House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Lac Barrière Reserve
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the opposition, I am entitled to ask questions. One thing is clear: the entire situation at Lac Barrière is paralyzed at present, and the minister is directly responsible for this state of affairs.

The barricades make it difficult for all of the forestry activities in this region to be carried out. In order to make things easier for the businesses in this region, will the minister commit to negotiating with the Lac Barrière band council and the Government of Quebec a new trilateral agreement on the 10,000 square kilometres of forest resources around the reserve?

Lac Barrière Reserve
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie
Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we had worked in the past with the province of Quebec on a trilateral agreement. It was not mandatory in the federal government to do so. We did pay a fair

share of the moneys. We are prepared to work co-operatively with Quebec on the forestry problem.

On the band itself, Judge Réjean Paul, who had actually quit, was convinced to go back and put a last proposal to the band. Hopefully it will accept this proposal and perhaps get on with its future.

It is a problem that has been there for four decades. Using this group for political purposes does not cover the hon. member in grace.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Last October 16, the minister and the president of the Canadian Pediatric Society indicated their concerns about fetal alcohol syndrome, stating that the wisest decision for a woman to make was to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.

Can the minister clarify for us what initiatives his department intends to take in support of this recommendation?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond
Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know that the improving of the health of Canadian mothers and babies is an important priority not only for the federal government but certainly for provinces and other stakeholders.

Four initiatives have been undertaken by my department. We are working in partnership with the Canadian Paediatric Society. We have developed a joint statement on the prevention of fetal alcohol syndrome. Health Canada has also provided funding to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse to operate its 1-800 information service. We produced and are distributing public awareness materials.

Finally, prevention through early intervention programs such as the Canada prenatal nutrition program reinforces the government's commitment to giving children the best start in life.

While I am on my feet, I want to thank the hon. member for his continuing interest in this subject matter and for the various suggestions he is putting forward in trying to rectify this.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

March 17th, 1997 / 2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, Major Armstrong appearing before the Somalia inquiry stated that in his opinion the shooting of Ahmed Aruush on March 4, 1993 was a murder.

He reported this to his superiors and it seems that headquarters in Ottawa was also advised. It then took six weeks to dispatch a police investigation team. Some think this sent a message that may have contributed to the torture death of Shidane Arone on March 16.

Neither the justice review nor the committee of four can tell the minister of defence what took place at national defence headquarters. How does he intend to find out?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman refers to the work done by a retired chief justice of the supreme court, Mr. Dickson, and his team on the military justice system. I know that the hon. member has deep concerns about the Canadian forces and how the military justice system works, how the military police organization responds to the kinds of challenges that obviously occurred in Somalia.

I have now received the report from Mr. Justice Dickson. I will be reporting to the Prime Minister before the end of the month. I think I can say without equivocation that the hon. member will be as impressed as I have been by the work done by Mr. Justice Dickson.

That having been said, with specific reference to the question he put today, the hon. member will know that I have not in the past commented on testimony brought before the Somalia commission of inquiry and I will not do that now. I will have nothing to say about how it has dealt with that issue until such time as it has prepared its recommendations and has submitted them to the government.

I am sure the hon. member and Canadians look forward to receiving the report of the Somalia commission of inquiry no later than the end of June.

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the justice committee probably has provided good recommendations but that does not deal with the problem of what happened at NDHQ after that report. It seems that there may have been several cover-ups at several levels, in Belet Huen, in Mogadishu and then the so-called damage control in Ottawa.

The commission may be able to answer the questions about Belet Huen and Mogadishu, but with the inquiry shut down it will not be able to establish the facts of what took place in Ottawa.

How does the minister intend to deal with this apparent attempt of a cover-up of murder?

Somalia Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the incidents to which the hon. member refers have been the subject of various proceedings within the military justice system. I do not intend to comment on that.

With respect to the roster of witnesses, of the agenda and the workplan of the commission of inquiry on Somalia, I have not commented on that. We are now two years beyond the time when that commission began its work.

I will leave it to the hon. member and to keen observers of this entire exercise to determine for themselves and to respond in their own way whether they believe that people who were involved or who were aware of the incidents when they occurred in Somalia should have been heard at the end of two years or earlier. I do not intend to comment on that.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Human Resources Development.

According to the minister, one of the characteristics of the new Employment Insurance Act is to calculate the number of hours worked, and no longer the number of weeks. However, the Employment Insurance Act still excludes one class of casual workers. I am referring to the 20,000 members of the army reserve whose assignments for less than 30 days do not count for employment insurance. However, members of the reserve very often have assignments of less than 30 days between September and June.

What explanation does the minister have for the fact that 20,000 members of the reserve are partly excluded from the provisions of employment insurance, while according to the government, the purpose of the new legislation is to allow a larger number of people to qualify for employment insurance benefits?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it will be a pleasure to look into the particular case of members of the reserve.

The fact is that we want to encourage people to accept more work. As soon as workers finish their first hour of work, we start covering them. We want to encourage people to accept more hours of work.

Obviously, to obtain the amount necessary for coverage and benefits, we think it is also important that people have an incentive to look for work other than what they can get within a certain period on the labour market. That is what we are doing.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has shown his ignorance in this respect.

Is the minister prepared to make a commitment, as of today or at least as soon as possible, to do what is necessary to remedy the situation and provide equal treatment to 20,000 members of the reserve by removing this unfair and inequitable exclusion?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst
New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that a question such as this which is rather technical and concerns a group of people who are very important to us at the Department of National Defence, should be asked without prior notice, because otherwise we could have checked all aspects of the legislation.

As members know, very few members or ministers in this House are in a position to know every detail of every act, however complex it may be.

I can assure the hon. member that the government is doing what it can to encourage people in the public service to participate, if they so wish, in the activities of the reserve or the militia. We want to do everything we can to encourage Canadians who are interested, because we are increasing the membership from 20,000 to 30,000.

I can assure the hon. member, as the Minister of Resources Development just did, that we are doing everything we can to be fair and equitable to everyone who needs employment insurance.

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, a week ago today the hon. member for Saskatoon-Dundurn said in this House: "Everybody knows Clifford Olson will not be granted parole".

I would like to ask the Minister of Justice if he agrees with this former chair of the justice committee. If so, why is he allowing Clifford Olson to terrorize his victims over and over again?

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the application brought by Clifford Olson will be determined by a jury in a courtroom in British Columbia in the months ahead.

In the last three and a half years that it has been my privilege to be Minister of Justice, I have made it my business to meet as often as I can with those who survive and grieve the loss of victims of crime. One thing I have learned about that process and the victims of crime is that it is terribly important not only to sympathize with them and their terrible grief but to be honest with them. I know the hon. member would want to be honest with the victims of crime.

It should be remembered that it is not the present government that created section 745. Section 745 has been part of the criminal law of this country since 1976. It is this government that introduced

important changes to section 745 so that multiple murderers will never be able to apply in the future, so that juries will have to be unanimous, so that judges will first screen even those applications that can be brought.

My point is let us be honest about what is going on. There was no easy way to roll back Clifford Olson's right to apply under section 745. We have taken care of the section for the future. When we introduced those changes the hon. member and his party voted against them.

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I remind this House that it was Liberals who brought in section 745.

Are the Liberals trying to rehabilitate Clifford Olson by allowing him telephones, fax machines, word processors and early parole? Are you trying to rehabilitate-