House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have some quick facts on the so-called Liberal millennium fund.

According to human resources development, in Canada 45% of all new jobs by the year 2000 will require post-secondary education. This means that for many young people attending university or college is not an option if they want to find work. Despite this fact and despite the fact that the Liberals say they are committed to youth, the Liberals continue to throw barriers in the way of young people struggling to develop the skills and talents necessary to get ahead in a cutthroat global economy.

Since 1995 the federal Liberals have cut $1.5 billion from federal funding for post-secondary education. Since 1980 Liberal and Conservative governments have cut federal funding from $6.44 for each dollar of student fees to less than $3.

Over the last 10 years tuition fees have climbed by 240%. Last year alone they rose by almost 12% nationally, increasing at a rate seven times the rate of inflation. Tuition fees in Canada have reached a national average of $3,100 which surpasses the average tuition rate of publicly funded universities in the United States.

In a 1997 survey of high school students in the maritimes, 40% of students not going to university said they could not go because they could not afford it. The average student debt load is $25,000. That is up $13,000 in 1993 when the Liberals took power. Bankruptcies for students trying to pay off loans are at record levels, having increased by 700% since 1989. Currently 130,000 students are in default. The number of bankrupt graduates is estimated at 37,000. Missing one payment determines default.

Now some questions for them. By the time the first cheque from the millennium fund is mailed out the Liberal cuts to the Canada health and social transfer will have cost colleges and universities $3 billion. It does nothing to redress rapid increases in tuition fees for post-secondary education which have almost tripled since 1990. It would not substantially alter the huge debt load the university students face upon graduation. Nor does the scholarship better the situation for students graduating into unemployment. Less than 1% of unemployed youth will benefit from the government's program to fight youth unemployment.

To add hypocrisy to the mix, very deep within the budget's small print is a provision that stops students from filing for bankruptcy for at least 10 years after they have graduated. The current policy is two years.

We have heard a lot of discussion about the millennium fund and whether it will improve the situation for post-secondary education. Having looked at the document in committee where some of the discussion has taken place, it is quite clear that post-secondary education is in a very deep crisis. One of the reasons that we are facing a crisis with post-secondary education is the retreat of public funding for our post-secondary educational facilities.

Although we have heard a lot of talk about the millennium fund, this grand fund of $2.5 billion, the reality is that this fund will not even begin until the year 2000 and will only help 7% of the students.

The auditor general has some questions about the accounting practices of the millennium fund. Those questions should be raised with the Minister of Finance as well.

By the time the fund begins in the year 2000 we will have experienced cuts of around $3 billion. It becomes very clear that the millennium fund does not even come close to replacing or compensating for the massive draining cuts we have experienced in post-secondary education. This is causing enormous concerns not only in terms of where public policy is going, but also for the impact it is having on the lives of individual students.

It is because of the retreat of public funding that tuition fees have skyrocketed. We have seen huge increases over the last 10 years. There is a direct relationship between the pain and debt load students are facing in the retreat of public funding as a result of a loss of transfers from the federal government to the provincial governments. There is absolutely no escaping the fact that the millennium fund cannot make up and does not make up for the loss we have experienced.

In addition the other really serious situation that the millennium fund creates is that it begins to take us down the slippery slope of privatization. New Democrats are very concerned that with this foundation, a private foundation being set up which will have representation from corporations in the private sector, there will be less and less control of public administration and public direction of our post-secondary educational facilities. For that reason alone this fund should be rejected.

We should go back to the drawing board and say that the real issue here is to support publicly administered, publicly accessible post-secondary educational facilities. We have already seen examples in Canada where the corporate influence on a board of governors of universities and colleges and now on this millennium fund is beginning to have an impact on the curriculum, deregulation of tuition fees and deregulation of programs. All these things are creating an environment where there is increasing privatization and corporatization of our post-secondary educational system.

The NDP believes that we have to have leadership from the federal government. It needs to be the kind of leadership done in co-operation and collaboration with provincial jurisdictions to design a national program of national grants that deals with different jurisdictions and different provincial contexts where there is a clear understanding and a principle that accessibility for all students in Canada is a national standard.

The NDP believes that this is a starting point of ensuring that our post-secondary educational system is protected and strengthened and not destroyed as we have seen over the last few years.

Canada is only one of two OECD countries that do not have a national grants system. We need to ensure federal funding is provided in co-operation with provincial governments to establish a national system of grants.

