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37th Parliament, 1st Session

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 035

CONTENTS

Friday, March 23, 2001

. 1005

VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VJUDGES ACT
VBill C-12. Second reading

. 1010

VDivision on motion deferred
VCANADA FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGY ACT
VBill C-4. Report Stage
VSpeaker's Ruling
VThe Deputy Speaker
VYOUTH CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT
VBill C-7—Notice of time allocation
VHon. Don Boudria

. 1015

VCANADA FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGY ACT
VBill C-4. Report stage
VMotions in Amendment
VMr. Serge Cardin
VMotions nos. 1 and 6
VMr. Rick Borotsik
VMotion no. 10
VMr. David Chatters

. 1020

VMr. Serge Cardin

. 1025

. 1030

VMr. Gurmant Grewal

. 1035

VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold

. 1040

VHon. Ralph Goodale

. 1045

. 1050

VMr. Ted White

. 1055

VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
VWORLD TUBERCULOSIS DAY
VMs. Jean Augustine

. 1100

VVETERANS AFFAIRS
VMr. Peter Goldring
VKIDS HELP PHONE
VMr. Mac Harb
VCANADIAN SPORTS AWARDS
VMr. Marcel Proulx
VWORLD POETRY DAY
VMs. Sarmite Bulte
VHEALTH
VMr. Kevin Sorenson

. 1105

VVETERANS AFFAIRS
VMr. Peter Adams
VJEAN-GUY LABRECQUE
VMr. Serge Cardin
VNOROUZ
VMr. Rahim Jaffer
VSPACE STATION MIR
VMr. Mauril Bélanger
VHUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
VMr. Dick Proctor

. 1110

VPREMIER OF QUEBEC
VMr. Marcel Gagnon
VOXFORD
VMr. John Finlay
VFETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME
VMr. Peter MacKay
VWILLIAM B. SUTHERLAND
VMs. Marlene Catterall
VDEWDNEY—ALOUETTE
VMr. Grant McNally

. 1115

VORAL QUESTION PERIOD
VPRIME MINISTER
VMrs. Diane Ablonczy
VHon. Herb Gray
VMrs. Diane Ablonczy
VHon. Herb Gray
VMrs. Diane Ablonczy
VHon. Herb Gray

. 1120

VMr. John Reynolds
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. John Reynolds
VHon. Herb Gray
VMs. Caroline St-Hilaire
VHon. Herb Gray
VMs. Caroline St-Hilaire

. 1125

VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Yvan Loubier
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Yvan Loubier
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Bill Blaikie
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Bill Blaikie

. 1130

VHon. Herb Gray
VRight Hon. Joe Clark
VHon. Herb Gray
VRight Hon. Joe Clark
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Charlie Penson
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Charlie Penson

. 1135

VHon. Herb Gray
VHon. Herb Gray
VHon. Herb Gray
VETHICS COUNSELLOR
VMr. Jim Abbott
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Jim Abbott
VHon. Herb Gray

. 1140

VEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
VMr. Paul Crête
VHon. Jane Stewart
VMr. Paul Crête
VHon. Jane Stewart
VMULTICULTURALISM
VMr. Richard Harris
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Richard Harris
VHon. Herb Gray
VJUSTICE
VMs. Judy Sgro

. 1145

VHon. Anne McLellan
VMULTICULTURALISM
VMr. Svend Robinson
VHon. Herb Gray
VHUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
VMr. Dick Proctor
VHon. Jane Stewart
VAUBERGE GRAND-MÈRE
VMr. André Bachand

. 1150

VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Peter MacKay
VHon. Herb Gray
VMULTICULTURALISM
VMr. Jay Hill
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Jay Hill
VHon. Herb Gray
VCANADIAN JOB CREATION FUND
VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VHon. Martin Cauchon

. 1155

VMs. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold
VHon. Martin Cauchon
VLUMBER INDUSTRY
VMr. Andy Burton
VMr. Pat O'Brien
VMr. Andy Burton
VMr. Pat O'Brien
VVETERANS AFFAIRS
VMr. David Pratt
VHon. Ronald Duhamel
VLUMBER INDUSTRY
VMr. John Duncan
VMr. Pat O'Brien

. 1200

VMr. John Duncan
VMr. Pat O'Brien
VPOINTS OF ORDER
VOral Question Period
VMr. Richard Harris
VHon. Don Boudria
VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
VGOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
VMr. Paul Szabo

. 1205

VCOMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
VAboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural
VMs. Nancy Karetak-Lindell
VHuman Resources Development and the Status of Persons with
VMr. Peter Adams
VPETITIONS
VPoison Control
VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VIraq
VMr. Svend Robinson
VEmployment Insurance
VMr. Yvon Godin
VVIA Rail
VMr. Peter Adams

. 1210

VKidney Disease
VMr. Peter Adams
VQUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
VMr. Paul Szabo
VREQUEST FOR EMERGENCY DEBATE
VAuberge Grand-Mère
VMr. Peter MacKay
VMr. John Reynolds

. 1215

VMs. Caroline St-Hilaire
VMr. Bill Blaikie

. 1220

VMrs. Diane Ablonczy
VMr. Mac Harb
VMr. Yvon Godin
VMr. Réal Ménard

. 1225

VMr. Garry Breitkreuz
VMr. Marcel Gagnon
VSpeaker's Ruling
VThe Deputy Speaker
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VCANADA FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGY ACT
VBill C-4. Report stage
VMr. Ted White

. 1230

VMr. Antoine Dubé

. 1235

. 1240

VMrs. Bev Desjarlais

. 1245

VMr. Paul Crête

. 1250

. 1255

VMr. Grant McNally

. 1300

. 1305

VMr. Réal Ménard

. 1310

. 1315

VMr. Marcel Gagnon

. 1320

. 1325

VMs. Francine Lalonde

. 1330

VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
VBÉLANGER-CAMPEAU COMMISSION
VMr. Réal Ménard
VMotion

. 1335

. 1340

. 1345

VMr. Bill Matthews

. 1350

. 1355

VMr. Scott Reid

. 1400

. 1405

VMs. Francine Lalonde

. 1410

. 1415

. 1420

VMr. Réal Ménard

. 1425

VAppendix

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 035


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Friday, March 23, 2001

The House met at 10 a.m.



Prayers


 

. 1005 +

Mr. Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask the Chair to seek unanimous consent, given the grave and extremely urgent implications of information that is now in the public sphere, that the Prime Minister be asked to appear before the House of Commons to make a public statement answering to the allegations that are before the public.

The Deputy Speaker: Does the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough have consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

JUDGES ACT

 

The House resumed from March 22 consideration of the motion that Bill C-12, an act to amend the Judges Act and to amend another act in consequence, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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

Some hon. members: Question.

 

. 1010 + -

The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

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

Some hon. members: Yea.

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

Some hon. members: Nay.

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

And more than five members having risen:  

The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 45 the division stands deferred until Monday, March 26, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

*  *  *

CANADA FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGY ACT

 

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

SPEAKER'S RULING

The Deputy Speaker: This is the ruling concerning the groups at report stage of Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology.

[Translation]

There are 12 motions on the notice paper relating to the report stage of Bill C-4.

As I mentioned in my statement of March 21, the Chair does not intend to provide justification for the selection of amendments, or reasons for the non-selection of amendments, except where this is deemed necessary or appropriate.

Since this is the first report stage ruling since my statement, I feel that it would be appropriate to briefly outline my approach to this bill.

[English]

The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources considered this bill at clause by clause on March 15. This was prior to the statement that I made in the House outlining the guidelines that I will be following for the selection of motions at report stage. Since members could not have known about the new application of these guidelines at that time, I intend to be more generous in exercising my discretionary powers of selection.

Therefore motions which could have been proposed in committee stage but were not will be entertained on this occasion. However, in keeping with the note to Standing Order 76.1(5), motions which were defeated in committee will not be entertained once again at report stage. Consequently five of the motions submitted by the hon. member for South Shore at report stage, namely Motions Nos. 2, 5, 7, 11 and 12, will not be selected for debate because they were defeated in committee.

[Translation]

Seven motions will be selected for debate in three separate groups. The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the Table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

*  *  *

[English]

YOUTH CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT

BILL C-7—NOTICE OF TIME ALLOCATION

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. An agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) and 78(2) with respect to the second reading of Bill C-7, an act in respect of criminal justice for young persons and to amend and repeal other acts.

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

Mr. Darrel Stinson: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Could you clarify what the government House leader just said? Did he just put closure on the House?

 

. 1015 + -

The Deputy Speaker: I believe the member would like to get into a debate. To put it very briefly, it was a time allocation motion, yes.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CANADA FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGY ACT

 

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

MOTIONS IN AMENDMENT

Mr. Serge Cardin (Sherbrooke, BQ) moved:  

    Motion No. 1

    That Bill C-4, in Clause 2, be amended by replacing lines 26 to 29 on page 1 and lines 1 and 2 on page 2 with the following:

      “(b) meets any criteria of eligibility established under section 18.1; and”

    Motion No. 6

    That Bill C-4 be amended by adding after line 15 on page 11 the following new clause:

    “18.1 The Foundation, the Governor in Council and a provincial minister responsible for the environment may, by unanimous consent, establish criteria of eligibility to be met by the eligible recipients who carry on or will carry on eligible projects primarily in the province of that minister.”

Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC) moved:  

    Motion No. 10

    That Bill C-4, in Clause 30, be amended by replacing lines 41 and 42 on page 16 with the following:

      “(c) a detailed statement of eligible projects for which funding was provided and of the extent to which those projects may lead to measurable gains in respect to air quality and sustainable development;”

[English]

He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of my colleague, the member for South Shore, who has been very instrumental in the clause by clause consideration of this piece of legislation, Bill C-4, in committee. The member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, and I on his behalf, put forward an amendment that did not go to the committee. I thank the Speaker for his ruling that the amendment should, and well could be, placed on the floor.

As I indicated earlier this morning to the Minister of Natural Resources, there are some good amendments that come forward from the opposition side, and this is one of those amendments.

As the member for South Shore has indicated, there should be a detailed statement of eligible projects for which funding was provided. This speaks to the issue of the funding that has been put forward in the legislation. It has a tendency not to allow projects to have a closed portion of the funding. Also, there is a section which speaks to access to information where there should be transparency.

We have talked quite frequently in the House about the openness and transparency of the government. Certainly the foundation being proposed under the legislation should also fall under the rules where there should be openness. Public money will be expended and certainly those funds should be identified by the projects themselves and come back so that members of parliament recognize exactly how the funds are expended.

I put Motion No. 10 forward on behalf of my colleague. I suspect the government will look very seriously at passing the amendment.

Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, on the first group of motions, Motions Nos. 1 and 10, we would support Motion No. 10 and reject Motion No. 1. Motion No. 1 in the name of the Bloc member just adds further confusion and vagueness to the whole bill.

The intent of the bill and what it hopes to achieve are certainly honourable, and our party wanted very much to support the bill. However when we look at the bill and analyse it, it is so vague that it appears deliberately designed to allow huge discretion in not only the criteria of the projects, but also the people who receive funding to undertake the projects.

 

. 1020 + -

The criteria that apply to those people is wide open. There does not seem to be any kind of criteria. As the auditor general noted in his last report to the House, there are serious deficiencies in the quality of government appointments to some of the boards and a lack of expertise. The bill is very vague and loose on who might qualify as a member of the foundation, a member of the board or the chair of the board.

The bill needs tightening up and cleaning up. One example of that need is the fact that the minister and the government have amended the bill four or five times in committee and now in the report stage. That is quite extraordinary. The minister presents a bill to the House and then, before the bill even finishes the process, sees flaws and amends the bill in a number of areas. It is very loosely worded.

I will return to Motion No. 1. I have huge problems with the idea of the Bloc including the provincial environment minister in establishing criteria for the project or group to be funded. We would have a piece of legislation with different criteria in all 10 provinces. I cannot see how that could possibly work. If there is one thing we need here it is more clarity and consistency, not less.

However I think Motion No. 10 is perfectly valid. In an effort to tighten up the bill, at least to some degree, we in the Progressive Conservative Party ask that the eligibility criteria be included. Then we could all assess it here in the House, have a look at it and make amendments and recommendations on how the criteria could be better applied. I think that is a perfectly valid suggestion. We certainly will support Motion No. 10.

I will speak further on the other groups as we get to them.

[Translation]

Mr. Serge Cardin (Sherbrooke, BQ): Mr. Speaker, first off, let us say that Bill C-4 provides for the establishment of a foundation, so we should oppose it right from the start.

Why should we oppose it? Because the Bloc Quebecois has certain concerns about the creation of foundations. We have already had experience with the millennium scholarships foundation, which involves an area under the jurisdiction of a province, Quebec.

Obviously the points of concern and the Bloc's position relate primarily to the division of jurisdictions. Quebec already has foundations for environmental action.

The matter of concentration of power in a foundation is also of some concern. There will be an opportunity to develop this a little more later.

The definition of the expressions is also another matter. The bill refers to “eligible project” and “criteria of eligibility”. There was a national issue table on the environment and there are fairly substantial inequalities in this regard.

As concerns Motion No. 1, subclause 18(1) talks of meeting the eligibility criteria it sets out. As I was saying earlier, subclause 18(1) is not necessarily very clear about work or criteria.

Even though the government's intentions in establishing a foundation are noble, Quebec already has foundations for the environment, so it is understandable that our intention is to avoid a duplication of efforts.

 

. 1025 + -

When it comes to the environment intentions are always noble, but we wonder about the process. Right now we can see that there will again be duplication. We have no details on eligible projects and on criteria of eligibility. At this point we are still in the dark, which means that there will certainly be an abuse of power, given the provisions of the bill.

For all intents and purposes, the Prime Minister will appoint seven members to the foundation who in turn will appoint eight other members. The Prime Minister will again be able to appoint people. As the auditor general often pointed out in his reports and recommendations, those appointed to various foundations and organizations should first have the required qualifications, instead of being close friends.

Let us look at Motion No. 6, which deals with subclause 18(1). It proposes the following wording for that clause:

    18(1) The Foundation, the Governor in Council and a provincial minister responsible for the environment may, by unanimous consent, establish criteria of eligibility to be met by the eligible recipients who carry on or will carry on eligible projects primarily in the province of that minister.

This was one of the first concerns that I expressed to the House: duplication and up to a point interference.

Things should be clear. Even though the foundation's ultimate goal is a noble one, provincial foundations including those in Quebec also have major environmental concerns. In order to avoid duplication it is obvious that ideally the provinces should have the right to opt out with full compensation so that they can decide on fundamental measures regarding the environment.

I submitted a number of motions to the committee in that regard. Some members of the committee told me that such changes would be too substantial. These changes would not have substantially affected the noble objectives relating to the environment. However, from an operational point of view, these changes were obviously major ones. The changes proposed in the amendments did respect jurisdictions and sought to avoid duplication.

When a government reaches the point where it collects way too much tax, given its mandates and responsibilities it always ends up intruding on something. The foundations are a prime example of that.

Under the bill the government is prepared to invest over $110 million. Again, this is not enough. At one point during the consultation process it was said that an investment of close to $1.3 billion was required for new technologies and sustainable development so as to fight greenhouse gases.

I believe, therefore, that the amendment contained in Motion No. 6 concerning subclause 18(1) is relevant, helps respect jurisdictions, and will enable us to prevent duplication so that the priorities of the provinces and of Quebec will be better served. The foundation's objectives, I repeat and will continue to repeat, are noble ones. There is money available, but people are already working hard in these areas. They have the expertise and the know-how to identify their priorities.

Obviously we agree with the motions in Group No. 1, that is Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 10. Motion No. 10 moved by the member for South Shore also meets with our approval because during a meeting of the committee we moved a similar motion telling the government that the foundation would have to put in place screening mechanisms.

 

. 1030 + -

If the federal government puts large amounts into intentions—obviously there is even applied research—and only into intentions, there is a strong risk that money will be spent in sectors or on studies that will go nowhere.

What is needed is some screening within the foundation with respect to eligible projects, criteria and results. It goes without saying that this is important and we also support this motion.

The Bloc Quebecois will oppose the establishment of this foundation because it does not respect jurisdictions. It does not prevent duplication and it perhaps does not respect other priorities. It is very vague in terms of eligible projects and criteria, with the result that directions are not clear. In addition, people will be appointed to this foundation who also do not know what direction they will head in, but who will know very soon when the Prime Minister has had a word with them.

We will therefore be supporting Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 10.

[English]

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate today on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to debate, at report stage, Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology.

Just to remind members, as well as the people who are watching the debate today, in the 2000 federal budget the Liberals announced that they would be creating a sustainable development technology fund and that they had earmarked $100 million in initial funding to the sustainable development technology fund. It was a very good initiative that should have been taken a long time ago, but they took eight or nine years to implement their own red book one promise.

For the benefit of those who are watching, 10 amendments have been put forward at report stage. They are grouped into three different groups. In the first group we are debating Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 10.

Members of the Canadian Alliance support the intent of Bill C-4 but we have a few reservations and some amendments to suggest dealing with the non-involvement of the auditor general in the whole process. We are also concerned with the patronage appointments to the board of directors. We feel that the government is using this bill for patronage appointments of failed candidates.

With respect to Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 10, Motions Nos. 1 and 6 are very similar in nature. They would bring provincial ministers of environment into all discussions regarding the criteria of eligibility for receiving funds. Being so, it would introduce different criteria of acceptance into every province, The 10 different provinces may have 10 different criteria, that is the potential.

The bill desperately needs uniformity. It is so poorly worded and poorly drafted that even the minister has had to put forward amendments at this late stage in the debate. We believe that the uniformity, which is desperately needed in the bill, may be lost when different criteria for funding are applied to different provinces and territories. By allowing these amendments to pass, it would make already cumbersome legislation much more clumsy and difficult to deliver. Therefore, the Canadian Alliance will be voting against Motions Nos. 1 and 6.

 

. 1035 + -

We will be supporting Motion No. 10, which was moved by the Progressive Conservative Party member, because it attempts to curtail some of the vagueness in the bill by including the eligibility criteria for receiving funds.

