House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.

Topics

Business Of The House

10 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, immediately after the conclusion of Private Members' Business on Tuesday, December 10, 1996, the House shall consider a motion "That this House take note of the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1998 and the importance of this declaration in the promotion of human rights both domestically and throughout the world," and that during the consideration of this motion no quorum calls or dilatory motions shall be received and that, at the end of the three hours of consideration or when no Member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, the House shall adjourn to the next sitting day.

(Motion agreed to.)

The House resumed from November 27, 1996, consideration of the motion that Bill C-62, an act concerning fisheries, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the amendment and the amendment to the amendment.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I start my speech, I think it should be pointed out that there were five minutes left for questions and comments, following the Reform member's speech. I believe the hon. member concerned is not here this morning. Therefore, I will get on with my speech.

I am pleased to address the amendment and the amendment to the amendment proposed by the Reform Party, asking that the bill be not now read a second time but that it be referred to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, so as to allow the government and members of this House to review the basis of this legislation. In our humble opinion, we in the official opposition agree with Reformers that, in its current wording, the bill does not make sense. Therefore, we will support the amendment proposed by the Reform Party.

I should remind the House of the Bloc's position. During the debate on the main motion, I mentioned three major irritants. The amendment and the amendment to the amendment proposed by the Reform party provide us with another opportunity to stress the three major irritants in this legislation.

Let me say from the outset that those main irritants relate to the management agreements referred to in clause 17. These agreements allow the minister to invite, at his discretion, classes of fishers or persons of his choice to enter into management agreements, and therefore share the wealth among themselves.

However, all this is discretionary. Fishers involved will not know the rules of the game, because the bill is silent on this issue.

The second major irritant relates to the delegation of powers. While our views may sometimes differ from those of Reformers, we should discuss them again in committee and then come back here with a proper solution.

According to the Bloc Quebecois, the delegation of authority proposed in the bill is inadequate and, more to the point, contradictory. I will explain why in a bit more detail later on.

The third irritant in the bill is the creation of fisheries tribunals, to be found in part III, I believe. In my view, these tribunals are just an excuse so the minister can set up a quasi-judicial system of administrative awards.

They say that future members of the tribunals will be appointed for three years only. At the present time, decisions are made by the regional directors of Fisheries and Oceans. What is the difference between a decision made by a regional director and an official appointed for three years by the minister? Three years is not very long to learn how to exercise one's responsibilities with diligence and transparency, and in a non-political manner.

There are other irritants, particularly concerning the environment. My colleague, the member for Laurentides, will have an opportunity to speak to this today. I must point out right off the bat

that the Bloc Quebecois sees serious problems with the provinces. The way the bill is worded, the government is giving itself new powers, or increasing those it already has. If the federal government does not like the way the provinces are managing their environment, it will be able, with this new bill, to claim that its authority takes precedence. We object to that.

I will now be more specific. I spoke about the main irritant of the management orders. I think the government is up to no good. I see that the secretary of state for agriculture, and fisheries and oceans is listening to us very attentively this morning. I will therefore take this opportunity to try to instruct government members.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

An hon. member

It will not be easy.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

No, it will not be easy, but I will try to be as clear as possible.

I will start by giving an example, and perhaps the secretary of state will understand. Last spring, the fishery helped develop an agreement in principle for the management of certain stocks.

I would remind the secretary of state that crabbers from zone 12, whom he must have heard of, participated in good faith in last spring's exercise. What happened? At the request of the former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, officials of that department worked in good faith with fishers to establish a framework agreement. It will be recalled that officials duly authorized by the former minister ratified the agreement with the crabbers in question.

When the new minister took up his duties in February 1996, he repudiated their signatures, signing the death warrant for this agreement in principle.

The secretary of state will have a chance to speak shortly.

The main thrust of this is that, when one wants to establish a partnership, first of all, if one wishes to respect the spirit of partnership-I see that the hon. member from Newfoundland understands, and is listening to me; I hope he will be speaking shortly-one must establish an atmosphere of trust. That relationship of trust has been broken. Without going into further detail, I know there is a case currently before a judge, in Moncton I believe, in which crab fishers are seeking a decision on whether the minister was justified in dumping this agreement in principle, as well as on who will have to pay the costs the industry incurred to establish this agreement.

It is immediately evident that the government took a position right from the start, by wishing to implement these partnership agreements.

An additional remark can be made here concerning the fisheries management orders. I have already referred to the discretionary powers of the minister. I have met with several fishers' associations and they are anxious to find out who can be a party to these agreements, how one becomes party to one, and what the mechanisms will be.

There is nothing in this bill to indicate how it will be done. Nothing. This is even more dangerous. Without prejudging who is entitled and who is not, let me give an example of what happens when nothing is clearly established: the social chaos this fall in Chaleur Bay. I am not challenging the right of aboriginal people to fish, but they are nonetheless a new group, a new player in the game. This is an example of what happens when no provision has been made for how a new player can be brought into the game.

Those who were already involved in this fishery were surprised. Now, what is going to happen? How will a place be made for them? And who is to say that there will not be other groups tomorrow? Because the act speaks of classes of permit holders, and it is therefore understood that this refers to people already active in the commercial fishery, and reference is made to any group of individuals, but it is all at the minister's discretion. Some of the government literature refers to partnership agreements. I repeat, when partnerships are involved, there must be an atmosphere of trust. But such trust is not there at the present time.

The minister could have a second chance, if we assume that this was an oversight, that he forgot to include the mechanisms. If we could at least have some specifics on the mechanism that will be used, once the cod fishery is resumed, to decide who will work in the fisheries, since we do not expect the cod fishery to be resumed at the same pace at which it was abandoned?

When I look at what the government is doing now, I see no indication of how this long awaited rationalization will be implemented. I saw no indication of how the core groups involved in the fisheries will be defined. I even raised this question with an official at the department where I was told: "We will let the industry take care of that". As far as the Atlantic fisheries strategy is concerned, $1.9 billion was wasted. These people were given financial support, but we thought that the government, to make the most of its $1.9 billion investment, would require an accounting of the money spent, and that there would be a deadline and a schedule. Representatives for the department told us right off the bat: "No, we left it up to the industry". So there is no obligation on fishers to define their core activity as such before a given date and to rationalize their activities accordingly. It used to be management for the short and medium term.

There is no indication of a mechanism the minister could have started using on a trial basis and then included in his legislation,

with the comment: "I tested this on a group of fishers". Nothing was done. This shows there is much that will have to go back to the drawing board.

The official opposition is prepared to go along with this exercise of informing the government. It is willing to meet the industry with members of other parties and then ensure the government listens to the industry. That is the tenor of the amendment proposed by the Reform Party. However, I wonder what members opposite who rise in the House today will have to say about this.

The clock seems to be moving very quickly this morning, and I want be sure I do not run out of time, but before discussing the other main irritant, the delegation of authority, again in the management agreements the department wants to arrange, there are other points we should not overlook. The management agreements, according to paragraph 17(d), I believe, provide that fishers who are parties to the said agreement-and this is probably what the government will want to do on a large scale-will pay their share of management fees.

As a member of the opposition, it seems to me that the sole purpose of this bill is to help the government deal with a financial problem and that the government certainly has no intention of dealing with the fundamentals of managing the industry, because it is still discretionary, but what is not discretionary is the fact that fishers will have to pay management fees.

We must not forget that the father of this bill, Brian Tobin, left a little present for the fishers before going: he increased licence fees. So in two years, we will have had two proposals affecting a group that pays taxes like anybody else. This means double taxation. That is what we said when licence fees were proposed, but I find it very sad that fishing communities are more likely to have problems with unemployment insurance.

I realize the government is taking money out of the pockets of people who may have a little more money than others if they have their own fishing vessels, but does the government realize that when it takes this money, it is taking wealth out of the community and sending it back to Ottawa? These are people who already have a high rate of unemployment in their community, and the government goes and makes money even scarcer. I find that appalling.

At the time, I proposed to Mr. Tobin, if this measure had to be introduced, and the Bloc Quebecois also advocated rationalizing the deficit like any good parent or farmer, that we have part go directly to Ottawa. If the fisher could prove he invested in his community, in order to distribute the wealth and create jobs, he would not have to remit the entire amount to Ottawa. The government did nothing. Not only did it not act, but we were told immediately that new administration fees will be charged.

There is another small point. Since we are discussing the government's invoice, there was another case pending which, I think, has been settled. There was a decision by the court and, if I am not mistaken, the federal government either tried to pass other legislation or signed contracts with fishers, but there is still no mention in the present bill of landing fees.

The federal government has already had its knuckles rapped once. I think it was in 1992. In 1994, the system was changed. They have already had their knuckles rapped for failing to provide a legal mechanism for the payment of these things. And yet, there is still no provision in this bill. It is easy to see the number of problems that have yet to be resolved.

Time is passing quickly this morning, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps with the unanimous consent of the House, I could have the five minutes for questions and comments the Reform Party did not use, since I was the first to speak this morning.

In any case, delegation of powers to the provinces is both inadequate and contradictory. There is not enough, and I hope my colleagues will discuss it some more this morning. One need only read the proposal the Government of Quebec made in Victoria in November 1994 for it to become clear. British Columbia too is asking to have its powers over fisheries management returned. They are currently negotiating. I think the negotiations are to conclude at the end of February.

Why is the federal government in such a hurry to introduce a bill like this one, given that negotiations are currently going on with British Columbia? The initial protocol provides that the agreement is not to be tabled before February.

I believe the government does not listen to itself. As evidence of the fact that this is inadequate, just look at the powers sought by the provinces and you will see how far off the mark it is.

There is also a contradiction here. In light of what I said about management agreements, if the federal government negotiates directly with fishers, or groups of fishers, regarding issues such as the number of fishing licences and traps, or who will share the wealth, what is there left to delegate to the provinces, since clause 17 takes precedence over clause 9? There will hardly be anything left to delegate. It will be a virtual delegation of powers.

I said the fisheries tribunal was a front. When people are appointed for three years only, how can they be non-partisan or not think about being re-elected or re-appointed? These people will be appointed for a period of three years, with specific directions from the minister. If they do not follow these directions, their mandate will definitely not be renewed.

Fishers are entitled to a system that is fair, a system with no strings attached. If we get such a structure, we will support the legislation.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the hon. member asking for unanimous consent of the House to complete his remarks, or did I misunderstand his point?

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I asked to have a little more time because I know there was time left over from the Reform. I still have lots of things to teach government members. If they want to listen to me-

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I will ask the question. Is there unanimous consent of the House for the hon. member to finish his speech?

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Since I heard some people say no, I cannot grant more time to the hon. member. Questions and comments.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the speech of my hon. colleague from Gaspé. Being myself a former employee of the marine fisheries branch in Gaspé, I know that the Quebec fishing industry is operating under dynamics very different from those in the west, for example, or even in the Atlantic provinces.

Fisheries are very important in concerned areas like the Gaspé peninsula, the North Shore, Magdalen Islands, all that area. They are also a small part of Quebec economy. Therefore special management is called for.

Looking at the bill, I am a little surprised because, from 1922 until 1984, there was a delegation agreement. Under that agreement, the federal government had delegated fisheries management to Quebec. In 1984, the minister of the day, Pierre De Bané, who now sits in the other place, decided-in a fit of anger, I believe-to withdraw that delegation. That shows the strength these administrative delegations have.

I would like to ask the hon. member for Gaspé whether it does not seem to him that the delegation of powers found in the bill has a needlessly complicated air about it. They want to give the provinces the power to issue permits and licences, but then, if I understand correctly, it will be the federal government that will enter into the resource management and protection agreements directly with the industry. The impression I get from this is that we will end up with the same squabbles as before, which may have been behind the withdrawal of the delegation set out in the 1922 agreement.

I would like to ask a question of my colleague from Gaspé: Does he not think that this piece of legislation will be a source of new conflict and will only feed the bureaucrats implementing it without meeting the needs of fishers, especially those in Quebec who are a little lost in the great Canadian whole as for the choices that are made?

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup understands quite well where the government is headed concerning this issue. What fishers in the province and the province itself want is complete jurisdiction over fisheries. If we are to manage this, let us manage it entirely.

As things stand now, when cod are alive, they are under federal jurisdiction. As soon as they are taken out of the water, they are under provincial jurisdiction, because fish plants and fish plant standards are a provincial matter.

Several provinces guarantee fishing boat loans themselves. When cod die, there is a change in jurisdiction, but that does not solve any of the problems of fishers or the industry.

The Quebec government demands the devolution of all those powers if it is to manage something. It has to be in charge of licence delivery, administration and fish stock preservation. Provincial demands about this make a lot of sense. We all know that the cod resource migrates. The province of Quebec alone cannot be expected to manage biological research or the assessment of the cod biomass, because cod migrate.

We demanded first the right to manage the delivery of licences. How would the remaining responsibilities be shared? If the federal government does not know how to do it, it just needs to do proceed the same way NAFO does.

NAFO, or Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization includes a number of countries, and each one of them contributes to the assessment of stocks with the co-operation of biologists and commercial fishers. This information is then compiled by a secretariat. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea even stipulates that border countries have primary responsibility for preparing and providing these assessments. If border countries do not comply, any other member state of the convention can step in.

The hon. member from Newfoundland could confirm that, in many cases, Russia has provided the biological data on the halibut stock off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. So, as you can see, shared management systems do exist.

Have you ever heard of Canada having problems with Russia in terms of fish management? No. We have had problems with Spain, yes, because that country did not want to comply with what was behind our management philosophy.

What we have to do is apply whatever models we have. What would be the impact of managing our fish stock using an approach

similar to NAFO's model? Quebec's quota would be already set. Let us not kid ourselves, around 85 per cent of all the fish caught in the Gulf come under individual quotas. That does not leave much room for negotiation.