In the province of British Columbia as well as in the province of Quebec leadership has been shown in terms of trying to keep education accessible for students even in the face of massive cutbacks. British Columbia is now in the third year of a tuition freeze. This has been very difficult to accomplish, given the massive cutbacks it has experienced in transfers from the federal government.

The NDP is calling on the federal government to show the necessary leadership. We have heard a lot of rhetoric and concern expressed by government members about the levels of student debt. There is nothing in this bill that will alleviate the pressure and the huge debt load now facing students.

We need to go back to the drawing board and state clearly that this millennium fund is taking us down the wrong road. We need a national grants system. We need accessibility. Most important of all, we need restoration of the federal funding for post-secondary education in Canada.

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Bonwick Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I contribute to the debate on the merits of Bill C-36. The question in my mind is, on such a basic issue as education, a mom and apple pie type issue, what does Reform have against students? It boggles me.

I consider it a privilege to serve as a member of this government and as we for the first time in a generation deliver a balanced budget speak about an education initiative this government has brought forward. What makes me most proud about this accomplishment is the fact that it has enabled us to introduce perhaps the most progressive program every witnessed in this country, the Canada millennium scholarship program, the cornerstone of the Canadian opportunities strategy.

This government knows there is no better investment in the future than future investments in access to post-secondary education, knowledge and innovation. That is why we are creating the single largest endowment ever offered by a federal government to ensure that a post-secondary education is within reach of anyone who wants it. We are especially targeting those of modest means for whom post-secondary education would be beyond their grasp.

This $2.5 billion initiative will change the lives and the future of Canadians. It will give Canadians access to the knowledge and skills necessary for jobs of the 21st century. It will give up to one million Canadians a chance to thrive in a new economy and in a new millennium.

There can be no debate. As we stand here on the threshold of the 21st century we must prepare our citizens to think innovatively and creatively in a world that is transformed into information and technology. For this very reason increasing access to post-secondary education must be a national priority.

Yet there are some in this country who suggest it is not the Government of Canada's business to ensure higher learning and make sure it is accessible and affordable; this despite the fact it is now universally recognized that post-secondary education is a precondition for full participation in a future economy. These critics overlook the federal government's well established history in helping Canadians to pursue advanced studies.

In addition to funding post-secondary education through Canada's health and social transfer we have provided some $4.2 billion in financial assistance since 1964 to students in provinces that participate in the Canada student loans program. Since that same year we have provided $1.4 billion to the two jurisdictions that do not participate in the program, namely Quebec and the Northwest Territories.

We have a long tradition of awarding scholarships to students through various granting councils and programs such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Medical Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. If this legislation is adopted we will add an additional $400 million for the next three years to the combined budgets of these three councils. This is pretty impressive.

While similar in spirit, the Canada millennium scholarship fund is quite unique. This contribution is Canada's way of celebrating the passage into the new millennium. We are observing this extraordinary event not by building monuments but by investing in Canadians and preparing them to be the knowledge workers in a knowledge economy.

An equally important reason why the millennium scholarship cannot be considered the same as other federal funding for post-secondary education is that the endowment fund will be managed by an independent organization.

The Canada millennium scholarship foundation in consultation with key stakeholders will decide how to design and deliver millennium scholarship funds. The fund will be administered by a board of directors made up of private citizens, at least one of whom will be a student.

The minister of education as well as the education community will play a key role in identifying prospective directors and nominating people who have a pulse on the education community. Once operational, the foundation will be able to enter into agreements with provincial governments and post-secondary institutions on some aspects of scholarship eligibility. In addition the Canadian millennium scholarship foundation will be expected to minimize administrative costs and overhead.

Our overriding goal is to significantly increase access to post-secondary studies everywhere in Canada for low and middle income students and to do so in a way that avoids duplication with any province.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the millennium scholarship complements other types of student assistance programs. Given this flexibility the Government of Quebec's decision to break off discussions regarding the millennium fund is both puzzling and very frustrating.

This government is deeply dismayed that Quebec has not put the interests of young Quebeckers first. Dismayed but not totally surprised. From the outset the PQ government took a hard line putting forward a lopsided proposal that left no room for reconciliation. Despite our repeated efforts to find common ground, our provincial counterparts remained intransigent.

The position of Mr. Bouchard's government has not changed. Mr. Bouchard wants to opt out with full compensation. His government has shown no flexibility whatsoever. It is clear that Mr. Bouchard had no intention of negotiating so there is no point in returning to the negotiation table.

