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Friday, November 22, 1996



    Bill C-63. Report stage 6595



    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6595
    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6595
    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6595
    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6596
    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6596
    Motions Nos. 16 and 17 6596
    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6596
    Motions Nos. 19, 26, 27 and 28 6596
    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6598
    Mrs. Dalphond-Guiral 6599














    Mr. Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) 6605







    Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville) 6608
    Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville) 6608
    Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville) 6608




    Mr. Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean) 6610
    Mr. Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean) 6610


    Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 6611


    Mr. Bernier (Gaspé) 6611
    Mr. Bernier (Gaspé) 6611



    Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 6612
    Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 6612


    Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 6612
    Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 6613



    Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 6614











    Bill C-352. Motions for introduction and first readingdeemed adopted 6616
    Mr. Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) 6616



    Motion for concurrence in 47th Report 6616








    Bill C-63. Consideration resumed of report stage 6617
    Mr. Bernier (Gaspé) 6622
    Division on Motion No. 1 deferred 6624
    Motions Nos. 5 and 20 6624
    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6624
    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6625
    Motions Nos. 23 and 25 6625
    Mr. Harper (Calgary West) 6625




    Bill C-297. Consideration resumed of motion for secondreading 6628
    Mr. LeBlanc (Cape Breton Highlands-Canso) 6631
    Mr. Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean) 6636



Friday, November 22, 1996

The House met at 10 a.m.







The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.


The Deputy Speaker: The Chair must rule on Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act.

Motion No. 34 may not be submitted to the House because it does not have the recommendation of the Governor General. Standing Order 76(3) requires that notice of such a recommendation be given at the latest on the sitting day preceding report stage.


Other motions will be grouped for debate as follows. GroupNo. 2, Motions Nos. 1 to 4, 9, 10, 14 to 19, 26, 27, and 28.


Group No. 3: Motions No. 5, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 25.


Group No. 4, Motion No. 6.


Group No. 5: Motions No. 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13.


Group No. 6, Motions Nos. 24, 29 to 33, 35 and 36.

Group No. 7, Motion No 37.

The voting patterns for the motions within in each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.



Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse, BQ) moved:

Motion No. 1
That Bill C-63, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 18 on page 1 with the following:
``surname, given names, sex, date of birth, civic address''

Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.) moved:

Motion No. 2
That Bill C-63, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 18 on page 1 with the following:
``surname, given names, civic address''

Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse, BQ) moved:

Motion No. 3
That Bill C-63, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 14 on page 2 with the following:
``given names, sex, date of birth, civic address and mailing''

Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.) moved:

Motion No. 4
That Bill C-63, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 14 on page 2 with the following:
``given names, civic address and mailing''

Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse, BQ) moved:

Motion No. 9
That Bill C-63, in Clause 18, be amended by replacing lines 34 and 35 on page 8 with the following:
``name, given names, sex, and date of birth and indicating the''

Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.) moved:

Motion No. 10
That Bill C-63, in Clause 18, be amended by replacing line 34 on page 8 with the following:
``name, given names and date of birth if the''


(1010 )

Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.) moved:

Motion No. 14
That Bill C-63, in Clause 22, be amended by replacing line 12 on page 12 with the following:
``updating the surname, given names,''
Mr. Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if there would be a disposition of the House to deem all the motions to have been read and seconded so that we might get on to the business of the day.


The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed?

Some hon. members: No.

Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse, BQ) moved:

Motion No. 15
That Bill C-63, in Clause 22, be amended by replacing line 9 on page 13 with the following:
``list contains the surname, given names, sex, date of birth,''

Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.) moved:

Motion No. 16
That Bill C-63, in Clause 22, be amended by replacing line 9 on page 13 with the following:
``list contains the surname, given names,''
Motion No. 17
That Bill C-63, in Clause 22, be amended by replacing line 17 on page 13 with the following:
``his or her surname, given names,''

Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse, BQ) moved:

Motion No. 18
That Bill C-63, in Clause 22, be amended by replacing line 23 on page 13 with the following:
``information, but, with the exception of the date of birth, the person is not required to''

Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.) moved:

Motion No. 19
That Bill C-63, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing line 37 on page 23 with the following:
``tor, surname, given names, civic ad''
Motion No. 26
That Bill C-63, in Clause 77, be amended by replacing line 42 on page 36 with the following:
``tor's surname, given names, and date of''
Motion No. 27
That Bill C-63, in Clause 78, be amended by replacing line 7 on page 37 with the following:
``the surname, given names and rank;''
Motion No. 28
That Bill C-63, in Clause 79, be amended by replacing line 20 on page 37 with the following:
``elector, the surname, given names and''

Mr. Langlois: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

In the Order Paper and Notice Paper for yesterday, Thursday, November 21, on page X in Roman numerals, Motion No. 22 appears to have been proposed by me, according to the English version, while in the French it appears to have been proposed by my colleague, the hon. member for Stormont-Dundas. I am therefore rising to make the correction, if it has not already been done. I believe that I moved the motion, but my colleague for Stormont-Dundas could confirm this with the Chair.

The Deputy Speaker: I thank my colleague, the hon. member for Bellechasse. There was indeed an error in yesterday's Order Paper and Notice Paper, which has been corrected in today's Order Paper.

If all of my colleagues could follow today's Order Paper, we would avoid problems such as the one the hon. member for Bellechasse has just raised.

Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am waiting for a copy of today's Order Paper; it will take just a few seconds. I trust you will not take this time off my speaking time. In fact, the pages were so fast it would not even be worth the bother.


First of all, the debate must go far beyond taking the amendments one at a time. I will be able to do that when I speak on third reading. The official opposition's extreme reticence about the bill before us today at report stage is, of course, partly because the finished product is imperfect and needs reworking. As some poet said-was it Boileau, my hon. colleague from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve?-``Hone your work carefully; spare no effort and remember that that which can be said in fewer words is often better''.

This bill was not honed carefully. It bears all the marks of having been thrown together any which way. In the parliamentary committee, we saw the divergence between the points of view of the government which tabled the bill and those of Elections Canada. In fact, it is a hybrid, like the offspring of a porcupine and a snake we used to joke about as school kids, saying that the result would be about three feet of barbed wire. That is what the bill is like.

Regardless of what has been said, the opposition was not involved in drafting this bill. The very nature of the bill, modifying the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act, ought to have


automatically meant that the opposition parties, all of the opposition parties represented in this House, would be closely involved in drafting the bill along with Elections Canada, so that the resulting bill would be non-partisan.

It is quite possible that in the end we may not reach a unanimous decision since we are here to discuss ideas, and to discuss them on the basis of very clear premises. However, that has not been the case.

The first false premise was that this bill would supposedly establish a permanent voters' list for the next election. That is absolutely untrue. That is merely the impression that was given, and that some people repeated.

As far as the next election is concerned, the bill will only allow for an enumeration outside the electoral period, which means the election campaign will be abbreviated, but there will be no permanent list of electors. There will be an enumeration and a revision of the list of electors, but for all practical purposes, the current Canada Elections Act will apply to the rest of the election. I will explain the difference in greater detail at third reading. So basically, the process is flawed.

I trust that in a case like this, if both opposition parties vote against the bill at all stages, the government will not take a bill on electoral matters that was adopted only by the government majority in this House and submit it to the Senate for approval and Royal Assent. This would create a dangerous precedent that is intolerable in a free and democratic society, where a debate on such matters should be as open as possible. I will get back to this.

We are told that passing Bill C-63 will save money. We will not save any money by passing Bill C-63, since the amount of money required to conduct an enumeration before the electoral period, a special enumeration held over a period of three weeks, will considerably exceed any savings resulting from the fact that the election campaign will be shorter by exactly 11 days.

Basically, our position is this: let us have one more election according to the old rules we all know. Reform members, Liberals and Bloc members are all familiar with this act. We went through one election with this legislation, the Reform Party as well, and the Liberals have had several. We are on familiar ground here.

Electoral legislation is like the Criminal Code and the Civil Code in Quebec. These are the pillars that carry the whole system, and we cannot change them on a whim, just because someone has a bright idea and feels it should be implemented right away. This bill was introduced in early October, and a month later, the same bill, after being fast-tracked through committee, is back in the House at the report stage.

In these matters, speed is not the best policy. It is much better to take your time. We did not have enough time, but we are nevertheless proposing amendments that could help improve the bill.


It is like an automobile muffler: for a certain time, you can always weld it so that it will not be too noisy, but sooner or later, it will fall off. What is proposed here is like welding a rusted muffler, which is what this bill is. Is it or is it not going to hold? At least if those amendments are passed, we will get rid of the noise for another two weeks and be able to travel from Ottawa to Cornwall once or twice, at most. Incidently, I lost my own muffler on my way to that same town two weeks ago, and I had another problem with that.

We will nevertheless try to make one last repair to this bill but basically I would like it to be put aside and I wish that those who will have the opportunity to examine it a second time will also take into account the haste with which it was considered the first time round.

There is also the undeniable fact that this government is in the last year of its normal mandate. Now traditionally, during the last year of a mandate, basic rules are not changed, in particular as regards the Elections Act.

It is somewhat like the hockey finals. I will give an example using two American teams to avoid controversy in this Chamber. The New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins have made it to the finals. The Bruins are leading three games to nothing. The Rangers have money as we know. They are in New York. They have Madison Square Gardens, which they fill each time. The Fox network televises their games. They have a lot of money. They survey the members of the board of governors and manage to get the board of governors of the National Hockey League to say: ``It is no longer four out of seven; it is now five out of nine. We have another chance to catch up''. The rules are changed at the end of the game.

The game is already underway. The government is already on the campaign trail. The Prime Minister rated his accomplishments at 78 per cent. He is clearly heading into an election trying to sell his 78 per cent rating. We will slip a decimal between the two figures during the election campaign, in fact, well before.

The game is underway; the finals have begun. Let us play the game with the old rules and not change anything. As the official opposition-and the Reform Party will speak for itself, it does not seem to have been consulted any more than we were-had no hand in writing Bill C-63 and did not give its approval, it is hard to agree, to hand over a blank cheque.

The smallest provision will blow up in our face at some point. They will say: ``You voted for that; you have to live with the law as it was passed. You supported it''. I by far prefer the process followed-and I will come back to it later-in the formulation of Bill C-69 on electoral boundaries in the first session of the 35th Parliament, where the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs took a year to prepare the bill.


The official opposition and Reformers did not support the bill, but at least we knew it word by word, comma by comma. The punctuation was checked over and over to make sure it changed nothing. Representatives of Elections Canada attended the meetings. The discussions were very broad.

This is not the case here. The government and Elections Canada are obviously very much at odds. We clearly have before us a partisan bill on electoral matters, where even Elections Canada officials disagree with several of the provisions of the Elections Act.

Because I have taken a few minutes to situate the debate my colleague for Laval Centre and chief whip of the Bloc Quebecois will speak shortly on motions of Group No. 2, which aims to include age as one of the essential factors in an electoral list.

To the extent that we want a permanent register of electors, not for the upcoming election but for the one after that, the date of birth must be included. Bill C-63 proposes that it be optional. However, the more complete the information, the more valid the register is. The information the state has on its own citizens comes from registers going back to their birth, as the provinces require that births be registered.


In French law, this obligation has existed for over 400 years. These rights were recognized very early. The government must know who makes up the nation and which citizens enjoy certain rights. It cannot be optional. Some members spoke about this earlier. My colleague from Laval Centre will, of course, address this issue in more detail.

If Motions Nos. 1, 3, 9, 15 and 18 are adopted, I would agree to support the motion proposed by my colleague from Calgary West to omit gender. If the date of birth is included, the information regarding gender is no longer necessary.

The age and the date of birth would allow us to distinguish between people with neutral first names such as Claude, Carol or Maxime. Those are the comments I wanted to make.


Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to speak to the report stage amendments on Bill C-63. In doing so I would first like to summarize our position as a party on this bill because we are not having a full second reading debate, having sent the bill to committee before second reading.

Under this new process we only have a brief debate and then we come back here with a debate which combines second reading and report stage. At third reading I will have a chance to fully elaborate upon our position. I would like to comment on this process. I share many of the concerns of the hon. member for Bellechasse. I also am concerned about this process.

This process does not really allow us to fully debate legislation. We have used this new process of sending bills to committee before second reading several times. I am not sure that the opposition parties generally have found it to be satisfactory. Many of my colleagues have mentioned this to me. As a result of this new process, we never really have a full debate in principle on legislation.

In this case the bill had only a cursory debate and then was sent to committee. The purpose of sending a bill to committee before second reading is to examine a broad range of issues which are not necessarily related to the principle or contents of the bill. After all, prior to second reading the bill has not received approval in principle. That is supposed to be the concept. Of course it depends on the chairman's style, but my observation has been that we very much conduct those committees the same as we would if they were held after second reading. In other words we tend to restrict debate to the items raised in the bill.

I know for example with respect to this particular piece of legislation, some of my colleagues raised issues which were not included in the legislation. The hon. member for Bellechasse raised the issues of third party advertising and of some regulations of Quebec's electoral law. Our party raised the concept of fixed election dates. We also raised the whole concept of how this elections bill would apply to byelections.

In all cases, while we had a brief discussion, the committee basically said that these things were outside the scope and the principle of the legislation. Of course they were. The legislation had not received approval in principle. Nevertheless, we worked on the assumption that it had. That was constantly the attitude of the government.

Certainly there were things which went well beyond the subject matter, but most of the things raised were clearly within the subject matter. In the case of byelections, while not directly related to the amendments in the bill, they are actually affected by the subject matter of the legislation. These things should have been debated more thoroughly than is allowed under this process.

Another example is that we wanted to debate at some length the rationale for a 36 day campaign as opposed to 37 or 39 days. We had only the briefest of discussions on that issue and once again the attitude was that this was not the principle of the bill and we were proceeding as if the bill had been approved in principle.



I think that the process of sending bills to committees early in many cases simply allows the government to accelerate the timetable of debate rather than giving the bill a more thorough examination. That was the opposite of the intention.

I would make just a brief comment on our overall position on Bill C-63. We are going to oppose the legislation. I must be frank in saying that we are disappointed that we feel we have to do so. There are three major initiatives in the bill: the reduction of the electoral period, the creation of a permanent register and the initiative to stagger voting hours. All of these have some degree of merit, particularly the permanent register, which not only has merit but is critical.

We were unable to come to any kind of inter-party agreement on these. I think we could have if we had not been operating on an accelerated timetable. Many of the things that were discussed would have resulted in improved legislation.

I cannot speak for other parties, but on behalf of the Reform Party I can say that with a few changes we could have supported this legislation. The changes are not minor but they do not affect the principle of the legislation either. That troubles me a great deal. Maybe we will have some time to speak a little later in the debate about the process. I see my time is winding down. I would like to address the report stage amendments in the second group.

Group No. 2 includes 15 amendments, 5 moved by the Bloc Quebecois and 10 moved by the Reform Party. The five from the Bloc Quebecois concern making the date of birth a mandatory piece of information for inclusion on the register and the motions by the Reform Party remove gender as required information for the register.

I must say in all honesty that there is a bit of a technical problem with both of these being grouped together in that one does preclude the other the way they are drafted. I do not think that was the intention of either party because both the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform Party share the same position on these issues, which is that there is no necessity to include gender but there are reasons for including date of birth.

I will have time to address this very general issue later in the debate. What should guide us in constructing data registers is whether information is necessary for the purpose at hand or at least relevant. The primary consideration in constructing these databases should be whether it is necessary and relevant from the perspective of the citizen rather than some other group that may have an interest in the information.

It is quite obvious that the information on electoral lists should be relevant to a person's ability to be eligible to cast a vote. For a very long time in Canada gender has not been relevant in terms of whether or not somebody can vote in this country. On the other hand, clearly date of birth is relevant because a voter has to be at least 18 years of age. Why then are we including the one and not including the other?

If we examine the transcripts of committee meetings and comments from various members and if members had heard some of the comments that were made in camera, it becomes apparent that the guiding factor was not the needs of the electoral list or the needs of the voter. They were the perceived needs of political parties and of politicians. It was expressed over and over again that MPs found it convenient. Parties found it useful to know the gender of a voter. In some cultures, in French, and even some names in English, there are times when there is confusion, based on the first name, about whether a person is male or female. Certainly in some of the newer ethnic communities in the country names may not be obviously male or female. Because of our unfamiliarity with the names, as anglophones or francophones we do not readily know whether these persons are male or female. It makes identification harder. It can occasionally lead to an awkward situation. However, it is both a trivial and unnecessary reason for including gender.


We have had concerns raised by females living alone that electoral lists expose the fact that they are females living alone and that these lists do circulate. We all know that electoral lists can only circulate under very restricted conditions for very restricted use. The fact is that they circulate widely during elections and probably most extra circulation of lists is rarely heard about or prosecuted. This does become a piece of information conveying the gender on the voter's list. It is unnecessary and it should not be there. In the province of Alberta, for example, it is not done and this is the case in other provinces.

That is something we think should be changed. I am surprised government members were not more sensitive about the needs of women when designing this legislation. I hope they will support these amendments.

I think they have more serious and perhaps even more dubious motives for refusing to include date of birth but I will let them speak for their own position on these matters.


Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Speaker, since Group No. 2 mentions the date of birth, I feel quite comfortable saying that I went to school a very long time ago. When I was in school, I learned one thing, that is to make a preamble which was different from, although linked to the content. I am sure I will be allowed to make a brief preamble.

I was able to follow closely the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, to hear the Chief


Electoral Officer of Canada, Mr. Kingsley, and the Human Rights Commissioner, Mr. Wilson. I listened very carefully, as I always do.

I almost swallowed my birth certificate when I saw how fast the clause by clause study of the bill went. I really had a feeling of being in a classroom where a very bright mathematics professor was lining up digits across the blackboard, leaving no time for students to think or breathe.

I could barely believe that man was our chairman. It went so fast that there was time left on the clock. This is extraordinary. I think the House will understand that we are determined to make up for lost time in the House because, in the end, it may be the best forum to hold the debate.

Basically the second group of motions deals with two elements, namely age-is it useful, necessary, indispensable or just nice-and sex. I am going to talk mainly about the date of birth, and then briefly about sex.