What else would happen? We could have a system where everything from beginning to end, from the harvesting to the dinner plate, from the fishers to the consumers, would come under one jurisdiction. The government could ensure resource allocation, namely defining fishing areas and classifying fish boats.

What people have to understand is that different types of fishing boats would be needed. Because of fish migration, I could not tell you what fishing boats would have to be used.

Everyone knows full well that when the fish comes in, trawlers cannot catch it off the coast of Gaspé, so trawl lines or gill nets have to be used. And then the fish heads back for the banks, at which time trawlers can get to work, but when they catch too much fish, there is less left for those who use trawl lines or gill nets. So, if we have a given amount of fish to catch in a given time in order for the fish plants to run a profit, then we would have to find some way to strike a balance.

The problem is, if we find a way to manage the system from beginning to end, once fishers land their catch, what do we do with it? The Bloc Quebecois once suggested-and nobody was against it but this is not possible under the current system-to provide some sort of buffer zone between fishers and processors. Why? Because our main problem is that our processing plants are overspecialized. A plant that used to produce salted and dried fish had to get fish measuring at least 20 inches, so when a fisher came in with a 16-inch fish, which is still legal, they were less interested.

They should have told him: "Unload everything at the same place and we will take care of market segmentation".

What is needed is a single jurisdiction and a will to assume responsibility instead of everybody passing the buck as is the case now, as my colleague from Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup pointed out.

The delegation of powers proposed in this bill does not seem very promising, since the federal government can choose anytime to opt out and say: "Get yourself out of the mess", as it did in 1984.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

George Baker Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, after listening to the Bloc and the Reform Party, I feel compelled to say at least a few words about this bill.

The Bloc does not like the bill. The Reform Party does not like the bill. The Tories do not like the bill and the NDP does not like it. There must be something terribly right about this bill if those political parties are saying they do not like it.

It is not just those political parties which do not like the bill. It is also making international news this morning in the European press. The reason is that the European Union is claiming now that it is not going to sign a co-operation agreement with Canada because according to this story that is in the papers from Canadian Press: "According to judicial services"-now that is in the European Union-"there will be more than 14 articles with extraterritorial effects in the fisheries bill presently before the House of Commons".

Let us get this straight. The Bloc, the Reform Party, the Tories and the NDP do not like the bill. There are countries around the world that do not like the bill. Therefore one has to ask the question: What is in the bill that all of those people do not like? I will tell the House what it is.

This bill before the House today is a historic piece of legislation. It is one of the best pieces of legislation ever to be brought before the Parliament of Canada. The first historic piece of legislation brought before the Canadian House of Commons was in 1977 and the fisheries minister at the time was also a Liberal, the hon. Romeo Leblanc. A lot of people today still talk about that fisheries minister as being such a great minister. He brought in a piece of legislation that created an exclusive fishing zone in Canada.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Winnipeg—St. James, MB

He is our commander in chief, is he not?

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

George Baker Gander—Grand Falls, NL

That is right. He is presently the governor general. In fact some fishermen have commented that they wish that orders in council would actually come from the governor general because they appreciated those orders so much when he was the fisheries minister.

That piece of legislation unilaterally declared a 200 mile exclusive fishing zone in Canada. That is not the same as the exclusive economic zones, the EEZs, in other nations of the world. This was a unilateral action by Canada to save the fishing resource. That was in 1977.

When was the next piece of legislation that really broke new territory on behalf of the fishery in Canada? From 1977 until 1996 we had 10 years of Tory rule and not one piece of legislation was passed by this Chamber which we could call a historic piece of legislation.

Then we come to the year 1996. Again under a Liberal administration, this time under the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who is the member from the historic riding of Bonavista-Trinity-Conception, legislation was brought in to do what the other nations have done. Instead of the exclusive fishing zone, we have declared an exclusive economic zone for Canada so that Canada can be a

part of the team of nations around the world that are trying to save the fisheries. We would have identical legislation.

Today this bill is truly a historic piece of legislation. Why is that? It is for the very reason that countries in Europe do not like the legislation. It is for the very reason that some countries in Europe, and yes the United States and quite a few other countries are objecting to this bill. The reason is that it gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans unusual powers to seize foreign fishing vessels which are fishing illegally, according to what the Canadian government is declaring, on the high seas adjacent to Canada's territorial zone.

When the opposition parties complain and say that this bill gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans too much power, they have to realize that we either have to do it or we do not do it. We have to give the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the power to do things which are unusual under international law in order to save the fishery of Canada.

In Europe they are saying there are 14 articles which have extraterritorial effects. I have looked through this bill in the last 15 minutes trying to find those articles. I found some of them. One of the articles for example will allow the government in the future when an offence has been committed to seize a vessel that is owned by the same company that owned the vessel that committed the offence.

Let us say we had a fishing nation which violated the rules on bycatch in the NAFO zone which the hon. member was talking about.

What is a bycatch? A fisherman once defined it as a catch you accidentally catch when you're trying to catch another catch. It means that some fishermen use the bycatch rule of 10 per cent to catch more than 10 per cent of what they are allowed to catch.

Suppose the records of that vessel reach Canada after the fact. The vessel is gone. The skipper probably will not be seen in Canadian waters again and no charges under the present law can be brought against the company that owned the vessel. Under this bill Canada can now seize a vessel that belongs to the same company from the same foreign nation that committed the offence to satisfy a judgment.

An internal audit was done when the Tories were in power in 1985. It showed many cases of bribery, of money being exchanged, money being put in people's mailboxes to try to buy influence with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans by these foreign captains. A fisheries officials in one case found $25,000 in a mailbox. He immediately reported it to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Fisheries and Oceans knew who did it but they could not charge that fishing captain because he did not show up in Canadian waters again.

Under this legislation DFO will now be able to seize another vessel that belongs to that company from the foreign nation to satisfy the judgment.

I do not know the entire 14 articles to which the European Union is objecting, but one to which it is objecting is this. Under the bill the Canadian government will be able to bring charges against a stateless vessel on the high seas that is in a management zone of the northwest fishing organization to which the hon. member from the Bloc referred a few moments ago.

If a vessel from the United States of American-and we have them-constantly violates the fishing agreements entered into with countries that belong to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, charges cannot be brought against the American vessel because the U.S. does not belong to the organization. Under this bill we will be able to do that. There is a whole section on stateless vessels.

These are some of the things that the Bloc and Reform Party should be standing up and saying: "What a marvellous piece of legislation. Canada will be the first nation in the world to put some real teeth into enforcement to try to save the fishery" because the fishery needs to be saved. I think everybody would agree with that.

In the past, prior to 1993, Tory governments gave quotas to foreign nations. In the fall of 1979 Russia received a quota of 100,000 tonnes of capelin, the food of the cod fish. That Tory administration gave it a 100,000 tonne quota for 1980, thereby giving the Russians a higher quota of capelin than the entire Canadian fleet has ever caught in its entire history and then you wonder what happened to the fishery.

In 1985, 1986 and 1987 when fishermen were telling the politicians that there was a problem in the fishery the administration in power here in Ottawa continued to give out foreign licences. The Tories turned their backs and looked the other way when all the dragging was going on. They even encouraged it.

The hon. member from the Bloc represents an area of Quebec that has the best spawning area in the world for mackerel. The Tory administration actually gave Norway and Sweden licences for mackerel in Canadian waters which would stop the mackerel on their way to the spawning grounds at the end of May.

The Tory government, in the mid to latter part of the 1980s, gave licences to Cuba, Japan, Russia, to five fleets to catch another food of the cod, the squid, off the province of Nova Scotia. Can anyone imagine that?

For the Government of Canada to constantly say that it does not know if it is going to harm the cod fishery if it gives licences for fishing the food of the cod, it should know that the squid that were once in abundance on the coast of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, have disappeared. Why did they disappear? It was not Canadians who made them disappear. It was not Canadians who made the capelin disappear either.

They disappeared because of the foreign nations fishing in Canadian waters with licences given by the Tory administration in Ottawa. The squid come up in a narrow line. They are born in Florida, live for only one year and then go back. They know where to go. They die in Florida at the end of the year. However, the circle they make goes up the east coast of Canada in a thin line. Fishermen refer to it as the trans-Canada highway of squid.

Lo and behold, the previous Tory government gave licences to the Japanese, the Cubans and the Russians to block that passage of squid every single year in the 1980s. That is why we had no squid in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland.

As well, the Tories gave licences for all the fish we do not even think about here like argentine. They also gave licenses for another fish, a scrawny thing with a big swelled head, which reminds me of some of the politicians across the way. They gave licences for every species of fish in our waters and they gave them to foreigners.

Today these opposition parties should be standing up and congratulating the government by saying that this is the best news they have heard since the depletion of the cod fishery. Perhaps it is the single best piece of legislation that could ever be brought before the House of Commons, to be able to arrest stateless vessels that fly no flags and vessels on what is called the high seas outside of Canada's zone.

We need legislation to be able to govern what happens on the high seas, just as we need it when it comes to the attachment of wages act. Certain people in our society are excluded from the attachment of their wages. One of them is somebody who is on the high seas or somebody who is a seaman and another one is somebody in a foreign embassy. However, the government is bringing in legislation so that child support payments and so on can be retrieved from these people. Here is another piece of legislation which will grant the government powers on the high seas.

To conclude, the Bloc is against it, the Reform is against it, the NDP is against it and the Tories are against it. All of these nations quoted by Canadian Press are against it because those nations do not want to have their gigantic, huge draggers stopped around the Canadian coastline from ruining our fishery.

It is a historic day and a historic piece of legislation. Once again it has been brought in by a Liberal administration, the third such piece of legislation we have had in the past 20 years.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, as always I was very interested to hear the words of my hon. friend. I appreciate the work he does on this issue.

However, as he was speaking he held up a copy of the Fisheries Act amendments and it was plain to see the thickness of that document. There is a lot in that document that goes well beyond what the member was talking about.

We support the idea that Canada should play a much stronger role in managing the fishery in international waters where they affect Canadians and Canadian fishermen. I certainly agree with many of the remarks the member made about the Tories. However, we have all heard the expression: "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water". I am suggesting that with this bill Canadian fishermen and the Canadian people are going to be asked to drink a lot of stinking, rotten bath water to see a baby and that is not acceptable. There is a lot in this bill that is not acceptable and goes well beyond what this member was talking about.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

George Baker Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, I do not know. I did not see anything about dish water or anything like that in the legislation. I have sifted through it for about 15 minutes. I certainly do not see anything there. I suppose the hon. member is talking about the powers that are given to tribunals on each coast.

However, we have not heard the other side of that argument. Under this legislation some decisions are put directly in the hands of those people who are affected by the policies of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I do not see anything wrong with that. The government should have done that a long time ago.

Overriding all of that is the point that the government is being criticized by many nations today because of this legislation, as per the Canadian Press articles.

This is a great day for Canadian fishermen because the government is finally putting its foot down, putting some teeth in the legislation. The Reform Party and the Bloc should be standing up and saying: "This is a great day. We are going to just cut off debate on this and put it through in one day".

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleagues, I know you want to ask questions. Maybe we will be able to hear them after question period.

It being 11 o'clock p.m., the House will now proceed to statements by members.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Georgette Sheridan Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak out against violence against women. Less than a decade ago this act was met with snickers in this House.

It is not so today, in part because of the greater number of women who now are represented in Parliament. But it is also because of the many women who refuse to remain silent any longer; groups like Saskatoon's December Memorial Committee, a collective of concerned women and women's groups who recognize that silence allows the violence to continue and who organized "Speaking Out: A Portrait Violence", a two-week awareness program designed to educate and increase public awareness through community events.

I commend the committee for its "Speaking Out" event, a memorial to the tragedy at École Polytechnique, but also a public forum in a safe environment for the survivors of violence to speak out their stories through art, music and words.

The power of their creative works and words brings our society one step closer to zero tolerance of violence against Canada's women and children.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Maurice Godin Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this national day of remembrance and action on violence against women, it is with sadness that we remember the tragic event at École Polytechnique in Montreal in which 14 young women lost their lives.

That event has deeply marked the collective memory of Quebecers and Canadians. It compels us to think of the actions we must take to counter violence against women.

Too often, men use their physical strength to force women to accept their points of view. We must act on ingrained prejudices which perpetuate the inequality of women at home and in the community. Mentalities are changing but not fast enough. We must act in our families and in our communities to make sure that women always feel safe everywhere.

We must say no, loud and clear, to violence against women. From now on, it is zero tolerance.

Impaired Driving
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is the national day of remembrance and action on violence against women. One of the greatest sources of violence against women, families and society is drunk driving.

Therefore I ask all hon. members to support Motion No. 78 from the member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley to strengthen penalties in the Criminal Code that deal with impaired driving offences. This would deter others and make penalties reflect the seriousness of this crime.

Representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving were here in Ottawa recently. Their executive director told my office: "All the polls we have done say this government has not been proactive on the whole issue of impaired driving".

Yearly over four times more people are killed by drunk drivers than are murdered. Yet this government enacted compulsory gun registration against law-abiding gun owners while it refused to pass Bill C-201 which would have sent drunk drivers who kill to jail for seven years. I urge this government to get its priorities straight and stop drunk driving.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, today in communities across Canada, men, women and children are gathering to remember the horrific events which occurred seven years ago at l'École Polytechnique in Montreal. On that December 6, 14 bright young women lost their lives in a senseless act of violence. In my community of London, Ontario there are several events planned to mark this anniversary and to remember all women who suffer violence.

We must help to end the violence with better understanding and education through governmental and non-governmental assistance. We must also do our part as legislators to pass relevant legislative measures.

I commend those who strive every day not only to reduce violence against women but who work with the victims of violence including the husbands, wives, children, siblings and friends who also become victimized, sometimes to the extent that later in life cycles of violence are repeated.

