House of Commons Hansard #155 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was following.

Topics

Canadian Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to repeat what I just said. We have focused on programs to combat poverty in our country. We have taken positive steps, implemented new initiatives, at a time when the government's budget is limited. I believe we have made progress in this regard. We have allocated large amounts in order to resolve these problems.

But, as I said earlier, more work must be done, and we intend to do it.

Canadian Economy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the red book criticized the fact that there were one million children living under the poverty line. Right now, the figure is one and a half million.

Is the Prime Minister aware that his policies have not worked, that there are one and a half million children living under the poverty line and that this shows a flagrant lack of political will to tackle the problem of child poverty? Yet, in 1993, he criticized the previous government because there were one million children living under the poverty line. There are 50 per cent more now. Is he aware of this?

Canadian Economy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the Leader of the Opposition that, during the federal-provincial first ministers conference in June of last year, we were collectively convinced, provincial premiers and the federal government alike, that the problem of child poverty had to be tackled. We took action, in co-operation with the provinces, through specific measures in the last budget. The only government to put new money into this area is the federal government.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

April 14th, 1997 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can say whatever he wants, but his government has cut $4.5 billion from social programs. That is a fact. That is what it has done.

As far back as the 1995 budget, the government was announcing its intention to reduce its overall expenditures, with a $4.5 billion cut in social transfers to the provinces, and that has been fully accomplished; siphoning off $5 billion from the unemployment insurance fund to reduce the deficit, and that has fully accomplished; a $10 billion reduction in departmental expenditures, but that has not been accomplished.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Are we to understand from these figures I have just given that, for the government, it was far easier to impose cuts on the provinces and on the unemployed than to cut its own expenditures?

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, I am forced to repeat what has already been stated very clearly: the $10 billion we had said we would cut from our departments have been cut, since this money has quite simply been taken off the public accounts, the allocations to the departments. The cuts we had forecast and described in detail have been made.

As for the transfer payments, compared to our cuts in our own departments, I repeat again: the cuts to our own expenditures, our departmental expenditures, are 40 per cent higher than the cuts we have made to transfer payments to the provinces.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is pure demagoguery. In the 1995 budget, the government announced that it would be cutting its own expenditures by 19 per cent over three years; the outcome: 9 per cent. Three billion in cuts were not made. It did not announce that it would cut 19 per cent and

would then hike them back up again afterward. Really now. That is not what happened.

Moreover, according to page 67 of the last budget, 54 per cent of the government's reduction in expenditures is due to cuts in social transfers. The rest is the $23 billion more the taxpayers have had to pay over three years. Those are the facts.

Does the Prime Minister realize that his commitments, like the GST, have been trampled under foot?

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, once again, taking into consideration the entire program review period, we see that the cuts detailed department by department in the program review have been made. The program review has accomplished the planned results.

During that period, if additional expenditures have been approved by Parliament, these have, obviously, been totally legitimate and for the purpose of enhancing the well-being of Canadians.

I shall close by referring to a study which indicates what has happened in Quebec with the transfer payments. According to this, if Quebec had reduced its expenditures and its deficit at the same rate as the average of the other provinces, it would have virtually eliminated its deficit last year.

And what is the source of this document? It is a document published by the Government of Quebec in October 1996.

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, with about two weeks to go before an election is called, the justice minister is working hard to change his image across the country. He is trying to portray himself as tough on crime, really in favour and the champion of victims rights. It is going to take more than words to convince the victims, that is for sure.

The charter of rights has many sections that deal with the rights of the accused, but none that deal with the rights of victims. Something is wrong with this picture and it needs to change.

Let me ask the justice minister this. Will he commit today to passing a victims bill of rights before the election is called? Yes or no.

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we had occasion to discuss that at length last week in the House. As I said on that occasion in answer to colleagues of the hon. member, the government has always preferred to act rather than to talk.

