House of Commons Hansard #228 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Justice
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are asking why our justice system is not protecting them.

In British Columbia a 10-year old was kidnapped from her home and killed. In Calgary a fourth woman in seven weeks was murdered. The justice minister still rules out any debate on the death penalty. In Montreal a biker war claims innocent lives.

The justice minister uses the charter of rights as an excuse not to act. Murderers can be paroled after only 15 years of a supposed life sentence, yet the minister has failed to repeal this weak kneed loophole in the Criminal Code.

The justice minister will spend millions on a gun registry but does nothing to set up an effective registry of known child sex offenders.

In Canada we should not be living in fear for our children's safety and our own. The Reform Party has a clear and specific program to fix the Liberals weak response to justice concerns. The time for a safer Canada is now.

The Economy
Statements By Members

September 21st, 1995 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, over the past several weeks my Carleton-Charlotte constituents have continued to bring forth the same message for the House and for my government. The message conveys our love and our respect for our brothers and sisters in Quebec and our hope they will remain part of this country, the best country in the world in which to live.

However, my constituents also wish to inform us they want the number one priority of the government, the agenda for jobs and growth, to continue.

We have made progress but there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. Continued economic growth and jobs for our children and our grandchildren are the issues of major importance to my Carleton-Charlotte constituents and to all Canadians.

I urge my government to ensure economic growth and jobs, the agenda initiated by the government, continue for the benefit of all Canadians.

Economic Agreements
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the separatists can no longer lead the population of Quebec to believe that they will force all of the foreign countries to their knees, as they said last week in connection with Ontario, when it comes time to negotiate economic agreements.

Contrary to their claims in their referendum agenda, a separate Quebec will not be able to join the North American Free Trade Agreement automatically. This claim they have been making, the Leader of the Opposition in particular, has just been contradicted by an American expert who took part in the Free Trade negotiations.

According to him, accession by a sovereign Quebec would not happen automatically and there might be a danger of the negotiations reopening issues dear to the heart of Quebecers, such as culture, the marketing of agricultural produce and even our hydro-electric energy treasure, Hydro-Québec.

In conclusion, the Bloc's separatist agenda does not serve the true interest of Quebec and that is why they will be hearing a resounding no this coming October 30.

The Government
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government is walking very timidly, doing nothing at all in order to improve its chances of doing nothing wrong.

While all eyes are on the delicate balance of power between Ottawa and the provinces, especially Quebec, the government pursues its thin soup, no issue non-agenda.

Where are we on the promise of a more responsive and democratic Parliament? While the government is paralysed by the Quebec question, Canadians wonder what has happened to the free votes the government promised. There are at least nine hapless Liberals in the House and multitudes of Canadians who are deeply disappointed about that broken red book promise.

Why should Canadians elect and pay for MPs who are totally shackled to their political masters and who are unable to speak for and vote for their constituents wishes?

I say to Canadians: Do not give up. The Liberals can be thrown out and the Reform Party is ready to make this place work on the democratic principles Canadians expect.

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council took great pains to remove three quarters of a document intended for the Minister of Labour from the public eye. The document, which appears to describe the activities of the operation unity centre, was obtained by the opposition under the Access to Information Act. I say "appears", because the government whited out most of the pages before sending them to the Information Commissioner. Even the table of contents is secret. Mr. Speaker, this is too much.

What lessons in transparency can the Prime Minister offer to the Government of Quebec when he keeps three quarters of a Privy Council document on the activities of the operation unity centre secret?

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, under the Access to Information Act, the government makes public what has to be made public. Some of the government's activities are not made public. The Privy Council operates daily in connection with the referendum and the national problem facing the country at the moment.

As you can imagine, it provides the Canadian government with very effective information and advice on keeping the country together.

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I am asking the Prime Minister what is so secret about the activities of the operation unity centre-the information that appears in the document in question-that it is being turned into a real state secret? What is the government trying to hide from Quebecers? This is the question.

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, ministerial activities and communications in cabinet are privileged. We try to release as much as possible to the press and the public, but some matters of discussion in a government remain privileged between members of the administration. There is nothing cynical in this, particularly because it is an open campaign.

We are very open, and the burden of proof lies with the opposition to say why Quebecers should separate from Canada. All we have to say is that we who are defending Canada are defending more than 125 years of history considered by the world to be a great history of political evolution from a former colony to one of the world's model countries.

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean
Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the question is a very simple one: why is the government hiding three quarters of a document on the hottest item at the moment, the Quebec referendum? Since the Prime Minister says the campaign is an open one, I am going to give him the opportunity to show how open it is, since the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said in February that most of the funds injected into operation unity would go to pay for studies on eliminating overlap.

How then can the Prime Minister justify the fact that the Privy Council has not made public these studies, which were conducted and paid for with public funds?

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, on May 21, I wrote the chairman of the standing committee of the House of Commons providing him with a complete list of all those working in the unity group, identifying their duties and indicating the amount of the budget.

I also told him then that, so long as the date of the referendum was not known, we could quite likely spend more than the $2.5 million in the blue book.

Since then, the Parti Quebecois has spend more than $22 million. This figure does not appear in the expenditures of the Quebec government as referendum expenditures.

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will simply repeat the question put by the Leader of the Opposition.

The minister accused another government of keeping studies under wraps, although these studies are published regularly. The problem, and that is the gist of our question, is this. He told us that most Operation Unity funds would be used for studies of the extremely costly duplication that exists within the Canadian federal system.

Our question is this: If he is so open, what about these studies which absorb most of the funds of this organization? Tell us about them, Mr. Minister.

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, I indicated at the time that members of the Unity Group had been recruited to prepare analyses of the government's situation, and obviously some of these can be released to the public but some are

clearly intended for those who make the decisions and are, by their very nature, confidential.

But what is far more important is the difference with studies that were kept under wraps, that were ordered from a separate organization, and the fact that the PQ government, at the behest by the Minister of Restructuration, refused to release a study of Mr. Mathews unless Mr. Mathews deleted certain paragraphs. That is controlling information, and we do not do that.

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs would be willing to tell us his criteria for keeping certain studies confidential and releasing others.

I would appreciate if he would tell us and then explain how he can decide to keep all these studies under wraps and then comment on the actions of another government that really does not need any lessons from him?

Operation Unity Centre
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, I think it is clear there is a difference between strategic analyses, and the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois have these as well, which are clearly intended for decision-makers, and studies prepared for publication by scientific institutes and published with the institute's stamp of approval.

What the Parti Quebecois did is unacceptable, and everybody knows what happened. They prevented the release of studies that contained conclusions they did not agree with.

Quebec Referendum
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is not a federalist in the House who does not want to defeat the Bloc and its separatist allies in the referendum and bury this secession issue six feet deep.

If this is to happen it is going to require some fresher thinking and some bolder tactics than have been practised in the past by the traditional guardians of national unity.

My question is for the Prime Minister. To what extent is he consulting and involving federalists outside Quebec in improving the federal government's response to the referendum?