House of Commons Hansard #240 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was employment.

Topics

Employment Equity Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, it was rather ironic that the President of the Treasury Board would stand to tell us that this is always about merit. When we think back to his nomination we think of the fight he had. He was picked by the Prime Minister to fight the election in his riding rather than having to go through the competition of a real nomination process so that he could demonstrate to his constituents that he deserved their merit by winning the nomination.

I would like to ask a question of the President of the Treasury Board. If he is to try to achieve these quotas or targets that he speaks about-he can choose his word-basically he can influence only two opportunities in the make-up of the federal civil service: first, when people are hired and second, when people are fired. He has no control over those who go of their own volition.

Does the President of the Treasury Board intend to advance the civil service toward achieving the targets he talks about through the early departure incentive program, through the early retirement incentive program, where he will end up with a different ratio or mix in the civil service as we advance toward the numbers and targets he has set out?

When he and Treasury Board go through this exercise of downsizing, are those who dominate the civil service at this time likely to find a pink slip on their desks because he wants to move toward achieving the targets that he has set out?

Employment Equity Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the nomination process in York Centre has nothing to do with employment equity goals. However, I have fought and won a lot more elections than the hon. member has ever even thought about, some 11 of them. In this past election the people of York Centre gave me a plurality of somewhere over 20,000. I won every single poll. The voters of York Centre spoke quite well, as they have in most parts of the country, by electing a very solid Liberal majority government to represent every aspect of the country, not just some portion of it.

With respect to the downsizing, we are not being detracted in terms of the employment equity goals by that. It is obvious that a lot of people in those four target groups are going to be part of the downsizing. Given that we operate on the merit principle would indicate the reverse order of merit as being paramount in that case.

The situation is being monitored very carefully to try to maintain the numbers as best we can. After all, we do not have enough aboriginal people, the disabled, or people who are in the visible minority groups, as well as women in executive groups. Therefore, I do not want to make the situation any worse if we can help it by staying within the principles of merit which the Reform Party keeps telling us we should. We are monitoring the situation carefully.

I am pleased to say that as a result of the report issued last week by Treasury Board, of the over 8,000 positions that had been removed, there has been no change of that balance. In fact in some of the groups a little bit less has been reduced. The one exception to that would be people with disabilities. This would be largely because a number of them are going out under the early retirement incentive, people who are closer to retirement age perhaps, more than disabilities, but those are people who are taking a very conscious, positive decision about leaving.

I am very pleased to say that of the over 8,000 people who are gone and in particular those who were in the indeterminate or permanent positions, none of them went involuntarily. They all went voluntarily. That shows we are trying to treat people who are departing the public service in a fair and humane way, as well as those who continue to stay to operate the programs and services.

After all, we have to bring about that reduction. We do not particularly like it. The hon. member is critical of it but, at the same time, he and his party are critical of the deficit. This is all part of getting our fiscal house in order and reducing the deficit. We are treating people in a very fair and reasonable way. We are keeping a very close eye on our employment equity goals at the same time.

Employment Equity Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak about Bill C-64 dealing with employment equity.

Equity is one of the most important things that Canadians should, and I believe do, stand for. However, there is a major difference between the equity being proposed by the government and the equity Canadians would like to see.

I think back to the pioneer days and the days the west was developed because I am from St. Albert just outside Edmonton. Equity back in those days was opportunity. If we are going to talk about equity we should always talk about opportunity rather than results. Tens of thousands of people came to this country, and still do, for the opportunity to succeed, the opportunity to prosper and the opportunity to make the mark that would have been denied them in other countries. That is the type of equity I believe Canadians want.

Through the hard work of pioneers, they built a country of which we are proud. They built a country that recognizes the equality of all our citizens. That is one of the great platforms of the Reform Party. It says we are not into hyphenated Canadians. There is only one kind of Canadian and that is the ordinary Canadian who works hard and makes the country work.

A letter on employment equity appeared in the Edmonton Journal a few weeks ago. In some ways one might think it superficially drew the situation out to the extreme. It talked about the hypothetical situation of an Olympics with men and women being equal. Of course 51 per cent of race winners would have to be women and 49 per cent men. How would that be achieved? By putting weights on the legs of the men and so on. While the point is ridiculous there is a moral to this story. To have equality of results, somebody has to be penalized. That is the point I want to drive home. To have equality of results the obvious winners have to be penalized in order to allow others to win their share.

Our position is that rather than penalize the winners, we should do our best to give everybody the opportunity to win through education. It is education that determines whether or not someone is going to succeed. It is not because they are black or white, or male or female, or handicapped or crippled, or whatever. The point is if they are educated they have a chance to succeed.