On behalf of the people of Surrey Central, I will be pleased to support Motion No. 10 and oppose Motions No. 1 and 6. I will keep the rest of my comments in reserve until the bill comes back to the House for third reading.

[Translation]

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-4 this morning. This bill seeks to establish a foundation to fund technological support for sustainable environment. We are currently at report stage and we are debating Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 10.

Before telling the House how the government should have dealt with these amendments, let me say that sustainable development is an issue about which I care a great deal. It is important to provide sound development and a sound environment, for ourselves and for future generations.

However, we must recognize that the federal government is putting this priority behind its visibility. The bill creates new duplication and intrudes on provincial jurisdictions. This will have a negative impact on the protection of the environment and on sustainable development.

Once again, the federal government is opting for confrontation instead of co-operation with the provinces. Unfortunately, this cavalier attitude has become a trademark of the Liberals. The creation of the foundation is yet another example, after the millennium scholarships and the legislation on endangered species. Do not get me wrong: I support sustainable development.

What I am objecting to today is this unacceptable duplication by the federal government. Let us take the case of the endangered species. We all know that habitat protection is a provincial jurisdiction. The Minister of the Environment has introduced a bill, now in committee, that protects habitats but not species on federal crown lands. There is an inconsistency here.

Someone suggested this analogy earlier. The federal government is behaving like a parent who tells his neighbour how to raise his kids but is incapable of parenting his own properly. It is not surprising that groups such as the Sierra Club have given the federal government a failing grade as far as environmental protection is concerned.

In short, the federal government is only concerned about visibility, not about funding sustainable development technology. This dear government is so proud of waving its beautiful red and white flag in every part of the country but what it is really involved in is nation building, desperately trying to create a Canadian identity.

To take another example of development, this time one related to the economic development of the regions of Quebec, at the present time the federal government is financing the CFDCs, the Community Futures Development Corporations, to the tune of more than $100 million yearly. Yet the government of Quebec already has regional development mechanisms of its own.

Then there are the CLDs. Instead of following the Quebec trend of allowing considerable leeway for concerted efforts at the regional level, the federal government is focusing everything on the centre, that is Ottawa, while disguising this operation by a series of initiatives targeting specific groups.

The most indecent thing is that the federal government imposes criteria of visibility in its contracts. Of the four economic development agencies in Canada, only the one for Quebec is under the responsibility of the Minister of National Revenue. It requires the Canadian flag to be raised in exchange for funding. This is what makes me say that the federal government is more concerned with its visibility than with regional development and the examples of this keep on increasing.

It is clear that the funds allocated to the foundation responsible for funding sustainable development will be tied to the same mandate: acting as a foil to the foundation that already exists in Quebec.

 

. 1040 + -

I point out that the Quebec Fonds d'action pour le développement durable has a budget of $45 million to integrate and promote sustainable development and establish ecological infrastructures and biodiversity, that it is experimenting with technology which has an environmental impact, and that it provides fellowships and internships.

Having seen the success of the Quebec model, the federal government is trying to duplicate it from scratch at the federal level. If the Liberals were really serious in their desire to promote sustainable development, they would have acted together with Quebec. But no. Once again the story is confrontation, as in the case of the millennium scholarships. Instead of creating a foundation the federal government should send money to the provincial organizations working toward the same goal as foreseen at the issue table and having the expertise.

The members of this foundation would practically all be appointed by the governor in council. The bill provides that the governor in council, on the recommendation by the minister, shall appoint 7 of the 15 directors of the foundation. However, the other eight are appointed by them, by those appointed by the governor in council. How ridiculous. Finally, the chairperson and all the directors can be removed for cause by the governor in council.

This method of appointment seems to be a roundabout way for the federal government to hang on to the reins in an area of provincial jurisdiction and to maintain control over an organization that would not be accountable to parliament. As I said earlier, I am in no way opposed to sustainable development.

Through the very able member for Sherbrooke, the Bloc Quebecois is moving various amendments, the purpose of which is to improve the bill and to allow the Quebec fund to continue to operate independently of the federal government.

We are asking that those provinces that so request, or Quebec anyway, should be able to opt out with full compensation, i.e. 25% of the fund, so as to prevent amounts being paid to an eligible recipient when a similar project already exists in the province concerned. In this case, the amount should go to the already existing projects, first, if the province concerned so requests and, second, if it justifies its need for additional funding in terms of objectives set at the beginning of the project.

In addition, through the voice of our very able colleague, the member for Sherbrooke, we wish to include a clause requiring that the members and directors of the Canadian foundation be bilingual and, finally, that documents produced by the organization be accessible in both French and English.

I will stop here. The bill, as drafted, does not require the organization to be bilingual, which is unacceptable. We all know that the Liberals are completely incapable of ensuring the survival of French outside Quebec. Furthermore, the official languages commissioner observes year after year that the Liberals are not taking corrective action. They have a wonderful opportunity here to do something about this state of affairs by supporting our amendment.

In short, I will conclude by saying that, through this bill, the government is trying to raise its visibility in exchange for protecting the environment. All the federal government is doing is hurting Canadians: millennium scholarships, regional development. Once again, it has failed, as it did so monumentally in the case of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

[English]

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this detailed discussion about some of the aspects of Bill C-4.

I note that when the bill was debated at second reading and, for the most part, when the bill was before the committee, there was a great deal of positive commentary, not only from government members but also from members of the opposition, about what the legislation is intending to accomplish.

While some of the remarks made today have been critical and some, quite frankly, entirely off the mark, there has been, at least with most members, an undertone of support for what is being attempted here, the objectives of the legislation.

Specifically, with respect to Motions No. 1, 6, and 10 that we now have before us, Motions No. 1 and 6 are an effort to identify in the internal operations of the proposed fund and foundation a specific role for provincial ministers of the environment.

 

. 1045 + -

Quite frankly, I tend to agree with the remarks made by members of the Canadian Alliance and for the Conservative Party that such a technique would lend itself to the possibility of fragmentation, to potential confusion and perhaps even inconsistency as to what the foundation is attempting to accomplish. Therefore, I do not support Motions Nos. 1 and 6.

However, there are other reasons why I would not recommend Motions Nos. 1 and 6 to the House. First, this legislation is based upon more than two years of the most open, transparent and comprehensive consultation that has probably been undertaken with respect to any legislation. The provinces were thoroughly involved in that process, the municipalities were involved, the private sector was involved, academic institutions were involved and non-governmental organizations were involved. Every aspect of Canadian life was consulted in that two year process and the sustainable development technology foundation is the product of that process in which all of those players participated. The consultation was very thorough and included all of the provinces as well as Quebec.

When we announced the Canadian action plan with respect to climate change last fall, which included the concept of the sustainable development technology fund and foundation, the Minister of the Environment and I immediately took that concept to a joint meeting of ministers of energy and the environment that involved all of our colleagues, federally, provincially and territorially. At that meeting where all of this was discussed, the chair, who was the minister from the province of Quebec, was exceedingly supportive of what was being proposed in relation to our action plan and all of the other various elements of the approach that we are taking with respect to climate change.

Therefore, I can say with full confidence that the provinces have been engaged with respect to this process and have been very supportive with respect to the concept of a sustainable development technology fund and foundation.

I would also add that the process of consultation is not yet over. We have established a national implementation strategy. We have established a process of rolling three year business plans to continue the work with respect to all of the initiatives we would undertake with respect to climate change so the provinces and all other stakeholders would have further ample, ongoing opportunities to have input and be a part of this whole process.

Therefore, again I would say, based on that consultation which has taken place, based on the fact that consultations will continue through the national implementation strategy process, based on the need for national consistency, which I mentioned at the outset, and based on the very practical fact that this is a foundation at arm's length from government, meaning not only the Government of Canada but the governments of the provinces too, it seems to me that Motions Nos. 1 and 6 should not be accepted by the House and that the structure that has been described in the legislation itself should be proceeded with.

On Motion No. 10, I would simply make the point that the gist of the motion is already covered in the legislation itself. In other words, Motion No. 10 is redundant. Bill C-4 requires annual reporting on the foundation's activities. That reporting must include, among other things: the foundation's audited financial statements; detailed statements on the foundation's investment portfolio and its funding activities; a statement of the foundation's plans for fulfilling the objectives of the fund for future years; and an evaluation of the overall results achieved by the funding of projects year by year and accumulatively since the very start of the foundation.

 

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If we read what is actually proposed in Motion No. 10 with a proposed change to clause 30(1)(c), it seems to me that in the language of the legislation every point that has been suggested and the amendment is already covered in the bill itself.

The reporting that would be required of the foundation would be made public. It would be tabled in parliament so that members of parliament would have access to it. If members wished to discuss that report in detail before any standing committee of the House, they would be at liberty to do that.

The funding agreement that is contemplated by this legislation would spell out the requirements of the annual report in detail. In addition, the funding agreement would call for an independent interim and final evaluation to ascertain the results that are achieved, including measurable results against the funds' objectives and, of course, the funding agreement would be available to the auditor general.

I simply make the point that while I understand what the Conservative amendment is trying to accomplish, all of the things that are contemplated in the amendment are already embedded in the legislation itself. Therefore, the proposed amendment is redundant.

For all of those reasons, I would recommend to members of the House that Motion Nos. 1, 6 and 10 should be defeated because they do not add anything that is material or new in terms of this legislation.

Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, in rising to speak about the motions that are before the House, I would like to reflect upon the entire bill and the new crown corporation that would be created.

What I see equivalent to a crown corporation is an entire new bureaucracy. The minister said it was not a crown corporation. It would be an entirely new bureaucracy that would need telephone lines, fax machines, computers, offices, furniture, expense accounts and all sorts of reports. It would be a huge new bureaucracy that would cost an enormous amount of money for taxpayers when the government already has in existence literally hundreds of organizations that could spend money on grants to deal with the issues which the bill deals with. It is a waste of taxpayer money.

It would be worse if Motions Nos. 1 and 6 passed because then it would involve provincial governments. They also would need extra staff, extra phone lines, extra fax machines and all the other stuff to make it work. The universities, other crown corporations and government departments have plenty of staff, many of whom are probably working on the types of projects that the bill would facilitate. There is no need to create an entire new bureaucracy.

If the Government of Canada was a corporation, the first thing management would be asked to do, if someone came with a request for this type of project, would be to look at the overall budget of the corporation and the aims of the corporation to see whether the project could be carried out using existing staff and facilities. That is exactly what we should have done instead of creating a whole new bureaucracy.

Second, if there was no way of doing it without setting up a new department within the corporation, the management would be asked to see if it could get rid of something else that had served out its useful time. Do we see a single facility disappearing? Do we see a single dollar being cut from the government expenditures? Not one dollar is disappearing. All that we see is another bureaucracy, another kingdom to be built that year after year will ask for more and more money from the taxpayers' purse.

Why are we doing it? For no other reason than we can because it is other people's money. We do not have to ask anybody. The minister can go ahead, ram it through, set up the new bureaucracy and, despite his assurances earlier, I have absolutely no doubt nor would my constituents that there will be a ton of patronage appointments for that new bureaucracy. You can bet your bippy on that, Mr. Speaker.

 

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I have no confidence whatsoever that this new bureaucracy will achieve the aims that it is set out to do. It will turn out like the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, a totally unaccountable body that blows away $120 million a year with nobody able to obtain information about what it does and with no accountability. For years I tried to get information about specific grants that were given out by SSHRC. It is absolutely hopeless. I cannot get past the bureaucratic walls that are there to find out why it is wasting money.

The council gave away $2,267,350 for someone to work on the history of the book in Canada. Do members think they can find anything that was produced for that $2,267,000? It was a complete waste of taxpayers' dollars.

How about the $62,000 for an investigation of the motivations underlying undergraduates alcohol consumption behaviour? How about the $50,900 for cabarets, nightclubs and burlesque, investigating the subculture of erotic entertainment in post war Vancouver?

If there was even a slim chance that we could get information about the way this money is being spent, I would feel more confident about groups like the SSHRC and I would feel a little more confident that what would be created under the bill would actually produce something useful.

Let us look at some other examples from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. There was $515,000 spent for the impact of race and gender on social cohesion in light of globalization. There was $16,000 spent for an investigation of attacks on aristocratic behaviour in 18th century Britain. What use could there be to the taxpayers of Canada to blow away $16,000 studying aristocratic behaviour and the attacks on it in Britain in the 18th century?

These are small components of that $120 million that SSHRC blew away that could have better been used, even if it went to the roads in B.C. In the House three weeks ago I asked why B.C. was been completely cut off highway funding for five years. The $120 million could have widened the Trans-Canada Highway in B.C. There was $20,000 spent for a study of the changing mode of reproduction among the resettled forages of Kedah, Malaysia.

Is it any wonder that I get letters from my constituents complaining about the way this place blows away money?

I said earlier in my speech that we do it for no other reason than we can. If anybody in the House was asked to put in $10 or $20 to contribute to the $125,000 for the Tell Malada archeological project investigating the urban life in the semi-arid highlands of central Jordan, I bet nobody would put $10 in there. They would not be interested because it would be their own money. That is the big danger of this bill.



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[English]

WORLD TUBERCULOSIS DAY

Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Saturday, March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day. The theme of this year's global campaign is “Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course—TB Cure for all”.

In commemoration of World TB Day, Results Canada and the Canadian Lung Association hosted an awareness raising breakfast yesterday, where the Minister for International Cooperation reaffirmed Canada's commitment of over $32 million to reduce TB deaths by 50% by the year 2010.

 

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Tuberculosis is killing more people today than ever before. It knows no borders. It causes two to three million deaths annually and more than one-third of the world's population is infected with tuberculosis.

The World Health Organization in collaboration with various governments like Canada's is working to establish a new drug facility to treat TB. I call on all my colleagues to join the global campaign to stop TB.

*  *  *

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton Centre-East, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, how well we attend to the concerns of our veterans is a measure of our national conscience.

Corporal Christian McEachern of Edmonton is only one of many who bear deep scars to their health and soul brought on by war service for our country. Corporal McEachern's mother is in our nation's capital to appeal for our help.

To understand and begin the long process of treatment, we must first officially recognize as war veterans those who have experienced the horrors of war. Bullets, terror and contaminants can each do harm to the human form.

We must do much better for our soldiers. We must recognize all of our country's war veterans. We must listen to their calls for help when they return to their families and homes from missions abroad for Canada.

*  *  *

KIDS HELP PHONE

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Kids Help Phone is Canada's only national bilingual 24 hour counselling and referral service for children and youth. Every day Kids Help Phone answers approximately 1,000 calls from children across the country at 1-800-668-6868.

Last year over 9,500 children in the local area, including many kids in my riding of Ottawa Centre, turned to Kids Help Phone for assistance.

This Sunday, March 25, the Ottawa chapter of Kids Help Phone and Autodesk Canada present “An Evening with Oscar”, an Academy Awards party in support of Kids Help Phone. Similar events will be happening in Halifax, St. John's Newfoundland and Vancouver.

For more information on being a part of the glitz and glamour of Oscar night in Ottawa, I invite members to call 860-1529 and support their local chapter of Kids Help Phone.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CANADIAN SPORTS AWARDS

Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate all the winners and candidates in the 28th Canadian Sport Awards held on March 20. Our athletes' performances illustrate the true spirit of sports and make Canada proud.

I would like to pay special tribute to Nancy Lee, the executive director at CBC sports, who was awarded the commemorative Frank Ratcliffe award given each year to a person or business that has contributed in a major way to the Canadian sporting system.

Ms. Lee has worked for the CBC for many years. In her first year as the executive director of CBC sports, she raised the profile of amateur sport coverage and of women in sports.

[English]

I also congratulate Lori Johnstone, a member of the national women's racquetball team from 1991 to 1996, for winning the Johnny F. Bassett memorial award.

*  *  *

WORLD POETRY DAY

Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, March 21, more than 400 people gathered at the National Library of Canada to celebrate World Poetry Day. The event, “Poetry of the Americas”, featured the reading of a poem chosen by each of the 26 countries of the Americas.

The event was organized by the National Library of Canada in co-operation with the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and the embassies and high commissions of the participating countries.

Poetry helps us see. It gives us insight and a better understanding of how others live the human experience in their culture and in their place and time. World Poetry Day causes us to reflect on our humanity and our need for art and beauty. A world without literature, art, music or poetry would be inconceivably dull.

The arts help us to understand and celebrate our lives as Canadians. They allow us to share our vision and our values with the world. We are proud to support and promote poetry and poets whose words provoke, excite, amuse and enlighten us all.

*  *  *

HEALTH

Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, farmers are plagued with enough problems negatively impacting their ability to produce the safe and high quality food products Canadians have come to expect. We certainly do not need to import more trouble.

I therefore call upon the government to ensure that the most stringent and effective precautions are taken to stop foot and mouth disease from entering into and spreading in the country.

 

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The single largest source of income in the Alberta agriculture industry is derived from the cattle industry. It would be absolutely devastating if foot and mouth disease were to strike my province.

Knowing this, my constituents are anxiously calling my office expressing concerns and asking that British soldiers not be deployed to camps Wainwright, Suffield and Cold Lake until the disease is contained in the United Kingdom.

School trips to the United Kingdom are being cancelled. Although greatly disappointed, our students respect and understand that this sacrifice is necessary to protect the livelihood of their families and neighbours.

I commend the leadership demonstrated by the school boards, the teachers and particularly the students of Crowfoot. I call upon the government to—

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Peterborough.

*  *  *

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Polish veterans were granted the same rights as Canadian veterans following World War II. This was in recognition of the extraordinary service and sacrifice of Polish troops during that war. Yet since 1995, Polish veterans have not been admitted to Ste. Anne's Veterans Hospital. Are our memories so short that we have already forgotten these veterans and what they did for the free world?

I urge that Polish veterans in Canada be given full veterans rights immediately. These veterans deserve the wholehearted support of the House of Commons. Let us act on this while there is still time.

