as the Alliance would do in the unlikely event it was given the chance.

*  *  *

[Translation]

ECONOMIC POLICY

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in Wednesday's economic statement, the Minister of Finance chose clearly to favour the well off over the middle classes and the disadvantaged.

He admitted in this morning's Citizen that dollar for dollar, his economic statement gave more money back to wealthy taxpayers.

Does the Minister of Finance think that the people will not understand the move intended first to lower the taxes of the rich, when the middle class and the poor are the source of the incredible surpluses they are swimming in?

Hon. Jim Peterson (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is not true.

In our projection, the vast majority of our tax cuts are for low and middle income Canadians. This is exactly what we did in our budget. We concentrated tax cuts for Canadians who need them most.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, since Wednesday we have been criticizing the election goodies and electoral cynicism of the Minister of Finance.

We realize today that when the House dissolves on Sunday many of these goodies, including the funds for the environment, will vanish.

Does the Minister of the Environment realize that the public will not look kindly at all on this manipulation of parliamentary institutions?

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I do not think the hon. member has understood that in the budget for 2000 we set aside some $640 million in new dollars for the environment, especially for the greenhouse gases. In addition, we added $500 million to that in the speech the Minister of Finance gave a few days ago.

The figure has increased by $1.2 billion in the past eight months, something the hon. Bloc Quebecois member should be proud of.

*  *  *

[English]

STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, occasionally rooms for committees get changed. When that happens members of parliament make a quick phone call to the clerk's office to find out where the committee is. In this particular instance, we have not one, not two, but eight Liberal members all of whom, coincidentally, failed to phone the clerk's office to find out where this meeting was being held.

How can the government ask Canadians to believe its explanation that it could not find the room?

 

. 1140 + -

The Speaker: I am having a hard time making a connection here with the responsibility of the government. I would judge the question to be out of order. If the government House leader wishes to respond he may.

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will gladly respond. As I indicated, this was not intentional on the part of the government. I will not hide behind the fact that this question is probably as close to being out of order as anything that has ever been said in the House.

Notwithstanding that, yesterday, immediately upon discovering this, the chief government whip rose in the House of Commons moments later to indicate his disapproval of what happened. We immediately commenced corrective actions. Consultations were held with all political parties in the House. Their help was appreciated. It was done and of course the debate will take place this afternoon in a committee room.

The Speaker: I ask the hon. member to please go to the administrative responsibility of the government in his question.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I will put it this way then. Clearly the work of the committees is a very important role of members of parliament, and members of parliament on this side of the House were prevented yesterday, when they were prepared to do so, from dealing with this issue.

In view of the fact that exactly the same thing happened in 1997, a week before the election, the probabilities, to me as an amateur mathematician, just seem outrageous. I would like to know from the government why it would deliberately boycott a committee meeting like this.

The Speaker: I rule the question out of order, but if the hon. government House leader wants to answer it, he may do so.

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, again this impugning of motives I do not think is helpful. I can state here that many committee meetings are held without Alliance MPs ever showing up, and that happens all the time.

The Speaker: Order, please. You are out of order on both sides.

*  *  *

[Translation]

SOCIAL HOUSING

Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Mr. Speaker, since the Liberals came to power, social housing needs have almost doubled for the most disadvantaged.

On Wednesday, billions of dollars in electoral goodies were distributed to the wealthy, but there was nothing for the families most affected by poverty.

How does the Prime Minister have the nerve to talk about values and compassion when he has simply abandoned the poorest families in our society?

Hon. Jim Peterson (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is not true. For example, the child tax benefit was increased by $4 billion a year. The tax rate has dropped to 16%. Taxes over the next five years for families with children will drop by 27%, and the heating oil tax credit for tenants and landlords has been set at $1.3 billion. These are measures for low and middle income families.

*  *  *

SEASONAL WORKERS

Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ): Mr. Speaker, while the rich are well looked after by the government, seasonal workers will have to make do with a few temporary crumbs for one year only, and will have to get through the winter on nothing after using up their paltry 21 weeks of benefits.

How can the Minister of Finance justify ongoing and generous tax breaks for the rich while seasonal workers must make do with crumbs, and temporary ones at that?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to hear the member mention seasonal workers because the Bloc Quebecois has finally discovered them.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Hon. Don Boudria: Approximately one and a half hours ago in the House, the Bloc Quebecois, through their deputy House leader, refused consent for passage of Bill C-44.

*  *  *

 

. 1145 + -

[English]

INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S REPORT

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the justice minister's officials are stonewalling investigators from the Office of the Information Commissioner. When the investigator examined the department's firearm registry project finance files there were no financial spreadsheets or budget projections for this fiscal year. This is highly unusual, if not illegal.

Does the minister really want parliament and the voters to believe they are running a $300 million program without any budget? Why have the true costs of the gun registry been hidden from Canadians, or is the Liberal government just plain out of control?

Hon. John Manley (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what we know on behalf of the Minister of Justice about the point of view of members of that party is not that they are seeking numbers, but that they oppose fundamentally the protection of Canadians through a comprehensive system of registration of firearms. That has been their point all along.

We on this side are prepared to go to the people saying we support gun control, effective gun control. It is important for Canadians. It is important for the safety of people in the country. We are for it. They are against it.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we will support effective gun control as well, but let me ask this question. In Yves Lavigne's book, Hell's Angels at War, he says this about the Liberal gun registration scheme:

    Police and politicians knew Bill C-68 was just a ploy to strip guns from law-abiding citizens with a grossly overbudgeted financial sinkhole of a bureaucracy...This is why the law was never mentioned during talks about a biker war—

Why has the justice minister wasted more than half a billion dollars on her useless gun registry, instead of helping the police and the provinces in their fight against organized crime? How many more hundreds of millions will she waste before she does the right thing and repeal Bill C-68?

Hon. John Manley (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that already more than 1.3 million individuals have complied with the licensing requirement. We know that since the beginning of December 1998 over 10,000 potentially dangerous gun sales were sent for further investigation, that almost a thousand licence applications have been refused, and that over 1,200 licences have been revoked.

We know that this gun control law will bring about a safer society. We know they are against it. What price do they put on the lives of Canadians who are threatened by illegal guns?

*  *  *

[Translation]

CANADA LABOUR CODE

Mr. Gérard Asselin (Charlevoix, BQ): Mr. Speaker, for the past 18 months, Cargill Limited, of Baie-Comeau, has been plagued by a labour dispute that hurts the region's economy and makes it very hard for the workers who have been locked out since March 28.

Will the Minister of Labour pledge to take all necessary actions to settle that dispute quickly and to everyone's satisfaction, and to put a stop to unfair practices such as the hiring of subcontractors for the mooring and sailing of ships, which violates section 87(7) of part I of the Canada Labour Code?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am told that the parties will resume collective bargaining on October 24, 2000.

An officer of the federal mediation and conciliation service is currently in contact with the parties and is available to help them in their negotiations.

As for the interpretation of the provisions of the Canada Labour Code, to which the hon. member alluded, including section 87(7), it is the responsibility of the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

*  *  *

[English]

CRIMINAL CODE

Mr. Ian Murray (Lanark—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. There is some concern in rural Canada that provisions in Bill C-17 relating to cruelty to animals will allow for prosecution for such normal activities as farming and hunting.

Will the minister please clarify the actual intent of the measures in Bill C-17?

Hon. John Manley (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have always wanted to act as Minister of Justice. Let me say that Bill C-17 is good, solid law reform. It is an attempt to recognize cruelty to animals as a form of violence and to encourage the justice system to treat it seriously.

However, some have misunderstood the intent of Bill C-17. These amendments make no changes to the way the law applies to currently lawful activities involving animals. In fact, to make that clear, the Minister of Justice would support changes to the bill that clarify the law and provide assurances that humane practices will not be affected.

*  *  *

 

. 1150 + -

MINISTER OF INDUSTRY

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the new Minister of Industry, but since he is not a member of the House of Commons, can the Deputy Prime Minister tell the House what kind of signal the Prime Minister is sending to Canadian businesses and workers by appointing an industry minister who, as premier of Newfoundland, managed to scuttle a billion dollar mining project and 1,300 jobs at Voisey's Bay in his own province?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the new Minister of Industry when he was premier of Newfoundland led his province to record growth and record prosperity. I understand that of all the provinces, Newfoundland under his leadership has the best growth record in the country.

I am sure he will work with the rest of his colleagues to ensure that type of record of growth and achievement continues to be the case for all Canadians, both in terms of investment and in terms of low unemployment, high employment, high investment and prosperity for Canadians in every part of our country, working together as part of the Liberal team.

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is some record.

We know of Mr. Tobin's vast political record and experience, but what I am questioning is his economic record and experience. After all, his last provincial budget in Newfoundland finished $35 million in the red.

The Prime Minister has demonstrated an extreme arrogance by appointing this non-elected friend to a key economic post. Why does the Prime Minister not admit that this appointment is just to enable Captain Canada to become the new prince of pork in the House?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the province of Alberta, when the Leader of the Opposition was part of that government, lost $441 billion on only one company. I think the Alliance ought to have some modesty in trying to raise these kinds of questions without sound premises.

By the way, so far the official opposition members have given the government a vote of confidence on its economic record and its economic policies, because they have not asked one question about the provisions of the economic update of the Minister of Finance. That economic update brings in lower taxes for lower and middle income Canadians, pays down the debt, and also adds to our programs to help Canadians have better lives.

*  *  *

[Translation]

ECONOMIC POLICY

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The Liberals were not elected to give $500,000 to the president of the Royal Bank. They were elected to ensure a just society for each and every Canadian family.

Why reduce the $34 billion employment insurance surplus by making a big handout, giving the jackpot to the president of the Royal Bank?

Hon. Jim Peterson (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is what we have done with employment insurance.

Mr. Yvon Godin: Nothing is what you have done.

Hon. Jim Peterson: There has been a reduction from $3.07 to $3. Then it dropped to $2.95, and $2.80, and $2.70, and $2.55. Today it is down to $2.25. That is eight drops in a row. This means $6 billion a year for workers and small and medium businesses. Those are real tax cuts.

An hon. member: You have robbed the workers.

The Speaker: This is the last day, dear colleagues, but I do not want to hear the word robbed in the House of Commons. It is not acceptable.

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, with a $15 billion surplus, there is not one cent for the unemployed. The Liberals were not elected to cut the capital gains tax rate by 40% for the rich earning in excess of $250,000 annually. They were elected to reduce the gap between rich and poor.

Why give billions to the banks, while leaving the country with 70 new food banks that have had to start up in the past five years?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): The hon. member across the way—and I thank him for it—gave his agreement this morning for passage of Bill C-44 to help the unemployed.

I know, of course, that he wanted to see that bill pass. He knows very well, however, that after four attempts by the government to get the bill passed, both the Canadian Alliance and the Bloc Quebecois this morning refused to allow this legislative measure of such importance to workers to proceed.

