House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

The House resumed from October 2 consideration of the motion for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me in my capacity as Minister of Health to address the House in the course of the debate on the Speech from the Throne.

Before doing anything else, Mr. Speaker, may I extend my warmest congratulations to you on your appointment. Your appointment as Deputy Speaker reflects the respect in which you are held on all sides of the House. Members are confident that you will preside in a way that is both fair and appropriate.

May I also say, as this is the first opportunity I have had to speak in the House since the election, how grateful I am to the voters of Etobicoke Centre for, on a second occasion, affording me the privilege to represent their interests in the Parliament of Canada. May I reaffirm to the voters of my riding of Etobicoke Centre my solemn commitment to devote all of my energies to their service in the coming years.

The Speech from the Throne made clear that one of the three main priorities of the government in the current mandate is going to be health and health policy. I welcome the opportunity this morning to elaborate on our plans and on our objectives.

All members know that medicare represents an extraordinary Canadian achievement. It is an asset, both social and economic, of singular value. It not only provides equality of access to Canadians across the country to health care, it also embodies and reflects shared Canadian values of compassion, of sharing and of equality. It is an institution in which Canadians take great pride.

It must also be said that in recent years medicare has become a source of increasing anxiety among Canadians. Canadians worry about whether it is going to be there to provide access to the highest possible quality of health care as and when that care is needed.

The source of this anxiety, among other things, are the cuts in spending by all levels of government, and the necessary restructuring that the delivery of health care services has gone through in recent years.

The fact remains that the growing concern among Canadians about the future of health care and about medicare must be addressed because we cannot take the overwhelming support for the public health care system for granted. Canadians overwhelmingly support the single payer publicly financed system of providing health services across Canada.

That support comes at a price. It is part of a bargain between the Canadian people and their government. Our part of the bargain, if we are to retain that support, is that we along with the professionals who are the health care providers and in partnership with the provinces who deliver the services, must ensure that Canadians will have access to the highest quality possible in health care as and when it is needed. If we let down our part of that bargain we shall lose the support of Canadians for the publicly financed single payer medicare system.

Most of the levers that influence the quality and access of medicare are in the hands of the provinces because they actually deliver the services. But there are important ways in which the federal government can assist as well. It is to those federal contributions that we will direct our attention and on which we will focus our efforts.

The first obvious way we can help is by ensuring that the principles set out in the Canada Health Act are respected. Those principles do not just reflect the priorities of the minister or his department, they express the choices of Canadians.

As well, they reflect the position of this government and its party, the same party which inaugurated health insurance some years ago. Those same principles are still the object of strong Canadian consensus today.

We will continue to enforce the principles of the Canada Health Act, not out of devotion to stale ideology or some dated catechism but because the Canada Health Act and the public system of health insurance which it provides remains the best approach to health care for Canadians.

I want to make clear that I see the federal role in health care as something more than just the enforcer of the principles in the statute. We have a very positive role to play as well.

This morning let me touch briefly on three ways in which I believe the federal government can contribute positively and constructively toward restoring the confidence of Canadians in the quality of and access to health care.

The first thing we can do is to stabilize federal transfer levels at appropriate amounts. That we have undertaken to do. Commencing next year and for five years the cash portion of the transfer to the provinces will be stabilized at $12.5 billion annually, exactly the amount recommended by the National Forum on Health, a blue ribbon panel that spent two years closely examining medicare, its financing and its needs.

The prime minister has already committed the government as surpluses become available to investing one-half of any future surplus in social programs where need can be shown, and health will be among the first priorities for that spending.

The second way the federal government can help in restoring the confidence of Canadians in the quality of and access to health care is by encouraging innovation. This we have started to do with the creation of the health transition fund. In partnership with the provinces we will invest $150 million over the next three years. That effort, which we undertake in common, will underwrite our efforts to develop more knowledge about four aspects of innovation in particular.

First of all, by reorganizing primary care. Second, by improving the integration of medical services so that family physicians, specialists and other health professionals may work together more effectively.

