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37th Parliament, 1st Session

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 050

CONTENTS

Friday, April 27, 2001

. 1000

VMESSAGE FROM THE SENATE
VThe Speaker
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS

. 1005

VTOBACCO TAX AMENDMENTS ACT, 2001
VBill C-26. Second reading
VHon. Pierre Pettigrew
VMr. Roy Cullen

. 1010

. 1015

. 1020

VMr. Keith Martin

. 1025

. 1030

VMr. Ken Epp

. 1035

. 1040

. 1045

. 1050

VMr. Yvan Loubier

. 1055

VSTATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
VDAY OF MOURNING
VMrs. Judi Longfield

. 1100

VHEPATITIS C
VMr. Rob Merrifield
VMULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
VMs. Beth Phinney
VSUMMIT ON SPORT
VMr. Rodger Cuzner
VCANADA BOOK DAY
VMs. Sarmite Bulte
VHOCKEY
VMr. Maurice Vellacott
VBOMBARDIER
VMs. Diane St-Jacques

. 1105

VNATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING
VMs. Monique Guay
VNATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING
VMr. Marcel Proulx
VHEROISM
VMr. Peter Goldring
VINTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMY DAY
VMs. Yolande Thibeault
VPRIME MINISTER
VMs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral

. 1110

VHEROISM
VMr. David Pratt
VLITERACY
VMs. Bonnie Brown
VSTOCK MARKET
VMr. Gerry Ritz
VDAY OF MOURNING
VMr. Gerald Keddy
VDAY OF MOURNING
VMrs. Bev Desjarlais

. 1115

VNATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING
VORAL QUESTION PERIOD
VTHE ECONOMY
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Grant Hill
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Grant Hill

. 1120

VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Ken Epp
VHon. Paul Martin
VMr. Ken Epp
VHon. Paul Martin
VOFFICIAL LANGUAGES
VMs. Caroline St-Hilaire
VHon. Sheila Copps
VMs. Caroline St-Hilaire
VHon. Sheila Copps

. 1125

VMr. Robert Lanctôt
VHon. Sheila Copps
VMr. Robert Lanctôt
VHon. Sheila Copps
VHEALTH
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VHon. Herb Gray
VMs. Alexa McDonough
VHon. Herb Gray
VTRADE
VRight Hon. Joe Clark

. 1130

VHon. Pierre Pettigrew
VMr. Bill Casey
VHon. Pierre Pettigrew
VINDUSTRY CANADA
VMr. Charlie Penson
VMr. John Cannis
VMr. Charlie Penson
VMr. John Cannis
VNATIONAL DEFENCE
VMr. Marcel Gagnon

. 1135

VHon. Art Eggleton
VMr. Marcel Gagnon
VHon. Art Eggleton
VBUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA
VMr. Scott Reid
VMr. John Cannis
VETHICS COUNSELLOR
VMr. Scott Reid
VHon. Herb Gray
VEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
VMr. Paul Crête
VHon. Don Boudria

. 1140

VMr. Paul Crête
VHon. Don Boudria
VHEALTH
VMr. Keith Martin
VHon. Stéphane Dion
VMr. Keith Martin
VHon. Stéphane Dion
VJUSTICE
VMr. Rodger Cuzner
VHon. Anne McLellan

. 1145

VPOST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
VMs. Wendy Lill
VHon. Paul Martin
VJUSTICE
VMrs. Bev Desjarlais
VHon. Anne McLellan
VTAXATION
VMr. Bill Casey
VHon. Don Boudria
VABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
VMr. Gerald Keddy
VHon. Herb Gray
VTRADE
VMr. John Duncan

. 1150

VHon. Pierre Pettigrew
VMr. John Duncan
VHon. Pierre Pettigrew
VAUBERGE GRAND-MÈRE
VMr. Stéphane Bergeron
VHon. Herb Gray
VMr. Stéphane Bergeron
VHon. Herb Gray
VJUSTICE
VMr. Chuck Cadman
VHon. Anne McLellan

. 1155

VMr. Chuck Cadman
VMr. Lynn Myers
VFOREIGN AID
VMr. John McCallum
VHon. Maria Minna
VIMMIGRATION
VMr. James Moore
VMr. Mark Assad
VMr. James Moore
VMr. Mark Assad
VGASOLINE PRICING
VMr. Pierre Brien
VMr. John Cannis

. 1200

VVOLUNTEERS
VMs. Beth Phinney
VMr. Lynn Myers
VJUSTICE
VMr. Deepak Obhrai
VHon. Don Boudria
VTAX TREATIES
VMr. Yvan Loubier
VHon. Paul Martin
VPRESENCE IN GALLERY
VThe Speaker
VPOINTS OF ORDER
VOral Question Period
VMr. Richard Harris
VMr. John Cannis

. 1205

VThe Speaker
VROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
VGOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
VMr. Derek Lee
VCANADIAN TOURISM COMMISSION
VMr. John Cannis
VINDIAN CLAIMS COMMISSION
VMr. John Finlay
VTERRY FOX DAY ACT
VBill C-339. Introduction and first reading
VMs. Colleen Beaumier
VPETITIONS
VPoison Control
VMr. Maurice Vellacott

. 1210

VBill C-16
VMs. Yolande Thibeault
VQUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
VMr. Derek Lee
VGOVERNMENT ORDERS
VTOBACCO TAX AMENDMENTS ACT, 2001
VBill C-26. Second reading
VMr. Yvan Loubier

. 1215

. 1220

. 1225

. 1230

VMs. Wendy Lill

. 1235

VMr. Ken Epp

. 1240

VMrs. Bev Desjarlais

. 1245

. 1250

VMr. Ken Epp
VMr. Paul Szabo

. 1255

VMr. Marcel Gagnon
VMr. James Moore

. 1300

. 1305

VMr. John Bryden

. 1310

VMr. Rob Merrifield

. 1315

. 1320

VPRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
VCANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ACT
VBill C-305. Second reading
VMr. Stan Keyes

. 1325

. 1330

. 1335

VMr. Roy Cullen

. 1340

. 1345

VMr. Keith Martin

. 1350

. 1355

VMr. Marcel Gagnon

. 1400

. 1405

VMr. Stan Keyes

. 1410

VAppendix

(Official Version)

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 050


HOUSE OF COMMONS

Friday, April 27, 2001

The House met at 10 a.m.



Prayers


 

. 1000 +

MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE

The Speaker: I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills, to which the concurrence of this House is desired.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

 

. 1005 + -

[English]

TOBACCO TAX AMENDMENTS ACT, 2001

 

Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (for the Minister of Finance) moved that Bill C-26, an act to amend the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff, the Excise Act, the Excise Tax Act and the Income Tax Act in respect of tobacco, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Roy Cullen (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in the House today to present Bill C-26. In fact my heart soars with enthusiasm.

Bill C-26, the tobacco tax amendments act, 2001, implements the tax elements of the government's comprehensive new tobacco strategy which was announced on April 5 by the Ministers of Finance and Health and the Solicitor General.

[Translation]

The new strategy is designed to improve the health of Canadians by reducing tobacco consumption, particularly among young Canadians. Briefly, it consists of increasing spending on tobacco control programs, tobacco tax increases to discourage smoking, and a new tobacco tax structure to reduce the incentive to smuggle.

[English]

The package has received positive support from health groups, such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Alberta Tobacco Reduction Alliance.

My remarks today will focus on the new tax structure and tax measures which are contained in amendments to the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff, the Excise Act, the Excise Tax Act and the Income Tax Act. Before I discuss the individual measures in the bill, I would like to take a moment to put the legislation in perspective.

All tobacco products manufactured and sold in Canada have federal and provincial taxes and duties levied on them. Prior to 1994, tobacco products for export were sold on a tax free and duty free basis.

In the early 1990s exports of Canadian cigarettes grew substantially. There was strong evidence to suggest that most Canadian tobacco products that were illegally exported on a tax free and duty free basis to the United States were being smuggled back into the country and sold illegally without the payment of federal and provincial taxes. Two serious problems developed. Organized criminal activities were increasing and the market in Canada for fully tax paid tobacco products was being undermined by the availability of illegal lower cost products. This undermined the government's health objective of using higher prices to reduce smoking.

This is why the government implemented the national action plan to combat smuggling in 1994. That plan included increased enforcement measures, a surtax on the profits of Canadian tobacco manufacturers, a tax on certain exports of tobacco products and reduced tobacco taxes.

[Translation]

It has proven to be very effective in reducing the level of contraband activity and restoring the legitimate market for tobacco sales. As a result, the government has been able to increase excise taxes on tobacco products five times since 1994.

[English]

The measures in the bill before us today include a new tobacco tax structure to further reduce the incentive to smuggle tobacco products back into Canada and tobacco tax increases to advance the government's health objectives.

As hon. members know, one of the government's national health objectives is to reduce smoking. Our new tobacco strategy is specifically designed to help reach this objective, particularly reducing smoking by youth.

Allow me to quote from the Minister of Finance when the new strategy was announced. He stated:

    The Government's anti-tobacco strategy will help improve the health of Canadians by discouraging smoking. By increasing taxes sharply and introducing a new tax structure for tobacco, we are taking important steps now and positioning ourselves to take further steps as need be.

Canada needs this comprehensive strategy to deal with the broad range of factors that contribute to smoking. The measures in the bill are part of that strategy.

I will now discuss these measures in detail and begin with the new tax structure.

[Translation]

As I mentioned, the new tobacco tax structure is designed to reduce the incentive to smuggle Canadian-produced tobacco products back into Canada from export markets, the main source of contraband in the past.

 

. 1010 + -

[English]

The key element of this new structure is the replacement of the current tax on exports of tobacco products, effective April 6, 2001, with a new two tiered excise tax on exports of Canadian manufactured tobacco products. Before discussing the measure further, let me provide some background.

As we know, the Canadian smuggling problem of the early 1990s was primarily caused by Canadian exports to the U.S. that were illegally re-entered into Canada. In the 1994 national action plan to combat smuggling, which I discussed earlier, the government imposed an excise tax on Canadian tobacco products. To ensure that Canadian tobacco manufacturers were not denied access to legitimate export markets, several exemptions from the export tax were allowed, including one for exports up to 3% of a manufacturer's annual production. That was reduced to 2.5% of production in April 1999.

Bill C-26 implements the budget 2000 proposal to further reduce the exemption threshold under the tax on exports of tobacco products before April 6, 2001, to 1.5% of a manufacturer's production in the previous calendar year. This 1.5% threshold represents the approximate level of exports required to meet the legitimate demand for Canadian tobacco products abroad, principally in the United States.

Under the new export tax structure, all exports of Canadian tobacco products will be taxed, thereby reducing the incentive to smuggle exported products back into Canada. This new tax will be two tiered. For exports up to the 1.5% threshold, a tax will be imposed at the rate of $10 per carton of cigarettes. To avoid double taxation when these products enter legitimate foreign markets, the tax will be refunded upon proof of payment of foreign taxes.

[Translation]

Imposing a refundable tax on exports of tobacco products allows for a seamless transfer of tax-paid products from Canada to other countries. This reduces the threat of these products being diverted and used for contraband, while allowing Canadian exporters to meet legitimate demand for their products abroad.

[English]

Exports over the 1.5% threshold will be subject to both the current excise duty on tobacco products and a new excise tax that together amount to $22 per carton of cigarettes. Imposing a tax at this rate will remove any incentive to illegally bring these products back into Canada. Further, there will be no rebate on this tax. This measure will reduce the potential for smuggling and help set the stage for future tobacco tax increases.

Before moving on, I should mention that discussions are ongoing between Canada and the United States to help achieve the objectives of our tobacco products not being available tax free, while avoiding double taxation of exported products and helping reduce compliance burdens for U.S. importers.

The next element of the new tax structure concerns tobacco products sold at duty free shops and as ships' stores.

[Translation]

As hon. members know, duty-free shops are located at border crossings and international airports across the country. These shops are authorized to sell certain goods, including tobacco products, tax-free and duty-free, to people leaving Canada.

[English]

Tobacco products supplied as ships' stores have traditionally been provided for use by crew and passengers and are sold to passengers through on board duty free shops on ships and aircraft with international destinations. Under the new structure, Canadian tobacco products delivered to duty free shops and as ships' stores both at home and abroad will now be taxed at a rate of $10 per carton of cigarettes. In addition, imported tobacco products delivered to Canadian duty free shops will also be taxed. However, this tax will be refunded on the first carton sold to an individual who is not a resident of Canada. Both measures take effect as of April 6, 2001.

Imposing a tax on tobacco products for sale in duty free shops or as ships' stores is an integral part of the government's strategy to reduce tobacco consumption. It demonstrates just how serious the government is about this issue.

 

. 1015 + -

Allowing Canadians who travel to continue to have access to low cost, tax free tobacco through duty free shops would be inconsistent with our strategy of raising tobacco taxes domestically to achieve the government's health objective to reduce smoking.

This measure would also reduce the risk that smugglers might seek to access Canadian tobacco products in duty free markets as other sources of untaxed, low cost tobacco products are eliminated. We want all Canadian tobacco products to be taxed, no matter where they are sold, to ensure that they are not smuggled back into Canada.

Another measure in the bill would ensure that tax is paid on tobacco products imported by returning residents. Currently Canadian residents returning to Canada after an absence of more than 48 hours may bring back one carton of cigarettes tax free and duty free as part of a traveller's allowance. Effective October 1, 2001, a new duty of $10 per carton of cigarettes would be imposed on these products when they are imported by returning residents.

To ensure that Canadian residents are not subject to double taxation upon returning to Canada with Canadian tobacco products on which tax has already been paid, neither this duty nor regular excise duties and taxes would apply to tobacco products that bear a Canadian stamp signifying that excise duties and taxes have already been paid. Non-residents would not be affected by the change to the traveller's exemption.

Tobacco tax increases are another key element of the government's strategy to reduce tobacco consumption, particularly among youth. Since the implementation of the national action plan to combat smuggling in 1994, the federal government has worked with the five provinces that implemented matching tobacco tax reductions at that time, namely Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, to assess the feasibility of regular joint increases in tobacco taxes.

[Translation]

As of April 6, 2001, the federal government has raised tobacco tax rates jointly with these five low tax provinces.

The combined federal-provincial tax increases are $4 per carton of cigarettes sold in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.

[English]

Bill C-26 would implement the increases in federal excise tax rates on tobacco products. These increases would restore federal excise tax rates to a uniform level of $5.35 per carton on cigarettes for sale in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. This is equal to the federal tax rate that now applies in the provinces and territories that did not reduce taxes jointly with the federal government in 1994. After this tax increase only Ontario and Quebec would have cigarette excise tax rates below the national excise tax rate.

Taxes on fine cut tobacco and tobacco sticks would also be increased in all provinces and territories. In addition, Bill C-26 would eliminate the reduced rate of federal excise tax on fine cut tobacco for sale in Ontario.

[Translation]

As I indicated earlier, this is the fifth increase in tobacco taxes since 1994. In total, federal and provincial taxes on cigarettes will have increased from $7.40 to $9.80 per carton in these five provinces since 1994.

[English]

I am confident that a successful new tobacco tax structure would enable the government to hike tobacco taxes even further in the future. The bill would also increase the surtax on the profits of tobacco manufacturers to 50% from the current rate of 40% effective April 6, 2001.

To help ensure that these measures are effective, we are giving more resources to federal departments and agencies so that they could better monitor and assess the effectiveness of these measures in reducing smuggling.

 

. 1020 + -

These resources would be targeted specifically to the RCMP, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, the Department of Justice and the Solicitor General of Canada at a cost of $15 million in the first year and $10 million each year after that.

In conclusion, all the proposals in the bill reaffirm the government's commitment to reduce tobacco consumption in Canada while maintaining vigilance in combating the level of contraband.

[Translation]

A new tobacco tax structure will help reduce the incentive to smuggle Canadian produced tobacco products back into Canada and the tobacco tax increases will help advance the government's health objectives.

[English]

In addition, the tax measures would increase federal revenues from tobacco products by $215 million per year. I believe that this new strategy demonstrates the depth of the government's commitment to reducing tobacco use.

We know the stakes are high in the campaign against tobacco use. Through the tax measures contained in the bill, we now have the means to conduct the campaign effectively. Tobacco taxation is about health. Health is our priority, especially protecting the health of our young people. These new measures reflect our commitment to reduce smoking.

We have an endorsement from the Canadian Cancer Society. With an endorsement like that, I believe the government is definitely on the right track toward reducing smoking by Canadians, particularly young Canadians. I encourage all members in the House to give their full support to the bill.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent to share my time with the member for Elk Island.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent for the member to share his time?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Mr. Keith Martin: Mr. Speaker, we support Bill C-26. It is high time it came about. However I think a little history is warranted here.

Prior to 1994 tobacco consumption in Canada was plummeting as a direct result of high taxes. We also know that the average age young people begin to smoke is between 12 and 13. High tobacco prices do discourage smoking. The price elasticity of demand says that if the price is increased the demand will decrease dramatically, which is particularly important with regard to our youth.

In 1994, in response to cigarette smuggling, particularly in eastern Ontario, the government committed what was probably the most horrendous blunder in health care policy in the history of the country. Almost nothing this government could ever have done would have committed such a number of youth to smoke and have such a devastating impact upon the health of Canadians, not only in the short term but also in the long term.

What the government did in response to smuggling was drop the taxes on tobacco significantly. What did that do? It increased the consumption among youth and adults, as well as the number of people smoking and the amount that they smoked. Why do we say that? It is because something interesting happened. Tobacco taxes were reduced in five provinces in central and eastern Canada. The west and Newfoundland kept their prices relatively the same.

We had an interesting laboratory, looking at central Canada where the price was much lower, and the west and Newfoundland where the price was much higher.

If we looked at any graph we would see that tobacco consumption and tobacco profits after 1994 went up dramatically. Almost a quarter of a million young people started to smoke. Tobacco companies were popping champagne corks in their offices.

What the government should have done in order to deal with the tobacco issue, which was a legitimate problem, was what it did prior to 1993.

 

. 1025 + -

In 1992 the same problem arose. At that time the government put an excise tax on tobacco. That cut the legs out from under tobacco smugglers. It eliminated the differential between Canada and the United States. Within six weeks tobacco smuggling dropped 75% without changing the price of cigarettes. After six weeks the government of the day buckled under pressure from the tobacco companies that threatened to leave, and it removed the excise tax.

