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- Mr. Bhaduria 197
- Consideration resumed of motion; and the amendment 197
- Ms. McLaughlin 197
- Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 200
- Mr. Simmons 200
- Mr. Plamondon 200
- Ms. Copps 201
- Mr. Bachand 205
- Mr. McClelland 205
- Ms. McLaughlin 206
- Mr. Hart 206
- Mr. Mifflin 207
- Mr. Langlois 208
- Mr. Cannis 208
- Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood) 208
- Mr. Marchand 211
- Mr. Lavigne (Beauharnois-Salaberry) 212
- Mr. Solberg 213
- Mr. Simmons 214
- Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 215
- Mr. Duhamel 218
- Mr. Serré 219
- Mr. Bellehumeur 219
- Mr. Duhamel 220
- Mr. de Savoye 221
- Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 222
- Mr. Regan 222
- Mr. Serré 224
- Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 224
- Mr. Hoeppner 224
- Mr. Finlay 224
- Mr. Bodnar 224
- Mr. Caron 225
- Mr. Gouk 225
- Mr. Bellemare 225
- Mrs. Hickey 225
- Mrs. Barnes 226
- Mr. Godin 226
- Mr. White (North Vancouver) 226
- Mr. Pickard 226
- Mr. Easter 226
- Ms. McLaughlin 227
- Mr. Bouchard 227
- Mr. Gray 227
- Mr. Bouchard 227
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 227
- Mr. Bouchard 227
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 227
- Mr. Duceppe 227
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 228
- Mr. Duceppe 228
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 228
- Mr. Manning 228
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 228
- Mr. Manning 228
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 228
- Mr. Manning 229
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 229
- Mr. Gauthier 229
- Mr. Collenette 229
- Mr. Gauthier 229
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 229
- Mr. Benoit 229
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 230
- Mr. Benoit 230
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 230
- Mrs. Lalonde 230
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 230
- Mrs. Lalonde 230
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 230
- Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 231
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 231
- Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 231
- Mr. Loubier 231
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 231
- Mr. Loubier 231
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 231
- Mr. Morrison 232
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 232
- Mr. Morrison 232
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 232
- Mr. Caccia 232
- Ms. Marleau 232
- Mr. Marchand 232
- Mr. Goodale 232
- Mr. Marchand 233
- Mr. Goodale 233
- Miss Grey 233
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 233
- Miss Grey 233
- Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 233
- Mr. Wells 234
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 234
- Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac) 234
- Ms. Copps 234
- Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac) 234
- Ms. Copps 234
- Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 234
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 235
- Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 235
- Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 235
- The Speaker 235
- Mr. Speller 235
- Bill C-2. Motions for introduction and first reading deemedadopted 235
- Mr. Anderson 235
- Mr. Milliken 235
- Consideration resumed 236
- Mr. Regan 236
- Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 236
- Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 236
- Mr. Schmidt 237
- Mr. White (North Vancouver) 238
- Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood) 239
- Mr. Crête 240
- Mr. Fillion 240
- Mr. Dingwall 241
- Mr. Rocheleau 244
- Mr. Nunziata 245
- Mr. Daviault 245
- (At 4.17 p.m. the sitting of the house was suspended.) 246
- (The House resumed at 4.19 p.m.) 246
- Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 248
- Mr. Harvard 249
- Mr. Alcock 250
- Ms. Whelan 252
- Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 254
- Mr. Gagnon (Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine) 254
- Mr. Benoit 254
- Mr. Marchand 256
- Mr. Blaikie 256
- Amendment negatived on division: Yeas, 50; Nays, 208 256
HOUSE OF COMMONS
The House met at 11 a.m.
The letter was written at a low point in my life when I was under tremendous stress relating to my career and my family. The letter contained irresponsible statements which have been widely reported and need not be repeated in this House. My personal problems did not justify or excuse the insensitive words that I used and I deeply regret what I did.
Over three years ago I apologized in writing on more than two occasions to both the staff and the chair of the board of education for the city of Toronto. I had hoped that this sorry chapter of my life was over when I wrote the apologies in 1990.
However, I now believe that it is appropriate for me to apologize to the Prime Minister, to my caucus colleagues, and to all members of the House for any embarrassment these letters or any other statements or letters I may have made or written have caused.
More specifically, I wish to apologize to the people who live in the riding of Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville.
At this juncture I ask my colleagues in the House for their forgiveness. I hope they will allow me to prove that I can be a hard working, responsible and effective member of Parliament.
Once again I apologize to you, Mr. Speaker, and to all members of the House for the inexcusable acts which I most profoundly regret having done in 1989.
The Speaker: I thank the hon. member. This is, as the House knows, a point of personal privilege. The House has heard the statement. It is not debatable and the record will show that he did make the statement and that it was accepted by the House.
The Deputy Speaker: I am pleased to advise hon. members that Telesat Canada has successfully transferred the cable parliamentary channel to the Anik E1 satellite. In consequence the televised proceedings of the House will again be available to cable companies across the country. It may however be a few days before all of the cable companies can get their systems up and operational, as we always are.
I am sure hon. members will wish to join me in thanking the staff at Telesat Canada and the cable parliamentary channel who worked during the weekend to rectify this problem.
Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon): Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity in my first speech in this 35th Parliament both to congratulate you as Deputy Speaker and to congratulate the Speaker of the House on his election. I look forward to a very fruitful working relationship. I know that both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker will bring great fairness and openness to this House. Again, I congratulate you and give you my sincere commitment to work with you so that we can productively work for the citizens of Canada. Again, congratulations.
I would also like to congratulate the other members who have been elected to the 35th Parliament. During the election Canadians said that they wanted to see us work together constructively for the future of this country. I know that will be the aim of all members. We owe it to ourselves, our constituents and to all
Canadians to deliver on this expectation. We must acknowledge when the government has done well and hold the government accountable when it has not kept its promises.
That is the elementary essence of our democratic system. I want to assure all Canadians that the New Democratic Party will be there both to work constructively and to ensure that the future of this country will be preserved. We will go forward into the 21st century with confidence and with a new vision.
As I said, I want to congratulate all members of the House on their election. In particular, I want to congratulate the right hon. member for Saint-Maurice, the Prime Minister of Canada. As we have an unprecedented number of new members it will be extremely important that we all work together.
Finally I want to thank the constituents of Yukon for their continued support. I pledge to honour that support with my representation in the House of Commons and in promoting the issues of northern Canada which are far too often overlooked.
I mentioned the challenges to us as members of this Parliament. First, the public elected us to find specific and practical solutions to the problems facing us as a nation.
Second, Canadians want to feel that their government has a vision, that it knows where we are going as a nation, and that it not only has a map but a destination, a vital sense of identity, a vision that brings us all together as Canadians.
The next couple of years will be absolutely crucial to the future of this country in defining who we are as a nation and where we will go as a nation. We have in this House one political party that says we cannot go forward together as a nation, one which would see us dismantle the country. I want to say in this speech today in response to the speech from the throne that the New Democratic Party is absolutely committed to the future of a united country that all Canadians want to be a part of and we will fight for that vision of this strong country.
Key to the future of our country, key to those of us who want to build the country not destroy it, is that we address the economic issues that face so many Canadians today, that we bring about not just words of hope to Canadians but a real vision and real hope. Without real jobs there can be no real hope.
The speech from the throne had many words about restoring hope. We heard other speeches from previous governments that did the same thing. What is needed now are real targets, real timetables to bring down the high rate of unemployment. We are told it officially stands at 11.2 per cent but there is surely not one person in this country who believes that is the actual and real number of unemployed in this country. We must address it realistically and we must always address it with the view that unemployment is not just simply an economic problem. It is a social issue as well and will have an effect on every Canadian in the very real future of this country.
Employment targets would give real teeth to the words that we heard in the speech from the throne and provide accountability for the government to the public on its performance. The government has given us no targets and I want to ask why. Unless we know where we are going, unless we can see if there is a real objective Canadians will very quickly lose their faith in this parliamentary process.
One only needs to look back at the last nine years and the devastation that was wrought on this country to know that it is not a continuation of the policies of the previous government that will make Canada a stronger nation. It is a change in those policies.
I must ask whether the speech from the throne shows that change, that clarity of vision. Let the government really indicate that it is prepared to take that change that is necessary. I have to say that in two crucial areas we see not a change but simply a government that is prepared to follow the failed policies of the previous government.
In some ways this government is on the road to failure before it begins but I want to mention two crucial areas. The first area is around the North American Free Trade Agreement. The governing party campaigned very strongly about real changes to NAFTA. It along with the New Democrats stood up and showed the devastation that the free trade agreement has done to Canada in the number of lost jobs. In fact what happened was that the government on January 1 did nothing to fundamentally change those sections of the North American Free Trade Agreement that work against Canada but went forward with the agreement, sadly saying that Canada is prepared to join the race to the bottom in the North American continent, not to work more strongly for workers' rights, not to work to improve trade agreements that would be truly in the interests of all workers in all countries that are partners in those trade agreements. Canada must improve its trade both in the Pacific Rim and in Latin America, but we must do so aggressively from our strength and not from our weakness. What this government has done in going forth with NAFTA is again to work from our weakness.
Monetary policy is certainly an extremely important ingredient in the future of a country and how its economy is determined. In the famous red book the government makes the following statement about Canada's previous government. It states: ``The Conservative single-minded fight against inflation resulted in a deep recession, three years without growth, sky-rocketing un-
employment, a crisis in international payments and the highest combined set of government deficits in our history''. I agree.
However, do we see a signal for real change in the government's appointment of the Governor of the Bank of Canada? I would say we do not. Sadly what I see in these two crucial areas in this era of globalization of markets and capital is that once monetary trade policy is determined, the economic direction of the country is determined. Sadly in these two crucial areas the government has chosen to follow its failed predecessor rather than to lead Canadians with a new vision.
Job creation is the number one problem in Canada today and yet major sections of the economy are not mentioned, agriculture and the resource sector for example. These industries account for 21 per cent of our gross national product and close to a million jobs in our economy.
The New Democrats' full employment plan included items such as the infrastructure proposal, and we support that, and investment funds to stimulate the growth of small and medium sized businesses. We agree on the need for research and development and the kind of new technologies that will bring us into the 21st century.
I want to particularly mention the government's reference in the throne speech to a youth corps. We will be looking very carefully at what the details of this will be because the tragedy of youth unemployment in this country is incalculable. We know the high rate of statistics but we have not calculated the social cost to the future of this country and we must do that.
I urge the government to very quickly move on youth unemployment, to develop the youth corps and give us the details because we must show the youth of this country that we who have been elected take their concerns and their future very seriously.
The hon. member for Calgary Southwest places his major emphasis on debt and the current deficit of this government. Let me assure you, Mr. Speaker, that there is absolutely no debate about whether debt and the deficit are serious problems to this country. As we reached the half trillion mark on the debt last week, there certainly can be no question that it must be a preoccupying part of our deliberations.
The debate therefore is not about whether it is a problem but how we address that problem. We must come to terms with a number of realities, the first being that unemployment is not free. We have to stop assuming that it is.
Last fall we saw the Department of Finance say that lost revenue and income support means that every unemployed worker costs government an estimated $17,500. That is simply the economic cost. It is not the social cost. We see that the department projected that deficit projections would not be met because of a shortfall of revenue, not because of overspending on programs. Simply capping expenditures is not the sole way to address the debt. Certainly efficient management is. Unless we can create employment and create growth we will never address the real serious debt in this country.
Another important area this government must examine is our unfair tax system. The middle class is saddled with the largest share of the tax burden, while the wealthy and the large corporations can take advantage of legal loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
Personal income tax now represents 48 per cent of federal revenue, and only 7 per cent of that revenue is contributed by large corporations. Tax expenditures like private family trusts, set up by Canada's richest families to shelter their money for a period of 21 years, should be eliminated. We should also eliminate budget items that allow deduction of expenses like business lunches and entertainment, estimated to cost one billion dollars in lost revenue annually.
There is no doubt that the GST has failed in its objective. We have said for some time that we must eliminate the GST, that it is an unfair and regressive tax. It is not enough, as the government is suggesting it is going to do, to simply review and hide the GST. It must eliminate it. We are witnessing a near tax revolt in this country with a new underground economy.
The government has signalled its intention to overhaul Canada's social security system. In essence, social security is a definition of who we are, how we treat each other and the values that we in this country support.
There is no doubt in my mind that the social security system must be looked at in light of the realities of today's society. One of those realities is that more women are in the work force and there is a greater need for child care than there has been in the past.
While there was much rhetoric in the red book on child care, it is absolutely missing from the throne speech. There is no mention of the necessity and importance of child care which I see not just as a social program but an economic program in developing our future economy.
I say to the Liberal Party that it is a great loss to Canadians if they do not follow through on a national child care program which is essential to the development of our economy.
In the proposed review of social security, it is suggested that there will be a process that takes place. I urge the government to listen not just to the academics or the business community but to
those who are affected and who have been victims of unemployment in our country.
Finally there are many things that I applaud such as the review of members' pensions and remuneration. I proposed that in February 1992. As well, I applaud the government saying that it would like a new relationship with aboriginal peoples. Such a partnership must be based not only on the right to inherent self-government but speedy settlement of land claims.
I urge the government to put into practice the rhetoric, the fine words that were said in the throne speech and bring forward as an early piece of legislation the Yukon land claims settlement and self-government legislation.
We face many challenges. We have the ability to make this the best country in the world in terms of equality and our economy.
I urge the government to remember that Canada is not just a great nation internally but that we have a great role internationally. We cannot forget the concept of common security. We cannot build our security on the insecurity of others. In fact, we must move forward to be a strong advocate in the international community as well as here at home.
Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil): The hon. member for Yukon said earlier-and I felt somewhat under attack-that some members of this House want to destroy this country while others want to build it.
The point is that the federal system has been destroying this country for many years. It is not the members of this House but the federal system itself which is destroying the country through duplication of government programs and services. According to the Quebec government, this duplication costs between $2 billion and $3 billion a year. The inefficiency and inconsistency of these programs are very costly as well; the same can be said of contradictory legislation in many cases.
To those who maintain that we are here to destroy the country, I reply that our goal is to help build two countries, but two countries that will work well.
The question I would like to ask the hon. member for Yukon is this: As a member of this House, does she intend to favour and encourage small and medium sized businesses instead of trying to destroy them? It is in that sector that jobs are created.
Ms. McLaughlin: Mr. Speaker, of course, during the election we proposed to set up programs for small and medium sized businesses because it is very important for the future of this country.
With regard to the statements on the future of this country, it is clear that there are problems with the federal system. That is why I supported the Charlottetown constitutional agreement. This agreement would have allowed us to make certain changes for all provinces and territories.
I would also like to repeat that the New Democratic Party fundamentally believes in the future of Canada, a Canada which includes Quebec.
Hon. Roger Simmons (Burin-St. George's): Mr. Speaker, I want to say hello to my good friend and almost seatmate in the last Parliament, the member for Yukon. I listened with interest, as always, to what she had to say. I congratulate her on her election and on the vigour and dignity she demonstrated throughout the campaign.
I got the impression toward the end of her remarks that maybe she had run out of time. Could I give her the opportunity to be a little more specific on what she had in mind with respect to our international role?
Ms. McLaughlin: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his kind words. We were almost seatmates then. I had to give him a lot of coaching and I will continue to do that even though he is across on the other side of the House.
I would like to say a few words. As some people will know I have just returned from the east and had an opportunity to speak in India, Nepal and Thailand with business people, some political people and so on. One is really struck by the potential for Canada in trade relations in those areas and our ability as a non-super power to be a real force for peace and progress in those countries. We will be having a debate later this week on several aspects of peacekeeping and other similar issues.
It is extremely important that we not forget, as we deal with the very crucial issues in our country, we have a responsibility to those outside our shores. As I said in my remarks, when we think of what will make us a secure nation it is certainly not to build on the insecurity of others but to reach out in a spirit of co-operation to help other nations become self-sufficient in the way that is in their interest and ultimately in the interests of the world.
In that relation I would like to say that we talk a lot about the global economy, but we in Canada have a very important opportunity given our size and our past to be a real player in the development of international institutions which become more key as we move into this continuing global economy.
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Richelieu): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the leader of the NDP on her election and tell her that, like my fellow member from Longueuil, I was a little surprised by her remarks on Canadian unity.
If I remember correctly, Quebec said yes to Canada when it said no in the 1980 referendum. Quebec was told no by Canada when the 1982 Constitution was signed without it. But Quebec again said yes by electing the Bourassa government, and the government also said-
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Plamondon: Mr. Speaker, I think that one of the main features of our democracy is the right to speak. I am surprised that the Liberal members opposite are trying to cut me off while I am exercising what seems to me to be the most basic democratic right.
Then we had the Meech Lake Accord and some members, one or two in the NDP, voted against it. The leader of the NDP was among them. When it was time to give Quebec a chance to enter the Canadian federation, when it was time to take a first step toward Quebec, she said no and today instead of engaging in a new historic debate, they prefer a prehistoric debate.
Ms. McLaughlin: Mr. Speaker, while the member talks about a prehistoric debate I think he would want to talk about the Charlottetown accord which was the most recent constitutional discussion. It is pretty clear that the majority of Canadians certainly do not want to see us preoccupied in the House with constitutional matters only.
It is the responsibility of all members of the House to ensure the security of all Canadians, particularly in terms of economic security. I am surprised the member would want to use his question simply to deal with that matter when he sees the high rates of unemployment in Montreal and other parts of Quebec. I would like to see the member fighting here for his constituents, for better economic and social programs, as is being done by the New Democratic Party.
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment): Mr. Speaker, may I begin by congratulating you on your new post. We have all taken on different responsibilities in the House. As we in the opposition offered our full co-operation to the last government, I am sure I can expect the same kind of co-operation from opposition members in a few weeks to come.
Nonetheless I am thrilled to be here on the government side of the House. Some of us have come here as new members. Some of us have been around this place for some time, and some of us have spent a lot of years in opposition. I have spent precisely 13 and a half years in opposition, 4 years working as an assistant to a member in the opposition, for a total of about 17 years fighting against governments. Mr. Speaker, if you see from time to time that it takes a bit of time for me to make the transition please bear with me.
I cannot help but look around the House and see how things have changed in the last 25 years. Twenty-five years ago there was only one woman in Parliament. When I was first elected to this place in 1984 there were 26 women. Today that has more than doubled. Of course I was very happy to see my hon. friend, the member for Yukon, back with us. We have taken steps rather slowly but we are getting there. I have to feel particularly proud of the work and the support given by our Prime Minister to the arrival of more women in our caucus. In 1984 we were five. In 1988 we were 13. This year there are almost as many women in the Liberal caucus as there were in the whole of Parliament: 37 Liberal women. I can say, Mr. Speaker, that you are going to be hearing more and more from these very strong women in the days and weeks ahead.
I am proud that our Prime Minister led the charge, in fact to some public criticism, in ensuring that this particular Parliament was more representative of Canada as a whole. When I see my colleague, the Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, my colleague for Bramalea-Gore-Malton and other colleagues in this place, it is clear this is one Parliament where we are beginning to reflect the real face of Canada. For that I think the governing party can take some credit.
As the Prime Minister said, all government policies are aimed at creating a just, fair, human, decent and prosperous country. Ultimately, the government is serving people and it is by making use of everyone's skills in this country and by giving all Canadians an opportunity to realize their full potential that we will succeed as a nation.
With 205 new members of Parliament reflecting a broad range of issues we have a chance to deal effectively with issues which affect all Canadian families. In this International Year of the Family we have a duty to deal with the issues that can help safeguard Canadian families and ensure that they are healthy, secure and prosperous.
The government will address issues in particular relating to women's health, breast cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. The government will introduce a program for prenatal nutrition to help ensure that when babies are born they are born healthy. We will address the staggering problem of poverty among aboriginal children through a specific head start program. The Prime Minister intends to personally chair the new national forum on health.
We believe a strong national health care system is essential for the dignity of our country and for the dignity of every
individual Canadian. We will act to make our streets and our homes safe. We will act to protect Canadians from hatred and harassment.
The government will take these measures because it is only through these measures that every Canadian has a fair chance to play a role in restoring our country to economic health. Canadians want to see the health of our country restored, and that is the top objective of the new federal government.
As Minister of the Environment I have heard loud and clear that Canadians understand economic prosperity can and must flow from a healthy environment. Yes, Canadians want to see our fiscal deficit cut down and they want the job deficit wiped out, but they know that can only happen when we attack the environmental deficit.
I am firmly convinced that, with the support of my colleagues in the House, we will succeed in making environmental changes which we, as Canadians, must make. The leader of the Opposition was once the Minister of the Environment. He and I sometimes have different opinions on some issues, but we agree on the need to show leadership when it comes to the environment.
The leader of the Reform Party has already said during the election campaign that even when it comes to cutting costs he obviously believes the environmental budget is one that should be kept intact.
The hon. member for Yukon represents a region of Canada where good jobs depend on a healthy environment.
The leader of the New Democratic Party, the hon. member for Yukon, comes from a part of the country that obviously depends very much on environmental health.
The hon. member for Sherbrooke was also Minister of the Environment and he knows how important sustainable development is to Canada.
I have had a chance to meet a number of our new members. I was very pleased to hear the commitment that a great many of them had to environmental issues.
Regardless of our political views on other issues such as the Constitution, the environment really matters to everybody, because all Canadians want to leave their children a more healthy and prosperous country. As Canadians, we care about our lakes and rivers. Let us not forget the song ``Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver''.
We also care about our Rocky mountains, our Arctic region and about the air we breathe. We are adamant about leaving our children and grandchildren a cleaner environment. We know that good jobs and economic prosperity depend on a healthy environment. Guided by these principles, I am convinced that we will, in this Parliament, co-operate to ensure an improved environment and economy for our country.
We know that, for our country as well as for the whole planet, the environmental limits will soon be reached. Human activity has increased tenfold and the earth is less and less able to absorb the damage and to recover from it. In some cases, we have already gone the point of no return.
The environment is one of the basic features of our national identity. In some cases, this heritage is already in jeopardy.
The failure of the fisheries industry to be able to sustain itself is just one example of how environmental degradation can have serious and indeed devastating economic impacts. Literally tens of thousands of fishermen and fisherwomen have nothing left to fish because we have not been the guardians of this sustainable resource nationally and in particular internationally.
Sometimes we do not heed warnings.
For instance, for about a month it has been pretty frigid in this country, but nevertheless global warming is a very real threat. The same goes for the thinning of the ozone layer: skin cancer is on the rise, and even wildlife is threatened. Our beautiful lakes are being poisoned by toxic substances. Soil degradation and loss of biodiversity are also serious problems. The birds and the air we breathe have no passports, and that is why we all have a responsibility, whatever our political persuasion, to concentrate on finding solutions to these environmental problems. We are going through a crisis, but there is still hope. The answer is sustainable development.
We can aspire to a better life for ourselves and our children by understanding that sustainable development must provide a sound basis for Canada's long-term prosperity.
Individual Canadians have learned that lesson well. They are biking where they once would have driven. They are protecting wildlife habitat on their property and cutting down drastically on household garbage. Many businesses have switched to envi-
ronmentally friendly products and are reaping benefits. Our children regard blue boxes and composting as a fact of life.
Canadians expect the government and Parliament to do our part. That is why the Prime Minister made sustainable development a central theme of our election red book.
The Prime Minister, as members know, is a person who lives up to his commitments. He understands that environmental improvement and economic development go hand in hand. He believes that by making Canada a world environmental leader we will ensure prosperity for Canadians.
If we use our resources wisely, we will have resources for future generations. If we promote research and development and environmental technologies, we will create good long term jobs and protect ecosystems. If we make Canada a leader in green industries, we will create more products for Canadians to market throughout the world, products that can help clean up this world.
Also, we have the benefit of a Minister of Finance who is a strong environmentalist already on the record on these important issues. Personally, I am pleased that the Prime Minister asked the former minister of the environment of the province of Quebec, the member for Lachine-Lac-Saint-Louis, to become my parliamentary secretary. The hon. member is a committed environmentalist who has a great understanding of the delicate balancing act between federal and provincial jurisdictions.
The Liberal caucus is full of talented and energetic members of Parliament. I have personally heard from more than four dozen Liberal members of Parliament who are interested in spearheading environmental issues on the local, national and international levels. We intend to move from words to action and to make Canada a model of environmental responsibility.
The Prime Minister has already done that with the infrastructure program which will be signed in Ontario today and which has already been signed in a number of provinces across the country.
This key initiative is a wonderful example of how we can create jobs and clean up the environment. Untreated municipal raw sewage is one of the main causes of water degradation in Canada. Now the federal government under the infrastructure program will assist provincial, regional and municipal authorities to finance new or renewed facilities for sewage and water.
What is more, we are ensuring that our investment lays a firm foundation for economic development and pollution prevention. We are doing this by insisting that municipalities receiving funds encourage water conservation and develop sound financial plans to keep that infrastructure in place.
It is with that same spirit that the government is pursuing the action plan for clean-up of the Fraser River, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
We ought to be a showcase for the world of economic growth in tandem with environmental enhancement.
I am pleased to inform you that we are about to sign phase two of our action plan for the St. Lawrence River, a vital part of our environmental heritage.
Sound environmental planning is not an impediment to jobs. It is a potential source of tens of thousands of new jobs.
Environmental technology is the fastest growing business sector in Canada today, growing this year at a rate of 15 per cent. We must tap the ingenuity and drive of Canada's workers. These are qualities that have made us one of the most successful trading nations in the world and they can make our country the world leader in sustainable development. Incredible.
