House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was promise.

Topics

Bombardier Inc.
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to receive that question. I approved the loan. I recommended it to my colleagues.

It is an $87 million investment in research and development repayable on a royalty basis as aircraft are sold. We will make money on that loan.

Not only that, I am surprised to hear such a question from the Reform Party days after its fresh start. Reformers put their document out saying that a Reform government will recognize the crucial place of research and development in our economy by what? By increasing current levels of funding for research and development for industry. I agree with that.

Disabled Persons
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Prime Minister.

Today the task force on disability issues released its report. Of the 52 recommendations, many were similar to those of the subcommittee on human rights and status of disabled persons which this government had previously rejected.

One of the key recommendations is that a Canadians with disabilities act be brought forward and enacted. It would ensure that persons with disabilities would have broad interpretation of citizenship in areas affected by the federal government.

What steps will the government take to respond to those persons with disabilities and provide an act like that and enact it before the next election?

Disabled Persons
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for an important question to all Canadians.

First, this is a very important issue to the Government of Canada and to society as a whole. We think that people with disabilities should be active members in our society.

We just received the report that was made public this morning. We intend to make the recommendations a major part of our discussions with the provinces. I want to take the opportunity to thank the member who was responsible for the report, the member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury, for his fine work.

At the same time, I would say to members opposite that is about time in this House that we got a question that really meant something to Canadians besides the nonsense across the way.

Trent-Severn Waterway
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

It seems the Trent-Severn waterway's plan to raise $200,000 from water lot licences may leave marina operators open to an additional million dollars in municipal taxes. Surely it is not the government's intention to be a tax collector for municipalities.

What is the minister doing to help the Trent-Severn operators in this matter?

Trent-Severn Waterway
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Restigouche—Chaleur
New Brunswick

Liberal

Guy Arseneault Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, last March the minister committed that both the Trent-Severn waterway and the Rideau canal would undertake a comprehensive consultation with the stakeholders in regard to commercial water lot fees over the summer months.

The input from these consultations has resulted in a significant change in the original fee proposal and the results of these consultations will be made public very shortly.

The minister shares the member's concern for the marina operators and the minister has asked for clarification from the Ontario government with regard to the appraisal services branch.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

October 28th, 1996 / 3 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of a delegation from the Parliament of Finland. It is led by my sister Speaker, Riita Uosukainen.

Presence In Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Committee Of The Whole
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That Peter Milliken, member for the electoral district of Kingston and the Islands, be appointed Deputy Chairman of committees of the whole House.

Committee Of The Whole
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the motion moved by the government House leader is out of order because he has not given the House 48 hours' notice.

I understand that on the opening day of Parliament or on the opening day of a new session this motion can be moved without notice because on those occasions no notice can be given since the House is not yet in session. In addition, since the opening day is known and is publicized in advance, technically there has been notice given that event will occur.

This is not an opening day of Parliament or a new session. I believe that notice should be required for this motion.

Committee Of The Whole
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

A point has been raised by the hon. whip of the Reform Party. It is the practice of the House that such a motion in the past has not needed 48 hours' notice. I would refer the hon. member to the annotated standing orders on page 18 for a fuller explanation. I am going to allow the motion to stand.

This motion is debatable.

Committee Of The Whole
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to debate this motion. I have sent a letter to the Prime Minister, I have sent a copy to the government whip and I have talked to the nominee for the position of Acting Speaker.

I made the Reform Party's position very clear on this. We are looking for an opportunity for the government to live up to its promises. I have nothing against the hon. member whose name has been put forward. We all know he knows the rules of the House as good as anyone. We all know in committee his reputation is to be fair and even-handed. We appreciate that.

During the election campaign the Liberal Party campaigned on a red book promise. The nominee for the position of deputy speaker co-authored a paper that was quoted in the red book as the way things should be run here in the House of Commons. In that red book it says that two deputy speakers should be appointed from the opposition parties.

The hon. member will remember that report because it came on the heels of the 81st report of the Standing Committee on House Management, which was presented in the 34th Parliament in 1993. That report dealt with presiding officers. It also recommended that two deputy speakers be appointed from the opposition benches.

