House of Commons Hansard #148 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, on a point of order. There have been discussions among the parties, which have agreed to let the Minister responsible for Francophonie make a ministerial statement on this day celebrating la Francophonie known as the Jounée internationale de la Francophonie, followed by the hon. member for Verchères, speaking on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, and the hon. member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia, on behalf of the Reform Party.

So, if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent.

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is that agreed?

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Reform

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Normally my speech would be followed by a short question and comments period. Will that be taken after the question period today?

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The hon. member will have 10 minutes of questions and comments.

Journée Internationale De La Francophonie
Routine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

It is an honour for me as Minister responsible for Francophonie and as a French Canadian from eastern Ontario to address the House in order to call attention today to the Journée internationale de la Francophonie.

This event is celebrated today in the prolific web of 49 countries and governments that share the use of French.

We know that La Francophonie is very much alive in Canada, but it is as well in Eastern and Western Europe, Africa the Middle East, Asia, the Indian Ocean region and the West Indies.

The Government of Canada has participated in La Francophonie since the outset, thereby saluting the importance of the French fact in Canada. For this reason, it makes the international francophone community an integral and essential part of its foreign policy. We wish to demonstrate in this way our desire to highlight the contribution of the various Canadian francophone cultures in our great country. Whether in Moncton, St. Boniface, Hawkesbury, in my riding, or Ste. Marie de Beauce, in Quebec, French is alive and well in Canada.

Canada is also a member of La Francophonie because it believes in the virtues of multilateral relations based on cooperation and exchanges. It is no accident that Canada belongs to a great many multilateral organizations; from the G7 to the Asia-Pacific Forum, from NATO to the Organization of American States, from La Francophonie to the Commonwealth, Canada's geography and linguistic make-up virtually invite such participation.

There are other reasons as well for Canada's very active role in La Francophonie; the participating government status enjoyed by the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick enables them to share fully in the activities of the francophone world and provides them with a way exhibiting their vitality and expertise.

In addition, next May 19 to 21, an important conference on information highways will bring together in Montreal all the ministers of La Francophonie responsible for the information high way. This conference, jointly organized by the Agence de la Francophonie, the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada, bears witness to the desire to enable the developing countries to participate in the modern world by putting the means of communication at their service.

The Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien, will go to Vietnam next November to participate in the Hanoi Summit and to help make La Francophonie an increasingly integrated community. It should not be forgotten that Canada hosted the 1987 Summit in Quebec City.

Need I add, especially in your presence, Madam Speaker, that in Hanoi, we will once again put forward our candidacy to host the Eighth Summit in 1999, this time on Acadian soil in Moncton, New Brunswick, a part of the country you know well.

I would like to conclude by wishing the 8.5 million francophones and all the francophiles from one end of Canada to the other a happy Journée internationale de la Francophonie.

I must also ask to be excused-I apologize to my hon. colleagues across the way-because, as they know, as we speak, there is a reception under way for key figures of the Canadian and international francophone community, which I am hosting.

My hon. colleagues are invited of course, when their duties in the House of Commons permit, to join me there so that we can celebrate all together this great day, not only for the Canadian Francophonie, but for all of Canada and all Canadians.

Journée Internationale De La Francophonie
Routine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to assure the minister that I gladly excuse him, on behalf of the political formation I represent here in the House of Commons. I understand his obligations, and I certainly have no objections, since I know he will read our speeches carefully when he gets back to his office a bit later on.

First of all, I would like to thank all of my House colleagues for allowing us to have this exchange on the Journée internationale de la Francophonie. It would, I think, have been terribly unfortunate if we were to let the day go by without marking the Journée internationale de la Francophonie.

I am also extremely pleased to speak in this House today on the occasion of the Journée internationale de la Francophonie. To begin with, however, I would like to qualify what the minister has just said. Quebec was the one to initially show interest in the Francophonie, in the early 1960s, via its special relationship with France and its subsequent membership in 1971 in ACCT, the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique. Moreover, it managed to become a full-fledged member of ACCT as a participating government only after a great struggle with Ottawa.

The federal government then thought up ways to trivialize Quebec's presence within the institutions of the Francophonie, going so far as to fund New Brunswick's participation in order to show the international community that Canada's membership in the Francophonie was not solely related to the French character of Quebec.