Even though Premier Bouchard told the Prime Minister last March that he recognized the Government of Canada's intention to “make a significant concrete and modern contribution to the knowledge through scholarships and” acknowledge that this was “a legitimate concern”, the Quebec government wants to opt out of this program with full compensation. This would seriously weaken and undermine the Canadian millennium scholarship foundation and the intent for which it is put in place.

As disappointing as these developments are, we must move forward without interfering with Quebec's priorities in the areas of education and without penalizing, most importantly, Quebec students.

Members on this side of the House are confident that a solution to outstanding issues relating to implementing a foundation can be found in the context of the current legislation. As the Prime Minister has already said in the House “We are satisfied that the bill gives us the needed flexibility to resolve the situation in a reasonable manner”. Reasonable words from a reasonable man.

The fact that the finance committee decided to extend its consideration for Bill C-36 to hear further witnesses is a further reflection of that flexibility, but there are practical limitations which must be factored into the equation. If we want this program in place by the year 2000 we must adopt the legislation as quickly as possible.

I hear my colleagues across the floor commenting “Not until the year 2000”. They speak is if we are in the 1950s or the 1930s. The year 2000 is merely 18 months away.

It is equally important that we not lose sight of the principal reason for introducing the millennium scholarships. Canada's success and competitiveness in the next century will depend on Canadians being well equipped and well motivated to meet Canada's challenges in a knowledge based economy.

The Canada millennium scholarships are critical new tools to help us prepare Canadians for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. As much as they will help equip 100,000 students each year with the knowledge necessary to function in an information society, they will also inspire other youth who may be thinking about dropping out or hesitating about going to college or university.

Perhaps most significant, these scholarships will heighten public awareness and appreciation that a post-secondary education is essential in a knowledge based economy. They will help mobilize the entire population behind a clear and strong inspiring vision, a collective future in which we all have the knowledge and skills we need.

The Government of Canada is determined to lead our society toward a future in which all Canadians are empowered to succeed in the new economy. That is why it is so critical that we quickly pass Bill C-36. If Canada is to grow and prosper in the 21st century we must begin by implementing the federal budget today.

I ask members opposite to read the bill, not the prepared texts which their staff have put together for them.

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, sound economic policy involves dealing with the challenges facing Canadians in a holistic way, with consistent economic policies, not stopgap measures that further complicate, for instance, the Canadian tax code.

The millennium scholarship fund will only benefit—

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

It is with regret that the Chair advises the hon. member for Kings—Hants that he has already spoken in this debate. He cannot speak again, although that is going to leave a lot of people in the House terribly disappointed.

We will double-check the blues and if it is determined that the hon. member has not spoken on this group of motions, then he will be the first recognized if we make that determination.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River.

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had fully expected to have my speech interrupted by question period. That seems to be my lot in life, to rise just before the start of QP. However, with this sudden unexpected turn of events that is not going to happen today and I will speak earlier than I had originally intended.

There are a couple of fundamental issues which I wish to address in speaking to Bill C-36, and specifically the amendments put forward in Group No. 1 by the Bloc Quebecois.

First of all, the very fundamental issue that we are dealing with in this very shortened debate that we are going to have today is the issue of time allocation. The Liberals, once again, have cut off debate for the 41st time since 1994. It is despicable. I think there is rising resentment across the country due to the fact that there is no democracy in this Chamber, the very place that is supposed to be the heart of democracy.

Perhaps the government has done this because it has decided that it wants a longer summer break. Perhaps the backbenchers put pressure on cabinet and on the Prime Minister to ensure they get a long enough time to flip burgers and go to barbecues in their ridings. While that is important work for an MP, no doubt, the fact is that the main thrust should be to debate legislation in this Chamber.

We have seen this so many times in the past. When the opposition parties start to really get to this government and start to hold it accountable on important national issues like its complete failure to address the reform of the Young Offenders Act or the issue of compensation for all victims of hepatitis C, what does this government do? It runs for cover by invoking time allocation, by bringing down closure to cut off debate. In this case what we see is the cutting off of debate on a whole long list of amendments to this very important bill. The Group No. 1 amendments alone constitute over a dozen motions. How can these types of motions be adequately addressed when debate has been limited?

Not only do they want to cut off debate, they are heckling and directing inappropriate comments at opposition speakers who stand here today wanting to hold this government accountable to the people of Canada. They direct those comments at us to distract us from the little time that we are allowed to speak on this bill.