If the government had the backbone, it could have cut the legs out from underneath tobacco smugglers while not compromising the health of Canadians, particularly the youth. It could have done that by keeping the taxes where they were and by adding the excise tax.

It was the excise tax that would have prevented smuggling while enabling to keep the taxes where they were. It would not have committed a quarter of a million young people to smoking, 50% of whom will die of tobacco related deaths, with 21% of them dying of some form of cancer. It is a public tragedy and a public health problem that we will see in the long term.

The government also deprived the public coffers of nearly $5 billion worth of revenue. I can imagine what we could have done with that money. We could have put it into health care, into research and into prevention.

Our party supports the bill, but we want make sure that the money coming from taxes would not be put into some big vat to be used for special projects by the government. The money could be used for prevention models. It could be used for a head start program that focuses on strengthening the parent-child bond which has proven to be of dramatic importance and very effective at improving the health care of children and their families while preventing a lot of social problems that occur later on. That is what the government could and should be doing.

The government could also put money into increasing physical activities among kids. Physical activity is at an all time low. This would have a dramatic impact on the future health of Canadians because when children become adults, if they were not active as youth, there is less of a chance they will be active as adults.

The minister responsible for sport is very interested in physical activity and is working hard with our Olympic athletes. Why does he not take the Olympic athletes to the schools as part of a speaking program to teach children the importance of physical activity? The athletes could be paid to do this and the kids would be directly impacted by Canadian heroes, which would push and encourage them to be physically active. It is a win-win situation.

I hope the minister in charge of sport would consider this proposal. It is an informal proposal but doable. The Olympic athletes would get money. They would be getting paid to do a good job and the children of our country would benefit. It would have a long term and positive impact on the health of Canadians.

It is also important to look at what we could be doing in terms of improving the health of our children, our youth, as well as adults in the country. Looking at it from an international perspective, smoking consumption is not a domestic problem but an international problem. The World Health Organization has said clearly that in many countries such as China and other nations it will be a health care disaster with millions of people dying from tobacco related diseases.

The public would be very interested to know that tobacco companies actually sponsor dances in foreign countries and give out free cigarettes to children. They give out free cigarettes to children, not because they are good corporate citizens but because they are attempting to cause children to become addicted to cigarette smoking. Some of these tobacco companies are pretending to be the paragons of virtue and good corporate citizenry while going to other countries or nations, sponsoring dances, providing free admission to children and giving them free cigarettes. That is what is happening in the world today.

I encourage the government to pursue and fast track Bill C-26, to make sure that the bill goes through, and to increase the taxes to ensure that our children do not smoke. It should make the price so high that it becomes even more difficult for youth to smoke.

 

. 1030 + -

Libertarians would suggest that what happens to people is their business and that they should have freedom of choice. I agree. However let us take into consideration that we are talking not about people who are 25 or 30 years of age but about children who are 12 and 13 years of age. That is when children start to smoke. That is when they start to take up the weed.

On a slightly related issue, the issue of medicinal marijuana, I applaud the government in this regard. It is high time. However the government must make sure it is well regulated and not simply a tool to legalize marijuana consumption.

What the minister can do, and I am speaking personally and not on behalf of the party, is decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana. If we decriminalize marijuana consumption there would be a penalty or fine which could be used to fund youth prevention programs. It would also save expensive court costs. It would take people out of the courts and save legal fees and court time. The courts would then have more time to go after people who commit murder, rape and other heinous crimes. If we decriminalize marijuana use, and the Canadian Police Association supports this, we would have higher penalties, lower costs and a revenue source we could funnel into prevention programs for kids.

My last pitch, once again, is for the head start program. If the government is truly interested in preventing the social problems that result from youth crime, if it wants to ensure kids are more employable and less dependent on welfare or drugs, then a head start program is the fastest, best and most effective way of doing so. We could draw from the best of head start programs around the world which focus on strengthening the parent-child bond. This should start at the prenatal stage. If fewer parents took drugs and alcohol during pregnancy we could reduce the incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome, a tremendous problem in our country. The programs would also ensure parents had the skills to be good parents.

This can be done simply, effectively and for the most part with existing resources. It can be done if the federal government calls together its provincial counterparts for a conference on the issue. The government needs a specific plan of action that can enable the program to be a reality. The cost savings would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The lives saved would be in the thousands.

We support Bill C-26 and hope it goes through quickly. We only regret that the government in 1994 dropped the taxes to begin with.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I will begin by accusing my colleagues in the House of the wrong motive in agreeing to split my time with the member who just spoke. I think they did so to avoid listening to me for 40 minutes. I could speak to the issue for at least 40 minutes and now I will be limited to 20. That is really regrettable. However I shall do as well as I can in the time allotted.

I cannot believe that as a member of the Canadian Alliance I am standing in the House of Commons this day to speak in favour of higher taxes. I cannot believe I am doing that, yet I must support the bill because of its objectives. It bothers me to speak of higher taxes because we are already taxed to death. We are taxed at every turn. We even have taxes on taxes. The government collects GST on excise and gasoline taxes. The same is true for cigarettes. There are taxes on cigarettes and then the 7% GST on top of that.

 

. 1035 + -

I am, however, in favour of this tax. I cannot believe it and yet I am. My apologies to friends, constituents and Canadians who expect us in the Canadian Alliance to consistently oppose higher taxes and the burden they create for our citizens and young people. However this is an issue that we are appropriately addressing. This is a health issue and our concern is to reduce smoking, especially among young people.

I do not know if my colleagues have thought about it, but what attracts young people to put a bunch of weeds wrapped in paper into their mouth, light the end of it and suck on it? It is a strange motivation and I have often wondered about it.

My colleagues will be disappointed in this, but when I remember my own youth I must confess, with humble heart and bowed head, that on an occasion or two, actually two, I succumbed to the temptation.

Mr. Lynn Myers: Shame.

Mr. Ken Epp: It is shameful. I am embarrassed about it.

Mr. Roy Cullen: Did the hon. member inhale?

Mr. Ken Epp: I do not know if I inhaled. I do not think I did, I was coughing so hard.

I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. When I was in grade 8 our school was closed and we were bused into the big city. One day while walking at noon I saw a pack of cigarettes on the sidewalk. I kicked it, as young lads are prone to do. I could tell by the pressure on it that it was not an empty box. I picked it up and opened it and, lo and behold, there were still some cigarettes in it. In retrospect I presume someone had decided to quit smoking and had thrown away the cigarettes. I hope that was the case.

As an aside, I read somewhere that people who decide to quit smoking and throw away an unfinished pack have much higher success rates than those who say that they will finish their current pack and then quit. I say that as an interesting psychological side trip.

I picked up the pack of cigarettes and hid to make sure no one could see me. I took one of the things, put it in my mouth and lit the end of it. It was probably the most incredible thing I had done in my life. I began hacking and coughing. It was the most undesirable thing.

As a young fellow in grade 8, about 12 or 13 years old or maybe 14, I made a decision that day before I finished the first cigarette. I decided I would not smoke. It occurred to me that smoking was stupid. Why would a guy do it if it only caused him to cough uncontrollably? Besides that, I was sure it would cost money. It may amuse young people today to know that my allowance then was 10 cents a week and I could scarcely afford it.

That was my first experience with smoking. The later one occurred when I was in university, and it was also quite incredible. I drove a truck, a big rig on the highway, for my summer job. I enjoyed that job. I loved driving and I still do. I still have my class one licence, so if I lose my job here I can go back to that if nothing else.

One of my fellow drivers challenged me. He will know who he is if he finds out I am telling the story. We had stopped at a coffee shop and he bought a cigar at the counter when we were leaving. He said that I should buy one as well and, for some stupid reason, I did.

While driving down the road I put the silly thing in my mouth and drew in the smoke. I was silly to do that. To my knowledge those are the only two occasions on which I succumbed to the temptation.

I repeat, what is it that causes young people to decide to take up smoking in view of what it does to their health?

 

. 1040 + -

Many years ago I heard a motivational speaker address a crowd of young people about smoking. He said one of his strongest arguments against smoking was that no one he had met who had smoked more than five years had ever suggested to him that he start. Not one person who has smoked for five years or more would recommend that someone else begin.

Now that I have said this on worldwide television, and I know millions of Canadians are listening, I imagine I will begin to get e-mails suggesting that I start and that it is wonderful. People have told me they enjoy it and that is why they do it. Okay, so be it. That is the reason they do it. However not even those people have suggested I start in order to share their joy.

Because of its addictive nature I am very much opposed to anything that would promote the taking up of this habit, especially by young people. I have been told and have read that once one begins smoking it is a lifelong habit. It is one of the most difficult addictions to break.

I used to teach mathematics. How I wish we could use audio visual aids in the House. I would love to have a prop with a piece of paper just big enough for the cameras. I could show the House an exercise I used to give my students when I taught mathematics in high school and at a technical institute.

When we did exponential functions, when I taught finance and when I taught students how to use electronic calculators or computers, I made them do a calculation. I am describing it without a visual aid, but it went something like this: 365 times 5 times (1 plus 10/100), to the power of 65 minus 20, minus 1, all divided by 10/100.

My students evaluated it to see if they were using their computers or calculators correctly. When I asked them if they knew what they had computed they said they did not. It was a random formula as far as they were concerned. I told them they had computed the following: 5 is the cost of a pack of cigarettes; 365 is the number of days in a year; the 10/100 is 10%, which is pretty high but there are times one can get it in an RRSP; the minus one is just part of the formula; divide by 10/100, again that is 10%.

They had computed the costs of smoking for their lifetime from age 20 to age 65. The formula told them how much they would have in the bank at a 10% rate of interest if they started saving at age 20 and retired at age 65. My students were amazed because the sum was $1.3 million.

I then had them do another calculation which demonstrated that such a strategy would ensure them an annual pension of $139,000 until age 95. That is a fantastic pension. It is even better than the MP pension plan.

I told my students they had learned some math but that they also had a choice to make. They could smoke and at age 65 live on whatever meagre pension the government gives them, or they could instead retire on $139,000 a year by putting that money into the bank.

Smoking is wrong in terms of both its health effects and its lack of consideration for fellow citizens.

 

. 1045 + -

I happen to be on the non-smoking side of the issue. There is a temptation for what I am about to say to come out wrong. I would like my friends to know that I do not dislike people who smoke but I do dislike their smoking. I would like to differentiate that. I love people but if they would not smoke it would be that much more pleasant.

Last Sunday I was out with my wife and some friends at a restaurant. We asked for the non-smoking section and it was given to us. That was nice but there were people smoking. The smoke drifted across and we could smell it. We briefly talked about it. It was too bad but we had to live with it. My advisers told me not to say in my speech that having a non-smoking section in a restaurant is like having a non-peeing section in a swimming pool. I was advised not to say it, but it is a fact.

When I went to pay the bill the guy from the smoking section was there in front of me. Did he put his cigarette out while we were paying? No. He was right there and by the time we got home our clothes reeked. I set them in another room because they stunk.

I ask members not to get this wrong. It shows a lack of respect for other people when one insists on smoking in the presence of non-smokers. Some people would say that I am moralizing and not like me for it. I apologize but there are many people who feel that way.

At the hotel where I am staying I always get a non-smoking room, but in spite of the laundry process, the smell of cigarettes on the pillow was not eradicated. I wake up the next day with a headache because of the smell.

Even around the House of Commons we may wish to consider doing something about smoking. Every member and visitor to this place has to walk through a wall of smoke at the main entrances because of all the people smoking. It is not pleasant. Could we arrange for them to have a room somewhere, maybe with fans? They should not have to go outside into the wicked Canadian winter. We should show them some respect, but let us not allow them to smoke at the main entrances to our buildings and force everyone, smokers or not, to go through that wall of smoke.

I wish to come back to the health issue. I was forced in my previous employment to share an office for a time with a smoker. One can imagine what that was like. I suggested to him, as kindly as I could, that it bothered me. This was before the days of the non-smoking environment. I suggested to him that he could go outside and smoke because it bothered me. He told me that it did not bother me. I thought to myself how arrogant he was. He arranged for our organization to buy an air purifier and he set it beside him when he smoked. I had a headache pretty well every day. It affects me adversely. There are many people who have that allergy or that medical response to second hand smoke.

I had a dream where I died and went to heaven. When they asked me why I was there I said it was because of second hand smoke in my office. I told my office partner that the next day. He laughed about it and thought it was very funny, but there is some evidence that second hand smoke is a health hazard.

I remember teaching statistics in a math course. One of the things that we did was to try to interpret statistical data. One of the examples that we used was death by heart and lung disease. It was interesting that the percentage of deaths caused by heart and lung disease at that time, a number of years back, peaked between the ages of 40 and 50 and then it dropped off. I asked my students to interpret the statistical data. They concluded, correctly, with the premise that if someone has a biological predisposition to getting lung cancer or heart disease due to smoking they would get it and die in their forties, most likely.

 

. 1050 + -

How can we condone smoking when it literally puts at risk thousands of people who die in their forties because of it? Obviously we need to take some action. I thought of an example. What would the Minister of Transport or the House of Commons do if there were an airplane crash today in which 100 people died and tomorrow there was another airplane crash of the same type?

I have a suspicion that on the second day all airplanes around the world would be grounded voluntarily by the airlines and by compulsion of governments. Yet every day in Canada 100 people have a premature death due to smoking and we are doing absolutely nothing about it.

Even this measure is tepid in comparison to what we should be doing. This is an issue of great proportion and we should do everything that we can to reduce smoking and to discourage young people from taking up the habit.

I remember as a student going to the museum of science in Portland, Oregon. I remember vividly seeing two lungs hooked up in parallel to the same pipes and a pump that was providing an increase and decrease in pressure. We know that it is atmospheric pressure that allows us to breathe. When we drop the diaphragm there is a space to be filled and it is the air pressure around us that pulls the air into the lungs.

What was happening was a simulation of a person breathing. They had two lungs from cadavers, actual human lungs. One was from a healthy person who died in a car accident and the other was from a person who died of emphysema or lung cancer. One was a diseased lung and the other one was a normal lung.

As the pressure went up and down the normal lung expanded and contracted to allow the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to give a healthy life. The other lung barely moved. It was atrophied. It was all solid because of the effects of smoking. This had quite an impact on me. It happened a little less than 40 years ago and I still remember it. The impact that it had was amazing.

Should we do something about it? I absolutely and profoundly say yes. Am I in favour of tax increases? No, I am not. I am in favour of the bill only because of the impact that it could have and hopefully would have. I hope the government in increasing those taxes would also have the fortitude to enforce the rules and to make sure that we do not have an increase in the smuggling of cigarettes in addition to the supply that would keep coming in.

[Translation]

The Speaker: The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot may have a few minutes to begin his speech.

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it is always sad to be cut off after a few minutes, because the case to be made on tobacco taxes and smoking in general is a very serious one. The time at our disposal here is so important that cutting my speech in two might have a negative effect on the message. Nevertheless, in the five minutes remaining to me before oral question period. I will try to introduce my message.

As hon. members are aware, Bill C-26 consists essentially in raising the taxes on tobacco as an anti-smoking measure.

 

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Right off, I will say that my party, the Bloc Quebecois, will support the bill because we care about people's health and about the fight that has gone on for many years against what I would call a plague, a major social problem, a problem creating considerable cost for the health care sector. It is a problem that also results every year in Canada in deaths that would not occur had people not taken up this bad habit.

Some 29% of people smoke. This is fewer people than in the past but it is still too many. It is still too many because tobacco kills and before it kills it makes people sick. These people impose considerable costs on the health care system.

People get emphysema, caused primarily by smoking. Smoking is also the cause of heart disease, and in particular, myocardial infarction, of lung cancer, and of strokes, some of which are linked to smoking.

Every year, there are over 40,000 deaths related to the use of tobacco. Why are there so many deaths? Why does tobacco kill? It kills because it is a really poisonous mix of highly toxic chemicals.

As for tar, do people know that the tar found in a cigarette includes over 4,000 chemicals? Tar alone, which is but one of hundreds of components found in tobacco and a product of the combustion of tobacco, contains 4,000 toxic products.

Nicotine is the worst of the poisons found in cigarettes. Why? Because, depending on a cigarette's nicotine content, it is the nicotine that creates a dependency, an addiction similar to cocaine and even heroin addiction. Some studies even suggest that nicotine makes it just as hard to stop smoking as to stop using hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

All sorts of junk is found in cigarettes. I could talk about it at length, because I smoked for many years. I stopped eight years ago. At the time, I did not have this information. It is thanks to awareness, information and advertising campaigns on the ills of tobacco that I became aware of the makeup of this poison.

Mr. Speaker, I can see that you are getting anxious. I will resume my speech after oral question period.

The Speaker: The hon. member will have 35 minutes to complete his remarks after oral question period.



STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[English]

DAY OF MOURNING

Mrs. Judi Longfield (Whitby—Ajax, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, April 28, marks the 10th annual National Day of Mourning. We observe this day to honour those who have been killed or injured in the workplace. It is because of these tragic deaths that I rise today to remind my colleagues that making a greater commitment to workplace safety benefits all Canadians.

The National Day of Mourning takes on even more meaning when we look at the alarming statistics. An average of three Canadians are killed every working day and one is injured every nine seconds. This accounts for nearly 800 deaths and some 800,000 injuries every year.

Although the number of workplace accidents has been reduced over the past 10 years, this day serves as an important reminder that we must prevent these accidents from ever happening.

We pay tribute to those we remember today by putting forth our best efforts to strive for safer and healthier workplaces through continued education, awareness and co-operation.

I ask members of the House to take time tomorrow to remember the workers who lost their lives or who were injured on the job over the last year. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those workers.

*  *  *

 

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HEPATITIS C

Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, three years ago this week the Liberal government turned its back on thousands of Canadians who were poisoned by blood tainted with hepatitis C. On April 28, 1998, the Liberals voted no to a motion which would have extended financial compensation to victims poisoned beyond the years of 1986 and 1990.

Thousands of victims were let down by the federal government. Among those who did qualify for compensation, many have yet to see a dime. Joey Haché was one of those individuals. Joey was in the gallery that fateful day three years ago and he is here again today to register his protest. Days after that vote Joey was advised that he qualified for that compensation. Three years later Joey is one of thousands who have received nothing.

Joey is asking “Where is the compensation that was promised?” and thousands of other hepatitis C victims still want to know “What about us?”