One day a year is set aside to recognize Canada's national day of remembrance and action on violence against women. Today the flag on the Peace Tower is flying at half mast. I strongly urge every Canadian-

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Nepean.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, 7 years ago 14 bright, promising young women experienced hell on earth. Their crime? They were women. Their sentence was death. As I speak, other Canadian women are experiencing the horror of violence and intimidation.

The only fitting tribute to the slain women of l'École Polytechnique and to all victims of violence is to stop the violence and to say never again. Much is being done and I applaud those working with abused women and children. Services like those offered by the Nepean Community Resource Centre in my Ontario riding are providing counselling, outreach and services for children who witness violence. Those services strive to undo the damage.

Eliminating violence requires a commitment from all individuals. We must reject the stereotyping of women. The media must stop its glorification of violence and legislators at every level must enact laws to better protect our citizens. Canadians must unite against those who wreak death and terror. We must stand up and say never again.

Dr. Charles Huggins
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

John Murphy Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an exceptional doctor and an outstanding Canadian, Dr. Charles Huggins.

During his career Dr. Huggins was a leader in the field of cancer research. His accomplishments provided a stimulus for future developments in chemotherapy. It was 30 years ago, in 1966, that Dr. Huggins received the Nobel prize for his work in cancer research. Dr. Huggins developed the first non-radioactive, non-toxic chemical treatment for cancer. Prior to receiving this award, only one other surgeon had ever received the Nobel prize.

Dr. Huggins spent most of his working life in the United States but he is a native of Nova Scotia and a graduate of Acadia University in my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants. As well, he is past chancellor of that university.

I ask all members of the House to join me in recognizing the efforts this exceptional Canadian.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this national day of remembrance and action on violence against women, I would first like to address the families and loved ones of the 14 young women killed on December 6, 1989 at the École Polytechnique. All of Quebec and Canada continues to mourn your loss with you.

Such a tragedy must never again be allowed to happen. So that all women can live in safety, not only must we remember the violence experienced by thousands of women every day, but we must also demonstrate a genuine political will to help ensure respect for the integrity of women.

In addition to community action and court challenges, the fight to end violence against women must be added to the political agenda. The safety of 50 per cent of the population concerns everyone. It is up to us to act, and act now.

Taxation
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Allan Kerpan Moose Jaw—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, recently one of my Reform colleagues introduced a private member's bill extending the child care tax deduction. The key is that the deduction would be converted to a refundable tax credit which would benefit those parents who choose to care for their own children.

Presently a tax deduction can be received if someone else cares for your children but not if you choose to stay home and raise them yourself. As usual, the Liberal government refused to support the bill.

Its solution to helping families cope with the stresses of the nineties is to implement a national day care strategy, a new $700 million bureaucracy. I can well imagine the chaos a program like this will create for families in rural Saskatchewan and indeed in rural Canada.

We all know that an institution is no substitute for the family. In fact, in a Maclean's poll last year, 70 per cent of Canadian families said that if they had the choice they would prefer to have one parent stay home with the children.

Our children are our future and no costly bureaucracy can serve as a replacement for an economically stable and happy family.

Manpower Training
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Ben Serré Timiskaming—French-River, ON

Mr. Speaker, today our government will sign an historic agreement with Alberta, showing that we are keeping our promises to renew federalism.

From the date this agreement takes effect, Alberta will be responsible for all active job measures and job training generally.

In addition, we are continuing to negotiate with the other provinces, and are hopeful that agreements can be signed with them in short order. Our government has set aside a budget of approximately $2 billion to implement this new system.

In our view, what is important is that Canadian workers have access to the best training services possible. Quebec shares this objective with us, and we are certain that we will arrive at an agreement in the very near future.

[English]

Liberal Government
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a recent poll conducted by Angus Reid, 59 per cent of Canadians surveyed gave the federal government positive marks for its performance in terms of honesty and ethics. This is in sharp contrast to the legacy left by the previous Tory administration which, save two members now in the House, was wiped out in the last federal election. The people cannot be fooled.

It is comforting to know that despite the meanspirited smear campaign orchestrated by members of the Tory old guard in the Senate, people across this great country say the federal Liberal government is doing an honest job.

The Tories in the other place can sling all the mud they like, but the people of Canada see clearly through their thinly veiled, nasty political trickery.

This government has an impeccably ethical record of accomplishment. I know it, you know it and the Canadian people know it.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, Parliament has designated December 6 as Canada's national day of remembrance and action on violence against women. All this day, from dawn to dusk, the flag on the Peace Tower will hang at half mast. Throughout Quebec and Canada, community organizations are involved in programs to fight violence against women.

I would like to bring attention today to the exceptional commitment shown by Le Carrefour des femmes de Lachute, which has developed a number of projects. For instance, the "Colombe noire", the black dove, commemorates the names of women who have lost their lives at the hands of a man.

Their group Vision Plus bolsters women's feelings of security. They also have a therapeutic support group, Liber-Ailes, to help women survivors of incest or other forms of sexual assault.

I salute all of these people for the responsibilities they are shouldering in connection with violence against women.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, as today is Canada's national day of remembrance and action on violence against women, I rise today in the House of Commons to offer courage and support to all those who merit recognition on this day.

Women deserve to feel that they are safe in their homes, at work, at school, on the street and in their communities. Women want a country where they can look to the future instead of over their shoulders. Most important, women who are victims of violence want their rights as law-abiding Canadian citizens to be put ahead of those of the criminals.

I assure the House that a Reform government would provide women with safer streets and safer homes and would enact a victims bill of rights that would put the rights of law-abiding women ahead of those of their offenders.

That is not only a fresh start for Canadians, that is a fresh start for women.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we remember the many women who have suffered violence in their lives we must also recognize our duty toward them.

Through my community work I have been directly involved with victims of domestic violence. I have seen firsthand the devastation caused by violence.

Fifty-one per cent of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. The serious economic, health and social consequences of this violence to individuals, families and society are unacceptable.

The estimated annual cost of $4.2 billion does not even begin to measure the psychological and human costs of violence against women.

Aggressive action is needed now. The justice system must be strengthened and preventive measures such as raising public awareness and funding community based projects must be imple-

mented to stop the scourge of violence that is sweeping across Canada.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, December 6 marks the national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.

Today we honour the memory of the 14 young women who were slain at Montreal's École Polytechnique.

We continue to observe this day because violence against women is still a fact of life in communities across Canada. We know that over half the women in our country have been the object of violence, be it physical, sexual, psychological, financial or spiritual.

Last year there were over 85,000 admissions of abused women and their dependant children to transition houses across the country. Women who are subjected to and suffer long periods of violence often end up with long term health problems. Their physical and mental injuries affect them, their families and their communities.

The cost of violence relating to health and well-being is over $1.5 billion per year.

The next generation of Canadians needs us to build the foundation for a violence free Canada. Violence is totally unacceptable.

Let us all work together to eliminate violence, not only against women, but all violence, wherever present.

Copyright Legislation
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, here we have it. The Liberal government is bringing in copyright amendments under Bill C-32. It is going to be putting on a tape levy so that everybody who purchases a tape will be considered guilty before they can prove themselves innocent. Churches are concerned about this. Authors and composers who use tapes in their work are concerned about this.

Under neighbouring rights we are going to be seeing a levy placed on radio stations. They will no longer be competitive with the U.S. stations across the border. By the way, on both the tape levy and on neighbouring rights we can guarantee that there will be a U.S. attack.

Historians and genealogists are not having their balance concerning being able to go after documents in libraries as compared to the rights of authors and composers.

In addition to that, we now have rumours of committee by exhaustion.

The heritage minister is out of control. The Bill C-32 process is out of control. Why does the government not just take it back to the drafting board and make things right?

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, every year, the memories of the death of the Polytechnique students remind us of how blind and insidious violence is. Every year, the memory of their deaths reminds us that we are all both victims and accomplices to such violence.

Victims, because violence is beginning to rule our lives and shape our behaviour. Accomplices, because of our silence, our lack of courage to speak out against it, and our reluctance to take steps to fight it.

More than ever before, we must join together against this violence. On behalf of the victims and their families, I am making an urgent appeal to Conservative and Reform members to give up their pro-firearm lobbying and to support our gun control bill.

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister.

It has been clearly established that women with a family income of less than $15,000 are twice as likely to suffer physical abuse as women in the general population. In a document establishing the link between violence against women and poverty, the government said that unfortunately, the circumstances of women seemed to be getting worse. Governments are cutting budgets, reducing social programs and eliminating a number of programs and services that help low income women, men and children who are exposed to violence. These changes will probably lead to more poverty and more violence. And once again, women will be the worst off.

Will the Government of Canada admit that by slashing its social programs to the tune of nearly $5 billion by 1998, it is going too far and that instead of helping women, it is making matters worse?

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite is right to be concerned about violence against women, as we all are.

However, these accusations against the government are unfair. The hon. member must know that the new system of pensions for the elderly provide nine persons out of ten who live alone, and we know most of them are women, with benefits that are far more generous than under the old system. This is one example of the government's plans to ensure that women living below the poverty line will be better off under the system we intend to implement.

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was referring to a government document and to figures that appeared in the government's budget. These are not accusations, these are facts.

I will continue. In the same document, the government said that as a society, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help women get out of the vicious circle of poverty and violence. This means they must be given adequate resources in terms of child care, housing, training, social assistance benefits, and so forth.

Since the federal government recognizes the link between women's poverty and violence against women, why it is cutting social programs by $5 billion? Why does the government insist on reducing its deficit at the expense of the neediest in our society, the majority of whom are women?

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is exactly the other way around. For instance, and I am following up on what my colleague said, the new old age benefit announced in the last budget is intended to deal with the concerns raised in the report.

Seventy-five per cent of elderly persons will benefit under the new system. Benefits will be the same or exceed those now received by the elderly. We announced an increase for those receiving the annual $120 supplement, because we too are concerned about the problem of violence against women, especially older women.

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were treated to another minister, but the same answer. I agree that the measure that was announced is a good one. We did not say all the measures were bad. But it is rather odd we could find only one this morning. Two ministers for the same measure. Two ministers for the same answer.

In the press release announcing the international day of remembrance and action on violence against women, the Secretary of State responsible for the Status of Women said that she hoped that Canadians would renew their commitment to prevent violence.

Does the Secretary of State or anyone in this government realize this statement is contradicted by the decisions the government has been making?

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, once again, the hon. member is making accusations. He must be aware of all the measures initiated by our government to deal with violence against women.

The Minister of Finance has just described a number of social reforms that will be beneficial.

I would also like to remind the House of the amendments to Bill C-72 concerning self-induced intoxication used as a defence in cases of assault, especially against women. Amendments were also made to Bill C-68 concerning firearms and to the Criminal Code through Bill C-42. I could also mention sentencing reform and the review of the Criminal Code.

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

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

Last December, the Supreme Court of Canada allowed persons charged with sexual assault access to the medical and psychological files of their victims. As the result of this decision, a lot of women will now refuse to lodge a complaint for fear of finding themselves in the prisoner's dock.

Given the Minister of Justice's promise to act quickly in this matter to protect victims of sexual assault, could he explain the delay in having legislative measures passed to ensure fair and equitable trials?

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my hon. friend on behalf the Minister of Justice that this continues to be a priority which engages the minister's attention. He is very conscious of the findings of the supreme court on this matter. Certainly action will be forthcoming before too long.

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the government is favourably disposed, I will test its sincerity.

Over two years ago, the justice committee proposed that the provisions for the Criminal Code on obscenity be amended to prevent the exploitation and glorification of horror, cruelty and violence in all its forms.

How does the government justify the fact that no bill has yet been tabled to deal with this problem?

Status Of Women
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this is something of importance to the government. I think it is clear to people serving in this House that the Minister of Justice on

behalf of this government has had a very heavy legislative program in the area of justice reform, particularly matters of concern to women.

Chief among them is the new Firearms Control Act. This was a major priority. With this act being adopted, we are well on our way to having the most effective gun control system in the world. This is important to prevent violence against Canadians generally but particularly against women.

I thought I heard some grumbling from members of the Reform Party. I wish they would listen to what has been said in the House this morning and change their narrow-minded position and give support to this measure if they are sincere in their wish to fight against family violence, particularly violence against women.

Employment
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada announced today to nobody's surprise that the unemployment rate for November was stuck at 10 per cent.

For the benefit of the Minister of Finance who seems to love creating lists, here is a list for him created by three years of Liberal government: 1.5 million Canadians unemployed; a youth jobless rate of over 17 per cent; two to three million Canadians underemployed; and 25 per cent of all Canadians worried about losing their jobs. So much for the Liberal promise of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Why will the finance minister not create real jobs by balancing the budget, lowering taxes in this country and making government smaller?

Employment
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, over the course of the last year, over 200,000 new jobs have been created in the private sector. Quite clearly one should look at the tendency over a longer period of time. There were 7,000 new jobs created as was announced by Statistics Canada this morning.

It is the overall job creation that is by far most important. When we look at the G-7 countries, outside of the United States, Canada this year and last year has created more jobs than any other G-7 country. This is as a result of the economic climate created by this government and the desire and the ambitions of Canadians for which we should all be proud.

Employment
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Minister of Finance is aware that if we compare Canada with what other countries are doing, perhaps we do look good. The fact is we should be considering where Canada could be if we had a responsible government running the country. Let us compare it to where we could be.

The association of Certified General Accountants has said that we could create 108,000 new jobs if the Liberal government would lower taxes by only $4 billion. Just think of the jobs we could create if the government took the Reform Party's lead and lowered taxes by $15 billion. It is obvious that the Liberals' approach is not working because jobs are scarce in this country.

I ask the minister again: Why will he not create real jobs by balancing the budget and lowering taxes?

Employment
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is pretty clear that the hon. member opposite has not had the opportunity to read the full CGA report which he has just cited.