Third, by finding out how the delivery, organization and funding of home care can be improved and, finally, by exploring various formulas for financial support and a potential drug plan.

The federal and provincial governments will be able to access a wealth of information through investments in the Health Transition Fund, particularly where innovations to improve the quality and accessibility of health care are concerned. >

The third way that the federal government can contribute directly toward assuring continued quality and access to health care is by leading and co-ordinating efforts to establish a national integrated system of medical information, cutting through the walls that now separate the separate information systems maintained from place to place around the country. Only with such an integrated, comprehensive system will we enable health care providers, administrators and governments to make evidence based decisions about the management and the delivery of health care.

In all of this let me assure the House that our objective as a government will be not only to maintain medicare but to preserve it. Our objective will be to achieve in the provision of its services a standard of excellence. Canadians deserve nothing less.

Apart from medicare there are other subjects of importance that will preoccupy the government during the current mandate. We will continue in a wide variety of ways to promote and protect the health and safety of Canadians.

I can report to the House that over the summer considerable progress was made, for example, in partnership with provincial ministers and with the advice of consumer groups toward the creation of a new national blood agency, an agency that will be put in place in keeping with principles of accountability and safety, learning from the tragic lessons of the past and based on a format designed for the future.

I can say as well that we are committed to excellence in medical research. Through the Foundation for Innovation we are providing ways in which research infrastructure can be made available. Through the Medical Research Council we are seeing to it that peer review awards are made available for those who have inquiring minds and who are looking for the treatments, the cures and the technologies of tomorrow. Through the National Network of Centres for Excellence, now with permanent status and stabilized funding we are encouraging research at our universities so that we can truly say that Canada is at the leading edge of new ideas.

May I also say that we intend to be vigilant in our surveillance and in our regulations to protect Canadians from threats to their food and to the environment. The health protection branch will continue to fulfil its responsibilities in this regard. Last week I announced that we are undertaking a broad and very public re-evaluation of the way in which the health protection branch does its job. We will soon publish a consultation document that will sketch out alternative approaches to the fulfilment of its mandate. Our effort at every stage will be to ensure that it is there to protect the safety of Canadians.

During the period of consultation, funding to the Health Protection Branch will be maintained, until the outcome of the analysis is known. Shortly, I will be announcing the creation of a scientific advisory committee comprised of Canadians well known and respected in their fields, whose wise advice and comments will assist the Health Protection Branch in fulfilling its responsibilities better.

Finally, we will focus as always on the determinants of health because the best way to ensure that we have sufficient supply of health care is to reduce demand. By focusing on the determinants of health, whether through diet or proper amount of exercise or lifestyle choices, we are ensuring that Canadians of all ages will preserve their health and will not need the health care system.

Before closing let me touch on a separate but related issue, Canada's children. By reason of my office I serve as chair as the national children's agenda. The plight of Canada's children is a shared responsibility of all levels of government. It has now been identified as a priority both by the federal government and by the premiers who, in a recent annual meeting, reaffirmed that doing something about the level of poverty among Canada's children is a priority for provincial governments.

It is often said that children are our most precious asset. We must remember that they are our foremost responsibility. Child poverty is now at such levels in this country, and of such duration, that it threatens to create two tiered citizenship. We all know the appalling numbers. One in five Canadian children lives in poverty. Forty percent of today's welfare recipients are children. We all know as well that a childhood spent in poverty makes it far more likely that child will have difficulty in school, will have problems with physical and mental health and is more likely to become involved in the criminal justice and correction system. Nowhere is the challenge greater than in the aboriginal communities of this country.

Canadians and this government cannot tolerate this problem in its present state. It not only makes good economic and social sense to do something about it but it is also a moral imperative.

My colleague, the Minister of Human Resources Development, in the last year of the last mandate made a significant contribution to this effort by negotiating with his provincial counterparts the Canada child tax benefit, an investment of some $850 million by the Government of Canada toward those who need it most.