During the last couple of days we have been subjected to the Prime Minister's tally of how many promises he actually kept. He says that he has kept 78 per cent of the promises. That is the same number which described the scratchy old records that the House leader may at one time have listened to.

In the 1993 election 198 specific promises were made by the government. Government members say 197. Maybe this is the one they want to forget. They promised to reform the institution of Parliament. One of the reforms was that two of the deputy speakers would be appointed from the opposition benches.

I do not have the years of experience which the hon. House leader has. He has been here for more than 30 years. The Prime Minister has been here for more than 30 years. The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands, who has been nominated, has been here forever. He thinks he has been here forever, but he has been here for a good long time. The former whip of the party, now a minister of the crown, has been here for a long time. They all signed their names to the document which said that two of the deputy speakers should be appointed from the opposition side of the House.

We had the 81st report of the Standing Committee on House Management which was presented in the 34th Parliament. They were a part of that report. They took part in that debate. The suggestions were theirs. In that report they suggested that this is the way it should be done.

During the weekend the Prime Minister said there were several promises which he has not yet been able to keep, but they are promises in progress. They will be completed at the earliest possible date.

Committee Of The Whole
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Squeezed.

Committee Of The Whole
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

He will squeeze the truth out of them.

This is not an "if, and or but" question. This is not a question of: I wonder what the Liberal Party meant? It is absolutely crystal clear that two deputy speakers should be appointed from the opposition benches.

The member for Kingston and the Islands co-authored the report which suggested that should be the case. The Prime Minister signed the red book promise which said that will be the case. The Prime Minister said that he would honour the red book commitments which have not yet been completed as soon as possible. That was on the weekend. I was at the convention to hear that.

The first opportunity to complete one of those promises is today. Today the government can say: "We are about to complete more of our promises. Today is the day that we put our money where our mouth is". What is it he said? We do not just talk the talk, we walk the walk. To use another analogy, this is where the rubber meets the road.

Suddenly a position is open in the House of Commons. It is a very important position. Mr. Speaker, you had the best of health before they took your best of health away, in a sense. Your good right hand man is now the government whip. We appreciated his work in the Chair. We always supported his work, but he is no longer here. Now there is a vacancy.

The symbolism of this comes down to the integrity of the Prime Minister, the promises made during the election and the promises made by the proposed deputy speaker. The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands has a decision to make in the next few minutes or in the next few days. What is his response to a specific proposal that he himself proposed, that he himself endorsed, that he himself submitted as the red book position, the Liberal Party position on how deputy speakers should be appointed?

What the member for Kingston and the Islands said, and I know him to be an honourable man, was that the position should not go to

a government member. Those are his words. It should not go to a government member. It should go to somebody on this side of the House.

The conundrum facing the member for Kingston and the Islands now is a serious one. All of a sudden, talking the talk and walking the walk and doing what is right not only in Canadians' minds but following through on the promises made by the governing party, suddenly 24 hours after the Liberal convention is shut down we find out that promises are like the Prime Minister's imaginary friend, they do not really mean anything and they do not really exist.

Mr. Speaker, the motion we are debating at this time is symbolic of the non-partisanship that you have shown toward this House. The position of deputy chairman is an extension of yourself. It is an opportunity, as the member for Kingston and the Islands recognized in his report, to show that your position, Mr. Speaker, is not partisan but is open to all members of the House. Not only that, it has been promised as kind of a balancing act to show that very thing.

At the convention that I sat through on the weekend there were a lot of shoulder strains. A lot of Liberals were patting themselves on the back and tore ligaments in their shoulder. At a convention, that is their right to do that. They can pat themselves on the back all they like.

The Prime Minister says "we will not demand your vote, we will not buy your vote", although Bombardier would perhaps question that, "but will earn your vote because you will watch us and you will see us fulfil the promises that I have made".

What is one of those promises? The very first thing that the Prime Minister can fulfil, acknowledged as an unfulfilled promises, is the appointment of the deputy speaker. It will be the test.

I do not want to politicize your position in the chair of course, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to politicize the deputy chair, or compromise his or her position. The Chair absolutely has our respect. I should not say it has nothing to do with you, as I do not want to cut you out of the picture, but the argument here has nothing to do with your position which, of course, is without disrepute. It is held in the highest esteem.

