House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offence.

Topics

Motion No. 300
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I would like to inform the House that under the provisions of Standing Order 30 I am designating Tuesday, December 8, 1998, as a day fixed for the consideration of private member's Motion No. 300 standing in the order of precedence in the name of the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

The other period provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business will run from 6.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., after which the House will proceed to the adjournment motion, pursuant to Standing Order 38(8).

It being 11.07 a.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-219, an act to amend the Criminal Code (using or operating a stolen motor vehicle in the commission of an offence), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-219. I know that justice issues are very important to my colleague from Wild Rose. This bill is simple. It is not rocket science. A person stealing a vehicle to rob a bank will be subject to a third offence of stealing a vehicle to commit another crime. That third offence will get an automatic one-year sentence added to the sentence for other offences.

We have already heard government members speak in opposition to this legislation. That is most unfortunate, but not really surprising. Once again this government sings the tune that it is in favour of safer streets and more secure communities, but when it gets down to the short strokes it typically fails to dance the dance and continues to maintain the status quo. Government members are quick to cite support from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police when they happen to be on the same page, but they invariably ignore these same chiefs when additional protections are sought. As mentioned by the member for Wild Rose, the chiefs themselves initially proposed this change to our law.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice claims that Canadians are already well served by common law principles of sentencing and current legislation.

Going back to my initial example, yes, there is an offence for stealing a motor vehicle and, yes, there is an offence for robbing a bank and, yes, a judge considers both the theft and the robbery at sentencing. However, we all know that multiple convictions virtually always draw concurrent sentences.

Bill C-219 impresses upon those judges that they are to proceed as always by imposing an appropriate sentence, but that they are then to add another year to the total. As part of their function they are to consider the wishes and instructions of parliament which, if it supports this bill, will serve notice to both potential offenders and the courts that the representatives of the people are seriously concerned with the theft of motor vehicles to commit other offences and we have decided to pronounce additional condemnation.

I will point out some of the justification for this proposal. According to Statistics Canada, some 178,580 vehicles were stolen in 1996. The rate of vehicle theft has been increasing for eight consecutive years, nearly doubling since 1988. In 1995-96 the cost of stolen vehicles and their components amounted to $600 million. That is $600 million a year for vehicle theft.

Both the solicitor general and the justice minister have received strong messages to introduce policy to reduce auto theft. The problem is not just with auto as in car theft; there has been a large increase in the number of trucks stolen in recent years given the tremendous increase in popularity of minivans and sport utility vehicles.

These statistics reveal the nature of the problem of auto theft in Canada. Of course not all stolen vehicles are subsequently involved in other crime. This legislation addresses the problem of the more professional criminal, those who steal a vehicle and then continue on to other criminal activities. Surely these individuals deserve extra attention.

One thing I have learned here is this government's resistance to change. It is most often quite content with the status quo. It only moves on crises. Another is its apparent policy of not permitting any individual member of this place to succeed in bringing forth change. As a member of the committee on justice and human rights, I continue to see this government through ministers and parliamentary secretaries being unwilling to support private member initiatives, especially those of the opposition. We can only hope that members of the government backbench will see the wisdom of Bill C-219.

Opposition to the bill appears to be based solely on the reliance on present laws to properly address the problem. If the present laws are doing the job, then why do we have this epidemic of motor vehicle theft? Why do we have a proliferation of anti-theft devices for vehicles? Why are manufacturers installing satellite tracking systems in many new vehicles? Why, when we walk on virtually any urban street in Canada, do we see a variety of locking bars on steering wheels or little red lights flickering on the dashboard indicating that an alarm system is armed?

The same holds true for vehicles parked on residential driveways and even private garages. Why, when we unwittingly brush against a car in a crowded parking lot, do we run the risk of setting off a chorus of sirens, whistles and klaxons? Obviously the present laws and the present judicial discretion concerning sentencing are not working.

I agree with the Progressive Conservative House leader who said that it would toughen the criminal sanctions for those individuals who use a stolen vehicle to assist in the commission of their criminal act.

In many instances the government has gone out of its way to protect the rights of criminals. It has been much slower to protect the security of the public. We all recognize the tax burden on citizens. We may not be so clear as to how, through increases in crime, citizens are expending an ever increasing proportion of steadily shrinking disposable income on protection devices.

I have already mentioned anti-threat devices on motor vehicles. Home security alarms are just another example of costs to citizens which can be equated to taxes because the expenditures are brought about by the government's failure to provide sufficient protection for properties.

The member for Wild Rose through his private member's bill is at least proposing a method to attempt to protect Canadians from not only motor vehicle theft, but in some cases serious injury or even death. He is merely asking for a consecutive sentence for those professional criminals who steal a vehicle in order to commit another crime. Surely this is a laudable and long overdue initiative. Surely its passage will cause some criminals to have second thoughts about stealing a vehicle to use in other crimes. Surely the sentence imposed through this proposal will act as a deterrent to others.

As I speak of this legislation I cannot help but compare it to another private member's bill which is presently before the justice committee. I refer to Bill C-251, which seeks to impose consecutive sentencing on those convicted of multiple murders or sexual assaults. We know that the vast majority of Canadians are in support of this initiative. I would seriously believe they would also be in support of consecutive sentencing for those who steal a motor vehicle in order to commit another crime. It only makes sense.

As the member for Wild Rose is fond of saying “We need more common sense in this place”. We need to impress upon those who consider making a career of crime that we intend to deal most seriously with their multiple offences.

Here are some numbers from my home city of Surrey, British Columbia. Corporal Greg Roche of the Surrey RCMP auto theft division provided me with statistics for January 1 to October 31 of this year. During that period 3,161 cars were stolen, 823 trucks, 75 motorcycles, and 62 other vehicles such as all terrain vehicles. That is a total of 4,121 stolen vehicles. If we exclude the motorcycles and others, we still have 3,984 cars and trucks in 309 days, or an average of nearly 13 vehicles each day. That is about one stolen vehicle for every 80 residents of Surrey.

About two years ago I was playing in a hockey tournament. My wife and I left the arena around midnight, about a half hour before my daughter left with a friend. Turning a corner, we saw a blaze of flashing emergency lights about five blocks ahead. The road was cordoned off two blocks from the scene but we could see a horrendous car wreck. My heart leaped into my throat because this was the route my daughter would have taken home. After an anxious few minutes spent taking a detour, we turned on to our street and saw her friend's car in our driveway.

The next morning I learned that police had called off a pursuit and parked their vehicles at the side of the road intending to stop a stolen vehicle headed their way. The thief sped past them with his lights out, laughing and flipping them the finger. He blew through a red light and T-boned a small car which was catapulted across the intersection and through a fence. A middle aged woman on her way home from a church meeting died on impact.

That was two blocks from my home and could just as easily have been my daughter and her friend. They had just pulled into the driveway when they heard the impact. The offender, in his early twenties, was well known to police for a long history of auto thefts and other crimes.

I encourage all members to support Bill C-219 and address just one facet of a problem that is epidemic and, in cases such as I have just described, tragic.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Devillers Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-219, an act to amend the Criminal Code, provides for amendments to Part IX of the code, Offences against Rights of Property.

The hon. member who is proposing this amendment suggests a new and indictable offence of using a stolen motor vehicle in the commission, attempted commission or flight following commission of an offence. Everyone who commits this indictable offence would be liable to imprisonment of a term of one year. The proposal also provides that the sentence imposed for this offence be served consecutively to any other punishment imposed in respect of a different offence.

The proposal does not, as the sponsor of the bill would have us believe, create a minimum jail sentence of one year when a stolen vehicle is used during the commission of a crime. The Criminal Code is very clear in stating that “no punishment is a minimum punishment unless it is declared to be a minimum punishment”. This is subsection 718.3(2). All that the proposal does is create a new indictable offence punishable by a maximum of one year.

The hon. member sponsoring the bill raises the issue of increased car thefts. He pointed out that 80% of the cars stolen are stolen for purposes of joy riding. I would like to point out the following.

There are already common law provisions under the Criminal Code with respect to theft, including theft of a motor vehicle, and to the related sentences.

Under section 334 of the Criminal Code, theft over $5,000 is an indictable offence carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years. Theft not exceeding $5,000 is considered an indictable offence with a maximum sentence of two years, or an offence punishable on summary conviction.

These provisions reflect parliament's recognition that theft of property is a serious offence. In addition, any court which imposes a sentence upon an individual convicted of any criminal offence is already obliged to take into account the circumstances surrounding the offence.

For example, the fact that a stolen vehicle was used in the commission of an offence will invariably be considered as an aggravating factor in sentencing. The conduct of utilizing a stolen vehicle in the commission or attempted commission of the offence will usually result in a harsher sentence.

The government supports the principle that those who use stolen motor vehicles in the commission, attempted commission or flight following commission of an offence ought to be punished. Moreover, in any case where the use of a stolen motor vehicle in a criminal offence endangers the lives or safety of others, the offender should be exposed to harsher penalties.

However our current system, revamped in 1996 through Bill C-41, the sentences reform act, already provides the necessary flexibility in effectively tailored sentences to circumstances such as the foregoing.

It is perplexing to me that the issue of consecutive sentences continues to be raised in the House by certain members including the member responsible for the bill being debated today. The government has already addressed the issue of consecutive sentences in its package of amendments to the sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code which came into force in September 1996.

Subsection 718.3(4) of the Criminal Code currently provides judicial discretion to impose consecutive sentences, that is sentences served one after another, where appropriate, for example where the offender is already subject to a sentence of imprisonment or where the offender is convicted of more than one offence before the same court and several periods of incarceration are required.

However, this paragraph is subject to paragraph 718.2(c) of the Criminal Code, which provides that “where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh”. This is the sentencing principle known as the totality principle.

It has also been held that a second crime committed while in flight from a first crime should be subject to a consecutive sentence.

Further, jurisprudence has stated that where there are a number of different offences committed within a short period of time the offences should be grouped in categories and concurrent sentences imposed in respect of the offence in the same category but consecutive sentences for those imposed in respect of other categories, again bearing in mind that the total term should not be excessive. This is consistent with the sentencing process.

As all levels of courts have recognized, including the Supreme Court of Canada, the sentencing process is an individualized one. The court exercises discretion based on the particular facts of the case before it. The court tailors a sentence appropriate to the individual circumstances of the offences and the offender, after having taken into account such things as the aggravating and mitigating factors, the gravity of the offence, the degree of responsibility of the offender, and what sentences others have received for similar offences committed in similar circumstances.

In addition, parliament has enacted provisions which address the purpose, principles and objectives of sentencing which serve to guide and structure the court's exercise of its discretion. In particular, courts are instructed that the fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that include as their objectives the deterrents and denunciation of unlawful conduct. Courts have all the required tools to address this situation at the present time.

It should also be noted that while the problem of motor vehicle theft is international in scope, the recent international crime victimization survey conducted in 1996 revealed that Canada's rate of vehicle theft ranked as one of the lowest among industrialized countries. In 1995, 18 out of every 1,000 Canadian vehicle owners experienced a motor vehicle theft compared with a rate of 33 per 1,000 owners in England.

In addition, a number of non-statutory measures have been developed to prevent motor vehicle theft in Canada. These have been quoted as examples of reasons for needing more legislation but I think they are more appropriately alternatives to legislation.

Many police departments across the country have set up anti-theft programs involving visible stickers on car windows which signal to the police to stop the car when it is being driven between midnight and 6 a.m. and to check the driver's identification.

In addition, car parts are marked and there are measures against the exporting of stolen vehicles.

These crime prevention programs designed to reduce car theft, together with existing criminal code provisions, provide a comprehensive scheme for addressing the use of stolen motor vehicles to commit crimes.

What is more concerning is the constant occurrence during Private Members' Business of members proposing legislation based on the assumption that the criminal justice system is not working and that it is at a state where Canadians should be tremendously concerned about their public safety. Granted it may be because of demographic reasons, but for whatever reason Canadian society is becoming one that is less and less violent.

It does not serve the public interest well. Not only this member but members from all parties bring forward private members' bills based on the assumption that the criminal justice system is not working. That is a very misleading position for members to bring to the House. More study should be done as to the actual facts and statistics. Inasmuch as that may not be as politically expedient as the contrary, the public interest would be much better served.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to address the House on private member's Bill C-219 as the justice critic for the New Democratic Party and, since it is a private member's bill, as an individual member of parliament from Cape Breton and Sydney—Victoria.

The bill seeks essentially to do two things, as has already been commented upon by the previous speaker from the government. It makes it an offence to use a stolen car in the commission of another offence. It provides for consecutive sentencing of a person for a maximum period of one year should the individual who has stolen the car be convicted.

It is an interesting piece of legislation. The hon. member for Wild Rose was well intentioned when he prepared and submitted the bill to the House. It says a number of things. It speaks to a concern that has been addressed by the member for Wild Rose and other members in the House about crime and how we deal with crime. As the hon. member prior to me indicated, it makes a provision for a maximum sentence of one year if a vehicle is used in the commission of an offence or while fleeing an offence.

The hon. member who spoke prior to me is correct, at least in my experience, when he says that if a vehicle used in the commission of an offence is a stolen vehicle it is an aggravating factor in sentencing. It does not detract from the private member's bill that has been introduced in the House by the member for Wild Rose. It is a reality. It needs to be said that in the commission of an offence, whether that offence is break and enter, robbery or whatever, if the offender has used a stolen vehicle it comes to the attention of the judge.

It comes to the attention of the judge in a number of ways. First, the prosecutor will bring it to the attention of the judge. Second, and in my experience of some years as a criminal lawyer, in most cases the individual will also be charged with theft over a certain amount in addition to the offence for which he or she has been convicted, as referred to by the hon. member. That in and of itself is another criminal offence.

There is also a specific offence under section 335 of the Criminal Code which says that subject to subsection 1.1 every one who without the consent of the owner takes a motor vehicle—and it goes on to define that—or is an occupant of a motor vehicle that is taken without the consent of the owner is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Sometimes it is helpful for people watching or listening to the debate, or those reading Hansard , to have an example because the Criminal Code is such a complicated document. I practised criminal law for some 14 years. It is a comprehensive and complicated piece of legislation.

Let us take the example of an individual who commits a break and enter with a stolen vehicle, not into a dwelling house but into a place of business. That offender would be charged under section 348 of the Criminal Code and would be subject, because it is not a dwelling house, under an indictable offence, to a term not exceeding 10 years.

If the member for Wild Rose has his way and his bill becomes law, the use of the stolen vehicle would add another year to that sentence. I do not think it would make a huge difference when one looks at the other sections of the code, which make it an offence to steal a vehicle in any event—

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

An hon. member

Who gets 10 years.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini Sydney—Victoria, NS

I am asked who gets 10 years. Again, sentencing is a complicated factor. Some people get five, some people get seven. Even if the offender were sentenced to a lesser amount—and I am not taking away from Bill C-219, I am just providing an example—it would add one additional year.

I have no great problem with that. I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing. I think it would bring home how wrong it is to use a stolen motor vehicle in the commission of an offence. It would add that one year penalty. I would submit that in most cases there would be an additional period of time in any event.

Therefore I have no problem with the bill. It seems to me that it is simply codifying what happens in common law, except—and this is one area that I think is worthy of some discussion and some thought—it makes it a mandatory consecutive sentence, as opposed to providing the judge with the discretion to make it concurrent. Even at that I have no great problem with the bill.

However, I do have a problem with some of the motivation. I only say this because it is an ongoing debate as to whether or not increased penalties prevent crime. I appreciate where the hon. member is coming from when he says that it will teach a lesson to those who decide to steal a car in order to commit a crime. For those very few offenders who do in a premeditated and calculated way determine that they are going to steal a vehicle to commit an offence it may in fact be a deterrent. However, the vast majority of individuals who come before the court because of the commission of a criminal offence rarely plan it. In fact, they say that is why most of them get caught. It is a spur of the moment, poorly thought out action.

It is a criminal action, nonetheless. It is a serious action, nonetheless. But the very real argument that there would be general deterrence or specific deterrence by saying “Listen, buddy, when you decide you are going to steal that car to commit an offence, you had better think twice because you are going to end up serving consecutive time for the commission of the offence”, that thought process does not happen. Nine times out of ten, I would venture to guess, the vast majority of stolen vehicles are stolen on impulse and they are stolen to commit another crime that happens on impulse. The reality is that offenders do not sit down to calculate how much time they might serve for the commission of an offence.

They know they are committing an offence which is why it is wrong. They ought to be punished for it. But if members of the House think they are going to be able affect the thought process of those who commit offences, it simply is not going to happen.

Rehabilitation is an aspect of sentencing that is rarely addressed by these kinds of bills. Rehabilitation is what happens to the offender after the commission of the offence. Hopefully it teaches them not to commit that offence by addressing the root causes of the offence. Rarely in the debates on these kinds of bills are the issues of rehabilitation addressed.

There was another bill mentioned by hon. members in this debate that had to do with consecutive sentencing. I have read the speeches on that bill given by the mover. It is a different bill, so I will not address it too long. However, nowhere in his comments in the House of Commons does the mover of that bill talk about rehabilitation. Until we address that problem, simply thinking that we can scare those who would offend by increasing sentences is simply not going to solve the problem. That being said, for the victim whose car is stolen, if they are seeking some kind of retribution, I suppose the one year sentence makes sense.

For the most part, the one year sentence, whether it be six months, eight months or a year, will be calculated by the judge in determining the sentence if a motor vehicle is used.

It is a worthwhile point of discussion. It is an interesting bill. It is motivated because the hon. member has heard from his constituents and chiefs of police who support it. As a lobby group, the chiefs of police come from a particular point of view, as do other lobby groups which try to effect bills.

Hon. members say that chiefs of police come from a lobby group that protects society. They do. The John Howard Society is a group that wants to protect society in a different way. The key for parliamentarians is not to be dictated to by either lobby group, but to find the balance that reflects the will of Canadians.

I thank the hon. member for introducing the bill. It has given us some thoughtful discussion.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to support Bill C-219. I commend the member for Wild Rose for submitting this private member's bill. I believe it is required in our society to send a message to those who have a tendency or an intent to commit crimes, and in this case to do so with stolen vehicles. Therefore, I commend him for bringing it forward.

As a former police officer, I have to say that I can see a great deal of merit in this bill. I have had experience dealing with young offenders who are intent on breaking the law, stealing motor vehicles, taunting the police and recklessly driving without being chased just to get the attention of the police.

In the early part of my career I saw a number of minor motor vehicle thefts increase to up to a thousand a month in the city of Calgary alone. That was experienced in every city across this country. There was no deterrent sentencing. The young offender would laugh at the thought of even being caught in a stolen motor vehicle. They would deliberately commit some infraction and look for the police so they could taunt them into chasing them. That is a very harsh way of dealing with the freedoms of this country and the young offenders are not being treated accordingly by the courts to deter such criminal activity. There needs to be a deterrent. Bill C-219 is a step in the right direction.

Approximately 80% of the vehicles are recovered. Eighty per cent of vehicles are used for joy riding or crime and then they are dumped. In other words, they are recovered, but there is still a cost to the insurance company.

The other 20% are often used for things other than crime. They are often sent overseas. They are dismantled for parts. Or they become part of some other country's economy. It is unbelievable the number of stolen vehicles that leave this country to become part of another country's economy. All we have to do is go to either one of the coasts where there is a port and look at the container traffic. In those containers there may be two or three stolen vehicles. It is something that the police cannot get a handle on. They know it is happening in a substantial way, but they cannot get a handle on it because it requires extra resources.

I think anyone caught in a stolen vehicle, let alone committing another criminal offence, should have another year added to their sentence.

The member who spoke just before me mentioned sentencing for a break and enter. If a person was caught in a stolen vehicle and had just broken into a shop, that would certainly bring a sentence of 10 years. I do not know of anyone who received 10 years for breaking into a shop. I do not even know of anyone who got 10 years for breaking into a house, let alone breaking into a shop.

The judges already have the latitude to hit an offender with a substantial sentence, but they do not take that opportunity. It is like politicians. They have to be forced to do something. Most of the time they are forced to do something after their constituents get fed up with the way things have been going. In my respectful submission, this also applies to judges. They say they have to go back to case law where it tells them that they have to do this or do that.

Where on earth does case law come in when a person is charged with half a dozen car thefts and a few cases of break and enter? The court then decides it is not going to sentence the person for the six cases of break and enter or the six auto thefts, but that it will apply global sentencing which may amount to what they would get if they had stolen one car and broken into one shop. That is what is happening in our courts.

Provisions for minimum sentencing must be brought into law. If an offender is responsible for car theft, then he should get a minimum of one year.

In that regard, I believe this bill is suitable.

I remember a recent jailbreak from the Drumheller penitentiary where five inmates went on the lam. One inmate was responsible for killing a police officer. Another one was charged and convicted of manslaughter. Two others had been charged with robbery and the last one had been charged with break and enter.

They stole a car to get away from the prison. They drove it as far as Cochrane, which is about 100 miles outside of Drumheller, dumped it and stole another car. They then drove the second stolen car to Coquitlam in British Columbia where they decided to commit one armed robbery and one robbery.

They stole another car which they drove throughout southern British Columbia and then committed another armed robbery in the central part of British Columbia. Here are five inmates on the lam. What happens to them?

They should receive a one year sentence for every car they stole, not some global sentencing that throws it all together into one, which amounts to a few months more in prison. That is not what should happen, but that is what is happening in our courts and that is the way the authorities have handled it. I think it is time for change.

We have to put a screeching halt to what is going on right now by introducing minimum sentencing in our legislation that will change the minds of judges who think they have so much discretion or that they have to do what their predecessors have done, with maybe only one other ruling, and put an end to this whole aspect of global concurrent sentencing.

I believe the meeting in 1996 which involved the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police would welcome such a bill. They would now feel that they are finally getting some support from this House when they stand to speak. The police are charged with a very serious responsibility which is to protect society.

This is not the John Howard Society.

The John Howard Society plays a role but not for the rights of prisoners. Prisoners rights have gone far beyond what they should have gone. The chiefs of police have been shuffled off to the side. They are coming out and saying more and more loudly that they have a problem on our streets and they want some help. It is only the politicians that can actually correct this problem. They can bring in laws which will be much more demanding and place the responsibility on the shoulders of those who commit crime.

I urge members of the House to consider the merits of Bill C-219. I am confident that if they do so they will see the bill is a step in the right direction.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

David Price Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-219, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to using or operating a stolen motor vehicle in the commission of an offence.

Although my party and the Reform Party do not agree on the remedies in the justice system, we agree that there are many problems in our justice system. We agree that the Liberal government is not always there for Canadians to strengthen the Criminal Code and to toughen provisions when needed.

As mentioned by previous speakers, the bill would amend section 334 of the Criminal Code. The purpose of the amendment is to classify those found guilty of operating or using a motor vehicle which a person has stolen or knows to have been stolen while committing an indictable offence, during flight, or committing or attempting to commit an indictable offence.

The sentence for such an offence would be a term of imprisonment for one year. It would also require that the sentence be served consecutive to any other punishment if it arises out of the same set or series of events that contributed to the conviction of the first offence. All that is to say in plain language that there would be a greater emphasis placed on an offence committed when using a stolen vehicle.

Those who state there are already existing Criminal Code provisions which effectively address this problem are incorrect. The existing provisions may reference the problem it enforced, but the reality is that we need to put greater weight in the Criminal Code to deter those who use stolen vehicles to break the law.

I commend the hon. member's effort in this regard. I am supportive of the bill, as are all members of the Progressive Conservative caucus. It is a positive measure because it addresses two key areas in which there is a need for improvement to our Criminal Code. It would toughen criminal sanctions for individuals who have stolen vehicles to assist in the commission of their criminal acts.

This would be a welcome change because it punishes criminals additionally for the additional step they have taken, namely having stolen a vehicle to commit another offence. The use of a stolen vehicle is as much a crime as any other criminal act and it can be punished separately.

Another area of the intended amendment proposed ensures that the sentence imposed on the criminal, namely the driver, would be served consecutively. It is very much a truth in sentencing provision. For example, if someone is found guilty of an offence under this proposed provision the sentence would be cumulative. It would be served consecutively as opposed to concurrently. This would send a strong message to thousands of Canadians who lose their vehicles to theft or someone who would commit a robbery and forcefully take their vehicles. It would bring about greater accountability. It would certainly send that message to the criminal element.

Crimes involving personal property such as stolen vehicles are particularly offensive to the victims. People, for obvious reasons, attach a great deal of importance to their vehicle as a mode of transportation. When that vehicle is stolen and often damaged or never recovered, the person is generally inconvenienced. There is also that psychological feeling of invasion which people experience when their property is taken or damaged. It is similar to when a person's home is invaded.

We in the Progressive Conservative caucus feel that other amendments are needed to the Criminal Code to deal with crimes involving personal property. Last month my colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough introduced Motion No. 515 which called for an amendment to the Criminal Code to include the offence of home invasions.

Progressive Conservatives also believe in a rigorous application of the principle of truth in sentencing. If someone commits a crime, he or she should be punished for that crime. That is why our caucus also supports the efforts of the member for Mississauga East in obtaining passage into law of Bill C-251. The purpose of the hon. member's bill is to amend the code to put greater emphasis on an existing offence. I believe this is positive. I would therefore hope that there is support for this bill which is votable.