It seems to me that we all come into this world one day and that we all eventually die. It is recorded somewhere. If we apply for a driver's licence when we are not yet 18, our parents must sign on our behalf. Once we turn 18, our date of birth appears on everything. My date of birth appears on my passport, if I am not mistaken, so does the colour of my eyes, and I do not feel offended by it.

But when it comes to the electoral process, why do we in the Bloc Quebecois, and everyone in Quebec, believe it is important? For several reasons. First, on election day, it is a means to make a proper identification. My name is not very common. I will not mention it since I am not allowed to, but everyone here knows what it is. Suppose, however, that there are two other persons with the same name as mine, one born in 1953, the other, like me, in 1938. If the date of birth does not appear, I might be able to pass myself off as someone much younger.


This is one reason. I believe that this is one more way to clearly identify the voter at the polling station, because the one thing we fear more than anything else on election day is an imposter. This is the first reason.

There is another one which I find very important. The democratic process is said to be the most important thing in our society. During an election campaign several things are at stake. Of course, what is at stake is not of equal concern to the various groups in our society. In the case of measures specifically targeting the younger age groups, for example, the parties will have to know where they are to be found in order to give them some up to date information about what concerns them. This is the second reason why I think the date of birth should be mandatory and recorded.

For example, as far as old age pensions are concerned, I can assure you I would like the different parties to keep me informed of whatever changes are being proposed in the Liberal Party platform, for example. I would be very annoyed if my date of birth were not recorded.

I heard interesting arguments against that measure. The first one was that in Canada voting is optional and we are not forced to vote. It is true we are free to vote or not, just as we are not required to have a driving licence. However, if I do want to vote, my name must necessarily be on the electoral list. Otherwise, if it were not necessary, how could we justify the millions that are spent on compiling a list?

So, if I accept to be recorded on an electoral list, I am sending the message that as an elector in my country I intend to act as a good citizen and vote. In that context, I think it has nothing to do with freedom. Not indicating the date of birth would facilitate what we could call electoral fraud. You know, there are elections where the results are a close call. Imagine for example that in Laval Centre the candidates are neck and neck. It is possible, I am not saying it is probable, but it is possible. There are about 200 polling divisions and the difference in such a situation could be 2,000, 200, or even just 10 votes. Very clearly, with 200 polling divisions, one illegal vote per polling division makes the difference between victory and defeat.

So, I believe that, in all good conscience, the House should find another way to ensure that the voter who is in front of the deputy returning officer is really the person he or she claims to be.

I will now talk to you about sex. I am a little old to talk about sex, but I will tell you a little about it anyways.

Some hon. members: There is no age for that.

Some hon. members: No names, please.

Mrs. Dalphond-Guiral: No, I will not name names. You can rest easy about that.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you one thing; no one in this House doubts that I am a woman: my name is Madeleine. So, I think that, if we do not indicate the sex, we should also remove first names and only keep the ones that are both masculine and feminine. In my opinion, an offender who would feel like doing some harassment would have plenty of ways to do so. And, to my knowledge, a voting list on which the sex would be indicated could not be used mainly to get involved in activities that would certainly not be right, but, as we say in the Lac-Saint-Jean region: as long as there are men, there are men's attitudes and, as long as there are women, there are women's attitudes. There may be offenders on both sides.

All this to tell you that I encourage the members of the House to pass the motions moved by the Bloc relating to age. They would show a greatness I know they are capable of.



They say the purpose of committees is to improve bills. This legislation has many flaws, including the fact that so little time was provided for its consideration. But, if the majority members wanted to earn brownie points, they could perhaps recognize that Canada should include the date of birth on electoral lists, as Quebec already does. I hope the Human Rights Commission will not fault me for saying that, in this context, it is not really a question of discrimination on the grounds of age.

I am counting on my colleagues across the way to support me so that, for once in this Parliament, all members unanimously agree on something important.

I only have one minute left and I will use it to make a wish. I think there are many bills considered important by the government. So I will go as far as imploring members opposite, why not?

Mr. Bergeron: No, haggle.

Mrs. Dalphond-Guiral: No, I will not. I am not like that.

So I implore the government to take the time needed to determine the reasonable period that should be allowed all parliamentarians, including government members, to really examine in depth bills which have an impact on the lives of all Canadians, of all Quebecers.


The Deputy Speaker: There are two members rising. Normally we wait until all the people moving the motions have given their reasons and then someone from the government side gives their reasons why they can or cannot accept the motion.


Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-63, whose title, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act, tells us parliamentarians about its importance.

You will understand that I cannot discuss the amendments proposed by my party without first congratulating and thanking the hon. member for Bellechasse, for his excellent work regarding this measure.

I am convinced that you share my conviction, as does I am sure the President of the Treasury Board, that this Parliament would be a better institution if it had more members like my colleague for Bellechasse, who believes in the value of words and is well aware that, in a democracy, the best way to oppose an idea is to come up with a better one.

This is why the hon. member for Bellechasse reminded us of certain things. I was told that the President of the Treasury Board received a classical education. We will get back to this, since it has a direct connection with the bill and the motions. You will agree with me that, when we discuss issues relating to electoral democracy, haste is often the enemy of common sense.

It is truly sad that, on an issue such as this one, which deals with the quality of representation, of democracy and of our debates, the government did not ask opposition parties to get much more involved.

We are all mature enough, regardless of the party to which we belong, to know that, when it comes to such issues, it is preferable to seek a consensus. The hon. member for Bellechasse and the President of the Treasury Board are both cultivated individuals. The hon. member for Bellechasse quoted Boileau and reminded us that we had to keep working to improve the bill.

To illustrate the importance of the motions, I too wish to quote Boileau and dedicate the following proverb to the President of the Treasury Board: ``There are those whose dull minds forever languish under a cloud, blind to the light of reason. What is well understood can be clearly expressed; the words just flow naturally''.

The reason I am quoting Boileau, an author oft quoted in the classical colleges attended by the President of the Treasury Board, who is now in his fifties, is because it is important-



Mr. Zed: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am sorry to interrupt my colleague in the debate.

Mr. Speaker, in recognizing my colleague you referred to a standing order. Perhaps you could suggest to us what standing order it is that you feel would make it inappropriate for us to speak. I believe that my colleague the chief opposition whip spoke and then my colleague from Calgary also spoke. I thought it would be appropriate in terms of the normal rules to allow the government to speak at least at that point.

I am respectful of the Chair and I would appreciate it if you would point out to us the standing order to which you were referring.


Mr. Langlois: Mr. Speaker, in the clarification you will bring into that matter, could you, by the same token, explain to the hon. member for Fundy-Royal why a substantial motion cannot be moved on a point of order?


The Deputy Speaker: I will explain it as I attempted to do before.

It seems logical, to me at least as the Chair, to have all the people proposing motions to rise and say why they favour their motions. At the end of that process, whether there is one, two, three or four, it really does not matter, then a government member would rise to


say why they either agree with or, more likely, oppose an amendment. That makes some sense, rather than going back and forth across the aisle as we normally do in debate.

I think I discussed this earlier with members on the government side.

Mr. Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I believe that I was involved in some of those discussions.

Keeping in mind what the Chair has put forward, in terms of members who have brought motions forward, in this case in Group No. 2 they would stand in the name of the hon. member for Bellechasse and in the name of the hon. member for Calgary West.

I would add that the member for Laval Centre, who at this time and in this particular group has no motions standing in her name, participated in the debate. I believe, with every entitlement, that the hon. member for Fundy-Royal should be given the opportunity to speak. I think that any government member should be given the opportunity by that criteria.

I understand that the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, who is speaking now of course, does not have a motion in this group. I submit that possibly a large number of members on that side may want to speak and the government will not be silent on this important piece of legislation.


The Deputy Speaker: The Chair has no desire to prevent anyone from taking the floor. I think it is more logical to hear people in favour of the motion for 10 minutes. At the end of that period, members on the government side will be able to reply and even if 100 of them wish to speak, they will be allowed to do so.


Mr. Kilger: Mr. Speaker, I believe that you would find, with the greatest of respect for yourself and the Chair, that sometimes things might be deemed to be practical and logical and that above all, the rules of the House must prevail which entitle members on either side to participate in the debate whenever they so choose and get the attention of the Chair, the eye of the Speaker.

While certainly I would understand fully that the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve would complete his remarks, I would hope that during the remainder of the debate we would be given the opportunity to participate fully.



Mr. Langlois: Mr. Speaker, I will respect whatever decision you will take. But some members on this side of the House have taken positions. I see the hon. members for Lachine-Lac-Saint-Louis, Parry Sound-Muskoka and Scarborough-Rouge River and I do not know what they think.

Preventing alternation would be presuming that all the members on the government side will oppose our motions; it would also hamper the exchange of views that makes the debate progress and that builds the debate as we go on, because the points made by the hon. member for Fundy-Royal might convince my hon. colleague for Verchères, or myself or the hon. member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia that he was wrong when he supported his party's position.

We have here in this House a dynamic where you ask all members in favour to rise first and then those opposing, but this is the last stage, the vote. That is the time when we will be called, one by one, row by row, to do it.

I respectfully submit that during debate, the principle of alternation, without being applied as strictly as on second or third readings, should nevertheless apply.

Mr. Laurin: Mr. Speaker, I do not know what your decision will be, but, should that be of any help to the Chair, we would agree with the suggestion of our colleague, the government whip, to allow the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve to complete his remarks. After that, we could alternate to allow for an exchange of views, as mentioned by my colleague from Bellechasse.

That would make for a better discussion, and prevent one side or the other from monopolizing the time of the House. As you suggested earlier, once we have expressed our views, the government side could have 25, 50 or even 100 speakers in a row, but I do not think this would be good for debate. May we suggest that the Chief Government Whip's proposal to alternate speakers be accepted.


An hon. member: Point of order.

The Deputy Speaker: I think I have heard enough. I have already heard from the member on this point. I do not think I need to hear from him again.

The point is a difficult and important one. The principle of alternates is a very important principle in the House. Possibly the best cure is to allow the mover and the seconder to speak and then to respect the question of alternates.


In this case, the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve supported one of the motions. The hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve may complete his remarks. After that, we will have to alternate.

Mr. Ménard: Mr. Speaker, I thought we would never straighten this out, but I will continue. You are right to remind the House that


I support the motion. It may not look like it, but it does mean something when someone supports a motion in this House. When I rose earlier in the House it was as seconder of the motion.

What I mean is that we would like and we would have liked, as the hon. member for Bellechasse put it, to have plenty of time to consider the issue. It would have been terribly courteous, good practice and extremely respectful to invite opposition parties, both the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform Party, to take part in the drafting of this bill.

As the hon. member for Bellechasse reminded the House, that was done when the issue of redistribution of seats was addressed. Let us not forget that some people fought hard and lost their lives for the right to be heard in Parliament.

It is important to come to an agreement on the issues of democracy and representation. In our system we have a tool called the list of electors. Why do we have such a tool? Because we brag about having the cleanest, most transparent election practices of the whole world, which promote a strong democracy through representation. The voters' list is an extremely important tool.

We are convinced that the more complete it is, the more information it contains, the easier it will be to track down abusers. This is why we want to see on this voters' list the same thing we have in Quebec, which is identity information, like the age and sex of voters. This would be useful come election time, enabling support staff, the clerk, and representatives to ensure that persons-

I believe my time is up. I think I will be able to continue after question period.


The Deputy Speaker: It being eleven o'clock, we will now proceed to Statements by Members.





Mr. John O'Reilly (Victoria-Haliburton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to announce the 12th Annual Minden Dog Sled Derby on January 18 and 19, 1997. This is the largest dog sled race purse in North America. It will draw competitors from around the world to Haliburton County and the village of Minden. This is a unique weekend with fun events for the whole family.

I would like to congratulate Val and Steven Loughead, Stu Brandon, Jack Brezina and Sue Collings, the five planners responsible for the event, not to mention the leaders, volunteers, community sponsors and mushers who will make this race the best ever.

You only have to be a spectator, not a musher, to take part. Let Bill Payne welcome you to the main street of Minden for the excitement of seeing canine and human athletes compete for a piece of the $42,000 purse.

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Mr. Bernard Deshaies (Abitibi, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in every community across Canada, groups and individuals work to alleviate the ill effects of alcohol and drugs. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse created a merit medallion to underline the great achievements of these dedicated volunteers and professionals who work with drug abusers.

This merit medallion has just been awarded to Father Alfred Couturier, of the religious order of Trinitarians, from Amos, in Abitibi. This is a very good choice, since Father Couturier, affectionately known as Alfred, back home, is very well loved by the people of Abitibi and the Amos area. This truly dedicated man works unstintingly for so many causes that we sometimes feel that he is a volunteer for all organizations.

Today, in this House, I want to pay tribute to Father Couturier for the mission he has chosen to carry out among drug abusers and transients. I want to sincerely congratulate him for what he has done for them, for giving a new meaning to their lives. I thank him for his solidarity towards our community.

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Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, while we all want to minimize environmental impact, common sense and rational approaches to development must prevail.

The Prime Minister and the government promised jobs, jobs, jobs, but constituents in Prince Rupert tell a different story. Small businesses in this community are deeply concerned and frustrated by the lack of co-operation the department of fisheries has shown with respect to waterfront development in this community.

I am told of many incidents where recalcitrant DFO bureaucrats are standing in the way of job creating developments in Prince Rupert. Last week I received a petition signed by a majority of Prince Rupert businessmen asking that DFO adopt a more reasonable posture.

On behalf of concerned citizens and businesses in Prince Rupert I call on the minister of fisheries to rein in his over zealous bureaucrats and encourage job creating small businesses in this


community and other Canadian costal communities to pursue rational waterfront development.

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Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton-Middlesex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on September 21 the Southwest Middlesex Health Centre presented the Healthy Harvestfest at its facility on Mount Brydges, Ontario.

This event was a resounding success with more than 300 people throughout my riding of Lambton-Middlesex attending. A large number of participants, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Middlesex Farm and Home Safety Council, the Onyot'a:ka Community Health Nurses, the Women's Rural Resource Centre, provided valuable information and exhibits to the public. A number of local businesses were kind enough to donate prizes and food for the event.

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Founded in 1974 as a joint effort of the local communities and the University of Western Ontario, the health centre is a unique community minded facility offering a wide variety of family health care services in the community while serving as a training facility for medical school graduates in family medicine.

My congratulations to the entire staff of the Southwest Middlesex Health Centre for hosting this event which hopefully will be held annually.

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Mrs. Marlene Cowling (Dauphin-Swan River, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on this occasion to speak about how the government's new minerals and metals policy will help Canada internationally.

The mining industry in Canada plays a vital role in the continued well-being of our economy. Nowhere is it more important than in many rural and remote communities that depend on it for their very survival. However, the continued success of this industry is heavily dependent on its ability to export what it produces.

Ensuring that our minerals and metals producers enjoy open access to foreign markets is a central objective of the new minerals and metals policy. Its principles will guide the government in its participation in international organizations like the World Trade Organization and in its efforts globally to protect all Canadians who are dependent on a prosperous industry for their livelihood.

As the world's leading exporter of minerals and metals, Canada must play a leadership role in the management of international issues affecting th industry. The new minerals and metals policy-

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka.

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Mr. Andy Mitchell (Parry Sound-Muskoka, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge Natural Resources Canada's commitment to sustainable development of Canada's mining industry.

In ``Creating Opportunity'' our government made a commitment to incorporate the principle of sustainable development into all of its activities. We are living up to that commitment.

The new minerals and metals policy is concrete evidence of this. The policy establishes a framework that integrates not only economic factors but environmental and social considerations in federal decisions about minerals and metals.

Earlier this week the natural resources committee tabled its unanimous report entitled ``Streamlining Environmental Regulations for Mining'' which provides specific prescriptions on how this policy can move forward.

By placing minerals and metals in a sustainable development context, the government's new policy ensures not only present but future generations of Canadians will reap the benefits that this important industry contributes to Canada.

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Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate National Patriots Day. By dedicating the Sunday closest to November 23 to the memory of those who fought for the fundamental values of freedom and democracy-as my colleague from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve mentioned a few moments ago-Quebecers want to pay tribute to the patriots who did everything they could to leave us a country we can call our own, a country that meets our aspirations.

Their contribution to the history of Quebec and Canada is unquestionable. In fact, on October 7, the Maison nationale des Patriotes, located in Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu, received a prestigious award from Parks Canada. This house, which once belonged to merchant and patriot Jean-Baptiste Mâsse, has been converted into an interpretation centre. Visitors are reminded of the events that led to the patriots rebellion in 1837 and 1838, when those who were then called ``Canadians'' fought against the British colonial regime.

Since each brick and each stone of a building is essential to its construction, each action taken by these patriots must make us proud of these men and women-


The Deputy Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. The member for Ottawa Centre has the floor.

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Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the national capital region is under the threat of a bus strike. Yesterday a federal mediator was called in for marathon talks between OC Transpo and its management.

There has been some progress. However, there is still much work to be done. As the deadline approaches it is our responsibility to ensure that a fair and equitable solution is found and a strike is averted.

I consider the public transportation system to be an essential service. I believe that we should look at measures where strikes and lockouts would not be necessary in this area and where in the future arbitrations become the norm.

The negotiations over the next three days are crucial. OC Transpo employees, taxpayers and people in the Ottawa-Carleton region look forward to a quick and fair settlement. My staff hopes to take the bus to work Monday morning.

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Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in the House on the matter of employment.

Many Canadians, including me, are concerned about the employment situation in Canada. Jobs are a source of income and dignity for Canadians. Jobs are also crucial to the economic well-being of this country and remain one of my top priorities.

To create more jobs we must get Canada's public finances under control. The reduction of the deficit is of course essential to job creation and growth. The present government is well on its way to meet its targets and the country's economy is already reaping the benefits through the lowest interest rates since 1964.



I am happy that the economy has created 669,000 jobs since the Liberals took office. Even though this number bodes well, I will continue to work with the government and to encourage it to put in place programs that will lead to the creation of more jobs to the benefit of all Canadians, including the constituents of Simcoe North.