Reform members say that they want a faster deficit reduction. They are advocating slash and burn policies. In the CGA report the accountants have suggested slower deficit reduction than what we are engaging in. Furthermore, if I might quote from the CGA report: "To give credit where credit is due, two years ago we could not have even considered entering into this debate on a tax reduction". What the CGA is saying is that it is the policies not of the Reform Party but of the Liberal government that are giving us the success in cleaning up the balance sheet and allowing us to have the debate which we are now engaged in.

Employment
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian people are not going to be fooled and the Reform Party is not going to be fooled.

We know that the only reason the deficit figures are looking good is that the Liberal government has wrenched out of the pockets of Canadians an extra $25 billion in increased taxes which the Liberals have raised 35 times since they have been in office. As a matter of fact they have only lowered taxes, lowered the deficit, lowered spending by about $3 billion. If you have an endless money tree you can shake down any time, any deficit can look good.

The minister can bluster all he wants about what the Liberal government is doing but I ask the minister: Why has the Liberal government and the minister failed to deliver on what Canadians are asking for: lower taxes; real, long lasting, good paying jobs, not part time jobs to replace the full time jobs that they are losing; and a balanced budget? That is what is really needed. When is the finance minister going to listen to Canadians and do the right thing?

Employment
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately again the hon. member's facts are wrong. If we look at the 200,000 jobs that have been created this year, the vast majority are full time, permanent jobs.

Most economists, for instance Rosenberg from Nesbitt Burns has said that as a result of the low interest rate policies of this

government, over $5 billion of new purchasing power has been put into the pockets of Canadians. If the hon. member refuses to fully read reports of outside advisers, perhaps he might look at what his own party has said.

In its 1995 taxpayers budget, the Reform Party advocated a slash and burn course and then went on to say: "Under the Reform's taxpayer budget the short term employment impact of spending and deficit reduction is negative but manageable". What is manageable: the loss of 30,000 jobs, the loss of 50,000 jobs, the loss of 100,000 jobs? That is what Reform has advocated. We are creating jobs.

Illegal Immigrants
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General.

A few weeks ago, we learned about the smuggling of illegal immigrants from Hong Kong. This morning, we learned about the smuggling of illegal immigrants, this time from Iran through the Netherlands. This smuggling is said to have allowed the illegal entry into Canada of 4,000 Iranians, and to be operated by a very well organized network with connections in Canada.

What serious and effective steps does the Solicitor General intend to take in order to stop this smuggling of illegal immigrants and reduce the number of people illegally entering Canada?

Illegal Immigrants
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the situation of immigrant smuggling is of serious concern to the government and certainly to the RCMP. It is a worldwide phenomenon and all countries are working to develop effective means of dealing with this problem.

The RCMP is giving priority to dealing with the situation. More money was appropriated in recent estimates to assist the RCMP in working on this problem. I can assure my hon. friend that the RCMP is working closely with other governments to deal with the situation. Dealing with it continues to be a priority.

Illegal Immigrants
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, only one RCMP officer handles this case. The Dutch authorities themselves said they were surprised that there was only one RCMP officer investigating such an important matter, when they themselves had assigned more than 30 police officers to work on it.

Does the Solicitor General appreciate that by downplaying such important matters, police authorities are in fact penalizing all legal immigrants, who will suffer the direct and indirect repercussions of these illegal entries?

Illegal Immigrants
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my hon. friend that the RCMP is working closely with foreign governments, including the government of Holland to combat immigrant smuggling problems. This will continue because we agree it is a serious problem that deserves the high attention and priority of our police authorities. This is the case now and it will continue to be the case.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government is about to announce its plan to fight child poverty.

We all agree that families are suffering. Under this government unemployment is chronically at 10 per cent, personal bankruptcies have hit record levels, and the average family income has shrunk by an incredible $3,000.

The finance minister says he is committed to fighting family poverty. Why will he not adopt Reform's plan to take at least one million of Canada's working poor completely off the tax rolls?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is incumbent upon the Reform Party to put the full impact of its program before the Canadian people and before the House.

While Reform advocates a tax cut, that tax cut will only come well down the peace and substantially two to three years after the Reform Party has in fact cut the Canadian health and social transfer, cut equalization payments, after it has cut the basic social programs upon which those very Canadians rely. It is simply not reasonable or an accurate representation of the facts for the Reform to stand in the House and talk about a tax cut when what they would do would be to impose an unbearable financial burden upon low income Canadians.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are talking here about the difference between this government's policy of taxing people whether they are poor or not and leaving their earnings in their own hands.

Let me tell the truth about the Reform Party's plan. A single parent on social assistance with two children will have $1,300 more per year. A single parent earning $22,000 would get to keep an additional $200 each month and would keep that away from the tax man. Two parents making $35,000 would have their taxes reduced by $2,800 per year.

This country is in trouble when we have a finance minister who cannot understand how wrong it is to tax the poor. Why is the minister refusing to give poor parents tax relief so that they can provide for their children with pride and independence without having to rely on government handouts?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that is not what the Reform Party is suggesting.

The Reform Party has said that its very first act will be to cut $3.5 billion in welfare payments. At the same time Reform has said that none of its positive programs will come in for years after it has in fact devastated the social fabric. That is the basis of the Reform program.

In last year's budget the government doubled the working income supplement. That helps poor Canadians. In last year's budget the Minister of Justice and myself announced a tremendously reformed set of social programs for families with a custodial parent who is having difficulty.

If we look at the caregivers credit and every single measure of our budget, they were all directed to helping low income Canadians. The only question that comes up is: Why did the Reform Party vote against every one of them?

Zaire
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

Yesterday, the Canadian government chose to give up its leadership regarding a humanitarian mission to eastern Zaire. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the crisis had shifted to inside Rwanda where the problem now was the resettlement of refugees returning home. For his part, the defence minister announced yesterday the cancellation of the Canadian-led mission and questioned whether last week's highly publicized plan to air drop food would go ahead.

Are we to understand that the Canadian government has given up on eastern Zaire where, according to the UN envoy, some 300,000 refugees are still trapped, to concentrate its efforts solely on the resettlement of refugees who are returning to Rwanda?

Zaire
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the member knows fully well that nobody said yesterday that we were going to cancel the humanitarian mission in Zaire and Central Africa.

What we said is that military developments in that area are being monitored by a steering group made up of representatives from countries belonging to the coalition. General Baril is assessing and will continue to assess the situation in the field.

There is no doubt that the situation has evolved dramatically. Canada did not go there on a unilateral basis, and will not leave on a unilateral basis. What is happening over there is based on assessments made by all parties involved in the mission, and who are party to the agreement reached a few weeks ago as a result of the Canadian Prime Minister's initiative.

The sad thing in all this is that the hon. member does not seem to realize that the huge success we encountered over there resulted in the unprecedented return home of over 700,000 refugees from Zaire to Rwanda, without any casualty or endangering troops in the field.

Zaire
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of claiming, as the defence minister did yesterday and as he is doing again today, that Canada played a major role as a catalyst in the return of refugees and that the whole process was a phenomenal success, will the minister admit that if he really wants to show some leadership, he should convene an international conference to find some permanent solutions to the conflicts in the great lakes region?

Zaire
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, I announced yesterday, and I even personally handed over to my colleague across the way the press release in question, that next Friday there will be a conference in Kigali where we will offer help to all the countries in the great lakes region.

We will offer food aid as well as other forms of assistance like justice reform and reconciliation measures for those people affected by the conflicts in that region.

I am happy that the member raised the question, but this is already being done. The conference has been convened for next Friday in Kigali, under the chairmanship of Canada.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence has apparently lost some $200 million in equipment through the foreign military sales program. Audits show that it has used the program as a year end slush fund and that it cannot account for millions of dollars in missiles and torpedoes and other mission sensitive equipment.

This incompetence has been going on for 15 years. Can the minister explain why no action has been taken to rectify this waste and mismanagement at the Department of National Defence?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I do not accept the statement by the hon. member that $200 million has

been wasted and that nobody knows where missiles and other types of military matériel might be.

What I do agree with, however, in the context of the question put by my hon. friend, is that there have been some questions raised about the way this fund has been managed over many years because of the requirement of the American government with respect to the acquisition of military matériel from the United States.

An internal audit is being conducted. Unless he and the House of Commons, to whom we are accountable, are thoroughly satisfied with the results of that audit, we will take whatever measures are appropriate.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is no comfort to the Canadian taxpayer. The Department of National Defence has lost $200 million of taxpayers' money. Nothing has been done to rectify this problem which has been going on for 15 years.

The audit notes show that the problems have continued all the way through 1996, including today. The department knows full well about this mismanagement of taxpayers' money and has refused to take any action.

Will the minister immediately request that the Auditor General of Canada conduct a complete audit on the foreign military sales program and report back to the House before the Minister of Finance tables the next budget?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member refers to documentation that he has in his possession. In the interests of trying to do the best thing, and in the interests of the Canadian taxpayers, I would appreciate receiving copies of that information. I am sure the hon. member will have no difficulty in providing us that.

With respect to the internal audit to which I referred, it is ongoing.

In response to the final part of his question, with respect to the Auditor General of Canada, I have already had a discussion with the auditor general with respect to this matter.

Information Technology
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

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

In his recent report to the House, the auditor general noted that of the four information technology projects audited this year, with a total budget of three billion dollars, three are experiencing major problems while the fourth one will probably be significantly late.

In the case of the Canadian automated air traffic system or CAATS, how can the minister explain that renegotiation of the contract by his department resulted in a $217 million increase, and for less service?

Information Technology
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is quite correct in pointing out that in the history of the CASS program, the computer program he is talking about, which I might add is a very sophisticated program dealing with aerial navigation, not only have there been changes to the program put forward by Hughes, but also cost overruns.

This is a matter of considerable regret and concern to the government. We have done everything that we possibly can to try to ensure that we get best value for that contract. I must point out to him, although the Reform Party does not appear to want to hear the facts on this situation, that when entering a contracting situation for the development of future technology from a corporation such as the Hughes Aircraft, it is not possible to take the same approach as buying a can of soup on the shelf of a store. A certain amount of discussion must take place back and forth as the development takes place and as the scientists and computer technicians develop the technology that you may wish to put in place.

Information Technology
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is quite a difference between what the minister is saying today in the House and what his department told the auditor general, as noted in the auditor general's report.

Does the minister not agree that by giving biased information to the auditor general, maintaining that renegotiation of the contract did not lead to any substantial increase in cost, despite a real increase of $217 million, his department was trying to hide from Canada and Quebec taxpayers its poor management of the project?

Information Technology
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the imagination of the hon. member is impressive but not realistic. When developing new technology for highly sophisticated navigational systems, the contract must be flexible to some degree. In some instances you may be paying substantially less than expected if progress is better than anticipated beforehand. Sometimes you may find yourself having to accept less or pay more. We were in that situation.

I assure him, as he has made reference to the auditor general, that the auditor general received all that information. But I should point

out that we simply cannot compare the purchasing of technology which has not yet been developed, not yet in existence, with the purchase of some other product off the shelf of a supermarket. It is simply not possible to have the same approach.

Inevitably, situations will arise where the development takes a lot more time or costs a lot more money than people-before they know what they are really into in that regard-anticipate.

Oc Transpo
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Carleton—Gloucester, ON

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

The residents of Canada's national capital region and surrounding areas will soon be suffering through a third week of a municipal bus strike. It is snowing and it is cold out there. People are trying to get to work. Students are trying to pursue their educations. Seniors are imprisoned in their homes and cannot get to medical appointments. Merchants are suffering and the unemployed cannot get around to find jobs.

Does the Minister of Labour intend to intervene in this bus strike in order to break the impasse between OC Transpo and the union?

Oc Transpo
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Saint-Léonard
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Labour Code, which governs the talks between the transport commission of the Ottawa-Carleton area and its union provides for the free collective bargaining process.

Both parties asked me to appoint a mediator which I did immediately. I urged both parties, union and management, but I especially urged the transport commission to use the mediator's services in order to find a settlement to this dispute. Then the people of the region would have the transportation service they need and want.

I hope both parties acknowledge this is the only way to solve disputes. Go to the negotiation table and seriously negotiate. If in the next few days that goodwill appears at the negotiation table then I am sure there will be a settlement.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it has been reported that in the three years the government has been in power, 5,000 illegal immigrants have been smuggled into Canada from the Netherlands. Dutch police have expressed their surprise at the reluctance of the Canadian officials to do anything about this situation.

I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, what if anything is the government planning to do to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into Canada?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Beaches—Woodbine
Ontario

Liberal

Maria Minna Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Lib.

Mr. Speaker, it is very important to mention that Canada has a longstanding commitment to bilateral endeavours with several nations in the area of illegal migration. Canada has been working with such officials to uncover and investigate the smuggling ring. Our co-operation in this matter is continuing.

Canadian interdiction activities have resulted in a 50 per cent decrease in the number of improperly documented arrivals at Canadian airports since 1990. There is a great deal of activity in the department to deal with this issue and it is quite successful.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, talk is cheap. What Canadians want is action.

In April, immigration officers arrested a man for smuggling four Chinese refugee claimants into Vancouver airport. When the case went to court, the smuggler received a sentence of one day in jail. One day in jail is not going to be a deterrent for anybody in the multibillion dollar industry of trafficking of people.

I ask the parliamentary secretary if the government is prepared to introduce tough new penalties that would deter these criminals from trafficking in human beings?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Beaches—Woodbine
Ontario

Liberal

Maria Minna Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Lib.

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the individual received jail it is obvious that we have very strong legislation-

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

One day in jail?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Nonetheless the individual will be deported and not be allowed to stay in this country. Bill C-44 deals very clearly with that issue, something which the opposition did not support.