*  *  *

 

. 1155 + -

[English]

THE ENVIRONMENT

Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, PC): Mr. Speaker, last year I asked the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to have an environmental impact assessment on the impact of Metz Farms in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. That was denied. Last week the same department ordered water testing. Has anything been learned from Walkerton? It has acknowledged it made a mistake last year. The people of Sainte-Marie and the surrounding area are requesting that the government compensate Metz Farms, a hog factory, and close it down and make sure that these communities can survive.

We cannot have hog factories with tourism and the health problem it is bringing. We need it closed now.

Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, monitoring is currently taking place to determine the situation at the Bouctouche River. If it is indicated that there is a deleterious substance entering the water as a result of the pig farm, of course it will be instructed to take remedial measures. If it does not, then appropriate measures will be taken.

I would remind the hon. member that initially this was analyzed by DFO. It said there was no impact on habitat directly and that it was inappropriate to put in a restriction on the use of land within the province which would have affected farming in the province and the provincial jurisdiction.

*  *  *

DIGBY WHARF

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transport gave a cash lump sum payment of over $3.2 million to a not for profit corporation to run the Digby wharf in Digby, Nova Scotia. Now there is an accusation by a government official that the board of directors of this not for profit corporation held a board meeting at taxpayers' expense in Disneyland.

Will someone in this Mickey Mouse government shut this Goofy operation down before all the money is gone?

Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government is confident that its administrative procedures are sound. Where errors are discovered either in the administrative processes of the government or through the activities of review agencies such as the auditor general, the appropriate corrective action is taken.

We are a responsible government, responsible Canadians. Where there are issues to be addressed, we address them to ensure that the public administration of the country is solid.

*  *  *

AGRICULTURE

Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, since the inception of this great country, farmers and farm families have provided good quality, safe food at a fair price to Canadians. Over the last five years, through no fault of their own, due to poor commodity prices and bad weather conditions, they have looked to governments for help.

Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell the House exactly what he intends to do in terms of the income disaster program to help in additional funds for our farmers?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the last couple of years alone the government has increased the support and the safety net to farmers by 85%.

I am pleased to announce today that those who have applied and met the criteria of the 1999 AIDA program, the agriculture income disaster assistance program, will have the initial payment increased on the federal portion from 50% to 80%.

*  *  *

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question concerns the residential school issue. We welcome the Deputy Prime Minister's involvement. We understand that since his involvement there have been several productive and positive meetings.

However a problem persists. Government lawyers in the field have been actively and aggressively countersuing the churches, engaging in litigation causing immense legal fees and driving the churches toward bankruptcy.

I ask the Deputy Prime Minister, have orders gone out or will orders go out to the Department of Justice lawyers to cease such action so that a resolution may be found which will be fair to the victims of abuse and the churches?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

First, I have been looking into this further. It is my understanding that more than 70% of the cases which involve churches involve them because the claimants, former students in residential schools, sued not only the federal government but also the church organizations.

It is not correct to say that in all the cases, or even in most of them, churches have been added because of federal government action.

 

. 1200 + -

I am looking into this matter further. In the meantime, I am glad he is confirming that the discussions I have had so far with the church leadership have been useful.

*  *  *

INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S REPORT

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I have a brief quote from the infamous 1993 Liberal red book indicating that people are irritated with governments that disregard their views or that try to conduct key parts of the public business behind closed doors.

Mayday, mayday, in the year 2000 information commissioner's report it says that the Prime Minister's Office denied the information commissioner's request to review files. No other minister in 17 years has refused to co-operate.

When the government will not live up to its 1993 promises why should anybody treat seriously the promises that it is making now?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have great respect for the Office of the Information Commissioner and the rules under which he operates.

At times a difference of opinion will arise on how these rules are to be interpreted and sometimes we have to ask the courts to interpret these rules. There has just been a court ruling which seems to go in the direction of the government's point of view.

I can assure my hon. friend that we will continue to respect the work of the information commissioner in a very constructive fashion.

*  *  *

POINTS OF ORDER

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Before you leave the chair, I hope, in the light of my position over the years in the House, that I can add to the comments made yesterday.

I want to express my personal appreciation for your work as Speaker and for your support of the institution of parliament. I think I reflect the views of parliamentarians and Canadians who wish you well in future endeavours.

[Translation]

ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la-Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, during the course of Oral Question Period, the government House leader said that our party was the only one to not understand what happened yesterday.

We may not have understood, but I would like to tell you what I have understood so you can tell me whether I have indeed. It is important—

The Speaker: Yesterday I indicated that a decision on the matter was required.

I made it after asking the House leaders of the government and the Bloc Quebecois to approach for an explanation. I am told this took place today. It is not for me, Madam, to explain it to you, but you may ask the clerk.

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay: But there is a problem, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker: Order, please. The member for Mercier.

Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, at the end of oral question period I considered I had been deprived of my right. The order agreed on among the parties and with you was that there was no NDP. There were the Progressive Conservative Party, the Liberals, the Reformers and the Bloc.

You recognized someone from the NDP. Perhaps there was a delay and you had to recognize him, but it seems to me that that should not have occurred to the detriment of the Bloc Quebecois.

The Speaker: You are right. When I looked at the list, I saw that the name of the hon. member was there but I had missed the other member. I apologize; I do not know how to fix that. Perhaps we can correct things at the next question period.

*  *  *

 

. 1205 + -

[English]

MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills, to which the concurrence of this House is desired.



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Translation]

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS

Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Cooperation, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 11 petitions.

*  *  *

[English]

STANDING COMMITTEES

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

Mr. Alex Shepherd (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

*  *  *

PETITIONS

HEALTH CARE

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present several petitions. The first concerns the Canadian public health care system. It is signed by many Canadians concerned about the fact that the government has reduced its contributions to the health care system.

The petitioners are calling upon the federal government to increase Canada's share of health care funding to 25% immediately and to implement a national home care program and a national program for prescription drugs.

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the second petition I have the honour to present concerns employment insurance and the fact that changes were made to assist parents in the extended parental leave which will apply to children born on or after December 31, 2000.

This petition is signed by a number of people who are concerned that the parents of children born before that date will not have the same privileges.

The petitioners are calling upon parliament to make extended parental leave come into effect immediately so parents of children born before December 31, 2000, can benefit from it.

CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my third petition concerns saving the local public broadcasting system. A number of people have signed this petition. They are concerned about the massive cuts that have been made to the CBC.

The petitioners are calling upon parliament to take measures to restore adequate funding to the CBC and to allow the maintenance and the improvement of current local television news while improving the network for all Canadians.

HEALTH CARE

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my last petition concerns the public health care system. It is signed by a number of people who are calling upon the federal government to increase its share of funding to 25% immediately and to implement a national home care program and a national program for prescription drugs.

FOOD LABELLING

Mr. Derrek Konrad (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I was interested to hear that the government has just answered 11 petitions.

I am pleased to present a petition signed by the good people of Nanaimo—Cowichan which I am presenting on their behalf at the request of their member. There are approximately 2,700 signatures on this petition.

 

. 1210 + -

The petitioners draw the attention of the House of Commons to the genetically modified organism issue. They talk about allowing these foods into Canada, non-labelling, no independent testing, and incidents occurring that indicate genetically modified foods are causing problems. The petitioners are calling on parliament to enforce labelling.

[Translation]

IMPORTATION OF PLUTONIUM

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today, the last day of this session, to present a petition.

It contains the signature of 2,000 petitioners from my region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. They join with the thousands of Quebecers who, over the last few months, have asked parliament to make all the arrangements required to consult the people and their representatives on the principle of importing MOX fuel.

[English]

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, PC): Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege to present a petition containing about 250 names with regard to the new EI boundaries.

Unfortunately the people in the villages of South Branch, Hillsborough and Elgin in my riding have been kept with the Moncton zone, which means they will need almost twice as many hours to qualify for only 15 to 17 weeks compared to 32 weeks in other regions. This is very unfair.

It is unfortunate that they still have to fight to get what is just. They should be zoned with the rural area and not with the urban. Hopefully within time that very unjust situation created by the Liberal government will be corrected.

PORNOGRAPHY

Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from several hundred Newfoundlanders all over the province. They are expressing concern about the ungoverned use of Internet in public libraries where the participants in research and so on have access to degrading pornographic material.

They are asking that their tax dollars not be used in this way and that the government bring in legislation to govern the use of such materials in the public libraries of the province.

*  *  *

[Translation]

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Cooperation, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Question No. 110 will be answered today. .[Text]

Question No. 110—Mr. Greg Thompson:

    With respect to employment insurance benefit applicants in the Restigouche—Charlotte, employment insurance region, for each of the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 fiscal years: (a) how many workers qualified for employment benefits with the minimum number of required hours; (b) how many of these workers were female; (c) how many were male; (d) how many were female and over 60 years of age; (e) how many were male and over 60 years of age; (f) how many employment insurance benefit applicants did not qualify for benefits; and (g) what was the average number of hours worked by those who qualified for employment insurance benefits?

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): With respect to employment insurance, EI benefit applicants in the Restigouche—Charlotte employment insurance region, for each of the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 fiscal years:

(a) During the fiscal year 1998-1999, 124 claims were established with the minimum number of hours required to qualify for employment benefits in Restigouche—Charlotte. This represents 0.18% of the 70,666 claims established in that period.

During the first nine months of the fiscal year 1999-2000, the latest available data for that period, 93 claims were established with the minimum number of hours required to qualify for employment benefits in Restigouche—Charlotte. This represents 0.16% of the 56,766 claims established in that period.

(b) During the fiscal year 1998-1999, the number of claims from women, among the total amount of claims that qualified for employment benefits with the minimum number of required hours, was 47 in Restigouche—Charlotte.

During the first nine months of the fiscal year 1999-2000, the number of claims from women, among the total amount of claims that qualified for employment benefits with the minimum number of required hours, was 49 in Restigouche—Charlotte.

(c) During the fiscal year 1998-1999, the number of claims from men, among the total amount of claims that qualified for employment benefits with the minimum number of required hours, was 77 in Restigouche—Charlotte.

During the first nine months of the fiscal year 1999-2000, the number of claims from men, among the total amount of claims that qualified for employment benefits with the minimum number of required hours, was 44 in Restigouche—Charlotte.

(d) During the fiscal year 1998-1999, the number of claims from women over 60 years of age, among the total amount of claims that qualified for employment benefits with the minimum number of required hours, was 2 in Restigouche—Charlotte.

During the first nine months of the fiscal year 1999-2000, the number of claims from women over 60 years of age, among the total amount of claims that qualified for employment benefits with the minimum number of required hours, was 6 in Restigouche—Charlotte.

(e) During the fiscal year 1998-1999, the number of claims from men over 60 years of age, among the total amount of claims that qualified for employment benefits with the minimum number of required hours, was 3 in Restigouche—Charlotte.

During the first nine months of the fiscal year 1999-2000, the number of claims from men over 60 years of age, among the total amount of claims that qualified for employment benefits with the minimum number of required hours, was 7 in Restigouche—Charlotte.

