House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was social.

Topics

Social Security System
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

St. Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be given the opportunity to address this question because it is one of the more important ones that we will be discussing for several months no doubt during this 35th Parliament.

There are a number of basic questions that we need to study together in the spirit of co-operation and openness. Obviously we bring forth different values and different views. I accept that and respect it.

Perhaps the first and most fundamental question for me concerns what programs we need as a nation in order to respond in a very generous and fair way to Canadians in need?

That begs another question immediately. Who identified these Canadians in need and who defines what a particular need is? Clearly the government has a great responsibility in doing that. It has also indicated by virtue of the debates that is has held on a number of questions such as peacemaking, cruise missiles, the pre-budget debate and this debate that it is interested in the views of all parliamentarians. The government is to be applauded for having taken this initiative.

What the Liberals want is a restructuring of our programs to meet more needs with greater efficiency. I would hope that we can embrace that priority, that goal, that objective. This is the Liberal position and this is what we, as members of the government, are going to fight to have happen.

Without being malicious or unkind, as I understand the various comments that have been made, the NDP, for example, and I can speak primarily of Manitoba because its members are more numerous there proportionately speaking than they have been in the House, is really saying do not touch anything. Do not touch any of the social programs.

I am sure there will be a number of members who will be anxious to correct me if I misinterpret the Reform Party. I would welcome that. The Reform Party has been described by other colleagues as cut, cut, cut or slash and burn. Those are not my words but I have repeated them. I would prefer to be a bit more dignified and say dismantle and rebuild. Perhaps it comes to the same thing.

It seems to me that we have already been told that all the Bloc Quebecois does is talk about is Quebec. I do understand how important Quebec is for the Bloc, but it should remember that it is the Official Opposition and that, as such, it must speak for all Canadians, and represent them all, from coast to coast.

Quebec, or rather the Bloc Quebecois, is asking for a transfer to Quebec, with no strings attached. But this raises the following fundamental question: Why only to Quebec? It seems to me that overlapping and duplication represent a problem not only in Quebec, but also in the rest of Canada.

Overlapping and duplication happen in two ways: between the federal government, the provinces and territories, and within each jurisdiction; and within the federal government, the provinces, the territories, and sometimes even within municipal governments. Co-ordination does not always exist even within a province or a region. The fact is that we have three levels of government, where overlapping does occur, and the issue is not raised often enough.

Members on all sides want to get rid of overlapping which is very costly for Canadians. Why? So that we can respond in a better, more efficient way to the needs of all Canadians.

There have been some references this morning with respect to child care. I want to remind all members that the Liberal Party of Canada which has been chosen by Canadians to govern has made a commitment to child care. It is a very responsible one, up to 50,000 places per year to a total of 150,000 providing the economy grows at 3 per cent or more.

In the current economic situation in which we find ourselves, with a debt which has exceed $500 billion and a deficit in the rage of $45 billion, surely linking this kind of program for those most in need with those particular conditions, 3 per cent growth, is a responsible decision.

When we talk about funding our social programs it seems to me that we cannot avoid talking of taxation, revenues and expenditures. One option is to reduce, cut, slash, call it what you will. Another is to recognize the fundamental issue, on which we are all in agreement, that the middle class in particular feels that it cannot bear any more taxes. It is angry. There is anger out there.

However, there is another issue and I do not say it in an arrogant and pompous way. Are there others out there who are not paying their fair share? It is true that there are influential and rich families able to shield millions or perhaps even billions of dollars? Should we be asking questions such as should there be an inheritance tax in this country?

Is it true as well that there is money being transferred to other countries and being shielded, at least in part, from taxes being paid to Canada for the benefit of all Canadians? Is it true, and I believe it is, that there are Canadians who earn substantial sums of money each year but who pay no taxes? Is that fair? Is it equally true that there are profitable corporations that pay no taxes or virtually no taxes?

If there is some truth to all the questions I have raised, and I have not even raised the whole question of the black market economy which apparently if everyone were paying taxes according to the rules would probably eliminate the deficit, is it any wonder that Canadians are saying just a minute, why is it that the government cannot get money from those sources that are not paying their fair share?

I invite all of my colleagues, and I say this in a very serious way, to share their ideas openly in this debate. I recognize that there are divergent views. That is what democracy is all about. I believe that is what a strong democracy is all about.

We should all try to come at least to some basic agreement on what we are trying to do. It seems to me that while we may vary in our approaches to how this might be done, what we collectively want to do is identify the Canadians in need and define conditions under which they can be helped.

If we can do that I believe that putting forward the mechanisms, the programs to respond to that will be much easier.

Whether we are from the Bloc Quebecois, with a particular orientation, or other parties in which we believe in a Canada as a whole with some improvements to what we have, which is probably the finest country in the world, I have always wondered why one would ever want to change something that is the finest. Perhaps some day after having listened a bit more I shall come to some sort of understanding.

