House of Commons Hansard #3 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was country.

Topics

Speech From The Throne
Routine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a shame that my colleague took three-quarters of his time to quote some headlines. Of course, he picked those he found most appropriate, because he knew that if he were to go over everything that has been said or written since the throne speech, he would find that 25 per cent of the headlines are for the government and 75 per cent are against.

I will try to get from him an answer to a question I put to one of his colleagues earlier. It is the same question. Given the contradictory statements by ministers on the issue of partition, could my colleague tell the House if he agrees with the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs?

Speech From The Throne
Routine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, there were several points to be made about the little speech we just heard.

The first is on quotations. My colleague says that 75 per cent of the headlines are against the government and 25 per cent are for the government. It would then appear that I only read from the 25 per cent in support of the government. It is not true at all. The hon. member should prove what he claims. I do not believe him. I am not trying to impugn his motives, but I think he is having trouble with figures this morning for some reason. Maybe it is because of the other questions he asked.

Earlier, he asked what we were doing to create jobs. First of all, we have to ensure that our financial house is in order. The hon. member knows full well that the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada have seen to it. We are gradually making progress, and the problem will be solved. But there is more. Everyone knows that we set up an infrastructure program, which created more than 100,000 jobs. And it is not over yet. Everyone knows that more than 500,000 jobs have been created since 1993. Not by ourselves, but with some help. Everyone knows about the major challenge issued in the throne speech, whereby the private sector is asked to get involved and to help us create jobs.

On the issue of partition, my colleague knows very well what the government's position is. It is very clear and it continues to evolve, as it should.

Speech From The Throne
Routine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we listened to the member for St. Boniface and what we have heard is a typical Liberal operation.

The member talked about involving the business community and the private sector in creating hope in the economy and creating hope for the youth of our country. This is just typical Liberal fashion. The Liberals are offloading the responsibilities they have not been able to take over the last two years on to the private sector. For more than two years businesses in the private sector have been telling government to get out of their face. Get out of their face so that they can get on to doing business. If we are to believe what the hon. member for St. Boniface is saying, the Liberals plan on getting back in the face of business in a way that they have never been there before.

Business has been saying, leave us alone. If government wants to do something, lower our cost of doing business, lower the taxation levels so that we can make some more money, so that we can invest, so that we can hire people, so that we can give some hope on our own to the people. What this member is saying ain't gonna work.

Speech From The Throne
Routine Proceedings

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question. My colleague's solution is simplistic. Let business take care of the country. Let business pocket the profits. One does not have to care about one's fellow Canadians. Just stuff more and more in and it will all resolve itself.

I am sorry but those simplistic solutions to complex problems have never worked and they will not work in this instance either. The corporate sector has a responsibility to its fellow Canadians. If it is going to make money, let it make darn sure that Canadians are employed. It is those Canadians who are employed who help them make more money.

Point Of Order
Routine Proceedings

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Dear colleagues, before recognizing the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, I must rule on the point of order that was raised the other day. Here is the Speaker's ruling on the point of order raised on February 27 by the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie regarding the procedural acceptability of government business Motion No. 1 standing in the name of the hon. government House leader.

I also wish to thank the hon. members for Lethbridge and Winnipeg Transcona, the government House leader and the chief government whip for their contributions to the debate.

Reinstatement of business from one session to another is not uncommon in our practice. In our parliamentary experience, there are a number of occasions where bills and other forms of business from one session have been brought forward to another session either by unanimous consent or, more recently, as was the case in 1991 by way of a government motion moved after notice.

The question before us is not whether business can be reinstated from one session to another, but whether Government Business

No. 1 which provides a mechanism where bills from the first session may be reinstated to this session is procedurally in order.

Speaker Fraser noted in his ruling of May 29, 1991-much referred to in the debate-at page 734 of the Debates that he could find nothing in our rules or practices to preclude the reinstatement of bills by way of motion. He therefore permitted debate to proceed on the government motion that had been moved. He was concerned that members would be afforded an adequate opportunity to express their assent or dissent on each item to be reinstated and therefore ruled that separate questions be put on each bill to be reinstated.