We have undertaken to at least double that investment as soon as resources permit. Apart from the family income side of the equation there is more that the government can and will do. The national children's agenda itself will provide us with an opportunity to integrate the efforts being made now sometimes on a fragmented basis by the federal and the provincial governments to ensure that we are getting the most out of each dollar spent toward helping children, to target those who are most in need and to avoid duplication and overlap and, as said in the throne speech, to measure the results of our efforts by looking at outcomes such as a child's readiness to learn when they reach school age.

The focus of our work will be on investing more, more wisely and in a more integrated way, for example in the Canada prenatal nutrition program, focusing on early intervention, attention to children at the preschool age, learning from the research of Dr. Fraser Mustard, Dr. Dan Offord and others who have spoken so wisely in identifying the early years of life as the most important as a precursor of an individual's success in the future.

We will reinvest in the community action program for children, a remarkable Canadian success story, a success that cuts across lines of government, that combines the efforts of the Government of Canada with the governments of provinces and indeed with people in communities to serve the needs of children.

Every day of every week in 700 projects in over 500 communities across the country, 7,500 volunteer hours per week are devoted to these projects that are intended to ensure that children have a hot meal in the morning before they go to school, that they are protected from abuse, prepared to learn and that they get the kind of guidance they need in their earliest years.

We shall also establish a network of centres of excellence for children to encourage and to bring together research about children's needs so that we might know better how to help. We shall invest in the creation of the head start program on reserves so that aboriginal children on reserves might have benefits that have been extended to others in the urban environment.

Let me close by saying that all of these are but examples of things that must be done in the health portfolio in the coming years. Progress can be made and must be made toward the objectives that I have described if we are to sustain and to strengthen the high quality of health care of which we have all become proud in this country.

It will not be easy, but it seems to me that this House, this government is up to the challenge. Indeed, Canadians are up to the challenge.

It is fitting that a Liberal government will lead the way. The Liberals tamed the deficit that so constrained government action just four years ago. The Liberal Party put medicare in place three decades ago and it will be we as Liberals who will reinvest in the priorities of the Canadian people. When Liberals are faced with challenges they do not simply throw up their hands. They roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

Liberals do not seek to avoid tough choices, we face them head on. If we meet this challenge, if we restore the confidence of Canadians in the public system of health care, if we ensure that our part of the public bargain is kept then we will have achieved what I believe is within our grasp, the achievement of a generation.

Together we must get on with this job because quite simply we have an inheritance to honour and a legacy to leave.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the minister on his re-election and wish him the best of luck in his new job.

I am very tempted to remind him that the last time he rolled up his sleeves and got down to work, it was to make cuts in transfers to the provinces, but that is not the point I want to discuss with him today.

I know the minister shares my concern about the national AIDS strategy. Some $40 million is to be spent in the next few years to fight AIDS. Of course all diseases are important. All degenerative diseases, all diseases that cause suffering are important, except that AIDS is a viral disease. We know the ways in which it can be transmitted, and we know we could get this epidemic under control.

I also know that the Minister of Health has proceeded with an evaluation of the strategy, and I may recall it consists of five main components. It makes it possible for community groups to provide services locally. There is also a research component funded by the community strategy. There is also a treatment component. There is a component for co-ordination, and there is, of course, the laboratory centre for disease control which is more concerned with epidemiology.

I have two questions for the minister. Could he let us know what he intends to do about component three of the strategy, considering that his department is proceeding with an evaluation? I also want to remind the minister that when I was vice-chairman of the committee, I had the privilege of presenting a motion that was accepted by the government, as a result of which we spent three years examining the whole issue of AIDS.

I may recall that we spent some time discussing drug licensing. We found that the health protection branch had far fewer human resources than its U.S. counterpart. Furthermore, a number of witnesses suggested we might consider a joint licensing process for the United States and Canada. Has the minister had time to consider this?

Those are my two questions. What direction does the minister intend to give the national AIDS strategy and is he considering the possibility of resorting to joint licensing by the United States and Canada to accelerate the process?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Allan Rock Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the hon. member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve that we reiterated in the Speech from the Throne the commitment we made during the election campaign to invest $40 million annually over five years in the fight against AIDS.

I am very much aware that we have to consult those involved in preparing an integrated strategy for the money we intend to spend. I can tell him that officials in my department and in my office are currently talking to those involved across Canada in the preparation of this strategy.

I agree with the hon. member that there are various elements to this strategy, such as research, treatment, co-ordination between laboratories, pharmaceutical companies and so on. We intend to include all these elements in the strategy we are preparing.

In fact, in the coming weeks I myself will have the opportunity to meet with the experts and those active in the community. I will be in Montreal shortly to meet these people.

Last week, in Toronto, I took part in the march against AIDS and I met a number of those leading the fight in Toronto. I hope later this fall to be able to announce the details of our strategy. But I would stress that we intend to fully honour our commitment to invest in this strategy to ensure that every possible effort is made in the fight against AIDS in Canada.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think I have had the opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment. We certainly look forward to your impartial judgments on all of our proceedings. That was not a tongue in cheek comment.

I believe Canadians all across this country are very concerned and have some very grave reservations not only about the health of our country in terms of our national unity but also about the health and well-being of the many important matters that fall under this minister's purview.

We have had in the past few years some very strong confidence shaking concerns in matters of health in this country. We have seen the whole blood transfusion system in this country put in grave jeopardy. Perhaps the results of the Krever report and the recent supreme court judgment will finally give Canadians some real answers about where blame should be laid in that very important area.

Those of us, including myself, who take natural health products, 25 percent of all Canadians and 34 percent of all Americans, cannot understand why this government continues in many cases to deny each one of us freedom of choice in the purchase and use of natural products which many of us have been consuming all of our lives and which people around the world have in some instances been consuming for 2000 years.

The owners of health food stores in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan have told me about the arbitrary removal of hundreds of products from their shelves by the health protection branch. The ministry is cutting not only into their profits but more important also into Canadians' right of access to natural health products and their freedom of choice.

This problem has to be resolved by the minister and the government. As the deputy health critic for the Reform Party, I and the rest of the members of the Reform Party will hold the government and the minister accountable for actions in this matter.

Recently we heard from a senior official who at one time was the assistant head of the health protection branch of the Department of Health, Dr. Michèle Brill-Edwards. She continued to express some very grave concerns about inadequate testing of drugs which Canadians use daily. Standards often are not as high as we find in neighbouring jurisdictions such as the United States.

Recently in an interview she talked about the drug Imitrex which is used to combat the debilitating effects of migraine headaches. My wife is a user of this drug. As her husband I want to be assured that it is safe. When I hear a former official of the health protection branch expressing grave concerns, I worry about the competence of the minister and his ministry.

I want to assure the minister that we will do all we can to co-operate in his agenda but we are going to be keeping his feet to the fire on these issues.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Allan Rock Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to the hon. member from Nanaimo—Cowichan for touching on these important subjects.

First in relation to the blood system, we all await the delivery of the Krever report. Mr. Justice Krever is bound to make an important contribution toward our knowledge of the best way to ensure the safety of the blood system. When his report is received it will be made public and Canadians will see our reaction to his recommendations.

On the subject of herbal remedies, there is somewhat of an inconsistency in the hon. member's position. With respect to herbal remedies, he decries the regulation by the Department of Health that it interferes with the unrestricted access by Canadians to certain products. On the other hand when it comes to medication, in this case for migraine headaches, he says that there is not sufficient regulation, or the health protection branch is not interfering sufficiently.

Let me assure the hon. member that our focus is on getting it right. With respect to herbal remedies, we do recognize the importance of choice by Canadians. We recognize the importance of allowing Canadians access to appropriate natural products which they believe will enhance their health.

At the same time we have to worry that there is the appropriate amount of regulation to ensure that Canadians are not victimized by those who would swindle them or make unfounded demands or put improperly labelled products on the shelf. Striking the right balance between regulation for safety and choice is something we will work toward. I will have an announcement in Toronto tomorrow that will deal with this very matter.

