House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was reform.

Topics

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we should view this in perspective.

During the referendum campaign there were lots of assertions and accusations made and a lot of emotional debate. The hon. member for Charlesbourg had sent a letter to certain officers in the province of Quebec. The matter was of such gravity that you, Mr. Speaker, ruled that the House debate a motion by a member of the Reform Party, my opposition critic. The matter is now before the House.

Any accusations or suggestions made by the hon. member for Charlesbourg on the latest accusation or on the letter is something that has to be dealt with by the committee. If the hon. member for Charlesbourg has any evidence to substantiate this kind of allegation, he has a duty as a member of this House to bring it forward to that committee so that it can be examined.

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, this goes beyond the allegations concerning the member for Charlesbourg. It goes beyond the matter that will be placed before the committee presumably next week. This is a very serious matter. I find the minister's answers to date unacceptable.

The BQ letter and the PQ secret negotiations are exactly why we have been trying to open it up and get the government to discuss the terms of separation well in advance but it has chosen not to do that. That is precisely why we are in a problem right now. Before the final showdown with the Quebec separatists, the government cannot continue to sit on the fence; it has to come out.

Will the minister make it perfectly crystal clear in whatever public domain to the Bloc Quebecois, to Lucien Bouchard and to every member of the Canadian Armed Forces that the Canadian forces are off limits in the debate on Quebec sovereignty?

Canadian Armed Forces
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was a very distinguished general officer in the armed forces. He knows that the role of the Canadian Armed Forces is to support the duly elected Government of Canada and the Constitution of Canada. I am confident that the men and women of Canada's armed forces are doing exactly that.

The burden of proof about any actions of members of the armed forces as alleged by the hon. member for Charlesbourg is on that member to come forward and give us that proof. Only at that time will we launch a greater investigation other than the one I have in a sense launched in the last number of hours with the chief of the defence staff who has assured me that these allegations are unfounded.

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

In response to a question from the official opposition, the minister recognized and confirmed that several amendments to the UI program will result in greater numbers on the welfare rolls, since thousands of newly unemployed workers will no longer be eligible for UI benefits.

Does the minister not find it scandalous that people who lose their jobs are forced to turn to a form of assistance of last resort,

instead of receiving UI benefits to which they have contributed and to which they are entitled?

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I do not see how the hon. member can say that I agree with opposition members. This is not the case at all. What happens is that, with the legislation as it was proposed, the calculation is to be based on the number of accumulated hours.

However, I think that, with the amendments that will be moved during the course of the legislative process, we will end up with a system whereby many part time workers will not have to turn to social assistance and will in fact be eligible for UI benefits. Some employers, for all sorts of reasons, provide less than 15 hours of work per week to their employees. These workers are currently not eligible for the UI program, or for other support programs that are in place to help the majority of Canadian workers.

Hopefully, and contrary to what the hon. member implied, these amendments will reduce the number of people who have to turn to social assistance.

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is well aware that, since new entrants will now have to work 910 hours instead of 300 to be eligible for UI benefits, these young people will be forced to turn to social assistance.

Will the minister recognize that, in addition to being a terrible measure for the unemployed, this is a roundabout way of making the provinces pay part of the costs of the UI reform?

Unemployment Insurance Reform
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and his colleagues are working very hard trying to create a situation. They talk about people who are going to go on social assistance. Then in the question the hon. member talks about new entrants onto the system.

If a person is already connected to the unemployment insurance system then he is not not a new entrant unless he or she has been out of the system for a number of years. Then that person becomes a re-entrant.

We are not advancing the quality of the debate or trying to deal with the problems facing real people by trying to raise all kinds of unnecessary concerns. The requirement for new entrants into the system is not based on just the 52 weeks of the calendar we have normally applied it to. They can actually bank the weeks, or hours as the case will be after January 1, 1997, from the previous year's work.

