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36th Parliament, 1st Session



Friday, September 26, 1997

. 1000

VResumption of debate on Address in Reply
VMr. Walt Lastewka

. 1005

. 1010

VMr. Jack Ramsay

. 1015

. 1020

. 1025

. 1030

. 1035

VMr. Peter MacKay
VMr. Paul Forseth

. 1040

VMr. Allan Kerpan

. 1045

VMr. George Proud

. 1050

. 1055

VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VMr. Walt Lastewka

. 1100

VMr. Maurizio Bevilacqua
VMs. Hélène Alarie
VMrs. Jean Augustine
VMr. Andrew Telegdi

. 1105

VMr. Allan Kerpan
VMr. David Pratt
VMrs. Monique Guay
VMr. Robert Bertrand
VMr. Jim Abbott
VMr. Rey D. Pagtakhan

. 1110

VMs. Michelle Dockrill
VMr. John Harvard
VMr. Rick Borotsik

. 1115

VMr. Chuck Strahl
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Chuck Strahl
VHon. Andy Scott
VMr. Chuck Strahl
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Grant Hill

. 1120

VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Stéphane Bergeron
VHon. Stéphane Dion
VMr. Stéphane Bergeron
VHon. Stéphane Dion

. 1125

VMr. Stéphan Tremblay
VHon. Stéphane Dion
VMr. Stéphan Tremblay
VHon. Stéphane Dion
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VMr. Julian Reed
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VMr. Julian Reed
VMr. Bill Casey

. 1130

VHon. David M Collenette
VMr. Bill Casey
VHon. David M Collenette
VMr. Randy White
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Randy White
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. Maurice Dumas

. 1135

VHon. David M Collenette
VMr. Maurice Dumas
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMs. Val Meredith
VHon. Stéphane Dion
VMs. Val Meredith
VHon. Stéphane Dion

. 1140

VMs. Jocelyne Bujold-Girard
VHon. Lawrence MacAulay
VMs. Jocelyne Bujold-Girard
VHon. Lawrence MacAulay
VMr. Jay Hill
VMr. Gerry Byrne
VMr. Jay Hill
VMr. Gerry Byrne
VMs. Caroline St-Hilaire

. 1145

VHon. John Manley
VMrs. Carolyn Bennett
VHon. Alfonso Gagliano
VMr. Rob Anders
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Rob Anders
VHon. Paul Martin

. 1150

VHon. Lorne Nystrom
VHon. Paul Martin
VHon. Lorne Nystrom
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. André Harvey
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien
VMr. André Harvey
VRight Hon. Jean Chrétien

. 1155

VMs. Susan Whelan
VHon. Christine Stewart
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
VHon. Allan Rock
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
VHon. Allan Rock
VMr. Scott Brison
VHon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew

. 1200

VMr. Mark Muise
VHon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew
VComments during Question Period
VMs. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
VHon. Don Boudria

. 1205

VMr. John Reynolds

. 1210

VMr. Stéphane Bergeron
VHon. Lorne Nystrom

. 1215

VMr. Peter MacKay
VMr. Mac Harb
VBill C-6. Introduction and first reading
VHon. Sheila Copps

. 1220

VBill C-7. Introduction and first reading
VHon. Sheila Copps
VBill C-206. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Paul Forseth
VBill C-207. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Paul Forseth
VBill C-208. Introduction and first reading
VMs. Colleen Beaumier

. 1225

VBill C-209. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Chuck Strahl
VBill C-210. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Jack Ramsay
VBill C-211. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Randy White

. 1230

VBill C-212. Introduction and first reading
VMr. Jay Hill
VBill C-213. Introduction and first reading
VMrs. Suzanne Tremblay
VHon. Don Boudria

. 1235

VMr. John Maloney
VRights of the Child
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VCriminal Code
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VMr. Mac Harb
VMr. Peter Adams
VResumption of debate on Address in Reply
VMr. Maurizio Bevilacqua

. 1240

. 1245

. 1250

VMr. Paul Crête

. 1255

VMr. Paul Forseth

. 1300

. 1305

VMr. Chuck Strahl

. 1310

VMr. Chuck Cadman

. 1315

. 1320

VMr. Paul Forseth
VMr. Reed Elley

. 1325

VMr. Allan Kerpan
VMrs. Eleni Bakopanos

. 1330

. 1335

VMr. Réal Ménard

. 1340

VMr. Jim Abbott

. 1345

VMrs. Carolyn Bennett

. 1350

. 1355

VMs. Angela Vautour

. 1400

VMr. René Canuel

. 1405

. 1410

VMr. Denis Coderre
VMr. Antoine Dubé

. 1415

VMr. Paul Crête

. 1420

. 1425

VMr. David Pratt

. 1430


(Official Version)



Friday, September 26, 1997

The House met at 10 a.m. .TUCPrayers


. 1000 +

The Speaker: My colleagues, I wonder if you would welcome with me one of our assistant deputy speakers. This is her first time in the chair. I remember the first time I took the chair. My knees were knocking. But I know you will be very gentle with our new Speaker.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Orders of the day.





The House resumed from September 25 consideration of the motion for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session and of the amendment.

Mr. Walt Lastewka (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in the House today to speak for the first time in the 36th Parliament and to talk about what is important to this session of Parliament and Canadians.

Before I do so I would like to congratulate you on your appointment and I am sure that during the many deliberations that this House will be having we will keep you on your toes from time to time but, as the Speaker has said, this is Friday and things are a bit different on Fridays.

First and most important I want to take this opportunity to thank my constituents, the people of St. Catharines, for choosing me to represent them here in the nation's capital in the House of Commons once again.

I remind my colleagues, both new and old, that we are representatives of Canadians like those in St. Catharines who have concerns about jobs, about health care, about their children and grandchildren.

My riding of St. Catharines is known as the garden city. We have gentler winters and warmer summers than we have here in the nation's capital and that is why our tender fruit is so sweet and our wine is just right.


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It also makes for good times for watching the ships slide through the Welland canal or to go rowing on Martindale pond, the future site of the 1999 world rowing championships.

In addition to thanking my constituents for their continued support I want to warmly welcome the new members to the House.

I am also honoured to stand before you as the recently appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry. I see this not only as a challenge but as a wonderful opportunity to work with all my colleagues in this House, to help Canadian businesses to succeed, to help them grow to create jobs and to make Canada the best country in the world.

The Speech from the Throne, which we are debating today, marks the next stage in our government's commitment to work with Canadians and Canadian businesses to create and seize opportunities in the global knowledge based economy.

Canada's solid economic foundation is something that we put in place with the help and sacrifice of many Canadians. I want to remind the House that over the last four years we have also been working hard to promote innovation, advance the information highway, increase trade and create opportunities for Canadians in the new economy.

I take this opportunity to outline some of our recent initiatives in the industry portfolio and how we will continue to improve the various department endeavours.

Over the last four years we have been getting Canadians connected and putting them on the information highway. This strategy calls for a high quality, low cost information network that will give Canadians access to employment information, education, health care, entertainment, investment and wealth creating opportunities in the technology sector.

The strategy seeks to promote job creation through innovation and investment, reinforce Canadian cultural sovereignty and identity and to ensure that we have universal access to the information highway wherever we are in Canada.

For example, the Strategis program and Industry Canada's on-line business information service have been demonstrated to business owners and managers at special events throughout this country at trade and information shows. Almost 13 million documents have been accessed through Strategis, which is available to Canadians instantly on the Internet.

The community access program is designed to connect rural and remote areas and aboriginal communities to the Internet. As stated in our throne speech, the mandate before 2001 is to connect well over 5,000 rural communities across Canada to the Internet to help them to get information at home or at their business.

The SchoolNet program will encourage the connection of some 16,500 schools, 3,400 libraries and 450 first nation schools to the Internet by the end of 1998-99.

For everyone's information, well over 9,500 schools and 1,200 public libraries have been connected. Each day across this country new libraries are being connected to this excellent program.

Another program called computers for schools redirects surplus computer equipment to schools and public libraries throughout the country. To date close to 40,000 computers and 60,000 software packages have been delivered to schools across this country.

The student connection program hires university and college students to teach small businesses how to use the Internet because everybody needs to get on line and it takes time and effort for each of these businesses to do what has to be done in the new economy. It helps them improve their competitiveness and create new opportunities.

In my province alone, Ontario, well over 2,200 firms have been assisted by our students to be connected to the Internet.


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In addition, the industry portfolio has been working to realize our international potential. The department has been working with its many partners to help existing exporters identify and access new trading opportunities and provide at the same time perspective exporters with the information, the skills and the tools they need to be export ready.

We have a number of international trade centres across this country, including one in my province, the one in Toronto. It serves as a focal point for the delivery of market information, counselling and other support to potential exporters across the province.

In 1996 the centre responded to well over 10,000 requests. In addition, Industry Canada and foreign affairs have established an active networks of trained executives across the country, those people who can assist small businesses, in fact any businesses, whether home business or even large businesses, in export.

The National Research Council's industrial research assistance program has been helping SMEs right across this country. IRAP helps members of Parliament in their ridings to help their businesses which then create jobs.

In my area of Niagara where we have some 31 cottage wineries a partnership with IRAP has created a special wine industry, known worldwide, receiving many medals. That was an initiative with IRAP, the grape growers and the wine industry.

Later next month we will be opening up an oenology and viticulture institute at Brock University, an excellent endeavour for the university, its students, its grape growers and the wine industry.

Many of our universities across Canada participate in networks of centres of excellence where they link together and work together for research and development. This area will be improved and will be continually supported by this government because of the excellent work that has been going on.

I should also point out that the Canada community investment program has been an endeavour which 20 communities across this country, and all provinces and territories have at least one, have been using to improve access to capital. This is another area where we must continue on to help those communities that do not have major banking centres and financial centres but which need access to capital.

I believe, as set out in the throne speech, that consumer confidence is growing and new businesses have been created. There is much work to do with all of us working together in our communities, our ridings, for the betterment of our country.

It will be my endeavour to work with as many members in this House and companies and communities across this country in assistance to the Minister of Industry to make sure that we are continuing on the right track to help us grow as a country.

I have outlined many initiatives pertaining to people, innovators, businesses and communities at work across this country. I believe the Speech from the Throne is a framework to lead our country into the 21st century, and the good news is that much of our work is already well under way. We must continue to work at it in this mandate.

I want to thank you, Madam Speaker, and again congratulate you on your appointment. I am sure many of us will have many discussions with you in the next four years.

Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I too would like to congratulate you on your appointment and I can assure you that you will certainly get as much co-operation as we are able to muster in this House for your administration of the affairs of this House in the days to come.


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I rise today in response to the Speech from the Throne. Nothing in that speech assures me or the people of this country that the integrity of Canada's justice system will be restored by the government or the new justice minister.

Many areas in justice should have been addressed in the throne speech but were not. We could look at the need for the reform of the Young Offenders Act, the elimination of the faint hope clause, exempting violent offenders from conditional sentencing and, of course, a victims' bill of rights. These are all issues of great concern to Canadians and issues which Reform intend to pursue with vigour in this session of Parliament.

According to a July 1997 Angus Reid poll, 52% of Canadians have lost faith in our courts and our justice system. This is a serious matter. Why have so many Canadians lost faith in our justice system and particularly our courts? That is the question I would like to focus my remarks on today.

Canadians' faith in our justice system can only be further shattered by the scandalous affair perpetrated by senior officials within the justice department, aided and abetted by the federal court and concealed from the people of this country by the intentional ignoring or oversight of the facts by the former justice minister and the Hon. Charles Dubin.

In 1996 a series of indiscretions were committed by Associate Deputy Attorney General Ted Thompson who deliberately and knowingly interfered with the judicial independence of Associate Chief Justice Jerome who was conducting a hearing into the deportation orders of three suspected Nazi war criminals.

In an attempt to protect his close friend from embarrassment, Ted Thompson telephoned Chief Justice Isaac to warn him of the proposed supreme court reference. The chief justice of the federal court and Judge Jerome's administrative superior arranged for Mr. Thompson to meet with him in his chambers to discuss the matter further. An exchange of letters ensued in which Thompson outlined the chronology of the court delays on the three cases. This was all done without the knowledge of defence counsel.

Chief Justice Isaac then called Judge Jerome to a meeting and advised him of the threat of a supreme court reference if the pace of the hearings into the three deportation cases did not pick up. With Judge Jerome's assistance, Chief Justice Isaac responded to Mr. Thompson's letter assuring the assistant deputy the cases would be expedited. “I have discussed your concerns with the associate chief justice and like me he is prepared to take all reasonable steps possible to avoid a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada on these matters.” This too was done without the knowledge of defence counsel.

Following this horrendous act of interference into the judicial independence of Judge Jerome, justice department officials sought to minimize the damage by deliberately creating a false scenario designed to mislead defence counsel and Canadians into believing that Ted Thompson has approached Chief Justice Isaac for the innocent purpose of discussing the scheduling of 12 future deportation cases and had inadvertently discussed the three deportation cases being handled by Judge Jerome.

In an effort to cover up this deceit, these justice officials recognized the need to keep Ted Thompson from testifying when a motion for a stay of proceedings was entered on the basis of political interference into the judicial independence of the court. This deceit and the object of deceit is revealed in secret justice department documents which justice officials were ordered to file in the Supreme Court of Canada. One of these documents is a memo to Mr. John Sims, the assistant deputy attorney general responsible for citizenship and immigration dated May 10, 1996, from Mr. Chris Amerasinghe, senior general counsel for the Attorney General of Canada.

Mr. Amerasinghe states in his memo that if Ted Thompson testified in court “The damage done to the image of the department, the attorney general and the court will be incalculable for all time and the consequences could be far reaching, going far beyond the immediate concern for these three cases. It could precipitate the resignations of the minister and the chief justice. More importantly, the reputation of the government and the court will be irreparably damaged if all the evidence were to come out.”

The contents of this one secret document alone is shocking and beyond belief, yet it gets worse.


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In a second memo dated May 12, 1996 Mr. Amerasinghe states:

    Unfortunately there are several problems in calling Ted Thompson—Bayne—one of the Defence Counsel—will soon realize the extent of the friendship between Ted Thompson and the Chief Justice and will be able to demonstrate that the real reason Ted went to see the Chief Justice was to alert his close friend to an impending Reference which would embarrass the Chief Justice and seek ways of avoiding it, and that the story about the concern for the 12 cases was false and is a cover-up.

Justice officials were not the only ones who advised Thompson not to testify. During a private conversation in Montreal in early May, Judge Jerome provided Thompson with the same legal advice, not to submit an affidavit. Chief Justice Isaac was at the same Montreal rules committee meeting, again an unbelievable revelation.

As unbelievable as this is, Mr. Amerasinghe clearly and accurately describes the story being put forward by the justice department as false and a cover up, and this assessment is not denied by any justice official in the documents filed with the Supreme Court of Canada.

The most outrageous and reprehensible part of this whole scandal is the realization that this false story, this cover up, was extended either knowingly or unknowingly into the House of Commons by the former justice minister who on May 29, 1996 said this in Hansard regarding the meeting between Thompson and Isaac: “The meeting was for the purpose initially of discussing concerns with the pace of litigation generally in the federal court”.

The former justice minister is here parroting the false story and cover up detailed by Mr. Amerasinghe in a secret memo to John Sims. Mr. Amerasinghe said in relation to Ted Thompson's motives and the real reason for approaching his friend was not to discuss general administrative matters but to alert his close personal friend of the proposed supreme court reference which would embarrass Chief Justice Isaac who had been working to improve the reputation of the federal court.

I invite all Canadians to look at the facts, to review the evidence. I am confident a reasonable person would reach the same shocking conclusions. I am confident ordinary Canadians would recognize that aspects of what the former justice minister reported in this House were incorrect and misleading and that the finding of Charles Dubin concerning the conduct of Ted Thompson is at best deficient and at worst a deliberate whitewash as he had access to all the damning information contained in the documents filed in the supreme court, and that the Canadian Judicial Council's examination of the conduct of Chief Justice Isaac is also inadequate and deficient. However, this was to be expected, given that the council did not have access to all the information contained in the secret and confidential justice department documents that were later filed with the Supreme Court of Canada.

It appears that the Canadian Judicial Council depended solely on the word of Chief Justice Isaac who told them among other things that he never discussed Judge Jerome recusing himself from the cases, although the justice documents say exactly the opposite.

Yesterday the Supreme Court of Canada, although dismissing the stay of proceedings motion, clearly stated that both Chief Justice Isaac and Associate Chief Justice Jerome were tainted by this affair and should have nothing further to do with these cases.

What are Canadians to think when they witness this type of conduct from our justice officials and our judges, the very people entrusted to protect our rights and freedoms and who are to uphold the rule of law to the very highest standards? What are they to think when they see pertinent information being withheld from the Canadian Judicial Council, the one body entrusted to ensure that courts and judges remain independent of outside pressures so citizens can rely on the fact that they will receive fair and impartial hearings? What are they to think when they hear and see this kind of conduct on the part of these officials? What are Canadians to think when they hear all the damning evidence which clearly points to such inappropriate conduct? And there is more.

In a secret memo to John Sims, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General, dated December 14, 1995, Chris Amerasinghe states this:

    I am appalled at the irresponsible manner in which the associate chief justice, who is responsible for the proper functioning of the federal court trial division conducts the business of the court. It is a travesty of justice that these cases proceed at a snail's pace and that Jerome acquiesces in every attempt by counsel for the respondents to delay them rather than pushing counsel to deal with them speedily. He does not seem to care what happens. Apparently the Chief Justice of the Federal Court either has no power to influence the conduct of the Associate Chief Justice or does not wish to do so.


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Mr. Amerasinghe attributed the associate chief justice's behaviour to the state of his health. I quote from the same memo:

    He appeared to be misled as to the nature to the privilege which we were claiming—the rather disjointed manner in which he spoke caused me serious concern as to the state of his health. More disturbing was the fact that he did not appear to appreciate that Bayne was misleading him as to the law.

These comments are not only in contempt of Judge Jerome and his court, they are designed to spread this contempt into the minds of anyone who read them, including the Assistant Deputy Attorney General of Canada, John Sims. So bitter was Amerasinghe's attack on Judge Jerome that John Sims blacked out those portions of Amerasinghe's memo before he passed it on to the members of the litigation committee.

If Mr. Amerasinghe had justification for his attack on Judge Jerome, the proper body to take it before was the Judicial Council of Canada, instead of sowing seeds of contempt in the minds of his superiors within the Department of Justice and yet that is exactly what he did. It is outrageous and unacceptable that this has happened within the highest levels of the justice department.

In the words of a defence counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Department of Justice, the former minister of justice and the Hon. Charles Dubin exacerbated Ted Thompson's flagrant breach of judicial independence with their “concerted pattern of lack of candour and outright deception”.

On May the 29, 1996 the former justice minister stood in this House and stated:

    I want to note at the outset that as soon as the department became aware that Mr. Thompson and Chief Justice Isaac had met, and as soon as the correspondence came to light, the department provided copies of that correspondence to the lawyers acting for the three persons involved in the revocation cases pending before the Federal Court.