*  *  *

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last week walks were held across Canada, including Hamilton and Burlington, as fundraisers for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

MS is a disease that affects approximately 50,000 Canadians or 1 in 750. Since 1991 the 5 kilometre, 10 kilometre and 15 kilometre walks have grown to include more than 65,000 participants in the 120 communities across Canada. More than $25 million for MS research and services has been raised.

I was pleased to participate in the walk and share the enthusiasm of the day. In the spirit of Volunteer Week and the United Nations Year of the Volunteer, we also recognize all those who organized these events and wish to congratulate them on a job well done.

*  *  *

SUMMIT ON SPORT

Mr. Rodger Cuzner (Bras d'Or—Cape Breton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to inform the House that today is the start of the National Summit on Sport here in Ottawa, which is being chaired by the Prime Minister of Canada.

The Summit on Sport is the culmination of consultations held across Canada since June 2000 by the hon. Secretary of State for Amateur Sport. The process has included six regional conferences and six round tables.

The summit will bring together 350 delegates representing the leaders of the Canadian sport community. They will be discussing major issues, such as participation, excellence and developing our resources.

I invite members to join me in recognizing the importance of such a summit in Canada and to participate in the ongoing discussions being held this weekend.

*  *  *

CANADA BOOK DAY

Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canadians across the country celebrated Canada Book Day on April 23.

To mark the day I had the pleasure of hosting my own annual Canada Book Day event on April 17 in my riding. I invited people to come and enjoy the literary richness of our city. My constituents had the pleasure of meeting the following renowned Canadian and local authors: Judy Fong Bates, Martyn Burke, George Elliott Clarke, Victor Coleman, Joe Fiorito, Greg Gatenby, Katherine Govier, Cynthia Holtz, Janice Kulyk and Susan Swan, along with Canadian publisher Kim McArthur.

Founded in 1976, the Writers' Trust of Canada has endeavoured to advance and nurture Canadian writers and Canadian literature. This day provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the important role of literature in Canada's past, present and future.

This day also recognizes Canadian books and the people who write them and encourages Canadians from all walks of life to buy Canadian books.

*  *  *

HOCKEY

Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute today to the outstanding coach and AAA midget team from the Beardy's and Okemasis Indian Band in my Saskatoon—Wanuskewin constituency.

The Beardy's Blackhawks proved that they are the best in our part of the country in the western regional finals and are representing us this week in Prince George at the AAA Midget Canada Cup. They have used their speed, strength and determination to be victorious thus far.

We wish the very best to coach Dale Grayson and the whole team of the Beardy's-Okemasis Blackhawks. We commend the Beardy's and Okemasis Indian Band for sponsoring and supporting such an outstanding hockey team.

*  *  *

[Translation]

BOMBARDIER

Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this past April 16 we learned some good economic news.

Bombardier Inc. announced that it will be hiring one thousand people in the Montreal region in order to fill an order for 50 seater regional jets.

These one thousand new jobs in Dorval will be in addition to the 1,700 projected for Mirabel, where the 70 and 86 seater commuter planes will be (constructed).

Bombardier estimates the value of the 75 orders at $2.35 billion Canadian. They raise the total orders for regional jets to 551.

This local company has an impressive record. In 2001, Bombardier Aeronautics has signed agreements on a total of 96 jet orders.

*  *  *

 

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NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING

Ms. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Mr. Speaker, every year in Canada there are more than 800,000 work related accidents. More than 750 of these will be fatal. That is the sad record of the working conditions of Quebecers and Canadians.

Tomorrow, April 28, will be the tenth anniversary of the National Day of Mourning. This is a very significant event, for it affords us an opportunity to stop for a moment and reflect on the importance of occupational health and safety.

Unfortunately, the Canadian government is not much concerned about the misfortunes of those who have suffered work related accidents and their families. Take, for example, the matter of pregnant or breast-feeding workers. Despite the Bloc Quebecois demands for these women to be afforded true protection in the workplace, the federal government has turned its back on them.

Speaking for myself and for my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, I would like to send a word of encouragement to the victims of work related accidents, and their family members. Our thoughts are with you all.

*  *  *

NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING

Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the people of Canada no doubt noticed that our flag is at half mast today. The reason for this is the National Day of Mourning, held to remember the people who have been injured or killed on the job.

The aim of this day is to have us reflect on the importance of occupational health and safety. The figures are staggering. In Canada, some 800,000 accidents occur on the job every year, over 750 of which result in the death of the victim. This means that three workers are killed every working day.

Steps taken by the government resulted in an 11% reduction in the number of industrial accidents between 1993 and 1997. But one accident is one too many.

I would assure those who have lost a loved one in an industrial accident and those who suffer because of such accidents of our profound regret and of our conviction that such misfortunes must be avoided.

*  *  *

[English]

HEROISM

Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton Centre-East, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, today an American doctor, Ronald Shemenski, owes his life to Canada's finest northern frontier aviators.

In failing health, the doctor was plucked from the sardonic, cruelly mocking face of an Antarctic locked in winter's icy grip.

Defying nature's harshest elements, his saviours, three Canadians in a Canadian Twin Otter craft winged nearly from earth's other pole in a bold mission of determined rescue.

Captain Sean Loutitt, flight officer Mark Cary, engineer Peter Brown and northern renowned Kenn Borek Air are to be congratulated.

This event marks another annal in Canada's proud tradition of excellence of men, of craft, of indomitable spirit to rescue where others draw faint, another footnote in Canada's illustrious Hall of Aviation honours and a first rate job by all.

*  *  *

[Translation]

INTERNATIONAL ASTRONOMY DAY

Ms. Yolande Thibeault (Saint-Lambert, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is International Astronomy Day. It will be an opportunity for all Canadians, young and not so young, to develop an interest in this exciting science.

Stars have an importance for all of us. For some, they point the way to the future or to the past. For others, they explain our time. And for others still, they represent a mystery, the stuff of dreams.

Whatever the stars mean to you, I suggest you go as far as your curiosity will take you. Many activities are being organized in celebration of this pleasant day, including at museums and astronomy clubs.

Be on the lookout for what is happening in your community and take up the invitation science is extending. You will discover a new hobby for sure and even a new passion, perhaps.

*  *  *

PRIME MINISTER

Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Speaker, at the press conference held at the end of the summit of the Americas, the Prime Minister of Canada remained true to himself when he made another unbelievable statement in responding to those who were opposed to the free trade of the Americas. He told these people that the best way to oppose free trade was “to run for office”.

That was his message to the tens of thousands of young people, women and citizens who marched in the streets of Quebec City to express their will to be respected in the negotiations of agreements that directly affect them. With answers like that, it is no wonder that politicians generate distrust, and anger the public.

How can the Prime Minister, who wants to leave his mark as a champion of democracy, have the nerve to tell people to get elected to be heard, when members of this House were excluded from the negotiating process that preceded the Quebec City summit?

With such a champion, Canadian democracy has a long way to go.

*  *  *

 

. 1110 + -

[English]

HEROISM

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I too wish to extend congratulations on behalf of all Canadians to Peter Brown, Mark Cary and Sean Loutitt. These three brave pilots were successful in their heroic attempts this week to rescue an ailing American doctor from a research centre at the South Pole.

Using expertise and skills developed during their training with Kenn Borek Air Ltd. of Calgary, Mr. Brown, Mr. Cary and Mr. Loutitt became Canadian pioneers in their Twin Otter aircraft as they undertook an 8,000 kilometre flight from the southern tip of Chile to the South Pole.

Landing on a runway of solid ice during Antarctica's period of 24 hour darkness and minus 50° temperatures, these three Canadians were able to translate skills learned in their work in Canada's far north to bring the American doctor home for desperately needed medical attention. A flight to the South Pole at this time of year, under these extreme conditions, had never before been undertaken.

Once again the world has seen a demonstration of Canadian ingenuity, expertise and determination. I ask all hon. members of the House and all Canadians to join me in offering our congratulations, our thanks and our best wishes to these brave pilots.

*  *  *

LITERACY

Ms. Bonnie Brown (Oakville, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the January Speech from the Throne the government committed to improving Canadians' literacy skills and to reinforcing life long learning. This is a cornerstone of our skills and learning agenda.

That is why I welcome the government's announcement that Alberta Senator Joyce Fairbairn is being reappointed as the special adviser for literacy to the Minister of Human Resources Development.

This decision coincides with the government preparing to invite provincial and territorial governments, as well as the private and voluntary sectors, to launch a new national literacy initiative. There will be a series of round table discussions with representatives from business, labour and academic communities on issues relating to literacy and skills development.

Raising literacy levels is critical to our future economic growth. The government's commitment to literacy is evidence of our commitment to a better quality of life for all Canadians.

*  *  *

STOCK MARKET

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, with our stock markets so volatile these days, here are 10 new definitions for stock market terminology.

Momentum investing: the fine art of buying high and selling low.

Value investing: the art of buying low and selling even lower.

Broker: poorer than you were in 1999.

P/E ratio: the percentage of investors wetting their pants as this market keeps crashing.

Standard and Poor: your life in a nutshell.

Bull market: a random market movement causing an investor to mistake himself for a financial genius.

Bear market: a 6 month to 18 month period when the kids get no allowance, the wife gets no jewellery and the husband sleeps on the couch.

Stock split: your ex-wife and her lawyer split all your assets equally.

Profit: a religious guy who talks to God.

A 64 cent penny stock: what it now costs a loonie to buy.

*  *  *

DAY OF MOURNING

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, every year across Canada workers are killed on the job and many more are injured or disabled.

People living in ridings such as the South Shore where much of the workforce is dependent on primary industries such as forestry, fishing, agriculture and the offshore are too often faced with the news of another worker being killed or injured on the job.

April 28 is the Day of Mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace. All Canadians should recognize this important date and work toward zero deaths or injuries in the workplace.

We should not forget the fact that too often in the primary industries those accidents involve youth. Farm accidents, for instance, often involve children under 10. A farm is not only a workplace, it is a home.

I know of far too many people who have been killed or injured on the job. I ask all parliamentarians to recognize the importance of April 28 as a day to remember and to hopefully work toward reducing all accidents in the workplace.

*  *  *

DAY OF MOURNING

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, April 28, marks the 10th year Canada officially commemorates workers who have been injured or died on the job.

The National Day of Mourning was the result of a private member's bill, Bill C-223, in the name of Rod Murphy, the former MP for my riding of Churchill, and was passed by parliament in 1991.

Three Canadian workers are killed every working day. Over 800,000 injuries occur every year. The pain and suffering caused by occupational accidents and hazards in the workplace affect everyone.

 

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On April 28 we remember: the grocery store clerk who cannot carry her baby because of repetitive strain injury; a 19 year old blinded from a mix of chemical compounds he knew nothing about; the friends and family of the 14 year old construction worker killed in Alberta; and the father of three killed in a smelter explosion in Flin Flon whose co-workers are still recovering from seeing him burn.

Today for the first time parliament will hold a moment of silence to renew our commitment to not only mourn for the dead but to fight for the living.

I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and all parties for agreeing to join together as a parliament in a remembrance today.

*  *  *

[Translation]

NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING

The Speaker: Order, please. It was agreed that this House would observe one minute of silence to commemorate the National Day of Mourning and honour the memory of workers killed or injured at work.

[Editor's Note: The House stood in silence.]



ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[English]

THE ECONOMY

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the job news in Canada this week is not that great. JDS Uniphase just cut 2,500 jobs. Bell Canada proposes to lay off 1,800 workers. Cisco Systems will chop 250 jobs. This morning we learned that TD Waterhouse will cut 800 employees. These are thousands of hardworking, taxpaying citizens who will be looking for work.

How can the minister say with that record that all the fundamentals are in order?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that whenever any job is lost in Canada it is of great concern to the government in terms of the families involved.

At the same time, I think we need to recognize that we are going through a situation where there is extreme volatility. There has been a slow down in the United States and we are all aware of the situation in Japan. Those things will have an effect in Canada.

It is important, when we look at the job numbers, that we understand, for instance, that in the last eight months Canada has had twice the amount of job creation as the United States, which means that we are coming through this well. That does not mean that we are not very concerned about any job loss.

[Translation]

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we just learned that the help wanted index in the United States has reached a record low.

The labour market south of the border is experiencing very serious problems. Economists tell us that the same situation could occur in Canada.

Will the minister leave the rhetoric aside and tell Canadians what the government will do to improve the situation?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the situation is very clear.

But it must be said that the current growth figure in the United States is much higher than what economists expected.

We can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel, but this is not to say that there is not a slowdown in the United States that is affecting us.

This is why our efforts to reduce taxes for instance are worth mentioning. Our figures in relation to debt reduction are very impressive.

Again, the job creation rate in Canada is twice that of the United States.

[English]

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is all well and good for the minister to talk about how well Canada is doing in relation to other countries. However, I just mentioned that almost 5,500 jobs are being lost. These are high paying jobs that taxpayers had before the government messed up our economy.

The IMF's own chief economist warned yesterday that the U.S. and Canada must act more responsibly with their economies or risk a recession. Those are very plain words. Will the government take the first step toward responsibility and bring in a new budget?

 

. 1120 + -

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not know where the hon. member is getting his information. The chief economist of the IMF has said that Canada's tax cuts were fortuitous and very well timed. The chief economist also said that the policy actions taken by the government are exactly what were required. The chief economist also pointed out that the amount of stimulus in our economy is virtually double that of any other major economy.

What economists around the world are saying is that the policy actions that have been taken by the government are exactly the actions that were required.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, our economic growth is continuing slowly, while the American growth rate is about three times as high as ours. Our dollar is languishing around 65 cents and eroding the assets of every Canadian. Why? It is because our tax rates are still too high and there is no legislated plan for debt reduction.

Will the Minister of Finance respond to these concerns and table some concrete plans to address these issues?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to understand the Alice in Wonderland from which the Alliance members happen to come. The fact is that their numbers are wrong. Our growth rates compare very favourably with those in the United States.

I will go back. I raised this the other day in terms of legislated debt paydown. The problem with it is that as soon as governments get into trouble they amend it. They welsh on the deal. If the member wants an example all he has to do is go back and take a look at what the Leader of the Opposition did when he was the treasurer of Alberta. Six months after he brought in legislated paydown he welshed on the deal.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the minister keeps saying that our fundamentals are all right. If that is true, then why are we losing jobs? This is actually happening. My colleague just mentioned that. Why is the rate of growth of our economy less than the Americans by one-third? This is true. I do not think the minister should be denying that.

Our growth rate is increasing but at a very slow rate. The Americans' growth rate is increasing at a higher rate. Why is that? It is because of a lack of a tax plan that would give aggressive tax rate cuts to our citizens. When will he do it?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is very hard to deal with a firm that spends most of its research money on spies and not doing basic economic research. The fact is that he is wrong in terms of growth. If he looks at the job creation rates, last month our job creation numbers were substantially higher than any economist expected across North America.

*  *  *

[Translation]

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in 1999, the Bloc Quebecois filed a complaint with the commissioner of official languages regarding the place of French in amateur sport.

Of the 16 recommendations made by the commissioner, 9 were to be implemented before April 1 of this year and three others when the report was tabled. It is now April 27 and nothing has been done.

I ask the head trainer for official languages what action he intends to take vis-à-vis his colleague at amateur sport so that the commissioner's recommendations are acted upon and so that French speaking athletes do not have to leave their mother tongue at the door in order to make it to the podium.

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, we are glad that the Bloc Quebecois wants to see its athletes on the podium because, until last week, it did not even want to talk about athletes from everywhere in Canada.

Second, we have a very specific policy on official languages. If a national sports organization does not meet the rules on recognizing both official languages, it will not receive any funding from the Government of Canada.

Ms. Caroline St-Hilaire (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the official languages commissioner's report concluded that French speaking athletes are governed by a system which, most of the time, operates exclusively in English, to the detriment of their development as athletes.

On this first day of the national summit on sport, will the new official languages standard bearer—not the Minister of Canadian Heritage—tell us what he intends to do to end the discriminatory and unequal treatment to which French speaking athletes are subject?

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today, Quebec's minister responsible for sport is saying that governments should not play politics with sport.

We do not want to play politics with sport. That is why today, tomorrow and Sunday we will be trying to reach a consensus with all Canada's athletes. It is a given that athletes must be able to train in their own language, in French, throughout Canada, and that is Canada's policy.

 

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Mr. Robert Lanctôt (Châteauguay, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the government's inaction over the years in connection with the official languages issue in amateur sport has had a negative effect on the efficiency and performance of francophone athletes. They are being discriminated against on the basis of language, not performance.

Now that the summit on sport is over, what concrete actions do the minister responsible for official languages and the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport intend to take to eliminate the obstacles faced by francophone athletes within the Canadian sports system?

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, just for once I would like to see the Bloc Quebecois capable of setting petty politics aside in order to work along with all of Canada's athletes who have come to establish a consensus for sports on behalf of all the athletes of Canada.

Mr. Robert Lanctôt (Châteauguay, BQ): Mr. Speaker, how can there be any consensus when the phrase “Building Canada” is already there? Forget this policy.

Instead of making use of the national summit on sport as a propaganda tool focussing on Canadian unity, will the minister ensure that the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport reviews the summit discussion document and immediately implements the recommendations of the commissioner of official languages?

Hon. Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if I understand him correctly, the hon. member is saying that the jurisdiction of Quebec is not being respected. The Government of Quebec was invited to take part at all levels. It was invited to the regional summit, and refused. It was invited to work on the action plan, and refused. Only this week did it agree to participate.

We are pleased. We want to have recommendations and we want to work together.

*  *  *

[English]

HEALTH

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Ontario premier has sent shock waves clear across the country with his blatant bidding on behalf of health privatizers. User fees, no problem; private hospitals, no problem; means testing, no problem, according to Mike Harris.

Well there is a huge problem. Canadians want this government to meet that problem head on by using the only language that Mike Harris really understands, withholding public funds for violators of the Canada Health Act. Will the government give that assurance today, no ifs, ands or buts?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has already given that assurance by its actions. It has taken action to withhold funds under the Canada Health Act when it has been proven that the Canada Health Act has not been lived up to. The government will continue to carry on its responsibilities. The hon. member should recognize it has been doing so and it will continue to do so.

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, here we go again: tough talk by the feds but not matched by tough action.

Federal lack of leadership on health reform, massive funding cuts and endless tolerance for Canada Health Act violations are what have made our health care system vulnerable to Mike Harris and his privatizing parasites. For good reason, the Canada Health Act gives the federal government clout to withhold public funds from violators. Will the government once and for all use the clout and cut the cash?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has been doing that. For example, in the case of the province of Alberta, where there were complaints and where after investigation they were proven to be warranted, the government acted and it will act.

