House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was british.

Topics

The Leader Of The Bloc Quebecois
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, collectors of historical and precious statements will surely gobble up some of the comments made by the Bloc leader at the general assembly of his party this past weekend in the Quebec region.

In his speech on Saturday, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois accused the Prime Minister of having forced Canada back into the constitutional debate on five occasions during the past year.

How can the leader of the Bloc make such a claim with a straight face, when everyone on this earth knows that the constitutional debate was revived by the election of the PQ and the referendum it organized on Quebec independence?

Can someone here please tell us where the hon. member for Roberval has been these past 24 months?

Alison Korn
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, six athletes from Nepean competed for Canada at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. One of those six was Olympic rower Alison Korn, a member of the women's eight team which won a silver medal for Canada at the games.

Atlanta was Alison's first Olympics. She began rowing in the fall of 1992 in Montreal and trained seriously for only two years. With only 400 metres to go, her team was in fourth place. This was more than Alison and her team members could bear so they stormed to a dramatic second place finish.

A former Bells Corners elementary student, graduate of McGill, participant in a Young Challenge International Project in Costa Rica and former hockey player, Alison is a positive role model for young women across Canada and most certainly a star in Nepean. Bravo, Alison.

Tomorrow, October 1, parliamentarians look forward to welcoming and honouring the Canadian medalists from the Olympics and paraOlympics right here in Ottawa and in the House of Commons.

The Death Of Claire Bonenfant
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, early this morning, we received the news of the death of Claire Bonenfant as the result of a stroke. The women of Quebec mourn her passing. Claire Bonenfant was a woman of heart, head and action, a woman whose life was lived in total harmony with her deepest convictions, whether on Quebec women's right to equality or Quebec's right to sovereignty.

Cofounder of the Ralliement pour l'indépendence nationale, chair of the Conseil du statut de la femme for six years, Ms Bonenfant contributed to the creation of Quebec's first policy on the status of women. A bookseller and publisher, her activities included chairing the book fair, Salon du livre de la Capitale, co-ordinating the Department of Education's equal access program, and acting as a consultant on wage parity.

All those who had the privilege of meeting and working with this warm, dynamic and spontaneous woman will remember her openmindedness and respectful attitude, and how it united all those around her.

Claire Bonenfant may have left us, but memories of her presence, her energy and her perseverance will be with us for a long time.

Police Officers
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday 5,000 police officers marched through the streets of Ottawa, assembling outside Parliament Hill to honour comrades fallen in the line of duty.

The names of six brave police officers who died in the past year while serving their communities were added to the Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial.

I was on duty May 24, 1977 when a brave colleague of mine, Constable William Shelever, was shot down in the line of service. On behalf of my police colleagues who served their communities so vigilantly, I salute Constable Shelever and others who served us so well. We will never forget them.

On behalf of my constituents, I extend condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones. We share their loss. On

behalf of all Canadians, I thank those who paid the ultimate price for doing their part to keep our streets safe. We will always hold their names in highest regard.

Fallen colleagues, we salute you, we thank you and we will never forget you.

Employment
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, more than 1.5 million Canadians have been unable to find employment and that does not take into account the thousands of Canadians who have given up trying to find work.

The Prime Minister claims that his government has created more than 600,000 jobs. Well, this total is almost 150,000 less than what the previous government claimed were created over the same period of time.

For almost three years I have been calling on the government to lower interest rates. Recently the chief economist of the Royal Bank of Canada conceded that the bank rate could be lowered even further to create employment opportunities.

I call on the Prime Minister to deliver on his promise to create jobs by lowering the interest rates further so Canadians can get back to work.

The Leader Of The Bloc Quebecois
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, at his party's general council in Beauport during the weekend, the leader of the Bloc once again changed his position on the issue of partnership. He told his supporters on the weekend, and I quote: "Just because a federal minister will not consider partnership does not mean we will stop talking about it."

This is rather surprising, because we all remember that the same leader of the Bloc said a week earlier, and I will quote him again: "As far as I am concerned, we are not going to make it the Bloc's mission to sell partnership in the rest of Canada".

The question that arises today is whether the leader of the Bloc Quebecois believes that to follow in the footsteps of Lucien Bouchard, he will have to make as many quick changes in politics as he did.

The Bloc Quebecois
Statements By Members

September 30th, 1996 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to a SOM-La Presse poll, 57 per cent of the population of Quebec wants a ten- year respite until the next referendum on Quebec's independence. I hope you are listening.

This poll is a clear indication that the majority of the population has had enough of the disastrous economic impact that the PQ and the Bloc are having with their threats to hold another referendum.

When asked to comment on this poll, the leader of the Bloc decided, as he usually does when at a loss for a reply, to put the blame on the Canadian government, claiming that his party's priority is economic issues. Hansard is a faithful witness to the subjects that interest the Bloc Quebecois, and anyone who bothers to read Hansard will soon realize that economic recovery and job creation are not among the top priorities of this separatist party.

Justice
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, the following is a copy of a letter received from Darlene Boyd to the justice minister: "The minister has said he is listening to the Canadian people. C-45 does not demonstrate this.

