Debates of May 16th, 1996
House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.
- Government Response To Petitions
- Interparliamentary Delegations
- Committees Of The House
- Questions On The Order Paper
- St. Stephen, New Brunswick
- International Centre For Human Rights And Democratic Development
- The New Millennium
- Chinese Canadian Association Of Public Affairs
- The Disabled
- St. Thomas University
- Optimists In Action
- Alliance Outaouais
- Central America
- The Senate
- Norman Inkster
- Lloyd Robertson
- Capital Gains
- National Unity
- Somalia Inquiry
- Quebec Contracts
- Persons With Disabilities
- Presence In Gallery
- Persons With Disabilities
- Canadian Wheat Board
- Experience Canada
- Business Of The House
- Committees Of The House
- Criminal Code
- Message From The Senate
- Criminal Code
Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to respond to the comments made by my hon. colleague from the Bloc.
I believe the majority of the constituents of Prince George-Peace River, whom I am pleased to represent in the House, want to see Canada remain united. They want to see Quebec stay a part of Canada.
However, from conversations I have had with them over the last couple of years, they are sick to death of this issue. It is dominating the agenda of the entire country and dominating the agenda of this place.
My constituents want Quebec to decide once and for all if it is in or out. They have a universal cynicism that the issue will never be settled or decided. The Reform Party, the constituents of Prince George-Peace River and I are in favour of referenda. We have demonstrated that.
However, the Prime Minister, the Liberal government and the separatists have fuelled the cynicism that exists. When the Prime Minister and the government say they will honour and respect 50 per cent plus one provided it is a no vote, and the separatists say they will honour and respect 50 per cent plus one if it is a yes vote, but neither side will respect the results if they do not go its way, what will be accomplished by holding a referendum? This is was asked last fall. What is the point? What does it solve?
Last fall's referendum proved there is a lot of confusion in the minds of Quebec voters. There is a lot of confusion in that province about what exactly people were voting on. The hon. member referred to an honest referendum, which is what we would all seek.
What result will it take? How many times do Quebecers have to say no before the separatists give up on their foolish agenda to try to destroy the country?
Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC
Mr. Speaker, some questions are made to seem basic but they mean nothing. The people of Quebec have always had respect for the democratic process. When a question is decided by a 50 per cent plus 1 vote, as it was just recently, we accept the referendum results.
What we hope and expect is for Canada to do the same, should a referendum result in a majority voting in favour of achieving sovereignty.
I also detect in the remarks made by my hon. colleague from out west a lack of understanding of how the sovereignist movement has developed. Sovereignty is nothing new in Quebec, it was being contemplated long before 1993. The movement emerged in the early 60s. In 1963, the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, chaired by two distinguished Canadians, concluded that two solitudes coexisted. At that time, there were a few hundred Quebecers who advocated Quebec's sovereignty.
From a few hundred, our numbers have grown to thousands and now a few hundred thousands. When asked to vote on the matter, millions of Quebecers vote for sovereignty.
It would be wise not to apply the Ostrich Principle and think that Quebec's will to become sovereign is something that sprang up overnight, a creation of the mind. Probably ever since the events on the Plains of Abraham, there has always been a desire in Quebec to self-govern and to take charge of our destiny, throw off our shackles, our British shackles in this case.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC
Mr. Speaker, although I am extremely pleased to rise today to speak to this motion, I do so with some sadness.
I do so with some sadness because I cannot imagine how this debate can take place in this Parliament where sat Henri Bourassa, in this Parliament whose members, especially those on the government side, extol the merits of democracy in detail at every opportunity. What is democracy if not our collective ability to decide what we are?
Do you think that, if Henri Bourassa, Lionel Groulx, André Laurendeau, René Lévesque were taking part in this debate, they would not say that each of them worked in his own way, in accordance with his own philosophy and through his own contribution to political life, so that in the end we Quebecers can democratically-repeat, democratically-determine our own future?
I cannot imagine for a single moment, even during my most eccentric musings, that there are Quebecers in this House who, like us, received a public mandate under the election process and who do not fully agree with the underlying philosophy behind the motion put forward by the official opposition, which we are reiterating very clearly. The fact that the official opposition in this Parliament was democratically elected on the basis of a very clear program, which, as you know, is still to promote Quebec's interests and ultimately to achieve statehood, is quite meaningful.