The minister's statement was wrong and is wrong. Counsel for the applicants received copies of the correspondence on March 7, 1996. Yet we know from Mr. Amerasinghe's diary notes and from an e-mail dated March 1, 1996 addressed to Mr. John Sims from Mr. Amerasinghe both these men knew of Thompson's letter six days before it was forwarded to counsel.

    I phoned Ted Thompson's office and was told by his secretary that he had written to Julius Isaac. I have no doubt he will advise you.

The contents of faxed messages between Mr. Amerasinghe, Mr. John Sims and the deputy attorney general clearly reveal that these officials were aware of this issue or problem days before the letters were sent to defence counsel and is a direct contradiction to what the former justice minister stated in this House.

The former justice minister not only submitted information that mislead the House of the facts of this case, he also withheld information for almost three months regarding this matter.

Ted Thompson committed this breach of judicial independence on March 1, 1996 and yet it was not brought to the floor of the House until the end of May of that same year. Why was this matter not reported the moment the minister knew of it? Why did he wait until the matter became a subject of public interest in the media before he notified the House of what was happening within his department? That is unacceptable and is shameful. It is shameful that the former minister stood in this House on more that one occasion and stated:

    From the moment that it came to the attention of the justice officials that Ted Thompson had been to see the chief justice, steps were taken to find out exactly what happened, to get copies of the correspondence and put them in the hands of the lawyers involved in the three cases.

Yet we waited for three months before he notified us of what was going on within his department. It is unacceptable that the former justice minister refused to remove Ted Thompson for his professional and unethical misconduct despite Reform urging him to do so. It was the only proper course of action to clear the air and assure Canadians that the justice department is not staffed by individuals who will violate the judicial independence of our courts. Instead the minister turned the matter over to the former chief justice of Ontario, Charles Dubin, a person, and I quote the minister, “whose experience and integrity in such matters is beyond question”.


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On October 1, 1996 the minister publicly embraced Mr. Dubin's findings when he stated “We took the trouble to have a person of unquestioned reputation look carefully through all the facts of this matter. He took the trouble to look through all the facts carefully, speak to the people involved, examine the documents and consider them carefully in accordance with appropriate principles. He concluded there was no basis to fire Ted Thompson”. I say nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

If the former justice minister believed this, why did he order a new investigation into this issue when the contents of the secret documents filed with the Supreme Court of Canada were made public during the last week of the federal election? Those were the very documents Mr. Dubin had access to during his investigation.

The confidential documents clearly call into question Mr. Dubin's findings and suggest an enormous deficiency in his conclusions and in his recommendation that left Ted Thompson within the justice department.

In my opinion, Mr. Dubin's report was a whitewash. He completely ignored or glossed over the facts and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, maintained that Mr. Thompson's conduct although inappropriate was properly motivated and within his jurisdiction. Throughout his report he maintains the charade that Mr. Thompson's meeting was to discuss general administrative matters involving 12 pending revocation cases and that three current cases were mentioned inadvertently. This is a false story and a cover-up described within Mr. Amerasinghe's internal documents to his superiors.

Ted Thompson and Chief Justice Isaac committed one of the most serious breaches of judicial interference ever experienced in this country. The true facts surrounding this enormous violation have been ignored and some say covered up and have just been revealed recently.

In the words of defence counsel quoting Lord Denning, “Had this occurred in England, it would have brought down the government”. But not in Canada because in Canada political interference in the judicial process has become a way of life and the hallmark of the Liberal government.

We witnessed political interference in the Airbus affair and in the Krever inquiry. Can we imagine setting up an inquiry such as the Krever inquiry and then creating legal roadblocks, as it has done, interfering with Krever's mandate.

Then there was the Pearson airport contract. A bill was rammed through the House which denied the injured people due process to file a grievance within our justice system.

In the Somalia inquiry not only was there interference, it stopped the inquiry completely. There was not only political interference, the judicial process was stopped completely and Canadians were denied the full facts and truth about the horrible wrongdoing and cover-up within the Canadian military.

Is it any wonder that over 50% of Canadians have lost faith in our courts and in our justice system after witnessing the arrogant attitude that tampering with justice and the rule of law is acceptable. And if you get caught, nothing happens.

In the case of Mr. Thompson, he was transferred to somewhere else in the department. The Prime Minister moved the former justice minister out of justice and into health and this House cannot hold him accountable for the scandal which he has left in the justice department.

In summation of this scandalous affair, it is clear that this all occurred because these people did not want to suffer the embarrassment of a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada. They chose instead to violate the independence and the impartiality of the courts and betray the faith and trust of Canadians.

These people have to go. They do not belong in our justice system. They have proven by their actions that they are unworthy of belonging in our justice system.

In view of this terrible government interference which runs like a current through our justice system on a regular basis, I have forwarded a complaint to the Law Society of Upper Canada asking for an immediate investigation into the conduct of Ted Thompson, John Sims and Chris Amerasinghe. In the light of yesterday's Supreme Court remarks regarding Isaac and Jerome, I have also written to the Canadian Judicial Council requesting a more thorough review of Chief Justice Isaac's actions as well as an examination of the conduct of Associate Chief Justice Jerome as referenced in the justice department documents filed in the Supreme Court of Canada.


. 1035 + -

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise for the first time officially in this House. I want to congratulate you and all those who will be occupying the Chair during the course of this Parliament.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank the people of Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough who have entrusted in me this great honour to represent them in these hallowed halls and in this House.

I want to very briefly comment on the very fiery speech given by the hon. member for Crowfoot. I am encouraged by the member's vigorous pursuit of this issue. He has obviously done a great deal of research and a great deal of leg work to have uncovered these inadequacies and injustices that have occurred on this particular point.

I know that the hon. member has a great deal of practical experience within the justice system. I just want to comment that I as well look forward to keeping this government in check in particular in the area of justice and these atrocities, some of which the hon. member has mentioned, areas such as the Krever report and the Airbus scandal. I too look forward to working with him in seeing that this government is held accountable.

Mr. Jack Ramsay: Madam Speaker, I appreciate the kind words from my hon. colleague. I would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank him for that and to acknowledge the fact that I was well acquainted with his father who was in this House for many years and who showed the same kind of integrity that his words have reflected.

I appreciate very much his comments and look forward to working with him and reflecting the standard of integrity within this House and within our institutions of government that the people of Canada are demanding and have not been finding, particularly in the justice system, as clearly revealed by the Angus Reid poll of this past summer.

Again, I thank the hon. member for his kind remarks.

Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I refer to my colleague's reference when he talked about public confidence in the court system. I recall that last year the member travelled the country and listened to average Canadians, especially around their lack of confidence in the Young Offenders Act.

I would like him to comment on what is the real mood in the community and what are the mainstream Canadian values that Canadians hold which seem to be somewhat different than what they actually get from the justice system. There seems to be a great gap between the mentality and the inside language and the inside operations of the justice system and where they are at and where the public is act. There is great dissatisfaction and the polls are showing that.

I would like the hon. member to comment on what he found when he travelled the country, the difference between what Canadians want and what they are actually getting from the justice system.

Mr. Jack Ramsay: Madam Speaker, we spent quite a bit of taxpayers' dollars on the 12-year review of the Young Offenders Act. When we talked to ordinary Canadians as we travelled across this country what we found was that they see a lack of ability within the Young Offenders Act to respond adequately to youth crime. We heard that over and over again.


. 1040 + -

We also heard that the communities want the authority to deal with their own children restored back to them. Families want restored back to them the authority to raise their children in a manner that they think is in the best interests of them, their communities and this country.

There is no question that the Young Offenders Act has formalized to a great extent simple acts that would normally be dealt with by a high school principal or a teacher in the classroom by the discretion of a peace officer. That discretion has been removed by the formalization of the system. Families want this right, this responsibility and this authority to look after their own children returned to them.

We saw program after program, such as the Sparwood program in Sparwood, B.C., coming from the people. People, in spite of all the money and interference by the government through legislation like the Young Offenders Act, were bringing forward programs to protect their children and to keep them out of the criminal justice system. At the same time we see obstacles being placed in the way by the components within the justice system that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in an industry that spends $10 billion a year on youth and adult crimes.

There is much to do in amending our laws in this country, including the Young Offenders Act, in order to regain the confidence of Canadians and place back into their hands the authority and responsibility to raise their own children in a manner they think is in the best interests of themselves, their children, their communities and this country.

Mr. Allan Kerpan (Blackstrap, Ref.): Madam Speaker, again as many before me have, I would like to offer my congratulations and best wishes to you and all those who will occupy the Chair through this 36th Parliament.

One of the things that the member for Crowfoot talked about in his address and also in the questions and comments is the frustration that Canadians have with our legal system. We have seen just this past summer things like the section 745 hearings for people like Clifford Olson who is a self-admitted child killer of 11 children.

I wonder if the member would like to comment on how things like the section 745 hearings have an effect on the people's frustration with the justice system.

Mr. Jack Ramsay: Madam Speaker, when we pass laws that destroy the peace of mind of citizens, what are we doing? It is one thing to see the interpretation of the law that affects the sense of justice of our people. It is another thing to see the law itself create that feeling where the peace of mind is destroyed, where they cannot be at peace knowing that the justice officials are not going to interfere with the judicial independence of a judge that they may have to appear before and that they will get a fair hearing, that the individual who commits a crime will be punished in a manner according to the circumstances surrounding the offence. We are hearing this all across the country. The polls are reflecting it.

I cannot understand why the government will not move and support the will of the majority in areas as simple as removing section 745 from the Criminal Code, the faint hope clause that gives special rights and advantages to killers in this country, and on the other hand punishes innocent people in this country.

We see Bill C-68 which is so frustrating for millions of Canadians. What is it doing? Again, it directs punishment to innocent, law abiding people while ignoring to a large extent the criminal users of firearms.


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When we see laws passed and maintained that are punishing the innocent and creating inconveniences for the innocent, the law abiding tax paying Canadians, while at the same time giving special rights and privileges to the offender, there is something wrong with the picture and there is something wrong with the justice system in Canada.

The only way the people can speak is through their elected representatives in the House, through the polls, letters to the editor, through petitions to this place, letters and phone calls to ministers of cabinet. They are expressing that discontent and a degree of frustration that indicates they have lost their sense of justice. It has been destroyed by the actions and the laws passed by this House.

Mr. George Proud (Hillsborough, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I too would like to congratulate you and the other Speakers who will occupy the chair and rule on our debates to ensure that we conduct ourselves with the level of decorum that Canadians expect of their parliamentarians.

I would also like to ask for the patience of the members in the House to thank the people of Hillsborough for returning me to this place as their voice in the House of Commons. It is a great pleasure for me to serve my constituents and I plan to serve them well.


I wish to speak in support of the Speech from the Throne, but I also wish to speak of this Parliament.


The throne speech was very up beat. It spoke of the great opportunities that await us in the new millennium. It also set the stage for how we as Canadians will prepare our nation to enter the new century as a strong and united country.

I would like to make one thing perfectly clear. The only reason the throne speech took such a positive tone is the successes of Canadians over the last four years. The Liberal government with the help of all Canadians turned the country's financial books around.

It has been said many times that a healthy economy leads to a healthy society. This government also believes that a healthy society contributes to a healthy economy. And it is obvious after hearing the throne speech that the government plans to deliver both to Canadians.

While there are many ways the government can work to improve our way of life, it has targeted priority areas such as our youth, health care, innovation and national unity. These areas represent the greatest potential for Canada.

As the prime minister said, our children are our most precious resource. The Liberal government will continue to create more opportunities for our youth, opportunities for better education, more employment opportunities, a healthier lifestyle and a secure public retirement income system. In short, our government will secure Canada's future through our youth.

At the same time, we must maintain a public health care regime. There is no escaping the needs of a growing population. This is why the Liberal government introduced public health care 30 years ago and that is why the Liberal government will secure it for another 30 years and beyond.

Another chief priority of the government is supporting innovation in Canada's economy. Similar to the theory of continuous learning for workers, Canadian firms must continually strive to improve and update their processes. Our international competitors are not standing still, so neither can we.

The federal government has a role to play in supporting research and development and its uses within the business world. That is why I am glad to hear that this government will build on its prior achievements of maintaining innovation as one of its main priorities.

Recently we have seen a slight evolution of the federalist approach to the issue of Quebec's secession. Yes, we must illustrate to all Canadians, especially the people of Quebec, the benefits of living within Canada. But we must also bring frankness and clarity to any debate on the unity of Canada. I want to make it known that I support the recent initiatives of the federal government and the provincial and territorial leaders.

As I mentioned before, I want to discuss more than just the Speech from the Throne. As we can all see, the make-up of this Parliament is unlike any in Canada's history. It is unprecedented for the House of Commons to have five official parties.


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Since 1993 Canadians have wanted a change in the federal system. The presence of so many regional parties is evidence of that desire. Some change has occurred but I think the results of the June election illustrate that Canadians are not yet quite satisfied.

Just like our industries must be capable of innovation, so must our Parliament be ready to change. By improving our Parliament we may better serve Canadians. In consequence, Canadians may better respect this institution and its members.

With such an extraordinary mix of political parties in the House I believe the time for change is now. I say to my hon. colleagues there will never be a better time than now to change this system.

Most of this change concerns increasing the role of an MP. A member who is not in cabinet usually has little opportunity to influence legislation and other measures of policy. But if a group of members band together, then perhaps influence can be achieved because the rules of the game are stacked against us.

Of particular importance in this Parliament is the role of committees. There are now 14 committees with each containing 16 members. Many of us know from previous experience that all too often there is insufficient time for each member to probe the issues with questions to the witnesses.

As well, there is always the fear that the committees are viewed as rubber stamps for the government. The committees should be a second defence for Canadians to be protected from unintended implications or oversights, but committees need a sufficient amount of time to conduct an effective analysis of government policy.

Along the same lines is the issue of resources available to committees. Currently each committee must apply for funds for each individual study. A number of committees share a clerk with other committees or parliamentary associations. Researchers from the Library of Parliament are assigned to various committees. I do not believe this is good enough.

In my opinion we should take some lessons from our neighbours to the south. Committee chairs should have the resources to arrange his or her own experts on staff. They should be in addition to research assistants available to other committee members.

Having more resources would allow members time to conduct a more thorough study of the issues that come before them. But we cannot provide more resources without allowing the committees to actually use them.

The government must change its approach and be more open to change. We have here a wealth of knowledge. The collective knowledge of all 301 members of Parliament can be a force of benefit for Canadians. As it stands now only the few in cabinet have any real opportunity for input.

In addition, I believe there should be more business referred to committees. In recent years it appears that more measures which should be in legislation and debated here on this floor are bypassing the House by being included in regulations.

Any legislation the government introduces is debated here, but often it seems that the real meat of the legislation is contained in the corresponding regulations.

I realize that this approach provides more flexibility to the government because it is easier to amend regulations. I admit there are times when it is justified, but this approach can easily be abused. Putting the meat of the legislation in regulations does not allow Parliament a direct opportunity to investigate government policies.

There is a balance that can be obtained by referring all regulations to the appropriate committees. This will allow them to be studied and improve the impact of services to Canadians. As well there have been a good number of issues over the years that could have been avoided if committees of Parliament were given more matters for analysis.

For example, I am sure that if the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs had studied the helicopter procurement initiated by the former Conservative government, any controversy could have been avoided. Then we would not still be dealing with this issue so many years later.

One final point concerns private members' business. I believe there are many improvements that can be made to allow private members more opportunity to introduce and pass meaningful legislation.

Part of our role here should be to act as legislators. Currently really the only legislators here are those in cabinet.


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Unfortunately I do not have time to expand on all the issues I wanted to cover. Suffice it to say I believe the time for change is now.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I wish to offer my congratulations on your speakership once again and to all those who will be occupying the chair.

I would like to ask the member, very briefly, to comment on this question. Does the member agree that one of the primary functions of government in a civilized society is to provide for the peace and safety of its citizens? I was wondering if at the beginning of this Parliament he would assure us that he would agree with that statement.

The reason I ask that is I have been here for four years now and cannot understand why law and order is not more of a priority for this government.

I want to give the House an example. I am very familiar with what is happening at our local high school in Yorkton. My children have attended there and they tell me what is going on. There is a serious problem with young offenders. Many of them will attend school the next day and boast about their exploits. This has a very negative effect on all the other students. They begin to say “what does it matter what I do, who cares?” It affects their studies. It affects their job.

Unless people realize that the law is made to be respected, they lose the thing which holds us together as a society. The glue which holds us together becomes soft.

Mr. George Proud: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his questions.

Yes, I believe it is the role of government to provide stability within a country. I have grown up in this country and I believe, as others do, that it is the greatest country in the world.

I also believe, along with government, that the individual members of society have a role to play in ensuring that we have a safe country in which to live.

One of the problems we have in society today is that too many things over the last number of years have been foisted on to government and the roles of family members and other organizations have gone by the wayside.

I believe this government should and will continue to look after the main interests of society, that being one very important interest.




Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, thousands of concerned parents from all across Canada have been sending me petitions supporting my private member's motion to recognize the right, responsibility and liberty of parents to direct the upbringing of their children and their right to pursue family life free from unnecessary interference from government.

Many parents feel their rights and responsibilities are threatened by the government's attempts to fully implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a UN charter which has never been approved in this Parliament.

Parents are afraid that their rights and responsibilities to properly discipline their children are threatened by the direction the Liberal government is taking. They say that if the convention is fully implemented government bureaucrats and the courts will have absolute power to determine what is in the best interests of the child and parents will be powerless.

The problem seems to be that government is paying more attention to what the bureaucrats and foreign politicians are saying in the United Nations than what parents are saying here at home.

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Mr. Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to invite all members of the House to one of the top 100 festival events in North America. The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival celebrates the annual harvest of grapes from Niagara's 16,000 acres of vineyards. Thanks to the efforts and talents of local vintners, Niagara wines are more popular than ever and are expanding into the ever growing international market.


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Industry Canada's industrial research assistant program has helped to improve the quality of Niagara vines and Niagara wines. A new Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute is being sponsored by a government and industry partnership and will be officially opened at Brock University next month.

The federal government has also worked with the Niagara young people under the youth internship program, providing skills and experience for youth in jobs in the wine industry.

I congratulate President Paul Speck and General Manager Gerry Ginsberg on the festival's endeavours.

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Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (Vaughan—King—Aurora, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the agenda our government unveiled in the Speech from Throne is a clear cut action plan for four more years of positive change. Canadians from coast to coast to coast have worked hard, made tough decisions and sacrificed much, and now we are seeing the results.

Almost one million jobs have been created since 1993, we are witnessing the longest sustained increase in youth employment since 1990, consumer and business confidence are up, a balanced budget is within our grasp, interest rates are at an all time low. On June 2 Canadians voted for success. They voted for kept promises and they voted for a better tomorrow.

Fiscal responsibility? We will balance the budget by 1998-99. Job creation? We will invest in key areas like technology. Quality health care? We will help Canadians who care for family members at home. Opportunities for youth? We will continue our successful internship and summer job programs and increase access to post-secondary education.

These initiatives demonstrate that this government is—

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Ms. Hélène Alarie (Louis-Hébert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Algeria has been a site of bloody conflict for years now, and the situation has been deteriorating rapidly in recent months. Civilians, most of them women and children, continue to meet ghastly deaths. Having lived in that country, I cannot understand how the international community can remain unmoved by the unbearable situation the people of Algeria are in.

