House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Dawson City Nuggets
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

And the Nuggets are with us in the gallery.

Dawson City Nuggets
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

March 21st, 1997 / 11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, by refusing to reply to the Bloc Quebecois' questions, the Minister of Canadian Heritage confirmed that the government, through Option Canada, paid out money that was spent during the referendum campaign without ever being included, however, in the referendum expenses of the no committee.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. The mandate of Option Canada, this phantom organization to promote Canadian unity, is the promotion of national unity by all means, legal, political and other.

I have no trouble understanding what the words "political" and "legal" mean, but I would like the Deputy Prime Minister to explain to me what means other than legal and political ones are at our disposal?

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we are speaking today about the means available to people. We know that on September 12 Quebec Treasury Board President, Pauline Maurois, announced that Quebec's unionized workers were going to be receiving an additional $1 million from the government by 1998.

Going into the referendum campaign, the chief negotiator for the yes side promised unions a $1 million increase, but today he hits them with special legislation forcing them to accept a 6 per cent cut.

So, if the topic is morality and legality, we have to ask ourselves: Who is telling the truth about the unionized workers in Quebec?

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite discouraging to see how the Deputy Prime Minister performs in the House.

What goes on within the Government of Quebec is the Government of Quebec's business. If, today, the Government of Quebec is unable to respect its agreement to increase salaries by 1 per cent, it is because of her government, which slashed provincial transfer payments. Let us not confuse matters.

I return to my topic, which she finds very upsetting. Peter White, the president of the Council for Canadian Unity, told The Gazette that Option Canada had been set up specifically to collect funds for provincial and federal Liberals for the referendum campaign.

In response to this statement, the Labour Minister could think of nothing better to say than that Peter White had already said so many idiotic things in his life that one more would not make any difference.

So who can we believe, the chief organizer of the Liberal Party of Canada, who should know what the money paid to Option Canada was used for, or the president of the Council for Canadian Unity, to whom Option Canada reported?

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about expenditures. I have with me the Government of Quebec's order in council.

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

That is not the question.

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

We have read in Le Soleil that the Government of Quebec, not the Liberal Party, spent $83 million on referendum activities. With $83 million, the government could have hired 1,769 more police officers. It could have hired 2,098 additional nurses or another 2,621 teachers.

The PQ government made its choice. It wanted to spend money on the referendum rather than on keeping its promises to Quebec's unionized workers.

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would like to make a suggestion to the Deputy Prime Minister: that she quit running in Hamilton East, resign one more time, run for the Liberal Party in Quebec and tackle Mr. Bouchard in the National Assembly. We have heard enough from her about Quebec. This is Canada here.

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

I will ask her a third question regarding the topic that concerns us and which is seriously worrying Canadians. I ask her to listen attentively. This time, I am giving her a chance to reply on topic. I would like her to consult the right pages among those prepared for her by her assistants.

We learned this morning that Quebec's chief electoral officer wanted to hold an inquiry into this matter, which is of great concern to him. I ask the Deputy Prime Minister, who boasts that her government is completely honest and transparent, whether she is prepared to tell us in the House this morning that she will co-operate with Quebec's chief electoral officer to get to the bottom of this diversion of close to $5 million of taxpayers' money?

Canadian Unity
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, of course I will co-operate with the elections commission in any kind of investigation. But I would also have to underline that if Mr. Coté is really interested in getting to the facts surrounding the referendum, when he begins his investigation I would also ask him to investigate the secret plan of Jacques Parizeau which was revealed in Le Soleil of November 4, 1995: ``Parizeau admitted that he had a special slush fund of billions of dollars that he was going to use to defend the Canadian dollar against a plunge''.

I would also ask Mr. Coté to investigate the fake promise given by the the chief negotiator of the yes side to the unions. On the eve of the referendum he promised them a million dollars and today we saw what the promise meant. It meant zero.

Official Language Minorities
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the president of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada challenged the statement by the Minister of Canadian Heritage that the objective of the assistance program for minority language groups was to promote Canada. The government's documentation on the various programs available to official language minority groups does not, in fact, ever mention this objective.

Does the Minister of Canadian Heritage realize that, by declaring that the objective of the official languages program is to promote Canada, she is attacking the political independence of all official language minority groups in Canada?

Official Language Minorities
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, those of us on this side do not need any lectures from someone born in Ontario, who learned his French in Penetanguishene, and who now claims that francophones outside Quebec are nothing more than paraplegics in wheelchairs.

His policy is to separate Quebec from the rest of Canada, and to dump the million francophones in the rest of the country. We are never going to just dump one million francophones, who are counting on us and who can count on a Canadian government that believes in two peoples and two official languages.

Official Language Minorities
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, when Heritage Canada chopped subsidies to official language minority groups, the government claimed it had no choice but to do so. Today, we learn that the government has used that money for propaganda purposes.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage make a commitment to reimburse the official language minority groups for the losses they have incurred?