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36th Parliament, 1st Session



Friday, November 21, 1997

. 1000

VMr. Bob Kilger
VCanadian Heritage
VMr. Dennis J. Mills

. 1005

VBill C-17. Second reading
VMr. Julian Reed

. 1010

VMs. Elinor Caplan

. 1015

VMr. Dick Harris

. 1020

VMr. Peter Stoffer

. 1025

VMs. Hélène Alarie

. 1030

. 1035

VMr. Dick Harris

. 1040

VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VMr. Rob Anders

. 1045

VDivision deferred
VMr. Bob Kilger
VMr. Peter Stoffer
VMr. Bob Kilger

. 1050

VBill C-7. Report stage
VMotion for concurrence
VHon. Andy Mitchell
VMr. Bob Kilger
VHon. Andy Mitchell
VMr. Paul Crête

. 1055

VMr. Dick Harris

. 1100

VMr. Eugène Bellemare
VMs. Caroline St-Hilaire
VMs. Elinor Caplan
VMr. Guy Saint-Julien
VMr. Jay Hill

. 1105

VMr. Paul DeVillers
VMs. Marlene Catterall
VMr. Grant McNally
VMr. Robert Bertrand

. 1110

VMr. Gordon Earle
VMrs. Nancy Karetak-Lindell
VMrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral
VMr. Peter MacKay
VMrs. Sue Barnes

. 1115

VMrs. Rose-Marie Ur
VMr. Ken Epp
VHon. Lawrence MacAulay
VMr. Ken Epp
VHon. Lawrence MacAulay
VMr. Ken Epp
VHon. Lawrence MacAulay
VMr. Jim Hart

. 1120

VHon. Lawrence MacAulay
VMr. Jim Hart
VHon. Lawrence MacAulay
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Andy Mitchell
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Andy Mitchell
VMr. Bernard Bigras
VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Bernard Bigras

. 1125

VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Bill Blaikie
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VMr. Bill Blaikie
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VMr. Bill Matthews
VMr. Stan Keyes
VMr. Bill Matthews
VMr. Stan Keyes
VMr. Bill Gilmour

. 1130

VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Bill Gilmour
VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Richard Marceau
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Richard Marceau
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Maurice Vellacott
VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Maurice Vellacott

. 1135

VHon. Allan Rock
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VHon. Alfonso Gagliano
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VHon. Alfonso Gagliano
VMr. Darrel Stinson
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Darrel Stinson
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Paul Crête

. 1140

VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VMr. John McKay
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Keith Martin
VHon. David Kilgour
VMr. Keith Martin
VHon. David Kilgour
VMr. Gordon Earle

. 1145

VMr. Bernard Patry
VMs. Bev Desjarlais
VMr. Bernard Patry
VMr. Scott Brison
VMr. Julian Reed
VMr. Gerald Keddy
VMr. Julian Reed
VMr. Joe Jordan
VHon. Allan Rock

. 1150

VMr. Mike Scott
VMr. Bernard Patry
VMs. Hélène Alarie
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Peter Stoffer
VHon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
VMr. Scott Brison
VHon. Paul Martin

. 1155

VMr. Ian Murray
VMr. Walt Lastewka
VMr. Gurmant Grewal
VHon. Diane Marleau
VMr. Daniel Turp
VHon. Don Boudria
VMrs. Michelle Dockrill
VMr. Gerry Byrne
VMr. Gerry Ritz

. 1200

VHon. Paul Martin
VThe Deputy Speaker
VClass of 1988
VMr. Ken Epp
VMs. Bev Desjarlais
VMr. Joe Jordan

. 1205

VPresence in Gallery
VMr. Rob Anders
VMr. Keith Martin
VMr. Paul DeVillers
VMr. Maurizio Bevilacqua
VPresence in Gallery
VMr. Rob Anders
VBill C-285. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Jay Hill

. 1210

VFisheries and Oceans
VMr. Bob Kilger
VProcedure and House Affairs
VMs. Marlene Catterall
VNational Unity
VMr. Jack Ramsay
VCriminal Code
VMr. Jack Ramsay
VCanadian Flag
VMr. Hec Clouthier
VDonkin Mine
VMrs. Michelle Dockrill
VThe Family
VMrs. Rose-Marie Ur
VMr. Paul DeVillers
VHon. Andrew Mitchell
VBill C-7. Report stage
VMr. Deepak Obhrai
VMr. Scott Brison

. 1215

VMr. Bob Kilger
VMr. Bob Kilger
VThird reading
VHon. Andy Mitchell

. 1220

. 1225

VMr. Deepak Obhrai

. 1230

VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay

. 1235

VMr. Bill Matthews

. 1240

VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold

. 1245

. 1250

VMr. Peter Stoffer

. 1255

VMr. Guy Saint-Julien

. 1300

VMr. Gerry Byrne
VMrs. Michelle Dockrill

. 1305

. 1310

. 1315

. 1320

VMr. Gerry Byrne

. 1325

VMr. Ghislain Fournier

. 1330

. 1335

VMr. Peter MacKay

. 1340

VMr. Darrel Stinson

. 1345

. 1350

VMr. Peter Stoffer

. 1355

VMr. Hec Clouthier

. 1400

VMrs. Michelle Dockrill

. 1405


(Official Version)



Friday, November 21, 1997

The House met at 10 a.m.



. 1000 +

Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont—Dundas, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if you would ask for unanimous consent that we might table a committee report on Bill C-7.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The House has heard the request for unanimous consent. Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.





Mr. Dennis J. Mills (Broadview—Greenwood, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.



. 1005 + -




The House resumed from November 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-17, an act to amend the Telecommunications Act and the Teleglobe Canada Reorganization and Divestiture Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Thornhill.

By November 30, of this year, Canada will have deposited an Instrument of Acceptance in Geneva signifying Canada's commitment to one of the most important trade agreements of the 21st century, the agreement on basic telecommunications.

As of January 1, 1998 this agreement will open a global market of $880 billion to Canadian telecommunications companies. Canadian telecom service providers and Canadian telecom manufacturers are the best in the world. Now they will have the opportunity to connect the world and build a new global information society by bringing Canadian ingenuity to the world.

Canada was a key participant in the drive to liberalize the world's telecommunication markets. At the end of the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations that established the World Trade Organization, it was recognized that there were serious gaps in the services component of the WTO and the General Agreement on Trade and Services covered many service sectors but did not cover some fundamental business enablers such as financial services or basic telecommunications.

After two years of negotiations an agreement was reached on February 15, 1997. On that date, 69 countries with over 90% of the world's telecom revenues agreed to liberalize their markets for the provision of telecommunication services.

As a result of the agreement on basic telecommunications, the ABT, there will now be multilateral rules for trade and investment in basic telecommunication services. Local and long distance telephone, cellular, data transmission and satellite services will be open to competition. Furthermore, Canada will now be able to resort to the WTO dispute settlement process should Canada's trading partners not implement their obligations to open their markets to Canadian companies.

Each of the countries participating in the agreement has made specific commitments, setting out the terms and conditions under which foreigners are permitted to supply basic telecommunication services in their market. For example, Canadian firms will now have full access to the U.S. market for the provision of basic telecommunication services. The use of reciprocity tests by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will be severely curtailed. Canadian companies will be able to provide local telephone services in the member states of the European Union and in Japan. All of Canada's major developing country trading partners have committed to allowing foreign competition into their markets and to allowing foreign investment of between 25% and 49%.

Besides making market access commitments, the countries participating in the agreement on basic telecommunications have committed to follow the GATS most favoured nation national treatment and transparency provisions. Countries will no longer be able to treat one country's telecommunication services providers better than another. This means that Canadian companies will be able to compete on a level playing field with other foreign companies in international markets.

For telecommunication services where countries have made market access commitments, countries will have to treat foreign companies in exactly the same way as they treat local companies. So, a Canadian company in the European market will be treated the same way as a European company.

Finally, any relevant changes to government policies, regulations or administrative guidelines must be notified to the WTO. As well, countries must respond promptly to requests for information on telecommunications policies and regulations. No longer will Canadian companies be stymied by walls of obscure foreign red tape when trying to enter telecommunications markets abroad.

Furthermore, in order to ensure that as countries move from monopolies to competitive markets, the local telecommunications companies do not abuse their dominant position. The agreement includes a reference paper on regulatory principles.


. 1010 + -

This means that measures affecting trade in telecommunications services must be administered in a reasonable, objective and impartial manner. Licensing requirements and technical standards must be based on objective and transparent criteria and must not be more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service.

Canadian telecom companies will be able to obtain interconnection with local telephone companies in foreign markets under non-discriminatory rates, terms and conditions. Perhaps most important, all participating countries must establish independent regulatory bodies which are separate from and not accountable to the local telephone company.

In addition to opening foreign markets to Canadian telecommunications service providers, the agreement on basic telecoms will result in the world-wide market of $800 billion, which means the market will double or triple in size over the next 10 years. This will generate a new demand for the products of Canadian telecommunications manufacturers as telecom operators around the world prepare for a new global environment of open markets and competition.

Companies such as Nortel and Newbridge as well as dozens of small and medium size companies from Newfoundland to British Columbia have carried the Canadian reputation for high quality, competitively priced telecommunications equipment. Now this reputation should earn them a healthy share of this dynamic and expanding market.

Canadian manufacturers will also benefit from the recently concluded information technology agreement. Under the provisions of the ITA, tariffs on information technology products including computers semiconductors and telecommunications equipment will be eliminated by the year 2000. This means that a market of $500 billion will become tariff free and will allow Canadian manufacturers to compete abroad on the basis of their products and their prices. They will be free from the market distorting effects of tariffs.

This government has promised to create jobs for Canadians and to make Canada a cornerstone of the global information society. In successfully negotiating the GATS agreement on basic telecommunications, we have done both. Canadian telecom service providers will launch into newly opened markets and Canadian telecom manufacturers will find that the demand for their products will double or triple over the next 10 years.

New opportunity translates into jobs for Canadians and a chance for Canadians to make their mark on the global information society of tomorrow.

Ms. Elinor Caplan (Thornhill, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of this bill. I believe it is good for Canadian businesses and consumers, including those in Thornhill. This bill opens the world telecommunications market to Canadian companies with two important impacts. It will provide a source of jobs in the knowledge based telecommunications industries and the competition will lead to better rates for consumers. Those worthy objectives warrant support of this bill.

The overwhelming goal of this government is to connect Canadians, to make Canadians and Canada the most connected country in the world and to ensure that Canadians have access to the information highway and the new economy it supports. Many steps have been taken. This legislation brings forward the General Agreement on Trade and Services, GATS, which is the Agreement on Basic Telecommunications, ABT. The legislation before us implements the terms and the provisions of those agreements.

I met recently with the the economic development officer for the town of Markham. He told me that Markham considers itself a high tech capital of Canada. The critical mass of companies in knowledge based industries is unsurpassed in this country. The critical mass is some 700 companies.


. 1015 + -

I believe, on further exploration, people would find that many of those companies are involved in or are supporting the telecommunications industry which is finding its hub, its strong base, not only in Thornhill but throughout Ontario.

I can also say that I have met with the director of education for the York region board of education. As well, I have met with the chair and the director of education of the York region separate school board. I am pleased to report on the interest that students and their boards of education have shown in the government's SchoolNet program. In fact, not only is there interest in ensuring that all the schools in Thornhill are connected, the program of having computers in schools is already firmly connected in the York separate school boards.

They have established a centre where old computers are refurbished. To date over 400 computers have been distributed through the York region separate school board system as a result of the program of the Ministry of Industry which assists schools to participate in the program and the students to have access to the computers.

I know that the York region board of education is also very interested in participating in this program.

There is a heightened awareness of the need to be connected. There is a heightened awareness of the need to have access and skills to use these technologies. There is a need for our students to be educated and have those skills which will lead them to the jobs of the future.

This legislation will give Canadian business access to an $880 billion industry worldwide. Canada is at the forefront. We are leaders in this technology. I believe that opening competition in telecommunications services is not only an important part of the strategy which this bill provides, but we know that it is the best and the fastest way to build the infrastructure for a knowledge based economy. The way to do that is through open competition. We know that Canadians can compete and can also lead the world.

Canada will be hosting the high level OECD conference on electronic commerce in the fall of 1998. Electronic commerce is not only central to the knowledge based economy, it is also the foundation for future growth and job creation. By creating the best environment for electronic commerce Canada can and will continue to be a world leader in this emerging field, generating increased investment in electronic networks and growth in such areas as electronic transmission, multimedia products and on-line services.

The OECD conference will be an excellent opportunity for Canadians to learn more about what Canada is doing, what opportunities there are for them and also about the impact on consumers.

The legislation before us today is a necessary step toward giving our telecommunications service companies the keys they need to the world market. It is my hope that this bill will be received and unanimously supported by everyone in this House. I believe it is in the interests of Canadian businesses, it is in the interests of Canadian consumers, it is in the interests of all in Canada who have an interest in economic prosperity and job creation. I know that the people of Thornhill would want to see this bill passed expeditiously and implemented.

Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George—Bulkley Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the hon. member and certainly there are parts of this bill which we can support. Perhaps overall it will improve the system. However, one of the things that really concerns us is something which has confounded Canadian business, especially the telecommunications business, and that is that this bill confers additional powers of jurisdiction to the CRTC.


. 1020 + -

Canadian business is asking the government to get out of its face and let it do business. We see sections of this bill which enable the government, via the CRTC, to get more into the face of Canadian business.

In view of the fact that Canadian business basically wants to say leave it alone to just do business in this country, create jobs and a healthy economy, this bill gives the CRTC more dictatorial powers which may serve to further confound the efforts of Canadian business.

I would like the hon. member to comment on this, please.

Ms. Elinor Caplan: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that this bill actually in the specific agreement excludes is broadcasting. One of the reasons for that was the concern of this government to ensure the protection of Canadian culture. In all agreements that have dealt with trade, we have made sure that culture was off the table and excluded, and the CRTC has been an important instrument in ensuring that Canadian culture has been protected and that industries know the rules.

While the CRTC, like any other institution, is imperfect, certainly we always must remain vigilant to ensure that Canadian culture is protected at the same time as our industries are encouraged to participate in a competitive environment and play on the world stage in a way that will create jobs and prosperity for Canadians.

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I listened to the comments from the hon. member from the Liberal party. The unfortunate aspect of it is that in Nova Scotia we saw recently the provincial government giving $12 million to AT&T to compete head on with our local phone company, MT&T.

I know my colleagues in the Reform Party do not like the idea of people on welfare and people collecting EI, but I am sure they would be quite adamant that huge rich multinational companies come into areas of the maritimes and literally coerce the provincial government into giving them money in order to set up shop to the detriment of workers and the company and management already there.

Can she give assurances to this House today that this bill, or the agreements to these bills after the OECD, will not add to the detriment of working people already in those communities? As well, at the same time she talks about education for children, need I remind this House that it was this government that cut education funding to the Atlantic provinces and across this country to the tune of billions of dollars.

On one hand she says this is good for the future of people and children. On the other hand they are taking money away that aids the children of our future.

Ms. Elinor Caplan: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the member. I believe that Canada and Canadians will benefit. We will benefit in two very specific ways. The agreement opens up a world market of $880 billion to Canadian telecom companies which are among the best in the world and which can compete. That will mean more jobs and better jobs for people right across this country. I believe that is what competition will do. I believe we will see that right across this country and hopefully every region will see those benefits.

Canadian telecom services providers will also benefit from new markets on an equal footing with local and foreign competitors and Canadian telecom manufacturers will find a new demand for their state of the art products as new and exciting telecom operators around the world prepare for global markets which are open and competitive.

This will foster innovation and I believe that will be good for Canadians because not only will the competition foster innovation, bring forth the new ideas that our very well educated Canadian population will benefit from in the way of new jobs and better jobs, but also I think we will see better prices for Canadian consumers.

On the answer to the question on students, I made the point that this government is doing what it can in a very positive way to ensure the students have access to computer technology, supporting provinces in their local initiatives, and working directly with school boards to ensure the students have access to computers and the skills they need so that they will be able to take advantage of those new jobs in the future.


. 1025 + -


Ms. Hélène Alarie (Louis-Hébert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it is with great interest that I take part in this debate on Bill C-17, an act to amend the Telecommunications Act and the Teleglobe Canada Reorganization and Divestiture Act.

Telecommunications in Canada are in constant evolution. The standard communication networks are giving way to new technologies. Obviously, these new means of transmission through technological development also contribute to the globalization of trade.

In fact, state of the art communication services and technologies are leading to multiplication of trade outside the country. This new context presents a daunting challenge for Canada, that of maintaining its international competitiveness, despite the threats to its traditional industry share of investments.

The disappearance of technologies associated with natural monopolies and the restructuring of telecommunications and broadcasting activities to meet global, rather than national, requirements, calls for a reform of government policies. These must now set out new ground rules for telecommunications and broadcasting corporations.