If the hon. member wants to put forward his arguments in a place where we can sit down and look specifically at what he is proposing and what concerns him and how we can respond to his questions, we will be happy to do that. However that is not the interest of the hon. member and his colleagues. They want to continue to provide ammunition to those who, for all kinds of other reasons than protecting those at the bottom end of the income scale, want to agitate and make even more anxious real families with real problems who want real solutions.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the current environment minister was in charge of immigration, he apparently ordered up to 30,000 copies of a 25 page booklet telling Canadians what a wonderful job he was doing. However, when the new minister of immigration learned that this Liberal propaganda exercise was costing Canadian taxpayers $20,000 she immediately ordered the secret destruction of all copies.

Can the parliamentary secretary explain how the government could spend $20,000 of taxpayers' money on producing partisan propaganda and then pay civil servants to destroy it?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Beaches—Woodbine
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as the new minister for the department, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration was within her right and it is her prerogative to refuse a document which was prepared by her predecessor which did not reflect her prospectus or her priorities for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. Therefore, the document was not distributed and her staff took the appropriate action and means to have the document destroyed.

As the new minister of the department it is her prerogative to decide what the priorities of the department are.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is reported that the new immigration minister turned to CSIS to destroy these potentially embarrassing documents. If this is true, it would be another example of CSIS involving itself in partisan politics by protecting the party in power.

Before the solicitor general comments on these allegations, would he explain whether he has given any instruction to CSIS that it is no longer responsible for investigating threats to the security of Canada but rather that it is responsible for concentrating its efforts on investigating threats to the Liberal Party of Canada?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:40 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 have been advised that the allegations made by the hon. member that CSIS was asked to destroy these documents and did so are

totally false. CSIS was not asked to destroy these documents and it did not destroy the documents.

Furthermore, I am confident that CSIS is very well aware of its responsibilities under the law established by this Parliament and is carrying them out.

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Two Ontario women are currently challenging, in court, the parental leave provision of the unemployment insurance plan, which treats adoptive parents very differently from natural parents. There is a huge difference, in that adoptive parents are entitled to 15 fewer weeks of leave.

In light of the fact that the purpose of parental leave is to nurture the child, how can the minister explain this double standard for biological and adoptive parents?

Unemployment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, this is a very difficult question. As the hon. member said, there is a matter before the courts so I do not want to specifically address that problem.

This is a question that has to be dealt deal with in the most sensitive way possible. I have been informed of the decision to move in this direction and I have been trying to become better acquainted with the rationale behind it.

On the question of maternity benefits, as the hon. member says it has the component of taking care of the child. It also has the very obvious and significant element of taking care of the natural mother as she goes through the process of childbirth.

I understand the concerns raised by people who feel there should be as much opportunity as possible for nurturing a newborn child or a newly adopted child in those situations. However, it would seem to me, and there is no doubt of the decision of the government in terms of how to deal with this issue, that there were differences not in the needs of children to be cared for by their mothers for as long as possible, but in the difference between the situation faced by a natural mother in terms of her own physical capacity to deal with a birth as opposed to that of an adoptive mother dealing with an adopted child.

I do not think there are ever any easy solutions to these questions. I hope my hon. colleague would understand there is at least that difference between the two situations of a natural mother and an adoptive mother, and the need to look at them somewhat differently.

Day Care
Oral Question Period

March 15th, 1996 / 11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, still on the subject of children's well-being, given that adequate child care can greatly improve their quality of life, could the minister explain to parents in Quebec and Canada what has become of the 150,000 new day care spaces his government has been promising for three years?

Day Care
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, this is always a timely topic. Before Christmas, the Government of Canada made a proposal to the provinces and territories, suggesting that a national day care system be established.

It will come as no surprise to my hon. friend to learn that several provinces, including Quebec, have expressed serious reservations about the appropriateness of federal interference in an area of provincial jurisdiction. I agree with this reaction. What we are suggesting to our partners from all the provinces is that we need to sit down together and try to figure out how the Government of Canada could help resolve, at least in part, the problem raised by my hon. friend, while at the same time respecting the provinces' jurisdiction.

In this context, I promise, not only the hon. member who asked the question, but also the representatives of all governments across the country, that we will do our best to fulfil the commitment made by the federal government in the throne speech not to interfere unilaterally, through its spending power, in an area of provincial jurisdiction.

We will nonetheless try to find, within these parameters, a way to co-operate with the provinces in order to help those who need the kind of support that a financial contribution to day care would provide.