Mrs. Beryl Gaffney (Nepean, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, do these symptoms sound familiar to you: feeling tired and sleepy 30 minutes after eating, muscle pain, bruising, extreme fatigue or feeling flu-like after exposure to pesticides or chemicals, irritation of the eyes or throat, breathing problems and head fogginess after contact with new carpet or furnishings, recurrent urinary problems, hyperactivity after meals, recurrent upper respiratory tract or ear infections, and depression.

These are symptoms of environmental illness. To mark National Child Day on November 20 the Environmental Illness Society of Canada had a picture drawing contest to educate Canadian children about the potential consequences of environmental pollution on human health.

Recognizing these signs is one of the first steps in maintaining good health and assuring our children a healthy future. Congratulations to all who participated and who have helped to build awareness of this illness.

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Mrs. Maud Debien (Laval East, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Quebec National Assembly unanimously adopted the Pay Equity Act, one of the most advanced pieces of legislation to be adopted by any parliament ever.

It is with great pride that we salute the work done by all parties on this question. Women and men have worked without respite to make governments acknowledge the existence of wage discrimination based on sex and find a solution to the problem.

We wish to express our affection for Louise Harel who stayed the course in choppy seas; we wish to express our gratitude to Monique Gagnon-Tremblay for her support and understanding; and finally, we wish to salute the Parti Quebecois government for keeping its word and bringing in a bill that is so important to the future of women of Quebec.

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Mr. Cliff Breitkreuz (Yellowhead, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples missed a golden opportunity to start Canadian Indians on a different course. Instead, the commission's recommendations amount to nothing more than forcing natives to become permanent wards of the government.


The net result would simply enlarge by $2 billion a year what already exists. This would include a bigger bureaucracy, bigger undemocratic associations, more and higher paid lawyers and consultants; in short, a much enlarged Indian industry.

Current unemployment levels on reserves are pegged at 47 per cent. More money means even less incentive which will result in greater dependency on the state. Unemployment on reserves would soar even higher if these recommendations were accepted.

The recommendations divide Canadians on the basis of race. They call for the setting up of an aboriginal house of Parliament. The more we examine the report, the more it looks like a 1950s South Africa document. When is this lunacy going to stop?

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Mr. Nick Discepola (Vaudreuil, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the language question has always been a very important one for all Canadians.

The reason is simple: language is an essential component of a people's identity. In Quebec, it is a major factor of our history, our development and our sense of belonging to our country.

A study by the Conseil de la langue française published yesterday reveals that the use of French in commercial signs has begun to stabilize.

We know that the linguistic balance will always be fragile in a region like Montreal. Above all, however, we are in favour of a balanced approach to promoting an asset as fundamental as the language of a people. We are also in favour not only of measures to promote the survival of the French language but also of those that will strengthen it and so improve the cultural quality of life in Quebec and everywhere else in Canada.

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Mr. Lee Morrison (Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on Monday the two lane Trans-Canada death trap between Gull Lake, Saskatchewan and the Alberta border claimed yet another life when a pick-up truck slammed into a jack-knifed semi-trailer. This raises the death toll on that short section to 25 in 16 years.

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Liberals have no trouble funding the distribution of free flags or topping up the treasuries of Liberal friendly companies, but they cannot find the money to save lives by contributing the federal share to complete our national highway system.

The government collects $5 billion annually in fuel taxes and siphons 90 per cent of it into general revenue. Given the deplorable state of the national highway system not only in Saskatchewan but in northern Ontario and in Labrador as well, how can this blatant misappropriation of funds be justified?

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Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, recently the government announced economic news that is very important, not only for the future of Bombardier but also for the future of the entire aeronautics sector.

By granting this company an interest-free loan, the Canadian government is acting in accordance with the objective to create jobs in the Montreal area. And more important, prospects for the type transportation products built by Bombardier will be excellent in the years to come.

This is the kind of concrete action we need to protect the economic future of a major region in Canada, in an industry where future prospects in terms of jobs and increased investment are excellent.

In this way, the Canadian government is helping to improve the quality of life of all Canadians.

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Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the heritage minister boasts about the success of giving away so-called free Canadian flags. However, the costs of these free flags was originally estimated at $6 million. Now the minister says she is saving us $8 million because they are only going to be costing $15 million. Now that is what we call Liberal mathematics.

But wait, what is this? Unsolicited flags. That is right. The heritage minister's department is so anxious to hit one million flags by next February it is sending out unrequested flags-unsolicited, unrequested flags. Yet at the same time, the minister will not even return correspondence from Canadians like Robert Harriman at Kap-tan-Kool in Penticton who wants to turn over all his profits from a patriotic unity hat manufactured in British Columbia.

Compare that to the reports that Heritage Canada distributed patriotic T-shirts at a Montreal Alouette football game, T-shirts manufactured in Mexico, imprinted in the U.S., distributed in Quebec and paid for by Canadian taxpayers.


Gee, I sure hope all the flags are made in Canada.






Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Dussault-Erasmus report says that native bands must be recognized as aboriginal nations. The government is still dragging its heels as far as giving them this recognition is concerned. Since 1983, however, the Government of Quebec has recognized its native peoples as distinct nations entitled to their own culture, language and customs.

Can the minister tell us whether the federal government intends to recognize aboriginals as distinct nations?


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member looked at the history, he would realize we have always recognized aboriginal people as being distinct in this country.

Unfortunately being recognized as distinct has not enhanced their well-being. Right now they are looking to be up at a level table with their fellow Canadians. However, they have been here for 10,000 years. There is legislation and more constitutional and legal responsibility to deal with aboriginal peoples as distinct.


Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it would be useful, as the commission report points out, to do so officially, because this is not the case. Otherwise, the report would not have raised this issue.

It is difficult, I think, for the federal government to recognize the existence of distinct nations. We know this is so for Quebec, and we can see it in the case of native peoples as well.

I ask the minister whether he will agree, as a first step in negotiations with native peoples, to table a motion in the House recognizing aboriginals as distinct nations, just as Quebec did over ten years ago? I can tell him in advance that he can count on the support of the official opposition if he tables such a motion.


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this government has no intention of playing the game of the Reform which is analogizing sovereignty and separation with the stigmas within the Canadian federal system.



Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, if the government makes its decisions as a legislator by trying to avoid the Reform Party's ``games'', to use the minister's word, I can tell you we will not get very far as a society.

A number of provinces have still not recognized native peoples as distinct nations. Will the minister undertake to promote Quebec's initiative with those provinces that have still not given this recognition, so that they will join forces with the federal government in this essential recognition of native peoples as nations in order to set the stage for any serious negotiations? That is the first step, to recognize that they exist as nations, and then to begin negotiations. This is what natives are calling for, it is what the report recommends, Quebec has done it, and I urge the minister to do the same on a federal level and take this message to the provinces in order to encourage them as well to follow Quebec's example.


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to apologize for suggesting that their idea of federation is anything like the separatists that I face.

The resolution of the assembly from René Lévesque may have said this, but in fact the separatists of Quebec feel-as said by various ministers in Quebec-that they have the right to take the 10 aboriginal communities and the Inuit with them if they decide to unilaterally secede from Canada. This is not the law. We do not accept it. It is in the Supreme Court of Canada and hopefully the separatist government will pay the same attention to the Supreme Court of Canada on UDI that they want us to pay to the Churchill Falls litigation.


Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the minister of Indian affairs.

Yesterday, in response to a question, the Indian affairs minister claimed, and I quote ``As the Prime Minister said when he had this job, we made a lot of mistakes on their behalf through the Indian agents. It is time for them to make a few mistakes on their own''. The federal government is slow in admitting its mistakes relating to the abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools.

As many native bands are asking, does the federal government intend to admit its responsibility in this shameful history of abuse, and to make official apologies to the victims in the aboriginal communities?



Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the premise is not correct. I am not going to give the history of the last three years. I will just give the history of the last three weeks.

In the last three weeks we have admitted our mistakes collectively in Labrador. We are reaching agreement with the Inuit of Davis Inlet on relocation. We have admitted our mistakes north of the 60th parallel by not allowing First Nations to come to the negotiating table when we are talking about minerals. We have a package, BHP in the territories and Treaty No. 8 and Treaty No. 11 of which the federal government is proud.

Two weeks ago in Saskatchewan we admitted our mistakes. In the provinces of Saskatchewan and B.C. we say there is an inherent right of First Nations. I would be the first to admit that we have made mistakes in the past and I would be the first as a representative of this government to go out there and try to do our best to remedy those mistakes.


Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ): Mr. Speaker, this may well be question period, but it is certainly not an answer period. At least four questions have been asked of the minister, and he has sidestepped them all.

To get back to residential schools. Residential schools weakened aboriginal culture, weakened aboriginal languages, weakened aboriginal traditions. I have a serious question to ask of the minister. I am asking him to give me an answer.

How can the minister deny the government's responsibility-we are asking him to acknowledge it, not deny it-when, thirty years ago, in the days of the residential schools, the government had recognized in court that residential school staff were employees of the crown. Let it then acknowledge its responsibility.


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member wants a direct answer to a direct question. He is right.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development misled Canadians about Reform's principles and policies related to aboriginal peoples.

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The minister mocked our suggestion that individual aboriginal people be given a choice about where they want their money sent. Do they want their money sent to the chief and council or do they want to receive the money directly from the federal government?

Why is the minister afraid to make treaty entitlements payable directly to grassroots Indian people?

Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will play it a little slower for the hon. member.

In our relationship with governments, whether it is Alberta or B.C., on the transfers that the Minister of Finance makes with our programs, we deal with governments. They decide whether they are going to build hospitals or schools.

Is the Reform suggesting that we send all of the people in B.C. a cheque directly from the Minister of Finance, leaving us broke and leaving the provincial government broke? That does not work.

What Reform is suggesting is that we send $10,000 to each native, which means that there is nothing in my budget, nothing in the Minister of Health's budget and nothing in the Minister of Justice's budget. That is what the Reform is suggesting.

Ms. Meredith: What a shame.

Mr. Mayfield: You are smarter than that.

Mr. Irwin: I am smarter than that. It is too bad that the Reform member is not smarter than that. That is what he said on TV yesterday.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the comments of the minister make it abundantly clear that the minister is afraid to cut funds to the Indian industry.

On page 39 of volume 5 of the royal commission's report it states that in 1992-93 government expenditures relating to the aboriginal people were $15,714 for every man, woman and child. That is before adding in increases in federal funding since that time which total $1.5 billion.

Can the minister tell Canadians how much of this cash actually finds its way into the hands of grassroots Indian people living on the reserves?

Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is mistruths or misinformation that the Reform is putting out. I will go slowly or maybe we can put it into cartoons so the Reform will understand it.

When a school is built worth $10 million to $12 million, the Reform has taken that money for that school vis-à-vis Indians and said that every Indian gets $15,000. That is not a fact. In fact schools are built with it. Sewers are built with it. Water systems are built with it. All these things are done to help all the public on the reserves. That does not mean that an individual Indian gets $15,000 any more than it means that because Parliament Buildings are here the cost of these Parliament Buildings is $10,000 or $15,000 in the pocket of each Canadian.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, back in 1969, when the present Prime Minister was the minister of Indian affairs, the Liberals had a policy based on the fundamental principle of equality. I quote: ``Non-discriminatory participation of Indian people in Canadian society.'' If they had stayed on


the equality track maybe there would have been no Oka, no Gustafsen Lake and no Ipperwash.

When will the minister repeal the Indian Act which divides us on the basis of race and replace it with new legislation based on the principles of equality, democracy and accountability; principles that would give individual Indian people real choices about what they want done with their land and their treaty entitlements?

Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are looking at the Indian Act now. We will be looking at 18 sections in which the minister has power that will be transferred to aboriginal people.

We will be looking at sections pertaining to western Canada which say that they cannot sell their grain unless I approve it. In western Canada they cannot sell their pork unless I approve it.

That will be in the House probably in the first week of December. From what this member said today, I expect him to be on his feet supporting those amendments.

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Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

Day in and day out, the federal government contradicts itself about Canadian Airlines. Last Friday, representatives of the company and the federal government said that Ottawa would intervene to save Canadian if employees would agree to a salary reduction. On Monday, in response to questions from the Bloc Quebecois, the government denied its intention to intervene. On Tuesday, the Minister of Transport told the unions that Ottawa would intervene if Canadian and its employees failed to reach an agreement. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister reiterated his government's intention not to intervene.

Could the minister decide which it is finally and be clear about his government's intentions to help Canadian International?


Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no contradiction, except in the mind of the hon. member.

The situation is straightforward. This is the restructuring of a private company. It requires the employees to take part. It requires suppliers to take part. It requires American Airlines' parent company, AMR, to take part and it requires substantial change to change it from a company in the red, a company which is losing money, to a profitable company which is in the black.

That cannot be done by the government. It cannot be done by the injection of government money. It requires restructuring. That is the government's straightforward position and it has been the same from the beginning of the problem.


Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the minister has yet to make a decision.

Will the minister acknowledge at least that any federal intervention in the Canadian affair must be governed by three conditions: the first, that it not inject new public funds; the second, that it prevent American control over part of the industry; and third, that it save as many jobs as possible?


Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have received no requests from the company to intervene. That is where the Bloc has been in error frequently in its questioning. We have not been requested to intervene.

Now what might happen in the future and the speculative nature of the member's questions are impossible for me to answer under the rules of the House.

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Ms. Margaret Bridgman (Surrey North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples notes: ``The Constitution allows federal and provincial governments to use the notwithstanding clause to step outside of the charter in certain circumstances''. The report goes on: ``Recognized aboriginal government should also be free to exercise this option''.

Will the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development assure all Canadians their fundamental rights and freedoms are protected from any government invoking the notwithstanding clause to deny those rights, including equality and property rights?

Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is a problem. The notwithstanding clause applies to the provinces. It is supported by most members of the Reform Party in a former life, and I see that some of them are going back to it. They want that clause in there.

The royal commission has highlighted that there is no provision in the charter in relation to self-government, no constitutional change to give the same rights to aboriginal people. But the hon. member is accurate, it is there, a dichotomy that is going to have to be dealt with by constitutional change at some point.


Ms. Margaret Bridgman (Surrey North, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, aboriginal women are concerned about their right of individual equality under aboriginal self-government.

What guarantees can the minister offer aboriginal women that their right of individual equality is not endangered by self-government?

Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is referring back to the charter of rights. It was always the position of the Liberal government under former Prime Minister Trudeau that this should be entrenched, that there should not be a notwithstanding clause. It is there only because it was forced on us by the premiers and by the Conservative governments of the time.

I hope that at some point we can take the notwithstanding clause out of the Constitution so that the charter of rights is free standing both for aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people.

* * *




Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the industry minister.

On Monday, in response to a suggestion by the Bloc Quebecois to merge Canadian International and Air Canada, the industry minister stated that it would be an insult for western Canada. However, the fact of Canada having a single international air carrier is not insulting, either for the West or for Quebec. It is clear that the minister's statement was only intended to exacerbate tensions between Quebec and western Canada.

Does the minister realize that the only fair and lasting solution to the problems facing the airline industry in Canada is the one put forward by the Bloc Quebecois, namely to create one single international airline as is the case for instance in France, England and Germany?


Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, government policy with respect to air travel is to try to encourage competition so that the Canadian consumer can receive the benefit of lower fares and more frequent flights.

We do not have before us a serious proposal from anyone, including the Bloc, to merge the two airlines. What we have instead is a situation where one of the two major airlines in Canada is facing restructuring so that it can occupy a more profitable niche of the air travel market and where it can be turned from a company that has been losing substantial amounts of money into a company that is profitable.

I should remind the hon. member that Air Canada too over the last 10 years has lost substantial amounts of money, approximately $600 million.


Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean): Mr. Speaker, my question was addressed to the industry minister. I would have liked him to elaborate on the comments he made on Monday when he seemed to be pitting the west against Quebec. Therefore, I redirect my question to the minister regarding what he said on Monday.


Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I really can add little to the reply that I made earlier, other than to remind the hon. member, who is new to the House, that questions are addressed to the government as a whole and while an individual member may address a question to an individual minister, it is the government that responds, and any government member can reply to such a question.

* * *


Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the health minister claims to have new evidence to support effective and enforceable anti-tobacco legislation. We have said that Reform will support such legislation on the basis of the new evidence.

While young Canadians become addicted, the health minister fights with the finance minister over tax provisions in the proposed legislation.

When will the finance minister quit the internal warfare and give the health minister a green light on taxes so we can have warfare on addiction instead of warfare in cabinet?

Mr. Joseph Volpe (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member is off base on this.

The health minister has prepared legislation in response to a blueprint document that has been in the public domain for a whole year. There have been 3,000 plus responses, written and otherwise, and the legislation is being prepared on the basis of the consultations that have taken place. It will come in due course.

The hon. member already knows that we have indicated it will be here and it will be here soon.

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary in answering for the finance minister has not given us the background to this. It is very clear that there is infighting and even with Reform Party help we cannot see that this legislation is actually going to get through the House in time. Meanwhile, hundreds, if not thousands of teenagers are becoming addicted to cigarettes.


When will the Liberals shut down their leadership race, get the health minister and finance minister on side so we can save Canadians lives?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is really unfortunate that the Reform Party and this member in particular, for whom I have some respect, is incapable of dealing with an issue of major importance to Canadians and give it the seriousness that it requires.

The hon. member knows full well that at the time the tobacco taxes were lowered, the Prime Minister, the then Minister of Health and myself said that we were going to monitor the situation closely with the provinces; that it was our intention to see the taxes rise as soon as it could be done and to the extent that it could be done without triggering further contraband; and that we would be guided in those discussions between the provinces and ourselves and in our discussions with the Solicitor General of Canada and the Mounties.

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The member knows that full well. That is the government's intention. It has been stated on a number of occasions. The member also knows that the Minister of Health and the parliamentary secretary have again confirmed that the government is prepared to come forth with its package, which it will do.

The hon. member continues to stand up in this House and ask questions when the Minister of Health has stated very clearly that he will do it in his own good time. He knows the government will make an announcement when it is ready to make an announcement. It makes no sense for the hon. member to take the time of this House instead of debating the issue as fundamentally and seriously as it should be treated.

* * *



Mr. Yvan Bernier (Gaspé, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the transport minister.