As I said before, the RCMP have very strong relations with police abroad. In this case, which the hon. member has cited, by working together with the Dutch officials we have uncovered this issue and it is being dealt with. The system is working. When people are caught they are deported. The system we have in place is very effective.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the finance minister said in this House, and I quote:

"When someone leaves the country, it is quite likely the tax is not due, since the item in question was never sold; so there is no capital gains tax".

His motion tabled on October 2 indicated that, when assets are transferred out of the country, there is deemed disposition. The capital gain must be calculated and the tax is payable.

My question is quite simple, it is a Taxation 101 question. Yes or no, does a transfer of assets out of the country cause a disposition and thus the calculation of the capital gain on which a tax is to be paid?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, a capital gain is realized when the item in question is sold. That having been said, since we have the right to tax residents, we want to ensure that someone who is a resident and who becomes a non-resident pays us the tax when it is due. The tax is determined when the emigrant leaves the country.

If the emigrant did not sell the item, this is treated the same way as if someone had something to sell in the country, that is, when it is sold, the tax is payable, except that it is determined when the emigrant leaves the country. That is where we ask for the security.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I now realize that the minister tables ways and means motions and related documents without knowing what they contain. It is incredible to hear such things.

Thus, according to the minister, there is no disposition when a rich taxpayer transfers his assets out of the country. However, the motion he tabled on October 2 said, and I quote once again: "When there is a transfer of trusts out of the country, we ask for a security that is sufficient to pay for any tax due through the deemed disposition". This is exactly the opposite of what the minister just said. This is incredible.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has the flu, so I also understand this is sometimes hard to follow.

The member just explained the exact situation. The tax is determined when the emigrant leaves the country. The capital gain taxable in Canada is the difference between the purchase price and the value when the emigrant leaves the country. The gain is realized when the item in question is sold, which is the same as when this happens in the country.

Communications
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, a former CRTC chairman stated that Canadians that rely on direct to home satellite service from the United States would not be prosecuted for violating CRTC regulations.

Recent media reports indicate that maybe officials are getting ready to prosecute those persons whose only crime appears to be that there is no Canadian provider of those satellite services.

Will the Minister of Industry give his assurance to the House and the people of Canada that until companies in Canada start providing DTH services that Canadians who receive U.S. signals will not be charged with an offence.

Communications
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I think he understands that it is very important that we distinguish between the black market in this trade and the grey market.

It is an offence to tamper with the equipment that enables people to acquire signals from satellites without paying for them. That is the black market. In the cases that have been reported in the newspapers it has been a case of the RCMP endeavouring to enforce the law in respect of the black market.

With respect to the grey market generally speaking, consumers will acquire a system through an intermediary that orders the direct to home service from an address in the United States and they pay indirectly for that service. It is not our intention to take any legal action against those subscribers.

I would like to make sure that they understand that they do not have the ability to ensure that the service will continue to be delivered to them. In fact, they may be at peril of losing a fairly substantial investment of $1,000 to $1,500 in the equipment because there is no way to ensure that the American service provider will continue to provide them with service.

Communications
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister will be aware that the reason for the grey market is that there are no Canadian providers. The reason there is no Canadian service is because of CRTC regulations, an over abundance of regulations and hurdles that these companies have to go through.

What will the government do to clear away the obstacles and the red tape that prevent Canadian companies from fulfilling the market that is there, ready and waiting?

Communications
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will be pleased to know that at least one

Canadian provider expects to be offering a service in the very near future.

In addition, the hon. member will know that we launched a request for submissions to the private sector in the hope that on a fast track we will have a proposal by December 15 to establish a Canadian direct to home satellite service in the Canadian satellite slot.

The hon. member will also know that if we are to have a Canadian service we need to be able to ensure that the service is up and running. To do that it is necessary for us to ensure that there is respect for the law and that the licensing laws in Canada are applied.

He will know that a Canadian service provider would not be licensed to provide direct to home service in the United States. I am sure for that reason he would not encourage us to permit U.S. service providers to provide service in Canada.

Violence Against Women
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister assisting the important work of the Secretary of State for the Status of Women.

Today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. I would like to know how the government has responded to the calls to end violence against women and how the government is marking this important day.

Violence Against Women
Oral Question Period

Noon

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the government I would like to recognize the significance of this very important day.

The attacks of seven years ago at l'École Polytechnique shook all Canadians.

Today the secretary of state is in Vancouver holding a round table against commercial sexual exploitation of children, the majority of whom, of course, are girls. It is a form of violence that strikes the most vulnerable.

Our government has introduced gun control legislation, legislation against criminal harassment and we have supported women's programs and shelters. We have accomplished a great deal.

I recognize that this is a societal problems and all men have to be interested in this issue of violence against women, in large measure perpetrated by men.

Employment Equity
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Saint-Léonard
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) and to section 9 of the Employment Equity Act, 1986, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Employment Equity Act annual report.

Pursuant to Standing Order 32(5), this report is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development.

Taxpayer Information
Routine Proceedings

Noon

London West
Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the report on the security incident concerning taxpayer information found in surplus filing cabinets.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

Noon

London West
Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to eight petitions.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present. The first one has 313 signatures and the other has 250, most from the city of Nepean.

The petitioners believe that there are profound inadequacies in the sentencing practices concerning individuals convicted of impaired driving charges and that Canada must embrace the philosophy of zero tolerance toward individuals who drive while impaired by alcohol.

The petitioners request that Parliament proceed immediately with amendments to the Criminal Code that will ensure that the sentence given to anyone convicted of causing death by driving

while impaired carries a minimum sentence of 7 years and a maximum of 14 years.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition has signatures from 25 people. These people are concerned that there continue to exist over 30,000 nuclear weapons on the earth and that the continuing existence of nuclear weapons poses a threat to the health and survival of human civilization and the global environment.

They ask that Parliament support the immediate initiation, by the year 2000, of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have to petitions to present today.

The first comes from Hamilton, Ontario. The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that our police and firefighters place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they serve the emergency needs of all Canadians.

They also state that in many cases the families of officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty are often left without sufficient financial means to meet their obligations.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund to receive gifts and bequests for the benefit of families of police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition comes from Calgary, Alberta.

The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to assist families that choose to provide care in the home for preschool children, the disabled, the chronically ill or the aged.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition today by residents from all over Alberta.

The petitioners ask the government to remove the taxation on reading material. The petitioners believe that the application of the 7 per cent GST to reading material is unfair and wrong. Education and literacy are critical to the development of our country and a regressive tax on reading material hampers that development.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of some of my constituents in Beaches-Woodbine I present a petition asking the federal government to honour its commitment outlined in the red book committing itself to quality and accessible child care.

The petitioners state this commitment to family and children can be met by recognizing that child care is an infrastructure program that allows parents to work toward their goals of economic independence. As a social infrastructure program, the petitioners would like the government to provide highways to social, economic and developmental growth to thousands of Canadians both young and old.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

London West
Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: Question No. 93.

Question No. 93-

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Delta, BC

What dams or other obstructions has BC Hydro erected on rivers in British Columbia and what has been the effect of each obstruction on the life-cycle of the various species of salmon?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans DFO, records, there are at present 33 existing dams and diversions built and operated by B.C. Hydro in the province. These are as follows. In the Columbia Region: Mica Project, Revelstoke Project, Keenleyside Project, Seven Mile Project, Walter Hardman Project, Whatshan Project, Spillimacheen Project, Aberfeldie Project, Elko Project, Duncan Project, Kootenay Canal Project.

Northern B.C.: WAC Bennett Dam and GM Shrum Generating Stations, Peace Canyon Project, Falls River Project, Clayton Falls Project.

Fraser River and Lower Mainland: Shuswap Falls Project, LaJoie Project, Bridge River Project, Seton Project, Wahleach Project, Stave Falls Project, Ruskin Project, Coquitlam Project, Buntzen Project, Alouette Project, Cheakamus Project, Clowhom Project.

Vancouver Island: Strathcona Project, Ladore Project, John Hart Project, Puntledge Project, Ash River Project, Jordan River Project.

The potential effects of flow control on fish and fish habitat include effects on productivity and water quality in reservoirs and effects on habitat quantity and quality, benthic productivity, water quality and fish behaviour downstream of release facilities. A list of the potential impacts of hydro dams and diversions on salmon is given below.

Physical Change

Upstream

Drawdown -reduced littoral productivity -reduced littoral spawning success -reduced tributary access -reduced water quality

Impoundment -reduced dissolved oxygen -settling of suspended sediment

Downstream

Reduced flow -reduced habitat quantity -altered water temperature

Inadequate flushing flow -accumulation of fine sediments in gravel substrate -changes in stream morphology

Increased flows -scouring of substrates -physical displacement of fish -destabilization of stream banks

Rapid flow fluctuation -displacement and stranding of fish and exposure of eggs

Flow diversion -disruption of fish homing to natal streams

Altered temperature -altered habitat quality regime -altered benthic productivity

Altered water quality -altered benthic productivity

Elevated total gas -injury or death of fish due to gaspressure bubble disease

The majority of B.C. Hydro projects were undertaken many years ago. At that time, potential impacts of facility operations on fish and fish habitat at a specific site were often not fully known owing to limited knowledge of the fisheries resources at risk at that site. Furthermore, in today's context, fish and fish habitat are often impacted by B.C. Hydro's management of its day to day operations. For example, flow constraints imposed at one plant for fisheries protection may have a system-wide effect, for example, block loading at one plant may increase load fluctuations at another plant, or result in even greater impacts at another facility. This is why it is important for DFO to work with B.C. Hydro to attempt to maximize benefits to fisheries from hydro operations.

In June 1993, the B.C. government directed B.C. Hydro to undertake a review to determine the feasibility of altering its electric generation system, operations to increase net social and environmental benefits to the province. The provincial government liaison committee, responsible for implementing the recommendations stemming from this review, established a fish power issue management committee on which DFO has representation. This committee in turn has established a technical working group which is reviewing B.C. Hydro water licences for facilities located on 10 priority watersheds in coastal and southern interior B.C., all of which support salmon. All 88 B.C. Hydro water licences will be reviewed within the next 3 years.

Through its participation on these committees and working groups, DFO is working to have fisheries protection measures incorporated into B.C. Hydro water licences. An example of recent fisheries/hydro interactions was the resolution of the low flow issue on Alouette River. Stakeholder negotiations involving federal and provincial agencies, First Nations, B.C. Hydro and public advisory groups resulted in a flow agreement based on scientifically defensible information and a socioeconomic model.

Despite such co-operative work, fish-power conflicts continue to arise in B.C. DFO will continue to work with B.C. Hydro to minimize these events but will nevertheless take action where appropriate, as is evident with the current Fisheries Act prosecutions for events occurring on the Bridge River in 1992 and 1993.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-62, an act respecting fisheries, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment and amendment to the amendment.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Five minutes were promised to hon. member for Gaspé for questions and comments, but this seems to be impossible as the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls is not in the House.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would still like to make a comment.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Agreed.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls will be very interested in the comment I have to make following his speech.

There are two points in my comment. The hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls argued that the Bloc and the Reform Party were against such a nice bill which, according to him, is protecting us against the bad countries which come to fish our straddling stocks. The hon. member said that we, in the Bloc, are against that, which is not true.

I hope he will respond to this because the Bloc Quebecois immediately offered its support when Brian Tobin, who was then

fisheries minister, wanted to introduce a bill protecting these straddling stocks and allowing us to use force if necessary. The Bloc Quebecois agreed; it was a historic moment. The secretary of state for agriculture and fisheries was present at the time. The Bloc Quebecois agreed to go through the three stages of that bill in one day. Is the use of such common sense not a sign of co-operation?

Is there any common sense in this bill? That is the question. We proved to you that we are willing to support any sensible initiative, but this is not the case.

I have a second comment. The hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls has been sitting in this House for 20 or 25 years maybe and has seen a lot of governments-both Conservative and Liberal-come and go. There were changes in government in his own province, with the Tories and the Grits taking turns, but despite all his whining a moment ago, he never once said to us that somewhere in this bill, the federal government is protecting his own province.

Where in the bill does it say that the Newfoundland fisheries minister will have a say in ensuring that Canada and the fisheries minister protect the stocks adequately? Nowhere. Nowhere is it mentioned in the bill.

How often did Clyde Wells, the Liberal Premier of Newfoundland, come to Ottawa to say to then fisheries minister Crosbie, a Conservative, that foreign overfishing had to be stopped? There was no official link, the federal Minister of Fisheries had no obligation whatsoever to listen to his provincial counterpart.

What happened? Things dragged out. What did it take for the government to finally introduce legislation against overfishing? Maybe a combination of circumstances. There was Mr. Tobin, a Liberal minister from Newfoundland, and there was also a provincial Liberal government, under the leadership of Clyde Wells. As a member of the Bloc, I myself said that this bill made perfect sense and that we would vote for it.

Where does it say the Government of Newfoundland will have a say? Things will not always be as they are today. Imagine that the Conservatives are back in office or that we have a Reform government. Who knows what can happen? Do you think that the Newfoundland fisheries minister would see eye to eye with a Reform Prime Minister? We in the Bloc do not wish to form the government. The rest of Canada will be on its own.

Think about a way of allowing the provinces to be heard. Newfoundland is surrounded by sea. Newfoundland must have a say; the central government must not be the only one to decide.

As a responsible parliamentarian, the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls must ensure that, next time, this government will introduce measures protecting his province.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Because the member for Gaspé was promised a few more minutes by the Chair, he was allowed to speak for five more minutes.

As every member knows, the member who made the comments that triggered this reply was not in the House. Usually, one cannot speak if the member who made the comments is not in his or her seat.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to tell my colleague, the hon. member for Gaspé, that I agree with many of the things he said about our colleague, the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls-

-who is taking great advantage of blaming everything that is happening on the Conservatives while he is reluctant for the Liberals to take any blame for what has happened in the fisheries.

