House of Commons Hansard #3 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table that are of the same nature with respect to agriculture. There are 122 pages of signatures.

The petitions state that the federal minister of agriculture has introduced the agricultural income disaster assistance program fully knowing the shortfall as it relates to agriculture in western Canada and that he has failed to set forth a support program that fully reflects the true needs of agriculture.

We will debate agriculture a little later this morning in the reply to the throne speech. The petitioners are asking that the minister of agriculture be replaced by a member of the House who would be better able to recognize and understand the issues of agriculture.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

October 14th, 1999 / 10:35 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request For Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 52 I request leave to make a motion for adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration.

Over the summer months it became evident that a crisis exists in our immigration and refugee determination system. Canada has become a primary target for illegal migration. This is causing a problem with queue jumping. People who are using the normal process are extremely concerned that their process is being held up as a result of poor handling of the refugee determination process by the government.

There are three recent events I would like to quickly refer to which demonstrate the need for an emergency debate.

First is the detaining of illegal migrants for months already and it will probably stretch into years in new camps or prisons that have been set up specifically for this reason. I do not think it is acceptable in a country like Canada to have a system that is working so poorly that people are being detained for months and years while they await the outcome of the determination process.

Second, Mayor Lastman, the mayor of Toronto, Canada's largest city, has publicly expressed concern about our immigration system, in particular our refugee determination system which is working so poorly that it is putting an extra cost burden on his city. He wants the government rather than the city to bear that burden if the government is not going to fix the system.

Third, yesterday, according to media reports the premier of Ontario has written a letter to the government and to the immigration minister saying he is fed up with the system working so poorly. He wants the government to fix the system because his province cannot bear the costs.

It is important that we debate this issue immediately to send a signal to people smugglers and those who would use their services that Canada will no longer be an easy mark. We must put in place legislation that will make this process happen within days and weeks rather than months and years as is currently the situation and which will quickly end the virtual slave trade that is building in our country. People smugglers are bringing people in illegally and putting them into slave-like conditions. That is something Canadians cannot accept.

For those reasons, it is important that we have an emergency debate today to change the law to fix these problems.

Request For Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair appreciates the intervention of the hon. member for Lakeland. It is the view of the Chair that his application for an emergency debate does not meet the exigencies of the standing order at this time.

The House resumed from October 13 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During the remainder of the debate on the Speech from the Throne the Reform Party members will be dividing their speaking time.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Parkdale—High Park.

As in the last six years, Canada continues to be the UN's choice as the number one country in which to live.

This week's throne speech set out a strategy that will ensure we maintain our number one ranking. It signalled the government's plan to build on the quality of life for all Canadians.

In the years to come we will address the challenges of globalization and the demands placed on a knowledge based society. We have committed to bring down the personal income tax levels of Canadians and to invest in families and in children. The government has set out a plan that addresses our diversity and responds to our responsibilities as a global leader.

Today I will take some time to explore this throne speech and how it relates to my riding and the constituents of Kitchener Centre.

First I would like to review the government's record. Let me begin with unemployment rates. They are at their lowest level since 1990. I am pleased to report to this House that the Waterloo region has the lowest unemployment rate among municipal centres across the nation, a rate of 4.9%.

This Liberal government in partnership with the private sector has created the proper climate for job creation. As a result, we have seen the creation of 1.7 million jobs since we took office. We have consistently increased our investments in research and technology and we have supported small and medium size enterprises.

In my community Industry Canada has worked in partnership on the creation of the business enterprise centre which houses the Canada-Ontario Business Service Centre. This centre provides one stop shopping for entrepreneurs. Users of the centre have access to extensive and current information and tools which enable them to both succeed and grow.

The region of Waterloo is a microcosm of the changes that are happening across the nation. A generation ago no one could have envisaged a vibrant local economy that lacked the kind of family businesses such as Seagram's and Labatt's, nor could they have imagined the changes that we have seen at Schneider's meats, yet these changes have occurred.

Today in Kitchener we see an ever increasing number of small businesses starting up. Across the country over 80% of the new jobs created are by this sector and many are in the high tech area.

Waterloo region has seen incredible growth in the high tech sector. Our community has not only thrived but remained on the cutting edge of a competitive global economy.

This week's throne speech clearly indicates a strong commitment to building our economy through developing a skilled labour force and providing the necessary research dollars and tools for small emerging companies.

The Liberal government will ensure that skilled development keeps pace with the evolving industries and markets. This will be accomplished through the sectoral councils in close consultation with industry leaders. The government has once again acknowledged the importance of foreign investors in Canada.

For Canada's technology triangle this is good news. The CTT has been funded by the federal government to attract foreign investors to areas such as Kitchener. They are working and spreading the news about Canada. It is this type of organization with which we must encourage and foster relationships.