We need to remember, however, that no matter how well intentioned legislation is it will go nowhere without the ability to implement and enforce it. I would therefore like to outline some concerns with respect to the government's persistent underfunding of law enforcement.

The justice minister and the solicitor general often state that public safety is a priority with the government. Instead of talking, the government could do a lot to demonstrate its commitment to public safety by supporting legislation such as the initiatives brought forward by the member for Wild Rose, the member for Mississauga East and the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

Government should pay greater attention to what our police community is saying. Quite bluntly, police officers are getting the shaft from the Liberal government. According to the information revealed by the government's own organized crime summit in April, the national police service needs an additional $200 million over the next four years or it will functionally expire. That will have an impact on every part of the country.

We have already seen a situation evolve where large detachments of the RCMP are underfunded. Even worse, the force's overall budget for the fiscal year is $10 million short to date and the RCMP cadet program has been frozen for the rest of the year.

Sadly the government has for many months displayed a callous and reckless attitude in its approach toward fighting crime. This is a time when the Liberal government seems oblivious to the negative consequences of the government's disbanding of the ports police, as we saw in Halifax and Vancouver. We are also seeing an increasing amount of drug smuggling and illegal contraband material coming into Canada through out ports. Yet this decision was made and followed through against the wishes of many in the community who knew what the ramifications could be.

The solicitor general and the Liberal government decided to cut $74.1 million from the RCMP's organized crime budget for this fiscal year, according to the government's own estimate documents. That is not leadership in providing resources to our law enforcement community. That is a 13% cut in one fiscal year of overall dollars dedicated by the RCMP to fight organized crime.

The RCMP is not the only police force that feels the effects. Municipal and provincial police forces inevitably are forced to pick up the slack. More download. Many of these forces are already burdened by the abandonment of ports police and are struggling to fill the void left by the negative decisions of the government. The Liberal government should stop downloading its financial responsibilities to support young offenders programs and services on the backs of the provinces.

When the Young Offenders Act came into effect in 1984 the federal government guaranteed that it would assume 50% of the costs. Today the federal government only picks up 30% of that tax with the provinces and territories assuming the remaining 70%. Is it any wonder the Minister of Justice cannot get provinces onside to replace the Young Offenders Act?

While I support Bill C-219 I hope government members find the will to vote in favour of the bill. I reiterate the call for the government to stop its destructive policies with respect to our frontline police officers. Talk is cheap. The law enforcement community needs action.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member opposite on his initiative. I congratulate any member who has enough fortitude to put his thoughts in writing and to reduce them to a bill so that they can be debated in the House.

While many members opposite might evaluate the bill on a variety of criteria, I evaluate the bill on its merits rather than on its politics. I do not propose to rant about everything that is wrong in the criminal justice system or everything that appears to be wrong in the criminal justice system. I say at the outset that the bill has nothing to do with RCMP budgets, young offenders legislation or a number of other items that are continually raised.

I would like to direct the attention of the hon. members to the Bill C-219 which states:

Every one who, while committing an offence or while attempting to commit an offence or during flight after committing or attempting to commit an offence, operates or uses a motor vehicle that he has stolen or knows to have been stolen is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of one year.

The second section indicates that it will be a mandatory consecutive sentence. In and of itself it appears to be a good initiative. Were it to be taken in isolation, I would say it is a good initiative which deserves a lot of merit. That is on the presumption that the Criminal Code is silent about the issues addressed in the bill: the issues of auto theft, using a stolen vehicle in the commission of a crime, et cetera. My suggestion is that the Criminal Code is far from silent on these issues.

I direct the attention of hon. members to subsection 322(1) of the Criminal Code, entitled the theft section:

Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent,

(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;

That is the overall global section attributable to the particular issue the hon. member raises. The more specific section is offences resembling theft and addresses the issue of motor vehicles:

Every one who, without the consent of the owner, takes a motor vehicle or vessel with intent to drive, use, navigate or operate it or cause it to be driven, used, navigated or operated (or is an occupant of a motor vehicle or vessel knowing it was taken without the consent of the owner) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Then there is a subsection which I will not read to hon. members.

I caution hon. members that when one is in a criminal court dealing with issues such as this one, this is the kind of dry legalese that is dealt with by judges on each and every day. The judges have to make decisions as to particular sections of the offence, the most relevant of which is whether the individual took the motor vehicle with intent. I adopt the view of the member opposite, the justice critic, who said something to the effect that some offences were in large measure without intent whatsoever, that in fact the individuals are more pathetic than anything else.

The final section is with respect to how a judge arrives at a sentence. This deals with subsection (2) of the proposed bill. It is dealt with in section 718 of the Criminal Code:

The fundamental purposes of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

(a) to denounce unlawful conduct;

(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;

Subsection (2) goes on to say:

A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

(a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant, aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or to the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing.

If the Criminal Code were silent on this matter, then the hon. member opposite would have a good point. But the Criminal Code is not silent. The Criminal Code is in and of itself a perfectly adequate piece of legislation to deal with the offences being complained about. This is not to minimize or to suggest that the offences and concerns raised by the hon. member are not important concerns, nor is it to trivialize them or to consider them frivolous. On the contrary, these issues are of unique and considerable importance to Canadians and their justice system.

The manner by which the member attempts to accomplish his perceived goal is possibly naive. If anything it is counterproductive. If he expects this bill will reduce the incidence of auto crime I would suggest he is quite naive. A lot of auto crime or so-called joy riding is impulse crime. It is crime done with very little forethought by foolish people. If the hon. member thinks this bill will reduce the incidence of foolish people in our society, I would suggest that he explain himself a little more on that point.

The member needs to think again if he thinks consecutive sentencing is the be all and end all to all of our sentencing woes in Canada. The understanding among crown prosecutors, defence counsel and judges is that for any particular kind of offence there is a bit of a sentencing envelope. Within that sentencing envelope one will receive his or her sentence. That sentencing envelope is somewhat carefully crafted, with section 718 in mind, as the individual either pleads guilty or is found guilty before a judge.

When the judge hears the representations with respect to the sentencing, he or she takes into consideration all of the principles in section 718. There is the need to denounce the unlawful conduct, the need to create a safe society, the need to deter this kind of offence. Those are the kinds of principles that are taken into consideration within the sentencing envelope.

If the hon. member wishes to add a year, which is what a consecutive sentence is, I would suggest that on the other side something will get discounted because the offence will not stand in and of itself. The offence is contemplated to stand with other offences. The consequence will be that the actual offence may get discounted while the judge takes into consideration his obligation to impose a consecutive sentence. That is ultimately the flaw of the bill in its sentencing principle if intellectually you can get over the point itself.

While the hon. member addresses an issue that is of concern to Canadian society and to all of us, he does not do it through this bill. It removes all discretion from judges. The bill is not necessary. It is counterproductive and ultimately I would suggest it is quite naive.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

Noon

Reform

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, naive, I think not.

I would like to speak on behalf of victims. I have been a victim of vehicle theft, as have other members I am sure. I will relate my story and its outcome to show one of my difficulties in trying to understand how our legal system works.

It is noon. My company vehicle, filled with stock and equipment, is stolen. Not just the stock and equipment, but the vehicle to go with it. The police are called. After five hours and no action, I went out looking for the vehicle myself. Where did I find it? It drove right by me, right in front of my office. I found the vehicle myself. With a cell phone and modern communications I had the police there within minutes.

The point of this story is not that the vehicle or the stock and material were gone but it is about the person who did it. When he was captured and collared by the police he said “Whoa, three months, I need a rest, and I will be out of there”.

He stole a vehicle with some $10,000 worth of test equipment and expensive gear inside it and he was out running around peddling it. By the time I caught him, half of the equipment was gone. Besides doing that, he ran from the police, rammed a police car and two other vehicles and this individual is going to be out in three months. Why? Because we have a legal system that packages everything together.

I really think this is a perfect example for the bill from the member for Wild Rose. It is absolutely spot on. Give him one year—

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I must interrupt the hon. member. The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, in accordance with subsections 49(1) and 49(2) of the Act respecting the status and use of the official languages of Canada, Chapter O-3.01 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, this House approves the appointment of Dr. Dyane Adam as Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada for a term of seven years.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the House and all Canadians, I would like to convey to Dr. Victor Goldbloom, the present Commissioner of Official Languages, our gratitude for his many years of devoted service.

The job of Commissioner of Official Languages is an extremely important one. Parliament created this position in order to protect and promote one of Canada's distinguishing characteristics, its two official languages. The Commissioner of Official Languages is a special ombudsman reporting directly to the Parliament of Canada.

The commissioner's mandate consists in protecting and promoting the language rights of individuals and groups in Canada, and in monitoring the language performance of federal institutions and other bodies covered by the Official Languages Act.

The Commissioner investigates complaints and makes recommendations in order to ensure that Canadians' right to communicate with the institutions of the Government of Canada in either official language is respected.

It is also the commissioner's responsibility to inform Canadians about the Official Languages Act and his role within the Government of Canada, with a view to encouraging it to ensure that both of our official languages are respected, protected and promoted.

The role of the commissioner is clearly focused on people. The commissioner meets regularly with Canadians of all ages and conditions in every province, working with them to enhance respect for our two official languages. The commissioner also meets with officials from the various orders of government and individuals from the private, community and academic sectors.

The commissioner also plays an important role in assisting official language minority communities in developing and enhancing their vitality and obtaining the rights guaranteed them by the Constitution and by the Official Languages Act.

Dr. Dyane Adam clearly has the skills and the experience needed to perform the duties of this position well. She has played a vital role in the area of official languages for many years. She is familiar with the situation of official languages right across the country.

Dr. Adam was involved in founding a number of provincial and regional organizations and participated in a number of francophone and women's projects across Canada. Need I mention that she will, on her appointment, be the first women to occupy this prestigious position.

Dr. Adam helped found the Réseau de chercheures féministes de l'Ontario français and is a member of a number of organizations including the Regroupement des universités de la francophonie hors Québec. For three and a half years, she chaired the advisory committee on francophone affairs of the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training.

I am sure all members will agree with me that Dr. Adam has an impressive track record and is the ideal candidate with her vast knowledge and passionate interest in promoting the protecting the language rights of all Canadians.

This appointment takes effect in August 1999. Dr. Goldbloom has already agreed to assume an acting capacity, the details of which will be arranged in the next few days.

I encourage all members to support the motion to appoint Dr. Dyane Adam to the position of Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada.

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this motion for a number of reasons.

I had the pleasure to attend the official languages committee last week to which Mme Adam presented herself and made her qualifications open to the committee. I am really quite impressed. Over the number of years I have been interviewing people at all levels, professionals in particular, Dyane Adam was particularly well suited for the interview and the job. I was quite impressed with the way she handled herself through the interview. Indeed she was calm, cool and collected, which she may have to be in her new job.

My compliments go across the way. It is very unusual to hear that from me, however my colleagues on the other side have been open enough and secure enough in this day and age to put officers of the House of Commons, to put jobs and people before a committee where they can be interviewed. Originally when we talked about this process concerning the privacy commissioner and the information commissioner we said there was really nothing to fear but fear itself. We have gone through these interviews now and we have in fact found that the selection process works in a normal way.

In the case of Mme Adam, I think that had she not worked out in the interview, she would have known it and we would have known it and possibly we would have parted ways at that point. But the contrary did happen and she did rather well indeed.

The government does have the support of this party to have her appointed to the post of official languages commissioner.

While not new, the idea in the House of Commons where we talk about skills, abilities and qualifications as a first criterion for selecting people for jobs rather than who they know and what they did for the party and that sort of thing is the way to go. We do tend to get the best people for the jobs. Someday in the not too distant future we may see that same process for people who are on parole boards or on other commissions. I do not see that as unrealistic. Perhaps my colleagues are now getting the drift that the process we have established is quite a normal process. It happens in business every day.

My compliments to Dyane Adam on this job if she is appointed with the consent of the House. My compliments to my colleagues in the selection process. Although it is a majority government, my compliments to the Liberal government. We know it did not have to do this. It has gone through this process and it is here to stay. That speaks well of everybody.

Ms. Adam's resume is quite impressive. I know the government House leader has spoken on some things in it. I want to add a couple of things about her education. She has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, a masters in clinical psychology, a professional baccalaureate specializing in psychology and a bachelors degree with concentration in psychology, in and of itself enough to make most companies in the country wish they had somebody with those kinds of qualifications. A few members in the House could probably use a bit of psychology assistance from time to time. Perhaps we will call on her for things other than languages.

Some of her appointments include principal of Glendon College at York University, ministry of education and training, and Laurentian University. She had a private practice in psychology in Toronto, Sudbury and Cornwall. She was at the Cornwall general hospital and it goes on.

I do think the House of Commons has selected the best person for the job given the skills, abilities and qualifications. My compliments to everybody who was involved in the process.

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that the Bloc Quebecois supports the government's motion to appoint Dr. Dyane Adam as Commissioner of Official Languages.

In accepting this nomination, Dr. Adam will establish two precedents, becoming the first woman to hold this office and the first person from outside Quebec to be appointed Commissioner of Official Languages.

However, Dr. Adam knows both Quebec and Canada. Born in Ontario, she worked in various Quebec regions before returning to her home province, where she has applied her talents and competence to serving the francophone community with intelligence and sensitivity.

The next official languages commissioner knows that the Canadian Francophonie has many voices. At the Ontario consultation committee for francophone feminists, Dr. Adam unequivocally claimed the right of Franco-Ontarians to speak with many voices. In a paper presented at the seminar entitled “Visibles et partenaires”, Dr. Adam wrote:

This consultation committee is a forum that adheres as closely as possible to a feminist vision of society, where the principles of justice, equity and respect for the diversity of experience of all Franco-Ontarian women prevail.

Dr. Adam also distinguished herself by her vision and her involvement in the Franco-Ontarian distance education network.

This network, which has included Ontario's bilingual universities since 1994, is a consortium whose purpose is to provide education services in French, at the university level. Dr. Adam also worked in the areas of health and communications, always striving to better serve her fellow French speaking Ontarians.

The Bloc Quebecois is confident that this woman will recognize that there are two minorities in Canada, namely the francophone communities outside Quebec and the anglophone community in Quebec. These two minorities live in very different contexts and must be treated in a way that promotes their full development and growth.

In several texts that she has written, including the one on the challenges of post-secondary education in Ontario, Dr. Adam clearly identified the features of the Franco-Ontarian community: small percentage of the overall population, assimilation rate of 40%, scarce human and financial resources, isolation of francophone populations.

We could of course add more, but I am convinced that Dr. Adam, who is a former advisor with the Office of Franco-Ontarian Affairs, is well aware of the differences that exist between, for example, Ontario's francophone communities and Quebec's anglophone community.

The Bloc Quebecois supports Dr. Adam's appointment as official languages commissioner, because we believe her experience is a guarantee that she will recognize the fundamental differences between minority communities in Quebec and in Canada, and that these differences will be reflected in her studies and positions.

The Bloc Quebecois wishes good luck to Dr. Adam in her new responsibilities and offers her its co-operation for future endeavours.

We also take this opportunity to thank Dr. Goldbloom, for the work he has done over the past seven years.

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to take part in this debate on the appointment of the new Commissioner of Official Languages. The NDP supports appointment.

Dyane Adam will be the first woman to hold this position, and the first francophone outside Quebec. This Franco-Ontarian woman has worked in the fields of health and education. She knows the importance for minority communities, the francophone communities outside Quebec and the anglophone community within Quebec, of having health care and education services provided in their own language.

The role of the Commissioner of Official Languages is very important for linguistic minorities. According to the Official Languages Act, the role of the commissioner is to:

—to take all actions and measures within the authority of the Commissioner with a view to ensuring recognition of the status of each of the official languages and compliance with the spirit and intent of this Act in the administration of the affairs of federal institutions, including any of their activities relating to the advancement of English and French in Canadian society.

The commissioner investigates either on his own initiative or in response to complaints received and submits reports and recommendations according to the act.

As an Acadian, I am concerned about the rights of language minorities. We have come a long way since the passing of the Official Languages Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unfortunately, there is a long way to go yet. On Prince Edward Island, parents have to fight before the courts to get a French school.

The federal government programs supporting the Official Languages Act are paramount to the minority language communities. However, since 1993, the Liberals have cut the budgets of these programs by 23%. The progress made may well be wiped out if the government goes with the status quo and does not provide more funding to the official languages support programs.

This summer, the Société des Acadiens et Acadiennes du Nouveau-Brunswick had to operate without its director general because of cuts imposed by the Liberal government.

The cuts, privatization, devolution and partnerships with the private sector encouraged by the Liberal government eliminate certain rights of francophones outside Quebec.

We need a Commissioner of Official Languages who will continue the work started by her predecessor in this area, Victor Goldbloom.

The NDP supports Dyane Adam.

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to the appointment of Dr. Dyane Adam as the new Commissioner of Official Languages. On behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, it gives me great pleasure to support Dr. Adam's appointment.

Dr. Adam's curriculum vitae, as well as her presentation to the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages, were quite impressive.

Her experience and knowledge of the aspirations of our minority language communities will certainly be helpful to these people and I expect her to be a strong voice in the promotion of our two official languages in regions where one or the other of these languages is in the minority.

Madam Speaker, again, I support Dr. Adam's appointment and extend to her my best wishes.

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is the House ready for the question?

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Appointment Of Commissioner Of Official Languages
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

(Motion agreed to)

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay for the Minister of Finance

moved that Bill C-35, an act to amend the Special Import Measures Act and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, be read the third time and passed.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak at third reading of Bill C-35.

As has been stated quite often in the House, this legislation is straightforward and responds directly to the recommendations contained in the 1996 parliamentary review. It updates an act that has been around since 1984 and proposes consequential amendments to a related statute.

Briefly, Bill C-35 improves the operation of Canada's trade remedy system with respect to anti-dumping and countervailing duties under the Special Import Measures Act and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act.

It also clarifies certain provisions in both acts through various technical amendments. SIMA is an important component of Canada's trade legislation. It implements Canada's rights and obligations under the WTO agreements in the area of trade remedies.

Under these international rules, special duties can be imposed when imports that are dumped or subsidized are found to cause injury to a domestic industry. First and foremost, this law is intended to protect Canadian manufacturers and agriculture producers whose operations are negatively affected by the goods that are unfairly priced or subsidized.

However, it must also be understood that in today's global environment market openness is critical to attracting investment and maintaining the competitiveness of Canadian companies. These Canadian companies often have to rely on imported inputs to meet the needs of their customers. These companies may, in some cases, be negatively affected by the imposition of special duties on imports.

Given this situation, SIMA must be careful to strike a balance between two often conflicting interests, those of industry seeking trade remedy action and those of consumers and other manufacturers who may be negatively affected by the imposition of anti-dumping or countervailing duties on imported goods.

This question of balance was key to what was addressed in the 1996 parliamentary subcommittees' report that reviewed SIMA. The subcommittees heard from a broad range of stakeholders on their experience with the SIMA system and concluded that the law continued to protect Canadian producers from injury caused by dumped and subsidized imports, while at the same time limiting collateral damage to consumers and downstream users.

They went on to identify several areas where the legislation could be made more efficient and more responsive to Canada's various economic interests.

The government, as hon. members will recall, supported virtually all of the subcommittees' recommendations and it is the implementation of these recommendations that we have before us today in Bill C-35.

As indicated earlier, the bill also contains several amendments of a technical or housekeeping nature aimed at clarifying existing provisions in the law.

The main themes of the subcommittees' report reflected in this bill include: the rationalization of the SIMA process in order to improve efficiency; ensuring access to the SIMA system by small and medium size enterprises; clarification of the public interest provisions; and the enhancement of transparency and procedural fairness.

I want to spend a few moments on the public interest provisions. At the reporting stage, the issue of allowing the Canadian International Trade Tribunal to recommend a lesser duty as a result of a public interest inquiry was raised by the Bloc and the NDP. They both opposed providing for it, and we recall that the Bloc proposed an amendment to the bill which would have amounted to leaving the public interest provision as it is now.

Essentially, the government responded by saying, as I said just a minute ago, that the bill implements the parliamentary subcommittees' recommendation in respect to the public interest and underscores the delicate balance that the bill was attempting to strike between divergent interests in the trade remedy area.

Essentially, the statement that I would make with respect to the public interest is that the lesser duty issue would only come up when it has been determined that there is a public interest issue. When recommended, a lesser duty aims to provide a level of protection sufficient to eliminate the injury caused by the dumped or subsidized imports, which is really the main purpose of SIMA, while ensuring that users and downstream producers are not unduly penalized by the measure.

In my mind, when I was listening to the debate at report stage, I asked the question: How can one oppose this? Those opposed to the lesser duty provision are suggesting that the interests of consumers and downstream producers are irrelevant. As we stated earlier, and I will state again, the government clearly disagrees with that.

In fine tuning the existing law, the investigative functions of Revenue Canada and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal will also better reflect the respective areas of expertise. By bringing Revenue Canada's treatment of confidential information more in line with the tribunal's practice respecting the disclosure of such information, procedural fairness and transparency will be enhanced.

Further, the tribunal will benefit more fully from expert evidence by allowing expert witnesses to play a more effective role in its inquiries. New penalties will deter the unauthorized disclosure or misuse of confidential information in the SIMA investigations.

Bill C-35 also clarifies the conditions under which the tribunal can consider issues of broader public interest and the types of measures that it can recommend in a public interest report.

In the committee deliberations on this bill hon. members heard from industry stakeholders on both sides of this particular issue. The stakeholders gave their support to the passage of this bill and there was agreement that Bill C-35 faithfully reflects the recommendations contained in the parliamentary report. This support is a credit to members of the House who worked together on the review and this legislation and in fact identified improvements that were acceptable to all parties.

In conclusion, I think members recognize that Bill C-35 fine-tunes SIMA to ensure that it continues to reflect Canadian economic realities. It also ensures that SIMA will remain a strong trade instrument that truly protects Canadian producers who have been injured by dumped or subsidized imports, while allowing an opportunity for other producers and consumers to have their interests considered. I urge my colleagues to support speedy passage of this legislation.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak at third reading of Bill C-35, a bill which amends the Special Import Measures Act and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act.

This bill has been a long time in the making. Two and a half years ago a special subcommittee was struck to conduct a mandatory review of the SIMA legislation. I was a part of that subcommittee, as well as a former member of this House, Mr. Herb Grubel.

We agreed with the main components of the report, but we also issued a dissenting opinion. The reason for it will be outlined as I walk through this process today.

Just before the House recessed for Christmas two years ago the subcommittee brought down its report which made a list of recommendations, most of which are included in the bill today. I am not sure why the bill was delayed so long, but I welcome its appearance and I think it will help to clear up an area that needs to have more clarity.

The Reform Party supports this bill, although we have raised some minor concerns with it. We hope that, despite having our amendments struck down in committee, the changes to the SIMA legislation will strike the right balance in protecting producers and manufacturers without unduly hurting consumers, importers and downstream producers. To that end, I certainly want to talk about the public interest component of SIMA, an area that we tried to strengthen in committee with an amendment that was not allowed. Be that as it may, we are in general support of the bill.

I want to take a moment to explain what this bill is all about.

Under World Trade Organization rules all countries are permitted to impose duties on imported goods if those goods are being dumped into that country or if their production is being subsidized at home.

SIMA is the framework legislation which allows Canadian companies to request that anti-dumping and countervail duties be imposed against imported products which are found to be sold at too low a price or imported goods whose production is subsidized.

The steps that need to take place to arrive at these duties are clearly laid out in the bill. First, a Canadian company must file a complaint with Revenue Canada. Once Revenue Canada is satisfied that the complaint is properly documented, it initiates an investigation. The department then sends investigators to countries against which complaints have been filed and these investigators look into the books of those companies to ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence to establish whether or not there has been dumping or subsidization.

It is the job of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal to conduct inquiries into whether dumped or subsidized goods are actually causing injury to Canadian producers.

In the past, the CITT did not begin its job until Revenue Canada had determined that dumping had occurred. This caused delays and allowed preliminary duties to be collected before the CITT ruled that injury to Canadian companies had actually taken place. That process has been changed to the better. The new legislation under SIMA changes that. In future, the CITT will begin its work immediately and I fully support that process. I think it will help to speed things along.

I said earlier that I was concerned about the public interest component. After all, even though products are being dumped into Canada, there are times when I believe, in the public interest, that should be allowed to happen. The basic concern I have with this legislation is that the interest of the public is not taken into account soon enough in the process.

A good example of this is in the recent baby food case. Earlier this year Heinz, an American company with a subsidiary in Canada, charged Gerber, another American company, with dumping. Heinz took its case before Revenue Canada and the CITT and won its case against Gerber. Gerber had a 60% duty slapped on it which effectively forced it out of the Canadian market. That is one thing, but it left Heinz with a monopoly on baby food in Canada.

In the meantime we have parents of babies in Canada who do not have time to prepare their own baby food and as result are left with only one brand of baby food. My office received information that some babies could only be fed Gerber products because they were allergic to Heinz baby food products. With Gerber pushed out of the market, the parents of those babies found that their interests had been overlooked. This is only one example of how dumping duties hurt consumers.

If we create monopoly situations or lessen competition, that is a problem. I want to make sure that this public interest component is taken into account and reviewed down the road.

There are also instances where dumping duties have hurt downstream producers and importers. It is not just exports that create jobs in Canada. Imports create jobs as well. Carpet distributors and importers in Canada have long complained that the entire dumping procedure has hurt their business.