The government has put before the House Bill C-62, the fisheries act. This legislation will radically change the management of the fishery as we have known it for over 150 years. If passed, Bill C-62 would give the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans unlimited discretion to carve up the public fishery into private and exclusive fisheries. That is bad news.

The bill contains no requirement for any publication of private or exclusive fisheries agreements. There would be no guidelines on who might be the recipient of these agreements. The private fishing agreements can override any regulation governing the public fishery made by the governor in council, that is, the cabinet.

These fishing agreements would be similar to the aboriginal fishing agreements that the government currently enters into with native bands under its aboriginal fishery strategy. We heard nothing about that from the member for Gander-Grand Falls.

Under this bill the minister would be given unlimited discretion to make his own regulations and to organize the fishery by ministerial decrees or orders. These ministerial orders could override a condition of a licence. The bill would give the minister the power to take away the historic common law public right to fish in exchange for a privilege dependent on the whim of the minister.

The government would be able to transfer its constitutional responsibilities for fisheries management, enforcement, and habitat protection to the provinces without coming back to seek the consent of this Parliament.

The government views this new legislation as a political necessity following three decisions of the supreme court last August. The court held that British Columbia natives do not have a constitutional right to a separate commercial salmon fishery. The

decisions exposed the native only commercial fishery arrangements undertaken by the government as a fraud.

In the past the public was assured that the government had been required to establish the separate fishery by the courts. There is now greater awareness that the present Fisheries Act does not give the government authority to establish a native only commercial fishery. The government has been operating outside the law.

Without the new powers in the bill, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would probably be unable to operate a separate native commercial fishery. The government would also have to admit that the criticism levelled by fishermen against this separate native only commercial fishery was correct.

The bill would give unlimited discretionary power to the minister to regulate the fishery, to enter into private fishing agreements, to transfer control to the provinces but without any accountability, without yardsticks with which to evaluate what the government is doing.

A new fisheries act ought to deal with the real problems in the fishery, not simply make life easier for the government. It ought to solve problems, not create new ones. It ought to respect the law, not try to get around the law.

Let me remind the government of some issues that Bill C-62 ought to have addressed. John Fraser, a respected former Speaker, in his study of the mismanagement of the salmon fishery on the Fraser River in 1994 identified problems with fisheries and oceans. Then the government in the spring of 1995 undertook to implement all 35 recommendations from Mr. Fraser.

A study undertaken in the spring of this year by DFO evaluated the department's success in implementing Fraser's recommendations. Let me read directly from the study. DFO's own study speaks eloquently of the department's failure. One of Fraser's recommendations was:

That DFO retain and exercise its constitutional responsibilities and not in any way abrogate its stewardship of resources under federal jurisdiction. Conservation must be the primary objective of both fisheries managers and all others participating in the fishery. That conservation must prevail throughout and be adhered to by all.

The evaluation study instead found that "stock-specific conservation of the Fraser River sockeye is threatened. DFO cannot hope to succeed without a clear vision of what it is trying to achieve". It stated: "The first requirement therefore is an explicit definition of conservation". It also stated: "There can be no conservation of Fraser sockeye salmon in the long run without equivalent care and protection for habitat on which fish stocks rely".

Bill C-62 does not contain any definition of conservation and Bill C-62 weakens habit protection. Bill C-62 would allow the government to transfer to the provinces responsibilities for habitat protection, the very opposite of what Fraser recommended.

Let me go on with Mr. Fraser's recommendations: "That DFO and the Pacific Salmon Commission"-of which we heard nothing from the member from Gander-"adopt a risk aversion management strategy because of the great uncertainty on stock estimates, in season catch estimates and environmental problems". The evaluation study undertaken this year by DFO under contract found: "A risk averse strategy has not yet been developed. We found that DFO's actions were not the result of an explicit, well defined averse management strategy but rather were a response to the unprecedented events of the 1995 fishery".

Therefore we can conclude that Bill C-62 does not contain any requirement for risk averse management of the fishery or even a definition, totally contrary to what was recommended in the Fraser report. Let us take another recommendation of Mr. Fraser's:

DFO develop better co-ordinated inter-party communications among its staff and between staff and the Pacific Salmon Commission, First Nations, commercial and recreational fishing groups, with a greater degree of co-operation aimed at enhanced in season management and post season evaluation, and at fostering working arrangements among all parties-

So much for the recommendation by Mr. Fraser. The evaluation study found: "Tensions between DFO and the Pacific Salmon Commission persist particularly with respect to the free flow of data. This is true of integration with both ocean fisheries and in river aboriginal fisheries".

We conclude that Bill C-62 does not contain any requirement that there be a free flow of scientific data between DFO and the salmon commission. In fact Bill C-62 would continue to leave the openings for aboriginal fisheries outside the commission. There is only one set of fish and there cannot be two competing organizations managing it in isolation from one another.

Bill C-62 would give the minister unlimited authority to sign such agreements but without any recognition of Fraser's recommendation. Let me cite another recommendation from Mr. Fraser:

That the Canadian section of the Fraser River Panel be vested with responsibility for in season management for Fraser River sockeye and pink salmon fisheries in Canadian waters beyond the current Pacific Salmon Commission convention area. Further, to facilitate communications and understanding between DFO and PSC of the in season run and stock size estimates, a member of the DFO stock assessment division be assigned to work closely with PSC during planning, estimation and evaluation of run estimating procedures.

Instead, after that recommendation the evaluation study found that there are still problems in the integration of DFO and Pacific Salmon Commission activities particularly with respect to the transfer of information. The evaluation study found that based on numerous interviews with DFO staff and industry reps, it is clear

that certain difficulties still face the integration of panel fisheries and non-panel fisheries.

The evaluation study found instead: "We understand from both parties, DFO and PSC, that relations between the two organizations have been somewhat strained in recent years-effective communication and co-operation between the two are essential to conservation and good management of Fraser sockeye", that is Fraser River sockeye. "Whether the problems arise from politics or personalities, immediate action is required to ensure effective communications and co-ordination between DFO and PSC".

Bill C-62 ignores this problem. Because it is a structural problem involving two separate organizations each operating under its own statutes, specific recognition of this problem in the bill would have gone a long way to solving it. Ignoring this longstanding west coast problem will not make it go away. Unfortunately it guarantees that it will be with us indefinitely.

Let us look at another Fraser report recommendation:

That an independent Pacific fisheries conservation council be established to act as a public watchdog for the fishery, to report to ministers and the public annually and from time to time as is appropriate.

What did the evaluation study find with regard to that recommendation? It found to date that DFO has not developed an annual review process as recommended in the Fraser report. It found that the consolidated annual review process such as was called for has not yet been implemented.

The Fraser commission made a whole series of recommendations. Fraser is a well-respected man. The evaluation study, which went hard on its heels, has virtually ignored many or most of the recommendations.

Bill C-62 as a bill is good news, but only for the minister of fisheries. To the fish, fishers and people of Canada it is bad news. The Reform Party cannot in any way support Bill C-62.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan for bearing witness to the fact that the speeches are now 10 minutes and there are no further questions or comments.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to speak to Bill C-62, on fisheries, which the minister repeatedly called the bill of the century. For his part, the critic for the Bloc said that the bill of the century was rather a botched job.

Why do we, from the Bloc, say that this bill is a botched job? Simply because it is not what the industry requires. It will allow all kind of activities and will leave the door wide open to patronage. I think that instead of helping the individuals and companies the minister said he intended to help, the bill will greatly complicate matters for them.

The Bloc thinks that there are three major flaws in Bill C-62. The first one concerns the provisions which allow the minister to choose the fisheries management agreements partners. It is obvious that the minister is giving himself all the leeway he needs to decide whom he will be dealing with, who will be making the decisions.

It is clear that the industry itself never wanted the minister or his top civil servants to make the decisions; lately, it has been seen that ministers are not very knowledgeable about their own departments. We have seen that, at present, top public servants, and even junior public servants, are calling the shots. At least that is the impression left by the answers given in this Chamber. So, those public servants will make the decisions instead of the people from the industry who would have liked to be heard and play a leading role in shaping the important decisions that are badly needed to improve the fisheries.

I repeat that we are not against legislation that would modernize and improve the situation of the fishers. In fact, that is what we are waiting for. But the minister's approach is wrong.

Therefore, the first major flaw of the bill is the discretionary power the minister wants, to choose the partners with whom he will make the important decisions for the future of fisheries.

The other major flaw is the devolution, which is certainly inadequate and inconsistent. The federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans wants to transfer powers to the provinces, but he still controls the levers.

There is a major inconsistency since, on the one hand, the minister transfers to the provinces the authority to issue licences while, on the other hand, he wants to negotiate agreements on the management and protection of resources directly with industry stakeholders without the provinces being involved in the discussions.

That must be it, when we hear in every throne speech, year after year, that the federal government is a flexible government. Yes, the federal government is flexible as long as the other parties co-operate. That is the kind of flexibility it means.

This bill is quite simple, generally speaking. The federal government could prove its flexibility by giving the provinces more jurisdiction and authority, but this bill shows that the right hand of the government does not know what the left hand is doing.

My third point-and it is an important one-concerns the establishment of fisheries tribunals. This is only a front for the minister, and I would even dare say a real haven of patronage. Now, why should I focus on this? As you know, I am justice critic, and it is from this angle that I have looked at clause 65 and the clauses

that follow dealing with the establishment per se of the fisheries tribunals.

We understand that this was a response to certain difficulties being experienced by the department. However, there are two major problems with establishing these tribunals, and a look at Bill C-62 will show us what they are.

If we look at clause 65 in part III, administrative sanctions, the immediate conclusion is that these tribunals will be administrative in nature. If we are talking about administrative tribunals, the conclusion is that there will be decisions made that include administrative sanctions, with fines that can be very heavy. The Atlantic Fisheries Tribunal and the Pacific Fisheries Tribunal do have an area of jurisdiction.

Clause 69 sets out members' terms of office:

(1) The members of a Tribunal shall be appointed to hold office during good behaviour for a term not exceeding three years, but may be removed by the Governor in Council at any time for cause.

(2) A member may be re-appointed to a Tribunal.

A three year term is not that long, especially when we know that the minister will be laying down the ground rules. He will proceed the way he wants, often without Parliament's knowledge. He will establish regulations, and the people in the fisheries tribunals will enforce them. Three years is not a long term of office. The bill may well say that it cannot be exceeded, but if these people want their career to go on a little longer than three years, they are much better advised to dance to the minister's tune.

Everyone understands that, and I think that, on this three year criterion alone, it is contrary to paragraph 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I also wonder about the appointment of these tribunal members. Who will decide on appointments?

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Friends of the party.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

The members across the way have the nerve to tell me that it will be friends of the party. Yes, that is who it will be. I am glad to hear it from the benches across the aisle. Yes, the minister will appoint friends of the party. It is true, that is Liberal party patronage for you.

In addition, the friends of the party who will be appointed to this administrative tribunal will not even need to have legal background.

The only requirement is some ability in the areas of fish stocks or administration. In areas of such importance, legal training should have been a minimum requirement. I think this is extremely important given the administrative sanction that will be applied to people in the fishing industry.

This indicates the government's approach with the bill. They start off with fine principles, as we have often seen. They shake a lot of things up, they create great smoke screens and, in the end, little changes. Unfortunately, this government has a false front.

We have seen it on a number of occasions involving lobby groups and justice matters. I am the justice critic. The government makes grand speeches, great discourse on violence, against dangerous criminals, against this and against that. Why? For the voters. It sells well.

Things are not any different with the fisheries bill. I hear a Liberal member saying they never do that. He admits they do petty politicking in such a case. It is unacceptable, particularly on the part of the secretary in this matter.

We could have reached a consensus with the community, because it wanted changes. But no. The Liberal government, the minister, the minister's secretary were up to petty politics, as always, for their personal gain and their own political ambitions and not for the industry. This is why we will vote against the bill.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, in my remarks I want to respond to some of the comments which the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls made this morning in debate.

The member is, of course, quite right when he talks about the foreign overfishing that has taken place in Canadian waters and just outside Canadian waters which affects Canadian fish stocks.

He is quite right when he notes that it was the Conservative government between 1984 and 1992 which dramatically increased, by agreement, the amount of foreign fishing in Canadian waters.

I do not refer to these amendments as being amendments to the Fisheries Act. I know that is how the government treats them. However, if we look at the bill, it will create a new act. It replaces the old act almost entirely.

There are, indeed, some aspects of the bill which are good. The problem, and it is the same problem we have with many pieces of government legislation, is that buried in among the parts of the legislation which we can support are many aspects of the legislation that we find totally reprehensible. Therefore we have to decline our support for the entire piece of legislation.

I hope that members who feel strongly about foreign fishing in Canadian waters and outside Canadian territorial waters, which affects Canada's fish stocks, will understand that what we are

saying is that the entire bill is so comprehensive and so far reaching in its impacts that we cannot support it. I am going to go through the main reasons, in the limited time I have, to discuss why we cannot support the bill.

There are problems in almost every fishery in Canada today. There are some fisheries that, thankfully, do not experience very many problems or any serious problems at the present time. However, they are the exception and not the rule.

Whether Pacific salmon, Atlantic groundfish or lobster, most of the fisheries in Canada are having problems of one sort of another and some are very serious problems.

In 1992-93 the government had to declare a moratorium on groundfish and cod in Atlantic Canada. We heard scientists talking about environmental conditions, seal populations and so on, but the raw fact is those stocks were overfished and overfished habitually and regularly for many years.

Why were they overfished? In essence the decision making with respect to catch limits, who could actually have a licence and how the resource was going to be managed was basically driven by politics, not by science and not by sound business principles. It was driven by politics and of course the results are obvious.