Last week, a study was released which indicated that of the top 10 per cent of income earners in this country the vast majority attributed education to their success, not who they were, not what they were, not their family background, not whether they came from a rich background. Education was the dominant factor which determined whether they were able to succeed or not. That is why the House should focus on making sure people have the opportuni-

ty to succeed through education, not by introducing quotas that will penalize those who have the desire to succeed, those who have the willingness to work hard to succeed, those who go far beyond the others and want to succeed. Why hold them back? Unfortunately that is the nature of the government's way of doing things.

We want to ensure we can get back to the days where hard work is equal to prosperity rather than having it guaranteed by government legislation.

If failure is to be eliminated, as this legislation tries to do in many ways, it comes at a cost. The cost of eliminating failure is equal to the price of success. If we do not let some people succeed because we want no one to fail, then we will bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator. We saw what happened in eastern Europe in Russia. They refused to allow anyone to succeed and the whole country failed.

While this legislation is but one small piece along that road, Reform Party members feel that Canadians will be far better pleased and a lot more confident that this country can dig itself out of the hole if those who have the will to succeed are allowed to move ahead and help the rest of us and to provide education to those who need to get their feet on the ladder.

I have a constituent who has been in to see me several times. He would like to be a Mountie. In the west the Mounties are a revered police institution. Everybody knows the Mounties. They are known throughout the world as that great Canadian police force. They are recognized and revered around the world.

This constituent wants to be a Mountie. Every year he does 600 hours of volunteer police work with the RCMP. He sat the exams and met the minimum standards. He has a university education. The only thing that stops him from being a Mountie is the fact that he is a white male. Other family members are in the force. He would dearly love to be in the force but because he is a white male he cannot be what he dreams to be. That is because this government brings in what it calls targets, which I call quotas, and denies someone who would be a first class policeman. We have denied him his dream.

That is why we have to recognize that this legislation is out to lunch and the fact that we need to build people up, not hold them down.

This past week while we have been away I attended three graduation ceremonies in my riding. At a couple of them I presented the Governor General's award. I had an opportunity to talk to people about education. I cannot encourage them enough because in this complex and technological age we live in we need all the education we can get.

If we tell people that it does not matter how much education you have, how much motivation you have, how much will you have to succeed because you just happen to be in the wrong category, then we are sending the wrong message to young people and we have received the wrong message from the people who built this country. In many ways that is part of the reason we are so far in debt. We have lost our way and that is a great shame.

In an earlier debate the member from Beaver River talked about the fact that this legislation is going to be forced on businesses, forced on the civil service, but the House of Commons is exempt. Why would the House of Commons be exempt? Why would we in typical fashion tell the people to not do as we do but just do as we say?

This is why the Reform Party is totally opposed to this legislation. I would gladly support anything the government would do to ensure that education became the reason for equity.

Employment Equity Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Royal Mint
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Elijah Harper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Churchill, the polar bear capital of Canada, I would like to commend the Royal Mint for choosing the polar bear to appear on the back of our new $2 coin.

In addition to being a distinctly Canadian symbol of strength, the polar bear also represents one of Manitoba's best known tourist attractions. I would like to invite all members of this House and all Canadians to come north to Churchill and see for themselves the inspiration for Canada's newest coin.

Quebec Economy
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to this morning's Le Devoir , the American computer industry giant, Ameridata, intends to increase its share of the Quebec market, regardless of the outcome of the referendum. The president of Ameridata Canada, Jan Kaminski, stated that the company was in business, and the results of the referendum were of little importance.

The Toronto firm Falconbridge is not worried about the outcome of the referendum either. It has just announced an investment of $500 million in Quebec. Mr. Pugsley, the president of a subsidiary of Falconbridge, summarized the situation by saying that the company had been doing business in Quebec for 50 years, it was a

good place to do business and, as far as the company was concerned, it was business as usual.

Some businesses are responding to the campaign of fear being waged by Mr. Johnson and the no side by deciding to invest.

Canada Volunteer Award Certificate Of Merit
Statements By Members

October 16th, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.

Reform

Hugh Hanrahan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona, I was very pleased to learn that Mrs. Therese Chicoine, a constituent, has been selected to receive the Canada Volunteer Award Certificate of Merit. This certificate is awarded each year to recognize those who have made valuable voluntary contributions toward improving the health and social well-being of their fellow citizens.

Mrs. Chicoine is a key player in both the administration and the delivery of the emergency services response team of the Canadian Red Cross Society. She was also instrumental in the establishment of the unrelated bone marrow donor clinic. Her list of volunteer achievements seems endless and is a testament to Canada.

I know that my hon. colleagues would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mrs. Therese Chicoine on her award.