I ask the hon. member to have the decency to recognize those facts and, while she is doing that, not say things that undermine her former colleague, Roy Romanow, before he has barely begun his inquiry.

*  *  *

TRADE

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

The minister knows that lumber mills across Canada face crippling countervailing duties that could be made retroactive to last Monday. The minister keeps boasting about his talks with Bob Zoellick, Bob Zoellick who is taking Canada to the cleaners. What about talks with Canadians? The minister refuses to draw together representatives in the Canadian industry to work out a common Canadian position.

 

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Will the Minister for International Trade convene a meeting with the Canadian softwood lumber industry by next Wednesday to set a common Canadian position on the countervail issue—

The Speaker: The hon. Minister for International Trade.

Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, our government has been very active on that file. We have been providing leadership for our industry and provinces in Washington. We have been in consultations with the department of commerce expressing very clearly the view of our country on that front.

Indeed we are in touch with the stakeholders all the time. Three weeks ago we raised the idea of having a stakeholder meeting. At that time they told us that they thought it was premature and that they preferred some further discussions among themselves. We are ready to have that meeting as soon as the industry is ready. It could be next week or the week after.

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, the minister of trade on April 9 in a news conference said there was no urgency in the softwood lumber industry because nothing would happen until August.

My understanding is that the countervail duties can be applied as of last Monday, not next August, and every load of lumber that leaves Canada right now is vulnerable to a retroactive duty for countervail and anti-dumping.

One of us is right and one of us is wrong. Could the minister correct that and say who is right? Are the duties applicable as of last Monday or next August?

Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this case is a very complex one. Indeed the commerce department can make a preliminary determination as of the end of June or the beginning of July. When it is a very simple case it takes two months.

Normally with a case as complex as this one, the indication we have is that the determination should not be made before the end of August. However the law in the United States allows them to do it retroactively but that is done very rarely. Canada would absolutely insist that it not be done in this case as it is done so very rarely.

*  *  *

INDUSTRY CANADA

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday I asked the Deputy Prime Minister about the audit of the access.ca program. This is a serious matter. This is the second damaging audit in less than a year of the information highway branch. Both revealed shoddy management and a wilful disregard for government procurement regulations.

I am asking the minister the question again today. How could the minister tolerate this flagrant abuse of the government rules and procurement procedures? How could he let them get away with bypassing the process?

Mr. John Cannis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there was no process that was bypassed. It is the same audit that we looked at.

Let me point this out for the member. He knows very well from committee that access.ca first of all is a program that benefits Canadians, especially Canadians in remote areas. It has made our country stand a cut above the rest.

When these audits came forward a way back, the department took immediate action to address them, and the hon. member knows that.

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary ignores the fact that the audit found that procurement procedures were being bypassed. That is very clear in the audit.

What is really troubling is that despite the process of bypassing rules to fast track the project, access.ca is six months behind schedule and may never be fully implemented.

Maybe the government could tell us what is the future for this troubled project? Is it going a head? Will it continue to be located in P.E.I.? What companies have been asked to deliver the project?

Mr. John Cannis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let me stress again that nothing was bypassed. Every opportunity was taken to make sure things were done and done properly.

The member is failing to understand, and I say it again, that this program has made Canada stand a cut above the rest with our connecting Canadians program permitting people in remote parts of our country to have access, not just to other Canadians but to the entire world.

*  *  *

[Translation]

NATIONAL DEFENCE

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of National Defence said that the pollution at the Bagotville military base was not in danger of migrating off the DND property.

That statement contradicts the documents of his own department, which indicate that there is a risk of migration toward the municipal drinking water wells.

The minister has had 24 hours to review the issue. Will he confirm his department's reports or will he continue to deny the facts?

 

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[English]

Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no inconsistency, and I certainly confirm what I said yesterday.

People will raise the possibilities if things go to an extreme extent but we will not allow them to go that extreme. In fact we have already taken action to remedy this matter. The nitrates in the groundwater will have biodegraded to safe levels before they reach the outer boundaries of the DND property.

We are acting in a responsible fashion. We are doing it in accordance with Environment Canada and it approves of what we are doing.

[Translation]

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I hope these measures are not about delivering bottled water.

Yesterday, the Quebec minister of the environment wrote to the Minister of National Defence to ask him what the Canadian government intends to do to avoid a repeat of the situation at Shannon.

Will the minister tell the residents of La Baie what concrete measures he will take to prevent the municipal drinking water wells from being contaminated?

[English]

Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have been in touch with the municipality and provincial officials on this matter. They have not indicated a concern in terms of how we are handling it. They know we are handling it in a responsible fashion.

We have changed the kind of products that are used in the de-icing on the runway so that they are environmentally friendly products. No longer are these kinds of pollutants a factor in the new way we operate. As I said, we are taking action to make sure that they do not have any effect on the surrounding community.

*  *  *

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, twice now we have asked the industry minister if Mr. Jonas Prince ever received any direct or indirect funding from his department, from the Business Development Bank or from the Export Development Corporation.

He took the question on notice almost a month ago. Since he has had a month to think about it, he must now be ready to answer our question. Did Mr. Prince or his companies get any help from Industry Canada or from the agencies it oversees?

Mr. John Cannis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let me first point out to the hon. member that the BDC and the EDC operate at arm's length from the federal government. As such I am not privy and nobody is privy to this confidential information that cannot be provided according to subsection 37(1) of the BDC.

Also, the EDC falls under the same guidelines. Upon a preliminary look, any indication of any funding being provided has not been found.

*  *  *

ETHICS COUNSELLOR

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark—Carleton, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor has participated in seminars about ethics, corruption, conflict of interest and public sector values in China, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, the U.K., France, Chile and the United States. In all that is 10 countries in every hemisphere and on every continent other than Antarctica and Africa.

With all this international travel, why has the ethics counsellor never found the time to travel to Shawinigan to investigate and verify the facts regarding the Auberge Grand-Mère himself?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first, the hon. member confirms that his colleague when he raised this question before stated an inaccuracy. His colleague said the ethics counsellor had visited 22 countries. The hon. member has just confirmed his colleague was wrong. I thought he would apologize on behalf of his colleague.

The hon. member is wrong in his allegations, in that the ethics counsellor has carefully studied the relevant documents and has reached the conclusion that there was no breach of the guidelines in question. The hon. member should agree that he is wrong in his allegations. That is what Canadians are trying to tell the Alliance. No wonder the Alliance is—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

*  *  *

[Translation]

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister made a commitment during the election campaign, and his ministers went one better saying that there would be a parliamentary commission to review the employment insurance system from top to bottom.

The members of the standing committee on human resources development unanimously agreed that such changes had to be made.

Does the government intend to act on the committee's recommendations?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond for the hon. Minister of Human Resources Development.

The member knows very well that Bill C-2 has now passed all stages in the House of Commons and is currently before the other place. We hope to have it passed in the very near future.

We must be seeing some act of contrition on the part of those who tried on a number of occasions to prevent passage of this bill to improve benefits to Canadians.

 

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Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that Bill C-2 is nothing more than a sleeping pill to put the unemployed to sleep. No one is fooled by this government's position.

In the midst of the campaign, the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport, the minister responsible for Quebec and even the Prime Minister made a commitment to do justice to the unemployed and to the workers and employers, those who finance the plan.

Can the Minister of Human Resources Development or someone in the government assure us that the government will honour its commitments?

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government always honours its commitments, and the member opposite knows that perfectly well.

On the matter at issue, the member also knows perfectly well that it was his party and others that prevented us from passing Bill C-2 on March 29 by adjourning the House. He knows that his party, including his deputy House leader, denied unanimous consent to pass this bill before the election.

It is a rather tardy act of contrition by the members of the Bloc Quebecois to be claiming today that they defend the interests of the unemployed.

*  *  *

[English]

HEALTH

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, three years ago in the House the government voted to deny compensation to those unfortunate individuals who contracted hepatitis C from tainted blood. As we are here today these people are languishing. Even those who were promised money have not received it because most of the money has gone to lawyers.

Will he do the right thing and give those individuals who contracted hepatitis C through no fault of their own the compensation that they so justly deserve?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Health said in response to a question yesterday, he shares the frustrations of those who are entitled to money and who are not getting it. He has already written to the joint committee to express that frustration.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Health feels frustration, imagine what the victims are feeling right now. That is not good enough. This has been on the minister's plate from the beginning. Good people from around the country have asked the government to do the right thing, the fair thing.

The Minister has one chance. On May 1 there is a conference in Montreal bringing together the victims of hepatitis C as well as medical professionals. Will the minister do the right thing and compensate the people on May 1 who contracted hepatitis C through no fault of their own? We do not want to have any more of these mealy-mouthed answers.

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have been informed that 1,200 claims have been paid out and that 97% of the claims have been processed to date.

I know the Minister of Health believes that this is not good enough. I can assure the House that the minister is pushing the administrator to do a better job to ensure that people get the money they are due.

*  *  *

JUSTICE

Mr. Rodger Cuzner (Bras d'Or—Cape Breton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, while the criminal justice system responds to crime and criminals, people in my riding and elsewhere believe we must enhance the role of victims who are caught up in our criminal justice system.

Could the Minister of Justice tell the House what work is being done by her department to improve the services and support available to victims of crime within our justice system?

Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, while obviously crime rates are falling in the country, each new victim is one too many, which is why the government acted to improve the voice of victims in the criminal justice system.

For example, for the first time victims are able to read their impact statements in open court if they so choose. We have created a $25 million fund which will assist the provinces and local victim organizations to ensure that services are available for those who are victims of crime.

That is why I was so pleased last Friday in the province of Nova Scotia, the hon. member's province, to be able to announce $179,000 of new funding for the province so it will be able to assist in the provision of services for victims of crime.

*  *  *

 

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POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the government says education is our economic and social future, but its record is larger classes, fewer resources, crumbling buildings, higher fees and less student aid. The system is in shreds.

Will the Minister of Finance start to fix the problems his government created through underfunding and inadequate boutique programs by bringing in legislation modelled on the Canada Health Act to rebuild accessibility, quality and national standards in our post-secondary education system?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. All members on this side of the House share the recognition that in the knowledge economy, knowledge and skills are key. That is why in the 1998 budget we put over $7 billion into post-secondary education.

I could go through the list of measures about everything from registered education savings plans to $3,000 grants to help single parents return to school, to the millennium scholarship fund and to the amount of money we have put into research and development.

All these are part of a very comprehensive package on behalf of the Canadian government to essentially help Canadians thrive in the knowledge economy.

*  *  *

JUSTICE

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Justice Richard in his report on the Westray inquiry called on the Government of Canada to introduce legislation to hold corporate executives and directors criminally accountable for knowingly risking the lives of workers.

On October 5, 2000, the House concurred with the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights which supported introducing such legislation. Will the Minister of Justice act on the recommendation? When will she introduce this legislation?

Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the work done by the justice and human rights committee in relation to the important issue of corporate criminal liability.

This is a very important issue for corporate law in the country and that is why my colleague the Minister of Industry and I have decided that we need to look at this matter together. Perhaps it would be useful to have the justice committee and the industry committee hear from a wider range of witnesses, because I do believe at the committee that no witnesses were heard.

Since this is such an important change or potential change in relation to corporate liability, I think we would be well served by further work by the industry and justice committees.

*  *  *

TAXATION

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): Mr. Speaker, a company in Truro, Nova Scotia, called Phoenix Agritech, manufactures an electronic device designed to emit sounds to scare birds from oil spills and airports. It is sold in 25 countries around the world, but in its wisdom the Department of Health has decided that the electronic device is a pesticide and therefore is charging the company thousands of dollars every year.

I would like to know if the Department of Health, or the Minister of Health, would immediately lift this unfair, ridiculous and crazy tax as a pesticide on an entirely electronic device.

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a very important issue for his constituents. I will endeavour on behalf of the member to raise the issue personally with the Minister of Health so that the minister can answer the member and the company in question in his constituency.

*  *  *

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister concerning his lack of success in finding a settlement to the residential schools tragedy.

When will the Deputy Prime Minister initiate a humane and just resolution to this problem and stop wasting money on legal costs both of the bureaucracy and of the churches? Why is the government standing by while government lawyers destroy any remaining good will between aboriginals and church dioceses?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the premise of the hon. member's question is not correct. Government lawyers are not working to destroy any relationship between the native peoples and the churches.

It is true that thousands of native people have brought legal actions against both the government and some church organizations at the same time. That is why on behalf of the government I have opened a new dialogue with church organizations to see if we can find some common ground to resolve this matter together with the victims in a way that is fair, quicker and cheaper than relying solely on the litigation process.

*  *  *

TRADE

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the new Bush nominee for the commerce department on international trade said yesterday that U.S. anti-dumping and countervail measures were being used for protectionist purposes rather than for ending unfair trade practices.

With this kind of support, why is the Prime Minister dividing Canadian interests by assuring the Atlantic lumber industry yesterday that “we will negotiate?”

 

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Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased with the strong support we are getting in Washington. I have noticed with the new Bush administration some interest and some opening to revisit some of the American trade laws. This is very good news. It is great news in our bilateral relationship and it is very good news in our multilateral negotiations as well.

We will fight for Canadian industry from coast to coast, all industries in all provinces. We will stand for the right of our Canadian producers to export to the United States. We are very confident that we will win against the unfair U.S. allegations on subsidies.

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, contrary to the pro-free trade converts in the Liberal government who discovered their free trade in lumber position in 2001, the American consumers for affordable homes has been lobbying the U.S. administration consistently for the last two years to promote a full return to free trade.

This consumer group represents 95% of U.S. domestic lumber consumption. With this kind of support why is the Prime Minister displaying weakness by saying we will negotiate?

Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has been working very closely through our embassy in Washington with the coalition of consumers in the United States. We have been working with it and helping it to get a strong voice in Washington. We have been providing it with all the appropriate information to be able to take more room in Washington.

The government has been instrumental in developing a strong voice in favour of Canadian softwood lumber in the United States.

*  *  *

[Translation]

AUBERGE GRAND-MÈRE

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, having failed to obtain a relevant answer to my question yesterday concerning the ten-year lease between the Auberge Grand-Mère and the golf club, I put it again.

The Prime Minister told us that the lease had been cancelled. How does he know that the lease was cancelled and will he tell us exactly when that was?

In fact, will the Prime Minister finally give an accurate answer to these questions and provide us with formal proof that this lease was indeed cancelled, as he claims it was?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in 1993, when Mr. Duhaime took over the hotel, he also assumed responsibility for the lease.

From that time on, all financial ties between the hotel and the golf club were severed and all these facts have been confirmed by the ethics adviser.

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères—Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, what is at issue here are the Prime Minister's repeated statements that there was no business relationship between the auberge and the golf club. A ten-year lease signed in 1988, however, indicates quite the opposite.

If the Prime Minister is convinced that this legal document, which clearly contradicts his statement, was no longer valid at the time of the events in question, why is he refusing to give us proof to that effect?

Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have provided the proof. The member is wrong. There was never any lease between the golf club and the auberge.

Where is the proof of the hon. member who says otherwise? In our system of justice, it is incumbent upon the member to provide proof and he has not done so; he is therefore wrong.

*  *  *

[English]

JUSTICE

Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I have another release from the Surrey RCMP. Another elderly man was beaten severely in his own home.

Over two years ago I asked the justice committee to address the issue of home invasions and I was called silly by a Liberal member of the committee. The minister now will undoubtedly talk about Bill C-15, an omnibus bill, in which home invasions is mired. It is not even on the legislative radar screen.

How much longer will Canadians have to wait for some effective legislation on home invasions?

Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member should know, Bill C-15, which includes a section in relation to home invasions, will be debated in the House on Monday.

I look forward to the hon. member's support to speed Bill C-15 through passage in the House.

 

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Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is mired in an omnibus bill. On another issue, some members of the immigrant community in my constituency paid me a visit a few weeks ago.

Their complaint was that recently introduced legislation does not go far enough. It only removes charitable status from organizations that fund terrorism. It does not stop the actual funding of terrorism.

My constituents want a law that actually makes the funding of terrorism illegal. Will the government commit to such a law in the near future?

Mr. Lynn Myers (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that the government has gone on record repeatedly condemning terrorism and the kinds of things that take place as a result of it.

We will bring in the tools necessary to ensure that we have the kind of capability to make sure that this precisely does not happen. It is a strength of the government, ensuring that it puts to rest those kinds of activities in the proper way.

*  *  *

FOREIGN AID

Mr. John McCallum (Markham, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, those of us who think that Canada should increase foreign aid to less developed countries were dismayed to read in the press that in fact we seem to be going the other way.

Our overseas development assistance which was 0.28% of gross domestic product in 1999 fell to 0.25% last year. Could the minister explain to the House what is going on?

Hon. Maria Minna (Minister for International Cooperation, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government increased the budget by $435 million in the year 2000. In fact we are doing a great deal more in development.

The economy is growing much faster and that is why there is a difference in numbers. We are doing more. In the Speech from the Throne, as all members know, there was a major commitment to increase ODA yet again for Canada. I am very hopeful that will happen.

*  *  *

IMMIGRATION

Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the RCMP has testified in court of a known terrorist, murderer and gangster living in Canada.

Instead of carrying though with his deportation, Mr. Rat Naval was allowed to stay in Canada because he caused a fuss during deportation when he was boarding a plane.

Why is he still in Canada? Do Canadians not deserve a better standard of public safety from the government than what we are seeing?

Mr. Mark Assad (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member knows that we do not discuss particular cases in a public forum.

The process is very simple. When serious criminality or terrorism is involved, officials seek to continue the detention of these individuals. The department also seeks detentions of those likely to disappear and those who pose a danger.

The decision to detain or release rests with an independent adjudicator of the Immigration and Refugee Board which considers case specific information before making a final decision. That is the process.

Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Mr. Rat Naval was ordered deported from Canada on April 5 and is now comfortable in his home in Markham.

As the minister makes weak excuses, public safety is being jeopardized by the government. Why is the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration not doing her job? Why is she allowing known terrorists and assassins to make Canada their safe haven from justice?

Mr. Mark Assad (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have a process and we respect it. It is the law. If an independent adjudicator takes a specific case and renders a decision, I cannot see why we should interfere.

*  *  *

[Translation]

GASOLINE PRICING

Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue, BQ): Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the cost of gasoline is of major concern to the people of Quebec and of Canada.