*  *  *

[Translation]

JEAN-GUY LABRECQUE

Mr. Serge Cardin (Sherbrooke, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, awards were given out by the Comité de vigilance et d'action pour l'harmonisation des relations interculturelles en Estrie.

These awards are public recognition for achievement or exemplary commitment against racism. They recognize the action of people who have shown interest in preventing and fighting racism in our community.

This year, the award in the individual category went to Jean-Guy Labrecque, an electrician and a very committed volunteer in his parish. He won this award for his work in his community to integrate groups of immigrants from the former Yugoslavia and Burundi.

In many instances, he had personal contact with these people and helped them integrate. His initiative shows us that little things done every day contribute to preventing racism and discrimination.

On behalf of the people of the riding of Sherbrooke, I offer my warmest congratulations—

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

*  *  *

[English]

NOROUZ

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this week many Muslims throughout the world are celebrating Norouz, meaning new day, marking the first day of the year according to the Persian calendar. Families meet to share in celebratory meals, gifts are exchanged and special prayers are recited for good luck in the new year.

Norouz is a cultural festival that is part of Islam's respect for pluralism and diversity and symbolizes hope and new beginnings. The festival is characterized by common sentiments of joy, renewal and hope and brings many Muslims together, united by a shared heritage and allegiance. It also reflects a great diversity in histories, language and culture, which results in diverse expressions of this festival.

Norouz is also a day of thanksgiving. Muslims count their blessings and look forward to a new year full of challenges and opportunities. It is also a commitment of spiritual renewal to see every day as an occasion to better ourselves.

On behalf of the official opposition, I would like to wish all Muslims in Canada a joyous Norouz and all the best in the new year.

*  *  *

SPACE STATION MIR

Mr. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today Mir came back to earth in a fiery splash in the South Pacific. Space station Mir's planned lifespan was five years. It stayed in space three times as long, more than 15 years, circling the earth more than 80,000 times.

Mir welcomed aboard more than 100 people from 11 different countries. Some stayed a few days, others for months, and cosmonaut Sergei Kirkaliev for more than two years.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield visited Mir in the mid-nineties. Fittingly, he will be visiting Mir's successor, International Space Station Alpha, in April when Canadarm II is installed.

Some say this is a sad day for space exploration. I disagree. It is a day of achievement, a day to acknowledge Russian know-how, and a day to remember as humanity pursues its quest of the high frontier.

*  *  *

HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, relatively recent legislative policy and administrative changes to Canada pension plan disability benefits are having a devastating impact on Canadians with disabilities.

More than 200,000 men and women seeking disability benefits have been denied in the past five years alone, more than two-thirds of them without even a cursory investigation by HRDC into the validity of their claims. For those appealing rejection notices, the process can be incredibly daunting and complex.

 

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The number of appeals is increasing at all levels, but most appellants are ill prepared and overwhelmed by the process. CPP disability pensioners attempting to work or participate in the vocational rehabilitation program are often reassessed with a view to reclassification and partial or total loss of benefits.

It is high time for the minister responsible for HRDC to review a system that is out of control and stacked totally in favour of saving money and against helping Canadians who are disabled.

*  *  *

[Translation]

PREMIER OF QUEBEC

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the premier of Quebec, Bernard Landry, presented a game plan to allow the people of Quebec to examine their future and select the political status that will allow them to fully and freely exercise, in sovereignty, the areas of jurisdiction their development requires.

This game plan includes an update on the Bélanger-Campeau Commission's study of Quebec sovereignty, the creation of a commission of experts to be headed by taxation specialist Yves Séguin, on the fiscal imbalance between Ottawa and Quebec, the setting in motion of a set of vigorous measures in favour of regional development and social solidarity.

The effect of this speech by the Premier of Quebec on us Bloc Quebecois MPs is like a deep breath of fresh air. Mr. Landry can rest assured that we too will put our shoulders to the wheel in order to fully achieve the potential of Quebec, that is its sovereignty.

*  *  *

[English]

OXFORD

Mr. John Finlay (Oxford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on February 21, I rose to offer best wishes to the Oxford-Zorra Girls Tug of War Team and the Ingersoll Pipe Band in their trip to Taiwan to participate in the second annual MacKay Memorial Tug of War Championship.

I am happy to report that the trip was a great success. The team and band members were overwhelmed by the hospitality shown by their Taiwanese hosts. This was due in part because our team and band represented Oxford county, the birthplace of Presbyterian missionary Reverend George Leslie MacKay, who is considered a hero by the Taiwanese. Woodstock mayor John Geoghegan said that members of the pipe band were treated like The Beatles by mobs of adoring fans.

Not only was our tug of war team the first ever ladies team to compete in Asia, they also scored podium finishes in both the indoor and outdoor competition by winning bronze and silver respectively.

I wish to extend congratulations to Oxford's newest heroes.

*  *  *

FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effect, or FAS and FAE, are lifelong mental and physical defects that can occur in individuals whose mothers consume large amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.

FAS victims are physically and mentally challenged, as their brains fail to develop. They often suffer from facial distortions, a short attention span and hyperactivity as well as spinal and internal organ abnormalities.

The effects of alcohol damage are not as apparent in the physical appearance and mental capacity of FAE victims, but the damage is apparent in their substantially lower capacity to engage in life skills.

No one can predict the frequency or severity of FAS and FAE in babies born to pregnant mothers who drink, yet one thing is certain. If expectant mothers can refrain from drinking alcohol and their partners are supportive by also choosing to abstain, society can prevent the needless and permanent victimization of children due to the tragic indiscretions of their parents.

Education, treatment and research are the answer. We urge the government to engage and act now.

*  *  *

WILLIAM B. SUTHERLAND

Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to pay tribute to Colonel William B. “Suds” Sutherland, who died recently.

Colonel Sutherland joined the Canadian forces at the age of 17 during the second world war. His service included Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia. He was regimental colonel of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry.

His service to Canada continued in the public service in senior positions, including the Privy Council Office.

Bill never retired. He continued to study and teach at Carleton University, where his family has established an endowment fund in his name.

I remember Bill Sutherland best as an involved if unlikely political activist. He did outstanding work on the issues of Canadian children and led the way in making child poverty the top priority of the Liberal Party and the government.

To Bill's wife Helen and his family, I express my sincere condolences and my deep appreciation for being able to share a part of his life.

*  *  *

DEWDNEY—ALOUETTE

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the riding of Dewdney—Alouette has once again lived up to its reputation as the hotbed of high school basketball in British Columbia.

The Pitt Meadows Marauders won the inaugural grade eight boys provincial championship earlier this month. I wish to express congratulations to coaches Steve Anderson and Rich Goulet and their hardworking team.

 

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The Heritage Park Highlanders also continued their dominance as they successfully defended their title as senior girls AAA basketball champions. Special congratulations go to coach Bruce Langford, tournament MVP Kim Smith, defensive MVP Sarah Stroh and the first team all star Katja Fuess. Kudos to the entire team that is already favoured at next year's championships.

Honourable mention also goes to the Maple Ridge Ramblers that picked up fourth place in the tournament and to the Thomas Haney Thunder that finished eleventh.

I congratulate all players, coaches and parents that made these accomplishments possible. Their hard work and determination have paid off once again.



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[English]

PRIME MINISTER

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has known all along that he could not let it come out that he had a personal financial stake in the Grand-Mère Golf Club and that he stood to become more wealthy by using his influence to pour millions of public dollars into increasing the value of a nearby hotel.

Now there is new evidence confirming that he had a direct conflict of interest in the way he used his high office. How could Canadians trust their affairs to someone who used his power over their money to feather his own nest?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member has said in her question is not only wrong. In fact it is a terrible attempt to smear the Prime Minister, without any factual foundation.

The Prime Minister did not stand to benefit financially from any representations he made. He was owed a debt. The value of the debt would not change whether the value of the golf course went up or whether it went down.

I say to my hon. friend that she exemplifies how desperate she and her party are in raising these unwarranted assumptions. Why does she not get back to the real business of the country, the matters of real concern to Canadians?

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I guess we have to give the Deputy Prime Minister an A for effort, but we do not hear any clapping from the public.

Today's revelations explain why the Prime Minister did not dare go public with the documents about who really owned the golf course shares because the facts could not support his version of the events.

Do not the government and the Prime Minister see how necessary it is to give the truth to Canadians and just deal with this issue in an honest and open manner?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the public is obviously and definitely not applauding the Alliance for its unwarranted assertions. The Alliance is not using these opportunities to talk about the economy. It is not using them to talk about agriculture. It is not using them to talk about the environment. It is obviously because the public thinks we are doing a good job and it is a vote of confidence.

The Prime Minister has been factual. He has been truthful. Those who are asserting otherwise are terribly wrong, and they should admit it.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, surely Canadians deserve better than this from people they trusted, people they believed, and people, now it turns out, that were hiding and covering up a very serious situation where a prime minister was using his public office for his own personal financial gain, to feather his own nest in retirement. Canadians need to hear the truth of this matter.

I am asking the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister to tell Canadians what really happened, to come clean with all the documents and all the facts so that this matter—

The Deputy Speaker: Before I give the floor to the Deputy Prime Minister for his reply, I remind hon. members that the Chair can be somewhat generous in terms of the time for questions and answers, but they should try to stay as close as possible.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, when it comes to truth, the truth should start in the questions of the hon. member. What she alleges is not true.

 

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The Prime Minister has been upfront, factual and truthful. He has said that he has not been involved in any conflict of interest. He has not done anything contrary to the ethics or the rules in question.

The hon. member ought to recognize that. She is using vague words. She is raising insinuations but she has provided no facts in support of her insinuations because what she says and implies in her questions is not true.

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, let us talk about some truth and some facts. One week ago today, Melissa Marcotte phoned me in my office, pleading on behalf of the Prime Minister and telling me her father had been the Prime Minister's best friend all his life. For the 37 years of her life she was like a daughter to the Prime Minister. Today she is saying “I feel I have been made a fool of. I work for a bank. They may dismiss me”.

I agree with the Deputy Prime Minister that we should be on the issue of the dollar but, first, should we not hire Ted Hughes as an independent judge to clear the air on this whole issue?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the first thing the hon. member might do is to ask Ted Hughes to look into the unwarranted assertions in his questions.

The Prime Minister has stated definitely from his seat in the House of Commons that he did not own the shares in question after he became Prime Minister. Those are the facts. When it comes to matters of the records of the company in question, he has no right because he is not a shareholder to have access to these records or any control over them.

The Prime Minister has been upfront and truthful. I wish it could be said in the same way of the allegations of the Alliance Party and the member who has just spoken.

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister was not listening. I made no accusations.

I stated that Melissa Marcotte phoned me last Friday as a friend of the Prime Minister, as she put it, “to pull my leader off this case because it was unfair”. Today she is saying “I feel I have been made a fool of”. She also said “I was trying to clear him now and I cannot clear him and I do not want to be the one bringing him down”.

These are serious accusations from a 37 year close personal friend of the Prime Minister whose father was the Prime Minister's best friend. It is time; Canadians have a right to get the clear issues. Ted Hughes should be hired by the government as an independent judge, as he has lots of experience, to clear the air once and for all.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has cleared the air. He stated the facts from his place in the House of Commons. The problem is the fog that is being created by the Alliance Party in its desperate attempt to keep itself shored up in public opinion. Where does it stand on the economy? Where does it stand on the environment? Where does it stand on tax cuts?

None of these things matter to members of that party any more. Why do they not get real on matters of concern to Canadians? They realize there is nothing they can attack because the government is doing a good job, and in desperation they are turning to these unwarranted insinuations and innuendoes.

[Translation]

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in June 1999, the Bloc Quebecois asked the Prime Minister if he was still a shareholder of the Grand-Mère golf course. The Prime Minister replied that he had sold his shares in November 1993.

This morning, Mélissa Marcotte, a person close to the Prime Minister, said that he was still a shareholder of the Grand-Mère golf course after November 1993. This information was confirmed by Gilles Corriveau, a spokesman for Louis Michaud, also a shareholder.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree that the Prime Minister's claim that he sold his shares in 1993 and was therefore not in a conflict of interest no longer holds, and that he misled the House and the public at large?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. Howard Wilson told Newsworld:

    I have access to all the documents. I saw all the documents. I was able to examine them. This is personal information on the parties, including people other than Mr. Chrétien, but I can confirm to my full satisfaction that his shares were sold in 1993 and that they were never back in his possession.

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, for over two years now the Bloc Quebecois has been asking the Prime Minister to table the agreement confirming the sale of his shares. He has always refused to do so. This morning, Ms. Marcotte and Mr. Corriveau stated that the Prime Minister had been a shareholder until 1999.

If the Prime Minister refuses to table the bill of sale, is it simply because this document does not exist and he—and this is clearer than ever—misled the House and the public?

 

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Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I reject the hon. member's questions, because they are not based on facts.

The Prime Minister provided the facts to this House and he has no authority to have documents published after he has sold his shares.

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister again trotted out the ethics counsellor to improve his image.

Today, in a Toronto newspaper, this same counsellor clearly admits that the facts are not known to him and that he is far from being an expert in corporate records, a small detail.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister admit that the ethics counsellor is nothing more than a smokescreen, a puppet, who must resign immediately, and that the Prime Minister can therefore no longer take cover behind him?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no need to discredit a public servant of long standing who is doing excellent work. He is doing his job with honesty.

The opposition parties had no problem with the ethics counsellor when they asked him to conduct investigations. It is only when the investigations failed to substantiate the opposition's charges that they began to discredit the ethics counsellor.

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it is necessary to be familiar with corporate records and books to understand what has gone on since 1993, a small detail.

For several weeks now, the Prime Minister has also been holding up in his defence the RCMP's opinion that there was nothing to investigate.

But Melissa Marcotte, whose family holds shares in the golf club, and Gilles Corriveau, a spokesman for the Michaud family, and also a shareholder, said that the Prime Minister had been a shareholder after 1993.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister finally admit that the Prime Minister can no longer hide behind the RCMP?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, he begins by trying to discredit a public servant of long standing. Now he is setting out to discredit the RCMP.

The RCMP operates at arm's length from the government. It has done its job. It has said that there were no grounds for continuing to investigate the matter. This is a fact that the opposition does not like but it is a fact all the same.

[English]

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, oh what a tangled web the government weaves on this. Does the Deputy Prime Minister not realize that it is the Prime Minister himself, by refusing to table all the relevant documents, by refusing to put all the facts on the table, who is holding up the business of this parliament and of this country?

If he wants to talk about the economy, agriculture, the environment, free trade and all the things that we want to talk about here and in fact have kept talking about, it is the Prime Minister who can release parliament by setting up the independent inquiry we are asking for today.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no reason for an inquiry. The Prime Minister has stated the facts from his place in the House of Commons. This has been confirmed by the ethics counsellor. This has also been confirmed by the decision of the RCMP that there is no basis to look into the matter further.

If the opposition is not asking questions it thinks should be asked on the economy, on agriculture or on the environment, let it bear the blame itself. Let it not throw the blame on anyone else.

It is the responsibility of opposition members if they think they do not need to carry on the work of the country as the opposition. Let them explain their lack. Let them explain their emptiness. Let them explain their failure to the Canadian people.

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, while the Deputy Prime Minister tries to dodge a bullet for the Prime Minister, the government is preparing to shower protesters in Quebec City with plastic bullets.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister not see that there are enough allegations, counterallegations and lack of information that would decide the matter once and for all? Unless the Prime Minister is prepared to put that information on the table today or very soon, there is a need for a public inquiry, an independent inquiry perhaps headed by Mr. Hughes or someone like him of equal stature, so that we can get on with the nation's business.

The Prime Minister can clear his name if that is what the facts do and we can get around to talking about other things. Let the Prime Minister do what he needs to do.

 

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Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has answered fully in this House. I think the hon. member should only blame himself. In trying to ask a question without basis, when it comes to bullets, he shot himself in the foot because there is no reason for an inquiry.

He is holding up the business of the country and is using question period instead of doing what the opposition is supposed to do, which is to ask questions on matters of importance and meaning to Canadians. Let him bear the burden of that himself.

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has admitted that starting in 1996 he intervened as Prime Minister with the Business Development Bank of Canada to help secure a loan for the Auberge Grand-Mère.

The ethics counsellor has now confirmed that in the period 1996 to 1999 the Prime Minister took part, through his lawyer, in negotiations for the sale of the shares in the Grand-Mère golf course to Louis Michaud Investments.

Would the Deputy Prime Minister tell the House whether the Prime Minister did receive money as a result of that sale of those shares?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, the hon. member is raising something that is not news. It was reported that the lawyer for the Prime Minister was involved in trying to get the debt in question settled that arose out of the shares being sold. This was reported in the National Post on January 23, 1999. I talked about this in the House in June 1999. This is old news. It has been reported. The hon. member is trying to develop something out of nothing and he ought to admit that.

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is a clear and irrefutable conflict of interest.

The conflict of interest code makes the Prime Minister the sole judge of his own conduct. It is now clear that the Prime Minister was simultaneously involved in lobbying to secure a loan for the Auberge Grand-Mère and in negotiating the sale of shares in a adjacent golf course, the value of which could have been affected by these same loans.

Does the government believe that it is appropriate for the Prime Minister to be the only judge of his own conduct? Would the Deputy Prime Minister, as a senior minister in the government, do his duty to parliament and to Canada and ask the Prime Minister to absent himself from these matters? Would he take the leadership that is within his grasp and call a public inquiry under the Inquires Act—

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. Deputy Prime Minister.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no basis and no reason for an inquiry. The hon. member is wrong when he says that a conflict of interest has been established. What has happened in just the opposite. A conflict of interest has not been established.

I know the hon. member is desperate to keep himself afloat politically, but he should not do that at the expense of the work of this House. He ought to realize that his own desperation does not justify what he is trying to do now. It is wrong.

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, in response to a letter from the official opposition, the industry minister sent Industry Canada officials to look at the corporate registry of the Grand-Mère golf course.

Yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister told the House that he would disclose the results of that investigation. It is time for that disclosure to take place.