Be that as it may, the Francophonie has undergone numerous major changes in recent years. The last was in 1996, when the ACCT finally became the Agence de la Francophonie. From that moment on, the Francophonie became a political body, with a Secretary General to be appointed at the Hanoi Summit later this year. In this connection, the name of former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is being circulated at the moment as the potential first secretary of the Agence de la Francophonie.

This political tack which the Francophonie has taken shows how it has matured politically into an internationally recognized forum whose membership discusses vital issues. This new vocation also requires of us a greater solidarity, cemented together by language and culture.

At the very moment we are celebrating the great francophone family, I find it hard to understand the government's guilty silence concerning the catastrophic situation that currently prevails in Zaire, where civilian populations are the primary victims of the raging conflict. How can we celebrate this day joyfully, when the values which we hold dear and defend, the respect of human rights, democracy and of the rule of law, are being trampled upon daily in a number of the member countries of the Francophonie?

Next fall, the Sommet de la Francophonie will be held in Vietnam. Canada has always given precedence to multilateral approaches for advancing causes it holds dear. Will it take advantage of this important occasion to raise certain points, including human rights, child labour and excessive defence spending in developing countries?

Canada could also easily raise the case of Trân Triêu Quân, the Canadian citizen who has been unjustly imprisoned in that country for far too long already. Like the Commonwealth, the Francophonie is an important tool with which we can make the world a fairer and a safer place.

Journée Internationale De La Francophonie
Routine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me, as Canadian, to address this House on the Journée internationale de la Francophonie.

I would like to say a word on the importance of multilateral relations. The benefits of such relations are the reasons why Canada belongs to a number of international organizations. The G7, NATO and the Commonwealth are all important structures for the promotion of our foreign policy. The Francophonie includes 45 countries and a few other entities, including Quebec, for example, which have in common the use of the French language.

Membership in international organizations should be based on enlightened self-interest. It is to our benefit to help maintain international stability, but I have some fear that our financial contributions through CIDA to certain members of la Francophonie represent a disproportionate share of our foreign aid budget. Historically we have helped to prop up some very nasty and corrupt regimes for no apparent reason other than that the recipients speak French. We should perhaps be more careful with our national chequebook.

Since 1970, Canada has been a leader in the development of the Francophonie. It is also a founding member of the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique. Thursday, March 20, is the Journée internationale de la Francophonie. Happy Journée internationale de la Francophonie to all francophones and francophiles who have made Canada a better place.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

March 20th, 1997 / 1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

We will now resume from where we left off with questions and comments with regard to the speech made by the member for North Vancouver.

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the member was talking about his birthplace of New Zealand and all the wonderful things that have been done there.

My recollection of the New Zealand situation after it virtually went bankrupt was that it brought in a harmonized consumption tax. I believe it was 12 per cent and was applied to all goods and services, including food and prescription drugs, absolutely everything. I am also aware that some changes were made to the income tax structure as well which amounted to massive tax reductions to high income earners in New Zealand and shifted the burden of tax down to the low and middle income earners.

I have read analyses of the impact in New Zealand. That scorch and burn approach used in New Zealand seems to be the kind of approach the Reform Party has been proposing in its budgets and in its false start program. It is the same kind of thing where the road kill of its citizens is increased poverty, poorer health care or quality of health care, poorer social services, higher suicide rates and higher family breakdown, all as a result of what the member describes as progressive government. Would the member like to reassess his position on the wonderful actions in New Zealand and maybe recant here and now?

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Reform

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I can tell by the comments from the hon. member that he has not visited New Zealand because if he had, he would know how foolish his comments are. Unfortunately, he has been listening too much to Maude Barlow who also has not made any logical analysis of what has happened in New Zealand. I can understand why she is opposed to it; her special interests are greatly threatened by the things that have taken place in New Zealand.

In any debate on this issue I always say to people that if they can afford to go, please visit New Zealand. When they come back I know they will say to me that I was telling the truth and that those on the other side who have discredited it really were not.

The member mentions such things as a higher teenage suicide rate. It is wonderful how figures can lie and liars can figure all of that stuff. I am not applying that to the member; I am applying it to the people who have used these figures.