The Minister of Industry seems somewhat confused about his responsibilities in this area, yet he ought to know that the Competition Act is federal.

Is the government going to recognize that the Competition Act lacks teeth and that it is high time it began to protect the citizen and consumer instead of the major oil companies?

[English]

Mr. John Cannis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the confusion is from the Bloc Quebecois. The Competition Act, when evidence is brought forward, acts accordingly.

A year ago there were record fines, but when it comes to gasoline pricing the member should talk to Mr. Landry. They did control the price of gasoline before. They can do it again should they wish to.

*  *  *

 

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VOLUNTEERS

Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, since public safety is such an important part of our Canadian identity, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General tell us how our public safety agencies are tapping into the goodwill of Canadian volunteers?

Mr. Lynn Myers (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada is one of the safest countries in the world. This is partly due not only to our great institutions but to the people who assist those people in those institutions, especially our volunteers.

In the case of the solicitor general's portfolio, we have the largest number of volunteers who support us, people like elders, people who are supporting victims, people who are assisting offenders and people who are working with the auxiliary of the RCMP in very meaningful ways. They deserve the gratitude not only of the House but the entire nation. These are unsung heroes.

*  *  *

JUSTICE

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the justice minister talked about victims of crime. Let us stop having victims of crime.

On May 1, I will introduce a private member's bill asking for a minimum two year sentence for repeat break and enter offenders. Eighty per cent of these crimes are committed by repeat break and enter offenders. The bill is being introduced to stop this cycle of crime and business.

I am asking the minister if she will support the bill.

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is an experienced member. He has been here several years. One would think that he would know that private members' items are just that, private members' items. He would also know that it is obviously not the position of the government to comment on the vote of any individual member on any individual item before the House at private members' hour.

*  *  *

[Translation]

TAX TREATIES

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Mr. Speaker, according to the auditor general, international activities by Canadian taxpayers, particularly their use of tax shelters, constitute one of the greatest threats to the tax base.

The OECD is even calling for countries that have signed tax treaties with other countries with harmful tax practices, such as Barbados, to withdraw from them.

How can the government remain unmoved by this statement from the auditor general, and why does Canada not immediately withdraw from its tax treaty with Barbados, as recommended by the OECD?

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada has played and continues to play a lead role within the OECD.

In this connection, as the hon. member must be aware, there is real agreement between all countries involved, that is to say all of them are going to take multilateral action, not unilateral. That is the only way to solve the problem.

*  *  *

[English]

PRESENCE IN GALLERY

The Speaker: I wish to draw to the attention of all hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Tourism and Culture for the province of Nova Scotia.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

*  *  *

POINTS OF ORDER

ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

Mr. Richard Harris (Prince George—Bulkley Valley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, during a question period response the Minister of Finance made a statement that I know he realizes is erroneous when he said that the official opposition was spending research money on spies.

I know the Minister of Finance knows that is an incorrect statement. I will not harp on it much longer. I will ask him to withdraw that statement, which he knows is wrong.

The Speaker: It sounds to me as though there is a matter of debate here. I think the way people spend money is not something that is the subject of the jurisdiction of the Chair.

Perhaps the Minister of Finance has something he would like to say to illumine the House on the subject. Otherwise I am inclined to suggest that the matter is not really a point of order.

Mr. John Cannis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there was a question asked of me during question period by a member of the Alliance. In my response to whether Mr. Jonas Prince had received any funding, I responded that to my knowledge he had not.

I want to clarify for the record that Industry Canada, in its preliminary look, indicated that no funding was given to Mr. Jonas Prince.

Mr. Richard Harris: Mr. Speaker, on my point of order, I did not want to debate whether the finance minister made the comment or not. Indeed, the record will show that he did. All I was asking is that he realize he made a mistake and withdraw the comment.

 

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The Speaker: I think there are always allegations made back and forth in the House, and this one sounds like maybe it was one of those, if that is the way it was. I will review the blues and if there appears to be any problem, I will certainly get back to the House.



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Translation]

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS

Mr. Derek Lee (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, pursuant to the standing orders of the House, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

*  *  *

[English]

CANADIAN TOURISM COMMISSION

Mr. John Cannis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry, Lib.): Madam Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Canadian Tourism Commission's annual report for 1999-2000, entitled “Working Together, Succeeding Together”.

*  *  *

INDIAN CLAIMS COMMISSION

Mr. John Finlay (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): Madam Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the 1999-2000 annual report of the Indian Claims Commission.

*  *  *

TERRY FOX DAY ACT

 

Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton West—Mississauga, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-339, an act respecting Terry Fox Day.

She said: Madam Speaker, the name of Terry Fox is one of the best known names across Canada. His efforts to fight cancer and to raise the awareness of Canadians are legendary. He was courageous, noble and modest. He united Canadians as no one has ever done before. Today over 60 countries hold the Terry Fox Day Run for Cancer. In memory of Terry, I have the honour to present to the House an act to establish throughout Canada in each and every year the second Sunday after Labour Day as Terry Fox Day.

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

*  *  *

PETITIONS

POISON CONTROL

Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I have in hand a petition of several hundred names of individuals from across Saskatchewan. Farmers across the province of Saskatchewan want the federal government to give them the necessary tools to fight a severe infestation of gophers.

The petition is calling on the federal government to amend regulations to permit the sale of concentrated liquid strychnine to registered farmers until an effective alternative can be found. Gophers are destroying hundreds of acres of pasture and grain land every year and to a great extent farmers are powerless to stop them. The damage to crop and hay lands caused by this infestation is very costly to farmers in lost productivity, equipment repairs and injury to livestock.

It is the hope of these petitioners that the petition will convince the federal government to relax those restrictions on strychnine poison so that farmers can get the gopher problem under control. We appreciate the opportunity to bring this serious problem to the attention of the House.

 

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BILL C-16

Ms. Yolande Thibeault (Saint-Lambert, Lib.): Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to table in the House a petition signed by 42 constituents of my riding of Saint-Lambert.

They ask the government to bring in amendments to Bill C-16, the charities registration act. They suggest that the bill violates fundamental freedoms and would like to see legislative safeguards added to ensure that it does not disproportionately target ethnic or religious groups.

*  *  *

[Translation]

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

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

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Is that agreed?

Some hon. members: Agreed.



GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Translation]

TOBACCO TAX AMENDMENTS ACT, 2001

 

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-26, an act to amend the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff, the Excise Act, the Excise Tax Act and the Income Tax Act in respect of tobacco, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I just want to ask for the unanimous consent of the House to table the lease I referred to during question period, since the Deputy Prime Minister seemed to question the very existence of such a lease.

Therefore, I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House to table it so that everyone could have a look at it.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Madam Speaker, if I understood correctly, the Liberals do not want to know the truth about the Auberge Grand-Mère. That is really what we heard. Nor do they want the lease to be tabled in the House. They do not want to see for themselves that the Prime Minister is talking through his hat when he says there was no financial connection between the auberge and the golf club after 1993. It is rather strange, but I will now get back to my remarks about Bill C-26.

I must say at the outset that Bill C-26 contains good measures to fight tobacco consumption. It provides various instruments, including a tax increase on tobacco products in general and on cigarettes in particular.

We support this bill. Why? Because tobacco kills. But before it kills, it creates considerable costs for our health system. These costs run into the billions of dollars every year. Tobacco kills through various smoking related diseases.

There is emphysema, heart disease and myocardial infarction in particular. There is lung cancer. There are strokes, many of which are linked to smoking.

In the end there are over 40,000 deaths a year in Canada caused by smoking.

There are still too many people smoking today. There are still too many people uninformed. There are still too many people today, especially young people, who are beginning to develop this bad habit of smoking.

And yet, tobacco kills. It is a real poison. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, there are a variety of components to cigarettes, chemicals, which should be made known to those who have the bad habit of smoking.

They are real poisons. To name but one, tar in cigarettes by itself contains 4,000 chemical compounds, 4,000 noxious compounds. Nicotine is the worst element in a cigarette causing dependency, because of its high level—between 5 and 7 milligrams per cigarette—of such magnitude that it is likened to cocaine and heroin dependency.

 

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I know what it is like to break a habit like smoking because I myself smoked for many years. Given the withdrawal symptoms that one can experience over a long period of time, I know whereof I speak.

Cigarettes, and tobacco in general, contain acetone. This substance is normally used as a paint stripper. This is what one is inhaling along with cigarette smoke.

Cigarettes also contain methanol, something else one is inhaling. Methanol is wood alcohol, one of the most potent alcohols on the market. Tobacco also contains acetylene, another chemical, which is used to fuel flares. This is what one is inhaling in tobacco products.

One is inhaling hydrocyanic acid, which is used in gas chambers, benzene, a very strong solvent on the market, and ammonia as well. When one smokes a cigarette, one is breathing in ammonia. This is a colourless gas used for cleaning. I think that everyone is somewhat familiar with this chemical, which is extremely harmful if inhaled. It is very bad for the health.

Cigarettes also contain mercury, lead and cadmium. These are the substances one is inhaling when one smokes a cigarette: three highly toxic heavy metals. There is also carbon monoxide. Everyone has heard of carbon monoxide, a colourless, odourless and deadly gas. Nitrogen oxide, a toxic gas, is also present.

In short, if we could conduct an aggressive information campaign to provide this kind of fundamental data and make an analogy with a poison cocktail, we could not find anything more appropriate.

Imagine a large glass in which there is a certain amount of tar. This is the viscous, yellowish liquid which becomes black once it has been mixed with other products and which is used on roofs. Imagine a large glass with some tar in it.

Imagine another glass in which there is acetone and two or three spoonfuls of paint remover to enhance the flavour. To this, we would then add wood alcohol, a product used for torches, and hydrocyanic acid. We would also pour some acid into our explosive cocktail. And benzene, which is a solvent. We would also put a certain amount of heavy metals into the same glass. We would mix the whole thing with some ice and give it to someone to drink. This is the image that we should bear in mind whenever we light up a cigarette. This is what we are inhaling.

The fundamental question that I ask myself is: Would we give that cocktail to our children to drink? Would we be able give that explosive mixture, that poison which I just described, to our children to drink? This is what is happening.

Since the end of the eighties, the only age group that has significantly increased its tobacco consumption is the 15 to 19 year olds. Where are the parents? We must provide that information, but we must also have it. I could not give that to my child. I could not accept that my child would take such a quantity of poison. Yet, according to statistics, this is what is happening.

As a society, we have an obligation to act. In the case of young people aged 15 to 19, statistics on tobacco since the end of the 1980s are staggering. At the end of the 1980s, the percentage of habitual smokers among female teenagers 15, 16, 17 and 18 of age 24%. Today, it is 31%, an increase of almost a third since the end of the 1980s and early 1990s.

This is cause for concern, when one considers the devastating effects of tobacco. At the end of the 1980s, 21.6% of teenagers aged 15 and over smoked. Today, it is 27.2%.

 

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This too is a cause for concern because we know that diseases that can be developed, like emphysema, myocardial infarction, lung cancer and even strokes are linked to a lifelong investment, from youth to maturity. It is a cause for concern when teenagers, who will become young adults and mature adults, are increasingly becoming smokers.

I believe we should take urgent action to put an end to the deplorable increase of smoking.

I was recently reading a report that showed that the situation with young people between the ages of 20 and 24 is stable but a stable catastrophe is still a catastrophe. When one looks at the data for young people between 20 and 24, and these are young adults we are talking about here, it is surprising to see that 39% of men and 32% of women in that age category are still smoking.

Again, when people hit 40 or 50 years of age, which is the time when tobacco illnesses surface, they end up with the health they built in their youth. If they neglected their health when they were young, it will not improve as the years go by.

What I am trying to say is that starting to smoke at a young age is a negative investment in one's health. It is a bad investment in one's health that can cause two major problems: first, it ensures a slow and painful death, and second, society has to pay for one's bad habit and one's choice not to quit.

Smoking kills and it costs billions of dollars in health care and other services. That is something those with government responsibilities have to bear in mind.

When the packaging of cigarettes and the horrible and repulsive pictures to be displayed on the cigarette packs were debated in the House, the Bloc Quebecois tabled a report containing a number of recommendations to better discourage smoking.

We, of course, recommended an increase in taxes, which has proven to be an effective tool. It has been proven in the past that tax increases have a deterrent effect on young people. Young people do not have a lot of money, particularly 15, 16 and 17 year olds.

We also said that putting photos on cigarette packs and increasing taxes was not enough. We need other solutions, such as requiring cigarette manufacturers to reduce the nicotine content of cigarettes.

As I was saying earlier, there are hundreds if not thousands of toxic products in a cigarette but nicotine is the one chemical that creates addiction. It is as addictive as cocaine or heroine. This should be our first priority so that young people who try that first or second cigarette do not become addicted.

There are means of reducing the nicotine level which, according to various scientific studies, should not exceed five milligrams a day for a person not to get addicted to cigarette smoking.

Members will certainly remember the scandal. If the tobacco industry was able to increase the nicotine level to get more people addicted to their product, an act which is totally reprehensible, irresponsible, appalling and despicable, it means that science is sufficiently advanced to enable the industry to lower the nicotine level. It could be a first step toward helping people to quit smoking or preventing them from becoming addicted to smoking.

 

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Funding for anti-smoking campaign has to be increased as well. At the moment, some $40 million is spent on developing awareness. With new tax money available under C-26, $100 million could be set aside. There is an urgent national need to do so.

With slightly less than 30% of the population still smoking, still having the habit, and with the mortality rate of the various smokers' illnesses, and increased smoking by young people, it seems to me it would be worthwhile investing a little more money there. Instead of swelling surpluses or the government's consolidated fund, it seems to me that it would be a good idea to invest this tax surplus in information, training and public awareness, not only among children and adolescents, but among parents as well.

As parents, we have huge responsibilities and we cannot know everything. Despite all the information campaigns, I think there are still parents around, as there are adolescents, who are not completely in the picture about the problems of smoking and all its ins and outs. They are also unaware of the consequences of this bad habit smoking. We have to lay it all out in order to change these habits.

In the past 20 years, progress has been made. Fewer people smoke but there are target groups. Budgetary resources must be deployed such as information resources and educational resources, to ensure that there is reinvestment in health so that we do not end up 20 years from now with the same problems we have had for the last 20. I am thinking of such things as the increasing incidence rates of lung cancer, emphysema and stroke. Something must be done.

Our second recommendation at that time, and one I believe is still current today, was additional funding. There will be new funds connected with the new taxes imposed by the Minister of Finance on smokers and on the tobacco industry. Please, let us use this money to invest in the health of our young teens. It seems to me this would be a good thing to do.

Our third point was that smoking is not the only thing that creates victims, so do changes to the industry. If government continues its approach—and I choose this terminology because we are talking about smoking here—to burn an industry right off the map, even one as harmful as the tobacco industry, it must not penalize workers in the process.

There will be tens of millions of dollars at stake. Why could some of that not be earmarked for worker retraining and relocation? Why could some not be set aside for policies on conversion from tobacco?

Farmers in various regions of Quebec and of Canada are hurt by these measures. They will hurt even more because the government, like ourselves, seems determined to continue to battle against smoking. Why not earmark an amount to help them retrain?

Some farm families have invested a lot of money in machinery and land improvement to produce the best possible tobacco. Now that we are indirectly fighting this production, we must provide adjustment policies because there are none.

A few years ago the level of taxes on tobacco was so high that contraband was thriving. There is a direct link between the level of taxes and smuggling. If smugglers can sell cigarettes at a cheaper price than on the market, contraband will become more prevalent as the gap grows between these two markets.

This is my fourth point. We support an increase on tobacco taxes. We support any other measure that might be effective in the fight against smoking.

 

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At the same time, we must realize that as taxes increase so will the urge to engage into contraband activities. This means that we must also step up law enforcement.

With these four measures—although there is no quick fix for such an issue—we would be on the way to helping those who are addicted to tobacco, an addiction that is often the result of the industry's greed. In the United States—I do not know if the same thing was done in Canada—it even increased the nicotine content of its products to get more people addicted. It seems to me that the victims of that industry could benefit from these four measures.

These four initiatives would also help the some 30% of Canadians who currently smoke kick this harmful habit so that some day there will not be any smokers left.

We will support the bill.

[English]

Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP): Madam Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise today and support the steps being taken in Bill C-26, an act to amend the various acts including the Customs Act and the Income Tax Act in respect to tobacco.

Everyone in this Chamber knows that smoking kills. Everyone knows that more needs to be done to help those Canadians addicted to nicotine to quit smoking. More needs to be done especially to stop our kids from starting to smoke. Our goal in this place should be a smoke free generation.

Ways in which this can be done are to make this dangerous substance cost more, take away the incentives of tobacco companies and often less savoury organizations from making huge profits through smuggling, increase the taxes on what profits tobacco companies make and hopefully to divert the funds allocated to fight tobacco use in our population.

Bill C-26 is a step in this direction and I commend the government for that but, and yes there is a but, there is much more to do.

The tax increase on tobacco could and should have been higher. I believe higher prices are a major deterrent to smoking, especially for young people. The tax increase has been far too timid. We need just look across the border at the United States.

The price for a carton of cigarettes in Maine is $60.31 in Canadian dollars. In New York state a carton in Canadian dollars costs $65.21. In Michigan a carton costs $59.00 in Canadian dollars and so on. What would the price of a carton of cigarettes be in Canada once this bill is in effect? Our prices would range from a high of $54.38 in Newfoundland and Labrador to a low of $37.00 in Ontario. There is more room to tax smokers without the terrible fear of smuggling, which dominated the headlines in the early 1990s.

The government's use of an export tax, once again a bit timidly, is a welcome step in allaying the fears of the development of new booming cigarette smuggling operations. The financial measures contained in Bill C-26, including the clauses on taxing duty free cigarettes and eliminating the traveller's exemptions, are only the first steps to protecting ourselves, our neighbours and especially our children.

I commend the excellent work which has been done by organizations, such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control, the Canadian Lung Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, the Non-Smokers' Rights Association and the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, in developing an implementable plan of action which the government can use to further reduce tobacco consumption in our population.

I also feel compelled to congratulate Senator Kenny and my colleague from Winnipeg North Centre for their outstanding individual contributions in the fight against tobacco.

One of the most constant and recurring themes that these organizations and individuals have recognized as a priority is the need for adequate and sustained funding for tobacco control. The government currently takes in billions of dollars in taxes on cigarettes but does not spend anywhere near as much to directly discourage smoking. These organizations say that at least $360 million is needed to fight against smoking but the government has refused to commit those funds.