(f) Administrative data is primarily geared toward those who qualify as many claimants self access and do not apply for benefits. An alternative source is the employment insurance coverage survey, conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of Human Resources Development Canada, HRDC. This survey provides information on the unemployed who do not qualify for benefits. However, these data are not available by local EI region.

(g) During the fiscal year 1998-1999, the average number of required hours worked, according to all the claims that qualified for employment insurance benefits in Restigouche—Charlotte, was 1,111.

During the first nine months of the fiscal year 1999-2000, the average number of required hours worked, according to all the claims that qualified for employement insurance benefits in Restigouche—Charlotte, was 1,106.

*  *  *

[Translation]

QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS

Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Cooperation, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 54 could be made an order for return, the return would be tabled immediately.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed. .[Text]

Question No. 54—Ms. Christiane Gagnon:

    With respect to each of the programs for children (from infants to youth) delivered by federal departments and agencies, can the government indicate: (a),the year the program was introduced; and (b) since 1989: (i) a complete breakdown of the funding allocated for each fiscal year; (ii) the mechanisms established to evaluate the program's effectiveness; (iii) the follow-up and changes made to the program as a result of these evaluations; (iv) the annual administrative costs for the program's management; and (v) the mechanism(s) that the federal government has established to ensure these different programs are coordinated?

Return tabled.

*  *  *

[Translation]

STARRED QUESTIONS

Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Cooperation, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Starred Question No. 89. .[Text]

*Question No. 89—Mr. Jim Pankiw:

    With respect to the Canada Foundation for Innovation, what has the government through Industry Canada determined to be the amount of additional funding attracted from: (a) provincial governments; (b) universities; (c) private sector; and (d) voluntary sector?

[Translation]

Mr. Eugène Bellemare: Mr. Speaker, I ask that it be printed in Hansard as if read.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed. .[Text]

Mr. Eugène Bellemare: The following table lays out the sources of matching funds by category. These figures apply to projects where final agreements have been concluded. This represents 470 projects for a total CFI share of $164.5 million. Many larger projects are still being brought to the final agreement form. The total project dollars, CFI plus matching, amounts to $431.9 million so the CFI share is 38.1%. All cash values are in millions of dollars as of April 2000, the most recent figures available.

   

[Translation]

Mr. Eugène Bellemare: Mr. Speaker, I ask that all other questions be allowed to stand.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[English]

Mr. Ken Epp: Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent of the House to revert to motions for the purpose of moving concurrence in the 36th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I believe that all parties are in agreement and that we can proceed.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

 

. 1215 + -

[Translation]

INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT

 

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-15, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, be read a second time and referred to a committee.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill C-15, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act.

Water is a most precious resource for humankind. It has become a cliché to say that. Water is the very basis of life on earth. However, despite what we have believed for a long time, we could run out of water as a resource. Recent studies show that in some areas water is practically non-renewable.

For instance, the report of the International Joint Commission, released last August, says that precipitation and underground water barely contribute 1% to Great Lakes water renewal every year. This is cause for concern.

Under the circumstances, we must recognize that even if the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River account for one fifth of all freshwater reserves on the surface of the planet, it is not a limitless resource.

Moreover, in recent years discoveries and research on greenhouse gases and the potential risks of rising temperatures have shown the acute fragility of resources and the threats facing them.

The membership and duties of this commission are defined further on. Because of climatic risks, desertification on a planetary scale, limited resources of freshwater throughout the world and energy development on the basis of that resource, the idea of exporting large quantities of water by tanker or of diverting rivers has been seriously considered in the last decade in Quebec and Canada.

Therefore, a serious threat has now been added to the environmental threats already facing our water resources, and that is the bulk export of water and diverting lakes and rivers on a large scale.

Obviously, the bulk export of water opens up tremendous economic opportunities. Acknowledging that fact, some provinces examined the feasibility of issuing licences allowing companies to study bulk water export projects.

Following a drought in California at the beginning of the 1980s, British Columbia issued export licences to five Canadian companies and one American company. Over time, the province became concerned about the possible impact of such exports on its natural resources and passed legislation to forbid the bulk export of water.

We know that other provinces have considered issuing export licences. We recently saw some headlines about Newfoundland in this regard. The province quickly changed its mind but the possibility of issuing licences still exists. This, coupled with recent legal action by Sun Belt Water Inc., a California company, against the Government of British Columbia creates fears and raises once again the issue of commercial risks associated with the export of that resource. This is the context in which the federal government has been promising to legislate for a year now. This is the background.

 

. 1220 + -

Now I want to talk about the federal government strategy to date. Early this year, the federal government announced that it intended to take more direct action with respect to water exports, and to present a three-point strategy.

This strategy is a follow-up to a motion passed in the House of Commons on February 2, 1999, with respect to the protection of water. It was a New Democratic Party motion, which received the support of the House, and read as follows:

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should, in co-operation with the provinces, place an immediate moratorium on the export of bulk freshwater shipments and inter-basin transfers and should introduce legislation to prohibit bulk freshwater exports and inter-basin transfers and should not be a party to any international agreement that compels us to export freshwater against our will in order to assert Canada's sovereign right to protect, preserve and conserve our freshwater resources for future generations.

That was the New Democratic Party motion introduced in the House.

The federal strategy consists of three elements. The first is an amendment to the International Boundary Waters Treaty, which would give the federal government authority to regulate bulk water removal from boundary waters.

The second is a reference with the United States to the International Joint Commission to investigate the effects of consumption, diversions and removals, including those for export purposes, in boundary waters.

The third is a proposal to develop, in co-operation with the provinces and territories, a Canada-wide accord on bulk water removal so as to protect Canadian water basins.

On February 10, 1995, Canada and the United States created the International Joint Commission, following implementation of the 1909 boundary waters treaty. Its primary mandate is to ensure co-operation between the United States and Canada in the management of storm drainage systems along the border.

Six commissioners sit on the commission, three from Canada and three from the U.S. It is their responsibility to study the various problems arising in the management of basins. The shores of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence system are borders to eight states—Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York—and two provinces—Ontario and Quebec.

After noting a growing number of proposals to export water from the Great Lakes and other areas of the U.S. and Canada, the two countries agreed to ask the commission to study the question and make recommendations within the next year. The final report is expected in February 2001.

On August 18, the International Joint Commission submitted a preliminary report. Briefly, it recommended that, during the next six months it will need to complete its report, the federal and provincial governments and the American states not authorize any removal or large scale sale of water. It pointed out a number of things that warrant mentioning.

 

. 1225 + -

It indicated that there was no surplus in the Great Lakes system, that large scale removal of water could limit the resilience of the system and that information on the removal of underground water is inadequate.

This point causes problems, because underground waters can have a considerable effect on the integrity and quality of ecosystems. The report pointed out as well that we do not know—and this is a very important point—what the demand will be for water in the future. We must never forget that other generations will follow us and we have the job of ensuring these future generations are not penalized by our decisions.

Also, because of the possible climate change and other natural considerations, it is impossible to assess with any degree of certainty what the level and the flow of the Great Lakes will be in the years to come.

Last week, the federal environment minister submitted to his provincial counterparts a Canada-wide agreement banning bulk water removal from watersheds. The response was rather timid, since Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan indicated that they would make their position known at a later date. Quebec withdrew from the discussion, stating that it found that the agreement was premature and that its Bill 73, the Water Resources Preservation Act, provided temporary measures prohibiting the transfer outside Quebec of surface water or groundwater taken in Quebec until December 31, 2000.

Quebec, however, kept the right to divert large quantities of water to produce electric power, keeping in mind the Churchill Falls project where it is looking at diverting the river to be able to produce electric power in the Labrador region.

The Quebec government considers that its legislation is adequate. It also stated that it will wait for the results of the public hearings of the BAPE and of the Quebec environmental assessment panel, before developing a comprehensive water strategy. New Brunswick, Newfoundland, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and the Yukon have all endorsed the agreement.

The only missing element of the three-pronged process is the changes to federal boundary waters legislation. Bill C-15 completes the federal strategy announced last February.

I will give a brief summary of Bill C-15. Bill C-15 derives directly from the federal government strategy announced in February 1999 and it fulfils its desire to regulate the removal of water from transboundary waters. According to the federal government, the purpose of this bill is to pave the way for the implementation of the treaty relating to boundary waters and questions arising along the boundary between Canada and the United States.

As such, the proposed amendments prohibit bulk water removal from boundary waters out of their natural water basin. The proposed amendments will also require persons to obtain licences from the Minister of Foreign Affairs for water related projects in boundary or transboundary waters that would affect the natural level or flow of water on the United States side of the border.

 

. 1230 + -

Thus, the federal government wishes to add clauses 10 to 26 to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act. Clauses 11 and 12 deal with the licences that have to be obtained for any project which uses, obstructs or diverts boundary waters in a manner that affects the natural level or flow of the water. Both clauses indicate that the licences do not apply in respect of the ordinary use of water for domestic or sanitary purposes.

Clause 13 of Bill C-15 seeks to prevent the removal of water from the boundary waters to take it outside the water basin, notwithstanding clause 11. General clauses 14 and 15 of the bill provide that sections 11 to 13 do not apply in respect of projects in existence immediately before the respective coming into force of those sections, unless their impact lasts after their coming into force.

Clauses 16 to 20 list the powers of the minister and summarize his capacity to issue and revoke licences and to impose penalties. Clause 21 deals with the regulations that can be made under the legislation and that will be a guide for ministerial decision making. The bill indicates, for example, that the governor in council, on a recommendation by the minister, will be able to define the concept of water basin, under paragraph (b) and identify exemptions to sections 11 and 12 under paragraph (c).

Under this paragraph, the department has already raised possible exemptions like humanitarian uses over a short period of time or the use of water to produce food and drink. An example that comes to mind is bottled water. Paragraph (d) deals with the prescription of classes of licences and paragraph (j) with the prescription of cases where no licence can be issued, and so on and so forth. Clauses 22 to 25 determine the punishment for offences.

The general public recognizes that our water resources should be protected, but it is far from obvious that Bill C-15 will result in better protection. In fact, a legitimate question concerning Bill C-15 is whether the Liberal government is taking advantage of the panic over water resources created by events in Ontario to grab powers outside its jurisdiction. Again this government is showing that it wants to interfere in areas under provincial jurisdiction.

I am forced to say today that the government never changed its tune during the three and a half years of this mandate, which will soon come to an end. It always declared that it respected provincial jurisdiction. But when the time came to put those words into action in the bills it introduced, we saw the true nature of this Liberal government. Liberal values were not reflected in the bills.

The Liberals said that they respected Canadians from all provinces, from Ontario, from Manitoba, from Saskatchewan, from British Columbia and from the maritimes. But that kind of language can be very deceiving because, when they introduced bills, we saw the opposite. They are two-faced: they say one thing, but their actions day in and day out go against the interests of the people and the provinces. They should provide services to allow individuals to have real courses of action and they should give some money back to the provinces for the environment, because it is a very important issue.