In one year in New Zealand a mass suicide took place in a Maori community. They were sniffing some sort of petroleum product. That bumped the suicide rate so high for one year because New Zealand has a relatively low suicide rate among youngsters. It was used as a basis for claiming that the suicide rate had gone up in New Zealand. It is a massive distortion.

In addition, there are the crime rate statistics that are used by people like Maude Barlow. If the New Zealand police are asked about it they say the reason for it is that they changed the computer system and the way crimes were reported. Everything that comes over on the phone lines is now reported rather than under the old manual system when only actual convictions were reported. It looks as if there has been a crime rate increase, but there are many other things there.

The hon. member mentioned the GST in New Zealand. It is true that when New Zealand went bankrupt a GST was introduced. That had to be done because it was an emergency situation. The International Monetary Fund was controlling things.

I have had the benefit of sitting down for an hour and a half with former prime minister David Lange who was the labour prime minister at the time New Zealand went bankrupt. He was gracious enough to give me some of his time about two years ago. I never thought that I would have deep respect for somebody who was a labour prime minister.

It was a very interesting and quite impressive discussion. He described how his philosophy took a 180 degree turn. He had to make a 180 degree turn with respect to what he had believed all of his life in terms of socialism. He came to the position that without a robust, healthy investor and private sector you cannot have social programs. What you end up doing is destroying your country. What a massive turnaround that was for him.

He told me that once they began the cuts in New Zealand the people were so solidly behind them because just like here, they had seen the government waste for so long. They could not believe the government was actually doing something. It gave such tremendous impetus that the government went faster and faster. It got the job done so very quickly that very rapidly the recovery began.

I was down in New Zealand about a month ago. Unfortunately it was not on pleasant circumstances because my mother-in-law had had a heart attack. I can assure this House that had any members been down there with me they would have been really impressed with the feeling of vibrancy, the really good feelings that are there.

People feel good about what has happened to their country. It has become competitive internationally. Certainly there was a GST introduced and it is still there today.

What has happened is that there is a consumption tax. That GST is a consumption tax, which is very easy to do in a country that is isolated from other countries.

In terms of income tax, there have been massive reductions in income tax in New Zealand. It should be across the board because New Zealand has recognized something that these members opposite do not recognize. It is the successful people who create the jobs and create the wealth for the country. If they are taxed to the point that they leave, their country is destroyed, their jobs are destroyed along with everything they stand for.

I welcome the question. I am very pleased to have replied. Perhaps I was a little harsh on him at the beginning by saying he was foolish. That was unfair. I voluntarily retract that even though he has not asked me to.

I would invite him any time to take a trip to New Zealand, hopefully not with a committee because that really is not fair. Sometime he should pay for his own trip to New Zealand. There are some wonderful deals to go there. Take a look for himself.

As soon as he gets back, he can pick up the phone, call Maude Barlow and tell her she is completely out of line.

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I listened enthusiastically to the member's statement. I was in the lobby for part of it. Then I came into the House and listened to the rest here. It is interesting to hear the New Zealand experience. It is important to express that time and time again.

It is really interesting to see how this whole business of harmonization came about. I want to put this to the member for North Vancouver to address. It is a series of defaults on the part of the Liberal government that led up to this point of harmonization.

The Liberal government was put into a corner, if you will. It started out in part by the heritage minister when she was forced to resign and seek re-election at a cost of over $500,000 to the taxpayer. It is all over this GST issue.

The second point is the finance minister publicly begged forgiveness in his statement "we made a mistake for misleading Canadians on the Liberal GST policy".

Then there was another row when the member for York South-Weston resigned. I should say he was banished from the Liberal caucus. Then the member for Broadview-Greenwood temporarily went into self-exile. All this happened over the GST issue.

I would like to put this forward to the member and seek his comments.

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, before I make comments about the defaults on the part of the Liberal government, while my colleague was speaking a member opposite was yelling out that the Deputy Prime Minister was not forced to resign, that she did it herself.

As soon as my colleague said that it cost $500,000, the very same member yelled out: "That was your fault. You forced her to resign". They cannot have it both ways.

Excise Tax Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I wish to inform the House that, because of the ministerial statement, Government Orders will be extended by 11 minutes.