I would like everyone to make a commitment to look at social programs, look at taxation, look at the fundamental issues facing this whole country in such a way as to build a better country for all Canadians.

Social Security System
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very closely to my hon. colleague's speech. I think there is some truth to what he said.

Now, I would like to point out to him some of the differences that may exist between Canadians from other parts of Canada and Quebecers. French-speaking Canadians have always depended a great deal on the federal government in Ottawa to safeguard their rights. We in Quebec, on the other hand, have always felt that where overlap or duplication occur, it would be preferable to assign these rights to the Government of Quebec.

When the Fathers of Confederation gathered in 1865, 1866 and 1867, English-speaking people supported the idea of a single government. Quebec is responsible for the fact that we have two levels of government in this country, because its representatives insisted that this course of action be taken.

Therefore, I think it is very important to note that while Bloc Quebecois members speak on behalf of Quebecers, they are also concerned about problems affecting other regions of Canada as well. I hope the hon. member understands this.

I also want to congratulate him on his speech. As this session progresses, it would appear to us that the Liberals have split into two factions, one which I would qualify as Liberal-Reform and the other, as Liberal with social-democratic leanings.

This debate will likely give members a chance to analyze opposite views and ultimately to take a coherent stand.

As for us, what matters most, as I have stated repeatedly in this House, are the rights of the least fortunate in our society. I listened to the speeches of the Reform Party members and I think we all agree that the reform process now being initiated must not affect the most disadvantaged members of society. Would the hon. member care to respond to what I have just said?

Social Security System
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague. He has raised a number of excellent questions.

First, I agree with him completely when he says that we have to help the less fortunate any way we can. As for francophones outside Quebec who presumably have benefited from their association with the federal government, I would simply like to remind my hon. friend that all of us have at some time or another, for different reasons, benefited from the federal government, not just francophones outside Quebec. Perhaps I misunderstood, but listening to him, I got the feeling that because there are not many of us and because we are scattered across the country, we need the federal government. Look, we have been fighting for a long time for our language and culture, and we are doing a good job of it, even if there are only a handful of us. Yes, it is true that we need the government from time to time, but I assure you we can stand on our own two feet.

As for the existence, supposedly, of two factions within the party, let me say that we are a united party. We may have our differences. I have three daughters and I can assure you that, while I raised them all the same way, there are differences nevertheless. In spite of this, we are a family and we love one another a great deal. I love them a lot and I hope the reverse is also true.

Therefore, please do not compare the Liberals with the Reform Party, because such a comparison could make me seriously ill. We want to improve upon existing measures. A Liberal looks at an existing measure and thinks about possible improvements. That is what we want to do.

Lastly, my hon. colleague speaks of Quebec and yes, occasionally, even of Canada. Even my young colleague who made an excellent speech earlier mentioned all of Canada, as did others. But you must do so more often. You are the official opposition and must speak for all of Canada. When you see a problem outside Quebec, you should speak about it because you sit in opposition, I hope, on behalf of all Canadians.

Social Security System
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Kitchener
Ontario

Liberal

John English Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I had not expected to participate in this debate today, but I welcome this opportunity to speak in this debate on human resources development.

What we have heard today are many excellent presentations such as the presentation by the hon. member for Hamilton-Wentworth which reminded us that there are many organizations in Canada that are made up of relatively wealthy individuals who receive grants and awards. Perhaps those organizations, just as members of Parliament, just as many other Canadians who have more, should think about giving up their privileges, opportunities and grants to help those who have less. It is certainly something worth considering.

I want to say in response to a comment made by the member of the Bloc Quebecois earlier that there are reform Liberals and there are social democratic Liberals, that in fact all Liberals in this party today, I am certain, are committed to Canada's social welfare program. Moreover all of them like myself regard the development of Canada's social welfare program as one of the greatest accomplishments of Canadian liberalism and the Canadian Liberal Party.

There have been several interesting observations and very fine speeches by members of the Reform Party. One speaker alluded earlier to the example of Great Britain and compared it to the kinds of things that are happening in Canada today and to what has been called by others the British disease. We have heard that kind of term, not simply from Mrs. Thatcher, but from others. I think it is one of those terrible simplifications that obscures a broader truth.

If we look at western Europe since 1945 what we find is that many of the countries that have had the highest growth rates have been countries where government participation in the economy is higher than it was in Great Britain. In fact if we look at government participation in the economy since 1945 the western economies, many of them built up from the ruins of the wartime period, are those which have spent more on social welfare and have done better in terms of economic growth.

It may be a surprise to learn it, but between 1950 and 1990 the country that had the fastest rate of economic growth in Europe of the major nations was Italy, a country that had a high degree of spending on social welfare. Germany is another example.