Because carpet distributors have so many types of carpets coming into the country, with different weights, fibres and finishes, they are always unsure at the border what the dumping duty will be. Therefore, these distributors find it difficult to bid on large contracts. It is bad enough having to deal with exchange rate uncertainties and problems in Canada in terms of being competitive, but when duty fluctuates by 10% or more profits can often turn to losses in no time.

Downstream manufacturers are also hurt when the cost of imported inputs suddenly rise because of dumping duties. I have quite an active and aggressive company in my riding that imports a lot of components for the finished product they manufacture. Those components come from the United States. They are a big part of the total package, something like 65% or 70% of the end product. This company imports those products. Dumping duties often hurt companies such as that.

I was given assurances by the drafters of the bill during briefings that there was enough flexibility built into the bill to consider the public interest in a timely fashion. But I believe this component should be examined again in a few years' time to ensure it is working properly. It must balance the interests of those companies that require protection with those that will ultimately pay the price.

In an ideal world, which everyone knows we do not have, dumping duties would not be necessary. I would like to see the U.S. trade remedy law and this particular legislation rescinded down the road. Canada's provinces do not have dumping duties against each other's products and, ideally, Canada and the United States should not have either because we have become very much an integrated market on many commodities.

We have sectors such as steel, beef and the automobile sector that essentially conduct cross-border trade via train and truck every day. We are not talking about a typical example of dumping with 50 million metric tonnes of dumped steel arriving at a Vancouver port from an Asian country.

The trade between Canada and the United States is regular trade between a supplier and a business that requires that product on a daily basis. So it is very hard to see how dumping duties do anything to satisfy that. On the other hand, the United States continues to keep its trade remedy law, including dumping, and it uses it very aggressively. As long as it does that, we have to keep that protection.

It is interesting that the first country in the world to ever use dumping was Canada. We introduced the measure 80 or 90 years ago. Now it is coming back to bite us. Eventually I would like to see it phased out.

At the next round of World Trade Organization talks I would like to see a better definition of dumping and a better subsidies code to make sure we can all play with the same rule book.

I recognize that a duty free world is quite a long ways away, but I would suggest that a duty free world between Canada and the United States is not that far away. We should be working to see if something can be done in the integrated industries, as I said earlier, to make dumping and countervail duties unnecessary.

The Reform Party supports this legislation which has been a long time in the making. We trust it will prove to strike the right balance that we are seeking to protect manufacturers and also to provide openness for our consumers and our downstream producers and importers.

We support this legislation and would like to see it move along fairly quickly.

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12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, like the two previous speakers, I am pleased to rise today in this House to speak to Bill C-35, an act to amend the Special Import Measures Act and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act.

As we Bloc Quebecois members indicated in previous speeches, we support this bill. However, since we had some reservations about certain aspects of this bill, at report stage, we introduced a number of motions in amendment to try to improve it. But they were defeated.

These motions result from a study of the Special Import Measures Act done by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and by the finance committee. I would like to briefly outline these motions, which reflect the issues on which we differed.

Our Motion No. 1 read as follows:

That Bill C-35, in clause 15, be amended by adding after line 21 on page 10 the following:

“(3.1) In determining whether the complaint is properly documented, the Deputy Minister shall not take into account representations received from parties other than the complainant.”

A number of witnesses voiced concern during committee proceedings. The Canadian Steel Producers Association was one of these witnesses with concerns about certain provisions of the act. The Bloc Quebecois shares the concerns of these witnesses, which were asking that Revenue Canada ignore the unsolicited presentations by parties other than the complainant before the start of an investigation.

Such an approach would have Revenue Canada take into account only information coming from the complainant, without having to consider unsolicited comments from outsiders.

This approach, which was rejected, seemed reasonable to us since it would apply only before an investigation was opened. Unfortunately, the government does not seem to care any more about our requests than about those of an industry as essential to the economy of Quebec and Canada as the steel industry. Therefore, it rejected this amendment, which will not be included in the bill.

Motion No. 2 read as follows:

That Bill C-35 be amended by deleting Clause 27.

We considered that Bill C-35 should not contain provision for the minimum duty. We think it is premature to include the concept of a minimum duty in the Special Import Measures Act.

We think the government should stop approving policies that reduce the protection afforded Quebec and Canadian businesses when our main trading partners are not doing the same thing.

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade recommended in its report—not one of the ones that was leaked—inclusion of the concept of a minimum duty in section 45 of the legislation on public interest.

However, clause 27 of the bill incorporates the concept of a minimum duty by amending section 45 of the existing legislation. Thus, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal may, on its own initiative, or on request, initiate a public interest inquiry if it is of the opinion that the imposition of an anti-dumping or countervailing duty, or the imposition of such a duty in the full amount provided for by any of those sections, in respect of the goods, would not or might not be in the public interest.

As a result of a public interest inquiry, if the tribunal is of the opinion that the imposition of a duty might not be in the public interest, the tribunal shall without delay do two things. First, it shall report to the Minister of Finance that it is of that opinion and provide that minister with a statement of the facts and, second, it shall cause notice of the report to be published in the Canada Gazette , which many people read every day without fail, as we all know.

In addition, in that same report, the tribunal shall specify either a level of reduction in the anti-dumping or countervailing duty provided for, or a price or prices that are adequate to eliminate injury, retardation or the threat of injury to the domestic industry. It is through this last measure that the concept of minimum duty is introduced.

Motions Nos. 4, 5 and 6 concern the notion of “material harm”. In our opinion, the definition of material harm was also problematical. The Bloc Quebecois called for insertion of a definition for the expression “material harm” into the Special Import Measures Act. This, coupled with the criteria suggested in the current regulations, would clarify this important concept for everyone.

In Motion No. 4, we proposed, and I quote:

That Bill C-35, in clause 44, be amended by adding after line 46 on page 33 the following:

“(3.2) For the purposes of subsection (3.1), “material harm” means harm that is more than negligible and that is not immaterial or trifling.”

We also proposed to make reference to “material harm” in several other provisions, including in clause 44, line 46 on page 33, which would read as follows:

“(3.2) For the purposes of subsection (3.1), “material harm” has the meaning given to that expression by the regulations.”

We also asked that the notion of “material harm” be applied to clause 51, through the following amendment:

—be amended by adding after line 18 on page 36 the following:

“(f) defining the expression “material harm” for the purpose of section 44;”

This is very technical, but so is the bill, and this is why we had to conduct a thorough review.

So, had these amendments and improvements been included, the legislation would leave no uncertainty for Quebec and Canadian businesses. These motions are very important, because the bill is supposed to improve the Canadian system of special trade measures so that it can better reflect the new economic context and the changes in the rules of international trade, and leave no room for confusion.

Another Bloc Quebecois proposal ignored in this bill concerns the future or retroactive method of imposing duties. We wanted Revenue Canada to continue using the future method. However, we would, in cases where prices or costs are likely to fluctuate significantly, like to have Revenue Canada authorized to use the retroactive duty imposition method.

This method would be used only exceptionally and only when Revenue Canada considered it necessary. This is why we tabled Motion No. 7 in this House.

I will read a passage from this motion:

That Bill C-35 be amended by adding after line 42 on page 36 the following new clause—

In this regard, we referred to the prospective and retroactive methods.

This bill is very important as it governs the imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on dumped or subsidized goods where this dumping or subsidizing has or may have an injurious effect on producers in Quebec and Canada, while at the same time making changes to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal.

We need only think of our farmers on the Prairies, who are facing very definite problems with farmers in the northern United States, to realize how the border aspect of subsidies and dumping duties are a part of our daily lives.

The interventions of Bloc Quebecois members during this study have already led to a few important changes and substantial improvements. We suggested, for example, concrete measures allowing small and medium size producers in Quebec and Canada to have fair, equitable and easier access to the redress procedures provided by the current legislation.

We also proposed improvements to the way the Canadian International Trade Tribunal operates. The Bloc Quebecois also proposed that the cumulative effect be taken into consideration by the tribunal when assessing damages.

Furthermore, the amendment of section 76 of the Special Import Measures Act, requiring the Canadian International Trade Tribunal to assess the cumulative injurious effects of dumping or subsidizing in the context of interim reviews was consolidated as the result of our interventions.

We agree with the intent of this bill, which marks the government's first effort to clarify things. Quebeckers and Canadians, as well as the Bloc Quebecois, have long been calling for less bureaucracy and more efficiency. The government must give producers in Quebec and Canada the tools they need to compete in the global economy.

Dumping and subsidies are tools criticized, but often used, by industrialized countries. This legislation and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act are necessary, in fact essential tools to counter dumping and subsidies.

It is important that these laws be designed in such a way as to appropriately meet the needs they were intended to address.

These amendments should hopefully improve the Canadian trade remedy system so that it will better take into account the new economic context and the evolution of international trade rules.

Unlike our colleagues across the way, who suddenly changed their tune after they took office five years ago, we in the Bloc Quebecois have always been in favour of free trade. We can therefore only applaud any steps taken to help ensure businesses in Quebec and Canada are full participants in this era of globalization, in a well-structured context based on appropriate legislation.

Overall, the Bloc Quebecois supports the principle of Bill C-35, which is to clarify the role of the Canadian international trade tribunal and to improve the Special Imports Measures Act. The review conducted by the subcommittees helped identify the improvements that should be made to these acts.

Bill C-35 will implement the recommendations included in the December 1996 report on the Special Import Measures Act which, as I said, was not leaked, and which the Bloc Quebecois greatly helped improve and fine-tune.

This review has identified a number of improvements which should be made to these acts, but more needs to be done, including the changes put forward by the Bloc Quebecois and by officials from various industries.

So, in spite of some concerns, we are rather pleased with the bill and we will support it, as we did at the previous stages. However, as we said before, we feel that rapid developments in international trade emphasize the need to review these two laws on a regular basis in the future.

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12:55 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus to speak to Bill C-35, an act to amend to the Special Import Measures Act and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act. Along with the Bloc Quebecois we oppose the bill, but we want to make clear that opposition in no way detracts from our overall support for SIMA and the work of the CTT.

The Special Import Measures Act remains one of the very few mechanisms we have in Canada to protect Canadian industry and jobs in the ongoing trade disputes we have with the United States in particular. Because we live in an increasingly liberalized global trading environment, we support the bill in so far as it clarifies, streamlines and improves the Special Import Measures Act.

However, we oppose Bill C-35 in its totality because we honestly feel that what is before us has not strengthened the legislation sufficiently, in particular with respect to trade with the United States of America.

In some ways the bill may actually weaken SIMA as a protection against unfair trade. As has been expressed by others, the main concern is the anti-dumping legislation. It must be as strong on the north side of the 49th parallel as it is south of the 49th parallel. In other words, our system must be as advantageous to Canadian producers as the U.S. system is to its producers. We can afford to do no less in the protection of our country, our traders and our exporters. I do not think the boy scout image will carry us very far in negotiations with the U.S.

The trade wars between our two countries have continued unabated despite the free trade agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement. A few weeks ago and even last weekend we saw the spectacle of the U.S. violating international agreements, making it difficult for our processors and producers of grain and livestock to transport goods into the United States. The first blockade was with the encouragement of elected U.S. legislators, but that was not true with the resumption of the blockade we saw this weekend.

Bill C-35 may very well weaken SIMA and place our producers and shippers at a further disadvantage to their U.S. counterparts. The key concern would be implementing the World Trade Organization's definition of a lesser duty provision. The concept of lesser duty as I understand it allows anti-dumping duties to be set lower than the injury faced by domestic producers. There is a genuine concern that it will put Canadian producers at a further disadvantage.

Another aspect of it is the concept of material injury. We feel that too is inadequate. The U.S. employs a broad definition to provide greater scope for corrective measures. For example, pasta that was dumped on both sides was found to cause injury in the United States but not found to cause injury in Canada. The broader definition of the material injury has been pointed out as the reason for the different interpretations on either side of the border.

During the report stage of the bill, we supported the Bloc because we wanted to clarify material injury and ensure that it was as tough north of the border as the U.S. definition. We regret sincerely that that was defeated at the report stage.

We also supported an amendment which would have enabled Revenue Canada to use retrospective duty assessment in cases when there would be significant fluctuation in prices or costs. Once again we see that the United States uses the retrospective method in all cases which of course provides greater security for its domestic producers. We regret sincerely that this amendment was also defeated at report stage.

We regret profoundly that Bill C-35 was not used to strengthen the Special Import Measures Act. Does the government not recognize the inherent dangers our producers face? When our protective system is weaker than that of our trading partners, we disadvantage our exporters, particularly with respect to the United States, and make ourselves a target for countries looking to dump into North America. We expose ourselves to abuse from foreign exporters by our actions.

We see a pattern that emerges time and again in Canadian trade law and in Canadian trade policies. Whenever there is some liberalization to be done or some weakening of a nation state's ability to protect itself, Canada always seems to be the first to want to jump in with both feet. We are always eager to play the game, so eager that we often leave ourselves vulnerable to other nations, in particular to our powerful neighbour to the south. It seems we just cannot get enough of this tickle me Elmo approach by other countries and then we are first to hail any new agreement as some kind of testimony to our free trading spirit.

I say with respect that the United States seems to have absolutely no respect for any agreement into which it enters. The United States is the last country to amend its laws in such a way as to conform to whatever other nations may be doing in order to liberalize trade. The U.S. has not adopted this lesser duty provision, but no, we will be the eager ones again. We will be out there leading with our chins.

This certainly gives an opportunity in the context of Bill C-35 to say that we are not only opposed to the bill, but we are opposed to the entire approach that the government opposite has pursued with respect to trade.

The Liberal government has become totally uncritical about free trade in recent years. The Liberals have become evangelists for the very notions they deplored when they sat on this side of the House. After campaigning against the free trade agreement in 1988 and in the years following, after being elected in October 1993, the Liberal government promptly signed NAFTA. Since then it has become the cheerleader for additional free trade agreements around the world, whether it is signing on to the Canada-Chile free trade agreement, APEC, the free trade agreement with the Americas, the FTAA, the multilateral agreement on investment or the World Trade Organization.

The ongoing crisis faced by Canadian farmers shows the danger of sticking our neck out as far as we do for the sake of this or any free trade deal. The Liberal government went way beyond our WTO commitments to reduce farm support after the Uruguay round in 1993, way beyond what the United States has done, and way beyond what the European Union has done.

Many Canadians have a right to feel utterly betrayed. The result is a disaster for our farmers. We are now belatedly trying to rectify the damage that has been done.

The most recent deal the Liberals have chased after is the multilateral agreement on investment. Fortunately other governments had better sense. This fall various governments in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development rejected the MAI and the NAFTA model. When they looked closely at NAFTA as the blueprint for the MAI, they wondered why Canada ever agreed to signing a deal like NAFTA. They wondered why anyone would be so keen to replicate NAFTA on a global scale.

Our caucus has been critical of this unthinking pursuit of free trade from the beginning. We are not against fair trade. We are not against trade agreements that incorporate into them real, meaningful and enforceable protection for workers, for labour standards, for environmental regulations and for the continuing ability of governments to act in the public interest. It is because we believe in fair trade and the role of effective regulation that we support SIMA. That is why we see the need for strong and effective mechanisms to protect Canadian producers and ensure a level playing field with the United States.

In conclusion, we believe that Bill C-35 does not ensure this, so we do not support the bill. We oppose it because we believe that overall we are facing a weaker SIMA, one that will put us at a disadvantage especially with respect to the United States.

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1:05 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I will make a couple of comments first then ask the member a couple of questions about Bill C-35.

When we look at this bill we see a bill that tries to address the anti-dumping problem in the world where heavily subsidized foreign companies dump products into Canada and try to drive our businesses out of business. We see the bill as a move in the right direction. I do not claim that it is a perfect bill, but at least it does make that provision possible.

I would like the member to detail a bit what he would rather see in this bill. More importantly, because this comes before us in the form of a bill, we have a chance to debate an idea or a conclusion, in this case an act of parliament, that will commit Canadians to an international agreement for years to come. That does not happen all that often.

All too often people on behalf of the government wander off to different UN conferences, conventions, groups and backdoor meetings of all sorts. Often they sign on to deals and there is no corresponding legislation in the House of Commons. We live with whatever those folks negotiate behind closed doors.

The MAI is a good case in point. People were very nervous about the potential of the MAI. Although I must admit that Canada does need an agreement on international investment, it is a matter of how it is negotiated.

I would ask the member to comment on the approval process he would like to see on international agreements like this one. At least we have a bill that we can debate, talk about and amend. It is healthy for the House of Commons to deal with those issues in that way. There are countries, for example, Australia and the United States, and other countries both inside and outside the Commonwealth which have a much better approval process for ratifying international agreements. It involves either committees of a house or a vote of some sort before the treaties come into effect.

I would like the member to comment on two things. How would he like to see this bill specifically amended to strengthen it? More importantly, what type of approval process would he like to see this House adopt for the adoption of international treaties?

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1:10 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Madam Speaker, the member asked what we in this caucus would rather see in the bill as it affects anti-dumping.

I tried to indicate in my remarks that we wanted to see similar provisions to what the United States has on its side of the border including the retrospective look at legislation so that we can remedy changes when they come up.

With regard to the approval process, I indicated that we supported SIMA and the CITT. I recognize and appreciate that parliament needs to figure out ways for members of this House regardless on which side they sit to work co-operatively to assist Canadians who we are here to represent.

I do not have a specific approval process that I would be advancing here today. However, I concur with the hon. member's remarks that we need some help in that direction and we could probably look to some of the countries he referred to. Australia is a good example.

We certainly need to draw opposition members into the operation more than we do now.

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1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Madam Speaker, I will leave aside the rather large philosophical question as to the way in which this House and we as members go about ratifying and approving international treaties. This clearly is something of interest to a lot of members. It comes up in the foreign affairs and international trade committee from time to time, and it may be something we should be looking at.

I am a little surprised at the tone of opposition the member expressed and particularly his suggestion that we should be adopting mirror legislation vis-à-vis the United States.

The member will recall that the committee held extensive hearings on this bill. We often heard recommendations from various parties, particularly the steel industry and others, saying that we should adopt mirror legislation vis-à-vis the United States. However, it was pointed out by a lot of people who came before the committee that this would also hurt the Canadian automotive industry which imports a lot of parts that are then used in exports.

I would suggest to the member that I am not so sure we would want to go down the track of imitating what the United States does.

What we are trying to tell everybody in the United States and the world is that their ideas are crazy, do not make sense and are contrary to the international agreements we are subscribing to. Why would we want to do what they do just to prove that we agree that what they are doing is crazy? I do not understand where the member is coming from on this.

I think I understood that his party is in favour of the general thrust of the legislation and that maybe we can work on it together. However, the recommendations in this legislation have all-party support of the committee which recommended most of the changes. The legislation itself brings Canada into conformity with our international agreements and at the same time protects our producers and our consumers in a proper balanced way.

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1:10 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite talks about the United States being crazy. I agree with him but it is driving our producers nuts in the process. This is in the context that the United States is our major trading partner. Around $20 million worth of trade, an inordinate amount of money, crosses the border every day. I think the feeling around here from Canadian producers and exporters is that we are being hosed more often than not.

It may very well be that the United States is out of step with the rest of the world. We are so close in proximity to the United States and our trade with that country is so important that we cannot afford, as I suggested in my remarks, to be leading with our chins when negotiating with the United States. I fear that the legislation before us today will force that upon us.

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1:15 p.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise on this occasion. I would like first to tell a very short story and then ask a question.

In 1993 I remember the NDP running ads talking about how free trade would kill jobs and devastate the Canadian economy, that it would be a colossal failure and that the whole nation would weep in the wake of the signing of a free trade agreement. I am glad to hear the member's party has changed its position on free trade. I remember as well the commercials that were run in the 1993 election campaign were actually made in the United States. It was rather ironic since they were running ads that were negative to free trade.

Is the member aware of other flip-flops the Liberal Party has made with regard to issues like free trade since they won election in 1993?

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1:15 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

No, Mr. Speaker. I think I set that out fairly clearly. When the Liberals were in opposition they were very firmly opposed to free trade. The previous leader referred to it as the fight of his life back in 1988.

However they embraced free trade altogether, 100%, following the election in 1993. They continue to go down that road with the agreements I referred to: the agreement with Chile, the agreement with the Americas, the WTO, their push on the multilateral agreement on investment, et cetera.

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1:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-35. The Progressive Conservative Party is in favour of this bill.

Unfortunately, Bill C-35 is not perfect, coming as it does from the government opposite, which is not perfect. Let us hope that the future will bring perfect legislation from a perfect government of the right colour.

We are in favour of Bill C-35, about which much has been said. I would like to come back to the purpose of this bill. We already had the 1984 Special Import Measures Act, which was aimed at exercising some control over what was coming into this country by setting rules to protect our industry. Following a most welcome change in government that Canadians and Quebeckers had been waiting for, negotiations were initiated to open up channels for trade around the world and with the United States in particular. Free trade agreements were signed, leading to various international trade negotiations.

After a free trade agreement is negotiated, it continues to evolve. In implementing the legislation, it becomes evident that changes have to be made to the laws of the various countries involved. Bill C-35 contains a number of changes, especially with respect to antidumping measures. This is the main purpose of Bill C-35.

There has been much mention of the United States. Free trade agreements have fortunately addressed most of the potential problems with that country. Since 1984, the Special Import Measures Act has been amended with each successive international treaty. Free trade is therefore a partial solution to some of our import problems.

Much was said about the United States and the very tough measures imposed by that country. One thing needs to be understood. Like Canada, the United States has a trade deficit. When a country has a trade deficit, it reacts by making its legislation more protectionist.

This is what happened in the United States in a few particular sectors, agriculture being one that has been debated in the last few weeks and months.

It is a very human reaction, particularly on the eve of an election, when barriers go up. With its free trade agreements and exports, however, Canada has been able to reassure Quebeckers and Canadians. The latest figures show, without a shadow of a doubt, that, had we not had free trade boosting exports to the United States, among other countries, Canada would be in a recession.

We export 1.8 per cent of our GDP. If we reduced our exports, we would go into a recession and all Quebeckers and Canadians would lose.

Naturally, some things still need to be changed. Bill C-35 introduces some worthwhile amendments, but it is not perfect. The Bloc Quebecois suggested some very interesting amendments that would have seen duties apply even further back in the case of dumping. We hope that it will not take the government two and a half years to amend the Special Import Measures Act.

Bill C-35 also introduces a change with respect to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act. It will be made much more stringent. We are going to send a very clear signal to those who want to dump their products onto this country, directly or by devious means, that Canada, under its international agreements, is ready to face the music.

We have examples from 80 years back, but the practice of dumping has existed since the time of the empires. At that point—as a history buff like you, Mr. Speaker, would know in spite of your young age—what they dumped was rum or furs or wood, depending on what the empire wanted to do with the recalcitrants in certain parts of its great kingdom.

As countries were established, various laws and agreements came into being, often within large groups such as the Commonwealth where there was some control over the movement of merchandise.

Bill C-35 is a step in the right direction. But, naturally, it is not perfect. However, we are giving it some teeth. Oftentimes on the international scene, when the government tried to show its teeth, people realized it had no dentures. Bill C-35 gives it enough teeth to better control the measures that could harm Canadian producers.

Even though we are delighted, we think it took far too long: two and a half years. Whether it is the crisis we are facing now in agriculture or the pasta crisis because of dumping by Italy, which has made it difficult for Italian products to move through the Canadian market, or any natural resource produced and sold in the country, there are difficulties.

I will not go further, for time is slipping by. I also know that all parliamentarians, with the exception of members of one particular party, have agreed to support Bill C-35.

Once again, we might say that the Liberal government has recognized its past mistake of failing to support the previous government on free trade, and we hope that the red of the government in office becomes a little less evident, that is, a little more blue.

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1:20 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is not often that I stand in the House in agreement or even partial agreement with something brought forward by the government. I can say that with regard Bill C-35.

We do not have to look too far to see what is actually going on today with trade. It is in the news. At the border there has been stoppage of some of our produce from entering the States.

Bill C-35, if it were to be implemented, might play a small part in addressing some of the concerns. Dumping is basically when other countries sell their product in our country at less than it costs them to produce it. We have to pay attention to exactly what is going on. Otherwise our financial picture will look bleaker than it is now. I do not think the country could stand that for one moment.

Bill C-35 respecting the Special Import Measures Act governs the procedures under which anti-dumping and countervailing duties are imposed. Under WTO rules all countries are permitted to impose penalties on imported goods if the goods are being dumped into their countries or if their production is being subsidized at home.

That also brings forward the definition of dumping or subsidizing. What exactly is subsidizing? We should be looking at this subject more carefully than we do. Subsidization can take many forms. I am and always will be basically a free trader. More important, I would like to say I am a fair trader. I do not have a doubt that Canadian workers, farmers and manufacturers can compete in any field against any country if we have fair trade.

Fair trade does not necessarily fall into the same guise, unfortunately with the government, as does free trade. Fair trade means that we require a level playing field for our producers to compete. When we have to face higher taxes than in other countries, it is no longer fair trade. When we have to pay more for our electricity and for our heat than other countries do, it is no longer fair trade. When we have to pay more for shipping costs than other countries do, it is no longer fair trade. When we have to pay our own people to collect taxes such as the GST and other countries do not have to do so, it is no longer fair trade. However it may be so-called free trade. If we were to look into those areas we would find that Canadian producers could definitely compete by anyone's standard in the world. I have no doubt about that.