The disappearance of the traditional boundaries between telecommunications, cable television and informatics heralds the convergence of information transmission services on a single information highway. We are witnessing the disappearance of the natural monopoly with the introduction of indirect competition, which has come about primarily through the new transmission technologies; direct competition will require complete deregulation.

In 1993, international communications traffic reached 47.7 billion minutes. This represents barely nine more minutes per person on a global scale, but 46 minutes if high income earning nations alone are considered.

The impact of this bill on the everyday lives of citizens will take the form of new job creation, since our industry is strong and can easily compete internationally.

According to the Federal Communication Commission, another advantage will be an 80% drop in international telephone rates in a few years. This bill therefore has two objectives.

The first is to bring Canadian legislation into line with Canada's international undertakings as a signatory to the February 1997 World Trade Organization's services agreement, commonly known as GATT. The agreement takes effect January 1, 1998. The bill's second objective is to bring Canadian legislation into line with the new competitive context in the telecommunications industry.

By signing the telecommunications agreement, Canada undertook to eliminate the remaining monopolies, those held by Teleglobe and Telesat. It undertook to liberalize international call handling. It undertook to completely liberalize the regime for ownership of mobile communications satellite systems and, finally, to lift the restrictions on increased foreign ownership in Teleglobe Canada. In addition, ownership of international submarine cable landings in Canada was liberalized and a reference document setting out regulatory principles for all signatory countries was approved.


. 1030 + -

With this bill, the government is giving more powers to the CRTC, as can be seen in sections 1, 2, 3 and 7. Among its many powers, the CRTC will be able to issue telecommunications licences and to suspend or revoke a licence for non-compliance with the act.

As for section 46.6, it provides for the implementation by the CRTC of a contribution mechanism, because the CRTC itself recognizes that a contribution fund must be created to provide services in regions where it is more expensive to do so. This provision gives the CRTC legal authority to do this. The fund will compensate the companies offering basic services for their actual costs. The Bloc Quebecois believes there is an urgent requirement to design a reliable and transparent mechanism for supporting companies and their customers in regions where costs are higher.

With the new powers provided the CRTC under this bill, the government is ensuring that practices in Canada are in line with those abroad so that a clear and consistent process can be created to identify the players in the industry. We hope that the CRTC will now be able to implement rules that guarantee a level playing field for everyone.

As for the Minister of Industry, he now has authority under sections 4 and 5 of this bill to issue licences for international submarine cables, and, under section 8, to certify that telecommunications equipment is in compliance with Canadian standards. It is also important to note that the government is responsible for the full implementation of Canada's telecommunications policy. It must ensure that all Quebeckers and all Canadians have equal access to telecommunications services. That is why the Minister of Industry has the power to issue directives to the CRTC.

Finally, the Bloc Quebecois agrees in principle with this bill, which flows naturally from the telecommunications agreement. However, a number of questions arise: What will be the real benefits of these new initiatives for taxpayers? The Bloc Quebecois believes that hearings are urgently required to define what is meant by basic telecommunications services. What does the “affordability” of a basic service mean? For some, affordability is determined on the basis of the subscriber penetration rate, but this is not a significant measurement because it does not take the fall in the standard of living into account.

The telephone has become an essential commodity. Many people are prepared to cut elsewhere, for example in the food budget, to have this commodity. Therefore, the Bloc Quebecois thinks there is an urgent need to determine what low income customers can afford to pay for this basic telecommunications service.

Despite the liberalization of telecommunications, it is essential that these services remain affordable for everyone.

There is also another question that we consider critical: What about privacy? There is great public concern, and rightly so, about the impact of this on the release of personal information. This bill opens the door to globalization in the area of communications, and the government has still not fulfilled its commitment regarding a law to protect personal information in the private sector and at the networking level. The population is still waiting, and there may be very serious incidents if the government waits too long.


. 1035 + -

As far as privacy is concerned, both for the private and the public sector, and where linkage is concerned as well, Quebec is proud to have been both a laboratory and a model for this. I am therefore suggesting, on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, that the federal government do its homework and follow the example of the Quebec legislation which protects both privacy and linkage. Particularly after passage of this bill, data linkage must be protected by legislation.

In April 1997, the parliamentary human rights committee called for adoption of legislation, but we are still waiting. On September 18, 1996, the Minister of Justice promised it by the year 2000, but we are still waiting. The Minister of Industry made a commitment to establish a legislative framework to protect personal data in his Canadian strategy for the information era, recognizing that voluntary compliance with a framework was not enough, but we are still waiting. This leaves us with the impression that the minister is bowing to the business lobby, which would like to have a more flexible framework.

Also related to privacy, it appears that the new technologies will develop telephone communications between individuals and not places. These new satellite technologies will be able to locate individuals wherever they are. Thus this becomes a control over individuals and society. We must go beyond the industrial aspect and an analysis of profitability, for it is appropriate as well to question the values our society wishes to preserve.

In the field of telecommunications, the public is often left out of the debate, given the complexity of the subject, and I can understand this. That is why the advisory committee on the information highway suggested, not all that long ago, that the federal government strike a national advisory committee on access reporting to the Ministers of Industry and Heritage and mandated to give advice on the new requirements relating to access and services deemed essential in a knowledge-based society. This advisory committee should be composed of equal numbers of members from industry and the non-profit sector.

In closing, this bill is an opening toward the liberalization of communications, something which is universally applauded. Nevertheless, the Bloc Quebecois will ensure that these questions receive clear and formal responses, as well as lead to precise, concrete and immediate actions.


Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George—Bulkley Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of comments that concern us about this bill. I get back to the point that business has been wanting government to get out of its face and just let it do its business.

This bill in fact will give the CRTC, pertaining particularly to the telecommunications and communications business, more powers to restrict or issue licences based on what the CRTC believes it should be doing with its businesses, for example, how much Canadian content, how much Canadian culture and how their philosophy might fit with the applicant.

I find this particularly offensive when appointed bureaucrats are going to have such powers to wield over free enterprise business. Our party supports free enterprise.

The other comment I have is on the financial fund that is being set up. This is another opportunity for the government to expand its patronage program.


. 1040 + -

It is going to give Liberal MPs simply another avenue to dole out government grants to Liberal-friendly businesses in their ridings.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Hon. members, there are a number of members who have indicated that they would like to respond in questions and comments. If there are a number of people who indicate an expression of interest to comment, I would ask all hon. members to keep their questions and their responses short so that we can get a bit more debate. Response.


Ms. Hélène Alarie: Mr. Speaker, naturally there are questions, but we are here in this House to follow the debate, to follow events and to ensure that the bill covers as many aspects as possible.

We cannot liberalize unless there is an organization with a set of rules. This means we have to keep an eye out, because there are things to monitor.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Louis-Hébert on her speech this morning.

All the questions she raised on this bill are topical. Those interested parties we met and the public all said so. Her questioning meets the expectations of the general public. I hope the Minister of Industry listened attentively to the questions raised by the member for Louis-Hébert.

I would like to ask her about the importance and the scope of this institution in her opinion.

Ms. Hélène Alarie: Mr. Speaker, first, this is an area where we have a significant, even comfortable, lead over other countries.

A third of research and development is done in telecommunications and information. In this area, we are in a good position. There are, however, minor effects that are sometimes not mentioned in this House.

I recently visited a school for severely handicapped children where the children have access to the Internet. The children said “Because we are hooked up to the Internet, people do not know we are sick, they do not know we have problems. The world is at our fingertips”. This is one instance of what a bill such as this can do for us, if we have an information highway across the country.

Rural communities that sometimes lack services because of their remoteness and because of the cost will no longer be isolated.


Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I hear talk in the House today about liberalizing trade, liberalizing this, liberalizing that.

When I hear the word liberalizing, I hear bigger government. When I hear the word liberalizing, I hear steroids for the CRTC. When I hear the word liberalizing, I hear more patronage pork, just like the bigger government resulting from the GST. That is called liberalizing too, just like the more patronage pork on top of the 50 patronage appointments that the Prime Minister made during this year alone, never mind the Senate.

When I hear liberalizing, once again I hear bigger government and I hear more pork.


Ms. Hélène Alarie: Mr. Speaker, in response to the concerns my colleague expressed, I say that they and we will ensure that everything is done as transparently and as fairly as possible.


Mr. Dick Harris: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the time. What my hon. member has just said, the word liberalizing really strikes terror in the hearts of fiscally conservative free enterprise reformers in this House.

Whenever they hear the words financial fund put forward in a bill by the Liberals, they just shudder at the thought that the Liberals are going to establish another lever to pull and use to pay off their Liberal friends, in particular in the communications business under this bill. I did not see the numbers on the fund, but given the history of the Liberal Party we can imagine that it is not pocket change.


. 1045 + -

We want to be sure that the Reform Party is on record as saying that we have always opposed grants and handouts to business, as the business council and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and every major business organization in the country have opposed grants and handouts to business. However, the Liberals choose to ignore this and establish yet another fund to use in a patronizing way to friends of the Liberal Party.

That is a comment which I think is quite in order in this debate today.


Ms. Hélène Alarie: Mr. Speaker, from what I have read, and I do not have any figures either, the purpose of the fund is to correct the differences between remote populations and small rural communities, on the one hand, and more developed centres, on the other hand, and equalize the price to some extent so they can all enjoy the same benefits.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Some hon. members: Yea.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): All those opposed will please say nay.

Some hon. members: Nay.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): In my opinion the yeas have it.  

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the division stands deferred until Monday, November 24, 1997 at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont—Dundas, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

Following the request for a recorded division, I believe that you would find consent to further defer the recorded division on second reading of Bill C-17 until the expiry of Government Orders, Tuesday, November 25, 1997.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The House has heard the proposal of the chief government whip. Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Bob Kilger: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I wonder if you would seek the unanimous consent of the House to waive the 48 hour notice to proceed to report stage of Bill C-7, an Act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

An hon. member: No.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): There is not unanimous consent.

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. When you read the numbers off, I assumed it was with regard to a previous bill. I do apologize. I do give unanimous consent.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): For the sake of clarification, the Chair would ask that we back up and start over again.

Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont—Dundas, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to tell members on both sides of the House that there have been discussions among all the parties, but I still must request that the House be asked for its unanimous consent to waive the 48 hour notice to proceed to report stage of Bill C-7, an Act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The House has heard the chief government whip.

Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

*  *  *


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The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-7, an act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and to make a consequential amendment to another act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.  

Hon. Andy Mitchell (for the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.) moved that the bill be concurred in.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The hon. chief government whip on a point of order.

Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont—Dundas, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, again, there has been a sharing of information with all the parties, but I would ask you to seek unanimous consent so that the Secretary of State for Parks Canada might table a technical amendment to Bill C-7.

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

Some hon. members: Agreed.  

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Secretary of State (Parks), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to move a technical amendment. Essentially we are making sure that both the French and the English versions are consistent. I move:

    That Bill C-7, in the preamble, be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 6 on page 1 with the following:

      “flore, ainsi que les ressources naturelles exceptionnel ”


Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address this bill at report stage. We will support the amendment.

Establishing the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is an idea that originated in the Saguenay area. Its purpose is to give heritage status to one of Quebec's most spectacular regions—the whole Saguenay River—while also promoting tourism.

The consultation process which then took place resulted in the project being expanded to include the St. Lawrence. Those who worked on this initiative deserve to be congratulated. A major consultation process was properly conducted before the project went ahead. Several years went by between the time the idea first came up, in the early nineties, and the time when the House finally votes on the legislation.

The bill includes new and interesting points which had not been raised before and which do not all reflect ideas put forward by those behind the project. It should also be noted that the then federal environment minister, who is now the premier of Quebec, had managed to get the federal government to be receptive to the idea, which has since followed its course.

Let us not forget that the park will be jointly managed by the federal and provincial governments, through a committee on which both will be represented. For the first time, Quebec will maintain ownership of the seabed.

In the sixties and seventies, there were epic battles concerning Forillon national park, among others, where the issue of ownership generated problems. In the case of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, the two levels of government have come to an agreement whereby Quebec will maintain ownership of the seabed. This is a good step and a good result.

As a member of Parliament, I took part in the consultation process and a great of representations had to be made.


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The final form this is taking allows our tourist industry on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River to have critical points of contact with the park through—and we make no secret of this—the special efforts made by firms like Duvetnord, which have turned the river into a major tourist area worthy of preservation.

I think there are significant elements in the whole Lower St. Lawrence region, from Trois-Pistoles to Île aux Basques, which incidentally is one the far extremities that will not be directly included in the park but could be considered as part of a whole system. I think that, in the future, we should take advantage of the fact that the federal government has not yet met its targets for the year 2000 and may have a hard time meeting them as far as marine areas are concerned. Perhaps thought should be given to finding a way to include the south shore even more, somehow.

However, I feel it is important to understand that the amendment be positive. It is also important to know that consultations were conducted properly and that, in the end, we will have a park that, in my estimation, stands to become a world renowned tourist attraction at a time when adventure tourism is so popular. We will have everything we need to let the world know about this outstanding region to attract tourists from abroad. I think that the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park will be a fantastic tourist attraction.

What is interesting about this legislation is that, if passed, it will make it possible to develop the necessary infrastructures and for centres on both sides of the St. Lawrence River and the Saguenay River to have a really significant tourist accommodation capacity. For the Lower St. Lawrence region at least, this will help give it a stronger position as a tourist region. In that sense, this is very desirable.

Before I conclude I would like to remind the federal government that it is essential to have a logical plan of action. If on the one hand, a Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is established but, on the other hand, no effort is made to implement sufficiently stringent environmental standards regarding, for instance, greenhouse gases and everything having to do with climate, as beautiful as the marine park may look, if there is not a drop of water left in the St. Lawrence and an environmental disaster is caused, the result will not be very satisfactory.

So, we should promote an equally open attitude at the international level and take on an advocacy and a leadership role in promoting strict and stringent environmental rules to ensure that our part of North America is at the forefront and can provide this product. There is nothing worse in the tourist industry than to offer a product that loses its appeal. When a park like this one is established, it should be for 10, 20, 30, 50 or even 100 years, and that is what we are trying to negotiate. That is what will be happening in Kyoto for instance and in the ongoing negotiation process regarding environmental rules. This has to be the basis for the federal government's position.

I will conclude by saying that establishing this park is a good thing, it is the result of an innovative approach that leaves the ownership of the seabed to Quebec, it was made possible by the participation of the people of the Saguenay and was spearheaded by a person who believed that joint management from a position of equality was possible in Canada. Having Quebec and Canada deal on an equal footing can give interesting results and today we have this bill to prove it.

Hooray for the establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park. Let us now look at adding to Canada's marine areas as well as setting a goal for the year 2000, and I am sure you will find on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River all the support necessary to add to this beautiful new park.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): It is time for Statements by Members, but I am almost hesitant on such a positive note to cut off debate. However, we will proceed to Statements by Members.




Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George—Bulkley Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this morning the governor general and the chief scout of Canada conferred scouting's highest awards on 20 members of the scout family of Canada.


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I know my colleagues on both sides of the House will join me in congratulating the recipients of these awards. As the member of Prince George—Bulkley Valley I want to pay special tribute to my constituent Tyler Douglas Edward Mauro, age 11, who was awarded the Jack Cornwell decoration.

This award is given to individuals who have undergone great suffering in a heroic manner. Well done, Tyler. You have shown great courage and determination in the face of physical challenges. You have truly lived up to the Scout promise and the Scout law.

*  *  *


Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Carleton—Gloucester, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last week I had the honour of hosting the visit of presidents and managers for Ronald McDonald homes across Canada as they met in Ottawa. I also had the pleasure of welcoming them in the House of Commons.

Canadians are thankful for such an organization which provides a home away from home to families of children being treated in hospital for cancer and other life threatening illnesses.


These establishments make it possible for seriously ill children to have their families with them at a critical time in their lives. Staying in a Ronald McDonald House also gives families an opportunity to talk with other parents going through similar experiences.

I extend heartfelt thanks to all volunteers, employees and managers of Ronald McDonald Houses in Canada. Your compassion and devotion are a big help in times of trouble.

*  *  *


Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, over 250 people from the Matapédia RCM got together at a forum on economic recovery and job creation.

I wish to congratulate Claude Jacques, the forum's president, for targeting economic problems and encouraging 13 workshop leaders to present concrete solutions to job creation.

In the Matapédia RCM, gloom is giving way to action.

The residents of the Matapédia valley have decided to rely on ingenuity, inventiveness and steadfast solidarity.

Many young entrepreneurs are urging us to focus on the year 2000, on new challenges. The future belongs to the bold.

The people of the Matapédia valley are taking the challenge.

*  *  *



Ms. Elinor Caplan (Thornhill, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, global warming is a problem that every person, every country and every level of government in the world must deal with.

I rise in the House today to tell of a success story. Toronto's outstanding progress in reducing greenhouse emissions is a model for the world and something that the House should be aware of.