This group of amendments specifically deals with the millennium fund. I listened in somewhat stony silence as the hon. member opposite—

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Bonwick Simcoe—Grey, ON

That is exactly what is between your ears.

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, he had his opportunity to speak. Now he is heckling me, trying to throw me off track when I am trying to drive home the message to the viewing public that there are fallacies contained in his prepared speech that probably came out of the minister's office or the Prime Minister's office and was handed to him a few minutes before he walked into the Chamber.

He stood and read it. If he really wants to debate the millennium fund and how much support it has, then why do we not have a debate about that instead of him standing and reading a prepared speech?

The fact is that the millennium fund is going to be a disgrace. It is going to be a failure. Why? The reason is simple. We pointed it out during the budget debate. I am sure the pages watching this debate today will be interested in this because, once again, what we see is that the Liberal government wants to differentiate between Canadians. It wants to set up two classes, just as it has on the hepatitis C issue. It wants to have two classes of victims. It will compensate some of the people. The government says it is a caring government, that it will compensate the post-1986 victims. The ones between 1986 and 1990 will be compensated, but the ones before will not be compensated.

The hon. member across the way who just spoke was bragging about how the millennium fund will help 100,000 students. Is that not great? But the fact of the matter is that there 1.6 million post-secondary students: 400,000 are full time students and the rest are part time students. Do the math. The students are doing the math: 100,000 out of 400,000.

Once again this Liberal government wants to differentiate. Which will be the lucky quarter of the full time students who will get the scholarships? The government will decide which of those young students will get the scholarships. If they belong to the Young Liberals of Canada they might get a scholarship. Somehow the government is going to differentiate and decide who gets the scholarships.

That is not totally true. The hon. member who spoke before me said that there is going to be one student on the board. I am sure the government can find one Liberal student, but after this maybe not.

The fact is, there is no budget surplus to help Canadians in a unified way because of the false accounting practices of this government. That is the fact. This millennium fund is the latest example of that. The finance minister has put $2.5 billion into the 1998 budget. He has built it in, but he has not spent the money yet. The money will be spent down the road.

The auditor general on March 18 responded to a threatening letter from finance officials by saying “I believe the change will open the door for governments to influence reporting results by simply announcing intentions in their budgets and then deciding what to include in the deficit or surplus after the end of the year once preliminary numbers are known”.

The facts are very clear. The government is trying to separate students. It is trying to pit student against student. Very clearly during the last election campaign, and we are nearing the first anniversary of this new government since the June 2 election a year ago, we laid out our plan on how we would help all students. We did not hear anything back then about a millennium fund. This is something that the government has come up with to pit student against student. It will help a quarter of them. What about the other three-quarters who are seeing tuition costs rising?

The fact is, these students cannot afford huge increases in the cost of obtaining their education. The Liberal government with its millennium fund is effectively bringing down a subsidy for people like Bill Gates because of the huge brain drain of our brightest young students. They get their education here and end up going to work for companies like Microsoft. The richest man in the world is getting a subsidy courtesy of the Liberal government because it has refused to address fundamental issues like high taxes that drive our young people away from our country to seek employment in the United States where taxes are more reasonable.

That is a fundamental issue that this government is not addressing and the government refuses to address it.

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was looking forward to address this issue, but not under these circumstances. Shame on the government for moving time allocation. Why? Because this bill makes no sense and it knows it. This is obvious in Quebec, where there is a consensus against the bill.

The federal government has taken a very drastic approach to reducing the deficit by cutting transfer payments for health, education and welfare. At the same time, by tightening eligibility requirements for employment insurance benefits, it ensured that the employment insurance fund would grow; it will soon contain $19 billion. This is an extremely harsh and severe bite.

What is the federal government doing with the bite taken out of transfer payments to the provinces, now that it has reached zero deficit? It has given a $2.5 billion budget to a private sector foundation responsible for distributing scholarship cheques, with a little maple leaf in the corner and the Prime Minister's signature at the bottom I guess.

The truth of the matter is that, in Quebec, these drastic cuts in education have turned universities into institutions where it is increasingly difficult to receive quality education, not because teachers and students are not doing their best, but rather because the conditions they are facing are increasingly difficult.

There have been countless wage cuts, job cuts, student-teacher ratio increases, budget cuts for research, labs, while all of these are essential to quality education.

What is the point of having $3,000 scholarships after the year 2000, when the system itself has been hurt and impaired? It is so shameful that there is a consensus in Quebec—which is even echoed across the country—that the federal government has no business in this area. This is an ill-conceived project. The government must give back to Quebec the money earmarked for education, so that the province can help students pursue their education through its own loans and scholarships program.