 

. 1235 + -

I have noticed that what the government and the Minister of the Environment say, beyond the rhetoric, is a drop in a sea of indifference.

The minister ought to have put billions of dollars more in his mini-budget. He gave us crumbs. The government has ignored the environment.

We had ministers who were not able to stand up to their cabinet colleagues and say that it was time to take action.



THE ROYAL ASSENT

[English]

A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

    Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Deputy to the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.

Accordingly the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.

 

. 1250 + -

And being returned:

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate Chamber the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

    Bill C-5, an act to establish the Canadian Tourism Commission—Chapter No. 28.

    Bill S-26, an act to repeal an act to incorporate the Western Canada Telephone Company—Chapter No. 29.

    Bill C-24, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act, a related Act, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Budget Implementation Act, 1997, the Budget Implementation Act, 1998, the Budget Implementation Act, 1999, the Canada Pension Plan, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff, the Employment Insurance Act, the Excise Act, the Income Tax Act, the Tax Court of Canada Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act—Chapter No. 30.

    Bill S-25, an act to amend the Defence Production Act—Chapter No. 31.

    Bill C-27, an act respecting the national parks of Canada—Chapter No. 32.

    Bill C-14, an act respecting an agreement with the Norway House Cree Nation for the settlement of matters arising from the flooding of land, and respecting the establishment of certain reserves in the province of Manitoba—Chapter No. 33.

    Bill C-41, an act to amend the statute law in relation to veterans' benefits—Chapter No. 34.

    Bill C-45, an act respecting the provision of increased funding for health care services, medical equipment, health information and communications technologies, early childhood development and other social services and to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act—Chapter 35.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Translation]

INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT

 

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-15, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, during the hiatus, the people watching our debate may have forgotten what I was saying about Bill C-15.

I would like to recap and remind the House what the purpose of this bill is. I also want to describe the government strategy I was referring to when we had to leave for the other House.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the leader of the Bloc Quebecois for appointing me critic for the environment. I think that we held some very important debates during the last three years and a half and that we considered some major issues.

One need only look at the legislation on the environment and on endangered species. The government wants to pass a bill to protect endangered species, but apart from the environment minister's fine words, what is it doing? I do not disagree with the minister's words, but we are still waiting for him to act.

It is too bad, because I reached out to him on a number of occasions, including the endangered species bill, the Environmental Protection Act, and even the debates on pesticides. There was no unanimous report, since Reform dissented because they are pro-business.

Currently, there are two different visions in this parliament: the ordinary people's vision, represented by the Bloc Quebecois, and the vision of the Liberal Party and Reform. I still call them Reform because they have not changed; it is still the same old Reform Party. They have not changed a whit. Their vision is still short-sighted. According to their vision, big business is to be in charge of everything that has to do with the environment.

I have denounced with all my strength this vision of the Alliance and the Liberal Party, which is to highjack provincial jurisdictions.

Once again we caught them red-handed, this time with Bill C-15. This government cannot help trying to control everything, be in charge, be the king of the castle, as it were.

I am proud to report that, today in Jonquière, a minister of this government, accompanied by the member from Chicoutimi who crossed the floor—we call them turncoats—was to announce an investment. Earlier the government House leader talked about Bill C-44, an act to improve the Employment Insurance Act.

Twice in two weeks, workers in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean told the revenue minister, the minister who represents our area, that we were quite capable of looking after our own administration.

 

. 1255 + -

Government members do not represent their constituents properly. It is going to blow up in their face, as we say.

This morning, the revenue minister was unable to give his press conference. He was told by people in our area to go back where he came from, through the Parc des Laurentides. We have been having quite a debate in our area. We would like to invest in the infrastructure, but the federal government has made cuts in road upgrading programs.

We have taken part in every debate, saying that 26% of the money they hold is Quebec's. A substantial portion of this money should go to my area. The minister was told to go back where he came from, because the kind of change he made to the employment insurance program is not worth the paper it is written on.

I applaud those people. They have shown all of Quebec and all of Canada that they were capable of standing up for themselves, of stating that the fund is theirs. The government has no business using it as it pleases; it is for us to administer, with the workers and the employers. We are the ones to have the say, as the gap keeps widening for seasonal workers thanks to the government.

The government makes the directives, but makes no financial contribution. It has been raiding the fund. Bravo to the people of the Saguenay and Lac Saint-Jean. I hope that all Canadians will stand up for themselves like the people in my area did this morning, and will continue to do so throughout this election campaign.

I will conclude my speech by saying that, although the Bloc Quebecois is well aware of how vitally important it is to protect our water resources, the bill as it stands strikes us as useless and is not in keeping with the division of jurisdictions.

It has a huge potential for encroachment onto provincial jurisdictions, without providing any additional protection against massive water exports.

We ought therefore to be opposed to the principle of the bill. I wish the Minister of the Environment, and whoever his successor is after the election, to know that we, the representatives of the Bloc Quebecois, will never accept interference in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

I would like to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to salute you and to thank you for all your well-chosen words and for the professionalism you have brought to the House as deputy speaker. I will always have very pleasant memories of you. I wish you the best of luck in the future.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): I thank the hon. member for her kindness.

[English]

Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to discuss Bill C-15 with reference to one of Canada's most precious natural resources, water. Canada owns most of the freshwater resources in the world. Almost 9% of the world's soft water is on Canadian territory and 60% of Canadian water flows into the Arctic Ocean.

The exportation of bulk water is not a new issue. It is actually a major issue that the Conservative government in 1984 was very much concerned with. We believe it is imperative to protect the interests of Canadians with reference to the export of bulk water. It is why we made sure that water was protected under NAFTA.

Bill C-15 introduces amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act in order to prohibit bulk removal of water from Canadian boundary waters, including the Great Lakes. The prohibition on removals will apply principally to the Great Lakes and other boundary waters.

Apart from prohibition, the amendments will also set in place a licensing regime for boundary waters projects such as dams, obstructions or other works that can affect water levels and flows. The International Boundary Waters Treaty Act was passed in 1911, implementing the Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. Its main objective was to establish the International Joint Commission, a binational organization.

Canada's border is the longest in the world, with over 300 lakes or rivers that either form, cross or straddle it. It is the Canadian government's responsibility and duty to protect that border.

 

. 1300 + -

NAFTA and the WTO generally prohibit restrictions on the exportation of goods subject to certain exceptions, none of which are likely to be applicable to the present purpose. The difficulty lies with the absence of a legal definition of goods. Obviously water in its natural state is not considered a good. Subject to trade agreements, bottled water is.

The purpose of Bill C-15 is to protect water which in its natural state would not then be subject to international obligations concerning trade in goods. From this perspective any possible precedent from a water export project would be limited to the province involved and would arise from the particular legislation that permitted removal for export and not from trade agreements.

If one province's legislation permitted removal of water and a project were to be approved, other provinces could still have legislation that prohibited removal of water. The point is to illustrate that water, in its natural state, is not a good and therefore not subject to international trade agreements.

Water is an integral part of Canada's boundaries. This most precious resource has to be protected and managed in the best interest of Canadians. I can assure the House that the bill will be supported by us.

I want to speak about the importance of communities having good, safe drinking water. That is why I asked the minister today about the safety of water and talked about the federal government's role of ensuring that in this great country, where we have so much water, we are doing everything to make sure Canadians in all parts of the country can drink water safely. We do not want another Walkerton.

Even in my riding every month or two a small community has a boiling order. Do we have an infrastructure problem? Is enough money going to the communities and municipalities to make sure we have the facilities so that our children, seniors and all of us do not get sick from drinking water?

We cannot take it for granted any more. We did that in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent before getting that pig factory installed. We asked for an environmental impact assessment. The federal government had both the responsibility and the obligation to do an environmental impact assessment. It had the obligation. The Liberals lured Metz Farms to Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. It is clear the Liberals in Ottawa were told an environmental impact assessment was not wanted, and that is what happened.

What is happening today? We have communities and families not speaking with each other. On top of that we have a federal government that has realized that maybe we have water problems. Maybe we have communities with health risks. Maybe the drinking water is not safe any more and tests should be done.

We have 30,000 pigs being processed over there. That could have been prevented. Metz Farms invested a lot of money to install this. It was told it could. The federal government said it did not need to do an assessment, that Metz could go ahead and set up. It would not intervene. It would not use what was available to make sure the people of Sainte-Marie would not be at risk.

Definitely the department is on autopilot. It is not even in neutral but going in reverse. We did not have the technology in the past to identify why there were contaminations. We have it now, but we have a federal government that continues to close its eyes to it. This is not acceptable.

 

. 1305 + -

The federal government said last week it would do some water testing in Sainte-Marie. The government is now recognizing that it should have done an environmental impact assessment. I say the government should do what the manager of Metz Farms said to do: buy it out.

There is a problem here. Communities are not happy with this. We have our farms. Nobody is against farms. Our leader spoke on farms this week. Our critic spoke on farms and on how the federal government is abandoning our farmers. We do not mind farms, be it cow, pig or sheep. We are not talking about farms here; we are talking about factories. There is a difference.

The difference is that before we had Metz Farms in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent both the farmers and the non-farmers would actually eat together in the morning. They would have coffee together. They liked each other. They would help each other. What do we have because of this factory? We now have family divisions. There is no more harmony. That is what bothers me. No one is against farmers.

Where was agriculture in the mini-budget to make sure our farmers would survive? They do not survive. They are eaten up by the big factories. That is what the Liberal government is pushing for now, the megafactories. They did it with fishing as well. We have to protect our farmers. We have to help our farmers. Our farmers are saying they need what Metz is giving them because that way they get free fertilizer for their lands. That means our farmers are in difficulty. They might need financial help. What does the government do for our farms be they small, medium or big but still not factories?

A farm is not 30,000 pigs. I lived next to a farm that had pigs and one that had a milk dairy. They were great people. It was nice to hear the cowbells in the morning. My fence was electric, so I had no problem buying a home among farms. I like farms. A factory, it has been proven, is an environmental disaster.

Can hon. members imagine that we have actually put a pig factory in the middle of a region where we have invested millions and millions in tourism, aquaculture and fisheries? Let us try to mix the two together. There was a smell over the summer from the piggery. It was not supposed to smell during tourist season, but the pigs could not figure out how to hold it back during the summer months. What happened? We had a bad smell during tourist season.

What about the health risks? Today I was on a call-in show. There were calls from Carmelle, Maria, Lisa, Rhéal, Richard, Raymond, Edmond and more. They called because they were very concerned, and with good reason: they were not consulted. Nobody knew about it. It was a secret deal. Nobody knew this factory would be set up. That is not right. Let us allow communities to talk to about it.

There is legislation in place. I know farmers are worried that if we put forth too much legislation it would hurt the farmers. I believe we have the legislation in place now. We had a minister of DFO who could have requested an environmental impact assessment to make sure that what we are seeing now would not have happened. The mechanism is in place. We do not have to add any extra burden to our regular farmers. This is not what we are talking about. We are talking about a pig megafactory that has tremendous potential impact in terms of health, economics and the environment.