According to the UN affiliated International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, metropolitan Toronto is the world's leader in fighting global warming. It tops the list of 150 cities in cutting carbon dioxide output between 1990 and 1996.

Toronto and its surrounding suburbs achieved cumulative reductions of 7.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between 1990 and 1996. That is a 6% cent reduction.

The reductions were achieved using a variety of measures including landfill gas recovery, recycling initiatives, energy efficient street and land lighting and community water conservation programs.

This experience should serve as model for other cities in Canada and the rest of the world, showing that we can cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions, save money and create jobs—

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Abitibi.

*  *  *



Mr. Guy Saint-Julien (Abitibi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is an article today in the Ottawa Citizen by Bruce Ward announcing that the Reform Party has sent out invitations to a posh open house at Stornoway between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., on November 30, 1997.

The great bingo caller at Stornoway invites the people of Ottawa to 541 Acacia Avenue. For reservations, dial 996-6740.

Come see the new drapes, the new paint job, the new wallpaper and the fine linen imported directly from China. Come see the new bingo reform.

*  *  *



Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the government is downloading small regional airports throughout the country. Two airports have already been turned over in my riding and now a third is on the federal hit list.

Some of the biggest users of the Fort Nelson airport are the federal and provincial governments, forestry workers, water bombers and American tourists on their way to Alaska.


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Fort Nelson is in the northeast corner of B.C. next to the Yukon border and hundreds of kilometres from any other towns. The people of Fort Nelson are going to referendum December 6 to vote on whether they can afford to take over the local airport. The population is only 4,500, a small town with a big heart. Yet the federal government wants the town to pick up the tab for an airport that runs a $400,000 annual deficit.

Why is Fort Nelson being forced to assume the cost of operating its airport but other northern communities like Whitehorse, Watson Lake and Yellowknife are not?

*  *  *


Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Mr. Bob Whittam, retired executive director of the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre. The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre located in my riding is a non-profit organization committed to promoting an understanding of the vital role wetlands play within the environment.

Mr. Whittam, affectionately known as Mr. Wye Marsh, was recently honoured at a banquet attended by more than 300 family, friends and dignitaries. He has been the driving force behind the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre through good and bad times. Were it not for Mr. Whittam's leadership, it is quite doubtful that the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre would have survived a cut in federal funding in 1984.

I again thank Bob Whittam on behalf of all citizens of Simcoe North for his tireless dedication and commitment in contributing to the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre's success. Have a good retirement, Bob.

*  *  *


Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that tomorrow, November 22, the Minister of Industry will be opening in Ottawa West—Nepean the first youth employment info fair at Algonquin College. All day young people will be able to see displays by government departments, non-governmental agencies and post-secondary institutions. Even one of our own pages, Mr. Craig O'Brien, will help us out by talking about the pages program.

I hope young people will take the opportunity to turn out so they can find out what government, the community and business are doing to improve their chances of getting a good job. They can see what we are doing to improve their opportunities for post-secondary education and get the information they need to create a better future for themselves.

*  *  *


Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House of an APEC success story in my own riding. On Wednesday, November 26 officials from Dongcheng district of Beijing City in China together with Maple Ridge entrepreneur Bill Stelmaschuk will sign an agreement to open a reciprocal trade office between the city of Maple Ridge in my riding and Dongcheng.

These offices will be the headquarters of China International Investment Ltd. of North America, a partnership between government and the private sector. It will open up multimillion dollar investment opportunities for Canadian and Chinese entrepreneurs. Initial joint ventures include the construction of an indoor family entertainment complex, shipping container sales and leasing, computer sales and vehicle and heavy leasing equipment.

I ask the House to join me in congratulating Bill Stelmaschuk and the people of Dongcheng for demonstrating through their actions that the entrepreneurial spirit is indeed alive and well in Canada.

*  *  *



Mr. Robert Bertrand (Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is no coincidence that the interest for Remembrance Day is increasing everywhere in Canada and that there are more and more people at the ceremonies.

It must be pointed out that Veterans Affairs Canada has decided to go modern and has developed an excellent web site. The number of hits this year increased by 238%.

During a two-week period, 23,000 Canadians had more than a million hits on the Veterans Affairs Canada web site and accessed various items such as the Books of Remembrance and Veterans Remember, a collection of stories and radio interviews with veterans. This site seeks to promote young Canadians' interest in our country's military history.

Furthermore, last Tuesday, young people hired by STEM-Net in Newfoundland and Labrador launched a new digital series by SchoolNet on Canada at war.

It is most fitting that the House acknowledge all Canadians, young and old, who continue to help us pay tribute to Canada's veterans and recognize their achievements and sacrifices.

*  *  *


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Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the historic systematic abuse of aboriginal youth by residential schools goes unanswered by this government. An apology is due.

It appears that lawyers run the department, as this Liberal government has yet to say two simple words: “we're sorry”.

Every day this government remains content to allow the full weight of this horror to burn in the minds and hearts of the countless victims is another day this government shares responsibility for this acts of ritualized abuse.

Aboriginal youth were torn from their families and communities. Their language, culture, customs and values were suppressed. The wounds of this abuse are still open and now is the time for healing.

The royal commission clearly states that recognizing our mistake is the first step toward a new relationship based on mutual respect. An apology from this government would be one small remedy that would begin the healing. Anything less is unconscionable, unforgivable and unacceptable.

*  *  *


Mrs. Nancy Karetak-Lindell (Nunavut, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today marks the first anniversary of the release of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples report. The report recommended several actions the government should take in addressing the concerns of many aboriginal communities.

I am pleased that the federal government will respond to this report in the new year and equally pleased to be on the committee that will look at the government's response.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Inuktitut]


There is no doubt that the work of the commission will influence aboriginal policy and I thank all those who participated in preparing this report for their valuable work.

*  *  *



Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Speaker, where have all the scarecrows gone?

Until last May, the members opposite were constantly making inflammatory statements on the economic consequences of political uncertainty in Quebec. This fall, however, our scarecrows have stayed out of sight, strangely enough. It is true that there is a lot of good news.

With the socioeconomic summit launched by Premier Bouchard, there is a tremendous rise in new investments all over Quebec. It is said that economic growth will be greater than in France, Germany, the United States, Italy and Japan.

In spite of the economic disaster handed down by the provincial Liberals and of enormous federal cuts, the Parti Quebecois government is continuing to put Quebec's economy and finances back on track. This has sent our economic scarecrows into hiding.

Could it be that they have decided to do like the birds and fly South? If that is the case, good for them, they can stay there. We wish them a good holiday.

*  *  *



Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, this is restorative justice week. True justice makes things right rather than lamenting what is wrong. True justice cultivates strength rather than perpetuating failure. I believe restorative justice could be a great part of the solution for our justice system in Canada.

Restorative justice views crime as a violation of the victim in the community, not solely a violation of the state. As a result, the offender becomes accountable to the victim and the community.

Under our existing justice system, offenders seldom are required to realize the harm they have caused. Restorative justice confronts the perpetrators with the personal harm they have caused and requires them to pay reparation and make real amends to victims and the community.

Restorative justice offers victims the opportunity to regain personal powers and allows them the time to become more involved with the justice system. It also gives them the power that was taken away when the crime was committed.

In one word, restorative justice puts victims at the centre of the justice system where they should always have been.

Restorative justice should be studied by this House as an alternative to the current way of thinking about crime and criminal justice in Canada.

*  *  *


Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry recently celebrated the opening of the National Research Council's newest research facility, the Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute. This institute will eventually house 140 scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff and will further enhance London, Ontario's reputation as a leading centre of research and development in Canada.

Research programs at IMTI will be aimed at keeping Canadian manufacturers at the forefront of technological innovation and advances needed in our highly competitive global economy. These programs will continue to position Canada as a world leader in our future knowledge based areas of concern.

I congratulate the NRC on over 80 years of improving the lives of Canadians by performing and supporting relevant research and development. I also applaud the diverse team of stakeholders from the University of Western Ontario, industry, levels of government and the local business community in attracting this high valued added institute to our city.

Congratulations. Félicitations.

*  *  *


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Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada is enormously proud of its international contribution to peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Today 15 police officers from several forces are leaving on a peacekeeping mission to Bosnia. The officers are from the RCMP, Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police, Waterloo Regional Police, Durham Regional Police and the Ontario Provincial Police.

On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to wish these officers well on their journey. The officers leaving today will replace a contingent of 15 other officers who will be returning to Canada from Bosnia in a few days. We are grateful that the officers returning have safely accomplished their mission. They can be proud of their work with the United Nations.

I would like to officially recognize the humanitarian efforts of these officers who have worked hard to restore peace and order in Bosnia, with a respect for internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.

We know we can count on the professionalism of these Canadian police officers to continue to serve the UN well and support responsible police forces in Bosnia.




Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it used to be said that nothing could stop the mail, neither rain nor snow, nor sleet nor hail, but this Liberal government has stopped the mail. This minister will not take a stand and the postal strike is paralyzing the country at the absolute worst time of year. Canadians want to get out their holiday parcels. It is the busiest time of the year for many businesses and charities are suffering because the mail is not moving.

How many more days, how many more weeks or how many more months is this government willing to allow this strike to paralyze our country?

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Labour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am amazed that a party that indicates it wants less government now wants government to get involved and interfere in the collective bargaining process.

I ask the opposition party to let the collective bargaining system work for Canadians and have no government interference.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this government has this unflagging trust in this collective bargaining process, the process which has brought our post office four strikes in ten years and has not brought a resolution to this current dispute for seven months. Why not let them bargain while the mail is still being delivered or is the Canadian government going to hold Canadians hostage right through Christmas?

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Labour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am amazed that the opposition, a party that wants less government, wants government to move in right away and interfere with the collective bargaining process.

Let the system work. Let both parties do what they are doing, sit down and come up with an agreement.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, charities are being hurt the worst. Take, for example, the Old Brewery Mission in Montreal, a homeless shelter. It has had a $700,000 mail campaign for fund-raising stopped dead in its tracks by this strike. They are facing debt and they are struggling to pay for the 1,200 meals that they deliver to the homeless each day. This charity and the homeless that depend on it are paying the price for this government's inaction.

How many such causes is this Liberal government ready to sacrifice while it keeps making these lame excuses?

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Labour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is hard to imagine this party criticizing the Minister of Labour for protecting the collective bargaining system in an attempt to gain short-term political gain. Shame on the opposition.

Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, small and medium size businesses are the engine of this economy. For weeks the effects of a mail strike have been looming over their heads. Now we are into the third day of a full-blown strike costing the economy hundreds of millions of dollars a day.

How many more millions of dollars will small businesses have to lose before this government legislates the post office back to work?


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Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Labour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, under the collective bargaining system the parties have the right to strike. It is unfortunate when we get to this point, but it is the right under part I of the Canada Labour Code and we must adhere to the laws of the land.

Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the minister continues to defend a system that history shows has failed. Four strikes in ten years. There have been seven months of failed negotiations.

Meanwhile, small and medium size businesses are losing millions of dollars during their busiest season, not to mention the collateral damage of lay-offs and lost jobs.

I will ask the minister again, when will the government come to its senses and order back to work legislation?

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Labour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are going through a process, a process that has worked well for this country.

My colleague mentions the process and the number of strikes that have taken place. Over the last year, 94.5% of the companies under the federal jurisdiction have been settled without a work stoppage.

In the seven months of this year, there have been fewer days lost than that.

*  *  *



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

The bad odour surrounding the Option Canada affair is getting worse. This organization had nothing but a fake headquarters, its financial statements and minutes are mysteriously unlocatable, and its administrators mere figureheads. All that we do know about this organization is that it is a creation of the Council for Canadian Unity.

Can the Acting Prime Minister tell us how, under such conditions, Option Canada was able to receive $4.2 million in funding from the Minister of Canadian Heritage?


Hon. Andy Mitchell (Secretary of State (Parks), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this hon. member and hon. members from that party have asked this question over and over again in the House.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has provided clear and concise explanations. If the hon. member has something new to add, I suggest that she bring it forward in the House today.


Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Junior Acting Prime Minister is not very well informed about the responses by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, because they are far from clear.

The Acting Prime Minister, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the administrators of Option Canada, and those on the Council for Canadian Unity are unable to tell us why and how the money was used.

Can we have an explanation of how it can be that all of these people involved to varying degrees with Option Canada have suddenly been struck with collective amnesia?


Hon. Andy Mitchell (Secretary of State (Parks), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, two years ago during the referendum in Quebec, the citizens of Quebec voted to stay in Canada.

This party has never been able to accept that verdict. They continue to fight a battle of two years ago. They are stuck in the past. They have no vision for the future and this clearly demonstrates that.

*  *  *



Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

Canada's ambassador in environmental matters, John Fraser, added his voice to that of all environmental groups in denouncing the minor Regina agreement on greenhouse gases. He calls on the federal government to honour its earlier agreements.

Is the government committed to reviewing its position and agreeing to that proposed by the Quebec government, as its own ambassador of the environment is suggesting?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of the Environment said here in the House of Commons, the government is currently consulting all interested parties in order to prepare Canada's position for the conference coming up in a few weeks.

Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont, BQ): Mr. Speaker, what we want to know on this side of the House is whether the government is prepared to set the example, as it did in the case of the anti- personnel mines, and to sign the Kyoto agreement even though the United States and other countries might refuse?


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Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the minister said in this House, we intend to propose a position for Canada that reflects the best interest of the people of Canada and elsewhere. This is what we will do at the conference in a few weeks.

*  *  *



Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the government appears to be sticking by its decision to end the TAGS program in Atlantic Canada by May 1998.

I want to ask the minister of human resources why the government persists in doing something that it knows will create a veritable explosion of legitimate and justifiable anger in so many Atlantic Canadian communities.

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are conducting right now an important review of the post-TAGS situation. I have asked one of my very senior and trusted officials to look into the situation. This gentleman is meeting with the provinces, the fishermen, the associations and the communities. We will be looking very carefully into the post-TAGS situation and the government will behave appropriately.

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, talking about appropriate behaviour, I wonder if the minister could tell us why we have been able to access a document that shows that the human resources department, in collaboration with the RCMP, the PCO and Treasury Board, has hired a consultant, Stonehaven Productions, to train senior managers on how to deal with, and I quote: “life threatening, explosive, dangerous situations after the end of the TAGS program”.

Why is the government conspiring against the legitimate anger of its citizens and planning to end the TAGS program while going through the sham of this review, instead of changing its mind and doing the right thing?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am going to look at this very bizarre way of addressing the situation. We are well aware of the situation in Newfoundland and in the maritime provinces and in Quebec as well. I can say one thing. We are well aware of the very difficult situation in which these people live.

This is why we have brought forward this important program for crisis and emergency situations. We are conducting an important review of the post-TAGS situation and we will take the appropriate decisions.

*  *  *


Mr. Bill Matthews (Burin—St. George's, PC): Mr. Speaker, Marine Atlantic is presently phasing out its headquarters operation in Moncton, New Brunswick.

I would like to ask the government what guidelines or instructions it has given Mr. Morrison of Marine Atlantic in carrying out the relocation process and if indeed he has been instructed to relocate Marine Atlantic headquarters in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Mr. Stan Keyes (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

Marine Atlantic is an important vestiture within the Atlantic community and Marine Atlantic serves our country well on the east coast.

I want to inform the hon. member that the file on Marine Atlantic is presently being examined by the Minister of Transport to look at all the permutations and possibilities for Marine Atlantic's location in Atlantic Canada.

Mr. Bill Matthews (Burin—St. George's, PC): Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the parliamentary secretary must realize that the only purpose for Marine Atlantic now is to provide a very important and essential service to Newfoundland and Labrador. There are no other operations for Marine Atlantic.

I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary, has Mr. Morrison of Marine Atlantic been instructed to locate Marine Atlantic headquarters in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, the centre of Marine Atlantic operations in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Mr. Stan Keyes (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member can appreciate that no one is going to be directing anyone to do anything until all the discussion takes place, all the input is made from the various stakeholders and all the concerned entities who are affected by the Marine Atlantic organization are consulted so that a decision will be made in the best interests of east coast Canada, in the best interests of Marine Atlantic and the people it serves.

*  *  *


Mr. Bill Gilmour (Nanaimo—Alberni, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, we now know, courtesy of Premiers Klein and Tobin, the government's position on fossil fuel emissions that it is going to take to Kyoto. It will be 1990 levels by the year 2007.

Why did the Prime Minister choose to whisper this to the premiers instead of informing the House? We cannot get the government's position in this House. Is it because there is going to be an economic hit of $33 billion?


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Who is going to pay for this?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that instead of relying on speculation and piecemeal press reports we await the development of a position that takes into account all the points of view on this issue.

I hope the hon. member is not surprised that the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment are consulting with provincial premiers on these issues. I hope the hon. member favours consultation with provincial partners because they are very much involved.

The effort has been to develop a position which reflects all interests, and that is what we will do.