The same concern has been expressed most eloquently by hon. members with regard to the proposed government motion. In our current circumstances the motion does not list specific pieces of legislation to be reinstated. Rather it provides a mechanism whereby both private members and the ministry would have an opportunity to revive legislation from the last session. There is nothing procedurally objectionable per se to the adoption of a motion setting in place such a mechanism.

However, as the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona pointed out, pursuant to Standing Orders 68(2) and 69(1), motions for leave to introduce a bill and for first reading and printing shall be deemed carried, without debate, amendment or question put, that is to say, in the words of Speaker Fraser, without the hon. members of the House having a say in the matter.

I remind hon. members that our proceedings are generally arranged to provide hon. members with the opportunity to express their views on matters that come before the House. While the House would, of course, be able to vote on reinstated bills at subsequent stages of the legislative process, the Chair acknowledges the hon. members' concerns that under the terms of the third paragraph of the motion in issue, hon. members would not be able to take any decision on the bills that had passed all stages in the House and which were under study in the Senate when Parliament had prorogued.

While I do not believe it is within my power to unilaterally amend a motion which is procedurally in order, I would remind hon. members that during the course of the debate on this motion there will be ample opportunity for them to propose amendments to provide the members of the House with the means to express their assent or dissent on the reinstatement of each bill in issue. Of course, members may also choose to vote against the motion.

Both elements of this motion, that is, the first element dealing with the mechanism for the reinstatement of bills and the second element dealing with amendments to the standing orders dealing with supply, specify how certain items of business will be dealt with during the first part of this session. As both elements relate to the business of the House, the motion is not a complicated question. Therefore, one debate will be held on the motion and one question will be put on the motion.

I thank all my colleagues for their contributions to this important matter.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Speech From The Throne
Routine Proceedings

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak in reply to the speech from the throne because, over the past few months, we were able to get in touch with our constituents and finally stock up on the ideas they want us to put across in this House so that Quebec and Canada will be more in line with what the people of Quebec and Canada want.

The first message that was systematically conveyed to me by every person I was able to contact, which is not reflected in the speech from the throne, is to the effect of rejecting the unfair application of the marketplace rules of the road.

In this speech from the throne, there are many instances where the government gives up exercising its duties as a government.

Take the UI reform for example. On this subject, the speech from the throne says that it will go on as scheduled, that this plan to cut $2 billion will go ahead as scheduled, without any changes to the fiscal parameters. This is in direct contradiction with the first few paragraphs of the speech, in which the governor general speaks of the compassion of Canadians. There is a contradiction between what the government is advocating and the objectives we have always pursued in Quebec and in Canada.

How can the government talk about compassion and honouring Canada's traditional values while at the same time requiring, for instance, that any first-time UI claimant have accumulated 910 hours of work? These 910 hours amount to 26, 35-hour weeks of work, but previously, the unemployed needed only work a minimum of 15 hours a week during 20 weeks, or a total of 300 hours, to qualify for unemployment insurance.

The baseline has now been raised to 910 hours. Might as well condemn every young person and anyone working in a seasonal industry to live off welfare for the rest of their lives. This is clearly and simply an incentive to moonlight. This government is systematically encouraging moonlighting.

Another aspect of the speech from the throne that deals with the UI reform and which will certainly prompt members from the Maritimes to jump to their feet and respond has to do with the rule regarding the number of weeks of work. The current UI reform penalizes seasonal workers because they work in seasonal industries. Does the government intend to maintain this type of situation? Will it stick to the principles underlying Bill C-111, or will it do as it is being asked to by everyone, that is withdraw this legislation and start over again, from scratch, and propose a UI reform that truly reflects the values dear to Quebecers and Canadians? Did the government not get the message? Have all MPs from the maritimes not been told by their constituents that this reform was unacceptable, that it did not at all reflect the values of Quebec and Canada?

Old age pensions are another component of social program reform where the government shows no compassion.