"You have referred to us as the victims industry'. We never classified ourselves as part of any industry. We are ordinary people who have paid a price, far too great, to establish such a petty organization. We never asked for this fate, and we are not victims, we aresurvivors'.

"There is one thing I need advice on, that is how I tell our son, who has not yet put his life back together since his sister's murder, that the man convicted and sentenced to life in prison will be applying and probably be granted his day in court, to tell everyone what a good person he has become in the past 15 years.

"Who will take responsibility when he falls apart? C-45 will be guilty of this crime!

"Does the charter of rights protect us, or was it written for just murderers?

"I appeal to you not as a politician, but as someone who holds family and friends dear. Because murder shows no bounds, please reconsider repeal, and make it impossible for these killers to once again exploit my family and the families of others".

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, with the passage of time, the government becomes increasingly confused about its decision to stop a future referendum in Quebec by asking the Supreme Court's opinion on Quebec's

right to determine its own future. None of yesterday's allies on the no side are on side of the Prime Minister as he makes this clumsy attempt to get all of Canada up in arms against Quebec, as he did so successfully in 1982 and 1990.

What kind of answer does the Prime Minister of Canada have for Daniel Johnson, the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, who has invited him to resign and run for a seat in the Quebec National Assembly if he wants to draft the referendum question?

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Johnson is entirely correct in saying that the National Assembly is free to ask any questions it wants. But when such a question involves negotiations on an issue as serious as secession, the question must be such as to elicit a clear response from the people. What is needed is a clear question. And to have a clear question, we need a clear process. To have a clear process, there must be a commitment to make it that way.

So far, however, the Quebec government has given us no guarantees to that effect. We are asking the Supreme Court to clarify matters, and the Quebec government does not want to go before the Supreme Court. Why? Because it knows that confusion works to its advantage. The forces of division gain from confusion; the forces of reconciliation gain from clarity.

And if we must quote Mr. Johnson, I will quote him, in concluding: "Mr. Bouchard and other sovereignists, who for three or four years have been telling us that international law is clear on the subject will have a forum to explain why it is clear. If the train is there, they can always get on board and tell Quebecers what their theories are about", but they will not go, because they know they are wrong.

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, you will allow me to point out to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs that, on the subject of clarity, he is the one who has constantly contradicted himself. He and the Minister of Justice are sending two completely different messages. He is certainly in no position to talk to us about confusion. He is creating confusion.

Seriously, I realize the Prime Minister wants to give his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs a chance to make his mark in the House, but my question was directed to the Prime Minister.

I would appreciate it if the Prime Minister would tell us whether he realizes that, by insisting on his reference to the Supreme Court and by wanting to assume the powers of the National Assembly, he no longer enjoys the support of any of his federalist allies who were with him during the last referendum? Does he realize he is isolating himself, even from the Quebec federalists who supported him during the last referendum?

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, the Leader of the Official Opposition in Quebec urges the Quebec government to come and argue its case before the Supreme Court. He does so, using the same arguments that the Minister of Justice of Canada used to invite his counterpart, Mr. Bégin, to argue his case before the Supreme Court.

The reason they are not going there is that they now realize, after being told by two judges of the Quebec Superior Court, as well as by all the experts, including some U.S. experts last week, that international law provides no basis for a unilateral declaration of independence, that this gospel they believed, because their separatist leaders, Mr. Parizeau, and Mr. Landry kept preaching it all the time, is not true, and that if they want to bring about something as serious as secession, for the sake of the people of Quebec in particular, it must be done within a specific framework that is acceptable to all concerned, and not unilaterally.

The problem is that they now realize that Quebecers and other Canadians will never give up their ties of solidarity in a clear situation. That is why they need confusion, stratagems and other tricks.

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs should be careful because, when he was a university professor, he wrote that in Quebec people would never let the federal government draft the referendum question. To create a diversion, it was necessary to appeal to the Supreme Court so that Quebecers would then agree to let Ottawa be involved in the drafting of the question. So they are not in a position to teach us anything.

Does the Prime Minister realize that by wanting to draft the question for the next referendum, to determine the percentage required for the results of the referendum to be considered positive, and to set the rules for holding this referendum, he is usurping the role of the Quebec National Assembly, which is an attack on democracy? We know he is familiar with this strategy, and we wish he would stop this exercise before launching another attack.

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first of all, since I entered politics, I have never had to back down from anything I wrote as a university professor and I am prepared to take up the gauntlet.

Second, the official opposition would do well to study foreign cases and international law. It will see that in many democracies, the very concept of secession has been excluded from public debate. In the United States, Italy, Spain and other democracies including France, which the official opposition treats as a good

friend, in fact in section 2 of the French constitution it says that the French Republic is one and indivisible.

Here in Canada we are actually more democratic than average, in this area as in others. We are more conciliatory. We accept the idea that our country can break up if part of our population no longer wishes to remain in the country. However, we have the right to ensure this is done according to the rule of law, in a clear context, since this is a very serious decision which cannot be made if confusion reigns.

The Referendum Question
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

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

Yesterday, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs stated: "It is not reasonable for Prince Edward Island to be able to block Quebec's departure from the federation, because that is not democratic, not Quebecois, not Canadian".

Does the Prime Minister share the opinion of his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs?