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 harmonization.

Topics

National Unity
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has said on a number of occasions, several provinces would be prepared to vote for distinct society, but it is very difficult to force recognition on the Government of Quebec, when it does not want such recognition.

If the hon. member wants the federal government to impose distinct society against the will of the Government of Quebec, let her say so. She should have done this when she had the chance to vote in favour of distinct society. It is not very edifying to see her rising to speak today, when she has voted against distinct society. She should think about that.

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to the Prime Minister, the next federal election will be about jobs and he is willing to run on his record. Here is the record: the worst string of jobless numbers since the great depression; 76 months with the unemployment rate over 9 per cent; 1.5 million Canadians unemployed; two million to three million underemployed; 700,000 Canadians moonlighting just to make ends meet; 17 per cent of our young people out of work; one out of four Canadians worried about losing their jobs. This is the jobs record that the Liberal government will be running away from at the next federal election.

Why should Canadians trust a Prime Minister who says he is proud of the worst string of unemployment numbers since the great depression?

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said and I will repeat that I will never be satisfied with the level of unemployment that we have in Canada. We are working very hard to make sure it goes down.

The leader of the third party should recognize that 771,000 new jobs have been created in the last three years in Canada. He should be able to recognize that more jobs have been created in Canada than have been created in Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy combined. He should be able to recognize that in January 1994 we were at 11.5 per cent and that at this moment we are at 9.7 per cent. I will never be satisfied with the level as long as people want to work.

He should be obliged to recognize that we have put the finances of the nation in order. We have the lowest interest rate in 40 years in Canada. That is why in the last few months all the indicators have shown a new confidence among Canadians. They are buying more cars and building and buying new houses because they know this government is on the right track.

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister repeats the numbers that his spin doctors give to him and he conveniently ignores the other statistics.

He ignores the fact that our unemployment rate is higher than the average of the G-7 countries; it is higher than all three of our major trading partners: Japan, Great Britain and the United States. Our unemployment rate is higher than that of New Zealand, higher than that of Switzerland, higher than Sweden's, higher than Australia's, higher than Austria's; it is even higher than the unemployment rate in Mongolia.

Instead of trying to make an atrocious 9.7 per cent unemployment rate sound good, why does the Prime Minister not do something different? Why does he not unleash the job creating power of consumers and businesses by balancing the federal budget, making the government smaller and giving Canadians much needed tax relief?

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, everybody recognizes this government has done better than expected on the balancing of the budget.

Journalists came to Canada from Japan to interview me and some ministers. They were wondering how we have managed to reduce the deficit from 6.2 per cent of GDP to less than 3 per cent in three years. They do not know how to do that and they are coming to Canada to find the recipe.

We have to stay the course. The leader of the third party does not want to reduce the deficit because he is trying to buy votes by promising tax cuts before the books are balanced.

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister would read our fresh start platform, he would find that it balances the budget first and delivers tax relief second.

Canada's unemployment situation is a human tragedy. Yet the Prime Minister always responds to these questions in this House with questionable statistics or political rhetoric. We never get a response from the heart. It is the same attitude that was shown at the town hall meeting on TV when he told that jobless woman "some are lucky, some are unlucky, that is life".

How can Canadians believe that the Prime Minister even cares about the tragedy of unemployment when he has the nerve to tell a jobless person that is life under a Liberal government?

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since we formed the government three years and a few months ago, our main preoccupation has been jobs. We knew when we formed the government that we had a deficit of $42 billion. We knew that the entire international financial community had lost faith in Canada. Some were comparing Canada to a third world situation. Today everybody says that we will do better than any other G-7 nation in 1997-98.

We were also the government that was not afraid to tackle the problem of the deficit and really do something about it. When a government does that, it has to stay the course. We are not about to try and buy the votes of the Canadian people the way the leader of the Reform Party is trying to do with tax cuts before we have reduced the deficit to zero. This is the only responsible way.

French Language
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development told the young Liberals that it was thanks to Ottawa that the French language was preserved in Canada and Quebec and that the federal government had protected the French fact against all odds.

The minister's statement is nonsense. The Minister of Human Resources Development forgot to mention the billions of dollars that a succession of Quebec governments have spent on developing and preserving French language and culture.

Will the Minister of Human Resources Development rise in the House today and apologize to Quebecers for the incredible nonsense he told the young Liberals in Drummondville?

French Language
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today on behalf of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and inform the hon. member opposite who just asked this question that yes, during the sixties and seventies and historically, the federal government invested and has always invested in the cultural sphere and in promoting the French fact and Quebec culture through instruments such as the CBC, the National Film Board, the Canada Council, the Science Council, and so forth, at a time when there were no similar instruments at the provincial level.

French Language
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the answer is so straightforward, perhaps the minister would bother to rise and answer this question: how can the minister honestly give his own government credit for saving the French language in Quebec, when its policy has speeded up the assimilation of francophone and Acadian communities in Canada?

What explanation does he have for the fact that the same policy by the same government can have the exact opposite effect?

French Language
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite who is a Franco-Ontarian like me would certainly not say today in this House that he and I are assimilated. We survived as a society in Canada thanks to the instruments of the federal government.

And I would also like to say to the hon. member opposite who, today, is criticizing cuts by the federal government that the Quebec government itself did some downsizing at Radio-Quebec by getting rid of nearly half the employees, so that now there are 329 instead of 629. That is the government of the Parti Quebecois, his big brother in Quebec City.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

February 10th, 1997 / 2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, just so the Prime Minister understands this, the Reform Party believes in balancing the budget before we reduce taxes. I should point out that when it comes to buying votes, the people at Bombardier and the people who are benefiting from the infrastructure program know that the Liberals are experts at it.

Canadians are really starting to wonder just how in touch the Prime Minister is with what is going on in the real world. This weekend he told the Toronto Star that from his privileged perspective everything looks just fine. There is a 9.7 per cent unemployment rate, record bankruptcies, record high levels of personal debt and record levels of taxation.

When will the Prime Minister come out of his bubble and come to the realization that his record is nothing to be proud of, nothing to run an election on but instead is something he should be ashamed of?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said I would be very comfortable to run the next campaign in Alberta because in the last budget we gave big incentives to ensure a huge tarsands development in the north of the province. We were applauded by all the people in Calgary for our energy policy. It has been a long time since we have had a minister of energy in Alberta with as much acclaim as the present minister of energy.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is not going to buy any votes in Alberta. Just because someone is running around and handing out money does not mean he can buy votes. We remind the Prime Minister what happened to the last energy minister from Alberta.

The Prime Minister really does not get it. This fall he said to the media regarding across the board tax cuts: "I do not think it is the right thing to do in a society like Canada".

Can the Prime Minister explain to Canadians why he thinks it is okay to have 17 per cent unemployment for youth in this country, to have unemployment rates of over 9 per cent for 76 months in a

row, but somehow it is wrong or immoral to have low taxes that create real jobs?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I know of one former minister of energy who travelled a lot in Alberta and is now the Prime Minister of Canada. That means some former Liberal ministers of energy have done pretty well.

We are very proud of what we have done in the hon. member's province for the oil industry and the development of the tarsands. There is not only one province in Canada. There are other provinces in Canada that need some help. We are doing that across Canada because we believe the federal government is there to create opportunities everywhere in the country. That is why we are happy to do things for Alberta, B.C., Quebec and Ontario. They are all Canadians and they all want to have the good government we are trying to provide to them.