The Bloc Quebecois has just received copy of a 1992 report produced for Transport Canada showing that there are so many flaws in the ferry running from Magdalen Islands to the mainland, the Lucy Maud Montgomery, that it would cost close to $12 million to refit that ship which could otherwise be the cause of some major incident, and even the loss of lives. This morning local stakeholders informed us that, since 1992, only $4 million have been invested in the refitting of the ferry.

Does the minister intend to publish the coast guard report on the safety of the Lucy Maud Montgomery and does he intend to go ahead with the plans for replacing that ferry, in accordance with what was asked by the round table on transportation for the Magdalen Islands in a letter sent to the Prime Minister and of which he received copy yesterday?


Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, unfortunately yesterday I was in western Canada and I did not receive a copy of the letter to which the hon. member has made reference. I will certainly look at it and when I have the details I will provide him with a response to his inquiry.


Mr. Yvan Bernier (Gaspé, BQ): Mr. Speaker, while the minister is looking into the matter, let me remind him that the people of the Magdalen Islands have been waiting since 1994.

While he is thinking about the problem, since he has the required funds, what is the transport minister waiting for to approve the purchase of a ship, as requested by all the stakeholders on the islands?


Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member must know that he injects into the preamble to his question references to documents which I do not have in front of me and do not have the details of. He simply cannot expect a responsible answer from any minister unless we have examined the document.

If their questions were precise in terms of issues instead of being filled with preambles which refer to so many other things, it might be a little easier for us to reply in the House in a direct manner to a direct question.

* * *


Mr. John Loney (Edmonton North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. This week there have been many comments in the media concerning the community of Vegreville and a report commissioned by the minister's department. What exactly was the purpose of this report and what was it supposed to achieve?

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Edmonton North for that question which allows me to clarify the situation.

The purpose of that report was to evaluate problems in the operations at the centre in Vegreville and not to evaluate anything in the community of Vegreville. This was clear in the terms of reference given by the deputy minister.


The result of this study is very clear. It states problems in the centre. There is no judgment at all on the community of Vegreville. Let us be clear about that.

We all heard the comments of the mayor of Vegreville yesterday. I commend the mayor for taking the time to read the report before commenting. I commend him for his leadership in this matter. He concluded it was an internal review of the centre. That is why the deputy minister took action immediately at the centre.

* * *

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Mr. Bill Gilmour (Comox-Alberni, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this government ran on a platform of jobs, yet thousands of jobs are being lost in sawmills right across the country. Mills are shutting down because lumber quotas, which this government controls, are being allocated in secret. The provinces and the companies agreed on the allocation formula, however they did not and do not agree with all the secrecy. Mill owners cannot understand why there is so much secrecy regarding a resource that is owned by the public. Mill owners feel that the minister is playing politics with their jobs.

My question is for the minister of trade. As the minister refuses to table individual mill quotas thus keeping them secret, will he at least table a full list of companies that received lumber quotas in the last round?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Trade has responded to these questions several times in the House pointing out there are basic commercial rights that have to be honoured and respected.

It is important to point out that the allocation formula for the softwood lumber quota was arrived at, at full, open, transparent consultations with all the industry. There was nothing secret and nothing hidden. It was done in full co-operation with the industry.

The hon. member's suggestion now that there is some kind of conspiracy and plot by the government simply indicates that he is in fact accusing the industry itself of that kind of practice because the quota system was totally and completely done in full co-operation with the private sector.

Mr. Bill Gilmour (Comox-Alberni, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is exactly the reverse. It is now the companies that are accusing this government of conspiracy.

The minister has stated in this House that he has no problems if individual companies publicly divulge their lumber allocation quotas. The problem is that only the minister knows which companies were allotted quotas.

In order to save jobs, individual mill owners must be able to negotiate allocations between themselves. However, they do not know the players because the minister refuses to release the names to the public.

In order to save sawmill jobs, will the minister table a full list of companies receiving lumber quotas?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is very important to go to what is the basic cause of the hon. member's protestations in the House. The fact is that once the quotas were allocated, many companies used up their allocation in a very anxious way to take advantage of the market. That was a business decision that they made. Now that they have found that the allocation of the quota is no longer sufficient, they are attempting to find ways of increasing it.

The Minister for International Trade said there is a reserve system that can be given to companies that they in effect can bank their quota against next year's allocation. That would allow them to keep their plants running and keep the jobs going. It is an orderly system that was set up under the agreement.

To now start trying to bargain in the Chamber of the House of Commons about getting more individual allocations for individual companies is simply not the way to do good business.

* * *



Mrs. Maud Debien (Laval East, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The crimes of genocide committed in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda, in particular, led to the creation of provisional international tribunals. Yet, we know full well that other crimes of that nature are also being committed elsewhere in the world.

Since, as Amnesty International was saying, ``you do not create provisional tribunals to solve permanent problems'', has the minister ever considered playing a leadership role in the international community to obtain the creation of a permanent international court of criminal justice?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the speech I delivered to the General Assembly of the United Nations last September I explained clearly that Canada would support the establishment of a permanent international court of criminal justice.

Mrs. Maud Debien (Laval East, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we know that Canada said that it would make the arrest of war criminals in Bosnia a priority. Yet, nearly 100,000 people are rotting in Rwandan jails without ever having been brought to trial.



While the international community tries to set up a permanent tribunal, with the support of Canada naturally, as the minister just said, does the minister not believe that priority should also be given to the orderly operation of the international tribunal in Rwanda, and especially to its operation according to the rule of law?


Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed by the hon. member about the real imperative and necessity of prosecuting war criminals.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, Canada has been given the honour of having Judge Louise Arbour as the chief prosecutor for the international war crimes tribunal. In a meeting with Judge Arbour about a month ago, she expressed the same concern as the hon. member does about the need to prosecute more actively in Rwanda for war crimes issues.

We are prepared to offer all assistance to Judge Arbour in terms of enhancing her capacity for investigation and prosecution and to secure the services of Canadians in the judicial and legal fields to help in that regard. All we are really waiting for is a full complement of what Judge Arbour would need and we will certainly respond in the most active and effective way possible.

* * *


Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on three occasions the Minister of Justice has granted leaves of absence under section 54(1) of the Judges Act to Madam Justice Louise Arbour. While that section may give him the authority to grant leaves of absence, he certainly does not have the authority to allow her to assume other duties, because section 55 of the Judges Act states: ``No judge shall, either directly or indirectly, engage in any other occupational business other than judicial duties''.

On what basis did the Minister of Justice approve the leave of absence for Madam Justice Arbour to work as a prosecutor for the UN while she is still a judge? We have just heard the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us that she is going to be an active and aggressive prosecutor. She is a member of the impartial bench in Canada. How can she be an impartial judge and a prosecutor at the same time?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is discouraging to have to respond to that question and it is distressing that the question was put.

A few feet away from the member's place an exchange just occurred involving the Minister of Foreign Affairs who described to the House the honour that was done this country when one of our best, a judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal, was asked to assume responsibility as the chief prosecutor for war crimes. By unanimous resolution of the United Nations Security Council she was singled out for that task. She left her judicial duties. She took a leave of absence. She has travelled halfway around the world to work in difficult circumstances engaged in that crucial responsibility.

During the months that we have tried to amend the statute to overcome the technical prohibition against her being paid by others for doing that work, we have encountered nothing but meanspirited, narrow-focused and inappropriate objections from sources who somehow fail to grasp both the importance of that work and the honour that she brings to this country.

I invite the hon. member to rise above the niggling legalisms upon which he now relies for partisan purposes and to join with this government in making sure that Madam Justice Louise Arbour is permitted to do that work on behalf of Canada and on behalf of all humanity.

Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am disturbed by the response from the Minister of Justice who is asking me to rise above niggling little legal details which prevent Madam Justice Louise Arbour from taking this position. The Minister of Justice is the highest position in this land to uphold the law of this land. To have those kinds of words coming from him in this House belittles the position which he holds.

Let me quote the minister's own words. Before the Senate committee on October 7 he said: ``There is no provision in the Judges Act for a federally appointed judge such as Madam Justice Louise Arbour to be granted a leave of absence without pay to work for an international organization such as the United Nations''.

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I have a great deal of respect for Madam Justice Louise Arbour. I have a great deal of respect for the work that she has been asked to do in the United Nations, but I do not think that we should trample the laws of Canada to allow her to go over there to uphold the laws for the United Nations.

The Minister of Justice could have picked anyone else in Canada rather than someone from the bench. I am sure there are many people who are perfectly capable of doing the job. Therefore, I ask him again: Why is he allowing the laws of this land to be trampled in order for someone to uphold the laws somewhere else?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member combines an ignorance of the law with a meanness of spirit when he puts that question.

In the first place, I am not the one who suggested Madam Justice Arbour, it was the United Nations Security Council. Second,


Madam Justice Arbour is not in breach of any Canadian law in taking a leave of absence for other purposes.

The prohibition in the Judges Act is against her taking money from any other source. It is that which is addressed by Bill C-42, which was passed by this House, sent back with an amendment by the Senate for reasons best known to the Senate, and which is now before this House for adoption with the Senate's change.

I emphasize that there is nothing unlawful or inconsistent with the Judges Act or any other law of Canada which Madam Justice Arbour has done.

* * *



Mr. Jesse Flis (Parkdale-High Park, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the foreign affairs minister.


I would like to compliment the hon. member for Laval East for her questions on war criminals. My question really is supplementary to hers.

At a recent conference regarding war criminals in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Justice Richard Goldstone expressed concerns that many who have been indicted for crimes against humanity are not being arrested and brought to The Hague to face criminal charges.

I ask the minister: What specific instructions has Canada given to its IFOR peacekeepers to assist in bringing these indicted war criminals to justice?

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am certainly glad that we are now engaging in an exchange on one of the more crucial and vital contributions that Canada can make through the work of Justice Arbour in the international realm.

What we know now is that there are still many unindicted war criminals in Bosnia. Until they are apprehended, the opportunity for a peaceful solution in that country will be severely hindered. We will begin to discuss over the next three or four weeks in the NATO circles the extension of the IFOR engagement. We will be putting forward a number of proposals to substantially strengthen the capacity of the war crimes tribunal through the work of IFOR and other means of the allied groups that are in Bosnia to apprehend these criminals and to support the work of the tribunal. I will be going before the parliamentary committee on Tuesday to raise those very same questions so we can get parliamentary input.

This demonstrates that we have an opportunity in this country, through the office of Judge Arbour and the war crimes tribunal, to make a very significant and important contribution to bring peace and reconciliation to the wartorn land of Bosnia.



Mr. Bernard St-Laurent (Manicouagan, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the industry minister.

Last week, the industry minister issued an information sheet aimed at consumers of direct-to-home satellite broadcasting services and stipulating that it might be a crime for consumers to have equipment used to pick up non-authorized American signals in Canada. The industry minister is relying on importers, suppliers and retailers of satellite broadcasting material to relay this information to consumers.

Does the minister expect that those who sold this equipment and who contributed to create the problem will be able to enforce his regulations?

Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry, Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Minister of Western Economic Diversification and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we tried to give all consumers the information necessary for making judicious decisions.

This equipment is rather expensive. We are concerned with the fact that several consumers paid over $1,000 for equipment that might not be sufficient to receive satellite programming in the future. This equipment is rather specialized, and the changes in the services that will be available to Canadians will, in turn, require technological changes.

* * *




Mr. Jack Frazer (Saanich-Gulf Islands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence and concerns the military justice system.

I operated under and with the military justice system for more than 36 years. I always considered that it was as or more fair than the civilian justice system.

However, events in Somalia and a rising number of grievances being submitted to the chief of defence staff indicate that there is some reluctance among the rank and file to trust the military justice system. The minister's predecessor indicated that there would be a study of the military justice system.

Would the minister consider in light of the red book promise submitting a review of the justice system to the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs for its consideration and report?


Hon. Douglas Young (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.

The Department of National Defence is reviewing the justice system for the military. I share the hon. member's views that generally speaking it has worked well for a very long time but, as in any system, there is always ample room for improvement.

We will be bringing forward some changes to the military justice system and certainly, as has been the case with matters relating to the Department of National Defence and the military, I expect that it is very probable that they would be considered by the standing committee.

However, as the hon. member would know, I do not dictate what the committee will entertain in terms of its own agenda, but I would be pleased at the appropriate time to have the very valuable input that we always get from that committee.

* * *



Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil-Papineau, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

On November 8, a reporter from the TVA network explained that it was very easy to cheat on old age security benefits. The journalist even managed to get more than $5,000 from the federal government by using the birth certificate of a person deceased four years earlier, without any check being made by the department.

Last year, the department's investigators uncovered, to their dismay, fraud in excess of $4 million. Can the minister tell us about the scope of this year's fraudulent activities and why it is so easy to cheat?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada and the Department of Human Resources Development have a duty to serve Canadians well. When people apply for benefits late, that is some time after they have become entitled to such benefits, we quickly issue a cheque to them and a verification is conducted during the weeks and the months following the issuance of that first cheque. This is a perfectly normal procedure.

However, it is illegal to deliberately submit an ineligible application to the department and to take advantage of our goodwill and our good faith. We want to reassure this House and all Canadians that we have audit systems in place to detect fraudulent activities, and that these systems are constantly updated and have been greatly improved in recent years, thanks to the new technology.

Canadians should know that losing $4 million out of a total budget of $57 billion is pretty good compared to what happens in many other countries, and that we are working very hard to improve the system even more, because Canadians deserve the best.

The bottom line is that those who are entitled to a cheque must receive it as quickly as possible. Providing good service must remain our priority.

* * *



Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in answer to a question, the Minister of Transport pointed out that, because of his lack of experience, my young colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean did not seem to understand that any minister can answer any question from the opposition, according to the principle of cabinet responsibility.

The Minister of Transport, who has been a member of this House for a longer period of time, who has a lot of experience, should be aware that the Speaker has previously informed the official opposition that any question dealing with the administrative duties of an individual minister or with a statement made by an individual minister should be put to the minister in question.


I just wanted to remind my colleague, the Minister of Transport, that seniority and experience are not always synonymous with wisdom and good judgment.


Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member seems to be mixing up the questions put and the responses given.

The fact is that any member of the opposition can address any question to any member of the government. However, the Prime Minister may answer any question himself or some other minister might answer any question, depending on the decision of the government.

The actual response to a question from the other side of the House is from the government. The government speaks as one voice and, therefore, the principle of the solidarity of cabinet is preserved.

I will be happy to discuss this more fully with the hon. House leader of the opposition because really there is no issue of privilege whatsoever or a point of order.

If the member wishes to have lunch with me sometime and chat about this a bit more, we might even invite the Speaker to come along.



Mr. Duceppe: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the invitation, I would certainly be pleased to do so one day.

However, I want to point out to the Minister of Transport that, pursuant to a previous ruling by the Speaker, my young colleague could not put his question to anyone else but the Minister of Industry, who preferred to dodge the question and evade the issue.

The Deputy Speaker: I want to thank my colleagues for their comments.






Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to several petitions.

* * *



Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 47th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the associate membership of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 47th report later this day.

* * *


Mr. Cliff Breitkreuz (Yellowhead, Ref.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-352, an act to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowance Act (deduction re other income).

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to resubmit my private member's bill.

This bill will amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowance Act by clawing back the pensions of former members of Parliament, which are largely funded, of course, by Canadian taxpayers.

The millions upon millions of dollars saved could be directed toward reducing the debt, lowering taxes of long suffering Canadians or prop up funding to health care and secondary education.

I ask all members of the House to support the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

* * *



Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I move that the 47th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

* * *

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Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton-Middlesex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition signed by constituents of Lambton-Middlesex and surrounding areas which is duly certified by the clerk of petitions, pursuant to Standing Order 36.

The petitioners request that the House of Commons enact legislation or amend existing legislation to define marriage as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to each other to the exclusion of all others.


Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from several hundred constituents in Ottawa West which draws to the attention of the House that the National Capital Commission is planning the addition of a third lane to the Champlain Bridge. It points out that the communities to be impacted by an expansion have continuously objected to this proposal along with the city of Ottawa and the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. The petition calls on Parliament to oppose the expansion of the Champlain Bridge and to refuse to authorize the allocation of any funds for such expansion.


Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to this House, pursuant to Standing Order 36, a petition which contains 25 signatures of constituents of the riding of Simcoe North. The petitioners request that Parliament regulate the longstanding Canadian practice of marketing generic drugs in a size, shape and colour similar to that of their brand name equivalents.



Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 77 and 86.


Question No. 77-Mr. Ringma:

With respect to the jointly administered Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy Park acquisition fund, what has the government through the department of heritage determined to be: (a) the amount of money for use in the purchase of lands north of Active Pass for fiscal 1996-97 and (b) the priority list of those locations north of Active Pass which are to be purchased?
Mr. Guy H. Arseneault (Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Within their total allocation of $60 million to the Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy, PMHL, over five years, the governments of Canada and British Columbia have not specified precise expenditures for each fiscal year. Instead, priorities for land acquisition are being determined on an ongoing basis as lands that meet PMHL selection criteria become available on a willing seller-willing buyer basis. Similarly, the proportion of those lands that lie north or south of Active Pass and their relative priority for acquisition can fluctuate depending on factors that include the potential contribution of available lands to the protected area objectives of the PMHL, their ability to meet or exceed land selection criteria, and cost. Some of these private lands are north of Active Pass, including some that because of their priority interest are under active but confidential consideration with land owners. Land acquisition expenditures in 1995-96 totalled $10.75 million.


Question No. 86-Mrs. Wayne:

Regarding war veterans' benefits, could the Minister of Veterans Affairs indicate: (a) what are the number of veterans who were receiving a war disability pension and died during the last reporting period of 12 months; (b) what was the total of war disability pensions paid to those in (a) in the requested reporting period; (c) how many of those in (a) left spouses or survivors in receipt of all or a portion of the war disability or survivors' allowance; (d) what was the total value of the pensions and/or allowances in (c); (e) how many of those in (a) were in receipt of moneys under the veterans independance program and (f) what was the total value of funds referred to in (e)?
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Secretary of State (Veterans) (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), Lib.): (a) During fiscal year 1995-96, 5,030 veterans who had been receiving war disability pensions died.

(b) The approximate amount of disability pension benefits, including prisoner of war compensation, paid to this group was $17,750,000.