Mr. Bill Gilmour (Nanaimo—Alberni, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is rather humourous and absurd that our prime minister's sole position is to produce less gas than President Clinton. That is their whole goal over there.

However, it is tragic that in doing so they are prepared to accept the loss of 40,000 jobs, a lower standard of living and the destruction of some economic sectors.

Again, who is going to pay for this position?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment has made it very clear that our intention is to bring to Kyoto a position which reflects Canadian interests in general. We are consulting with all stakeholders.

The provinces are very much involved in this process. At Regina, just 10 days ago, a conference was held to ensure that the position reflects their interests as well. That is what we are going to do.

*  *  *



Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General.

On October 31, 1997, in a letter to the president of the Conseil des travailleurs et des travailleuses du Québec, Quebec's Solicitor General Jacques Chamberland indicated that a new inmate security rating scale was under development.

Since we know that a process to review security ratings was initiated more than two years ago, can the minister tell us when the new policy will come into effect?


Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in fact I have met with the president of the union on questions of safety very often. We will be acting on those recommendations shortly.


Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in the same letter, the minister said that there was a level of danger and risk attached to working in Quebec's penal institutions.

How can the Solicitor General justify the fact that, in Donnacona, from December to March, outer towers may be unmanned after 8 p.m., which means there will be no supervision outside?


Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, these are penitentiaries and there is a safety question because they are facilities designed to deal with that. That is the reason we have introduced a number of safety features, very successfully, having to do with ion scanners, detectors, two-way radios. Any number of safety features have been introduced lately and it is very important for the protection of our employees.

*  *  *


Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Wanuskewin, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, today Canada's foremost expert on the tainted blood scandal, Justice Horace Krever, submits his final report on this, the worst public health tragedy in Canadian history.

The current health minister is the very same minister who blocked Krever in the courts, withheld vital documents from Krever and obstructed Krever at every turn.

Given the deplorable record of the Minister of Health in obstructing the Krever commission, how can Canadians have any faith that this minister will heed the recommendations in Krever's report?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is profoundly wrong. The Government of Canada went to the federal court at first instance in order to assert important principles having to do with findings of wrongdoing against former federal officials.

Our position prevailed. We were found to be right. We then dropped out of the litigation and it went to the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada without our involvement.

The hon. member is wrong.

As to the Krever report, we have been awaiting it a long time and we look forward to receiving it today.

Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Wanuskewin, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, forgive me for my scepticism on this matter. Two days ago on the floor of the House this minister could not even keep a straight face when he postured about keeping commitments with respect to Canadian health.

Randy Conners and a number of others have died. These are precious people who have died while this minister obstructed Justice Krever.

Given this health minister's obstructionist record, how can Canadians have any faith that he will implement Krever's recommendations?


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Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, how will Canadians who are watching this performance have any respect for a political process when a member of Parliament refuses to accept fact and insists on trafficking in fiction? That is nonsense. We did anything but obstruct the Krever commission.

We look forward to the report and as soon as we get it we will continue with his recommendations in our work of ensuring that the blood system is the best blood system in the world.

The Deputy Speaker: I remind hon. members that it is useful for the Chair to be able to hear the questions and the answers.

*  *  *



Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the Canada Post Corporation.

In spite of the minister's untimely statements that special legislation would be passed in case of a strike, it seems that the two sides are still negotiating and might reach a settlement in the next few days.

Can the minister tell us about the progress made and will he reaffirm his commitment not to get involved in the postal conflict and let the two sides negotiate in good faith?

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to inform the hon. member and the House that negotiations are continuing.

We hope they will continue through the weekend and that a negotiated settlement will be reached, so that by Monday all Canadians will get their mail.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the threat of privatization is hanging over Canada Post like a dark cloud.

If the government has nothing to hide regarding this issue, will the minister tell us when he will release the full report prepared by TD Securities on Canada Post, in April?

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on several occasions, my predecessor, myself and other members of the government have clearly said that the government has no intention of privatizing the Canada Post Corporation.

As far as we are concerned, all necessary documents have been made public, as required.

*  *  *



Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the prime minister has showed that he has finally had enough. He raised the attendance bar for senators to 2.2%, and Senator Thompson tripped over it. Does he have any intention of raising the Senate attendance bar even higher, say to 5%, to 10% or how about a mind boggling 20%?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I see the Reform Party is endorsing the position taken with respect to Senator Thompson. We appreciate its support.

However, the question he has asked deals with matters involving the commission of internal economy of the Senate and I am sure that the senators will take note of his very interesting question.

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, getting kicked out of the Liberal caucus is more of a reward than a punishment. Now the senator does not need to fight any feelings of guilt for missing the caucus meetings while he is wasting away in Margaritaville.

The prime minister claims the right of appointing senators. Will he do Canadian taxpayers a favour and give senators who collect their salary but do not show up for work a dis-appoint?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend is asking for an amendment to the Constitution. It is a very interesting suggestion. I would say that hopefully if some day we have an elected Senate it will not be, as Reform requests, election for life but will also involve the potential of unelection through the decision of the public.

At least we know now that the hon. member has confirmed the position of another colleague of his when it came to policy. The member for Athabasca said on another matter, and this applies here: “Our position is unimportant”. That is the Reform position on everything.

*  *  *



Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Everyone agrees that EI premium rates are much too high, and that a large percentage of premiums is diverted away from its primary purpose, which is the protection of unemployed workers.

What is the government waiting for to announce a significant reduction in EI premium rates?


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Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I met the Minister of Finance several times this week.

I am very pleased to tell the House that rates will be reduced from $2.90 in 1997 to $2.70 on January 1, 1998, meaning that we are going to accelerate the process in order to introduce on January 1, 1998 the rate we had forecast for 1999.

This is the fourth year in a row that this government has lowered EI premium rates.

*  *  *



Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the economy grew at an annualized rate of 4.9% in the second quarter of this year. Interests rates are at 30 year lows. The economy is creating jobs at twice its normal rate. Yet not all Canadians are participating in this economic recovery. The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 9.1%

Would the finance minister tell Canadians why this rate is so high while other parts of the economy are prospering.

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the unemployment rate has come down substantially since we have taken office. There is no doubt that the Canadian economy continues to feel the trauma of the recession of the early 1990s.

Given the kind of news the minister of human resources has just announced, every single year since we have taken office unemployment insurance rates have come down. This represents a tax cut of $1.4 billion.

At the same time the unprecedented clean-up of the ballot sheet has led to a lowering—

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

*  *  *


Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, British Columbia is very happy to host the APEC summit, but Canadians are not happy when trade is done at the expense of human rights.

Some of the worst abusers of human rights are coming to British Columbia. This issue has been swept under the red carpet.

We want to know whether the prime minister is going to publicly bring up the issue of human rights at the APEC Summit.

Hon. David Kilgour (Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, human rights are very important to this government, as I hope the member knows.

The summit deals with economic issues. We deal on a bilateral issue on human rights issues, as the member knows. The government is helping to sponsor the people's summit which will be dealing with human rights and other issues of concern to the member and all Canadians.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, as the member honestly knows, human rights and trade are two halves of the same whole. They cannot be separated.

Canadians are fed up with human rights being chatted with a whisper behind closed doors, as the prime minister has done before. Canadians want this government to stand up to its convictions and talk about human rights publicly.

Again, will the prime minister publicly debate and call for a public discussion on humans rights at the APEC summit?

Hon. David Kilgour (Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member will probably know that in the case of Indonesia, the leader of the east Timorese people, Noble Peace prize winner Mr. José Ramos-Horta, last night on the National said: “Canada should welcome Indonesian President Suharto with dignity but also take a hard line on human rights. They can have a face to face dialogue with him, firm but non-confrontational”.

I would submit that is an indication of what we are trying to do.

*  *  *


Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise on the anniversary of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples report to say shame on this Liberal government.

The minister of Indian affairs says they need yet more time to respond. There has been enough time to read 50 compelling and damning pages of systematic and ritualized physical, sexual and emotional abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools.


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My question is clear. All else aside, will the government say two words to begin the healing, two words, we're sorry?

Mr. Bernard Patry (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

I just want to report to him that there were 440 recommendations in the RCAP. The report is not on the shelf. Rather it is one of the most important tools we have at our disposal. What we are going to do is in the Speech from the Throne and the government will act as soon as possible.

Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples report recommends that the Metis people of Canada have the right to be acknowledged under section 91(21) of the Constitution Act, 1867.

Will the Liberal government acknowledge support of this recommendation?

Mr. Bernard Patry (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the hon. member that the government should not table a response just for the fact of tabling a response. We want to table the right response. We are working with the provincial governments and the aboriginal peoples.

I will quote Mr. Phil Fontaine who said in the Calgary Herald “I am confident at least at this stage that the government is serious about doing something”.

*  *  *


Mr. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade.

U.S. customs compliance checks at Canadian borders are costing Canadians jobs. They are an unfair burden to Canadian Christmas tree farmers in particular. Several tractor trailer loads of Canadian Christmas trees have been unloaded and then forcefully reloaded, with Canadian shippers paying as much as $1,100 for their trees to be unloaded and reloaded even if they are in complete compliance.

What will the government do to address the issue?

Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government is very concerned about activities going on across the border because trade has actually doubled over the last 10 years. We are in the process of upgrading all our transporter areas so that the problem will be corrected.

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of International Trade.

Having our exporters' products checked for compliance at the border is a non-tariff trade barrier that has resulted in damaged products and mixed up orders. Some of the 53-foot drop trailers have ten to a dozen drops on them. All the products do not always get reloaded.

Will the minister insist that a U.S. custom official or a USDA officer check for compliance at the point of delivery rather than at the border?

Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would dearly love to. I could only tell my hon. friend we are aware that increased trade back and forth with the United States has brought on an additional burden at border crossings, and we are taking measures to correct it.

*  *  *


Mr. Joe Jordan (Leeds—Grenville, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday was National Child Day. Upon reflection this may explain some of the actions in the House yesterday.

Research clearly shows that early and aggressive intervention to improve the quality of life of our young people pays huge dividends for the children, their families and society.

An hon. member: When are you going to stop taxing them?

Mr. Joe Jordan: This may not be important to the Reform Party but it is important to Liberals.

Could the minister outline to the House and indeed all Canadians, because I think Canadians care, what programs—

Some hon. members: Sit down.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health.

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no question that early intervention is critical to children. As chair of the national children's agenda—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.


. 1150 + -

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. It is difficult for the Chair to hear the answer.

There may not have been a question but there was a statement. It is normal when a member gets cut off before the end of a statement that the minister gets to answer the statement. I invite the hon. Minister of Health to resume his answer.

Hon. Allan Rock: Mr. Speaker, I was saying that it is obvious early intervention is crucial if we are to provide children with a future. As the chair of the national children's agenda I am very much aware of that.

I can tell the hon. member of one initiative that we have in partnership with provinces and communities that is working very well. It is called community action program for children. Every week 30,000 Canadian children in 750 projects in 500 communities across the country are the direct beneficiaries of volunteer hours spent with those kids to improve their lives. That is just one example of what we can do for children.

*  *  *


Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, Greg Twoyoungmen, chair of the Committee Against Injustice to Natives, has been scathingly critical of the department of Indian affairs in Alberta. He has publicly highlighted the absolute failure of the minister to protect the interests of grassroots aboriginal people.

Now we find the department of Indian affairs has blatantly tried to buy Mr. Twoyoungmen's silence by offering him a high paying job.

Why is the department of Indian affairs engaged in a seedy underhanded attempt to buy off its critics?

Mr. Bernard Patry (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the answer is that we are not doing such a thing.

*  *  *



Ms. Hélène Alarie (Louis-Hébert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

The Canadian effort in research and development is limited to a paltry 1.64% of GDP. For a long time, the Bloc Quebecois, in its platform, and other stakeholders have been calling for the government to gradually increase granting council budgets.

Is the minister going to act on the requests made by the Canadian Consortium for Research and increase by 50% his total investment in granting councils over the next four years in order to reduce the gap separating us from our main trading partners?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the member took a look at the previous budgets, she would see that there were cuts at the very beginning, but that we have since increased the budgets. If there is enough flexibility, if finances allow it, we intend to continue along that line.

*  *  *



Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. It concerns the government's plans for the end to the TAGS program.

How could the minister expect Canadians to take him seriously when he says that the government is working on plans to help out the affected communities after TAGS is finished and we know he is telling the RCMP and his own officials they should get ready for the fact that they will be doing nothing?

The minister now has a copy of the leaked document before him. Will he explain why the government is making plans for a social disaster in fishing communities instead of preventing the end of assistance for fishing communities and the people in those areas?

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have never asked the RCMP to do the sorts of things he said in his question. I understand that some of our officials need some training to be able to cope with confrontational situations and to handle more difficult situations on an individual basis. It has happened not only in relation to TAGS but across Canada. This is the way it works.

Our government is doing the right thing by conducting a review of the post-TAGS situation. We are not particularly worried because we trust Canadians and we know Canadians behave properly all the time.

*  *  *


Mr. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, PC): Mr. Speaker, during the finance committee hearings on Bill C-2 departmental officials informed members that the auditor general agreed he would not oversee the investment board. The auditor general has now sent a letter to the committee asking that his position be clarified. He wants to and should be auditor for that board.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Will the auditor general oversee the investment board or not? If not, why did the minister's officials mislead members of the committee?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is not the auditor general's position. In any event, the auditor general's position will be clarified.

*  *  *


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Mr. Ian Murray (Lanark—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry.

Canadians have become alarmed at the victimization of vulnerable people by fraudulent telemarketers. Could the parliamentary secretary assure the House that the amendments introduced to the Competition Act will be effective in ending this deplorable practice?

Mr. Walt Lastewka (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, telemarketing scams are estimated to be in the $4 billion mark.

Tough new measures have just been introduced in the House in Bill C-20. The bill will attack telemarketing scam artists. The bill will crack down on criminals by amending the misleading advertising provisions of Canada's Competition Act.

I thank the member for his question. I urge everyone in the House to take action to inform their constituents of the phone scam and the seniors busters program.

*  *  *


Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the minister in charge of CIDA is mismanaging her department. She is using budget cuts to absolve herself of her responsibility to ensure accountability at CIDA.

Now more than ever CIDA needs the Aid Effectiveness Advisory Committee that it asked for in 1994 to manage CIDA budget cuts. If she is planning to give her senior officials the tools they need to ensure accountability at CIDA, why did she refuse to establish this committee?

Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, since we brought in some very strict and very big cuts to CIDA we have done a lot of work to streamline the administration at CIDA.

The hon. member is asking us to put in another layer of bureaucracy. Somehow it does not seem to sit well with what they usually tell us.

*  *  *



Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or rather the Deputy Prime Minister.

Since 1990, it has been standard practice for a detailed report to be tabled before this House on exports of Canadian defence goods. This year, the report has still not been tabled, more than six months after the usual date of publication.

While the government is boasting of being an agent of moderation and a great pacifier in the international community, what is it concealing from us by delaying the publication of this report?


Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this has to do with the tabling of a report.


If the hon. member informs us that a document has not been tabled in the House, I will commit to finding out what is going on. If it must be tabled in the House, it will be, as soon as possible.

*  *  *



Mrs. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is addressed to the Minister of Natural Resources. Devco's chairman, Mr. Joe Shannon, pretends to be working hard to modernize Devco.

One of his projects has been to rip up the rail track used to haul coal away from the mines. In the name of efficiency trucks are now used instead. I am sure it is the desire to modernize that has led Mr. Shannon to pursue this project.

I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Mr. Shannon is the owner of one of the largest trucking companies on Cape Breton Island.

While the House has heard many stories about Liberal patronage, it is rare to find an example this blatant—

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Gerry Byrne (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has made a very specific allegation but in a very roundabout way.

The chairman and the entire board of directors of Devco are actively pursuing the revitalization of this crown corporation. I am pleased with the work they are doing under difficult circumstances.

Facing an international environment for these types of markets is a difficult process. They are doing a very good job. We support them fully and I encourage the hon. member to do the same instead of making silly accusations.

*  *  *


Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is deaf to his colleague's admission the other day that the Liberals are “very familiar with the fact that our income taxes are very high”.

Will the government do the responsible thing and bring tax relief to millions of working Canadians who have been impoverished by bracket creep, or the one million small business owners whose small business deduction remains unchanged for 15 years?

Where is the tax relief for all Canadians from the government's insatiable tax appetite?


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Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member missed the announcement by my colleague, the Minister of Human Resources Development. Let me repeat it.

As a result of his announcement that the employment insurance premiums will drop from $2.90 to $2.70, we have just provided Canadians with a tax cut of $1.4 billion.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. That will bring to a close the question period for today.

*  *  *


The Deputy Speaker: I wish to draw to the attention of members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Xiao Yang, Minister of Justice of the People's Republic of China.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.


The Deputy Speaker: While I am on my feet, I would like to remind members of a very important anniversary. Nine years ago today, the brilliant and very distinguished class of 1988 was elected for the first time to this House. I want to congratulate all my colleagues on this very happy anniversary occasion.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

I was just wondering about your comment. Were you talking about the brilliant class of 1988 including the 211 Conservatives who were elected at that time?

