House of Commons Hansard #65 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mai.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We have just come back from the weekend and some members may be on a roll, but we still want to maintain the parliamentary traditions of not referring to ministers by name and directing our comments through the Chair.

Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I must remind the member of that.

Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I was on a roll and all excited. I did not mean to use the minister's name. I apologize.

Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Very well.

Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the committee has been given only three weeks. The Liberals are proud and talk about consultation. All I have heard the minister say in the House is that it has been sent off to committee.

That is the consultation process; it is sent off to committee. Even worse, the idea of the parliamentary secretary on how to communicate with the people of Canada was “We sent a memo to all members of Parliament. Can't you send out a message in your householder?”

Is that how the government will rely on getting a message out, by suggesting to members of Parliament that they use their householders to sell its message? I could not believe those words when they came out of his mouth. It was incredible.

I wonder what the government is doing. This is about transparency. This is not the first time I have prepared speech after speech for the House and the government shut down debate. We could go back to Bill C-2. Time and time again it brought in closure and shut down debate.

The Liberals have to allow for democracy. I will conclude right now by saying that this is about transparency. It is about informing the public and openness. Right now the public is not informed. The government is hiding behind a missing in action agreement we know nothing about. It is time the government came out of the closet and told Canadians what is in the agreement.

Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, no one in the House disagrees with the idea of having a consultation on an issue as important as the MAI.

What concerns those of us at this end of the House is the motives of the Reform Party in presenting the motion. It appears to be arising out of panic stricken fear that progressive forces in the country are winning the debate and its side is not being heard.

I ask the member a specific question around a statement made by some friends of the Reform Party. Maybe it is a front for the Reform Party. A representative of the Fraser Institute, Mr. Owen Lippert, appeared before the health committee where the NDP forced a debate on the impact of MAI on health care. He said:

Why don't I believe, then, what the Council of Canadians and Mr. Appleton are saying? Because the government, the Liberal government, tells me it ain't so. They tell me that the reservations in fact properly protect public monopoly, so I'm going to take them at their word.

Is this the problem the Reform Party is now finding itself in? Debate has not been allowed to happen in the country. Public discussion has been stifled by friends of the Reform Party, by the collusion between the Liberals and Reformers in parliament.

Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I do not know what the member is going on about. She raised a hidden agenda. Here is the agenda. It is about open and transparent government.

Members of the New Democratic Party had supply days. If they felt this issue was important they could have talked about it. We are on the eve of this year's budget. The Reform Party has committed an entire day of debate, a supply day, the day before the budget, to talk about the issue. That will show the commitment and the dedication of this party.

We have grave concerns about the government's unwillingness to talk about it, why it is hiding it. It is not in the throne speech. It is not in the Liberal red book. The Liberals did not talk about it in the campaign. What are the Liberals hiding? That is what we are pushing them on. That is the only way.

The NDP claims to be wonderful; it will save everybody in this multilateral agreement. Where are NDPers? They could have talked about it. The reality is that the Reform Party made it a priority and did something.

Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, I listened to the member from the Reform neck of the woods. He talked about speaking out on the MAI and devoting a whole day to it.

The NDP has gone a lot further than one day of hype. We have been pursuing the issue, the failure of the government to address the MAI and bring it to Canadian citizens, since well into the election campaign of last year. As a matter of fact in a public debate in Flin Flon during the campaign I was able to take the Liberal member to task and he knew nothing about the MAI.

We have not stopped debating the issue. We have not stopped pursing the issue for six to eight months. Where has Reform been? It has finally been forced to be an opposition party by the New Democratic Party.

Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, we know that the Council of Canadians is a front for the NDP. We know the NDP's position on the agreement. What we do not know is the government's position. That is what we are here for.

I have to save a few comments for the NDP. We can talk about investment. We have an NDP government in British Columbia. We have no investment. The NDP premier of British Columbia is placing ads in the Financial Post asking for investors to invest in British Columbia.

I support free trade agreements. We need to protect investors. This debate is about what is in there. We want to make sure that our social programs are not trampled on. We want to make sure health care is protected and that the right exclusion clauses are in place.

That is what we are asking the government to do. It has to become open, go to the people and talk about it. Right now there is no question the government has not talked about it with Canadians. It has talked about it behind closed doors. It will send it off to committee. It will have luncheons with some of the big players. However it is not talking with Canadians and that is what it needs to do.

Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion.

Coming as I do from a small business background and a small business community in North Vancouver, it should not be surprising that I am personally supportive of the concept of the MAI. I think it is a good idea. Frankly the intent of a multilateral agreement on investment is shared by the majority of my constituents as far as I can determine at this time. That does not mean there are not some people opposed, but at the moment it appears the majority are in favour.