(c) 3,430 of these veterans left spouses or survivors.

(d) The approximate amount of survivors' benefits paid to this group during the portion of fiscal year 1995-96 that survivor benefits were payable was $11,594,000, based on medical disabilities and prisoner of war compensation.

(e) 2,394 of these veterans who died during fiscal year 1995-96 were in receipt of benefits under the veterans independence program, VIP.

(f) These veterans were paid approximately $4,988,000 in VIP benefits.


Mr. Jackson: Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.






The House resumed consideration of Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee; and Group No. 2 of motions.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve has five minutes left.

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, BQ): Mr. Speaker, think of all we can do in five minutes. It is fantastic.

So, I was reminding you of how pleased I am to speak on Bill C-63 because the type of representative we will establish as parliamentarians depends on it.

I was reminding you of how sad I am to see that the government did not include the opposition parties in this House, that is, the official opposition and the third party, in the consultation and drafting process of this bill.

And I was reminding you of how proud we are, as an opposition party, to have been able to depend on the hon. member for Bellechasse, who combines the qualities of a highly skilled lawyer and those of a seasoned parliamentarian with such flair.

I was also reminding you of all the motions we have to put forward because this bill leaves so much to be desired. We hope that the government will agree to those amendments, because we believe that they will be better for democracy.

I was reminding you of how easy it can be, in this democratic system of ours, to make ourselves heard, even when one comes from a humble background-and I am certainly a case in point-since I, the son of a labourer, was able to run for office and get elected in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve after a campaign that cost only $35,000. When we come to think of it, it is really not much,


compared to the Americans who almost have to be an official member of a lobby to be elected.

We know that the quality of our electoral practices depends on a number of things. We brought to the attention of the government the fact that there is a means to keep the process under control, which is called a list of electors.

You know how important this voters' list is, since it supposedly contains the names of all the people who can vote and who, as we know, meet a number of requirements in terms mainly of citizenship, age and place of residence.


We have questions regarding the government's refusal to allow the age of voters to be shown on the list of electors. It is a questionable position. The more the list will include detailed information, the easier it will be for all parties concerned to identify cheaters. There is nothing partisan about that.

You will certainly understand that if, on election day, workers at a polling station greet at their table a man named Réal Ménard who, according to the list of electors, is 34 years old and the person standing in front of them seems to be 70 years old, they will know that something is wrong. The vigilance of the staff on election day will help identify cheaters and stop the voting process when unauthorized people show up at the poll. I think the government's position to refuse such an argument is questionable.

The same thing applies to gender identification. It is not a matter of quality or quantity, but simply a matter of knowing if we are dealing with a male or a female voter. I take these things very seriously and it seems to me that it would be in our best interests to have as much information as possible in order to identify cheaters.

We cannot accept the rather obsessive argument of the Reform Party that the availability of this information will lead to sexual harassment. It is true that the list of electors is a public document and that the chief electoral officer has to make it available to any individual or group upon request. But I still do not think the Reformers' argument is valid.

The existence of such a list is not the kind of factor that would encourage people who have a predisposition towards sexual harassment to act on their impulses. We do not want to minimize the importance of this extremely complex problem, but there is certainly no correlation between the amendment we are proposing and the kind of legislation the Reform Party wants to see passed in this House.

We are much too aware of the importance of representation. We know only too well what it means to have an elections act that is truly reflective of the wishes of all parties. I believe the member, whose riding escapes me for the moment, but of which he, no doubt, is the worthy representative, knows the importance of consensus in this matter. It is not true that in matters of legitimacy, in matters which concerns us as parliamentarians and members of Parliament, we can afford to do without a real debate.

It is not true that we should be delighted by the haste shown by the government. This government did not show a lack of courtesy when the time came to consult us on the issue of riding redistribution and revision of the electoral map.

The hon. member for Bellechasse is in a very good position to confirm that we were very closely involved in the process. He reminded us that, with the help of all parties represented in the House, we took more than a year to do the required revision work.

Why the sudden haste, the lack of courtesy on the part of the government and its representatives, who decided not to call upon the opposition parties, since we know that the House would have come out of this a better House? Think about the impact we would have had if we had been able to say that the bill before us, Bill C-63 to amend the Elections Act, is truly what all parties in the House wanted. I believe the government treated this matter off-handedly.


I think that the government did not live up to its responsibilities, and certainly lacked courtesy, by not allowing the opposition to fully participate in the review and enhancement of such an important bill.

Mr. Speaker, I know that you are as committed to democracy as I am, and that makes you a very endearing Speaker, but do you not think that it would have been advisable to take advantage of the debate to discuss the funding of political parties?

I know that in a few minutes we will have the opportunity to discuss this matter, but I believe that it would have been wiser for the government to go back to the basic meaning of the word. It would have been a lot better for the government to draw inspiration from the practices currently in effect in Quebec.

As you know, and I will conclude on this, there has been for more than a decade in Quebec a political party financing act which is extremely democratic. And I will get back to this later.


Mr. Paul Zed (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank both the hon. member for Bellechasse and the member for Calgary West for their participation in the committee. I very much appreciated, as I did that of all members of my own party, their participation in the discussions involved with amendments to this particularly important piece of legislation.

Before I specifically deal with the motions that are before us I want to make one comment, in particular as it relates to something


that my colleague from Calgary West said and my colleague from Bellechasse. This bill came to the committee after first reading and the role of the committee after first reading.

It is important also to acknowledge that there was a royal commission, the Lortie commission, in 1991 that dealt specifically with some fundamental changes that ought to occur in electoral reform in Canada.

My hon. colleague will know that there were literally dozens and dozens, hundreds in fact, hours of representations and work that was done for the Lortie commission and the good work that has been done by our own House committee on procedure and House affairs.

The government's reaction and response with the bill that has come before us today is not something that was written on the back of an envelope. There has been a significant genesis that has evolved that has brought us to this period today. It is important for listeners and for colleagues of this House to remember that it is extremely important to have a consensus, in particular when it is dealing with this most important matter of electoral change.

As the chairman, I was particularly pleased to see that in principle there was a general consensus or an acceptance on the issue of a voter registry and that there was a general consensus on the principle of a shorter electoral campaign in view of the costs, the significant cost issues involved.

I know I will have an opportunity to speak to a number of other issues as they are presented later in this debate but I also want to specifically talk about the motion of my hon. friend. The list of electors derived from the federal registry will be distributed to the candidates and political parties.

The date of birth information in particular in our view is not considered essential to proper identification of voters on the list of electors. That is not just our view as the government and it is not just the view of many Canadians. It is important that the privacy commissioner's view is also considered, as I know my hon. colleague would want to have it considered.

I share the view that the date of birth information reveals personal information about voters. I do not believe that Canadians are prepared to see that level of personal information shared so widely.


I accept and respect the views that are being presented in this House by my hon. colleagues but I have to respectfully submit in response to this particular motion that I think it is an intrusion. In fact, the privacy commissioner and the chief electoral officer have informed the committee not only on the issues of date of birth but also as it relates to gender, that on the second point, gender information, raised by my colleague, the opposition whip, it was felt it was useful for administrative identifiers for electors who have names common to both sexes.

My colleague, the hon. member for Calgary, was talking about the gender issue. I think it is important that the privacy commissioner stated that he did not see the voluntary collection of privacy information as a significant issue. In other words, gender was not a significant issue and he did not recommend the removal of gender. It was for those reasons that while we heard the views of hon. members, we felt it was the preferred approach to take the view we took in the legislation presented.

In responding specifically to the two motions contained in this group, those are the comments that I wish to offer to my hon. colleagues. I want to thank them for their participation. I regret that they did not gain or feel they had the same opportunity to participate in the debate at the committee stage.

They may recall that in March of this year the chief electoral officer came to our committee and presented the concept of a registry. I defer to the seniority on the committee of my hon. colleague, the member for Bellechasse, who was on this committee for quite a period of time prior to my assuming its chair.

He will recall that the concept of a registry is something that was universally endorsed as a good concept. I know that he does not necessarily take issue with that concept but it is perhaps the process that he did not find as friendly as he would have preferred.

While I regret that he has not endorsed it, perhaps over the course of this debate as we discuss this he may see his way clear to finding support for the proposal as it is being put forward. I thank my colleagues for their participation. This concludes my remarks related to this grouping of motions.

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to contribute to this debate as it relates to two specific articles.

It was interesting that the member from the Bloc said there is information that has to be given at a time when a person has a driver's licence. Of course that is true but the last time I looked we do not distribute the information from the driver's licence to candidates and political parties or post the information in such a way that it becomes public.

Clearly the idea of the inclusion of the date of birth may be of value with respect to the registry itself, but surely to do with the list of electors I cannot say I agree with my colleague. I cannot see any value to having that information. With respect to the comments just made that the privacy commissioner did not see the inclusion of designation of sex as a significant issue or as necessary, I would like to read a letter which is very indicative of correspondence that many of the members of our party have received and I suggest with


respect that there may be Liberals who have received this kind of correspondence.

It is dated November 29, 1995: ``Thousands of Canadian women attempt to maintain the security of their domiciles with gender neutral references whenever possible. These efforts are nullified at election time by lists of electors which clearly note gender, complete with a current address. This information is widely circulated, being readily available in post offices throughout Canada, and used, copied and distributed in campaign offices extensively. When one of the research assistants to one of our members questioned Elections Canada about this system, the research assistant was informed that it was necessary to protect the integrity of the list''.


The writer in this case was from the province of Alberta. She wrote: ``The province of Alberta manages to elect their government without putting females at risk''.

I ask the Liberals if they would not rethink this particular item. Unfortunately we have reached a point in our society-and it is a low point in our society-where women are put at risk because of certain dangerous elements in our society. We have to be much more sensitive in this place to what we are doing. With all due respect to the privacy commissioner, for whom I generally have a great deal of respect, I cannot respect his position that this is not a significant issue.

I would like to point out to the Liberals that the protestation made a couple of minutes ago that perhaps there should have been more discussion and more consultation at the committee stage is a little hollow. It is my understanding that there was a real rush to get this through committee and that, in fact, the Liberals did not allow sufficient time. As a matter of fact, it is probable that the Liberals, because they have left this matter for so long, are probably going to have to invoke closure to even get this through in time to meet their agenda.

Once again the House of Commons is being treated like a rubber stamp. The Liberals, when they suddenly wake up and discover that they have a problem with a timetable or legislation, out of the clear blue sky, very quickly, come to the House and say: ``Let us punch it right on through''. It is an unfortunate practice, an unfortunate happenstance, that the Liberals have chosen, systematically, to treat the House as a rubber stamp.

That being a very partisan comment, let me go back to the issue at hand. Unlike one of the Bloc members who said she would not plead or she would not negotiate, I am asking very sincerely, on behalf of the women of Canada, that the government take a very serious look at this issue of including gender on voters' lists. I say that because there are single women within my family and acquaintances who, for example, will put an initial in a phone book as opposed to designating themselves as being female.

This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of public safety for women. I ask the Liberals to rethink their position on this issue and vote in favour of the exclusion of gender on electors' lists.


The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Dalphond-Guiral): I now recognize the hon. member for-

An hon. member: Matapédia-Matane.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Dalphond-Guiral): Matapédia-Matane. But I know it by heart.

Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia-Matane, BQ): Madam Speaker, I congratulate you, except you should remember that I represent Matapédia-Matane.

I would like to open up the debate just a bit, rather than limiting my remarks solely to the amendment by my colleague, the member for Bellechasse, who deserves special congratulations for his amendments, because he introduced several.

I think that we are moving a bit too quickly, and that we should look a bit more closely at what has been done. I am not on the committee, but it is important not to act in haste. In my view, there is a great deal at stake.

A year, or a year and a half ago as I recall, the riding of Matapédia-Matane was even going to be wiped off the map.


The people I spoke with said: ``That's crazy. Who thought that up?'' I said: ``It is a mandate of the government, which thinks that Matapédia-Matane does not have the necessary population, and they want to go by population''. That got quite a reaction out of people.

The second agreement was that, instead of eliminating the riding of Matapédia-Matane, they are going to redraw the boundaries of Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine. This does not make any sense either, because if I draw you a map, or if you travel at all, you will see that the riding of Matapédia-Matane takes in Matane, obviously, and Amqui; on the north shore, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts and Cap-Chat as far as Madeleine; on the other shore, it takes in Carleton and Maria, no small distance.

The old riding consisted of the triangle formed by Mont-Joli, Matane and Amqui, which worked fine. There is no longer any sense of belonging. People really are right to say that they should go back to the drawing board and set up another commission, one that will listen to people in the regions. Village by village, these people have built a sort of family. When one village is lumped in with another, they feel hard done by, excluded. They are virtually excluded. I am therefore asking them to go back to the drawing board, or if they do not have the courage to do so, that at the least


the Bloc amendments as proposed by my colleague from Bellechasse be accepted.

Looking at the amendment proposing that the date of birth be included, this strikes me as logic itself. I would not like to pick up on the arguments of other members who have been quoting Boileau. One could quote other philosophers and say this: Listen up here. When something is obvious, it is obvious, so let us give up demonstrating it over and over. There is something obvious involved here, and we are trying to demonstrate an evident truth. Let us give up on that and just accept what is pure common sense.

What are the advantages other than those already mentioned? When someone turns 15, we will know it. When we say, in connection with the total population, that there are so and so many people in Canada, in Quebec, aged 16, 17, 18, we will know and can then take the necessary steps to provide them with some political education. The first time somebody votes is really something special for him or her. The schools are giving young people more and more information now, but those who have never shown any interest could be given more preparation when they reach 16, 17 or 18. With the figures in front of us, we will be able to help them and provide them with more information.

For these reasons, because there are many arguments on both sides, from the Reform Party and from the Bloc, I am asking the House to support the amendment of my colleague from Bellechasse, and I shall be speaking later on the other amendments.


Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words in this debate. I did not intend to, but I was listening to my colleagues, and I thought I would like to comment on the amendments presented by the hon. member for Bellechasse.

By the same token, I would like to thank him for and congratulate him on the excellent work he did on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois and the official opposition, but of course, first and foremost, on behalf of voters in the riding of Bellechasse, in Quebec and even in Canada. The amendments he proposed will make the process more democratic. That being the case, every citizen of Quebec and Canada stands to gain.

It would be too easy to go along with the demands of those who want the voters' list to be absolutely minimal, the excuse being respect for privacy and personal information, and so forth. The hon. member for Laval Centre made a very apt comment when she said that every citizen is entitled to a passport. The passport contains a certain amount of information, and no one challenges the need to include all this information. It only makes sense.

We all know there was quite a to-do about passports, so there must be some consensus in this House on the issue. When we go abroad, it is important for the customs officer to know who we are. It is even more important when we vote to elect the people who represent and govern us. In that case there must be no misunderstanding about the identity of the people who exercise their franchise.

I think it is important to indicate the gender of the voter on the list. I know this is a very emotional issue, but as the hon. member for Laval Centre pointed out earlier, the first name often gives a good indication of the gender of the voter, but in some cases, it may not work.

Take my own first name, for instance. Mr. Speaker, if you will allow me to indicate my first name, which is Stephane. Unlike the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean, my first name is spelled with an ``e'' at the end. While for many francophones the name ``Stéphane'' is clearly a man's name, for many of our anglophone colleagues it is not obvious that the name ``Stéphane'' with an ``e'' at the end is a man's name.

I can tell you that in the three years I have sat in the House of Commons, I have received a lot of mail addressed ``Dear Mme Stéphane Bergeron'' or ``Mrs. Stéphane Bergeron'' or when people wanted to make my name masculine, they would take off the ``e'', because, in English, such names, like Joanne or Suzanne, are usually women's names. I think, under the circumstances, to avoid any confusion, the gender of the voter must appear on the electoral list.

Mr. Langlois: Camille.

Mr. Bergeron: Camille is a fine example as well. I am not talking about the people at the clerk's table. In order to make sure there is no confusion, the voters' list must indicate the voter's gender. Similarly, and once again to avoid confusion, dates of birth must be indicated. That is obvious.

Up to now, my colleagues have been indicating the importance of including voters' date of birth on the electoral list. Some might point out that some first names might give an idea of the age of the voter.


I keep coming back to my name, Stéphane, a relatively new choice in first names for French Canadians and Quebecers. Adalbert would be an older sounding name, I might say, or a more venerable one. That said, you have to understand that, for there not to be any doubt, the date of birth should be given.

I still have four minutes left? I had already started my conclusion, so I will have to reorganize my thoughts so I can continue.

As I was saying before, while Stephen might have a more modern ring to it and Adalbert or Canute a more ancient one, it is obvious that just with the first name-although earlier on I heard


my Reform colleague suggesting that we get rid of the first name altogether. What kind of information are we going to be left with on the voters' list if we reduce it to such a minimum?

God knows that not one member in this House would dare say or do such a thing, but there is no doubt that eventually, if the voters' list was watered down to this extent, certain evil doers could take this opportunity to corrupt democracy.

If that was the case, Canadians and Quebecers as a whole would come out the losers. Therefore I strongly urge all my colleagues in this House, who support democracy and the need for transparency in a democracy, to vote for the amendments moved by my colleague from Bellechasse.

Mr. Yvan Bernier (Gaspé, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address this House on a nice Friday afternoon, after the hon. member for Verchères. I was going to mention his name, but this is not allowed.

Mr. Bergeron: You can only mention my first name.

Mr. Bernier (Gaspé): Your first name? Ah, yes.

Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues have mentioned, but I will say it again for the benefit of those who may have just joined us, the bill before us, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act, is now at report stage.

People at home may wonder why a bunch of MPs are talking about gender and date of birth today. It is because we are discussing a bill to amend the Canada Elections Act.

My colleagues are making comments that may lead to various interpretations. I will try to remain calm and to tell you what I set out to say.

The reason why the date of birth should be included, as was explained by the hon. member for Bellechasse who tabled the motion, is that this information is already on Quebec's electoral lists. Why? It is to provide those in charge of an election with a tool to correctly identify people. As a number of my colleagues mentioned this morning, there may be several people with the same name, but they are rarely born on the same day.

