House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was program.

Topics

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question is for the Minister of Justice.

Will the minister include a definition of sexual orientation in the legislation he proposes, and will this definition be clear enough to prevent pedophiles from launching successful court challenges of discrimination for acts that are clearly prohibited in the Criminal Code?

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in matters involving the law, as in so much else in life, we are governed by that which is reasonable. If I may say so, I do not believe it is reasonable for anybody to interpret the term sexual orientation as it appears in human rights legislation as including pedophiles or others who engage in criminal conduct.

As I mentioned in my response to the hon. member's first question, it is my belief that judgments of courts and tribunals across the country interpreting legislation that is already on the books in many provinces makes the meaning of that term abundantly clear. We have no intention to make that additional provision in the proposed amendments.

Allan Memorial Institute
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Justice.

During the last election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada promised to compensate the families of victims of the brainwashing experiments using electroshock therapy and drugs, conducted at the Allen Memorial Institute in Montreal in the fifties and sixties, but the Minister of Justice has just refused to compensate these families.

Could the Minister tell us whether he intends to follow up on his party's promise of financial assistance or are we to understand that the government has reversed its position?

Allan Memorial Institute
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the role of the Department of Justice in the program that was instituted to compensate those who were victimized by the program in question is to assess each application in terms of the provisions of the order in council which created the fund and to determine whether the applicants meet the criteria established by that legislation.

That is precisely what we have done. In each case, many of which have come to my notice by way of applications for review, we have carefully matched the circumstances of the applicant with the parameters of the order in council. I am satisfied that in each such case we have followed the law to its letter.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Cliff Breitkreuz Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister and was inspired by Annie du la Chevrotiere of Brackendale, British Columbia.

Recently the Minister of Finance stated that his ultimate goal is to eliminate the deficit and balance the national budget. If the Prime Minister agrees with his Minister of Finance, will he commit to making a balanced federal budget a requirement of law?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the sound of the name is French perhaps I should reply in French because it is not the hon. member's question but was apparently asked by somebody else.

Every government wants to balance its books. No government wants a deficit. We have a target that is very well established in the red book to reduce the deficit in relation to GNP to 3 per cent and we intend to do that. Of course when we get to 3 per cent we will try to go lower and the day we have a balanced budget I will be extremely happy. But I cannot guarantee that to anybody.

Even if we were to pass that law, sometimes things happen which are completely outside the control of government and we have to meet those needs. It is a kind of dream to think that passing a law will balance the books. They have done it in the United States for how many years? They still have a problem there too. It is a problem around the world.

In Canada we have the problem but it is no worse than the one in Europe. Our deficit in relation to GNP is 6.2 per cent and the average in Europe is 6.5 per cent. I am not happy with that. I want to reduce it to 3 per cent in the next three years. After that we will go lower with everybody's help.

Social Programs
Oral Question Period

March 14th, 1994 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, a recent poll shows that Canadians support the government's initiative to reform social programs. Yet some individuals have expressed concern that the government's objective may be solely to cut services and programs.

What assurances can the parliamentary secretary to the human resources minister give the House that indeed the government's prime objective is to provide Canadians with better, more efficient services?

Social Programs
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

York North
Ontario

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member and Canadians that we have no intention of cutting services for the Canadian people. We are working with the provincial governments to bring about more efficient delivery of services.

The single window initiative will improve service to clients, will eliminate duplication and waste and will increase administrative efficiencies. As a matter of fact last week we opened a new employment resource centre in Ottawa that will merge the two services.

We plan to give Canadians only the very best.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 16 petitions.

Commonwealth Day
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, today is Commonwealth Day, celebrated annually on the second Monday in March to mark the establishment of the modern Commonwealth.

Each year a special theme is attached to this day. The focus this year is on sports and the Commonwealth. This theme has special significance for Canada because we will be hosting the 15th Commonwealth Games this summer in Victoria, British Columbia. For an unprecedented fourth time in the history of the Commonwealth Games, Canada will have the honour of hosting the Commonwealth's festival of sports and culture.

The Commonwealth exemplifies unity and diversity and the strength of multilateralism and co-operation. Almost one-quarter of the world's population now forms the Commonwealth.

Through the Commonwealth, Canada is linked with 49 other countries of various races, faiths, languages, cultures and traditions. The Commonwealth provides an opportunity for Canada to enhance its relationships with the member countries and to advance Canadian foreign policy interests.

Canadians can take pride in the accomplishments of the Commonwealth to which Canada has contributed greatly over its long and vital history. Arnold Smith, a remarkable Canadian diplomat and the first Secretary General of the Commonwealth who unfortunately died last month, is just one example of the dedicated Canadians who have helped to build the Commonwealth and its institutions. Canada will continue to contribute to the Commonwealth through the 1990s and beyond.

