House of Commons Hansard #127 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the Canadian people are getting sick and tired of this sort of cover-up.

We have a former prime minister of Canada accusing a former deputy minister of defence of covering up a murder. If this is not a shocking enough revelation to get the Prime Minister involved, what will it take, Mr. Prime Minister?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Remember, my colleagues, address all your questions to the Chair.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Perth—Wellington—Waterloo
Ontario

Liberal

John Richardson Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. member that it was the former defence minister who hired Mr. Fowler and kept him in that position.

That being said, we are not going to interfere, even with all the provocations and all the name calling that is being brought forward by this party, in the work of that commission.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

February 11th, 1997 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Since the Liberal Government was elected, the refugee claim backlog at the Immigration and Refugee Board has risen to over 30,000, a 75 per cent increase, and more than half of these are in Montreal.

How can the minister explain these unacceptable delays, and what steps will she take to solve this problem as promptly as possible?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it is worthwhile pointing out right at the start that the Immigration and Refugee Board is a quasijudiciary tribunal that is independent of the department and that the chairperson of the board has just taken a number of steps to step up productivity within the board.

That having been said, a bill is currently under study here in the House with a view to helping them work even more efficiently: Bill C-49. If the opposition gives us its support in moving this forward, it will be enabling us to help the board enhance its efficiency, in that only one board member will be required for cases to be heard in future.

With all these measures, I can assure you that everything is being done to try to improve turnaround time in the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister ought to put an end immediately to the patronage system currently used to appoint IRB members.

Does the minister acknowledge that delays in processing files are inhumane to claimants and their family members, and a heavy burden to the taxpayers who have to pay for its inaction and disorganization?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I must admit to you that I am having trouble following the logic of the hon. member for Bourassa, since we now have a selection committee independent of the minister to evaluate the suitability of prospective board appointees. If the hon. member for Bourassa has in mind any cases of people who are not competent for their position, I trust that he will have the courage to say so here in the House of Commons, officially, before everyone.

That having been said, it is clear that we are working to ensure that all those applying for refugee status get a reply within a reasonable length of time. As you are well aware, however, we have a quasijudiciary process in Canada; we plan to maintain it and we intend to follow the rules.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister.

What will the Minister of Canadian Heritage do to counteract budget cuts such as those made at Radio-Canada and more specifically those affecting the news program Ce soir . Could she expand on that?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, as you know, programming at Radio-Canada is the exclusive responsibility of Radio-Canada.

That being said, we are delighted to hear that following representations by the FCFAC and president Michaud, and also by the hon. member for St. Boniface and a number of other members, Radio-Canada has decided to reconsider its decision to terminate programming of Ce soir . In fact, programming in Saskatchewan and Alberta would be maintained, which would have a direct impact on francophones in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, we do not feel that the government is treating the question from the member for Red Deer with the gravity it deserves.

There is a former prime minister of Canada accusing a former deputy minister of defence, the de facto commander of the Canadian Armed Forces at the time, with participation in the cover-up of a murder in Somalia.

The head of a commission that is supposed to be getting to the bottom of this says that he cannot because of interference by the government.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Will he simply sit there and ignore this matter or will he take some action to get to the bottom of this accusation?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence said that we have appointed a commission and that it is the master of the situation. It can call any witnesses it wants. If it wants to call the former deputy minister of the time, if it wants to call the minister of the time, it can. It is up to the commission.

It is very well known that when we establish a royal commission we do not tell it who to interview and who not to interview. That would be a breach of the trust that we have invested in the commission.

This news is known to the commission. It is up to the three commissioners to decide, until the end of next month, who the witnesses will be. They have had the occasion to do that in the last two years.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the head of the commission to which the Prime Minister referred said: "It is not true that 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 an investigation of it".

Just to be clear, is the Prime Minister saying that he chooses to ignore the charge by a former prime minister of Canada that the former deputy minister of defence was involved in the cover-up of a murder?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly why we established the commission, to look into what happened in Somalia at the time of the previous government.

We established a commission with three commissioners. It has been in operation for more than two years.

It was the leader of the third party who requested that we finish the inquiry in time for the next election. Now he does not want us to fulfil that request.

The Minister of National Defence said very clearly that the task of the government is to make sure the armed forces can resume their work and operate as they should.

If the commission wants to interview anybody, it has the right to do that. We have given the commission three extensions so far. The Minister of National Defence told it to prepare a report and said that it had three more months to interview people.

The commission has known since early January that it will have to finish its work by the end of March. It still has the time to see Madam Campbell, the former deputy minister or anybody else it wants to see.

Copyright
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

According to the media, the fact that the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Department of Industry do not share the same views on copyright has further delayed progress on this bill which would finally recognize neighbouring rights and a compensation system for private copying for copyright owners.

Is the Minister of Canadian Heritage still being held hostage by her colleague in Industry or will she, by the end of this week, be in a position to bring back to the House for report stage and third reading a bill that is crucial to creators in Quebec and Canada, so it can be passed before the next federal election? Briefly, can the Liberal ministers stop fighting so we can get the job done?

Copyright
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, cabinet is unanimous on the importance of proceeding with a bill as vital as the copyright bill. About 70 amendments have been proposed in committee, and we hope to be able to table all new amendments in the House very shortly.