I remember clearly watching the former minister of fisheries and oceans under the Conservative government, Mr. Crosbie, in a press conference in Newfoundland. He was sitting surrounded by DFO officials and he said: "We are hearing some scientific evidence that is suggesting that we should reduce our quotas and reduce the harvest rates on cod. But we are not prepared to make those kinds of decisions because there are too many people who are depending on this fishery for their jobs and their livelihood. We think the scientific evidence is not strong enough and therefore we are just going to allow the current catch rates to continue". And they did. They fished it right into the ground.

Yes, there may have been some environmental conditions which added to the problem. Yes, there may have been some problems with respect to seals which added to the problem but the seals were not the main problem and the environment was not the main problem. Those stocks were fished into oblivion. There remains the question today of whether those stocks are going to rejuvenate over time.

There is some indication and a ray of hope that some of these stocks are starting to rebound as we speak and have been for the last couple of years since the moratorium was imposed. That is some stocks, but not all of them. Even the ones that have improved have improved only marginally. There are not massive increases in recruitment, massive increases in stock levels. There has been some minor improvement and in some cases an improvement that is encouraging for all who depend on the fishery.

The main problem is that politics has driven the decision making process. It has been the same whether it has been a Tory government or a Liberal government; it has been political decision making.

For example, we have the FRCC now saying that there is a minor improvement in stock levels. There is some hope that these stocks are going to come back. We have a discussion taking place this fall as to whether the cod fishery in Newfoundland, the upper St. Lawrence River and Bay of Fundy is going to be reopened next year for a limited commercial harvest.

Frankly, while I can understand that the FRCC would like to have more and better information with respect to stocks, and that is part of the reason it is recommending a very limited opening, in my view it is a major mistake for the government to look at any kind of a commercial harvest under the present circumstances. I am very concerned that we are going to have a decision from the minister very soon suggesting that is exactly what we are going to see next year.

We have to get away from politics driving the decision making process. This bill does not address any of the problems that I talked about. It is going to give the minister much more power than he has at the present time. The underlying reason for that is that the minister wants to make more political decisions and not less.

The minister wants to be able to enter into agreements with individual groups and organizations for access to fish stocks on an exclusionary basis. That is something we have never seen in Canada before. We know that the underlying reason for it is that the government is trying to justify the aboriginal fishing strategy in British Columbia. We know there is no constitutional or legal support for the pilot sales aspect of the aboriginal fishing strategy, which is what the government is trying to protect.

With the recent court decisions that were made this year, the government has absolutely no foundation whatsoever to maintain an aboriginal fishing strategy and the pilot sales aspect of it in British Columbia. However, it appears intent on doing that and it is looking to this legislation to lend support to that decision.

I see that my time is up. We will be dealing with this matter further in debate.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the other Speaker.

I would like to congratulate the new Speaker of the House for his temporary promotion.

Of course, like my colleagues, I will be speaking against Bill C-62. It is rather strange that we are discussing a fisheries management bill at this moment, when it should have been done a long time ago. The existing act dates back to 1867, and the Bloc Quebecois is certainly not against the idea of modernizing it. What we are against is the way it is being done, particularly the excessive centralization that is evident in this bill.

I will start by saying a few words about the environmental aspect of this legislation because I have to admit that, before entering the political scene, I was a unionist and I had the opportunity to work with several environmental and social groups. It is sad to see that 100 or maybe 150 years after the adoption of the first act, we are facing a situation where our fish stocks are in a deplorable state. I think the ocean, particularly on the east coast, has been emptied. Even with the various attempts made to modernize the act, we are realizing that it is now the ocean on the west coast that is being emptied.

Therefore, it is important to have massive consultations with as many stakeholders as possible-and the provinces play a crucial role in this debate-if we are to rectify the situation and to ensure the recovery of our fish stocks, which we think are in the process of being completely destroyed.

Why are we saying there is excessive centralization? The heart of the problem can be found in clause 17.

It says that Her Majesty, in right of Canada, represented by the minister, may enter into a fisheries management agreement with any organization that, in the opinion of the minister-and the problem lies in these words: "in the opinion of the Minister"-is representative of a class of persons or holders.

Therefore the minister, surrounded by an array of officials, is the one who will decide, in the east as well as in the west, wherever there is jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have been delegated to provinces, namely freshwater fisheries. The minister could at any time decide to withdraw this delegation. This, as we know, could create problems, but the minister holds all the cards. I believe that the way the bill is drafted, it sidelines provinces and some extremely important groups.

As honourable members know, I am the Indian affairs critic for my party. I believe there is a major problem with native fisheries and this bill does nothing to solve it.

We have just received the report of a royal commission of inquiry which lasted five years. Last week, this commission, created by the Conservatives, presented a 4,000 page plus report and 400 recommendations. Some of those recommendations deal with native fisheries. Nowhere in the bill does it say that the minister must consult natives. He will, only if, "in his opinion" it is justified.

The danger lies not only in the centralization but in the possibility that the minister could play political games with his decisions. Several people have already mentioned this. The minister could play political games. I will speak about Restigouche later, as an example.

First of all, I want to explain how natives negotiate. Negotiations are very important to them. In fact, when Europeans got here, natives already had their own governments, their own political system, their own justice system. Most decisions were reached by consensus.

Of course, that required much longer discussions. With a majority, you tend to say: Look here, we can cut the debate short, since the majority will win out in any case. I must say that the government realized it could do so a long time ago. We were gagged several times. Of course, it is hard to reach a consensus in this House. However, the government regularly brings forward some motions to gag the opposition. We are far from having lengthy discussions to try to improve bills, explain our positions and reach some kind of compromise. Unfortunately, the government gags the opposition a bit too often. That is not the natives' approach. They were always striving for a consensus.

We see that, under this bill, not only can provinces be excluded, but natives are excluded as well. The minister can set out classes of licence holders or fishers on his own initiative. One day, he could say that it does not include natives, and the next day, for political reasons, he could say that he is including natives and will ensure that their rights are upheld, as was done in Restigouche.

Unfortunately, this bill does not provide for a negotiation process. Once again, a minister, using his authority with his officials, may impose a procedure, a way of setting limits and issuing permits. The minister is allowed to do anything he wants without consulting the provinces and groups concerned.

As you can understand, as the opposition critic on Indian affairs, after such a meaty report as the one tabled last week, I think the minister falls far short of the goal of seeking a consensus, of holding extensive discussions, of ensuring the effective preservation of our fish stocks. When several parties agree on something, it is a lot easier to implement the decision than if the minister decided to impose his own vision despite the opposition of Quebec or another province or of native people.

That is what happened in Restigouche. Everything was improvised. The Micmac and other native people in Restigouche made a decision to resume subsistence fishing. As you know, the Supreme Court of Canada makes a distinction between subsistence fishing for aboriginal people and commercial fishing. The issue of subsistence fishing is quite clear and precise, and there are specific rules

on that. When preservation is not in jeopardy, there is no problem with giving priority to subsistence fishing by aboriginal people.

The problem in Restigouche is precisely that stocks are at risk, and there has been a lot of improvising on the part of the department. It is trying to impose its way of doing things, probably for political reasons. There are disagreements over this. Aboriginal people maintain they have the right to fish for subsistence; those who already have licences say that stocks are endangered and that more fishing licences should not be issued because stocks will be depleted.

Finally, we realize that the minister missed an opportunity to include a mechanism for negotiating. It would have been easy to say it must not just be "in his opinion", but, rather, that he must automatically and officially consult the provinces, interested parties-such as the native peoples-and licence holders. It would be a way of requiring basic agreement with a majority involved in order to have a chance of success.

Unfortunately this is not the case with the bill before us. The minister simply wants to impose his authority on everyone else, and this bill allows him to do so.

I would therefore like to make a suggestion. Obviously, we cannot vote in favour of the bill at second reading. Obviously this bill will be sent to a committee. I think the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans should consult his colleague the minister of Indian affairs to see if matters can be arranged.

I hope our representatives and colleagues on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans will make this a concern. The provinces consider it vital the government provide for consultation in its bill. Consultation with the provinces should be almost mandatory.

When interest groups, including the provinces, are involved, I think we might succeed. I hope fish stocks will be restored to the level they were 100 years ago.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I stand to speak on Bill C-62, the new fisheries act.

A strange thing is happening in this bill. It contains provisions in clauses 17 to 22 designed to abrogate the public right of access to the fishery. This seems strange. This right for the public has been around since the Magna Carta in 1215. The bill will empower the minister, the crown, without notice to the public, to grant the private right to fish for commercial or sport purposes to any group currently in political favour.

This is something that cannot be done legally under the present Fisheries Act. The present act is based on the premise that the fishery is a public resource to which all Canadians, not just a select few Canadians, are entitled to equal access.

I have to wonder if the minister and the members opposite understand what equal access means. I look at many decisions the government has brought down in the last little while. The government claims they are for the benefit of all citizens. As we go through these decisions, we see it is very select group who benefits. Bill C-62 is one example.

Let us take British Columbia as an example. I know firsthand what the government decided for the fishing industry there. I know the Liberals like to say that they do all this fancy consulting. I sometimes wonder if they are talking to their fathers and grandparents in order to get an okay on some of these things that are passed in the House. Let us take a look at what is happening on the Adams River which happens to be in my constituency. It is well known around the world for the spawning runs that used to happen in the Adams River.

The government in its ultimate wisdom-I would say in its ultimate stupidity I guess-decided that the best thing it could do for the people in B.C. and in the constituency of Okanagan-Shuswap was to shut down the fish hatchery. The government has proceeded to shut down most of the inland hatcheries on the west coast after consultation. I would like to know who was consulted. The government never talked with any of the mayors or any of the people in my constituency, not one. It just decided to shut them down.

The reason? It said that it was not making enough profit there. This hatchery has not been open long enough. Anybody with a little knowledge of hatcheries knows that it takes approximately nine years to see a decent stock return. The government decided that four and a half or five years was good enough for the hatcheries on the west coast.

It makes many people wonder how the Liberals can shut down what was a basic part of the food chain. Millions had already been spent putting the hatcheries in place. I asked the minister that if the department was having trouble with salmon, we could certainly turn it into a trout hatchery. Believe it or not, the minister's argument was that it might interfere with the wild stock. Does this make any sense to anybody?

We could tag these fish, send them on their way and then put a moratorium for a certain period of time on catching the wild stock until they are brought back up to a healthy number for fishing. But this seemed to have been lost to the minister. He could not fathom this idea. He seemed to be bent-as he still is-on seeing the west coast go the same way Newfoundland has gone.

Do members in the House understand what has happened in Newfoundland through the inaction, the absolute non-action, and the silly decisions that have been made by governments? Do they

realize that now the people are suffering through silly things like this?

The only thing fishy in Newfoundland is the red book. There is absolutely no doubt about it. It reminds me of out west where we have a saying that government is a group called politickitis. A tick is a little bug that gets on human beings and sucks their blood. It is far worse than a mosquito. It can create a great disease.

Politickitis is a two-legged bug that sits in government. Nine times out of ten it sits on the front benches. It then latches on to the taxpayers and sucks the lifeblood right out of them. Unfortunately we only have one cure for this disease so far: the ballot. But we are only allowed to use that remedy once every four or five years at the whim of the insect that is causing the problem. It seems kind of strange but that is what we have to put up with here when we get bills like this coming before the House.

These bills come from a government that has thrown more people out of work in this country than any other government in the history of Canada. Government members stand here every day and basically misrepresent everything they can in regard to all opposition parties. They are masters of deceit.

If we look at what has happened we will find that we have largest bankruptcy rate that has ever happened. They like to talk about the G-7 countries. They like to say how well we are doing compared to the other G-7 countries. That is the most fishy thing about it all.

The Liberals have brought this awful piece of garbage before the House. They have told us how well they are doing. We have the highest bankruptcy rate of the G-7 countries. We have more unemployed and under-employed. We have the best dictatorship there is in the free world as we know it today.

Clauses 17 through 22 of the bill demonstrate this. They will empower a minister of the crown, without public notice, to grant private rights to fish. It is totally unacceptable.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me, as an MP from Montreal, to speak to this bill, the fisheries bill, which is very important for the economy.

I have always made a point of examining any issue that might affect the interests of Quebec. Before getting into the substance of this bill, I do not want to miss this opportunity to pay a heartfelt tribute to the member for Gaspé. I believe both the government side and the Reform Party will agree with me on this.

On this issue, it could be said that he was in his own element, as, from week to week, his expertise guided the caucus. One must admit that the member for Gaspé's approach is more adversarial than confrontational.

The member for Gaspé did the right thing by warning us against what amounts to a subterfuge on the part of the federal government. He demonstrated very eloquently that this act had to be updated. This act dating back to 1868 has barely been reviewed since its enactment. The question of quotas was reviewed, somewhat indirectly. In essence, we have before us a totally new bill, if I correctly understood the wise explanations of my colleague from Gaspé.

Despite the fact that such a detailed review was done, the government has found a way to disappoint the main partners. That is the conclusion that must be drawn. Since you are allowing me to address this issue, I would say there is an analogy to be made between the fishing industry and the Canadian Confederation. What I mean is that any attempt to modernize does not necessarily lead to success.

In both cases, the member-and his gracious assistant who has played a very supportive role at his side-reminds us that, in the end, Quebec should have been handed back full jurisdiction over fishing matters.

That being said, we will not avoid the basic issues. Having carefully studied these issues in the last few days, I remind the House that we have three objections, which I will reiterate.

There are irritants. As members may have noticed, I happen to like this word and I will use it in this case. We have three major objections to Bill C-62, which the member for Gaspé will allow me to reiterate. My colleague, the hon. member for Gaspé, made an in-depth review of the bill. Come now, let us have some order in this Parliament. I believe the member for Verchères ought to leave if I am to have any hope of delivering my speech. I want the House to know that I am serious now, I have been all long really.