Would the Deputy Prime Minister stand up today in the House and inform Canadians of the results of that inquiry and would he table all the relevant documents?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member started off on the wrong foot because he has not quoted me accurately as far as I can recall. I said that I would report on whether the relevant official had inspected the books of the company in question.

I want to confirm that the official in question attended at the office of the lawyers for the company in question. He took copies of the documents. He is examining them. When he has completed his examination, I am sure that the requirements of the law will be complied with.

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that there is a lot of foot dragging over there, and I would like to know why. It seems to me that they are buying time for somebody to concoct another new story to protect the Prime Minister. What is really happening is that they are buying time when it should not take any time at all to put those documents on the table.

Since the Prime Minister has not been forthcoming with Canadians about the Grand-Mère Golf Club, will the government appoint a judicial inquiry, independent of the Prime Minister's office, to investigate this very serious matter?

 

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Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no basis and no reason for a public inquiry. Just because the hon. member is concocting questions without basis, that does not provide a reason for a public inquiry.

I ask the Alliance Party again, why is it in effect confirming that the government and the Prime Minister are doing a good job in the areas of the environment, the economy, the work of the human resources department for children, on medicare and on a whole range of other matters? In ignoring questions on these issues, it is saying that we are doing a good job. I suppose we should thank the Alliance Party, but it deserves no thanks from Canadians for anything.

[Translation]

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the facts reported to us today by someone close to the Prime Minister, Mélissa Marcotte, are very serious indeed.

According to these revelations, the Prime Minister appears to have been misleading the House for close to two years with his responses relating to the nature of his interests in the Grand-Mère golf club.

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that misleading the House, as he has done for nearly two years, constitutes contempt of the House?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has not misled the House. The insinuations made by the hon. member in his question are incorrect and he must retract them. They are totally unfounded.

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister must be realizing that his lines of defence are failing one after the other.

After his ethics counsellor, the RCMP, his buddy Asper and now Mélissa Marcotte, the Prime Minister has no other choice but to come and explain himself before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in order to clarify this matter fully.

Does the government leader commit to supporting the motion the Bloc Quebecois plans to introduce for the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to be convened so that the Prime Minister, the hon. member for Saint-Maurice, may come and give his version of the facts?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, insinuations are not facts. The hon. member is the one painting the situation black, after the Prime Minister has clarified on numerous occasions that there is no conflict of interest, because he sold the shares in question long before becoming Prime Minister. Those are the facts.

*  *  *

[English]

ETHICS COUNSELLOR

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor stated in committee this week that he had seen all the documents, and yet it is clear that he had not seen the most important one, the share registry of the golf course.

Now the ethics counsellor defends his lack of due diligence by saying that he is not an expert in corporate records.

Would the Minister of Industry fire the ethics counsellor, both for misleading the standing committee and for incompetence?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will answer today for the Minister of Industry.

I do not think there is any basis for firing the ethics counsellor who, as I said in French, is a distinguished public servant of long standing and a person of integrity. He is doing a good job. Just because the hon. member does not want to accept that, it does not change the facts of the matter.

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the facts are that the ethics counsellor is doing a good job of trying to protect the Prime Minister, not his job as ethics counsellor.

The industry minister stated that the name of the Prime Minister was not on the shareholder registry, but it is. So much for trusting that minister. We can no longer trust the words of the Prime Minister. We can no longer trust the words of the industry minister nor of the ethics counsellor.

When will the government call for an independent inquiry into the Grand-Mère mess?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no basis and no reason for an inquiry. The facts have been brought out in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister himself.

If the opposition parties did not think that the ethics counsellor was a person of integrity who would do his job, why did they write to him last fall? Why did they write to him a few weeks ago to look into matters? By writing to him last fall and by writing to him again just a few weeks ago, they are in effect admitting that they are wrong in trying to attack his integrity. They accepted his role up to the point where he refused to be their lap dog. That is the only reason they are against him.

*  *  *

 

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[Translation]

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Bill C-2 amending the Employment Insurance Act is under fire.

The day before yesterday, the auditor general said that the government should withdraw clause 9 of the bill, which would allow the government to set the premium rate, thus making it legal for the government to misappropriate billions of dollars of surplus from the employment insurance fund.

Will the Minister of Human Resources Development act on this request by the auditor general, an impartial player who condemns the subterfuge that would legalize the misappropriation of the $30 billion dollar surplus in the fund? Will she withdraw this disgusting clause?

[English]

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): On the contrary, Mr. Speaker. What the auditor general said about this particular aspect of the bill was:

    So I think the bill buys some time to come up with a better way of calculating the rates paid by the workers and their employers.

[Translation]

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the minister can choose the quote she likes. He also said he would like the clause withdrawn.

Also, the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, which is very critical of Bill C-2, has unanimously agreed to report other amendments to the employment insurance system to the House of Commons by June 1 in order to permit real reform of the system.

Is the minister prepared to act on the committee's recommendations?

[English]

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the standing committee for its work on Bill C-2. I understand it heard from over 60 witnesses so I can see why it would want to provide a compilation of that information to the government. I look forward to receiving it.

I would remind the hon. member that as a part of Bill C-2, we commit as a government to continue to monitor and assess the impact of the employment insurance provisions on Canadians. It is what we have been doing in the past number of years and what we will continue to do. Certainly the work of the committee will inform that ongoing review.

*  *  *

MULTICULTURALISM

Mr. Richard Harris (Prince George—Bulkley Valley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women delivered what could be called the most hollow of apologies for what she termed a mistake. There was no mistake.

Her statement about a cross burning incident and a letter in Prince George was in fact a well rehearsed fabrication. There was no letter from the mayor, there was no cross burning incident and, of course, it never happened in any city in British Columbia.

Could the secretary of state tell us why, in a callous attempt to justify her own role, she chose to embellish among one of the ugliest sides of our society? Why did she do that?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the secretary of state said yesterday that she had made a mistake and offered a total apology in that regard. I do not see why the hon. member and the House should not accept her statement in the same way we accepted the statement of his colleague with regard to his phony radio interviews. If we accept the one, I think, in fairness, we have to accept the other.

Mr. Richard Harris (Prince George—Bulkley Valley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, again, this was no mistake. This was a well rehearsed question and answer. She knew what she was going to say. She named the city of Prince George. She said that there was a letter from the mayor of Prince George. The next day she said, in her hollow apology, that maybe it was not Prince George and maybe there was no cross burning, but she still maintained she had a letter.

Could the government instruct the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women to produce that letter to the House at the earliest possible date next week and to the media, which I am sure is dying to see it as well?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I repeat that the hon. secretary of state has dealt with the matter in an appropriate fashion by admitting she made a mistake and apologizing for it. When someone does this, the traditions and conventions of the House are that the admission of error and the apology are to be accepted.

If that is not the case, then we should not be accepting what the Alliance member from Alberta said about his phony interviews. We have accepted that. I think, in fairness, the Alliance people should exhibit the same forbearance and acceptance of the apology and admission of mistake of the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women.

*  *  *

JUSTICE

Ms. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister of Justice.

As we see the Internet and technology continue to develop dramatically, we recognize that this can pose a threat to our children's safety. Could the minister inform the House of the measures that can be taken to further safeguard Canada's children?

 

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Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a very important issue. As we all know, the Internet and technology can be used for good but also used for ill, in particular in the exploitation of our children. That is why I was very pleased this week to introduce Bill C-15 on behalf of the government, in which we create a new offence of Internet luring.

In addition, we will modernize the criminal code so that no one is under any illusion or misunderstanding, in that the criminal code will prohibit transmission and will prohibit making available the exportation or the intentionally—

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

*  *  *

MULTICULTURALISM

Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister, in reference to the shameful conduct of the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, pointed out that the member for Edmonton—Strathcona apologized for his conduct. He said the minister did the same thing. The member for Edmonton—Strathcona apologized. He was fired from his critic's job and sent to the backbenches of that caucus.

How low does the ethical bar have to go? What standards exist for the Prime Minister with respect to the conduct of ministers in the government? Can a minister slander the community of Prince George, a community that has won awards for human rights? Can a minister lie to the people—

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I would like to ask the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas, who is a long serving member of the House, to withdraw the word lie.

Mr. Svend Robinson: Mr. Speaker, I recognize the very serious allegation that has been made, but quite clearly, in light of the seriousness of the conduct of the minister and recognizing the traditions of the House, I said the minister had lied with impunity. I withdraw those words and say she fabricated.

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's assertion that the secretary of state fabricated something deliberately is false.

If the hon. member is the kind of person he claims to be with respect to integrity, he would admit that, accept that, and let us move on to fight together against racism, to fight together against discrimination and to fight for the issues I thought were important to him.

I guess that is not the case, from the unfounded nature of his allegations against an immigrant to this country, a person of colour who has devoted her life to fighting against discrimination and racism and will continue to do so.

*  *  *

HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, CPP disability benefits are now so stacked against disabled Canadians that advocates are stepping forward to help appellants and to restore some measure of balance, but HRDC officials stand accused of using extreme intimidation tactics against some of these advocates.

An Alberta advocate was denied access to accompany an appellant into a hearing, while in Saskatchewan an anonymous complaint to the law society that an advocate was impersonating a lawyer turned out to originate in HRDC itself.

Would the minister confirm that these incidents have occurred and tell the House what steps she has taken to ensure there will be no repetition?

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the CPP disability program is an extraordinarily important one for Canadians.

Ensuring there is a process where Canadians can come forward and their applications are reviewed fully and fairly is important. I am glad to say that we have added numbers to our boards across the country to ensure an increased expedition of these reviews.

If the hon. member has particular accusations that he would like me to review, I would be glad to do that.

*  *  *

[Translation]

AUBERGE GRAND-MÈRE

Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC): Mr. Speaker, regarding the Auberge Grand-Mère, the Prime Minister claims that he has not been a shareholder since 1993. We now know that he was.

He also says “I was never personally involved in the transaction”. We now know that this is not true.

Does this not justify a public inquiry to shed light on the whole issue? Since this is the week for apologies, could the Prime Minister not join the others and at least apologize to the House, until we get a public inquiry?

 

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Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the premise of the hon. member's question is wrong. The Prime Minister was not a shareholder of the company after he became Prime Minister.

As I just said, the hon. member is making insinuations that he must retract.

[English]

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister is deluding himself or he is being wilfully blind. We know the Prime Minister maintained ownership and active control of the golf shares between 1996 and 1999, while actively lobbying the BDC to give a loan to the adjoining hotel: help the hotel, help the golf course, help himself.

The Prime Minister has misled the House. He has sullied his reputation. He has breached the public trust. I call upon the Deputy Prime Minister to set up an independent inquiry under the Inquiries Act of Canada. Will he prepare to do that today?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wrong. The Prime Minister did not maintain control of the shares in the relevant period. He sold them before he became Prime Minister. The ownership of the shares was replaced by a debt which his lawyer worked in consultation with the ethics counsellor to have paid.

My hon. friend is only sullying his own reputation by making these unfounded allegations in his question. He started out with a good reputation. After today it certainly is sullied.

*  *  *

MULTICULTURALISM

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism sat silent while she let the Prime Minister defend her for maliciously slandering the good citizens of Prince George.

It is unfortunate in the extreme that she could not have shown such restraint the day before. On the contrary, she repeated her allegations to the media but has yet to provide any proof to back them up.

The truth is that the minister fabricated this slur. When will the Prime Minister begin to hold his ministers accountable for their repeated intolerance? Why has she not been stripped of her cabinet post?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member should be stripped of his critic's position after his unwarranted assertions in his questions. The hon. secretary of state has recognized in her place in the House that she made a mistake. She fulsomely apologized.

I notice that the acting mayor of Prince George said in a news interview:

    Well I'm very disappointed with her performance yesterday, but frankly Miss Fry has done some very good work on multicultural issues and racism issues and I appreciate that work.

The acting mayor went on to say:

      —I would hope that they would look at the history and if it was simply a mistake made yesterday, we should forgive her—

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the acting mayor also said that her half-hearted apology did not go near far enough. No wonder the Prime Minister refuses to hold the minister for multiculturalism accountable for her repeated outrageous statements. He is embroiled in his own scandal. He continues to set a poor example for the entire government.

Since he will not impose any discipline on his caucus, will at least his cabinet colleagues call upon the minister to resign?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member should resign if he keeps making these unwarranted assertions and slurring a minister who has devoted her life to fighting racism and for multiculturalism. She spoke in a way that she agreed she should not have spoken. She said she made a mistake. She apologized.

I think we should all get together and join with her in the fight against discrimination and racism. This is what the country needs, not the unwarranted slurs and assertions of my hon. friend.

*  *  *

[Translation]

CANADIAN JOB CREATION FUND

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on February 28 of this year, the Secretary of State responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec said in the House that the Canada jobs fund would be transferred, in April, to Canada Economic Development.

But the Minister of Human Resources Development announced the transfer of the fund to Canada Economic Development in June 2000, almost one year ago. In addition, we still do not know how much was transferred.

Who is telling the truth? Where are the funds right now, and what sort of amount are we talking about?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, indeed, it was in June of last year that my colleague, the Minister of Human Resources Development announced that the Canada jobs fund was wrapping up and that the regional development agencies would essentially be taking over.

Since then, Human Resources Development Canada has finished analysing the final files remaining in the Canada jobs fund. We are in the process of identifying the areas to receive these additional funds, which will soon be given out.

What I can say is that this government has always tried very hard to contribute to the regional development of the regions, notwithstanding the position taken on several occasions by numerous opposition members. We will continue to develop—

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Jonquière.

 

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Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, one year has gone by and nothing has been done. The criteria and the funds were already clearly established at the time of the transfer to Canada Economic Development.

Why did the secretary of state not make the funds available to the regions immediately for the purpose of job creation?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the funds will soon be transferred to the various agencies according to Treasury Board guidelines. Everything is proceeding normally.

But, right now, I am wondering about the position of the opposition member, who does not believe at all in regional development. Recently, I travelled throughout Quebec to announce funding of $103 million for the community futures development corporations.

The member said that, in her region, this funding was pointless, that it was too little, too late. Yet it is extremely beneficial for her entire region in terms of job creation and economic redeployment throughout her region. We on this side of the House believe in regional development.

*  *  *

[English]

LUMBER INDUSTRY

Mr. Andy Burton (Skeena, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, some large American forest companies own Canadian operations. The American lumber coalition is asking these American companies to petition the U.S. government to initiate countervail penalties against Canadian producers.

Would the minister responsible tell these American corporations through his U.S. counterparts that he will not stand for Canadian companies being held hostage by their corporate brothers?

Mr. Pat O'Brien (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Trade has been quite clear that the goal of the Canadian government, and indeed of everyone involved in the lumber industry in all regions of Canada, is free trade in softwood lumber.

Any action would have to be launched by the American government. It has done this three times in the past to no avail. The minister has been very clear on that. We will await the decision of the American government.

Mr. Andy Burton (Skeena, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the minister has been buffeted by requests from various interest groups for special treatment on the softwood lumber front. However there is broad consensus for a return to free trade in softwood lumber.

Would the minister accept this consensus and agree not to initiate any action which will short-circuit returning to free trade after March 31?

Mr. Pat O'Brien (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my colleague, he asked if the minister would accept the consensus.

The minister has led the effort to reach the consensus. The minister met this week with lumber interests from B.C., from the maritimes and from Quebec. He has met repeatedly with his counterparts at the provincial level. The Minister for International Trade has been the leader in building the consensus in Canada that we are insisting on free trade in softwood lumber.

*  *  *

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Veterans Affairs. The Halifax explosion remains one of the worst disasters in Canadian history There remains a small group of elderly survivors that receive pensions.

Could the minister advise the House what the government is doing to ensure that these pensioners receive increases in their pensions consistent with the cost of living?

Hon. Ronald Duhamel (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Francophonie), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the moment the issue was brought to my attention, I asked my department to address it.

There is clearly a problem: the Halifax survivors, those who receive pensions, are not keeping up with the cost of living. It is addressing that at this very moment. There will be an economic adjustment announced very shortly.

*  *  *

LUMBER INDUSTRY

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, there is broad consensus for a return to free trade in softwood lumber. Yesterday the minister said we need a team Canada for softwood lumber. This pro-free trade team needs a captain to unite and ignite the players. When will the minister name this captain?

Mr. Pat O'Brien (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I like my colleague's analogy. Quite clearly the captain who has been playing very efficiently at this game is the minister himself.

As I said earlier, the minister has met repeatedly with representatives of the provincial industries right across Canada.

An hon. member: Name one.

Mr. Pat O'Brien: One of my colleagues says name one. The minister has personally met with trade representative Zoellick and very clearly outlined the Canadian position.

The government has an excellent captain on this file. It is the Minister for International Trade.

 

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Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this is not all about who will get credit for doing what. We know the American lumber coalition constantly makes negative statements about Canadian forest practices and policy, but it does not represent all U.S. interests.

For example, the president of Louisiana-Pacific has said that the history and data suggest Canada would win a free trade challenge on the merits. Canada also has major trade allies in consumer, builder, lumber dealer and other groups in the States, so why has the minister allowed our position to erode when there is so much support for free trade?

Mr. Pat O'Brien (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is really incredible for me to hear the member make that kind of assertion. He knows full well that the minister has gone across the country meeting with his provincial counterparts. He knows full well that the minister this very week met with representatives of the lumber industry from all regions of Canada.

That kind of assertion is not helpful. I think the member ought to bear that in mind as we seek to continue to have a united consensus in Canada.

*  *  *

POINTS OF ORDER

ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

Mr. Richard Harris (Prince George—Bulkley Valley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During question period, in a response to a question from the member for Prince George—Peace River, the Deputy Prime Minister read a quote from the acting mayor of Prince George, which he alleges is an acceptance of the secretary of state's apology.

I wonder if it is in order to ask the Deputy Prime Minister to table that document and the source of the quote that he provided to the House today.

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I believe the hon. Deputy Prime Minister was quoting from one of his briefing notes.

If that was taken from a written document, such as a news report or so on, I will attempt to retrieve it and table it in the House as soon as it can be translated, if such is the case.