Second, in looking at British society, those who have looked most closely and most recently, including Mrs. Thatcher's supporters, have said that the difficulty with Great Britain is not so much the fact that Great Britain spent more on social welfare, not so much that it tried to develop strong programs to help the poorest in society, but rather because Britain failed so badly in training and education.

Maurice Cowling, one of Mrs. Thatcher's academic supporters, has written a book about British society. What he points out is that Britain has failed very badly in the area of training and education while other countries in continental Europe have done so much better. I think that bears a lesson for us.

In Canada we too have spent a lot of money on education and training. The hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam, who spoke earlier today, talked about this question in her address. She talked about the need for improvement in training and suggested that training could be done best by the private sector.

I am pleased to report that the hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam is a graduate of the University of Waterloo.

Social Security System
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

An hon. member

Shame.

Social Security System
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John English Kitchener, ON

The hon. member for Peterborough is a professor at Trent University.

The University of Waterloo has pioneered co-op education in Canada and has done so so successfully that it far out-ranks Trent University in the rankings every year in Maclean's . The member for Port Moody-Coquitlam went through this co-op program, one which I know very well because I taught there for 20 years myself. In that co-op program she benefited enormously from the support of the government. That co-op program, which is being copied by many universities throughout Canada, is an excellent example of what business, government and educators can do together.

The initial idea for the program came from the business community in the area as did the idea for the university. The business people came to educators and said: "Let us work together to make sure that the transition from the educational place to the work place is made easier, that students have work experience and they can carry that experience further".

The result has been a much higher degree of success in getting jobs on the part of graduates. There has been a lot of satisfaction, as the hon. member herself said. The program has worked very effectively. It is a program that worked not because of private initiative, but because a government worked with business and educators to create a coherent system of training and education.

In the Waterloo area, the example of the University of Waterloo has been followed by Sir Wilfrid Laurier University and also by our secondary school boards, particularly the Waterloo Catholic Board of Education. I have worked with that board myself in working out training programs for students to enable them to move from the high schools and universities into the work place. Students who are within those programs and who

have a more direct experience in the work place find the transition to higher education and to work much easier.

The difficulty we find is that so many training programs are just not working in the way we had hoped. That is why we are calling for a restructuring. This is most relevant of course to any discussion on human resources development.

In a recent study done by the Canadian Guidance and Counselling Foundation, 73.9 per cent of the community employment agencies, 72.4 per cent of Canada employment centres and 45.2 per cent of counselling services in colleges and CEGEPs report that they turn clients away because they do not meet funding criteria. This is simply not good enough. The costs are high.

The human costs of not watching what happens with training at the lowest level, at the intermediate level and at the post-secondary level are very high for our society.

As an educator, I personally feel-and the hon. member for St. Boniface has written some excellent pieces on this subject-that we need to restructure our training programs in the broadest possible way. I would echo the thoughts of the member for St. Boniface in suggesting that we all share these problems together. Training and education in this country is very costly. When we compare the international rate of spending on education we find that Canada, a very wealthy nation, spends a percentage of GNP that is higher than almost any other nation. If we are not the highest we are certainly close to it. All of us are aware that we could spend this much better.

Our responsibility as members of this House, of all parties, is to work together to improve this very crucial sector of Canadian society. In doing so we will start to recreate that sense of initiative among younger people and that sense of purpose that is so lacking now.

I think we can work together and we would achieve so much for this great country if we would do so.

Social Security System
Government Orders

2 p.m.

The Speaker

It being two o'clock p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to statements by members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

The Chair is well aware that five minutes remain for questions and comments.

We will continue after oral questions.

Irving Whale
Statements Pursuant To S. O. 31

2 p.m.

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to issue a progress report on a matter of vital importance for my riding as well as for Quebec and Eastern Canada. I am talking about the Irving Whale , the tanker which has been lying on the bottom of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for over 20 years.

Having said that, I wish to inform the residents of the Magdalen Islands that a final decision is forthcoming. The diligence of the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Transport as well as the efforts of my colleague from Malpèque have made it possible to accomplish this much in such a short period of time.

I want to reassure the people of the Magdalen Islands: the Irving Whale 's tanks were inspected and there are no leaks.

I wish to state here today that we are the ones who will see to it that the matter of the Irving Whale is settled, not the present leader of the opposition who never even looked into the matter when he was himself Minister of the Environment.

Winter Sports
Statements Pursuant To S. O. 31

2 p.m.

Bloc

Laurent Lavigne Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to join the population of Beauharnois-Salaberry in wishing good luck to free-style skier Jean-Luc Brassard who will be taking part in the Winter Olympic Games, in Lillehammer.