At present Canada still imports 60 per cent of the environmental technology it needs. We plan to reverse the situation and make Canada a net exporter of eco technology and eco know-how. We plan to have the private sector seize this market advantage at home and internationally.
The government will help Canadians by directing 25 per cent of all new government funding for research and development to technologies that benefit the environment. We will consolidate incentive and support programs into a co-ordinated strategy to promote environmental industries.
That is why this week, the secretary of state for science and the parliamentary secretary for the environment will travel across the country from Halifax to Vancouver via Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton, to meet representatives from the various sectors and environmental groups and promote a joint development strategy for environmental industries.
Small and medium sized businesses in the environmental industry will benefit from improved access to funding assistance for capital investment. Canada Investment Funds will be created to help leading edge technology firms. The strategy for implementing an information highway and the creation of a technology network designed to improve the diffusion of innovation are essential elements of this two-pronged approach: job creation and environmental protection.
The government is aware that by targeting assistance to small and medium sized businesses that are active in the environmental sector today, we will create the jobs of tomorrow.
The government will also review the tax system and federal subsidies to identify barriers to sound environmental practice. We want to ensure that at the national level, government expenditures and taxes are used to promote social equity, protect the environment, conserve resources and develop new green industries in order to create future prosperity.
The government will promote energy efficiency which can quickly generate economic and environmental dividends. We must extract maximum value from the energy we consume. It makes sense, both economically and environmentally, to use our precious resources wisely.
We will also adopt an industrial policy to promote the value of our natural resources and the processing of these resources into finished goods that can be sold on international markets. Increasing jobs and prosperity without depleting our natural wealth and resources is a vital part of the Liberal national employment policy.
More and more environmental problems have a global dimension, and that is why we must work together. These problems cannot be solved without international co-operation, and that is why we will make sustainable development a key element of Canada's foreign policy.
The Prime Minister has already shown the way. He was the first political figure to ask for the inclusion of environmental guarantees in NAFTA. He realized that this was a unique opportunity to promote both economic prosperity and a healthy environment. His approach showed great vision.
Under the NAFTA the North American Commission for Environmental Co-operation will be located in Canada. To that end we are engaged in an open and transparent process to select the host city for the commission. We have commissioned an independent consultant to provide selection advice based upon objective criteria.
For the first time ever in the history of the Canadian government the environmental record of the applicant cities will be taken into consideration in choosing the site of this important international institution.
Significantly for the first time in Canada's history, an environmental record is requested of each city that wishes to act as host to this international institution. At the Seattle summit, the Prime Minister invited all Pacific Rim countries to contribute to sustainable development.
It is in response to this invitation that foreign and Canadian environment ministers will meet in Vancouver next March with my colleague, the secretary of state responsible for Pacific affairs, to consider solutions to common concerns. The Prime Minister thinks that our trade partners must also become our environmental partners.
Mr. Speaker, permit me to congratulate the Prime Minister on his choice of the new ambassador for the environment, your predecessor, Mr. John Fraser, who had a reputation for cleaning up this House. It should serve as a model for how we can clean up the country. We will move in the spirit of John Fraser very quickly to proclaim the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. However, I want to assure you that we will do more than that. We intend to establish a concurrent process for amendments to strengthen that act as it is being introduced. Our goal is an assessment process that is comprehensive and effective.
Environmental assessment is not a stumbling block to be circumvented. It is a powerful tool to promote sound decision making to prevent environmental damage and to avoid costly mistakes.
At the request of the Prime Minister, I am also working personally to analyse the requests in the red book for an environmental auditor general and for an independent environmental assessment agency. If we as Parliament and government are going to encourage others to clean up their act we have to start by putting our own House in order.
At the Prime Minister's instruction, I am examining the most effective means of ensuring that our own practices are held to rigorous environmental scrutiny. We intend to work very co-operatively with provincial ministers.
I already had a very fruitful discussion with my counterpart from Quebec on several issues, including proposed harmonization measures.
We have already signed an administrative agreement with the province of Alberta to make sure when we get into the business of environmental regulation that we do it in a way that protects the environment and at the same time ensures that we use taxpayers' dollars wisely. That is the spirit in which we will, as Parliament, be reviewing the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. I know the parliamentary committee will be working very hard to hear the concerns of all Canadians and I welcome input from all sides of the House.
More and more Canadians take the environment into account in their daily decisions.
I draw confidence and hope from the positive changes that I have seen in my own community. Hamilton harbour is now a place where children can swim.
I will repeat it. Hamilton harbour was one of the worst places, but it is now a place where children can swim. I invite everyone to come and visit my riding in the spring to see for themselves how sustainable development can work.
People and wildlife are the beneficiaries. Canadians want to see co-operation between levels of government and political parties. We want to avoid possible overlap and duplication but we also want Parliament and the Government of Canada to start taking sustainable development seriously. It is an opportunity we can seize. We must keep the faith of Canadians. We can and we must make sustainable development not simply a concept but a way of life starting right here in Parliament so that we can show Canadians that as we speak so we do.
Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean): Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the Minister of the Environment and Deputy Prime Minister because she began her speech by saying that we need women. I do not know her personally, but I think that she is a woman of action. We need women like that. She is in authority; she is now the Prime Minister's right arm. Right now, she is probably the most influential woman in Canada.
I also listened closely to her speech. She mentioned a country with values of justice and fairness and so on. However, like me, she must admit that even though we have very good intentions, right now, unfortunately, the country is not fair and just.
The Deputy Prime Minister must know that at least one family in five in Canada lives below the poverty line. I am now on the first subject that I want to raise, which is also the poverty of Indians living on reserves and in the far north; in their case, not one in five but one in two families in the far north and on Indian reserves lives in poverty. These are very disturbing statistics. We must deal firmly with these issues. There is a lot of discrimination in Canada and I think that is an example. Shortly, I will be asking her to say just how her government intends to proceed on these matters.
I also come back to the environment because I know that it is a subject which particularly interests her. With respect to the environment, we also know that the food chain in the far north is deteriorating, and I think that is one of the few places where an environment which was protected by the very nature of things is deteriorating. My first question is this: can she state what her thinking is on how to deal with this poverty, out of concern for justice and equity, for Indians on reserves and in the far north?
Second, does she with her government intend to put forward specific issues and ways to deal with the deterioration of the food chain in the far north as such?
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I will first answer the second question. The member for Saint-Jean is absolutely right about the serious problem of the food chain degradation in the far north.
I personally had the opportunity to visit part of the Arctic circle where mothers have an unacceptably high level of PCBs in their milk. These women were wondering if they ought to breast feed their infants or instead buy milk at $7 a litre. The latter option is not a very good one for people who already live in poverty. This situation reflects the importance of the work we are doing right now in co-operation with the Government of Quebec and all the other governments across Canada in order to improve air quality. A committee was set up to harmonize our regulations regarding CFCs and all other pollutants released into the atmosphere by industries and others.
In March, my counterparts, the provincial ministers of Environment, and I will try to find a way to harmonize some laws related to the environment. For example, the release of CFCs comes under provincial jurisdiction. Yet, if a problem occurs in Toronto, it ultimately will affect the air people breathe in Montreal and even above the Arctic circle. Therefore, we must work in co-operation with the provincial governments to develop a national policy which will garner the support of all the stakeholders.
I am very pleased that the member raised the issue of poverty, especially among aboriginal people, because the government has already announced, in the speech from the throne, its intention to be directly involved in a program called Head Start. This school program was first conceived by the Americans in the sixties and was targeted to the poor of a certain age group. It is our intention to implement this program which will serve as a model for aboriginal people. In fact, my colleague, the Minister of Health, is presently monitoring the development of that program.
Mr. Ian McClelland (Edmonton Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I wish to applaud the transparent nature of the minister in assigning or trying to determine which Canadian city is going to get this much coveted NAFTA environmental secretariat.
After the decision has been made will the selection criteria and the respective bids by the respective cities be made public? Who makes the final decision?
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, we intend to have the process public and transparent throughout. The final decision will be made by the Government of Canada.
I should also point out that in doing the analysis the independent consultant will be working without political input by any of the ministers. The assessment rating areas that have been set out, including environmental record, infrastructure, et cetera, will be done without identifying the individual cities.
Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon): Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by congratulating the Deputy Prime Minister on her election.
I think that what the hon. member said about the environment in her speech is very important, but she mentioned earlier the importance of the family and the United Nations International Year of the Family, as well as the importance of equality for women.
I would like to ask the Deputy Prime Minister a question on plans for a national child care system because it is absolutely fundamental when dealing with the issue of the family and especially for women. I would like to ask her what plans exactly her government has regarding a national child care system?
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, it certainly goes to show what good, considerate people we are in this country when you see the hon. member for Yukon ask a question to the member for Hamilton in the other official language, and I thank her for that.
With regard to day care, of course we have a specific policy. As soon as the economy has grown by 3 per cent, we plan to open 150,000 new day care spaces within 3 years. That was clearly indicated in our red book, and there is no doubt that the Prime Minister will fulfil the promises made in that book.
Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt): Mr. Speaker, I am humbly aware of the great privilege bestowed upon me by the people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt in electing me to speak for them in this venerable Chamber. I congratulate the 66,000 voters of my riding for taking part in Canadian history with the arrival of 52 Reformers to this place.
On behalf of the people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt I wish to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker. I would also like to congratulate members of the government and all hon. colleagues on their election to the House of Commons to represent the voices of their constituents.
Canadians have become cynical about their government. They have become suspicious of their representatives who have too often ignored the voices of their constituents. We in this 35th Parliament have a duty to restore their faith. On January 6, in a ceremony in my riding, I swore an additional oath to represent my constituents faithfully in the House. It is my earnest intention to do just that.
The people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt look to us for prudence, wisdom and fairness in our decisions. They look to us to work together for the benefit of all Canadians. They look to this Parliament for the vision to create a future for them, not of bankruptcy or division but of promise and opportunity.
Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt is an area of honest, industrious and hardworking Canadians. The riding extends from the rolling ranch lands of the Nicola Valley, through the lush orchards and vineyards of the Okanagan, through the rich forests of the boundary country. It is an area of ranches, farms, orchards, mountains, lakes, peaceful towns and small quiet cities. Traditionally we have benefited from the bounty of our minerals, forests, agricultural lands, tourist attractions and of course the best climate in Canada, something which I have come to greatly appreciate this past week.
Today however the riding faces many challenges. It suffers from high unemployment, as much as 2 per cent higher than the provincial rate. We face changes in the structure of our economy as technology and global competition impact on our industries. We see our young people leaving in search of employment. The bright spot in this picture has been our small businesses and the jobs they have created.
Today I am choosing to comment on the government's legislative program from the perspective of Canadians who are looking for economic hope and recovery. These are issues of great importance to the people of my constituency. I commend this government for talking about job creation which Canadians so clearly need. I support this goal.
I do not however believe that government is the best vehicle for this job creation. For some time now small business has created the majority of new jobs in Canada. For example, in the decade up to 1990 while big business was busy downsizing and laying off employees, Canada's small businesses created 85 per cent of the net new jobs in the country. That represents 2.2 million jobs. In the future small business will be even more important as our economy restructures.
However it is often government that stifles this very job creation. Overregulation, onerous taxation, poorly conceived and administered programs all have drastic effects on small
business, sometimes fatal ones. We must ensure that government does not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
An example of that is the recent hike in UI premiums. This is a tax on employment. It not only takes money away from small businesses but it penalizes them for expanding their staffs. Every cent taken away from small business hurts job creation.
As I mentioned earlier, job creation in the Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt riding depends very much on the entrepreneur and the small business person. These are the ones who take the risks, make the commitments and put everything they own on the line to make this happen. These are the people who create jobs.
To be successful small businesses do not need grants, subsidies and handouts. Instead government must create and sustain a climate that encourages their development and growth. Let us remove the road blocks and get out of the way of these entrepreneurs. Let us free small businesses to create prosperity for the nation.
Government subsidies and grant programs do not help entrepreneurs who have sound business plans. They do not need them. These programs are a part of our deficit problem. They lead to high taxes that siphon off the investment dollars that could be going to the creation and expansion of successful and viable enterprises.
Propping up dying industries with subsidies and tax concessions can no longer be justified in today's climate of global trade. Our businesses must be able to compete. We should be looking to the future and the emerging new industries in the areas of high technology, information and knowledge services.
Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt small businesses just want to get on with business. All they ask is that government not make their task any harder than necessary.
Tax burdens in this country are reaching unsustainable levels. Taxes have risen from 24 per cent of the gross domestic product in 1950 to almost 43 per cent in 1990. For the last 10 years we have been promised by our governments that they would get spending under control and that eventually taxes would be reduced. Instead the spending each year exceeds the previous and taxes rise again.
It is time for action. We must stop pointing the finger at previous governments and act on a plan to reduce spending.
Our tax system has spawned a burgeoning underground economy and has made criminals out of ordinary people. The resulting loss in tax revenue transfers more burden onto the shoulders of the remaining taxpayers, including small businesses.
Another concern of small business is overregulation, cost of compliance and the cost of dealing with the ever growing bureaucracies. In some cases the costly delays can jeopardize the viability of a business before it gets off the ground.
An example of this is an entrepreneur in my home town of Summerland who faced three years of bureaucratic delays in importing llamas and alpacas for which there was a demonstrated, ready market.
The government is to be commended for its intention to reduce the regulatory and paper burden on small businesses and to streamline the delivery of services. This is much needed. As well, it deserves to be commended for its progress in the matter of eliminating interprovincial trade barriers.
The major issue that businesses are concerned about is the deficit. The federal deficit is the biggest monkey on the back of all Canadians, not just small businesses.
Now the hon. members of this House have an opportunity to restore the faith of Canadians in our fiscal management. The defeat of our Reform Party's subamendment which proposed limiting spending to $153 billion sends a confusing signal to the Canadian people, especially to small business people.
On the one hand the government has spoken, albeit somewhat vaguely, about controlling the deficit. On the other hand, it refuses to commit itself to a specific reduction target only 6 per cent below last year's runaway levels.
What are Canadians to think of that when it comes to doing their own household budgets? We must all address the issue of reducing the deficit and make it a high priority. We must unshackle small business so that it can get on with getting Canadians back to work and making our economy grow.
The people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt and all the people of Canada are looking to this 35th Parliament to chart a new course for Canada. The future of the nation depends on the wisdom and fairness of these hon. members in deliberating the issues before us. Most important, it depends on the diligence with which we listen to and present the views and concerns of our constituents in this House.
Mr. Fred Mifflin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's presentation with great interest and was very much in accord with some of the things he said.
I am very much aware as we are on this side of the House, particularly my friend who is the member for Broadview-Greenwood, of the difficulties that small businesses have en-
countered in the past few years. I will not put a political perimeter on it because I would be accused of being partisan, which of course is not in these days.
If we cannot take credit here, it is safe to point out that we are focusing on the difficulties that small businesses have encountered in all seriousness and with great enthusiasm and a certain amount of hope.
While indeed small businesses are very concerned about the deficit, a major difficulty they have, they are primarily concerned about moving ahead in what we hope will be a growing economy.
Just this weekend I participated in an economic conference in my riding. I pointed out that people should not be waiting for big buildings and large industries to be brought in because 55 per cent of our gross national product in the last two years was related to businesses of five or less.
We on this side of the House are convinced that small business is important. However, I would ask the hon. member if he could give me some indication in outline form, as time does not permit him to reveal perhaps all the ideas he may have, what he might consider a good initiative or measure to take for small businesses to give them the kinds of breaks and the hope that I believe he is looking for.
Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
I believe that what this country is missing as we look and ponder what can be done for small business is the realization of the importance of business initiatives and the increase in jobs that will be stimulated by that.
I think one of the biggest business initiatives we could have is to elevate the feeling of the small businessman to that of a hockey player in this country. I think that they feel left out. We elevate and make national heroes of other people when really the heroes in this country are the people who create jobs and they are in small businesses.
Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse): Mr. Speaker, I would like the hon. member for Okanagan to explain briefly what he has in mind when he says that the government should create a climate that is favourable to job creation instead of lending money to businesses. What does he mean exactly by that?
Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
I feel it all relates back to the whole issue of deficit reduction. In order to stimulate the economy and give the entrepreneurs who would create this new employment for Canada we must first address our financial situation in this country which is an immediate reduction in spending by this government.
Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre): Mr. Speaker, while listening to the hon. member's support for small business I could not help feeling that he must have taken extractions from our red book. I think it is clearly emphasized how job creation and small business is an integral part of our program.
I was more concerned when he turned around and said that deficit reduction is the main and most important issue. If I am not mistaken I think in the greater metro caucus we have twice had people before us from the business community. There were two major banks as a matter of fact. We have pushed them to extremes to start co-operating with small businesses.
The member indicated that we must reduce the deficit and that it is the main priority. If people are not working then we cannot reduce the deficit. If they are not working then we are supporting them. We are draining our already depleted revenue. The emphasis is on getting the people working. Let us bring some dignity to the House as the Prime Minister has often said and let us reduce the deficit accordingly.
Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
First of all I would like to say that all good ideas should always cross party lines. It makes no difference where they come from but as I mentioned in my speech we have made Canadian history by electing 52 Reformers to this place. However, over the last few days I have sensed that there are more Reformers or more ideas to reform in this Chamber than just the 52 sitting here.
We feel deficit reduction is a very important part. Subsidy programs and initiative programs have a dismal rate of success in this country. It is evident from all statistics we have where the jobs are coming from. Eighty-five per cent of all jobs came from the small business sector. We need to stimulate this.
I have talked to the business people in Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt and around this country and they all point to one thing. People do not have confidence in a country that is as mired in debt as we are.
We have to address this problem soon so that Canadians will have a feeling of goodwill and the spirit to invest in their country and create the jobs through small business.
Mr. Dennis J. Mills (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry): Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my remarks by congratulating you on your new responsibility.
I would like to begin my address by also thanking my constituents of Broadview-Greenwood for giving me a second term in this Parliament of Canada. I grew to have a deep sense of respect and appreciation for this Chamber, especially in the last three years of my first term. I found it a bit intimidating the first
year and I did not enjoy it as much. As a result of that I shied away from the Chamber.
However, after my first year of being a member of Parliament I made up my mind that I would work at trying to make a contribution to debate in the House of Commons in exchanging views and ideas. At that time I was on the opposition benches but I discovered if I worked at that many members on the government side were as interested in trying to achieve the same results as I was. I say to all members of this House that I am going to continue the same approach of trying to present ideas in a constructive way and listen to their ideas so that together we can advance real debate. From real debate I believe we have a shot at making real reform happen.
The danger that one has to be aware of in this town is that most of this town is in the hands of the bureaucracy or the paper pushers. I believe we have become a nation of paper pushers. I think one of the reasons why it has become like that is because so many of us who are elected by the people have not used or have not exercised our political will to transmit to the public service the fact that the ideas that we bring to this Chamber are not our ideas but those of our constituents, the people who elected us and sent us here. We are going to have to work forcefully to make sure they are implemented because ideas just do not happen automatically.
I put my energy into two very specific areas during the last Parliament. I want to begin my remarks this time by going back to those two specific themes of small business and tax reform.
As I said repeatedly during the last Parliament I believe passionately that the greatest hope for putting Canadians back to work rests with the small business community. We have close to 900,000 small businessmen and businesswomen operating across this country and they have been suffering incredible difficulty over the last few years. They have been suffering because of very poor tax design. It was exacerbated by the poorly designed goods and services tax which caused an incredible paper burden at a time when they did not need it.
However there is another area in which small business has been suffering and it has to do with the area of capital. Unless we address the issue of capital for small and medium sized businesses then this country and this House of Commons are going to continue to flounder.
I was just thrilled during the election campaign, even before the election was called, when the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance called a press conference in Ottawa in the early part of July. They told the people of Canada that one of the central themes of the red book would be built around trying to move or shift the attitude of the financial institutions of this country toward small business.
There is not a member of Parliament in this House who could not stand up and tell horror stories of how small and medium sized businesses in his or her riding have been terrorized by the local branch manager. Are there any members who could stand up and say they have not had that experience? I see all members in this House are nodding their heads.
The problem is that somehow as a House of Commons collectively-not just the government side, this is not just an issue for government members, it is an issue for all members in this House-we have to communicate forcefully to the financial institutions, the 57 charter A and B banks, the trust companies, the pension funds, anybody who has large pools of capital. We have to tell them that if they are so hung up on deficit and debt-and we are concerned about it too-if they really care about this community and this country, then they have to start figuring out ways of getting capital into the hands of small and medium sized enterprises.
I stand up here today, not just as the member of Parliament for Broadview-Greenwood, but thanks to the Prime Minister I also have the responsibility of being the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Industry. I want to assure all members that just because I am on this side of the House I will not stop for a second in campaigning on behalf of small businesses, that banks must start coming to their assistance.
I want to be fair about this as well. We are beginning to hear signals from some financial institutions. I want to be very fair when I talk about financial institutions in this sense.
Two weeks ago the Toronto caucus listened to a senior vice-president of the Royal Bank of Canada, Mr. Charlie Coffey. He admitted to all of our members that the banks have really been falling behind in changing the attitude of commercial loans officers toward small business and that they were working aggressively and quickly to try to rectify this problem.
Mr. Coffey stated that until this problem was solved he would take calls from any member of Parliament. He gave us his fax and phone numbers and encouraged us to circulate them. There is one institution that has publicly declared it is committed to join us in this campaign. I can only hope that this country's other 56 financial institutions will be just as aggressive.
I want to go on to the next area that also affects small and medium sized businesses. It is an issue many members of the Reform Party have talked about during the campaign and in the House of Commons. It is the issue of tax reform.
Our Prime Minister has stated unequivocally that we as a government are committed to comprehensive tax reform. He stated clearly in the Speech from the Throne-I believe it is on page 4 at the second paragraph-that he is going to set up a finance committee that will first of all do away with the goods and services tax. That committee will also look at the idea of comprehensive tax reform.
I want to declare publicly my particular bias for a specific aspect of the Reform Party's platform. It has to do with the whole area of tax reform. As a Liberal I am committed to tax reform and I know many other Liberals share that commitment. This is the Tax Act of Canada. This is the document that really decides how the economy of Canada is run. This document is approximately 15,000 pages of rules, regulations, exceptions and exceptions to exceptions.
To all members of the House I want to say that even the best tax lawyers and best tax accountants in Canada will admit privately that this no longer works. We all know this. Canadians know it and they are showing their total lack of trust in this particular act first of all by going underground.
As members know the GST exacerbated the underground economy. Even before the GST we had the largest underground cash economy of any country in the world, after Italy. That is a statement from Canadians that they have lost trust in the system. It is not working and it is time to go back to the drawing board.
Fortunately we are a party that encourages open and constructive debate. Because of that I have been allowed with a lot of support to advance an idea called the single tax system. It is not too far off the idea that the Reform members campaigned on. To all members of the Reform Party and the Bloc Quebecois, this is in both official languages. The single tax is an exercise a group of us undertook in the last Parliament after the first year when the government asked for a constructive alternative to the GST. It is a simple, fair, efficient, workable alternative to the current tax act of Canada.
I want to say to all the Reform members and members of the Bloc as well that I am happy to share the research and the experiences I have had because I believe that Canadians really do want us to work together. Canadians want us to act now. Canadians, as do all members of this House, believe that this cannot be a Parliament of consultation. We have been consulting to death. We have been consulting and the consultants have been consulting the consultants. The last thing we need to do so early in this Parliament is to get back into the consulting business. Canadians are fed up with consultation. They want action now. They want us to move now.
When I say they want us to move now, it is not that people want us to move irresponsibly. One very specific thing we can do immediately is we can phone the leaders of the financial institutions and tell them we are all together on the issue of banks supporting small business. If every member in this House just made one or two calls to a leader of a bank and said that we were all together on that issue, that would be immediate action.
If we did that to all the financial institutions they would move quickly. Members in this House should not forget that they are the designers of the law that governs how the banks function. I can say if I were a bank president and thought that a united House was going to start looking at other ways of regulating my business because the banks did not come to the party on their own, I would probably move quickly.
However we cannot do that job alone. Everyone must participate in this and I plead with all members to get involved in the issue.
Another thing which must be dealt with is the whole hangup on the deficit. I am as concerned about abuse and paper burden and duplication as any other member of this Parliament, but we have to be very careful. If we become so fixated on the deficit and if we become so fixated on cutting costs and cutting programs just because we want to meet some magic number of cutting, I am afraid we are going to exacerbate the already serious crisis of confidence we have in this country.
I get very concerned when I see the emphasis on deficit versus the emphasis on putting Canadians back to work. As the member for Yukon, the leader of the New Democratic Party pointed out in her remarks, for every unemployed person we have in this country today it costs the treasury $17,000 directly, not counting indirect costs like health care, crime costs and so on, not to mention the fact that we lose a revenue source to the treasury.
I personally believe the best way to handle the deficit and ultimately the debt is by getting Canadians back to work. If we have to go through a short period where there might be a little bit more of the same deficit and debt, but if ultimately it means we can get Canadians working so that a year or 18 months from now we have more taxpayers and therefore more revenue coming in, that is the approach I support. I hope members understand that.
Of course that is the design and the objective of the infrastructure program which is totally supported by the Minister of Finance. It is a fine balancing act but we have to remember as I said the other day that our ultimate responsibility in this House is not for the people who are advantaged. We come to this House as people in government for the people in our communities who are disadvantaged: the unemployed father who does not have enough money to buy his kid a hockey stick; or the unemployed single mom who sometimes just does not have enough money to
give her child proper nutrition. That is our bottom line responsibility.
I hope we will not put human capital on the back burner in the name of the deficit, when it really should be on the front burner.
Again I want to thank my constituents, especially all of the volunteers. We all have very special volunteers who helped us come here. A young man, 32 years old, comes into my office. Nick Lamacchia is unemployed and has been for the last six months. He comes into my office every day from about ten o'clock in the morning and stays until about seven at night. He listens to other people's pain and frustration.
As long as we can keep in touch with the reality of what is going on in all of our communities we can overcome whatever we have to in order to make sure the people we are sent here to serve are ultimately being served.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for your patience and time. I am going to do my best to advance my support for small business and tax reform. I will be happy to share any research I have from the last Parliament with anyone.
Mr. Gagliano: To make your job easier, Mr. Speaker, and to clarify matters for the House, I would hope to obtain unanimous consent that beginning with the next speaker on the government side, the 20 minutes allotted be split into two 10-minute periods, followed by two 5-minute periods for questions and comments. This would not apply to ministers who would continue to speak for 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for questions and comments. Is the House prepared to give its unanimous consent?
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Langlois: Mr. Speaker, part of the proposal put forward by the hon. member for Saint-Léonard has eluded us. We do not reject his proposal but we would like him to repeat it so that everything is clear.
Mr. Gagliano: Mr. Speaker, I proposed that all government members starting with the next speaker talk for 10 minutes, with five minutes for questions and comments, except for the ministers. The ministers will continue to have 20 minutes at their disposal, with 10 minutes for questions, since they must talk about specific projects mentioned in the throne speech.
The Deputy Speaker: Does anyone else wish to speak on this point of order?
I believe there is unanimous consent for the government whip's proposal.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Jean-Paul Marchand (Québec-Est): Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the hon. member's comments very much, particularly when he stressed the importance of small and medium sized businesses, and I would like to ask him several questions.
Before I do that, however, I would like to make two brief remarks, as it seems to me that the hon. member reacted very negatively when the Bloc Quebecois announced its sovereigntist stand in this House. As I recall clearly, he reacted very openly and very negatively.
He noted at the outset that most of his ideas came from his constituents. I would like to remind him that I, and all Bloc members, were elected to this House to represent the views of our constituents.
Late in his statement, he also said that he was tired of consultation and wanted action. Well that is precisely how Quebec feels. We too are rather fed up with consultation and want action on the sovereignty issue.
I want to broach the subject of small and medium sized businesses because it is dear to me and affects Quebecers and Canadians equally. I realize it is an important issue, one that you have addressed at considerable length, as did a member of the Reform Party who made some timely comments. I ask the hon. member if he would be prepared to support measures which would enhance the climate conducive to the development of small businesses?
We know that the deficit, taxes and all of the government forms that small and medium sized businesses must contend with impede initiative. Would the hon. member support eliminating family trusts, trimming the fat from government and setting up a parliamentary committee to reduce government waste and duplication in order to lower the deficit and promote the development of small and medium sized businesses?
Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood): Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking the member for his question.
The member used to be a former resident of Penetanguishene, Ontario. I remember his presence there. He always made a great contribution to that community. I talked to some of his supporters from Penetang-Midland Coach Lines this morning. They asked me to convey a hello to him.
I want to deal with the question of the Bloc Quebecois before I get to small business. One has to try to understand that this is the Parliament of Canada. There has been a traditional view I have always supported that when one comes to this Chamber the objective is to make a better Canada. There have been times when I have struggled, and I still struggle, with the idea of coming to this House of Commons of Canada saying basically that I want to separate from it.
Please bear with me as I try to understand how that fits logically. I have not been able to figure it out yet but I have tremendous personal affection for their leader when he was Minister of the Environment and I was a member in opposition. He came to my riding and supported my people's summit on the environment so none of my feeling is of a personal nature. It has to do with an ideological difference we have. I am already seeing signs that the Bloc is shifting its position.
When I hear members of the Bloc stand up and passionately care about the image and the play of Team Canada I say there is a spark of hope because eventually their interest in Canada will probably expand to other areas.
I have less than a minute. I want to deal with the subject of family trusts. One can check Hansard. I spoke against the government three times on that bill. I voted against the bill. I personally think it is obscene that the richest people and the wealthiest families in Canada, some of whom actually happen to be friends, have billions of dollars that have gone untaxed for 20 years when we have people living in poverty and people making less than $50,000 a year who are paying tax because of the complexity and other complications related to the tax system. There is no argument from me and we will be fighting for reform.
I call that comprehensive reform and we are with them on that.
Mr. Laurent Lavigne (Beauharnois-Salaberry): I will be very brief, Mr. Speaker. I have a question and a few comments for the hon. member who just spoke.
I for one consider that what the hon. member just said is fair for any one who still believes in the Canadian system and its effectiveness. Personally, I believe everything has been tried over the past few years. How long have we been telling the federal government that duplication between Ottawa and Quebec is horribly expensive?
The hon. member himself admits that even accountants do not trust the Income Tax Act any more. He himself has lost confidence in it. We, in Quebec, have understood that the Canadian tax law was working against us. It is too expensive. The entire Canadian system is too expensive, starting with the size of the public service, our embassies and the very operation of the Canadian government. That is why the national debt has reached $500 billion in Canada, creating a $40 to $45 billion annual deficit. I respect what the hon. member said, but as far as I am concerned it is nothing more than pious wishes.
I do not believe that in the present system the federal government can solve the problem with studies and analyses.
I do believe, however, that it can be solved. My question is the following: how would the hon. member feel about Quebec opting out of the Canadian Confederation, bringing along its $28 billion in taxes to administer on its own? I would put more faith in that approach that in the one the hon. member has put forward.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Industry. You have two or three minutes remaining.
Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood): Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I am a naturally optimistic and hopeful person but let me say why I believe we all can be more hopeful.
With the exception of 60-odd members this is a totally new Parliament. I happen to believe that one of the reasons I am back here, aside from the red book and the great performance of my leader and my colleagues, and that I have had such support is because I stood for a couple of causes people believed in.
I am from Ontario, as you are. We have the same problems you have in terms of duplicate-
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I know this is a new Parliament, but would the hon. member please address the Chair?
Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood): Mr. Speaker, my apologies to you. Through you to the member, I am much more optimistic obviously and because we have new members we can address these issues quickly.
Concerning the people of Quebec, through you Mr. Speaker to the members of the Bloc Quebecois, we must never forget that they do have 50-odd members and two million votes, but there are seven million people in Quebec. I think the challenge for all of us in this House who want to keep Canada together is for us to address some of the legitimate problems that are brought to this House. I say that there are some real legitimate beefs. If we can address those things then ultimately it is our responsibility to go over the heads of the separatists right to the people and tell them to stay in Canada.
The Deputy Speaker: The time has expired for questions and comments. The next speaker will be the member for Medicine Hat. I might say before recognizing our new colleague that an error was made. It was my error that you did not get recognized earlier. You now have 10 minutes with 5 minutes of questions
thereafter before we go to the member of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat): Mr. Speaker and hon. members, first of all I offer my sincere congratulations to all who won election to the House of Commons. To serve as a member of Parliament is a great responsibility and a great honour.
Mr. Speaker, yours is certainly a double honour. You were honoured by your constituents in Edmonton in becoming a member of Parliament once again and of course now by your appointment as a Speaker of this place. Please accept my congratulations.
To the government and to the Prime Minister in particular I extend my wishes for every success in solving the problems that stand before us. They are problems that really cut across party lines, provincial boundaries, cultures, genders, institutions and even the generations. If we are to solve these problems it will require the best efforts of all Canadians. It is my sincere hope that we will all together apply ourselves to that task.
To the people of the Medicine Hat constituency I give my gratitude for the warmth, friendship and support they have shown toward me as their member of Parliament. I thank them for the great trust they have placed in me as their servant and representative to the Government of Canada.
I begin that job by offering advice to the government on its intention to bring reform to the unemployment insurance program. The government is to be commended for recognizing that unemployment insurance as it is presently constituted is a destroyer of jobs and a ravager of initiative. Likewise, the government is correct in asserting that more emphasis must be placed on improving training and that business should play a major role in providing training.
Who could know better than businesses themselves what skills are required for their future success? Certainly not government. I am concerned, however, when the Prime Minister talks about a training tax to coerce business. If the government would instead cut spending and ultimately lower taxes one could be sure that business could provide its own training because it is in the best interest of businesses to do so. Nonetheless, simply recognizing that a problem exists is the first major step in resolving it. For that alone I give the government full marks.
I am also profoundly concerned when the government fails to outline the process by which it will shape the unemployment insurance program of the future. It is no exaggeration to say that the present unemployment insurance program has not only failed Canadians, it has wounded us. In ignoring pleas for change from both businesses and those people who are sincerely looking for work we have cut the soul out of entire regions of the country. If this is the type of help that comes from government then Canadians should run from government as fast as they can. On the other hand, if the government is prepared to share the decision-making power to involve those who fund the program, to design it for the long run to ensure that it is in line with what other levels of government and the private sector are doing, with the current fiscal reality, if it is prepared to set clear measurable objectives, if it is committed to making the program more accessible and user friendly, if it is committed to promoting equal access and benefits for all, if it promotes and rewards personal responsibility and initiative, if it commits itself to following that process in designing an unemployment insurance program, it will succeed beyond our greatest hopes. Contrarily, if it is a program that is designed and implemented and controlled solely by government, it will fail. If it invites greater public input but then ignores that input, it will fail. In failing it will again crush the initiative of the unemployed and business creating economic and human carnage of tragic proportions.
Specifically how should we go about redesigning the UI program? The first decision-making principle is that all stakeholders must have a voice in designing this program. That includes business, particularly small business which pays most of the premiums. It should include of course the workers who pay into the fund. It should include the federal government as an adviser and a junior stakeholder. Although this may seem obvious, governments I find often ignore this advice. The process should not include those groups which have a vested interest in not resolving the problem.
It is a great truth that incentives matter. If a group or an individual receives funding so that they can protest high unemployment levels do not expect them to propose solutions that will make their position or group unnecessary. Even though they are often well-meaning and claim passionately that they want to solve the problem, I point out that they have a powerful economic incentive to perpetuate the problem. These two competing forces can never be completely disentangled.
The second principle is that decisions must be made with the long term best interests of the country in mind. Too often decisions are made without considering their long term implications.
In 1971 the Liberal government chose to regionally extend unemployment insurance benefits. Today we reap the rotten fruit of that hastily planted seed. Governments must always consider the effect of their decisions over the long run.
The third principle is that decisions should always be made with complete awareness of the current environment. By that I mean the current economic, social, cultural and political environment, both within and without the country. Unless we are all pulling together in the same direction on every front even the best designed programs will ultimately fail. Today's environment is one of tight fiscal constraints, freer trade and greater public participation in the democratic process. A newly de-
signed unemployment insurance program must be sensitive to this and reflect these trends in its design.
The fourth principle is that all government programs must have clear measurable objectives. What is the point of designing a program whose effects are not measured or cannot be measured because the objectives are never made clear? In those instances when the effects are obviously counterproductive why have a bureaucracy? Why even have a government if it will not fix the problem?
For 20 years the evidence against high benefits, regionally extended benefits and training boondoggles has been mounting. Every government in that 20 year period has cowered from fixing the problem.
The fifth principle is that all government programs must be designed to be user friendly. Today the myriad programs offered by human resources development are hopelessly complicated. As one field level bureaucrat told me: ``Our job is to make poorly designed programs run efficiently''. What a damning indictment of the system that is.
In the introduction of the 1985 Forget commission report there is a touching letter from a lady who decries how hopelessly complicated getting a UI benefit can be. Sadly that is still true eight years after that report was tabled.
Governments' failure to solve problems can be traced back directly to the process by which they make decisions. Without public input in the design of these programs they will never ever be able to respond to the needs of the public.
The sixth principle is that all government programs must always treat all Canadians the same. Choosing to live in a particular area of the country should not be a reason for receiving greater or longer benefits. The government must recognize that in attempting to correct what are sometimes inequities in the natural resource wealth of the country it only succeeds in corrupting the human resource wealth of the same area of the country it originally set out to help.
That is the malady of large tracts of Atlantic Canada and it is the legacy of a government that did not understand that government has its limitations.
The seventh principle is that all government programs should promote and encourage personal responsibility and initiative. Of course this should be demonstrated at the top by giving business and employees the responsibility for setting premiums and determining benefits. Those premiums will reflect more accurately than any government decree what businesses and employees can afford to pay in premiums and pay out in benefits while maintaining and strenghthening the viability of businesses and the purchasing power of employees, thereby strenghthening the economy.
Those who are chronically unemployed because they lack experience or training should be the beneficiaries of an integrated program of training and income support provided jointly by the provincial and federal governments. That, however, is a speech for another day.
Before we can reform unemployment insurance or social programs or anything we do in government, we must first reform how we make decisions including all the stakeholders looking at the long run, being aware of the current environment, having clear measurable objectives, designing programs to be user friendly, treating all Canadians equally, encouraging personal responsibility and initiative. This is the framework within which unemployment insurance should be reformed.
The $20 billion Canadians spend on unemployment insurance is not play money. It is not the government's money. It is the product of the hard work of millions of Canadians. It is their money. It is their right to have a say in how it is spent. If we respect that most basic right we will produce a responsible and sustainable unemployment insurance program. If we respect that right in all of our deliberations we will have a government that works within its limits and lives within its means.
Hon. Roger Simmons (Burin-St. George's): Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my friend from Medicine Hat for his first speech in the House. I just got the last part of it because I was so busy stuffing my face.
Mr. Nunziata: With what?
Mr. Simmons: Food. My friend from York South-Weston is here. Anything can happen now.
The member for Medicine Hat talked about the unemployment insurance program. Certainly I would be the first to agree that there is a need for change. I want to scrutinize some of the suggestions he made. One that caught my attention I will come back to in a moment. But let me make a basic point about the unemployment insurance system.
It is not a bogy. It is a system that has served this country very well. Let us not, to use a cliché, throw out the baby with the bath water. This is a system that has served this country very well.
The issue I want to come back to is the one of the variable entrance requirements. I say to the member kindly that if we were to extrapolate and take to its logical conclusion his point that one ought not to have a different entrance requirement depending on where one lives in this country, he is also espousing that all automobile insurance plans ought to be identical and that there ought not to be any variability in the type of coverage that is needed by different individuals.
Of course he does not believe that. I ask him to examine a little more closely his thesis that where one lives in the country makes no difference.
I submit that it makes a whole lot of difference. For example, it makes a difference in the ability of one to work in construction activity. I would suggest that it would have been much more difficult three days ago to do construction activity when it was -30 degrees in Ottawa than in Newfoundland where it was 12 degrees above that day.
Mr. Solberg: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has raised a couple of issues.
First, he wants to know whether unemployment insurance as it is presently constituted has been a boon or a problem in the country.
Certainly the premier of Newfoundland would suggest that as it is presently designed it has not served the interests of Newfoundlanders very well. He points to the fact that a generation of people have become dependent on unemployment insurance as it is now. That is not only an economic tragedy but a human tragedy. We must work quickly to change that so that we can save yet another generation from that type of situation.
It is very important to recognize that there is a great difference between an insurance program that puts the onus on individuals to show that they are trying to stay in the work force and setting up different benefits depending on the unemployment rate in particular areas of the country.
I point out that before regionally extended benefits we had unemployment rates in Newfoundland of around 7 per cent. Since we have regionally extended benefits they have gone up, up and up to 20 and 25 per cent. It is very important that we not ignore the lessons of history lest we be doomed to repeat them.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member's time has expired. Before recognizing the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, I think the hon. member for Bellechasse has something to say, am I right?
Mr. Langlois: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I want to rise on a point of order. The next speaker for the Official Opposition is the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata. Like every woman sitting in this House, she is very active and only sickness or some mishap would slow her down just a little. Unfortunately, she broke her ankle during the weekend. So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you to show some leniency and allow the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata to stay seated while she makes her speech.
The Deputy Speaker: I can assure the hon. member that I see no problem whatsoever. Now, the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata.
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata): Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak today in this House, the symbol of Canadian democracy.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all members of this House who were elected or re-elected, especially the right hon. Prime Minister, the honourable Leader of the Opposition and the hon. member for Calgary Southwest.
My first words will be directed to the constituents of the riding of Rimouski-Témiscouata. I want to thank them for the confidence that they have shown me by choosing me to represent them in the House or that they have expressed to me since I was elected. I will do everything I can to meet their expectations and they can count on my co-operation for any individual or collective project that could contribute to their well-being.
My speech will be made up of two parts. In the first part, I want to remind you of the reasons that brought me to Ottawa and, in the second part, I want to express some comments and questions I have about certain aspects of the Department of Canadian Heritage, of which I am the official critic for the opposition. I will come right to the heart of the subject by reminding you, Mr. Speaker, that you have before you a true sovereignist, one who is determined to work relentlessly in order to defend Quebec's interests. You have before you a sovereignist who, on behalf of the people of Rimouski-Témiscouata, feels that she has the legitimate right to be here in order to claim what is owed to that region and to see to it that it is treated fairly.
Whether the Prime Minister or the hon. member for Calgary Southwest and their parties like it or not, I came here to speak about Quebec sovereignty.
I came here to fight for the MRCs of Mitis, Témiscouata and Rimouski-Neigette and their 37 municipalities in my riding which includes Rimouski, the regional capital of eastern Quebec. Besides government services, you can find in Rimouski one university, the Institut national de recherche scientifique en océanographie, the Institut de marine, one CEGEP, the Quebec Telephone head office, the Rimouski regional hospital and the archdiocesan offices.
I am also here to fight for the five eastern Quebec ridings and all Quebecers.
I stand here as an advocate of Quebec sovereignty. I grew up in Montreal, started a teaching career in Laval University in Quebec City and spent the last 25 years working in a region that honoured me by making me their elected representative. That region is well known for its vibrant cultural life, but it is plagued with deep and lingering economic problems. Up to a few years ago, the citizens there thought they could count on vital communication links for its development, but it had to weather a
devastating attack by the previous government which deprived it of its public television services and cut back its postal and railway services. Ever since that sombre day when Radio-Canada closed its doors there, that region has hardly had any means left to voice its concerns, and its protests have gone unanswered. Everyone knows that we have reached a point where communications are essential community rights.
The people of Rimouski-Témiscouata have had enough of cuts, closings, unemployment, welfare, poverty, bankruptcies, tax increases, not to mention the underground economy, smuggling and violence. These proud, courageous and hard-working people have had enough of a centralizing government which denies that there are differences and disparities between communities. They have long understood that their future depends on appropriate and concrete solutions to their problems. They understand that their sovereignty, Quebec's sovereignty, is the key to their future. In the meantime, they will have the opportunity to say yes again like they did the first time in May 1980. They want the Minister of Canadian Heritage to fairly fulfill his mandate, a mandate which is to protect the cultural and natural heritage so that when the new era comes Quebec can find its heritage untouched. I will now turn briefly to some issues before the Department of Canadian Heritage, that is amateur sport, the National Film Board, official languages, Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and copyright.
Now that the winter and summer Olympic Games alternate every second year at the request of American broadcasters and their sponsors, amateur sport will be on the forefront of current events and could be widely talked about in a rather bad light, as we saw recently in the case of Team Canada and figure skating in the United States.
In the present context of economic austerity, Quebecers want more than games, in any case something other than a flag war. They demand, among other things, a review of the athlete status in order to put an end to dubious practices whereby so-called amateurs stash away the thousands of dollars they earn while continuing to receive their amateur sport grant. These grants should go only to those who really need them.
Moreover, since the main decision centres for participation in the Olympics are in Toronto and Calgary, Quebec is asking, and rightly so, for a review of selection procedures in some olympic sports, to do away with discrimination and inequity toward Quebec athletes and others.
Over the last four years, Canadian taxpayers have given some $4 million in grants to Team Canada. Selection of athletes is entirely left to the various coaches and, according to information given in this House by the Minister of Canadian Heritage himself, Team Canada will reveal the names of athletes selected ``a few days only before the first match''. Why pay for four years if, on the eve of the Olympic Games, we cannot make public the names of the 23 players selected?
Team Canada needs more than a token French speaking assistant coach in charge of relations with the French media. We have to make sure that people like Mario Lemieux will not be eliminated because they are ``not good enough''; that those like Alexandre Daigle will not be excluded because they are ``too strong-minded''; that those like Sylvie Fréchette will not be disregarded because they refuse to train in Calgary; that those like the Duchesnays-who gave France the gold-will not be considered ``too avant-garde'' by Canadian judges; finally, that those like Eric Lindros will not be given the red carpet treatment and selected against the rules.
Finally, one has only to think about fencing or figure skating to realize that all amateur sports are not equal. We must recognize that and adopt a grant policy which will protect those sports and ensure an equitable distribution of funds.
As far as official languages are concerned, it is essential that interventions be targeted properly, that they be distinct, that they fulfill specific needs and that they take into account the special situation of each of our two solitudes.
Let us not forget that the Bloc Quebecois came to Ottawa to deal with sovereignty; we are not here to promote bilingualism. For Quebec, the sole purpose of official languages is the proper operation of federal parliamentary and judicial institutions.
However, for the francophone and Acadian community of Canada, the Bloc Quebecois is simply asking for the implementation of section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms entrenched in the Constitution Act of 1982.
I want to make this clear to all Canadians from one ocean to the other and to the other, as our colleague from Yukon likes to say Mr. Speaker, I want you to listen carefully. As you know the English speaking minority of Quebec has always been well treated. These people have a complete guarantee that under a sovereign government in Quebec they will keep all their historic rights.
As critic for Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition I want to make sure that the minority known as la Communauté francophone et acadienne du Canada receives the same treatment and that its rights guaranteed by the Constitution are respected without
having to take legal proceedings and going as far as the Supreme Court of Canada.
Even though it is a magnificent concept, the cinerobotheque recently opened in Montreal has not increased the NFB's market.
Over the years, the NFB has strayed more and more from its original course which was to produce documentaries. The NFB seems to be looking for its raison d'être. It produces fewer films on its own but rather uses the funds it manages to co-produce films in co-operation or in competition with the private sector or Telefilm Canada, as was the case with ``The Decline of the American Empire'', ``Night Zoo'' and ``Léolo''.
On the other hand, the NFB neglects its regional role and budgetary restrictions forced it to reduce the resources and services which regions normally had access to. Preferring glamour to thriftiness, the NFB announced it was closing its regional offices in Rimouski, Chicoutimi, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke, Rouyn-Noranda, Charlottetown, Calgary, St. John's and Sydney, but that it will be keeping open those in Paris, London, and New York to distribute its films, something which could be done at a lesser cost by the private sector.
I am asking that the NFB's mandate be re-examined in light of the taxpayers'ability to pay and the need to support a growing film industry in Canada.
As for Telefilm Canada, one can well wonder why it is maintaining at great expense offices in Paris, London, and Los Angeles.
Moreover, through the years-thanks to a lack of control and too much opulence-several of Telefilm's employees have gotten into the habit of attending, sometimes in great numbers, numerous film festivals including the one in Cannes and the film and television fair, as well as the Marché international de la production en télévision and the Marché international de la production et des communications which are held for the same audience and the same market, twice a year in Cannes.
Before considering slashing financial support for the creation of original works, we should review the mandate of Telefim Canada, and ponder the judiciousness of keeping those offices abroad open instead of giving the responsibility for film distribution to the private sector.
As far as the CBC is concerned, we know that in 1990, it was left with a shortfall of $108 million as a result of a decision by the previous government. The president announced unprecedented cuts, closing 11 local or regional TV stations, including those in Rimouski, Matane, and Sept-Îles, and causing the loss of 1,100 jobs, 280 of which were reclassified or lost in eastern Quebec.
These cuts, which had and are still having a negative impact on regional development, did not improve the corporation's financial situation.
It should be noted that, without taking into account the cuts announced in the April 1994 budget, the CBC will have a shortfall of around $42 million in 1993-94; around $32 million in 1994-95; and around $79 million in 1998-99.
It is therefore urgent that we tackle the issue of the financing of the CBC public radio and TV networks.
I am concerned that the CBC is thinking about using the surplus generated by the employee pension fund to offset its deficit for the next two years. You can surely understand that we will oppose any attempt to resolve the CBC's financial woes by shutting down regional stations or by using pension funds for bailout purposes.
Moreover it is all the more important under the circumstances that the next CBC president be selected on the basis of ability rather than on the basis of partisan considerations.
Lastly, the mandate of the CBC must not be viewed strictly in terms of available funds, but equally in terms of the country's linguistic specificity, that is to say in terms of the cultural specificity of the country's two founding peoples.
The Crown corporation is straying from its mandate of public broadcaster because, on the one hand, of the shortfall it must make up and because, on the other hand, of the increasingly commercial approach it is being forced to take. It has modified the content and level of some of its programming to get the viewer ratings it needs to attract advertisers and in turn erase part of its revenue shortfall. It is dipping into an already limited pool of advertisers, especially in Quebec, and getting into questionable competition with private broadcasters.
It is critical that the government review the Crown corporation's mandate and be very vigilant as the CRTC prepares to hold important hearings on speciality services and digital radio broadcasting. The CRTC's rulings will have a major impact on the operation of the radio-television industry. The government must ensure that in making its ruling, the CRTC takes into consideration the country's linguistic specificity and extracts a commitment from cable operators to abide by Canadian content rules and make services available to all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, it is important to realize that the CRTC's rulings will have a considerable impact on the world of television. They will affect cable subscription costs as well as the way advertising revenues are shared at a time when broadcasters are already worried about their future.
Moving to the complex issue of copyright, I would like to point out that creators are currently out in the cold and that the government will have to act quickly by tabling as soon as possible a bill to correct this unfortunate situation.
As I far as I know, there are two ways of looking at this issue. You can view copyright as a right to reproduce a concrete piece of work-a view commonly held by the Americans and Anglo-Saxons-whereby the higher the quality of the work, the more it is reproduced and the more profitable it is.
Or you can view the very act of creation as taking precedence over any concern for protecting the work that will be produced. This is the view which allows creators to earn money as soon as their work is used, the view favoured in francophone circles.
The Bloc Quebecois believes we should favour the latter and protect copyright for 50 years after the death of the artist on all types of work.
However, we can neither stop progress nor ignore it. So, we must recognize the right to copy privately, but at the same time grant royalties to creators for every blank tape sold as well as for the recording medium. The Société de gestion des droits d'auteur, a collective, could be in charge of administering the royalties.
Further, Mr. Speaker, we should protect neighbouring and residual rights. France recognizes the former. That is how Céline Dion can receive royalties every time they play her rendition of ``Power of Love''-to which she has given a personal touch and which she has made famous around the world-in France but not in the US nor in Canada, because neither recognizes neighbouring rights.
As for residual rights, they should be included in this act and also protected for 50 years. These rights relate to the royalties paid to artists as their works are sold to successive owners. This entire area of residuals will have to receive due attention out of fairness for the artists and to sustain the art production market.
The last point I want to get across to the government is that culture is a sensitive area and a financially profitable industry of vital importance to the development of communities. Just thinking about how much the Riopelles, Vigneaults, Voisines, Adams, Sutherlands and Forresters have done for the reputation of Quebec and Canada, it is easy to see that the return on investment in the cultural industry far exceeds that of any other economic activity.
The Bloc Quebecois reiterates that, to promote the cultural identity of each of the founding nations, the government must put an end to costly overlapping in culture and communications, while ensuring the transfer of the budget envelopes for these items, in accordance with the traditional demands of Quebec.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I ask the government to follow through on the suggestion of the Official Opposition requesting that a committee be struck to review extensively, item by item, expenditures of the Department of Canadian Heritage and of all federal corporations or agencies that come under it.
The Deputy Speaker: Before going on to questions and comments, I would like to add for the television viewers that you remained seated because of a broken ankle.
Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services): Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague for her speech. I would like to make a short comment and then ask two questions.
The comment is very straightforward. I believe that it would be useful, if possible in the near future, to give a comparison of the services anglophones have in Quebec and those francophones have outside Quebec.
I understand your point and I fully agree with the basic premise, but I believe that could help to educate some people. So if the occasion arose and I could assist you, I would be pleased to do so. If you can do it, it would be very useful.
I also note that the hon. member made the following comment, that if Quebec became a sovereign state, the anglophone minority could be assured of having the historic rights which they had and which they enjoy today. I hope that it would be so, but why did so many anglophones leave Quebec during the referendum crisis several years ago and why are so many still leaving, according to the statistics and information I have? If this objective of sovereignty were realized, no doubt more would leave. Obviously, some of them must be wondering if it is true or not.
Secondly, I listened carefully and I heard nothing about what a Bloc Quebecois government would do with respect to native people if Quebec were sovereign. Nevertheless, the First Nations have historic rights. Would you have something to share with us on this subject?
Mrs. Tremblay: Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by making a comment and thanking the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services for his question.
First of all, minority rights in Quebec have always been guaranteed and protected. You asked me to draw a comparison between francophones and anglophones. I will take only one example, that of the school system.
Anglophones have always managed their own free public school system. They even had a school system managed by English speaking protestants, so that they would not have to mix with French-speaking catholics.
Although the 1982 Constitution guarantees the right of Acadians and other French speaking Canadians to manage their own schools in every province where numbers warrant, those com-
munities had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to force their provinces to merely implement the terms of the 1982 Constitution.
So when Acadians and other French Canadians are treated the same as the anglophone minority in Quebec, I think that Canada will be entitled to sing the national anthem of its choice. In the meantime, I think that the rights of Quebec anglophones are protected by the program of the Parti Quebecois. This is not the place to list their potential rights in a sovereign Quebec. We will leave that to Quebec and Mr. Parizeau when he comes into office, as we all hope.
As far as natives are concerned, I am not the designated critic on this issue. I will leave it to the official critic on aboriginal affairs to state our views on the subject. But it is clear that our native minority has always been treated well in Quebec, too. They have not experienced nearly as many difficulties as in the rest of the country, as the courts can testify to.
Mr. Benoît Serré (Timiskaming-French River): I would also like to congratulate my colleague from Rimouski-Témiscouata for her comments. However, Mr. Speaker, I thought that, during the last election campaign, the party which forms the official opposition had promised Quebecers that it would primarily talk about economic recovery and job creation. Yet, since the opening of this session, that party has only raised the issue of sovereignty.
Is the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata prepared to fulfill the mandate she received from her constituents and co-operate with our government to put Quebecers and Canadians back to work? Otherwise, will she tell them honestly that she is here for one reason, and that is Quebec's independence, rather than its sovereignty?
Mrs. Tremblay: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, but I want to remind him that I am not here to promote Quebec's separation, but rather its sovereignty, and in French there is an enormous difference between those two concepts.
As regards economic recovery, it just so happens that I am involved in a sector which is absolutely extraordinary for the recovery of the economy. The budget for Canadian Heritage is roughly $3 billion but that sector brings in $22 billion to Canada. Each dollar invested in the cultural sector brings in one dollar in revenue. In some fields you sometime have to spend $200,000 to create one job, but in the cultural sector one dollar will have a return of one dollar. In fact, this sector is the one with the highest return in the economy and it also creates 500,000 jobs across Canada.
What I emphasized throughout my speech was that we must revise mandates, cut the fat in the federal administration, and put an end to trips made three times a year by civil servants to Cannes as well as to the film festival in Berlin at taxpayers'expense. I have rarely seen any civil servant at the international film festival for youth in Rimouski. It does not cost much to go to Rimouski. Yet, no civil servant shows up at that festival, even though it would really not be an expensive proposition, with hotel rooms at $40 a night. But 60 civil servants go to Cannes three times a year and stay in hotels at $200 a night. This is why we must set up a House committee so that members of Parliament are the ones who decide where to cut, instead of relying on suggestions made by civil servants, because they will never cut in their own fat. Have you ever seen anything like this? Therefore, this issue must absolutely be dealt with by a House committee, so that we, members of Parliament, are the ones to decide where to cut out the fat. We must be able to find funding so as not to reduce the budget of Telefilm Canada producers but rather that of those who sell our films and not passively watch the private sector sell our films. This is the kind of sound decision we must make, and not once again go after the performers and the creators. The throne speech is silent on this; there is not a single line about promoting economic recovery in that sector in spite of the fact that we know it has the best performance.
So, I hope the government will prove serious and take proper steps in this direction.
The Deputy Speaker: There are three and a half minutes left. You can share this time. The hon. member for Berthier-Montcalm.
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier-Montcalm): First off I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata who reminded this House of the first objective Bloc Quebecois members have set for themselves during the last campaign.
Listening to her speech, one or two questions came to my mind. However, given the question of the last speaker I will rephrase it, to make it clearer to the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, and to the House. As a member of this House, how does she interpret the mandate she received on October 25?
Mrs. Tremblay: I hope I interpret it the same way as everyone else in this House. I came to pave the way for Quebec sovereignty, to explain to all Canadians what we are doing here and what we will be doing afterward. We did not come here to destroy Canada, we came to rebuild it differently by going our own way and making it better, because there really are two countries in Canada. We have to shed our blinkers and face the facts. We have two countries. We say: ``Let us leave. Let us try
to negotiate something which would allow our two countries to live side by side and everything will be better for Canada''.
I have just remembered the hon. member's question. He wants to know why the anglophones are leaving Quebec. They are leaving because they are scared. It is just fear, because there are English speaking Canadians of other origins coming to Quebec. Even Americans come to Quebec, because life is good there. The food is good, accommodation is good. People who are scared leave Quebec, those who like a challenge are coming in.
The Deputy Speaker: I will recognize the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.
Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services): Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleagues on having been elected to the House.
Congratulations to all my colleagues. At the same time I want to thank my constituents for giving me the honour of representing them in this House.
I thank my constituents for having given me the opportunity to return.
My speech has three parts. Part one will be about government that takes an active role. Part two will concentrate on the priorities in the throne speech, and finally part three, the conclusion.
The government has been extremely busy undertaking a number of actions, actions that are good for Canadians, actions that are in fact part of its electoral program. Let me mention a few.
The government has downsized cabinet; it is one of the smallest ever in the history of Canada. It has cancelled the controversial EH-101 helicopter contract. It has as well stopped a bad deal to privatize terminals one and two at Pearson International Airport. It is pushing ahead with its $6 billion national infrastructure program. It has replaced the Governor of the Bank of Canada. It has passed NAFTA and finalized the terms of the new GATT. It has announced a plan for the review of defence policy. It has sent a clear signal on the need for integrity and frugality in government and it is opening the books to reveal government finances. Those are a number of actions the government has already taken.
As parliamentary secretary I have had the good fortune to make a number of announcements in my own riding that respond to the need to create jobs in Canada. It so happened because I was from the city of Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba that I was given this task.
For example, Peerless Garments Limited received two contracts totalling $541,000 for newly designed materials for National Defence to protect Canadian forces personnel from cold and wet weather. This will create four jobs and maintain up to 30 employees in Peerless Garments Limited.
Another announcement involved Century 21st Apparels Limited that won a $526,000 contract supplying National Defence with parkas and trousers for wet weather. This will create up to 20 jobs and maintain 45 more jobs at this particular company.
A third announcement involved Standard Aero Limited that won a $725,000 contract for repairing and overhauling aircraft cooling materials. It will maintain six jobs at this particular company.
Those are the kinds of announcements that Canadians want to hear. Those are the kinds of announcements that create jobs and maintain jobs, that make sure our fellow Canadians are working or going back to work.
I also had the privilege of announcing a grant of $261,000 in my own riding for maintaining a six-room residence to provide temporary shelter for victims of family violence.
It is too bad that in today's society, we need establishments like these, but unfortunately, we do. I was glad to make this announcement, which responds to a real need in our society.
I will now discuss the highlights of the throne speech. First, I would like to deal with job creation.
Job creation which during the election was our major priority continues to be our major priority.
Most members will have heard about the infrastructure program that is going forward rapidly. That is an immediate response to Canadians who have been unable to work. Then there will be the response to small and medium sized businesses which are those enterprises that have created 85 per cent of the new jobs in Canada during the last decade. They will have more access to capital. There will be less red tape. There will in fact be research and development which will permit them to grow, create and simply make sure there are more jobs in Canada.
Now, I would like to speak about integrity or ethics, if you prefer, in public life.
The Prime Minister has indicated that integrity in government is absolutely essential and in that vein he has cancelled the Pearson airport deal which was a very bad deal for Canadians. He has cut political staff for a saving of $10 million annually and he has outlined cuts to MPs' perks and benefits of over $5 million annually. There will be a review of MPs' pensions and there will be additional reductions and changes to that which is happening in this government in this Parliament because the Prime Minister and his government believe that integrity in government is an absolute necessity.
There were also references in the throne speech to economic recovery.
We have talked about changing Canada's social security system within two years so that it responds to more needs more effectively, replacing the goods and services tax, ending foreign overfishing and making sure that we have an elimination of internal trade barriers.
Finally, there is perhaps a fourth major point. We have talked about strengthening the fabric of Canada.
About strengthening the social fabric in this country.
We will proclaim the Canadian environmental assessment act. The Prime Minister will himself chair a national forum on health to foster a public dialogue on health care. We will introduce measures to enhance community safety, especially the safety of women and children, and we will move to implement the inherent right of aboriginal self-government. We will consult widely with Canadians as we conduct major reviews of foreign and defence policy.
As I indicated initially, this is a government of action. This is a government that said during the election campaign that it would do things and this is a government that has reiterated a number of those particular points in the Speech from the Throne.
I would like more or less to summarize the throne speech which reflects our determination to keep our campaign promises. To me, this is absolutely essential. Economic recovery and job creation are the main priorities of this government and of all Canadians.
We will meet the commitments made in our campaign program, the little red book which is becoming increasingly popular. The government's priorities are clearly identified, both in this little red book and in the throne speech.
And finally, the Minister of Finance will put figures to the measures announced in the throne speech in his February budget. The budget will contain measures designed to control the debt and the deficit while turning around the unemployment situation.
There are two final comments I would like to make. The throne speech contains one paragraph which to me is very important, and I quote:
Our cultural heritage and our official languages are at the very core of Canadian identity and our sources of social and economic enrichment. The government will announce measures to promote Canada's cultural identity.(1345)
Is this throne speech perfect? Of course not. But I think it gives us a chance, if we are willing, to work together to create, to build, and to improve what we already have. On many occasions I have heard members of all political parties make comments such as that this is an excellent country. We live well. We eat well. We have fun. So when we like something this much, something that may be the best of its kind in the whole world, why are we looking for radical solutions? To me, this is the best country in the world, and I want to ask my colleagues to help make it even better.
Mr. Pierre de Savoye (Portneuf): Mr. Speaker, I just heard the hon. member make some very interesting comments about job creation. But I also read this morning that the Minister of Finance said he would cut expenditures by twice the amount of any hike in taxes. We know Canadians, Quebecers and others alike, are taxed enough as it is. We also know that if we reduce expenses we will take away the income of many who will end up on unemployment. How can the member not see the contradiction between what his minister said and what he just told us?
Mr. Duhamel: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his questions. Naturally, before we get the details, we will have to wait for the February budget. But I see no contradiction. If we examine all the reports received to date we see that the Minister of Finance is trying to establish a larger taxation base because we are short some $46 billion. It is very normal therefore to try to find taxes in areas that were not taxed or not sufficiently taxed before.
I do not think cutting certain expenses will necessarily have adverse effects on jobs. It depends on where we make the cuts. Remember that here, in the House of Commons, our program is based on two fundamental principles, on two very important programs, the first being the infrastructure program which has already been launched and budgeted. That measure has been implemented and it will immediately create jobs for people.
As far as long term development is concerned, we talked about replacing the GST, about ensuring better access to capital for small businesses, since they were responsible for creating 85 per cent of new jobs over the last 10 years, and about giving them additional help for training and updating skills, more help for research and less forms to fill. All that is very normal. I see no contradiction there. I think the Minister of Finance is trying
to strike a balance between deficit and debt reduction and job creation. I admit this is quite a challenge, but I am very willing to wait until February for the details.
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for St. Boniface on his remarks.
I will also take this opportunity to greet all the French speaking Manitobans living in his riding. He just described the state of the Canadian economy and we are all in agreement with what he said.
One thing is certain now, everyone in Canada knows what is going on. People understand the difficult situation we are in. They are now expecting action. Making a diagnosis is not enough, the government was brought to office to take concrete and positive steps to stimulate the economy.
The member also mentioned French speaking Canadians across Canada. Mr. Speaker, I think I should point out that francophones outside Quebec have always relied on the Canadian government for services whereas for us, in Quebec, our motherland, our government has always been primarily the government of Quebec, and that is a big difference.
Mr. Speaker, to conclude, I would like to ask the member, in his capacity as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Works, what his government intends to do, apart from the tripartite program, to create stable and long lasting employment.
Mr. Duhamel: I want to thank my hon. colleague for his comment and question. First off, it is a fact that the nearly one million men, women and children who make up the francophone minority outside Quebec have relied to some degree, and at times considerably, on the federal government to help them establish certain institutions.
One fact that is sometimes forgotten is that this minority has often looked to Quebec, an important reference point, for the necessary resources to grow and develop.
Moreover, it should also be remembered that we have long relied on our own resources and waged our own fight to preserve our language and culture which we hold so dear.
Regarding long-term stable jobs, as my hon. colleagues in this House know, the program which we are putting forward to encourage in some ways small and medium sized businesses will create this kind of well-paid, sustainable employment. Our long-term plan is to reduce government red tape, to ensure that taxes-
I see the Speaker is signalling to me that my time is up, so I will conclude on this note.
Mr. Geoff Regan (Halifax West): Mr. Speaker, allow me to add my words of congratulations to the many you have received since your appointment as Deputy Speaker.
I also want to congratulate the hon. members for Bruce-Grey and Madawaska-Victoria for their eloquence in moving and seconding the Speech from the Throne.
I am pleased to have in common with all members of this House the responsibilities of this office. There has been much talk of the need for greater civility here. I believe that members of all parties can help give this place a more productive and positive atmosphere.
Allow me to thank the voters of Halifax West once again for giving me and this government something very precious and that is their trust and confidence.
It is with a great sense of pride and humility that I stand in this House to speak on behalf of the people of Halifax West. I am here to serve them and give voice to their concerns but I recognize that I am also here to serve the best interests of Canada.
It is also with a sense of history and responsibility that I stand in this House where my father and grandfather stood before me. I note from Hansard that when my grandfather, Jack Harrison, made his maiden speech in this House some 44 years ago the one member to intervene during his speech was Mr. Stanley Knowles. What a remarkable pleasure it has been to see him here sitting in front of me these last few days.
I have great respect for the best traditions of this House. At the same time we are all aware of the need for change and the urgent need to restore hope and confidence to Canadians.
I am encouraged by the changes to the rules of the House announced in the Speech from the Throne. I detect a fresh, new attitude in this place and it augurs well for Canada.
With nearly 93,000 voters, Halifax West is the biggest riding in Atlantic Canada, the fastest growing one and perhaps the most diversified as well.
It has urban, suburban and rural components. It includes a large part of the city of Halifax along the hills from Fairmont and Fairview to Clayton Park and Wedgewood. It includes
bedroom communities like the town of Bedford, the Timberlea area and Sackville, the third largest community in Nova Scotia.
Halifax West also contains a long list of smaller communities from the hamlets of Goffs and Oldham in the northeast to the fishing villages like Terrance Bay and the picturesque Peggy's Cove in the south and the glorious beaches of Queensland and Hubbards in the west.
Throughout my years of growing up, working and volunteering in Halifax West I have seen the challenges facing its people. As we all know Canadians face many challenges. We face challenges like unemployment. We see friends desperately trying to find work. We see neighbours in danger of losing their homes, their hopes and their dreams. We face the challenges of cleaning up our environment. We see our lakes and rivers dying from acid rain and other pollution.
We smell our landfills overflowing. We have witnessed the ravaging of our ocean resource. We see other challenges. We see the poverty of single mothers and their children. We see women bruised and battered. We see families destroyed by drugs and alcohol.
At the same time as we face these and other challenges we are confronted by a national debt of over $500 billion.
These are but a few of the enormous problems we are facing. No government could solve them all, and none could do it overnight.
Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers, but I look forward to working with all my colleagues to find them.
Last summer and fall I visited over 12,000 households in Halifax West. As I did, I heard the concerns of many people. I want to mention today a number of issues they have brought to my attention.
Transportation is a constant concern. Overcrowded and inadequate highways and access roads are a safety problem and a hindrance to business. Many communities in Halifax West have sewer and water systems that are inadequate or in need of upgrading. They pose a real threat to health and the environment.
In light of these concerns I am pleased the government has moved so swiftly to complete the Canada-Nova Scotia infrastructure agreement that was signed January 14 in Halifax. I am confident the private sector will play a role and will respond to the call to play a role in this national program. I am encouraged that this job creation program allows local governments to set the priorities.
Unemployment is a major problem throughout Atlantic Canada. There are those in Halifax West who live in very difficult conditions. After seven years of involvement in food banks I feel a particular obligation to those in our society who are hurting. These people want to move away from dependency to become full participants in society. They want to work.
I look forward to the coming review of our social programs with the hope that we can make them fairer, simpler and stronger.
I am happy about the reintroduction of the residential rehabilitation assistance program because it will allow many seniors to stay in their own homes. I also find it is a good idea for the government to focus on small and medium sized businesses in its long-term job creation plan.
As a past president of the Bedford Board of Trade I am familiar with the frustrations of the small business sector. By cutting red tape and improving access to capital we can give small business a better shot at success. No other segment of our economy has the same potential for creating jobs.
I spoke a moment ago about transportation. The Halifax International Airport is located in my riding and many residents are employed either at the airport, in the nearby aerotech park or in the airline industry. In light of the current airline industry crisis in Canada these airline workers in particular are very concerned about their future. They are looking to the government to help stop the feuding. I wish the Minister of Transport every success in this regard. I offer my support and assistance to him.
Then there is the railway. The maintenance of an efficient and competitive rail link to the Atlantic provinces and the port of Halifax is a crucial economic issue for Halifax West and the entire region.
Halifax has a long and proud history as the east coast home of our navy. I look forward to the coming review of foreign policy and defence policy. I am confident it will highlight the need for a strong, effective and flexible naval force for peacekeeping, drug interdiction and resource preservation. There is no more pressing problem in Atlantic Canada than the collapse of the groundfishery which has caused the largest layoff in Canadian history.
The vast majority of my constituents are not directly involved in the fishery but they know the importance of the fishery to the entire Atlantic economy. I welcome the government's pledge to assist those affected to become self-supporting. I stand with all members from Atlantic Canada in my concern for this vital sector.
Canadians will take hope from the speech from the throne. It demonstrates that this government is keeping its promises. The
Prime Minister and cabinet have been true to their words in cutting $10 million from their staff budgets. I am pleased that we in the House will help save another $5 million.
The Speaker: Order. It being two o'clock p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5) the House will now proceed to statements by members, pursuant to Standing Order 31.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS[English]
Such tragedies are unfortunately a common occurrence in our mining communities. I would like the families of these two miners and the communities of Kirkland Lake, Larder Lake, Virginiatown and Matachewan to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them.
This government is committed to participate in further studies on how to prevent and anticipate these rock burst occurrences which are the major cause of mining fatalities.
* * *[Translation]
But for decades now, the federal government has been neglecting the funding of research and development in Quebec, with the result that Quebec's economy has suffered.
In my capacity as a member from the greater Montreal area, I want this House to know that I will continue to keep a watchful eye on this because Montreal should be getting its fair share of federal R and D funds for employment and equity.
Senator Everett conducted himself in such a way as to enhance the credibility of that institution. He favoured freer votes in the Senate and chose to sit as an independent Liberal when he found himself at variance with the Liberal Party on the issue of free trade. When he dissented from the tactics used by the Liberals in the Senate in the GST debate he crossed the floor to sit as a fully independent senator.
In his resignation speech, Senator Everett's last advice to the government was that the upper chamber should be elected like the House of Commons.
I pay tribute to Senator Everett today and recommend that the government heed his advice for restoring public trust and confidence in the upper chamber.
* * *
Many hon. members and senators along with staff members took advantage of the kind invitation of the hon. member for Ontario. In his welcoming remarks he warned us that ``Schindler's List'' is a powerful film which makes explicit the facts of the holocaust and the lessons to be learned from it.
As we prepare for a special debate on peacekeeping in Bosnia it is appropriate that we reflect on the genocide, violence and inhumanity of the holocaust. Similar evils seem rampant in Bosnia.
In conclusion I again thank the hon. member for Ontario for his timely initiative.
* * *
I ask that all members join together to review this condition to determine whether this procedure should be available to murderers of police officers and prison guards or whether it should be eliminated completely as soon as practically possible, thereby making murderers of police and prison guards serve at least a minimum of 25 years.
* * *[Translation]
The workers employed by the four aluminum plants located in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region account to close to 30 percent of the direct manufacturing labour force in the region. This industry is going through a crisis caused by the Commonwealth of Independent States, which is dumping massive quantities of aluminum on the international markets and making world prices tumble.
Aluminum-producing countries have tried without success to convince Russia to reduce its production. The United States wants to protect itself by imposing anti-dumping duties on all foreign producers including Quebec. That would only aggravate the crisis hurting Quebec aluminum workers. Canada must act immediately to persuade Russia to limit its exports and also to prevent the United States from imposing anti-dumping duties on aluminum from Quebec.
* * *[English]
The previous government passed legislation that severely restricted the legitimate use of firearms without addressing the criminal use of them. The Liberal government has indicated its intention to introduce new firearms legislation.
If it is the government's intention to deal seriously with prevention of illegal activities I would hope its legislation is straightforward and realistic. Legitimate owners stand ready to assist the government in any way possible.
If on the other hand it is the government's plan to pass regulations intent on forcing these legitimate owners to give up their legal property in frustration, I hope the government will at least be honest enough to state that its real intention is to take firearms away from all citizens of this country.
Legitimate owners would like compassionate legislation, but above all else they demand honesty from their government.
* * *
The former Tory government abolished the initial six months of free interest on student loans.
Many Canadian graduates now find themselves without jobs, without money and with student loans of $30,000 or more. How can we ask these young people to pay back their loans right away when they are unemployed?
Jobless graduates have become discouraged, even desperate. I urge my colleagues to support youth employment programs and a fair repayment plan of student loans.
* * *
On October 25, 1993 the people of both St. John's ridings had the wisdom to elect me and my friend from St. John's West as the first women to represent our fair province in this honourable House.
The issues brought to my attention by my fellow Newfoundlanders during the campaign are clear. Unemployment is dangerously high. Our young people are beginning to lose hope and many families are finding it all but impossible to cover their basic needs.