Mr. Richard Harris: Mr. Speaker, I am asking for your experience as Speaker. In the event that there was in fact no media source to provide that quote for the Deputy Prime Minister's briefing notes, would he be required to withdraw that quote in the House, it being confirmed that it was in fact a fabrication in his briefing notes as opposed to an authentic quote?

The Deputy Speaker: Respectfully to the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley, this proposition is hypothetical. I am not prepared to deal with that situation.

Right Hon. Joe Clark: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if the government House leader would advise the House whether the Prime Minister intends to come here and make a statement explaining his actions in the Auberge Grand-Mère affair.

The Deputy Speaker: I say to the very long serving member of parliament for whom I have a great deal of respect, that is not a point of order.



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[English]

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS

Mr. Paul Szabo (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

*  *  *

 

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COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS, NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Ms. Nancy Karetak-Lindell (Nunavut, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources relating to Bill C-3, an act to amend the Eldorado Nuclear Limited Reorganization and Divestiture Act and the Petro-Canada Public Participation Act. It was agreed on Thursday, March 22, to report it without amendment.

HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT AND THE STATUS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on Bill C-2, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Employment Insurance (Fishing) Regulations, with one amendment.

I thank members of the committee from both sides of the House for their hard work on this piece of legislation. We received over 60 witnesses from all parts of the country. Members had to work very long hours, often very late. I greatly appreciate their work on the bill.

*  *  *

PETITIONS

POISON CONTROL

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions from the residents of the province of Saskatchewan who wish to draw the attention of the House to the following.

Prior to 1992, concentrated liquid strychnine was available for purchase by farmers for use in the control of the Richardson's ground squirrel. However, since 1992 Health Canada has restricted the sale of strychnine such that it is only available in a premixed form, with the amount of strychnine limited to .4%.

The allowable limits for strychnine have greatly reduced the effectiveness of the poison, resulting in populations of the Richardson's ground squirrel increasing. A great deal of crop and hay damage is caused by this ground squirrel. It is very costly to farmers in lost productivity, equipment repairs and injury to livestock.

The petitioners are asking parliament to amend the relevant regulations so as to permit the sale of concentrated liquid strychnine to registered farmers until such a time as an effective alternative can be found.

IRAQ

Mr. Svend Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table a petition today which deals with the very serious issue of the devastating impact of the United Nations sanctions on the people of Iraq.

The petitioners note that these sanctions have been condemned by former UN humanitarian co-ordinator, Denis Halliday, as being tantamount to genocide. They note that the House of Commons standing committee on foreign affairs has unanimously called for the lifting of these economic sanctions.

The petitioners call on the House to urgently pursue the rapid lifting of the economic sanctions on Iraq. They include Linda Morgan and the campaign to end sanctions against the people of Iraq. They have done an outstanding job in bringing the matter to the attention of the people of Canada.

[Translation]

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by over 300 constituents from my riding, who are asking the Canadian government to use the employment insurance surplus for other purposes.

Therefore, the petitioners call for the creation of an independent EI fund and ask that access to the benefits and the benefit period be improved upon to ensure that a significant majority of the unemployed in Canada get adequate EI benefits.

[English]

VIA RAIL

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise to present another petition from citizens of the Peterborough area who are keen to re-establish a VIA Rail link between our community and Toronto. The petitioners point out there are great environmental benefits to this link, reduced emissions being important among them.

They also point out great cost savings between the rail service and equivalent road services and the economic benefits that would occur in Peterborough as a result of the employment mobility of residents in our community and as a result of making the greater Peterborough area more accessible as a tourist and educational destination.

They call upon parliament to authorize the re-establishment of a VIA Rail link between Toronto and Peterborough.

 

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KIDNEY DISEASE

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here signed by hundreds of people in the Peterborough area who suffer from end stage renal disease and by their families and friends.

They note that those on kidney dialysis and those who have successfully received transplants are grateful for those treatments, but they point out that the bioartificial kidney, into which research is going on at the present time, offers hope for much greater mobility for those people.

They call upon parliament to work on and support bioartificial kidney research, which would eventually eliminate the need for dialysis or transplantation for those suffering from kidney disease.

I have another petition that also involves kidney disease. The petitioners point out that this is a huge and growing problem in Canada. They call upon parliament to encourage the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explicitly include kidney research as one of the institutes in its system, to be named the institute of kidney and urinary tract diseases.

*  *  *

[Translation]

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

Mr. Paul Szabo (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I ask that all the questions be allowed to stand.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

*  *  *

[English]

REQUEST FOR EMERGENCY DEBATE

AUBERGE GRAND-MÈRE

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair has an application for an emergency debate and I take note that it is signed by representatives and actually House officers of each of the opposition parties, so I sense there is a tremendous amount of interest and seriousness to this question. I will begin with the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 52, I have given notice to your office of our intention. I speak of our intention collectively because, as you have noted, this letter to you is signed by myself as a representative of the Progressive Conservative Party and by the chief opposition whip, the deputy leader in the House for the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP House leader.

Mr. Speaker, I submit to you that there is a very real and pressing need to have an emergency debate based on information that now is in the public realm. This emergency debate would concern the apparent failure of the Prime Minister to inform the House of Commons fully concerning his relationship to loans given to the Auberge Grand-Mère hotel. This information and this issue have paralyzed the House and shaken the confidence of Canadians in their government.

I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to give the opportunity for all members of the House, including the Prime Minister himself, to come forward to take part in a full and open debate so that there would be commentary and confidence restored to government in this country.

I would urge you to accept this application for an emergency debate. There is tremendous support for this application from members on the opposition side, and I suspect that there may be members on the government side who would support this application. I respectfully submit to the Chair that it is very timely in its nature and, if necessary, we would be prepared to debate this matter immediately.

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I will just stand for a couple of minutes and support my colleague from the Conservative Party in this request of all parties on this side for an emergency debate on this issue.

It is not too often I find myself in agreement with the Deputy Prime Minister, but he is talking about getting back to the business of this country and what is good for Canadians. I think there is one way to do that, and that is a debate in the House today to get the government to realize the importance of having an independent inquiry into this issue.

We have the case where I, as a member of parliament, am phoned by a long time friend of the Prime Minister. It has never happened to me before. She was lobbying on one side of this issue to ask me to get my leader to pull off the issue. Today she is saying “I feel I have been made a fool of and I am afraid I am going to fired from my job for making this public”.

This is an emergency. It is time. I know that I myself and the other members of the House would sit here all of tonight and into tomorrow if we have to, because this is important business for the country. We have to get it over with and we have to impress that on the members from the government side. It is time to debate the issue fully in the House and have an independent inquiry.

I know how difficult this is. I have been a Speaker myself and have listened to many petitions for emergency debates. However, seldom did I see one where all the opposition parties were agreeing on the same issue no matter what their political backgrounds were. However, I think there is a desire on the part of all Canadians that we in this House get down to this issue and get it over with.

 

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[Translation]

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois supports the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance on the importance of having an emergency debate.

I remind hon. members that, by virtue of Standing Order 52(6)a), an emergency debate must meet the following conditions, one in particular which I will quote:

      a) the matter [—] must relate to a genuine emergency [—]

I believe that today, in light of what we have learned—and the demonstration we have had for the past few months, not to say the past two years—there are indeed grounds for an emergency debate so that the Prime Minister may explain himself.

I remind hon. members that, to summarize the situation, the Prime Minister has misled the House. He has misled the public, and that is serious. He has taken refuge behind an ethics counsellor who, by his own admission, does not even have the ability to exonerate him.

It is clear that there is a perceived conflict of interest, blindingly clear. The Prime Minister must explain himself before the House, and this serious matter, which casts doubt on the very capacity of the Prime Minister to govern this country, must be debated and debated now.

For your information, Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote briefly from the Marleau and Montpetit, page 589, regarding precedent in cases like this:

    However, in one exceptional circumstance, an application was approved for an emergency debate on “the sudden and unexpected revelation of events which [had] taken place in the past, in that they might precipitate a course of conduct which, if allowed to continue unchecked, would certainly classify itself as an emergency and a matter of urgent consideration.”

Further on a specific case is cited:

    This refers to revelations made by the Solicitor General in the House on October 28, 1977, concerning illegal actions committed by the national security forces of the RCMP in 1973. This matter was referred to the McDonald Royal Commission and to the Attorney General of Quebec.

Therefore, I am calling for support in this request so there will indeed be an emergency debate, given the urgency of the situation.

[English]

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the request for an emergency debate with respect to what we have learned further today with respect to the whole controversy over the Prime Minister's relationship with the Grand-Mère Inn and the Grand-Mère golf course.

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that what constitutes an argument for an emergency debate is whether or not an issue is of such importance, and whether or not the country and parliament is seized of it in such a way, that unless it is dealt with we cannot move on. It is something that is so much on the minds of all members of parliament that unless we deal with it we cannot move on and deal with all the other issues that we have before us.

By the government's own admission, not just an opposition claim, we are now at that state of affairs that unless we have a proper clearing of the air with respect to this issue, unless we can hear in detail and at some length from the Prime Minister or from others who want to make his case and from others who have other claims to make, the House is basically in a state of paralysis.

It is not something that I welcome, and I think the behaviour of my party over the last several weeks would justify me in saying so. We would like to deal with other things, but the Prime Minister, by not being willing to produce documents and by not being willing to tell the whole story, has created a situation in which we now plead, first of all, with the Prime Minister, but in this context, with you, Mr. Speaker, to create a situation in which this matter can be dealt with. Through your decision, Mr. Speaker, you can do what the government appears unwilling to do. It is not that we are asking you to do the government's work here, because that would be unfair and unjustified, and you would be right to refuse it. We are asking you to do something for parliament and the country, to create an opportunity in which we no longer have to spend question period after question period trying to get this whole story out, but rather let us have a special emergency debate, let us have everything on the table and hopefully get this behind us.

 

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Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would just quickly add that I agree with my colleagues in the House. I would point out to the Chair that this matter has been a question in the House for over two years now and it is time to clear the air.

It is very serious when the head of state is under this kind of cloud, rightly or wrongly. I believe we need an objective and trusted person from outside to investigate this. If the House itself were to deal with this as a serious matter before our institutions and our people, that would be the responsible and proper thing to do.

Two years is long enough. We need to get to the bottom of this and clear it up.

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe what I am hearing today. The opposition is creating an issue that, frankly, does not exist.

It has had an opportunity to debate this issue for over two years now in question period. It has had the opportunity to debate this issue during an election campaign. It has had an opportunity to debate this issue on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation station, as well as in the media. It has been holding news conferences day in and day out. It has had ample opportunity to bring the issue to the attention of the Canadian public. It has had the chance every day between 2 o'clock and 3 o'clock to debate this issue.

The Deputy Speaker: I realize it was rather unconventional for me to recognize a member from the government side when the request for emergency debate came from the opposition parties, and the House takes this matter very seriously, but clearly the member was engaging in debate.

[Translation]

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to take part in the request for an emergency debate.

For two years, two years, two years—I repeat it three times—we have been wasting our time in the House of Commons on problems created by the Prime Minister.

Once and for all, this must be cleared up so that we parliamentarians may come here and do our real work. As the Deputy Prime Minister said, we should be here to do the work of the opposition and do specific things for the benefit of our country.

That is why I agree we should have an emergency debate in order to have done with it once and for all. If the Prime Minister has nothing to hide, let him table the documents in the House and let the thing rest.

The Deputy Speaker: I hope I have expressed clearly and precisely the Chair's view of the request by the opposition parties for an emergency debate.

I have listened to arguments from the members of each party and, if someone has something new to add, I am prepared to listen briefly. However, with due respect for each intervention, I would ask for my colleague's co-operation in not simply repeating the arguments made to the Chair previously.

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): Mr. Speaker, there is something a little different from what has already been said that I would like you to consider.

On Wednesday we had a debate on reforming the standing orders of the House. I believe it is very important to know that for the course of events we cannot as members have confidence in this institution if the Prime Minister himself is not prepared to answer a number of questions on matters relating to integrity.

We assume he acted in good faith. We would like nothing better than to believe that, but we will not have confidence in our role as members if the Prime Minister does not make himself available to answer our questions.

The Deputy Speaker: With all due respect, I am asking for new subject matter. I do think that many points have been raised very responsibly.

 

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[English]

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your patience with us here. I would like to give a brief example of why this needs to be done now.

I am reflecting what my constituents are telling me. There is an emergency in agriculture. They want us to get on to that in this House. They see that we tend to be fiddling while Rome burns. The agriculture debate needs to take place and yet—

The Deputy Speaker: I do not want to diminish the seriousness of the request made by colleagues on this matter. I plead respectfully, if there is not something new that has not been presented outside the themes that I have already heard, I will tend to be less generous.

[Translation]

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I think that you will view what I am about to say as sufficiently important to be taken into consideration in your ruling.

I am the member for Champlain, which is the riding next to Saint-Maurice. This is our region. The allegations which were made this morning, the new information we have received, comes from our riding and the neighbouring riding, from the region. This business is beginning to weigh heavily on us, even economically. The member for Saint-Maurice is not—

SPEAKER'S RULING

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I am now ready to make a ruling. I would first like to thank all those who took part in the debate on this request.

[English]

I obviously tried to signal what I consider to be the gravity of the question when I entered into the subject matter acknowledging that the request for emergency debate consideration was under the signature of representatives of each of the opposition parties and, in some cases, not to diminish others, but certainly the House leaders.

This is an ongoing issue and, respectfully, I do not believe that the request meets the requirements of the standing orders at this time.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[English]

CANADA FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGY ACT

 

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in group no.1.

Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, prior to question period, I was getting excited about the perhaps waste of money that the government is proposing in setting up a whole new bureaucracy to administer money or hand out money that could easily be done through some other arm of the government.

I would give an example to the minister if he would take the time to attend some of the bacon and egghead breakfasts which are put on by the Canada Council just about every month in this place. If he had been in attendance at the one that was held last week, he could have a met a professor from the University of Victoria who is involved in environmental studies and is already studying the environment and ways to help reduce pollution.

It is totally unnecessary to set up a whole new organization to deal with this issue of environmental studies and technologies.

 

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It is completely ridiculous and it is an excuse to spend more money, make more patronage appointments and make the government even bigger. It is, because there is a bit of a surplus of taxpayer money, an excuse to spend. It is wrong to keep doing that when it is other people's money. I gave some examples—

Hon. Ralph Goodale: But he says he supports it in principle.

Mr. Ted White: Madam Speaker, the minister interrupts to say that the critic supports the bill. We support the idea that there needs to be technology development in conjunction with cleaning the environment. Of course we support that aim, but the point I am making is that there are divisions within the government which can already do that without setting up another bureaucracy.

I worry about accountability. The problem with setting up yet another bureaucracy is that there is hardly any accountability for the ones that are there. I gave some examples from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council before question period began. There are plenty of examples. There is the $38,600 for history and aesthetics of television medical dramas in North America. That is enough to make anyone sick.

The problem with the government is that there simply is no accountability. Committees have difficulty getting information about the way the government spends money. The Auditor General of Canada has accused the government of moving money around in the books in a way that makes it difficult to determine exactly what is going on.

The project that is taking place under the bill is just another excuse to expand the government. It should not be necessary. It should not be done when we can handle the project easily within other arms of government.

I realize the government is past the point of no return and will probably not withdraw the bill. In fact, I heard the minister say yes. The problem with this place is it would not matter if 300 MPs said it could be done more easily or more efficiently in some other arm of government. Because he is in charge, he will ram it through anyway and to Hades with the fact that it will cost taxpayers more money.

I will close by saying that since we are debating motions for amendments to the bill, I disagree with the motion put forward by the Bloc because it would simply add to the bureaucracy by involving the provincial governments.

[Translation]

Mr. Antoine Dubé (Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, BQ): Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-4. I support the remarks made by my colleague, the member for Sherbrooke, who is a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources, and who reported what he heard to us. We could almost say that he reported what he did not hear since, except for the minister and departmental officials, there were no other witnesses.

The Minister of Natural Resources told us before oral question period that there would be a consultation process. I would like to know if the bill is so perfect why there is a need for further consultation once it is passed.

It does not make any sense. Usually, when the government wants to introduce a bill, there is a consultation process which often takes place at the committee stage.

There is something else, something important. If the government really thought this bill was important, we know it would have passed it a long time ago. We also know that this bill replaces a bill—I think it was Bill C-46—that was introduced in the previous parliament.

I deplore the fact that once again the government is bringing back a bill that died on the order paper. Why did we have an election last fall? I know what it did to me. I was about to introduce a private member's bill that could have been passed and implemented before the election, but the Prime Minister decided to call an election before I had a chance to do that.

Now this bill is coming back to us as Bill C-4 to do what? To establish a new foundation. We could say yet another one.

 

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Each time we in the Bloc Quebecois have questioned the relevancy of a new foundation. Generally speaking why is a new foundation needed? I took part in the debate on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, another government agency.

Let us remind members about the millennium scholarships foundation. It was used by the federal government to interfere in provincial jurisdictions and hand out scholarships, and yet education is an exclusive provincial jurisdiction.

Now we have a new foundation to fund sustainable development and studies on new technologies. It is hard to be against a definition of sustainable development like the one we have in this bill, because it states the obvious.

The bill reads:

      “sustainable development” means development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

I am told that the budget of the foundation will be about $110 million. That is not very much for the kind of work it will have to do, which is almost the equivalent of the program of the whole government.

Going through a foundation is a different approach than the one the government normally uses, either through its departments or through agencies over which there is some control by cabinet, and therefore parliament, because we can ask the ministers questions in the House every day, ask questions and try to get answers to understand the way things are done, why money was spent, and so on.

When the government tries to justify the creation of a new foundation, it tells us “It is important for this to be done by an organization operating at arm's length from the government”. At first glance, this looks interesting, particularly since we wonder sometimes, every day in fact, how certain departments operate.