I hope that all of us tonight will have a sense of history and agree with the current Prime Minister's diagnostic at a public meeting in Alma in the early 1970s, when he said: "Let us be democratic". He was right to say that. The intensity of constitutional options can never compete with what should be the purpose of communities, namely the ability to recognize a democracy freely expressed through its most legal forum, a referendum.
That is what the Prime Minister said in 1970 and that is what we want to see recognized. That is why, in our opinion and in the opinion of others-But I challenge any member of this House, including Quebec members, to find a single decision maker-be it an editorialist, a journalist or a member of the business community-who supports what the Canadian government is about to do by getting involved in the Bertrand court case.
No one supported this decision. Even La Presse , which is not known for its sovereignist sympathies, said, through some of its editorial writers, that this approach was stupid. Why is it stupid? Because we know full well that international treaties recognize the right to self-determination.
The people on the other side are proud to say that Canada contributes $200 million to the operations budget of the United Nations, they are proud to uphold international law along with its main supporters at the United Nations, and that reminds me of what the Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, said when he came to Montreal. He said that the most accomplished type of collective organization, even though we are at the dawn of a new century, is still sovereignty.
Here is what he said and what caught our attention. He said: "Sovereignty is the basic principle of universal organization. It is the art of making equal powers that are not equal." That is what we have in Canada, two nations within the same political organization. There cannot be two nations within the same political organization, because one is then subordinate to the other.
In essence, with this motion today and with the message it has conveyed here for the last three years, the Bloc has remained loyal to these principles and to the principles of international law.
The principles of international law and international covenants stipulate two things concerning human rights, and especially the right to self-determination. When one reads about international law, it is interesting to see-and I have the privilege of sitting next to a legal expert-that it is always subject to human rights. This is so true that this issue is always discussed, year after year, at the International Conference on Human Rights in Geneva.
So there is a very important relationship between human rights, collective rights and the right to self-determination which, according to the UN charter, is the first attribute of peoples.
If we follow the government's logic, it means that, by the end of the day, unless the Liberals are hypocrites, which is always a possibility, they should, if they are logical with themselves, rise in this House and say that they do not believe Quebecers are a people. From the moment it is recognized that Quebecers are a people, it means that they have a right to self-determination even under major international law.
The right to self-determination is not always but often exercised through a referendum. But the law also says, and I think this should be our first consideration in this House, that the right to self-determination, in addition to the legal considerations, is first and foremost a matter of political legitmacy, which can be exercised under certain conditions.
Of course, you need to have a history. You need to control a territory. You need to have the will to live together collectively. You need to have a legal tradition and, once sovereignty is achieved-and this was said clearly by the Bélanger-Campeau Commission and was repeated many times during the referendum debate-you need to have effective control of a territory under the state continuity rules.
Which member will rise in this House, whether he is from Ontario, Newfoundland or the Magdalen Islands, and say that Quebec does not meet these conditions?
What interest does the government have in joining forces with the man who will no doubt go down in history as the greatest crank of our times?
I remember very well that in 1987, just to give you a few biographical details, I was responsible for running Francine Lalonde's campaign for the leadership of the Parti Quebecois, and I came into contact with Guy Bertrand, who had just been campaign-
ing all over Quebec telling us that we had the right to decide our own future.
This man ran for the leadership of the Parti Quebecois on a single theme, Quebec's right to decide its own future. He was so all over the map that, had we been in a different century, he would have been sent to see a doctor. But we are not in another century, and everyone has the freedom of expression.
That being said, there is something deeply offensive and hurtful in the action taken by the justice minister, who has always seemed a courteous man, and the approval given by this government, in trying through legal subterfuge, to deny Quebec's right to decide its own future. If the action by the Government of Canada is taken all the way, I can certainly promise you that something very serious will happen in our political society, both for Quebec and for Canada, and that will be the refusal to recognize the legitimacy of this decision.
It is not true that since 1960-there are even people who trace the quest for sovereignty back to the 18th century-well, certainly for 30 years, Quebecers have been preparing themselves as they have, only to be denied the right to self-determination, now that they have democratically elected representatives to this House.
Still, it is sad that the government has been so lacking in judgement, perception and the most basic political tact, that it has failed to recognize that this is a profound question of political legitimacy. It is not by trying to transfer the debate to the legal arena that the government will achieve its ends.