On the subject of the health protection branch, Canadians should not have to choose between a former employee who is critical and a minister who responds about what the health protection branch is doing. Instead they should have confidence in the health protection branch and that confidence should be engendered by an open appraisal of its work.

That is why I announced last week that we are publishing a consultation document about the way the health protection branch is organized. We are appointing an arm's length independent science advisory board to offer its views about whether we have it right and let Canadians know whether we are doing the job properly. And we are suspending all further cuts in the branch until that process is finished.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to respond to the government's Speech from the Throne. I would like to inform the Speaker that I will be splitting my time this morning with the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River.

I would like to start by congratulating you, Mr. Speaker, for your appointment to the Chair and also the hon. Minister of Natural Resources for his appointment, the minister that I will be critiquing in this Parliament.

I would also like to thank the constituents of the constituency of Athabasca for re-electing me to represent them for a second term in a riding that certainly without any question is key to the energy future and the energy self-sufficiency of Canada. I am honoured to be able to do that.

At present the natural resources industry is confronted by many impediments to its continued contribution to Canadian employment and wealth creation. It is my hope that the newly appointed Minister of Natural Resources will heed the many voices from within the industry and use the expertise of the Canadian population when deciding what his legislative priorities will be and which policies he will be advocating.

At this time I would like to express my regret over the lack of attention to the natural resources industry in the Speech from the Throne. No more than four lines made reference to natural resources and not a single mention was made of either forestry or mining. This is perhaps understandable but nonetheless astounding considering the significance of the contribution the resource sector makes to Canadian wealth and employment.

In 1995 mining, energy and forestry contributed a combined total of $91.6 billion to Canada's GDP which constituted over 13.5 percent of Canada's total GDP. These three industries directly employ 750,000 Canadians and create countless spin-off jobs in the industry and in the service sectors. The products of these three industries alone account for approximately 38 percent of Canada's domestic exports.

The government's total lack of attention to these significant contributions is indicative of the low priority that this government and past Liberal governments place on the needs of the resource sector. I hope the limited mention of natural resources in the Speech from the Throne was simply an oversight and not a continuation of the Liberals' traditional lack of attention to the important role of natural resources in the Canadian economy.

I am particularly concerned about the future of the mining industry in Canada, an industry that accounts for approximately 16 percent of Canada's exports and generates employment for over 400,000 Canadians both directly and indirectly. Approximately 150 communities which are home to over one million Canadians are supported almost exclusively by the mining industry.

At present the future of the mining sector is in some doubt because mineral reserves are being depleted at a faster pace than they are being replenished. Mineral exploration is absolutely critical to the replenishment of the reserves.

Significant changes need to be made in mining regulations, and environmental regulations need to be streamlined if mineral exploration is to flourish. A single environmental assessment process based on nationally agreed upon standards is crucial.

These were the conclusions of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, in which I participated, in reports tabled in 1994 and 1996. In the federal government's response to the report tabled in 1996 the government expressed agreement with many of the recommendations and solidly committed to make environmental regulations affecting mining more efficient. Yet the government has been slow to streamline mining regulations, placing projects like Voisey's Bay nickel in serious jeopardy.

The Newfoundland court of appeal's decision to halt construction of a road or airstrip at Voisey's Bay without a full scale environmental review may cost 3,000 construction and 2,000 permanent jobs in a part of Canada that most desperately needs employment. It is impossible for a company to know whether it wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a complete environmental assessment until they know the size and extent of the ore body. Without a road or an airstrip, site exploration is impossible.

If Voisey's Bay is to set the precedent for other mining projects, making a full scale environmental assessment necessary before exploration is completed, we can be fairly sure that mining companies will be more reluctant to undertake new exploration projects.

The formation of a joint federal-provincial review panel to hear concerns regarding the Cheviot mine project in Alberta was an important first step toward establishing a national environmental assessment process based on nationally agreed upon standards. Government endorsement of the joint panel's recommendations was equally important.