 

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While I reluctantly support Bill C-26, I wholeheartedly support Bill S-15, a bill that has the seeds of a comprehensive anti-smoking plan and a funding mechanism through an arm's length agency. Bill S-15 would create a $360 million funding stream through a dedicated levy taken from tobacco manufacturers to an arm's length agency which would be committed to implementing real tobacco control programs aimed specifically at young people.

Frankly, I would love to stand in this place and say we do not need any arm's length agency to deliver unnecessary health policy, but the government has shown itself to be playing both sides of the tobacco fence in the past. Too many lives are at stake to trust this initiative to politicians. We need these things.

I do not wish to leave the impression however that nothing has been done up until now. I commend the government for the new bigger warning labels on cigarettes, and I look forward to them bringing in labels on alcohol bottles.

I commend the government for ending tobacco advertising even though I know the real pain that this initiative caused for many arts organizations across the country. I also know that most arts organizations never liked accepting tobacco money but they were given no alternatives after years of Liberal cuts to the arts.

The steps in Bill C-26 are not enough to move us toward a smoke-free generation. We need to support community initiatives aimed at making smoking uncool to young people. We need to work with all jurisdictions to make public places and all work places smoke-free. We need fund multitudes of community initiatives to help those addicted to tobacco quit. We need to eliminate the opportunities for our children to start smoking.

In short, we have to get a lot more radical on this front. I am not going to quote the horrific financial costs, both personal in health terms and as a country, that Canadians suffer due to tobacco. I am sure we all know them here, even the smokers. I will continue to urge the government to see Bill C-26 as only a small step towards this effort. Furthermore, New Democrats will continue to push for Bill S-15 hopefully with improvements.

It is going to take real sustained funding programs, creativity and tenacity through many anti-smoking initiatives to lead us to our first smoke-free generation. Let us get to work on it.

I will be splitting my time, Madam Speaker, with the hon. member for Churchill.

Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the speech the member just made. I spoke on this subject before question period. I feel very passionately about it because of the impact that it has particularly on our people who take up a lifelong addiction when they start smoking. The implications that this has range all the way from health to premature death and loss of loved family members to even issues like fires which are caused by careless smoking and so on.

Would the hon. member care to address the one burning question, if I can use a pun here, on this issue? Will the increase in taxes and the resulting increase in the cost of cigarettes actually curtail the number of young people who would start the habit? Does she have confidence in the Liberal government actually stopping the resulting smuggling of cigarettes which may again increase.

 

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Ms. Wendy Lill: Madam Speaker, we have room to further increase the cost of cigarettes without bringing about a massive smuggling effort. As I said, the cost of a carton of cigarettes in Maine is $60.31 Canadian. With the addition in Bill C-26, we would still not see our cigarettes go up that high. We would see a range anywhere from $54.38 to $37.00 in Ontario. Quite frankly, we need to put the prices a lot higher, then I think we would see a decrease in availability and a decrease of young people starting the habit.

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the bill today. There has been much work done on behalf of the Standing Committee on Health. I recognize that the government is making efforts to improve the situation to reduce smoking among Canadians. Also, our health critic, the member from Winnipeg North Centre, has been very active and keeps us abreast of everything that has been going on.

I am not going to dwell so much on Bill C-26 as to the specifics of it. We are going to support the bill. Any incentive or anything we can do to decrease the opportunity for young people to begin smoking and to discourage people from smoking, is definitely the route to go.

I have no shame in admitting now that I started smoking when I was 12 years old. By the time I quite I was smoking a pack and a half to two packs a day. I could barely breathe when I got up in the morning. I did not have the guts to go to my doctor and say that I had a problem with my lungs. My biggest incentive to quit was not being able to face my doctor and listen to him give me a good tongue lashing over the fact that I was smoking and complaining about not being able to breathe. It took a number of attempts but I have not smoked for close to 20 years. I have had my moments when it seemed like a not so bad idea. Maybe price is a deterrent but I am not sure.

I certainly think we must do everything to discourage people from smoking. I have to admit I am truly concerned that this increasing will just not cut it. I have seen young people buying one cigarette at a time from someone down the street. For 25 cents a cigarette, children as young as seven or eight years old can pick up a cigarette from certain people they know.

We all know that video games, trips to the arcades and little hand held Game Boys are a lot more expensive than a 25 cent cigarette. Those same young people, who have money for those things, are the ones who are out there buying the cigarettes. They may not have to pay the $6 or $7 a pack but they can buy them individually a little at a time. It is not hard to find a quarter lying around in the shopping carts or wherever. There will be money available for that.

What is of the utmost importance is that we have proper education in place and that we have proper pharmaceutical supplies available, whether it be Nicorette or the patch. It is important to have these available to assist people when they do want to quit.

I tried to quit a number of times and I know there are people out there, even teenagers, who by the time they are 16 or 17 are thinking about quitting but they cannot afford buy a box of Nicorette. I am sorry to use just Nicorette but it is the only name that comes to mind. I am not giving them advertising and I am not getting paid for using that product. A lot of people want to quit but they cannot afford to buy Nicorette or the patch. They do not have a prescription plan available where they can go out and get it. As a result it makes their job to quit that much harder.

What I personally would like to see is a more sincere effort to dedicate dollars to education and to help people quit smoking. Maybe what we need is dollars or legislation to say to those tobacco companies that they will have to pay for all of the products that people who smoke need to use to help them quit. They should be required to pay for the oxygen required when someone's lungs get so bad they cannot breathe because they are responsible for it.

 

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Tobacco companies, after all these years, now admit, for the most part, that they deliberately encouraged people to take up smoking and made it habit forming by increasing the concentration of certain chemicals within the cigarette. I would much rather see an increase in education than an increase in the cost of cigarettes.

To those of us who do not smoke, no one complains more about a smoker than someone who has quit smoking. I know a number of smokers who want to quit but who have a hard time quitting. They do need help and we need to provide that help. Increasing the price of cigarettes will not make their lives any easier. Granted, we should not hand cigarettes to them at will. They do need to pay a reasonable price because of the additional health care costs, not just for smokers but for others around them, associated with secondhand smoke and numerous other factors.

Children in homes of people who smoke are jeopardized. I wonder if at some point we may need to seriously consider whether we are injuring our children by continuing to smoke or having them in smoke filled places. We need to decrease the opportunities where people are able to smoke or where they inhale smoke, but slamming an increase in the cost of cigarettes on smokers will not do it. We need to have the dedicated dollars.

One of the issues that I get the most mail on, to the credit of Senator Kenny, is his bill. I have received literally hundreds and hundreds of letters supporting Senator Kenny's bill to ensure that dedicated dollars go to education. Recognizing that there is that support, we need to push along in those areas and dedicate dollars. People do not have faith that the government will use tax dollars for the benefit of health care, to assist smokers and those around them, and perhaps look after the environment.

Instead of creating a bullheadedness between smokers and non-smokers, between tobacco industry workers and those opposed to smoking, we need an alternative plan for those workers and alternative uses for tobacco other than smoking, so that we are not creating these head on forces. We do not need these divisions with smokers literally cursing every non-smoker around. This might make smokers put more of an effort into trying to quit.

I wish it could be quicker but I think we are a long way from a generation of non-smokers unless we seriously commit to educating people and deceasing the number of places where people can smoke. One of the best routes that we have taken which has had the most impact is having fewer places where it is okay to smoke. It is wonderful, even for smokers, to enter a place that is not filled with a haze of smoke. Our eyes do not get as sore. Smokers have to go outside for a smoke but overall even smokers appreciate the curtains and the ceilings not being covered with smoke. Smokers appreciate areas where there is non-smoking as well.

Those are the things that we need to be doing, along with possibly increasing the cost of cigarettes.

 

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Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I suppose someone has to keep the debate rolling since the 172 Liberals do not seem to be interested in getting into the debate.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): The hon. member knows the rules of the House. We do not mention the presence or absence of members. Would he put his question, please?

Mr. Ken Epp: Madam Speaker, I apologize. I do know those rules. I thought I was being careful. I said that the Liberal members did not seem to be interested in participating in the debate, and my statement stands.

The member made a very good speech. She showed a genuine compassion for people who want to quit smoking. It occurred to me while she was speaking that perhaps we, as leaders in the country, as those who set the standards which our young people should follow, are not vigorous enough in providing leadership in this particular area. Has she speculated as to what we could do, perhaps something really radical, that would turn this thing around, because it is so long overdue?

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Madam Speaker, one of the things we can do is admit that we do not need to smoke. We can also encourage people not to smoke. We can let young people know that it is not a great thing. We can let smokers know that we do not appreciate them smoking in non-smoking places. I know a number of people who feel quite comfortable putting no smoking signs on their door even though it does not always go well with their friends.

As members of parliament, a radical thing we can do, if we want to see a generation of non-smokers, is make a commitment not to smoke. There will be those who say that it is easy for me to say that because I have quit, but the bottom line is that it has to come from somewhere. As a true representation of what we think people should be doing, we should all make a commitment to be non-smokers .

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Madam Speaker, this morning the Ottawa Citizen had an op-ed piece commenting on warning labels. One of the members of the NDP had a motion before the House dealing with health warning labels on containers of alcoholic beverages. I found that to be an interesting argument with regard to warning labels in general. The applicability of warning labels with regard to tobacco is important, but the key point is that there is no empirical evidence that such labels work.

I want to put a comment forward and perhaps the hon. member would like to comment on it. To have empirical evidence would mean measuring things before and after doing something but keeping all other things constant over a long period of time to look at the marginal impact. This is not an issue of subjectivity about whether something will work or not. Labelling in itself is part of a more comprehensive strategy, including taxation and other healthy, lifestyle choices initiatives.

In my view Canadians have a right to know and a right to make choices, but in terms of having a comprehensive approach to healthy lifestyle choices for people, proper taxation, proper labelling and proper health incentives are a big part of it. Public education and awareness are probably the most significant factors which are key to changing behaviour. If we are going to change behaviour, we need to ensure that the public are properly informed in every possible way so that they can make healthy lifestyle choices.

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Madam Speaker, I missed sharing this little story with everyone and the member has given me the opportunity to do that.

I agree with the member when he said that people have the right to know what is coming, whether they are inhaling it, eating it, drinking it or whatever, so they can then make conscious decisions.

I want to mention the different tobacco packaging. A young woman goes into a store and asks for a pack of cigarettes without a picture of ugly teeth.

 

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It is funny the way things work. It is enough that it just sickens us a bit. If we happen to break down and sit with smokers at a table and they throw their pack of cigarettes down, for everyone else at the table the package is enough to make them a little ill. We should go ahead a do everything we can do to make it that much more distasteful.

[Translation]

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Madam Speaker, my question is for the member for Churchill. I found her speech most interesting. I am also a former smoker who had to fight hard and for a long time to kick the habit.

Even if the laws are tougher and if health warnings are required on cigarette packaging to warn about the dangers of smoking and so on, I notice that today the companies seem to easily sell their products in certain places, via television shows in particular. If I am not mistaken, there seems to be more actors smoking on television, particularly amongst the young actors and the stars.

I wonder how the producers of those shows could be made to join the fight and stop playing the companies' game. I would like the member to tell me what she thinks of the idea of trying to get young actors to stop holding a cigarette or smoking on television.

[English]

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Madam Speaker, I am torn on that one having raised three sons, having been around a number of young people, having been a school trustee, and having been young and having started smoking. Sometimes the criticism of smoking is incentive enough for young people to think they should smoke because they want to take that stand.

We need legislation to disallow producers from taking any kind of cash payment or any kind of payment from tobacco companies to promote smoking. That is the issue. There are tobacco companies and cigarette producers which are feeding into movie producers and sponsoring them if they have smoking in their presentations.

Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, in 1919 at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, a doctor summoned some medical students to an autopsy saying that the patient's disease was so rare that most of the students would never see it again. It was lung cancer.

This story is from a December 1992 article by Dr. John Meyers entitled “Cigarette Century” from Time magazine. It illuminates like a lightning flash this fact: much, probably most, of our hideously costly health care crisis is caused by unwise behaviour associated with drugs, eating, driving recklessly, sex, alcohol, violence, insufficient exercise and especially smoking.

Focusing on wellness, on preventing rather than causing illness, will reduce the waste inherent in disease oriented hospital centred high tech medicine. The history of the connection between cigarettes and lung cancer illustrates the fallacy of associating health with the delivery of medicine.

One of those 1919 medical students later wrote that he did not see another case of lung cancer until 1936. Then, in six months, he saw nine cases. By the 1930s advances in immunology and public health measures such as sanitation, the handling of food and so on, were reducing the incidence of infectious diseases. However we were about to experience an epidemic in behaviourally driven disease.

The lung cancer epidemic can be said to have sprung from the 1881 invention of a cigarette making machine. Prior to that commercial manufacturing of cigarettes was largely a cottage industry. However by 1888 North Carolina's James Buchanan Duke, whose wealth brought Duke University to life, was selling nearly a billion cigarettes annually throughout North America. Between 1910 and 1919, cigarette production increased by 633%. The U.S. national cigarette service committee distributed cigarettes free to soldiers in France during World War I.

In 1930 the lung cancer death rate among men was less than five per 100,000 per year. By the 1950s, after another war in which cigarettes were sold for a nickel a pack, were distributed free in forward areas and were included with K-rations to soldiers, the lung cancer death rate among men had quadrupled to more than 20 per 100,000. Today it is more than 70 per 100,000. Women's lung cancer rates are soaring and lung cancer is far and away the leading cause of cancer deaths.

 

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According to the World Health Organization, about half of all long term smokers die from tobacco related illnesses and half of those die in middle age, losing 20 to 25 years of productive life.

We have come a long way from the early days of television when sponsor-anchorman John Cameron Swayze's The Camel News Caravan required him to have a lit cigarette constantly visible to the audience.

The social disaster of smoking addiction illustrates why behaviour modification, especially education, is the key to containing health costs.

To that end, legislation such as the bill we are debating today, the tobacco excise tax act, can serve the public good. However the government must address concerns about the increased smuggling that may result from a spike in tobacco costs and the difficulty of policing our vast borders.

We must not forget that when combating smoking, drugs, foul language and other mischievous activities, especially among the young, social stigma has its place, as the member for Elk Island put it. Information campaigns about the public health dangers of smoking have a role to play as well.

The addictive qualities of tobacco and the craving for the product at the lowest possible price could spur a dramatic increase in cigarette smuggling. On January 27, 1994, the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, the current government House leader, recognized these concerns when he told the House:

    Our country is faced with a serious smuggling problem. As a non-smoker, I am generally in favour of high taxes on tobacco to help discourage young people from smoking. However, the reality in Canada today is completely different. Because of the smuggling problem in our country, almost any young Canadian can buy cigarettes cheaply, even illegally...We have no choice, Mr. Speaker. We must put an end to this illegal activity by reducing, however temporarily, taxes on tobacco. We have to work together to enforce the laws of our country.

This was followed by an ambitious crackdown on cigarette smugglers. The government told MPs it would dedicate 700 RCMP officers to anti-smuggling operations and that anyone participating in the tobacco smuggling trade in any capacity would be subject to the full range of sanctions and penalties under the law.

Presumably enthused by the new found enforcement of our laws, on October 20, 1994, the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca called on the government to restore the tax on tobacco to the level that existed on January 1 of that year and to put the increased revenue into health care financing. His call was opposed by the current government House leader who told members the smuggling situation persisted and that the Minister of Health had tabled a report two months earlier which had showed the reduction in taxes had not resulted in an increase in smoking.

The government House leader was wrong. From 1979 to 1991 the real price of cigarettes in Canada increased by 159% and teenage smoking fell from 42% to 16%. In 1994 Canada's reduced tobacco taxes, which were in response to concerns about smuggling, caused the real price of cigarettes to fall by one-third. As a result, teenage smoking increased from 16% to 20% and total tobacco consumption began increasing, especially among young Canadians.

From a health point of view this was a clear and significant failure. Revenue losses were equally acute. The February 1994 tax cuts resulted in a combined federal and provincial revenue loss of over $1.2 billion for the fiscal year 1994-95. The federal loss was $656 million, more than twice what the government had predicted.

In 1998 the government increased cigarette prices to try to reduce consumption. On April 20 of that year the member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier rose in the House to inform his colleagues that the morning's papers showed that the increase had brought back cigarette smuggling with a vengeance to southern Quebec and Ontario.

The government has dropped the ball on this file in the past, both on the taxation side and the smuggling side. The government's batting average has been far from good.

On May 9, 2000, during a debate of Bill C-24, the so-called sales tax and excise tax amendment act, the member for North Vancouver reminded the House that up to that point, despite the government's dedication of over 700 RCMP officers to the cause, not one person had been charged with cigarette smuggling.

 

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During that same day's debate the member for Elk Island told the House:

    It was about three, four or five years ago that cigarette smuggling was a huge issue, so the government decided to reduce the taxes on cigarettes to make the price differential between smuggled cigarettes and those purchased at the store less so there would be less demand for the black market, thereby reducing smuggling. The government tells us that this has had some effect.

    Bill C-24 will once again increase cigarette taxes...However, I have to ask the question: If high taxes were part of the reason for developing the smuggling industry in the first place, would it not be possible that by increasing these taxes, as Bill C-24 will do, the problem will return?

I was not a member of the House when those comments were made and yet today we are considering the same question with Bill C-26.

Having worked in Ottawa in 1997 and 1998 and travelled to and from British Columbia extensively at the time, I can tell my colleagues that straight prices for cigarettes in Ottawa were roughly the same as duty free prices for cigarettes at Vancouver International Airport.

At that time federal cigarette taxes were high in Vancouver but dramatically reduced in the Ottawa area in an attempt to reduce smuggling in this part of the country. If taxes are to have the universal benefit of reducing smoking they must be applied at the same level in every part of the country. There cannot be a gap in the cost of cigarettes across Canada. This has been a failure in the past.

As a person who is interested in discouraging smoking from coast to coast, I remind the government that unless it deals effectively with smugglers and enforces the laws of our country, the problems that have plagued past efforts to reduce smoking will return to haunt the government.

Upon passage of the bill it is important that the government carefully and aggressively establish a plan to fight an impending surge of smuggling. If it does not, the good intentions behind the bill will fail to produce what most Canadians want: a healthier country inhabited by fewer smokers.

Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am very interested in the smuggling issue with respect to raising taxes on cigarettes. I may have missed the early part of the member opposite's speech. Did he make any reference to the price of cigarettes and tobacco in the United States?