I admit that is getting a bit off topic from Bill C-35, but the government should take heed of this when talking about imports and exports. The first basic concern should be for the producers in Canada and trying to give them a fair chance to compete in the global economy, if that is where we want them to go. It is only reasonable to ask that.

As long ago as 1904 Canada developed the world's first anti-dumping legislation. Over the years since then Canada has evolved into one of the world's leading trading nations. Canada's trade legislation has been changed many times, including changes to the Special Import Measures Act or SIMA that were needed to implement the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Uruguay round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT.

We have been here before. We have gone through the hoops. We know we have serious problems and keep on having serious problems. It was only on Friday that I asked the minister about what was happening at the border. His answer to me was basically “Don't worry. Be happy. We have drawn up an agreement and nothing will happen”. It did happen because these agreements were not implemented when they should have been.

As I said, I am basically in support of Bill C-35. The government could be doing a lot more to help our companies and producers but it refuses to look at it. I sincerely hope it will give as much attention to that area as it has to Bill C-35. It has taken the government two years to get the legislation before the House.

In conclusion, basically the government has our support.

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1:30 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell a story to the House about a small company in my constituency. It is called Bed-Roc Industries, a medium size company. It had to fight against an American competitor that used to dump tiles in B.C. and Alberta. It was selling specific tiles at a price which was undercutting Bed-Roc's price, selling at a very low price to outbid Bed-Roc.

It fought against the American company. It went through the International Trade Tribunal. After many years of battle it won the case and was compensated for the injuries it suffered.

Small and medium size businesses suffer because the bigger companies dump some of their products in our market and it is difficult for the smaller companies to survive. Very few companies go to the tribunal and go through the lengthy process to save the jobs they create in this country.

Under this Bill C-35 I am wondering if we are looking at the long term implications of the amendments. How will the changes to be implemented affect business in the agriculture sector?

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1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The difficulty is we have passed questions and comments and we are on debate. Perhaps there would be consent to allow the hon. member for Okanagan—Shuswap to resume the floor to answer this question. Is that agreed?

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Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately I did not catch the question. I thought that time had passed and I got on with something else.

I hope it will address the member's concerns. If not, I am sure we will be back before the House screaming and hollering, there is no doubt about that.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Special Import Measures Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

(Bill C-59. On the Order: Government Orders)

November 30, 1998—Second reading and reference to Standing Committee on Finance of Bill C-59, an act to amend the Insurance Companies Act.

Insurance Companies Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussion among the parties. I believe that you would find unanimous consent to order, without debate, that Bill C-59 be forthwith referred to the Standing Committee on Finance pursuant to Standing Order 73(1).

Insurance Companies Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Insurance Companies Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions with the parties. I believe you would find consent for the following:

That Bill S-21, an act respecting the corruption of foreign officials and the implementation of the convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and to make related amendments to other acts, be now read the first time and ordered for immediate consideration at the second reading stage.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano for the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that Bill S-21, an act respecting the corruption of foreign public officials and the implementation of the convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and to make related amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I rise with pleasure to speak to a matter of concern to all of us, the subject of Bill S-21, the bribery and corruption of foreign public officials in international business.

This bill when enacted will allow Canada to ratify the convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions. This convention was negotiated by the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The 29 member OECD, which includes Canada, the United States, most European countries, Japan and South Korea, is the major economic policy forum for the world's most advanced industrialized democracies.

It is an accepted fact that corruption distorts international trade and competition. It impedes economic development. In developing countries in particular corruption distorts public policy. It leads governments to make decisions that are not in the public interest but are in the interest of those who benefit from the bribes.

Corruption also has the effect of lowering the quality of goods and services provided by the private sector in the course of meeting its contracts. If substantial bribes are being offered the money comes either by shortchanging the countries with which one has a contract or by undermining the quality of the goods and services being provided.

Furthermore it has an insidious effect of threatening the rule of law, democracy and human rights. It undermines the development of competent political and democratic institutions. Where they are in the course of development, it blocks that development. Stability and security are essential preconditions for economic growth. Prosperity, sustainable development and employment engender greater security and stability.

The successful promotion of Canadian values abroad can be assisted by increased economic partnerships between Canada and other countries.

The issue of the corruption of foreign public officials is not new and continues to be a major problem affecting international trade and investment. The problem has been the focus of attention within the OECD, the Organization of American States and the Council of Europe.

To implement the OECD convention would enhance Canada's reputation as a world leader in fighting corruption. It would honour the commitments Canada has made at the OECD, at the Denver and Birmingham summits of the G-8 and at the United Nations. And it would continue to ensure if not enhance Canada's standing at the OECD.

Some have questioned whether what we are doing is enough. My response is that this is a dramatic and significant first step in the right direction.

I will highlight the key elements in this legislation. The essence of the convention is the requirement that each state party criminalize the bribery of foreign public officials in international business transaction and take measures to establish the liability of legal persons for the bribery of a foreign public official. This provision appears in section 3 and is the centrepiece of the proposed act. It prohibits the bribery of a foreign public official in the course of business whether directly or indirectly. It calls for significant penalties. The offence would be punishable on indictment and carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

This legislation will use the definition of person found in the Criminal Code that includes Her Majesty and public bodies, bodies corporate, societies, companies and inhabitants of counties, parishes, municipalities or other districts in relation to the acts and things they are capable of doing and owning respectively.

Therefore for the purpose of the offences under this proposed act, potential accused are not limited to natural persons. Corporations also fall within the scope of these offences. The bill describes facilitation payments that would be exempted from the ambit of the offence. It would not be an offence if the advantage were lawful in the foreign official's country or public international organization. Reasonable expenses incurred in good faith and directly related to the promotion, demonstration or explanation of products and services or to the execution or performance of a contract with the foreign state could also be argued as a defence.

The bill would amend section 67.5 of the Income Tax Act to add this new offence to the list of Criminal Code offences referenced in that section in an effort to deny the deductibility of bribes paid to foreign public officials.

The convention requires the parties to provide that the bribe and proceeds of the bribery of a foreign public official be subject to seizure and confiscation. It requires the parties to consider the imposition of additional civil or administrative sanctions. For this reason the bill proposes to create two additional criminal offences, the offence of possession of property or proceeds obtained or derived from the bribery of foreign public officials or from laundering that property or those proceeds, and the offence of laundering the property or proceeds obtained or derived from the bribery of foreign public officials.

The bill incorporates the proceeds of crime provisions of the Criminal Code for use on prosecutions of the new offences. The new offence of bribery of foreign public officials is an enterprise crime offence to permit the search, seizure and detention of these proceeds of crime and is a predicate offence for the offence of laundering of the proceeds of crime. The convention has provisions dealing with mutual legal assistance and extradition with which Canada can comply. If possible under their legal systems, each party must also provide legal assistance in criminal and civil matters.

It is important to note the Canadian business community is behind this initiative. It considers the OECD convention as the most significant achievement to date in the international campaign against bribery and corruption. This convention is seen as an opportunity to create a level playing field on which Canadian companies can compete on the basis of quality, price and service. This was said loudly and clearly by members of Transparency International when they appeared before the Senate last week.

When he appeared before the Senate, the Minister of Foreign Affairs quoted Donald Johnston, a former Canadian Minister of Justice and current Secretary General of the OECD, who said in a recent article that “Integrity in commercial transactions is essential in making the global market work and to ensure that the public supports it. A logical consequence of globalization is that honesty has to be enforced at the global, not just national, level”.

With the passage of this legislation Canada has the opportunity to be the fifth country to ratify the OECD convention and to bring it into force, thus ushering in a new era of international accountability. I ask all hon. members to consider that the war on corruption is well underway. There is now no looking back.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak to this bill today.

Before I start talking about the corruption bill, I would like to make a couple of points before the House. The first one is that this bill came into our hands late on Friday and depending on what happened in the Senate determined whether it was actually going to show up today or not.

This is an important bill to businesses and to the international community and, as usual, we are ramming it through the last week of parliament. There has been very little planning on this bill. It was signed in December of 1997. We have waited or stalled or put it off and now all of a sudden this bill is so vitally important that we have it before us today.

This is government management. This is the way it handles things. This is the way it takes care of business. Of course we have seen a lot of this. We have seen it in the case of the Somalia report. Murders were committed. There was a cover-up. A commission was set up. It held hearings for months, which extended into years, and finally the cabinet waffled it away and suspended any action on it. A few little guys took the fall and then we moved on.

Right now there is the APEC inquiry. It is the same sort of thing, mismanagement of the issues. Among the APEC protesters was a very well known teacher from my community who is a student at UBC. He has told me all about what happened. He was standing on the front line, around the pepper spray.

Again we have the government's mishandling of this sort of situation, stalled investigations and stalled handling. I point this out because this is how the government manages things, or mismanages things. It waits until it has a crisis. Someone in the OECD said this thing has to be signed and it should have been done yesterday. All of a sudden, here it is in the House and we are expected to ram the thing through with little time to look at it.

The second part of this motion, to which I object strenuously, is the fact that it is coming straight from the unelected, unaccountable Senate. We have a body proposing that this legislation is good for Canadians and good for our businesses. However, it is coming out of a place that has absolutely no credibility, a place that totally lacks legitimacy.

Obviously there are solutions. For instance, Alberta has recently held Senate elections. Mr. Brown receive 331,000 votes. Mr. Morton received more than 261,000 votes. And yet this government, in its wisdom, will not even acknowledge that this happened.

The government is proposing a bill on corruption and, literally, on credibility when it has made so many inappropriate actions and has such a lack of ability to deal with any kind of an issue.

Our concerns are obvious. We would like to have the opportunity to call witnesses. We would like to have the opportunity to look at the various problems and the good points of this bill. We would like to have the opportunity to become informed on this issue. However, it was handed to us on Friday afternoon and we were told that on Monday we were going to deal with it and ram it through the House.

The OECD is made of up of a group of 29 of the most industrialized countries. It is one of the most important think tanks in the free world. Obviously combating bribery in business transactions and what that would do for the international trade scene is something that all of us care about. However, we have desperately handicapped ourselves because of the lack of management.

While the whole bill is very credible, and while we support the principle of it, we have to raise some very great concerns. Above everything, when we look at this we see how naive the government has been in dealing with this.

I cannot help but think of our most recent look at the nuclear situation in our foreign affairs committee. Would it not be great if we had no nuclear weapons? Obviously it would be great to not have nuclear weapons. But what is the reality of the situation? The government seems to have a great deal of problem dealing with reality. It likes to live in a glass house. It likes to think that everything is going along so nicely, so friendly and so well organized. What is the real situation?

The OECD says, above other things, that Canada has a big problem. Our dollar is too low. Our debt is much too high. We have a $600 billion debt which is dragging us down every time we try to get ahead. Will that ever be dealt with?

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

An hon. member

There is $50 billion in interest.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

There is close to $50 billion in interest. Think of what we could do with $50 billion if we had it. Look at the $12 billion spent on health care by the federal government. Look at the $14 billion spent on education. Look at the $22 billion spent on pensions. Close to $50 billion is spent on interest payments. That is the kind of mismanagement that the OECD talks about.

It also talks about the level of taxes in this country. It talks about how we have some of the highest corporate and personal tax rates of the 29 OECD countries. That also is mismanagement by the government not responding to what the OECD has been telling it for so many years.

When we talk about being naive we also look at things like getting our UN seat. Are we going to say that we did not try to influence some of the foreign embassies in getting that seat? Are we going to deny that that is part of an Olympic bid? Are we going to say that we are so perfect that we will never, ever try to coerce someone into supporting us in a position? That is not true. That is not how the real world works. That is not how this government operates.

While it would like to stand in this place and talk about how wonderful it is, what a great manager it is and how good a job it does, when we look at it we do not have to go very far below the surface to see the level of mismanagement and how it handles the way the House operates. The whole process of presenting this bill is a perfect example of that sort of mismanagement.

We can talk about corruption in many different ways and I will try to explore some of them. Obviously, we oppose corruption. We are, after all, one of the countries in the world that has a great role to play in setting an example.

We can see how corruption can undermine the very workings of various governments. It can destroy developing democracies. It can literally cause countries in transition to go backward. We can talk about countries such as Sudan and others which are in transition and have moved back and forth.

Corruption distorts public confidence in the whole process. I would even say that public confidence has been held up to question because of the mismanagement of this government. It leads to the misallocation of valuable resources.

When there is corruption, there are resources going off to the wrong place to do the wrong thing, ultimately to the detriment of the people of that country.

Again, I would come back to Canada and look at the allocation of resources. I would ask, are these being allocated according to what is best for the people of Canada?

It hurts the private sector. It distorts the operation of the markets. It deprives ordinary citizens of receiving the benefits of the flow of wealth. Whenever there is corruption within the system that obviously can happen. Above all else, it hurts the poor people of the world. From this government's standpoint, we often hear about their concerns and about human rights abuses around the world. We see very limited action in that regard, but we certainly hear the words being spoken from the other side.

We need transparency in international reporting and in international business deals. We could look at the way NGOs operate and go a long way in increasing our transparency. We could also look at CIDA.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member has 28 minutes remaining. I know he is just getting into the body of his speech, however, he will have the floor after question period.

It being almost 2 p.m. we will proceed to Statements by Members.

Professor Mohamed Elmasry
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Professor Mohamed Elmasry of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo who was inducted as a fellow in the prestigious Royal Society of Canada in Ottawa on November 20, 1998.

Professor Elmasry was invited to join this elite group due to his invention, development and his help in the industry introduction of several new technologies influencing the growth of microelectronics in Canada and abroad.

His research has resulted in five distinct generations of integrated circuit designs, and his revolutionary work on low-energy logic circuits some 20 years ago is now finding wide application in portable telecommunications.

Professor Elmasry has done pioneering work in artificial neural network chip design, self-learning chips, speech recognition systems, vocoders and echo cancellation. He holds nine patents and is the author or co-author of 12 books and more than 250 scientific publications.

I congratulate Professor Elmasry on his new fellowship and wish him well in the future.

Inquiries
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the resignation of Gerald Morin puts into question every previous ruling by the RCMP Public Complaints Commission. On October 7, 1996, I filed a complaint with the commission concerning RCMP negligence in dealing with farmers' complaints against the Canadian Wheat Board. The response confirmed, without a doubt, the warning that my effort on behalf of farmers would be torpedoed.

The inaction of two former Liberal solicitor generals on these complaints plus the government's relentless prosecution of farmers even after it lost the Sawatzky case and appeal, proves something is badly wrong in our justice system.

The government's willingness to jeopardize all Canadian exports to the U.S. to avoid an independent audit of the wheat board demands an immediate judicial inquiry.

Pepper sprayed students, imprisoned farmers and confiscated property. What next?

Opera Ontario
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I draw the attention of the House to the Hamilton based Opera Ontario, Canada's fourth largest opera company. In recognition of the significance of its achievements, Opera Ontario has been awarded for the second time in three years one of the six $25,000 lieutenant governor's awards.

I have had the supreme pleasure to see a number of the company's productions and I can without hesitation attest to the quality of its work.

The success and recognition given to such organizations as Opera Ontario show that there is a living, breathing arts community in Hamilton that is as sophisticated and dedicated to quality as any other in Canada.

I say congratulations to Hamilton's Opera Ontario. I look forward to seeing the company build on the success it has already achieved. I am convinced that it will continue to be a vibrant and growing contribution to life in Hamilton and surrounding communities in southwestern Ontario.

Natural Disasters
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Armenians around the world will take time today to recognize the 10th anniversary of the tragic earthquake on December 7, 1988. On that sorrowful day over 25,000 lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of Armenians were left homeless and injured.

This year Armenians will reflect on the crippling effect of nature's fury and share with the victims of Hurricane Mitch and natural disasters everywhere the common bonds of human suffering, human courage and human resolve to overcome and persevere.

I urge my fellow members of parliament to join Canadian Armenians in mourning the victims of the 1988 earthquake and to continue the effort to provide relief to the victims of natural disasters everywhere.

Monique Sioui
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, “Pay equity is very much in the news these days. Monique fought for equity, plain and simple”

Those were the words of Richard Kistabish, the husband of the late Monique Sioui, who was awarded for the first time the rights and freedoms award for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Wanaki, the couple's daughter, accepted the award on behalf of her mother, who died last year from an illness.

At the award ceremony, we were reminded that she was the president of the Quebec native women's association in the mid-1970s. It was also pointed out that “Monique Sioui addressed acutely sensitive issues such as native children being adopted by non-natives and discrimination against native women under the Indian Act”.

According to Richard Kistabish, Monique Sioui got involved to bring about some changes: “She worked very hard at changing the status of women. She also worked with neglected children. She fought against discrimination by getting involved in the community. She wanted to act as a bridge between the white and native cultures.”

It is an honour for us all to say thank you to Monique Sioui.

National Friendship Centres
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, the first nations friendship centre at Vernon in my riding will host an open house on December 10, national friendship centre day.

Human Resources Development Canada has not included the friendship centre movement in its new aboriginal human resource strategy although half of Canada's aboriginals now live in cities. This leaves friendship centres without any way to address urban aboriginal employment and training. I toured the Vernon centre where people can get services like training referrals and help in preparing resumes.

I was impressed by the huge caseload these folks handle. For example, family support and crisis intervention averages 47 cases per month. Nationwide friendship centres also help develop feasibility studies and business plans to promote long term employment in such diverse ventures as catering and day care.

However the aboriginal urban initiative which the friendship centres run is scheduled to lose its funding on March 31. I urge my colleagues to support the national friendship centre movement.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, December 4, I was honoured to participate in a special candlelight and roses commemoration for the victims of the Montreal massacre. The hour of remembrance was held at the Women's College site of the Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre.

Our two guest speakers were Professor Wendy Cukier, President of the Coalition for Gun Control, and former mayor of Toronto, Barbara Hall. Professor Cukier spoke emphatically about the need to recognize the significant role that rifles and shotguns play in the high number of women assaulted and killed by their intimate partners and the importance therefore of our new, strong gun control legislation.

The need for prevention was echoed by Barbara Hall, chair of the national strategy on community safety and crime prevention. Ms. Hall stressed the need to use all available resources in order to make our communities safe for women. We must create an environment in which women feel safe. By doing so, we will in turn have created safer communities for all of us to live in.

Friday's event was a reminder of the terrible consequences of violence against women. Clearly we must focus on preventive measures. We cannot allow such an event as the 1989 Montreal massacre to be repeated. We cannot allow violence against women to continue. We must never forget.

Violence Against Women
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in Montreal and across Canada, the tragedy that took place nine years ago at l'École Polytechnique, in Montreal, was remembered. December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

I would like to pay tribute to all the organizations that, tirelessly and without recognition, provide assistance to abused women and their families.

Each year, in my riding of Ahuntsic, the director of the Mélanie Cabay foundation, Mireille Bélisle, who lost her daughter Mélanie, holds a rally whose ultimate purpose is to eradicate violence.

It is an event where individuals and community organizations come together to show solidarity against all forms of violence in our society.

I invite all members of the House to support the Secretary of State for the Status of Women and Multiculturalism and her territorial and provincial counterparts in their leadership in the Iqaluit declaration and their commitment to end violence and leave a safer world for our children.

Maria Mach
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is someone among us who has a birthday today. She is 18 years old and she is from Aldergrove, British Columbia, in my riding. What makes her so special is that she is one of our parliamentary pages. Her name is Maria Mach.

Maria was born in Langley, British Columbia, and went to Aldergrove Secondary School. She always had a grade A average and received a $10,000 intern scholarship at the University of Ottawa.

Maria has a deep interest in reading, music and plays the piano. She enjoys skiing and ringette. She has been active in her church and on student council at school. She has travelled to Papua, New Guinea, Australia and Europe.

Maria's mother, MPs in the House and I wish to express the best birthday ever for one of Canada's future leaders, Maria Mach.

The Late Alphonse Piché
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, a great poet is being buried at Trois-Rivières, Mr. Alphonse Piché, who died on December 2.

A year after his birth in Chicoutimi in 1917, his family moved to Trois-Rivières, where he remained for his entire life.

His poetry celebrated the great St. Lawrence, love and life, and it transcends age, ill health and death. Mr. Piché was honoured by numerous literary prizes, including the Governor General's Literary Award, and an award bearing his name is given out annually at the Salon du livre de Québec.

According to Alphonse Piché, the task of the poet is an impossible and unending one, balancing imbalances, recording the unspoken, translating the unspeakable, tackling the absolute. To him, the greatness of man lay more in his attempts at discovery than in his actual discoveries.

I would like to quote some of his own words in tribute to this remarkable poet: “Sleep, my brother, there in the soil of eternity, take your rest among the endless generations, safe in the bosom of mystery, your mystery”.

Reform Party
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is talk of attempts at a rapprochement between the Reform Party and Mario Dumont's Parti de l'Action démocratique at a meeting to be held this coming February.

It is obvious that the Reform Party is trying every possible way to get closer to Quebec. Why not court the Parti Quebecois while they are at it?

The Reform Party cannot understand that its views on the future of Canada and of Quebec are of no interest to the people of Quebec. The Reform Party quite simply does not understand Quebec, which feels this union of the right to define the future of our country is going nowhere.

The Reform Party is totally disconnected from reality as far as Quebec is concerned. It should face up to the fact that it is wasting its time by trying to get Quebec onto its bandwagon.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, many Canadian farmers are facing their worst crisis since the dirty thirties and they are pleading for our help. Last week about 400 letters from Saskatchewan farmers arrived stating they need immediate assistance to allow them to plan their 1999 crops.

We have been trying since February to bring this emerging disaster to the attention of the House and the minister. Now finally the farm crisis is on the front page and it appears the government is preparing to act.

I was disappointed to hear the minister say last week that no money will flow to farmers until after they have filed their tax returns. By then we fear many of them will be forced off the land.

We must have a detailed program outlined here before the House rises this week to allow farmers to take this information to their lending institutions.

Men and women on Canadian farms produce abundant and safe quantities of food for us and the rest of the world, and all they seek is to be able to make a decent living doing so.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is required to make known his position with respect to WTO negotiations by April 1999.

With the deadline just months away, we can only conclude that the federal government has come up empty. To date, there is no sign of any serious consultation.

Recently Quebec agricultural producers, processors, and distributors, as well as the UPA and MAPAQ, came up with an initial proposal: with the OECD showing more flexibility, the United States taking a tougher stance, and little give from Asia, Japan and Europe, the UPA is calling for the status quo.

Canada has slashed its funding more than any other country, and everyone admits that it is a pushover. If he hopes to defend the farmers of Quebec and Canada, the minister has to get out of Ottawa: it is urgent that he consult the agricultural sector and take a firm stand based on what he hears.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Canadians we spend less than 10% of our disposable income on food. Our food costs are among the lowest in industrialized countries. Only the Americans at 8% spend less while others pay up to 24%. The efficiencies of our producers directly benefit consumers.

Today, because of complex international conditions of lost markets, oversupply and foreign subsidies, Canadian farm families are on the brink of financial disaster. This threat to the viability of Canadian farmers is a threat to our supply of healthy, affordable food. Imagine what we would pay for food without our domestic supply.

Farmers meet the normal challenges of weather and cyclical price fluctuations. However the current crisis is not normal, not of their making and could not be foreseen.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food is working toward a solution. I urge him to continue his efforts to develop a national disaster program to meet these extraordinary needs. All Canadians will benefit in the long term. All Canadians want and need a healthy food supply.

Bernard Lord
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the future premier of the province of New Brunswick is in Ottawa today.

On October 21, Mr. Lord was elected to the New Brunswick legislature by capturing the long time Liberal seat of Moncton East and is now the leader of the opposition.

Mr. Lord is committed to offering New Brunswickers a new grass roots approach to politics. His vision is one of a prosperous province with better education and improved health care in each region. He wants to build a better New Brunswick, a province with a thriving economy.

At the dawn of a new millennium it is vital for New Brunswick to have a leader at the service of the people. Mr. Lord will never abandon our responsibility toward the youth, seniors and workers of New Brunswick.

Over the past nine years the Liberals in the province have stood by and watched a brain drain of over 9,000 young New Brunswickers leaving the province. Doctors and nurses have left and the dignity and freedom of seniors have been taken away.

New Brunswickers look forward to a brighter future under the solid leadership of Mr. Bernard Lord. Today I salute the future premier of the province New Brunswick, Bernard Lord.

Boys And Girls Club Of Ontario
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1992 the Boys and Girls Club of Ontario started a scholarship program to help pay for the rising costs of post-secondary education for its youth members, many of whom face financial challenges. From an initial $4,800 and 6 awards, the program has grown to over $37,000 and 49 awards being given out this year.

I congratulate Asha Moore, Charles Baker and Adrian Sutherland from my riding of Scarborough East. All three have won a scholarship involving the Scarborough East Boys and Girls Club.

Asha Moore is now in her second year of the social work program at Ryerson. Charles is in his second year of computer engineering at Ryerson, and Adrian Sutherland is presently enrolled in recreation leadership at Centennial College.

I congratulate each and every one of these students for their motivation, their enthusiasm and drive to succeed in life.

Gun Control
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday I had the opportunity to participate once again in a radio phone-in show in my riding. Guess which issue garnered the most questions during the hour I spent with Dick Sequins on CJDC in Dawson Creek. Was it APEC, taxes or health care? No. It was gun control.