After winning the World Cup for the 1992-93 season, a feat I just had to mention, world champion Jean-Luc Brassard won an event, last week end, which could help him to repeat and win another World Cup this season. In no time, his hard work and dedication to a fantastic winter sport has earned him the admiration and respect of all who know him. My constituents can be proud to have amongst them such a talented young man, whose many achievements make all Canadians very proud.

I want to wish good luck to Jean-Luc in his event, to be held on February 14. The people of Beauharnois-Salaberry will be cheering for him.

Longshoremen's Strike
Statements Pursuant To S. O. 31

February 3rd, 1994 / 2 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government must recognize the importance of the prairie farmers and how

vulnerable they are to actions beyond their control. These people strive to earn an honest living and they do so using sweat and tears. Why do they constantly have to meet one challenge only to be confronted by another?

The farmers in my riding of Crowfoot, Alberta are a sturdy bunch who let nothing get them down. They truly represent the real spirit of the west: When you are down, get up, brush off the dust and get on with life. But when you are being held hostage, how do you get on with life?

The west coast strike will have disastrous effects on the economy if we do not get millions of tonnes of grain, potash and forest products moving and with that our reputation as a reliable supplier will be tarnished.

Hopefully the farmers will survive. Thank goodness they usually do. Meanwhile the reputation of the government is taking a beating in the agricultural community over this issue.

The Late Joshua Kakegamic
Statements Pursuant To S. O. 31

2 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a tribute to Joshua Kakegamic of Keewaywin in northwestern Ontario who died in a snowmobile accident while trying to save his friend, John Kalaserk, an Inuit preacher.

Josh Kakegamic was a talented woodland native artist whose works are found in the permanent collections of major Canadian art galleries and in private collections in many countries.

As a business associate and friend, I encouraged him to draw upon his own rich, but not always happy, life experiences which collectively would reveal the very essence of his native culture. His paintings reveal his vision of a powerful life force within all of God's creations and the joy he saw in that sacred relationship of perfect harmony.

In his short life he touched many lives and enriched the world through his art, his friendship and his faith which can be best described in the words of John 15:13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends".

Josh Kakegamic: husband, father, community leader, friend, creator, hero. He was 41 years old.

Tobacco Smuggling
Statements Pursuant To S. O. 31

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a recent chair of the cancer campaign in Peterborough and honorary chair of the Terry Fox campaign, I am very concerned about anything that increases tobacco use among young people.

That is why I am concerned about tobacco smuggling. This puts cheap glamorized tobacco into the hands of children who are often below the legal age for smoking.

I am also concerned about efforts to lower taxes on tobacco as a means of combating smuggling. While the merits, fairness and effectiveness of tobacco taxes can be debated, I have no doubt that high price has been a particularly effective deterrent against smoking for the young.

I hope the government continues to protect young people from the proven dangers of smoking. Let us turn all the resources of government and public opinion against smugglers who are killing our children.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Statements Pursuant To S. O. 31

2:05 p.m.

Mississauga East
Ontario

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we have just learned that Mr. Anthony Manera was appointed as the new president of CBC. This is good news indeed for the CBC and for all Canadians.

Given the current situation, we need someone with experience in charge of this top-notch national institution. And this is certainly the case with this appointee. He knows the CBC's nuts and bolts and is ready to act. Under him, the CBC will be able to regain control and reassert loud and clear its role as a public broadcaster.

We want to wish the best of luck to the new president, Mr. Manera, and to the CBC.

Commuter Trains
Statements Pursuant To S. O. 31

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I must thank the people of my riding for their support and their confidence in the last federal election.

The purpose of my statement is to inform you and all hon. members that the beautiful riding of Terrebonne, just northeast of Montreal, does not have a commuter train service, unlike municipalities situated at the other end of the island. For many years, this has been a hot issue in my region, marked by much hesitation and delay.

So, I would like to bring it to the government's attention and also to say that in the famous omnibus infrastructure program special consideration should be given to areas like Laval-Laurentides-Lanaudière and their economic development.

A commuter train, while making Montreal more easily and more directly accessible, would also give a fresh impetus to our regional economy which, although very dynamic, needs it badly.

Railways
Statements Pursuant To S. O. 31

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Daphne Jennings Mission—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak in support of one of our great traditional enterprises, our national railway system.

When we are considering the role of rail in any infrastructure decisions, a real possibility in my riding of Mission-Coquitlam, we must be aware of these facts:

A core rail network compliments the highway system as rail serves as the prime mover of bulk resources and exports, provides a commercial alternative to trucking, enables marine and road intermodal links, provides infrastructure that can continue to be user pay, reduces current and future liabilities for public spending on transport infrastructure, and creates an opportunity for partnership with governments to use available rail corridors for intercity passengers and commuter rail transit.

For the environment rail means less congestion, less air pollution, fewer accidents, less cost of injury, less noise and more effective land use.