In just over one month Canadian observers will be present alongside other Commonwealth and international observers for the first ever democratic elections in South Africa. These elections are an important step in that country's history.

After having assumed a leadership role within the Commonwealth and the fight against apartheid and for universal suffrage these elections also hold a very special significance for Canada and Canadians. Our efforts in the aftermath of these elections will not diminish.

I assure hon. members and Canadians that we will continue to be a prominent member of the Commonwealth to mobilize efforts to promote fundamental human values. These basic values lie at the heart of the Commonwealth and were reaffirmed in the landmark 1991 Harare declaration.

The people to people linkages holding the Commonwealth family together are numerous and are found in every sector and we will continue to promote them. It is in this spirit that we intend to host the Commonwealth Games this year.

I ask all members to join with me today in recognizing the importance of Canada's membership in the modern Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Day
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for the Bloc Quebecois to join the government

today in recognizing the importance of Canada's membership in the Commonwealth. As you know, the Bloc Quebecois remains vigilant to ensure that resources allocated by the federal government to the francophonie reflect its importance in Canada and correspond to the priorities established by Quebec and the francophonie as a whole.

That being said, we have no intention of neglecting Canada's relations with the Commonwealth. As the Leader of the Opposition has said before, the Commonwealth is a very important forum for Canada to maintain close ties with nearly 50 countries throughout the world and to encourage the exercise of the rights and values cherished by Canada and Quebec.

On Commonwealth Day, I think it is important to recall that a sovereign Quebec would wish to maintain those ties. Without taking on additional financial burdens, Quebec would be able to maintain and intensify its relations with countries in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. A sovereign Quebec will want to be more open to the world, and I think this should give you a clear indication of what its position will be.

The Bloc Quebecois is pleased to celebrate this commemorative occasion under the special theme: "Sports and the Commonwealth". And we are certain that Canada will be the perfect host this summer at the Fifteenth Commonwealth Games in Victoria.

Commonwealth Day
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, on this Commonwealth Day we should take a moment to think of the advantages to Canada of being a member of the modern Commonwealth.

As the minister said, it certainly gives us an opportunity to enhance our position in the world as a potential leader of one-quarter of the world's population. It gives us a chance to demonstrate our expertise, technology and service to a major world trading bloc. It also gives us the opportunity to do something independent of the United States. That has its benefits for our national unity as well.

It is particularly meaningful this year that the Commonwealth Games will be held in Victoria. By allowing us to host this unique event, through the competitiveness of athletics we can understand our strengths and weaknesses. We can take this opportunity to understand the customs, traditions and the ways of thinking of other people in the Commonwealth.

The Olympics has given us a great world hope for the future and has created an environment for potential greater unity. I am sure the Commonwealth Games will be an extension of this goodwill. Our Victoria friends will do the very best job of hosting them. I think back to when Edmonton hosted this event and the great associations and friendships made during that occasion.

I was also interested in the minister's comments on our commitment to South Africa. I am concerned about South Africa as well and the democracy taking place there. Before we commit ourselves to what I understand could be in the neighbourhood of 50 people, we must ask what the cost will be, what will actually be done and what actual value there is to Canadians. I was personally asked to get involved in this process. I must admit I have great difficulty doing so unless I can have those three questions answered during these difficult economic times.

We in the Reform Party recognize the importance of Canada's membership in the modern Commonwealth and we continue to support that membership.

Ombudsman Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Nepean, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-221, an act establishing the office of ombudsman and amending acts in consequence thereof.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this act is to establish the institution of a federal ombudsman. This would be an independent and non-partisan officer of this Parliament who would supervise the administration, deal with specific complaints from the public against the administrative injustice and the maladministration and who would have the power to investigate, criticize and publicize but not to reverse administrative action.

A federal ombudsman with his or her wide powers of investigation, which is something we as MPs do not have, would be able to handle the flow of complaints for which parliamentary procedure is less suitable and to strengthen the present system at its weak point.

Furthermore, a federal ombudsman would be the servant of Parliament and answerable to it alone.

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

Excise Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Nepean, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-222, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act (extremity pumps).

Mr. Speaker, some people for health reasons require a piece of medical equipment called an extremity pump. It is the supply of an extremity pump that releases swelling caused by lymphedema of the legs in particular.

I am simply asking that the Excise Tax Act be amended to allow for this extremity pump.

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

Income Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Nepean, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-223, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (air conditioners).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-223, which is an act to amend the Income Tax Act, concerns the cost of an air conditioner required for health reasons. To be more specific, people who suffer from multiple sclerosis find it very difficult to breathe during the hot humid summer months and would like an air conditioner. As it would be used for health purposes, its cost would be included as a medical expense under the medical expense tax credit under the Income Tax Act.

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