Despite the wishes of the Liberal government this issue will not go away. Rural Canada will not forget how the government has targeted legitimate firearm owners instead of going after those who choose to misuse guns for criminal acts.

Bill C-68 will not ensure public safety. It will not produce safer streets. Gun owners in my riding continue to question the stupidity of the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to register the firearms of peaceful law-abiding Canadians while the RCMP drastically cuts back due to the lack of funds.

I can tell the Minister of Justice that Bill Farion, a constituent from Fort Nelson, speaks for thousands when he said in a recent letter that he has “no intention of co-operating with this expensive boondoggle”.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the solicitor general.

On Friday the chair of the public complaints panel investigating the APEC affair resigned citing new interference from Ottawa. Gerald Morin cited interference from the Liberal appointed chairman of the commission, Shirley Heafey. He said her tampering made the panel's work impossible.

What possible excuse does the solicitor general have now for not replacing this panel with an independent judicial inquiry?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am taking the liberty of answering this question because the question relates to something the Prime Minister deals with, setting up judicial inquiries.

I want to say to the hon. member that the chair of the commission according to press reports says that she is dealing with the matter that has been the subject of press coverage. Second of all, the whole issue of apprehension of bias on the part of the commission is still before the courts. Surely we should let the courts come to their decision which they are ready to do as quickly as possible.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general has had two weeks to practise being solicitor general. It is time to take the training wheels off and answer my questions himself.

Ms. Heafey's interference was bad enough to make the panel chairman quit. She tampered with the panel's independence. She interfered with its decision making. She refused to deal with charges that their phones were bugged.

Who directed the actions of this Liberal appointed chairman? Who ordered this interference from Ottawa in the role of this particular panel?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there was no interference from Ottawa. This is an independent body that deals with allegations against the RCMP. I ask the opposition to let the public complaints commission do its work.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the people who will not let the commission do its work is the government itself. The former solicitor general pre-judged the outcome of the panel. That is tampering with the work of the panel. Now we have the chairman of the commission interfering to the point where the chairman of the panel quit.

Is it not true that the only reason the solicitor general keeps this panel alive is to keep the truth from coming out about the role of the Prime Minister in this whole sorry affair?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the public complaints commission acts under an act of parliament. It has a job to do and we must let it do the job. Under the law, it has received a complaint, it must deal with the complaint.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe the solicitor general should put the training wheels back on.

The reality is that the public complaints commission can be terminated under the following grounds: number one, the investigation be better carried out under the authority of another act of parliament, or further investigation is not reasonably practical. This situation fulfils both of those criteria.

When are we going to get an independent judicial inquiry from this solicitor general?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has not given accurate information to this House. I am not saying deliberately because he is not quoting the law as far as I know. As far as I know there are no grounds on that basis in the act setting up the commission to let the activity he is asking for be carried out.

The government has no authority under the law to take any role with respect to the workings of the commission. The hon. member knows that. He should have told the House that instead of what he alleged.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, section 45.36 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, RSC R-10 is the authority under which I say this person, Heafey, who was appointed by the Liberals, has the ability to terminate this boondoggle, which is all that it is. It is mortally wounded. Put it in its grave. Give us an independent judicial inquiry.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is quoting the act right, he is saying the chair of the commission has the right to terminate a hearing. The act does not say that the government has the authority to direct the commission and that is the fact. I would like to put this section on the record of the House and the House will see that what I am saying is correct.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for weeks now, the Prime Minister has been telling us about the independence of the APEC inquiry. He keeps telling us it has to do its work.

We now know that the commission chair exerted unacceptable pressure on the inquiry chair and that hearings are held up indefinitely.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us what is left of the supposed inquiry and its supposed independence?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the public complaints commission is an independent body. It has every right, and under the law it must deal with allegations that are brought before it. That is what it is going to do.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general is talking nonsense.

The Liberal caucus may be buying it, but no one else is. I wonder he can keep a straight face.

Is it not true that the reason the government alone believes that the inquiry has any credibility is because the more this inquiry into the conduct of the Prime Minister and his entourage is weakened, the less likely it is to get to the bottom of things?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the public complaints commission acts under an act of parliament, under an act of this place. It has a job to do and it must do that job.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, APEC commission chairman Gérald Morin resigned and accused Shirley Heafy, the chair of the RCMP public complaints commission, of political interference. As we know, Mrs. Heafy's appointment was a political one.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree that the allegations made by former commissioner Morin about Mrs. Heafy just destroyed any credibility this phoney commission may have had left?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, according to my information, Mr. Morin remains a member of the commission. He gave up his position as chair of the panel investigating the APEC incidents.

Mr. Morin was appointed in the same manner as Mrs. Heafy. Again, the government has no right to interfere in the commission's internal activities. The whole issue of the commission rests with the courts.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, enough is enough. A solicitor general has resigned, a CBC journalist was suspended, the hearings were stopped, and now commissioner Morin too has resigned.

What more does the Prime Minister need to convene a true inquiry, an independent judicial inquiry that will finally shed light on the role played by the Prime Minister and his office?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, according to my information, Mr. Morin is still a member of the commission.

Second, if an inquiry is convened, the commission will be appointed by the Prime Minister. Therefore, I wonder why the hon. member thinks such a commission would be any more independent than the public complaints commission, which was established through an act of parliament and which operates at arm's length from the government.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, now that we know the RCMP public complaints commission chair has tried to influence the panel's activities, the next question is how the government has tried to influence the commission chair and in fact this whole process.

Will the solicitor general now share with Canadians what is really going on by tabling all correspondence, including telephone contacts, e-mails, the works, between the government and the commission and between the government and commission lawyer Ed Ratushny?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has indicated that the government will co-operate fully with the public complaints commission. Any material it wants is available to it.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, like the Prime Minister, the public complaints commission chair, Liberal appointee Shirley Heafey, wants the commission to do its work. But the Prime Minister and his appointee know the commission is fatally flawed, that it will not get to the truth about the Prime Minister's involvement in the APEC fiasco.

How far is the government prepared to go to keep this three ring circus going? When will the government get on with an independent judicial inquiry and just get it over with?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, all the members of the commission, not just the chair, are appointed by order in council, that is to say by the Prime Minister. That is exactly what would happen if a judicial inquiry were to be set up. That person would be appointed by the Prime Minister. I would ask the hon. member to explain why she wants the Prime Minister to be involved in one way to set up a commission, and she does not want the commission to carry out its work when it is appointed in exactly the same way under the law passed by this parliament to work at arm's length from the government and from parliament. Is that not the way the work should be done?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I can answer that. It is because a judge would be independent.

The APEC commission has ground to a halt amidst further controversy with the main players investigating each other and exchanging allegations of bias and interference. The commission panel has become a joke with more twists than a cheap detective novel. While this makes for good drama, it is a terrible way to uncover the truth. The current process lacks the credibility and the mandate to thoroughly investigate what happened at APEC.

Will the new solicitor general show this House and Canadians that he is not just a puppet of the Prime Minister and appoint an independent judicial public inquiry?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should give the House the right facts as the premise to his question. The solicitor general would not appoint an inquiry. It would be appointed by the Prime Minister under the Inquiries Act. That is obvious. The hon. member should prepare himself before he asks these kinds of questions.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, is that not a trite answer. I can almost see the solicitor general's lips moving from the ventriloquism of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I want the hon. member to go directly to his question.

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, my direct question to the solicitor general is, will he give this House the assurance that there has been no ongoing influence by him or his government over the Liberals' friend Shirley Heafey who has been appointed and over her decisions as chair of this commission?

Apec Inquiry
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, yes I can give that assurance.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to the industry minister, high tax levels if anything increase productivity. The industry minister thinks that high taxes help Canadians. He is the second most senior economic minister in the entire cabinet. Is the finance minister increasing taxes on January 1 because he thinks it helps Canadians? Is that why?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I understand the hon. member read Saturday's paper. If he had read today's paper he would have seen that the Minister of Industry made it very clear he is in favour of lower taxes. Having worked very closely with the industry minister over the course of the last five years, I can say that he is an ardent proponent of lowering the tax rate for Canadians.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think he was really speaking from the heart on Friday. He said that high taxes are good for productivity.

This government likes to talk about lower taxes but at every opportunity it implements tax hikes. Look at CPP. Look at EI. Look at bracket creep. A billion dollars higher every year. Is it not true that this government is doing exactly what the industry minister was saying? It is raising taxes. Is it not true that this is the way this government operates at every opportunity, by hiking taxes?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the industry minister was talking about ways in which one increases productivity. That is why he brought in the technology partnerships program. That is why he has been a very strong supporter of increased research and development across the wide range of science and technology. That is why he has supported regional economic development. He understands how important increased productivity is to Canadians.

Increased productivity will come from the kinds of things the industry minister has talked about, not better buggy whipped according to the Reform Party.

Prebudget Consultations
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government cut $6.3 billion in transfer payments to the provinces, primarily in the health sector.

Yet, on Friday, in its report on prebudget consultations, the Liberal majority found a way to criticize the provinces by saying, and I quote: “By reducing the health services they provided, the provinces challenged one of Canada's most cherished national symbols”.

Can the Minister of Finance explain how his fellow party members, who belong to a government that cut one third of its transfer payments to the provinces, can have the nerve to say that if the health care system is weakened, it is because of the provinces?

Prebudget Consultations
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate the members of the Standing Committee on Finance, both opposition members and, most definitely, government members, for a very good report.

The emphasis put on productivity and the need to increase the wealth of all Canadians, including the poor and the middle class, resulted in a very good report. I intend to give it very serious consideration.

Prebudget Consultations
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has cut employment insurance and health, it wants to lower taxes for the rich, and it is prepared to grant special treatment to sports tycoons.

Given the actions and the direction taken by this government, is it not the one responsible for increased poverty, for the greater number of children living in poverty, in spite of the economic growth of the past five years?

Prebudget Consultations
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the transfers made to the provinces by the Canadian government, we notice, for example, an increase in equalization payments. The last budget included a $7 billion increase in transfers, over a three year period.

It also included programs designed to improve access to knowledge, including the millennium scholarship fund and the $3,000 paid to single parents. However, if we look at all the areas in which the federal government invested to help Canadians secure a better future, we can see that, in each case, the Bloc Quebecois opposed the government's initiatives.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, family incomes are down. Economic growth is dropping. Brain drain is speeding up. The unemployment rate is nearly twice as high as it is in the United States.

What is the government's answer? According to the industry minister it is higher taxes. He said “high tax levels increase productivity”. Perhaps the finance minister could help me here. If higher taxes lead to higher productivity, why does Canada not have the most competitive economy in the world today?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I really want to congratulate my colleague, the Minister of Industry, and all my colleagues.

Perhaps the hon. member missed the announcement last Friday. Four hundred and twenty-five thousand new jobs were created this year alone. Last month the private sector, in the context of a climate established by this government, created 103,000 new jobs, 75,000 of which were permanent. The vast majority went to young Canadians.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is boasting about his economic record while the unemployment rate is twice as high as our major economic competitor, family incomes have been dropping 15 years straight and brain drain is accelerating.

He congratulates the industry minister for contradicting the government's alleged fiscal policy, just like he congratulated the Prime Minister this summer for saying that a low dollar helped the Canadian economy.

Who really speaks for the government when it comes to economic policy, the finance minister, the Prime Minister or the industry minister? Does he agree that high taxes are good for productivity?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have already answered that question, as did the industry minister this morning. He was talking about higher productivity and lower taxes.

Let us look a the results of that. Last month job gains came in eight of the ten provinces. This is the fifth straight month that the unemployment rate has gone down. The unemployment rate in Canada is now at its lowest level since 1990.

Professional Sport
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, with reports showing that the number of poor children in Canada continues to rise, government members are pushing for sizable tax breaks for professional sports teams and their multimillionaire players.

With the House about to rise in a few days and recommendations soon to be made to cabinet for the next budget, is the Minister of Canadian Heritage ruling out tax breaks for professional sports, yes or no?

Professional Sport
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the government will carefully consider the 68 recommendations in the report on sport. Any decisions about tax investments will be announced with the budget.

Professional Sport
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the House is about to rise. The minister must therefore give a clear answer.

She must make recommendations to cabinet. Her Liberal colleagues are lobbying hard for tax breaks for sports millionaires. Will she or will she not be going ahead with these indefensible recommendations that are to the advantage of sports professionals?

Professional Sport
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the member does not want to wait for the entire report to be examined. I respect the work done by both sides of the House and I want the report to be studied in depth, with no options excluded.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have been calling on the agriculture minister for a long time now to get tough with the Americans and Europeans on their high unfair subsidies. But after what we saw this weekend, tough is not exactly the word that comes to mind.

Liberal toughness meant allowing U.S. pork, wheat and grain into Canada without inspection. What do we get in return? New and bigger roadblocks.

Why does the government's idea of really getting tough always mean caving in to American pressure?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well there will be no products coming into Canada from any country without inspection. We have the strongest and best food and agriculture commodity inspection system in the world.

The agreement we reached on a number of issues with the United States on Friday builds on that to increase, not deter, trade between our two countries.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, American farmers are far more heavily subsidized than we are. The U.S. produces far more wheat and pork than we do, but it is Canada that always bends over backwards.

Canadian farmers are always taking it right between the pockets. It is time the minister started getting really tough with high agricultural subsidies in the U.S. and Europe.

When will the government stop buckling and start battling for Canadian farmers?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, we in no way, shape or form buckled in the agreement we reached with the United Stated on close to 20 issues on Friday. Previous to that a long series of negotiations has the support of the government, the farm organizations in Canada and the United States. If the hon. member does not wish to believe me, speak to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture which congratulated the government on the moves we made last Friday to increase trade with the United States.

Business Development Bank Of Canada
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec.

This government seems to have a dubious propensity for helping the rich stay in shape. In addition to the tax advantages proposed for the sports millionaires, we learn that the Business Development Bank of Canada spent over $221,000 on golf club memberships for its executives.

When there are 1.5 million poor children and the government continues to cut employment insurance and transfers to the provinces, how can the minister justify one of his crown corporations spending—

Business Development Bank Of Canada
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. the parliamentary secretary.

Business Development Bank Of Canada
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure the member understands that the business development bank is an arm's length corporation. It operates on a fully commercial basis.

The business development bank brought in $1 billion in loans for small and medium size business and operates at a profit of some $50 million. In fact, it returned $6 million in dividends to the taxpayers.

Steel Industry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Carmen Provenzano Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, Revenue Canada announced last Thursday that it has commenced an investigation of the dumping of foreign steel into Canada.

Will the Minister of National Revenue now assure Algoma Steel, all Canadian steel producers and Canadians living in cities like Sault Ste. Marie which are dependent on the steel industry that his department will complete this investigation without delay?

Steel Industry
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby
B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I want to confirm that my department initiated anti-dumping investigations last week involving hot roll steel sheet products from four countries.

The department will complete its investigation by early next year and will impose duties if dumping is confirmed. If there has been a large increase of harmful imports and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal decides that retroactive application of anti-dumping duties is justified, duties can be initiated on a retroactive basis back to December 3.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of International Trade.

The continued blockade of our border by American farmers this weekend shows pretty clearly this government's so-called trade agreement was nothing more than a public relations exercise. It is full of nice words like consult, exchange of information and increased dialogue, but no action and no concrete agreement to protect Canadian farmers.

When will the minister stop finding nice words and get tough with the Americans with their subsidies?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York West
Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, if he does not trust our words here is what the Canadian Federal of Agriculture said: “Congratulations are in order for both the agriculture and trade minister for Canada. The agreement marks a positive step forward in Canada-U.S. agriculture trade relations and is good news for Canadian producers”.

As of 1 o'clock this afternoon, the only blockade we can speak of is a group of farmers on Montana's border. The other blockades have ceased. This one, I am assured, will cease as of 4 o'clock. Trade was not severely restricted this weekend.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is rather interesting because two things simply have not changed. The government's so-called deal with the Americans on Friday did not change the fact that Americans blockaded our border two days afterward. It did not change that we are still subject to high subsidies by Europeans and Americans.

When will the minister get out from under his desk and do something to help Canadian farmers?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York West
Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, one has to wonder which side the trade critic for the Reform Party of Canada is on.

What he is asking is that the blockade should have been bigger and longer. If we look at what happened over the weekend, those blockades were already set. I believe, as does the American side of the equation, that this agreement led to those blockades being much smaller.

In fact, the only protest left is the one in Montana. It started in three states. I think the member should recognize that progress was made, which is also for Canadian producers themselves.

Poverty
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

With the sting still burning from the UN attack on his government's abysmal poverty record, today the minister must be reeling from two more devastating reports.

The CCSD report blames the feds for the declining well-being of Canadian children, and the National Council of Welfare takes the hot air out of the much touted child tax benefit and condemns it for ignoring the poorest of the poor.

If the minister can pull himself out of his chair to face the music, will he commit today to invest the funds necessary to ensure that no children go hungry in Canada?

Poverty
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Oakville
Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, as I said on Friday, the government is always appreciative and respectful of the research work done by outside agencies commenting on the social policies of the country. We try to learn from those reports.

As far as the charge about the national children's benefit not helping the poorest of the poor, we have found out through our statistics that there are many children in low income working families who have fewer resources than those in welfare families.

We are therefore trying to help low income working families have access to at least the same resources as those on welfare and we make no apologies for that.

Poverty
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, poor people cannot survive on Liberal lip service any longer. The truth is that instead of reversing its dreadful attack on the poor, this government is set on providing tax breaks to the wealthy.

On Friday, the Liberal majority report of the finance committee called for billions in tax cuts for upper income earners. Will the minister promise today to stop catering to the wealthy? Will he do the right thing and commit to a real strategy to fight poverty in Canada, yes or no?

Poverty
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Oakville
Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the member knows very well that a report from a standing committee is one of several advisories that is put forward to the finance minister.

The finance minister knows that it is a very high priority for this government and many members on this side to keep the poorest in Canada in mind. That is proven by the fact that we will have $1.7 billion in the national child benefit by the year 2000.

We believe that the best social policy is a job and we are proud of our record. There have been 103,000 jobs created in the last month alone, with more than half—

Poverty
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Brandon—Souris.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food will be going before his cabinet colleagues again with a revised proposal for farm income supports.

Maybe he could use a little ammunition. Since 1995 there have been 1,053 farm bankruptcies. Ironically, that is the same year that the Liberal government started cutting back on farm support systems.

When the minister goes before his cabinet colleagues tomorrow, is he confident that he is going to get a positive response from his cabinet colleagues?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his support and encouragement to this government to do something for farmers.

We take this seriously and we will continue to take it seriously. If we come forward with a program it will meet a number of criteria that we know it has to meet. I said before that it is my intention and hope to make an announcement before Christmas. I go by that deadline and we will continue that way.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, if this government and this minister took it seriously, two years ago they could have been looking at support programs, not now when it is a full-blown crisis. The criteria that the minister talks about is money being put into the farmers' pockets. Unfortunately cash will not flow until March 1999.

Is the minister prepared to change the criteria and put cash in farmers' pockets this year so that the farmers can have an early Christmas present and get back on the land this spring?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Conservative Party too for its new-found interest. The member said that we should have taken this seriously two years ago when we talked about an agricultural program, a policy for our government. There is that party over there that 18 months ago, before the election, wanted to do away with the ministry of agriculture, increase cost-recovery fees and reduce subsidies to agriculture.

What a pleasant turn of events from the Tory party.

1999 Francophone Summit
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, in September 1999, Canada will host the eighth Francophone Summit in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Could the Minister responsible for Francophonie give us an overview of the preparations for the summit?

1999 Francophone Summit
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Sudbury
Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, I am in fact just back from Bucharest, where I presented the report on preparations for the Moncton summit.

I can say that the infrastructure is in place and that programming on the theme of youth is well underway. The memorandum of understanding between Quebec and New Brunswick was signed in May. Everything is running smoothly, and the ministers responsible for Francophonie are very happy with the progress to date.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week I reminded the minister of fisheries of the north coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands and the designated no-kill zone for coho salmon by fisheries scientists. Yet he opened the sport fishery for his friends at Oak Bay Marine Group which killed in the neighbourhood of 30,000 coho.

Does no-kill to this minister mean that only his friends and campaign contributors can go fishing?

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the program for coho recovery was very successful in British Columbia last year. We have had improvements in just about every area. The numbers are not as good as we would have liked on the north coast with respect to the upper Skeena River where, of course, there is interception by Alaskan fishermen.

In addition, there are some problems in the upper Thompson which remain, but overall it was outstandingly successful and the measures taken dramatically improved the situation over what would have been the case had we not taken those difficult measures last year.

Canadian Human Rights Act
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on any grounds against men and women. Paradoxically, however, one class of citizens is excluded, as section 67 provides that nothing in the act affects any provision of the Indian Act.

As we celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this week, will the Indian affairs minister commit to make representations to her colleague, the human resources development minister, to get him to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act so that it will also protect the rights of aboriginal people?

Canadian Human Rights Act
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice already stated in this House that the entire human rights legislation will soon be reviewed by the government. We will indeed be looking at this aspect of the legislation.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance.

This summer the Business Development Bank spent $24,000 on golf club membership fees for Jean Carle, the former director of operations for the prime minister's office. The same Jean Carle was teeing off on students this time last year at the APEC conference.

I ask the minister who wants to be prime minister if he can explain why his government spent $24,000 on Jean Carle's golf fees when the unemployed cannot collect employment insurance, when children are living in poverty, when farmers are going bankrupt and when hospitals are closing?

How can he justify that when he wants to be prime minister of the country?

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as mentioned earlier in answer to a previous question—and maybe the member was not listening—the Business Development Bank is a very proactive agency. It operates on a commercial basis. It does a good job at being proactive and arranging partnerships with other financial institutions.

General memberships involve—

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. The hon. parliamentary secretary still has time if he would like more time to answer.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Walt Lastewka St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I point out that general memberships are a recognized business practice. The financial institutions arrange for partnerships with other financial institutions or with private enterprises. The Business Development Bank has been very proactive in making—

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Tobique—Mactaquac.

Parliament Hill
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gilles Bernier Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, in a news report this morning the public works minister said that the auditor general is completely wrong in saying that the Hill renovations are way over budget.

In March 1997 the minister submitted a construction plan to Treasury Board showing the cost of major renovations at over $750 million.

Does the minister want us to believe his March 1997 plan or his September 1998 plan?

Parliament Hill
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, first, the member should know that all parties sit on the board of internal economy, which is chaired by the Speaker, and that board is consulted on every expenditure concerning buildings on Parliament Hill.

I did not say that the auditor general was wrong. I said that I had to deal with reality and could only comment on figures and projects that have been approved. The hon. member can use his imagination and say everything that he says, but the auditor general asked for a long term plan and that is what we are working on. The auditor general asked for an advisory committee and I announced that there will be an advisory committee.

Western Economic Diversification
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, western economic diversification boasts about creating jobs and diversifying the economy in western Canada.

How does the Secretary of State for Western Economic Diversification guarantee accountability and maximum return on taxpayers' investment when it loans moneys to small and medium sized businesses?

Western Economic Diversification
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Secretary of State (Science

Mr. Speaker, there are two main points to be made. First, money loaned in the past is being collected very successfully. There is a loss of about 9.4% versus 3% for commercial lending and 20% for venture capital firms.

But WD does not loan money directly to businesses any more. It brings clients to the banks and they decide whether or not money should be loaned.

I should add that WD now focuses on providing information, business plan counselling and mentoring, particularly in the rural areas, through our 1-800 service. We are there to help the people locally.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I asked the fisheries minister a question and he did not answer it, so I will ask him again. Why was the minister's friend and largest campaign contributor allowed to kill 30,000 coho in a no-kill coho zone in the Queen Charlotte Islands last summer?

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for some time now has repeated these remarks.

I should point out that there was a red zone around the Charlottes. Two experimental fisheries were allowed. One was a sports fishery and one was a commercial fishery.

The exploitation rate was so low, the death of the coho was so far below 1%, that our scientists decided is was insignificant from the point of maintaining stocks.

Parliament Buildings Renovations
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his report, the Auditor General of Canada expressed concern about the skyrocketing cost of renovating the parliament buildings, which currently stands at $1.4 billion.

Does the minister remember that, three years ago, disregarding the opinion of the board of internal economy referred to earlier and even that of the current minister, the hon. member for Sudbury, who was in charge of this project at the time, ordered that a Senate cafeteria be build? Does he admit that this is the kind of decisions that resulted in a dramatic cost overrun?

Parliament Buildings Renovations
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, first of all, for clarity concerning the figures, what the auditor general said was that, if all the plans currently on the table were approved, we may be looking at a total cost of $1.4 billion. We are not there yet.

The auditor general asked for a long term plan. In September, I asked my officials to develop a long term plan. The auditor general has been asking for one since 1992, and he asked for one again in the report he released last week.

On Tuesday, I announced the creation—

Parliament Buildings Renovations
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations committee made it clear on Friday that the Canadian government does not take good care of the disadvantaged members of its society. The UN committee recommends a reform of employment insurance.

Will the minister finally carry out the employment insurance reform the UN committee is calling for, as are the Canadians I have met in my travels across the country to gather information on employment insurance, or has his titled changed to Minister of Human Resource Impoverishment?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the report formally reviewed Canada's performance from 1987 to 1994 and some questions were asked of the delegation about performance post-1994.