You know, not more than two years ago, there was a declaratory judgment, because a member of the First Nations, Ovide Mercredi, not to name names, also tried to have a possible referendum declared unconstitutional. The judiciary was extremely clear on this subject, by virtue of what democracy is, but also by virtue of what should prevail in a society such as ours, that is the distinction between the judiciary, the executive, and the legislature.
So let us hear from these Liberal MPs with ridings in Quebec, in the coming days, in a public forum-they can choose the time, the date, the place-let them tell Quebecers they do not have the right to decide their own future. Let them come and say it in Montreal or in the regions. Let them for one moment tell Quebecers that they do not exist as a people, that what they have accomplished over the last 30 years is all in their heads, a political fantasy.
It takes a justice minister from Toronto, a Prime Minister like the one we have now with his own very personal view of history, to support a motion such as the one before us, which is profoundly irresponsible and profoundly disrespectful towards Quebec.
Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC
Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member talking about separation and self-government. Not long ago in this Chamber, I remember a vote supported by all Bloc members under aboriginal self-government and self-determination.
Will the hon. member respect a vote if the aboriginals in Quebec decide to deal with self-government and allow them to stay with whomever they choose democratically?
Another question I have for the hon. member is this. When he has a chance to go forward with this referendum, will he be looking at population? Is he more inclined to go poll by poll? This would make a big difference in how the rest of us would look at the situation.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC
Mr. Speaker, I believe what the Bloc says is logical and consistent. Once we recognize the right to self-determination, we also recognize that this right can be exercised by any group having the characteristics of a people.
If we finally recognize that legally speaking native nations have the characteristics of a people, this means implicitly and explicitly that they also legally have the right to self-determination, within the legal territorial boundaries set for Quebec.
This being said, I am not sure I fully understood the second question.
The hon. member wishes to add a supplementary because, as we know, there is a fair amount of excitement in the ranks of the Reform Party, these days. Does he want a supplementary, Mr. Speaker? I am always ready to answer.
This being said, it seems to me that my friend's second question creates some confusion because one thing is very clear and clearly affirmed by all leaders of Quebec: Quebec's right to self-determination will be exercised in a referendum. The rule of 50 plus one will apply. The hon. member was asking if we would proceed by way of a vote. I believe you understood the same thing. Of course, the referendum process requires that we count the votes and the final result will bring us victory or defeat.
Hon. members will recall, and I think this will be my most important moment today, the famous words of the current Prime Minister immediately after taking office. He said something I will never forget. He declared that for Quebec, a no means no. I would like to tell the Reform Party that if one day the answer is yes, it will mean yes.
Andy Mitchell Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on debate on today's opposition motion. I to make a comment on behalf of all of my constituents. It refers to a comment made by the former leader of the Bloc Quebecois. He basically said Canada is not a real country.
On behalf of my constituents and I believe the vast majority of Canadians, I state clearly and unequivocally Canada is a country, Canada is a nation and will remain so, absolutely, not only in the months and weeks ahead but in the years, decades and centuries ahead. It will because we are a nation.
Despite what we hear from the other side, Canada is a nation. It is a nation because we share many things in common and we share this great land is Canada. We share a common geography from coast to coast. We share our natural resources such as mining, whether it takes place in Quebec or in Ontario, and the development of energy and the development of agriculture. These natural resources are things we share as a nation.
We have a common history on the north side of the North American continent where together Canadians of all stripes, of all ethnic origins, have built a strong distinct Canada, a distinct nation with values and beliefs unique to us as Canadians.
We share some very important concepts from one end of Canada to the other. We believe in the rule of law and we share this belief among all Canadians. We believe in social justice. We believe as a nation, as a government and as a people there are responsibilities we hold to each other. We believe as Canadians that below a certain level we will not allow people to fall.
When people walk into a hospital they are not asked how much money they have. They are simply asked how sick they are. People do not go hungry for a lack of food or shelter. We help those people. Those are values we share as Canadians from coast to coast whether one happens to live in the English speaking part of Canada or in the French speaking part.
We believe in certain freedoms. We believe in the freedom of thought, belief, expression and assembly. We share those core beliefs as Canadians and they make us a nation.
We have differences in Canada, but they are not differences that need divide us. They do not separate us one people from another people. They are differences which make this country unique among nations.