The truce announced by the Islamic Salvation Front for October 1 ought not to lull us into complacency. For the desperate Algerians, and for our fellow Canadians who fear for their brothers and sisters, it is vital that action be taken.

Many Algerian immigrants living in my riding of Louis-Hébert are concerned about the relatives and friends they have left behind. It is high time that each of us makes at least a minimum show of solidarity.

I am therefore calling upon this government to speed up the family reunification procedures for Algerian nationals, which are dragging out forever despite the urgency of the situation.

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Mrs. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity to comment on the 40th anniversary of an important event in black American history and to congratulate a Canadian citizen who is part of that history.

Forty years ago nine youngsters demonstrated tremendous courage in dealing with segregationist policies which excluded them from attending mainstream schools in Arkansas. I applaud those individuals, in particular a present Ottawa resident, Minnijean Brown Trickey, who was one of the Little Rock Nine. Ms. Trickey's act of courage opened the doors to many African American children to be admitted to the Little Rock High School and brought the issue of segregated schools to the forefront of American politics.

Bravo Minnijean Brown Trickey, a proud Canadian.

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Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate one of Kitchener—Waterloo's many technology based companies.

GFI Control Systems is a Canadian company that is positioned to become the global leader in the development of production of clean alternative fuel engine control systems for gaseous fuel powered vehicles. Worldwide demand over the next five years is forecast to be 2.7 million alternative fuel vehicles. GFI employs 102 full time people and uses 64 local suppliers.

At the end of August GFI's investment in research and development with the help of a $4.3 million loan from Technology Partnerships Canada paid off. GFI was awarded by the Ford Motor Company the single largest alternative fuel vehicle contract ever by a big three auto maker. This contract is valued at more than $100 million and has resulted in the creation of 125 new jobs.

Congratulations to GFI and congratulations to Technology Partnerships Canada.

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Mr. Allan Kerpan (Blackstrap, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this weekend more than 4,000 police officers and their families will travel to Ottawa to pay tribute to their colleagues who have fallen in the line of duty. Every day in this country police officers sacrifice their own personal safety in order that the rest of us remain protected from the criminal acts of a few.

Unfortunately, every year some of these courageous men and women pay the ultimate price for their bravery. Even more remain permanently injured as a result of their work.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank on behalf of all Canadians the valiant, self-sacrificing efforts of the members of our nation's police forces. Our safety is very much a result of their bravery.

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Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the recent announcement in Oslo, Norway that nearly 90 countries had agreed on a treaty that would ban anti-personnel landmines is a tremendous achievement for Canadian diplomacy.

Everyone in the House should be extremely proud of the role played by the Prime Minister, the Canadian delegation in Oslo and especially the Minister of Foreign Affairs who has been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. While the landmines treaty to be signed in Ottawa on December 3 is a first step toward a solution, the next phase will be to get these landmines out of the ground.

I am pleased and proud that two companies in my riding of Nepean—Carleton, Computing Devices of Canada and Thomson CSF, are actively engaged in leading edge technology for landmine detection and clearance, technology which will save lives.

With the help of funding from the government, these two companies are working to ensure that Canada remains in the forefront of a solution to this serious international problem.

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Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says there is nothing more illusive than a million dollars, when he wants to scare Quebecers who, in his opinion, are a little too keen to be masters in their own house.

Yesterday, however, Intrawest announced it was investing an additional $500 million in its tourist mega project at Mont Tremblant.

Intrawest president Joe Houssian said he was not worried about the political climate. He went on to say that Tremblant would have a long history that would go well beyond the political history of the region.

The Bloc Quebecois is delighted and congratulates Intrawest management on its wise decision. Quebec is and always will be an excellent place to invest, and business people know this, so the federalists can use as many scare tactics as they like.

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Mr. Robert Bertrand (Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to inform the House and all Canadians that September is arthritis month.

Arthritis is a debilitating disease that threatens the independence and quality of life of thousands of Canadian men and women. It is one of the most widespread chronic diseases in Canada, and cases of long term disability are most frequently due to arthritis.

There is no cure for arthritis, and the direct and indirect costs of this disease are enormous. Public awareness campaigns and a healthy life style can sometimes help relieve certain damaging effects of arthritis.

Health Canada is committed to continuing its involvement with other stakeholders in public and private organizations, to deal with matters concerning arthritis and how to treat its sufferers.

The month of September is an opportunity for us to recognize the work done by the Arthritis Society and its 10,000 dedicated volunteers.

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Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, September 28 is the 25th anniversary of an event that three out of four Canadians remember, an event where we collectively went nuts. With 34 seconds remaining in game eight of the Canada-Soviet hockey series Paul Henderson snapped in his own rebound, the winning goal that sent 15 million Canadians crazy. Paul Henderson's goal is a benchmark of Canada's unique collective culture.

By contrast the heritage minister should get a game misconduct for high spending. It is called Canadian culture the Liberal way. The sugar plums that dance in her head are coated with taxpayers' dollars. She believes it is up to her and the Liberals to determine Canadian identity. She does not understand. She cannot manufacture culture. She cannot buy patriotism.

Paul Henderson's goal was an unscripted athletic event that helped define what it is to be Canadian. Thank you, Paul. Your famous goal is part of what it truly means to be Canadian.

*  *  *


Mr. Rey D. Pagtakhan (Winnipeg North—St. Paul, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday this House paid tribute to one its greats, Stanley Knowles. How fitting it is that today I draw attention to one humanitarian work this weekend.


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Tomorrow, the Homes First Society in Toronto will hold its first annual “off the street garage sale” at Nathan Phillips Square to raise funds for Savard's and Haven, two housing projects for homeless women in Toronto and in the Philippines.

Such projects are living examples of Stanley Knowles' lifelong dedication to social justice for all peoples.

I commend the organizers and supporters of tomorrow's fundraising event. I take personal pride that Filipino Canadians are in the forefront of this volunteerism.

Indeed, the Homes First Society has displayed that uncommon sense of public duty which Stanley Knowles so well embodied. These volunteers have dedicated themselves to the duty of citizenship that helps advance humanity forward.

*  *  *


Ms. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am both honoured and proud at having been chosen by the people of Bras d'Or to be their voice in Ottawa.

The people of Cape Breton sent a strong message to this government on June 2. It is their right and the right of all Canadians to be guaranteed by this government that they will receive access to quality health care under the Canada Health Act.

It is unacceptable for the people of Bras d'Or to be forced to stand in line and take a number to access even minimal health care. These people are trying to get medical attention, not pick up a parcel at their local department store.

It is with this in mind that I intend to make the government accountable for the devastating effect that has resulted from the cuts to health care through the CHST.

The people in Bras d'Or would like to send a clear message to the government that this type of treatment will not be tolerated.

I call on the government to reverse the cuts and reinvest in health care until such time as the system addresses all the health care needs of my constituents and all Canadians.

*  *  *


Mr. John Harvard (Charleswood—Assiniboine, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of my constituent and friend, John Cochrane.

John recently travelled, as a Canadian volunteer adviser, to Russia to assist a private company that publishes a newspaper and produces stencilled colour printing. The company which requested Mr. Cochrane's assistance was seeking advice on creating a new product line and improving efficiency and profit. Mr. Cochrane developed a plan to increase subscriptions and attract additional advertisers as well as a new and more aggressive marketing strategy.

Mr. Cochrane, like many other CESO advisers who work as Canadian volunteer advisers to business and assist business and organizations in Canada's aboriginal communities, developing nations and emerging market economies in central and eastern Europe. CESO volunteers are skilled Canadian men and women who willingly share their lifetime of practical experience with those who need it.

Again I congratulate all CESO volunteers and especially my constituent, John Cochrane, on a job well done.

*  *  *


Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of pride that I rise to inform the members of the House that on August 9 to 23 in my constituency of Brandon—Souris we hosted the 1997 Canada Summer Games.

I would like to thank the Prime Minister and the minister of sport, as well as my leader, Mr. Jean Charest, for being a part of that—

The Speaker: I do hate to intervene but I remind the hon. member no names.

Mr. Rick Borotsik: I do apologize, Mr. Speaker. It was a rookie mistake. I would like to thank the leader of my party for being there.

I would also like to congratulate the 4,000 young men and women who came from all 10 provinces and 2 territories and demonstrated both the spirit of sport and the spirit of unity.

I thank also the 6,000 volunteers that took part in my community and the surrounding area to put on the best ever Canada games.

I would like to conclude with a remark that was made by a father of one of those athletes. “There are very few things that seem to be able to bring Canada together lately and this is one of them. Our most valuable resource in this country is our youth and if anybody is going to pull it together it is going to be them”.

The Speaker: I would like to make a very brief comment or observation. It would seem that yesterday we accomplished what we set out to do. I would like to compliment the members because they are disciplining themselves and I think that question period is becoming a little more lively.



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Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, this summer when the Liberals were out making election promises they swore that any budget surplus would be split 50:50, half would go to new Liberal spending programs naturally, and the other half would actually go back into taxpayers' pockets or to debt retirement.

But now that the Liberals are back in power they have changed their tune. They used to sing The Taxman by the Beatles, now they have changed to another one entitled Hey, Big Spender.

When the government spends $42,000 on a musical study entitled “The Social Origins of the Medieval Latin Lyrical Song,” why should ordinary Canadians believe that the government will ever be able to give Canadians the tax relief they deserve?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Canada Council gives grants to people to do some very useful work. To be knowledgeable about great ancient music is very important for some people. I am not an expert but I love Gregorian music. It was part of the services in the Catholic Church when I was a kid. It is medieval and very good and very peaceful to listen to after a good question period.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the Prime Minister was part of a medieval Latin song, but he has been around for a while.

I heard the Prime Minister whistling another ditty yesterday. I think it was called “Smoking in the Boys Room”. Apparently the government has decided to spend $1.5 million to subsidize smokes for convicts in the Kingston penitentiary.

We suspect he has been blowing smoke about this whole budgetary surplus thing. I think that is a given. But does he really think that spending $1.5 million to subsidize smokes for convicts is the best way to spend the money that he has siphoned out of Canadian small businesses?

Hon. Andy Scott (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for posing the first question of my new position. I want to take advantage of the occasion to commend the good work that is done by Correctional Service Canada whose 300 executives sat in this House last night. They do good work. They deserve to be complimented and I am proud to do it.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what they have been smoking, but it was something.

We also know that the Prime Minister enjoys a good golf game. Heaven knows he has teed off plenty of voters. But does he really have to waste taxpayers' dollars on it? Did the government really have to spend $19,000 last year on golf balls, or $500,000 for golf cart bridges at Antigonish, Nova Scotia? Did Canadian taxpayers really need to spend $100,000 on a golf course at an army base?

My question is obvious. Are these kind of spending programs really more important to the Liberals than offering some prospect of tax relief for the ordinary Canadian citizen?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yes there is a beautiful golf course in the national park at Cape Breton which is enjoyed by the thousands of visitors who come there in the summer. It is an area of Canada that needs economic development.

The golf course was developed a long time ago and it has been made adequate for golfers. The people who play there pay and that helps. On top of that, it helps the tourist industry in an area which needs some help. It is about modernizing a golf course a bit for tourists to visit, in one of the most beautiful parts of Canada which has some big economic problems. I think the Reform Party should compliment the government for doing something for a region that needs it.

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Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, Dr. Michelle Brill Edwards uncovered dangerous safety violations at Canada's health watchdog, the health protection branch.

I have proof here that senior department bureaucrats have unethically opened her personal, confidential files in an attempt to smear her just hours after her public disclosure.


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Does the health minister condone these attempts to smear her reputation?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the news reports this morning about a file being asked for by an official at Health Canada. I have asked officials to look into it and when the facts are known I will respond in detail.

The hon. member should acknowledge in his question, and I know he is aware of the fact, that for me and for this government the role of the health protection branch is extremely important. It protects the safety and the health of Canadians.

It is for that very reason that this week I took three important steps to ensure its continuing strength: first, a moratorium on future cuts; second, the appointment of an arm's length science advisory board; third—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Macleod.

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that this minister himself is responsible for the cuts that he is now undoing.

Dr. Brill-Edwards is an expert. She says the health protection branch is unsafe. She worked there. Her colleagues agree. Now health bureaucrats are trying to ruin her reputation and smother the truth. Why is the health minister afraid of this scientist?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, one thing I have tried to make a habit is to get the facts before I jump to conclusions.

I caution the hon. member to get the facts before he characterizes conduct in that irresponsible way. The reality is I have asked officials to inquire into the news reports this morning. Let us get the facts first.

The third step I took was to prepare a consultation document to involve all Canadians, not just one or two in this discussion of the future of the health protection branch.

I do not have to be told by former employees or by anybody else what the role of the health protection branch is. I am firmly committed to making sure it does its job in the most effective way.

*  *  *



Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

In his speech in reply to the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister urged Quebecers to put their trust in the Calgary declaration, the ramifications of which became even murkier yesterday with the replies the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs gave to our questions.

My question is a very simple one: Given its constitutional history, what makes the Prime Minister think that Quebecers can trust the Liberal government?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Quebecers are visibly losing faith in the Bloc Quebecois. This is clear from the recent election.

The very great majority of Quebecers want to remain in Canada. This is clear not just from the polls, but from speaking to average citizens. And the more they could be convinced that they do not have to choose between Quebec and Canada, that these two formidable entities can join forces and make them stronger and will be more indispensable to them than ever in the next millennium, the more they will turn away from the Bloc Quebecois in mistrust.

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, for the minister's information, the Bloc Quebecois still holds the majority of seats in Quebec.

That having been said, when we hear that being as unique as Pacific salmon is the same thing as distinct society, we might well wonder.

How can the Prime Minister hope for Quebecers' trust, when his government's only strategy since the last referendum has been to threaten Quebec with its clever Plan B?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, far from making any threats, the government is calling for calm and democratic debate of very serious matters: How does secession square with democracy? There is no model for it anywhere.

Let me illustrate. The leader of the Bloc Quebecois and the Premier of Quebec gave the example of the recent referendum in Wales, noting that 50% plus one was enough. I must give you the following information, which is important to the debate. The Tories asked the British Prime Minister not to apply the results to a simple decentralization because—

The Speaker: Pardon me for interrupting the minister, but the member for Lac-Saint-Jean has the floor.

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Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the future federal minister of education, whoever he may be.

In his response to the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister kept for himself the announcement of new meddling in areas of provincial jurisdiction. The Prime Minister announced the government's intention to set up a fund to distribute bursaries directly to students.

How can the minister play saviour and announce such a fund worth $1 billion without blushing, when his cuts to education, which will amount to $10 billion, have put students in debt like never before?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will use my example of Wales another time.

The announcement for students is excellent news. You know, the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Medical Research Council of Canada offered, for the last year available, bursaries worth $175 million to 13,359 students. Many of us benefited from them, including perhaps the hon. member. The member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville did. If even more students can benefit, it will be a good thing for students in Quebec and Canada.

Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we are witnessing the federal government try to dole out federal money in order to buy students.

I would ask the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs if he intends to give the money for this new program to the Quebec government, as has been done with the loans and bursaries program for the past 30 years?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear that the member understands our federation is flexible and accommodates various mechanisms. The ones actually used with this program will have to be discussed with our partners.

*  *  *



Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the prime minister.

The Canadian government has been busily negotiating a multilateral agreement on investment with profound implications for Canadians.

My office has been deluged with calls from people who want to know what this will mean. They want to have their say, not after the ink is dry on the agreement but before the government enters into any such deal.

Will the prime minister make a firm commitment today to hold full public hearings across the country prior to any such investment deal being signed?

Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. leader of the NDP for the question. This is my first opportunity to reply.

Canada has learned the lesson over the last 10 years that doing business without agreements and without a level playing field can be a very turbulent thing indeed. Hence, the attempt is being made to create the MAI.

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I directed my question to the prime minister and I am hoping we are going to get an answer.

The head of the World Trade Organization has said of the MAI process: “We are writing the constitution for a new global economy”. Surely an agreement of this importance deserves the same standard of public disclosure, input and consultation that Canadians have demanded with respect to their own Constitution.

It is clear that the government intended to sign, seal and deliver the MAI before the last election, even without consultation.

Will the prime minister assure us today that Canadians will have their say?

Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, having spent 10 years in opposition in the province of Ontario I understand full well the temptation to speculate on what will be contained in something.

I should point out to the House that at this stage the negotiators are still negotiating what they are going to negotiate.

*  *  *


Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, I have a very Liberal question for the Minister of Transport.


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Under the terms of the strategic highway improvement program between the federal Liberal government and the provincial Liberal Government of Nova Scotia, all contracts are to be tendered. I quote directly from the agreement: “All contracts will awarded to the tenderer submitting the lowest evaluated bid”.

Why were two contracts worth over a $100 million given to two companies, both untendered? Even worse, both companies have at the top of the list of officers the past president of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia.

Hon. David M Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like first to congratulate the hon. member's appointment as critic for the Conservative Party and I welcome him back to the House.

He did raise this with me privately and it is a matter which I undertook to discuss with my officials.

This is a federal-provincial funding agreement. Highways are the responsibility of the provinces. To date we have not seen anything from the federal point of view that causes undue alarm. I have given him my assurance that we will re-examine the matter and I will discuss it with my provincial counterpart in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is for the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada.

The Highway 104 agreement includes clauses that clearly contravene the Competition Act, which ensures choices and the right to transportation and prohibits limiting facilities for transportation.

I requested the Federal Bureau of Competition to investigate the agreement which eliminates competition and choices and limits competition.

Will the minister assure the House that there will be no political interference in any resulting investigation, even though the federal government is a partner to the tune of $27 million in this agreement?

Hon. David M Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I do think it is somewhat premature to speculate about using quasi-judicial review bodies or agencies when we have not established the facts.

I have undertaken to get the facts for the hon. member. Until that time I think we should examine them and see if the problem is as acute as he says it is.

*  *  *


Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, they are at it again over here. I suppose Canadian merchants will be happy to know that this prime minister's government is keeping up its outrageous spending habits.

Can the prime minister tell this House if he really thinks that government spending, investments as they are called, like spending $72,000 on something called a mystery shopping program is more important to Canadians than tax relief?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this government has made it very clear from the beginning that it is our intention to bring in tax relief.

If the hon. member will take a look at what we did in previous budgets he will see very clearly that we have begun the process of tax relief, is a welcome change I must say after 10 years of tax increases from the Tories.

We have very clearly reversed the trend of constant tax increases by the Tories. We are very committed to tax decreases, which will be evident in subsequent budgets as well.

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, how do they spell relief over there? The prime minister could be whistling “Pennies from Heaven”. I would like to remind this government that it did not win a lottery. Any surplus belongs to the Canadian people, not to the Liberal Party.

Was it necessary for this government to spend $50 million to build ski chalets in Mont Tremblant or $70,000 to build an ice cream parlour?

My question for the prime minister is why will he not give surplus money back to the people instead of blowing it on things like fancy ski resorts or ice cream parlours?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Saint-Maurice, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is almost a joy to have the hon. member asking me what we will do with the surplus in future years.

No prime minister in the last 30 years has had to deal with the problem of a surplus. When we started the government was spending $120 billion on programs a year. That has been reduced to $104 billion or less.

