House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was process.

Topics

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

March 21st, 1994 / 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 three petitions.

Semaine De La Francophonie
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, on the initiative of the Association of French-speaking Parliamentarians, a reception was held here on Parliament Hill to mark the beginning of the Semaine de la Francophonie. Representatives of various Canadian organizations dealing with the Francophonie came from across Canada.

A number of Canadian personalities who have distinguished themselves in this country by working in different ways and in different communities to promote the French fact were honoured. We were especially happy to have among us at this

ceremony the Prime Minister of Canada, who received the honourary award of the Francophonie and who is a proud representative of Canada's French-speaking community.

Allow me today in this House, at the first opportunity I have had since the beginning of this Semaine de la Francophonie, to remind members of some interesting historic facts.

As hon. members know, the heads of state and government summit held at Chaillot Palace in Paris in 1991 ratified the proposal for an international Francophonie day and expressed the wish that each of the 47 states and governments forming the so-called Francophone community celebrate this day individually and at their convenience. It was officially set for March 20, the date on which was founded the Cultural and Technical Co-operation Agency, the first francophone intergovernmental organization, whose secretary general in the last few years has been a distinguished Canadian, Jean-Louis Roy.

We are very proud to take part in this day and thus show that we belong to the Francophonie. As active members of this multilateral group, we will continue to promote the basic values dear to all Canadians such as democracy, human rights, women's equality, child welfare, education and training. The francophone community includes over 400 million men and women scattered all over the globe.

The Francophonie is an integral part of Canada's foreign policy. We intend to continue playing an active role and contributing in various ways, so that all francophone and francophile Canadians continue to benefit from this window on the world and the fruitful contacts we maintain in many French-speaking countries throughout the world.

By being a member of the Francophonie, Canada also shows the rest of the world the unique features of Canadian reality. The Canadian Francophonie speaks with many accents. It starts out in the sandy dunes of New Brunswick, goes up the St. Lawrence River, and ends up in the western plains. During their travels, our francophones took on the accents of Antonine Maillet, Anne Hébert, and Gabrielle Roy. Far from resting on their laurels, our francophones now speak with new accents such as the Creole intonations of those who found refuge on these North American shores.

Canadians show solidarity with all the people of the world who use French to communicate, exchange ideas and better understand one another.

It is in this spirit that I invite all Canadians and their elected representatives in this House and in legislatures with a large number of francophones, be it in Quebec, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, or even British Columbia, for there are many francophones on Canada's West Coast.

So, on this day and week celebrating the Francophonie, I would urge all my colleagues in the House of Commons, particularly the members of the Bloc Quebecois, to realize that the French language is alive and well in Canada. It is not endangered as some members opposite would like us to believe. On the contrary! The French fact is strongly and brilliantly defended throughout Canada and reaches out around the world.

Semaine De La Francophonie
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Semaine De La Francophonie
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, today it is a great honour and a great source of pride for the Bloc Quebecois to draw the attention of the House to la Journée mondiale de la Francophonie.

For Quebec and for all francophones in the rest of Canada, whose common destiny is necessarily linked to that of the Francophonie, this is a particularly memorable day.

Incidentally, this anniversary coincides with that of the founding of the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique, the first francophone intergovernmental organization.

Quebec's participation in this international body illustrates that in matters concerning the Francophonie, as in all other matters, especially when they concern our identity and cultural ambience, as the Leader of the Official Opposition mentioned earlier, it is important to run our own affairs.

Promoting the French fact also means promoting our viability as a community, and in this respect, we have no outside allies other than the solidarity of francophone countries.

We must remember that the destiny of francophones outside Quebec should not be dissociated from the affirmation of Quebec's identity, because our community owes its survival to its will to endure as a people. This solidarity among francophones in Canada must be strengthened.

Canada's francophone communities must not only survive, they must also be able to develop their cultural, economic and social potential in their own language.

The situation is not reassuring. Everywhere in Canada and even in Quebec, the position of French is precarious. Twenty-five years of official and individual bilingualism have not been able to stop the assimilation of francophones. Bilingualism is still too often a Francophone that speaks English.

It is also a fact that Canada's provinces have ignored the rights of their francophone minorities. Even worse, in a number of provinces, francophone communities are considered just

another ethnic community, a situation that was aggravated by the federal government's support for multiculturalism.