Even this week the Liberal government announced $19.5 million in tourism for Atlantic Canada. That is nice, and we will take it, but how do we balance it off with developments like the pig factory?

 

. 1310 + -

It could have been put somewhere else. It was a terrible location. There are other areas. The two just cannot be mixed together. At some point there will have to be a decision made on whether the government will keep investing millions in tourism and aquaculture or keep investing in pig factories. I do not think they blend.

Right now people are saying we cannot risk thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries for a few jobs in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. We cannot gamble that.

I believe we needed both an environmental impact assessment and a socioeconomic assessment. We needed to have this studied before it happened, but no, it looked as though it just went through. All of us in government have to sit together right now and fix this.

The people of Sainte-Marie-de-Kent, Saint-Paul, Saint-Lazare, Sainte-Anne, Fond-de-la-Baie, Bouctouche, Saint-Antoine and Saint-Joseph deserve better. All levels of government need to sit down and look at the situation. People deserve it.

I believe the solution is to compensate Metz. Metz has told me that if it gets the money it will close its doors. Let us compensate. For the few millions it will cost to close Metz we will save millions in the fishing and tourism industries. That is not counting the health bill. The health of the people of that region is at risk.

The government has to look at that option. People from the communities are telling me they want it closed. People working in Metz are telling me as an MP to find the money and it will close its doors. At the end of the day that will be the only option.

It was wrong from day one. The government does not know where it started or when it started. We know all of this started several years back. As was said on the radio talk show today, it really does not matter who brought it. We are stuck with the problem. We are stuck with a health problem, an environmental problem and an economic problem. This has to be addressed.

I do not agree that communities have to take it upon their shoulders the way they are doing. They have no choice. One politician alone cannot solve this problem because one politician alone did not bring it there. To be honest, it was two.

They need help and support. They need to know that the government will recognize that it failed big time when it could have intervened, when it could have requested an environmental impact assessment because of the possible impact on our fish habitat. It could have, but it closed its eyes to it.

That is not right. The government recognized it this week by requesting testing. What will it do if it finds the water is contaminated? What will the minister do? Will he close it then?

The assessment would have proven that the water would eventually be contaminated and would affect the fish habitat and all the money we have invested in aquaculture, in our fishing communities. We have communities that are practically totally dependent on the fishing industry and tourism.

At one end we have a government that says it will cut EI and people have to be working all the time. At the same time it is bringing in facilities going against what we are trying to do, which is work as much as we can. As usual there is no plan.

We need a regional development plan. We need environment ministers to agree to it and abide by it. Communities need to be consulted. No longer can we have facilities like this one. There are 30,000 pigs being processed per year in a community.

The one thing we do not talk about, and maybe one of the least important things for a lot of people, is the value of the homes. What about the value of the family? Many families have told me about being outside for barbecues and all of a sudden smelling it. They have to get into the house, close their windows and shut everything tight. That is not right. What about the value of their homes?

 

. 1315 + -

Sainte-Marie-de-Kent is a place where everybody would like to live. I remember going for drives there all the time and saying to my husband, “My God, it's nice in Sainte-Marie”. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not saying that any more. It is not because we do not have nice people. We have great people in Sainte-Marie.

Sainte-Marie is not the only place that has the smell. I live in Buctouche and the smell is there too. How about the golf course? How many millions does it take to build a golf course? We did not even look at the impact on the golf course but we are putting money in there too into pays de la Sagouine. It just goes on and on. It is a decision I will never understand.

I will never understand provincial politicians apparently lobbying to have this factory set up there, the same politicians who invested money in both tourism and the fishery. I will never understand why they believed that bringing in this factory would benefit our region. I hope someday that they will participate in the call-in, such as the one we did this morning where they refused to comment. I believe it was because they could not explain it or did not want to. However, I would like to see the day when they will explain that decision. It was a terrible decision. I have to say I do support the community and I do understand their frustration.

[Translation]

They talk of communities working very hard to develop their region, but not of the private sector. How many people have invested their own money, in a campground or in cottages, in starting up a fish plant or in many other things? Did anyone consult these entrepreneurs and ask them “Is this going to hurt your business?” No. No one consulted them. Everyone has to be consulted. The government cannot go on making decisions for communities at the expense of the people living there.

I had a call from a man who had to leave his work to go and care for his children because the spreader had gone by his house. It makes no sense for this man to leave his work for such a reason. This week, a truck was taken off the road. But were the people who did the inspection not within their rights? The truck was taken off the road. It was not allowed on the road because it failed to meet the requirements of the Department of Transport. How many other things are not right? I congratulate the committee. I congratulate the pool patrol for all their work.

It is true that all the communities, with our help, and all levels of government must sit down together and reach a solution. I hope that other people will insist that the government compensate Metz Farms, and close it down to save jobs in the tourism sector and to protect the health of our families, children, seniors and young children, who often have asthma, as Maria said when she called me.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you. It has been a pleasure for me to sit here these past three years, five months and few weeks. I know you will not be coming back to the House, and I want to wish you not only good luck, but success in your future endeavours. Thank you again for your patience, knowing that those of us who had arrived recently needed a little advice. I look forward to our next meeting.

[English]

Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the speech of the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac was so full of inherent contradictions that I felt I had to stand up and ask for some clarification. The most noticeable contradiction was a glaring omission. She failed to mention the fact that, even though she was a member of the NDP caucus and should know better, it was the NDP that moved the opposition day motion back in February of 1999 which called for the government to do something to ban the bulk sale of water and the interbasin transfer of water and to protect that precious natural resource. I am wondering if that was a deliberate omission, because, frankly, it could be taken as being rude to fail to at least acknowledge that in a lengthy speech.

 

. 1320 + -

There is another contradiction that exists. Now that the member is in fact a member of the Progressive Conservative Party and a sitting member of the Tory caucus, she did not mention anything about the real nature of the Tories' attitude toward the bulk sale of water and the interbasin transfer of water. I use two examples because I only have a few minutes. I could mention many more, but these are two glaring examples. One is the right wing Tory premier, Wacky Bennett. They did not call him wacky for nothing because his big plan was to flood the Skagit Valley, divert the great northern rivers of British Columbia and sell the water to Washington State.

As if that was not crazy enough, other Tory premiers came along with similar ideas, like Gary Filmon, the former premier of Manitoba, who wrote his engineering thesis in school with a plan to use nuclear blasts to blast a trench from Lake Winnipeg into North Dakota, then divert the water further into the Columbia River system and into the United States.

All throughout history right wing Tories have had this plan to commercialize Canada's water and turn it into a marketable commodity. When they went into the NAFTA deal we begged and pleaded—the opinion of the NDP is that we should not have entered that deal at all—“Make sure that water is off the table. Do not commercialize our water. Do not make it subject to these liberalized trade agreements”. It was the Tories who put the future of our freshwater supply at risk by doing that very thing.

It is Tory prime ministers and premiers who have said “Water is the oil of the next decade”. Can we believe anyone who would view a substance that is so essential for life itself as something that should be subject to the profit motive?

I guess I am asking the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac when she was lying. Were you lying when you were a member of our caucus or are you lying now that you are a member of the Tory caucus?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre knows full well that to put such a question in such a way is unparliamentary and will not be permitted. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre will have one opportunity to retract with no other words, one opportunity and one opportunity only.

Mr. Pat Martin: I apologize for the comment and I retract any statement to do with lying. I was taken up in the heat of the moment.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): We will go on to the next question or comment. We are not going to have a response.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak for a few minutes to this very important topic. We all know the importance of water. I suppose some of the occurrences in the province of Ontario in the last couple of months have really underlined that for us.

I remember that when my son was in Africa he reported to us that one of the greatest problems and challenges in the continent of Africa is to provide a plentiful and a safe water supply to the people on that continent. There is nothing that is more important than an adequate supply of water that is safe, free from contamination and free from anything that would harm us.

We are also aware of the fact that water is a renewable resource. I often marvel at the different engineering cycles that have been designed into our planet. One of the most amazing ones when we stop to think about it is the design of the water cycle, which goes up into the clouds. We fly through it with some bumps when we are on an airplane. The water precipitates, comes down and is so necessary.

I remember when I was a farm kid in Saskatchewan that if we did not get rain we did not get food because the very plants required that water. That was all part of the big cycle. That water of course would then eventually evaporate. Some of it found its way into creeks and rivers, some of it into the South Saskatchewan River near where I live, and some of it found its way over to the Hudson Bay and into the ocean. Once again, the sun evaporated it and it came back in clouds. It is a large cycle. We need to recognize the fact that a lot of this is really quite beyond the control of people and, specifically, it is beyond the control of governments.

 

. 1325 + -

Therefore, it is very important for us to make sure that the water supply and the basins that we have in Canada are protected from exploitation and from harm. We need to make sure that our water supplies are kept intact and not subject to being drained so that our own people suddenly no longer have an adequate water supply.

In principle, I agree with this particular bill before us today. It is regrettable that when NAFTA was being negotiated there was not a specific reference made to the total exclusion of water from any trade considerations. The wording in the NAFTA agreement unfortunately is ambiguous. It says that NAFTA creates no rights to the natural water resources of any party to the agreement.

As Canadians, we sit here with our water supply and wonder if this means that neither the United States nor Mexico, nor any other country, has any rights to our natural water resources. Or does it mean that we as Canadians, since we are also a party to this agreement, do not have the rights to our own natural water resources? It is regrettable that the people who signed NAFTA did not pick up on that and correct it before it got into its final form. Hence, we now have this dilemma.

I really believe that when it comes to the sale of water we could make pretty good use of that resource. As I said before, if it is taken elsewhere in the world, through the design of our universe, it will come back to us. We could sell the same water over and over again and it could be a very good thing for us economically. However, as soon as we begin to do this it becomes a tradable commodity and subject to NAFTA which means we would, at that stage, lose control of it.

As an interim measure, I think we should pass the bill so that commercialization, sale of bulk water, is not even contemplated. To do so under NAFTA would get us into a real bind.

I will concede now and give the floor to the member for Mercier.

[Translation]

Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I know I really do not have much time.

However, I do want to take the last few minutes of this parliament to point out that Bill C-15, despite its good underlying principles, is in sync with all the other legislation the current federal government, which as we all know does not have much time left, has come up with. It is using every opportunity to infringe upon the jurisdiction of the provinces, and especially that of Quebec.

Yes, water is of the utmost importance for life, health and economic development.

The report of the International Joint Commission proposed that, on both sides of the border, the United States and Canada and the American states and the Canadian provinces agree to suspend bulk water exports for a period of six months.

What is important to realize here is that this bill goes much further than the recommendation and authorizes the foreign affairs minister to determine by himself Canada's jurisdiction over Quebec's water resources.