Here is what I would like to tell the House about the performance post-1994: $1.7 billion a year in child tax credits; tax relief for low and middle income families, taking 400,000 Canadians off the tax rolls; the youth employment strategy; the aboriginal head start program; integration programs for the disabled. Shall I go on?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. I have notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester. I will hear that point of privilege and then I will hear a point of order from the hon. member for Wild rose.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of privilege arising from an incident that occurred here in this chamber on December 3, just last Thursday.

I rise based on citations 93 and 92 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms which say that any threat or attempt to influence the actions of a member is a breach of privilege, and that that action must relate to the member's parliamentary duties. I assure the Speaker this action did affect my parliamentary duties.

As I sat at my desk preparing questions about the New Brunswick toll highway issue which I was intending to ask in question period just a few moments later, I was confronted by the member of parliament for Kenora—Rainy River. With no introduction, he demanded to know what I “had against Doug Young”. When I asked for clarification, he accused me of calling Doug Young a crook, which I did not do. Then the member warned me to “back off” because “Doug Young has a lot of friends and they have long memories”. I do not know who these friends are. I do not know if somebody else put the member up to this. The member was obviously agitated at the time and therefore I did not argue with the member. I just wanted the confrontation to end.

I proceeded to prepare my questions which actually referred to a letter of Doug Young's. Then the member challenged me to take my comments outside the House, which I assured him I already had. When that did not work, he pointed over to the Liberal benches and said “you better be careful because there are a lot of us over here and we will not forget either”. He left, warning me to remember what he had said.

At the very, very least, this is intimidation designed to prevent me from asking effective questions on matters of concern to my constituents. At worst it is a threat against me as a member of parliament.

There is no place in this House for intimidation or threats. To be intimidated and threatened makes it very difficult to remain focused on the issues. I am sure that was the purpose of the implied threat.

Mr. Speaker, if you find that I have a prima facie case of privilege, I am prepared to move the following motion, “that the matter of possible threats uttered by the member for Kenora—Rainy River should”—

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I take this as a serious circumstance, I want the hon. member to know. I am not going to make a ruling on it today. I believe you named the member for Kenora—Rainy River, is that correct? I would rather wait until the member was here in the House. You have raised it at the earliest possible moment. I would like to hear what the hon. member for Kenora—Rainy River says, so I will hold this in abeyance until the hon. member comes back to the House.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding the adjournment proceedings and notice of question. It says that notice must be given no later than one hour following question period which is fine.

There is one thing which disturbs me and I am not sure how we should go about changing it or if we want to change it. Today for the second time I have received notice that I will have the opportunity to bring an issue forward at the late show, as we call it, on March 3 which is approximately six months after it was sent in.

This is the second time this has happened. I find that delay of time a real hindrance to achieving what we are trying to achieve. It is totally unacceptable. That is enough said but I would like that corrected, if possible.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for his intervention. I will get more information for him. I think it had to do with the list they have. We will look into it and will get back to the member with an answer.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 14 petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to request the unanimous consent of the House to table the second report of the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The hon. member is asking for unanimous consent to table a report from a delegation. Does the member have unanimous consent?

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to table in the House in both official languages the second report of the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group regarding its delegation to Taiwan during the period August 8 to August 15.

The members had a variety of discussions on economic and cultural exchange issues and will be making recommendations to the appropriate ministers and to the government.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-63, an act respecting Canadian citizenship.

Madam Speaker, I have the honour today to table Bill C-63, an act respecting Canadian citizenship.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I hope that you find unanimous consent to put the following motion to the House without debate.

The motion reads as follows: “That this House request that the government convey to the governor of the state of Texas, the hon. George W. Bush, and to parole authorities of this state, its very serious concern about the violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in the case of Mr. Stanley Faulder, a Canadian citizen who is to be executed on December 10, 1998 at Huntsville State Prison; and further, that the government convey this House's respectful request that the execution be stayed pending a judicial review of the case to ensure that due process has been followed”.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is there unanimous consent?

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, today I have two petitions that I wish to table.

One petition is from residents of Vernon and Armstrong. The petitioners are asking parliament to preserve and protect the institution of marriage by enacting Bill C-225, to define by statute that marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, it is also my pleasure to table a petition signed mostly by people in my riding of Okanagan—Shuswap. The petitioners support Private Members' Bill C-304 from the member for Yorkton—Melville to strengthen protection of private property rights and specifically guarantee that everyone has the right to enjoy their property, the right not to be deprived of it without a fair hearing and just compensation, and the right to appeal to the courts if their property rights have been infringed upon.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

John O'Reilly Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have a petition basically from the Lakehurst area calling on parliament to take action that would assure that Paul Bernardo remains in prison for the rest of his natural life, and that further action is requested for the destruction of the video tapes, that human eyes may never see them again.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I have a large number of petitions again, 242 more pages of petitions with 5,589 signatures of concerned citizens from across the country. About half of these are from the province of Quebec.

My constituents are asking me to keep a running total of these repeal Bill C-68 petitions. This year I have introduced 1,751 pages with more than 40,910 signatures.

The petitioners request parliament to repeal the totally ineffective Bill C-68, the Firearms Act. The petitioners want the $50 million or $60 million a year being wasted on gun registration redirected to real criminal justice priorities. Organized criminals are terrorizing Canadian cities and biker and street gangs quite literally are getting away with murder, while Mounties are wasting their time and tax moneys registering shotguns owned by duck hunters. It is truly appalling that the government has forced the RCMP to cut essential police services while wasting more than $200 million on gun registration.

I am pleased to submit these petitions.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a petition signed by many Canadians who are asking parliament to amend the Divorce Act to include the provision as supported in Bill C-340 regarding the rights of the parents or grandparents of spouses to access to or custody of their grandchildren.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, 12,000 people in my riding of Frontenac—Mégantic have asked me to table this important petition on their behalf, calling for abolition of the Canadian Senate.

They state that the Senate is an undemocratic institution that costs the taxpayer $50 million annually, duplicates efforts to protect minority rights and encroaches upon the role of members of the House, and that our parliamentary institutions need modernizing.

For these reasons, the people of Frontenac—Mégantic are calling for abolition of the Senate.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am honoured to present the a petition signed by residents of London, Lucan and Kitchener.

They urge parliament to ban the gas additive MMT, noting it is not used in Europe and most American States as it fouls emission control devices in vehicles.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Madam Speaker, the second petition, signed by residents in Wallaceburg and Dresden, urges parliament to adapt the principles of Bill C-225 to ensure that marriage is preserved and protected.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first is from constituents of mine primarily in the districts of Fox Valley and Prelate, Saskatchewan, with respect to the MacKay task force recommendations.

The petitioners point out that the MacKay task force recommendations, if implemented, would enable banks to retail property and casualty insurance. They state that this would have a very negative impact on Canada's independent insurance brokers and would cause a loss of thousands of jobs.

Therefore they call upon parliament to totally reject the recommendations of the MacKay task force report pertaining to the entry of banks into the casualty and property insurance markets. Furthermore they urge parliamentarians not to give in to the pressure of the banks on this matter.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, the second petition is from 248 petitioners located all over Saskatchewan.

They point out that section 44 of the Constitution Act provides a formula for amending the Constitution of Canada and that such amendments may be made exclusively by parliament.

They go on to describe problems with governmental mismanagement of our fiscal affairs and to list several points. They therefore petition parliament to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, to include provisions modelled after the taxpayer protection amendment as proposed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to present four petitions on behalf of the my constituents in Kitchener Centre.

The first petition is regarding the sale of Candu reactors. The 42 Canadians who signed the petition call upon parliament to oppose the sale of these reactors to the state of Turkey.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, the second petition was prepared by Canadians of Serbian descent.

They request that parliament take a proactive role in ensuring equal rights for all citizens of Serbia, including Serbs within the boundaries of international and Serbian laws.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions regarding the institution of marriage.

Both petitions call on parliament to enact Bill C-225.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, today I am honoured on behalf of citizens of Orleans, in the riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell to submit a petition to the House of Commons in parliament assembled.

These citizens of Canada draw the attention of the House to the following. Canadians deserve an accountable Senate and therefore, the petitioners call upon parliament to request that the Prime Minister accept the results of a Senate election.

Once again I present this petition on behalf of constituents in the city of Orleans and in the riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, the riding of the government House leader.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, in this year of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights, I am pleased to present a petition signed by a number of Canadians including from my own riding of Mississauga South.

The petitioners would like to bring to the attention of the House that human rights violations continue to occur in many countries around the world including Indonesia. They also point out that Canada is internationally respected for its defence of universal human rights.

The petitioners therefore call upon the government to continue its efforts to speak out against countries that tolerate violation of human rights and to do whatever is possible to bring to justice those responsible for such abuses.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. On March 11, 1998, I placed Question No. 84 on the order paper asking how many violent crimes had been investigated by the RCMP and how many involved the use of registered and unregistered firearms. In accordance with Standing Order 39 I asked for a written answer within 45 days.

My constituents have been waiting for 271 days. The commissioner of the RCMP wrote me a letter on July 6 referring to the answer he had given to Question No. 84. The RCMP gave its response to the government 154 days ago. I raised this point 40 days ago and I was assured at that time that I would get the answer immediately.

When will the government give my constituents and me the RCMP's answer to this very important question?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, we have answered well over 70% of the questions. The member is right. He has asked before. The response to his question is being finalized. I will continue to work to obtain the answer for him.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

Madam Speaker, Question No. 132 was placed on the order paper on September 31 and Question No. 138 on September 24 and I am still waiting for answers. They are important answers because they have to do with the issue of a veteran's family being denied benefits.

I asked the Library of Parliament to do a study on order paper questions in Great Britain where the majority of questions are answered within a week. The situation we are facing, which my colleague and I have just raised, is absolutely scandalous.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I note again Questions Nos. 132 and 138. Some questions may well involve one department, but other questions may literally involve every department in government.

As I have mentioned, we have answered well over 70%. I will continue on the member's behalf to work on Questions Nos. 132 and 138.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Shall the remaining questions stand?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Nault Kenora—Rainy River, ON

Madam Speaker, just after question period the member for Cumberland—Colchester suggested that I had made some remarks to him that were intimidating. First of all, if it was intended to be that way, Madam Speaker, I can assure you he would not be sitting there today.

The whole objective of my comments of the other day were to make it very clear to him that Mr. Young, the previous minister of human resources, defence and transport, was a very honourable member in this place in the last parliament. He is a very honest individual for whom I have a lot of respect.

I was trying to make it very clear to him that in the way he was posing his question he was suggesting that Mr. Young had somehow done something illegal, that he was crooked, and that it was not something I cherished hearing from members on the opposite side because it is not very honourable.

If my comments suggested in any way to him that I was being intimidating and hurting his work, I want to take this opportunity to apologize because that was not the intent.

The intent was to suggest to the House that when one poses questions one should not pose the kinds of scenarios that he was suggesting toward Mr. Young which would in any way jeopardize his abilities to make a livelihood out there in the workplace now that he is no longer a member of parliament. Those were the reasons why I made those remarks.

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, there was no misunderstanding of the comments made by the member to me in that confrontation. There was no way to interpret them other than as a threat. He tried to intimidate me. He said that I had better remember that Doug Young has lots of friends and they all have long memories. Just today he said that if he meant it to be a threat I would not be here today.

I would like to put on the record what the member just said in defence of the points he made to me. He said if I was intimidating the member I would know it and I would not be here today. That just happened now.

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I do not want to get into a debate on this issue. As I understand it, and I saw part of it from my office only, what we have here is a member of parliament who stood in his place today on a point of order and said that another hon. member said certain words to him.

The hon. member is here in the House right now. As far as what I could make out, the hon. member had said there was a misunderstanding. I am to be corrected, but if there is a misunderstanding the hon. member apologizes or withdraws. Is that correct?

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Yes.

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

If this is the case where we have one hon. member making an accusation and another hon. member apologizing in the House of Commons, then as far as I am concerned as a matter of privilege this matter is closed.

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

An hon. member

On a point of order—

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I will hear a point of order but not on this matter. Is it on this matter?

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I think I was part—

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please.

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

If you can't get up on a point of order, what is the sense of being here?

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I ask the hon. member to put in his earpiece.

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

You didn't hear the whole conversation, Mr. Speaker. That is the point I am trying to make.

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I have ruled on the particular point of privilege the member has raised. If this is another point of order then I will listen to another point of order. If it is on the same point of order I will not listen to it.

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a point of order in the sense that the same situation happened to me as another member of parliament. That is the point I want to make.

Further to that, it was the same language and the same tone as used by the member for Kenora—Rainy River to me as a member of parliament based on a question that I had for the Minister of Transport on the same individual, Mr. Doug Young. I think it is out of character for the member to do that, but the same language and the same inference was used.

The point I want to make is simply that in the apology he said that if he were serious I would not be standing here today. In other words, how do we know when he is serious and when he is not?

Points Of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member is naming the member for Kenora—Rainy River. I did not hear any of the other words in the exchange in this whole thing.

In the House when there is one member accusing another and the other member is apologizing, I would hope that would end the situation. I would hope this type of thing would not happen. This question of privilege is closed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-21, an act respecting the corruption of foreign public officials and the implementation of the convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and to make related amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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3:30 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Madam Speaker, to reiterate where I was coming from, the first major concern we have is that the bill was put forward in December 1997. It is now a year later and the bill is coming before us to be rushed through on literally the last day of debate. That is the first point.

The second is that this came via the Senate. We have to ask ourselves why an unelected, unaccountable body such as the Senate would bring forward a bill that is as important as has been mentioned in the committee.

The government obviously should manage its affairs much better. It should bring bills through the House of Commons and not through the Senate.

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3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is the House ready for the question?

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Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think you would find unanimous consent to proceed now to committee of the whole to do the next stage of the bill immediately.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is there unanimous consent to proceed to committee of the whole?

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and, by unanimous consent, the House went into committee thereon, Ms. Thibeault in the chair)

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:35 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Chairman

Order, please. House in committee of the whole on Bill S-21, an act respecting the corruption of foreign public officials and the implementation of the convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and to make related amendments to other acts.

(Clauses 2 to 13 inclusive agreed to)

(Clause 1 agreed)

(Title agreed to)

(Bill reported and concurred in)

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:35 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart for the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

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3:40 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words about Bill S-21. The NDP supports the bill. We see these provisions as a good thing for Canada and for all OECD countries. Certainly the extension of anti-corruption measures around the globe would be a good thing.

Members and particularly the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs will know the NDP has recently come out of a fairly successful battle to prevent something from being adopted at the OECD, namely the MAI. Here we are standing in favour of something being adopted at the OECD. I wanted that to be noted because it is not that we are against a rules based global economy or rules for that matter. We are in favour of rules, rules that prevent the wrong things from happening. In this case when it comes to corruption and bribery, we feel the imposition of rules to prevent corruption and bribery is a good thing.

What we did not like about the MAI, that other thing being perpetrated by the OECD, were the rules which were put forward to protect investors and corporations at the expense of workers and the environment and the ability of democratically elected governments to act in the public interest.

There is a role for rules. There is a role for conventions. There is a role for international law. That role is to prevent undesirable things from happening, whether in this case the existence and the spread of corruption and bribery or other undesirable things like the exploitation of workers, the exploitation of the environment, the setting up of corporate profit strategies as somehow superior to the common good and to the legislation which democratically elected governments might want to pass from time to time in the public interest.

We see the very opposite of what we have here in this kind of legislation, not a convention but nevertheless an international agreement that Canada has entered into in respect of NAFTA and that Canada wanted to enter into in respect to the MAI. We see the interests of a corporation like Ethyl Corporation being held up as more valuable than the ability of the Canadian government to legislate environmentally or the health of Canadians insofar as it is related to MMT and other environmental goals the government might have from time to time and might want to legislate in respect of.

Here we have finally the OECD, after having spent all this time trying to do the wrong thing in terms of the MAI, doing something right. Just so nobody thinks we think the OECD is always wrong, we stand here today to say this bill we would like to support and we have co-operated in the easy passage of it.

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3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, like my colleague from the NDP, I too am pleased to speak today on Bill S-21.

This is an act respecting the corruption of foreign public officials and the implementation of the convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions, and to make related amendments to other acts.

The Bloc Quebecois supports this bill because it addresses the problem of corruption in international business transactions involving governments and government projects. It follows on the signature by Canada and 28 other countries of the convention on combating bribery which was signed last year.

This agreement required five of the ten greatest OECD trading partners to ratify the convention by the end of 1998.

Four have already either done so or stated their intention of doing so by the end of December, the United States, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. Canada's ratification, therefore, would allow the convention to come into effect.

Here we are at five minutes to midnight, and the government is just waking up, only a few days before the end of these sittings, and asking us to turn our work topsy-turvy in order to get this convention put through. Obviously, we support it, but some questions could be asked about the process leading to its adoption.

I will describe the convention. By signing it, the countries commit to enact legislation which will make it illegal for companies to bribe representatives of foreign governments. They also promised to develop a mechanism for overseeing the implementation of the law.

Under this convention, the parties must ensure that intentionally offering or agreeing to give or offer an unfair pecuniary or other advantage to a foreign public official to obtain or retain a contract or any other unfair advantage in international trade constitutes a criminal offence. The convention also applies to kickbacks paid to persons holding public office, that is lawmakers and officials of public organizations. In addition, this convention deals with facilitation payments and requires that the parties implement rules to prevent misleading accounting practices and the use of forgeries for the purpose of bribing or covering up bribery.

The purpose of this bill, whose main thrust is found in clause 3, is to implement this convention. From now on, all OECD countries will be subject to the same rules. Bribery and kickbacks will no longer be tolerated and will in fact be considered criminal offences.

This convention will ensure that businesses in Quebec and Canada have access to a more level playing field on which to compete internationally. Of course, the Bloc Quebecois joins the business community of Quebec and Canada in supporting this bill. But perhaps we could go further.

There are now 28 member countries in the OECD. We all know that we also trade extensively with developing countries, APEC countries and other countries around the world. So, as far as we in the Bloc Quebecois are concerned, this convention negotiated with 28 OECD countries should be placed as quickly as possible under the aegis of the WTO.

I must say I am bitterly disappointed with the Liberals' attitude. The Conservatives have spoken of threats. Here we have another example of the lack of respect of Liberal members and an example of the way they perpetuate the bad reputation politicians have in the community as a whole.

When members speak in this House in a debate that is not totally conflictual and are continually being interrupted by sarcasm, jokes or private conversations, they may well wonder what happened to courtesy. Perhaps there is none in that party, it is found only among the opposition. That would be one more thing they do not have that the opposition does.

They have a whip that occasionally tightens the screws. Will they understand? Perhaps the whip should move and sit there to get them to understand common sense. When they are not busy accusing or threatening the Conservatives, they are preventing other members of this House from speaking by holding their Christmas party in the House at 3.50 p.m. on a Monday. It is rather disgraceful.

We might also ask ourselves, as the minister and the government are acting in good faith and accelerating the passage and the process of the convention on corruption, why this same government does not take as much interest in other actions that could be taken internationally, through national leadership, in order to improve international trade, which is increasingly a part of our activities.

My colleague from Frontenac—Mégantic has just tabled a fairly thick petition calling for abolition of the Senate. But the Senate, perhaps in a moment of brilliance, recently tabled a report. In it, they ask the government to issue a code of ethics for business, stronger and more restrictive than the current voluntary code established by Canadian business.

I myself asked the Minister for International Trade whether he intended to implement the code of ethics recommended in the Senate report. The minister told me that a simple “yes” or “no” would not suffice with respect to such a recommendation and that further study was required. We are all for that.

When we asked the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Subcommittee on International Trade to examine the idea of a code of ethics for Canadian businesses so that Quebec and Canadian values would apply in other countries, we were turned down by the Liberal government. The committee is refusing to examine this proposal at the very time that the Canadian government is prepared to rush through in one day a code of ethics for businesses operating abroad.

The same Senate report says that any Canadian assistance—whether through the Export Development Corporation, CIDA, or other government agencies—to Canadian or Quebec based businesses for the purpose of conducting trade abroad should be tied to observance of minimal standards.

But no recommendation is made regarding the obvious need for a code of ethics, to ensure Canadian businesses will not, in order to save a few dollars or cents per hour, exploit women and children by making them work in dreadful conditions, in countries where working conditions are much worse than they are here.

Also, the government helps businesses through subsidies, financial assistance, or payments following the export of goods or services. We are asking, and the Senate committee is recommending, that such assistance be tied to compliance with minimal standards on Canadian exports. But again, the government has turned a deaf ear.

We are pleased that the Canadian government moved quickly to implement the convention on combating bribery in international business transactions, thus becoming the fifth OECD member to do so. However, we must question the government about its true intentions, as we wonder whether it is not making a small concession to hide a more serious problem, that is the absolutely dreadful working conditions imposed on children, men and women in some parts of the world. The Canadian government could not care less, because “we must not adversely affect our companies' competitiveness”. In order to make money, increase their sale figures and preserve their competitiveness, some Canadian companies go to countries where human rights are not respected.

The Senate made two very realistic recommendations: the establishment of a code of ethics for businesses that is more strict than the voluntary one, and a requirement to comply with minimal standards to be eligible for government assistance regarding international activities. But these two issues will remained unanswered for a very long time, because while it looks like the government is quick to take action, it is slower in providing concrete help.

I will conclude on this point, and we will see the government in action.

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3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think you will find unanimous consent to return to tabling of documents under Routine Proceedings so that we can table some documents that were requested during question period on Friday.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, since we are right in the middle of the debate on Bill S-21, could we have more information on the nature of the documents before we give our consent?

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I would be glad to do that. I do assure the member that we have sought unanimous consent with the parties. These are documents that were requested of the Minister of Natural Resources regarding the record of understanding between the Government of Canada and the United States regarding areas of agricultural trade.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is there unanimous consent to revert to Tabling of Documents?

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Agriculture
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the support of all members in this regard.

On Friday the Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board was asked to table certain documents. The minister indicated that he would be happy to present the documents concerning an agreement signed between Canada and the United States. As I mentioned this agreement is a record of understanding between the Government of Canada and the United States of America regarding areas of agricultural trade. I present the documents in both official languages.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-21, an act respecting the corruption of foreign public officials and the implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, and to make related amendments to other acts, be read the third time and passed.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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3:55 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Madam Speaker, people in the media would tell us that if we repeat and repeat and repeat we will get the message across better. Having spoken to second reading today and having partially finished my second reading speech after question period, I now have an opportunity to speak at third reading.

I repeat that one of the biggest problems we have with this bill is the fact that it was agreed to in December 1997, it showed up here on Friday and now there is a great rush to move it through. It shows a great deal of mismanagement, of not dealing with issues that the government says are good for the country. It does not allow us the opportunity to call witnesses. It does not allow us the opportunity to look at all of the issues and to ask questions.

Will this handicap us when it comes to dealing in the international marketplace? What about those that are not part of the OECD? Where will they be when it comes to competition? There are so many questions we should ask.

We often find the government presents a rather naive view of the world. For instance, in the nuclear study we found that the government believed there would be no more wars and that we do not need to protect ourselves.

Our second reason for having problems with this bill is the fact that it came from the unelected, unaccountable Senate. No matter where we go in the world it is difficult to try to explain the Senate. We talk about democracy and democratization. One-quarter of our government officials are not elected, but simply are political hacks sent here to raise funds for the party and to help organize the party. We have a great deal of difficulty giving credibility to the material coming out of that body.

I will address the bill itself. The OECD has made a number of recommendations to Canada. The most notable comment from the OECD was clearly made when we visited with them in August. There are three basic reasons Canada is having difficulty with its economy.

We are losing our trained people. We have a low dollar. We have 8% unemployment and many other people who are not part of that unemployment figure any more. We have a pension plan that is going to fail. We have the highest taxes and so on. When we ask what is wrong and why is Canada not working very well they do not come to corruption right away but they come to three things, three really clear things.

The first is that we have too much debt. Our debt to GDP ratio is too high. No country with 79% of its GDP to debt ratio is going to do very well in the international community. Obviously they are telling the government to fix the debt problem. It took us 30 years to get into this huge debt of $600 billion but we have to find a way to get out of it. The big thing with this debt is the interest payments. When we spend close to $50 billion a year on interest payments it hurts our country. It hurts our young people. It hurts our businesses. We have to know that.

The second thing the OECD says is that taxes are too high. Taxes are why there is unemployment. Taxes are why the best trained people are being lost. Taxes are why businesses are being lost and why people will not invest in the country. They are causing the problem. Whether they are individual taxes or corporate taxes, they are destroying the country and its ability to compete in the 21st century.

Third, and probably most important of all, the country does not have a plan. This country does not know where it is going. That is because of 30 years of mismanagement by a couple of different kinds of governments.

When we get this bill about corruption, we certainly know it is important. Corruption does destroy countries. But that is not the number one problem in Canada. The problems in Canada are the huge debt, huge taxes and the lack of any kind of a plan.

Let us examine the different kinds of corruption and what corruption does to a country and its economy. There are several things we should look at. There cannot be good government if corruption is allowed to go on. Democracy will be destroyed, whether it is in a transition phase or whether it is well developed. Democracy will be destroyed when corruption is allowed to happen.