However, the promises of the Liberal Party of Canada and the promises of the Prime Minister are at stake. Think of that. When someone does not fulfil a promise and fills a role in the deputy chair's position, a very important role, and that person gets to that position in spite of a promise by the Prime Minister to the contrary, what message does that send? It sends the message that the promises of the red book are hollow, the promises of the red book are only expedient, the promises of the red book whether they are 30 per cent, 40 per cent or 50 per cent are more of an accident of birth than they are of a grand design.

If the Prime Minister pushes ahead with this appointment, the member for Kingston and the Islands will have to take a serious second look at his acceptance of his position. He needs to do some soul searching on this issue.

I spoke with the hon. member at the Liberal convention, and he knows this. I told him this was going to come up if his name came forward. I told him exactly where this was going: "Your name has been talked about here in the hallways and it may or may not come up in the debate. But if it does, this is what I am going to say". I told him because he has been so outspoken on this issue.

It is not enough just to speak about it. He put together a report. He argued persuasively on a position, basically saying this role should not go to a Liberal, it should go to the opposition. It was so persuasive that I have quoted it back to him on several occasions.

I said that the hon. member, the hon. House leader and the Prime Minister have the experience and they have collectively endorsed the 81st report of the Standing Committee on House Management and have appended their own report to the Liberal red book saying: "This is what we will do when we form government. We will give the deputy chairman of the committee of the whole to the opposition parties. You can count on it. You can rely on us. You can trust us. You can know that we will not deviate from our red book promises". It is now bunk, bunk, bunk coming from the government side.

It is not "if the GDP exceeds 3.3 per cent we will consider this option". It is not one of those promises. It is not a promise that we will somehow have a rolling target on deputy speakers. None of that. As far as I know we are not going roll all four positions together and call it the Canada health transfer subsidy. We are not going to do anything like that. This is just a cut and dried promise, succinctly put in the red book, appended, which says "when we form government we will make sure that the opposition party is represented in the chair with not one but two deputy speaker positions".

If I had put together a report in a learned study as the member for Kingston and the Islands had done and said that it was my opinion, so take it for what it is worth, I think the government would say it was an interesting thought, that it will look it over and maybe refer it to a procedure and House affairs committee and maybe study it, as opposed to precedents of other Parliaments of the world". Who knows? Study it until time ran out.

I did not submit the idea. It is not my idea. It did not come from the official opposition. It did not come from the Reform Party. It did not come from the independents. Where did it come from? From the member for Kingston and the Islands, the very member

who is being nominated today in contravention of everything he has written about that position.

Committee Of The Whole
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

An hon. member

I would not want to use the word hypocrisy.

Committee Of The Whole
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

I do not want to get into mud slinging or name calling in any way.

However, the principle that is involved here is one that will cast aspersions where they should not be, on the most neutral position in the House of Commons.

I am not sure whether the member for Kingston and the Islands shaved this morning, but if he had looked in the mirror today he would have seen someone who said "what is happening here today is wrong". That is what he said-not me and not the official opposition. The House leader knows it. He signed that paper too. The Prime Minister knows it. He says he is going to walk the walk, talk the talk and do what is right. This is not right.

It is unfortunate that the government has chosen to do this. There have been no consultations, no words, not a second and not a minute of consultations with the opposition parties. It has not even asked the opposition parties whether they are comfortable with this neutral position.

Mr. Speaker, you know you earned your position in a sense because all members of this House voted for your position. You have the support of the entire House.

However, on this issue not only has the government broken a promise, but there has been no consultation and no discussion. It has not been referred to any committee. There has not been a slate of names put forward. There has not in any way been an attempt to keep the promises the Prime Minister made during the election campaign.

Whether it was 60 per cent or 78 per cent of the promises made, it is dropping, dropping, dropping. It is now 68 per cent, 58 per cent, wherever. When the government intentionally breaks the spirit and the letter of its own book, its own law, then it has in essence broken its trust with the Canadian people.

I move:

That the motion be amended by striking out "Peter Milliken" and substituting "Daphne Jennings".