It is a tool we feel is of great importance. Some people will say: ``You are going to use this information so that you can categorize voters''. Political parties have other tools they can use for this purpose, and the first thing that comes to mind is that when you want to know people, you must first live in their region and see them every day, which I do each week when I go back to my riding. That is the first tool a member has to work with.

I am therefore not in the slightest worried that they want to mention date of birth in the new bill. Quebec already has this tool, and I think it could also be important for the rest of Canada to include it in the Canada Elections Act. Everyone would then be on an equal footing.

As for the other addition, I think that gender is already mentioned in the bill.


I do not have a copy of the Quebec statute in front of me, but I believe that it is included. With respect to the objection by the member of the Reform Party, although we could debate it a bit longer, I see no problem with mentioning gender as well, for the very same reason as that given by the member for Verchères, which is that an ``e'' can be misleading. Although one look at him and there is no doubt at all that you are dealing with a Man, with a capital ``M''.

I do, however, insist that gender be indicated. I would remind all of the hon. members and all of the electorate that 52 per cent of voters are female. When women are, for once, in the majority and can signal their presence, I think the voters' list is how they should do it.

There has long been criticism that women are not represented adequately in this House. This would be a good reason to retain in the Elections Act the requirement that gender must be indicated, precisely to force us as legislators to realize that more than 50 per cent of the electorate are women. These, then, are two tools which we see as indispensable.

I would also add, in connection with this group of motions, as my colleague from Matapédia-Matane has also said, that we have experienced considerable changes with respect to the redrawing of electoral boundaries. I wish to mention this, so that people clearly understand that this is not what we are talking about here this morning, for it could be misinterpreted. We are talking about the act to amend the Canada Elections Act, which is not the same thing as what was done by the Electoral Boundaries Commission.

My colleague from Matapédia-Matane has described the upheaval in his riding. I, who represent the riding of Gaspé, will have to face the hon. member for the present riding of Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine in the next election.

In passing, I and my colleague from Bellechasse would like to thank the people who are here in the House today, particularly the Government Whip, for their support. Last week we adopted a bill at all stages to change the names of electoral districts. This is another achievement and I wanted to congratulate these two people. I would like to thank them and also point out to all members present in this House that the reeves of the RCMs in the Gaspé are very pleased that hon. members agreed to include all RCMs in the new designation of the new Gaspé riding which will be called Bonaventure-Gaspé-Îles-de-la-Madeleine-Paboc.


All four RCMs are very pleased, they thank you and they want to say that this will give them a sense of belonging, because all four will be identified with the new riding. They will be working together. As a geographical entity, it is still rather scattered, but they are prepared to do what they can, and we will see what will happen in the future.

I may add, and I say this personally, as long as the riding of Bonaventure-Gaspé-Îles-de-la-Madeleine-Paboc will remain part of Canadian history, since I hope that some day, we will have another referendum on the sovereignty issue, that we will have an opportunity to deal with the situation at that time.

That being said, I will get back to the group of motions now before the House. We said that the Bloc Quebecois wanted to ensure that age would be mentioned. We also wanted the gender of the voter to be indicated, as it is now. This will be useful as a reference for members and make it easier for the returning officer in a given region to identify people.


Where I live, there are people with the same first name and the same last name as mine. My father had the same experience. By the way, you will recall that formerly in Quebec, although that is no longer the case, after they were married, women were known by the name of their husband. To my mother's astonishment, when she went to the doctor for a minor problem, she heard the receptionist say she was pregnant. However, this was another Mrs. Laurent Bernier. So you see the kind of confusion that can arise, even if this situation was funnier than most.

We must have the assurance that no one can use someone else's name and especially that the individual who wants to vote will be able to do so. The Bloc wants to make sure that the government understands these situations. There is no warfare intended here. We hope we can reach an agreement soon.

However, as many of my colleagues have indicated, the fact that we are at report stage indicates that we went a little too fast earlier on. Had debate been allowed, and the content of the bill shared with the opposition parties, these details could have been resolved earlier.

My colleague from Bellechasse mentioned this as well at the start of his speech; we are at the dawn of an election campaign. So the emotional reaction of the government is understandable, since it is in a hurry to change the Canada Elections Act. We would have expected that changes to the Canada Elections Act would be made at the start of the 35th Parliament, that is, when all the members of Parliament arrived. At that point, we would have had five years to debate this matter. We should have assumed that the government wants to do it faster for election or partisan reasons.

We have a fait accompli before us. The bill is now at third reading. To be sure there is no partisanship and no question of pushing things along too fast and to ensure everyone understands, we expect the government to let us have our full say.

Several members speak to a group of motions to be sure that the government gets our message, takes note and incorporates the points we make so that everyone's opinion is reflected in the bill. It will then be used in the election of all members. All voters, whatever their allegiance, must feel comfortable. That is what democracy is about. You have to believe in the tools we acquire in order to be able to move things along.

I conclude on this point. I will return later, when we discuss other groups of motions.

Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont-Dundas, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, fist of all let me say how much I appreciated the opportunity to renew my experience with committee work, particularly with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. It brought back some pleasant memories, even if at the time I sat on the other side of the House. Frankly, I must say that the experience is more enjoyable from this side.

Having said that, I want to join with those who congratulated our colleagues from both sides of the House for their enthusiasm and hard work on this bill.


They include my colleague, the hon. member for Fundy-Royal, who chaired the committee, the hon. member for Bellechasse, who really gave it all he had and worked extremely hard, the hon. member for Laval Centre, the chief opposition whip-


-the member for Calgary West and the member for Lethbridge, from the Reform Party, and of course the whip of the Reform Party, the member for Fraser Valley East, and a good number of my colleagues, including the deputy government whip, the member for Ottawa West and many others, who, long before I arrived, had already put in a long number of hours hearing testimony from very impressive witnesses, including the commissioner of privacy-


-Mr. Kingsley, the Chief Electoral Officer, to name a few.

I also want to say briefly that I am left with the strong feeling that discussions and consultations have been all encompassing. If we recall the Lortie commission and all its elements, we know that there is already broad support in Canada for the general principles contained in the bill, including reducing the length of the election campaign from 47 to 36 days. This proposal has been very well received by voters throughout Canada.



I believe there is also a consensus among the parties and, more important, among the electorate that a permanent register is long overdue and will be a welcome addition to the electoral process in Canada.

In a later motion we will deal with another matter of great significance to the regions, particularly to western Canada, which is the matter of staggered hours.

I would like to take a few comments to the two principal issues within this group of motions, the first being the matter of gender. Both the issues of gender and date of birth, which I will deal with later, could be useful. There is no denying that administratively that information could be useful. However, I am satisfied from the testimony of Mr. Kingsley of Elections Canada and others, as well as the privacy commissioner, Mr. Phillips, that it is not necessary. It is not essential.

Our electoral system is based on honesty and the freedom to vote. We encourage all Canadians to exercise their responsibility to vote. Too many Canadians do not participate in the electoral process.

Having said that, because of the strong testimony of the privacy commissioner, I do not believe that it is necessary. He further stated that he did not see the voluntary collection of privacy information as a significant privacy issue and, therefore, he did not recommend the removal of gender from the list of electors.

In summary, while a clarification of gender is desirable information to differentiate voters with the same names, it is not necessary, and for that reason it is not included in Bill C-63.


With regard to the date of birth, I realize that the hon. member for Laval Centre, the chief opposition whip, is a very young and dedicated lady who is not hiding her age, but we must do what is in the best interest of Canadians. Even if it could be useful administratively, it is not essential.

Again, according to the testimony given by the privacy commissioner, I submit that the reason why it is not in the bill is simply because it is not essential and that our electoral process is a voluntary one. True to these broad principles and to the privacy commissioner's advice, we thought appropriate to include neither the gender nor the date of birth.


The Deputy Speaker: Is the house ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

The Deputy Speaker: The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

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

Some hon. members: Yea.

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

Some hon. members: Nay.

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

And more than five members having risen:

The Deputy Speaker: The division on the motion stands deferred. The recorded division will also apply to Motions Nos. 3, 9, 15 and 18.

We now move to motions in Group No. 3.


Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont-Dundas, Lib.) moved:

Motion No. 5
That Bill C-63 be amended by adding after line 22 on page 2 the following new Clause:
``1.1 The portion of subsection 9(3) of the Act after paragraph (b) is replaced by the following:
the Chief Electoral Officer may extend the hours of voting at the polling station to allow votes to be cast on the ordinary polling day after the hour fixed by or pursuant to this Act for the closing of the poll at the polling station, but shall not, in so doing, permit votes to be cast at the polling station during an aggregate period of more than twelve hours.''
Motion No. 20
That Bill C-63, in Clause 44.1, be amended by replacing lines 44 to 46 on page 25 and lines 1 to 7 on page 26 with the following:
``(a) between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. if the electoral district is in the Newfoundland, Atlantic or Central time zone;
(b) between 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. if the electoral district is in the Eastern time zone;
(c) between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. if the electoral district is in the Mountain time zone; or
(d) between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. if the electoral district is in the Pacific time zone.''
Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.) moved:

Motion No. 21
That Bill C-63, in Clause 44.1, be amended by replacing lines 44 to 46 on page 25 and lines 1 to 6 on page 26 with the following:
``(a) between 10:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. if the electoral district is in the Newfoundland, Atlantic or Eastern time zone;
(b) between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. if the electoral district is in the Central time zone;
(c) between 9:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. if the electoral district is in the Mountain time zone; or


(d) between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. if the''
Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse, BQ) moved:

Motion No. 22
That Bill C-63, in Clause 46.1, be amended by replacing line 31 on page 27 with the following:
``day at an election, have no less than four consecutive''
Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.) moved:

Motion No. 23
That Bill C-63 be amended, by adding after line 44 on page 27 the following new Clause:
``47.1. That part of subsection 160 (1) of the Act preceding paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:
160.(1) One and one-half hours after the close of the poll in the Newfoundland, Atlantic and Eastern time zones, one hour after the close of the poll in the Central time zone, one-half hour after the close of the poll in the Mountain time zone, and immediately after the close of the poll in the Pacific time zone, in the presence and in full view of the poll clerk and the candidates or their agents, or, if the candidates or any of them are absent, in the presence of those candidates that are present, and of at least two electors if none of the candidates are represented, the deputy returning officer shall, in the following order,''
Motion No. 25
That Bill C-63 be amended by adding after line 5 on page 35 the following new Clause:
``68.1 Subsection 328.(1) of the Act is replaced by the following:
328.(1) No person, company or corporation shall, in any electoral district before the hour fixed by or pursuant to subsection 160(1) for the counting of the votes in that electoral district, publish the result or purported result of the polling in any electoral district in Canada by radio or television broadcast, by newspaper, news-sheet, poster, billboard or handbill or in any other manner.''

Mr. Langlois: Mr. Speaker, since I do not wish to be recognized for the purpose of the debate, I am raising a point of order of a very general nature by saying that the Bloc's motion in this third group is motion No. 22, dealing exclusively with opening hours of polls, and more specifically with the period of time employers must give their employees to vote.

If this is agreeable to you, Mr. Speaker, I will discuss this issue at the end, once the chief government whip will have tabled his amendments, and also after the member for Calgary West will have explained the nature of his amendments on a much more general issue, that is the possibility of having variable hours for polls across Canada.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the House agree?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(1310 )


Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to discuss the motions in Group No. 3. Group 3 contains a number of motions and I will try to address all of them in my comments. There are three Reform motions, two Liberal motions and one presented by the Bloc Quebecois.

All these motions deal with the attempt to incorporate provisions in this legislation that would stagger voting hours. We discussed this issue not when we addressed Bill C-63 in the House previously but when we addressed Bill C-307, a private member's bill.

That private member's bill was passed by the House in principle, although it is more than fair to say, based on the record, that Reform Party members indicated our grave reservations about the approach advocated in the bill. We only approved it in principle for the purpose of further discussing the proposal in committee and arriving at a consensus.

We did not arrive at a consensus on these issues. The government chose to go ahead with a proposal that is substantially different from what was passed in Bill C-307. It is substantially different in at least two ways. It altered the hours for voting that were proposed in Bill C-307, moving them up so that not only are we cutting into prime voting hours in British Columbia but in Alberta as well.

The other change made was to reverse hours in the case of the far eastern part of the country. In Atlantic Canada the polls would actually close at earlier local times than they would in central Canada. This was not a proposal the committee heard during deliberations.

These government proposals were not even an option for consideration when the Library of Parliament researcher prepared his report for our discussion. These proposals literally came out of nowhere.

Nothing was proposed in these options that would indicate a premature closing time in Alberta. Never was it proposed in this document that the hours be earlier than 7.30 p.m. in British Columbia; nor was it ever proposed that we would actually reverse the hours in the case of the far east of the country.

We said this set of proposals needed to be studied and on which we needed to come to a consensus, but we did not. On top of that, we discussed items in our preliminary discussion which sparked considerable interest in all the parties represented on the committee and in the chief electoral officer. However, they were then entirely rejected by the government when it tabled its proposal.


The items include not just the hours but the concept of delaying the vote count in some parts of the country as a way of dealing with this problem. There was also a proposal to eliminate the blackout.

We were looking for a proposal that would involve three elements as a way of dealing with the time zone differences across the country: staggering the voting hours, staggering the vote count and a blackout. But when the government presented its proposal the last two elements completely disappeared which was a surprise to us.

More surprising were the comments by some of the government members that it was necessary to arrive at a consensus and this was how they did it. I think I speak for the Bloc and my party when I say that we were left wondering where the consensus was since only one of the parties seemed to agree with this proposal. How could this decision possibly be classified as a consensus?

Mr. Abbott: That's Liberal consensus.

Mr. Harper (Calgary West): My colleague says it is a Liberal consensus.

The three Reform motions in Group No. 3 deal with the proposals we put forward which I will not say were unanimously accepted in discussion. That is not the case. They were not rejected and seemed to be of interest to all parties in the committee during our discussion on this particular issue.


Our proposals were to stagger the hours beginning by moving the hours of voting back a half hour in each time zone east of British Columbia, delaying the count a further half hour for each time zone and eliminating the blackout entirely in the case of Atlantic Canada as a way of making up anything over and above the three hour difference between British Columbia and Quebec. Those are the proposals we have here. They are divided into three motions.

Motion No. 21 relates to the actual closing hours we propose which would be 8 p.m. in British Columbia; 8.30 p.m. in Alberta; 9 p.m. in Manitoba and Saskatchewan; 9.30 p.m. in Ontario and Quebec; and 9.30 p.m. as well in Atlantic Canada. Motion No. 23 would delay the vote count. That would be an additional half hour for each time zone, a delay of a half hour in Alberta, an hour in Manitoba, and an hour and a half in central Canada. Motion No. 25 proposes to limit the blackout.

Our preference would have been with staggered voting hours to completely eliminate the blackout for Atlantic Canada because frankly we could not see that this really would be an issue to anybody in the west or even in central Canada. The fact that there might be some preliminary results available from Newfoundland and the maritimes did not seem to be an issue. Therefore we were going to propose eliminating it entirely.

The only reason our amendment does not do that is that we were concerned with the limits we had in our technical drafting, that we were not able to capture some of the effects on advanced polls and special ballots. We were concerned that some of those results might circulate even before the counting had begun in some parts of the country. That is why we only limited the blackout as opposed to eliminating it but the concept is still the same.

I will be speaking at much greater length on this when we reach full debate, but I urge the government to reconsider this. The whole rationale that many in the government have given for this is that somehow it would deal with grievances in western Canada, to deal with the fact that westerners presumably know the results or that governments are elected before the polls have even closed in the west. That was stated to be one of the concerns here.

The effect of what the government is proposing is to do that by limiting the ability of western Canadians to vote. Closing the polls in British Columbia at 7 p.m. has a major impact upon prime voting hours in that province. This is terribly problematic and it is not necessary. I am very suspicious about the proposal to close the polls early in Alberta. This is not necessary in any form to deal with this problem. I am very surprised that the government threw that in. It was another anomaly in its solution.

The final anomaly I will mention is that this provision is actually allowing the count to begin in Ontario a half hour earlier than when the polls close in B.C. While technically feasible, this was in fact rejected by the member from Vancouver East who proposed the bill in the first place.

There are all kinds of anomalies in this solution, things that did not reflect the committee discussions.

The Liberals are trying to make amends by their Motions Nos. 5 and 20, both of which we will oppose. Motions Nos. 5 and 20 essentially propose to extend voting hours across the country from 11 hours to 12 hours. I would presume that is one way of giving people more time and more ability to vote.

Allowing British Columbians to vote at 7 a.m. before they have had breakfast or presumably on their way to work is not compensation for not being able to vote at a convenient time of the day. In fact it is more costly to keep the polls open longer. Elections Canada testified to that effect. I do not think adding the extra hour buys us anything or deals with the fundamental problems created by the government's proposal on this. We will be voting against those two motions because we do not feel they fix the problem and it is costly.

I have just a very brief comment on Motion No. 22 proposed by the Bloc Quebecois. I must admit that we have had some discussion and some uncertainty as to how we should deal with this. The Bloc has proposed to reverse a proposal in the bill that requires


employers to give only three hours to vote instead of four hours. The motion would put it back to four hours.


We will be opposing this motion. We are torn because we think it should be three hours. Four hours is too long and too much of an imposition on employers. I would point out that with the hours as they are in British Columbia, having only three hours is going to cause a fairly serious problem in terms of logistics for people trying to vote and also getting time off work from their employer, particularly if they travel some distance from work to home, which is often the case in Vancouver and some parts of rural B.C.

Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont-Dundas, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Calgary West for his intervention. I am sure there will be a great deal more intervention from both sides of the House when we get to third reading.

As I said in my brief remarks in committee while in camera, this is a partial solution. Considering the number of time zones we have across this great land of ours from east to west, I believe it is the best accommodation that can be made to reflect the sensitivities members had particularly to those Canadians living in Alberta and British Columbia.

Obviously we all realize that when it is 7 p.m. in British Columbia it is 10 p.m. in Quebec and Ontario. It would be quite a test to draft something that would be perfect for all the regions of Canada. At the same time I believe that is the art of the impossible.

