House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was debate.

Topics

Quebec Floods
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Godin Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, only a few short months after the ice storm, several Quebec ridings, including mine, the riding of Châteauguay, were faced with yet another one of nature's vagaries, river flooding.

Thousands of homes were flooded and hundreds of families had to seek refuge with relatives, friends or in shelters. Municipal services, municipal councils and volunteers were stretched to the limit.

However, there were visible signs of solidarity, support and sympathy everywhere in Quebec, especially in Châteauguay. Thanks to the solidarity characteristic of Quebeckers, victims found comfort and support.

On behalf of my party, I would like to thank the many volunteers and those in charge of municipal services, and to the victims I say “hang in there”.

Port Moody—Coquitlam
Statements By Members

April 21st, 1998 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, today we welcome the newest member of the House in the government caucus, the member of parliament for Port Moody—Coquitlam. An eminent municipal leader in British Columbia for a quarter of a century prior to his election, the hon. member will share his wealth of experience with us as he takes his seat and represents the people of his constituency.

His byelection victory is even more impressive when one considers that governments seldom win in byelections, let alone safe opposition party seats. During the campaign the Leader of the Opposition said “A lot of people are going to be watching this riding, not just in B.C. but across the country, because it is the first chance for the voters to say what they think of government policy”.

The voters of Port Moody—Coquitlam made known on March 30 their approval of the government's policies and accomplishments, all done for the well-being of our citizenry and country. I join others in welcoming our newest colleague and the newest member of the Liberal team, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam.

Hearing Awareness Month
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Hearing Society is once again proclaiming the month of May as Hearing Awareness Month. The regional office in Peterborough is enthusiastically participating in this initiative as a way of educating the citizens of Peterborough about hearing loss and raising awareness of the deaf and hard of hearing population in the community.

The theme this year is noise pollution. In May the mobile testing van will be travelling around Ontario offering free hearing tests at the regional offices. The Peterborough regional office is hosting an open house on May 25 in conjunction with the arrival of the testing van.

During May I encourage all residents of Ontario and Peterborough who have concerns for themselves or a family member to take advantage of this opportunity provided by the Canadian Hearing Society and contact their regional office for further information.

Our best wishes to the Canadian Hearing Society and the people it serves. We hope Hearing Awareness Month goes well.

Science And Technology
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Hélène Alarie Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the industry minister wrote in the 1997 report on federal activities in science and technology: “More than ever, people and innovation are key to growth and prosperity.—the life and work of every individual and business will be rooted in the new economy”.

Since it brought down its budget and announced a slight increase in funding for granting councils, the government thinks it will solve all the R&D problems.

However, the cuts imposed by the government have had a severe impact on the scientific and technological community. Since 1993, the number of federal employees working in the science and technology field has gone down by 5,400 person-years, a 15% decrease.

The government should realize there is still a lot to do to bring real stability back to research in Canada and to stop the hemorrhage caused by the drastic cuts it made in this area that is so important to our future.

New Member
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election and return of the following member:

Mr. Lou Sekora, for the electoral district of Port Moody—Coquitlam.

Lou Sekora, member for the electoral district of Port Moody—Coquitlam, introduced by the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien and the Hon. David Anderson.

Cuba
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we join in welcoming the new member as he takes his seat. We just hope he will not take it literally.

If the Prime Minister is going to Cuba he should be going for the right reasons. He should be going for human rights reasons, not for a holiday.

According to Amnesty International political opponents of the Castro dictatorship are routinely tortured. Last year, for example, two dissidents were placed in a small storage cabinet by police and gassed with noxious fumes for over an hour just because they criticized the government.

When the Prime Minister is in Cuba will he publicly raise these human rights issues?

Cuba
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course we will raise the question of human rights and policy rights because we believe in a policy of engagement of dialogue and of conviction.

Isolation leads nowhere but if we are engaging with them in discussions and offering help as Canada has been able and willing to do, the people of Cuba and the president of Cuba will certainly be happy to have a dialogue. I am sure that it will create some positive results just as the Pope's visit did a few weeks ago.

Cuba
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I remind the Prime Minister that he is not quite the pope yet.

That was a pretty weak and fuzzy answer from the Prime Minister on his reasons for going to Cuba.

If he is really going to Cuba on a human rights mission what concrete measures will he be asking for? Will he be asking for freedom of speech? Will he be asking for freedom of political association? Will he be asking for freedom of religion? What concrete human rights measures will he be asking for?

Cuba
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have had a dialogue with Cuba for some time. The minister of foreign affairs was there last year. We have developed a program of 14 points.

Among the points is the strengthening of an ombudsman in the national assembly in Cuba who looks at the political rights and civil rights of citizens. It is a positive engagement. In Chile over the weekend most of the leaders of the Americas were very pleased that the Canadian Prime Minister was willing and eager to go.

Cuba
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, a communist ombudsman is a contradiction in terms.

When the Pope went to Cuba earlier this year he was able to free some political prisoners because he talked publicly and openly and concretely about human rights abuses in that country. He brought up the subject publicly for all Cubans to hear. He was less concerned about embarrassing Castro than he was about freedom and human rights.

Will we see the Prime Minister on television, not glad handing with Castro to satisfy the anti-American component of his own caucus, but publicly raising human rights abuses in this harsh political dictatorship?

Cuba
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have supported a resolution at the UN asking the government of Cuba to protect the human rights of its people. We have been acting publicly on human rights with Cuba for a long time and everybody knows that the Prime Minister of Canada is not a very shy person.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the health minister is trying to compare the hepatitis C tragedy with another major tragedy in Canada by saying who would pay for breast implants. The answer of course is that the companies which made those breast implants will pay for them. There are ongoing lawsuits. We do not want to hear this foolish, feeble argument any longer.

Will the health minister admit publicly that this was a major public tragedy in Canada caused by the federal regulators who distributed poisonous blood?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member cannot escape the larger point. Whether it is breast implants, whether it is pharmaceutical products that caused death or other damage, the broader question is at what point does the state have a responsibility to pay cash compensation to those who are injured because of risks inherent in medical procedures or medical devices. That is a very large question.

The ministers of health of Canada, all of them from all governments of all stripes, in a very unusual move were unanimous in saying that in this particular tragedy in the years 1986 to 1990 when something could have been done, that is the period when compensation should be paid.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister says when should the government pay. The answer is when the government is responsible.

We have here a minister who is hanging on to this legal argument as though it were a thread, and that is all he has. The truth of the matter is insurance pays for medical mishaps, but this was no accident. There was incompetence and negligence on behalf of the federal regulators.

Will the minister just acknowledge that this was not a medical accident?

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member belittles the legal analysis and then he proceeds to create it by talking about negligence and fault.

The member illustrates the difficulty of the question because if in fact governments are going to pay for that for which they are responsible through fault, then indeed the ministers of health are right in saying the period 1986 to 1990 is the period during which compensation should be offered.

Before that hepatitis non-A, non-B, which is what it was called, was a known risk in the blood system but the authorities agree that it was not until the early part of 1986 that Canada should have put the test—