 

. 1330 + -

This is totally unacceptable. It explains why we insisted on saying that this is not the way to go. We should trust the provinces to exercise their jurisdiction and let the federal government exercise its own jurisdiction, which is not at all the one the government is trying to set out in Bill C-15.

My final words in this parliament are much the same as my first words.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for all the work you have accomplished. I would like to pay tribute to you. For the members who rise in such a busy House as this one, the mere fact that the Speaker is listening to them, as you have very often listened to us, allows us to be better speakers for the Canadians who watch us, to better explain the various bills and why we oppose them, which is our responsibility as members of the opposition.

For this as well as all your other qualities, I am convinced that my colleagues will join me in thanking you sincerely for the high level of parliamentary work you have done as acting speaker in this House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): I thank the hon. member for her kind words.

It being 1.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.


PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[English]

CANADIAN FORCES DAY

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.) moved:  

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government, in recognition of the tremendous contribution of the Canadian Forces to the protection of Canadian sovereignty, United Nations peacekeeping missions, the NATO alliance, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and search and rescue operations, should proclaim June 15 “Canadian Forces Day”.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order which relates to the text of the motion that is before the House. I think if you request it you would find unanimous consent to change the text of the motion very slightly. The motion as it now reads is:

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government, in recognition of the tremendous contribution of the Canadian Forces to the protection of Canadian sovereignty, United Nations peacekeeping missions, the NATO alliance, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and search and rescue operations, should proclaim June 15 “Canadian Forces Day”.

The amendment I would like to have considered by unanimous consent would be the following: that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the Canadian Forces and substituting the following: both at home and abroad, in such areas as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, search and rescue and UN peacekeeping, should proclaim the first Sunday in June as Canadian Forces Day.

It is a relatively minor amendment, but I think you would find unanimous consent to have the House agree to that.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Members have heard the suggested change to the motion standing in the name of the member for Nepean—Carleton. Is there unanimous consent for the hon. member to move the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Therefore debate is on the original motion.

Mr. David Pratt: I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this motion today. The motion as it appears is to declare June 15 as Canadian forces day. I understand that my colleague, the hon. member for Hillsborough, may be moving an amendment that would reflect my earlier comments in this regard.

 

. 1335 + -

I will give members a bit of the history of this motion. It was introduced on March 18, 1998. It is perhaps a testament to the speed with which the wheels of parliament turn that it has taken over two years to have it considered by the House.

Some members would no doubt say that I should count myself lucky that I got an item on for debate at all. I can assure them that I feel fortunate to be able to have this item considered. Nevertheless, I cannot help but think that there absolutely has to be a better way to deal with private members' business. I very much hope that the next parliament will address this issue in a comprehensive and effective manner. That discussion very clearly is for another day.

On the item before us, I must say that I have been gratified by the amount of support expressed for the particular measure. The motion received a great deal of support from the members of the House. I should remind members that this was one of the items for which there were 100 signatures of members, from both sides of the House.

In circulating the petition on this motion, I received some very supportive comments. Indeed there were some expressions of surprise that the country had not already done something of this nature to honour the men and women who serve in the Canadian forces.

I should say as well that in consultations I had with members of the House and with the Minister and the Department of National Defence, I have revised the motion, as I indicated earlier. Those revisions reflect the changes in terms of the consultations I had with regard to the motion.

The reason for the change is quite simple. If we fix a date on a weekend, it is more likely that Canadians across this great country of ours would be able to more readily participate in community events and ceremonies.

What is the motion all about? Quite simply, the purpose of the motion is to thank all the men and women who serve us while in the uniform of the Canadian forces.

Some might ask why such a measure is necessary today. After all, we have so many people in the country who perform important and dangerous roles to protect people and property.

I would argue, however, that the nature of military service is quite different. As we have heard so often at the defence committee, we have the concept of unlimited liability in military service. What does that mean? It means that the person who signs up with the Canadian forces agrees to obey orders that could put his or her life, as well as those of colleagues, in danger.

In two world wars and the Korean war, the concept of unlimited liability was not an issue that attracted a lot of esoteric debate. It was an issue that was all too real to the people who served and died for this country. It was all too real to the families, to the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who read telegrams saying that a loved one was wounded, missing or killed in action.

These issues seem so far from us today, 55 years after the end of the second world war, but are they really? For the family of a peacekeeper who was killed in Bosnia or Croatia or, indeed, if we go back a few years, in places like Cyprus or the Golan Heights, the concept of unlimited liability is very real. It is very real for the families of the soldiers who are currently serving in Bosnia and who will be very shortly serving in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I must admit that I feel a little close to this issue as someone who has served from the beginning of this parliament on the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. It has been as a result of my service on that committee that I have come to know and appreciate the varied and complex work that is done by our men and women in uniform.

I think back to the committee hearings on quality of life that we held in bases across the country, where the members of our committee got a real taste of what the Canadian forces accomplish. Our committee started its work on a trip to Canadian forces base Yellowknife on a C-130 Hercules in January 1998. I have had a lot of trips on airplanes but I cannot remember one as uncomfortable as that trip. My colleague, the hon. member for Hillsborough, could probably attest to that on some of the rides he has had in the C-130 Hercules.

That was the beginning of an eye opening experience that later took us to Canadian forces base Esquimalt, then off to our search and rescue operations at Pat Bay. From there we went to Canadian forces bases Edmonton, Cold Lake and Moose Jaw. Our travels also took us to Canadian forces bases Borden, Petawawa, Valcartier, Halifax, Gagetown and Goose Bay. We saw soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen who told us about the joys and challenges of their work, along with the frustrations and disappointments.

 

. 1340 + -

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of serving on the defence committee was being able to visit our troops in peacekeeping and other operations. Our committee travelled to Geilenkirchen, Germany, where we saw Canada's contribution to the NATO AWACS system.

We also travelled to Canada's areas of operations in Bosnia, where we visited places with unusual names like Velika Kladusa, Coralici, Bihac, Zgon and Drvar. In many places we saw the physical damage of war: destroyed homes, burned out farms, burned out businesses and factories, and beautiful green fields that no one would dare to walk on for fear of land mines. Perhaps most disturbing of all were the faces of the men, women and children who have been deeply affected by war.

The conditions of service that our men and women in the Canadian forces face are certainly less than ideal. There is, as we all know, the danger of unexploded land mines and unexploded ordnance. As well, there are weapons everywhere in some of these places. There are dangerous roads and hazardous conditions.

One of the things that also struck me when our committee visited Bosnia was that when I asked some of our peacekeepers what would happen to the society being protected if the peacekeepers were to leave that place, we were told very clearly that it would not take very long, maybe only hours, perhaps days, before people would again be killing one another and damaging and destroying property. They said that it would be a very serious and unfortunate situation.

Members of our committee also had the opportunity to travel to Kosovo earlier this year to the KFOR operation, Camp Maple Leaf in Skopje, Macedonia, to tour the operations there. What we saw was equally disturbing and probably made just as much impact on us as the trip that we took to Bosnia a couple of years earlier. We saw the results of the precision bombing, the mass graves and the property destruction, which was everywhere.

However, members of the Canadian forces do not just serve in the Balkans and in the former Yugoslavia. They are in many other parts of the world, more recently in places like East Timor and in an area that I am certainly more familiar with, Sierra Leone. We have had, for instance, military observers there to monitor the Lomé peace agreement as part of the UNAMSIL force there. We also had a cargo handling unit in Sierra Leone.

I mentioned some of the dangers of our operations for people in places like Bosnia and Kosovo, but in Africa the dangers are in many respects multiplied. Here I am thinking of military observers and the dangers that exist in terms of kidnapping. We saw earlier this year the kidnapping by the rebel forces in Sierra Leone of about 500 members of the Indian peacekeeping force that was part of the UNAMSIL operation. That sort of violence is something that peacekeepers or military observers can be exposed to on a fairly regular basis.

Also, in places like Africa there is the threat of disease. I am thinking again of Sierra Leone, where the danger is constant with regard to diseases like malaria, dysentery, yellow fever, cholera, sleeping sickness and river blindness. These are all diseases that members of our forces can be exposed to in areas like Sierra Leone, Congo and Ethiopia-Eritrea.

Inasmuch as we can be inoculated against certain diseases, the one thing we cannot be inoculated against is post-traumatic stress disorder. That is something we have certainly seen over the last number of years. Many of the members of our forces are facing it. Perhaps the most high profile victim of PTSD, as it is called, has been Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, who served with great distinction in Rwanda.

 

. 1345 + -

I had the opportunity to meet General Dallaire on a number of occasions. He certainly has my greatest respect and admiration. I think he embodies the values of the Canadian forces. When I say the values of the Canadian forces, I mean the desire to help people in need, the desire to protect the innocent, to preserve the rule of law, to safeguard human rights and to protect people and property.

General Dallaire is one of many who have experienced probably the worst the world has to offer. Rwanda was certainly a place where the world as a whole failed very miserably. However I think we can be very proud of the fact that a member of the Canadian forces, General Dallaire, tried his very best to prevent this slaughter.

It is to the people like General Dallaire and many of the unsung heroes of the Canadian forces to whom this Canadian forces day would be dedicated.

One of the comments I have heard from members of the forces, which is a source of great frustration to them, is that many people do not really understand what they do. People know we have an army. They know we have an air force. They know we have a navy, but they are not really clear on the sorts of things and the individual tasks that our forces perform.

In this regard, it is important to emphasize that the Canadian forces as whole is a very vital tool of our foreign policy. When all else fails, when the diplomats stop talking and when the guns come out, it is members of the Canadian forces and other allied forces who are sent in to try and straighten out the situation.

I have talked about the challenges and the work of the Canadian forces abroad, but I think it is just as important to stress what they have done domestically.

I cannot help but be drawn to the memories I have of the ice storm that occurred in 1998. It is probably a distant memory for a lot of members in the House and for a lot of Canadians, but half the people in my riding were without power and in some cases for several weeks. This was an experience they do not want to repeat soon.

There were roughly 30,000 to 35,000 people without power during a very difficult winter. Whole towns in my riding, places like Osgoode, Manotick and North Gower, were without power. It was in aid of these small communities that our forces came to the rescue. My constituents were very pleased to see the members of the Canadian forces present and providing a kind of security blanket for the members of the community.

I will conclude my comments here and allow other members to speak on this motion. I would appreciate the opportunity at the conclusion of the debate to make a few more comments.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I think it is appropriate on what is undoubtedly the very last day of the 36th parliament that we should conclude our debates with such an important topic. I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague from across the way for having introduced this motion.

Just before private members' business began we were talking about water and how in this country we have an abundant, safe supply of it. We take it so for granted. We often take for granted the relative peace and safety of our land.

We are greatly blessed by the fact that we do not have to have active, armed troops in full combat gear going up and down our roads and highways, protecting our borders and generally using force to keep the peace. We have become accustomed in Canada to our freedoms, our freedom to move about and our safety, without fear and without worrying about being attacked by either internal or external agents. We are probably remiss. We do not think about this enough, nor do we express our gratitude enough to not only God, under whose charter this country was founded, but also for the people who serve us in the various peacekeeping capacities. Certainly I am thinking of not only our armed forces, but also our very notable police forces, the RCMP and the many other provincial and local forces that we have throughout our land.