During the last go around on this issue, the reason smuggling became such a large industry, particularly in eastern Canada and the Montreal area, was because of the price disparity of cigarettes across the border. I wonder whether the member opposite has done any analysis or looked at all at what the current prices of tobacco are right now vis-à-vis the time before when we went through a major price increase because it seems to me that the price of cigarettes in the United States has risen in the interval and that may ameliorate the smuggling problem when we raise the taxes ourselves.

Mr. James Moore: The point is taken, Madam Speaker. However the member knows that in the United States, just as in Canada, the lion's share of cigarette costs is taxation. In the United States, therefore, as we see with as Michigan, New York, North Dakota and Washington, cigarette prices vary from state to state. This puts an increased obligation on Canada to keep smuggling out of the country, and we must fulfil that responsibility.

As the member knows, in places like Akwesasne we have a tremendously complex border with differing police jurisdictions and the government must make sure it sufficiently guards that border.

I will also note that one cause of cigarette smuggling is the increase in price that results from aggressive taxation policies designed to discourage smoking.

In Great Britain, for example, the government has decided to implement, on an interim basis and with a sunset clause, a 5% increase in cigarettes taxes each year. The U.K. government argues that it is best if such increases are done cyclically, as seen with Canada's increase of 1993, its drop of 1994, its increases of 1996 and 1998, and its expected increase of 2001. If such tax increases are too great or too sudden they will cause a surge in the black market.

 

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The government in Westminster has implemented a gradual increase in taxation. There is no instant spurring of the cost of cigarettes and therefore no spurring of black market or smuggling activity. That is the sort of legislation the Canadian government should keep in mind if it is to continue down the path of increasing cigarette taxes to reduce consumption.

Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, it is a great privilege to speak to Bill C-26 concerning the raising of taxes on cigarettes.

My position is not an easy one to take. When I consider raising taxes I swallow rather hard. Canadians are hurting desperately because of the taxes they pay, and imposing even more taxes cannot be healthy for the country. However the bill is less about raising taxes than about stopping the use of cigarettes. It is a health matter.

The use of cigarettes in our country has become a serious health issue and it must stop. I have been involved in the health care system for many years. When I talk with my counterparts I understand that one in six patients has a tobacco related problem. Canada has a critical problem with its health care system and cigarette smoking.

However to suggest that increasing cigarette taxes will solve the country's health care woes is misguided and dangerous. It is only one piece of the puzzle. We need to look at the whole puzzle and determine what must be done to change the paradigm and the way people think about tobacco use.

It would be better to ask where cigarette taxes are being spent. If they are not being spent to determine the health dangers of cigarettes then we have a serious problem. We need a game plan that does more than raise taxes because that is not the whole issue. The issue is about stopping cigarettes and the damage they do to the health of Canadians.

We should ask whether that can be accomplished. My father smoked all his life. I look at kids today and think of when I went to school and how difficult it was to discern whether or not to smoke. I was saved because of a basketball team and a coach who decided that if we smoked we would not be able to play. Those were the issues.

Teenagers are very vulnerable. The battle is about who will win the minds of our children with regard to cigarettes: the tobacco companies which are putting more and more nicotine into their cigarettes so they are more addictive, or the government which should address the issue in an educational sense so that teenagers know they are becoming victims rather than exercising free choice.

I believe a society should have free choice and that we should stop victimizing the weak. Someone who starts smoking at age 13 will have spent $15,000 on tobacco by age 30. That is a down payment on a good home or half the price of a good car. That does not even take into account the health effects of smoking.

Tobacco companies in Canada reap $260 million in profits every year from the sale of cigarettes to teenagers. Ninety per cent of those who start smoking do so between the ages of 13 and 20. That is where the battle must be fought. Approximately 28% of teenage girls in Canada smoke cigarettes.

The real question is whether we can win the war. Can we win the battle at that level? Let us look at the example of alcohol. Massive education campaigns have seen drinking and driving in Canada decline dramatically from what it was a couple of decades ago.

 

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We have to be careful when we look at other countries and examine what they are doing. What California has done is worthy of note. It has put the pieces of the puzzle together a little more than we have here in Canada. As a result it has moved its percentage of teenage smokers from 30% down to 9% today. That is a success story that we need to perhaps model ourselves on and improve on, because it is an area that we have to look at.

The whole area of health care is something I would like to address because it is a bigger picture issue. We need to understand that if we are to address efficiencies in health care and sustain a health care system, we have to look at the bigger picture of preventative health. Since the seventies we have been talking about preventative health and yet I see very little effort directed to doing something about it.

The bill moves very slightly in that direction, but we have to recognize that as the baby boomer bubble hits our health care system we have to do more than just add funds to the system and stop the crisis management of health as Canadians end up in our emergency wards or clinics. To start with, we have to look at preventing them from becoming ill. That is something we have to look at in a bigger scheme. To do that we must recognize how smoking impacts our health care system. We have to realize that $3 billion is spent in direct costs for hospitalization and physician time in regard to smoking, and another $8 billion is spent in lost productivity in the workplace. Those are amazing figures.

Labour Canada estimates that it costs between $2,300 and $2,600 more to employ an individual who is a smoker. The rate of absenteeism in the workplace has increased because of it. Life insurance premiums have also gone up. Not only is there a productivity cost due to smoking, but there are other direct costs. These are the things we do not really recognize.

We have to get to the teenaged mind. Teenagers need to understand that not only is it costly to smoke and not only does it stink, and in more ways than one, but there is very little upside to smoking and to becoming addicted to something that will harness them to an addiction they cannot escape. I have talked to a lot of people who smoke. Very few of them want to smoke. Most of them want to quit, for many reasons.

Yesterday I had five individuals in my office. One of them was the president of the Canadian Dental Association. I have never thought about cigarettes and their effect on dentistry. These people came to my office to talk about cigarettes and what they see as they look into the mouths of Canadians. What they see is that baby boomers keep more of their teeth as a result of accomplishments in the dentistry field. However, they are suffering from far more cancers because of their cigarette smoking. Dentists are very concerned with the amount of gum disease and cancers of the mouth that they see brought on because of cigarettes.

I want to impress upon the House how important it is that we look at funding a plan to address teenage smoking. Just raising the cost of cigarettes is not the issue. If we took the money raised and put it into such a plan, Canadians would support it much more.

Here is what amazes me and why I ask the House to implement such a plan. The bill was introduced once before. Now it takes 40 pages to introduce the legislation and 50 pages to explain why. I am a little suspicious. It was introduced in 1998 by the Senate and supported at that time by the health minister. Unfortunately the Speaker of the House did not support it because he felt it was a taxation issue, not a health issue. Obviously this is a health issue and not a taxation issue.

 

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It is a little suspicious to see the turnabout in the minds of the members next to me in the House, because they have to address this as a health issue. I am a little suspicious about how fast this is happening and about what kind of energy is behind it. If we do not address it as just one piece of a very large puzzle, then we will have missed our opportunity.

The House needs to examine it as not just a taxation issue but a health issue, one that has to be addressed in our country. We cannot fail in this one. We owe it to our teenagers and to the next generation. We owe it to them to sustain our health care system.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Is the House ready for the question?

Some hon. members: Question.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Shall I see the clock as reading 1.30 p.m.?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): 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

[English]

CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ACT

 

Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.) moved that Bill C-305, an act to amend the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (inventory of brownfields), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

He said: Madam Speaker, in the short time that I have to defend my bill, Bill C-305, I will try to address four key areas: a definition, an explanation, the need for and approaches to remediation, and the reasons why this legislation should be deemed votable.

What is a brownfield? According to the 1998 report by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, entitled “State of the Debate on the Environment and the Economy: Greening Canada's Brownfield Sites”, brownfields are defined as:

      —abandoned or underused properties where past actions have caused real or suspected environmental contamination. Although they are classified as a subset of contaminated sites, these sites exhibit good potential for other uses and usually provide economically viable business opportunities. They are mainly located in established urban areas, where existing municipal services are readily available, or along transportation corridors. They may include, but are not limited to: decommissioned refineries, railway yards, dilapidated warehouses, abandoned gas stations, former dry cleaners and other commercial properties where toxic substances have been stored or used.

I am only guessing but I dare say each and every one of us in the House of Commons has a brownfield site or two in our ridings. Redevelopment of brownfields is often paralyzed due to a variety of reasons, including uncertainty regarding liability and ownership, and provincial and federal liens. Since brownfields are normally located within urban areas, municipalities are the main drivers of brownfield development.

The concept of brownfields is in contrast to that of greenfields, that is, low cost virgin land on the urban fringe which is often more attractive for industrial or commercial relocation or expansion.

Why do we need to remediate and what are the approaches to remediation? The advantages to the remediation of brownfields are obvious: job growth, the revitalization of our downtown cores and the reversal of urban sprawl, as well as the cleanup of potentially environmentally hazardous sites right in our own backyards.

What we are seeing in many cities today is the growth of the urban doughnut, where the city expands ever outward while the once vital core becomes nothing but a hole.

 

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I do not need a police study to convince anyone in this place of the high crime rates in brownfield areas. They can be dangerous places, not only for environmental reasons but also because of the threat to personal safety. Vacant lots and abandoned sites become lairs for drug users and violent criminals. Perfectly good commercial and residential land which just happens to be nearby such an area drops in value because of its proximity to the abandoned sites. In short, these sites are dangerous, ugly and wasteful.

As we begin this new millennium, we need to adopt the new virtues of reduce, reuse and recycle in ways that are more than just putting newspapers and pop cans in the blue box. The three Rs hold a lesson for city development as well. All of our cities and towns are stuck in the wasteful habit of growing outward and ignoring their cores. This trend cannot continue.

By encouraging brownfield remediation and reclamation, cities and towns can capitalize on infrastructure already in place, such as roads, sewers, et cetera. The strain on public transit systems will be eased by putting people to work in town rather than in newly developed areas. Increased construction, commerce and real estate transactions will return to where they were, to where they are most needed, to downtown.

In Toronto in April 1998, an international symposium was held, entitled “Redeveloping Brownfields: A Different Conversation”. I would like to pass on to my colleagues the findings of the executive summary of that comprehensive symposium. Ten recommendations were made.

First, there is no single generic approach. Best practices for brownfield redevelopment are not so much a list of directions or a prescription as much as a new way of thinking. The best redevelopment approach is closely related to a site's competitive advantage, its marketability, the intended use and location. The key is to integrate site restoration and the land redevelopment process in a way that fosters reinvestment.

Second, a project is nothing without a vision. It is important to be able to imagine and articulate the possibilities, to describe what others cannot yet see, because brownfield redevelopment is about protecting and revitalizing the very heart of our communities.

Third, integration makes it happen. Planning, design and environmental issues should be addressed together in an integrated, transparent process.

Fourth, a decisive set of players is needed. Project teams must have diverse skills and experience. In addition, brownfield redevelopments benefit from collaboration among players, regulators, citizens, investors, bankers, technical experts and other members of the design team. Getting the right players involved at the right time saves money and effort.

Fifth, every brownfield project requires partnerships to make it work. Those partnerships can result in consensus about the next use and site design as well as innovative financing strategies, formal agreements regarding cleanup and monitoring, and ongoing communication and community development initiatives.

Sixth, local government and its citizens know best what is needed to spark reinvestment in brownfields. The local spark may come from the public sector, such as a city department, agency or politician, or the non-profit sector such as, for example, the local economic or community development corporation. Improving the investment climate by clarifying and streamlining the decision process and articulating the community vision are two areas where local government can play a key role.

Seventh, risk based decision making is about managing change, ensuring that environmental and human health are protected in cost effective ways and making sound economic investments.

Eighth, broadening the scope of the decision leads to better understanding and better decisions. Effective communication should be seen as a priority task for all members of the project team.

The ninth point is best viewed as a shared responsibility of private and public sectors. When we speak of education around the issue of brownfields the decision has traditionally been focused on public education. The question of education and learning must be more comprehensive and should include all stakeholders, such as risk assessors, lenders, landowners, purchasers and developers.

Finally, the last point is that many successes have resulted from upfront public sector investment in environmental restoration, infrastructure improvements and job creation. Setting a new standard for design and land use can go a long way to improve the investment climate.

 

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I would ask that members present consider these recommendations as they listen to the details of my proposed legislation and evaluate it accordingly. I have endeavoured to take these recommendations to heart in my consideration of the problem of brownfield remediation and I believe that this bill, Bill C-305, is an effective first step toward this goal.

In summary, the bill would amend the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to expand an existing registry that is already there. Any member of the public can report suspected contaminated sites with the express purpose of building an easily accessible national registry of brownfields. The registry would accept voluntary reports of contaminated lands according to regulations which would determine how much evidence of contamination is required.

The bill would also allow the federal government, together with provincial, municipal and private partners, to assist with the often prohibitive costs of environmental assessments.

To solve a problem, we first need to identify the problem. Ultimately I see this as a three stage process: identification, assessment and remediation. The bill addresses the first two stages directly. First, we identify the extent of brownfields right across the country and once we know where these sites are we can begin to assess the costs of the cleanup. Having this information open and available to all levels of government and private enterprise would foster co-operative and innovative solutions.

The bill is a small but crucial step toward reclaiming these commercially useful sites, revitalizing our city centres and combating urban sprawl. The existing public registry system, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, was set up to facilitate public awareness to ensure convenient public access to records on projects requiring environmental assessments.

One of the impediments to brownfield remediation is the reluctance to report a site due to the expense involved with the assessment. By expanding the registry to include not only projects requiring an environmental assessment, in other words sites already in the process of remediation, but also suspected sites, the public will have access to information about sites that are lying dormant. This is the key difference between the existing legislation and the changes I am proposing in Bill C-305.

At the moment there is little or no concerted effort by the federal or provincial governments to address the issue of contaminated property that is cheaper and legally safer for the owner to ignore and let lie fallow rather than clean it up or sell it to someone who will.

Another aspect of the legislation would permit the federal government to fund projects before the environmental assessment is completed, in other words to pay for the assessment. Bill C-305 would exempt projects from one component of the environmental assessment process. No assessment would be required before the federal government provides any funding but only as long as the funds are used to pay for the actual assessment.

As I mentioned before, one of the impediments to remediation is the prohibitive cost of environmental assessments. What I propose is that the federal government be allowed, be allowed I say especially to the Bloc who I know has a concern about jurisdiction, not obligated, to fund the assessment possibly in co-operation with the provincial and municipal governments and private partners.

Why should the legislation be deemed votable? I believe that my bill meets the five criteria which the standing committee responsible for private members' business has set out: First, the bill is clear, complete and effective; second, the bill is constitutional and concerns only an area of federal jurisdiction; third, the bill concerns a matter of significant public interest; fourth, the bill concerns an issue that is not part of the current legislative agenda and has not been addressed by the House; and fifth, the bill is not of a purely local interest and certainly is non-partisan.

By virtue of its voluntary nature, the registry would not encroach upon provincial jurisdiction. What the registry would do is collect and share voluntarily submitted information, thereby fostering intergovernmental and private co-operation.

 

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There are no punitive measures associated with being on the list. In fact, it would be in the interest of a brownfield site owner to be on the list, as it would open up opportunities for remediation.

The issue of brownfields remediation is a matter of highly significant public interest. This is a problem of enormous magnitude which is long overdue for some kind of a solution. According to the redeveloping brownfields symposium, it is estimated that there are 2,900 such sites in Canada with an estimated cost of $3 billion.

Permit me to read from a part of the report from the symposium. It states:

    By far, the overriding success stories in the United States Brownfields program have turned on the ability of the parties to engage all appropriate decision makers and for all decision makers to have a common goal of redevelopment using flexible decision making authority. The cooperative approach, very consistent with the Canadian style of regulation, will be the key to the success of redevelopment in any jurisdiction.

My proposed legislation, without overstepping federal jurisdiction, can do just that, by initiating a co-operative movement between all levels of government and the private sector.

I conclude by re-emphasizing my earlier statements. To solve a problem we must first identify the problem. Ultimately, I see this as a three stage process: identification, assessment, remediation. The bill addresses the first two stages directly. First, we identify the extent of brownfields right across the country. Once we know where these sites are, we can begin to assess the costs of the clean-up.

Having the information open and available to all levels of government and private enterprise will foster co-operative and innovative solutions.

Mr. Roy Cullen (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I rise with pleasure to take part in the debate on Bill C-305, which proposes to establish a national registry of contaminated sites through amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

First, I commend the hon. member for Hamilton West on his ultimate goal to rejuvenate contaminated sites. I share his goal. I have a number of contaminated or brownfield sites in my riding of Etobicoke North. In 1999 I worked with a graduate student from the University of Toronto who developed a report entitled “Rexdale Brownfield Sites: A Framework for Understanding”. It dealt with a number of policy issues and alternatives. I submitted the report to city councillors, the provincial government, the Minister of the Environment and other stakeholder groups.

Ensuring that Canadians have a clean and healthy environment is an important goal for our government. For example, the recent Speech from the Throne notes that for Canadians, protecting the environment is not an option. It is something we must do.

[Translation]

In his reply to the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister stated that a safe, healthy environment is essential to the health of Canadians and to the future of our children. We will accelerate our efforts at home and internationally to foster a clean environment.

[English]

These contaminated sites or brownfields are a legacy of poor environmental practices in the past. Because of this terrible legacy we have shifted our thinking and our efforts toward preventing environmental damage before it occurs.

Our government strengthened the Canadian Environmental Protection Act so that it focused on pollution prevention. The Minister of the Environment recently introduced Bill C-19 to strengthen the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act so that future development projects do not cause environmental harm. In this context, it is necessary to look at Bill C-305 to determine if it would help us better achieve our environmental goals.

The bill proposes to do two things. First, it suggests that the current registry system in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act be altered so that any individual could report and therefore register contaminated sites in municipalities.

Second, Bill C-305 would enable the federal government to provide financial assistance for the environmental assessment of projects to remediate contaminated lands.

 

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I would like to bring the House up to date on recent developments relevant to the hon. member's proposal.

[Translation]

The Minister of the Environment just completed an exhaustive and comprehensive review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. This review included the release of a discussion paper in December 1999 with options for improving the current law.

[English]

The public consultation phase of this review comprised 38 sessions in 19 cities across Canada. One day workshops were held in six major centres. The Internet was put to good use as a means to distribute information and solicit the views of Canadians. Over 200 written submissions were received. All told, the Minister of the Environment heard from a broad cross section of Canadians: environmental assessment practitioners, provincial governments, industry, environmental groups, communities, aboriginal people and individual Canadians.