That is why many people here question democracy. Are we really a democracy when we see cabinet ministers beat the back bench into submission to vote the way of the party? Is that really democracy? We see committees that are forced to come up with the government position, even when members disagree. Is that really democracy? Deals are made and deals are changed. Is that really democracy?

We listen in question period to the government saying it is going to examine the entire APEC matter. However, the chairman is gone. They cannot look at the politicians. Is that really democracy? We should not throw too many stones when we live in a glass house.

There are lots of things that would allow us to really question the kind of government that we have. I could go back to the Somalia inquiry. What a terrible example that set for other countries. We were condemned in countries like Belgium and other European countries when they saw how we handled that inquiry. We let it go on for a year and a half, not touching any of the guys at the top. We just went after a few of the little people at the bottom. We did not support our troops. We did not support the Canadian way of life. I question again what the government is doing.

We can distort public policy. We have the examples of the Pearson airport deal and the helicopter deal. All of those things are examples of manipulation by government for political reasons, but out there in the public they raise a big question mark.

Corruption also causes the misallocation of resources. How many examples do people have out there of CIDA projects gone wrong? Just last week our minister went down to Washington for lunch. He agreed that Canadians will be one of the big guys up to the table so he wrote a cheque for $92 million to the Palestinian effort to help them build roads and complete an airport. We have already given $120 million. The only country that has given more is the U.S. Do we know where that money is going? Is it accountable? Do we know how it is going to be spent?

Tell some of the Saskatchewan farmers who are trying to haul their grain on some of those roads that in fact Palestine needs roads more than the Saskatchewan farmer does.

The misappropriation of funds that goes on is part of corruption. It is all there.

We could talk about the aboriginal issue. That is good one. We just had a forensic audit of the Stoneys.

Of course, many of our native people are saying “There is corruption within our chiefs and councils. We, the grassroots, are asking you to straighten this out, to fix it”. That is a problem in Canada. Why are we not dealing with that problem?

Again, we can live in our glass house, throw stones and talk about corruption internationally, but we should be looking at it here.

We can also look at the poor of the world. We can see how corruption affects them and hurts them. We have to keep asking these questions.

That is what we are here for, to raise these questions. Government members might not like to hear them. They would like to live in a naive world, a wonderful world, a glossy world where everything is just fine. Those rose-coloured glasses are starting to get a little foggy. I think some members opposite should start cleaning their glasses.

As far as transparency is concerned, there was a very interesting study done by the UN. It was a corruption index. They went from country to country and rated them from zero to ten. Zero was the highest level of corruption and ten was a clean bill of health where they could not find any corruption at all.

It is pretty interesting. I will refer to a few of the countries that are covered in this study.

Denmark finished first. It had a perfect score of 10. In other words, no corruption could be found in that government. Canada, interestingly enough, finished sixth, at a rate of 9.2. It was not bad, but they did find some corruption within our system.

Britain was 11th, at 8.7. The United States was 17th, at 7.5. Chile was 20th, at 6.8. Botswana was 23rd, at 6.1. Hungary was 33rd, at 5.0. Russia was 76th out of 85, at a rate of 2.4.

We can see in this corruption scale where some of these countries are and then we can take a look at what that means. Let us use a few examples. Let us talk about Russia.

Of course, Russia today is run largely by the Mafia. Obviously, by the rate of 2.4, corruption is pretty rampant. It is pretty difficult for the people even to get along. The businesses have to pay protection money in order to stay open.

If someone in Russia wants to make a deal, they have to pass money under the table. The GDP is destroyed. The only thing that makes that country an international power, if you want, is its nuclear weapons. Obviously, we need to control and stop that sort of corruption.

Let us come back to Canada again. We are not at 10. Why not? Is there any government corruption here?

If we listened to the finance minister today, we would have heard him bragging about how he has created all of these jobs, how taxes are actually good and that they really do not cost jobs. We hear all kinds of innuendoes back and forth. One minister says one thing, one says another. What are those people out there who pay taxes thinking when they get this doublespeak from their ministers?

What are the people to think? The area I am most familiar with is the foreign affairs area. What are they to think when we send an ambassador to Los Angeles to live in Beverly Hills in a $2.5 million mansion with servants? That person really has no credentials to be our ambassador there. Her only credential is that she had the biggest defeat in election history in Canada.

There she sits in her palace in Beverly Hills, paid for by the taxpayer to promote Canada. Is that corruption? Did she know too much about the Somalia inquiry? Was that a way to get her out of the country?

What about our ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Fowler? On December 24 he received his appointment, but that was at the same time as the Somalia inquiry was going on and he just happened to have been deputy minister of DND for nine years. Why was he hustled out of town? Why does he live in a fancy place in New York with a high salary and why is he untouchable by any inquiry? Why does that happen? Is that corruption?

Mary Clancy is in Boston. Gilles Bernier is in Haiti. Roger Simmons is in Seattle. These are all appointments. Who are these people? Are they the best people to represent Canadians? No, actually they are defeated members of parliament. That is their credential for being there.

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4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jane Stewart Brant, ON

What about Kim?

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act
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4:10 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

What about Kim? Kim was certainly defeated. She managed to do a real good job of being defeated, and there she is off in Beverly Hills.

These appointments conjure up something in our minds.

We look at the Senate and we see a bunch of party hacks working on campaigns, raising funds for the party. We ask ourselves, what about corruption? What about democracy? Again we have problems.

The Parliament Buildings were supposed to cost under half a billion dollars. Now it is $1.4 billion. What do Canadians think about that? In planet Ottawa maybe those things are fine, but out on the street it is not so fine, it is not so happy. We have to address these kinds of things.

We could talk about what people think about the social union. People think that their health care is hurt, that their education systems are not as good as they were and that the social policies are not working. They have food banks, housing problems and all kinds of other problems. They ask “What is government doing about it?”

Government is cutting funding. Health care has been cut by $7 billion in the last five years. Again I come back to the fact that there is no plan. The government does not know where it is going. It has no master plan.

Does the government know what it is going to do in agriculture? Certainly other places in the world are looking at it. Why would agreements be signed when other places like the European Union or the U.S. are giving grants to everybody? Why did we not negotiate a better deal? What is wrong with the people who allowed us get into a situation like that?

I will talk about the policing problem. In my area the police showed up at a rotary meeting begging the Rotary Club to help provide a motorcycle because motorcycles are more efficient at catching speeders and people going through red lights. Why were they at the Rotary Club? Because the government has cut their funding. In the past month they were told not to use their cellphones any more and to put two cars in the garage. They could not use them because of funding cuts. Meanwhile we have young offenders, break-ins and all kinds of other problems happening.

What is happening to our system?

We can talk about the pension plan and the 73% increase in the cost of the plan. Talk to a young person and ask them about investment in the pension plan. If they are 20 or 25 years old and they put 9.9% of their income in until they are 65, ask them what kind of an investment that is.

I did a little survey last January. It was very interesting. I think the House might be interested in this survey. It was to go door to door in Chile, a country that has had a pension plan for 26 years. It is a private pension plan. They invest in their own pension. They own the pension plan themselves. I found an overwhelming pride among the low, middle and upper class of income earners. There was a real pride in that pension plan because it meant something.

How about employment insurance? People certainly question that the government is collecting $350 per person more than it can use. It is also collecting $500 per business per worker. And we are going to give back 15 cents per $100. Are we not just wonderful?

People ask “What is happening down there? Is that place corrupt?” Ask people what they think about Ottawa and they will bring up these kinds of items. They will not necessarily talk about the big international deals. They will talk about health care, taxes, pensions, education, the systems that touch people. That is what they care about.

While we agree in principle with this bill, the way it has been brought in is disgraceful. The Liberals should be ashamed of themselves for bringing it in this way. They should be ashamed of bringing it in through the Senate. They should be ashamed for not allowing the time that a bill like this one needs and for simply running it through at this eleventh hour.

Basically as we look at it, we are against corruption. This is a real motherhood issue. But there are questions businesses would like to have answered.

In principle we can go along with this bill, but we certainly have a lot of questions. And we certainly tell the government that we do not like the method by which it brought in this bill.

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4:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, Bill S-21 is a step in the right direction, an international agreement, introduced in the Senate, and much to our liking.

It is worthy of note that there is already an agreement to ensure that there is a periodical report—an amendment in this regard will be moved in the Senate—on the international corruption situation. That report will be tabled in Parliament.

We will then be able to assess regularly what is going on, in order to have greater credibility than the Reform member who, when we were discussing the study, stated that there was no corruption in Denmark, but there was in Canada.

Unfortunately, given the arguments raised by the Reform Party, I will have to spend a few minutes on this. It is, if I may be pardoned the expression, rather disgusting to see the Reform Party pushing the parliamentary rules as far as they can. They have given some 10, 12 or 15 examples, asking whether they were cases of corruption. If that is what the parliamentary spirit of the Reform member is all about, I have some questions.

Once again, the credibility of the Reform Party is at stake. Looking at oneself in the mirror is one thing, but what the Reform Party has tried to do, to say that Canada is a corrupt country, which is pretty well what the hon. Reform member has said, is quite another thing again. What is the point of all this? Not to mention that the examples given were dubious at best.

Let us take the example given by the Reform Party or follow the same line of thought. Does the fact that the leader of the official opposition turned down Stornoway, the official residence, for several years and then accepted it mean that there was corruption? That is the sort of question I am asking: Was there corruption?

The Reform Party talks about nuclear arms in the papers, and while it condemns the United States, it appears to be in the pocket of the Americans. Is corruption involved? We have to be very careful about this sort of thinking, there is a term for it— “irrelevant”.

Bill S-21 is a step in the right direction. It is an international agreement. The Reform Party is busting its britches saying “It came from the Senate, it came from the Senate”.

They have no respect for the institution, and no election in Alberta is going to change the rules. If they really want to change it, there is a way to go about it, without discrediting it. Discrediting parliament means discrediting those who sit there. The Reform Party has already done that. It is not serious, but care must be taken. I know the Speaker wants to apply the standing orders to the letter. However, a speech like that becomes less credible and could lead to accusations. They do not go far enough, because they haven't got the balls—as we say at home—to go further. They raise questions and propose theories to discredit a number of people, but they are no better.

An aid to the Reform Party took pictures of the renovated gym and bath. He did not look too good when members said “We use the facilities and that is all right; there is nothing wrong with that”. In the end, one has to be credible.

But seriously, and this excludes the Reform Party, Bill S-21 is a step in the right direction in the sense that a convention was signed. It may not cover every country in the world, but there will finally be a legal framework dealing with the various forms of corruption. While incomplete, Bill S-21 ensures that the convention signed by Canada can become law here in Canada.

Another important point is that, for once, the House gets to debate the convention, although too briefly. While the government had been saying since January that it would be introducing the bill, we did not have enough time. I am really disappointed about that. With the Liberals, it takes time. Eventually, though, they will realize that much more time should be devoted to debating international agreements.

Still, as I said, I think this is a step in the right direction. This bill, which we will be passing and which the Senate will hopefully ratify soon afterwards, will ensure that the primary condition, set out in the first operative provision of Bill S-21 will come into effect and be enforced in five countries.

I hope that the review will go further than the periodical report and include non-government and non-profit organizations. I think we should go much further than that. However, with Bill S-21, Canada meets its international obligations. That is a step in the right direction. The issue has been raised in the House and we in the Progressive Conservative Party are going to push to have it move forward.

As the Bloc Quebecois members have often pointed out, the next step is human rights. In the interests of greater credibility, much more will eventually have to be done with respect to international trade as it affects human rights.

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has its work cut out for it. At some point, it would be a good idea for us to give thought to what sort of policy Canada could enforce that would incorporate a number of laws and international agreements to which Canada is already a party.

So Bill S-21 is speeding through. There was, however, I believe, agreement in this House that corruption should cease. But will that happen? Probably not tomorrow, but at least people will know that Canada, like four other countries, has a law, has signed a convention, and that it could push for the signing of these agreements, and perhaps even make it a kind of condition. When Canada negotiates or renegotiates international agreements or portions thereof, it must ensure that the other signatories also enact anti-bribery legislation.

Bribery used to be a way of life. If people wanted a passport in some countries, they had to bribe an official. They were told this was the way things were done, and it was hard to deal with that. Now, fortunately, because of globalization of markets, among other things, the situation has evolved and the laws and regulations governing a country are now scrutinized closely by all real and potential world trading partners.

This bill is therefore a good one. It comes to us from the Senate, an institution that of course could do with some improvement. However, that shows that there are things that can be credibly accomplished within parliament, and this is our goal in the Progressive Conservative Party. We enthusiastically support Bill S-21 and assure the government and parliament, both the House of Commons and the Senate, of our full co-operation.

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4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Halifax West, National Defence; the hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Employment Insurance; the hon. member for Brandon—Souris, Agriculture; the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Employment Insurance.

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4:25 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the members who have participated in this debate. It has been to a large extent a constructive debate this afternoon. I extend appreciation for this very important breakthrough bill. This is a first for Canada and by all parties showing co-operation, it puts Canada in a position of leadership. Having said that, I would like to comment on the words of some of the members.

I marvelled at the generosity of the Speaker when the member for Red Deer was straying from the subject to such an extent. I realize there is a great deal of latitude in this parliament and there probably should be. I think he would have been ruled out of order in the Ontario house, if I can remember from my former incarnation. There were times when I did not know whether to call him Dr. No or Chicken Little, but it was a very interesting speech. Through it all and through all the raving and hair pulling about the terrible condition of this country as he sees it, there were a couple of questions which I think deserve answers.

One was his concern that this bill went through the other place first before it came to this House. I want to point out for the record that in our present system of parliament, a bill may be introduced either in the Senate or in the House of Commons. It is essentially for procedural purposes and for no other reason other than very often it makes for a more efficient process.

The hon. member for Red Deer was also concerned that this bill appears to be coming in at the last minute, because the commitment was made in December 1997. I will admit that sometimes things seem to happen very slowly around this place. I can share that point of view. The fact is that there was a tremendous amount of consultation undertaken when this bill was being considered. All the provinces and the territories were consulted, as well as the private sector. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Council for International Business, the Pacific Basin Economic Council and so on, all of these organizations had to be taken into consideration.

Perhaps in hindsight, maybe the commitment to implement something like this should have had a more extended period before it was brought in. However, the bureaucracy operated as I think bureaucracies operate, with the speed of light. It actually brought this to an acceptable point here and allowed us to go ahead with a universally acceptable debate today.

The Bloc and my friend from the Conservative Party suggested that we could have gone further. Indeed we could have gone further, but I remind the House that we are acting in concert with the OECD, those 29 highly industrialized countries; in concert with the Organization of American States; and in concert with the European Community.

All those organizations together, as this anti-corruption force takes hold and as the net is cast, will cover almost all the commerce which takes place around the world. Yes, there will be some rogue countries, but the pressure will be on all countries in the world to operate a progressively cleaner ship.

My friend from the Bloc was also mildly critical about human rights and Canada's position on human rights. Canada is encouraging every country to act positively on human rights. We are helping China on the human rights issue and progress has been made over the last years. We are doing that in every country where we have what we call constructive engagement which hopefully involves doing business but also allows countries to see how Canada acts and how the Canadian system works.

I have had the honour of receiving delegations from countries around the world that come here to study Canada, to study the government process and to study what my hon. friend from Red Deer considers to be very awkward, regressive democracy. He asks if we do have a democracy. I remind him of the words of the late Sir Winston Churchill who said “The democratic process in government is the worst form of government except for every other form of government”. As difficult as it is, our system of democracy works.

I thank all hon. members for participating in this debate and for agreeing that we should proceed together so that Canada is truly seen as a leader.

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4:30 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to hear the hon. member quote Winston Churchill on democracy. He apparently agrees with Mr. Churchill.

If he really believes in that, why does the Liberal government not try it some time? It would be wonderful if we could introduce a bit of democracy into the House and into the country. No one would applaud more than I would.

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4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Halton, ON

Madam Speaker, I remind the hon. member that in 25 minutes we will be practising the art of democracy.

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4:30 p.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Peace River.

For the folks back home, late last Friday afternoon the government decided that it had dawdled a little too long on a piece of legislation and thought that it would bring it before the House to try to get it passed as soon as possible. We all smell a whiff of proroguing in the air, and that is the reason it did that.

I will tell a few stories in the time I have today. First I will start with a number of quotes and let everybody in the House in on a little game. They can try to guess who I am quoting. The first person said: “I on the other hand support Senate reform. If it is done properly, a restructured and revitalized upper chamber can give Albertans a voice in the governance of Canada. If elected Liberal leader I pledge to work for a Senate that is elected, that has legislative powers of its own and contains strong representation from all regions of Canada”.

That was spoken at the Liberal leadership convention on June 23, 1990. I will drop a little hint. This person is currently the Liberal leader of Canada.

I will go on in case people do not have the drift. The second quote is: “The regions of Canada need to be more involved in decision making and policy making at the national level. To meet the hopes and dreams of those who live in the west and the Atlantic, a reformed Senate is essential. It must be a Senate that is elected, effective and equitable”. This was taken from the Hansard of September 24, 1991. For those who do not have a clue, the person I am quoting was once upon a time a finance minister under Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

Referring to the Senate, I go on: “The Liberal government in two years will make it elected. As Prime Minister I can take steps to make it happen”. This person was speaking to 400 delegates at the annual general meeting of the Alberta branch of the federal Liberal Party. Once again it was the same individual, the one we know so well to always say “ya know”.

I offer a fourth quote: “You want the triple E Senate and I want one too”. This was given to the Toronto Star on February 2, 1990.

I will not leave members in the dark and guessing. I will share it with the folks back home. All four quotes were from our current Prime Minister who continues to appoint people to the Senate of Canada despite all these promises.

I will touch on several issues we are dealing with today in Bill S-21 as it relates to Canada's international obligations under the OECD convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions. First I will talk about the foreign component.

Until recently we had foreigners who helped serve the House. I remember a gentleman down the way by the name of Andrew Thompson. He was a foreigner, indeed, for he only spent one day in the spring and one day in the fall in the chamber we call the other place. As a result he only spent 2.6% of his time. What time is that, some may ask. The sentence he served in the Senate which was only 65 to 68 days a year. It was not a tough or arduous sentence by a long stretch but he only served 2.6% of it. It left him with 97.4% of his time down in Mexico, a luxury many Canadians would like to enjoy.

I will touch on a few things in this regard. Our Prime Minister, whom I quoted four times in terms of his commitment to an elected Senate, wrote about Andrew Thompson in a letter: “The absence from the sittings of the Senate and the record of non-participation in the work of the caucus over many years are totally unacceptable”. Our Prime Minister brought attention to the fact of the non-participation and the absence of a senator from the Liberal caucus. Even the Prime Minister agrees that we had foreigners operating as legislators in our land.

Since the Senate began keeping attendance sheets in June 1990, Andrew Thompson attended 12 sittings out of a total of 459 in the past two parliaments, a foreigner by any stretch of the imagination. He was absent so often that, with the $519,550 he collected for attending his 14 days in the Senate, this absentee foreign senator earned $37,110 per day that he sat in that chamber, a handsome salary for a one day sitting. Who in the land earns over $37,000 a day for merely sitting down in a chair? I cannot think of anyone, but Andy Thompson did. He is not the only one.

I recently debated a senator who had to defend Andy's record, a senator who has a 100% attendance record but is few and far between. There are 17 senators who miss more days than they actually attend. Can we imagine having a job and missing more days that we actually attend? They are supposed to be docked $120 for every day missed. However there is an honour system that allows them to miss for illness or business. Some honour system, indeed.

That addresses, as I said, the foreign aspects of Bill C-21, foreign bribery, foreign corruption. Let us now talk more specifically about just the word corruption, this bribery. I do not have to look very far. I can look into the other place and see Michel Cogger. What have we there?

Cogger, as of June 2 this year, was convicted of influence peddling, indeed some form of bribery. He was convicted of peddling his influence between 1986 and 1988 to businessman Guy Montpetit for $212,000. He was said to have plied his influence in Mr. Montpetit's bid to land government subsidies to set up a computer chip foundry in Vaudreuil and for his assistance in the computer translation project that benefited from $4 million from the Saskatchewan government.

Fitting with the term of corruption, Cogger's defence was that he did not have a corrupt state of mind, and there was some debate over whether or not his state of mind was corrupt, touching on the whole idea of corruption. He was convicted of an indictable offence. He was convicted of a felony or certainly an infamous crime.

Did the Senate actually go ahead and request his resignation? No. Senators were too busy coming forward with Bill S-21, were they not? That seemed to be a higher priority to our senators than to go ahead and get a resignation from one of their colleagues who was convicted of influence peddling. That conviction has brought the Canadian Senate into further disrepute. Senator Cogger should be the one who submits his resignation. Otherwise he brings further disrepute over time to that institution.

I had a debate this weekend in Montreal. I was debating one of the senators from that other place. He was one of the senators who has a 100% attendance record. My compliments go out to him for he is few and far between in that place. I have heard from some people that the whole point there is to kind of reward loyal party followers. I was told something that I found interesting.

Even though Iona Campagnolo, whom I also met this weekend, is a very loyal party worker for the Liberal Party and many would suspect should be sitting in the Senate, she did not cosy up to the right prime minister or to the right candidate. As everyone knows, she was a floor worker for Paul Martin at the Liberal leadership convention. As a result, even though she is very competent and is a well respected Liberal MP, she was never appointed to the Senate.

I would like to touch on my fifth point with regard to Bill S-21 as it relates to bribery of foreign public officials and the idea that our Senate is full of bagmen, party fundraisers and people who have vested political interests with various parties. I could go on. I was going to refer to some of the things that have gone on in the Senate and a list of some of the bills that originated there, but I digress.

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4:45 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak in the debate on Bill S-21, the anti-corruption initiative that was taken at the OECD roughly a year ago. The memorandum of understanding was signed December 17, 1997.

What I am concerned with in that regard is not the content of the bill necessarily, although I certainly would like to have had some time to call witnesses and hear what they had to say. My concern is more that this was dropped on us on very short notice. I cannot understand why that would be.

The government had almost a full year to introduce this as a bill. It did not do it. It dropped the ball. It requires five major economies of the OECD to sign this to bring it into effect so that it does not all fall apart before the end of the year.

Four other countries, including the United States, found time to bring it through their legislative process. I assume they are pretty busy.

All of a sudden there is a panic these last few days. I know our committee ended up with this bill, looking at it last Tuesday afternoon. Liberals told us the reason it had to be started in the Senate as opposed to the House of Commons was that they did not think they could get it through in time, that they knew they could rush it through the Senate and get it on to the floor for debate.

The comments of the parliamentary secretary in that regard were that it is a more efficient process to have it introduced there, therefore the need to bring it through that process rather than through the elected officials of the House of Commons.

It may be more efficient from some points of view but not more efficient in terms of making a better bill. One reason it may be more efficient there is that the people appointed to the Senate do not have to go out and consult with constituents as we do.

I recall being on the foreign policy review, a review conducted jointly by the House of Commons and the Senate. I found that many of the senators involved were completely out of date on the issues. It took them several months to get them up to date in terms of what was happening in the country.

I suggest it was a good process for them because it gave them the opportunity to find out what the current thinking across Canada was. I see it is a problem because they do not get out and regularly consult. They do not need to. They are appointed until their 75th year.

I agree with the concept. I was on the subcommittee that examined small and medium size enterprises. We had a very good committee report. We heard a lot of things from businesses that came to make presentations to our committee.

Among them were the reasons that kept them out of the export business. They were not competitive outside Canada largely due to factors like high taxes, a great deal of regulation that is very difficult for small businesses to comply with, proportionate costs to the small businesses doing that and things like interprovincial trade barriers. They hurt their ability to get into the export business.

Those in the business did identify that bribery in the whole process of doing business outside Canada in some third world countries made it very difficult to do business. I can quote from the OECD document: “Considering that bribery is a widespread phenomenon in international business transactions, including trade and investment, which raises serious moral and political concerns, it undermines good governance and economic development. It distorts international competitive conditions”.

That is what they were telling us at committee. I suggest that, to some extent, the OECD initiative came out of those SME recommendations.

We agree with the concept that we should make it illegal for our public servants and businessmen to bribe foreign officials. The OECD plus a few other members have signed on to that convention and therefore will be bound by it when they sign the legislation.

I welcome that. It means that all of us who belong to the OECD, including Canada, including all our businesses, not just the private sector but our crown corporations, have to adhere to that as well.

We know that selling nuclear reactors around the world in the past got some Canadian officials into hot water in that area. We see AECL having to be subsidized to build these nuclear reactors. We have to subsidize the sale of them through export credit through the Export Development Corporation and in the past we have needed a finders fee, and in some cases I suggest it was beyond that, to grease palms of member countries that were considering buying this.

It certainly did lead to what has been identified at the OECD, serious moral and political concerns. It undermines good governance and economic development and distorts international competitive conditions. I agree with that.

It is a move in the right direction and we should move forward with it. Our party intends to support it and will be happy that third reading takes place today.

What about the consultation process the parliamentary secretary talked about in some detail? The subcommittee on international trade and trade disputes was just about to start the process of calling witnesses. We were denied that opportunity by a government that could not manage its own affairs. It left this until the last moment before dropping it on us and then expects first, second and third reading to take place in one day. There was no consultation.