The speech from the throne says that it will be necessary to reform the Canada pension plan so as to maintain its viability. The government no longer talks about ensuring the survival of old people through a minimum income that would allow them to have a decent quality of life. Not at all.

The government is only concerned with the plan's viability. Once again, as with the UI reform, the issue becomes strictly a matter of dollars and cents. The government will do to old age pensions what it did to unemployment insurance, that is make the most vulnerable people pay. Is this what a government which is now half-way through its mandate should do? The government should ask itself why it was elected and where it is headed.

The measures proposed in the speech from the throne do not reflect the demands of Quebecers and Canadians in the least.

There is another issue that my constituents keep referring to. They told us that they expected their governments to create jobs. We have to find ways. I will tell you what a worker told me: "We need to find a way of taxing machines." New technologies have transformed the workplace over the last few years and everyone knows that we cannot stop progress, but as these new technologies are being implemented, as eight out of ten jobs disappear, the government has the responsibility to ensure that quick and effective retraining programs are available, especially for unskilled workers. These people must not become the victims of technology. There is no reason why workers should be pushed aside because of technological change.

We must accept technological change, we must make sure that we are competitive, but we must not act in a way that does not respect the human being and the right of each individual to develop his or her full potential and use it for the benefit of society.

I do not see anything along these lines in the speech from the throne. Have you found, in the speech from the throne, things that lead us to believe that the government will give the highest priority to job creation, to the use of workers and to the development of each individual's skills? Have you seen any of that in the speech from the throne? I have found nearly nothing on that subject.

Yesterday, the Minister of Human Resources Development had to give some clarifications on youth employment. The text says that the government will double the number of federal summer student jobs. The minister has since told us that it will not only be in the federal public service, but everywhere.

Should we believe what is in the text or should we believe what the minister says? For now, according to what we see in the speech from the throne, there will be lots of jobs in every area where there are federal departments, and it so happens that there are lots of them in the national capital region.

But will the measure promised in the speech from the throne have the desired result in the areas where federal departments are less present, for example in La Pocatière where the experimental farm has been closed down, where there are fewer and fewer people in the Canada employment centres and where you can count federal employees on your fingers? Never in a million years!

We will get the opposite effect to what we want if we concentrate jobs where they are less needed and allow for fewer of them where they are cruelly needed. The government must correct its range and adjust to what has to be done.

Perhaps the main point that people everywhere mentioned to me is that they want to be respected. There is nothing like that in this speech from the throne. They say to Quebecers: "We are going to control the way you will be consulted on your own future". Quebecers are told that all Canadians will have their say about Quebec's own future; this shows a blatant lack of respect. It proves that they have completely lost touch with the people of Quebec. It shows that they have in no way understood the result of last fall's referendum.

The government must clearly and definitely change its position on that and say unequivocally that it will respect the choice Quebecers made, just as sovereignists did in 1980 and again in 1995; it must recognize that there is a democratic process to be followed and accept the people's choice.

Quebecers have a right to be respected and expect the Canadian government, the Canadian Parliament to do so.

Mr. Speaker, I will continue after question period.

Speech From The Throne
Routine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Absolutely, and you will then be recognized.

It being two o'clock, we will now go on to statements by members.

Education
Statements By Members

February 29th, 1996 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased that the speech from the throne focused on youth, the mobility of Canadians within Canada and science and technology. I was also pleased that we will build in a cash minimum in the Canada health and social transfer. All of these emphases will be good for the economy and the future of our nation.

I urge the Minister of Finance to recognize in his budget that our colleges and universities are already involved in all of these throne speech themes and are greatly affected by the block transfers. They are one of the great focuses for our young people. They provide for and encourage the movement of Canadians within Canada and they are the foundation of our science and technology. I hope the minister remembers they are also key beneficiaries of the Canada health and social transfer.

We must do all we can to sustain and strengthen higher education in Canada.