It would be great if everything were at arm's length, but we need only look at the nomination process. The chair is appointed by the governor in council, or the cabinet. Six members out of 15 are appointed by the cabinet and the others are chosen by the ones appointed by the cabinet. That is not very reassuring. Then the members choose the officials who will be in charge of operations. All this is done in a very independent fashion, far from the usual rules for hiring public servants.

Nobody is against sustainable development. Like all the other parties the Bloc Quebecois supports sustainable development. The provinces also support sustainable development. Quebec has created a foundation, a special fund to finance projects on new technologies that do not impact on the environment.

Everything should be clear and all levels of government should agree. According to information I got, the consultations dealt with sustainable development and the objects and purposes, but not with ways of proceeding, not with the structure. This is a new structure will operate at arm's length from the government but be controlled by the government, the cabinet, not by the department. We know who is the boss in the cabinet right now; it is the Prime Minister.

It is somewhat like the ethics counsellor appointed by the Prime Minister and responsible for watching over him. Here we have a process that turns itself around and could be fairly dangerous, even though it has noble objects.

 

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Quebec has had for several years a foundation dealing with the same kind of projects. It would be normal that the federal foundation operate in co-operation with the provinces.

This is not so sure, since admissibility criteria are not defined in the bill or their definition is so vague and so unclear that anything or nothing can be done at the same time, notably things that are already being done by provinces.

Those are the main reasons why I feel we cannot vote for this bill. The bill itself, even taking into account the motions put forward, raises so many questions that we cannot vote for it because the bill is really vague and unclear. On the contrary, legislation should be clear, applicable and applied.

[English]

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity today to speak on the bill. However I am also disappointed because of everything that has happened in the House over the last number of weeks, and particularly today.

It is, without question, important that we invest in sustainable development projects. I do not think there is any argument about that. I have listened to numerous members speak today, and there is no argument that we need to invest in sustainability. What there is, though, is a failure to have any faith in the government, the Prime Minister or any process that takes away the right of parliament to make decisions and puts that right in the hands of what is often referred to as an arm's length body.

Today I have come to realize that in Canada there are probably as many people who believe Elvis is still living as there are who have faith in the Prime Minister and the government. I say that in all seriousness. How can we have faith in the system anymore when we cannot clear the air on something as important as our Prime Minister being honest with us?

At a time when we should be investing in sustainable development, we must wonder why they are setting up this body at arm's length. Nobody believes it is arm's length anymore. For all government appointments on every type of foundation or board or whatever it sets up, there is always a rubber arm reaching in from the Liberal Party or the Prime Minister's Office with control over it. No one has faith any more.

I appeared the other night on a CPAC show and I talked about how we can encourage more young people to become involved in the political process. I made a comment that people must have faith in the system and believe the system works before they can become part of it and see positive change.

Although young people and many other people are not voting, they are involved in a political process. However it is a protest process. They are involved in things outside the realm of government. They no longer have faith in the government to follow through with important changes that must happen in our society.

As someone who has had faith in this democracy for a number of years, I have lost a lot of that faith since coming to parliament. I said the other night I was optimistic that we would see positive change. Parliament met and had discussions on democratic reform.

It now seems it was all just a wash and was not worth anything. Our Prime Minister is involved in a situation that has tainted the whole process, and he does not come clean. That is all that anybody is asking. If the proof is there it should be put on the table so that we can get on with the business of the country.

 

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We are starting to be seen like the affairs in the states where a few times the presidents got themselves involved in some nasty little to-do. Thank heavens it is not quite that bad, but we are getting there. We are spending our time questioning the credibility of our government, and in particular our Prime Minister. It is so disappointing.

We cannot help but wonder why we do not put the money to operate the board into the environment department. Why do we have to set up another arm's length board, pay a board of directors of appointed people once again, giving the implication that it is only being set up there to have more money funnelled through Liberal patronage?

We will have people involved in the sustainability industry, business and some NGOs. However, as far as individual Canadians who have an interest or the representatives of those Canadians in parliament having any say over what will happen, it is not there.

We were recently talking about the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. That is an excellent program. Even with that there is a question on how the money would be distributed to different areas throughout the country. Parliament does not have any way of saying that the way it is broken down has to be changed, so we have to fight that out now.

There is no way that my party and I can support any foundation or board that will be at arm's length from parliament because that is the bottom line here. It is not arm's length from the government because its rubber arm just reaches in, gives a little tug and says that this is what we will do. Nobody in Canada believes any differently. I do not believe for a second that the Liberals believe any differently any more. Even they cannot ignore it any longer.

We have reached the point of no return. If we do not clear the air, we will be unable to deal with any issues and we will be doing nothing for the democratic process in Canada.

The intentions are very good, as are the intentions of parliamentarians. However it will not work if we are operating under the type of rules the government is willing to accept as a credible process. It is disappointing that we cannot support the sustainable development fund based on the fact that we can no longer count on the government to do what is right for Canada and what is right for our country in general.

[Translation]

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak at report stage to Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology.

In other words, the federal government wants to get involved in one area so that the concept of sustainable development can be applied in several areas of our society and so that we can gradually eliminate any development that does not take environmental issues into account.

We all agree with this objective. I think we all want any future development to be sustainable and to comply with sustainability requirements. However this bill needs to be strengthened and expanded. It requires some additional elements.

The first group of amendments deals exactly with that. These amendments are designed to strengthen the rules for choosing the evaluation mechanisms and the criteria for the projects funded by the Canada foundation for sustainable development technology.

The proposed structure of the foundation leaves ample room for laxity. Members of the board of directors will be appointed in part by the government and those chosen by the government will then appoint the others. With such a structure, we could very well see projects being funded that do not necessarily meet the objectives of the foundation but rather those of the government's friends. This needs to be clarified.

 

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Let us not forget that the auditor general has denounced the government's custom of creating more and more foundations that are not really accountable to the House since the cabinet ministers in charge of them do not in effect control their activities nor do they have criteria to ensure that projects were accepted correctly.

In the present case we would have expected firmer assurances from the government that the money would be spent appropriately. In fact, that is the main problem with this bill.

This bill does not take into account the fact that a fund has already been created in Quebec for the same purpose and that it would have been much simpler to give the money to Quebec in order to increase the effectiveness of the Fonds québécois pour le développement durable.

It is quite surprising to note that the bill defines the concept of sustainable development but does not quite define the objectives of the approved projects.

I even predict that one, two or three years down the road projects will be denounced in the House as being absurd because they would not correspond to the objectives of a foundation such as the one considered for the sustainable development technology.

I am therefore inviting the government to pay attention, to listen, to study and to analyze the amendments proposed in this first grouping.

They will provide us with precise criteria for the awarding of contracts. We will have mechanisms for measuring completed projects to see whether their bottom line has changed society, ensured that the development was indeed sustainable, and saved us from situations such as we have seen in the past, for example the catastrophic groundfish strategy. That is one development in which long term sustainable development was not taken into account.

Then there are far more subtle points relating to the whole greenhouse gas issue. The foundation also needs to be looked at in terms of its objectives. Will it give an equal opportunity to provinces that already have measures and programs in place to deal with the greenhouse gas issue?

I know that Quebec has already done its part, while other provinces have not. There is often a connection with their energy production. They might turn to this foundation for more funds. This does not mean, however, that people in all parts of Canada ought not to be entitled to their share of the funds set aside. I feel that the bill as it stands is too vague, too imprecise on these points.

We do not have sufficient guarantees that the effectiveness of the program will be assessed. That is why we want the criteria to be tightened up so as to ensure that by the time third reading is reached the bill will have integrated the amendments required to give it some teeth. It will then be possible, if ever the foundation made a poor choice of projects, for funding to be taken back and a warning issued to project managers to change their way of doing things and to make sure the money goes to the right places.

As for the appointment process, we really have no guarantee that three, five or ten years down the road the criteria will have been applied properly as far as sustainable development is concerned.

In short, Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, is a good and desirable idea. However, it does not suit the Canadian situation because it does not respect provincial jurisdictions. It does not reflect the fact that Quebec is ahead because it already has its Fonds pour le développement durable.

The bill must be amended and refined to include many more of the elements that would make it an effective tool to stimulate initiatives in sustainable development so that, 10 years from now, we can say that Canada has in fact made the shift to sustainable development and that the foundation responsible for this has reached its objectives by respecting the specific characteristics of each region of Canada.

These things are missing from the bill. This is why we find the bill unacceptable in its present form. We ask the government to support the first series of amendments we proposed. Others will follow.

 

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We hope that the government will accept our suggestions to avoid having to come back to the House in one, two or three years to completely rework the legislation or, worse, being faced with scandals or outrageous situations.

[English]

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I will begin by saying that the Alliance will not be supporting Motions Nos. 1 and 6 put forward by the Bloc Quebecois for the reasons outlined by my colleagues.

It is worth repeating some of the difficulties that Motion No. 6 would bring to the legislation. It would bring provincial ministers of the environment into all the discussions regarding the criteria of eligibility and, in doing so, would introduce some different criteria of acceptance into every province. The bill needs uniformity and this would be a hindrance to that particular aspect of this important legislation.

If we were to pass Motion No. 6, or Motion No. 1 which is similar, I think it would create more problems than the bill attempts to solve. For that reason, we will not be supporting Motions Nos. 1 and 6.

Motion No. 10, brought forward by my colleagues from the Conservative Party, is an attempt to curtail some of the vagueness of the bill by introducing some eligibility criteria. We are supportive of that idea.

The purpose of the bill has been laid out and we are supportive of the intent of the bill. We have some questions and ideas for improvement in terms of how to implement the bill. We have some issues with some aspects of the bill that I believe are worth noting.

I want to state that the Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving our natural environment and endangered species. That is very clear within our policy and perspective. We want to work together with members from all sides of the House and the government. We commend them for moving forward on good initiatives that have to do with protecting our environment and enhancing sustainable development. Those are good, broad and general notions to pursue which we support.

My colleague from North Vancouver pointed out some rather glaring difficulties with the whole appointment process in terms of governor in council appointments, which is an aspect of this bill. He highlighted, from his own experience, some wasteful instances of taxpayer dollars being spent in ways that perhaps could have been allocated to priority areas, such as health care, education, reducing taxes and those kinds of very important priorities.

I want to talk a little bit about the appointment process that would be created by the bill. I believe the chairperson along with a minority number of directors and members are appointed by the governor in council, who would then appoint the remaining members to complete the 15 person board of directors. We do have some concerns that the foundation could become a possible patronage arm of the government.

We know that the government must appoint many people in many different arms of the government, related agencies and boards. We know that is a reality, but we would like to see a process that would have the most competent and trained individuals for positions like that.

We have seen examples in other areas, not particularly this one area that has been brought forward, where appointments have been somewhat questionable. We always raise the concern when the issue is brought up within any legislation that there needs to be a more transparent and accountable process in place for appointing individuals to government boards or to arms of the government.

One example, of which I am very well aware and which happened not too long ago, was the appointment of a former colleague of ours here in the House, Mr. Sekora, who was representing Coquitlam.

 

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He was appointed as a citizenship judge. He made some rather outlandish remarks in the House which are documented in Hansard. We are all well aware of them. It showed insensitivity on the government's part to appoint an individual who demonstrated a lack of sensitivity on issues to do with immigration.

Even after the election he made comments that were rather derogatory to immigrants in his own community. He was then appointed a citizenship judge. His record seems quite contrary to the kind of individual one would appoint to a responsible position.

The actions and past experience of that individual give us reason for concern. We also see, through another piece of legislation, governor in council appointments where individuals appointed to boards are perhaps not the best selection in some cases. That raises concerns for us, and obviously we have the same concern with this bill. We encourage the government to, and hope it will, select individuals who are the best for the job in this area.

An hon. member: We will.

Mr. Grant McNally: I am glad to hear the minister say he will. He is making the commitment in the House today to appoint qualified individuals to the board. I thank him for that. We hope that perhaps he can talk to the rest of his cabinet colleagues and impress upon them the importance of doing so within their areas and departments.

I will talk a bit about an environmental issue in my own community. There are several. One has to do with protecting a very sensitive area known as the Cod Island wetlands. It is in the Lower Fraser Valley in the area of Pitt Meadows and Pitt Poulder. There are individuals who are working hard to find a community solution to the situation. They are trying to bring people together to protect one of the most sensitive wetlands, and perhaps the only remaining sensitive wetland in the lower mainland in British Columbia, from being developed.

There is the potential for that. An individual who owns the land wants to turn it into cranberry bogs. It is his land and he has the right to do so. However there is also concern that it be preserved, and there are individual working on that. I encourage the government to get involved as well, and to look at how it might help out. I have written letters to the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on the issue and I will continue to encourage them to find community based solutions to protect that very sensitive area.

The Alliance is concerned about the environment. We are in many regards the party that wants to protect the environment. Members from other parties want to protect it as well, and we commend them for their efforts. We need to work together to find commonalities wherever we can in regard to the bill. There is agreement on some motions. We do not particularly support Motions Nos. 1 and 6, as I outlined. However we do support Motion No. 10. We will soon be debating other parts of the bill as well.

It is an important issue to talk about in the House. Many have said it will be the most important issue within the next generation. We need to protect our environment. It will affect the future health and well-being of all citizens no matter which area, province or community they come from. We must be concerned. We must turn our concern into workable action so that we do the right thing together in a way that is not partisan.

 

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We will have disagreements on how to implement aspects of legislation. However we must work together on things we agree on and have a clear debate about the things we disagree on. We must do this in an open fashion, as has been done in the House today, and allow individuals to bring forward ideas and suggestions for amending legislation.

Our critic has been very involved for a long time with this issue and has ideas and suggestions on how to improve the bill. I am sure he has brought up his ideas at committee, and he will be bringing them up in the House. We need to work together to make this a workable piece of legislation.

[Translation]

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): Madam Speaker, I am always a bit flattered when you refer to me from the Speaker's chair as a membre, in French. I also know that the word refers to very different realities in French and in English. However, you can always count on me to stimulate the discussion, as far as I am allowed to do in this House.

I feel a bit spoiled to be allowed to speak on this Friday, not only because the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport is listening to me but also because I am doing so under the watchful eye of the member for Sherbrooke, who has done an excellent job. I am sure that all my colleagues join me in paying tribute to him for the tremendous job he did in the committee to convey the concerns of the Bloc Quebecois.

I am all the more confident because our former critic, the member for Jonquière, is close by and she is very knowledgeable about this issue.

I would like to remind the minister that if everybody in this House knows very well that there is a pink side to me, they should also know that there is a green side to me and that the Bloc Quebecois firmly believes in the need for governments to invest in sustainable development.

This is not an easy issue, because I remember that at the beginning of the 1990s, when the secretary of State for Amateur Sport had not yet been elected to this House but was working very hard to get here, we discussed the main recommendations which were adopted by multilateral forums. Of course, the discussion dealt with the damage to be expected from climate change.

This is why we do not question the necessity for governments, the federal government as well as provincial governments, to invest in this area. However we have a few questions about the way the government intends to proceed.

At first glance this bill appears to be a positive initiative, at least judging by its title, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology. One would tend to see this as a rather positive initiative. However, if one takes a closer look at the bill, one finds that it raises some concerns.

First, we should not forget that Canada has a national issue table made up of various organizations dealing with environment issues. These organizations, which are monitoring the issue of the environment with a truly admirable attentiveness, have said that a $5 million outlay is very little. In fact, in view of the studies and field projects required to yield real results in our communities, some $1.2 billion should be invested in the foundation. At the very least the foundation needs $500 million for demonstration projects alone.

When we read the last budget speech announcing the establishment of that foundation, we realize that the government has been rather parsimonious. For a government which claimed the environment as one of its priorities, we cannot say that the finance minister has really loosened the purse strings.

I am rather surprised and I sympathize with this natural resources minister who has been somewhat ostracized when it comes to budget matters. I know he would have loved to be able to make an announcement in this House about a $500 million investment. Unfortunately he will have to make do with a meagre $100 million in the next few years.

As for the second concern, we know how foundations can be a touchy subject.

 

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The foundation in question will be composed of 14 members, seven of whom will be appointed directly by the government. Those members shall appoint the other seven members—eight with the chairperson—of the foundation. Co-optation is clearly in evidence here, but this process raises a number of concerns.

Why was it not possible, for example, for provinces to submit lists directly? If this government had been really serious about co-operative federalism, the submission of lists directly by the various environment departments or ministries—all provinces and territories have one—could have been allowed.

It is a fairly common practice. I remember voicing the same criticism when the bill creating the National Tourism Commission was before the House. It is always the same. For the sake of transparency, the provinces should be involved in the appointment process.

I remind the House that the hard working member for Sherbrooke, who substantially increased his majority in the last general election, tabled an amendment essentially requesting that the various provincial environment ministers be involved in the process. I hope the government will seize the opportunity to set this straight, and to do for the environment what it did not do for the National Tourism Commission.

This is one of our concerns. We hope the government will be favourable to the Bloc's amendments.

I nearly made a terrible blunder. I want to take this opportunity to wish all the best to my friend André Boisclair, the new minister of the environment as a result of the recent cabinet shuffle in Quebec City. He is one of the most talented members of the government. He is a rising star in Quebec politics. To the member for Gouin, with whom you might even have shared a common electorate, Madam Speaker, and who is well known for his talents, talents the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport might envy a little bit, I wish all the best.

We know how much our fellow citizens value the environment. Understandably so as the future of our society depends on the environment. There are the issues of recycling, sustainable development, climatic change, which must all be looked at.

I would like to digress a little to say that I hope the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport has a recycling box in front of his home. I know this program is available in all Montreal neighbourhoods. We know how important green neighbourhoods are. I would not understand if the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport would not be setting an example.

This leads me to talk about the Quebec foundation which has been in existence for a number of years. I see the Minister of Natural Resources nodding. He will agree with me that this foundation has a $45 million endowment. The Quebec government maintains environmental know-how.

Let me remind the House that the Fonds d'action québécois pour le développement durable distributes its budget allowance between four major components, four major priorities. I would like the Minister of Natural Resources to carefully take note of these components. He will discover that it would be quite possible for him to transfer to this foundation the portion that should be allocated to Quebec. He could send it directly, move it through the Fondation québécoise pour le développement durable.