The outcome of this first attempt at streamlining is commendable but the process is far from complete. The panel hearings were far from efficient, drawn out over a period of three years. In the mining industry this is unacceptable as time is of the essence because of the volatility of the markets. However I am encouraged by this small step in the right direction.

I was certainly less than encouraged by the brevity of the mention of greenhouse gas emissions in the Speech from the Throne. So brief was this mention that it failed to even hint at the prime minister's intentions regarding a legally binding greenhouse emissions cap.

The secrecy surrounding the prime minister's intentions is alarming given the serious impacts that such a cap would have on the Canadian economy. The oil and gas industry will suffer tremendous financial losses as will the electrical industry in Alberta and now in Ontario which will return to coal burning after serious problems at Ontario Hydro nuclear plants. If a cap is introduced, Canadians can expect dramatic increases not only in gasoline and home heating fuel but also in electrical energy rates. At this time it is imperative that the prime minister proceed with caution.

While some scientists and environmentalists have developed models that imply a link between rising greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, not all scientists subscribe to this theory. I am not trying to imply that this lack of consensus means that the government should not act. However, given the lack of solid scientific evidence in support of the theory of global warming, it seems a legislated emissions cap is premature especially in light of the fact that many companies have thus far shown compliance with voluntary programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

If as anticipated the prime minister announces a legally binding emissions cap in Kyoto, Japan in December of this year, the announcement will effectively kill the goodwill built between government and industry and will result in a loss of jobs as well as government wealth generated through taxation and royalty revenues. Precautionary measures like voluntary programs are much more economically viable and are in fact making progress.

Suncor Energy for example, a company with oil sands operations in my riding, has released its third annual progress report on Canada's climate change voluntary challenge and registry program in which it states that in compliance with commitments made in the Rio accord, it is on track to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000.

Other large corporations in the oil and gas industry are also making tremendous progress in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. A legislated cap will only serve to jeopardize the viability of other operations that are unable to reduce emissions as quickly as the cap might require.

To force compliance by imposing harsh penalties is an extreme and unco-operative approach. Regardless this seems to be the approach the government is taking with greenhouse gas emissions legislation as well as with Bill C-65, the Canadian Endangered Species Protection Act.

If the Liberal government resurrects Bill C-65 in its flawed and accusatory form, it will be a slap in the face to all of those farmers, ranchers and resource industry workers who are already participating in programs and initiatives designed to protect endangered species and who have already set aside sections of their land as wildlife habitat.

If resurrected, Bill C-65 may result in the expropriation of private land and the prevention of industrial expansion in areas housing endangered species. There is no question that these species need to be protected but private landowners must be compensated for their loss.

The recent tendency of government officials to too quickly side with environmentalists is especially frightening to those in the forestry sector. Over 800,000 Canadians are directly and indirectly employed in the forestry sector, yet the same government that claims to be so concerned with job creation strategies seems to give more credence to environmental lobby groups than it does to experts from within the industry.

Public consultation is also necessary before this government agrees to import over 100 tonnes of plutonium from Russian and American nuclear warheads to burn as fuel in Candu reactors. The recent problems with the premature failure of the Candu reactor and disclosure of the problems within Ontario Hydro by its employees and the people who run the reactors should certainly give government pause for concern over that program.

In this 36th Parliament of Canada I call on the government to stop advocating policies and legislation which are damaging to the resource industries and instead effect change that will promote the growth of the industries. The continued success of natural resource industries is in the best interests of all Canadians who benefit from the wealth and employment these industries create.

I would suggest that the government discard the same tired ideas that have been used over the past 20 years and put some faith in the judgment and ideas of the industry and individuals they were elected to represent.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the hon. member's discussion on the issue of resource development.

North America has matured in the last few years. Resource development is taking place.

He talked about replenished resources in the mining industry and offering them to the lowest bidder, at any environmental cost, for the sake of creating jobs and profits. Usually the interested parties are away from the mine or forestry sites.

Being a neighbour of his constituency, a lot of the emissions that are being released in Swan Hills from the many industries from which his province profits end up in northern Saskatchewan.