With respect to the problem of deciding what to do with the surplus, we did manage our spending very tightly and I am happy that the people of Canada supported the program of reduction in expenditures.

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Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil—Papineau, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

On April 14, the then Minister of Transport stated he was quite happy to co-operate with any organization that wished to improve the utilization of Mirabel airport.


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What is the Minister of Transport waiting for to appoint a federal representative to the Tardif commission on the future of Mirabel?

Hon. David M Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that the national airports policy is designed to turn the day-to-day operation of some airports over to local authorities.

The Aéroports de Montréal group made a decision to transfer flights from Mirabel to Dorval. I received a letter from the Quebec transport minister inviting me to sit on a commission. Based on the terms of reference of this commission, I have decided it is an economic development commission and not a transport commission. That is why we will not be part of it.

Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil—Papineau, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my next question is for the Prime Minister.

When will the Prime Minister respond to the Quebec premier's request for an urgent meeting to follow up on this issue and ensure Mirabel's development?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport just answered the question.

It is not a transportation issue at this point in time. I will get back to the premier. A decision was made a long time ago by the then Conservative government to transfer the responsibility of the airports in Montreal to an independent commission. If I am not mistaken, the premier of Quebec was a Conservative minister at the time.

This is a long-established system. They are the ones making decisions. That is why we are willing to consider transportation issues. If they say a bad decision was made at the time, we cannot overturn it now because the policy is to turn airports over to local—

*  *  *



Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, when a senator from British Columbia commented on renegotiating British Columbia's role in Confederation the intergovernmental affairs minister responded with comments that cannot even be repeated in this House.

While this minister has worked extremely hard at accommodating Quebec's desire to renegotiate its role in Confederation, he responds to the concerns of British Columbians with the verbal equivalent of the Trudeau salute.

What will the minister do to assure British Columbians that he will be as sympathetic to their concerns as he is to Quebecers?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think it would be very helpful if the hon. member were able to quote what I said.

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is unparliamentary language for me to quote what he was reported to say on TV last night.

When foreign overfishing threatened Atlantic fishing stocks in 1995 this government responded by seizing a foreign trawler. This year when foreign fishing threatened Pacific salmon stocks this government responded by taking the British Columbia government to court.

Why is this government taking such a hard line approach toward British Columbia?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Do we think it is so horrible, I do not know. To speak about separation and secession is irresponsible in Quebec. It is irresponsible in British Columbia.

Each province has its problems and concerns and governments are not always as good as they should be. But what does this have to do with secession?

*  *  *


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Ms. Jocelyne Bujold-Girard (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour.

Collective bargaining talks between the Canada Post Corporation and the postal workers' union are breaking down, as was unfortunately hoped by the minister responsible for Canada Post.

Does the minister recognize that he must take action to restore at least some trust, a necessary ingredient in successful collective bargaining?


Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Labour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, under part I of the Canada Labour Code I have the authority to appoint a conciliation officer. I did. He worked with union and management in order to try to bring about a settlement. He was not able to bring about a settlement. He has reported to me and I will be making a statement on or before October 7.


Ms. Jocelyne Bujold-Girard (Jonquière, BQ: Mr. Speaker, in view of what the minister just said, will he pledge to take other measures to improve negotiations and make them successful?


Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Labour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Canada Labour Code has worked well for both management and labour in this country over the years. I have to evaluate the information that I have and make a decision as to what is best for Canada Post and for CUPW. When I do that I will issue a statement on or before October 7, as I indicated.

*  *  *


Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, or shall I say the compulsory wheat board. Rather than his monopolistic all or nothing exclusion and inclusion clauses, why does Bill C-4 introduced by the government in this House yesterday not provide western Canadian grain farmers with real freedom of choice in how they market their very own wheat and barley?

Mr. Gerry Byrne (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is my first opportunity as the parliamentary secretary to the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board to address the very very important question raised by the hon. member. It speaks exactly to the heart of the bill.

What the minister and this legislation have proposed for the first time in a very long time has come from farmers themselves, from producers. Farmers and producers themselves will have a direct role in the management of that agency and they will control their destiny. That is the democratic process and I think it is a very good piece of legislation.

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am glad the parliamentary secretary had the opportunity to speak. I only wish he would answer the question. Looking at the bill it is certainly highly questionable whether the board of directors will ever be able to make the Canadian Wheat Board voluntary.

In addition to CSIS, another government agency not held accountable under access to information is the Canadian Wheat Board. Can the hon. parliamentary secretary explain how the new board of directors themselves will be held accountable to the farmers who elect them when they will not be able to tell them anything about the top secret Canadian Wheat Board operations?

Mr. Gerry Byrne (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what we are discussing here is a principle of democracy. The hon. member should understand that under the current legislation which is before the House of Commons today, clearly two-thirds or 10 out of 15 members of the board of directors will come from producers.

If the hon. member does not understand a thing about democracy, perhaps he should be talking directly to some of the farmers. I will quote a farmer, Mr. John Rowett, “It is more grassroots. You know, the producers are the guys who really know what is good for producers, right?” Perhaps what the hon. member—

*  *  *



Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry.

The government has forced the CRTC to issue satellite broadcasting licences to all companies applying for them, regardless of their solvency. Now AlphaStar has gone bankrupt, leaving 6,000 customers stranded without service and stuck with totally useless equipment.


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Given his responsibilities in this matter, does the minister intend to take action to compensate them and to finally regulate this sector?

Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the new member on her question.

I will respond by saying that we did not tell the CRTC it must issue licences to any and all companies wishing one. We simply indicated that it was unsatisfactory to a government wishing for competition in a very important sector to have the CRTC decide how many companies could compete in it. However, All applicanats are required to submit a viable business plan to the CRTC.

*  *  *



Mrs. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The statements by the Ontario government about the proposed changes to the administration of co-operative and other social housing is causing extreme concern for those residents. What assurance can the minister give these residents that the future of co-operative and other social housing will remain secure?

Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on September 2 the Ontario advisory committee on housing reform reported to the minister of housing in Ontario. We are waiting for the position of the Ontario government. Until we know the position of the Ontario government there will be no further negotiations.

*  *  *


Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, taxpayers would wind up paying 9.9 percent of their salary as a result of the Canada pension plan as proposed by the Liberals.

A taxpayer living until 75 would collect a maximum of $8,800 per year for a grand total of $88,000. In contrast, members of Parliament only have 9.5 percent of their paycheque go toward the gold plated pensions.

If the minister of heritage had lost her election and lived until 75, she would have collected $2.8 million. How will she continue to justify gouging taxpayers?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party obviously does not like the Canada pension plan. Its members made it very clear that they would see it destroyed.

The question that I would simply ask is what would the Reform Party replace the Canada pension plan with? What they have presented so far, their super RRSP would bring in a rate of 13 percent, roughly 4 percent and 5 percent higher than the premiums that we have agreed to with the provinces, including I might point out the province of Alberta.

Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, somehow I knew they would justify gouging taxpayers. They put themselves on a pedestal above taxpayers who pay the CPP, just like the leader of the fifth party who is looking forward to a pension of more than $4.2 million, just like the Minister of Justice who is looking forward to more than $1.5 million. Brian Tobin, the former Liberal fisheries minister and the premier of Newfoundland is currently receiving $3.8 million.

Will they at least allow those members of Parliament who want to opt out of the super rich gold plated pension plan the opportunity to do so?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member should get his facts straight. First of all those numbers that the member has just quoted are garbage. Second of all why does he not deal with the real numbers? Why is he afraid to stand up here and explain to the Canadian people that if 9.9 is a gouge, then what is 13 percent which his party has talked about?

In this House when it came time to debate the MP pensions, the Reform Party's solution was to increase MP salaries to $150,000 a year. Why does he not stand up and say that?


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Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Qu'Appelle, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Finance.

Yesterday the minister moved in the direction of privatizing the administration of the Canada pension plan through the creation of a fund of $100 billion to be managed by his friends on Bay Street, those boys in red suspenders.

In light of that, I want to ask the minister today whether he can at least ensure us that he will not change the rules where at least 80 percent of the pension money must be invested here in Canada.

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is in the bill exactly as the hon. member has said. Perhaps before asking the question he might want to read it.

What we have said very clearly is that there may be at some future time the intention to change that rule, but it is not the government's intention to do so now.

What is important to understand is the position of the NDP. Is the hon. member saying that he is against an independent investment board? Is the hon. member saying that he is against the Canada pension plan achieving a higher rate of return than has been—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Qu'Appelle.

Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Qu'Appelle, NDP): Mr. Speaker, what the member is for is for the minister to answer a question for once in the House.

In light of the decision reached yesterday with respect to the bill to freeze the annual CPP exemption at $3,500 a year, and the fact that it will hit low income earners, women and the disabled of this country very hard, can he explain why he wants to shift the burden onto low income people? Why is he playing Robin Hood in reverse in this country?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there are two ways to destroy the Canada pension plan. One is the way the Reform Party has brought forth, which is to do so openly. The second way is the NDP's way, which is to say “Do not change it, do not deal with the problems and let it crumble under its own weight”.

If the NDP wants to destroy the Canada pension plan, why is it not being honest about it?

*  *  *



Mr. André Harvey (Chicoutimi, PC): Mr. Speaker, perhaps I may first thank my constituents for giving me this chance to come back to the Parliament of Canada to work on their behalf.

My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Throughout the past week, this government has been criticizing the former government. Considering that the free trade agreements helped us increase our exports to U.S. markets from $90 billion to $215 billion, an increase of nearly 140 per cent, would the Prime Minister tell us whether he has changed his mind on this issue?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, during the 1993 election campaign, we said we wanted to improve the free trade agreement, and we improved it in areas including the environment, labour and other sectors as well. That was part of our program.

We were not against free trade as such, but we felt that the agreement as negotiated needed improvement. We were successful in that respect. I am pleased the system is working well.

I am also delighted to see the hon. member back in the House, and I wish him the best of luck.

Mr. André Harvey (Chicoutimi, PC): Mr. Speaker, would the Prime Minister confirm that the changes made in the free trade agreement were very marginal ones?

Is he prepared to tell this House and all Canadians that the free trade agreement was a very progressive measure and a very important one for all Canadians and explain why he came out so vehemently against the free trade agreement in a number of advertising campaigns that were extremely damaging for the future of our country's trade?

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, regarding the debate during the 1988 election campaign, that was the only campaign since 1963 in which I did not run.

When I became Leader of the Liberal Party, we reviewed the policy and we adjusted it. We found that improvements were necessary. In the days following my election in November 1993, we had talks with the American and Mexican governments. We obtained improvements, and subsequently the government signed an agreement that works very well, thanks to the improvements we made to the agreement in general, and that was my party's policy during the election campaign in 1993.

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Ms. Susan Whelan (Essex, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the citizens of Windsor and Essex county raised concerns about not getting timely and accurate warnings of severe weather conditions.

Following the meeting my Windsor colleagues and I had with the Minister of the Environment, can the minister tell us what action she will be taking concerning severe weather operations in southwestern Ontario and in particular Windsor and Essex county?

Hon. Christine Stewart (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague and those other colleagues in the Windsor, Essex and Sarnia areas for the work they have done with the communities in their areas. It is of concern to my department that citizens in those areas that are prone to severe weather events have timely and accurate weather forecasting information.

My department, besides having improved phone access and having worked with the media, will be launching a public participation process to help the communities get the kind of information they require. We are also having an independent consultant work with that public participation group to this end.

*  *  *


Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the response today in the House by the Minister of Health regarding the serious issue of this government accessing the personal and confidential files of Dr. Michèle Brill-Edwards is unbelievably irresponsible and speaks to his own decision this summer to cut the drug and food labs in the health protection branch.

I want to ask the Minister of Health, if he cannot even protect the confidentiality of an individual's files, how can we be assured he is protecting the health and safety of Canadians?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I welcome the hon. member to the House. I want to work constructively with her in what I know is a shared objective of ensuring the health of Canadians but she is making it very difficult from the beginning.

I told the House earlier that I have asked officials to look into the news reports this morning. When the facts are known we will be in a position to discuss it.

As far as the health protection branch is concerned, this is the minister who put a freeze on those cuts, this is the minister who is going to appoint a science advisory board to give us independent advice on what scientists we need. And this is the minister who is going to involve the public and the health protection branch in an open and full discussion of its future.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, that is the minister who this summer eliminated the drug research lab and gutted the food research lab.

How does the Minister of Health intend to fulfil his legal duties under the food protection act if he has already eliminated the scientists who carry out those duties on his behalf?

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have already made it clear that we are going to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the health protection branch, which is an important service of government, is there to safeguard the health and safety of Canadians.

I encourage the hon. member to take part in the public consultation process we are going to go through over the coming months. We have frozen cuts. We are going to appoint people who know science to give us advice. I encourage the hon. member to contribute constructively to the process. I hope her involvement will go beyond wagging her finger in this House.

*  *  *


Mr. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, PC): Mr. Speaker, the Canada pension plan disability program has an appeal process. Currently there are over 4,000 people in Canada waiting for their appeal to be heard. Once pension benefits are granted by the review tribunal, the government officials have instructed to appeal every single case to the pension appeal board. There are just 20 federal appeal board judges to handle this huge backlog and a waiting period of up to four years for Canadians who need this pension.

Will the Prime Minister or the government tell us what their plan is to address this injustice to thousands of disabled Canadians who are waiting for an answer on this very critical issue?

Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Secretary of State (Children and Youth), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is a major concern. Anything that involves individuals with disabilities particularly when it comes to the benefits that are due to them is of major concern to the government. We are working very hard on this. We will get back to the member with detailed information.


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Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC): Mr. Speaker, will the minister begin showing compassion by telling the House today what specific measures and time lines the government plans to implement to streamline the appeals process. How soon will the wait be over for the thousands of Canadians who need an answer now?

Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Secretary of State (Children and Youth), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is a difficult process and it is something which deserves more time and attention. I do not have the information for the member right now, but we will get back to him very soon.

*  *  *



The Speaker: I have received a notice of a point of order from the member for Winnipeg North Centre.

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Today during question period questions were raised concerning the access of the personal and confidential files of Dr. Michelle Brill Edwards. For the benefit of the Minister of Health I would like to table the document indicating her files were accessed by Mr. Joe Losos, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Health.

The Speaker: My dear colleague, two things. First, I know that you have a piece of paper which I would ask you not to use as a prop. Second, individual members cannot table documents such as these. I guess it could be tabled if the hon. member had unanimous consent.

I am addressing myself directly now to the member for Winnipeg North Centre. Were you seeking unanimous consent?

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis: Yes.

The Speaker: The answer is yes. Now, is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: No.

The Speaker: There is not unanimous consent.

*  *  *


Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, those of us who have been around for a number of years, although not actually in the House of Commons, were shocked and saddened earlier this month to hear the news of the passing of an officer emeritus of this House, the former Clerk of the House, Mr. Alistair Fraser.

Mr. Fraser was born into a family that values public service. Both of his grandfathers were distinguished statesmen serving in Parliament and at the provincial and territorial levels. Both his father and one of his grandfathers were lieutenant-governors of Nova Scotia and even today, if someone asks an old-timer in Guysborough the way to the Fraser summer place, one will be directed very clearly to what is referred to as the governor's house.


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Immediately upon graduating from McGill University, Mr. Fraser joined the Canadian army, serving until the end of World War II. After serving briefly on the staff of the Hon. Brooke Claxton in Ottawa, he attended the University of British Columbia law school, practising law in Prince Rupert before returning to Ottawa as executive assistant to the Hon. James Sinclair. Subsequently he served in that same position with the Hon. Ross MacDonald and the Hon. Jack Pickersgill.

Mr. Fraser was twice a candidate for the House of Commons: once on the west coast in Esquimalt—Saanich and once on the east coast in Pictou.


Mr. Fraser was appointed deputy clerk in 1966 and clerk, the following year. He performed his duties with dignity, wisdom and an unequalled sense of humour.

Although Mr. Fraser served at the clerks' table through the most tumultuous years in Canada's history, he maintained excellent relations with a number of political personages, including the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker, the Honourable Allan MacEachen, David Lewis, Réal Caouette, and others unnamed.

For myself, I would like to add that Alistair Fraser touched the lives not only of parliamentarians, but of the people working in the House of Commons during his time there. As you know, I was a young employee of the House of Commons at the time and could see firsthand the kindness, the wisdom and the intelligence of my boss, Alistair Fraser.

When he retired in 1979, more than the clerk left the House of Commons. We lost a mentor, an adviser and, I would say, a friend. Following his retirement, Mr. Fraser continued his involvement in the area of parliamentary affairs through the publication of two editions of Beauchesne's parliamentary rules. In his visits to the hill, he always brought along his enthusiasm and his sense of humour.

He will be sorely missed. I offer my condolences to the members of his family, to all his friends and, I would add, to the employees of the House and the table officers, all of whom shared this moment of sadness.


Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Reform Party of Canada to pay tribute to a beloved servant of the House of Commons.

Alistair Graeme Fraser was born in Toronto in January of 1923 into a family distinguished for its political service. After graduating from the University of British Columbia in law and practising for a short time in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, he moved to Ottawa and worked for 27 years in this place, serving as executive assistant to several Liberal ministers, after which he was appointed Clerk of the House of Commons for 12 years.

Mr. Fraser presided as Clerk over some revolutionary developments in this House: the creation of the parliamentary interns group, the reorganization of the role of pages in the House and most important, the introduction of this Chamber to all Canadians through live television broadcasts.

He possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the complex rules and procedures of this place, so much so that he co-authored several editions of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, the commentary on the standing orders of the House that all members consult almost daily. In Beauchesne's we can discover something of the personality of its author. It is the codification of common sense. It tries to strike a balance between the freedom of the member to speak and the member's responsibility to abide by the rules of decorum and procedure intended to benefit all members. It combines firmness with good humour and Mr. Fraser was well known for his keen sense of humour.

Pierre Trudeau, who was leader of the opposition on October 9, 1979, a couple of weeks after Mr. Fraser retired as Clerk said this about him:

    When paying homage to someone, one often speaks of “selfless devotion”. That expression has been used so often as to become almost meaningless. Yet I believe it to be an accurate description of the way in which Mr. Fraser served the House of Commons as an institution and its members as individuals— Those who accept the position of Clerk of the House of Commons are not allowed to display the range of opinions and emotions which so delight the heart of a politician—Rather, they are teachers, conciliators and friends. They do not think of self but bend on their will and their stamina to making the House of Commons work.


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On a personal note, when I was elected to this House in 1972, Mr. Fraser was in the House. As a 30-year-old member in this Chamber it was very nice to have somebody sitting at that table who could fill me in on the rules that everybody else knew. It was nice to have somebody to assist me in preparing my private member's bills and my questions. I always found that Mr. Fraser and all those he taught, many of whom are here today, had that fairness and respect for all members of Parliament no matter what their politics.

We would like to pass on to Mr. Fraser's family our wishes and comfort for the honourable life and tradition of service that he brought to this House. I would like to tell them that we all remember him very well.


Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I in turn would like to join my colleagues who have just spoken in paying tribute to Alistair Fraser, who, as has been pointed out in the last few minutes, was Clerk of the House of Commons from 1967 to 1979.