I submit that this proposal is equitable and fair to the electorate throughout the country. Yes, the amendment would provide for 12 consecutive voting hours in all time zones across the country by adding one hour of voting time in the morning. Bill C-63 provides for staggered voting hours across the country to respond largely to concerns of voters in the west, particularly in British Columbia and Alberta, that their votes do not carry the same weight as those of other Canadians. Each and every vote of each and every Canadian counts equally.

The bill as reported by the committee proposed that the polls be open for 11 consecutive hours as is currently the case in each time zone but that the hours for voting be staggered as follows: The polls in Newfoundland and Atlantic zones would be open from 9 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. The polls in the eastern time region would be open from 10 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. The polls in the central zone would be open from 9.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. Polls in the mountain zone would be open from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. Finally, the polls in the Pacific zone would be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The bill proposes a reduction by one hour, from four to three hours, in the number of consecutive hours that every employer must provide to employees in order to vote. This was proposed to address the concerns of employers in western Canada. A 7 p.m. closing time in the Pacific zone would mean that employers would need to let their employees leave work at 3 p.m. under the current four hour rule. The bill's proposed reduction to three consecutive hours means that employers would allow their employees to leave work at 4 p.m. which is the current situation. Recall that currently the polls close in B.C. at 8 p.m.; with the four hour consecutive rule employees may currently leave work at 4 p.m.

Under these staggered voting hours, results from the eastern, central and mountain time zones would be available at the same time. Results from the Pacific zone would be available one-half hour later.

The proposed amendment now before us would modify the staggered voting hour proposal of Bill C-63 by adding one additional hour of voting in the morning in all time zones across the country. This means that the polls in the Newfoundland Atlantic zone would be open from 8.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. The polls in the eastern time zone would be open from 9.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. The polls in the central time zone would be open from 8.30 a.m. to8.30 p.m. The polls in the mountain time zone would be open from 7.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. The polls in the Pacific zone would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Allowing the polls to remain open for 12 consecutive hours would help to compensate voters in the Pacific time zone who are losing one hour in voting time in the evening. With this proposed new amendment, the polls in this time zone would open at 7 a.m. allowing most workers one extra hour to vote in the morning before starting work.

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, one of the most interesting things, which I am sure the government or anybody else would find in trying to create legislation that is going to work to solve a problem is to first discuss whether there is a problem of perception or a problem of a reality.

I happen to be a bit of a hybrid in that I come from British Columbia but I happen to be in the Alberta time zone so I speak with some authority to this issue. In fact, if we look at the reality, the reality is that with Internet, telephone communications and satellite services, those in western Canada who choose to avail themselves of information relative to voting patterns in Ontario, Atlantic Canada or Quebec can do so.

I may be admitting to some kind of a crime here, but in 1993, one hour after the polls closed in Ontario I made a telephone call from British Columbia to Ontario to find out what was going on. That does happen and it is a reality. However, the question has to be: How many people in western Canada actually do that?

There are only a selected number of us who choose to become candidates and a few more who choose to actually support the political parties. For the most part, there is no problem. As a matter of fact, according to the reports that I read in the news media on the most recent U.S. presidential election, the amount of information that was accessed on the Internet by people in the western U.S. about what was going on in the eastern U.S. was


minuscule. In other words, in actual fact this has no real basis of reality.

There is a problem of perception. The problem is that people will turn on their televisions in the Pacific time zone and the votes will have been in the process of having been counted for four and a half hours in Newfoundland and three hours in central Canada. The perception is that the election is over.

However, I agree with the Liberal whip that every Canadian's vote counts and is equal. I suggest to this House that in actual fact it does not make a bit of difference. There may be a perception in British Columbia on the part of some people, and a little disappointment, particularly as it happened in the 1993 election. We were expecting that Reform was going to break through in Ontario, as we will in this coming election, but we were expecting that in the 1993 election. Naturally there was a lot of disappointment for the people in western Canada that the people of Ontario had not quite woken up to the fact of what Reform was about. The fact is that it did not make a bit of difference.

What I do not understand is legislation that deals with perception only and in dealing with perception completely upsets the apple cart. Everyone in this House will be fully aware of the fact that between five o'clock and eight o'clock on election day, if they have anything approximating a team working for them, their people will have the information of whether their supporters have been out and have supported them. That not being the case is when the telephoning happens. It is part of the election process.

What we have done in British Columbia is to take one full hour out of the normal election process. Does this mean that the people of British Columbia will not get out and vote? I would suggest it could. It certainly will change the difference between the way in which the election is conducted by the respective parties and their organizations and the supporters of the candidates in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces to the way in which it is conducted in Alberta and British Columbia. They will be missing the hour between seven o'clock and eight o'clock when they could be getting their voters out.

I submit to the House that this legislation deals only with perception and is problematic. It creates problems. Instead of dealing with the real problem, it creates a real problem.


Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry, Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Minister of Western Economic Diversification and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, while there are continuing discussions on a number of issues, out of an abundance of caution I wish to inform the House that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the report stage and the third reading stage of Bill C-63, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stages.

Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I heard the minister say that negotiations are ongoing and then he finished up by saying that we are unable to reach an agreement. In fact, the deputy House leader for the government and myself were sitting right here talking about this particular issue. I wonder, when we are talking, how the minister can stand up and say that no agreement has been reached.

The Deputy Speaker: The time is now 1.30 p.m. The House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business, as listed on today's Order Paper.






The House resumed from October 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C-297, an act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Ian Murray (Lanark-Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today on Bill C-297, an act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel.

Louis Riel worked tirelessly for Metis people, as well as other residents of the territory, so that they could take their rightful place in Canadian society and exercise their rights and freedoms within the Dominion of Canada.

An historical perspective is always useful to have when examining a matter such as we have before us today in the House.

The Metis people of Rupert's Land and the North-West Territory took steps, through democratic structures and procedures, to maintain order and to protect the interests of all the members of the community at the Red River.

In 1870, under the leadership of Louis Riel, the Metis of the Red River adopted a list of rights. Based on the list of rights, Louis Riel negotiated the terms for admission of Rupert's Land and the North-West Territory into the Dominion of Canada. A delegation of three was sent by the provisional government to Ottawa to present the terms to the Canadian government. This action put an abrupt


end to some publicly expressed desires, south of our border, to have American settlers expand northward into Rupert's Land.

These terms of admission, or union, form part of the Manitoba Act. This act provided for certain guarantees for Metis people, who were then in the majority, including schooling and religious rights, as well as recognition of the French and English languages.

The rights of other citizens were also clearly set out. This was Riel's vision of a united country, with each citizen participating on an equal basis.

After negotiating the entry of Manitoba into Confederation, Louis Riel was elected three times by acclamation to the House of Commons. All hon. members know that acclamation is a rare event in the political process, an action accorded only to those who command the greatest respect from all quarters. Such was the stature of Louis Riel in Manitoba at that time.

From the late 1870s to the mid-1880s the territory west of Manitoba was undergoing significant change. Indians were not the only occupants of this region. Both English speaking and French speaking Metis and settlers of many nationalities had moved west of Manitoba. These people banded together to advance their requests to government for the maintenance of their rights.


The Metis asked Louis Riel to assist in negotiating with the government. This took place at a time when Metis people and others felt the government had not responded to the plight of the people in the North-West Territory. This had led to extreme tensions.

The Metis people of the territory led by Louis Riel, decided to take action to secure their interests. Several military expeditions were dispatched to the west. Sadly, this led to a conflict in which lives were lost. Louis Riel paid with his life for his leadership in a movement which sought protection for the aspirations and interests of Metis people. This loss was devastating to Riel's family and has been a heavy burden for all Metis people.

The Metis people have since honoured Louis Riel's memory and have continued his purposes. The Constitution Act of 1992 recognizes and affirms existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the Metis. Governments have honoured Louis Riel in numerous ways. Commemorative stamps have been issued to honour Louis Riel.

The government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, funded the publication of the collective writings of Louis Riel. This was published by the University of Alberta Press in 1985 to commemorate the anniversary of the North-West rebellion. Copies of this scholarly work have been deposited in all major Canadian libraries.

On March 10, 1992, the House of Commons passed a special resolution honouring Louis Riel as a founder of Manitoba and recognizing his contribution to the development of western Canada.

The government takes very seriously its obligation to honour one of its sons for his many contributions. On May 16, 1996 a new statue of Louis Riel was unveiled in Winnipeg. The Metis people see this depiction of Riel as a statesman as a proper and fitting tribute. Funded by the government, the statue is situated on the grounds of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

Riel's statue overlooks the Assiniboia River just west of its confluence with the Red River, two of the major transportation routes of the settlement in that era of our country's history.

At the unveiling the Minister of Foreign Affairs and member for Winnipeg South Centre told the gathering that Riel was a father of Confederation for all Canadians. Lieutenant-Governor Yvon Dumont, a Metis, said the unveiling of the statue establishes Riel's status as Manitoba's founder. Mr. Dumont said: ``He is a hero to all Canadians. Today we hold our heads higher''.

The government will continue to work closely with Metis leaders and the family of Louis Riel to find meaningful and appropriate ways to celebrate Riel's contributions to Confederation. The government will continue the dialogue begun with the Metis leadership in order to arrive at a satisfactory solution concerning his conviction. We will also continue our discussions with the leadership on this and other matters through the existing bilateral process with the Metis National Council.

I cannot accept the premise on which this bill was put forward. When Bill C-297 was tabled, the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata asserted that Riel was hanged ``because he was Metis, because he was francophone and because he stood up for a distinct society''. Statements such as these do no justice to Louis Riel. They are incompatible with his purposes.

Riel was an eloquent, articulate defender of Metis rights as well as those of all members of the community, whether aboriginal or non-aboriginal, anglophone or francophone. Louis Riel believed in Metis having equal rights and participation within Confederation. Metis formed a substantial part of the population then and he championed the rights of minority groups.

Louis Riel would likely be saddened today by the divisive approach being taken by the Bloc in this debate.

I would like to remind the House of the resolution adopted in 1992 by the House, which recognized the unique and historic role of Louis Riel as the founder of Manitoba and his contribution to the


development of Confederation. It further agreed to support the true attainment both in principle and practice of the constitutional rights of the Metis people.

Whatever we do to find a way to address this important matter, we should do so in a manner which is acceptable to the family of Louis Riel and to Metis.



Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You will no doubt appreciate that I readily support the bill introduced by my hon. colleague from Rimouski-Témiscouata. For the benefit of those just joining us, I would like to make it quite clear that, as the official opposition in this House, we sincerely believe that we are putting before Parliament a bill to redress an injustice.

We must not overlook the fact that there was a time in Parliament's history when, within these walls, shame, intolerance and injustice prevailed. Our purpose in recalling such injustice is certainly not to revive old fratricidal conflicts. We will recall that Louis Riel was democratically elected three times by the people of Provencher and given the mandate to do what we as Canadian parliamentarians are doing today, namely representing our communities.

There is a paradox in accusing of high treason a man who, on many occasions in this House, was recognized as an upstanding founder of Manitoba. Louis Riel was recognized as a leader in his own right in the defence of human rights. He advocated principles that still reverberate in Parliament.

There is a paradox in, on the one hand, recognizing that Riel was one of the founders of Manitoba, that he fought for his peers, for the recognition of the right to self-government and self-determination of his community, the Métis community, and on the other hand, regarding him as a traitor. This paradox could become a source of unbearable shame if ever we, as parliamentarians, were so ill-advised as to not support the bill put forward by my colleague, the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata.

What is this bill all about? It calls for the revocation of Louis Riel's conviction. We are not trying to rewrite history here. Later in the debate, as we have all along, we will review the very specific milestones of Louis Riel's public life.

I think it would be unfair and irresponsible not to recognize that the decision to sentence Louis Riel to death for high treason was historically unfounded. Without rewriting history, but having lucidly considered the facts, we certainly have a duty and responsibility to redress the injustice that unfairly cost Louis Riel his life.

What are the tools at our disposal to effect redress? This is what the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, who has a sense of history, is proposing. She is asking this Parliament-let me quote the bill directly:

Whereas Louis David Riel, member of the House of Commons for the electoral district of Provencher from 1873 to 1874, was convicted on August 1, 1885 of high treason and sentenced to death, and was hanged on November 16, 1885 at Regina, North West Territories;
Whereas, notwithstanding his conviction, Louis David Riel has become a symbol and a hero to successive generations of Canadians who have, through their governments, honoured and commemorated him in specific projects and actions;
It is being asked-and this is the thrust of the bill, this is where we will see if, in the House, we are able to act upon words-out of respect for history, since:

-and whereas it is consistent with this recognition that the conviction of Louis David Riel be now revoked-
that this conviction now be revoked.

You will tell me that history cannot be rewritten, and this is a very great truth.


I repeat that, if history cannot be rewritten, we still have the responsibility, as parliamentarians, to set the record straight, considering that it was in this very place that Louis David Riel, whose election was sanctioned by a democratic process, as is the case for all of us here, was not allowed to fulfill his mandate.

But worse than that, what happened? There was a practice Louis Riel, first in 1869-70, as the head of his community located close to the Red River, witnessed, without being consulted, powerless but not impassive, whereby British settlers, people who were not part of his community, occupied the land. Louis Riel was forced to stand by, fully aware and committed, while an act of dispoilment was being committed. I am deliberately using the word ``despoilment'', because as you probably remember, the central government of the day, with the support of the British authorities, sent surveyors to readjust the maps so as to redistribute the lands to people other than the Metis.

Under these circumstances, prompted by their strong desire for democracy, Louis Riel and his peers formed a temporary government which had to quell a rebellion, a government which, having to deal with the rebellion stirred up by British settlers in Fort Garry, decided to execute Thomas Scott.

Because a community was being despoiled, a man had to die, as was the custom at the time. The Metis were despoiled.

What happened then? Instead of opening up the discussions, of trying to understand the claims which the Metis had often ex-


plained to Parliament, violence was used, because the government felt it could quell the rebellion with the help of its armed forces.

The fundamental problem was that of a community which was being despoiled on an individual basis, because the very existence of the Metis community was being ignored.

Time has gone by and Louis Riel has remained the very significant figure he has always been for the Metis. Ontario and its most aggressive Anglo Protestants demanded Louis Riel's head and they got it.

In a second uprising, this time in the far west, at the end of the railway line, there was a second attempt at removing a community and despoiling the Metis again in what was to become Saskatchewan.

Again in 1865, Louis Riel was part of the struggle and stood up for his people. At that time, we-I say ``we'', but there is nothing personal to it-the Parliament of Canada was party to a verdict of execution against Louis Riel. What is becoming increasingly clear from the writings of historians of the day, and very few of us could deny these facts, is that Louis Riel was the victim of injustice and that the ideal conditions, the conditions of elementary justice, were not all there for his trial.

I could remind you that Louis Riel was tried in Regina although he should have been in Winnipeg. He was judged in Regina by six English- speaking jurors, but if his trial had been held in Winnipeg, as his peers were requesting at the time, the jury would have been made up of an equal number of English- and French-speaking jurors.

Also, Louis Riel was tried by a judge liable to dismissal.


He was not tried by a Superior Court judge, who could have acted independently from the federal government because he was not liable to dismissal.

Moreover, Louis Riel and his family were not allowed the benefit of the expertise of his attending physician. The government preferred the testimony of a Hamilton doctor, who examined Riel for half an hour, before coming up with the subservient and false medical opinion we are all aware of.

Still on the sad saga of Riel, the jury that condemned him recommended clemency, but the judge nevertheless sentenced him to death. Louis Riel's story is a story of injustice. It is the story of a subservient Parliament and, thus, of a community covered in shame.

You know all the publicity Riel's case had in Quebec. It is certainly not by accident that, after the hanging of Louis Riel, in November 1885, the Premier of Quebec, Honoré Mercier, the fist premier, as you will remember, who asked for an interprovincial conference, the first nationalist premier, said spontaneously in front of a huge crowd of 50,000 people: ``Louis Riel, our brother, died unjustly''.

And in the opinion of several historians, Louis Riel's death was the first step in what was to become a major national unity crisis.

Allow me, in concluding, to quote a distant cousin of Louis Riel and former member of the other House, who said this: ``We have to admit that this sentence alienated the Province of Quebec. This was a major crisis, maybe as serious as the one we living through today. It is hardly surprising that, each year between 1885 and 1900, some 100,000 French Canadians left Quebec to emigrate to the United States. They did not go to western Canada. There is no need to look for the causes underlying this phenomenon. People in Quebec felt they were not welcome in that part of the country, as was evidenced by events of the day, such as the death of Riel and the fact that the use of French was abolished in Manitoba in 1890''. These are historical facts.

Mr. Francis G. LeBlanc (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House today to speak to Bill C-297, an act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel, the main purpose of which is to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel for high treason. More specifically, it is a revocation of the guilty verdict and not simply a posthumous pardon.

Everybody in this House knows that Canadian history, especially the development of the western part of the country and the relations in the first years of existence of our country, cannot be understood without a good understanding of the events surrounding the work of Louis Riel and the Métis people in Manitoba and in western Canada in general.

This subject is studied in all history courses in our country, even in high school. Louis Riel's place in Canadian history is truly essential.



Louis Riel played a key role in Canadian history in the 19th century. Indeed, he was an important contributor to Confederation. Riel was educated in theology and the law. He was fluent in English, French, Greek and Latin. He was an eloquent and polished statesman who directed the negotiations with the Government of Canada on the entry of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories into the Dominion of Canada.

Louis Riel was a man who worked tirelessly for the Métis people and indeed others who settled in the areas of what have now become the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Under the leadership of Louis Riel the Métis of the Red River adopted a list of rights in 1870.



That list of rights served as a base for negotiations between Louis Riel and the Canadian government for the entry of Rupert's Land and the Northwest Territories in the Dominion of Canada.

That list essentially constituted the terms of the union and was included in the Manitoba Act, 1870.

After that province joined Confederation, voters in the riding of Provencher, Manitoba, elected Louis Riel as their member of the House of Commons three times by acclamation. However, the circumstances did not allow Riel to occupy his seat.

Not only did Riel help Manitoba become the fifth province to join the Dominion of Canada, he also helped people in western Manitoba to present their claims to the government.

When the Métis people asked Riel to help them defend their civil rights in the Northwest Territories, in an area that is now part of the province of Saskatchewan, he answered their call.