Canada in its history, for 130 years, has shown the nations of the world what can be accomplished, what can be done with a nation of several peoples. We have shown the world our success. We have shown the world we are a nation that works and can sustain itself.
As a nation Canada recognizes that it has differences. The people of Canada recognize there are two founding peoples, the English speaking Canadians live in Quebec and francophone Canadians live outside of Quebec. We are an integrated nation, English and French from coast to coast. We have been joined by many peoples from around the world to make the fabric of Canada strong, a nation which is integrated, open to change, one which accepts and evolves over time.
As a nation, as a government, as Canadians we recognize we need to make accommodation for different peoples. We recognized and made the clear statement that Quebec is a distinct society. We have recognized the importance of regional variance and evolved a veto system. We have come to understand that different institutions work differently in different parts of the country. We understand there needs to be a division of power, that some things are done better at the provincial level as opposed to the federal level.
When Parliament as recently as December made these suggestions and showed we will evolve as a nation, that we will accommodate our differences, the Bloc voted against it. Members of the Bloc voted against the fact that Quebec was a distinct society. They stood in the House and said: "No, Quebec is not a distinct society. No, Quebec should not have a veto. No, Quebec should not have its own institutions". Those statements were made by their votes. That was terribly wrong.
What is at stake here? Canada. What is their base argument for wanting to destroy the country? Politics is a big part of it. They want to destroy the country over whether Mr. Bouchard is to be called a premier or a president. Those are grounds to break up the country? I think not. Those are not valid grounds for breaking up the country.
Members of the Bloc said we need to have a more efficient federation. Are we to break up the country because of the mathematical formula for transfer payments?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)
I assure the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka he will have the time remaining after question period to conclude his remarks.
The chair is now ready to rule on the point of order raised earlier today by the chief government whip relating to the interpretation of Standing Order 43(2), which provides for a 20 minute speech to be divided in two.
A cursory review of our practice shows that motions have been moved by both members sharing a 20 minute period. I refer members to cases that occurred on March 25, 1993 and April 19, 1993.
It has also been common practice for a period of time now for members to share the first speech on supply days. A quick check of our proceedings reveals that the first speech was shared on February 10, 1994 and subsequently on May 3, 1994, November
22, 1994, March 16, 1995, March 26, 1995, May 11, 1995, November 22, 1995 and, most recently, March 20, 1996.
What has changed since March 20, 1996 is that the second speaker from the same party has proposed an amendment to the motion tabled by the first. This is the reason for the chief government whip's point of order. The question he raised with the Chair is whether, under the spirit of the Standing Orders, the main motion may be subject to an amendment from a second speaker in the same initial period of the debate.
I quote from Standing Order 81(22), which provides the time limit on speeches for supply days:
During proceedings on any item of business under the provisions of this standing order, no member may speak more than once or longer than twenty minutes. Following the speech of each member, a period not exceeding ten minutes shall be made available, if required, to allow members to ask questions and comment briefly on matters relevant to the speech and to allow responses thereto.
Furthermore, Standing Order 43(2) provides for periods of debate to be divided in two:
The whip of a party may indicate to the Speaker at any time during a debate governed by this standing order that one or more of the periods of debate limited pursuant to section (1) of this standing order and allotted to members of his or her party are to be divided in two.
It is clear from Standing Order 81(22), that the first speech on a supply day is limited to 20 minutes. If we apply the letter of Standing Order 43(2), we may logically conclude that the first speech on a supply day may in fact be divided in two.
The Chair has reviewed the standing orders and has been unable to find any other standing order which would imply the first speech of a supply day cannot or should not be divided in two.
Consequently, in light of the practice that an amendment may be moved when a 20 minute period is divided and in light of the well established practice that the first speech on a supply day has many times been divided, it is difficult to accept the argument advanced that it ought not be done today.
If the House considers this to be an anomaly, then the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has the means to address the review of the wording of the standing orders.
That said, the Chair allows the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Berthier-Montcalm, Mr. Bellehumeur, and I will put it to the House. The other amendment proposals made earlier in anticipation of this ruling will not be put to the House.
I thank all hon. members who have made a contribution on this point.
The hon. member for Berthier-Montcalm, seconded by his colleague for Laval-Centre, moved that the motion be amended by adding the following, immediately after the word "stated": Straight from the Heart .
Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify the matter of the Chair's acceptance of the amendment by the member for Saint-Laurent-Cartierville in the event the amendment by the member for Berthier-Montcalm was not allowed.
Is this indeed what happened? Logically, therefore, it seems to me that the amendment to the amendment by the member for Berthier-Montcalm is also allowable, since we said that, if one were not, the other would be. Since an amendment to an amendment was tabled, it seems to me that it-the one taken under advisement-is the logical conclusion of the amendment tabled, in the logic of the ruling we have just been given.
My dear colleague, I heard what you said. I will take the question under advisement and will return to the House with another ruling after question period.
It being two o'clock p.m., the House will now proceed to statements by members pursuant to Standing Order 31.
International Centre For Human Rights And Democratic Development
Statements By Members
Philippe Paré Louis-Hébert, QC
Mr. Speaker, Canada's image was built around its participation in numerous peace missions, its efforts to help developing countries and its commitment to the fight for human rights and democratic development.
In this regard, we must remember the important contribution of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. At a time when several governments, including the Canadian government, have a tendency to build a wall between trade relations and human rights violations in the world, the Centre's mission is all the more vital for people who see their fundamental rights violated by their governments.
I want to salute and thank Mrs. Côté-Harper and Ed Broadbent, who will shortly leave their respective positions as chairwoman and director of the centre.
Thank you, on behalf of human solidarity.
Statements By Members
May 16th, 1996 / 1:55 p.m.
John Cummins Delta, BC
Mr. Speaker, today the federal government is in court attempting to get fishermen ejected from fisheries offices in British Columbia.
The place for the minister to talk to fishermen is across the negotiating table, not in the court room. Despite infrequent visits to B.C., the minister is imposing a plan on the commercial fishery which will seriously impact the lives of fishermen and the economies of coastal communities. What is even more disturbing is the minister's refusal to go to British Columbia and seriously defend his plan.
The minister's newly appointed adviser has recognized shortcomings of the plan. He notes that the plan contains no support for local communities, no protection against concentration of control of the fleet, and uncertainty about the commercial share of catch in the face of treaty negotiations.
Substantial change without serious consideration of stakeholder input and without genuinely seeking consensus is impossible.
Statements By Members
Andy Mitchell Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON
Mr. Speaker, mining is vital to the Canadian economy. The minerals and metals industry provides some 341,000 direct jobs to Canadian men and women and more than $20 billion to our economy.
I am pleased to rise today to draw attention to National Mining Week and to acknowledge the importance of mining to our economy.
Ontario accounts for 30 per cent of Canada's mineral production and contributes more than $4.5 billion to the provincial economy. Some 14,000 people are employed in mining nickel, copper, gold and other minerals in the province.
I am pleased to acknowledge the importance of the minerals and metals sector during this 1996 National Mining Week. I salute those Canadians in Ontario and across our great country who have contributed to building and sustaining this valuable industry.
The New Millennium
Statements By Members
Glen McKinnon Brandon—Souris, MB
Mr. Speaker, 1967 was a defining year in our nation's history. At the time of our 100th birthday every province, city, town and village joined together to celebrate Canada's accomplishments. A wave of national pride swept across this country as we took stock of our blessings and our nation's future.
Western Manitoba's wordsmith, Mr. Fred McGuinness, has suggested that we repeat this centennial experience by giving national recognition to the approaching millennium. I agree. We have the leadership, the commitment and the creativity. Let us get on with the show. Let us fasten our attention on the future and let us celebrate being Canadian.
Chinese Canadian Association Of Public Affairs
Statements By Members
Anna Terrana Vancouver East, BC
Mr. Speaker, this week in Ottawa we are being visited by 14 young ambassadors from Vancouver.
Every year the Chinese Canadian Association of Public Affairs sends a delegation of young people to Ottawa for them to become acquainted with the political and parliamentary process. This year there are 14 young ambassadors between the ages of 16 and 22. All 14 of them are top students and all-round good citizens.
The Chinese Canadian Association of Public Affairs is a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to promoting full
citizenship participation by all Canadians. The organization is interested in promoting various initiatives such as the annual trips to Ottawa and seminars on important issues such as health care and constitutional reform.
I was pleased to meet these young ambassadors both last year and this year. I want to congratulate them for their commitment to causes and their outstanding qualities.
I would like to ask my colleagues in the House to help me welcome the Vancouver young ambassadors.