Although many of us here today did not have the good fortune to meet and get to know Mr. Fraser, he served the Canadian public and this venerable institution in which we sit for many years, and his memory will not soon disappear from its hallowed walls. He first came to the House in 1951 as an assistant to the then fisheries minister, the Hon. James Sinclair, moving on to take up the position of Clerk Assistant, as the Government House Leader pointed out, and then Clerk.

On September 1 of this year, he passed away, leaving us all saddened. A lawyer by training, Mr. Fraser came from a Liberal family of long standing in his province of birth. His father and his grandfather were lieutenant-governors of Nova Scotia and his grandfather was even a member of Parliament.

It was through his efforts and those of the present Clerk of the House of Commons that the Parliamentary Internship Programme was set up, providing an opportunity for numerous Canadians and Quebecers to work in this place for the representatives of the public, to achieve a better knowledge and understanding of this universally admired democratic institution, and to pass that knowledge and understanding on to others.

On behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I would like to express deepest condolences to his family and friends and, as I said at the beginning of my speech, to assure them that his memory will remain very much alive in this House for many years to come, because the volume to which he contributed is something we consult on a daily basis. He left his stamp on two editions of Beauchesne, which is something of a bible in the work of the House.

Once again, on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I offer heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.


Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Qu'Appelle, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I too wish to join on behalf of our party in expressing our condolences to Mr. Fraser's family.

I felt particularly moved when I heard about his passing. Mr. Fraser swore me in as a member of Parliament on four separate occasions: in 1968, 1972, 1974 and 1979.


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He was extremely well liked and highly respected by all members of the House, on all sides of the House, during the time he was clerk of this Chamber.

He was also known as the Mr. Rules of this place, along with the former member for Winnipeg North Centre, Stanley Knowles. It is rather ironic that the last time my colleague from Winnipeg—Transcona encountered Mr. Fraser was at Mr. Knowles' funeral back in June. The two of them were friends and colleagues. The two of them were experts in the rules. They made an immense contribution toward the evolution of this place through a fairly revolutionary time. The rules were changed, which radically changed the operation of the institution. There was the introduction of television, which again changed the way this place operates.

He was also a great parliamentarian in terms of the real love of this place. He was a great advisor to those of us who were members in those days, particularly when we were new members of Parliament. He was always available to give friendly advice as to how we should conduct ourselves as members. He was fair. He was above the partisan battle of the House of Commons.

Best of all, he was a friend. Because of that, on behalf of my party, I want to extend to his family and to his friends our very sincere condolences on his passing.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I rise to add my voice to those paying tribute to Mr. Alistair Graeme Fraser.

I met Mr. Fraser on several occasions when my father took his oath in this House. He was, like I, a Nova Scotian. He often referred to his field at Guysborough, which was very important to him. His brothers and their families shared that home. I extend my deep condolences to them and all the members of the Fraser family in Nova Scotia. They have suffered a great loss, as has this House.

On September 25, 1967 the journals of this House recorded the announcement of Mr. Fraser's appointment as clerk of the House of Commons. When he retired in 1979 this House was different than it is today.

Mr. Fraser loved this Chamber. The people who worked in and around it were very important to him. He knew political life mattered and that those who practised it, supported it and reported it were key to the basic freedoms of this country.

He saw Parliament Hill as a welcome place for those who sought to learn about it and who came to pay their respects.

Someone once said that Mr. Fraser saw this place as a sort of university. He devoted much time to explaining it to the people who came here.

He was critical to the success of parliament and the parliamentary internship program. He supported the establishment of the Canadian study of the parliamentary group and he represented this institution in the Parliament of the World with distinction.

At his retirement he was made an honorary member, officer of the House, with a seat at the table before us. He took this honour very seriously. His counsel remained available to several committees and his testimony was given to a special committee established following the famous ringing of the bells, which remained lively and cogent in his critique of the House of Commons.

Parliament has too few friends. Mr. Fraser's death robs us of an ally and one of the Commonwealth's great parliamentary officers.

On behalf of the Conservative Party, I add my voice of condolence to the family, to this House and to all Canadians, for Mr. Fraser will be sorely missed.

The Deputy Speaker: I would like to acknowledge the very gracious tributes paid to Mr. Fraser from members of all sides of the House.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Fraser in 1967, when he was clerk and I was working in this place for the summer. I acknowledge that everything which has been said about him is true. He was a wonderful builder of Parliament and a real cornerstone of the House of Commons. The words which have been uttered about him by all hon. members are very fitting.




Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the report of the parliamentary delegation that travelled to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and to Kaohsiung and Taipei, Taiwan, from March 29 to April 8, 1997.

*  *  *




Hon. Sheila Copps (for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): moved for leave to introduce Bill C-6, an act to provide for an integrated system of land and water management in the Mackenzie Valley, to establish certain boards for that purpose and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

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

*  *  *


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Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-7, an act to establish the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

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

*  *  *




Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Ref.): moved for leave to introduce Bill C-206, an act to amend the Criminal Code (prostitution).

He said: Mr. Speaker, constituents of my riding are deeply concerned with the plaguing problem of street prostitution. They want the penalties made tougher in order to make control easier. They remember when the law was different and we did not have the pervasive street trade.

The way the Criminal Code reads now, public communication to obtain sexual services carries only a penalty of summary conviction. In most cases the offender is given a summons, like a traffic ticket, which brings a fine.

This bill will amend section 213 of the Criminal Code, making the penalty of communicating either an indictable offence with imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a summary conviction. It makes the section a hybrid or an electable offence.

The amendment will give the system a procedural option, something the police in my riding have been asking for. I urge the justice minister and all members of this House to strongly consider this vital improvement.

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

*  *  *



Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Ref.): moved for leave to introduce Bill C-207, an act to amend the Criminal Code (trespass).

He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to introduce this bill. There is a serious gap in the law for public order and community peace. If a mall security guard legally removes a problem person for public disturbance, that person can return only moments later provided they do not resist when originally being escorted off the premises. This can happen in an unending cycle.

This bill would amend the Criminal Code, making it a summary conviction. A person who has already been legally removed from real property or dwelling House would not to be able to lawfully return for a minimum of 24 hours.

The amendment would simply prevent repeated and unnecessary mischief without consequence. It is one of the practical tools that can help the public overcome its cynicism concerning the absurdities of the justice system. I urge its adoption as it reflects public expectation of the law.

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

*  *  *



Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton West—Mississauga, Lib.): moved for leave to introduce Bill C-208, an act to amend the Access to Information Act.

She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill today. This bill would provide stiff penalties against any person who improperly destroys or falsifies government records in an attempt to deny right of access to information under the Access to Information Act. This bill is about the protection of our public records.


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In January of this year, federal information commissioner John Grace released his report to the Minister of Health on his lengthy investigations into the tainted blood scandal. In this report specific mention was made of the fact that there are no sanctions in place against public servants who may be found to have improperly destroyed records.

In his annual report, released two days ago, the commissioner reiterated his concerns about document tampering by public servants and renewed his call for the creation of penalties for those actions.

This bill provides us with the necessary tools to prevent future occurrences of document tampering.

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

*  *  *



Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-209, an act to amend the Criminal Code (joy riding).

He said: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Prince George—Peace River for seconding this bill. This is a very serious problem in this country, one that touches 160,000 Canadians every year. It is a $1.6 billion problem, and that problem is auto theft.

Our loose laws are encouraging people to break the law, especially male young offenders who steal over half the cars stolen in Canada, mostly to joy ride and experience a thrill at someone else's expense.

The problem is out of control in British Columbia. In my own constituency, as an example, in the city of Chilliwack auto theft was up 87 percent last year alone.

My bill would strengthen the provisions of section 335 of the Criminal Code, a section under which young offenders are usually charged. It prescribes a minimum and a maximum sentence in terms of a fine, a jail term or restitution to the victim. It also states that parents of young offenders who have contributed to the delinquency of their child can be held responsible for restitution.

I hope that all members will take note of this serious problem in Canada and give careful consideration and support for this joy riding bill.

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

*  *  *



Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-210, an act to amend the Young Offenders Act to transfer older offenders who commit violent offences to adult court, to limit the application of alternative measures, to allow for certain young offenders to be designated as dangerous offenders, to establish public safety as a dominant consideration in the application of the law respecting young offenders, to remove privacy provisions and to make certain other amendments.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Surrey North for seconding this motion.

It is an honour today to rise and introduce this bill on amending the Young Offenders Act. This summer the new justice minister said the YOA would be a priority yet we did not see anything in the throne speech about it.

Reform believes that the YOA is a priority and thus the reason for our bill and the amendments to lower the age from 12 to 10, to raise 16 and 17 year olds to adult court, automatically transferring serious violent young offenders into adult court aged 14 and 15 and removing the privacy provision for young offenders convicted of violent offences, particularly repeat violent offenders.

The Reform bill does much more. I hope we get the opportunity in the very near future to debate these very important and urgent amendments to the Young Offenders Act.

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

*  *  *



Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Ref.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-211, an act to amend the Criminal Code (arrest of those in breach of condition of parole or statutory or temporary release).

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to table in the House a private member's bill which will amend the Criminal Code to provide for the arrest of those in breach of condition of parole or statutory or temporary release.


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I again acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the Abbotsford city police, in particular Constable Mike Novakowski who provided the incentive and foresight to put this bill into force.

This enactment makes a breach of a condition of parole or statutory or temporary release an indictable or summary conviction offence as is the case for breach of a probation order. Paragraph 495(1)(a) of the Criminal Code allows a peace officer to arrest a person who has committed an indictable offence or who he finds committing a criminal offence. Therefore this amendment enables a peace officer to arrest the person who is in breach of a condition of parole or release.

The amendment to section 497 provides for such a person to be held, to give the board that granted the parole or release if the board considers it advisable an opportunity to apply to keep the person in custody until it is able to issue a warrant of apprehension to facilitate a review of the parole or release under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

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

*  *  *



Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Ref.): moved for leave to introduce Bill C-212, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Young Offenders Act (capital punishment).

He said: Mr. Speaker, first I want to recognize and thank my hon. colleague from Blackstrap for seconding my bill.

A Reform government would hold a binding national referendum on capital punishment. This Liberal government however refuses the people that much power.

As the next best thing today I introduce a bill to reinstate the death penalty for adults convicted of first degree murder. In addition the bill also imposes a range of stiffer minimum sentences for youths convicted of murder.

Three times in the last Parliament I introduced this legislation and I will continue to do so until the government allows a real free vote on capital punishment where all MPs vote the wishes of their constituents. I believe that once convicted a murderer such as the Abbotsford killer should face a punishment that matches his crimes.

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

*  *  *




Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Mitis, BQ) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-213, an act respecting the designation of a Louis Riel Day and revoking his conviction of August 1, 1885.

She said: Mr. Speaker, once again, for the fourth time since I have been a member of this House, I am introducing a bill to revoke the conviction for high treason of Louis Riel on August 1, 1885.

This time, however, the bill contains something new, which is to allow the designation of a Louis Riel Day in order to commemorate his memory everywhere in Canada on November 16 every year.

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

*  *  *



Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the member for Langley—Abbotsford:  

    That during the period ending December 10, 1997, the member proposing a motion on an allotted day shall not speak for more than 20 minutes, following which a period not exceeding 10 minutes shall be made available, if required, to allow members to ask questions and comment briefly on matters relevant to the speech and to allow responses thereto; and

    Immediately thereafter a representative of each of the recognized parties other than that of the member proposing the motion may be recognized to speak for not more than 10 minutes, following which in each case a period not exceeding 5 minutes shall be available, if required, to allow members to ask questions and comment briefly on matters relevant to the speech and to allow responses thereto.


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This motion has been negotiated with all House leaders, and I am pleased to propose it to the House.

(Motion agreed to)

*  *  *



Mr. John Maloney (Erie—Lincoln, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Erie—Lincoln and Niagara Centre to present two petitions, both on the same subject.

The petitions call to the attention of parliament the fact that 38 percent of our national highway system is in disrepair. It also refers to the benefits of a national highway system such as job creation, economic development and, most important, the saving of lives and the avoidance of injuries.

The petitioners call on parliament to urge the federal government to join with the provincial governments to make the national highway system upgrading possible beginning in 1997, and I agree with these motions.

The Deputy Speaker: I know the hon. member realizes he is not to express his agreement or disagreement with the petitions he tables. I would remind him of that rule.


Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have quite a large number of petitions so I ask for your patience in introducing them.

First I would like to present 87 petitions with the signatures of 2,035 Canadians from seven provinces. They are concerned that by ratifying and implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that government bureaucrats and the courts, not parents, will be legally entitled to determine what is in the best interests of the child.

The petitioners go on to say that Canada is creating a bureaucracy to police parents and enforce the guidelines in a UN charter, a charter that has never been approved by Parliament. Not only are parental rights being undermined by implementing this UN convention, they are concerned it will create greater incentives for families to abdicate their parental responsibilities to the state.

Finally, your petitioners request Parliament to address their concerns by supporting my private member's motion No. 33, which would include parental rights and responsibilities in the charter of rights and freedoms.


Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to present seven petitions with the signatures of 178 Canadians from Nova Scotia, Manitoba and British Columbia.

These citizens of Canada support retention of section 43 of the Criminal Code which states “every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child who is under his care if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances”.

Your petitioners request Parliament to affirm the duty of parents to responsibly raise their children according to their conscience and beliefs and retain section 43 in Canada's Criminal Code as it is currently worded.


Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition that deals with the national highway system. It is sponsored by the Canadian Automobile Association.

*  *  *


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

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.





The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and of the amendment.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Vaughan—King—Aurora, who I understand is splitting his time and has a 10 minute speech.

Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (Vaughan—King—Aurora, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate you on your role. As everyone in this House knows, you are one of the brightest minds in parliamentary procedure this House has ever seen. You rightly deserve your position.

I would also like to thank the residents of Vaughan—King—Aurora for their vote of confidence in returning me to this House. It has been an honour and a privilege to have served them since 1988 and I look forward to serving them for many more years, working with them as their voice in Ottawa.


. 1240 + -

This is a unique Parliament standing on the threshold of a new era. In his remarks this week, His Excellency the Governor General drew attention to the fact that we are the last Parliament of the 20th century and the first of the 21st century. An arbitrary boundary? An important milestone? If nothing else, it is an opportunity to pause and assess the state of our society. From that perspective all of us in this House have been entrusted with an important duty.

We have been given the mandate by our electors to act as stewards of their interests as we cross the threshold into a new age. The decisions we make and the actions we take in the next four years will shape our society for decades to come. More importantly, they will decide what kind of nation Canada is as it begins a new century.

The throne speech demonstrated that the government has a clear vision of where it would like to take this country in the course of this current mandate. The speech provides a clear outline of where the government intends to dedicate its efforts and most importantly, it unveiled an agenda that responds well to the suggestions and aspirations voiced by the residents of Vaughan—King—Aurora. They have made themselves heard on issues like national unity, technology and the new economy. They have participated in town hall meetings on health care, on the environment and on social programs. The government knows where the people of Vaughan—King—Aurora stand on such issues.

It has been my pleasure to report to the House on 36 town hall meetings to date and a school speaking tour that included over 25,000 young people and literally thousands of meetings with groups and individuals.

The Speech from the Throne with its emphasis on fiscal responsibility, with a promise to balance the budget by 1998-99, on job creation with investments in key areas like technology, on quality health care with a plan to help Canadians who care for family members at home and on youth employment with a commitment to continue our successful internship and summer job programs to create real opportunities for our young people.

These are the kinds of initiatives that the people of Vaughan—King—Aurora are looking for from the government. I am confident that this Speech from the Throne will meet with their approval as we gather for our first town hall meeting on the 36th Parliament on October 1.

With that in mind, I want to take a minute to compare the throne speech that opened the 35th Parliament and the one delivered on Tuesday. In 1994 the words were cautious, the commitments solemn. But this one was different. It was full of hope, optimism and excitement about what the future holds. The Governor General spoke of a country in control of its finances, ready to reinvest in its society and optimistic about its future.

As someone who as worked on the issue of youth employment for a number of years, I am encouraged by the fact that for the third time in three months youth employment is up. This is the first period of sustained youth employment growth since May 1990.

The government's commitment to youth goes back to our days in opposition. In 1992 in the face of the indifference our predecessors showed toward youth issues, our party established a Senate-Commons committee on youth. Through national public hearings we met with young people, teachers, parents, social workers and members of the business community. The end result was a final report entitled “Agenda for Youth” which laid out a number of steps the government would take to assist young Canadians.

Many of the recommendations we made in that report were incorporated into our party's election platform in 1993. Following the election we formed the government and the youth proposals in our platform were acted on immediately through the unveiling of the youth employment and learning strategy.


. 1245 + -

The strategy has three components: the youth internship program, youth service Canada and an improved Canada student loans program. This three pronged approach has proven successful.

Since 1994 youth internship Canada has helped nearly 50,000 young people secure positions and gain professional experience. Our figures show that two-thirds of them will find a job within one year of leaving the program, usually with the employer they interned with. Sixty-eight percent of youth service Canada graduates either returned to school or found meaningful work within six months of completing their placement. Over 60,000 youths participated in the 1997 student summer job action. In all, youth internship Canada, youth service Canada and the student summer job program have helped over one million young people since 1994.

Our internship programs have a 78 percent success rate. Right now our total investment in federal youth programs is approximately $2 billion. We have introduced a number of measures designed to build on our commitment to helping Canada's youth. The youth employment strategy will give over 110,000 young Canadians work experience opportunities. The 1997 budget included measures designed to increase federal support for post-secondary education by approximately $137 million to make post-secondary education more accessible to young people.

These programs and measures are only part of the solution. As I said earlier I have spent a great deal of my political career listening to Canadians across the country. I have found that the most innovative solutions come from young people. For this reason I encourage members of Parliament on both sides of the House to seek input from Canada's youth as we try to address the various challenges they face.

I would like to remind the House of something the governor general said in the throne speech. He said “Our challenge is to ensure that no Canadian is left behind as the country moves forward”.

Our country is moving forward. The deficit is vanishing, interests rates are low, unemployment is decreasing, productivity is up and there is a new sense of optimism. We must all move forward together. When certain groups are shown to be more vulnerable than others, society has a responsibility to lend a helping hand.

In our first mandate we began the work of dealing with youth unemployment. By renewing our mandate I believe Canadians are saying in part let us get back in there and finish the job.

As a member of Parliament I have also seen success at the local level. Last term I was one of the founders of the Vaughan Technology Enterprise Centre, a project that identifies young entrepreneurs with a knack for high tech and teaches them the necessary skills to compete in the business world.

Team Canada, a youth service Canada project, placed young people in local businesses seeking to expand their export potential. The youths explored emerging markets and designed a database of identified opportunities.

I am confident that by working together and by pooling our resources and by committing to nothing less than success we will overcome this challenge. Our youth will look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm as they should.

As a postscript I note with interest that a number of young people were elected to this House in the last election. As someone who first entered this Chamber at the age of 28, I salute their courage and their determination. I encourage them and all members to join together to deal with the many challenges facing our youth.


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The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Madam Speaker, perhaps I may finish the name of my riding, which is Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, representing its four regional county municipalities.

