House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was countries.

Topics

China
Statements By Members

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to stress the innovative and effective approach used by our Prime Minister to promote human rights, during his recent visit to China.

It is important to know that Asian countries are very sensitive to anything they perceive as a form of interference in their domestic affairs. Far from avoiding his responsibilities, our Prime Minister chose to raise the issue from the angle of "good government and the rule of law". Any society which, like China, is beginning to open itself to the world, soon realizes the importance of conforming to a number of universal rules.

Our Prime Minister used wisdom and intelligence to get his message across to his Chinese hosts. We are convinced that this approach will help increase China's awareness of the international values we endorse.

China
Statements By Members

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleagues, since the period for members' statements began 11 or 12 minutes late, question period will be extended until 12.12 p.m.

Canadian Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

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

When questioned before leaving for Asia, the Prime Minister said that the only solution for Canadian was to restructure the company rather than look to the government for assistance, because the company's problems were the result of bad management, and an infusion of federal funds would not help resolve this problem. The Minister of Finance took a similar line Wednesday.

Since the Prime Minister has already made his government's position plain, can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us who authorized the Minister of Transport to open the public purse and come to the assistance of Canadian by offering a rebate on fuel tax?

Canadian Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, this government has taken a great deal of interest in the

case of Canadian Airlines, because many of the company's employees and clients have been deeply affected by the events of the last few weeks.

I would point out to the member that 1,273 employees of Canadian Airlines International live in Quebec. I think it important for everyone that a bit of interest be shown in finding solutions to these problems.

It was therefore necessary for airline management, creditors, governments and employees to draw up together a plan that could work. This step has almost been completed. Since the Prime Minister's departure, all groups have tried to work together, except for one union. Now all the interested parties have come together with a common plan.

Canadian Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the hon. minister that what is important is that we follow the example of other countries. All the major countries in the world, including France, England and Germany-with the exception of the United States, which has a population of 300 million-have only one national airline. We are enjoying the luxury of having two. Therein lies the problem. If we really want to save jobs, we must accept a long term solution and have just one national airline.

We know that a number of airlines, besides Canadian International, are now experiencing financial difficulties. Others, like Air Canada, have made it back to the profit side of the ledger, but only after many years in the red. What criteria will his government use to decide which carriers will be entitled to the fuel tax rebate and which will not? What will be the determining factor?

Canadian Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this must be made very clear. The rebate will be offered to all airlines under the same conditions. In return, a company will have to give up substantial tax write-offs.

In other words, this could amount to payment of higher taxes to the federal and provincial governments in the future. Let me be very clear: this is an offer that will be made to all airlines.

Canadian Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to see such a medley of answers. I hope that the minister who feels moved to reply to the next question will give me the right answer, because we are moving along with the specific information given us first by the Minister of Industry and then by the Minister of Finance.

By changing the rules of the market, by subsidizing fuel, as it seems prepared to do, is the government not contravening one of the NAFTA rules, and will it not leave itself open to economic reprisals from the United States, and even from other competing companies in Canada?

Canadian Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I can confirm for the member that a tax rebate is not a subsidy according to NAFTA.

Tobacco Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Yesterday, the Minister of Health presented us with the main thrust of the tobacco legislation he plans to introduce shortly. This was a vague and fuzzy list of the measures he is planning, particularly with respect to the sponsorship of sports and cultural events on which he intends to pass regulations.

Can the minister indicate more clearly what he intends to impose in the way of restrictions on promotional material at sports and cultural events? In other words, can the Players Grand Prix, for instance, still be called that?

Tobacco Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we outlined the strategy of the Government of Canada to deal with tobacco consumption in the country. Seven major elements were outlined to the public in terms of what action we will be taking.

We have put in place some restrictions with regard to sponsorship promotion that companies will have to abide by. However, I want to indicate to my colleague opposite that we are not banning sponsorship in this country. Not at all. We have restrictions on that promotion. The details will be contained in the bill. I hope to give notice later this afternoon, with the tabling of the bill on Monday.

Tobacco Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, can the minister assure us that his bill will be more specific than his speech, and that he will not try to slip past us, as regulations, and therefore without debate, more stringent measures concerning sponsorships?

Tobacco Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, 11,000 Quebecers die each and every year as a result of tobacco consumption. As the ministry of health, we have had to show some leadership on this particular file. There is leadership but it has consequences. The consequences are that there are restrictions on sponsorship promotion. It will be regulated. We will consult with

the industry. We will consult with the various cultural groups to make sure there are workable solutions.

Make no mistake about it, there are restrictions and there are restrictions on sponsorship promotion.

Canadian Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I found the Bloc's questions rather curious. It wants only one airline per country but it wants to make this into two countries.

The government has now followed the lead of B.C. and Alberta in offering Canadian Airlines some relief on oppressive fuel taxes, but the offer may be meaningless. It is good only if Canadian's employees vote to accept the restructuring package and the government will not do anything to ensure that those employees get that chance to vote.

My question is for the Minister of Labour. Given that the government's convoluted tax rebate offer is worthless if the employees are not allowed to vote on it, when will the government take action to protect the democratic rights of Canadian's employees?

Canadian Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member's question, I am certain that he is aware of section 108 of the Canadian Labour Code. It precludes the Minister of Labour from ordering a vote in circumstances such as he has referred to.

The hon. member knows full well that the best way to ensure that workers at Canadian Airlines have the right to vote is that we continue to put public pressure on the union leadership.

However, if the hon. member is suggesting that the Government of Canada intervene in terms of legislation in order to effectuate a settlement there, he is away out of line in terms of what the collective bargaining process is all about.

Canadian Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is really interesting the minister should raise section 108.1. Yesterday the Reform labour critic placed a motion before the human resources committee asking for an immediate review of section 108.1 of the Canadian Labour Code in order to ensure the democratic rights of Canadian Airlines employees. The response to that by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour was: "Giving Canadian employees the right to vote is a waste of time for this committee". The Liberal and Bloc members then proceeded to vote against the motion.

My question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour. In the cold light of day, and after a good night's sleep, is he prepared to withdraw those unacceptable comments and support the democratic rights of Canadian employees who may lose their jobs if this government does not act?