A lot of these resources have an end. The coal mine in Cheviot will be developed because the resources were depleted in Luscar. They are going to a very pristine valley and digging up an area that will be 23 kilometres long by three kilometres wide. This is a huge undertaking, but at what price? That is what the consciousness environmentalists are telling the government. That is why the aboriginal people are reminding you of the whole global climate change which is taking place.

He talks on the one hand of the emissions that are creating ozone depletion. On the other hand he applauds the coal miners for digging up more coal which will create more emissions. These things have to be looked at in a global perspective.

We can think of the forest industry and the people of Voisey's Bay. A lot of people live in the forest regions and in the areas rich in resources, which are usually found in north. As his hon. leader said, it is the final frontier. The north is not a place where the rich come to exploit the lands of the people and take back the profits. We want development the involves local people.

The people of Voisey's Bay are saying that. They do not want roads built through their traditional areas without considering the environmental and the long term impact it will have on their communities. Any development needs a second look, and should involve the local people. They should be involved in the ownership and profit sharing of the development of our resources.

Without Canada we would not have resources. Without resources this Parliament would not be here. We would still be in Europe.

Let us respect this continent. Let us respect who we are and where we are going. Let the member consider his conscience and let us work together. It is not a one-way street with one guy holding the money.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, that certainly was a classic NDP speech. I am surprised that the member is not speaking to us wearing hemp sackcloth clothing and living on bean sprouts. That is what he would have us all do if we were to follow his advice.

We have just as much concern as anyone else does for the environment.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. My hon. colleague from Churchill River would not stand up, because it is unparliamentary, to ask the member to take back the remark he just made. I ask, Mr. Speaker, that he take back that remark, which borders on racism toward this man's heritage. I ask that he—

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I think the remarks the Chair heard were not of the kind described and as the hon. member is suggesting. I suggest that we continue with the answer of the hon. member for Athabasca.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would only suggest that the member should visit some of the modern day mines in Canada and look at the work that is being done for environmental reclamation.

Why would he not visit the Syncrude and Suncor sites in my riding where the mined out areas are now rolling hills retrieved with pine, spruce and poplar. The grass is growing and buffalo are grazing where they have not grazed for 300 years. Why would he not visit the TransAlta Utilities mine site west of Edmonton, Alberta where tremendous work has been done and the coal mine has been reclaimed to a state that is far more productive and just as aesthetically acceptable as the ground and the country ever was before.

I get so tired of the rhetoric that we hear on the issue. We all enjoy our standard of living and the wonderful wealth of this country. More than any other reason it is because of the development of our resources.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, since this is my first speech of the 36th Parliament I would like to congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker. I am sure you will do a fine job in overseeing the sometimes rowdy debates which take place here.

I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Speaker, the hon. member for Niagara Centre, on for his election to that post, as well as the assistant Speakers from Edmonton Southwest and Saint—Lambert. I am sure they will all do a wonderful job and do honour to this place.

I would also like to congratulate the other 300 MPs who were elected to Parliament on June 2 which will bring a wide divergence of opinion in this place and across the land. However, that does not detract from the fact that we have one common goal, which is to represent our constituents as best we can. Congratulations to all members of Parliament.

I noted with some sadness that yesterday we heard of our first vacancy of the 36th Parliament created by the resignation of my colleague, Sharon Hayes, the past member for Port Moody—Coquitlam. She will be sorely missed.

As is customary in making the first speech of a Parliament, I want to begin by paying tribute to my riding and my constituents.

I have been honoured three times in 1997. It has been a pretty good year for me. On January 18, knowing that an election was in the air the Reform Party in the riding of Prince George—Peace River held a nomination meeting to choose a candidate and I was chosen by acclamation. Some would say, surprise, surprise. What is the big surprise in that? Those people would be somewhat ignorant of the procedure in the Reform Party of Canada. Two of my colleagues from the 35th Parliament learned that in the Reform Party every nomination is an open process. As a result of that process, we now have two rookie MPs sitting in the Chamber.