However Newfoundlanders are at their best when times are the hardest. We continue to have the lowest level of income in the country but we give to our charities the most. This is the type of character that makes me proud to represent the people of St. John's East. I would like to thank the voters who have put their trust in me, in the Prime Minister and in this government team to address the issues of their concerns.
There are many challenges facing this government, but one which we must address quickly is the 17.2 per cent level of youth unemployment. Approximately 355,000 young people remain unemployed in Canada. These youth have become innocent victims after years of economic hardship. With them we will work toward forging a new economy founded on information and knowledge based industries.
I am confident that in its promised priority for job creation this government will assist in a productive school to work transition and work co-operatively with business, labour and other levels of government to achieve our objectives.
I ask all members of the House to strongly endorse measures including the establishment of the Canadian youth services corps and the formation of new apprenticeship programs. We must support our human resource of young talent and energy as we head into the 21st century.
* * *[Translation]
Despite its promises to take action right after the election, the Liberal government is dragging its feet on the increasingly serious problem of smuggling. Instead of helping provincial governments to tackle the problem, it is passing the buck.
This government is not doing any better than the previous Conservative government that was rejected by the population. It is in this government's interest to help solve the problem instead of aggravating it.
How long will small businesses have to protest to make the authorities understand that the two kinds of justice dispensed by the present system cannot be tolerated?
* * *[English]
In 1984, as many members will be aware from the ``W5'' television program, New Zealand experienced a debt crisis. The tough decisions that should have been made by the politicians turned into drastic decisions when New Zealand could no longer deficit fund its spending.
Unless all members of the House learn from the experiences in countries like New Zealand, Denmark and Sweden which have all experienced debt crisis in the last 10 years, Canada too will soon be on the brink of a debt crisis.
The new free enterprise, unsubsidized, minimally regulated economy of New Zealand today is proof that there is a great reward for gaining control of government spending.
* * *
Federal and provincial colleagues assembled in Toronto this morning to sign the Canada-Ontario infrastructure works agreement. This undertaking paves the way for Ontario residents to benefit from more than $720 million of federal funding to be matched by provincial and local authorities to build and upgrade our infrastructure services.
As a result of this initiative jobs will be created immediately. Roads, sewers, water mains and other services will be improved. It will enhance our economic growth and create jobs today and well into the future.
This government's commitment to jobs through programs like this one and upcoming strategies such as the youth corps apprenticeship initiative will act as a catalyst for the country's economic development.
* * *
It has been reported that the Canadian Coast Guard has recommended the oil be pumped out. I am pleased the Minister of the Environment agrees that it is not a question of whether or
not to remove the oil but is a matter of finding the financing and is a matter being discussed within government.
It is my intention and that of my colleague, the member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, to continue the pressure to resolve the issue and to have the oil removed from the Irving Whale. It is time, as one committee is named, to ``bail the whale''.
* * *
Recently the hon. member for Willowdale voiced surprised at the tighten the belt attitude that has dominated pre-budget meetings, but I ask if one has predetermined the results by the invitation list and by virtually ignoring all presenters who present an alternative view, should one really express surprise at the result?
I urge the minister and I urge the government to ensure that these pre-budget consultations, unlike the ones of the previous government, show new direction that all Canadians are listened to and that we have a budget which reflects the needs of every Canadian, not just simply one group.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD[Translation]
The shopkeepers' revolt against smuggling is growing in Quebec, with the regrettable decision of store owners in the Saint-Eustache region to sell cigarette cartons for $20 today in order to fight the unfair competition from professional smugglers.
In a statement he made yesterday in Granby in reaction to this revolt, Premier Johnson of Quebec made the following urgent appeal to the federal government: ``The plan to sell cigarettes without collecting taxes should first of all bring a reaction from the federal police''.
Given this appeal from the Premier of Quebec, asking him to assume his responsibilities and enforce the law, what is the Prime Minister of Canada waiting for to order the RCMP to dismantle the smuggling rings?
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, this is a serious situation and I wish to assure my hon. colleague that the RCMP is prepared to lay charges where the evidence shows that federal law has been broken.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. Given this vague answer, which is only a statement of intentions that have never been carried out so far, does the Prime Minister not realize that all this is reinforcing everyone's impression that the Government of Canada and the Prime Minister have in effect ordered the RCMP to turn a blind eye on smuggling?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): As the Solicitor General indicated, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have received orders to make all citizens of this country obey the law.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, do the government and the Prime Minister not recognize that there is something extremely unhealthy for the citizens of a democracy and a society based on law to see the state come down harder on small shopkeepers who are the victims of smuggling than on the real smugglers, the professional traffickers, who for many years have been acting with complete immunity, in broad daylight and on a very large scale, thus depriving the federal and provincial governments of huge amounts of money?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I have nothing to add except to say that of course the federal government and the governments of Quebec and the other provinces must act to enforce the law. That is what the Solicitor General instructed the RCMP to do and I hope that the provincial governments will give the same instructions to their police authorities.
* * *
The Speaker: Order. We had several questions on the subject last Friday, and today the hon. member in question made a speech in the House. Perhaps the hon. member would care to rephrase his question?
Mr. Duceppe: Mr. Speaker, I was just getting to my question.
How could the hon. member for Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville run for the Liberal Party, if the party executive was aware he had been fired because of these death threats?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I do not think I have anything to add to the statement by the hon. member for Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville who apologized before the House this morning. We have a tradition in the House that applies when no criminal charges were laid.
I remember when I was a member here, one of the members rose in the House and admitted that in the past, he had served a prison sentence, but since that time he had been a member in good standing of his community. After this admission he was given a standing ovation by the House, because he had become a very good citizen.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie): Mr. Speaker, I realize apologies were made this morning, but according to House security regulations, any person who had made such statements, whether or not he apologized, would be prohibited from entering Parliament Hill.
The Speaker: Order. This is not a matter for the government to deal with, and I think it is rather difficult to answer the question because it is not up to the government to take action in this respect. Perhaps the question could be rephrased somewhat?
Mr. Duceppe: This was my preamble, Mr. Speaker. How does the Prime Minister intend to deal with the case of the hon. member for Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, the members of this House have their private lives like anybody else. There are members who in the past faced criminal charges and sat as members until their problems were resolved before the courts.
In the case of the hon. member for Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville, no charges were laid before any court whatsoever. There was no judgment. The hon. member in question apologized to Canadians, and in this House, it is the rule that when a member apologizes for making a mistake, those apologies are accepted.
If every member in this House who made a mistake in the past were obliged to leave the House, there might not be many members left who would not have to rise in the House and say: I made a mistake at some point in my life.
The hon. member admitted he made a foolish mistake, and he apologized. I think the Standing Orders of this House indicate that one accepts the apologies of a member of this House.
As he knows, Senator Everett from Manitoba, after providing many years of independent-minded service in the upper House has resigned his seat and called for an election of future senators.
Will the Prime Minister today assure the people of Manitoba that if their legislature were to pass legislation providing for the election of a Senate nominee that he would appoint the winner of such an election to the upper chamber?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Constitution makes provision for the appointment of senators. We will amend this procedure when all of the provinces agree to an elected Senate. We cannot have some elected senators and some appointed senators. We have to amend the Constitution, but it is clear that the members of this House are not willing to do so.
I do not intend to change the Constitution at this moment. We will respect the Constitution. It is the basic law of the land. It is the way the Constitution is written. I will respect the Constitution until it is changed.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary for the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister well knows that Senate nominees can be elected without any constitutional change. Almost three months ago the Prime Minister received a letter dated October 28 from Premier Klein of Alberta touching on this same subject.
He sought assurance from the Prime Minister that if a Senate vacancy were to arise in Alberta and a Senate nominee were to be elected in accordance with the provisions of the existing statute, the Alberta Senate Selection Act, that he would appoint the winner of that election to the upper chamber.
Can the Prime Minister now give the premier of Alberta that simple assurance?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, if the premier of Alberta is completely convinced that we need an elected Senate, he should convince his colleagues.
If the leader of the Reform Party is convinced that we need an elected Senate in Canada, why did he vote against the change to do that which was in the Charlottetown accord?
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I have a further supplementary to the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister well knows that the objections of the Reform Party and other members to the Charlottetown accord and its provisions for Senate reform were not objections to election to the Senate but to an ineffective Senate which that provided.
In the Speech from the Throne the Prime Minister made a commitment to restoring integrity and public trust in the institutions of government and enhancing the credibility of Parliament.
If the Prime Minister is not prepared to trust the judgment of the public in the selection of senators by what means other than by changing the Constitution does he propose to restore public trust in that institution and to enhance its credibility?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, the best way to gain the trust of the Canadian people is very simple.
It is not to vote against a constitutional proposition to have senators elected and then, on the first occasion the leader has a chance in this House of Commons, ask to do what he voted against only 12 or 15 months ago.
* * *[Translation]
Last Friday, a Canadian forces helicopter on a rescue mission was shot at while flying over the Kanesatake reserve. Since this incident could have had extremely serious consequences, is the Prime Minister prepared to change his attitude and to take steps to ensure that the law is respected and the firearms smuggling now going on between the United States and Canada is stopped?
Hon. David Michael Collenette (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I should inform the House that last Friday a national defence beacon went off in the Oka area.
A Labrador helicopter and a Hercules plane came from Trenton as part of the search and rescue operations. The helicopter, clearly marked ``search and rescue'' and coloured yellow, landed at Oka where it was confronted by members of the reserve who said that they had been shooting at the helicopter and to get off the territory. This was a normal search and rescue operation.
I should say that la Sûreté du Québec is wondering why a national defence beacon went off in that area when it obviously appears there is no plane missing. That is a question that is under investigation by la Sûreté du Québec.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, my question concerns the responsibility of the government to stop the horrible smuggling of firearms between the United States and Canada.
I will put my question to the Prime Minister once again, as he is supposed to be responsible for his government. When does he intend to act to put an end to the smuggling which has led to a number of incidents and, instead of calling an emergency debate to discuss cruise missiles, would he agree to a debate on the Kanesatake problem?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian army acted properly in this matter. There was some concern about loss of life. They flew over the area and landed as they had the right to. Therefore, there was no incident.
Some people claimed to have fired some shots, but there is no evidence that this in fact occurred. The army landed-
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice): Look, surely no one used a slingshot. If gunshots had been fired at the helicopter, some marks would have been found, but none was. The army did not break the law, they landed as they were authorized to do.
* * *[English]
This past weekend the minister met with several prominent economists, business people and ordinary Canadians to discuss the issue of deficit reduction. The vast majority of participants believe that the key to deficit reduction is through spending reductions rather than tax increases. Yet the government continues to float ideas about increasing tax revenues by limiting RRSP contributions.
My question for the minister is this. Will he treat the deficit problem as a spending problem and immediately set targets to reduce and limit spending or does the minister regard this as a revenue problem? Will he then tell the Canadian public what his
real plans are to increase their taxes and how much this will cost individual Canadians?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec): Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the member objects to a discussion of ideas in this pre-budget period. I find that quite surprising because I have found that these consultations have worked very well.
The bulk of the discussions have in fact been directed toward numerous approaches to reduction in the deficit, certainly cutting spending, conceivably increasing government revenues and most clearly by creating jobs. That is certainly the way we in this government look at the situation.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville): Mr. Speaker, last week and again just now the Minister of Finance refused to tell this House that there would be no increase in taxation. Canadians therefore have no choice but to believe that taxes will be increased in this upcoming budget.
Will the minister tell the House today whether he plans to raise tax revenues by changing the income tax regulations regarding RRSPs?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec): Mr. Speaker, the member's question referring to my refusal to divulge the budget now indicates perhaps that he is new to this House. The Minister of Finance reveals the budget when he reveals the budget and not ahead of time.
* * *[Translation]
Here is my question: would the Minister of Human Resources Development not agree that, all things considered, nothing serious is stopping them from making a deal right away with Quebec on job training?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification): Mr. Speaker, I met with Mr. Bourbeau from the Government of Quebec before Christmas to discuss this issue.
We talked about training issues as well as more general aspects relating to reform. I am also hoping to meet with his successor, Mr. Marcil, next week to discuss this and any other subject Mr. Marcil and Mr. Johnson may want to bring up.
I will gladly report to the House the outcome of that meeting, but for the time being, no decision has been made and we are still discussing with the Government of Quebec as well as with all other governments.
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier): Mr. Speaker, that is the problem. Nothing has been decided. A decision must urgently be made because we have an emergency in Quebec, where 26,000 people are waiting to get training and this may be their last chance.
We have learned that for the first time in history, Quebec has won the poverty award. The Liberal Party ran on an employment platform, and when you have jobs for a slogan, you have no time to lose.
My question is as follows: does the Minister not agree that the only explanation for such an unacceptable and costly delay is this government's resolve to impose a Canadian solution rather than the one suggested by Quebec?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification): Mr. Speaker, we share very much the concern about unemployment, so much so that the Canadian people gave us a very strong mandate last October to do something about it.
That is the reason we said in the throne speech that we will be bringing in programs that will help young people get employment. We have a major program of apprenticeship training that will be announced and brought forward to this House very shortly.
Most important, I think the hon. member would recognize as does a broad consensus of Canadians that we will never be able to effectively tackle the embedded structural problems of unemployment until we make some fundamental changes in the system.
It is not working now. It is not working effectively. To do that we cannot simply fractionalize a program. We cannot take one piece out called training and give it away in perpetuity. We must look at the broad context.
Fortunately at the first ministers meeting all the provincial governments including Quebec agreed that must be the priority for all Canadians and that is to make fundamental changes to our systems of employment training and our systems of social security so we can have a broad-based attack on the fundamental issues that concern Canadians.
The Speaker: We basically had that question asked. I will permit the Prime Minister to answer, but this is not in the administrative responsibility of the government.
We had a statement this morning. Perhaps if the hon. member could rephrase her question it would be acceptable.
Mrs. Brown: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am trying to bring a different focus to the question and I would ask the right hon. Prime Minister to respond please. I will bring a supplementary on this point at this moment if you wish.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is proper to continue to ask this question. There was a statement by the member in this House. There is a rule here that when a member explains it is his fault, it is not for the Liberal Party to decide if this gentleman should or should not be a member of the caucus.
We decided that everybody can make a mistake. He has apologized. There was no charge laid against him, no foundation. I explained earlier in French that some members are sometimes subject to actions in court and they still keep their seats in the House of Commons or even in their caucus. It depends on the nature of the offences and in this case there was none.
To reply to the specific question, I read it Friday morning in the Toronto Sun. However, I do not want to run away from my responsibilities. The party organization had been made aware of that after the candidate had been nominated. Since there was no criminal action they decided this was a man who had won the confidence of the party members in his riding. He had no record and he was acceptable.
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast): Mr. Speaker, a supplementary question. I am bringing a different focus to this particular issue.
I acknowledge the comments made this morning by the member for Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville. It is not the member but his actions that are in question and this leads to the broader issue.
Since the electors of Markham-Whitchurch-Stouffville did not have all the information they needed to make their decision-
The Speaker: Order. Unless the hon. member has another question we will go to the next questioner.
* * *[Translation]
Not a word was said by either the finance minister or any of the participants about the real tax breaks enjoyed by the wealthiest.
My question is for the Minister of Finance. Has he decided that, in addition to singling out the poorest, he would completely smother the middle class by attacking RRSPs and capital gains exemptions?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec): Mr. Speaker, as I was just saying, all the relevant details will be disclosed in the upcoming budget. Until then, I think it is really worth discussing what might be in this budget, because the process must be open.
The hon. member was commenting about the conference participants, who were chosen by the Institute for Research on Public Policy and not by the government. That said, I saw Pierre Paquette of the CNTU, Henri Massé of the FTQ, Nancy Neamtam of RESO, Richard Langlois of the CEQ, as well as FRAPRU representatives. If the hon. member who was in attendance does not know them, I will happy to introduce him next time.
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot): As usual, Mr. Speaker, this is a period for questions but not for answers.
My supplementary question is this: Does the minister intend to eliminate the real tax breaks enjoyed by very wealthy Canadians such as family trusts and tax shelters available to big business or, as Le Devoir was reporting this morning, to bow down to the rich friends of the Liberal Party who contribute to their electoral fund?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec): Mr. Speaker, there is no sense in repeating the same question as a supplementary. This question was also posed by the hon. member from the Reform Party.
So listen up, sir-
An hon. member: Yes but-
Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard): Absolutely not. You have no right. No, Mr. Speaker, you do not have to listen.
An hon. member: He understood the first time.
Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard): Okay, he understood.
The Speaker: Go on.
Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard): I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, listened.
I will present my budget when I present it. It will certainly contain measures that were recommended during the meetings in question. That is why we hold these meetings.
* * *[English]
On Thursday the Prime Minister refused to consider relaxing party discipline to permit members of Parliament to represent their constituents. In explaining his stand, the Prime Minister said that his party sticks together because it has all the right policies. Surely if this is the case he does not need the confidence convention to pass his legislative programs.
Does this mean that the government does not intend to honour its promise to allow more free votes in the House?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, of course there will be more free votes. Tomorrow something will be done in this House that has not been done for a long time. Before the government makes a decision, every member of Parliament will be invited to express his or her views about the Bosnia situation. This will not be done after the fact as it was in the past but before so members will have input.
I hope the hon. member appreciates the way we want to operate. We will have some free votes. Of course we want to do this, but it is probably also better to do what we are doing and give a chance to everybody before we decide. Members can speak on Bosnia and there will be no confidence vote on that. There will be the views expressed by the members before the government reaches a decision.
Mr. Lee Morrison (Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia): Mr. Speaker, there was considerable music from the other side of the House when I was asking my question.
I would like to point out that I had the freedom to vote in respect to my constituents' wishes. I wonder if any of the members on the government side had that same option.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Of course, Mr. Speaker. Yes, a big yes. They were all elected by very good majorities in the last election.
* * *
Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
As he is no doubt aware, this report has some 293 recommendations, many of which have to do with provincial jurisdiction. I intend to discuss this report at an upcoming federal-provincial meeting of health ministers.
Also Health Canada is actively looking into bringing forward recommendations dealing with those issues we can deal with right away.
* * *[Translation]
On several occasions, the minister said before all the agricultural organizations concerned that supply management in the agricultural sector would be fully protected. Even after the signing of GATT, the minister explained that this protection would be in the form of a higher tariff system.
Mr. Speaker, my question is: can we now conclude that the minister is still trying to protect supply management while he is currently negotiating with Americans the complete abolition, in the next seven years, of tariffs on yogurt and ice cream?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food): Mr. Speaker, I do not know exactly what the source of the hon. member's question might be, but if it is based on
some of the speculation in the media about what may or may not be under discussion between Canada and the United States I would advise the hon. member that speculation is not entirely well-founded.
I would assure him that to the extent the ongoing discussions with the United States bear upon questions that have to do with supply management, the Government of Canada is acutely aware of the interests of all Canadian producers in this subject, especially the interests of producers in the province of Quebec where supply management forms a very large part of the agricultural industry in that province. In whatever discussions we may have with the United States the interests of those producers will be front and centre in our thinking.
When we are in a position to announce some conclusion to our discussions with the United States, members of the House will be the first to know.
Mr. Jean-Paul Marchand (Québec-Est): Mr. Speaker, the minister has yet to admit to the negotiations but it is not a well kept secret. Everyone is well aware of the details and the Minister of Agriculture is surely aware that yogurt and ice cream represent a substantial percentage of Canadian agricultural production.
If these sectors are now sacrificed, is it not crystal clear to him as it is to everyone else in this country that we are asking Canadian farmers once again to pay the price for a global agreement in agriculture with the United States?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. These discussions with the United States bearing on a number of agricultural commodities are presently ongoing. I am sure the hon. member will understand that I must for obvious reasons be rather guarded in what I say publicly.
I do not think it is appropriate for us to bargain long distance and perhaps in that way do some things that would potentially impair the Canadian position. I hope the hon. member will understand the need for some confidentiality.
I can say that ever since Canada unfortunately lost a GATT panel decision on its import quotas on ice cream and yogurt in 1989, all of us with the interests of agriculture at heart-and I am sure that includes members on both sides of this House-who sincerely want the best for agriculture have been very aware that this particular issue, because of that previous GATT panel ruling, would have to be resolved in one manner or another at some future date with the United States as we go about attempting to arrive at a solution.
Again I assure the hon. member and all farmers that the vital interests of Canadian agriculture in all parts of this country are very much on the top of the government's mind.
* * *
The member should not be worried at all if he does not contribute.He mentioned this to my colleague from Kindersley-Lloydminster. However, in the Members' Allowances Manual, chapter F-2, volume II, it clearly states regarding retirement benefits:
Members contribute 11 per cent of their sessional indemnity toward the cost of their retirement benefits.This contribution is mandatory, Mr. Speaker. When does the Prime Minister intend to allow MPs to genuinely opt out of the MP pension plan by making contributions optional, as he already apparently stated last Friday?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): I said in this House that we will make sure that those who do not want to participate in the plan can opt out. In the past I have seen some members voting against increases and taking the increase after that. We will make sure this time they will have to put their money where their mouths are.
Miss Deborah Grey (Beaver River): Well, Mr. Speaker, if we talk about future tense I will make mention again that he said the member should not be worried at all if he does not contribute.
My supplementary question for the Prime Minister is this. Has the Prime Minister informed the comptroller of his decision to allow members to opt out, as he just said, and when will he decide when this decision will be implemented?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, as soon as the legislation is passed members who opt out will be reimbursed for the money they have contributed because the legislation will be retroactive to the beginning of this Parliament.
I am informed that the comptroller has to follow the law. But we will pay back the contribution and the member will not qualify any more. And, of course, the government will not pay its share of the contribution to the benefit of the members either.
Both the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Human Resources Development have stated that the fisheries training and adjustment programs will be designed to meet the needs of people living in Atlantic Canada's coastal communities.
What steps will be taken by the minister of human resources to improve program design and delivery? What long-term benefits does the minister foresee from government assistance?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.
The first step in developing a different approach to the serious problem in the fisheries is to talk to the people directly affected by the crisis. Both the minister of fisheries and myself have already held several meetings in the Atlantic provinces.
Our first commitment would be to ensure that before any final decision is taken we have serious dialogue with the various groups in the Atlantic provinces directly affected by the moratorium on the fisheries. In saying that, we also want to hold true to the spirit of our campaign mandate, the red book, to use these programs to enable people to get back into the work force, to build a future for themselves, to have the dignity of work and not simply to have income security with a short-term end.
We really believe the best solution to the crisis in the fisheries in Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada and Quebec is to once again restore hope for people that they can have an important viable occupation, something that gives them a good reason to get up in the morning.
* * *[Translation]
My question is the following: Given the commitment made by her own party to make of Montreal a major world centre for environmental technology, in addition to making an all-out effort to convince international organizations to set up their head offices in Montreal, can the Minister of the Environment tell us why she is not yet making her decision public?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I want to take this opportunity to tell all the hon. members that the new federal government will use an innovative approach regarding decisions affecting commissions such as the ones which will be set up under NAFTA.
I announced, and in fact this week we signed a contract with a private company, with no politics involved, to review the applications submitted by 11 cities, including Montreal, Camrose, Edmonton, and several others, and I am very pleased to inform the hon. member, who is the critic on environmental issues, of that development.
For the first time in the history of a government, the selection will be made based on the environmental performance of those cities. I believe this a good approach and we expect to receive in the very near future the report of a consultant who will have reviewed the applications of all the cities, based on their environmental record and their infrastructures.
I know that Montreal is a strong candidate and will, along with all the others, be considered in a non-partisan fashion.
Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac): Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary. By setting up such a committee, is the minister not weakening the commitment made by her own party during the last election campaign to make Montreal a major world centre for environmental technology?
Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the hon. member shares my interest in this very cosmopolitan city and agrees that Montreal is truly an asset for all of Canada. This approach is very well received.
We have also promised to distance ourselves from the previous government in that we want to implement a process which is open, transparent, public, and objective and one which can be subjected to scrutiny.
I believe that Montrealers, like all Canadians, want a process free of politics, which is precisely what the federal government is providing.
* * *[English]
Raymond Watts of Surrey, British Columbia and has to do with the chronic inaccuracy of federal revenue estimates.
Allow me to quote Mr. Watts. ``History shows that one of the first acts of any new government is to condemn the accounting practices of the previous government. This invariably leads to cries that the deficit is far worse than we thought it was''.
Mr. Watts' question is: ``Will the government pass into law a standard system of accounts that requires the federal government to issue revenue budgeted forecasts and annual reports in a standard format?''
The Speaker: The Chair is having a little difficulty with questions posed by persons other than members of Parliament. Hon. members are able to put any questions they want in this House. It would probably be better to have it as their question as opposed to someone else's. I will permit the minister to answer the question.
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec): Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the concept, the philosophy behind the question is one that we on this side of the House, and I would think anybody interested in responsible administration, would share.
It is for that reason that when we took power, what we did in terms of the government's numbers, the deficit estimates at that time, was to follow the recommendations of the public accounts committee and the Auditor General which had not been followed by the previous government and come out with a set of numbers based on generally accepted accounting principles.
Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West): Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that I cannot put questions directly from the people in my constituency. However if that is your ruling-
On November 25, 1993 the Liberal government of Nova Scotia enacted a law which allows the Auditor General to review and report on the reasonableness of that government's revenue estimates. Would the government be supportive of such a law at the federal level?