The Deputy Speaker: I was talking about the brilliant members of the class of 1988 who are here in the House celebrating the anniversary. I am sure the hon. member would not to confuse the issue.

The Deputy Speaker: I have notice of a question of privilege.

*  *  *


Ms. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege concerning a press release issued by the member for Dauphin—Swan River, dated November 19, 1997.

Beauchesne, citations 64 through 70, make it clear that reflections on a member of Parliament that make it impossible for that member to fulfil their duties properly comprise a breach of privilege.

On November 18, at the Standing Committee on Transportation I introduced an amendment that would ensure the employees of the Canadian ports that they would not be subjected to undue hardship as a result of changes to Bill C-9.

Reform did not introduce an amendment that would protect these employees. Yet the member for Dauphin—Swan River did a press release which he inaccurately headlined “Liberals and NDP oppose protection for ports employees.”

Such misrepresentations make it impossible for me to fulfil my duties as a member of Parliament. The actions that I took at a committee of this House, actions which are a matter of record, are deliberately misrepresented to the public by a fellow member of that committee. This is not a matter for debate or question of interpretation or of nuance. It is a case where I am accused of not doing something that the records show I did.

I move that the—

The Deputy Speaker: I have listened carefully to the hon. member's comments which strike me as being in the nature of a complaint. I understand that sometimes in either debates in the House or press releases or in statements outside the House, members may say things about one another that are considered by the other to be inaccurate or a misrepresentation.

The normal method of dealing with such things is through either making a speech in the House, as the hon. member has done on this occasion, or by sending out another press release or whatever steps the member may think appropriate.

However, I do not believe this constitutes a question of privilege and I certainly do not believe that the statements made, however offensive the hon. member may have found them, are in any way impeding her ability to carry on her duties as a member of this place. That is the test of a question of privilege.

I will consider the matter closed.

*  *  *


Mr. Joe Jordan (Leeds—Grenville, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

Yesterday, in response to a statement by the member for Edmonton North that I took to be an accusation about my staff who were not here to defend themselves, I still feel very strongly about that. As a result of subsequent discussions with the member, I am convinced that it was not her intention to give that impression and I would like to withdraw my comments from yesterday.


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Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, how can we be asked to rise and stand for a man who represents justice in a country like China when he was the butcher of Tiananmen Square? How can we do that?

The Deputy Speaker: I think the hon. member has the right to remain at his seat, should he wish to do so. It is entirely appropriate, when a foreign guest is here in our gallery, that the fact of his presence be recognized. That is what the Chair did and I think that is entirely appropriate.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order. I do not know how we can actually stand up in this House—

The Deputy Speaker: I do not think this is a point of order. Hon. members are free to stand, or sit in their seats, as they wish. There is no obligation on members to stand or do whatever. I think the matter is closed. The guest is here and I do not believe there is any point of order arising out of it.




Mr. Paul DeVillers (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to section 36.8 I have the honour of tabling in both official languages the government's response to 10 petitions.

*  *  *




Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (Vaughan—King—Aurora, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the report of the Standing Committee on Finance, pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, October 8, 1977.

The committee examined Bill C-2, an act to establish the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. On Thursday, November 20, 1997 it decided to report the bill with amendments.


The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Calgary West on a point of privilege.

*  *  *



Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, is it not an insult and a degradation to the decorum of the House to rise for a man who is the butcher of Tiananmen Square?

The Deputy Speaker: There is no question of privilege.

*  *  *



Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Ref.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-285, an act to amend the Divorce Act (joint custody).

He said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to introduce this bill and thank my hon. colleague from Skeena for seconding it.

Sadly, all too often marriages in Canada end in divorce. Unfortunately, children are frequently the casualty of these breaks-ups and they are further hurt when custody is awarded to only one parent. This bill would provide for automatic joint custody unless there is proven neglect or abuse.

Joint custody does not mean children are shuffled back and forth between two homes. It means there is a joint responsibility for decisions made in the best interest of the child and access cannot be denied arbitrarily by one of the parents. Children need the love and support of both parents and our laws should reflect that.

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

*  *  *


. 1210 + -



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

    That 10 members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to extend their travel throughout Newfoundland from November 30, 1997 to December 2, 1997, and that the necessary staff do accompany the members of the committee.

I would like to say to my colleagues on both sides of the House that consultations have been held with all parties and agreement has been reached.

(Motion agreed to)


Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I move:  

    That the following member be added to the list of associate members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs: Mr. Garry Breitkreuz.

(Motion agreed to)

*  *  *



Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a number of petitions to the House today.

The first three petitions call for the Prime Minister to declare Canada indivisible. The 82 petitioners ask that federal boundaries be modified only by a free, nationwide vote, or through the amending formula process as stipulated in the Constitution.


Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition requests that Parliament amend the Criminal Code, the Bail Reform Act of 1972 and the Parole Act to reflect society's abhorrence of violence.

The petitioners ask that the sentencing of violent offenders adequately protect the victims of crime and society as a whole by removing the offender from society without early release.

They also request that agents of the crown be held accountable for their actions in allowing dangerous criminals to walk free and that the criminal justice system finally recognize the rights of victims over those of the criminal.


Mr. Hec Clouthier (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the proud citizens of the great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

This petition calls upon the Parliament of Canada to adopt an official pledge of allegiance to the Canadian flag after consulting with Canadians on its wording.


Mrs. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to table a petition requesting this Parliament to support the opening of Donkin Mine as part of the crown-owned, free mine operation under the jurisdiction of the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

This petition consists of over 550 names from various communities on Cape Breton Island, such as Glace Bay, Gabarouse, Sydney River, New Waterford and the community of Donkin.


Mrs. Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Strathroy and Grand Bend.

My constituents call upon Parliament to amend section 7 of the charter of rights and freedoms to recognize the rights of individuals to pursue family life free from state interference and recognize the rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.

*  *  *



Mr. Paul DeVillers (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today we will answer Question No. 12. .[Text] Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver):

    With regard to phase 3 of the Pacific Rim national Park, which was to have been proclaimed a national park in or around 1975, (a) what is the reason or reasons phase 3 has never been proclaimed a national park; and (b) what is the target date now for proclaiming phase 3 of the national park a national park?

Hon. Andrew Mitchell (Secretary of State (Parks), Lib.): (a) The proposed Pacific Rim national park lies within areas currently subject to comprehensive land claim, or treaty settlement, negotiations. Where proposed national parks are affected by aboriginal claims, government policy precludes proclamation of these parks until the claims are settled. Pending settlement of these claims, however, such parks may be proclaimed as national park reserves. This allows the proposed park area to be administered in the interim pursuant to the National Parks Act.

(b) The treaty claims affecting Pacific Rim are currently in negotiation and have no specific timeframe for conclusion. When settlements have been reached, the goverment will move expeditiously to proclaim all three components of the proposed Pacific Rim national park, not just phase 3, as a national park.


Mr. Paul DeVillers: Mr. Speaker, I move that the other questions stand.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.





The House resumed consideration of Bill C-7, an act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and to make a consequential amendment to another act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

The Deputy Speaker: When the House broke for question period the hon. member for Calgary East had some moments left in his remarks.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, Ref.): Thank you, Mr. Speaker—

Mr. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, PC): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier today I asked the Minister of Finance a question and he responded to that question, saying that I had misquoted the auditor general. I would like to give the Minister of Finance an opportunity to clarify his position as quickly as possible—


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The Deputy Speaker: I think we are getting into a debate here. If the hon. member feels that the Minister of Finance misquoted the auditor general I suggest he send him a copy of the text. But I do not think it is useful to the House to get into a debate now, especially when question period has been over for some 15 minutes, raising this issue at this point in time.

I invite him to raise the matter with the minister. If he is unable to resolve it satisfactorily he may come back. But it sounds to me like a point of debate and I invite him to consider it in that light before he comes back to the House with the matter.

The hon. member for Calgary East on debate.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on the final reading of Bill C-7, the Saguenay-St. Lawrence marine park.

The Deputy Speaker: Excuse me. The hon. chief government whip on a point of order.

Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont—Dundas, Lib.): Very respectfully to my colleague opposite from the Reform Party who wishes to speak to I believe the third reading of Bill C-7, I wonder if he is not a little premature and if we might be able to conclude the report stage portion of Bill C-7 and then follow that with the third reading, if we are able to get the consent of the House, which we trust we have.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the House wish to dispose of the report stage before the hon. member's speech?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

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

Some hon. members: Question.

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

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Amendment agreed to)

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. chief government whip on a point of order.

Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont—Dundas, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, again there have been negotiations and discussions with representatives of all parties.


In the spirit of co-operation, I would again request unanimous consent of the House to resume consideration at third reading of Bill C-7, an act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

The Deputy Speaker: Yes, I will put that question shortly, but we have another matter to settle before that.

The question is on the motion for concurrence in Bill C-7. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)


The Deputy Speaker: The House heard the proposal of the chief government whip. When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

Some hon. members: Agreed.  

Hon. Andy Mitchell (for Minister of Canadian Heritage) moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to once again address the House on this important piece of legislation.

First, let me thank all the members of the House for their support of this bill on second reading, as well as their support today in expediting the processing of this important piece of legislation.

I would also be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank the members of the standing committee on heritage. They have examined Bill C-7 and gone through an examination clause by clause. I wish to thank the members of the committee who have undertaken that and brought this bill back to the House.

I am thoroughly convinced and I know that members as they have examined this bill understand that it is a critical step, a very important step in protecting a very critical ecosystem that is in existence at the confluence of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence rivers.

As we have seen through the process both in the development of this piece of legislation in terms of the co-operation of the various partners, the various levels of government, today we are demonstrating with the passage of this bill a good level of co-operation between the federal and provincial governments where we see a bill where we have an important common objective of respecting and protecting an important ecosystem.


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We see a good example of our ability to work together for the good of all Canadians.

However, it is also important to remember that the government cannot, in and of itself, take total credit for this. The members of the local community have come forward. It was their original initiative to make this marine conservation area become a reality. All the various stakeholders and interests in that area have worked hard with government to structure this marine park in a way that works not only to protect the ecosystem in that area but works to enhance the communities there and the economy is there.

This is a good example of a grassroots, community based initiative and one that can and should be replicated as we move forward on other initiatives.

All Canadians can be proud as stewards of their marine environment. This legislation will give us the opportunity, the tools and the structure we need in this particular area to make sure that the protection of the ecosystem takes place. In this case particularly in terms of the beluga whale.

Marine ecosystems are dynamic, three dimensional and ever changing and their stewardship requires the collective action and goodwill of all stakeholders. As I mentioned earlier, we are seeing this with this legislation.

As members know, a big part of the mandate of Parks Canada is stewardship. We are required, as an organization on behalf of all Canadians from coast to coast, to not only ensure that our special places, be they marine conservation areas, national parks or historic sites, are available for Canadians today but we have a very important responsibility to make sure that those special places remain unimpaired for the enjoyment and use of future generations.

We have that responsibility to our children and to our grandchildren, as we have the responsibility to take what was passed to us by the previous generation, our parents and grandparents, to ensure that their wise decisions in protecting national parks from the previous century as we have moved through the 20th century, are continued and that we continue with that legacy and that stewardship.

The concept of marine conservation areas which is a relatively new one is going to be part of that process. We are developing a system of marine conservation areas across Canada. We have identified 29 specific ecosystems in all our oceans as well as in our Great Lakes and we are in the process, as we are with this piece of legislation, of protecting those areas.

I think it is important to note at this time that we are the first country in the world proceeding in this manner. We are the first country that understands and recognizes in a tangible way our obligations to protect our marine ecosystems. Together we will all strive to ensure the sustainability of these critical marine ecosystems.

This legislation and the structure in the park that it is putting in place will provide many opportunities for local residents, community and business interests to derive economic benefits from the establishment of this marine conservation area. Just as we saw co-operation between the various levels of governments, the business community and the community at large to establish this park, so too will we see those types of partnerships come together to make sure that this park has both the protection of the ecosystem as well as the generation of new economic development primarily through tourism in this important area in the province of Quebec.

We welcome the opportunity, as a federal government, to work with those partners and to explore the opportunities as they come forward.


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The unprecedented support for this bill in this House demonstrates clearly the common concern that we all share in the protection of our natural and cultural heritage. I am pleased to see that type of support. It represents clearly how deeply Canadians feel about our special places in this country and what type of responsibility and expectations they have towards us, as Parliamentarians, to ensure that we carry out that stewardship in an appropriate way.

We all feel our own places are special. Today we are able to protect a particular area, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence. I am pleased to speak at third reading to see the establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park.

I urge my colleagues to continue to support this legislation and to provide support for this bill at third reading.

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on the final reading of Bill C-7, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park.

When the Reform Party critic from Kootenay—Columbia spoke on November 4 on this bill, he raised certain issues of concern. I quote from the Reform member for Kootenay—Columbia:

    The legislative process that we entered into in this House is very important. All steps in the process are very important. In this case the committee work will be a very valuable part of putting this important legislation in place.

It is important for people on both sides of this issue to have an opportunity to express themselves so that we as members have a clear understanding as to where their concerns are.

What we suggested is that the committee must take a look at the flexibility of the legislation and the impact on potential tenants.

What happened at the committee was there was a briefing from Parks Canada officials. The member for Kootenay—Columbia asked that we address concerns and call witnesses. The member requested recorded votes. The committee members unanimously defeated the call for witnesses. The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage effectively gave it the old rubber stamp.

The committee did not do its job. It did not do due diligence. The rubber stamp was unanimous by all other parties.

As far as the member for Kootenay—Columbia stated on November 4, 1997, once again the Liberal government is using the House as a rubber stamp. Today we now have the committee acting like a rubber stamp.

Some of the concerns raised by the Reform critic are, for example, the implication for commercial and sports fisheries on the St. Lawrence. What are the implications for other users of the river? It is absolutely essential that the people who are using the area for its marine life be consulted. What are the implications because of the overlay of the park regulations? If we consult generally speaking we can avoid any confrontations and avoid taking unnecessary steps.

Most important is what precedent has this bill established for future parks. Parks cannot be established in isolation or in a vacuum. Consultation is required in order to ensure that they work well.

At second reading the member for Kootenay—Columbia said that it is imperative the committee ask all the questions and ensure those questions are debated at committee and answered before coming to a final conclusion. This was not realized.

I reject the rubber stamp process and therefore have some concerns about the balance of this legislation. It would appear that all the other parties at the committee are unwilling to do their jobs. All the same, this would not stop Reform from voting in favour of the establishment of the park.

Parks are an important issue to the Reform Party. Reluctantly and in spite of the flawed process I am recommending to my colleagues that we vote in favour of the park.

In conclusion, on a personal note as a Canadian I am proud to see that Canada will have the first marine national park in the world.


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Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-7 at third reading.

First of all, I would like to thank my colleagues on the heritage committee for their quick and efficient consideration of this bill. I would like to thank the Parks Canada and justice department officials who worked on the drafting and presentation of the bill.

Members will recall that this bill implements an agreement signed in april 1990 by the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada. The marine park project was launched in 1985, and on June 3, 1988, the governments of Canada and Quebec agreed to meet to discuss the establishment of a marine park in the Saguenay region and they finally agreed on the objectives in 1990.

Both governments conducted public consultations to set the park boundaries definitively. An advisory committee was then set up, bringing together representatives from the following organizations: the affected RCMs, the scientific community, the Union québécoise pour la conservation de la nature and the Coalition pour le parc marin du Saguenay—Saint-Laurent.

This committee was to advise planners about how the project was perceived in the region as well as about the contents of a park development proposal. This committee and the officials representing the ministers concerned by the project were able to bring to light what was involved and the interest of the local people in creating a marine park.

In April 1993, the governments announced what the boundaries of the marine park would be and, at the same time, launched the public consultation process on the development proposal. Within two months, by the end of this second round of consultations, the governments had received 63 briefs, which, following a thorough review, were reported on in December 1993. They had all they needed to draft the marine park management plan, which was published early in 1996.

The establishment of this park is a first for Canada, to the extent that it will be jointly managed by the federal and the provincial governments. The Quebec government will maintain ownership of the seabed and the subsoil resources, while the federal government will continue to exercise its jurisdiction, in particular over navigation and fisheries.

The two governments have agreed to harmonize their involvement and that of their various departments and organizations. They have agreed to share current and future infrastructures, installations and equipment for the marine park.

The two governments have established a harmonization committee made up of four members, that is two for each government. The committee must harmonize Canada and Quebec's initiatives, primarily as regards the following: planning; research; management and programming of activities; consultations with interested individuals and groups; integration of planning and development efforts; terms for the sharing of existing or future infrastructures, installations and equipment; implementation schedule and exchange of personnel; communications and the organization of seminars, symposiums and fairs; protection of aquatic fauna and flora; and, finally, public safety.