It will be a pleasure to put my questions and comments to the hon. member for Vaughan—King—Aurora. In the past, we travelled across Canada together on the committee on employment insurance reform. I have a question which to me is entirely reasonable.

This throne speech contains not a single reference to the fact that we should review the inequities in Canada's current employment insurance. A number of regressive measures were put into the system, the excuse being that there was not enough money, but by December 31, 1997 there will be a surplus of $13 billion in the employment insurance fund.

With a surplus of $13 billion, the government nevertheless reduces the number of weeks during which people will be entitled to receive employment insurance, especially seasonal workers. They pay a penalty of 1 per cent on the benefits they receive every time they draw employment insurance benefits for 20 weeks.

In its throne speech, the government said that compassion and generosity were the hallmarks of this country. But there was not a single word about redressing these inequities.

However, if anyone should be aware of these inequities, it is the Liberal majority, because some of those who were here in the last Parliament, especially from the maritimes, and I am thinking of the Minister of Defence, are no longer here today. These are the people who paid the price for the fact that the Liberal majority did not listen to the public consultations that were held across Canada. The public wanted employment insurance reform but they wanted humane reform, the kind of reform that is a reflection of economic reality and gives regional economies a chance to diversify.

Does the hon. member not wonder why we are faced with this kind of situation today? Does he not feel like telling his government that it should act on the consensus reached by the ten provinces in Saint Andrews, where they asked for two things that were strangely similar to what the Bloc said in its campaign platform: a significant reduction in employment insurance premiums and improvements in the living conditions of seasonal workers and new labour market entrants? Is the hon. member prepared to tell his majority here in the House that all this is lacking in the throne speech and it should be corrected accordingly?


Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua: Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. He was one of the most active members of the human resources development committee which I had the honour to chair in the last parliamentary session.

I am quite surprised that the hon. member did not view some of the changes we made to the employment insurance program as improvements to the program. As the hon. member is fully aware, there have been great changes in the Canadian economy and with change also comes change to programs and institutions as they too must reflect the changing dynamics of our economy.

In reference to lowering the premiums, the hon. member knows we have lowered premiums each year. If we followed the Conservative government's legislative timetable, the premiums would literally be going through the roof at this point.

I draw the attention of the hon. member to the actuarial report that basically stated that this surplus is required in case of an economic downturn to offset any of the strain that that may place on the federal treasury.

I want to also make it very clear that the reason why we have this so-called surplus is that we have learned from the mistakes of the previous government. What the previous government did during the last recession was increase the premiums precisely at the time when firms and employees required a relief in premiums.

These issues need to be honestly put forward in this Chamber and outside as well, not to mention the reality that unemployment has indeed dropped in this country in large measure due to the effective partnership we have been able to create with the private sector. Also, there is the fact that we have the fundamentals for the recovery well in place.


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Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I am splitting my time.

The role of government is to provide a level of social order and progress that we cannot individually provide for ourselves. Canadians have expectations from government but they also have needs. Therefore the government's throne speech in view of this reasonable standard is a disappointment, especially from a justice system perspective.

It has been a long voyage for society, from tribalism to this Canadian Parliament. We indeed have accomplishments in Canada. We have built a country out of a harsh but bountiful land. However nation building is a passage, not an arrival. Canada must continue to live, renew and flourish. Canada is our home and our community but we just cannot take from it. We must give back. We must respect and nurture what has given us life by regarding basic principles.

Unfortunately a downward spiral of cynicism has gripped many. They have given up on politicians because they have come to believe that average Canadians are too powerless to change anything as large, amorphous and detached as the way things are done in political Canada.

In the current context of this House, the throne speech is said to outline the vision of the new government. However our society needs both sustenance and a hope to go forward. The throne speech sadly is a mere chart for interim crew duty on the ship of state and not a bold course for our ship to sail through the winds of change. The Liberals have charted a course with their statement. If it is a vision at all, it looks like we are sailing into the fog with faulty forecasts, with a ship they have not maintained and with an ill-prepared crew. The bunch cannot be trusted.

Canadian democracy as imperfect as it is has nominated this Liberal crew and they have now tried to reassure us in this throne speech that we are on a voyage somewhere.

There is a proverb that says that where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Where there is no vision, the people get out of hand; blessed are they who keep the precept. Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law. Another proverb says that righteousness exalteth the nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

I have risen to respond to the throne speech because I care deeply about our country and I despair at the kind of leadership and competence observed from the government. Many Canadians watching here today do not feel very good about politics. They have become very cynical about politicians and the process of elections. They do not know who they can trust.

However, I say that we can launch out, guided by love for our country, our community and a sincere concern for our neighbour. Joined together for the common good, we can discover what we can give to build this country rather than just calculate what we can get from the government which are really just other taxpayers.

One thing is for sure. If we in this House keep doing what we are doing, we are going to just keep getting what we are getting. It could be so much better.

Canadians do not ask for the impossible. They have reasonable expectations for their representatives. Although historical deference to Parliament is gone, Canadians basically expect three things: they want members of Parliament simply to be honest, to be competent and to have some leadership qualities to inspire. It is basic principles that matter, for by living by principles and receiving the humility that comes from them, we are empowered to learn from our history, act with confidence in the present and have vision for the future.

First we want our politicians to be honest. We want leaders to be forthright and have character. We want to be able to believe and trust what we hear. It has been said that character is what carries a person beyond adversity to the finish after the initial emotional reasons for doing the right things have faded.

Canadians deeply value honesty. Integrity in political life must come first. Therefore on this point do the Liberals have any integrity left in view of what they did to the Somalia inquiry?


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Second, Canadians want competence. We want politicians who are qualified to look after our national affairs and to have depth of wisdom and a commitment to principles.

When there are no easy answers forthcoming on the issue of the day, it has been said that federal politics is conflict resolution at the national level but it is also taking care of the business of the country in a wise manner for the long term welfare of future generations, not short term special interests or for only those who currently have the inside track.

We have much incompetence in government. Therefore we need our leaders to be competent, to be able to get Canadians to pull together and then wisely administer. However, on the topic of competent governance, we have a prime minister who has never given the country a balanced budget or had the courage to stem the rising tide of hurtful taxation. And now he wants to lead a spending charge again. Some competence, some leader.

In Canada the crime rate is too high. Victims are still not paramount in law and the Young Offenders Act remains in disrepute with the public and the provinces only have the broken promises of YOA funding. Tragic 745 hearings continue to tear communities apart. Our youth are enticed through a wide open legal door into prostitution and the supply of dangerous drugs has not been stemmed. Immigration fails to protect our borders and Canada is embarrassed before the world with the existence of the slavery pipeline. Federal jails cannot seem to hold dangerous offenders and we cannot even prosecute war criminals. That is the sorry Liberal administrative record. They are not competent.

Third, Canadians desire real leadership. We need inspiration and leaders who can lift us up. We need real leaders who can look beyond today and inspire us with a vision of substance of a better Canada, with hope and real belief that we can do so much better than what we have politically. After hearing the feel good banalities of the throne speech, does any Canadian really feel inspired and believe that we are being wisely led or being protected from the criminal and given community peace? Public acceptance for what the courts give is at an all time low.

However, there is a reformist alternative of democratic free market principles that rigorously defends equality of opportunity, denies discrimination in any form to keep a foothold and trusts the common sense of average Canadians to do what is right and just for the country.

Reformers say the ultimate authority of the government rests in the people and full democratic power should be given to everyone. The people are competent. Average Canadians can be trusted to do what is right for the country if they are told the complete truth and are finally given real political power. Reformers strive for responsible and accountable government rather than merely the current representative government.

I come back to three things in respect of vision for the country, honesty, competence and leadership. I am part of an honest, sincere group of colleagues who are competent and ready to govern and who are ready to inspire to take this country to a new level of democratic freedom, justice and social and economic prosperity.

On leadership, I remind my colleagues in the House that there is a vision of a new Canada. It is an exciting vision of a country that can finally become fully democratic and forever put aside the injustices from the old line political parties. We have a vision of a new Canada. Someday it will voters themselves who will decide how our country is run rather than four or five year dictatorships. Someday all Canadians will truly be equal when there are no more special deals for categories, groups and insiders.

Someday the justice system will represent mainstream Canadian values where we protect our children and properly denounce discrimination and violence. Someday the federal government will be an enabler rather than an oppressive tax taker. We can lead the way from the scourge of unemployment, for a good crime prevention program is low unemployment.

Someday we will shape a federation that is attractive enough for the discontented who say they want to separate to want to stay be fulfilled, lest they are left behind our dynamic and yet diverse society.

I say we can protect our children from the criminal. We can support those who need our help, not with another handout but with a hand up. We can finally say to the world community that Canada is a haven of freedom where we can be secure in our homes and have every opportunity to be fully engaged in the building of our national home. We can make our country fit for heroes to live in.


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Our opposition benches will do their part to lead us to that new Canada. We will compliment the wise government policy, criticize the bad and propose constructive alternatives.

In conclusion, I say that the vision for the national voyage must be based on honesty, competence and leadership. May the legislation which flows from the government be honestly presented. May the government administer with the highest standards, guided by real accountability measures, and may the prime minister find himself and begin to lead, for whatever enlarges hope will exalt courage, for if he faints from these principles the nation knows that we on this side of the House are more than ready.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate you on your position as Acting Speaker of the House. It is an honourable position, which I am sure you know. We extend our thanks to you in advance for your impartiality, your fairness and the important role which you will play in keeping us all in order and on topic.

With respect to the topic today, we have been spending quite a bit of time on this side of the House talking about justice issues. Today I was able to table a private member's bill which deals with a problem in my riding, joy riding. Other members of the Reform Party have tabled an alternative legislative package for Canadians to consider when they see what it was the Liberals did not do on justice issues and what the Reform Party would like to do and would do if and when it has the chance to form the federal government.

In August when the justice minister was before the bar association she spent some time detailing her priorities for the coming session. She said that her priorities were changes to the Young Offenders Act, that she would toughen it up and make it tighter. She said that she would deal with Canadians' concerns that the Young Offenders Act has become a leaking sieve rather than a catch basin which would look after our justice problems.

She said she was going to get tough on the parole system. She said she would look after the people who are slipping through the cracks and being released when they should not be.

She said she would deal with violent crime. She said she would find ways to take violent criminals off the street and out of society and that public safety would be the number one concern.

Last, I remember her saying clearly that she was going to deal with victim rights.

None of those things are in the throne speech. That is why the Reform Party today has spent a good deal of its time questioning the government about its priorities and about its sincerity in dealing with the issues that the new justice minister said in August were going to be the priorities of this government. That is why we see the alternative package.

The Reform member who just spoke gave a global picture of what is wrong with the justice system. He talked about the theoretical problems, the problems that will plague the government until it fixes them. He also talked about some of the principles which guide us.

I know he has extensive personal experience in the field. This is not simply a theoretical exercise for him. He has experience dealing with juveniles, working in the justice system, and he has some expertise and some inside knowledge of what needs to be fixed in the justice system.

I wonder if the hon. member would like to expand a bit more on his thoughts on what needs to be done, with some specificity, so that we can take those ideas to heart, knowing his expertise.

Mr. Paul Forseth: Madam Speaker, in the brief 10 minutes I was given I did touch, in broad generalities, about confidence in government, integrity and so forth.

To take one specific example from my riding, when I was a child going to school on the streets of New Westminster I did not see prostitutes standing at bus stops. There was a social context in my riding, and in most cities of this country, where street prostitution was not pervasive because there was a legal context which prohibited it.

We may not ever remove the problem of prostitution from our society, but the law changed and capacity creates its own demand. When this Parliament made the mistakes and changed the law, we now have street prostitution from one end of the country to the other.


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In the last Parliament there was a fairly significant effort of the federal government to consult with the provinces and many reports were produced and many suggestions for particular amendments to the criminal law were made. One specific one that appears to have agreement from all attorneys general across the country is simply communicating for the purposes of obtaining sexual services in a public place. That specific offence should not merely be a summarial offence but it should be a hybrid offence. It should be an electable offence.

This would provide the needed tools to the local police forces and the flexibility they need to arrest if necessary and allow an offender to appear before a justice and be released on some kind of recognisance order. It also helps with the identification of those on the street.

This is a very minor first step and I introduced a private member's bill specific to this. I understand the previous justice minister acknowledged the need for this but gave the excuse of why he did not introduce that he was still consulting with the provinces.

It is time we begin to take some steps that all provinces across the country are asking for.

Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I am honoured to have this opportunity to respond to the throne speech, but first let me take this opportunity to thank the voters of Surrey North for showing their confidence in me.

Being new to this place I do not really know whether to be optimistic or cynical. Like most Canadians, I continue to have hope that each new Parliament will be an improvement but fear that we will again be disappointed when our government proceeds for political reasons rather than for the best interest for Canadians.

As an example, it did not take the previous minister of justice long to advance his gun control legislation, even though he did not bother to determine whether and how registration would discourage the criminal misuse of firearms. He stated repeatedly that he had consulted and that he had the support of Canadians. Perhaps he consulted with his leader's imaginary homeless friends because our aboriginal peoples consistently claim that they were not consulted, even though their treaty rights would be significantly affected.

Consultation with the various provincial authorities is also in question, as four provinces and two territories are presently before the courts challenging our federal government on this legislation.

In this week's throne speech the government talked of partnerships. It now states that the federal government cannot act alone. It is indeed unfortunate that the previous government did not understand this concept.

Then we have victim rights. On April 29, 1996, after encouragement and pressure from the Reform Party, the former minister of justice stated in this House: “Although steps have been made toward progress in recent years, they have been imperfect. There remains a great deal to be done”.

He promised to address this deficiency in our laws. It may come as a surprise but this hon. member either would not or could not carry through on his promise. We must assume one of two things. Either it was not a priority on his personal political agenda or he was overruled. Regardless, Canadians are still waiting.

It was with great disappointment that I noticed the almost complete absence of any substance toward rectifying the inadequacies of our criminal justice system in the throne speech. It is hoped that this government's priorities on justice have been inadvertently forgotten. Otherwise Canadians will also be greatly disappointed.

We now have a fresh new Minister of Justice. Once again Canadians anticipate the introduction and passage of much needed legislation. Hopefully she will be able to fulfil her promises regarding violent young offenders and victims of crime. Hopefully she will be interested in the pursuit of what is right for Canadians rather than what is right for the Liberal Party.

In the past Parliament many of the members opposite were most interested in passing legislation to provide alternative methods of sentencing. For example, Bill C-41 permitted conditional sentencing which, while useful in some cases, is applicable to even those who violently offend within our communities. Bill C-53 extended temporary absence provisions and Bill C-37 actually reduced the parole ineligibility for young offenders convicted of second degree murder in adult court.

But what did the government do for victims, those who have not deliberately decided to offend society's rules but just happen to be in the wrong place and the wrong time?

I have made my home in British Columbia since 1971. It is where my wife and I met 29 years ago, where we raised our family, where we work and where we pay our taxes.


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Although my hometown of North Bay is not far from here, each time I fly here I pass directly over the place of my youth. Last week I was able to pick out the beaches where I swam, the wharf where I fished and the streets where I walked, played and cycled. I could not help but to think about that young man growing up and the twists and turns his life would take over the next 40 years which would put him in a jet plane flying to a seat in this House of Commons.

My life was not that much different from the lives of most Canadians of my generation. Violent crime was something we read or heard about, tragic events that happened to others. That all changed on October 18, 1992 when our 16-year old son went to a party and never came home. He was murdered on his way home in a random, unprovoked knife attack by a complete stranger, a young offender who was violating a court ordered curfew stemming from prior charges.

The next week in Courtenay, B.C. a six-year old girl was sexually assaulted and murdered by a sixteen-year old neighbour who was on probation for molesting a young child one year earlier. The anonymity provisions of the Young Offenders Act precluded neighbours from knowing the threat he posed.

Two weeks later in my community two women were butchered by a man who, because he said he was stoned on cocaine, received 10 years for manslaughter. He applied for parole last March. The grass is barely green on the graves of his victims, one of whom was pregnant while the other left three young children. The youngest, at the tender age of four years witnessed his mother's killing. Barely three months had passed before a Surrey doctor facing a hearing for sexual impropriety had the young complainant murdered. The hit man was free on bail after shooting a man in the face six months earlier.

Our family spent nearly two years before the courts. We have come to know many families of victims of violent crime and have followed many of their cases. It did not take very long to realize that our system of justice is seriously out of kilter. Shortly after our son's murder we founded an organization to support victims and to work for justice reform through public education.

Time is not sufficient to detail our efforts but suffice to say that it was the way in which I was treated by the justice committee of the previous Parliament during its hearings on the youth justice system which propelled me into this arena. It was painfully clear that the previous government was not prepared to listen to the views of ordinary Canadians.

I have come to the House of Commons with the support of my constituents. Along with representing their interests in this institution, they have given me a specific mandate to achieve better recognition for innocent victims of crime and reform of the criminal justice system.

For too long society has dealt with justice as merely a jurisdiction between the state and the offender, the philosophy that an offence against the laws of our land is an offence against the state. Little regard is given to the specific damage done to individual law-abiding citizens. This must change, not merely because it may be politically advantageous but because it is right, because it is fair and because it is what real justice is all about.

I am serving notice that I fully intend to be particularly vigilant on this issue. I realize that my task will be difficult as politicians of the past have been known to talk a good game, promising advancements in flowery complicated legal wording. But legislation to do any real good for our communities must have substance. It must be made more accessible, more equitable and more sympathetic toward victims of crime.

I am hopeful that the present Minister of Justice will set her fellow Canadians at ease by being a breath of fresh air and being a saviour not of the rights of our criminals but of the rights of our innocent victims. I am also hopeful that this new minister will be much more successful in her consultations and negotiations with the provinces. A great deal of victims legislation will have to be co-ordinated with those provinces, which have the task of administering our criminal law.

Funding for these services to victims will be of utmost interest and it is hoped this minister will use her persuasive powers to encourage the government to adequately provide those resources. She has promised a policy of co-operation with the provinces. She has assured us that victims of crime will be accorded better treatment within our justice system. It is noted that she promised victims better treatment but at the same time denies them and the majority of Canadians their demand to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code. Obviously we will have to work to convince her in that regard.

I personally attended Clifford Olson's 745 hearing. There are few words available with which to describe it. Mockery and travesty come to mind. Those who crafted section 745 and those who support it should hang their heads in shame.

The Reform Party has been the most active in recognizing victims' rights. It is one of the primary reasons why I chose to run in the recent election for Reform. I have been most fortunate to be chosen by my colleagues to watchdog this issue. The government has put on notice that we intend to aggressively pursue righting this wrong in a justice system that, for too long, has ignored and failed to adequately consider the rights and interests of victims.


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Victims of crime desire no special rights for themselves, only due consideration. Victims rights are about balance and fairness, nothing more and nothing less.

Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Ref.): Madam Speaker, the member made specific reference to the loss of his son but he talked about the particular offender in that regard, and a peculiar gap in the law.

Then he mentioned parallel examples of other individuals who committed heinous crimes while they were already before the justice system on other matters. I believe he has introduced a private member's bill related to that.

I would like him to expand on this issue where we have individuals who are law breakers, who are in process. The justice system should be aware of them and yet it is inadequate, apparently, to stop their cycle of offending while they are still before the courts.