One of the findings of the review was that the goal of facilitating public participation in environmental assessment has not been fully achieved. In particular, the current system of establishing a separate paper based registry for projects that undergo an environmental assessment has not worked.

I note that Bill C-305 is based on the same registry system concept.

On March 20 the Minister of the Environment tabled his report to parliament on the outcome of his review, entitled Strengthening Environmental Assessment for Canadians, and Bill C-19 proposes specific Amendments for Improving the current act.

[Translation]

Bill C-19 proposes to create a new Internet based government-wide registry of information about the environmental assessment of specific projects. As a result, Canadians will have easy access to information about projects in their communities and across the country.

[English]

Because it is based on the current act, the proposal in Bill C-305 does not really mesh with the amendments in Bill C-19, the amendments that require the establishment of a new modern registry that takes advantage of the Internet.

Moreover, the proposal in Bill C-305 would mix the objective of ensuring that Canadians have access to information about the wide range of projects that undergo a federal environmental assessment, such as proposed mines, dams, roads and pipelines, with the important task of identifying and registering contaminated sites.

For those reasons, Bill C-305 would not help us better achieve our environmental goals.

The second related point I would like to make is that the discretionary authority to provide financial assistance for the environmental assessment of projects to remediate contaminated sites, as proposed in Bill C-305, is not necessary.

In fact, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act already goes much further by requiring environmental assessments of remediation projects where there is federal involvement as a proponent, as a provider of financial assistance or land, or as a regulator. For example, remediation projects with federal financial assistance have triggered requirements for an assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

[Translation]

We must also be mindful of provincial jurisdiction. Many of the contaminated sites that are the target of Bill C-305 would fall within provincial areas of responsibility.

[English]

This does not mean that the federal government does not work with its provincial partners on this issue. Quite the opposite. Through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Environment Canada has provided the scientific expertise necessary for the development of a national classification system for contaminated sites, as well as a comprehensive set of guidance manuals promoting the consistent assessment and remediation of contaminated sites across Canada.

The Government of Canada is also taking measures to get its own House in order.

 

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With over 25,000 owned and leased properties, it is essential that we identify and clean up contaminated sites in our control. Work is under way in this regard. Under the federal contaminated sites and solid waste landfills inventory policy a database of federal sites is being compiled. The database will soon be accessible to Canadians through the Internet.

In their sustainable development strategies tabled in February departments with large land holdings such as National Defence, Transport Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada committed to continue with the identification, assessment and remediation of their contaminated sites.

[Translation]

Environment Canada also continues to be a global leader in the development of technologies to clean up contaminated sites.

For example, field experiments near Trail, British Columbia, and Île-aux-Corbeaux in the St. Lawrence River have demonstrated how certain plants can successfully remove toxic substances from soil, sediment and ground and surface water.

[English]

Sunflowers, ragweed, cabbage, geranium and Jack pine show considerable promise. Further field trials are being conducted on this innovative method for removing contamination from our lands and water.

In closing, Bill C-305 is a very forwarding looking and thoughtful project, but in the view of the government it is not appropriate because of more wide ranging proposals in Bill C-19 which will significantly strengthen the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Bill C-19 will help safeguard our environment through an environmental assessment process that is more predictable, certain and timely. Bill C-19 will improve the quality of assessments through measures to improve compliance and ensure more follow up. Bill C-19 will increase opportunities for Canadians to have a meaningful say about projects in their communities.

I applaud the hon. member for Hamilton West. I encourage him to keep his initiative alive and to keep a light on this issue. In light of the efforts of the government on many fronts to deal with contaminated sites, Bill C-305 is not necessary at this time.

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member for Hamilton West. The reason the bill came about is that his own government has not acted upon cleaning up these sites. That is why the man has done it. Had it already been done, the bill would not have seen the light of day.

I compliment the gentleman from Hamilton West on his foresight in trying to move this issue forward. Unfortunately Bill C-19 was dropped from the legislative calendar. Maybe it will come forward in September; maybe it will not. The government will do what it usually does, which is to sit on its hands, in particular on environmental issues.

We live in an extraordinarily beautiful country. What the public may be interested to know is that despite the beauty around us, it is only a shell. Underneath we have a government that is known worldwide as a serious polluter, one that ignores its own rules and regulations domestically and internationally, one that willfully pollutes, one that does this through the actions of government and does not regulate properly the actions of the private sector.

The member for Hamilton West has put forth an articulate, simple plan suggesting that what the government should do is say yes, this is a good idea. It is a good idea to identify these brownfield sites. It is a good idea to put forth a plan of action. It is an even better idea to implement solutions to change the sites that have been contaminated. The public wants that and most members in the House want that. Why does the government not act?

It has been quite unfathomable to us on this side why the government has failed to act on so many issues of environmental importance. Let us talk about some solutions that stem from Bill C-305, things that we can certainly support as a House.

First is the assessment phase. The public would be fascinated to know that today most environmental assessments are done after projects are completed. Does that make sense? It violates the government's own policies. It violates the government's 1995 red book which said it wanted all environmental assessments to happen at the early stages of plans and programs.

A 1998 survey by the environmental agency revealed very clearly that only 20% of screenings occur at a conceptual stage and that 40% of environmental assessments occur late in the project or after the project is complete. What is the benefit of that? It makes no difference doing it at the end.

 

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For example, some huge energy projects have been proposed under NAFTA which could benefit people. Unfortunately most of the oil will go to the United States and no assessment has been done on the far ranging energy projects that will extract oil from tar. It is a good idea, but it should be done under the guise of sound environmental policies.

It is also essential that consideration be given to the need for alternatives in every project. Why do we go through a project and not consider other alternatives, ones that would be better? This can happen.

Sustainable development is the goal. We should have a list of credible indicators of sustainable development such as no net loss to habitat, ensuring renewable resources are used at sustainable levels, and no net increase in air or water pollution. There needs to be a duly elected duty on the part of the government to do just that. There also needs to be a follow up process.

There are the transboundary responsibilities that fall clearly upon the shoulders of the federal government. It is up to the government to ensure that projects which take place across boundaries, affecting not only our country but others, adhere to sound domestic and international environmental standards.

There has been hypocrisy in our actions outside Canada. The public would be fascinated to know that Canada's own Export Development Corporation is using public money to fund development projects abroad which pollute rivers from Borneo to Central America, which dump mine tailings into rivers and into the ground and which clear-cut. These projects are funded by Canadian taxpayer dollars and are being carried out by Canadian companies from Borneo to New Guinea to Central and South America.

They are violating not only the basic norms of international environmental standards, but they are also violating our own laws and the environmental standards set up by the Export Development Corporation. Why is Canada known through the EDC as a pillager of the environment? Why does the government, after being here since 1993, not have a handle on this? It happens far away, thousands of miles away, unseen and unheard by the Canadian public.

Would the public also be interested to know that the cultures of indigenous peoples are being laid to waste by these actions, that they have been turfed out and that they have been marginalized, all to allow Canadian companies to go in and pillage in an irresponsible fashion areas that have been pristine for a long period of time?

The environmental commissioner has said time and time again that the Canadian government has failed miserably, not only in the actions it takes as a government but its actions as a polluter. Standards were set and targets were set, but no assessment or action has been taken to deal with pollution by the Canadian government through its actions.

The environmental commissioner puts out an eloquent report every year or so which contains effective, concise and doable solutions to deal with environmental challenges in Canada. What happens to that report? That report gets tossed on a shelf like the myriad of reports out of the House.

Even the youth in the gallery are crying and lamenting over the terrible situation in our country. Just mere words are causing them to shake and cry with despair. Let us imagine what the public is doing out there. It is very true.

We are asking the government to listen to the environment commissioner and to implement and adhere to the rules set out by that commissioner. The government should also adhere to the principles that we wave like a flag in our own country but fail to adhere to.

 

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It is unthinkable for us not to do that. Part of the reason, I think, is that there has been a death of innovation within this House. It seems that innovation within the House of Commons is wilfully crushed on the altar of this game that we play where we bash each other over the head about issues the public does not care about.

That is in part why the hon. member for Hamilton West is having his bill defeated by his own government. The man is trying to put forth something intelligent and meaningful, something that Canadians from coast to coast are interested in and that will help our environment and help their livelihoods. Yet it is being defeated, all in order to deal with this at a later time. If I had a dime for every time I have heard that we will do this later, I would be a very affluent man.

We also need transparency and public participation in all we do. That is not taking place.

In short, this bill is an original and worthwhile addition to the CEAA. It is built on a win-win situation, environmental cleanup, revitalization of downtown cores and job creation, all in a meaningful way. It could also—and should, if the government were wise—talk about the polluter pay principle, the principle that if a company goes into an area in our country or outside it and wilfully extracts resources or does some development, it is the company's responsibility to clean up the area. That is the principle that exists.

The problem is that there is no enforcement. The government turns a blind eye and says that it is not going to actually look at what that company has done. Rather, it says that it is just going to leave it there and the people who live in the area can pay the price for it, and indeed they do pay a price.

We can look at the people who live around the Sydney tar ponds, who pay a terrible price in terms of birth defects and in terms of levels of cancer we do not find in other parts of the country. We can look at the price paid by the flora and fauna of our country. We can look at the beluga whales that live in the St. Lawrence. The flesh of a beluga whale would be considered a toxic substance because of the high levels of cancer causing agents it contains.

In closing, I compliment the member and ask today for unanimous consent for the bill to go to committee for study.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

[Translation]

Mr. Marcel Gagnon (Champlain, BQ): Madam Speaker, it is a pity that we have to deal with this issue today at this hour, at the end of the week. It takes a truly superb speaker to make the House crackle with excitement, even though the issue we are dealing with is extremely interesting.

Environmental issues have always been one of my concerns, but this is especially the case since I became a politician. I learned the ropes of political life in Quebec's National Assembly. At the time, in 1976, when Mr. Lévesque came to power in Quebec, there was no Department of the Environment.

The first environment minister was Marcel Léger. Not long after that, I became his assistant in environmental matters. Therefore, there are a few issues that are of concern to me and that I know better than others. Among them, of course, are issues related to environment.

The legislation introduced by the hon. member at least has the merit of bringing us to talk about the environment. In my opinion, we do not deal with it often enough. This is an area that should be a major concern for the population, because if we do not ensure that the environment is protected and if we do not make more efforts in this regard in the future, future generations will surely lay the blame at our feet.

We only have to think of greenhouse gases, for example, which are warming up our planet. The hon. member who spoke before me talked about pollution in the St. Lawrence River.

 

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We realize it is high time governments did the right thing and tried to restore the environment, and not only try to restore it, but also ensure we no longer pollute it.

There is one aspect of the bill I disagree with; once again, we have here a bill which encroaches on provincial areas of jurisdiction.

In the area of the environment, Quebec has come a long way since 1975-76. I can tell the House that contaminated sites are now being reviewed. We have what it takes to do it. We have the necessary legislation and the BAPE does an excellent job.

The bill is flawed in the sense that once again there is overlapping. This slows down progress not only with regard to restoring the environment but also to protecting it.

In an area such as this one, it is important that each level of government stick to its own jurisdiction and act without delay to restore—studying is not enough—sites that unfortunately were allowed to be polluted. The areas of jurisdiction are very clear. We do not need new legislation for that.

I had the opportunity to talk about Lake Saint-Pierre, among others. Lake Saint-Pierre was polluted by the Canadian Forces. They fired shells into it. The consequences have been obvious since the 1950s. There were serious accidents as a result of shells being carried away by the ice.

This is clearly a federal jurisdiction. We do not need studies and special legislation and special committees to see how Lake Saint-Pierre must be restored. This lake is a source of vitality, of life for the river. It is the lung that restores polluted water coming from cities such as Montreal.

Lake Saint-Pierre was polluted with bombs. The Canadian Forces polluted it and we are asking the minister responsible to see to its cleanup as quickly as possible. We have been asking this for years. This is clearly a federal jurisdiction and this is not open to dispute. And yet, this is not being done.

This morning I talked about the pollution in Bagotville. This is a serious case of pollution that is spreading and seeping into groundwaters in the town of La Baie. I asked a question this morning on this. What answer did I get? I was told the government is examining the issue, that it is looking at the situation and that it will solve the problem when it arises. However the problem exists and this is clearly a federal jurisdiction. We do not need a private member's bill. We need only the government's goodwill to solve the pollution problem in Bagotville.

Not only have the shores of the St. Lawrence River been ruined but between Trois-Rivières and Quebec City we have lost and are still losing a great portion of land to erosion. Some houses have had to be moved back, because traffic on St. Lawrence River moved a little too rapidly. Again, this is clearly a federal jurisdiction.

In the past we have managed to get some money to restore and protect the shores of the St. Lawrence River but it is far from over. Municipalities like Sainte-Marthe, Champlain, Batiscan and scores of others all the way to Quebec City are asking us to try to get money to do something because the shores of the St. Lawrence River are being eroded. This comes under federal jurisdiction but the federal government is not doing anything.

There is a disaster waiting to happen on the St. Lawrence River. I already talked about this when we discussed the marine transportation bill.

 

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Throughout the world there is an increasing number of accidents involving ships carrying oil or other dangerous substances. Almost every month we hear about ships sinking somewhere and polluting the shores.

Imagine for a moment that a tanker moving oil to or from Montreal had an accident on the St. Lawrence River. Seven million Quebecers would be affected. What are we doing to prevent this from happening? Some will say that it never happened. Well, it did. Fortunately it was not a disaster, but last year a ship broke in two near Sept-Îles. Fortunately, it did not cause any damage. I live by the St. Lawrence River and each year we see spills, not major ones but enough to see oil on the shores.

Through a bill, I suggested that the Canadian government, that is the Minister of Transport who is responsible for that—it is his jurisdiction—should require that every ship entering the St. Lawrence River carrying dangerous products be inspected. It would be a preventive measure. We do not need legislation for that, just the political will to do it. We could certainly prevent disasters. I hope it never happens. Still, every year we are concerned about that.

Oil shippers seem to use older tankers. When a ship breaks in two, it is often said that the ship was not inspected properly, that is was too old. These same ships go up the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City, to Montreal and on to the Great Lakes.

I often see these ships sail by since I live by the river. I pray to God that we not have a disaster like they had last year in France. We hear about this sort of thing happening all the time all over the place.

This is something that could be done immediately to cleanup and protect our water. I am talking about Lake Saint-Pierre and about inspecting ships carrying dangerous products on the St. Lawrence River. When we talk about the army or the air force contaminating the water table, as they did in Bagotville and Shannon, the minister says “There is no problem. The people are satisfied; we give them bottled water”. Yes, the water table is useless now but the consolation prize is that “From now on, you will be drinking bottled water”. Or better yet, we are told that the water table will clean itself up.

I want to thank the member who introduced the bill for raising the issue today. Although I just have to support the purpose of the bill, I still think that the member should introduce a bill asking the federal government to respect the jurisdictions in this area, to get involved in the restoration of the shores of the St. Lawrence River and all contaminated sites and to respect and support the work of the BAPE in Quebec.

Since my time is running out, I hope I will be able to come back to this very important issue in the near future.

[English]

Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.): Madam Speaker, as is the tradition, I have been given five minutes to clean up after the presentation of the bill after an hour in the House.

I listened very carefully to all the interventions made in the House today. To my friend in the Bloc, I am still trying to figure out what a ship going up and down the St. Lawrence has to do with brownfields but I take his points.

 

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My friend with the Canadian Alliance Party indicated or assumed that the government was not doing its job on the environment. Through my experience from 1988 to 1993 in opposition, the Conservative government of the day did precious little on environmental concerns compared to what this federal Liberal government has done since 1993 to the present date. It is quite extraordinary and outstanding what has been done on issues of the environment under a series of different environmental ministers.

My colleague, the parliamentary secretary, will probably not leave his seat and allow me another opportunity to ask for unanimous consent to move this bill along for more than just an hour. I jest because he is a friend. Quite seriously, to my hon. friend who is standing in as a parliamentary secretary, I know he has to represent the government's point of view and I know he has a job to do. I have done that job myself.

However I would ask him to take back the message to the officials that Bill C-19 does not address the need of cost assessment as outlined in my bill. If we have a project we want to proceed with then we go out and do an assessment. Then we can get funding for the project.

Bill C-305 would amend the act and take it back a step so the opportunity of financing would begin at the assessment stage. Doing that would involve not just federal, provincial or municipal money but also tax money. Also the private sector would be invited to play a role and to network with levels of government to spend the money, make it possible, make it happen and pay for it at first blush.

There was an interesting use of language in the government's rebuttal. The word altered was used as opposed to my words of expanding the existing registry.

As addressed by the government, Bill C-305 says that we fear this paper registry versus the Internet or computer registry, and that a paper registry does not work. What bill is perfect? If we had perfect bills we would not have to spend time in the House debating them, making amendments at committee, taking them to report stage in the House and then making amendments at report stage. No bill is perfect. We would make those adjustments from paper to computer.

By the way, and the hon. member might pass this along to the government, even the new Internet based registry under Bill C-19 would still only list environmental assessment projects, not suspected or presently unreported sites that my particular bill would do. Maybe we will have to make an amendment to Bill C-19 in order to make that possible.

I look forward to the reforms that are being discussed and may take place shortly in the work of the House. However what harm is there in permitting a private member's bill, which takes place in an hour outside of regular government business, to be discussed more and to have a second and third hour of debate in the House? It could be in a stretch that might take six months. Then it could end at a parliamentary committee where the bill would be addressed, amended, clarified or even thrown out if the government, with its majority on committees, saw fit. What harm is there in moving the bill along?

Remember that a private member's bill takes hours upon hours of work to formulate. Then it goes to the legislative process. I thank Debra Bulmer at legislative services because she spent hours looking through the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to make the appropriate amendments to respond to what it was I wanted to see in the act vis-à-vis brownfields. I thank her for her hard work.

I ask hon. members, with all the hours that were spent in developing, researching and drawing up the appropriate measures in the bill, to give this private member's bill a shot. There is no harm in it. It can be killed at committee if it has to be killed, and if not at committee at third reading in the House.

In closing I ask one more time, and I may know the answer to this already, that the House give unanimous consent to make the bill votable.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos): Is there unanimous consent?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

Some hon. members: No.

[Translation]

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

[English]

It being 2.15 p.m. the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.15 p.m.)