New Democratic Party Convention
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud today to stand in the House on behalf of the NDP caucus to extend warm congratulations to our new leader, Alexa McDonough.

Alexa was elected at the NDP convention held this weekend in Ottawa. Over 1,800 delegates along with 1,000 visitors and guests joined together to boost the NDP on their road to renewal.

We give notice to the Liberals and the Reform Party that New Democrats across the country are rising up in solidarity and unity to fight against their demolition of medicare and other social programs and are renewing our efforts for jobs and fair taxation for Canadians.

With our new leader, Alexa McDonough, Canadians have a reinvigorated voice to hold this government accountable for the destructive measures it is inflicting on Canadians. Canadians do have a choice. It is to join us in recovering a more caring and sharing Canada and reclaiming Canada for Canadians.

Breast Cancer
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Augustine Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time for all of us to remember that in 1995 an estimated 17,700 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,400 will die from this terrible disease.

The leading cause of cancer deaths among women, breast cancer can be eradicated through education, awareness, good health, and with the support of our community. The collaboration of survivors, health professionals, and governments must also continue in order to address breast cancer issues and to ultimately find a cure.

Chances are we have all known someone who has had breast cancer. I therefore invite you to visit the Canadian breast cancer memorial tribute this week in the foyer of the House of Commons. With this memorial we will remember the many Canadian women who have battled courageously but have lost to this disease. In their memory we must continue to provide support to those who are fighting for their lives.

Woman Entrepreneur Of The Year
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to an award that was presented on the weekend to the woman entrepreneur of the year. This award is an initiative of the University of Toronto Faculty of Management and it counts organizations such as the Financial Post among its sponsors.

For the category of international competitiveness, my constituent, friend, and client, Paula Lishman, was the recipient. I have known Paula for many years. Her intuitive designs in reversible furs are respected throughout the world.

Paula exemplifies the fight of small and medium sized businesses, and women in particular in the country to get established and win the confidence of the financial community. Trading internationally and creating meaningful jobs in Durham and in Canada have been the results of her efforts. I know about her struggles because I was her accountant and sat with her on the other side of many bank managers' desks.

Paula's perseverance in the face of adversity is a lesson for all small and medium sized business operators. I am proud and happy that Paula Lishman has earned the recognition she so justly deserves.

Governor General's Awards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that I am joined by all members of the House in paying tribute to the six outstanding women who are the recipients of the 1995 Governor General's awards in commemoration of the Persons case, which were presented this morning at Rideau Hall.

We recognize Marthe Asselin Vaillancourt of Jonquière, Quebec for her continuing efforts to prevent violence against women, children, and the elderly.

We recognize Dr. May Cohen of Burlington, Ontario for her leadership and pioneering work in the field of women's health.

We recognize Dr. Ruth Flowers of Makkovik, Labrador for her community activism and dedication to improving the quality of women's lives.

We recognize Sheila Kingham of Victoria, British Columbia for her belief in the power of collective action and her tireless advocacy on behalf of rural women.

We recognize Carolyn G. Thomas of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia for her courage as a human rights activist.

We recognize Alice E. Tyler of Edmonton, Alberta for her promotion of women's advancement through her art.

Our congratulations from this House go to these remarkable women who have each contributed substantially to the furtherance of women's equality.

Governor General's Awards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Would these outstanding women please rise in the House. We would like to recognize you.

Governor General's Awards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Landry Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is inundating us with subliminal advertising in the midst of the referendum campaign, which is not a problem for Radio-Canada. The no side's messages state that the sovereignist leaders are claiming to the be only real Quebecers, when in fact they have never said such a thing. And yet, Radio-Canada is airing this message.

However, the message of the yes side showing how the federal government has systematically refused to listen to Quebec's demands is not acceptable. Radio-Canada suddenly remembers its advertising standards and refuses to air this message. This decision is incomprehensible and surprises even the Telecaster Committee, which approves its broadcast.

The truth is that the yes side's message was so effective government officials demanded it be rejected. This is the behaviour of a side in a panic and with nothing to offer Quebec.

Grants And Contributions
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government has lost control of the public purse. Once again I stand in the House to ask the Liberal government why it does not practise fiscal restraint in these tough economic times.

While the government refuses to allow Parliament to reduce public expenditures, it continues to curry favour by handing out $11 billion in grants and contributions largely without the knowledge of the Canadian public.

I have published the first issue of my waste report which highlights some of these expenditures, many of which cannot be justified. Examples are: United Steel Workers of America, $108,000; Canadian Labour Congress, $10,000; Canadian Chamber of Commerce, $4.5 million.

The Reform Party advocates eliminating all funding to special interest groups and sees no reason why $11 billion in grants and contributions cannot be cut at least in half.