We must also support companies that will help us meet our environmental obligations under agreements such as the Kyoto protocol.

Recently I accompanied the Minister of Industry on a tour of GFI Control Systems where they demonstrated to us how their automobile conversion kits will help Canada meet its clean air responsibilities.

Our environment is also affected by our infrastructure. As a former regional and municipal representative I have witnessed the benefits of working in partnership on programs such as our national physical infrastructure.

In the throne speech we have indicated our will to continue to work with all levels of government and the private sector to achieve a five year plan for improving the infrastructure in both urban and rural areas across Canada. This will be a commitment that will be reached by the end of the year 2000.

Children and youth are the country's key to success in the 21st century. It is the responsibility of government and community, family, friends and teachers to open doors and encourage young people to seize their dreams.

I first entered politics to assure that the decisions of government were working in the best interests of my four children. During my 10 years as a member of parliament I have taken special interest in the youth of Kitchener. Through visits to classrooms and graduations, I have had the pleasure to meet the young people who will be the leaders of tomorrow.

I have been pleased to support organizations such as the KOR Gallery and art studio. This studio was created by another mother who wanted to see the greatest opportunities possible for her very talented son and other young artists in the Waterloo region. KOR Gallery has been supported by the federal government and has received half a million dollars throughout its years.

In the spring of this year the Prime Minister's task force on youth entrepreneurship spent a day in my community meeting with young entrepreneurs and visiting their businesses. The task force heard that our youth need support to gain access to funding and resources. We are responding to those requests.

Our goal is to give today's young generation of Canadians, no matter where they live, the tools and the opportunities for personal success in the knowledge economy. We will provide them with career information and access to work experience and learning. We will hire them to work on Internet projects. We will offer them the opportunity to apply their talents overseas through youth international internship programs.

The government is committed to enhancing the skills and opportunities of young Canadians. We will do this through partnerships with local organizations and the provincial and territorial governments.

For example, this past summer Kitchener was the proud host of the skills Canada competition. The event, in connection with two other competitions, received $800,000 from the youth employment strategy fund.

Skills Canada is an important project because it gives our youth the opportunity to compete with young people from around the world. The competition tested participants in over 40 trade, technological and other skill areas. I can think of no better way to encourage tomorrow's leaders. Our children and our families deserve a high standard of living. This will require, as never before, an adaptable, resilient population that is ready to learn throughout life.

It is clear that the foundation for such capacities is laid in the very early years of life. I firmly believe that the strength of our society will depend on the investments we make today as a nation in families and in children.

The government has committed to making a third significant investment in the national child benefit by the year 2002. We will put more dollars in the hands of families with children through further tax relief. We will lengthen and make more flexible employment insurance benefits for parental leave.

Now that the deficit is gone and the debt is in a permanent downward direction, we as a government have the opportunity to invest in the quality of life of Canadians. Canadians have said that health care, children, education and tax cuts are their priorities. We have been responding to these areas in the past years and we will continue to be committed to these issues.

This nation has a high quality of life. It is a nation of which we should be proud. It is a nation that others envy. Our Prime Minister has provided us with a strong direction and an unwavering commitment for unity.

The new millennium will be wonderful for all Canadians.

The new millennium will be a bright one for all Canadians.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, with all the fluff that flies around here it is a wonder we do not break out with allergies. I wonder if the member has ever visited the reserves across our country, as I have for the last two years, to see the quality of life. The government continually talks about how wonderful we are in this land.

I wonder if the member of parliament has ever walked the streets of Toronto, Vancouver or other major cities and visited with the people who are on the streets, who are homeless, who are experiencing this wonderful quality of life we keep hearing about from this minister.

I wonder if the member and the government recognize the extreme value of Mike Harris, Ralph Klein and other premiers, and how much they have contributed and sacrificed in order to make things happen in their provinces, with no thanks to this government. In spite of the government, they have managed to achieve many things.

I wonder if the member is aware that only this morning it was declared that there has been a 66% increase in poverty in one year. One out of every six children is going to school hungry. One year ago it was not that bad.

I wonder if the member is proud of a government that spends money to hang dead rabbits in a museum or to form a committee to study whether we should have a national insect.

The government is doing all this funny fuzzy spending while we get these kinds of reports. What kind of a record is that? What are the member and the government going to do about these things that are real and actual, that are happening on our reserves and on the streets of our country?

We talk about the quality of life while we hang dead rabbits in museums and search for a national insect. When is the government going to wake up, and what is the member going to do about it?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the temporary promotion to minister.

I had the pleasure this past summer of going to the Arctic region and the Northwest Territories of this land and was very proud to see the process in place for self-government. As recently as last April we saw the creation of Nunavut. I will tell the member that the government is working very hard with our aboriginal people, who do not speak with one voice, to come up with self-government and empower them to use their voices to create what the next century will look like for them.

