House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vote.

Topics

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I would caution all hon. members about using props. We would not want question period to become a show and tell.

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Laval East, QC

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

Last Friday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, in response to a question from the deputy leader of the official opposition, that he was misinformed and that the government intended to co-sponsor the Danish resolution on human rights in China.

What explanation does the minister have for his about face yesterday, when he announced the government's refusal to co-sponsor the Danish resolution at the UN human rights commission?

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the decision we announced yesterday is part of an assessment we made. It was a tough judgment to make but it really came down to what we thought would be the most effective way of trying to broaden and pursue an agenda of human rights.

We held discussions with Chinese authorities, enabling us to develop a new set of initiatives. We felt that because the resolution

of Geneva had already been substantially weakened by the withdrawal of support by a number of countries, the most effective way that we could advance the cause of human rights in China was to pursue this new agenda.

I would be very glad to brief the hon. member on the kind of measure because I am sure the hon. premier of Quebec when he goes to China would like to support us in that initiative.

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a sad day indeed. The government has just abdicated its responsibility and betrayed the Pearson legacy which made human rights a priority at one of the world's most important political forums on human rights.

Would the minister agree that his government should be ashamed of letting China pressure and blackmail us into let money prevail over human rights?

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the reverse is true. The history of Canada's legacy in this respect has been to pursue the most effective ways to develop respect for human rights throughout the world.

In this case, we have developed a program of initiatives to promote rights in China, to guarantee the development of the civilian society and to engage the Chinese in a unique multilateral dialogue on human rights.

I believe that in the circumstances, this will offer the most effective opportunities for developing a reaction. If there is no favourable reaction in the next few years, we will re-examine Canada's position and support the resolution in Geneva.

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have watched the justice minister in effect deny Canadians a national victims bill of rights. I have watched the justice minister refuse to amend his conditional sentencing law that allows rapists to serve no time in jail. I have watched the justice minister use a letter solicited by him from a victims group to convince us that his position is a good thing for Canadians. Last week he categorically denied that he or his office solicited that letter.

Is the justice minister prepared to apologize to Canadians for disregarding the needs of victims in using them in a letter solicited by his office?

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, what a sorry spectacle it is, a party without ideas, a party without policies, a party with nothing to offer, driven in desperation to now a daily ritual of exploiting the pain of others in an effort to hang on to its few remaining points in the polls. It is a sad spectacle. It is difficult to watch and abide. It is hard to listen to.

I offer the same answer as I have offered on days in the past. The hon. member knows nothing of what he speaks. He asked for a victims bill of rights without knowing that most of the provinces have already taken steps to do exactly what he is asking for.

That party has been driven to a point where it is now exploiting crime to protect its impossible position.

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is really a disgusting spectacle from the justice minister. The justice minister is really the managing partner in the worst law firm in this country. That is what he is.

I think he should check with Derek Kent of his office. He should check how he wrongfully solicits victims. If he has no idea what is going on in his own office, is it any wonder why he is out of touch with this country, out of touch with victims?

Can the minister check with his office to determine if the bureaucrats will allow him to amend conditional sentencing to exclude violent offenders?

Justice
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is not only feeling desperation but by now he must be feeling acute embarrassment. Here he has paraded himself on the national stage day after day, pretending to be the champion of victims, attacking this government for having done nothing, and yet to his acute embarrassment he must confront the letter from CAVEAT, a national organization of victims, signed by the president, Priscilla de Villiers.

This is important. The hon. member may wish to listen: "Three years ago CAVEAT presented a petition to Allan Rock on behalf of 2.5 million Canadians. It called for far reaching measures to improve public safety and the treatment of victims. Since then significant steps have been taken to address some of these concerns. Although much still needs to be done, this government has shown a willingness to listen and to act".

That is the truth.

Helms-Burton Law
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week the United States and the European Union concluded an agreement on their dispute over the Helms-Burton law.

This agreement provides for a relaxed application of this law in exchange for the suspension of the proceedings instituted by the European Union with the World Trade Organization and the establishment of global rules preventing investment by companies in properties expropriated by other governments.

My question is for the Minister of International Trade. As the Liberals' record says that Canada was the force behind international opposition to the Helms-Burton law, could the minister explain how it is that Canada is not a signatory to the agreement reached last week by the European Union and the United States?

Helms-Burton Law
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, we have been in ongoing consultations with the United States on this issue. The Americans know of our strong opposition to it and we will continue to have those consultations.

The idea with the European Union was to get it into a new forum, away from the World Trade Organization, in which the U.S. said it would not participate, to the OECD where it will participate. I think that is a useful move because Canada has hit the table in those discussions on the multilateral agreement on investment. In fact, Canada first raised the issue with respect to extraterritoriality and the Helms-Burton law. We will continue to pursue it.

In terms of the other measures with respect to Helms-Burton, nothing was really gained. The president had already indicated that he was deferring for six months at a time the title III provisions on lawsuits. On title IV we have been told that they are not looking at any other Canadians and that they would not make it retroactive with respect to those already on the list.

Canada continues to present its case and will continue in consultations. I am delighted to know we will have an opportunity to bring the United States to the table so we can talk about our grievances about Helms-Burton and the whole broader concept of extraterritoriality.

Helms-Burton Law
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, for a year now, the minister has been waffling and for a year he has followed in the wake of the European countries.

Given that the minister is still refusing to fight the Helms-Burton law under NAFTA and given that there is no guarantee the OECD negotiations will lead to an agreement, could the minister tell us what is preventing him from filing a complaint under NAFTA?

Helms-Burton Law
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I expect the OECD will reach an agreement. I do not think it is going to come in the short run. It will be sometime in 1998, but it is a matter that will get full discussion at that level.

In terms of the NAFTA, we have the possibility of doing that. If the talks stall, if the U.S. refuses to talk about Helms-Burton and these kinds of unilateral measures, then we will use it.

I am happy that we are making some progress in terms of these discussions. I think international multilateral forums are the best place for it.

Great Lakes
Oral Question Period

April 15th, 1997 / 2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Windsor and Essex County, the home of the International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes Institute and the Essex Region Conservation Authority, we really care about the quality of Great Lakes water. Can the Minister of the Environment tell us whether the quality of the lakes is improving and whether we can count on this great legacy of fresh water for our children and grandchildren?

Great Lakes
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

York West
Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, let me thank the hon. member not so much for her question but for her interest in terms of the quality and condition of the Great Lakes.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of former Prime Minister Trudeau's signing with the United States a Great Lakes quality agreement. Not only has the agreement worked well, it has been held up as a model on how to manage not only shared waters between two countries but waters which represent one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply.

Last week when the Prime Minister visited Washington the two governments signed a new agreement to extend that success story to those toxins which are the most threatening and the most dangerous and to ensure that we have another success story for the next 25 years.