House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agency.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, let us understand that in 1995 the Reform Party was not recommending that any of the EI surplus be applied to reductions. Reformers were saying that all of the EI surplus must go against the deficit. We did not follow their advice. We reduced premiums in 1995. We reduced them in 1996. We reduced them in 1997. That is what we have done.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

October 27th, 1998 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to question the Prime Minister today. We are looking forward to having him clarify statements he made in a long interview published last weekend in La Presse .

Since he claims that, through his efforts, all of Quebec's traditional demands have been met, can the Prime Minister tell us why none of the political parties or leaders in Quebec has signed the 1982 Constitution, his life's achievement?

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have said and I repeat that we have made strides in Canada these past few years, in spite of the Bloc Quebecois and the PQ.

When a resolution recognizing the distinctiveness of the language, culture and civil law in Quebec was brought before this House, the Bloc Quebecois voted against it. When legislation was passed in this House to give a veto—one of Quebec's traditional demands—to the regions, including Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois voted against it.

As the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs pointed out yesterday, the list of improvements we have initiated is quite impressive and there is more to come—

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, still, this does not explain why Robert Bourassa, Daniel Johnson, Jean Charest and Claude Ryan all refused to sign the 1982 Constitution. But I think that is something the Prime Minister does not understand.

In the same interview, the Prime Minister indicated he preferred the small-steps strategy of dealing with issues on a case-by-case basis, to avoid creating false hopes, as he put it. Could the Prime Minister tell us what he means by “false hopes”?

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when discussions were held in Charlottetown, everyone bet on a miracle solution that only led to disaster. We, however, have been dealing with one issue at a time.

For 30 years, Quebec struggled with its school board problem. We introduced a constitutional amendment, the first one in years, to help the Quebec government remedy this problem.

For 30 years, a solution was sought to the manpower training problem in Quebec. What happened? After years of discussions, this government stepped in and solved the problem, as we have solved others, one by one and efficiently.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, last year, the Prime Minister said he was waiting for a federalist government in Quebec to proceed with constitutional changes.

However, he just said the opposite and last weekend he shut the door by stating “The Constitution is not a general store”.

Are we to understand from those comments that the Prime Minister is resigned to not having a federalist government in Quebec or that, even with a federalist government, he feels he can never go further than he already has?

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, while all the provinces and the federal government have decided it was important to recognize Quebec's distinct character in the Calgary declaration, the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to any change.

This is why I say that when we have in Quebec a federalist government that believes in Canada, and not a separatist government, we will be able to move the agenda forward as we have in the past five years, in spite of the opposition of the BQ and the PQ.

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, can the Prime Minister tell us if, when he said he did not want to create false hopes at the constitutional level, he was sending a very clear message to Quebec federalists to not say too much on this issue during the election campaign, because as far as he is concerned the door is shut?

The Constitution
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said and I repeat that we have made considerable progress in spite of the systematic opposition from the BQ and the PQ.

When a federalist party with people who believe in Canada is in office, the other provinces and the Canadian government will be more than willing to bring about changes that are absolutely impossible to make with people whose only goal is to destroy Canada.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week the health minister insisted that health protection scientists appeared before the Senate agriculture committee with his full co-operation and encouragement. The facts are otherwise. The minister's office worked overtime to try to prevent the scientists from testifying. An internal document shows that the minister's office tried to engineer the assistant deputy minister appearing instead of the scientists.

Why try to silence the scientists? How does blocking the truth protect the public health?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I hope the hon. member's devotion to the truth will extend to her description of the history of these events.

What happened last week was that scientists from my department appeared before the Senate committee at my urging. I encouraged them to attend and to testify before the parliamentary committee.

The document she refers to which was disclosed yesterday from a bureaucrat does not represent the policy of the department. The policy of the department is set by the minister and the minister asked those scientists to appear. They did and they testified in full and answered all the questions.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, here we have a minister who knows so little about what is going on in his department and who is so scared to have the truth come out that he now has to distance himself from the spin control documents coming out from his own officials.

The fact is once the minister could not block the scientists, he tried to send the scientists to the committee chaperoned by their own boss, like parolees on a day pass.

My question is very simple. Why did the minister tell the House one thing when the documents tell a totally different story?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member talks about spinning. It sounds to me that the only spin doctor that has been advising the NDP is Dr. Kevorkian.

Let us bear in mind what the issue is here. The issue here is whether those scientists appeared before a committee to testify. They did. They answered all the questions fully and I urged them to do so.

Bear in mind also that what we are talking about here is rBST. That substance has not been approved and will not be approved by Health Canada until we are satisfied that it is safe.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, we still do not know what caused the crash of a search and rescue helicopter that killed six members of the Canadian armed forces on October 2. However, we have been informed that the Labrador helicopters will be returning to active duty.

Still not knowing the cause of the crash, why is the minister willing to put more lives at risk?