On December 12, 1996, the two governments announced the introduction of their respective pieces of legislation on the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, in the Quebec National Assembly and in the House of Commons. On June 5, 1997, Quebec's National Assembly passed Bill 86.

However, since the park will be jointly managed by the federal and provincial governments, the Quebec legislation can only come into effect once the federal bill has been given royal assent. This is why I ask hon. members to pass the bill at third reading today, so as to establish a marine park that will increase the level of protection afforded to ecosystems in part of the Saguenay fjord and in the northern estuary of the St. Lawrence River, for conservation purposes, while also promoting its use for educational, recreational and scientific purposes by current and future generations.


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The bill will also help promote local tourism, attract infrastructure spending and result in the creation of permanent jobs in the park.

I am delighted to see that the process is about to be completed.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The hon. member for Burin—St. George's would like to speak on the bill. Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Bill Matthews (Burin—St. George's, PC): Mr. Speaker, I thank members for their consent. It must be Friday.

It is a great pleasure for me to stand and speak in support of Bill C-7, an act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park. I would like to add my congratulations and gratitude to all those who have worked tirelessly to bring this project to fruition.

On behalf of my colleague from Chicoutimi, I would especially like to congratulate all the stakeholders in the vast region affected by the establishment of this marine park, including the municipalities that have promoted the idea of the marine park. Congratulations on making the park a success.

This process involved in the establishment of the Saguenay St. Lawrence Marine Park will be a model for the development of other marine conservation areas for years to come. This marks the first time two governments acting within their respective jurisdictions jointly established a park.

It is probably the park that underwent the largest consultation process ever held in this country. The process led to increasing the proposed boundaries of the park by approximately 40%. This consultative process also allowed the people who will be affected by the park to share their views, concerns and ideas.

Throughout the debate we have heard about maintaining the ecological integrity of our ecosystems. This party believes that the project goes a long in doing just that. The Progressive Conservative Party has always played a leading role in the protection of our environment and the development of both terrestrial and marine parks. I am happy to state that we will continue to do that.

This marine park is an excellent illustration of Canadians becoming stewards of their marine heritage and working together toward the common goal of maintaining the area's ecological integrity and ensuring its long term sustainability.

When we were in government, we recognized the importance of conserving our national marine areas. Many members will know that there are four natural regions for national marine conservation, the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes.

This is also the first marine conservation area on the east coast and I look forward to the development of the remaining nine marine parks in the Atlantic region.

Too often people think that conservation means no development, or in the case of fisheries, no fishing. Conservation and development should not be seen as being working at cross purposes, but working together hand in hand. National marine conservation areas are meant to, and I quote: “represent the diversity of our nation's marine ecosystems, facilitate and encourage marine research and ecological monitoring, protect depleted of endangered species and populations and preserve habitats considered critical to the survival of these species, protect and maintain areas critical to the life cycles of the economically important species and provide interpretation of marine areas for the purposes of conservation, education and tourism”.


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In closing, I once again want to thank members for their unanimous consent to allow me to speak and I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the efforts of our colleague from Chicoutimi who has worked tirelessly over the last 12 years to make this park a reality.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak again on Bill C-7, an act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

This bill is of particular interest to me, because I come from the Saguenay and I grew up in this very special environment, which is the envy of many tourists who come to our beautiful area.

I look forward to welcoming an increasing number of tourists who will come visit us once the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is established. The establishment of this new park confirms the significance of this resort area, where people can admire one of the most magnificent features of Quebec's landscape, the Saguenay fjord, where a mighty river flows.

We have waited a long time for this bill. The idea of a marine park was first introduced twelve years ago. In 1988, Canada and Quebec agreed to join forces to discuss the establishment of a marine park.

Better late than ever, we could all say. Nevertheless, without all these overlapping areas of federal and provincial jurisdiction, Quebec, as a sovereign nation, would surely have launched this project in a more timely manner. Anyway, as good citizens, we must act within the rigid federal system and make the most of it.

Therefore, I must recognize again, as I did in the speech I gave on this bill on November 4, that under the agreement concerning the required legislative or regulatory measures to be passed, both levels of government, which signed the deal on April 6, 1990, agreed for once to act within their jurisdiction.

Several members of this House have pointed out the exemplary character of this co-operation between the Governments of Canada and of Quebec. I can well understand why the members opposite would stress this, given the fact that the Liberal government is constantly trying to control every attempt by the Quebec to assert itself as a nation.

We all remember that this unique project came from the grassroots and finally made it to our legislative institutions. For once, useless duplication and overlap are being avoided by sharing existing and future facilities, infrastructure and equipment in the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park.

Local and regional communities that have actively cooperated in creating this marine park are being called upon to become closely involved in its management. As members of the coordinating committee, representatives of local and regional communities will be able to closely follow the implementation of the master plan for the marine park.

Again, my concern is that this coordinating committee will only be an advisory committee and as such will not have the impact it should have on the management of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park. I have already expressed this concern, and I call on each of these representatives to be very careful in ensuring that protection of marine resources will be in keeping with the spirit of Bill C-7 that we will be adopting shortly.


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In addition, as the member for that beautiful region, I am especially concerned about the employment situation. I believe that job creation and environmental protection are not incompatible. There has to be a balance.

In this respect, I would like to point out that the federal government has up to now concentrated all its investments in this area on the sites which it owns, namely wharfs and the shoreline. I believe that as an extension of this legislation, the federal government should demonstrate its good faith and provide the necessary funds for the construction of the highway between Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Petit-Saguenay, a highway that the population has been demanding for 25 years.

This new highway will be a big help in attracting more visitors to the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park. Today, a great number of tourists follow the river and take the ferry between Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Tadoussac without going inland along the Saguenay fjord.

I therefore call on the Liberal government to take immediate action to meet this important need for infrastructure so that the park can become an engine for the development of the tourism industry in our region.

I do not have to remind you of the record high unemployment rates in our area over the last several years. This initiative is a way of returning to the region the taxes paid by the local people and of alleviating the cuts in employment insurance that have hurt so many of them.

I would like to add that the situation is the same in the case of the wharfs at Anse-Saint-Jean and Petit-Saguenay; these belong to the federal government and are in urgent need of investments. You will remember that there was a fire a few years ago at the wharf in Anse-Saint-Jean. It is in a terrible state.

So the time has come for the government to invest in all this infrastructure in support of the goodwill expressed with the passing of Bill C-7.

Before I finish, I would like to take a few minutes to give you an overview of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park and a sense of the excitement all tourists share when they come to look at this exceptional site and all its wealth.

The park is part of two major geological formations. The Saguenay fjord and the north shore of the St. Lawrence belong to the old basement of the Canadian Shield made up of crystalline rocks from 600 million to 4 billion years old. Four billion years; it gives one pause for reflection. Mankind is pretty insignificant, when all is said and done.

The Logan fault, which more or less follows the St. Lawrence valley, is a major nonconformity separating the rock formations of the Canadian Shield and the Appalachians. The Saguenay fjord is a deep gash in the Canadian Shield, a series of fault lines in the earth's crust. All these faults and breaks in the earth's crust led to the breakdown of part of the continental shelf.

A series of glaciations carved out the entire St. Lawrence River system as we now know it. The Saguenay River has the peculiarity of being a freshwater river, fed by Lac Saint-Jean, and a saltwater river, fed by the tide waters of the St. Lawrence. The uniqueness of this ecosystem has led to the presence, in the Saguenay River, of species of flora and fauna that may be found nowhere else. So it is easy to understand why this region is of such interest to the scientific community.

In fact, the marine park is in an extremely diversified and rich environment. The aquatic wildlife found in this park includes several species of plankton, some of which are plants while others are animals. This underwater vegetation provide a habitat for many kinds of fish.

And to make things more interesting, we also find two species of aquatic mammals, the beluga and the common seal. This explains why so many visitors are overhelmed by the exceptional beauty of the region and its many assets.


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Furthermore, I would be remiss if I did not point out that this is an extremely significant region in the history of North America, because it is here that Aboriginal and European civilizations converged. For thousands of years, the confluence of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence rivers has been a centre of human activity seeking to benefit from this exceptional marine environment.

Today, the mouth of the Saguenay is once again becoming a centre for encountering and discovering marine life. Like the explorers and hunters of past civilizations, present-day visitors can experience the great sensations that contact with marine mammals can provide. In returning to its roots, our society is rediscovering its love of the sea and retracing its history. This is the great challenge the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park has in store for us.

To conclude, I wish to thank the numerous local organizations, local and regional communities, environmental groups and native peoples involved and the scientific community for supporting the establishment of this marine park.

I especially wish to thank Gérard-Raymond Morin, the MNA for Dubuc, and his predecessor, Hubert Desbien, who have always promoted with courage and determination this huge tourist project, which will be a driving force for the economy of our region.

I invite each of you who are about to adopt Bill C-7 to come and enjoy the beauty of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and to discover its rich fauna.


Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Sackville—Eastern Shore to declare the New Democratic Party's continuing support in principle for Bill C-7, an act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park.

I am proud to speak in support of this initiative and to recommend that the final report be accepted by the House. All Canadians will benefit from the preservation of this unique marine ecosystem.

I trust the spirit of co-operation demonstrated by all parties toward establishing the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park will continue through further efforts to protect Canada's role in this area throughout the 36th Parliament as we strive to protect our natural heritage for future generations.

I wish to acknowledge the work undertaken by the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to expedite the passage of Bill C-7. The wisdom and guidance shown by the committee chair, my distinguished colleague from Lac St. Louis, deserves recognition from all members of the House. I congratulate all committee members and associates for their invaluable insights, comments and level of co-operation.

As I stated at second reading and as mentioned by my colleagues at that time, this notable effort has involved the participation of many Canadians. The communities were consulted. Aboriginal participation was ensured and input from all stakeholders was accepted.

The public participation process incorporated throughout the conception of Bill C-7 and in the evolution to the final report before us today is a fine example of what can be accomplished when Canadians agree on a challenge and together strive toward a common purpose and achieve a just conclusion.

As I sated at second reading and shall mention again, the degree of intergovernmental co-operation serves as a hallmark which I hope can be applied to future endeavours between federal and provincial governments.

I would be remiss if I did not draw attention to several matters raised in a previous debate regarding Bill C-7, by participants during the years of marine park development, and through recent consultations and correspondence received by the New Democratic Party.

I acknowledge and accept, as mentioned earlier in my speech, the wisdom and guidance demonstrated by my distinguished colleague from Lac St. Louis. His ability to expedite the progress of Bill C-7 and to ensure implementation without further delay is a credit to the House and a fine reference to Parliament's ability to serve Canadians in a positive manner.


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I call upon my colleagues, the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Secretary of State for Parks, to acknowledge and commit to the following requests submitted by concerned Canadians.

I agree the establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park has involved an admirable public participation process over many years. To have asked for further consultations, to have called for numerous amendments and to have requested various forms of additional review would have resulted in unnecessary and detrimental delays.

I call upon members of the House to acknowledge and include in the consideration of further marine park projects the following language in the preamble and purpose of future bills:

    That the preamble shall include such language as to reflect a desire “to conserve and to maintain the integrity of the natural ecosystems within the park's boundaries”.

I do not intend to portray Bill C-7 as ignoring this principle. Nor do I call for an amendment. I wish to convey to my colleagues an opportunity to strengthen the underlying purpose for establishing marine parks, which is to conserve and preserve our natural heritage for this and future generations.

The following addition to the purpose of future marine park bills will assist in a successful marine parks program and increase the level of protection of marine ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations:

    This will be done by preserving and maintaining the integrity of natural ecosystems within the park boundaries, and in particular by protecting and aiding the recovery of species and populations designated at risk.

I ask my colleagues to acknowledge these requests so that they may be included for consideration in future noble park efforts.

I thank the House for the opportunity to speak on these matters. I will voice again the support of the New Democratic Party for the acceptance of the final report, Bill C-7.

On a personal note, I hope that the same co-operation exists when it comes time to debate park status for Lawler and McNabb Island in the beautiful harbour of Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Mr. Guy Saint-Julien (Abitibi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to have the opportunity to rise in the House of Commons in support of a bill to establish a new marine park in Quebec within the marine area conservation network.

On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank the members of the House of Commons who are present today as well as those who were here before for their co-operation which will result in passage of this major piece of legislation.

Canada can be proud of its vast experience in the vital area of protection of its heritage resources. Canadians feel very strongly about preserving the quality of their natural environment, and this bill to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park was drafted in response to their concerns.

The bill is aimed at improving, for conservation purposes and for the benefit of present and future generations, the level of protection given to the ecosystems found in the Saguenay River fjord and in the St. Lawrence estuary, while promoting their use for educational, recreational and scientific purposes.

This approach is in line with the government's position with regard to the protection of ecosystems and sustainable development.

As with the amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, this bill shows the government's willingness to work for the conservation of marine natural resources through the development of legislative and policy measures that respond to global environmental concerns.

This bill is also tangible proof of the government's commitment to sustainable development. It is a positive contribution to the efforts made to protect Canada's biodiversity and to preserve the quality of our natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations.

The establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park is the result of many years of concerted efforts by the governments of Canada and Quebec, local and regional communities, environmental groups, aboriginal peoples and the scientific community in order to enhance the management and protection of the rich and diversified marine resources of this great region, and especially to protect the belugas in the St. Lawrence.


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This bill provides for a complete legislative framework for the management of the federal government's responsibilities. Its purpose is to complete but not overlap the current federal legislation, including the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act.

On December 12, 1996, both governments tabled their respective bills. The federal bill died on the Order Paper when the last federal election was called. However, the Quebec National Assembly adopted Bill 86 on June 5, 1997. The provincial legislation will come into force when the federal legislation is promulgated. Now, it is incumbent upon us to honour our commitments and to create a great marine park in Quebec.

In closing, I take this opportunity to state that I strongly support this bill to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park, which is a basic tool for the protection and enhancement of the most important marine natural resources of this country.

I wish to thank all members of the House, whether they belong to the Bloc Quebecois, the Liberal Party of Canada or the Conservative Party. I urge every member of the House to join me in supporting this bill.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Questions and comments. Debate. Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Mr. Gerry Byrne (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I ask the consent of the House with your permission to begin the private members' session, which I believe is slated for 1.30 p.m. Seeing no further business, I ask the consent of this House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The House has heard the motion. Does the House give its unanimous consent to see the clock as 1.30 p.m.?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): It being 1.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.




Mrs. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or, NDP) moved:  

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should take action to develop the Donkin Mine as a Crown Corporation.

She said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank you, the members of this House, for engaging in debate on my Motion No. 136, requesting that the Government of Canada take action to see the Donkin Mine in Cape Breton be developed under crown control, specifically, that Donkin be opened under the control of Devco, the Cape Breton Development Corporation. I ask this House to allow me to briefly give a bit of background regarding the history of coal mining in Canada.


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Many members know that our country's thriving coal industry is a source of significant benefit to the national economy. Many industries are involved in the transport and use of coal and all those which supply services, labour and equipment to mining operations rely directly on the coal fields for a large part of their income.

All of these industries and the individuals who work for them contribute to Canada's tax base. Their wages come from coal and their wages fuel the economy.

A study by the Saskatchewan Energy Conservation and Development Authority demonstrates how Canada's coal industry generates over $5.8 billion annually, or nearly 1% of Canada's gross domestic product. Over 73,000 men and women are employed in the coal industry in Canada today. That is nearly 1% of Canada's total employment. The direct contributions of coal production to the GDP and employment are significant and when the ripple effects from all other sectors are included, the economic impact is multiplied.

For example, coal is the single largest commodity transported on Canada's railways and loaded at our ports. The Coal Association of Canada estimates that ever dollar spent in coal production generates $2.36 in related industry and from income respending. Every direct job created in coal production supports an additional 3.7 jobs in the rest of the economy.

The National Energy Board of Canada predicts that Canada will generate 46% more electricity in the year 2005 than in 1998 to meet the demand caused by an expanding population and an expanding economy. Furthermore, the forecast says that the amount of electricity generated from the coal will rise by 70% over current levels.

It is true that Canada has a number of options to meet its power needs in the next century. Some provinces are looking at energy conservation measures such as promoting the use of energy efficient street lighting in order to free up a pool of electricity that could be used by homes and industry. This will slow the demand for new energy generating facilities.

There is the potential for hydro development in Newfoundland, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba and Alberta, but the sites are in remote and environmentally sensitive locations, making them costly to develop and placing them in conflict with aboriginal communities which have claims to the land.

Plants that harness ocean tides such as the one opened on the Annapolis River in Nova Scotia in 1984, one of the first of its kind in North America, can also be looked to for inspiration when we consider how our country can meet its changing and expanding energy needs. But the fact remains that one of Canada's most abundant economic resources available for the production of electricity is coal.