The federal initiative makes no sense. It is despicable and shameful, as well as wasteful. In this day and age, it is unacceptable to waste money in education just to satisfy the Prime Minister's vanity.

Why am I so convinced that it is a waste? For a reason that I will try to make clear. Under the legislation, scholarships will be awarded based on merit to help the best students, not those who most need the money so they can become successful, but those who are the best students and are also in need.

This is not the policy that was developed in Quebec over the years. It is not even the policy that was developed in the other provinces and applied by the federal government, but this is another issue.

In Quebec, we chose a system that help students in need who, of course, also make the grade. What does a needs-based system mean? It means that a completely different structure will have to be built. Criteria will have to be set for each subject, to determine who are the best students, how many there are and how to go about it.

A burdensome bureaucracy will have to be put in place. Even though it is a private foundation, it will be burdensome and bureaucratic, because there is no other way to determine who are the best students. Even the system currently in place in Quebec would become a lot more burdensome and would have to undergo major changes if it were to use criteria based on merit, in addition to those based on needs.

The system is not designed for that, nor are the universities or the student loan system. This is wasteful. It means that every dollar of the $2.5 billion, and of the portion to which Quebec is entitled but has no certainty of getting anyway, will not go to student aid. This is totally scandalous.

The Liberals, who made such slashes to welfare, health and education, and have padded the employment insurance fund, are patting themselves on the back that this hard earned money will go, not to education, but to stroke the ego of the Prime Minister of Canada.

This Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation is unacceptable in every way. What an image it gives of federalism. A few days before the referendum, our Prime Minister said he would take Quebec's needs into account. What an image. What discouragement about today's federalism, if the division of power under the Constitution makes it so hard for the central government to perform its functions that it must also assume the functions of the provinces.

It is not content with the way things are, not satisfied, so it decides to see that the provinces' educational systems follow the line it sets. Come now, this makes no sense because when it comes to getting the best use of funds, each level of government has its responsibilities and must exercise them. In other words, I repeat, it would require one more bureaucracy—and this is already happening, as people have been hired.

What recourse will students or universities have? None at all. How will Quebec be sure of having its share? It will not. Public money and officials will be administered by a private foundation under criteria that it will set for itself according to the very broad principles in the law.

We are concerned, I note in passing, about the following in the bill: “The appointment of directors shall be made so as to ensure that ( a ) the Board is knowledgeable about post-secondary education”, that should go without saying, “and learning in Canada and the needs of the Canadian economy; and ( b ) the directors are drawn from the various regions of Canada.” University scholarships awarded on the basis of merit must not be given out according to the state of the Canadian economy, but according to the needs of the individual societies.

Why did we in Quebec choose to have an assistance plan based on need and to ensure access to university to just about everyone with the ability? Because we think merit is encouraged by the conditions of use and not because scholarships are given out on the basis of merit. I think that the results indicate that we in Quebec made the right choice.

Now the federal government is dismantling and derailing a system that worked well. It is doing so in two ways. First it dangerously underfunded it and now it has just introduced new factors for which it will be spending money that would be infinitely better spent where it should rightly go. That is, to the educational system, to assistance and as loans and scholarships to needy students.

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, when it brought down its budget last February, the government once again demonstrated its lack of respect for the institutions and mechanisms developed by the people of Quebec during the quiet revolution.

By creating millennium scholarships, the Liberal government is once again poking its nose into a jurisdiction that belongs exclusively to Quebec, in this case education.

It is rather ironic to see the Prime Minister of Canada trying to sell the Canadian Constitution to Quebeckers and to Canadians, when his own government is not even able to respect it. Section 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867, recognizes Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction over education, and the millennium fund is an unprecedented intrusion into this area of provincial jurisdiction.

In 1964, the government of Lester B. Pearson suggested making interest-free loans available to Canadian students. When this federal education subsidy was opposed by Jean Lesage, a Liberal, the Pearson government then wisely declared that, if a province preferred to stick with its own loans program, it would be entitled to equivalent compensation. So said a Liberal. The government of the day had tried unsuccessfully to interfere in the area of education. The right to opt out of student financial assistance programs with compensation has existed since 1964.