We oppose the bill because we fear that the minister's approach regarding management agreements will preclude any real partnership.

Also, we have concerns regarding the delegation of powers to the provinces, which we find totally and utterly inadequate. If I understand the bill correctly, I believe the main concern-as is the case with other issues I am involved with-is that the newly created fisheries tribunal might become, if I may say so, a patronage haven.

I would like to get back to this clause. We are bringing the labour code up to date. A case in point is what the minister is going to do with what his colleague, the labour minister, is proposing. We are in the process of reviewing the labour code, which had not been brought up to date for the past 30 years. Yours truly has been an active contributor to this process.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

I appreciate the enthusiastic show of support from the House, where quorum is obviously not an issue.

Let me tell you, we certainly contributed to the updating of the labour code when we asked the government to use the lists submitted by the parties when appointing the members of the Canada Labour Relations Board, which is an arbitration forum for employers and employees-I see you are in agreement, Mr. Speaker, and that is very reassuring.

When these tribunals are created, should we not make sure beforehand that the members appointed will be people who know the fishing industry, a very complex industry after all. That industry is at the very basis of the food chain. I believe we should never forget that. Our concern is that the creation of those tribunals-

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

And they should have some managerial skills.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Yes. You will understand the passionate outcry of the member for Gaspé, who has reminded us that it is important that those people have some administrative skills and know the fishing industry.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

They should at least know the fishing industry.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was not always the case. I could easily give you some examples of appointments which did not serve fisheries well, and I will do so later on.

This industry is much too important. It is growing and methods are constantly changing, so the people involved must have a solid knowledge, they must know the environment, be able to recognize an offence when they see one and be able to make judgments on stock replacement and all the other characteristics of the fishery.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

We need real judges, not some pale imitation.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

I am getting there. There is a specificity that the hon. member for Gaspé has been underlining on several occasions.

Once again, I do not know if I said this before, but I think the House would agree that, if there is in this House someone who spoke with a forceful voice, with good judgment and who has a good knowledge of the fishing industry, it is the hon. member for Gaspé. I am sure my colleagues will want to share my enthusiasm by giving him a resounding hand of applause. He is a real fisher.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

I come from the city, but since I used to eat fish every Friday throughout my childhood, I fully appreciate the importance of the fishing industry.

What we are asking the government, and we feel this is a legitimate request, is that this tribunal be made up of real lawyers, members of the legal profession, people who have formal training and who know the fisheries sector.

We warn the government against any attempt to make partisan appointments that would hurt that sector. We would be very disappointed if this were the case.

I am a bit sad to see that my time is running out, because I could have talked about this issue for 20 minutes.

I will conclude by reminding you that Quebec-and I think all of us here know that Quebec is a nation-made claims at the conference held in Victoria.

Let me stress what may be Quebec's primary claim regarding fisheries. Quebec wants the federal government to transfer to it all the powers relating to stocks fished by its residents, the assessment of stocks, the establishment of conservation and management policies, the issuing of licences, the allocation of resources to its residents, and the control and monitoring of its fisheries.

This is a major issue that each of us, members of the Bloc Quebecois, will emphasize. I will be very pleased to answer any questions.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is the second time that I have spoken on Bill C-62.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

An hon. member

That is not allowed.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan North Island—Powell River, BC

But this is an amendment so it is quite in order.

I would like to reiterate that this bill is still dressed up as modernization. This bill gives the minister and thus the senior bureaucracy all the power they could ever possibly want to reward their friends and consolidate their strength and powers. This is known on the west coast for certain and in other jurisdictions as the most top heavy and arrogant bureaucracy in the federal government. It is amazing to me to see how the consolidation of powers in this bill can be characterized as modernization.

There is a major collision of events happening right now on the west coast. There is a federal-provincial set of negotiations going on in an attempt to translate some of the current jurisdictions of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans into a provincial mandate. We have a federal-provincial fisheries impact review board that is probably reporting today as we speak. We have the results from a very precedent setting federal court case in Vancouver that is very interesting. I would like to speak a little about that in a few minutes.

The halibut advisory committee process that dealt with halibut licensing on the B.C. coast several years ago was under scrutiny. Department of Fisheries and Oceans personnel came out looking very bad indeed. They confirmed what many in the industry, many people familiar with the actions of the senior bureaucracy have believed for some time and now we have it in black and white.

At a time when all these events are happening we have the implementation of what is known as the Mifflin plan on the west coast. This has been a major disaster for outlying communities in British Columbia in the way it was implemented and the buy back scheme that was put in place. There is a growing perception that we have an out of control, uncaring bureaucracy and department really doing a disservice to the west coast.

We already know what management has led to on the east coast. With that example as a precedent, the people in British Columbia want to avoid that at all costs. It is a very important industry, recreational, commercial and sport fishing.

I would like to state very clearly for the record that there is nothing in this new fisheries act that the minister and the department cannot do under the existing act except extinguish the public right to fish. The central and deplorable change with respect to fisheries management is that the minister gains new unfettered powers to do what currently requires the specific authorization of Parliament or cabinet. For a minister and department that have singlehandedly mismanaged this resource so completely to be handed even more absolute power would be a derogation of the trust placed in us as Parliamentarians.

It is further testimony to the government's inability to manage and allocate a resource and to honour its historic common law regarding the public right to fish.

It replaces the public right to fish with private fishing agreements or what the bill calls partnership agreements. These fishing agreements would be similar to the aboriginal fishing agreements the government currently enters into with native bands. The native only commercial fishery was recently undermined by the supreme court's decision on Van der Peet in 1996, NTC Smokehouse in 1996 and the Gladstone decision in 1996.

The court ruled specifically against an aboriginal commercial right to fish, saying they had no right to an exclusive fishery: "B.C. natives do not have a constitutional right to catch and sell fish commercially". Here we go again, more appealed decisions leading to supreme court rulings in order to bring the bureaucrats and their captive minister to their senses.

Bill C-62 does not address the real problems in the fishery, for example declining stocks, problems with Alaskan interceptions and the need for strict enforcement for conservation measures.

There is a growing awareness in the public that the present fisheries act does not give the minister the authority to enter into exclusive fishing arrangements. There are some simple solutions to the problem. Clear criteria ought to be established for the transfer of fisheries management to the provinces should the provinces want that authority. Fish do tend not to notice political boundaries.

I would like to mention some specifics about a very important case that really has not received much attention. On November 14 in Vancouver Judge Campbell finally came down with a decision. The plaintiffs in this case were halibut fishermen who felt they had been aggrieved by the process and that the minister had exceeded his authority in respect to the way in which halibut licences were reallocated from what is called a shotgun fishery, where all licence holders know the season and everyone goes out to catch what they can in the allotted time. It was changed from a shotgun fishery to an individual transferable quota. In the process of consultation leading up to the issuance of these individual transferable quotas there were a lot of things which came to light in the court case.

The plaintiffs are really saying that this was a rigged exercise, that the department had a predetermined agenda and that there were going to be winners and losers and that the personnel in DFO in charge of this exercise were totally uncaring as to who were the winners and who were the losers. It actually utilized this process to predetermine to some degree who the losers would be, but it would all be done under the guise of consultation and it would all be orchestrated in such a way that this initiative would look like it came from the halibut fishermen when in actual fact it was an initiative of personnel in the senior bureaucracy. This is a very interesting document. It is only about 50 pages long.

Some of the things that are in it are indeed things of which I do not think any federal department could possibly be proud. It is my estimate that the taxpayers of Canada will be responsible for, if not hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars in damages to these aggrieved licence holders that were shut out.

I will quote a few things from page 37 of the document. For example, the judge finds that the implementation of this process was an authorized decision of the administration of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Then on page 39 the same judge determines that he will consider the decision to be that of the minister. Then on page 43 he concludes that the plaintiffs were entitled to procedural fairness and on the following page determines-

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Unfortunately, the hon. member's time has expired.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve felt he had to justify himself because he was born and raised in the city. I could say the same thing since I am from Lévis, but in Lévis, there are also eels. But this is not what I want to talk about.

For four years, between 1980 and 1984, I was political assistant to the best minister of Fisheries that Quebec ever had and I remember very well how hard we had to fight to have our autonomy respected.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Do not name him.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

I will not. The hon. member asked me not to give his name, but everybody knows who I am talking about. He is a man with an imposing presence to whom everybody pays attention when he enters a room-

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

And also because he needs two seats when he sits down.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, on a more serious note, I want to say we, in the official opposition, are against Bill C-62 which is being debated on second reading. With unanimous consent, I could perhaps be granted a brief extension of my time. I would like a few minutes more, because I see my time is almost up. But I will ask for the unanimous consent when my time is over.

This bill is ill-conceived and full of holes. We cannot imagine how this bill could have be so poorly put together. The hon. member for Gaspé, who did some splendid work, said and I agree: "There is something fishy here". We must scrutinize this thoroughly.

As for the tribunals, they open up a terrible possibility. We are going to let a select club establish the fishing rules in consultation with the minister in Ottawa. The minister wants to decide with his officials what will happen in this sector. This always surprised me. They want to decide from Ottawa while the fish is in the ocean. It is very difficult to bring an official from Ottawa to the fisheries.

The way these bureaucrats see things, they would like the fish to come to Ottawa so they can examine them. We are not fish. We will not let them act like this. We will not let the government do this without us saying a word. With its majority it will probably end up passing this bill, but we are against it.

The role of the provinces in the fisheries is not recognized enough. Also, there is not enough consideration given to those who make a living from this resource. They are not given the authority to develop rules and better ways of controlling the resource. The people, fishers are not being consulted enough.

I would have a thousand other things to say but I will leave it at that. I wanted to add my voice today to those of the hon. members for Gaspé and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

They may not have fish in Montreal, but they do eat fish. These consumers are important. Because of that, someone such as the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve has a right to speak up, and he did so very well. I hope others will not follow the example of members opposite who remain silent.

They are invisible. We cannot mention their absence in this House, but we can talk about their invisibility. I just wanted to point it out.

Fisheries Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 1.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from October 22 consideration of the motion that Bill C-266, an act to amend the Competition Act (protection of whistle blowers), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to speak to Bill C-266. There are four points on which I wish to expand. To get a bit of meat on those bones, once I am finished, I would suggest that people read the previous debate of October 22 when the hon. member for Nickel Belt outlined very substantially the objectives of this bill.

The bill is designed to enhance the provisions of the Competition Act. It will do so by allowing an employee to make an anonymous report of an employer's offence under the Competition Act to the Restrictive Trade Practices Commission without threat of dismissal, suspension, demotion, discipline, the loss of benefits or privileges of employment, termination, harassment, coercion or any other action which would otherwise disadvantage the employee.

A second part would protect the employee from retaliatory action by the employer if the employee refuses to take action for an employer that constitutes an offence under the Competition Act.

I would suggest that the act has directed its focus on the protection of the employee and the employee's job.

The hon. member for Longueuil said on October 22 that there will be or could be situations in which a person may want to maliciously damage the reputation of the employer. That has to be addressed a little more closely in this bill. I understand the

reasoning for the protection of the employee. I also would like to see a little more focus on the employer's position as well.

One of the main reasons that makes me think along this line is that in the justice system we have all witnessed situations in which a person or a company has been wrongly accused. By the time they go through the process of establishing their innocence, their reputation is damaged. We are talking about business here and it could have an effect on that.

Another provision is that the employer be liable for a fine of up to $100,000 or two years imprisonment if found guilty of retaliating action against an employee under the aforementioned circumstances.

I would suggest two things, one of which is the concept that a fine or prison internment be also applied to the other side of the equation: if an employee maliciously and knowingly attempts to harm the employer through this process.

I would also like to refer to a comment made by the member for Fraser Valley West in the October 22 debate. He felt that in his wisdom and with his resources the $100,000 fine and the two years imprisonment was a little steep. In a comparative analysis, the first thing that would come to my mind would be the punishment for drunk driving which is meted out in certain cases where it would be less than two years for someone who drives drunk and kills somebody and less than $100,000 in fines. That should be looked at.

My fourth point concerns the confidentiality of the employee, except in cases where upon inquiry the commission finds that the employee knowingly accused the employer falsely. I have already made reference to that. It is a good thing because if somebody is going to falsely accuse someone, then it should be brought to everyone's attention that they did try to do something maliciously.

I would also like some thought to be given to the employer's position on confidentiality. I would think it would be prudent to put the employer in the position of confidentiality until there is some substantiation that there is a valid charge.

Some other observations of this bill are on a more positive line. Unlike previous bills which have sought measures that would prevent the unfair gasoline pricing at the pumps, which is what this bill is targeting as the example, this bill works within the Competition Act. It is not going to overtly increase the cost of the bureaucracy. Also, it does not appear to be imposing unnecessary regulations upon the marketplace. Those are two promising aspects of it.

It will also enhance the commission's ability to conduct investigations by allowing the commission to act upon confidential information. Currently, six sponsors of a complaint are needed before the commission can pick it up. This will allow people to feed that information into the commission. We could probably expand on this by saying that this may be a situation where a stitch in time will save nine by getting on top of the situation earlier.

The Reform Party sees a lot of positive aspects to this but we also see some negative aspects which I have mentioned. It is positive in the promotion of competition and competitive pricing. It also strengthens and vigorously reinforces the competition and anti-combines legislation. It does indeed provide penalties for collusion of price fixing.

As I said, we are quite positive on this but we do have some reservations from the employer's position in relation to confidentiality until it is substantiated and to the amounts of the fines and charges. I would suggest that penalties be applied to the employee if they falsify their statement to the commission.

I will conclude because otherwise I would be reiterating an excellent debate that occurred on October 22.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee.)

Competition Act
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being approximately 1.40 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m.

(The House adjourned at 1.40 p.m.)