The first component deals with the integration and promotion of sustainable development, for which the Quebec government has set aside $19 million.

The second component is related to the carrying out of ecological infrastructures and the enhancement of biodiversity, for which the Quebec government has set aside $15 million.

 

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The third component is most important in my opinion, but I know there are mixed views on this. For me it is of the utmost importance. It is the issue of experimenting with environmentally sensitive technologies.

Incidentally, if we want new ways of doing things, if we want Quebecers and Canadians to change the way they consume resources, if we really want to establish new practices which have no detrimental effect on natural resources, then obviously we have to experiment with new technologies.

To do so, funding must be available to community agencies that will conduct new experiments, on environmentally related technologies for example, at a cost of $7 million.

I see that my time is nearly up, so I will conclude by saying that although our party is pro-environment we believe that too many jurisdictions are involved. I ask the Minister of the Environment to support the amendments introduced by the member for Sherbrooke, for the Bloc Quebecois.

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Madam Speaker, the subject being debated today involves two great passions I have had since I was very young and since I entered politics specifically.

We are talking about the environment. There is no doubt that the environment means our future. There is no doubt that when we speak of the environment it is hard to oppose the bill, because it would appear to be opposing environmental protection when in my opinion we do not protect it enough.

This bill is a case in point on the subject of democracy. I want to take what my colleague, the member for Churchill, said a little further. She said, “When I arrived in parliament, I had illusions. I thought democracy reigned supreme in parliament. The further I go, the more I realize democracy is under threat”.

My mentor in reflection in the area of democracy or politics is René Lévesque. I had the opportunity to work with this great democrat, now recognized by one and all. Mr. Lévesque said “If there is one political value worth sacrificing one's life for, it is the value of democracy”.

When I see how the government is wearing democracy away and not using democracy—because democracy, as we know, is perhaps one of the sole values that may be worn away and is lost when not used—each time it is threatened, I see René Lévesque and I feel I must react.

This government's ever more closed administration is inexplicable and unforgivable. We can see what it is doing in its closed circuit as well. The only way it can enter an area of Quebec's jurisdiction is by creating foundations.

When it wants to duplicate what is being done in Quebec, it just establishes a foundation and goes ahead. If somebody objects, its answer is that it is just a foundation. However who is responsible for this foundation? To a large extent the Prime Minister is. A foundation obeys the Prime Minister and reports to him. It also gets its mandate from the Prime Minister, but the money still comes from the taxpayers. I take strong exception to this.

With respect to the environment, for example, my colleague has just explained that the Quebec government is putting in a big effort and is doing a great job.

 

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The day before yesterday in committee I asked the agriculture minister a question about what Quebec is trying to do to make agriculture and the environment more compatible, to improve agriculture so that agriculture and the environment can go hand in hand. The agriculture minister congratulated the Quebec government on its efforts concerning the environment.

If this democratic parliament has more money to spend on the environment, it should go through the normal channels and spend it through the Quebec government. It is already there and it is doing a good job on the environment.

I cannot even support the principle underlying this bill because it is not democratic. The purpose of foundations should not be to divert money from provinces and to duplicate provincial programs.

Today is a very sad day for me and for my whole environment. I am the member for Champlain. My riding is located next to the riding of Saint-Maurice. The member for Saint-Maurice, my colleague in parliament, is the Prime Minister. Members know that we have been talking for months now about what occurred in the Prime Minister's riding and in the riding of Champlain.

The Prime Minister argues that nothing wrong happened, but he should turn his words into action and prove that nothing wrong occurred. I am shocked to see that my neighbour, the member for Saint-Maurice, is not even trying to quash the rumours when he could easily shed some light on this issue simply by tabling some documents. This is hurting the riding of Saint-Maurice, the riding of Champlain, the whole region and our democracy.

I think we should act quickly. Members know that people living in various ridings do talk to each other. People come to see me in my riding office and tell me: “Mr. Gagnon, when will this stop? It is starting to really hurt us”. Many of these people come from Shawinigan—

Hon. Denis Coderre: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is not the first time that the hon. member for Champlain has gone off track. I think that the bill is very clear. It deals with the Canada foundation for sustainable development technology. He should stick to that if he wants to keep going.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): This issue is often raised. We should perhaps give a lecture on chapter 13 of our procedure and practice relating to the relevancy of debate, because the same thing has happened several times today.

[English]

I would like to bring to the member's attention the relevancy issue because it is an issue that normally on Fridays is raised very often. Unless a member brings it to the attention of the Chair, the Chair cannot act on its own.

In many instances the Speaker has indicated that a question invokes the rule of relevancy by indicating to a member who has been called to order, as the secretary of state has done in this instance, the proper subject matter of the debate and how the member's remarks were irrelevant.

[Translation]

I would like us to continue the debate on the issue before the House. I do not wish to say that it is the hon. member's fault only. During debate, the Chair allows considerable leeway as far as the issues debated are concerned. It is not for me to judge the content, but I believe that we must also respect the procedures of the House.

Mr. Marcel Gagnon: Madam Speaker, I thank you and I thank my hon. colleague across the way for having raised the issue of relevancy. I thought my remarks were totally relevant, but I do want to come back to the bill.

The matter of the riding of Saint-Maurice I was talking about is a part of my immediate environment. When I speak about the economy in my area, that is part of my environment. When we speak about sustainable environment, I sense that certain people are about to see their reign come to an end.

 

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I must say that I will always be in favour of bills that really favour the environment. I am against this bill, because it concerns not the environment but democracy, which is the basis of the life of this country.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate a great democrat who just took power in Quebec, Bernard Landry. I know that he will work for the sustainable development of Quebec.

Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Madam Speaker, I know I do not have much time as we have only five minutes left.

I rise once again to speak about the establishment of a foundation by this government. The least we can say is that the rules governing its establishment will not allow the public to know what is going on. Neither will these rules allow the best interests that are supposed to be served by this foundation to actually be served.

This is not because there is no environmental problem in Canada. This is not because Canada is not having trouble meeting the targets it agreed to in Kyoto; on the contrary. The stakes are extremely high.

With regard to the recommendation made to the federal government, instead of ensuring that the extremely necessary funding be provided in a timely fashion to advance these urgent projects to develop technologies to address climate change and pollution, the government is embarking on the creation of a foundation through a rather bizarre piece of legislation.

Essentially the bill has only one purpose, as stated in clause 5:

    5. The objects and purpose of the Foundation are to provide funding to eligible recipients for eligible projects.

Its purpose is to provide funding for eligible projects. It would be given an insufficient amount of money for the sustainable development that is necessary. However the definition of eligible project reads as follows:

    “eligible project“means a project carried on, or to be carried on, primarily in Canada by an eligible recipient to develop and demonstrate new technologies to promote sustainable development, including technologies to address climate change and air quality issues.

The only guideline to this foundation if this definition of eligible project. However, and this is also disturbing, with respect to the establishment of the board of directors, it is stipulated that there shall be seven members appointed by the governor in council, that is by the government, on the recommendation of the minister, and these seven members shall co-opt members in the other areas.

What do we see? We see a great danger that this would be a small group of friends whose task would be to fund eligible projects. These eligible projects are extremely wide reaching and we do not even know if this will go in the direction of the commitments—

 

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The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): I am sorry to interrupt, but the hon. member's time is up. I remind her, however, that she will have five minutes to conclude her comments when debate resumes.

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


PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Translation]

BÉLANGER-CAMPEAU COMMISSION

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ) moved:  

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should recognize the conclusion of the Bélanger-Campeau Commission, which proposed, in 1991, that the National Assembly of Quebec adopt legislation on holding a referendum and the offer of a new partnership, and that no federal legislation or regulations should be incompatible with achieving this conclusion.

He said: Madam Speaker, I want to say how proud I am to speak about the Bélanger-Campeau commission, since it will be 10 years on March 27 that the commission tabled its report.

Before getting to the heart of the matter, however, I wish to welcome a friend of mine who is taking a law course with me. Twice a week I attend lectures to be able to better understand the bills that are brought before us. I know that, Madam Speaker, you have a law degree.

I want to welcome one of my colleagues, Clément Bélanger, who wants to hear today's debate. I am glad he is here, even though I do not always share his views on Canada's future. I am very happy to see him here.

First, as members will recall, the Bélanger-Campeau commission was created as a result of the failure of the Meech Lake accord. Speaking about that as a Quebecer, it is hard to forget that this was the first time in the history of Quebec that a head of government, Robert Bourassa, asked for so little in terms of collective powers.

The 1987 Meech Lake accord, which the provinces had three years to ratify, was based on five main conditions. They were the minimum we could accept. Asking for less collective powers would have reduced us to the status of a municipality.

There were five main conditions in Meech: that Quebec be recognized as a distinct society and that this should be given an interpretative value in the preamble of an act; that provinces have a veto, especially with regard to changes to federal institutions; That Quebec could submit a list of judges who, more faithful to the civil law tradition, would be appointed to the supreme court on the recommendation of the national assembly; that spending power would be limited with regard to new shared cost programs; and that Quebec would have its fair share of immigration quotas, that is 23% or 24%.

As we can see, this was much less than what previous premiers had asked for. Members will remember that the Meech Lake accord was defeated by two provinces, namely Newfoundland and Manitoba. Why should we remember the Meech Lake accord? Why should we remember Bélanger-Campeau commission?

 

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I felt rather happy last night to hear that the premier of Quebec wished to bring the various studies up to date. Fifty-five experts, of every persuasion, of every leaning, of every allegiance, tabled submissions before the Bélanger-Campeau commission.

I want to point one thing out. It is incredible that it has to be remembered, 10 years after the Meech Lake accord failed, that if Robert Bourassa were alive and still active in public life, he could not have held a referendum along the very terms of the Bélanger-Campeau commission.

I want to remind my hon. colleagues, particularly those from English Canada, that the Bélanger-Campeau commission is not a trivial fact of our history.

When the federal government through the federal-provincial relations office, run by the Privy Council, refers to the Bélanger-Campeau commission in its own documents, it refers to it as a constitutional commission, which represents a moment of the history of Quebec, the most intense moment of our collective history, when we came close to having something similar to a constituent assembly.

Thirty-six commissioners, 34 of whom are still alive, sat on the Bélanger-Campeau commission, and everything that is stirring in Quebec, everything that we love in Quebec, everything that thinks in Quebec, was represented, including municipalities, school boards, political movements, mostly from Quebec, and artists. Everything that is stirring in Quebec was represented on the Bélanger-Campeau commission.

In its conclusion the Bélanger-Campeau commission reminded us that there are two major options for Quebec's future. Let me quote in its entirety the main conclusion of the Bélanger-Campeau commission:

    Only two solutions are open to Quebec in redefining its status: firstly, making a new, last, attempt to redefine its status within the federal system; and, secondly, achieving sovereignty.

Ten years after the Bélanger-Campeau commission, after the failure of the Meech Lake accord, after the failure of the Charlottetown accord and after the referral to the supreme court, I am telling the House that the evidence is now there: Canadian federalism cannot be renewed to further the legitimate aspirations of Quebecers, and the only relevant, valid, appropriate and credible conclusion is Quebec's sovereignty.

A number of elements support such a statement. I was a member of parliament in 1995; many members who are here now were not back then, but I was. The Prime Minister had a motion passed to recognize the distinct character of Quebec, a motion in which he even gave Quebec a veto. What happened since 1995?

Whenever it was time to recognize Quebec as a nation, this government always rejected what was passed in this House and what was asked by the Bélanger-Campeau commission. What is the point of adopting a motion saying that Quebec is a distinct society if we cannot even be recognized for who we are?

Let me give some examples. The review of the bill on immigration and citizenship was a complex issue, since francophones account for only 2% of immigrants in North America. Quebec has a citizenship policy. Whether we like it or not, from the moment people can take part in democratic institutions, citizenship becomes a reality.

 

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During debates in committee and in this House, when we reviewed the issue of citizenship and immigration, we tabled an amendment requesting that Quebec hold its own citizenship ceremony because we all know the value of symbols. During the ceremony we would have given new immigrants choosing Quebec a copy of our charter of the French language, our Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms and our elections act.

How did the government reply to that motion? It spurned it. Through this lack of support for our request, once again, the government was showing that it does not seriously intend to recognize us as a nation.

What does Bill C-20 mean? Bill C-20 where the great democratic forces in Quebec isolated the government and reminded the government that it cannot legitimately expect to write the referendum question in lieu of the national assembly.

I remind members that if Robert Bourassa had wanted to hold a referendum on the Bélanger-Campeau commission's report, under Bill C-20, and more specifically clause 4, he would not have had the freedom to do so. I dare any member of parliament to prove to me that it would be possible to ask a two part referendum question under clause 4 of Bill C-20.

Worse yet, since the early 1990s we have seen an unprecedented attempt to deny Quebec's identity and reinforce the Canadian identity.

The House might recall that in 1995, the year of the referendum, the government did one of the most anti-democratic things that can be done politically.

I see that the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport is being very offhand about this. I ask him to remember that in 1995, the same year in which was held the referendum under the referendum act, René Lévesque's greatest legacy, this government did not even have the decency to respect the legislation in question. During the referendum campaign it spent five times more than the authorized ceiling in Quebec. Is that how it views democracy? It spent five times more than was allowed.

Worse yet, it used citizenship courts to promote its political option and to hand out vast numbers of citizenship certificates.

I believe in immigration because Quebec is condemned to be a land of immigration. When we look at which countries take in the most immigrants, Quebec is in fifth place. It is right after Australia, the United States and New Zealand. Quebecers' generosity and openness is well known.

Can there be any justification for a government not only failing to comply with the referendum act but also using citizenship courts to issue 43,000 citizenship certificates, 11,000 of them in one month? If that had been a lasting trend, we would have noticed it in 1996, 1997, and 1998. In 1996 citizenship certificate quotas dropped by 70%.

This is what is unacceptable in a democratic system. Instead of maintaining the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial arms, instead of maintaining the historical perspective required in discussions of such matters, this government has breached one of the most time honoured principles of our democracy. It has used the judiciary to promote its political option. This is not acceptable.

 

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In Quebec there are three issues on which everyone agrees, regardless of their political affiliations. Claude Ryan could call on the spirit of such a collective opinion and the Bélanger-Campeau commission has embodied them. What are these issues? Quebec is a nation, and all nations have the right to choose their destiny.

These last few years the federal government has put in place a formidable propaganda machine. Every year since 1996 the federal government has spent, on average, $100 million a year on initiatives promoting federalism, $100 million of which a part surely comes from taxes paid by Quebecers.

The intergovernmental affairs minister said yesterday, with his usual outraged tone, that the government is not legitimate. The government of Quebec, led by Robert Bourassa, held the first constituent assembly of our history, at which all the political forces were represented.

A certain amount of studies were made. It is the duty of the government to update those studies because we will not accept to be treated like a simple province because Quebec is not like Prince Edward Island. It is not like Saskatchewan. It is not like Alberta. With all the respect I have for their distinctiveness, but they are not like Quebec.

I see that my time has expired, but with the unanimous consent of the House I could complete my speech in five minutes.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): The member will still have five minutes at the end because it is his motion.

However, is there unanimous consent of the House to allow the member to continue with his speech?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

[English]

Mr. Bill Matthews (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I have listened attentively to the hon. member and I want to say that I am quite pleased to be participating in the debate on Motion No. 220 which has been tabled by the hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve and which reads as follows:

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should recognize the conclusion of the Bélanger-Campeau Commission, which proposed, in 1991, that the National Assembly of Quebec adopt legislation on holding a referendum and the offer of a new partnership, and that no federal legislation or regulations should be incompatible with achieving this conclusion.

The motion at least has the merit of providing us with the opportunity to rectify certain facts and to set the record straight in this debate on Quebec secession. The motion is clearly designed to challenge the legitimacy of Bill C-20, which was passed last year by Canada's parliament.

It is therefore necessary to respond to the motion by turning again to the main arguments that were advanced in support of the clarity act. I would first like to address the portion of the hon. member's motion that reads as follows: “that no federal legislation or regulations should be incompatible with achieving this conclusion”.

I find the hon. member's wording of the motion extremely one-sided. It seems to imply for all practical purposes, and in a manner that is simplistic to say the least, that the current Government of Canada is trying to prevent the government of Quebec from holding an umpteenth referendum on Quebec secession, an option that it is attempting above all to camouflage through vague hints of an alleged will for association.

How many times will it have to be reiterated that the current Government of Canada is in no way seeking to prevent the national assembly from consulting Quebecers on any matter whatsoever?

It should be noted that a recent poll has confirmed that only a minuscule proportion, less than 10%, of Quebecers want such a referendum to be held during the current mandate, while 49% say they never want one to be held, and 76% of respondents, regardless of option preferred, want Quebec to remain in Canada.

 

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I would urge the hon. member to use his inside contacts with the current government of Quebec and to remind Mr. Landry of these facts, since to date he still does not seem to get the message.

Regardless of these considerations, I can only remind the hon. member, who certainly cannot not have forgotten, that Bill C-20, passed last year by Canada's parliament, in no way sought to prevent Quebecers from deciding on their political future. As respected a personality as Mr. Claude Castonguay emphasized this point eloquently before the legislative committee studying Bill C-20 when he said about the bill:

    I did not see anything in this bill that limits the jurisdiction of the Quebec National Assembly nor the right of Quebecers to decide their future.

Indeed, Bill C-20 in no way prevents the national assembly from wording the referendum question as it sees fit. A future referendum would have to be held in full compliance with provincial laws. The clarity act merely specifies that the federal government will not enter into negotiations unless a clear majority of Quebecers vote in favour of secession in response to a question as passed by the national assembly and do determine, through a resolution, whether the question is clear. It is very important that the question be clear.

I ask hon. members to remember that Bill C-20 was our response to the opinion of the supreme court in the Quebec secession reference which was issued in the summer of 1998. Like that opinion of the court, it emphasizes the need to ask a clear question—I emphasize again, a clear question—and to obtain an equally clear majority.