Mr. Chuck Cadman: Madam Speaker, I can relate to the business that the hon. member mentioned. In this case, it is a section of the Young Offenders Act that I would like to see amended. It would hold parents accountable.

There is a section that holds parents accountable for failing to supervise an undertaking. In in my particular case, this came into play because the father did undertake to supervise a curfew condition that was, obviously, not supervised properly. It was not followed through in the courts. It never is. It could have been.

Right now it is a summary offence. We would like to see that moved into something more of an indictable area. Situations like that force the families of victims of violence—in particular murder victims—into the civil courts which is something that we really do not feel they should have to go.

That is not a route that should be taken. It is just one extra roadblock on the way to recovery. We feel many of these things have to be done through the criminal courts, not the civil courts.

Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo—Cowichan, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I want to add my own congratulations to you on your appointment as one of our deputy speakers and look forward to your very fair and impartial judgments on our deliberations.

As a fellow colleague from the coast and Vancouver Island I have, of course, much sympathy for what the hon. member for Surrey North has been sharing with us this afternoon. We were all treated to that terrible travesty of justice recently where Clifford Olson was brought into our living rooms by television and other means to plead his case for early parole. It is the insensitivity of the government that has allowed this kind of thing to happen in Canadian society.

I have a question for my hon. colleague. I wonder if, in view of the tragic circumstances that his family has endured in the past few years, he has any light to shed on whether or not the penal system in this country does rehabilitate criminals.

Mr. Chuck Cadman: Madam Speaker, there is certainly a place within the criminal justice system, within the corrections system, for rehabilitation.

I for one do not believe it works all the time. In fact in most cases when dealing with serious violent offenders, with sexual predators, it has been shown that it does not work. There have been any number of instances of that over the past number of years.


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It has been argued that the incarceration periods for young offenders are far too short to instil any positive corrective behaviour. You cannot take someone who has committed a murder, and is seriously off the rails, incarcerate them in a youth detention centre for five or six years and expect to get them turned around. It just does not work.

Mr. Allan Kerpan (Blackstrap, Ref.): Madam Speaker, first I would like to congratulate my colleague on his maiden speech. If more members of Parliament would take to heart his words of advice we would certainly have a better institution and a far better country.

I would ask the hon. member to comment on the area of victims rights. He mentioned in his remarks the 745 hearings. Having been involved with a group of people in Saskatoon who have just recently gone through this, I do feel the tremendous amount of grief and emotion of these people, 15 to 25 years after the fact. There has been no closure.

Would the hon. member like to comment?

Mr. Chuck Cadman: Madam Speaker, after sitting through Clifford Olson's section 745 hearing for four days, there are really no words to describe it. You had to be there.

It was an absolute travesty. There were 22 family members representing eight of his 11 victims. It was beyond comprehension what those families were put through in those four days. It is not much more than what any family goes through when dealing with a parole hearing. However, in the case of a section 745 hearing, at one point a judge said “life with no parole for 20” but these families were forced to deal with it at 15 years.


Mrs. Eleni Bakopanos (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for St. Paul's.

I am pleased to take part in today's debate on the Speech from the Throne, but before beginning, Madam Speaker, I too want to congratulate you on your appointment as Acting Speaker of the House, and to wish you good luck.

On June 2 of this year, I began my second term of office, this time as the member for Ahuntsic, in the riding where I have lived with my family for close to 30 years. The riding of Ahuntsic has a long Liberal tradition, and I take great pride in following in the steps of women like the Hon. Jeanne Sauvé and Thérèse Killens. I pledge to continue to work hard with my government for the well-being of the residents of Ahuntsic, for nothing makes me happier than to serve my fellow citizens and all Canadians. I thank the citizens of Ahuntsic for their support.

Canadians are optimistic. Their confidence has returned because of our good governance, and because of a climate in which 974,000 jobs have been created since we formed the government in 1993. For the first time in close to 30 years, the Government of Canada will not be facing a monumental deficit. We are once again in a position to meet Canadians' priorities without exceeding our financial means.

The result is that we can now make strategic investments for our children, our young people, our health, and our communities, as well as for the sector of knowledge and creativity.


During our first mandate we demonstrated the leadership Canadians expect from their federal government. That is why Canadians returned their confidence on June 2 by electing a Liberal government to lead them into the 21st century.

We have restored their optimism and renewed their hope for the future. We were not mean, as some of our opponents will have you believe, but we were lean. We were not pseudo-conservatives as others would have you believe, we were true liberals. I will quote a great Canadian who led this country into another century, Sir Wilfrid Laurier:

    I am a Liberal of the English school. I believe in that school which has all along claimed that it is the privilege of all subjects, whether high or low, whether rich or poor, whether ecclesiastic or laymen, to participate in the administration of public affairs, to discuss, to influence, to persuade, to convince—but which has always denied, even to the highest, the right to dictate to the lowest.


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That is what Liberalism is all about.


We also know that the government cannot act alone. Canadians want their government to work in partnership. We are ready to work with all our partners—the provinces and territories, the private sector, non profit agencies, the volunteer sector and all Canadians—to better equip our country to meet the needs of Canadians.

We are not trying to encroach on the fundamental rights of the provinces, as the Bloc Quebecois is accusing us of doing, but rather to help my province, Quebec, develop within this flexible federation. A more smoothly operating federation is the key to our future. A federation is not static, but rather constantly changing. Together we will decide how it will change.

The Speech from the Throne sets out the broad lines of our strategy for our second mandate. Job creation and economic growth are and will remain our first priorities.

Accordingly, we want to keep our efforts focussed on helping small and medium size business develop and market new technologies.


Small and medium size businesses need to make the transition to new technologies if they are to survive in today's market. Manufacturers make up the majority of industry in my riding of Ahuntsic, names like Simon Chang, Tolédano and Christina Canada, which most recently received a grant from the federal government to help develop a new fibre for bathing suits. This new project will help to create nearly 200 jobs in Ahuntsic. This initiative funded through the transitional job fund is an example of the success of our job creation commitment, and that is just one example in my riding.

Investing in our youth has the largest return for Canada. As a mother of two young girls this issue is of utmost importance to me personally and I believe to all my colleagues in the House. We need to give children the best start possible.

During our first mandate we established a prenatal program and increased the Canada child tax benefit by $850 million a year. In our second mandate we will continue to develop a national child benefit system to respond to the problems of low income families with children. We will also develop a national children's agenda and establish centres of excellence to deepen our understanding of children's development and well-being. Who can argue with that?


We must do everything to guarantee our young people a better future. The youth service corps and youth internship programs were hugely successful in our first mandate. I had a number of projects in my riding and I can testify to their impact on the development of young people.

Young people want to gain experience in order to overcome the obstacles blocking their entry into the labour market. Furthermore, this experience revives their self confidence and increases their worth with future employers.

The youth employment strategy and the public service youth internship program will also create opportunities for young people in the riding of Ahuntsic and for the students of the collège Bois-de-Boulogne, who will certainly benefit from these programs.

Finally, the $1 billion Canada millennium scholarship endowment fund that the Prime Minister announced yesterday in response to the Speech from the Throne demonstrates once again our commitment to helping young Canadians. I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister on behalf of all our children and on behalf of my daughters.


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These programs go a long way in helping our youth reach their potential and making them responsible citizens in their communities. There is nothing sadder than seeing youth resort to crime in the absence of hope for their future.

During my first mandate I worked directly with street kids and youth workers and saw firsthand the problems our youth are facing today. I bring these experiences to my new role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. I thank the prime minister for giving me that opportunity.

Our focus in our second mandate will be crime prevention, youth justice and victim rights. By investing in crime prevention we are investing in the future of our children and ensuring safer streets and communities.

The throne speech announced an increase in funding for community based crime prevention initiatives to $30 million a year, further demonstrating our commitment to helping communities deal with the roots of crime. It also announced the government's intention to develop alternatives to incarceration for low risk, non-violent offenders such as sentencing reforms, community diversion programs and alternative sentencing.

My goal in my second mandate is to continue to serve my constituents and Canadians with honesty and integrity, as this government has shown, to remain accessible and approachable to those I represent and finally to remind them of the important role they play in shaping Canada's public policy.

As a Canadian of Hellenic origins, I take particular pride in knowing that the ancient Hellenic ideals of democracy and the agora are continuing to thrive in Canada because of this government.

As Aristotle once said, if liberty and equality are chiefly to be found in a democracy, they will be best obtained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.


Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): Thank you, Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and congratulate you on your appointment. I want to assure you of my full co-operation.

I cannot resist the temptation to put, through you, a question to our colleague, who is from Montreal and represents a constituency similar to mine in that there are very specific concerns about Montreal.

My question to the hon. member, which I hope she will answer, is this: Does she recognize that 20 years ago we were in a situation where the three leading federal parties—we tend to forget this, but a little over 20 years ago the Conservative Party, the NDP and the Liberal Party did recognize the existence of two nations or peoples in Canada. Why is it then that, for one reason or another, today, only lip service is paid to Quebec as a people or a nation, particularly on that side of the House? Is there cause for concern?

I would like to ask my hon. colleague, through you, if she recognizes Quebec as a people. This is something that can be defined objectively. Each people has its own vernacular. In this case, it happens to be French. We also have control over a territory.

There are few examples of federations in the world—and the hon. member sitting next to me is an expert on these issues—where one nation clearly has control over a territory, as is the case in Quebec. When we talk about peoples and nations, it always involves a clearly defined judicial system, as is the case in Quebec. These terms imply a will to live together, and the hon. member for Bourassa is aware of these issues.

All the objective elements are present so that the word “nations” can be used in the plural. Yet, some newspapers and political parties persist in their use of the singular form.


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Will the hon. member recognize, here in this House, that Quebecers are a people, that they have a right to self-determination, and that we can count on her, should tempers flare in the coming weeks, particularly in Montreal, to discuss the issue of partition? I know the hon. member will be by my side and will say that Quebecers are a people, that they form a nation, that Quebec has a right to self-determination, and that its territory must remain intact.

Am I to understand that we will fight together for the same cause?

Mrs. Eleni Bakopanos: Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois for a question which is dear to my heart, since it is a given that I have been actively involved in Quebec politics for 25 years. I consider myself a Quebecer, and I am one, although not Quebec-born.

What I wish to say is that, when the hon. member talks history, he must not forget that the two founding peoples include French Canadians throughout Canada, and not just in Quebec. We must never forget that there are French Canadians outside Quebec.

As for partition, for me there is one Canada, indivisible. There is no question of dividing the best country in the world, and I have always fought against that during my 25 years in politics. I will repeat what I said in my speech. If the hon. member has listened well, what I said was that we must work together for a federation that will be more modern and more democratic, and will include all Canadians from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I note with the background of the member who just spoke that she probably exemplifies where we are in Canada, which is that indeed Canada is made up of all those in Canada, not just those from the so-called two founding nations. That is noteworthy.

My question to her concerns her being Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. I had occasion to have some people insist on having a discussion with me because someone they were associated with had been convicted of first degree murder 15 years ago. At that time the judge said it was an awful crime. I could see that in the eyes of these people when they met with me. These people are petrified at the potential of this killer being set free after 15 years.

At the sentencing hearing the judge said that it was such an awful crime there was no way the killer should be paroled for 25 years.

I have a question for the parliamentary secretary, as she will be the person who will be backing up the justice minister. This is a very serious question on behalf of these very distraught people.

Why should we believe in today's court judgments when the judges and the juries clearly say this is the penalty that must be applied because of the severity of the crime? Why should be believe in the judgment and in the sentencing that happens in 1997 if the judge says there should be no parole for 25 years, such as in the awful case of Bernardo? Why should we believe that our courts are going to be able to actually see that done?

Does the fact that her government refused to repeal section 745 not put the judgments and the sentencing of today's—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

Mrs. Eleni Bakopanos: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. As has been evident in the House, the Reform Party's vision of the justice system is totally different from the vision which we as Liberals have. We do not question the integrity of our justice system.

In our first mandate we toughened sentences for those convicted of hate crimes. We tightened the rules for early parole hearings. We enhanced longer sentences for young offenders convicted of first and second degree murder. We made it possible to obtain DNA samples from suspects in crimes of physical violence. We cracked down on child prostitution and child sex tourism. I think that is proof enough that this government is going in the right direction and the integrity of our justice system is not put in question.


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Mrs. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.): Madam Speaker, congratulations on your appointment.

As I assume my responsibilities as the member for St. Paul's, I want to thank my predecessor, Barry Campbell, for his hard work both in the riding and for his invaluable help as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. I am also honoured to have his ongoing support and guidance as I enter this exciting new chapter.

I also want to thank his staff, Michael Spowart and Esther Shron for staying with me and providing the seamless transition for the people of St. Paul's with their ongoing care and experience.

The people of St. Paul's are big picture people. They are knowledgeable, passionate and have high expectations of their member of Parliament. Mitchell Sharp, John Roberts and Barry Campbell have set a high standard that I hope to be able to live up to.

Throughout the election campaign, it was clear to me that the people of St. Paul's respected the Liberal record of fiscal responsibility. Now they solidly support the priorities of this government as set forth in the Speech from the Throne. As it says in the Speech from the Throne, this government has regained the ability to address the priorities of Canadians while living within its means.

We have been elected to continue our prudent fiscal management, but make sure that we are able to be compassionate and look after those less fortunate. The people of Canada elected a Liberal government with a real plan: first eliminate the deficit, then divide the surplus between reinvesting in programs and a combination of tax relief and debt reduction, a balanced approach.

The people of Ontario strongly rejected the tax cuts and survival of the fittest option. We are living every day with the consequences of a provincial government which has no vision nor values; a government that continues to transfer power to unelected officials and ignores public opinion and referenda; a government that does not believe that it can have a positive effect on people's lives and whose sole purpose is to cut taxes; a government that forgets that Canada is a big cold country and as John Ralston Saul has said, a country whose people agreed over 150 years ago that they would have to look after one another. The true vision and values of Canadians are Liberal values.

Throughout the throne speech one finds the word “partnerships”. It is an exciting time when government can be the catalyst that brings together the private, public and third sector to facilitate innovative programs that will have a positive effect in the lives of Canadians. Partnerships require good communication and mutual respect.

I have been surprised and overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and innovation present in our public service and their clear commitment to real partnerships. Yesterday at the Industry Canada open house I was thrilled to see Schoolnet and Strategis as realities, to see the national graduates registry actually putting young Canadians to work on the digital collections and consulting small business. It is quite clear that our young Canadians' real facility with technology will be the true leveller in our society. The CEOs of this country are really learning directly from the recent grads.

I had the opportunity to see first hand last week one of the youth initiatives at HRDC. Their award winning newspaper Canada Prospects is really talking to high school students in language they can relate to and it is working. I was privileged to represent the minister at the launch of HRDC's new program, career in a box, creating a partnership between the federal government, the packaging industry and the CEC union. Hopefully this example of partnership will provide a template for which other sectors can soon follow.

Initiatives such as getting the volunteer sector on line is another true example of partnership and a commitment to make sure that Canadians are looked after but government does not have to deliver every service. Organizations like ACTEW and Skills for Change in my riding embody the vision and values and have the expertise to help realize the potential of those highly motivated Canadians who would truly rather be working.

As a family physician, my patients and now my constituents have made me acutely aware that they are increasingly concerned that the health care they need may not be there when they need it. In Ontario the present restructuring is putting at risk the high quality care that Canadians wear as a badge of honour.


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I support the establishment of the health transition fund that will help provincial governments innovate in the areas of primary care and provide more integration in the delivery of health services and innovative home care and pharmacare. By finally moving forward with health care reform we can hopefully begin to ameliorate the damage done by the closing of hospitals and old-fashioned mergers before resources have been properly placed into community care. By improving the health information system, we will finally be able to track outcomes and ensure the kind of accountability that is required in order to support what up until now has only been supported anecdotally.

Throughout North America, health institutions are sharing services, saving dollars and proving that restructuring can be done without destroying institutions like Women's College Hospital and eroding public confidence in the system. In my former role as host of Doctor On Call on WTN, I was shocked at the disparity of health care across the country. It is only with the facts that we will finally be able to address the inequities.

The tenets of the Canada Health Act presumed high quality care. Accessibility to bargain basement standards is not what was intended nor what Canadians expect. These new initiatives will ensure increased accountability and real measurements of quality such that we can restore the confidence of Canadians in their health care system. We can no longer tolerate benchmarks that are not based on quality.

In Ontario sending people home from hospital quicker and sicker is what seems to be rewarded. We know the data is flawed and we know that readmission rates are not being tracked and that the women of this country are being left to pick up the pieces when patients are sent home too sick to look after themselves. We need to measure the absenteeism of those working women and the real cost to our country. Some companies are already convinced that partnerships in home care for their employees is just plain good business.

Health care delivery may be a provincial responsibility but there is no question in my mind that all Canadians hold us, the federal government, responsible for the existence and the quality of our health care system.

For me the sustainability of the health care system is reliant upon the recognition of all the determinants of health: jobs and poverty, violence and crime prevention, the environment. The priorities set out on Tuesday of investing in children, building safer communities, creating opportunities for young Canadians, are all part of our goal of keeping Canadians healthy. It is really about decreasing the demand so that we can guarantee adequate supply.

Throughout the summer my constituents have already been reassured by the efforts of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to bring frankness and clarity to any debate that could put in jeopardy the future of this country. They too believe that our future as a country is too precious for us to risk losing it through misunderstanding. The issue of national unity continues to be of paramount importance to the residents of St. Paul's.

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank you and your office personally for the excellent opportunity that your office provided at the centre d'immersion at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. It helped me become a little more comfortable in our other official language. I also felt that the exposure to Madam Gervais and her staff with their frank conversations helped me to better understand the point of view that will be important to the future of a united Canada. This experience and exposure has been invaluable to me as a member of Parliament and has allowed me already to help explain to the people of St. Paul's the need for even greater understanding.

I recommend that all Canadians take any opportunity they can to visit Quebec. I hope this sort of exchange among all provinces will become a focus for some of our millennium celebrations. As we move toward the millennium I feel extremely proud to be a Canadian.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to the Canadian Publishers Association which was entertaining a delegation of 20 Japanese publishers. I was asked to help them differentiate between Canadians and Americans. I focused on two things, both highlighted in the Speech from the Throne: our commitment to look after one another and our respect for multiculturalism.

American author John Irving who with his Canadian wife has an apartment in St. Paul's, pointed out that it is the expectation of the Canadian social system to look after the people who cannot look after themselves. There is no such expectation in the United States. That is another reason to protect our culture and to celebrate the stories of Canadians and by Canadians. We can remember that in Fifth Business Dunstan Ramsay looked after Boy Staunton. There is also the wonderful Canadian nurse who looked after the English patient. We are different.

I am so proud to be married to Peter O'Brian who with his films such as Grey Fox and My American Cousin continues to find and produce films that tell our stories.


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Our respect for diversity also makes us different. I suggest that perhaps the publishing industry has demonstrated such success because of its recognition of the tremendous talent of our Canadians with roots around the world: Ondaatje, Ricci, Bissoondath, Kogawa.

As we move into this exciting new chapter, I am honoured to be part of a government that has accepted the challenge“to ensure that no Canadian is left behind as the country moves forward”.