 

. 1350 + -

I sometimes wonder what would happen if we did not have the restraint of our peace officers and our armed forces in order to protect the peace, because we realize when we look at other parts of the world that it could indeed be very fragile.

The member is proposing that we have one day a year in which we, in a specific way, acknowledge and give honour to our armed forces personnel. This is of course something which we already do to some degree annually on November 11 when we have Remembrance Day.

It has been my privilege over the last seven years as a member of parliament to participate in that very special day which we have on November 11 every year. I have had the occasion on that day to visit one of the local legion branches in my riding each year. There are five of them altogether. I have rotated around from one to the other. Last year I went to the community of Chipman where they do not even have a legion branch per se, but where they have a very fitting and a very respectful ceremony on November 11 to honour the armed forces.

On every occasion when I have picked up that wreath and approached the place where we place it, I have been touched by the emotion of realizing that the wreath represents a sacrifice which other people were willing to make in order to protect our safety, our society and our country, to protect and defend those things that we so strongly believe in.

I have had only a very small and indirect involvement with violence in the form of war, that is, in the sense that our son has served overseas. In fact, both of our sons did, but one for a greater length of time. He served, not with the armed forces but with the peace forces: World Vision, with which I am sure many of the members here are familiar; Samaritan's Purse; and Compassion Canada, agencies that are there to help people. He did go into areas where the land was wartorn. He came back from Bosnia and told us that the countryside was a lot like ours but that when he went closer to the houses, which also looked like ours, those houses were full of bullet holes.

There is no doubt that we owe a tremendously huge debt of gratitude for those in the armed forces who sacrifice their own safety and put their own safety at risk in order to defend the rights of others and keep the peace.

I happen to be a member of parliament who has the privilege of having a large armed forces base in my riding. The Edmonton base is actually in my riding since my riding sort of boundaries right up to the city of Edmonton. I have a number of people there who are working in the armed forces. It has been my privilege on a number of occasions to visit that base and talk to the different personnel.

Frankly, among other things, we ought to be showing these people the respect which they should have by making sure that their needs, financial and otherwise, are adequately met. It is one of the areas that I think we should address. Many of them are not paid enough in straight money to provide for themselves and their families. Besides having a day in which we honour them in addition to November 11, we should also be looking at providing them with adequate means of livelihood.

 

. 1355 + -

I concur with the member's desire to amend the motion that instead of having it fixed at the 15th day of June, we would have it the first Sunday in June. It is a good amendment and I would support it if it were put forward again.

It is important to have a day where everyone can participate. In our Canadian culture Sunday is a day when, despite the fact that we are becoming more and more commercialized on that day, many people do work less. Government employees, for example, enjoy Saturdays and Sundays off. Sunday is one of those days when we have a little more personal freedom to be together with families and do things.

Since many thousands of Canadians attend worship service or a synagogue on Saturday or Sunday, these ceremonies could also be included there. As people of faith, we also believe in being thankful, and to weave gratitude to our armed forces personnel into a religious service would be something very appropriate.

In principle I agree with this motion. November 11 is a fairly adequate acknowledgement of the work that our armed forces do, but that particular day is rooted more in history. We use the phrase “lest we forget” and think specifically of those who gave their lives and of those who suffered bodily injury in the great wars of the past. This would be a day to honour and give credit and tributes to those who presently serve in our armed forces.

In as much as we are indebted to them, we should seriously consider having such a day and making it part of our national culture and part of what we do once a year to emphasize the wonderful blessings that we have as a result of the things our armed forces personnel do for us and on behalf of us.

[Translation]

Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we have before us a non-votable motion, which allows us to state our intentions if that motion were some day to be voted on in the House.

In our opinion, the text the mover submitted to us in amendment today would have been more acceptable than the one we have to debate on.

Unfortunately, the change itself was unacceptable today. Since 100 members had signed to indicate their support for the bill, we could not today, out of respect for those 100 members, accept to debate a different text from the one already accepted.

Since the motion is non-votable and since the member who moved it will eventually come back in the next parliament with a proposal that hopefully will be made votable, we will nevertheless say what we think about the text now before us.

There is no doubt that we would be in favour of a means of recognizing the dedication of the members of the Canadian armed forces. We must not recognize the dedication of only the current members of the Canadian armed forces, as there are also former members who are now retired and for whom there is no recognition day.

We have a recognition day for veterans, Remembrance Day, for those who were killed in action, who gave their lives to defend the freedom of our people.

 

. 1400 + -

There are also those who, fortunately, did not have to pay the ultimate price, but who nevertheless put their lives at risk. These people were members of the Canadian forces for years. Their contribution should also be recognized on certain days.

These people took part in peacekeeping missions abroad. They may have helped during catastrophes in Canada. They may have done exactly the same job, without losing their lives. They are as deserving of our recognition as those who died.

The question is whether, in order to recognize all these people, we should have three special days during the year: one for the veterans who died at war, one for those who did not die but spent years with the Canadian forces in the service of the nation, and another for those who are currently in the Canadian forces. It would never end.

This issue should be examined by a committee. We could look at how the contribution of these people could be acknowledged on one or two specific days. I believe that in some countries one day is set aside to remember those who died at war, and another one is reserved for the country's armed forces. Perhaps we will come to the conclusion that two days are needed but, in my opinion, that second day should not only include current members of the Canadian forces, but also former ones.

The motion before us talks about the “contribution of the Canadian Forces to the protection of Canadian sovereignty”. I think it inaccurate to seek a day of commemoration for this reason, Canadian sovereignty having never been threatened. No foreign power wants to attack Canada. No foreign power has threatened Canada's sovereignty.

Why would we set aside a day to pay tribute to those who have never had to fight to protect Canadian sovereignty, which has never been threatened? The sovereignty of a country is threatened when the citizens of that country no longer want it. That is the only situation in which that sovereignty can be threatened, and only a country's citizens may decide to retain or modify their sovereignty.

This is something that could happen, because the people of Quebec, who are in favour of Canadian sovereignty without wanting to be a part of it, would like to be a sovereign nation themselves. One day would have to be found to defend and celebrate Quebec's sovereignty, and another to celebrate Canada's sovereignty. There would be two different days and I am sure that all Quebecers would be happy, under those circumstances, to observe these two days to celebrate the sovereignty of two peoples who deserved to exist, the Canadian people and the people of Quebec.

Unfortunately, these are my last words in this august assembly. I will not be a member in the next parliament, because I am not seeking a new mandate. It was a great honour, during these seven years, to defend the interests of my country, Quebec. I was very struck by the democracy which reigns in this place, a democracy which we would like to see continue in the nation we are seeking.

I was also extremely proud to serve the inhabitants of the very lovely and large riding of Joliette. I hope that my successors will enjoy themselves here as much as I have, that their stay will be as short as possible, and that they too will continue to defend the sovereignty of our wonderful nation, Quebec.

 

. 1405 + -

[English]

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Before going further I would respond to the member for Joliette. The member mentioned that he was impressed by the democracy of this institution. From my perspective as chair occupant, I too was very impressed by the commitment to democracy, particularly from members of the Bloc. To me and other members their kindness really stood out in those seven years we worked together. Although we did not always have the same intentions, we worked together honourably.

I know the hon. member for Joliette will be missed as a contributor to this institution. He will not go quietly into the night but will be missed by those of his colleagues who worked for the common good here if sometimes in different directions.

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise on this motion that aims to proclaim June 15 Canadian forces day.

I believe the many men and women employed with the Canadian forces deserve recognition from all Canadians. Not only do these Canadians face often very difficult conditions due to the nature of their work but they must also deal with a Liberal government that has not provided the kind of support they need.

We have heard many stories about poor equipment, inadequate health care and lack of support for our troops overseas. Earlier this week I addressed the House of Commons on the topic of Canadian peacekeepers heading toward Ethiopia. I said then and I will say again that first and foremost all Canadians involved in that effort must be properly equipped, clothed, supported, trained, led and organized.

I do hope the government has learned from the extreme hardships encountered by peacekeepers in Croatia and will ensure that our peacekeepers on this most recent mission will be provided with every opportunity to fulfil their mission safely and securely.

The report we saw on Canada's peacekeeping efforts in Croatia produced a troubling and very disturbing picture. On that occasion our peacekeepers had a lack of lumber and sandbags to adequately protect themselves from regular shelling and gunfire. They also lacked proper medical support and sufficient advance surgical team support. The UN in that case refused for weeks to examine complaints from our peacekeepers that the drinking water was contaminated.

Our peacekeepers, their families and communities deserve to know that the government has addressed all these issues and is doing everything possible to ensure that our peacekeepers are provided with all the support possible.

While I support the notion of proclaiming Canadian forces day, I would expect more from the Liberal government than merely setting aside a day for recognition. As NDP spokesperson, I am appalled by the way in which our troops and civilian defence employees have been treated.

The government does not really have an overall vision for our military. It seems that things happen on a case by case basis. Often decisions are made on the spur of the moment. We really need for our military an overall vision of what we as Canadians want our military to be and what role we want it to perform. That vision should be properly resourced and staffed. In that way people can go about their business without worrying about cuts in budgets or about not having enough people to send off on various peacekeeping missions.

Despite the Liberal mishandling of Canadian forces issues, I take my hat off to all men and women who have served and continue to serve with such commitment and dedication. These men and women have shown their devotion and love of our country. They have performed their roles very well. We must take our hats off to them.

I think particularly of the sacrifices endured by the families of military personnel. Many times the spouses and children are left at home while their loved ones are off on missions in very dangerous settings. This is indeed quite a disruption to family stability, but they all pull together and give their best because of their love of and devotion to this country and the job they are doing.

The government's announcement to finally replace the Sea King helicopters underscores its complete mishandling of the whole issue of support for our military. Every step of the way in the Liberal government's supreme bungling of the Sea King replacements has reflected the worst example of placing short term political interests ahead of the safety of Canadian forces personnel and Canadian citizens.

 

. 1410 + -

In the House of Commons the NDP has been at the forefront pushing for replacements for the Sea Kings. I wrote the Prime Minister in June of this year, stating:

      —it would be a shame, and in fact inexcusable, to allow the political background and decisions of the past concerning new military helicopters to cause any further delay in making a speedy and proper decision at this time.

Subsequently there was an announcement that the government was moving ahead with the contract on the Sea Kings. This appearance of taking the matter off the back burner and putting it on the front burner is somewhat suspect timing as we head toward an election.

We note that the helicopters will not be available until 2005. The first part of the contract, for the airframe, will not be awarded until sometime in 2001. The second part, for the missions system contract, will not be awarded until 2002. Even today we hear concerns being expressed on the part of some of the contenders for the contract. They feel there is a question about the contracting process, that it eliminates some and enables others to be at the forefront for the particular contract.