I understand that some members opposite do not particularly like the words clear question and clear majority. They find something radically wrong with a clear question and a clear majority.

Paragraph 87 of the opinion specified states:

    The democratic principle—would demand that considerable weight be given to a clear expression by the people of Quebec of their will to secede from Canada, even though a referendum, in itself and without more, has no direct legal effect, and could not in itself bring about unilateral secession.

Further on in paragraphs 92 and 151 it states:

    The continued existence and operation of the Canadian constitutional order could not be indifferent to a clear expression of a clear majority of Quebecers that they no longer wish to remain in Canada.

The opinion referred to a clear question on numerous occasions and the supreme court used the expression clear majority 13 times. Why put so much emphasis on clarity? The answer is obvious: the consequences of secession are so grave that it must be clear that the province's population does in fact want to cease to be a part of Canada. Let me say as well that of course secession has very grave consequences for other provinces and other people of Canada as well.

A question that refers to the possibility of a political or economic association is not clear, because if the response is favourable, how can it be known whether it applies to independence, to a new partnership or to a form of independence providing for some type of association?

A clear answer to a clear question: who can be opposed to this principle other than those who, not once but twice, have presented Quebecers with vague, misleading options, with the sole objective, as Mr. Parizeau boasted himself, of getting the lobsters into the pot? Mr. Parizeau boasted publicly that all they wanted to do was get the lobsters into the pot. We all know what happens to lobsters when we get them into the pot. They get cooked.

I can well imagine the objections the Bloc raises in this connection, just as I am hearing now from an hon. member opposite. The Bloc maintains that the questions asked during the 1980 and 1995 referenda were clear. On the contrary, they were nothing of the kind, because they referred to such vague, nebulous concepts as association and partnership which, as I just pointed out, tend to cloud and skew the issue.

To demonstrate the confusion generated by the question asked on the last referendum, I want to refer to the statement made by Professor Maurice Pinard before the parliamentary committee studying Bill C-20.

 

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In Professor Pinard's own words:

    In 1995, only about 50% of respondents realized that sovereignty did not necessarily mean partnership. The others believed that sovereignty would not be declared if partnership could not be achieved.

How can it be contested, in light of such figures, that the referendum question put to Quebecers in 1995 was ambiguous when its true significance escaped half the voters?

[Translation]

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): I would remind members that all questions and comments must be put to other members though the Chair.

I would also ask members on both sides to be careful in their choice of words. We must show respect.

[English]

Mr. Bill Matthews: Madam Speaker, it seems that my remarks are striking a chord or a nerve with some members opposite. I do not know why that is. I guess it goes back to the point I just made that the referendum question put to Quebecers in 1995 was ambiguous.

The significance escaped half the voters. How can the government be reproached for requiring that in future such debate be held in a context of pure clarity? Is that too much to ask? No one on this side of the House thinks it is. We want clarity. We want a clear question and we want a clear majority.

In conclusion, I want to make one further criticism of the motion. It attempts to paint a false picture of what the Bélanger-Campeau Commission really proposed. One of the scenarios in the commission's recommendations was that a referendum on Quebec sovereignty should be held. One would have to conclude that this proposal runs counter to what is being touted these days by the leader of the Parti Quebecois, who talks about some form of confederative association without defining what it actually means.

The Bélanger-Campeau Commission also envisioned the possibility of an offer, originating from the Government of Canada, of a new constitutional partnership. Under such a scenario, Quebec could and would stay within Canada. That is the true nature of the partnership the Bélanger-Campeau Commission was talking about.

Needless to say, it in no way corresponds to the meaning the hon. member opposite wants to convey through his motion, which is every bit as vague and misleading as the question put to Quebecers in 1980 and 1995.

Quebecers already have an effective partnership, one that works very well. That partnership has a name, and that name is Canada. Quebecers want to keep it that way and they are absolutely right. The Government of Canada, and I cannot reiterate this strongly enough, does not want to prevent Quebecers from making their choice.

[Translation]

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, first, I would like to say a few words about the Clarity Act.

[English]

The question of the clear majority was mentioned by the hon. parliamentary secretary. That provision of the law, it deserves to be said here, is very unclear. It is important to point that out because the law is often presented as a model of clarity. However that part of the law does not specify what a clear majority would be. It only says that we would hold hearings after a referendum has occurred and after 50% has been achieved in deciding whether a majority has been clear.

When I was a private citizen about this time last year, I came as an expert witness before the committee looking at Bill C-20. I made this observation and suggested that provision of the law be changed. I regret that my advice was not taken.

I suggest, however, that what the government has done is given more credibility to the 50% plus one model while taking away from that sense of validity. The government has, therefore, in passing this law, perhaps achieved the opposite of its objective.

I will also read the motion we are debating today, because I want to make a point with regard to it:

 

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[Translation]

The motion reads as follows:

    That, in the opinion of this House, the government should recognize the conclusion of the Bélanger-Campeau Commission, which proposed, in 1991, that the National Assembly of Quebec adopt legislation on holding a referendum and the offer of a new partnership, and that no federal legislation or regulations should be incompatible with achieving this conclusion.

[English]

That is not quite historically accurate. The last part of the motion which follows the last comma does not accurately reflect what was said by the Bélanger-Campeau commission in its report.

The Bélanger-Campeau commission made four pages of recommendations. The four pages were primarily in the form of a proposed law to be put before the National Assembly of Quebec. Part of the proposed law, which was adopted by the national assembly, called for the establishment of a parliamentary commission of the national assembly for the review of an offer.

I can find nothing in the recommendations that suggests no federal law or regulation ought to be adopted contrary to those recommendations or contrary to the offer to be made. We ought to be clear that we are not debating an historically accurate motion today.

The hon. parliamentary secretary had a good point when he said that the real function of the motion was to suggest that the clarity act was illegitimate. It is an awkward way of approaching it. If I were to regard it as illegitimate, I would attack some of the contents of the act, such as the part to which I just made reference. I find other parts of the act to be quite valuable, particularly the requirement that a clear question be asked.

The subtext of the motion makes reference to or hints at a proposal put forward by Jean-François Lisée in his book Sortie de Secours. He proposed to put forward one part of the supreme court's decision in its reference, Renvoi relatif à la sécession du Québec, and I will read the section:

[Translation]

    A clear majority vote in Quebec on a clear question in favour of secession would confer democratic legitimacy on the secession initiative which all of the other participants in Confederation would have to recognize.

[English]

This has been read by Mr. Lisée as meaning that not only could a proposal on secession put forward and voted upon by the people of Quebec be taken to the Government of Canada as grounds for mandatory good faith negotiations, but so too could a proposal for some form of new partnership.

It is an interesting reading of the court's reference and not one the court intended. The court is always happy to make readings of the constitution that bear no resemblance to the meaning put there by the original writers of the constitution, so perhaps fair is fair.

It seems Mr. Lisée's intention is to have a referendum question on a new partnership put before the people of Quebec, one that would seem reasonable to the people of Quebec but would be worded in such a way that it would not appear reasonable to people in the rest of the country. It would create some form of negotiations that would be impossible to resolve, much like the negotiations that took place during the Meech-Charlottetown period in our history. This would cause the kind of crisis that the Parti Quebecois government is having so much trouble generating on its own, no matter how many comments about red rags are made by the premier of Quebec.

We must be aware that the subtext is in the motion. If it were a votable motion, we would have good grounds to vote against it and to reject its proposals. I also want to make reference to the fact that there is something legitimate in what is being said.

I will turn to another group that is proposing changes to the Canadian constitution. I am referring to the group led by Stephen Harper, Ken Boessenkool, Tom Flanagan and others known as the Alberta 6. In its open letter to Ralph Klein about two months ago, it proposed that Alberta:

    Use Section 88 of the Supreme Court's decision on the Quebec Secession Reference to force Senate reform back on the national agenda. Our reading of that decision is that the federal government and other provinces must seriously consider our proposal for constitutional reform endorsed by “a clear majority on a clear question” in a provincial referendum.

 

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Referring directly to the premier, the group said:

    You acted decisively once before to hold a senatorial election. Now is time to drive the issue further.

It is saying that provinces need to have some sort of means to force on to the national agenda issues which are currently only on the provincial agenda but which are legitimate. That is a legitimate point they are making.

That point would be equally legitimate in the case of the concerns of Quebecers. Their concerns are unable to make it on to the national agenda, largely because they get tangled up in the whole question of separation versus remaining in Canada, and the partisan divide that exists in Quebec, as it does everywhere, because of our highly partisan political structure.

Referendums do break through that. We saw that demonstrated brilliantly when we in fact had a crisis in the country. It looked as if the crisis would drive the country apart. A referendum was held nationwide in October 1992, largely because of the Bélanger-Campeau commission recommendations.

Canadians realized that it was a great deal more complex than they had thought it was. The issue was not simply a matter of those rotten separatists, those rotten people in Ottawa or in the rest of the country who would not listen to us and give legitimacy to our positions.

We realized that the constitutional proposals offered were in a vast unworkable package deal. A majority of Quebecers voted against those proposals, as did a majority of people in a number of the other provinces. The issue itself faded away and the unity crisis that could have broken up the country also passed.

It is my own reading of that time. I was an active participant on the no side in that referendum. We were in greater danger as a country in 1992 than we were three years later in 1995 when the provincial referendum in Quebec was held.

While I am a supporter of direct democracy, I am probably the strongest supporter of direct democracy in the House, with the possible exception of my hon. colleague from Vancouver Island North. Nevertheless, I have some reservations about this sort of back door method of introducing the concept of direct democracy, and of putting regional concerns through a referendum on to the national stage.

I would suggest reasons for this kind of reservation by way of reference to one of the great constitutional thinkers in the British parliamentary tradition. I am referring to Albert Venn Dicey who wrote the brilliant work Law of the Constitution in the 1880s. It was then updated until his death in 1915.

He talked about the role of referendum and plebiscite in the British parliamentary system and whether it was compatible with the system. He suggested that the plebiscite, as practised in France, was incompatible with it. This is the kind of referendum we are talking about here. What he meant by plebiscite was: initiated by government usually on some vague proposal as opposed to specific legislation such as an order to negotiate.

By contrast, he suggested the Swiss model of citizen initiated referendum on a specific legislative means. That would be the most productive way of achieving the kind of goals that might unite us all, including my hon. colleague who suggested the motion.

[Translation]

Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to speak to the motion brought forward by my brilliant colleague from Hochelaga—Maisonneuve.

The member has defended, with all the passion he is known for and all his ability, recognized by all I am sure, the need to acknowledge that Bill C-20 would have prevented Robert Bourassa from holding the referendum he wanted to hold right after the passage in Quebec of the act calling for a referendum in the fall of 1992.

 

. 1410 + -

This point has to be made. It is very enlightening. The members feel reassured when they hear the government's propaganda, when they hear the government saying again and again that there are no more problems in Quebec, that Quebecers do not want a referendum.

A few months before the 1995 referendum, however, Quebecers did not want a referendum. Yet they still went to vote, 94% of them, and we all know what the results almost were. Canada had to resort to those things that my colleague talked about to ensure that the referendum would not pass.

I would like to point out that all this is not a whim. I will not go as far back as 1760, but in passing I would like to remind members that, when Lord Durham arrived here in 1838, he made this now famous statement “I found two nations warring in the bosom of a single state”. It would appear nothing has changed since then.

What Durham had understood and what we are still struggling with, is that French Canadians had to be put in a minority situation before the colonies could have responsible government. Once they were in a minority situation, responsible government could be granted. That is in fact what happened. Durham wanted to go further; he wanted assimilation. He said it was for “the good of the French Canadians who would for ever be carriers of water”.

Yes, Quebecers were reduced to a minority. For a long time, Quebecers expressed their nationalism in various ways, including wanting Canada to sever its ties with England, while the good English Canadians were very attached, and many still are, to mother England.

In the sixties, following the independence of the former colonies in Africa, Asia, and the liberation of Cuba and South America, a more radical nationalist movement emerged.

Daniel Johnson whose father, an Irishman by birth and, a contributor to Sinn Fein, did not speak French, ran for his party saying “My platform is equality or independence”. This was in 1965. His own father did not speak French; he was Irish. Because of this, perhaps he had a better understanding of the fact that the situation of French Canadians deserved, if they could not achieve equality, that there be a national movement for independence. This was Daniel Johnson in 1965. I urge members to read his book again. It is excellent.

The movement that became the Parti Quebecois grew progressively: in 1966, 8% of the votes went to the indépendantistes; in 1970, it was 23%; in 1997, 30% and in 1976, 41%. For the 1980 referendum, Mr. Lévesque, who had really wanted this country, a country associated with Canada, had to leave, not without having entered into negotiations with Mr. Mulroney, who had just been elected. Why? To regain the powers Quebec had lost with the unilateral patriation of the constitution by Trudeau.

 

. 1415 + -

René Lévesque had to leave. Pierre-Marc Johnson was premier for a short time. Who took up the torch to try at least to regain the powers lost because of Trudeau? It was a good federalist, Robert Bourassa. It was Robert Bourassa who led this negotiation. It was Robert Bourassa who was premier when the Meech Lake accord failed in June 1990.

What has happened since? We had the Charlottetown accord, which was far from being clear. The Charlottetown accord did not solve anything. In 1995 there was a referendum and the outcome could not have been closer. One might think that everything is solved. Come on.

There is something incomprehensible in the blindness shown by the House of Commons and by the political class in Canada. There is something absolutely incredible. As I said, this is incomprehensible.

When we go abroad, what seems the most incomprehensible is the fact that, on Canada's side, nothing serious was done afterwards. Nothing serious was done in this House. There was a minor motion that, somewhere, contained the word people, and another motion that gave an extra veto to British Columbia, which would make it even harder for Quebec to use its veto.

What my young and brilliant colleague wants to bring back in this House is at least a first hour of debate on that substantive issue, because Quebec will never leave on the ocean. We will always remain neighbours with Ontario and the maritimes.

Bill C-20 did not settle anything. Do not be lulled by it. It does not settle anything because the desire for sovereignty, where attempts were made elsewhere to crush it, has grown stronger. It seems to me that this parliament should recognize—and this is what my colleague's motion is asking for—that this desire must be allowed to be expressed unimpeded. But Bill C-20 is an impediment.

However, impediments never stopped this desire from being expressed. My point is that parliament ought to realize that this desire, this will be expressed.

The sovereignist movement in Quebec has been exemplary, exemplary in terms of democracy. We should be regularly thanked for that. We owe much of it to René Lévesque who, at the time of the FLQ crisis, it must be remembered, said that as long as the battle could be won democratically, violence was unacceptable.

René Lévesque remained steadfast. Finally, the movement disappeared. In fact, when all the police forces investigating the FLQ pulled out, we realized that it no longer existed. But that is another story.

What my colleague is pointing out, and I want to point out also, is that Bill C-20 is designed to prevent the people from expressing its desire to be both sovereign and associated with Canada. I cannot see how an illegitimate law will prevent that from happening.

 

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Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): Through you, Madam Speaker, I want to thank all those who have taken part in this debate as well as the students who have listened to it. I do not know the name of their school but I am impressed with the fact that they are here on a Friday afternoon and I thank them for it.

What we have to remind ourselves this afternoon is that Quebec is in itself a nation which aspires to a different future than Saskatchewan, British Columbia or Prince Edward Island.

I am grateful to the member for Mercier, whose well-known knowledge of history has touched the member for Hull—Aylmer, for reminding us that the sovereignist movement is based first and foremost on a very strong attachment to democracy.

This attachment is so strong that three of the main leaders of the movement have created political parties to ensure that their option would be systematically submitted to an assessment and acceptance by the electorate.

Ever since the Bélanger-Campeau commission, it has been clear that one cannot be both a Canadian and a Quebecer. Why is it impossible? I must say that this has nothing to do with individual friendships because, on a personal level, I have nothing but friends here in the House. It is just simply impossible to live within a system of government where all the provinces are considered equal in fact and in law and, at the same time, to think that Quebec will be recognized as a nation.

We cannot live under a government which unilaterally patriated the Constitution, which forced upon us the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the charter that invalidated complete sections of our own Charter of the French Language, Bill 101, which is the main vehicle for securing public participation in our collective culture through the French language.

Sometimes, incompatibility runs very deep, and Quebecers will have to realize that. It is far from insignificant that, ever since its creation by the former government, under Kim Campbell at the beginning of the 1990s, the Department of Canadian Heritage has constantly sought to strengthen the Canadian identity. In the 1990s, the Department of Canadian Heritage commissioned three comprehensive studies that proved that we do not have in Canada any national symbol that strikes a chord with all Canadians from sea to sea.

Multiculturalism must be a partial explanation. We think that in our society all cultures should not be put on the same footing and that Quebec will keep its distinctive character.

In the coming years Quebecers will have to make their choices, with these issues and identity factors in mind. I am grateful that the premier of Quebec has reminded us that Quebec is a different province and that it constitutes a nation.

The government can use all its propaganda machine to sweep the national issue under the carpet. However, this issue will periodically re-emerge for as long as Quebec will not democratically choose to become independent. When we will have chosen to become independent, we will be able to speak to each other as equal partners, nation to nation, each controlling its own political space.

We know that the idea of partnership was always at the heart of the sovereignist project, from René Lévesque and Jacques Parizeau to Lucien Bouchard and now, of course, Bernard Landry. We do want to maintain our economic ties with our Canadian partner, but we want to do it within a political frame that will recognize what we are.

That is what the Bélanger-Campeau commission reminded us of. The commission said: “There are two options”. The first was to give Canada still another chance. Only Quebecers could believe federalism could still be reformed, even after the failure of the Meech Lake accord, even after our most basic demands were rejected, even after the Meech Lake accord was rejected.

 

. 1425 + -

The Bélanger-Campeau commission gave this option a chance. It has now become clear that the only fitting and democratic option left to Quebecers is sovereignty, and we are convinced that it will be achieved.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. Since the motion has not been made a votable item, it is dropped from the order paper.

[English]

It being 2.25 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.25 p.m.)