House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Job Creation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

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

Employment is the number one concern of Quebecers and Canadians. Despite the Prime Minister's fine promises, his government's record on job creation is pitiful. We still have 1.5 million people out of work, almost as many as in 1993. The unemployment rate has remained above 9 per cent for more than 76 consecutive months, the longest stretch since the Great Depression.

By telling us that he wants to run once again on a platform of job creation, is the Prime Minister not in fact recognizing, admitting that he failed to fulfil his 1993 promise of jobs, jobs, jobs?

Job Creation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what the Prime Minister said and what we, on the government side, are saying is that we are extremely concerned about the prolonged employment crisis. The situation is the same almost everywhere in the western world, and

it is extremely difficult to fight unemployment successfully right now, with the new economy and technological changes.

We made a commitment to create jobs. We are not afraid to admit that not enough jobs were created. But we are also saying that we have done much better than most other western economies and that, everywhere we go, we are praised for managing to create more than 700,000 jobs in the Canadian economy while putting our fiscal house in order. That is not enough, but we are saying it is a very good start.

Job Creation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of playing with statistics and comparing Canada with those nations with the worst record in terms of job creation, the minister should recognize that 15 of the 26 leading industrialized nations have a lower unemployment rate than Canada.

Why does he claim that Canada is the best country in the world by comparing it with countries that have achieved less?

Job Creation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, that is precisely why our government is putting so much energy into doing even more for job creation. I will be discussing this matter with several of my colleagues in the near future, because we are indeed very concerned about the unemployment situation, particularly among young people. In the next few days, I hope to be able to outline our government's concrete strategy for helping young people who are unemployed.

My own department, Human Resources Development Canada, has set up and spent millions of dollars on programs designed to help the unemployed return to the labour force. These programs are extremely effective and will hopefully produce even greater results in the years to come.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

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

The defence minister has reversed previous Liberal commitments not to interfere with the Somalia inquiry, yet Justice Letourneau has called the defence minister's interference in the inquiry: "a serious challenge to democratic institutions and to democracy itself".

The minister claims that he wants to see justice done. By shutting down the inquiry he is making the junior ranks pay a price while senior bureaucrats and Liberal insiders seem to go untouched.

Does the Prime Minister agree with the analysis of Justice Letourneau? Is this interference really a travesty of justice and an interference with democratic institutions?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as was requested by the leader of the third party, we are making sure the inquiry is completed in time so it will not be going on at the time of an election. I think the Minister of National Defence explained his position extremely well and we are supporting him.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister knows that he has another year and a half before he has to call an election. There is plenty of time for a full investigation.

The defence minister has been attacking the inquiry by suggesting that Justice Letourneau can call any witness he wants. Yet Justice Letourneau said last week: "It is not true the inquiry has plenty of time to call all the witnesses such as Mr. Fowler and Mr. Anderson. Evidence on important matters presented without the possibility of real or substantial testing risks producing a whitewash of the alleged cover-up, rather than investigation of it".

Why would the Prime Minister allow a whitewash of this inquiry? Why would he allow that to happen when it is only the low ranking officials now who have been under charge?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to realize that the hon. member is not keen to go to the polls and would rather have an election in 18 months. However, that is not a subject for discussion at this time.

When the Minister of National Defence announced that the inquiry was to be terminated in June, it gave the commission three more months because its mandate was that the inquiry be completed in March. After he made the announcement the commission had two and half months to call the witnesses it wanted. Of course, it is up to the commission to choose which witnesses it wants to hear. We have nothing to do with that.

We will see by the end of the inquiry to which witnesses the commission decided to listen and to which it decided not to listen. But there were two and a half months after the minister's decision for the commission to call any witness to testify.

Asbestos Industry
Oral Question Period

February 10th, 1997 / 2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac, QC

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

On September 16, the Prime Minister formally pledged, in the House, to discuss France's decision to ban asbestos with President

Jacques Chirac. As you know, that industry accounts for thousands of jobs in the asbestos region.

Following his official two day visit to Paris, on January 22 and 23, can the Prime Minister tell us the outcome of his efforts to defend Quebec's asbestos industry?

Asbestos Industry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is aware that the issue was raised with France's President and Prime Minister. In fact, during our joint press conference, Prime Minister Juppé clearly indicated that France had no intention of reconsidering its decision in that regard.

Moreover, during a reception with Prime Minister Juppé, I introduced to him two residents of the asbestos region, Raymond Setlakwe and his wife. Mr. Setlakwe had asbestos in his jacket to prove that it is not a very dangerous product. The Prime Minister found the whole episode quite funny.

Asbestos Industry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, considering the Prime Minister's reply, I am inclined to think that he did not get any concrete assurances for the asbestos region, which includes the towns of Thetford and Asbestos.

Given France's refusal to reconsider its decision to ban asbestos, will the Prime Minister tell us why his government stubbornly refuses to lodge a complaint to the World Trade Organization, so as to stop the domino effect of France's decision in Europe?

Asbestos Industry
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, during my visit to France, we had an opportunity to discuss the issue with the French Prime Minister. We informed him that the Royal Society of Canada had produced a very detailed report showing that it is possible to use asbestos safely. I asked the Prime Minister to have that document examined by his experts, and he agreed to do that.

As for going before the international courts, the Minister for International Trade is currently looking into the possibility and when he has a public announcement to make he will do so, hopefully in the near future.

Cultural Policy
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Trade said that our cultural restrictions may be costing us greater exports and foreign markets, yet the Minister of Canadian Heritage wants to increase those restrictions. That is her answer to cultural protection. The heritage minister has said that Canadian culture should not be treated like pork bellies, it is not a commodity. On the other hand, she boasts that Canadian culture has created lots of jobs through exports.

When is she going to wake up and smell the Colombian coffee? We live in a global economy. The heritage minister has said that Canadian culture is a valuable export. Who speaks for the government, the heritage minister or the Minister for International Trade?

Cultural Policy
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, if the member is trying to show some division between myself and the Minister of Canadian Heritage he is barking up the wrong tree.

Both the Minister of Canadian Heritage and myself are strong supporters of the Canadian cultural sector. We want to see it grow. We want to see it prosper. That is what the government is solidly behind.

We all recognize that these are changing times. There are changing technologies and we need to keep our policies and our programs on the leading edge. We have faced those kinds of challenges before. The government is solidly behind the Canadian cultural sector.

Cultural Policy
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to see the international trade minister answer that question. At least he is not an embarrassment to the government, as the heritage minister was this morning when she said: "Celine Dion would not be where she is today if government policy did not require that we play a certain number of Canadian songs on the radio". That is not only shameful, it is frightening. As far as she is concerned the only way that our Canadian artists can get ahead is if they are protected by the government.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Is it not about time that he turn over the culture portfolio from the heritage minister to the trade minister because at least he is not an embarrassment?