It is obvious that political considerations of the Liberal government are still more important than the safety of our Canadian forces personnel, who will be depending on the aging Sea Kings for a long time yet to come.

I have pointed out on previous occasions that Sea Kings went into service in 1963, when Diefenbaker was prime minister, 19 current members of parliament had yet to be born and Martin Luther King had yet to give his famous speech. Sea King crashes have killed and injured Canadians, yet almost 14 years have passed since the Liberals first began the process of replacing the Sea Kings.

I am glad we are finally moving forward on that issue, but there is nothing the government can do at this point to wipe away this huge stain on its record. Over seven years ago Sea Kings started dropping out of the sky due to systems failures. The Liberals are accountable to Canadians for each and every day of those seven years that they did nothing. The recent fiasco with the Liberal government's handling of the GTS Katie is just one more example of the disaster of privatization. Canadian troops and forces equipment should be transported by Canadian forces vessels, period.

In the House on May 12 of this year I raised the issue of contracting out. A recent defence audit condemned contracting out in the military. The forces contracting out fiasco began with ill-fated alternative service delivery that has cut DND civilian workforces in Halifax, Goose Bay, Shiloh, Gagetown and throughout the country.

The October 1988 report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, entitled “Moving Forward: A Strategic Plan for Quality of Life Improvements in the Canadian Forces”, states:

    Members of the Canadian Forces must be fairly and equitably compensated for the work they do and the risks they take. Members and their families should never have to suffer the indignity of substandard housing, nor should they be reduced to charity in order to feed their families.

    The lifestyle faced by military personnel often makes it well nigh impossible to support a dual income lifestyle.

Despite all this I must again applaud the men and women who serve in the Canadian forces, both military and civilian. Civilian personnel are sometimes forgotten in this regard. They perform an integral and important role that is often overlooked in providing support throughout the service. When we look at what is happening with our civilian personnel we see the government wanting to privatize such things as the supply chain project rather than allowing in-house bids to deal with those issues.

When I think about having a day to honour the Canadian forces I also think of the reserves. Reservists play a very important role in our military. Just this past week, on October 18, many reservists wore the uniform with pride as part of reserve uniform day. Reservists have served Canada for over a century and have served on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. On behalf of the New Democratic Party, it is my honour to commend all reservists for their commitment to their communities and their country.

 

. 1415 + -

In my riding of Halifax West reservists played an essential role in the recovery of Swissair flight 111 and have provided invaluable service throughout Canada, including service during the Manitoba flood, the 1998 ice storm, avalanches and forest fires.

I would urge all Canadians, as we think about a day to celebrate the Canadian forces, to take time to say thank you to the reservists who are so committed to our country. They deserve to be well trained, properly equipped and adequately funded in order to be a vital component of the forces of the future.

I am pleased to say that we would support a day recognizing the Canadian forces because they are indeed an integral part of our society. They do a lot to make Canada the kind of country of which we can all be proud.

Mr. George Proud (Hillsborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, members of the House, before I go to my speech, I also want to say that this will be my last speech. I said the other night when I spoke in the take note debate that it was my last speech, but this definitely will be my last speech in the House.

I want to thank all members for their co-operation over the years. I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and all the Speakers for the great role they play in the running of this glorious institution.

The government readily supports private member's Motion No. 134 to designate Canadian forces day. This day would officially recognize on an annual basis the significant contribution that our military forces make in promoting Canadian interests, peace and security, both at home and around the world.

Through the instituting of Canadian forces day, citizens across the country would be encouraged to learn more about our armed forces. It would provide them with an opportunity to personally thank the many men and women who work tirelessly in Canada's interests day after day, year after year.

A Canadian forces day would mean a lot to Canadians, and it would mean a lot to those in uniform. The Canadian forces are a vital national institution. They reflect Canada's cultural, linguistic and regional diversity, with a presence in every province and territory, in more than 3,000 communities across the country. The Canadian forces are made up of many faces, all of them serving as one under a single flag. They come from across the nation, from farms and from cities, from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, men and women alike, all of them united by the common cause of serving Canada and Canadians. The Canadian forces are an essential part of the national fabric.

Just outside this building on the lawns of Parliament Hill every summer, members of the primary reserve force conduct the colourful changing of the guard ceremony. Many of them, as trained infanteers, have also served overseas on peacekeeping missions or assisted during domestic crises, such as the ice storm of 1998, as has been mentioned. These Canadians live, work and study in this very community.

The Canadian forces are everywhere we look. Forces personnel are raising families in our communities, contributing to our local economies and working alongside many of us, sometimes without our knowledge or recognition. Defence research and development is stimulating Canadian innovation. The national cadet program is teaching responsibility and citizenship to our children. The Canadian forces, in short, are a very integral part of our society.

The Canadian forces are also an integral part of Canada's history. Since Confederation, their members have made great sacrifices in the building of our nation. Thousands of Canadians have died in active service with the Canadian forces, from Paardeburg to Vimy Ridge, from the beaches of Normandy to Kapyong. Many of the veterans who survived some of these battles are among us today, former members of the Canadian forces who fought with great courage for their nation.

The Canadian forces today continue to perform core functions of the government. Our men and women in uniform work every day to protect Canadian sovereignty, promote national interests and secure international peace and security.

Canadian forces members bring relief during natural disasters. They provide search and rescue services. They patrol our coastline and enforce Canadian law. They help fulfil our international obligations. They bring peace and stability to troubled regions of the world through peace support operations.

Over the last year or so the Canadian forces have been involved in the interception of over 600 illegal migrants, year 2000 preparations, disaster relief in Turkey, peacekeeping in East Timor, NATO operations in Kosovo, and North American security through NORAD.

 

. 1420 + -

The Canadian forces provided support to and helped co-ordinate over 8,000 search and rescue operations, a record number. These efforts resulted in the saving of over 4,000 lives.

At this very moment approximately 2,500 Canadian forces personnel are deployed on 16 operations around the world. We currently have more than 1,500 men and women in Bosnia-Herzegovina alone. The list of operations is long: Ethiopia and Eritrea, Iraq and Kuwait, the Golan Heights, Guatemala, and Sierra Leone. Just recently a Canadian officer, Major-General Hillier, assumed command of Multi-National Division Southwest in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

As these examples illustrate, all members of the Canadian forces, from privates to general officers, are making a concrete difference in improving the world in which we live. Much of their work is, by its very nature, thankless and hard. Members of the Canadian forces have chosen a profession that puts their lives at risk, all in the name of Canada and Canadian interests. They face down aggression and tyranny in distant lands every day so that we may live in peace and prosperity here at home.

The government is committed to providing the Canadian forces with the right tools for the job. With two consecutive defence budget increases, a comprehensive quality of life program, and a list of newly procured equipment, the Canadian forces are building a strong future on an even stronger foundation.

The government is also committed to ensuring that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen are properly recognized and publicly thanked for their national service.

On September 6 the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief presented the first Canadian peacekeeping service medals to recipients in Ottawa, including many members of the Canadian forces. As Canadians we recognize elements and individuals of the Canadian forces through various honours and events such as this one. However, we have yet to reserve a day when all Canadians from coast to coast can take a moment to thank all members of the Canadian forces for their dedication and hard work. By declaring a Canadian forces day today in the House, we will provide that opportunity.

People across the country will be given the occasion to recognize the accomplishments of our men and women in uniform. It will, in short, give Canadians an opportunity to thank Canadian forces personnel for their dedicated work. It is time for us to officially set aside a day when Canadians of all walks of life can thank members of the Canadian forces for their service and increase their knowledge of military issues in the process. It is time to officially establish Canadian forces day.

I urge my fellow members to support this motion. I would like to put forward the following amendment. I move:  

    That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the words “Canadian Forces” and substituting the following: “both at home and abroad, in such areas as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, search and rescue and UN peacekeeping, should proclaim the first Sunday in June as Canadian Forces Day”.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The Chair had a previous notice of the amendment. The amendment is in order.

Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, PC): Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand today to speak in support of Motion No. 134.

Although we support the bill, we have to recognize the government cuts that the Department of National Defence has suffered. In 1993-94 the defence budget was $12.4 billion. In 1997-98 it was down to $9.8 billion. That does not really show support from the Liberal government. There has been a reduction of 23%. The reduction in the number of civilian employees at the Department of National Defence has been a staggering 40%. General Maurice Baril says that there is likely to be an additional reduction of 2,000 to 3,000 people in that department.

The government has gutted the heart and soul of the armed forces. Let us not forget that the Sea King helicopter replacement program is currently being investigated by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal and that there have actually been some pilots who have lost their lives because of a very bad decision by the Liberals. Let us not forget the soldiers who are forced to visit food banks. I do not think that should be happening. I could go on and on.

 

. 1425 + -

The armed forces deserve our unconditional support and respect. I commit to the House that members of my party will stand for our armed forces on June 15 or on the first Sunday in June. They will certainly have our support on that day as well as the other 364 days of the year.

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, before I go back to the motion I would like to echo some of the comments that have been made in this place in connection with your own participation and membership in this Chamber. I wish you the very best in terms of your future endeavours. You certainly have been a credit to the House. I have watched you over the last number of years since I was elected in 1997 and I can say that I have a great deal of respect for the way you have handled your role in the chair.

I did not get an opportunity, because I could probably speak for quite some time on these subjects, to talk about the Canadian forces in NATO, search and rescue operations or the many other activities in which they involve themselves. However, I think those activities have been amply discussed by other members who have spoken to the issue before the House today, including the member for Hillsborough, the member for Elk Island, the member for Halifax West and the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac.

There were some comments made during the course of the debate to which I want to make reference, that is, the whole business of recognizing past and present members of the forces through the motion. That is what the motion does. It just does not recognize members of the Canadian forces who are serving right now but recognizes the many others who served in years past.

Another hon. member made mention of the fact that Canadian sovereignty has never been threatened. He would have a hard time putting that argument to members of the Canadian forces who served in the battle of the St. Lawrence during the second world war.

I would like to read another endorsation of this idea from the Conference of Defence Associations. As I mentioned earlier, a tremendous number of groups and individuals have supported the motion. The Conference of Defence Associations has said that the 28 member associations of the CDA, comprising over half a million individuals coast to coast, stand behind any action to bring attention and appreciation to members of the Canadian forces.

This is likely to be the last day of debate in parliament. I can think of no better way to honour the men and women of the Canadian forces than by proclaiming the first Sunday in June as Canadian forces day. I would request unanimous consent of the House for the passage of the motion with the amendment.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Does the member for Nepean—Carleton have unanimous consent of the House?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Before we close today I should like to add a couple of words to indicate how humble and how proud I am to have been able to occupy this wonderful chair for the past three years.

I thank all members very much for the generosity shown to me for three years and particularly for today.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

[Translation]

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The hour provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. Since the motion was not votable, the item is dropped from the order paper.

[English]

It being 2.30 p.m. the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.30 p.m.)

The Second Session of the 36th Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on October 22, 2000.