The hon. member and her friends like to talk about a victims bill of rights, but we prefer to enact legislation to bring those rights to life. Whether it is the right to restitution, which is in Bill C-41 in terms of sentencing to make sure that victims of crime get restitution for their loss, or whether it is the right to take part at the sentencing part of a hearing, as we did for victims of young offenders in the Young Offenders Act changes, the government has acted throughout to ensure that victims have a role to play and their loss and their interests are respected by the criminal justice system.

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister says it was discussed at length last week. We would lay off if the Liberals would give us some answers finally.

The prevailing attitude among criminal defence lawyers, prosecutors and judges is that victims have no place in the criminal justice system. They think that giving victims rights would introduce emotion and bias into the criminal justice system. They think that giving victims a role in the court process will jeopardize the right of the accused to a fair trial. Who is paying a price here in terms of emotionalism and some sort of bias?

I want to ask the government's top lawyer this question, and I would appreciate an answer. Does he think that giving victims any rights would compromise the fairness of the judicial system? Is that not the least he could do for victims?

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, a year ago when this issue was debated in the House and before I requested the justice committee to look at the whole issue and have hearings, if necessary, I spoke in the House. I brought to the attention of hon. members the fact that in 1988, which is now nine years ago, the federal and provincial attorneys general adopted a statement of the entitlements of victims in the criminal justice system. That included a commitment by both levels of government to see to it that victims were given due notice of when a case was being called, that they were informed of their right to participate as provided by law.

I read the statement of principles to the House. That statement of principles has guided federal and provincial governments since 1988, virtually the same statement of principles that the Reform Party wants us to adopt as a so-called bill of rights.

Therefore, the reality is that for the last nine years, both federally in creating the criminal law and provincially in the administration of justice, those principles in favour of victims have been in place.

I urge the members of the Reform Party to look at that statement and realize they are already in place.

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister says that victims are given due notice. They want a little more than due notice. Victims must come first. They have the right to be informed. They have the right to have their voices heard at any stage in the judicial process. They also have the right to be protected from intimidation, harassment and abuse. Those fundamental rights must be reflected in the justice system.

Therefore, I ask the justice minister once again: Will he pass a victims bill of rights, which is an umbrella operation over far more than just the Criminal Code? Will he pass the victims bill of rights before the next election? Is he going to pass the bill or just simply pass the buck?

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has just said, what she proposes goes beyond the criminal law. Indeed, it goes directly into some areas of provincial jurisdiction, including the administration of justice.

As soon as a charge is laid under the Criminal Code, it is the province that carries the prosecution, the province that must provide for grief counselling and other services to victims.

Let me mention one other thing and it is this. The hon. member also referred to what the government does or can do for victims.

Last week I brought to the attention of the House the position of a nationally recognized organization of victims called CAVEAT. Through its president, Priscilla de Villiers, CAVEAT recognized that the government has made significant changes in the last three and a half years and that the government is prepared to listen and to act.

When the Canadian public comes to judge our performance they will not listen to the hon. member, they will listen to CAVEAT. CAVEAT has told the truth.

Mirabel Airport
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

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

During the past 30 years, the people of Mirabel have suffered as a result of a number of erroneous decisions by the federal government. Since Aéroports de Montréal was established, the Liberal government maintains its back on Mirabel Airport and concentrated on the airport in Toronto. This morning, 20 mayors in the Mirabel region once again expressed serious concern about the very survival of this airport to a delegation of five members of the Bloc Quebecois, headed by the Leader of the Opposition.

Would the minister respond by taking part in the work of the joint commission created by the Bouchard government to guarantee the viability of Mirabel and consolidate its role as an engine of the region's economy?

Mirabel Airport
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are quite happy to co-operate with any organization that wishes to improve the utilization of the two airports for Montreal, Dorval and Mirabel.

However, the hon. member who is critical of ADM should remember that it was the current Premier of Quebec who, when he was the minister responsible for Quebec, established ADM and created this independent body which apparently is no longer to his liking.