House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ports.

Topics

Student Debt
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, on behalf of my party, I moved a motion dealing with the Bankruptcy Act.

This motion asks the Liberal government to amend the new standards governing bankruptcies, so as to prevent the application of more stringent rules for discharge of a student loan debt than for other types of debt.

Our purpose is not to remove the responsibility of students, quite the contrary. We know that the vast majority of students pay back their loans. Rather, the motion seeks to make the government aware of the injustice being done to students who are overburdened with debt and not able to pay back their loans.

In its study on the issue of personal income tax reform, the Bloc Quebecois recommended the introduction of a tax credit to help graduating students who must start paying off their loans.

Instead of going after students, the Liberal government should make a commitment to create jobs, which is the only concrete solution to the student debt problem.

Leukemia
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, too many of our children and adults of all ages and backgrounds continue to be devastated by the group of diseases known as leukemia.

Leukemia is still the most deadly disease for Canadian children. But there is hope. Canadian research scientists and research centres and hospitals across the country have made and continue to make great progress, particularly in the treatment and life expectancy of leukemia patients. More success has been achieved with leukemia than any other cancer.

The Leukemia Research Fund of Canada, a national volunteer organization, raises money to provide grants to Canadian researchers and to educate the public about the disease and its treatment.

I would ask my colleagues to show their support and consider in the very near future the formal recognition of the month of June as Leukemia Awareness Month across Canada, just as it has been known and practised for the last 40 years.

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

April 16th, 1997 / 2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this week at the National Assembly, members of all parties voted unanimously in favour of a resolution asking the government to amend section 93 of the Canadian Constitution, in order to establish school boards in Quebec along linguistic lines.

The resolution comes after more than 30 years of debate-this goes back to the Parent report-and after more than a year of consultations held across Quebec, throughout the regions. Today, the federal government tells us this was not enough.

I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he realizes that he is preventing the passage of an amendment to section 93 before the next election and thus delaying the introduction of linguistic school boards in Quebec?

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the resolution was passed last night. We received it this morning. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs explained the party's position to the press.

We will table a resolution in this House as soon as possible, I hope by the end of this week, but the government does not have full control over the rules of procedure of this House and the Upper House. We need the co-operation of all concerned. However, we will proceed as soon as possible, as I said yesterday.

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister knows perfectly well that creating a joint parliamentary committee will keep the amendment from being adopted before the next election. The government is aware of that. This is no accident.

And speaking of his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, how could he say this morning that if Quebec had a federalist government, it would be less of a problem, when we know that all members of the National Assembly, both sovereignists and federalists, voted in favour of this resolution? How could he make such a statement?

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we all know that the minority living in Quebec is not necessarily comfortable with certain situations-

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Saint-Maurice, QC

-as is often the case with francophone minorities in other provinces.

The minister mentioned that fact, and there was a parliamentary committee in the Senate the last time, when we had a resolution from Newfoundland, and we believe there should be a parliamentary committee once again. And to speed things up, we have decided to have a joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons that will conduct hearings where people will be able to express their views. There is nothing wrong with that. However, the government intends to support the motion.

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister wants to compare the position of language minorities in Quebec with that of language minorities across Canada, I warn him that the official opposition is willing to have an emergency debate on the subject here in the House, at any time.

The Prime Minister is saying that the federal government is the custodian of democracy in Quebec and that the democratic process in Quebec is flawed. The Prime Minister is applying the theory of Pierre Elliott Trudeau that federalism should be the bulwark of democracy in Quebec. Does he realize this is an affront to the democratic process in Quebec?

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is the government's responsibility to act as directed by the Canadian Constitution, and we intend to act on those responsibilities as we always have.

Perhaps the hon. member should read the book published a few days ago by one of his members, the hon. member for Québec-Est. People thought some of his comments were not very nice to the minority.

Personally, I am fighting for the French minority outside Quebec and the English minority in Quebec, because the Canadian government has a duty to defend minorities wherever they happen to be in this country.

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Denying the democratic legitimacy of the National Assembly in the matter of linguistic school boards, Ottawa will be launching public hearings, while all of the stakeholders in Quebec have long ago made their opinions known on this matter. Yesterday Quebec spoke in the National Assembly; now it is Ottawa's turn to listen.

Will the Prime Minister admit that his government is taking refuge behind the unelected Senate in order to preclude any possibility of this constitutional amendment being passed before the coming election? After the Supreme Court, now the senators, who are not elected, are the ones to set Quebec's education policy.

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member is suggesting is contrary to both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution of Canada. The two parliaments, provincial and federal, must decide on this amendment. Both have to make up their minds.

The Canadian Parliament is also the Parliament of Quebecers. The elected representatives of Quebec also sit in the House of Commons. Canada in its entirety belongs to the people of Quebec.

Moreover, the federal government has specific responsibilities toward minorities. This does not mean that the provinces are not concerned about them, but it is our responsibility. Because we have required a consensus, which the opposition did not want to seek, we have protected minorities everywhere in the country. A government proposing a constitutional amendment under section 43 which affects its minority requires the support of that minority if it wants to get that amendment from the Parliament of Canada.

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, just having a school bag does not make a person smart.

When the Government of New Brunswick was calling for a constitutional amendment in 1993, Ottawa held no public hearings.

How can the Prime Minister justify his acting without any public hearings, in the case of New Brunswick, while he refuses to do the same in the case of Quebec?

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in the case of New Brunswick, the Government of New Brunswick had the decency to establish a parliamentary commission in that province in 1990.

Quebecers greatly respect democracy. They must not be very proud of the way their provincial government has handled the school board matter.

Linguistic School Boards
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.