Coal mining today is not the industry it used to be. Gone are the solitary miners working the coal face with pick and shovel. Gone are miners lamps from paraffin soaked rags ready to spark off explosions of the firedamp gas leaching from the stone walls around them. Today, mining is highly mechanized and heavily regulated. Canada can be proud of an industry with some of the world's safest mining conditions and progressive environmental management.

The picks and shovels have been replaced by automated systems that have dramatically improved the efficiency of mining. One machine now does what many men used to. Few people make these connections between the light switch in their bedroom, the electricity for their TV and the coal mines deep beneath the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

If and when people think of coal they think of soot, of miners with blackened faces, of harmful emissions that would damage our already fragile environment.

Let us face it, there is a serious question about the pollutants that are produced from burning coal. But just as today's miners work in conditions that would have amazed the men who worked underground in the last 200 years, so too has the way in which coal was burned being changed and improved.

Clean coal technologies can reduce emissions that would hurt the environment, especially the gases that dump acids into the ecosphere, sulphur and nitrogen oxides and carbon residues that have been linked to global warming. Technology cannot solve all of our problems, but it can certainly help. Let us not forget that we are building on a natural resource, naturally occurring coal, so that there is none of the environmental damage caused by processing or refining the product before it can be used.


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Another sea change in the industry has been the huge reduction in the number of coal mines across Canada. In the 1930s there were 400 small coal mines. Today there are only eight companies operating a total of 29 mines. One of those eight producers is the crown corporation called Devco, the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

I can say with pride that Devco employs the best miners in the world. They are men who have mining in their blood who belong to families that have seen grandfathers and fathers and sons go underground just as my father and grandfather did. They are men who fought the vicious excesses of the private coal companies and who were trampled by the horses of the police and the army who acted as the private security guards for the coal company.

Not many people outside Cape Breton know that we have a unique holiday. On June 10 every year we remember Davis Day, the day when a miner was shot by company police after a peaceful demonstration. We have a long history of struggle, of fighting for fair wages and safe working conditions, and we will keep on fighting.

My preamble stresses the important role these men have played in Canada's history and the important role I hope they will continue to play in the future. Those Cape Breton miners are today looking to their crown corporation. They want to continue to do what Cape Bretoners do best, work hard and work honestly in the craft that has defined the economy of my island for centuries. They want to provide the power to run the computers, fax machines and office buildings that keep the new economy moving forward. They want to do their fair share.

Devco was founded in 1967 by an act of Parliament and is wholly owned by the government. All of its $325 million in assets are located on Cape Breton Island and Devco remains the largest producer of coal in eastern Canada.

With over 1,300 employees it is also one of the largest industrial employers in the region. At present, Devco operates two collieries, Phalen Mine and Prince Mine and all of the supporting infrastucture that enables Devco to take Cape Breton coal and sell it around the world.

In 1996-97 Devco sold 2.4 million tonnes of coal which yielded revenues of $167 million. It is apparent that Devco's contribution to the national coal industry is significant. Its contribution to the Cape Breton economy, which sees an extra $200 million a year thanks to Devco, is huge. Devco is one of the few large employers in industrial Cape Breton and jobs supported indirectly by the corporation's activities employ thousands more. When we look at the economic climate on my island it becomes pretty clear pretty quick that Devco's success and Cape Breton's success are one and the same.

Four hundred and fifty people work at the Prince Colliery, eight hundred at Phalen. Imagine the impact on industrial Cape Breton's already skyrocketing unemployment rate, a rate that is currently in the range of 35% to 40%, if Devco ceased to exist. It would take thousands and thousands of jobs with it. Even with the mines operating there is an expectation that 300 men will retire from Devco over the next three years, not to be replaced. Meanwhile all of our young people are leaving, there are no jobs and even their parents are joining the unemployment line. It takes time and money to train miners and the will to renew and rejuvenate the workforce simply is not there.

I will provide the House with a background of Devco's history. The Cape Breton coal fields were taken under crown control in 1968 when the Dominion Steel and Coal Company, better known as DOSCO, decided to conclude its decade-long attack upon the people of Cape Breton by abandoning the island altogether. Realizing the chaos this would cause, the government stepped in.

Initially Devco was supposed to supervise the slow shutdown of the coal industry over a 15-year period while it would help the workforce find new jobs in new fields. Then the oil crisis loomed and suddenly Canada needed the Cape Breton coal miners again just as it needed them during the first and second world wars.


. 1315 + -

Now, instead of phasing out coal production, Devco was put in charge of drawing up a 20 to 25 year plan that would promote a stable industry which would benefit both Cape Breton and the rest of Canada.

Now 25 years later there are just two mines operating in Cape Breton and the same Liberals who promised a stable industry when in government and in opposition are now back making plans on how they can shut down the coal fields. Despite this, Devco has become more efficient and more effective. Management and labour have worked together to make Devco deliver the goods for as little money as possible. Both the United Mine Workers of America and Devco's management deserve credit for this.

For example, in Prince mine, the deeps—the main shaft leading from the surface down to the coal face—have been realigned to make better use of the coal deposits. Meanwhile, Phalen mine has been plagued with problems caused by rock and gas outbursts, heavy roof conditions and flooding. These problems have all increased the cost of Devco coal, despite the hard work of the employees who worked overtime to get the mine back into production.

In many ways we are back to where we started in 1968, but the reasons Devco should exist are even more valid now than they were then.

There is hope. There is a contingency plan in case the problems with the Phalen mine become so severe that it has to be closed early. The contingency is the Donkin mine.

Donkin is the future of Devco and Devco remains the future of Cape Breton.

In June 1996 the then minister of natural resources said: “Donkin is related to hope. Everybody wants and needs hope”. It is not often that I agree with the Liberal government, but today I am happy to stand and endorse the then minister's statement.

Donkin is a huge coal reserve beneath the Atlantic. In 1981 Kilborn Engineering estimated that there were 1.4 billion tonnes of mineable coal off Cape Perce. The mine itself has already been built, at taxpayer expense. Two gun barrel smooth tunnels and engineering studies have been completed by the Government of Canada. The geology looks good and the quality looks even better.

An annual production of 3.8 million tonnes is feasible once Donkin goes into production.

Associated Mining Consultants has endorsed the forecasted success of the mine. It says that minimal surface facilities would be needed for a small scale operation at Donkin.

Selective mining could be undertaken during a trial period with, say, 500,000 tonnes mined annually. That could be expanded once it is clear that a profit can be made.

Donkin is the gold mine of coal mines. It should be opened by the same people who built it, the Cape Breton Development Corporation, acting in the interests of the people of Canada.

Our government has made substantial investments into the coal industry and today, by committing to opening Donkin as part of Devco, we can start the process that will see Canadians getting a return on their investment.

Not only have the taxpayers already paid to build Donkin, Devco also has most of the assets it would need to open the mine sitting idly at its abandoned site at Lingan. There is $8 million worth of equipment, ready to be used, sitting and rusting. Canadian taxpayers have already spent $88 million on Donkin.

While it is true that development has no immediate effect on production, the fact that it has gone well is a good indicator that the mine will be a good one.

In 1985 Associated Mining Consultants reported to Devco that the Donkin mine could be brought onstream at 500,000 or one million tonnes per year. That would generate $118.7 million and $170.3 million, respectively.

Mining experts from the union today are saying that current conditions could mean reduced capital requirements, which in turn would mean increased profits.

Here is a quote from the report “The Donkin-Morien Mine: Building the Mine of the Future”: “Production of 4.507 million tonnes per year is considered possible and economically feasible”.

I repeat that it is the gold mine of coal mines. Devco was right when it said in 1992 that Donkin mine is a valuable asset for the long term. The Donkin tunnels give us access to the great riches of the Sydney coal field, a great Canadian asset as important as the Alberta tarsands or Newfoundland's Hibernia. As we once again begin to talk of the new energy sources, be they the planned Sable pipeline or the nuclear reactors this government is keen to give China, it is critical that we do not forget the resources that have always been the backbone of our energy grid.

In time of war and crisis—


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The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): With regret, I must inform the hon. member that her time has expired.

Mr. Gerry Byrne (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege to rise in the House and join my colleague from across the way.

I rise to address the House on Motion No. 136 which calls on certain limitations to be put on the development of Donkin mine in Cape Breton as a crown corporation.

I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for Bras D'or for her interest in the issue and the future of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, also known as Devco. As a member from Atlantic Canada, I welcome the opportunity to debate this motion.

I believe the hon. member and this government share common concerns about Cape Breton. We are concerned, for example, about the high levels of unemployment on the Island, as well as in other parts of Atlantic Canada. We are concerned about the long term economic health of Cape Breton and about the future of its young people. I would also suggest the hon. member and this government share a common will for Cape Breton, to achieve long term economic success and social progress across the Island.

That is why our government continues to support the work of the Cape Breton Development Corporation which the hon. member knows is a federal crown corporation. The Government of Canada has set a clear and reasonable goal for Devco. As a coal mining company that is in the business of providing jobs and other economic benefits to Cape Breton, we expect Devco to become commercially viable on its own right. I believe that is a fair and reasonable expectation and I believe hon. members on both sides of the House will agree that this is indeed a reasonable expectation.

We believe that commercial viability is the best way to ensure the tradition of coal mining continues in Cape Breton and that Devco maintains its position as a major employer within the region. The need for Devco to succeed cannot be overemphasized. The corporation continues to contribute more than $150 million to the Cape Breton economy through wages, pensions and the purchase of goods and services. It is the largest coal producer and one of the largest industrial interest in eastern Canada, employing approximately 1,700 people. The economic spinoffs from Devco's activities are felt in virtually every community of Cape Breton.

I am pleased to inform the House that Devco has embraced the government's challenge to become commercially viable. It has taken steps to overhaul its operations, to introduce new technologies, to improve productivity and the labour relations found there and to better manage its business. The corporation's five year business plan approved by the government in May of 1996 clearly stated Devco's mission which is to become a profitable coal mining company.

To aid the corporation achieving its goal of profitability and competitiveness with other energy sources, the government has provided Devco with a repayable loan of up to $69 million over three years. I might add this is in addition to other federal funding that has been provided to the corporation since it was created in 1967.

I am also pleased to report that Devco made a number of positive achievements in the one year of its operating business plan. Although it faced a number of ongoing challenges, particularly at its Phalen mine, the corporation operated within the $43.5 million funding level approved by the Government of Canada.

Devco's annual report for the period ending March 31, 1997 shows a positive development on a number of fronts. I would like to briefly outline some of the progress that has indeed been made.

For the first time in the history of the corporation, new contracts were negotiated with bargaining units without the use of an outside conciliator. This is solid evidence of improved labour relations and the commitment of its employees, unions and management to work together.

Also during the past fiscal year Devco's safety results improved by more than 40%. This was reflected in a 10% improvement in employee attendance at the workplace. The corporation's emphasis on safety is good for workers and it is good for Devco.

Devco has also taken further steps to involve its workers in the decision making process. A quality management program known as beyond 200 was developed last year to promote continuous improvement and a commitment to quality across the corporation.

In terms of sales, in 1996 the corporation sold a record 2.8 million tonnes of coal to its primary customer, Nova Scotia Power Incorporated. Coal sales for the first six months of the current fiscal year yielded revenues of $86 million.

Devco's coal marketing strategy will continue to focus on meeting the needs of Nova Scotia power, which is far and away the corporation's most important customer.

I know hon. members will want to join me in congratulating Devco's management and workers on their efforts over the past year and a half. Their achievements to date have been meaningful and important.


. 1325 + -

For me personally I would like to congratulate Devco workers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and showed the expert miners they truly are.

At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that more needs to be done. The corporation is projecting a funding requirement of $25.5 million over the next two years which is within the limit approved by the government. Devco is forecasting that it will achieve positive cash flows in the year 1999-2000.

To achieve this latter goal, the corporation will have to continue to improve productivity at its existing facilities. Devco's short term planning framework which as I noted earlier has been fully endorsed by this government calls for the corporation to focus its efforts on addressing the challenges it faces at its existing mines.

This is not an easy task. Over the next few months the corporation will explore ways to get around serious geological problems recently encountered at its Phalen mine. Devco will be considering all options for the Phalen mine and for its other coal resources including Donkin coal.

This does not mean the Donkin mine will or will not be developed. Far from it. In fact, as the hon. member for Bras D'Or is aware, a private company is in the process of undertaking a feasibility study to determine whether the mine can be developed on a commercial basis by a private sector entity.

This analysis, combined with Devco's own studies over the past few months, will form the basis of its next annual corporate plan update. This update will be submitted to government in early 1998.

The government has complete confidence in the management of the Cape Breton Development Corporation and in its workers. We agree that with the decisions that have to be made we firmly believe in management and workers ability to make appropriate recommendations to government for the future of the corporation.

In closing, I want to once again thank the hon. member for Bras D'Or for bringing this matter before the House. I believe that the underlying objective of this motion is to ensure employment and economic security in Cape Breton. I can assure the hon. member that we will keep the House informed of any developments relating to Devco that contribute to this important goal.

If I may say, we are very open to assisting in the process of Cape Breton development and Atlantic Canadian development. This government is committed to keeping an open channel to any and all new options.


Mr. Ghislain Fournier (Manicouagan, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my speech today is in response to the motion moved on September 24 by the hon. member for Bras d'Or, requesting that a crown corporation be established to develop the Donkin mine in the Cape Breton region of Nova Scotia.

I want to express my strongest opposition to this request, which, in my opinion, is totally groundless, especially for all Quebeckers, who are not concerned in any way by this so-called mine.

In fact, with all due respect to some hon. members, I would like to make an important correction. Donkin is not a mine per se, but rather vein, or lead, indicating development could take place on that site during some time.

Establishing a crown corporation is unacceptable mainly because mines are a provincial jurisdiction and the federal government has no jurisdiction whatsoever in the matter. Natural resources, including mines, forests and energy, belong to the provinces.

I think it shows a lack of respect for the taxpayers to mix the internal affairs of a province with the public funds of another province. If that is what the renewal of the federation or the constitution is all about, this is not very convincing to me. And if the federal government brings up Quebec's special status one more time, I will have to wonder what its word is worth. One cannot talk about respect for Quebec the same way as for any other province, mixing all the provincial cards together. It should be up to a province's government to manage regional matters like mines.

Let us now look at the particular issue of Donkin. To this day, absolutely no one has been able to prove that this coal mining project could be a profitable venture. Only one private firm seems to be interested in finding out what the situation is and in conducting a study at a cost of $400,000, 75 % of which would be paid by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. However, the study would only determine the reserve's potential and would not clearly establish whether it is possible to develop the Donkin coal mine without sinking more public funds into it.


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In its 1996-97 estimates, the Cape Breton Development Corporation, which is accountable to the federal government and which is currently developing the Phalen and Prince mines in Nova Scotia, anticipated losses of $35 million.

The development of a coal mine in Donkin could cost at least $100 million to $125 million. The federal government has already invested $80 million, and it also holds the lease for that reserve. As for the Nova Scotia government, it owns the resource and would therefore collect royalties should the mine be exploited.

How could a government justify spending between $100 million and $125 million on a project that offers absolutely no guarantee of success?

In my riding of Manicouagan, as in several other regions, there are major potential mining opportunities. Since last year, when a geologist from the Quebec government discovered the Lac Vollant indicator, close to Sept-Îles, there has truly been a “Lac Vollant rush”. Some people are going so far as to say that it could be the richest deposit every discovered.

Never has the federal government gotten involved in or contributed to the exploration and long term development of such a large and promising deposit. And yet, ask the hundreds of prospectors who rushed right out and staked their claims and they will tell you that they think this is an exceptional opportunity to discover minerals and then sell them to promoters who want to mine them. The federal government never took any action.

A mining opportunity the federal government should have gotten involved in was the Natashquan mineralized sands. Tiomin Ressource, the company that wants to mine these sands, suspended operations because of a breakdown in communications with the native community. The company arrived at the site a year ago, but has not yet reached agreement with the native community. What the federal government should have done, through the Department of Indian Affairs, was to appoint a conciliator at the very least. If this had not resolved the problem, mediation would have had to be the next resort.

Why did the federal government do nothing to help work out an agreement in Natashquan, and thus prevent the loss of several millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs? We are not asking for a crown corporation, just for the federal government to assume its responsibilities. We cannot afford to lose investments like these in the tens of millions of dollars. No riding can afford to lose millions of dollars in economic spinoffs from the private sector.

It is time for the federal government to get to work and resolve the disputes that are hindering development of our regions, rather than devote its energy to creating government organizations with no real and attainable financial objectives.

I would like to mention an interesting episode in this connection. During the last election campaign this past May, my Liberal opponent made a promise on behalf of the Liberal Party to settle this matter. According to him, the Liberal government would be in a position to settle it for once and for all. Campaign promise made—end of story, nothing more heard of it.

I have been speaking of my riding for the past few minutes, but I am sure that a number of my colleagues here recognize the same realities in their regions. That is what happens when an overly centralized government is at the helm and the regions do not get their fair share.