The closing of Collège militaire in Saint-Jean also brought to the fore the case of the French high school in Kingston, which is located in a building without washrooms or running water. Reality can be pretty grim!

When the Minister of Foreign Affairs says that to Canada, belonging to the Francophonie also means revealing to the rest of the world what is unique about Canada's situation, one wonders what situation he is talking about!

The Forum international de la Francophonie, which includes 47 countries from all continents, must continue to develop and make itself heard. This applies to all areas, including education, for instance, where the association of partially or fully French language universities, whose headquarters is in Montreal, does remarkable work, and also to the information technology sector and all other economic and cultural sectors.

I think that although it is appropriate to celebrate this international day of the Francophonie, we must not forget that we still have a long way to go, especially here in Canada.

Semaine De La Francophonie
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party of Canada recognizes the Journée internationale de la Francophonie, that was officially celebrated yesterday, March 20.

Our party, being a party of the people, recognizes on this day that 23 per cent of Canadians are francophones.

At the same time, we realize that Canadians are part of la Francophonie, a worldwide group of 400 million people.

Canada is a fortunate country. Despite our financial problems, we continue to provide assistance to other countries, but our help does not necessarily involve money.

We agree with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who just said that Canada will continue to promote the fundamental values dear to all Canadians such as democracy, human rights, women's equality, child welfare, education and training. By supporting these values in other countries, we hope to reinforce them at home.

We congratulate francophones from Canada and other countries around the world on this international day of la Francophonie.

Interest Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Portneuf, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-227, an Act to amend the Interest Act (calculation of credit card interest).

Mr. Speaker, as you know, our contemporary society makes heavy use of credit cards and I am the first to admit that these financial instruments are very useful.

Nevertheless, I believe that consumers are poorly informed about the cost of the services provided by the issuing companies. I would even add that many consumers are charged what I would call an excessive rate of interest.

This bill proposes an amendment to the Interest Act, so that the consumer can better judge the costs of various credit cards by standardizing the calculation of interest.

I am tabling today not one but two bills concerning this matter. You no doubt have both of them before you.

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

Act To Provide For The Limitation Of Interest Rates And Fees In Relation To Credit Card Accounts
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Portneuf, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-228, an Act to provide for the limitation of interest rates and fees in relation to credit card accounts.

Mr. Speaker, the second bill seeks to provide for the limitation of interest rates and fees in relation to credit card accounts, by means of a floating ceiling that would follow fluctuations in the bank rate.

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

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions from citizens of the riding of Peterborough. All of them deal with the lowering of taxes on tobacco. Each makes a different point.

The first petition from 47 people of Peterborough stresses that the government should deal with smuggling in some other way.

The second petition which has 25 signatures says that the tax will cause between 175,000 and 350,000 more teenagers to smoke in Canada.

The third petition which also has 25 signatures stresses that the tobacco industry knows that lower taxes simply mean higher profits for it.

I present these petitions under Standing Order 36.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Shall all questions stand?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I wish to inform the House that, pursuant to Standing Order 33(2)(b), because of the ministerial statement, Government Orders will be extended by 12 minutes.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I believe the hon. member for Kamloops had the floor prior to question period. We will go directly to questions and comments.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

St. Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for my hon. colleague.

I was disappointed, assuming that I heard or interpreted the comments attributed to the Bloc Quebecois correctly, that it sort of washed its hands of this. It really did not matter because the Bloc did not expect to around the next time.

I have told the Bloc on several occasions that it has a responsibility to represent all Canadians. This bill is coming forward now and I would argue, and I would like my colleague's comments on this, that it has a responsibility to treat this seriously and not take its own myopic view and simply say it may not be around. It could go poof by the next election. That is my first comment.

My second is a question which is very simple and precise. In the 34th Parliament I had suggested that perhaps this Parliament, that is, l'ensemble des députés, should look at the possibility of significantly reducing the number of MPs. Would this not be a wonderful opportunity to see whether we could do with one-quarter or perhaps one-third fewer MPs?

I would like to get my colleague's reaction. I think that Canadians would applaud such a move. It would mean a significant saving. For the record, I did make that request in the 34th Parliament. Perhaps it will be more easily supported in this, the 35th Parliament.