I thank my husband and my sons for making my decision such an easy one and I thank my parents for their commitment of hard work and commitment to the customer.

Being a member of Parliament is truly the greatest privilege and responsibility. Politics and the opportunity to be part of a good government that can make a real difference in people's lives is indeed the highest calling. I promise that I will do everything in my power to continue to earn the trust the people of St. Paul's have placed in me.

Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NDP): Madam Speaker, I found it rather unusual that in the member's speech she mentioned health care in Ontario, and of how people are sent back home too soon as if it was just happening in Ontario.

I guess I just wanted to make members aware that this has been happening in the Atlantic provinces for quite a long time, having been, myself, a statistic of that. I had a child 22 months ago. She was born on Wednesday and Friday morning I was out. Friday night I was back in with my daughter.

Believe me it is not only the problem of the premier of Ontario. It is actually the federal government's problem because of the cuts transferred to the provinces. I want to make it clear that it is happening in the Atlantic provinces.

Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: Madam Speaker, I am aware that this is a problem across the country. I believe it is not the fault of the transfer payment cuts which I think were very necessary in order to be able to reduce the interest payments and for us to continue to do good work.

I do think, though, that the federal government has an ability to track these kinds of outcomes and be able to set some standards that all provinces can then set as true accountability for their performance.

We do not really know the readmission rate of maternity patients. We do not really know the readmission rate of people being sent home from hospital too early. We need to know those statistics so that we know where to reinvest and how to set examples for excellent quality care.

What I am most concerned with is that we have to do everything in our power to restore the confidence of Canadians in our health care system, because otherwise we end up on the slippery slope to an American system. I will do everything in my power to prevent that.

Ms. Angela Vautour: Madam Speaker, I guess what I would like to know then is how are the Liberals planning on finding out those statistics? What is the plan now?

Mrs. Carolyn Bennett: Madam Speaker, I think the beginning is the health information network. In Ontario, we have the beginning with ICES, a plan for keeping track of certain things.

It is really important when we start to track information that we ask what questions do we want answered and then to go and get that information. I think things like early discharge from maternity care, discharge from hospital readmission rates are probably the way to go, waiting lists.

We need to look at different kinds of problems, such as looking at pharmacare and seeing that in certain provinces when drugs are cut off the list, the patients have to be admitted to hospital in order to get that drug. That is not saving the overall budget any money.

We need to know that those kinds of things are happening. We need to know the kind of absenteeism in the women's workforce that is happening because women have to stay off work in order to go and look after their sick relatives who have been sent home from hospital too early.

I think we can get that data, but we are going to need everybody's help in finding out what questions we need to be asking in order to go and track that data.


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Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia—Matane, BQ): Madam Speaker, I will share the 20 minutes allocated to me with my colleague from Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

I would like to start by thanking my constituents in Matapédia—Matane. The riding is so big it could be a country. I say this for the benefit of my hon. friends opposite, because many have never set foot in my riding, except to make an announcement and wave the Canadian flag during election campaigns.

My riding extends from Saint-Moïse to Maria and from Baie-des-Sables to Madeleine. This is 750 kilometres. In other words, as far as Amqui to Ottawa. It takes about 10 hours or a day to travel the perimeter.

I want to thank my constituents for putting their trust in me. Some of them reelected me, others elected me for the first time. The people of Matapédia—Matane elected me to a second term. This is when I made the best showing. I served them well for four years, and I got a substantial majority. In Avignon and Denis-Riverin it was a little harder, because I was not as well-known. So I think we can say that Bloc members have to get out there and meet people and also cover a lot of ground.

People put their trust in me because I was there for them, but it is more than that. They trusted the man who defended sovereignty during the election campaign. I was very frank. I told them that if they wanted to elect a federalist, there were some very good ones. There were some outstanding candidates. But if they wanted to elect a sovereignist, there was only one choice. And today, I am here. Again, I thank the people in my riding.

These people are not stupid. They are sick and tired of hearing meaningless terms like “distinct society” and “unique society”. Some people, one of them a fisher, said “as unique as Matane shrimp”. What does that mean?

An hon. member: The shrimp come from Sept-îles.

Mr. René Canuel: Yes, they are caught in Sept-Îles and eaten in Matane, and they are excellent.

In philosophy, we say words are very important, so let us stop saying that words like “unique” and “distinct” no longer mean anything. Even Claude Ryan said these words were meaningless. When we ask our hon. friends opposite whether they are prepared to recognize us as a founding people, they all start to stammer and stutter. They do not have the guts to say they cannot recognize us as a founding people because, when it comes down to it, they do not recognize us. Well at least they are consistent. They are afraid to come out and say so. That I can understand, and I thank them for being consistent. I can follow that.

The government, however, is doing everything it can to diminish us, to reduce us to the level of some ethnic group. I may recall that aboriginal peoples were here at the very beginning. Everybody recognizes them. Then, we had two founding peoples. Everybody acknowledges that. But today, it would be nice if members opposite were able to say yes, you are a people.


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I was in Vancouver during the holidays. A very nice place, but I could not feel at home there. Perhaps the Vancouverites who come to Quebec feel the same. I respect that. There is something missing, however. Are we treated as equals? I think not. The people down home have a rather colourful way of speaking, and I am going to adopt a bit of that. Such a lovely way of speaking. They do not mince words.

They are sick and tired of commissions, of all the different commissions. They are also sick and tired of the attacks on our integrity. They are disgusted, too, by the psychological profiles of the premier of Quebec. They sick and tired of seeing the multinationals using tax havens to get rich. They have been demanding action on this for a long time. Yet nothing happens. They are sick and tired, as well, of seeing the rich families protected by family trusts. Sick and tired of seeing banks making billion dollar profits.

I asked a big banker “Would you go bankrupt if Canadian taxes were raised a little?” He said “Not at all”. Do you know why? Do you know why the rich of this country are protected? That is easy to understand. Big businesses are the ones contributing to campaign funds, and then they find the Prime Minister's door wide open to them, the ministers' doors wide open to them. “We gave, so now it's our turn”. That works out very well.

There was an attempt made here to get a little bill passed on political party fundraising. No way would the Conservatives or the Liberals vote for that. Ask yourselves why, ladies and gentlemen. My fellow citizens know very well why not. We can see that the hands of the members opposite are tied. The people at home and even the people in the Atlantic provinces have not forgiven them.

Employment insurance, which I call poverty insurance, is causing problems at home. Some people are going to find the winter long: 910 hours to start. Some mothers and fathers are short 50 or 75 hours. Will they go on welfare? If they do, as you know, when you have children, they will have to sell their house. Obviously it is a last resort. We are entitled to a few thousand bucks in the bank.

That means those people are without hope. I have seen people crying in my office because they found this legislation so totally inhumane. This government has not the heart to change it.

I hope that those who do have a little heart will understand people living in poverty. What is there in the speech from the throne for the rural community? One little, very little, minuscule paragraph: “It is our good intention to—”. Go ahead and read it again. I have not got time to read it, but read it carefully.

What is in it for fishers? Nothing. What about forest workers? Absolutely nothing. And farmers? Nothing. A fine country, great and rich. They are busting with pride.

Our people are no fools. The people in my riding voted 64 per cent in favour of sovereignty in the last referendum, and the vote will be even higher in the next one, because the government is totally inhumane and unfair to rural communities. It says: “Let us feed the rich, because they support us”.


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Mr. Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I also take this opportunity to congratulate you on your excellent appointment. It is once again someone from Quebec, a French Canadian woman, who was appointed by the government, through the Prime Minister.

I was listening to the members of the club of the outraged, if I can put it that way. These people never feel free; they feel hard done by. However, given what their head office in Quebec City, more specifically the real leader of the Bloc Quebecois, Lucien Bouchard, is doing, I hope the hon. member opposite will be every bit as critical of his own people. If the member has any human sentiment, as he claims he does, he must have little sympathy for Minister Trudel, who is doing terrible things to municipalities.

I was in Chicoutimi last week and, once again, through the federal office of regional development and the Minister of Industry, we showed that we believe in partnership, that we can work with provincial organizations. We provided funding for another industrial chair at the Université du Québec in Chicoutimi. Again, this initiative will help improve people's quality of life.

A general council was recently held in Lévis. French Canadians from other provinces were once again left out in the cold. When it suits its purposes, the Bloc Quebecois speaks on behalf of French Canadians living outside Quebec. However, when it does not suit its needs, it just forgets about them.

I would like to know if the hon. member recognizes the French Canadian people, because the other side often plays the same cassette on the concept of people. Is there a French Canadian people?

Mr. René Canuel: Madam Speaker, I could answer without answering as they do, but I choose not to. There is a people of Quebec.

An hon. member: That is right.

Mr. René Canuel: And this people, in Quebec, is very responsive to all francophones wherever they are, particularly in Canada. We will be very responsive. We will listen to them and help them, no doubt about it. But start by recognizing us as a people, then we will be able to go some distance.

You referred earlier to the club of the outraged. In doing so, you have insulted every one of my constituents. You have insulted Quebecers because what I was saying is this: the reason Lucien Bouchard has to make cuts is that the federal government made cuts, billions in cuts to provincial transfers.

You, across the way, are the ones who should take the blame; but don't go speaking to us like that.

Mr. Antoine Dubé (Lévis, BQ): Madam Speaker, as always, the member for Matapédia—Matane has spoken right from the heart, from his knowledge of the particular situation of his constituents. He is most eloquent.

Since the members across the way have not answered the question, I would ask my colleague, who cannot have failed to hear the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs yesterday, when he said in this House: “We cannot recognize you as a people, as the people of Quebec, because that would give you rights”, what he thinks of that remark?

Mr. René Canuel: Madam Speaker, I find this unresponsiveness particularly disturbing when we have asked so little of Quebecers across the way.

We are asking them if we are a people. It is not a difficult question. Not a one of the members opposite has replied. Or perhaps they do not understand what the word “people” means. Maybe that is the problem. If you do not understand the meaning of the word, perhaps we can explain it to you, but if you do in fact understand it, you are being dishonest in your answers. It is twisted, very twisted, and I am sorry but—and I will conclude on this—I am anxious to see a Quebecer say: “Yes, you are a people”.


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Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in the debate on the Speech from the Throne.

First of all, I would like to thank the voters for renewing my mandate as a Bloc MP, and for allowing me to be a member of the team of 44 sovereignist members from Quebec out of 75 Quebec ridings.

There is a majority of sovereignist members in this Parliament, people who want Quebec to become a country, who received the mandate from their public to come and tell the Canadian Parliament that Canada no longer meets the needs of Quebec when it comes to development that will ensure its autonomy and its capacity to grow.

In my opinion, the Speech from the Throne ought to be a sort of snapshot of the government's plan of action. Not of the program of the party in power, but of the government's plan of action. A government is supposed to take the election results into consideration, and this was an election in which loads of Liberals got beaten in the maritimes and vanished from eastern Quebec, because they lacked the necessary sensitivity or the necessary clout in caucus to get the government to be more humane in the way it was applying employment insurance reform.

Some of these had been good members of this House, but they had to pay the price. In its Speech from the Throne, the present government ought to take that into consideration. Because it is the government of all Canadians, it ought to have taken into consideration that a message had indeed been sent to it, a very clear message, and ought to have said that the old government of 1993-97 had been forced to behave inhumanely, perhaps because of financial constraints. But today, with the known surplus in the employment insurance fund, a surplus of $13 billion as at December 31, 1997—this program does not operate on a zero-based budget—but a $13 billion surplus—

Those billions were collected from people earning $39,000 or less. The decision was made to lower the ceiling in the legislation to $39,000. So those earning under $39,000 are financing the battle against the deficit the most.

Today in the Speech from the Throne, having heard the very clear message from the people in the maritimes, eastern Quebec and the regions hard hit by seasonal unemployment, the government acted as if the problem did not exist. This is one example, but there is another even more significant and catastrophic.

The speech says: “The Parliament of Canada is the only institution directly elected by all Canadians—”. That is true. This is one reason why I am a sovereignist. When you are a Quebecer and you give significant powers to a majority that will never be your own people, as in transport, the whole foreign affairs question, everything to do with citizenship and immigration, any people that decides to give these responsibilities to another majority sort of commits suicide, and this is what is happening little by little.

At the time of confederation, the balance was about 50:50, anglophone to francophone. Today, Quebec represents about 24 percent of the population. Francophones have less and less real weight. Significant choices were made in Canada's history. When Manitoba was created, for example, a supposedly bilingual province, French was prohibited there in order to overturn the balance that had existed in Canada.

This is the sort of historical baggage we find in the Speech from the Throne, which invites us to watch in the next millennium to see whether this fine and grand country will produce the expected results. We are the messengers of the people. We do not come out of a box of cracker jacks. The 44 sovereignist members from Quebec were elected by the people to come and tell you that there is something fundamentally wrong with Canada.


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The speech also says, and I think it is hypocritical in the extreme, that “we have the values of sharing and mutual help”, but not a single word about the seasonal workers and new labour market entrants who have to work 910 hours to be eligible for employment insurance.

For the information of the newly elected Liberal members in this Parliament, before employment insurance reform, it took 300 hours to be eligible for employment insurance. Today, a first time applicant who has finished a CEGEP course in deep sea fishing or wild life management where there is a lot of seasonal work, that person will pay employment insurance premiums from the first hour worked, but he will never manage to work 910 hours during his first year. This means that more and more people are paying premiums who will never be able to benefit under the system.

Between 1990 and 1997, 60 percent of the people received benefits under a system to which they contributed one third of the funding. We would have expected this kind of behaviour from the Conservatives. They said they would do it, and they have always done that sort of thing. But we did not expect the Liberals to turn around and behave the way they did during the last Parliament.

In the throne speech they had a chance to correct this, but there is no sign they did so. It is pretty obvious this government is not listening. It is not getting the messages from the public.

Another point I would like to raise is that the government talks about making Canada a prime tourist destination. We had a very concrete example of how federalist Canada thinks that Ottawa has the solutions and that everyone else should understand that they are the right ones. A $500 million program was set up to help strong enterprises already successful in the tourism sector to develop projects. This may be worthwhile and significant, but this program—and it is the only one—does not help develop significant tourism infrastructures outside major centres that do not have as solid a financial base. In other words, people are on their own.

For regions looking at overhauling the seasonal industry, the federal program is completely inadequate and will only widen the gap between large tourist centres and those that have not yet built up significant infrastructures. Here again, we see their failure to listen.

Another example, which in my view is indicative of their contempt, is the issue of the Canadian social union. The premiers of all provinces except Quebec agreed unanimously on an approach to social programs that was never approved by Quebec. You can go back to 1971, when Mr. Bourassa, Quebec's premier at the time, refused to sign the constitutional amendments in Victoria for the very reason that the federal team wanted to interfere in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. Since then, Quebec has never, under any of its premiers, whether federalist or sovereignist, agreed to the kinds of things which the premiers of the other nine provinces are able to accept. The premiers of those provinces all have a similar approach. But Quebec's jurisdiction under the present Constitution is completely ignored. They want Quebec to have to comply with national standards set by the federal government, and that is unacceptable to me. This must be made clear and obvious, and the members of the Bloc Quebecois are here to make that point.

I would like to raise another issue, as I feel it is important. A gesture of good faith one would expect from the government, that could be included in the amendments to the speech, concerns the whole issue of regional and local development. The federal government has set up a structure similar to the one in Quebec with the community futures development corporations.

In each of our regions, we have people working for these corporations, who are doing their best to help. But at the same time there is this other network in place in Quebec: the local development committees. The federal government, which does not have any responsibility for local development, should just accept to withdraw from that area, transferring all responsibility with full compensation to Quebec and authorize the amalgamation of community futures development corporations and local development committees.


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I give these examples to show that this throne speech in no way responds to the will expressed by a large percentage of the population of Quebec and the maritimes in the last election. The government is unresponsive.

We are entering into what really is a period of transition, and if there is something that this throne speech says to me, it is that, in our vision of the future, Quebecers will inevitably have to make a choice. They have the choice of being assimilated, which would have the result we are seeing now in francophone communities in the rest of Canada. That is a choice we will not accept, and we will never be the ones to bring about our own extinction within the Canadian fold. We will not let ourselves be bulldozed in spite of what all the doomsayers might say.

I invite you all to celebrate the new millennium. Here we are invited to celebrate the third millennium, but I invite you all to come celebrate with the people of Quebec who will have given themselves a new country for the year 2000.


Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Madam Speaker, congratulations on your appointment.

I listened to the hon. member with some interest. It certainly appears he is filling the role of a dutiful opposition member in terms of attacking the government. However, I am sure he is aware of some of the news that we have had in Canada over the last few years and more recently. I am thinking of course of deficit reduction, taking the deficit from $42 billion down to zero, that interest rates are at their lowest levels in 30 years, that almost one million jobs have been create, that there have been massive increases in Canada's trade surplus, that our economic growth is going to be the best in the G-7 and that, of course, and we have all heard this before, Canada has been rated number one according to the United Nations human development index.

I would ask the hon. member, with all the things that have happened over the last four years and all of the positive developments, would he not concede that there have been at least a few positive developments in Canada which are going to benefit his constituents?


Mr. Paul Crête: Madam Speaker, I never said that nothing positive has happened over the past four years.

Mr. Denis Coderre: Hear, hear.

Mr. Paul Crête: However, I noticed, for example, that in the fight against the deficit—and I would ask the hon. member for Bourassa, who is applauding, to do so in public as well, so everyone will know that he thinks my comments make perfect sense.

As regards the fight against the deficit, do you know who paid the price? By December 31, 1997, a surplus of $13 billion will have been taken from the employment insurance fund. Who paid the price for that? The government slashed $42 billion from transfer payments for health and education. That is how the federal government achieved the results it brags about in its fight against the deficit.

In 1993, in case the hon. member has forgotten, the Liberals ran on a slogan of “jobs, jobs, jobs”. As far as I know, we still have 1.5 million Canadians unemployed.

If we look at what is right and what is wrong with Canada, we realize there are still big changes that need to be made. The fact that jobs are being created for those with diplomas and relevant training and those who are part of the new economy should not obscure the fact that whole generations are being sacrificed. This does not mean that a Canada barely out of its 19th century mentality does not have what it takes to face the challenges of the 21st century.

In the 19th century, big political entities were needed to ensure big markets. Free trade has changed all that. What we need today is small nations that can stand up for themselves, prosper and compete on global markets. Canada's current structure cannot fill Quebecers' needs for the future.


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Basically, I think that the Liberal Party of Canada is in a dead end, because, at the same time, it believes—

L'hon. Don Boudria: Time is up.

An hon. member: There is still some time left.

Mr. Paul Crête: Madam Speaker did not say that my time was up. You should respect the mandate of your new speaker.

Yes, there have been improvements; you can see improvements anywhere in North America or in the world, but it remains that some problems have not been dealt with.

The throne speech quotes Sir Wilfrid Laurier. When my grandfather voted for the first time he said: “I will vote for Laurier because I hope that one day this will bring about equality between French Canadians and English Canadians”. Well, today, nearly 100 years later, this has not yet been achieved.

The only way we will ever have equality between Quebec and Canada, a sound relationship, a relationship between mature peoples, is for Quebec to become sovereign.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Thibeault): It being 2.30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.30 p.m.)