I thank the Reformers of Prince George—Peace River for allowing me to carry our banner through a third election campaign.

Second was the huge honour bestowed on me by the electorate in Prince George—Peace River. Fully two-thirds of the men and women who chose to cast a ballot on June 2 voted for me and the Reform Party. It is my pledge to them today to continue to build on the experience that I gained during the last Parliament, to continue to work as hard as they do and continue to work toward my goal of becoming the best MP possible in representing my constituents here in Ottawa.

I would like to digress for a moment and speculate on the increase in support that was given to me because even though I was very pleased and honoured to be supported by about 56 percent of the electorate in the 1993 election, that grew to somewhere close to 67 percent on June 2.

Maybe not a lot of people in the House know that 13 Reform MPs out of a caucus of 60 had 60 percent support or over at the polls on June 2. Almost half of our caucus received 50 percent or more. I am sure members know how hard, in Canada's multiparty system, it is to get a majority win.

I would ask members who were present last time to reflect back on the 35th Parliament. Reform was constantly accused by the government and the two other old parties of being a one election anomaly. We were, supposedly, a protest vote. “You won't be back” echoed in these chambers. No more. We are back, bigger and stronger than ever. A third of our caucus are fresh recruits eager to join the veterans in the verbal battle in this place.

The third honour I had was when the Reform leader asked me to be the chief agricultural critic in the official opposition shadow cabinet. In addition, my colleague from Fraser Valley, the official opposition whip, asked me to serve as his deputy.

Despite the fact that some of my colleagues started calling me the half-whip, I consider it to be an honour to serve in those two capacities. In the weeks and months ahead, I will endeavour to live up to the expectations and trust that these people have shown in me.

In the three minutes that I see are remaining in this, my maiden speech, I want members present to be assured they can look forward to many more great speeches by me in this place over the next four years.

Now I turn my attention to the throne speech. Never in the history of throne speeches has so much been said about so little to so few. If members recall the throne speech—it is quite a while ago—it seemed that even the Prime Minister appeared to be having trouble staying awake.

From an agricultural perspective I will be blunt. I think the throne speech was absolutely pathetic. It very clearly showed that the government is picking up where it left off in April, ignoring the needs of farmers.

While the term aboriginal was heard 17 times during the 51-minute speech, agriculture was mentioned once. I commend the government for its apparent commitment to our country's natives, but other Canadians require attention as well. I say apparent because like most of the rhetoric coming from the government, all is illusion. If money could solve the problems facing native Canadians, it would have done so long, long ago. Where is the vision?

All we find is continued support of the Indian industry, the chiefs, councils, government bodies, the lawyers, the accountants, the consultants but mostly the bureaucrats. It is my contention that DIAND should be renamed the department of Indian and northern dependency.

What about the people? There is no vision for the people. Other people too require some vision, require some leadership from the government. Where is the vision for agriculture to carry this vital industry into the new millennium? It is not there.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am very reluctant to interrupt the hon. member in what he is calling his second maiden speech but I think it is time to move on to statements by members. He will have two and a half minutes remaining in his speech after question period.

Paul Henderson
Statements By Members

October 3rd, 1997 / 10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Paul Henderson who grew up in my riding of Huron—Bruce.

Most Canadians born prior to September 28, 1972 recall when Henderson scored what has come to be known as hockey's most famous goal. Team Canada was playing against the sport's top ranked team. Both the series and the game were tied. However, that changed as Henderson snapped in a rebound and scored the winning goal in the final 34 seconds.

For a nation with an identity crisis the goal did more than reaffirm our hockey supremacy. That spine tingling victory somehow became a symbol of Canadianism. Canada rallied behind a team that refused to give up even when defeat seemed inevitable. The resulting emotional rush bolstered our national confidence and the sport's overall image.

The 25th anniversary of the Summit Series sparked a flood of reminiscence. The effects of Henderson's goal are as profound today as they were when the puck first slammed against the meshing of the Soviet net. As a result of that single unifying event we were given a tangible reminder of what it feels like to be Canadian.