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As we are already aware, like a number of other fields of activity, mining must come under provincial jurisdiction. Take the example of the Société québecoise d'exploration minière. As you now, this is a government corporation which administers mining titles, such as the famous 800 square kilometres staked out by a Quebec government geologist last year near Lac Vollant.

In such a context, the Government of Quebec administers titles within its territory, using the funds of its own taxpayers if required. However in the case of the Donkin mine, I am wondering how our friends in the other provinces will react when they learn that the federal government has invested between $100 and $125 million to develop a Nova Scotia mine with an uncertain future, not to mention the cost of setting up a fat Crown corporation.

It does not make any sense whatsoever to create a crown corporation to develop a mine such as the Donkin mine. In politics, you cannot afford to take a gamble when $100 to $125 million are at stake. This is inadmissible. If developing this so-called mine was a sure bet, many private corporations would already have approached the Cape Breton Development Corporation. But it is not the case.

The government does not have the right to invest public funds in a more than hazardous venture which comes under provincial jurisdiction anyway.

This is the reason why the federal government should not set up a crown corporation to do exploration or to develop the Donkin “gold mine”. For these obvious reasons, I urge the Liberal government not to create a corporation to develop mines.


Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the motion put forward by my colleague from Bras D'Or. A fellow bluenoser, I might add, she certainly brings a unique and special perspective to the House. She faces many challenges from the many communities which comprise her new federal riding of Bras D'Or.

The motion speaks to the economic future of many of these same communities. The timing of the debate on the motion is quite appropriate in light of the recent troubles in the Phalen colliery.

I would also like to speak to the overall question of the future of the Cape Breton Development Corporation better known as Devco. While not a Cape Bretoner, my home in Pictou county shares the industrial Cape Breton tradition of coal mining.

For many years coal was a staple in the local economy in my constituency. Our most recent venture into the Westray mine, which ended in disaster, is certainly a sad reminder of the dangers associated with this industry in Nova Scotia in particular.

Coal mining is a tradition that must adjust to the realities of the 21st century. In my view the development of the Donkin mine under the auspices of Devco is the best way to ensure successful adjustment that has long term benefits for Devco, employees, taxpayers and those who supported Devco operations throughout the years.

Devco management announced that the corporation's five year plan last year completely ruled out the development of Donkin, emphasizing instead the Phalen colliery. Phalen has a history of instability and yet Devco management in its wisdom placed all of its mining eggs in one basket.

The Devco corporate plan also ruled out the identification of export markets despite significant evidence of the economic prospects of the exports of coal. As my colleague quite eloquently stated, it is apparent that coal still has a place in the industrial world. Tying the coal from Donkin to the coal markets locally in Nova Scotia is a huge mistake in my honest opinion.

Like all natural resources we have to try to capitalize on the ever increasing access to world markets that exist. We should keep in mind that the development of Sable gas in Nova Scotia could certainly have a significant impact on the local markets as it pertains to coal.

Last year during the hearings of the Senate committee on the future of Devco, Devco officials were warned frequently and consistently about the dangers of focusing solely on the Phalen mine to the exclusion of Donkin. Many industry analysts urged Devco to target foreign markets which would in fact require coal from the Donkin mine. Devco management, again in its wisdom, refused to do so opting to sell the Phalen coal to a strictly domestic market.


. 1340 + -

Devco management then turned around and announced plans to sell the Donkin mine to a private operator by the name of Donkin Resources Limited, DRL, for a single dollar. One dollar would be paid for this mine against a backdrop of millions of dollars that were put into the development of this site.

It is shocking to think that this could happen. The expense to taxpayers is something that should certainly make us all sit up and take notice. It brings to mind the situation that is happening presently in Hibernia where there have been rumblings that the federal government may contemplate selling this resource. It is an industry with perhaps huge potential that might allow the Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland or Nova Scotia in particular, in some way, shape or form, to make giant steps forward toward becoming have provinces. The government is being very short-sighted if it is contemplating such a move.

The situation appears to be moving rather rapidly. The same Devco officials reported that the latest series of rock blasts at the Phalen mine could limit the potential of the mine for future ventures.

Without the future of Phalen and with the apparent position taken on the Donkin mine, what does Devco have left? What remains for Devco? If both of these mines will not be operating Devco is a dead duck. The answer is nothing.

It slams the door on the livelihood—I believe the number was given by my colleague in the New Democratic Party—of close to 700 workers. The impact of the loss of 700 jobs in an area like Cape Breton is difficult to imagine for anybody who does not come from the maritimes. The economic impact of that has expanded perhaps tenfold in comparison to the province of Ontario.

In an ideal world private industry would be able to assume responsibility and risk for developing Donkin, but in the real world and in private industry we know that private industry is often very reluctant and unwilling to make commitments to the future of the workers who would be negatively affected by the closure of Donkin. This is economic business reality but the government has a responsibility. The government must see that the Donkin situation is handled with great care.

Devco management clearly made a mistake in 1996 when it adopted this corporate plan. Not one of the three official parties in the House raised an objection at that time; not the Liberals, not the Reform and not the Bloc. They all gave Devco a free ride and made short-sighted decisions that were having a drastic effect on Atlantic Canada, particularly in Cape Breton.

Is it any wonder the Liberals were then wiped off the electoral map in Nova Scotia on June 2, 1997? Is it any wonder the Reform Party could not even find candidates to run in Cape Breton?

It was left to the Senate to raise objections, the Senate that is often so much under attack. It was the Senate that then brought the matter forward to deal with the issue of Devco's limited corporate plan.

Thankfully the last election restored some balance to parliament and Canadians now have voices from all regions, not just from the west and Quebec.

In conclusion I condone the member for bringing this matter forward in such a timely manner. The historic significance of coal mining not only in Cape Breton but throughout the maritimes is such that we must ensure that we will look at the long term viability of this industry and that we proceed with caution. That responsibility must be assumed by the Government of Canada.

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the motion before us today reads:

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should take action to develop the Donkin mine as a crown corporation.

I have said before, and I will say it again, that I believe mining falls under provincial jurisdiction and not under federal jurisdiction. Government intrudes far too often in provincial areas and it keeps on doing it.

Let us take a look at what is happening with regard to Devco.


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One problem that Devco had was that it was saddled with the unfunded liabilities of its predecessor, Dominion Coal, including some $77.5 million for pensions, $117 million to clean up acid water drainage, reclaim tailings, and workmen compensation claims.

It went along not too badly, as was mentioned by the member from the Conservative Party, with regard to the shipment of coal overseas. This worked out all right until the government representative for Devco decided to torpedo any exports of coal. One main reason they had was Phalen was to come on board and supply coal to Nova Scotia power.

At that time I questioned the feasibility of cancelling any overseas contracts we had with regard to coal. Once an overseas contract is cancelled, it is very difficult to get that share of the marketplace back.

We know that there is a private group which has put forward an offer for the Donkin mines. It is currently being reviewed by the Senate. There was some $400,000 spent on a feasibility study done by John T. Boyd Co. from the United States. Out of that $300,000 came toward the study from ACOA, and $100,000 was put up by the company. It makes us wonder what kind of private development we are really talking about.

Will the taxpayers be left totally holding the bag for the demise of Devco with no other resources and all the liabilities for the environmental clean-up and the unfunded pension liabilities of past employees? These are questions that have to be asked.

We know that the Senate in its hearings is going through the offer and the feasibility study. We know that the minister will be testifying before the Senate, I believe on December 1. We also know at this time that there is nothing going on at Donkin.

This is a serious question. The taxpayers of this country have put hundreds of millions of dollars into these projects. It raises the question of who is better at this. the private sector or the government. Time after time we have seen the mismanagement of public funds by government. We have to wonder how long we can keep on funding corporations such as this to make decisions like this.

Let us look at this reasonably. Does anyone think a private company would shut down its export markets? Not a hope. But what does the government body do? It shuts down the export market and creates a problem. That alone should tell us that the government has no business there.

An hon. member: It has no business sense.

Mr. Darrel Stinson: It has no business sense and it never has had any. I find that rather amusing coming from the Conservatives. It seems that a lot of these problems started when the Conservatives were in power.

We come back to the same thing. We know that mining is extremely important to Canada. It employs a large number of people, not only in the maritimes but right across Canada.


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We know that coal will be under scrutiny here in this Kyoto agreement this government has decided to go into. So we have many problems in the coal industry right now due to government intrusion.

We have to realize that in many instances the private sector is better at looking after the needs of the people in the communities. All businesses have to make a profit in order to survive. It is that simple.

When we have to compete in the world marketplace we have to understand that. We are competing in a world market, not just among ourselves. Therefore when I see mismanagement of Canadian taxpayer dollars to the sums I see in here under Devco I have to seriously question the sanity of the governments involved. I do not think I am the only one to question the sanity. I think the taxpayers question it.

To sum up, I think the mining communities and the taxpayers of this country are tired of getting the lousy shaft from the governments which have run this country and it is time to get us back on the right track of producing and surviving.

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I sure hope Hansard got every single word of the recent comments of my colleague from the Reform Party.

It is amazing that during question period a very passionate plea came from a Reform member from northern B.C. I lived for nine years in Watson Lake, Yukon, a town very close to Fort Nelson which he had mentioned in his question. He made a very passionate plea “for the federal government not to divest itself of the Fort Nelson airport. We need the federal government to keep its hands on Fort Nelson airport”. Not more than two hours later they turn around and say that the government has to get out of coal mining.

I would really like to know what side of its mouth the Reform Party is going to talk from today. One minute the government is no good and the next minute we need the government. Please, for the sake of all Canadians and for their constituents, the Reform Party should make up its mind. It is unbelievable. I find it amazing that no matter what the subject members on the Reform benches think the solution is always fire public servants, sell off public assets and return to some ideal state of nature that sounds like a cross between Sunday school and the wild west.

I know the hon. member will find this hard to believe but most people in Canada do not want an American style government which does nothing for working people but lectures them on morality. Most Canadians want a government that will stand up for people and make job creation its number one priority. That is why I am here, to push this government to help create jobs on Cape Breton Island.

Yes, crown corporations like Devco have been inefficient. It is not because of the workers. It is because of a handful of powerful men who have made themselves rich at taxpayer expense. The problem is not the crown corporations. The problem is the people who ride the gravy train.

I have lived in Nova Scotia for nine years and it is a great honour for me to look in the cameras and face all of Canada and wholeheartedly support my hon. colleagues from Cape Breton. I thank them for their wonderful efforts in trying to get this motion through the House.

I also wish to thank the hon. House leader of the Conservative Party for his gracious remarks with regard to this motion. After what the hon. member has had to go through for the last few years with Westray, and I know I do not need to go into what has happened with Westray, it is a very emotional time for him to stand in this House and mention coal mining in his area let alone Cape Breton. He deserves the kudos from the New Democratic Party and all Canadians.

The other day I was in Cape Breton and I met three absolutely wonderful people. They are miners José Pimentel and Victor Tomecheck and the head of the UMWA. I wear its pin with pride. They are trying to get us to move this government in the direction of making Donkin part of the Devco corporation plan. It is imperative for this to happen.


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I encourage all members of this House and all Canadians to head up to Cape Breton and take North America's most beautiful scenic route, the Cabot Trail. Those who choose to do that can stop at wonderful areas like Chéticamp, Louisburg and Sydney. They will understand the feeling and the love Cape Bretoners have for the rest of Canada and they will be able to return that love.

A young woman stood up at a conference the other day and said “ladies and gentlemen, I am 18, I am a female and I am a Cape Bretoner”. According to the Reformers that is three strikes against her, get out of there. That is a scandalous shame. I find that hard to believe. I would have loved it if the Reformers could have been at that conference in Centennial hall to tell her “there is no future for you here, out you go. Government is no good, we can't help you. Let the dogs eat you”. I get really mad when I get on this subject.

The hon. Liberal member from Newfoundland did not give us an answer on whether he supports this motion or not. I would really like an answer before we recess today. Is the Liberal Party in favour of this motion or not? No political answer, just a yes or no. It would be greatly appreciated by those miners in Cape Breton.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): Before we resume debate, and we have about seven or eight minutes left, it is customary for the House to give the member who moved the motion a few minutes to finish. Before we resume debate, we will ask members to please keep their interventions short and then we will get at it.

Mr. Hec Clouthier (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise to address the House on Motion No. 136 which calls on the government to develop the Donkin mine in Cape Breton as a crown corporation.

I join the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources in thanking the hon. member for Bras d'Or for bringing this matter before the House. There has been a great deal of debate in Cape Breton about the future of the Donkin mine. The government appreciates the opportunity to address this issue and to advise the hon. member and all Canadians of its position on this matter.

As the parliamentary secretary has noted, the Cape Breton Development Corporation, better known as Devco, is a coal mining company that currently operates not one but two coal mines as well as support facilities that include a railway, a port facility and a coal washing plant.

Devco is headquartered in Sydney which is a wonderful community. It had a great race track at one time. It holds all the coal leases for Cape Breton, including the Donkin mine on the island's east side.

The corporation is a major employer in Cape Breton and must continue to play a vital role in the long term viability of Nova Scotia's great coal mining industry. In order to do this Devco must become commercially viable. As hon. members have been informed, the corporation is continuing to lose money. By the way, that is exactly what my horses did when I raced them at Sydney, lost money.

Progress is being made but Devco still has a long way to go before it can meet the government's objective of being a commercially viable crown corporation.

Hon. members know Devco believes the key to economic profitability in the short term is not to play bingo at Stornoway but to get its current business right, to reverse the trend of annual losses by the fiscal year 1999-2000. With that in mind, this wonderful corporation has focused on achieving productivity improvements and introducing new technologies and promoting increased co-operation between management and labour and I hope between all members in this esteemed House of Commons.


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As the parliamentary secretary has very clearly and unequivocally indicated, Devco will be looking at all options to get around the existing geological problem at its Phalen mine.

An hon. member: It is pronounced Phalen.

Mr. Hec Clouthier: There is a difference of opinion on the pronunciation of Phalen. I am from the upper Ottawa valley and I believe it is pronounced Phalen. I knew a Phalen who he was kind of an incorrigible person and Sister Mary Florence made him stand in detention.

Notwithstanding that the corporation will also look at the potential contribution of its full resources including Donkin coal prior to submitting its annual corporate plan update earlier next year.

An hon. member: You are digging yourself in pretty deep.

Mr. Hec Clouthier: If I were on the other side I would really be in deep or out of it. We are on the government side, are we not?

An hon. member: Yes, we are on the leadership side.

Mr. Hec Clouthier: The leadership side, the side that ultimately makes decisions in consultation with all members of the House.

As the parliamentary secretary has made clear Devco's mandate is still commercial viability. We expect projects to go forward on the basis of commercial viability. In other words, if the Donkin mine is to be developed it will have to be on a commercial basis.

The word true has a certain air of quality about it in this hallowed Chamber. It is a versatile word. This is particularly true given the government's record of fiscal responsibility to all Canadians.

In his magnificent, magnanimous, munificent budget last February, the Minister of Finance indicated that the government would stay the course on its effort to eliminate that terrible and dreadful thing called the deficit.

Canadians recognize and appreciate that progress has been made in this regard. Far be it for me to pre-empt our fantastic Minister of Finance, but deficit elimination will more than likely be achieved in fiscal year 1998-99, but that does not mean the government can abandon its policies of fiscal restraint and accountability.

Hon. members will recall that the previous minister of natural resources, during an appearance before a special Senate committee this past March, indicated that she would entertain private sector proposals to study the feasibility of developing the Donkin mine. The government fully supports Devco's decision to allow the private sector to explore development of the Donkin mine on a commercial basis.

As hon. members have been informed, a private company, Donkin Resources Ltd., is currently conducting a feasibility study to examine the availability and quality of the coal deposit, the market opportunities and the technical details associated with opening the mine. The study was financially supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency through a contribution to the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority. This contribution—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): All hon. members share with the Chair the disappointment that the time provided for private members' hour has expired. However, with unanimous consent of the members present, perhaps the mover of the motion, the hon. member for Bras D'Or, could have three minutes to sum up.

Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mrs. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I still have not received an answer to the question of whether or not members on the government side support the motion.


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One of the topics he just discussed was the feasibility study which is going to be done with federal funds. He talked about the agencies which have approved this funding, ACOA and ECBC. What I have to tell this member is that there was one group that was not asked what it cared about or what it thought about this situation, and that group was the people of Cape Breton Island. They were not asked.

Where else could this situation exist? In a country that is supposed to be so prosperous we have an island which has the highest rate of unemployment in the country. There is the possibility of a major employer and it is being sold for a loonie. I ask the member, where? Under this Liberal government that is how it happened.

As I said in my speech, the Donkin mine is the future of Devco and Devco is the future of Cape Breton Island. I will continue, day after day, to remind this government when it talks about deficit reduction how it accomplished that deficit reduction. It accomplished it on the backs of the people of Cape Breton Island.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

It being 2.06 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.06 p.m.)