Will the Liberal government be as fair a player in 1998? Knowing that paragraphs 29(1) and 25(2) of Bill C-36 are designed to block the transfer to the Government of Quebec of its fair share for opting out of the millennium fund, one could have one's doubts. In order to have access to the program, Quebec will have to embark on a series of long and pointless negotiations in a field where it has already proven itself.

Worse yet, in order to deny Quebec its right to opt out with compensation, the federal government has decided to create a foundation outside regular federal programs. The federal government's imperialist attitude is beyond all understanding.

Why interfere in Quebec's loans and bursaries program when it is the most advanced in Canada? Quebec has built up an effective and vigorous loans and bursaries program that is the envy of students in other provinces.

Why, just when the federal government has reduced its deficit to zero, is the Minister of Finance rushing to create additional federal-provincial duplication and again wasting taxpayers' money? Now that it again has money to spend, the federal government is spending it in provincial jurisdictions.

Division No. 158
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, you will have more than six minutes to conclude your speech, but it being almost 2 p.m., the House will now proceed to statements by members.

Algonguin Secondary School In North Bay
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 30th anniversary of Algonquin secondary school in North Bay, my alma mater.

During the Victoria Day weekend, or the Fête de Dollard weekend depending on one's point of view, an organizing committee masterfully directed by Carole Laperrière, née Martineau, managed to bring together hundreds of Algonquin graduates from across the country.

This secondary school, which was originally called the bilingual school, was one of the first schools of its kind to be established in Ontario following the adoption of Bill 168, introduced by the then Minister of Education, the hon. Bill Davis.

This school has an important role to play in preserving and promoting the French language and culture in that part of Ontario.

Long live Algonquin secondary school, its students, its staff and its alumni.

Oliver, B.C.
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the riding of West Kootenay—Okanagan is one of the most scenic and beautiful in Canada. One of the jewels of the riding is the town of Oliver in the Okanagan Valley. Oliver recently made the news under the caption “the hate capital of Canada”. This was the result of one inappropriate remark by an individual concerned about the racist content of an Internet service in Oliver which has since shut down.

In actual fact the remark is about as far from the truth as possible. Oliver is a warm and friendly blend of just about every racial origin imaginable. Population groups include aboriginal people, Portuguese and East Indian with lesser numbers of other European, Asian and Latin American people.

From June 19 to 21 Oliver will be holding its sunshine festival. This year will feature a multicultural celebration. I invite all Canadians to visit Oliver this summer, especially during the festival. Visitors will find orchards, vineyards, warm beaches and some of the finest wineries in Canada or abroad. Even more important, they will find a warm and friendly local population that will go out of its way to make sure visitors have a wonderful and memorable stay.

Dr. Russell McDonald
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my good friend Dr. Russell McDonald of Oxford county on his being named an honorary director for life of the royal agricultural winter fair. Dr. McDonald, or Rusty as he is better known, has served as a member of the board of directors for the winter fair for the past 20 years. A veterinarian by profession, Rusty served on the board as a representative of the artificial insemination industry. He is one of the founders and a former general manager of the Western Ontario Breeders Association. His appointment as an honorary lifetime director recognizes his achievements and contribution to agricultural and to the royal over many years.

I am happy to say that I know Rusty and his wife Helen well. This honour is well deserved. I am sure the royal agricultural winter fair will benefit from his knowledge and experience for years to come. Well done, Rusty.

Apec
Statements By Members

May 25th, 1998 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Finance Minister of Canada hosted a conference for 21 APEC finance ministers from May 22 to May 24 in Kananaskis, Alberta. They discussed a global financial strategy for coping with the Asian crisis. With vision and leadership, the Minister of Finance made a proposal for a global mechanism to monitor the financial and banking system of the world. The G-8 leaders have recently endorsed such a plan. Again, our government is taking leadership in providing a solution for a global crisis.

Notemakers
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, notemakers, a pilot initiative of Industry Canada's SchoolNet program, employs youth to help colleges and universities meet the challenge of the information highway. Funded by the Canada youth employment strategy, this initiative combines the Internet skills of young Canadians with the knowledge and experience of university and college educators to produce high quality post-secondary learnware.

Notemakers helps our youth gain marketable work experience that they can transfer to jobs in Canada's emerging knowledge economy. I saw this firsthand when the University of Prince Edward Island participated in the last competition. Three full time positions were created as a result of the notemakers program. Universities and colleges benefit and Canada benefits as a whole.

Success from the first competition has led this government to open a second competition. Interested universities and colleges have until June 2, 1998 to submit their proposals. I encourage them to take advantage of notemakers and build for tomorrow.