The big problem is that the government has not been speaking clearly and forcefully in conveying its position in the Vancouver area. If an MAI can be negotiated, which truly levels the playing field for investment between the participating countries, thereby making it easier, less expensive and more efficient for small businesses to expand and create jobs by servicing those new markets, it would be an excellent deal. The government would be well congratulated if it could achieve such a thing.

Our support in principle does not mean that we do not have some tough questions for the government on the issue. The government and the minister in particular have put on a disgraceful display in connection with the MAI. People have been begging for information for just about the entire time it has been negotiated. There simply has not been enough public presence out there.

Why has the minister not been out in public debating the Maude Barlows and Paul Hellyers of the land. If he has such a good deal he should be involved in intelligent debate and be able prove to Canadians that it is a good deal.

Before posing questions of the government provided to me by some of my constituents, I would like to put on record my position regarding the MAI once it comes before the House if there is enabling legislation.

First, as soon as the MAI is signed in principle by the government, I will advertise in my local newspaper for people to come forward who are opposed to and in favour of the MAI. I will split them into two groups and with research assistance from my office we will create a written position against and a written position for the MAI. Equal space will then be given to each side in a householder that will go to every house in my riding.

Then, as the letters and calls come in, the material from the opposing side will be used to answer those letters and calls. In that way we will facilitate a widespread exchange of ideas, opinions and criticisms. People will get a chance to see the other point of view. I will also hold public meetings according to the demand.

Finally, before the House comes to a third vote on any enabling legislation, I will do a scientific poll in my riding and that is the way I will vote in the House. My constituents have that commitment from me.

Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

That seems to be a good spot to interrupt the member. He still has in excess of seven minutes of his allotted time and will have the floor when we return to the supply motion debate.

Volunteer Firefighters
Statements By Members

February 23rd, 1998 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, volunteer firefighters provide a vital and essential service to Canadians. In most communities across Canada they are the only firefighting resource. In Ontario alone there are 17,000 volunteer firefighters in 566 departments. These volunteers save Ontario taxpayers more than $1.4 billion a year.

Fire departments are now finding it increasingly difficult to find volunteers who meet their high standards and who are willing to donate many hours of their time.

To recognize the importance of the volunteer firefighters, I call on the Minister of Finance to raise the tax exemption on their allowances from $500 to $1,000.

Every day in Canada volunteer firefighters donate their time, talent and energy for the good of their communities. Every day they risk their lives to protect their fellow citizens.

Disaster Assistance
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday the minister of agriculture announced an ad hoc relief program for part time farmers who are not eligible under the regular rules of the federal disaster financial assistance arrangements.

Part time farmers in Ontario and Quebec who suffered ice storm damage will be getting some much needed help. However, the government has forgotten full time potato farmers and grain producers in B.C. whose crops were destroyed by record rain storms and flooded fields. The government has also forgotten maritime farmers devastated by a long draught.

It seems like Liberal disaster assistance is allocated according to the level of media coverage and mud on Peter Mansbridge's boots.

It does not matter if a dozen farm families are affected or 1,000, the pain is exactly the same. When will the government learn it cannot continue to treat eastern and western Canadians like second class citizens. If it is to change the rules for central Canadians then it should change them for all Canadians.

1998 Winter Olympics
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada won more than gold in Nagano.

By all accounts the Japanese fell in love with the Canadian team. They love our fierce competitive style, our strength and endurance, our courage against all adversity, our sense of fair play and, most of all, they love the Canadian nerve.

Our Olympic athletes made us very proud. In particular I would like to recognize two Olympians from York North, Veronica Brenner and Curtis Joseph Cujo. Brenner is the world cup grand prix champion in freestyle aerial skiing and Curtis is an NHL goaltender. They represented York North with distinction.

Congratulations to all our athletes. They represented Canada with pride and we thank them.

Quebec Minister Of Intergovernmental Affairs
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome Mr. Brassard to the club of the misquoted.

Over the weekend, the Quebec intergovernmental affairs minister finally admitted chaos could result if the Quebec government were to unilaterally declare Quebec's independence.

This is quite an admission, especially since the sovereignists and the Bloc have been trying for weeks to make us believe they could ignore the law of the land with complete impunity.

Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard quickly distanced himself from his minister's comments on the chaos that could result from a unilateral declaration of independence by Quebec, emphasizing that Mr. Brassard had been misquoted.

If Mr. Brassard keeps it up, I bet he will be part of the next Bouchard government shuffle, just because he is starting to aggravate the separatist troops.