The committee was to consider the hearings and invite witnesses to tell us whether they thought it was a good deal or not. We are not allowed to do that. We had to railroad it through the Senate process in order to ram it through. What about the consultation process? The parliamentary secretary told us there was consultation with businesses this summer. Where were they? Who were they? I guess we will find out in due course but it was not available to us.

Has the government learned nothing from the whole MAI process, that ordinary Canadians need to be consulted, not just its friends and special organizations, not just the industry groups but Canadians themselves? They want to be involved in something of the magnitude of the MAI. Apparently the government does not recognize that as an important process.

We went through some kind of facade of a consultation process over the summer apparently when the House was not in session. Parliamentary committees did not really count for much. We wanted that process of having witnesses. We did not have that opportunity.

There is a problem. Members over there have to get their house in order and understand that they had a full year to introduce the bill. Here we are in a last minute turmoil, a last minute rush to go through today before the House rises for Christmas.

I still have some concerns with the act itself although it is a start in the right direction. It makes it a criminal offence to bribe foreign officials by any members who sign on, and Canada will be signing on. That is the right thing to do but there is still the matter of a facilitation fee.

My understanding is that even though the United States has adopted a similar concept with its foreign corruption practices act there still is the business of recognizing that a facilitation fee is allowed.

It seems to me facilitation fees might become pretty large in the next few years and then what of the countries that have not signed on to this pact? Only 29 OECD countries have. I think there are four or five others that will sign on as well, but there are a lot of others out there competing for business around the world. Are they not going to adhere to the same code as the rest of us? Does this not need to go further, into the World Trade Organization and try to incorporate it into the 135 member countries that make up the World Trade Organization? It seems it does. There is no further plan to do that in this legislation but we are happy to make a start.

It is a step in the right direction. We will support all three readings today in the House of Commons as a result of this initiative.

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4:55 p.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, I demand to know something from my hon. colleague on the subject of some of these other things that have come from the other place, Bill S-3, Bill S-4, Bill S-5, Bill S-9, Bill S-16. One of them has to do with senators voting themselves a pay increase. One of them is the Canada Shipping Act and how that relates to Canada Steamship Line. One has to do with the Evidence Act, persons and human rights. A young fellow in Ottawa, Michael O'Connor, is assembling a class action law suit in terms of his not getting fair value for his money with regard to the Senate.

Bill S-9 had to do with financial administration. The Senate did something useful in its lifetime with the GST and saving us $10 billion by blocking it and dropping it from 11% to 9% to 7%. Bill S-16 implemented an agreement between Canada and the socialist republic of Vietnam.

I wonder whether my hon. colleague could address some of the other things that have happened and originated in the other place and how they relate to Bill S-21, the whole idea of foreign corruption.

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4:55 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I have already outlined the concern I had that this was introduced in the Senate. As the parliamentary secretary said, it is a more efficient process. It might be a more efficient process but it lacks the legitimacy it needs. The reason is members there technically have the right to introduce this legislation. But it becomes a matter of legitimacy. I believe that institution has discredited itself so badly with the Canadian public that it really is a matter of how it is viewed, whether there is legitimacy in legislation coming from that body. I suggest there is not.

I believe the public does not believe there is any reason that legislation needs to be introduced in the Senate. This is the institution where the public has the chance to elect and not re-elect members after a term of office. It has the ultimate say as to whether members of parliament are in place as a result of doing good work or bad work after a period of time. That does not happen in the other place. There is an opportunity for the Senate to become a legitimate body if it were elected and equal. I would welcome that.

The United States Senate was not always elected either. It did not happened until 1910. Oregon was the first state that made a major initiative. It wanted to elect its senators. It was a very strange request at the time. Others thought it would not work. It took about five years and then the entire process led to an elected senate in the United States. It has the legitimacy needed.

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4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is the House ready for the question?

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4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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4:55 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from December 3 consideration of Bill C-43, an act to establish the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and to amend and repeal other Acts as a consequence, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

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4:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

It being 5 p.m., pursuant to order made Wednesday, December 2, 1998, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred divisions at report stage of Bill C-43.

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

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5:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 1. A vote on this motion also applies to Motions Nos. 4, 5, 12 to 24, 27, 30, 31, 34 to 36, 39 to 54, 57 to 63, 66 to 70, 73 to 99, 104, 105 and 108 to 204.

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)

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5:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 1 defeated. I therefore declare Motions Nos. 4, 5, 12 to 24, 27, 30, 31, 34 to 36, 39 to 54, 57 to 63, 66 to 70, 73 to 99, 104, 105 and 108 to 204 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 2.

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5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe that you would find consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the following motions standing in the name of Mr. Perron, those motions being Motions Nos. 2, 6, 9, 205, 25, 37, 55, 71, 28, 32, 64, 106, 100 and 102.

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5:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

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5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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5:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I therefore declare Motions Nos. 2, 6, 9, 205, 25, 37, 55, 71, 28, 32, 64, 106, 100 and 102 negatived.

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5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask that my name be added on the government side to the votes that are presently before the House.

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5:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Charlie Power St. John's West, NL

Would you record my name as well, Mr. Speaker.

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5:30 p.m.

The Speaker

To the hon. member for Thornhill, did you want your vote applied to the vote we just took as well as all subsequent ones?

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5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, thank you very much.

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5:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for St. John's West, want his name applied to the ones we have taken and all subsequent ones? Is that correct?

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5:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Charlie Power St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, yes.

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5:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The next question is on Motion No. 3.

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5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House would agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House with Liberal members voting nay.

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5:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

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5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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5:30 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote yes to this motion.

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5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members vote no.

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5:30 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, NDP members present this evening vote yes on this motion.

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5:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, members from our party vote yes on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 3, which was negatived on the following division:)

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5:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 3 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 7.

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5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe that you would find consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the following motions that appear under the name of the hon. member for Calgary Southeast, those being Motions Nos. 7, 8, 10, 11, 26, 38, 56, 72, 29 and 33.

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5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in such a fashion?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

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5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motions Nos. 7, 8, 10, 11, 26, 38, 56, 72, 29 and 33 defeated.

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5:35 p.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to have my vote recorded, as I have just arrived.

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5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Your vote will be counted on the next motion.

Division No. 300
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to have my vote also recorded, as I have just arrived as well.

Division No. 300
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Your vote will be recorded from here on in.

The next question is on Motion No. 206.

Division No. 300
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House would agree I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House with Liberal members voting nay.

Division No. 300
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Division No. 300
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote yes on this motion.

Division No. 300
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members vote no.

Division No. 300
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP present this evening vote yes on this motion.

Division No. 300
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, members of the Progressive Conservative Party vote no on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 206, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 301
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 206 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 65.

Division No. 301
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House would agree I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House with Liberal members voting nay.

Division No. 301
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Division No. 301
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 301
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members vote no. We can only go so far.

Division No. 301
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members vote no.

Division No. 301
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of Christmas, NDP members will vote yes on this motion.

Division No. 301
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, members of the Progressive Conservative Party vote no on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 65, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 65 defeated. The next question is on Motion No. 107.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the following motions under the name of the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, those motions being Motions Nos. 107 and 101.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motions Nos. 107 and 101 defeated.

We skipped one motion. The question is on Motion No. 103. My clerks tell me we did not do it. Therefore we will do it.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, respectfully I think you would find that you yourself ruled on Motion No. 101 in the application of the votes on Motion No. 103.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Before I deal with your point of order, with double respect, according to the information I have in front of me it seems that Motions Nos. 101 and 103 do not coincide.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

If the Speaker wants to call the question on Motion No. 103, we are prepared to move accordingly.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Speaker

We are dealing with Motion No. 103.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House would agree, I would propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House with Liberal members voting nay.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present still vote yes on this one.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members vote no.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, NDP members present this evening vote yes on this motion.

Division No. 302
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, members from our party vote no on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 103, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 303
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 103 defeated. The next question is on the motion for concurrence.

Division No. 303
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby
B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Minister of National Revenue

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

Division No. 303
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think you will find unanimous consent that those members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House. Liberal members will vote yes.

Division No. 303
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Division No. 303
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 303
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote no on this motion.

Division No. 303
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois members will vote no.

Division No. 303
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, NDP members present this evening vote no on this motion.

Division No. 303
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Progressive Conservative Party will be voting no on this motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 304
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from December 4 consideration of the motion in relation to the amendment made by the Senate to Bill C-25, an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

National Defence Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to order made Friday, December 4, 1998, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the Senate amendment to Bill C-25.

National Defence Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting yea.

National Defence Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

National Defence Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Defence Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party members present vote yes to this motion.

National Defence Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois members will vote no.

National Defence Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, members of the New Democratic Party this evening vote yes on this motion.

National Defence Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Progressive Conservative Party will be voting yes on this motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 305
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from December 4 consideration of Bill C-58, an act to amend the Railway Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Railway Safety Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to order made on Friday, December 4, 1998, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the report stage of Bill C-58. The question is on Motion No. 1.

Railway Safety Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think you will find unanimous consent that those members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House. Liberal members will vote no.

Railway Safety Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Railway Safety Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Railway Safety Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote no to this motion.

Railway Safety Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois members will vote in favour.

Railway Safety Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, NDP members vote yes on this motion.

Railway Safety Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Progressive Conservative Party will be voting yes on this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 306
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 1 defeated.

Division No. 306
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Sudbury
Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau for Minister of Transport

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Division No. 306
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I propose that you seek unanimous consent that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting yea.

Division No. 306
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Division No. 306
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 306
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present vote yes to this motion.

Division No. 306
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois members will vote yes.

Division No. 306
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP this evening vote yes on this motion.

Division No. 306
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Progressive Conservative Party will be voting yes on this motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 307
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

Division No. 307
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find consent to see the clock as being 6.30 p.m.

Division No. 307
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Division No. 307
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Gordon Earle Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, the following is from the October 1988 report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs entitled “Moving Forward: A Strategic Plan for Quality of Life Improvements in the Canadian Forces”:

Members of the Canadian Forces must be fairly and equitably compensated for the work they do and the risks they take. Members and their families should never have to suffer the indignity of substandard housing, nor should they be reduced to charity in order to feed their families.

The lifestyle faced by military personnel often makes it well nigh impossible to support a dual income lifestyle. Due to compulsory posting of Canadian forces personnel, spouses must often forego their own careers or any reasonable hope of having a regular, well paying job.

Working alongside civilians and the RCMP, many armed forces personnel working to counter the savaging effects of the great ice storm of 1998 found themselves being paid less for the same work and facing harsher living conditions than their non-military co-workers.

The first recommendation in “Moving Forward” is:

That the base pay gap between non-commissioned members and their public service equivalents be closed no later than April 1st 1999.

That is less than four months away.

I very much hope this government will not risk the health, safety and even lives of Canadian forces personnel by taking these funds from purchases which would otherwise be made to guarantee the safety of military and civilian workers.

When I asked my question in the House on November 4 of this year, the minister chose not to answer the question. I hope the government will produce the information requested in response to my comments at this time.

Specifically, I would like to know, and I am quite sure Canadians would want to know, what military hardware is currently mothballed in warehouses and elsewhere throughout our land. There must be big ticket items that are neither currently be used nor intended for use. I know the government recently sold Chinook helicopters to the Netherlands after paying to refit them at a high cost to the Canadian taxpayer.

Let us see an inventory of unused hardware that might be sold to other allied countries. I am concerned that the government may be reluctant to provide this information so as not to be embarrassed by the amount or value of the equipment purchased that was never used or used for a short period of time before becoming obsolete or incompatible with other equipment.

Are there CF-18s in storage in Bagotville and Cold Lake which could be sold to NATO partners to generate revenues? What about ADATs, air defence anti-tank systems? Are these mothballed in storage somewhere outside Montreal and could revenues be generated from their sale to NATO partners? What about any plans to mothball frigates? Is there some way equipment can be turned into revenue to deal with pay and living conditions for service personnel?

Is part of the problem that the Canadian military has too many top level brass for the number of lower ranking service personnel? Is the balance between upper ranking officers and lower ranking personnel on par with that of other NATO countries or is there a real imbalance in Canada?

The government has the responsibility to ensure that both civilian and military personnel are properly paid and housed. It also has the obligation to minimize waste in the military. This is a challenge I expect the government to meet.

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle
Québec

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin with sincere thanks to the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs for their work on behalf of the Canadian forces.

As hon. members are aware, enhancing the quality of life of armed forces personnel and their families constitutes the number one priority of those in charge of the department and of the Canadian forces.

There is a broad range of questions to be addressed, in particular pay raises for all levels of the military, employee benefits, and housing allowances. We strongly support the committee's efforts aimed at improvements in these areas.

The department does, however, have to meet some sizeable financial challenges if it is to make the desired changes. As the minister has said, it would be very difficult to improve the quality of life for Canadian forces personnel without raising the defence budget.

We are convinced that it would be unproductive to dig into the operating or training budgets to finance new quality of life projects, because all these components are important to operational efficiency. The committee supported this position in our report.

The department and the Canadian forces will continue to manage their resources in order to ensure a balance between these vital areas, including managing materiel as economically as possible.

The size of the Canadian forces has been reduced over the last decade, and consequently some materiel has been declared surplus to present needs. Whenever possible, the department attempts to dispose of surplus materiel, but this is a highly complex process.

In some cases, when it is cost-effective, the department tries to modernize its materiel in order to avoid costly total replacements. This is the only way we will succeed in optimizing operational efficiency and in fulfilling our commitments to all Canadians, our allies and the—

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am sorry, but the time is up.

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

Reform

Paul Forseth New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, I raised a question on October 1 to the Minister of Finance. I asked the minister to do the right thing and cut EI premiums immediately. The minister answered by saying that it is the government's intention to stay the course. He did not once answer why he would not cut EI premiums.

I come from British Columbia. British Columbia is in the midst of a recession. Most economists agree that one of the fastest ways to escape a recession is to lower payroll taxes. One of the ways to stimulate the economy and especially job creation is to lower the taxation on jobs.

Employers and employees are co-financing the employment insurance fund. Employees are paying $2.70 for every $100 of income and employers are paying $3.78 for every $100 in employee income.

Finally, last week the finance minister announced that EI premiums would be cut a measly 15 cents for every $100 of income. Well, whoop-de-do. That is like comparing the government to a schoolyard bully who robs a child of their lunch money and then gives them back a few cents, hoping the child will not feel too upset. The government should learn a lesson from this. No matter how one views it, I think it is theft.

The current EI law is clear: premium rates should be no more than needed to keep the fund in actuarial balance. The chief actuary of the EI account stated recently that a $10 billion to $15 billion accumulated surplus is more than enough. The latest figures have the surplus at a whopping $19 billion.

If EI premiums were reduced by 33% next year, the fund would still be balanced with sufficient reserve. Instead, the Minister of Finance has other liberal ideas. One, he is using the surplus to balance his books. Two, he is using the rest to pay for new programs. The government over-collects for other purposes. It is a tax on jobs and it is also against the rules.

Taxpayers paid into the fund and therefore the money belongs to them. The EI premiums need to be put back into the pockets of the payers. Instead of keeping the money in a political slush fund, the minister needs to be a wise administrator.

I would like to challenge the government to show me a small business owner in this country who believes that high payroll taxes encourage growth or is the right thing to do at this point in time.

In the November issue of Maclean's magazine one reader sent in the following letter to the editor:

When the Employment Insurance fund was short, the government cut off some recipients, lowered the benefits to others and increased the premiums of all. When the EI fund swells from excess contributions, and sacrifices of the unfortunate, the government steals the money under a scheme to buy votes from the same people they robbed. The media are pussyfooting around this profanity just like they downplayed the (Heritage Minister's) flag caper, the survival of the GST, the (P.M.'s) NAFTA boner, the (Health Minister's) paper wars with gun-toting non-criminals and the hepatitis C charity farce, the chopper flip, the Pearson airport disgrace, another Quebec armoury with no arms to put in, and the 64-cent Canadian dollar. The big-mouthed watchdogs of public good in the media all play dead for the Liberals.

The reason I am standing here today is because the Minister of Finance did not answer my question. Perhaps he could have answered my question with the statement he gave on October 17, 1994. He said then “We believe there is nothing more ludicrous than a tax on hiring. But that is what payroll taxes are. They have grown dramatically over time. They affect lower wage earners much more than those at the high end”.

Perhaps the government can explain why it does not listen to the auditor general who has commented that it would not be legal to use the premiums or make payments from the account for other purposes other than those stipulated in the Employment Insurance Act.

The minister knows the law. His parliamentary secretary knows the law. Why do they insist on breaking the law?

I will ask the question again. Perhaps the parliamentary secretary will be able to delete the rhetoric from his speech and tell Canadians why they cannot be given back the entire amount of the over-collection. When will the premiums reflect the cost? When will the government become fiscally responsible and live within its means, for surely the lowly taxpayer must? Why can the government not live within its means, just obey the rules and have premiums reflect the true cost of the plan?

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

6 p.m.

Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, the hon. member asked me to delete the rhetoric from my response. I do not have any rhetoric at all.

When the hon. member first asked this question it concerned how the EI premium rate was set. In his original question he stated that every year the finance minister meets with the Employment Insurance Commission in mid-November to set the employment rates. As that statement indicates, it is very clearly false. The Minister of Finance does not meet with the employment commissioners, has no intention of meeting with them and has never met with them.

I offer the hon. member a quick lesson on how the premium is set. It is set by commissioners who are appointed after consultation with their respective organizations which are representative of workers and employers. There is the Deputy Minister and Associate Deputy Minister of Human Resources Development for the government.

It is only after the commission has set the rate that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Human Resources Development play a role. They jointly recommend the commission's rate for governor in council approval. They do not meet with the commissioners at any time to discuss the actual rate.

When the hon. member talks about EI premium cuts, he knows very clearly that since coming to office the government has continued to reduce the employment insurance premiums and will continue to do so each and every year. When we arrived the Tories had it going up. We have it going down and we will continue to do that.

We will continue to do that in balance. We know that there are Canadian priorities. The reduction of EI premiums is one of those priorities and we will continue to maintain that downward track. But we will also continue to ensure that there is balance: a balanced budget, reduction in taxes and reinvestment in health care.

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, on October 28 I posed a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. As the House will recognize, that was more than a month ago. I would have hoped that the issue I raised would have been dealt with by this time and that we would have a policy and a program in place that would in fact help the agricultural producers in the country.

But I am very saddened to say that still the government is waffling. It has not put anything concrete forward so that farmers can take some solace in the fact that there is actually a government that cares about agriculture in the country.

My question was quite simple. It stated that producers in the country right now have incomes that are down 55%. This is a huge industry, involving some $50 billion.

The United States at the time dealt with the issue by announcing a $6 billion program the week before this question was posed. The U.S. question was not “When will?” or “Will we put forward support for our farmers?”, it was “How much?” The question of how much was answered the day I posed the question. It was some $6 billion.

It is difficult to say, but Canada is now the second lowest, if not the lowest of the OECD with respect to support for its agricultural producers. Our government seems to be fiddling while farm incomes not only burn, but unfortunately farms are being lost right now.

The reason I tabled this late show is because the minister came back with some very facetious answers concerning the policy and the platform of the Conservative Party in the last election campaign. He talked about the amalgamation of the departments of the environment, natural resources and agriculture.

I mention that because the parliamentary secretary some days later, during an emergency debate that was instigated by the Progressive Conservative Party, took 10 minutes of the House's valuable time to spew nothing but political rhetoric. He did not deal with this very important issue, but only with the political position of his party.

I would like some answers from the parliamentary secretary with respect to what is now happening with the proposed program that is to come forward. Today in the House I asked if the program will be announced before the House rises for the Christmas break and if there will be criteria associated with that program which will allow cash to flow to producers who require it before the spring seeding which will begin in the new year.

In dealing with that I would say that we do have some experience we can point to. The previous Progressive Conservative government put into place the well respected and received NISA program which is still in place for agricultural producers.

In 1991 we also put forward the GRIP program, the gross revenue insurance program, which this government in its wisdom decided in 1995 to do away with. Why did it do that? It did it because there was short term gain for some very long term pain. We are recognizing that today. The pain is now only showing up at the farm gates and farmyards.

If the government had any vision it would have maintained that program or, at the very least, put in a program that would have had the vision to see the problems that could present themselves.

The parliamentary secretary is going to get up now and probably not answer any of those questions or any of these issues. If he wants to talk about policy—

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am afraid I must interrupt the hon. member.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Egmont
P.E.I.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Madam Speaker, since the member for Brandon—Souris mentioned the minister's remarks and my own remarks that were made recently, I promise tonight, unless provoked, not to raise the platform of the fifth party again. I would like to leave that now and bring the member up to date on what we are doing.

I am sure the member as a member of the committee knows what is going on. The reason why we are taking a little longer is that we know the pressure on producers and we have known it for some time. Producers have told us that they did not want an ad hoc program. Therefore, if we are not doing an ad hoc program, we do not want to be sending out cheques to people for various amounts. No one will know what we are doing or how we are doing it. We will take our time. Time is running short, but we will take our time to make sure we do it right for the short term and right for the long term.

On November 26 the minister made a presentation to cabinet where he had the opportunity to present the plan to his colleagues. Obviously we cannot talk about the exact details of the plan because it is still being discussed in cabinet. The minister put forward his plan on how he wants to help Canadian producers impacted by the current situation. There was a good discussion on the issue and the government realizes the severity of the situation.

November 26 was not a decision making day. There are a number of important steps that have yet to be taken before a final decision is made. It is still early to indicate what amount of additional assistance is being contemplated. Assistance to farmers is one of several important priority areas for investment including knowledge and innovation, the alleviation of child poverty, and health care. Therefore we are competing for—

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am afraid I must interrupt the parliamentary secretary.

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, on September 29, 1998, the Minister of Human Resources Development said, in reply to my question, that the employment insurance program was funded by employers and workers.

We fully agree with that statement. In fact, the government should not forget that it no longer contributes to the fund.

To give an idea of the situation, on December 2, 1998, the whole $13 billion required to fund the employment insurance program for the 1998-99 fiscal year, which began on April 1, 1998 and will end in March 1999, had already been collected. This means that, as of December 2, the money put into the fund is used by the government for other purposes, such as paying off part of the debt.

It is workers earning $39,000 or less, and the unemployed, who made the greatest contribution to the fight against the deficit. Now, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Human Resources Development want to use that money to generate surpluses and pay off the debt.

These ministers are forgetting that there are people who do not pay employment insurance premiums. They include all the ministers, members of parliament and self-employed workers, who are not employees. These people are not asked to do their part. Those who do the largest part to pay this huge debt down are middle and low income earners. And that is unacceptable to me.

Could someone on the government side explain how we ended up with contribution rates being reduced by 15 cents, from $2.70 to $2.55, which will result in bringing the 1998-99 surplus down by only $260 million?

By cutting rates by only 15 cents, the finance minister did nothing to improve his image as someone who is misappropriating money from the EI fund to use it for other purposes. Money continues to be diverted from its intended purpose.

On their pay stubs, employees see “employment insurance contributions”. Therefore they expect these amounts to be paid into their employment insurance plan and not to be used for any other purpose. That is why the concept of misappropriation of funds remains valid.

In light of the fact that the employment insurance program can be self-financing with premiums of $2 per $100 of insurable earnings, and that the current rate is $2.55 per $100, could the government not spare another 40 cents per $100, or approximately $3 billion, to correct the inequities in the system? Because of these inequities, the number of claimants and the amount and duration of benefits are dropping rapidly, with the result that the federal government is being accused of contributing to poverty through its failure to act.

As a first step in the fight against poverty, should it not restore its EI system to decent and acceptable levels so that, on the one hand, employees feel that they are paying into a system that provides sufficient benefits and that they are getting their money's worth? On the other hand, since only four out of ten unemployed workers draw benefits, could the federal government not be required to put this $3 billion towards improving the system so that the war on poverty can resume and wealth can be shared more equally?

Is it not time to leave behind the federal government's cash-cow concept of employment insurance and go back to a system that provides adequate benefits and leaves employers and employees feeling that they have got their money's worth?

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Oakville
Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Madam Speaker, the government is very concerned with the situation of unemployed Canadians and wants to help them to make ends meet while they are between jobs and then to get back into the workforce.

My colleague on the opposite side of the House starts off tonight with his statement that there are $13 billion in the fund and that is enough to finance 1998-99. He fails to mention that the recently announced reduction in the premium rate of 15 cents from $2.70 to $2.55 will save workers and employers $1.1 billion a year.

He also fails to mention that the EI fund has been in deficit seven out of the last ten years. During those years average taxpayers in Canada paid out EI benefits through their taxes, in other words from the general revenues. Average taxpayers in Canada shared their ability to pay into the general revenue fund through taxes with those who were less fortunate and found themselves unemployed.

Now that the EI fund is in surplus, it sounds as if the member opposite does not want that fund shared with other Canadian taxpayers who may have priorities other than benefits to EI recipients. That is why we took on the difficult task of modernizing a 25 year old system which no longer met the needs of today's work environment.

We believe that getting Canadians back to work is the only real long term solution to high unemployment. That is why we shifted the focus from reliance on benefits to active re-employment measures, for example, the 31,000 jobs that have been created in areas of high unemployment because of the transitional job fund. Thousands of other Canadians are benefiting from the $2 billion we reinvested in active employment measures. We believe that helping people to help themselves is the key to their success.

The recent analysis of EI coverage clearly concludes that—

Division No. 307
Adjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Forgive me, but I must interrupt the hon. parliamentary secretary.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.16 p.m.)