House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

April 22nd, 1998 / 2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hepatitis C issue is not going away as long as there is one member standing on this side of the House and one innocent victim who has not been compensated.

This is going to hang around the minister's neck like an albatross.

I am asking the minister to answer in a straightforward way, yes or no, is the door closed forever on this hepatitis C package.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that as long as he is there to ask questions, I shall be here, as long as the Prime Minister wishes me to serve as Minister of Health, to respond. I shall respond in a straightforward manner. I shall respond honestly and with feeling by saying that this is a tough issue. It is not easy. It is difficult.

None of us likes to say no to people who have been innocently harmed and who are asking for something which we cannot give. I am here to say, as I will say tomorrow, next week, next month and next year, that as a matter of public policy all governments of this country took the same position and we are doing the right thing. This is the agreement we all came to. This is the agreement by which we will stand. It is the only way we can maintain a sustainable public health care system in this country.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, can you make any reason out of that answer? I do not think anyone in this House can, not even his own backbenchers.

Unfortunately the minister promised that this package was going to be fair and honourable. It is not fair and it is not honourable.

The only recourse these people will have will be the courts. I am asking the minister is he prepared to allow this to go before the courts. Does he honestly believe that their case is strong enough to sustain a court challenge? At the end of the day they are going to wind up paying more money—

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Health.

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I take it the member is not asking for a legal opinion.

As a matter of public policy, the governments have done their best to determine which cases are those in which the public should pay cash to people harmed by the system. The best we can do, acting honestly and doing the best we can by people while respecting our responsibility in government, is to say that when we look at the history which Mr. Justice Krever spread out in front of us, there was a period of time during which governments could have acted and should have acted and they did not. Together we are contributing—

Hepatitis C
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Larry McCormick Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend my family and I will be picking up garbage and planting trees to celebrate earth day.

Can the Minister of the Environment tell this House how the federal government is promoting earth day and encouraging all Canadians in contributing to a cleaner, greener and healthier earth?

The Environment
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Northumberland
Ontario

Liberal

Christine Stewart Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I applaud my colleague for his activities to honour earth day. I hope every colleague in this House will do similarly.

It is a very important day in which communities, businesses and schools come together to do something to celebrate the importance of the environment.

Today I went out to St. Anthony's school in Ottawa. It is working with Nortel, with NGOs and the school students to improve their schoolyard, to make it the most beautiful schoolyard in Canada. Also today I approved 63 projects under an action 21—

The Environment
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, in recent years Canada has lost two professional hockey teams. The third is now on the ropes.

The reason for that is twofold. First, Canadian taxes are about 50% higher than in the U.S. Second, the Americans unfairly subsidize their hockey teams.

What is the government doing to lower taxes? What is it going to do about these unfair subsidies so that we can keep hockey in Canada?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on realizing that there is a problem, a problem the government realized many months ago when it set up a parliamentary committee to look into these very things.

We look forward to the results of that committee in its conclusion.

Cuba
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

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

Outside the Second Summit of the Americas, the Prime Minister indicated that he was going to make an official visit to Cuba. This is the first official visit since 1976 by a head of the Canadian government to a country that continues to be cut off from the rest of the Americas.

Will the Prime Minister tell the House what concrete proposals he intends to make to President Castro to make it possible for him to participate in the Summit of the Americas and to facilitate Cuba's reintegration into inter-American institutions?

Cuba
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs was saying earlier, we have been in communication with the Government of Cuba for a good while now and have developed a program of co-operation in a number of areas.

As for the issue of human rights, we are working together toward the creation of the position of ombudsman in that country's national assembly. There are all sorts of programs under way that we will discuss.

We hope that there will be improvements in Cuba, which may help facilitate Cuba's return to the family of the Americas.

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

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

I wonder if the minister on earth day could tell the House whether he has had occasion to think twice about the wisdom of Canada's belonging to agreements like NAFTA or seeking to enter into agreements like the MAI or the FTAA which enable corporations to sue governments for pursuing environmental legislation like this government has with MMT.

When the minister goes to Paris next week will he be going to finally say he is listening to Canadians and he does not want Canada to be part of any MAI that has this provision in it?

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York West
Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, it would be appropriate on earth day if the NDP renounced its membership in the flat earth society. Certainly that would be a contribution.

Canada through her trade deals has been able to energize our economy and also speak to high standards in those trade deals. In Chile, Canada and the Prime Minister were at the forefront in the creation of a civil society committee so that we can build an exciting project in the Americas and build it with all the groups that represent our society. Canada is at the forefront of—