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec): Mr. Speaker, there is some merit in the suggestion and I am sure that we on this side of the House will look at it.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, that in line with the philosophy of the openness of Parliament and giving Parliament every chance what we really want to do is to make sure that the committees of Parliament have a very good shot, a far better shot than they ever had before, at looking at the estimates of the government.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
* * *[English]
This hon. member was suggesting that I as a member who chose to vote for my party was somehow not representing my constituents in Haldimand-Norfolk. I take exception to the tone of his question which suggested that all members on this side of the House, because we choose to support the policies of this government, are somehow not representing our constituents.
I want to assure the member that every time I vote it is a free vote. At the same time my constituents are being represented very well because before I vote I look at the issues very-
The Speaker: The hon. member probably has a point of debate and it is recorded.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)
* * *
The Speaker: Shall all questions stand?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Geoff Regan (Halifax West): Mr. Speaker, my speech began at 1.52 p.m. and was closed off at two o'clock. I would like two additional minutes to conclude my remarks before we have questions and comments, if I may.
The Speaker: All right. Finish off.
Mr. Regan: As I was saying, I am pleased that we in this House will help to save another $5 million by doing our part. I am also in favour of reforming the MPs' pension plan.
Canadians are watching to see whether we are here to serve ourselves or our country. I believe we are on the right path.
What a thrill it is to be here to serve my country, Mr. Speaker, for I believe that politics is and must be about building a better Canada. In spite of all the challenges we face I still see Canada as a beacon to the world. I still see Canada as a country that shows the world how to live in peace and harmony. It is plain to see that right now the world needs the shining example that is Canada.
Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil): Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member and I certainly have some comments and especially a few questions for him.
I listened to the speech of the Minister of the Environment, but as I did not have the opportunity to ask her a question, I will ask it of the hon. member who dealt with the same issue, that is the conflict between the Environmental Quality Act passed a few years ago in Quebec and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act passed a few months later. Because of the differences between the two acts, whenever an environmental assessment is required, we must make two, one for the Quebec government and one for Canada.
Here is another example. The top executives of Hydro-Quebec, who want to go ahead with the Grande-Baleine project, realized that they cannot bring to the same table Quebec and federal officials when discussing the environmental assessments to be made. I would therefore like to ask the hon. member whether he could seek from the Minister of the Environment amendments to the act to make it more flexible, so that environmental assessments could meet the needs of both acts, in order to help our companies to expand and go ahead faster with their projects? That way more jobs could be created in Quebec more rapidly.
Mr. Regan: Mr. Speaker, this is obviously a question for the Minister of the Environment. I am not the minister but I am aware of many cases of provincial-federal overlap in legislation. There are many areas, for example, in Nova Scotia that we are concerned about. I am sure we would like to see legislation changed in both places. We know this government is committed to working with provincial governments to find ways to bring our systems together so that they work more reasonably and rationally and do not have the present overlap in legislation.
If the hon. member wishes to ask the minister the question in question period tomorrow, she would be happy to answer.
Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Halifax West. I too grew up in Halifax West and went to Halifax Municipal High School. I have relatives all through that area.
With regard to the infrastructure program, I would like to ask how much do you think the program will add to the economy of your area. Will it get people working-
The Speaker: Order. All questions should be directed through the Chair.
Mr. White (Fraser Valley West): Mr. Speaker, I think I got my question across. I would like to find out how much employment the hon. member thinks this infrastructure program will actually add to long-term employment in Halifax West.
Mr. Regan: Mr. Speaker, I had discussions with municipal and provincial representatives in my riding about this very question and about the things they feel are needed in the area, obviously not just for a short-term boost but to lay a long-term foundation for business to succeed in our area.
It is my view that some of the projects I would like to see come forward in Halifax West would respond to that need and help business be more successful. For example, there are a couple of business parks that do not have adequate access to highways. If they had that access they could be much more successful because transportation needs for any business are absolutely essential.
If trucks on the road are going over potholes all the time or if they cannot get access to highways quickly, that is a cost they are paying.
In fact, one should be looking for ways to minimize those costs and improve the ability of business to do business. That is what I am looking for in these programs. I will try to push forward the things that will help my area.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Okanagan Centre): Mr. Speaker, I rise in my reply to the speech from the throne to first of all congratulate you for being elected as Speaker of this House. Second, I would like to congratulate the right hon. Jean Chrétien as Canada's 21st Prime Minister.
My special thanks go to the people of Okanagan Centre who elected me. I consider it a real honour to be able to represent them. I will do the best I can to honour the trust they have placed in me.
The primary question facing this Parliament is how do we get the Canadian economy going again? I will address that question from three perspectives: first, by recognizing the need for innovation; second, the acceptance of research and development as an engine of economic growth; and finally, to begin the answer to the question, how can we get that job done?
This Parliament can be Canada's defining moment of the 20th century. As members of this Parliament, we have the opportunity to raise Canada's social and economic aspirations to higher levels of individual social responsibility and accountability.
To do so the government must establish an environment in which the wild government spending of the past is tamed and brought under control. If the government fails to bring its spending under control, it will also fail to motivate individual Canadians to act responsibly and be willing to be held to account.
As a society we are in danger of falling into a kind of cultural tyranny in which minds uninformed by traditions and standards are easy to shape by whoever is driven by a strong ideology. They may not be sympathetic to unity, honesty, integrity and fiscal responsibility. Those were the values that made Canada great.
To become more specific, in order for Canada to stimulate new momentum in the economy, some fundamental changes must be made in organizing our economic pursuits.
First of all, we need to understand that we have a new economy in which huge profits are no longer possible simply by making and moving things. The main producers of wealth and economic production have become information and knowledge, specifically biotechnology, artificial intelligence, the business of space and the creation of new materials, including ceramic composites and combinations of metals or plastics with fibres.
Second, we must note the accelerating development of knowledge and its application in various sectors of the economy. We need to realize that Canada's electronic industry is bigger than its pulp and paper industry, that the computer services industry employs more people than the auto industry and that more people in B.C. work in communications and telecommunications than in forestry, that more Ontarians are employed in business services than in the construction industry and more people in Quebec have jobs in the health and medicare fields than in construction, textile, clothing, furniture, auto, forest and mining industries combined.
These realities demand we give high priority to the acceptance of research and development as an engine of economic growth. What is required to do so? First of all, it would require utilizing the results of systematic studies of material sources, administrative structures and organizations.
New sources and applications of capital must be found and employed. It will be necessary to adopt new ideas about the relationships between public and private organizations, between various levels of government and between private organizations and government. Second, it will require a government that establishes an entrepreneurial attitude toward politics.
Last week our leader, the hon. member for Calgary Southwest, challenged this Parliament to be a House beyond precedent. It is in that spirit that we require entrepreneurial politicians who will undertake innovations that promise substantial political profit while running the risk of potential loss. With such an orientation the major requirement of government is to do what is right, just and fair. Then government is in a position to create an environment that encourages and provides for the exercising of initiatives by private citizens to apply their individual and collective skills, creative talent and knowledge in making Canada the successful nation that it can become.
What must be done in order to achieve that job? First, we need a change in attitude. We need to establish and maintain an educational system that trains entrepreneurs. We need a government that will establish and maintain an economic, social and political climate that assists Canadians to become able and successful entrepreneurs without removing all the risks.
Our families need to develop an attitude that will encourage our children to become resourceful and self-sufficient. We must nurture an attitude that supports community leaders who understand, speak and demonstrate personal responsibilities and accountability. These are leaders who know and accept the need to balance reward with the cost of taking risks and who are willing to pursue a new approach because it promises greater success.
Second, we need to think big. We need to think in the longer term which means long enough to permit the innovations a reasonable chance for success but short enough to discourage lethargy and bureaucratic stonewalling. We need to think beyond our respective families, friends, associates, shareholders and subsidiary companies. We must think beyond our constituencies, regions and perhaps even beyond the boundaries of
Canada to ensure that as many people as possible will benefit from the new approaches.
We need to develop a new role for government. We need a government that acts as a facilitator and not a benefactor and regulator supreme. We need a government that adopts principles of development that encourage growth and the application of private efforts as opposed to pandering to the pressures of self-serving special interest groups.
We need a new role for the federal government that rejects the insidious pressures to centralize power yet provides leadership and guidance for all Canadians in their pursuit of harmony, health, happiness and financial independence.
By changing our attitudes, thinking big ideas and establishing a new role for government we are building on a solid foundation that some have called ordered liberty. By that I mean a state of peaceful harmony and a constituted authority that provides for each of us the freedom from captivity, imprisonment, slavery or oppressive control.
It is this ordered liberty that has given us excellence in art, discovery in science and has undergirded the ethic of work and the ethic of service. It has tempered freedom and internal restraint, inspired public virtue and the inner impulse to do good and has sent legions into battle against disease, oppression and bigotry. It has built hospitals and orphanages. Finally, it has given mercy a human face.
To preserve that ordered liberty Parliament must regain its sense of duty and moral, as well as legal, obligation and accept its responsibility to do what is right.
With that sense of duty intact we must sharpen our focus and perspective by looking beyond the confines of this House. We must have a vision that is bigger than balancing the budget, extends beyond social and economic safety nets, embraces new ideas and arouses creativity. It is a vision that not only brings about reparation but also progression.
It is such a vision that will establish hope and instil a renewed sense of confidence in Canadians who will carry this country forward to a prosperous and new economy.
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver): Mr. Speaker, I join with other members of this House in congratulating you on your election as Speaker. I also extend my congratulations to the government and to all other members who were successfully elected in this 1993 election.
I would also like to publicly thank the voters of North Vancouver for placing their trust in me as their representative in Ottawa.
Prior to and during the election campaign I distributed more than 20,000 pieces of survey cards to North Vancouver residents so that I could find out what their concerns were on a wide range of national issues. The number one concern by at least 10 to 1 was a desire for the government to eliminate the deficit. The people of North Vancouver clearly understand the relationship between government deficits and high taxes and they understand the relationship between high taxes and the lack of job creation by the small business sector.
There are a significant number of home based businesses in North Vancouver in addition to the established base of light industry, shipbuilding and wheat, lumber and coal export facilities. The owners and workers of these North Vancouver businesses will be searching the throne speech looking for signs of fiscal responsibility and future tax relief. The small and home based business sector in particular will be looking for signs that this government will facilitate the availability of capital that is needed in order to establish new businesses and to foster growth and employment.
The hon. member for Broadview-Greenwood mentioned this earlier today and I am pleased to offer some additional suggestions for capital for small business in my speech. The Red book accurately points out on page 48 that a major problem facing small and medium sized businesses is that they cannot find capital or that the capital they find is too expensive. I applaud the recognition by this government that capital availability is a problem for the small business sector and I commend it for its efforts to try to find a solution.
However, one of the solutions proposed in the red book on page 49 would place taxpayers' dollars at risk by eliminating personal guarantees for loans under the Small Businesses Loans Act. Instead of encouraging bona fide business ventures and viable businesses this policy could encourage the funding of poorly researched projects and even scams. We will have difficulty convincing our constituents that we are responsible guardians of the public purse if we approve such a measure.
The second proposal, on page 49 of the Red book, confirmed in the speech from the throne is to use $100 million of our tax dollars to help establish a Canada investment fund to ``seek out projects and technologies in which to invest''.
This approach has all the trappings of yet another government agency which would concentrate on spending as much of our money as possible in the shortest possible time.
If this project goes ahead I would urge the government to first, advertise openly across Canada for experienced private sector fund managers and not make political appointments and second, make sure the managers are held accountable for the performance of the fund and that they will be expected to deliver a profit back to the public purse.
There are those who would say that it is easy to criticize without offering alternatives and for that reason I offer a number of distinct alternatives for considerations by the government.
First, the single most important action that could be taken by this government is to gain control of its expenditures and eliminate the deficit. This would bring the promise of future tax relief and future tax reductions for both companies and individuals in Canada. The result of tax deductions would be the freeing up of billions of dollars each year for use as investment capital by the business sector. There would be no need for government funds or the elimination of personal guarantees on loans. It is quite likely that $100 million in tax cuts would yield more wealth producing economic activity than $100 million of taxpayers' money targeted for a Canada investment fund.
Second, the government could support changes to the RRSP investment rules which would permit individuals to invest their RRSP contributions into private financing and investment companies which specialize in funding for small and home based businesses. Such companies are already familiar with the market and could act as a vehicle for the encouragement and development of new business. The government would of course be involved in the setting of maximum interest rate levels and could require that a set percentage of the funds be committed to research and development. This would help deliver on other promises in the red book regarding research and development. No taxpayers' money would be required for this alternative.
Third, the government could permit the establishment and licensing of RRSP qualifying mutual funds which would lend part or all of their capital in leases and loans to home based and small businesses. Since banks appear to be reluctant to become involved in the provision of venture capital this area of new business financing should be opened up to investment. The banks would probably quickly follow suit and establish their own mutual funds when they saw the response to competition for RRSP and other investment funds.
Fourth, the government should actively seek and act upon input from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Federation of Independent Business and other coalitions of small business which have already brought together banks and business people to discuss concerns over the supply of capital. These organizations should be encouraged in their initiatives to help small business become aware of sources of financing other than banks.
Finally each member of this House could seek input from the home based and small business community as to the best ways for government to facilitate the availability of venture capital. A simple advertisement in our local newspapers in each riding requesting input could produce a wide range of practical ideas. The government could then base its final decision on feedback from business groups and individual members representing their ridings. There would be no need for expensive commissions to tour the country and yet all interested in Canadians could have an input into the process.
There is ample evidence that voters want a say in the way they are governed. They should be encouraged to become involved. We should take more direction from their input and we should properly represent their position on issues before this House.
I urge the members of this House to support freer votes so that a legislative direction more in keeping with the wishes of the constituents can be possible and I urge them to support more creative ways of improving capital availability to small business. These two measures together would contribute toward finding solutions to the great problems which face us as legislators in Canada today.
Mr. Dennis J. Mills (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry): Madam Speaker, I begin by congratulating the member on his opening remarks in the Parliament of Canada and I would like to respond to his constructive ideas.
First, the objective of eliminating the 25 per cent personal guarantee under the Small Businesses Loans Act at that time was to try to put further stimulation into a reluctant bank sector which already had in my view a very generous government support provision under the Small Businesses Loans Act.
The member's point is one that we will discuss. Perhaps if we can get the banks to shift their attitude and start lending money to small business then maybe that provision will not have to be touched.
I want to deal with another aspect of the hon. member's speech which had to deal with getting private funds either through RRSPs or just private funds, not financial institutions, that might be used to help small business. Under the Small Businesses Loans Act if someone with a private fund wants to lend money to small businesses eligible under the act then there is a provision in the act for such funds to be considered by the governor in council. In other words this means they are decent people who meet the approval that they are solid operators. I applaud this idea because it would be a way of providing more competition to the reluctant banks.
On the specific notion of the RRSPs as a possibility being shifted into small business as a part of the program, we will make sure the Minister of Finance and his staff hear the member's remarks and we will look at it.
Mr. White (North Vancouver): Madam Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member opposite for his comments and the suggestion this morning that each of us as members should phone our bank managers and request that they help the small business sector.
I think it is a great suggestion. I am sorry I did not mention it earlier, although I should say as a small business person prior to coming to the House I wonder whether my bank manager might think I had other things in mind when I ask him to do that.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup): Madam Speaker, I would like to react to the speech of the first Reform member who spoke during the 20-minute period.
He seems to think we need a new federal economic leadership. I have my doubts on that matter. I could mention many examples in my riding of situations where when the federal government took part in an operation, it became more complicated and less efficient.
I referred to a few such cases in my speech as critic for regional development. Let me stress the importance of reducing duplication in this issue. The best leadership the federal government could show would be to withdraw from certain areas in which it has been floundering for years while doubling the costs.
During question period we spoke about training. I think manpower training is one of the best examples. But there are also many areas of federal jurisdiction to consider. For example piers along the St. Lawrence. The federal government reneged its responsibilities in that area for over 20 years while spending money on matters that should have come under provincial jurisdiction. I think that it could easily have spent the necessary money to ensure that we have installations that meet the required standards instead of the opposite.
I therefore feel that it is important, when reflecting on the throne speech, to make sure that this government really has the will to reduce overlapping of jurisdictions. The issue is mentioned in the throne speech, but without any details on how this would be done. I believe it is very important for the House to seriously consider ways to reduce overlapping.
As far as I am concerned, in the end, real initiatives are taken at the local level. I would like to point out that, in some areas, we should give ideas a chance to bloom. For example, in La Pocatière, in my riding, there is a research centre on public transportation and a centre specializing in physical technology. If those centres had been planned by national thinkers, they never would have been located in La Pocatière, but probably somewhere in the Montreal area, or worse yet, outside Quebec.
So, what I wanted to tell the member is that, ultimately, the federal government might best show leadership by staying within its own jurisdiction.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): The time for questions and comments to the member for North Vancouver have terminated. Because the Chair neglected to give the five-minute allocated time to the member for Okanagan Centre and since the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup directed his question to that member, the member may give a five-minute response, if he wishes.
Mr. Schmidt: Madam Speaker, I was totally unaware that those questions were being directed to me. I thought they were to the member for North Vancouver. I was really diverting my attention to other matters and therefore cannot immediately respond to those questions.
Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi): Madam Speaker, on a point of order. Since the hon. member did not take up all his allotted time, may I respond?
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): No. The hon. member may ask questions.
Mr. Fillion: I will ask a question with a preamble. Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the first member who spoke for the Reform Party.
In his speech, he mentioned seven or eight points, and I certainly share some of his opinions. He indicated the need for renewal through the infrastructures program. He also mentioned increasing government funding for research and development and also said that the government should control-this was very important in his speech-its spending to create the right economic climate for creating jobs.
He also said a few words about education and manpower training.
He referred to the feelings of freedom and sense of duty Canadians should have if they were to be more progressive and creative. He also asked this government to provide the requisite funding for small and medium sized businesses to invest and create jobs.
However, and that is my question, the hon. member will have to admit that to meet these objectives, which are quite praiseworthy as such, we need a compassionate government that does not attack those who are less well off or the neediest in our society or the middle class to get all the money it needs to boost the economy. We need a government that is not afraid to cut the tax shelters enjoyed by some families and corporations. I want to ask the members of the Reform Party to support and join the Bloc Quebecois in asking this government to guarantee that
Canadians will be able to keep their vested rights with respect to social housing, health-
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but the question and comment period for both speakers of the Reform Party has expired. Resuming debate. The hon. Minister of Public Works has the floor.
Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency): Madam Speaker, let me begin by joining with other members of the House in conveying to you and to Mr. Speaker my best wishes in your election as Speaker and deputy speaker of this Chamber.
In the weeks and months ahead, Madam Speaker, there will be many challenges you will have to face, but I hope you will be comforted in the knowledge that members of all political parties have demonstrated quite clearly their desire to maintain civility without having to sacrifice anything as it relates to our ideology.
There is no greater honour in a democracy than to be elected to represent one's fellow citizens. There is no greater obligation than to work together to try to create a better life for every person in the country.
I do not share the political philosophy of members opposite but I respect their right to hold their beliefs and to enunciate those beliefs. I hope that on many issues we can find common cause and common ground as we seek to build a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
May I say a special thanks to the people of my constituency of Cape Breton-East Richmond who have granted me the privilege in four general elections of representing them as their member of Parliament in this the highest court of the land. I acknowledge that privilege but I remind them, as I do all other members of this prestigious House, of the words of Edmund Burke when he said:
You owe them much more than your industry; you owe them your judgment.
The communities in my constituency were established by people who dared to dream. My constituents are the descendants of men and women who faced adversity and persecution, men and women who came to Canada seeking opportunity, tolerance and a better life. They sought a decent standard of living and they sought a fair chance to play their role in building a better country.
In 1994 the challenges are different but the dreams remain the same. The residents of my riding and indeed all Canadians seek economic growth, compassion, social programs and a generosity of spirit. Canadians want a government that shares their concerns, a government that respects their views and their dollars, and a government that helps them to fulfil their dreams.
In the speech from the throne the government did not promise miracles. We cannot solve all the problems overnight, but we can and we must take steps to foster new economic growth. We can and we must take steps to ensure integrity and openness in our actions. We can and we must move to solve problems with creativity and co-operation. We can and must treat individuals all across this country, regardless of their differing political philosophies, with dignity and with respect.
The Prime Minister made clear throughout the election campaign his belief that we need to kickstart our economy. We are attempting to do just that with the new national infrastructure program which was announced by my colleague, the President of the Treasury Board. This program will create thousands of new jobs in a matter of months. It will help build the roads and bridges we need to link our country together and to move our goods and produce. We need modern infrastructure to compete in the modern world.
What is so encouraging about this particular initiative is the degree of co-operation shown by provinces and municipalities. To my knowledge this is the first time in our country's history when we have crafted such a complex economic program with such speed and indeed such goodwill. I hope this is a hallmark for future efforts in which all of us in government work together to achieve effective and efficient results for the good of the country.
As an Atlantic Canadian I want to note the significance this government attaches to the fixed link. The fixed link is a transportation initiative which will integrate the economies of Prince Edward Island with those of New Brunswick and thereafter the rest of the country. This, the largest of the building projects, will provide short-term jobs and long-term economic growth for that area of the country. I may say in a personal way it will provide hope to an area which suffers from unprecedented levels of high unemployment.
The whole thrust of the government's agenda is to give every region, every province, every community and every person a chance to be part of the economic mainstream. We want to knock down the barriers that keep Canadians from having a fair chance at success. That is the simple principle behind our plan, Madam Speaker, something to which you have spoken yourself personally in the House and indeed across the country, the introduction of a prenatal nutrition program. We think that babies have a right to be born healthy. Frankly I find it shocking that in a country as rich as Canada we have infants born sick just because their mothers were too poor to eat properly during pregnancy.
Equally distressing are the conditions of poverty in which so many aboriginal children live. Is it any wonder that children fall asleep at school when they do not get one decent meal a day let alone three, when they live in rooms without heating, when they do not have proper winter clothing? I hope all members of Parliament, regardless of political ideology, will support the implementation of an aboriginal head start program so that we can end this national disgrace.
We cannot expect people to make a meaningful contribution to our society if we do not create the conditions that allow them to make that contribution. Surely it is the responsibility of Parliament to show forceful leadership in creating those conditions.
I cannot help but reflect upon some words spoken by the new Speaker of this House in 1981 when he said: ``I want Canada to excel in spheres in which we are particularly gifted. I want us to produce goods better than anyone else. I want us to celebrate the forms of artistic expression that best reflect our soul. I want us to pioneer to branches of knowledge and to develop an even more humane social system''.
It is wrong that one million children use food banks in Canada. That is why the Government of Canada will announce an action plan for major reform of the social security system in this country. It is wrong that senior citizens are afraid to walk down the street. That is why my government will bring in measures for community safety and crime prevention.
It is wrong that large numbers of women and children are battered and abused. That is why my government will introduce measures to combat that high level of violence. It is wrong that law-abiding citizens are victimized just because they look different, sound different or act different. That is why my government led by the right hon. Prime Minister will act to fight racism in hate crimes across this country.
The notion that every Canadian is entitled to certain basic standards of life is central to our identity as a nation. I am proud to live in a country where we take it for granted that we actually care about one another. I am proud to live in a country where universal health care is regarded as a right and not as some sort of specialized service for the wealthy of this country.
The decision of the Prime Minister to create and to chair the National Forum on Health is based on the belief of our party, the Liberal Party of Canada, that medicare is the cornerstone of social programs in this country.
Only when all Canadians have access to decent health care do all Canadians have an opportunity to forge a decent life for themselves and for their families.
As the minister responsible for housing, I am pleased to say that the government will immediately reinstate the residential rehabilitation assistance program. This was a commitment that we made in the election campaign and a commitment that was reaffirmed in the throne speech given just a few days ago.
Over the next two years, the Government of Canada will provide $100 million in loans and grants to allow low income Canadians to bring their homes up to health and safety standards.
The emergency repair program will furnish assistance in rural and remote areas of Canada. RRAP for the disabled will allow Canadians with disabilities to make changes they need to their homes to guarantee their fuller participation in the mainstream of Canadian society.
I have asked the provinces and territories to share the cost and to deliver RRAP in a spirit of partnership and co-operation. It is my hope that we can create more jobs and provide more help to hundreds of thousands of Canadians across this land.
We are announcing this quick action in order to gain the immediate economic benefits that the renovation program will provide. Later this week I intend to propose improvements in the program to provincial and territorial housing ministers.
Our aim is to put Canadians back to work. Our aim is also to invest in short-term projects that provide the foundation for long-term economic growth. Our aim is to introduce policies and programs that allow all Canadians to benefit from that long-term economic growth.
The government's fundamental view is that we can only solve Canada's deficit problem when we are on track with creating long-term jobs. I am perfectly aware that money for any government programs comes from hard-earned taxpayers' dollars. As the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, I intend to respect that fact. I will do my best to eliminate waste within my departments as well as other governments. I look forward to receiving the suggestions of hon. members which I am sure will be made in a very constructive way.
Canadians are entitled to cost effectiveness and accountability for how their money is spent. We are moving toward greater fairness through open and electronic procurement systems. My officials and I will work with the provinces and others to establish an open purchasing policy across our respective governments.
What is equally important is to ensure that small and medium sized businesses have a fair opportunity to do business with the Government of Canada regardless of where they may come from.
On that note, a small business for instance in my riding has a difficult time knowing where to get the application forms or even who to call. Anyone who has ever flipped through a government phone book knows what a frustrating process this
must be for small and medium sized businesses. That is why we will work to bring centralized business service centres to each of our regions. Small businesses should be able to get all of the information, all of the help and all of the forms in one place.
My hope is that we can work with the provinces and business groups to provide information for them at the same locations.
Small businesses in Atlantic Canada, the west and the north pay taxes too and they deserve a fair opportunity when it comes to bidding on contracts paid for by the taxpayers of this country.
I do not pretend that the new government procurement policies will on their own revitalize the poorer regions of this country, whether they be the north, the west or indeed the Atlantic. We know that our problems are much deeper than that.
The truth is that the economic problems confronting, for instance, the four Atlantic provinces are powerful. However, I am absolutely convinced that the will of Atlantic Canadians to overcome those problems is far, far more powerful. I can say that the Government of Canada will show the leadership to make Atlantic Canada prosper indeed in the years ahead.
I know that members from other parts of Canada face difficult economic adjustments in their communities as well, but I point out to Atlantic Canada, which has been doubly hit and doubly hit hard, the recession of the last few years took an especially harsh toll on my region because of our narrow economic base and our competitive gap with the rest of the country. What is more, the collapse of the east coast fishery is wreaking havoc on the livelihood of thousands upon thousands of families. Six hundred communities in Newfoundland and in Cape Breton are losing their economic mainstay and some feel they may even lose their dignity.
The groundfish have disappeared but the will to survive has not. The federal government will work tirelessly with the provinces and the industry to help the people affected to find new job opportunities. We will put an end to foreign overfishing. In that regard, I salute the Prime Minister and my colleague, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who has assumed responsibilities for this particular dossier and is showing leadership both domestically and internationally.
We are going to need goodwill from other Canadians. I urge Canadians to understand the difficulties which interprovincial trade barriers pose not only to Atlantic Canadians but to all Canadians. The Atlantic provinces for instance face a $5.7 billion trade deficit with the rest of Canada. We need your support for the Government of Canada's commitment to eliminate barriers to trade within Canada and, if so, it will benefit all Canadians.
The lack of equity capital remains one of the most serious road blocks facing Atlantic businesses and indeed all businesses across this country. The private venture capital industry is virtually non-existent in Atlantic Canada. We need to work with the private sector and investors to find means of allowing entrepreneurs from the Atlantic region the same access to capital as other Canadian businesses.
Each province in the Atlantic has exciting possibilities for creating and trading new products and we will work with each province to build upon those various strengths.
My province of Nova Scotia for instance has a rapidly growing software industry that stretches from underwater acoustics to support centres of higher education.
We are modernizing and upgrading our tourism in Cape Breton and Halifax, if members do not know it by now, has the potential to become the hotbed of music in North America.
Like every other Atlantic Canadian I am a realist, a realist about our problems we face but an optimist about the future. Like other Atlantic Canadians I believe that the Government of Canada has a major and constructive role to play in justifying that optimism and helping us reach the future.
If we are to become world-class traders and if we are to build upon Atlantic Canada's potential in knowledge-based industries, we need to implement the programs as outlined in the speech from the throne.
I know that as I speak here today other members of this House of Commons do not believe in an activist government, do not believe in job creation programs, and do not believe in our task to help generate new employment for our constituents. But I believe.
Like many others of my generation I came to maturity as an admirer of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy who once said: ``Have you ever told a coal miner that what he needs is individual initiative to go out and get a job where there isn't any?''
This government believes it must support job creation and it must provide people with the tools and skills to create new jobs and to obtain those new jobs.
If we want Canadians to seize the opportunities of the future this Parliament must seize the opportunities of today. If we want Canada to tap its full potential we must allow every Canadian to tap his or her full potential. If we want to restore respect for government we must make government a force for economic and social renewal. We must make government a force for growth and, as the Prime Minister has said so often, we must make government a force for good.
We are very blessed in this country. I look forward to working with all members of Parliament to use those blessings wisely and to make certain that each and every one of our citizens from each and every part of our country has a chance to share in those blessings.
Madam Speaker, may I close my remarks by thanking you, congratulating you, and congratulating new members of this House.
For those who have spoken in this debate I am certain they have spoken with sincerity and with conviction. Although we will attempt to practice civility in the weeks and months ahead I assure hon. members opposite that that should not be interpreted in any way as a consent for sharing the ideologies which they may and I may pronounce from time to time.
I seek your respect. I will give you the civility which it deserves but in turn, Madam Speaker, I expect no less than those members opposite.
Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières): Madam Speaker, I would like to start by thanking and congratulating the Minister of Public Works for his speech. He gave us his opinion on a number of questions of public interest, but he kept rather silent on other issues of direct concern to his department.
I would like to ask him first about questions directly related to his portfolio and then talk about infrastructures, which involve several departments, and finally ask him a question about parliamentary life.
I will start by asking him why, as minister responsible for public housing, he does not try and reassure the people of my riding and many other ridings in Quebec and Canada, many of whom have signed petitions reflecting their concern as to the governments's intentions regarding social housing? Will the present government follow in the footsteps of the previous one?
Among the issues he did not deal with, although they are of direct concern to him, there is the recent decision of Canada Post, for which he is responsible, to buy Purolator. I would like to know, given the various ideological trends, where this decision fits in the larger government strategy.
Also, I would like the minister to tell us whether, as a member of cabinet, he feels that the infrastructure program will be enough to bring about a significant reduction of unemployment in Canada?
Finally, something about the last few words of the minister regarding respect towards members on the other side. I would like to know whether he is among those, on the government side and in cabinet, who seem to doubt from time to time the total legitimacy of Bloc Quebecois members in Ottawa, who were sent here by the will of the Quebec people expressed during the elections of October 25.
Mr. Dingwall: Madam Speaker, I believe the hon. member asked four questions.
First of all let me congratulate my colleague and thank him for this kind of intervention. Perhaps I can respond to his four questions in reverse.
When the hon. member talks about the legitimacy of the Bloc Quebecois and their interventions in this House, I want to refer him, not to some rhetorical speech I gave outside of this Chamber, but to Hansard. If he were to check Hansard, he would find that in my capacity as the opposition House leader I defended on the floor of this House the right of members of the Bloc Quebecois in opposition to speak in this Chamber and to express their views no matter how difficult I found those views to accept. I believe Hansard will report that in 1991 in response to Jean Lapierre, a former member, I outlined this very clearly.
I respect the rights of all duly elected hon. members who come to this Chamber to have the opportunity stand in their places and to echo the sentiments they believe in. Equally hon. members opposite should not be fooled into thinking that because they make these statements, by a certain process those of us on this side will somehow concur with their ideology. That is not the case. I believe that Hansard will probably prove that to the hon. member. I will probably send him a copy so he can read it for himself.
The third question concerned the national infrastructure program. It will provide an economic benefit to Canadians across the country and will provide economic benefits in the province of Quebec. It will not be the panacea for all the ills in Quebec or in Canada. However it will provide a good solid base on which governments can build upon. That is why the President of the Treasury Board and the Prime Minister initiated this particular program on December 21 with the first ministers. As well, the treasury board has signed agreements with provinces across this country.
The second question the hon. member asks is with regard to Purolator. The hon. member is obviously a very wise, seasoned and intelligent individual. Far be it for me to question a quasi-judicial body which reviewed evidence for an extended period of time, called witnesses, examined them under oath and made a decision which it believed to be in the public good, which we as a government and as an opposition party would subscribe to now as we did previously.
Finally, I think the hon. member quite rightly made reference-I want to underline that-to social housing. Social housing is not just the prerogative of the Government of Canada. It is part of the jurisdiction of provincial governments, it is part of
the jurisdiction of municipalities and it ought to be the cause of many individual Canadians across this land.
My government, as confirmed in the throne speech, has put $100 million into social housing under auspices of the RRAP program. I have had discussions with ministers of housing across the country on ways to find additional moneys. At the present time I am dealing with my colleague, the Minister of Finance, other ministers of the Crown as well as provincial governments to see if we can ascertain additional dollars to address those kinds of situations.
In conclusion, I thank the hon. member for his sound and wise intervention. I hope that my answers fulfil some of the queries he has to some major public policy issues.
Mr. John Nunziata (York South-Weston): Madam Speaker, first I would like to congratulate my colleague on his appointment to the cabinet. Having worked with him for the last 10 years I know he will serve the people of his constituency and the country well. I should also say how deeply honoured I am to be often mistaken for the hon. minister and it is only because we share the same barber.
I was encouraged by a statement the minister made. He said: ``Every citizen is entitled to a minimum standard of living''. The minister knows that at every national Liberal convention over the last 25 or 30 years the Liberal Party has endorsed the concept of a guaranteed annual income. The minister seems to be suggesting that is the direction this present government will go.
I would like the minister to expand upon the statement he made about every citizen being entitled to a minimum standard of living. Is he suggesting this government will finally fulfil a commitment or a position taken at national conventions over the last 20 years? Is he suggesting this government will finally move toward amalgamating the myriad of social programs in this country to guarantee every Canadian a certain standard of living?
Mr. Dingwall: Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question and assure the House that I am honoured from time to time to be mistaken for the hon. member. In fact I have had the pleasure of using his name on a number of occasions of which I will not bring the details to the House.
The response to the question is no in terms of the guaranteed annual income.
The hon. member asks, how does a government which has a limited fiscal capacity achieve its overall objective of enhancing the opportunities of every Canadian. I want to say to the hon. member that although this has been passed by party resolution, as he knows, it is still under active consideration. However I think I would be misleading him if I told him that tomorrow announcements were going to be made with regard to the guaranteed annual income; hence my response of no.
The government is proceeding in many ways to achieve that particular objective. First and most important, the Government of Canada under the auspices of the Prime Minister has recognized that the major economic and social problems facing the country today is the creation of economic growth, not just in small pockets of the major centres but indeed all regions in all quarters of all provinces. So we would be working toward trying to create economic activity in all regions of the country.
A list of things are contained in the throne speech. Perhaps at another opportunity the hon. member would raise this kind of question so that I could give him more details, such as the pre-natal program, the aboriginal head start program, the RRAP program which has provided much needed housing in all regions of the country. There will be a variety of other programs ministers will be announcing in the course of this debate as well as in the debate when the Minister of Finance announces his budget.
Mr. Michel Daviault (Ahuntsic): Madam Speaker, for one who appreciates history, to be making a maiden speech in the House of Commons is definitely a solemn moment. We members of the Bloc Quebecois intend to create history and I think this is a very good time for it.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election to this very important position you now occupy, let me offer you my best wishes and assure you of our total support.
I would also like to thank my constituents of Ahuntsic, a riding in the northern part of the island of Montreal where some eminent Quebecers from both political camps, federalists as well as sovereignists, have played a great role in the democratic debates over the Quebec issue.
Let me mention Mrs. Jeanne Sauvé, who was a member and then a minister representing our riding during a great many years, and the hon. Raymond Garneau, both federalists. Mr. Jacques Parizeau twice was a candidate in our riding and so was Mr. Jean Campeau who will certainly be the next Minister of Finance in Quebec. It is therefore a great honour for me to represent that riding.
As a critic for the Official Opposition on the infrastructure program, I would like to share with you some of my concerns on this program implemented by the new government. Everyone is saying the Liberal Party was elected because of the platform presented in the red book. That is where the infrastructure
program took form. But it is also in that same document that one can see clearly the confusion surrounding that project.
Indeed, since the government announced that infrastructure renewal program, those concerned do not know what to expect from the federal government. When you think about what the population expects in terms of economic development, you can rightfully speak of-
Mr. Harvard: Madam Speaker, a point of order. We are not getting the translation. I want to bring that to the attention of the House.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): We will check the matter right away. Thank you.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(At 4.17 p.m. the sitting of the house was suspended.)
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): The Chair will be expecting a report from the Clerk regarding the interpretation problem. I want to advise the member for Ahuntsic that he is still entitled to his full allotted time of 20 minutes. He now has the floor.
Mr. Daviault: Such an interruption during a maiden speech is rather startling. I will start again then, Madam Speaker. Once more, I wish you all the best in your new position. You may be assured of our full co-operation.
I will also remind the House that the riding of Ahuntsic, which I represent, has always been at the heart of the national debate in Quebec. It was represented by prominent federalists such as Jeanne Sauvé and Raymond Garneau. At the provincial level, prominent sovereignists such as Jacques Parizeau and Jean Campeau, whom I hope will be our next finance minister in Quebec City, ran for election in that riding. It is therefore a great privilege for me to represent it.
As opposition critic for infrastructure, I would like to voice some of my concerns regarding the program being implemented by the new government.
The Liberal Party of Canada was elected on the strength of its red book. The infrastructure project took form in that same book. And it is clearly from that policy paper that stems the confusion regarding this project. Indeed, since the infrastructure program was announced, those concerned have not known what to expect from the federal government. When you are aware of the people's expectations in terms of economic development, you are fully justified in asking the government for more details on what it intends to do in that particular area.
The tough economic times we are experiencing put all levels of government in an uncomfortable position. Given these trying circumstances, it is extremely important to look at how the needed funds promised by the federal government will be allocated and where the money will come from.
To begin with, I would like to refer to a statement made by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and which was reported in La Presse last November 21. Mention was made of the fact that the provincial governments were in such a weakened economic state that their powers to negotiate with the federal government were virtually non existent.
The minister stated the following: ``So far, I have met with most provincial representatives and I have observed that their fiscal problems make them much more open to reason than they ever were during the last two or three decades''.
This kind of statement by the minister leads one to believe that might is right and that the federal government intends to take advantage of the economic hardships of the provinces to once again infringe upon provincial areas of jurisdiction.
The Bloc Quebecois believes that the infrastructure program could lead to constitutional infringement and our party will denounce any kind of interference in areas of provincial jurisdiction.
Traditionally, the principal area in which the federal government has intruded to a significant degree for many decades is spending power. Spending power is linked to the federal debt which has surpassed the critical $500 billion mark. We object to this spending power and will continue to do so.
May I remind the government that section 92(8) of the Constitution Act, 1867 gives the provinces jurisdiction over municipal institutions.
The federal government is forever reminding us that the provincial governments will be responsible for implementing the infrastructure program. Why then is the federal government taking so much time to negotiate with the provinces to ensure that the money invested in the program will satisfy its criteria and requirements?
In his address in reply to the throne speech, the minister responsible for the infrastructure program, the President of the Treasury Board, emphasized the need for some elements of consistency and I quote: ``All the provinces the federal government will review projects in relation to broad program criteria''. The conclusion is obvious. In fact, the government is interfering with project management.
If the federal government wants to give good, solid proof that it will have no involvement whatsoever in this program, why not just give the provinces the money they were promised?
Madam Speaker, the federal government also keeps saying that the infrastructure program will stimulate job creation and boost the economy in Quebec and Canada.
By making this program the focus of their economic recovery policy, the government is displaying a glaring lack of vision and sensitivity to the real, basic needs for improving the economic performance of the provinces and Canada as a whole.
How could the Liberal Party think that such an ad hoc program could have a structuring effect on the economy while a more serious and carefully thought-out approach would have had a much stronger structuring effect by creating steadier employment?
I am thinking for instance of the HST project which is particularly promising both in terms of development for the economy of Quebec and Canada and in terms of industrial consolidation in high-tech sectors.
Another strategy which would have had a structuring effect for the consolidation of the industrial fabric in Quebec and Canada would have been to develop a national defence industry reconversion program. In these industries, production is already technology intensive and for the federal government to provide them with assistance through a reconversion program would have demonstrated a more structuring view toward brightening things up as regards the economy and the manufacturing industry.
I would be remiss to address the issue of infrastructure without mentioning the need for oneness in light of the recent negotiations between the federal government and the provinces.
Over the past few weeks, I have had to tell constituents who were enquiring about the state of the negotiations on infrastructure that the government was keeping us in the dark.
These hidden negotiations have led to confusion for which the federal government must assume responsibility. The umbrella agreements being drawn for each province-and we will revisit the issue after the Minister tables these agreements-contains grey areas on aspects as simple as the definition of infrastructure.
In fact, what constitutes an infrastructure? For some, infrastructure must be narrowly interpreted in terms of roads, sewers, drainage ditches and sidewalks. That is how this basic infrastructure project was defined. Others favour a wide and vague definition including cultural and community facilities, telecommunication highways, even congress centres.
This wider definition suggests that the moneys to finance this infrastructure could come from various government departments such as Public Works or federal regional development offices.
The nature of the projects chosen under the infrastructure program could not only confuse existing federal departments but also lead to a duplication of departmental efforts and to a waste of public funds.
In this regard it is conceivable that the federal government will be tempted to use the money already allocated to these departments, thus weakening the notion of new money invested by the Canadian government.
The Liberal Party cannot use old money to keep its election promises, or else its program amounts to a mere accounting exercise.
In fact, is the federal government willing to pay the grants in lieu of taxes in full to municipalities?
According to the UMRCQ, the Union of Quebec County Regional Municipalities, these grants amount to some $125 million. How much is it for all the provinces?
It is also easy to assume that the government will be tempted to reduce public spending in terms of transfer payments to the provinces and social programs.
The Bloc Quebecois denounces such practices, because the budget cuts to be made in the federal government must not be at the expense of the poorest people.
Together with my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, again I invite the government to set up as quickly as possible a committee to review public finances. This committee could identify major cuts that would provide the funds required to support needy people.
Finally, Madam Speaker, the infrastructure program must not be used to reward the government's friends. The government must not intervene in the process of recommending and selecting applications for financial support under the program.
When we met with the minister on January 12, 1994, I proposed consulting all members of the House who are directly concerned with local projects, regardless of their political affiliation.
I also wrote to the minister on January 17, so that he could explain this point which was missing from the document received by all members as of Friday, January 14.
So I am satisfied, I admit, that the minister took this recommendation into account in his address on the Speech from the Throne on January 21.
Madam Speaker, I would like to make a final clarification on the true nature of the infrastructure program and its economic impact on the provinces and municipalities.
The federal government is championing this program. It pompously announces its absolute leadership in setting up this program.
It is important to recall that the Liberal government did not instigate this program; in fact, it was initiated by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, whose report addressing the renewal of basic local infrastructure was adopted in 1985. In reviewing the documents, we will see how far it goes. It was a project re-evaluated in May 1993 at nearly $20 billion over five years.
For example, the basic infrastructure renewal needs of the city of Montreal alone are estimated at about $1.7 billion.
I also wish to remind people that the federal government only pays one third of the total program cost. The provinces pay one third, as do the municipalities.
Madam Speaker, the federal government has not yet demonstrated, I remind you, that the money it uses will all be new funds, nor has it demonstrated that it will not use spending cuts in social programs and transfer payments to free up the new money needed to pursue its program.
The 33 per cent that the federal government invests is likely to be much less when the above-mentioned issues are taken into account.
By intervening in provincial jurisdiction, the federal government is unbalancing the municipalities' three-year capital works plans. To free up the money needed to start work in the next two years, will the municipalities have to draw on funds that were to be spent in later years, in 1996, 1997 or 1998?
In so doing, they will face chronic underfunding for future projects on later agendas, thus creating a sort of dependence that will of course suit any centralizing government.
Madam Speaker, I wanted to show in my first speech in the House one of the wrongs of federalism as traditionally practised by Liberal governments. Here is where the second part of the mandate we sought and received from Quebecers comes in, namely promotion of Quebec sovereignty.
In this statement on Canada's infrastructure program, I wanted to show the indescribable administrative mess we are living in as Canadians. This example in just one field of government activity is matched in almost all other areas. Duplication and infringement have become the rule and no longer the exception.
English Canada recognizes the primacy of the federal government over the provincial governments and that is no doubt why this same English Canada is less sensitive to federal infringement in provincial jurisdiction.
We are a long way from the spirit of equality, balance and mutual respect which characterized the Constitution in 1867. Although it respects the will of its partners, Quebec must not pursue that route.
In my opinion, Canadian federalism has become a model of administrative inefficiency, an inefficiency which undermines the system and severely affects the groups which should be served.
Political systems are tools used by communities to co-ordinate their actions. There is no doubt in my mind that we have to adopt a new regime if we want to get out of this situation.
And this is why the Bloc Quebecois will, during the next referendum, ask Quebecers to patriate its tools by proclaiming its sovereignty.
In the last week, we have heard a lot about the famous red book-probably as much as the Chinese people heard about Mao's red book during the cultural revolution-but I want to remind the government that people in Quebec voted overwhelmingly in support of the Bloc Quebecois and not the Liberal government's red book and, as such, gave their federal representatives the very clear mandate which we had sought, that is to defend Quebec's interests and promote its sovereignty.
Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil): Madam Speaker, I can see from the speech the hon. member for Ahuntsic just made that he understands full well what the infrastructure program put forward by the federal government is all about. First of all, we have asked and we continue to ask that the money the federal government wants to spend be directly sent to Quebec. Hence, the provincial and municipal governments in Quebec would be able to effectively and responsibly manage this money according to their priorities. Maybe then there will be some money left for the real infrastructure needs of Quebec.
Again, the federal government is directly impinging on a jurisdiction of which it has no knowledge and on which it has no right, since, according to the Canadian Constitution, the federal government has no right over municipal affairs. But now, in a roundabout way, it will succeed in meddling directly in municipal affairs. For the first time in Canadian history, the federal government will directly impinge on municipal affairs. It is a shame, but the federal government keeps doing it.
The Liberal government at that time was the most centralist of all federal governments in Canada's history, and again, with this policy, this program, it will manage to stick its nose in the
sewers and under the bridges of our municipalities. Moreover, it will continue to line its pockets by awarding its own engineers and contractors all the small infrastructure contracts for the municipalities.
It is outrageous and unacceptable. So, the members of the Bloc Quebecois, just like the hon. member for Ahuntsic I am sure, will denounce the fact that the federal government is directly encroaching on the management of municipal infrastructures. One of these days, the federal government will have to recognize that the best way to achieve efficient management and to make municipalities accountable is to withdraw from municipal affairs to avoid overlapping and duplication. As you know, overlapping and duplication are very costly to manage and also very costly in lack of efficiency, in confrontation and other such things.
I do not understand why the federal government, which should know and should understand this, still gets involved in areas that are not of its concern.
It is a shame, Madam Speaker. I denounce it today and I hope that we, as Quebecers, will continue to work hard together so that this does not happen again, considering how terribly high the deficit now is. We have a $500 billion deficit and we know full well that it is due to the fact that the federal government is constantly interfering in areas that should be under provincial jurisdiction, that it is due to the centralization of powers in Ottawa. Canada's deficit began to grow under the Liberal government in 1970 and it has become outrageous. It went from $2 billion in 1970 to about $35 billion in 1984 and now stands at $45 billion. Nevertheless, the federal government insists on centralizing everything and it has even come to the point where it interferes in areas of municipal jurisdiction.
It is absolutely outrageous and I want to ask my colleague from Ahuntsic what he thinks of all that. I think he agrees with me, but I will let him explain in his own words.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Order. I would ask the hon. member to address his questions and comments to the Chair.
The hon. member for Ahuntsic has the floor.
Mr. Daviault: I totally agree with my colleague, Madam Speaker, but I will not elaborate further on that so the hon. member for York Centre has enough time to make his intervention.
Mr. John Harvard (Winnipeg St. James): Madam Speaker, I want to make a couple of observations and then ask a question of the hon. member.
The 35th Parliament is only a week old today and I think a lot of us on this side of the House are getting a bit tired of the Bloc members harping on sovereignty. Bloc members should be mindful of the fact that they have been elected to the opposition and that the task they fulfil is an important one. They should be here representing all provinces, not just the province of Quebec.
The hon. gentleman was complaining about certain aspects of the infrastructure program. He is suggesting that we in the federal government should just send bags of money to Quebec City: no accountability, no questions asked, no thought given as to how the money is going to be spent in the province of Quebec.
Surely those members should get serious. If we are going to be responsible to all Canadians, if the federal government is going to be responsible to federal taxpayers, it should take its full responsibility with respect to expenditures of federal money under the infrastructure program, whether the money is spent in the province of Quebec, the province of P.E.I., the province of Manitoba or anywhere else in the country.
Is this member really serious when he suggests the federal government should abrogate its responsibilities and not show any concern whatsoever on how money is spent in the province of Quebec?
If this member is really preaching sovereignty-and that is what I hear-perhaps he would like to tell us whether he might like to forgo the federal share altogether. We are going to see hundreds of millions of dollars poured into the province of Quebec under this program. Would he like to forgo this money and let Quebec go on its own?
Mr. Daviault: I thank the hon. member for his speech. He made it clear that the notion of accountability was central to the problem. Every time the federal government gets involved, this government, which initially was intended to co-ordinate and equalize, steps directly into provincial areas of jurisdiction.
When looking at the agreement with Ontario released this morning, I find it as vague as the others in this regard. It states that the federal-provincial management committee, made up of two members from the federal side and two members from the provincial side, will set up unspecified subcommittees, and that it will be responsible for establishing subcommittees as required in order to manage the agreement; for delegating to these subcommittees every power required to carry out their mandate and for setting every procedure applicable to these meetings and to all the subcommittees, in particular the rules of conduct of meetings and of decision-making.
Once more, accountability will be an excuse for interfering. Municipalities will be faced with expenditures that will alter their three-year plans and as a result the problem will not be
addressed because this program is supposed to deal with basic infrastructure problems.
Initially, that was the program proposed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Today, Ontario is even accepting school boards as local administrations. This means school boards as well as municipalities will be eligible.
The first project in the program, the convention centre in Quebec City, is not a renovation project or basic infrastructure or even locally-based infrastructure. How much will there be left of the $6 billion for the FCM's project? There will not be enough left. They said $20 billion was needed. In 1985, it was $12 billion, and now this has been revised upward to $20 billion.