We now recognize that the government of the day was slow in responding to the requests of the residents of the region, even if these requests were reasonable requests. What were these requests? Let me review the principal requests for the record.

The residents wanted appropriate surveys of their settlements made. They asked for improved transportation so they could move products and materials to and from the markets. They wanted other usual services, those services normally provided by governments to its citizens and nothing more.

The Métis, both the English speaking and French speaking Métis, along with settlers of many nationalities sent numerous petitions and delegations to Ottawa to ask the government to carry out its responsibilities. After what these residents viewed as many years of neglect and without recourse against the encroachment of others, they asked Riel to help them. The combination of frustrated citizens and the appearance of a military expedition led to an unfortunate turn of events and the loss of life.

These unfortunate events must not make us forget that Louis Riel devoted his life to the interests of the Métis people. He understood their concerns. He had a vision of the proper place of Métis people and other westerners within Confederation.

The government intends to seek to recognize his positive achievements. Over the years governments have recognized Louis Riel's contribution to this country in a number of ways.

Hon. members may remember that the government has issued postage stamps commemorating Riel. To honour Riel's memory cultural performances have been funded over the years, including the very successful Batoche days, an event that has taken place for the past 25 years. On March 10, 1992 the House of Commons recognized by special resolution the unique and historic role of Louis Riel as founder of Manitoba and as a significant contributor to the building of Confederation.

On May 16, 1996 this government made possible through the provision of significant funding the unveiling of a new statue to Louis Riel on the grounds of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. This statue depicts Riel as the statesman he was.

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Many things have already been done and many more positive things can be done. We must encourage the government to keep the lines of communication open with Metis leaders and the family of Louis Riel to ensure they agree with any proposed measures.

There is already a process for discussions with the Metis leadership. This includes a bilateral process with the Metis National Council and the tripartite self-government negotiations with the Metis organizations at the provincial level. Discussions with the Metis leadership should continue through the existing processes.

There is a recognition among all Canadians of the proper place of Louis Riel in Canadian history. There is a recognition among Canadians that if Louis Riel were alive today and the circumstances he was involved in were debated in light of today's Canadian values, most likely events would have taken a much different turn. Let us hope we have learned through the course of history how to deal with the circumstances which brought forth Louis Riel's expression of concern on behalf of his people.

It is always very difficult for us as legislators to attempt to judge the past based on today's determination of justice and values. We hope that as history progresses we will improve and enlarge the scope of understanding through which we pursue matters of justice such as those which led to Mr. Riel's execution in 19th century Canada.

Other examples have been debated in this House where members of Parliament with the very best intentions have wanted to rewrite history to right the wrongs which legislators today accept were wrong. For many reasons these wrongs have not been brought forward in those ways. And we hope to learn from the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them.

It is interesting that this debate is taking place on the day after the release of the report of the royal commission on aboriginal peoples. One of the commission's strong messages is that the treatment of aboriginal peoples has been fundamentally flawed throughout the long history, from the beginning when Europeans came and settled in this country.


The authors of that report are asking Canadians to lay a new foundation for the relationship. But we cannot reverse what has taken place in 300 years of history. We have to learn from that history and if necessary start again. That is my message in this debate.


Mrs. Maud Debien (Laval East, BQ): Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues from the Bloc, I would like to speak to Bill C-297, an act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel.

A few days ago, it was the 111th anniversary of the hanging of Louis Riel. That crucial and much debated event of Canadian history still haunts this Chamber. It is said that history is ``the science that studies things that do not repeat themselves'', but it is also said that knowing history is essential to understanding the present. Furthermore, the lessons of history help to better anticipate the future. Louis Riel's actions have an exceptional historical significance in the development of western Canada, not only in his struggles on behalf of minority rights and of the establishment of real provinces in the West, but also in his campaigns for the strengthening of our border with United States.


History cannot be rewritten. However, we can redress the wrongs done to that great man, condemned to death in a mockery of justice. We have the duty to defend and rehabilitate Louis Riel's memory. His cause was our cause. He wanted all communities to be treated fairly and be allowed to develop freely.

Who was Louis Riel? Let us go back to history to make a portrait of the man. Louis Riel was born in St. Boniface in 1844; his parents were Metis. After his studies, he began his career in Sir George-Étienne Cartier's law firm in Montreal.

Shortly thereafter, he returned to Red River to take up the important role of leader of the Métis in their fight against the expansionist powers of the government in Ottawa. Louis Riel devoted himself not just to the cause of defending the rights of the Métis, but also to protecting the rights of all the inhabitants of Red River at a time when the traditional equilibrium of the colony was threatened by outside factors.

Indeed, in 1867, the British North America Act had created the new Dominion of Canada, whose leaders were looking to extend their rule from one coast to the other.

Manitoba and part of the Northwest Territories, which then belonged to the Hudson's Bay Company, were run by governors appointed by that company. At that time, the government in Ottawa was concerned about the expansionist leanings of certain Americans and decided to negotiate directly with the Hudson's Bay Company to buy Rupert's Land-and this is where the problem lies-completely ignoring the concerns of the local population, who, at the time, felt like so much cattle for sale.

There were then almost 12,000 people in the Red River area; the Métis, mostly French speaking and Catholic, and long time settlers, mostly English speaking, of English or Scottish descent. Buffalo hunters and farmers, these groups that were different in every respect, language, religion, and livelihood, had still learned how to co-exist. The territorial ambitions of Ottawa, and the attitude of certain new colonists from the East would destroy this fragile balance.

It rapidly became apparent that the strategy of the hardliners within the Canadian government was to provoke civil war in the western colony and to lay the blame for it on the Metis, so as to reduce their influence and destroy their political power. Emerging victorious from the battle of 1869, the emissaries of Louis Riel negotiated with John Alexander Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier the terms of a settlement, which became the Manitoba Act in 1870. This conferred the status of province on the new territory, and hence Riel was considered the father of Manitoba.

The Metis approved this settlement in June 1870, but Louis Riel was under accusation of acts of rebellion and unable to obtain amnesty. He was forced to leave the province he had helped to establish. Louis Riel did, however, succeed in getting elected to the federal Parliament clandestinely in October 1873. Out of fear of being arrested and charged, subsequent to the Scott affair, he did not report to the House of Commons.

Re-elected in the 1874 general election, he was expelled from the House that same year on a motion from an Anglo-Protestant member. Re-elected for a third time in the byelection required by his own expulsion, he was again expelled from the House. Prime Minister Mackenzie then obtained the approval of the House to grant Riel amnesty, conditional upon a five-year exile.

Seven years later, in 1882, the Metis of the North-West, fearing loss of their lands to the Canadian Pacific, again rebelled and called upon Louis Riel.


As we know, the rebellion ended in the defeat of Metis troops at Batoche in 1885. Riel was taken prisoner and transferred shortly afterwards to prison in Regina.

But the worst was yet to come. There are many indications that the trial of Louis Riel took place in circumstances that were unfavourable from every point of view. His trial was to be held in Winnipeg, in a bilingual court before an independent judge of the Superior Court, and probably half of the jury members would be francophones.

Prime Minister Macdonald's cabinet ordered the trial to be held in Regina, where the court would function in English only, where the territorial magistrate could be removed at the discretion of the


federal government and where it was unlikely any of the jury members would be French-speaking.

A number of historians agree that Macdonald was intent on making Riel take the blame for everything and having him convicted and executed as soon as possible.

The trial of Riel was held during the summer of 1885. He was accused of high treason under an English law dating back to 1352, according to which the penalty for treason was death. However, we know that Louis Riel could have been tried under a Canadian law passed in 1868, which provided that the penalty for attacking the security of the state was life imprisonment. On August 1, the jury declared Riel guilty and recommended clemency. The judge sentenced him to death.

Another important aspect of this question is that the federal cabinet could recommend that the Governor General use his royal prerogative to pardon Riel. However, Ontario wanted Riel's head, while French Canadians in Quebec and Manitoba demanded that he be pardoned.

The government, faced with these two waves of protests, calculated the number of seats it would lose on either side in the next election. The pardon was denied, and Louis Riel was hanged on November 16, 1885 in Regina.

This is not about rewriting history, as I said earlier. Louis Riel was convicted and sentenced to death for treason in 1885. However, more and more people, including historians and politicians, believe today that the cause Riel defended at the time, the rights of the Metis, Native people and the francophones of Western Canada, was a just cause.

In 1992, this House acknowledged the unique and historic role Louis Riel played in founding Manitoba. And yet, in legal terms, Riel is still a traitor. This is the paradox that the bill of my colleague from Rimouski-Témiscouata aims to eliminate.

In the past 15 years or so, no fewer than seven bills have been tabled by various parties in the House of Commons in order to restore Louis Riel to his rightful place.

In 1985, on the 100th anniversary of his hanging, the member for Hamilton, today the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Deputy Prime Minister, sought a posthumous pardon for Riel. Our colleague concluded her impassioned statement by saying, and I quote: ``Louis Riel, who died unnecessarily, deserves to be exonerated by the government and recognized as a victim of wrongdoing''.

Bill C-297, which calls for the conviction of Louis Riel to be overturned, is in the end an act of restoration. It is this House's recognition of an injustice to a citizen who paid with his life, at the age of 41, the cost of his devotion to defending human rights.


He was also a pioneer at that point. Unfair and unjust treatment warrants exemplary reparation. This is what the bill before us calls for today, and it speaks to all members of this House.

Neither statues nor statements in the House will suffice; what is required is legislation overturning the conviction. I ask my colleagues on both sides of the House to support the member's bill.

Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil-Papineau, B.Q.): Mr. Speaker, on November 16, 1885, Louis David Riel was hanged.

One hundred and eleven years ago today, on November 22, 1885, in reaction to this hanging, 40,000 to 50,000 people gathered at the Champ de Mars, in Montreal, and heard Premier Honoré Mercier's famous cry: ``Riel, our brother, is dead, the victim of his dedication to the cause of the Metis''.

Quebecers have not forgotten Louis Riel. This is why I rise today to support Bill C-297, an act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel, which was introduced by my colleague, the member for Rimouski-Témiscouata.

In order to understand why it is important for the Metis people and for all the francophones in the country to get Louis Riel's name cleared, one must know the history of the development of western Canada, which is closely intertwined with the life of Louis Riel.

Louis Riel was born in St. Boniface, on October 22, 1844. He was the son of Louis Riel, whose mother-Riel's grandmother-was a Metis, and of Julie de Lagimonière, the daughter of the first white woman born in the North-West.

Eldest of 11 children, he was gifted, and thus he was sent to the Petit Séminaire de Montréal, where he studied from 1858 to 1865. In 1866, he went back to the Red River area and settled in St. Boniface in July 1868.

Back home, he noticed a strong antipathy between newly arrived English Protestant settlers, who wanted to control the colony with the help of the central government, and the long time residents, that is the Metis and francophones, but also Scots and anglophones born in the West.

The discontent was aggravated when the government sent some survey crews to divide the land, and the surveyors kept the better lots for themselves or their friends, declaring arrogantly that the legitimate owners would soon have to give up their farms to the English settlers coming from the East.

Riel embraced the cause of his compatriots, protested against the actions of the surveyors and sent demands to the federal Parliament. When the Hudson's Bay Company stopped governing the


country, in December 1869, Louis Riel formed a provisional government, with English-speaking and French-speaking members, which was later approved by the cabinet in Ottawa.

That provisional government took prisoner a group of English Canadians who were challenging its authority but soon released them. Some of them, including the young Ontario Anglo-Protestant Thomas Scott, took up arms again and were arrested once again. The Metis convened a court-martial and Scott was sentenced to death and executed. Ontario never forgave Louis Riel for that action.

The conflict with the central government was solved thanks to the mediation of Bishop Alexandre Taché, and the government promised to declare full amnesty and to meet all the demands of the Metis.


Strong action on the part of Riel and the Metis, their control over the territory and their list of rights forced the federal government of the day to grant provincial status to part of this territory, namely the district of Assiniboine. It would later become the Province of Manitoba, thus foiling federal plans to turn western provinces into mere territories under the control of governors appointed by Ottawa. Western Canada owes a great deal to Louis Riel; it should acknowledge and be grateful for his contribution.

Promises of amnesty were broken. Louis Riel was elected three times to the House of Commons, in 1873, 1874 and 1875, but was never able to sit as a member because a price had been put on his head. In February 1875 he went into exile for five years in exchange for amnesty.

Pursued by enemies who despise him and fearing for his life, Riel stayed twice in Quebec hospitals, before returning to western Canada and the United States.

In 1880, the Metis started sending numerous petitions to the federal government, which was slow in delivering their property titles. The Metis feared losing their lands to Canadian Pacific.

In July 1884, Metis, anglophones and Indians from Saskatchewan asked Riel to help them protect their rights, as he had done so well for the people of Manitoba in 1869. Faced with the Conservative government's apathetic attitude, the Metis decided to defend their economic, social and political rights. They created a small republic and launched a peaceful protest to that end.

On December 16, 1884, representatives of the Saskatchewan population sent the federal government a 25-clause petition outlining their claims and grievances.

They sought permission to send delegates to Ottawa to submit a list of rights and possibly reach an agreement on the eventual inclusion of their territory in the Canadian Confederation, as a new province.

At the time, Saskatchewan had a population of 60,000. By comparison, Manitoba only had a population of 12,000 when it joined Confederation. The central government's reaction to the reasonable demands made by the Saskatchewan people was to send in the army to subdue them and give their lands to the railway company and to settlers from the east.

Since the federal government was showing no interest in their cause, the Metis and the Indians rebelled, winning a few battles in the process. However, the troops sent by Ottawa defeated Riel at Batoche and regained control over the territory. Riel gave himself up.

On November 16, 1885, after a trial tainted with irregularities, and despite the jury's call for clemency and the representations of Quebecers, Louis David Riel, the Métis hero, was hanged. He was the only leader sentenced to death, which shows that his execution was mainly a political issue.

Louis Riel has become a symbol, the symbol of a linguistic and cultural minority struggling to survive and to get equal civil and political rights. These rights have long been ignored, and to this day, Métis and francophones have to fight to have their constitutional rights recognized in their daily life.

Whether our Reform colleagues like it or not, Louis Riel was also a worthy figure in the fight of pioneers who cherished freedom, close contact with nature, and the vastness of this country to prevent the federal government from interfering with their way of life in the name of civilization.

Let me quote from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, published by the University of Toronto Press. I ask my colleagues in the Reform Party to listen carefully to this quotation about Louis Riel:


``Today he is seen as a founder of those movements which have protested central Canadian political and economic powers''.



Riel could therefore be considered one of the first to condemn western alienation. Are the members from the western provinces willing to pay tribute to Louis Riel by voting in favour of this bill?

It must be clearly understood that we are not trying to rewrite history with this bill. Louis Riel was the leader of a rebellion, he was captured, summarily convicted and executed, those are the facts. For many anglophones living at that time, Riel was a traitor, an enemy; for francophones and the Metis, he was a hero.

The question today is how we, members of the House, consider him now. Many of the rights for which he fought have been recognized in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The House of Commons has unanimously recognized his unique historical role as founder of Manitoba and his contribution to Confedera-


tion. A Canadian stamp has been issued in his honour, and statues have been erected to him.

The Liberals, when they sat on the opposition benches, asked for Louis Riel's rehabilitation. For example, in 1985, the Deputy Prime Minister asked the Conservative government to exonerate Riel and went even further by saying: ``Louis Riel, who died unnecessarily, deserves to be exonerated by the government and recognized as a victim of wrongdoing''.

In May 1996, the then foreign affairs minister stated: ``As long as I am in office, I will do my utmost to ensure that the Metis have the right to take part fully in this country''. It is now time for the Liberals, who have been in office for three years, to make good on their promise and to take action in favour of Louis Riel.

Clearing the name of Louis Riel would harm no one, since all those involved at the time have long been dead. But this would be a symbolic gesture of opening up to the Metis and French communities to show them that they are welcome in this country and that they are respected.

Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean), BQ: Mr. Speaker, I will take the few minutes remaining. ``Je me souviens''. Yes, I remember my language, my culture, and all those who died for me. After all, these are the words that appear on all licence plates in Quebec. Remembering is important.

Lately, someone asked me why we bothered to have a debate in the House on this subject. That person wondered if revoking the conviction of Louis David Riel would change anything in the world. I say that we must acknowledge that something terrible happened: a political execution or an attempt to alter history.

Mr. Riel was, I would say, victim of wrongdoing. I think it is important to know where we have come from to know where we are going. We did not just spring up one day. It is important to understand the origins of our nations, what happened in the past.

What I find particularly fascinating is to see so many of my colleagues opposite who stated, while in opposition, that they were ready to do anything to ensure the revocation of Louis Riel's condemnation. I cannot wait for the results of this vote. What will happen?

It may not be a great moment in the history of our country, but it will be a small moment in our history. For me, it is heart-warming to be able to speak today on such an important issue. I am particularly proud, because two years ago, I had the opportunity to follow an English immersion program in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, just a few kilometres from Batoche where these events occurred.

We are standing up for a hero who fought for democracy as a whole, who gave his life for what he considered a fair and good cause.

Such was the cause and the involvement of a man who put his mark on Canada's very foundation, that is, the Canadian Constitution. This was the cause of a man who was persecuted because he was proud to be a Metis, a Catholic and a French-speaking Canadian, three things that were then very badly perceived in Ottawa.

When we see how the government is treating its minorities today, we tend to believe that things have not really changed. We sometimes wonder. We often blame the young for not being interested in the history of their country and for not knowing anything about this episode of their history, which makes so many Quebecers and Canadians proud.

In order to really understand how important this bill is, we should go back in time to get to know who Louis David Riel was. In so doing we will refresh the memories of those who may have chosen to forget what happened.

Riel was born in 1844 in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba. He was a Métis, which means his parents were of different races.

After his studies at the Petit Séminaire in Montreal, he returned to Manitoba in 1866 and saw the hostility between English Protestant settlers who had recently settled there and wanted to control the area, and the francophone Métis who were Catholics.

Mr. Speaker, I know my time has expired.

The Deputy Speaker: We will resume debate next time with the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean.


The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has expired.

It being 2.30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until 11 a.m. on Monday.

(The House adjourned at 2.30 p.m.)