Minister Of Justice
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard St-Laurent Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice is now a card-carrying member in good standing of the Club to annihilate the right of the people of Quebec to determine its own future. After the irresponsible statements by certain ministers of the government, Stéphane Dion in particular, now we have the Minister of Justice following suit.

Last fall, he was stating that the wishes of the people of Quebec were to be given priority, not the method by which sovereignty was to be decided upon. Now this week we find the minister doing an about-face, contemplating asking the Supreme Court for an opinion on the legality of a future Quebec referendum.

The Minister of Justice believes that Quebec's fate is tied to the consultations that he deems appropriate. He is wrong. Quebecers are the ones who will determine their own fate, regardless of what the minister says.

Curling
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have some good news for Canadian curling fans. The World Junior Curling Championships are being held in my riding of Red Deer, Alberta between March 9 and March 17.

This bodes well for Canadian success because, as many will remember, last year Red Deer hosted the World Junior Hockey Championship and the best team won: Canada, of course. Now it is time to show the world that we do not just have the best hockey players but the best curlers as well.

Come on out March 9 to 17 and watch the world's best compete for the curling domination. What better way to promote Canadian unity as Canadians from coast to coast gather at the Red Deer curling rink to watch the action.

I am willing to bet that even hardened separatists who come will be converted and will end up pulling for Team Canada, the home team, our team.

Speech From The Throne
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, Tuesday's throne speech was an attempt by the government to appease Canadians about the deplorable state of our economy, to comfort them about our social programs and to reinforce their vision of a united Canada. Now the government must deliver all the promises in the red book. Canadians will not tolerate any more rhetoric and false promises.

Job creation should have been the number one priority of the government and the impending budget has to address this issue if Canadians are to continue to have faith in the Prime Minister. Throughout the first half of his mandate economic growth has been dismally lacking and job creation has been almost non-existent. Nothing short of full employment can bring national unity and prosperity to Canada.

Reducing interest rates to even lower levels is the only way to stimulate economic growth and job creation. Mr. Prime Minister, the choice is yours.

Black History Month
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today in honour of the important role black Canadians have played in our nation's history.

During black history month we can all feel proud of the contributions made by black Canadians in every sphere of Canadian life.

In 1793 Upper Canada's first lieutenant governor, John Graves Simcoe, helped to free black slaves living in Upper Canada. In time this brave act would clear the way for people like Lincoln Alexander, Ontario's first black lieutenant governor in 1985.

By honouring the achievements of black Canadians, the House has given all Canadians a greater understanding of the richness of black history.

Fisheries
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Wells South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, for the past several months I have been meeting with fishermen's organizations at round tables to try to reach a consensus on many of the major issues facing the fishery today.

I expressed to them my deep commitment to the inshore fishery and to the small coastal communities that rely on the prosperity generated by this sector of the fishery.

For the past month fishermen in my riding and adjoining ridings throughout Nova Scotia have participated in demonstrations and have occupied Department of Fisheries and Oceans offices across the province in protest of new policies they feel will be harmful to the inshore fishery.

Unfortunately since the occupation of DFO offices which began in Barrington in my riding of South Shore, the lines of communication between the fishermen and the department have not been open. I have met and will continue to meet with the leaders of the fishing organizations.

Last week I attended two round tables in order to maintain an open dialogue. I urge those involved to move beyond the present impasse so that the issues causing this conflict can be resolved by dialogue in a productive and rational manner.

Quebec Chamber Of Commerce
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Chamber of Commerce has reacted very favourably to the speech from the throne presented by our government a little earlier this week.

Its president, Mr. Michel Audet, feels that our withdrawal from areas of provincial jurisdiction bodes well for future co-operation, as well as for some of Quebec's traditional demands in the constitutional area.

The Quebec Chamber of Commerce invites the PQ government to shows good will by establishing "a dialogue with the other provinces and with the federal government to find concrete solutions in areas that will encourage job creation and investment".

Canadians across the country are encouraging us to work together in seeking solutions to our collective problems. We follow the example of the Quebec Chamber of Commerce in issuing an invitation to the Government of Quebec to collaborate with us.