Where is the critical mass of this program? In its agreement, the government never gives carte blanche for any kind of project, and I am sure the President of the Treasury Board is going to be very happy because for the first time in perhaps 20 years, he will not be just a budget cutter. He will also be able to dole out subsidies, but these agreements contain no restrictions on what the federal government can do. Just read the agreements. If you look at them from the provincial point of view, you will see they contain everything the federal government needs to get involved in all stages of the project.
The hon. member also mentioned the Bloc's position as the Official Opposition. Yes, we are. I spent most of my speech talking about the infrastructure project because I take that position very seriously.
We will get back to this if necessary, but as far as I am concerned, when Quebec's interests are at stake, and I mentioned the mandate we sought and received from the people of Quebec, when our interests do not coincide with those of other Canadian provinces which may prefer to let the federal government interfere with certain jurisdictions, we will consider Quebec's right to object to this kind of interference and will always defend the interests of Quebec.
Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South): Madam Speaker, on this first occasion that I have had to speak in the House I want to begin by thanking the constituents who put me here.
I have been elected twice provincially. This was my first time running federally but never in an election campaign have I been questioned as closely and as carefully as I was in this one. The people in my riding wanted to know what I stood for, what I was going to do if I got here, and what I am doing every day I am here.
It is passing strange to me that it was such an unusual move to put a party's platform in a book. It is stranger still that people are surprised when the government acts on the promises it makes.
I also thank my wife, Karen, and my daughter, Sarah. The hardest thing I have to do as a member here is be away from them. It is something we are all going to have to adjust to. They make a big sacrifice. All members make that sacrifice and I do not think people realize that.
I thank the 1,400 volunteers who worked thousands of hours over the last 18 months so that I could get elected. They did not ask for anything in doing that. All they wanted and all they want today is a government that reflects their values. They are still coming around to my office. They are still looking for ways in which they can volunteer their time and energy to share in the process of governing. I am honoured by their participation.
Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate you and the Speaker and all members who were elected to serve this House, and through you I want to thank all of the staff that serve this House. As a rookie member here I have been remarkably well treated everywhere I have gone. I really appreciate the support of all of those who do not get recognized in the work that this House does.
I also want, through you Madam Speaker, to thank the many thousands of people who work for the federal government. There was a time not too long ago when the previous Prime Minister stood in front of a scrum and said that all he had to offer the civil servants of Canada were pink slips and running shoes. I thought then that that was a shameful experience.
How do you expect people to carry out the programs if that is the way you treat them? No company on earth would survive if it treated its employees the way the previous government treated the public service of this country. I caution some of the members opposite because I hear some of that same language coming through, as though somehow the people who carry out the work of this House are the enemy. We need to reflect on that.
I also want to thank Dorothy Dobbie and Mark Hughes. Dorothy was the member for Winnipeg South in this House prior to me and Mark was the Reform Party candidate who ran against me. We debated 20 times during the course of the election and we managed to keep every debate on the issues and never once resorted to personalities. I really want to thank them for that.
I come from the province of Manitoba. We talk a lot in this House about the upheaval that has happened in Quebec, the election of the Bloc Quebecois, or the upheaval that took place in Alberta and British Columbia with the massive election of the Reform Party. Well, an upheaval took place in Manitoba. We elected 12 Liberals. In fact we elected 21 Liberals in the prairies. Back when I was working for the Liberal Party in the seventies there was only one Liberal in all of western Canada. But it is no surprise that we did not elect a single Conservative in the prairie region.
I want to share a couple of facts with the House. They are facts that I hope members from the prairie region will reflect on and work with me on helping to right this. Do members know that if they look at the share of national wealth that is held in the prairie region, in the three prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, that if we just held the same percentage of national wealth that we held in 1984 there would be $26 billion more economic activity in those three provinces today? That is a staggering figure. That is more than the entire gross domestic product of the province of Manitoba. That is a fact.
In truth, a big chunk of that is the decline in oil revenues. But in my province of Manitoba, a small province, less than 4 per cent of the total population of the country, no oil revenues, we are $1.6 billion poorer and 42,000 jobs poorer today than we were in 1984-85. I believe that is because we had a federal government that had no understanding of the regional character of this country, no understanding of how to use government as an instrument in the regions of this country.
The people in my province are not blaming anybody. They do not even blame Ontario.
An hon. member: They could.
Mr. Alcock: They could. They are approaching this new government, they are approaching the year 2000 with great optimism, and they are working very hard to meet the challenges that they are confronted with.
I spoke the other day in the House about a young business in my area. Four young graduates from the University of Manitoba-that is Manitoba, in the city of Winnipeg-had built a super computer. Not a good computer, a super computer, a 10-gigaflop massive computer. Not only have they built it from scratch in the city of Winnipeg, but they have successfully sold it to Korea, Japan, China, Brazil, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
There is a tremendous amount of energy and optimism and work going on in the province of Manitoba. But when I talk to people there, as I do every night from my office here, when talking about the problem with Canada, unlike the Leader of the Opposition who says the problem with Canada is Quebec, they tell me that Quebec is one of the great strengths of Canada. They tell me that it is the Canada we have built, the Canada that embraces diversity, the Canada that stands up for minorities, the Canada that has created a code of human rights, the Canada that embraces multiculturalism. It is that very diversity that gives them the strength to go out into the world and compete.
Out of these debates I take a couple of things that stick in my mind. There are two little statements that come to mind. One was told by the current Speaker who was recounting his first days in the House many years ago when he was taken aside by the Hon. Paul Martin Senior, the father of the current finance minister who told him: ``Young man, whether you are here for 5 years or 20, remember that you are just passing through''. I think about that statement and I think about a comment that the leader of my party, the Prime Minister, made in his speech when he spoke about about Canada as being a great work in progress.
Think about the work that we do here: pass some laws, amend some laws and rescind some laws. To tax or not to tax. We spend or we do not spend or we modify spending. Those are the tangible things we do. Those are the buttons we push or the levers we push.
However, there is an intangible thing we do in this Chamber and that is provide leadership to the rest of the country. I hear the talk about greater decorum and a more positive attitude. But when I read carefully through the speeches that I see coming out of the third party, I see very much the same kind of criticism I heard when I sat in the provincial legislature. They did not look at the throne speech and ask: ``What is there and how should we discuss the things that are being committed to''. They saw what was not there. They did not see the glass half full, they saw it half empty.
I hope that over the months and years to come we will have the kind of debate that is talked about. I hope we will have a competition in this House for good ideas. I hope we will challenge each other to see who has the best idea to solve a problem.
Would it not be wonderful if when our constituents watched television they went away saying: ``Gosh, I learned something. I have been enlightened''. I do not think that is the way they walk away from it now. It is going to take all of us to do that.
I hope that in the time I am passing through this Chamber that I can contribute in some small way to this great work which is Canada.
Mr. Lefebvre: Madam Speaker, I am sorry I am not at my desk, could I ask my question from here?
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): The Standing Orders require that you be in your seat to ask a question.
I already recognized a member, but after him, if you wish, you could have the floor. The hon. member for Charlevoix.
Mr. Asselin (Charlevoix): Madam Speaker, I would like to start by congratulating you, personally and on behalf of my constituents from the riding of Charlevoix, the riding of the former Prime Minister, Mr. Brian Mulroney, for your appointment to the chair.
Like my colleague from Ahuntsic, who spoke about infrastructures, I would like to say that in a riding like Charlevoix, where unemployment is high, and where the income level is low, the mil rate is nevertheless quite high. If I understand correctly what was announced by the President of Treasury Board regarding infrastructures, a grant of $527 million would be paid to Quebec. For Quebec, $527 million and $700 million for Ontario. Granted, we elected a very small number of Liberals in Quebec while Ontario sent quite a few Liberal members to the House,
but I hope we will not be penalized because of the October 25 election.
Several municipalities in Quebec cannot afford to pay a third of the costs. Will the government include, in the agreements with Quebec, rules or specific clauses in order to help small municipalities, maybe through the labour market, maybe by allowing them to pay on a half-time basis since, in some cases, spill-overs from the tourist industry bring additional revenues to municipalities, but only six months a year. For the smaller municipalities, it could also mean-one third, one third-if they want to take advantage of the program, it could force them to borrow the necessary money. Already they cannot support their poverty rate. Will the government think of additional revenues that could help small municipalities? Will each municipality be the local project manager, will they be able to encourage the local economy and local workers?
Mr. Alcock: Madam Speaker, I am not going to begin to respond to the specific question about some municipalities in the member's riding because I am not the minister responsible for the infrastructure program.
I would like to point out a couple of things to him. The previous member for his party who spoke on this issue made a comment that this sort of tripartite arrangement, federal-municipal-provincial, was unheard of. Certainly that is not the case in my province.
This kind of arrangement where the three levels of government come together to jointly share responsibility for major public works is quite common. Municipalities, Indian reserves and others are all participating in it.
On the allocation of funds, the one thing that is different about this government from the previous government is that these decisions are made on an open rational basis. In this case, it was a mixing of population and unemployment. There was a criteria set and not: How many Liberals did you elect?
This is unlike the previous government. I think we are further ahead for that kind of decision-making.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Time has terminated for questions and comments.
Ms. Susan Whelan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue): Madam Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House today as the member for Essex-Windsor.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the residents of Essex-Windsor for giving me the privilege to represent them in the House of Commons. Indeed, it is a privilege to have this opportunity.
Madam Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment and to congratulate the Speaker on his election. You have your work cut out for you to reform this House and I pledge my full support to those efforts.
One of the primary reasons that I decided to run for public office was that I was concerned and I believe that Canada's tax system needs to be reformed. That is not just our tax policy but our collection system as well.
As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, I have been given the opportunity to be closely involved in such reforms. I want to thank the Prime Minister for that opportunity and for appointing me. I intend to make the most of it.
During the election, we all know that we promised to replace the GST. The throne speech repeats this commitment, the same commitment I made to the residents of Essex-Windsor. This tax which was introduced by the previous government has been disastrous for Canadian businesses. It has fuelled an underground economy that threatens to destroy Canada's social fabric. Some critics have expressed concern that the throne speech fails to identify the GST replacement. But for the throne speech to identify the replacement would be a betrayal of the Canadian public.
The Prime Minister told Canadians over and over during the election that in the first session of this new Parliament he would mandate an all-party finance committee to consult Canadians and provincial governments on all options to the GST. That is exactly what the Prime Minister has done.
I would encourage all residents of Essex-Windsor who want their views on tax reform to be made available to the committee to send their letters, their briefs, their charts directly to myself and I will make sure they are presented to the standing committee.
I mentioned that one of my primary reasons for running and entering politics was to tackle tax reform. I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to acknowledge and pay tribute to the people who, through example, showed me the value of public life. I speak of my parents.
My father, Eugene Whelan, as many members know, spent a considerable part of his life in this House. Indeed, some of the members in the present House served with him. I want you to know that my father was not alone in his endeavour. My mother was always at his side. They were truly a team. Both were raised
on a farm yet both are quite different. My father is second generation Canadian born. My mother was born in Yugoslavia and came to Canada when she was nine years old. However, both were raised during lean times and both understood the greatness of this country and what can happen when we put hard work forward.
As a child, I saw day in and day out the commitment my parents had to Essex-Windsor and to Canada. I was raised with a sense that we had a duty and an obligation as citizens to serve this great country and to keep it great. It is that responsibility that brings me to the House today. It is a responsibility that I intend to keep.
However that responsibility cannot be kept by any member in this House unless we put our House in order. On December 1, 1992 when I sought the nomination in my riding I made a commitment, a commitment to work to restore integrity to our political system. I am pleased to see from the throne speech that this party and this government is not backing away from that commitment. I want to impress on the House and my constituents that this is not the easy thing to do but it is the right thing to do.
My riding of Essex-Windsor, in many ways, is a microcosm of Canada. It is a reflection of the country as a whole. Like Canada, the riding of Essex-Windsor is ethnically diverse. We have over 70 different cultures peacefully co-existing in my riding. Pluralism and multiculturalism, the fact that we can be different and yet all be Canadians, are fundamental characteristics both of Essex-Windsor and of Canada itself.
I too recognize the importance of bilingualism and of protecting linguistic rights in Canada. I hope to become bilingual to better serve my constituents.
Like Canada, Essex-Windsor has a diverse economy based on a mixture of heavy industry, light industry, small and medium sized businesses and farming. For example, my riding hosts the largest mould making industry in the world. As well, we have three large automotive companies in Windsor, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.
Let me remind you, Madam Speaker, the auto industry in Canada owes its very existence to past Liberal policies under Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, ministers Paul Martin Senior, Walter Gordon, Mitchell Sharp and then backbenchers like the hon. member for Windsor West and my father, Eugene Whelan. Without the auto pact that industry would be nearly dead. Now the auto industry is one of the economic generators of Canada. It is alive and well because of Liberal foresight.
However, like the rest of Canada, Essex-Windsor is still recovering from the current recession. Economic suffering has social consequences and in Essex-Windsor we have a lot of work to do.
The throne speech commits the government to concrete measures to deal with problems and restore Canada. These are measures that will affect, help and assist Essex-Windsor. To stimulate the economy, the government will immediately introduce the infrastructure program based on recent federal, provincial and municipal agreements.
I have been in contact with all the municipalities in the riding of Essex-Windsor and they are all looking forward to joining in and participating in this program. As well, to assist in long-term job creation the government has committed to work with this country's financial institutions to improve access to capital, to allow small businesses to expand and prosper.
I cannot help but note that during the election campaign this plan was criticized as being unworkable. Yet last Thursday night I read in the Ottawa Citizen: ``Another flurry of small business lending initiatives is under way as Canada's big banks try to stay on the right side of the new federal government''. That was accomplished without a single piece of legislation or a single decree.
We finally have a government that understands the future of this country. As we all know, the future of tomorrow is based on the youth of today. Therefore one of the most important initiatives in the throne speech is the youth service corps, a service corps that will begin to put young Canadians back to work. It addresses youth unemployment. As well, we are looking at a national apprenticeship program.
For 125 years Canadians have worked together to build a strong, united nation. In spite of the economic difficulties we face, we are what the rest of the world wants to become: peaceful and prosperous, diverse yet tolerant, educated, strong and free. If one looks at the situation in the former Yugoslavia and if one was to ask the people there what they wanted more than anything, I believe they would ask for the two things that we have in great abundance in Canada: bread and peace. The power expressed in the idea of bread and peace is fundamental. It was the promise of bread and peace that allowed the Bolsheviks to take over Russia in 1917. It is our abundance of bread and peace that underpinned our economic prosperity in the past. We must never forget its important to our future.
Madam Speaker, I want you to know that my riding contains some of the most productive agricultural land in Canada. As Canadians we must protect and strengthen our agricultural base. A country that cannot feed itself is soon not a country and is at the mercy of every other nation.
There are many difficulties facing agriculture. One is the new GATT agreement, that while successful in many areas was of mixed success in terms of agriculture. Like the producers of this country I would have preferred a strengthened article XI. I know the importance of supply management. If we allow our dairy and poultry production to be destroyed or damaged, the entire agricultural industry will be negatively affected and the quality of our food will suffer. Over the next 18 months I will work to
ensure that supply management is adequately supported under comprehensive tariffication.
The Liberal Party has always been at the forefront of social change in Canada and always will be. The throne speech lays the ground work for continuing that vision. The Prime Minister himself will chair the national forum on health to foster with the provinces a renewal of Canada's health system. The government will also undertake, with the consultation of individual Canadians and the provinces, a major reform of the social security system. This will be completed during the next two years. I again encourage the citizens of Essex-Windsor to participate.
Further the throne speech commits the government to fiscal discipline necessary for sustained economic growth and deficit reduction. As the member for Madawaska-Victoria stated in her eloquent reply to the throne speech on Tuesday: ``A lean government does not have to be a mean government''. The Canadian dream that built Canada on principles of sharing, fairness and compassion has all been forgotten over the last 10 years. We as Canadians must remind ourselves of the greatness of the Canadian experiment and return our energies to endeavours which reflect our collective values and our desire to work together.
The throne speech that we are debating today is the blueprint for Canadians to work together to build Canada's future success.
Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil): Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the hon. member on her appointment as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Revenue.
I am somewhat surprised by the fact that she has failed to mention that the Liberal Party has just increased the tax burden of small wage earners, when for years, they have been criticizing the party in power for imposing taxes on the poor. Shortly after they were elected, we realized that they were increasing the tax burden of the unemployed, and particularly of small businesses.
I do hope that as assistant to the revenue minister, the hon. member will remove this unfair burden on small wage earners due to the increase in unemployment insurance premiums. The government squeezes a further $800 million out of workers and, the next day, announces that it is going to give municipalities $995 million for their infrastructure. What is the government doing? It is reducing the purchasing power of the people, that is what it is doing. Consequently, it is slowing down economic growth while putting an equivalent amount into the infrastructure program.
The government toots its own horn, bragging about this great program which is going to create jobs, stimulate the economy, while it increases the burden of workers by about the same amount by raising unemployment insurance premiums.
Madam Speaker, I have this question for the member: where is the government going with that process I would call dishonest?
Ms. Whelan: Madam Speaker, I believe some of the comments the hon. member made should be directed more readily at the leader of his own party when he was minister and the things that he did in the past government.
We have to pick up the pieces and start over, and that is what this government is doing. We are going to have an all-party finance committee to deal with the question of the GST and other questions. That is where fairness will start. It will start with this government.
Mr. Patrick Gagnon (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada): At any rate, Madam Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to congratulate my hon. colleague on her recent election and I should mention that she is the youngest member of our party, at least on this side of the House. I would also like to point out that I am proud to sit next to a woman who reflects the renewal our government is undergoing, a government which is striving for profound renewal by putting in the foreground, so to speak, the wishes of the young generation which is shaping this country for the next century.
Of course, Madam Speaker, the opposition is not too happy to hear about young people like us being the future of this country. Not that I absolutely want to quote Sir Wilfrid Laurier who so aptly said a century ago that ``the next century will belong to Canada'', but the speeches and the presence of my colleague in front of the opposition prompt me to say this: Canada is in very good hands and thank you for a great speech.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville): Madam Speaker, let me extend my congratulations to you on your appointment to the chair and to the hon. member for Welland-St. Catharines-Thorold on his election as Speaker of the House. I sincerely believe that both of you will be just and wise in conducting the business of the House. I also congratulate all members of the House on their election victories.
I am very pleased to take this opportunity to thank the people of Vegreville constituency for their strong show of support on October 25 and for their communication with me since then. I understand well that I represent all constituents and each must have equal access to my ears, my effort and my voice.
The greatest strengths of this area are resourceful and highly motivated people and an abundance of natural resources including oil, natural gas and rich agricultural land. Through living and working with the people of this area I have learned there are common threads that bind them. They are kind, generous and forgiving to a point. They are hard working, treat people fairly and expect to be treated fairly. They like to face problems head on and are frustrated that their governments refuse to do the same. They are a way ahead of government in recognizing the problems and the solutions to the problems the country faces.
These people have told me what they expect of this government. They want democratic and parliamentary reforms which will make me and the Government of Canada more accountable to them. They want reform of the justice system to restore the balance between the rights of victims and society as a whole and the rights and rehabilitation of criminals.
They want government to spend less, much less. My constituents have sent me here to ask these questions of each spending proposal. Is it necessary? How much will it cost? Can it be done for less? The Canadian public and members of the House have heard and will continue to hear Reform MPs ask: Can we spend less?
As I listened to the throne speech I was disappointed that agriculture was not mentioned. However my concerns were somewhat alleviated by the hon. Minister of Agriculture in his response to the throne speech. I was pleased with some of the objectives the minister outlined and will be thrilled, as will my constituents, if my interpretation of what he said and what he actually meant are the same.
I will list briefly what I see as the major problems in agriculture today and outline some of the Reform solutions. My colleague from Fraser Valley East will discuss the supply managed sector.
The problems then are subsidies both domestic and foreign which encourage overproduction and lead to unfair competition, a lack of co-ordination of programs further distorting market signals and causing inappropriate production, and programs which threaten access to markets. For example, the national tripartite stabilization program for beef and hogs has caused export problems to the United States. Then there are problem which encourage environmental damage. An example is the gross revenue insurance plan which encourages crop production on marginal and easily degradable land.
The Crow benefit costs taxpayers approximately $700 million a year and leads to the exports of value added in industries and jobs. The future of grain farming may very well depend on keeping those value added industries in Canada.
Next would be marketing agencies which prohibit competition. For example, the Canadian Wheat Board controls all sales of wheat, barley exports and domestic milling wheat sales. I am not suggesting that we eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board but rather that we reform it.
Another problem is very poor anti-combines and fair competition legislation and even poorer enforcement. Finally are interprovincial trade barriers.
All these problems and others must be dealt with in a co-ordinated way. Are farmers ready to accept the necessary change? I believe they are. Farmers are astute business people who do not want to depend on subsidies which prolong the problem. They want to depend on less subsidies and more on the marketplace. Although the new GATT agreement may open the gate it will not solve the problem. It is up to Parliament, in consultation with farmers, to make the necessary changes.
I will outline briefly the vision of the Reform Party for agricultural reform: more specifically reform of safety net programs, the transportation system, research, education and training, government regulations, and the Canadian Wheat Board.
Concerning safety net programs, our plan is to consolidate the mess of over a dozen unco-ordinated programs into three programs to protect farmers from natural hazards, unfair foreign trade practices and other income fluctuations which are beyond their control.
First, there is the creation of a trade distortion adjustment program to compensate farmers for unfair trade practices in other countries.
Second, an income stabilization program will help protect farmers against price fluctuations and cycles which occur in an open market environment. This program will ensure a minimum of interference in the marketplace by using the whole farm approach. That means all commodities would be eligible and all commodities produced on a particular farm would be included in the plan.
Third, an improved crop insurance program would help protect farmers against natural hazards but not encourage overproduction.
This package of three safety net programs will be better for farmers and less expensive for taxpayers.
Concerning transportation reform, agricultural products should move to markets by any route, any mode of transportation and in any state of processing that farmers and their customers agree on. Transportation subsidies should be eliminated and the money put into the safety net program. The
railway system should be deregulated and options such as privatizing CN Rail rolling stock to enhance competition in the system should be considered. Grain handlers should be deemed an essential service during labour disputes if alternate routes which are cost effective cannot be found.
A policy environment which encourages private sector participation in research, education and job training must be developed. Research funds should be better targeted to meet the goals set out by farmers and agribusiness.
In the area of government regulation we must ensure that imported products meet the same safety and environmental standards as those produced in Canada. We must strengthen and rigorously enforce anti-dumping laws and dispute settlement mechanisms. We must protect against unfair business practices by strengthening and enforcing anti-combine legislation and by creating stronger licensing and arbitration regulations.
Finally, a priority of this Parliament must be reforming the Canadian Wheat Board. Allowing a continental barley market, though certainly a move in the right direction, is only tinkering with a system that needs major reform. Let us make the following improvements. Make the Canadian Wheat Board accountable to the people who pay the bills and they are western Canadian grain farmers. Allow the wheat board to handle any crop it wants but permit farmers and grain companies the right to compete with the board. Continue loan guarantees as long as other countries do and give farmers the right to choose between a pool price and a daily cash price.
These changes will provide a win-win situation for farmers, taxpayers and for us in this House. We have strong support, as in no Parliament before, to make these positive and substantial changes to the Canadian Wheat Board. The farmers of this country are way ahead of us politicians in being ready for and demanding these changes. Let us catch up. Let us lead. Thank you.
Mr. Jean-Paul Marchand (Québec-Est): Madam Speaker, I very much appreciated what the hon. member of the Reform Party said about agriculture, because agriculture is very important in the West as well as in the East.
I would like to find out from the hon. member if he knows about the negotiations on durum wheat now under way between Canada and the United States.
Mr. Benoit: Madam Speaker, I would like to tell the hon. member that I am aware of the negotiations. I can only go by what is reported by the government but I understand negotiations are going well and that the probability is not very high that we will have interference in shipping our durum wheat to the United States.
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg Transcona): Madam Speaker, I would like to register my objection to the recommendations made by the hon. member with respect to the privatization of CN rolling stock and with respect to the further deregulation of the transportation industry, particularly rail and, I might add, with respect to eliminating the Crow benefit. The member did not make it clear whether he wants to eliminate it altogether or whether he wants to pay it to the producers.
In either event, all three of the things that the member spoke of would have the effect of further weakening the role of rail transportation in not only the transportation of wheat but the transportation of goods, period.
As the member for Winnipeg Transcona, I would like to say that I object to that. The throne speech called for green infrastructure. There is nothing greener in terms of infrastructure than railways. What we need is policies in this country to encourage the use of railways, not discourage the use of railways.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): The time has lapsed.
It being 5.30 p.m., it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 50(5), to interrupt the proceedings and to put forthwith every question required to dispose of the amendment.
The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): In my opinion the nays have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Call in the members.
(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)
(Division No. 2)
Axworthy (Saskatoon-Clark's Crossing)
Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre)
Brown (Calgary Southeast)
Gray (Windsor West)
Grey (Beaver River)
Harper (Calgary West)
Harper (Simcoe Centre)
LeBlanc (Cape Breton Highlands-Canso)
MacLellan (Cape Breton-The Sydneys)
Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca)
McClelland (Edmonton Southwest)
McLellan (Edmonton Northwest)
Mills (Red Deer)
Scott (Fredericton-York Sudbury)
White (Fraser Valley West)
White (North Vancouver)
The Speaker: I declare the amendment lost.
It being six o'clock p.m., this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at ten o'clock a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
The House adjourned at 6.04 p.m.