I also point out for the member opposite, if he would like to look at the Speech from the Throne, that there is reference made to the social union. One of the things that the social union does is allow all levels of government, with the leadership of the federal government, to stop pointing fingers at each other and to engage in solutions of the kind the Minister of Labour has heard in communities as she crossed Canada looking at the homelessness issue and looking at a variety of ways that all governments can work together to solve this problem. It is a national concern of the government, but not one that merely demands having money thrown at it.

The social union structure allows Canadians to hold all levels of government accountable. The one thing the government will not do is risk financial gains by having a balanced financial picture and dressing down the deficit. We will not run deficits to give tax cuts, which is happening in Ontario.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today in the House of Commons as a member of the government to address the Speech from the Throne, a speech which I can proudly say has been heralded as a return to traditional Liberalism.

I would like to thank our new governor general for her eloquent delivery of the Speech from the Throne and I congratulate her on her appointment.

In the Speech from the Throne the government has set out its vision for the next century by providing a comprehensive strategy to build a higher quality of life for all Canadians. The most striking thing about the speech is that the government has acknowledged that in order to successfully implement its strategy it requires consensus.

The Government of Canada cannot undertake this strategy alone. It can only do so in partnership and in collaboration, by working together with other governments, the provinces and the territories, the private sector, the volunteer sector and individuals. In fact, there is not a page in the Speech from the Throne which does not note the importance of working together or use the words “collaboration” or “partnership”. At the very beginning of the Speech from the Throne it is stated unequivocally as follows:

The best way to achieve the promise of Canada for every citizen is to work together to build the highest quality of life for all Canadians.

The issue that I would like to address today is the renewed commitment by the government to invest in Canada's arts and cultural sectors, for in doing so we are also investing in our national identity which ensures our sovereignty and serves as a method of nation building and of promoting a multicultural society.

As a passionate advocate of Canada's arts and culture and as the member of parliament for a constituency which is home to many of Canada's artists, including writers, singers, actors, performers, filmmakers and producers, I had started to hear concerns that investments in Canada's culture had become stagnant, that other interests and interest groups had overshadowed the importance of a continued investment in the arts.

I was actually confronted with concerns that the last two budgets had not addressed any new programs or incentives for our arts and cultural sectors, save and except those programs which had been envisaged in red book II, the Liberal election platform. While those programs and funding proposals had indeed been implemented, the fact still remained that these were not new commitments. Where was the vision for this sector that would lead Canada into the next century and ensure our cultural sovereignty and our national identity?

The concerns voiced by the arts community have been addressed and I applaud the government on its vision and leadership in continuing to promote our Canadian arts and cultural sectors.

The following are the themes that I trust will reassure and enhance our arts and cultural communities.

The government is now committed to ensuring that younger Canadians, from age 13, are given an opportunity to apply their creative abilities by providing them with a chance to produce their first works using traditional approaches and new technologies in the arts, cultural, digital and other industries.

This commitment acknowledges the importance of arts in making children creative and preparing them for a knowledge based economy. There is substantial empirical evidence to show that children who are exposed to the arts, especially music, at a very early age score much higher on the math and science components of the SAT examinations than those who are not exposed.

In November 1997 an article appeared on the front page of the arts section of the Globe and Mail which confirmed this evidence and concluded that arts, not computers, make kids creative. The article stated:

Arts education is not only cheaper, it may be essential training for a more creative flexible world. Arts, not IBM, makes kids smarter.

The article also went on to say that arts education by focusing on the creative process prepares our youth for the highly skilled jobs that our country requires and will require in the future.

Under international trade investment the Speech from the Throne noted that the government would increase its trade promotion in strategic sectors. It specifically noted that one of these sectors was the cultural sector. This statement gives new meaning and life to the maxim that culture is a third pillar of our foreign policy.

The government also committed to use the upcoming WTO negotiations to build a more transparent rules based trading system which not only provides for better access in world markets for Canadian companies in all sectors but also respects the needs of Canadians, especially culture as is noted.

On the section of infrastructure the Government of Canada has committed to building a cultural infrastructure. It is committed to bringing Canadian culture into the digital age, linking 1,100 institutions across the country to form a virtual museum of Canada. It will put collections from the National Archives, the National Library and other key institutions on line.

Specifically the speech also notes and vows to increase support for the production of Canadian stories and images in print, theatre, film, music and video, and the government has committed to increase support for the use of new media.

In dealing with physical infrastructure the government has agreed that it will work with other levels of government and the private sector to reach agreement on a five year plan for improving physical infrastructure in urban and rural communities across the country.

One of the areas of focus specifically noted for physical infrastucture was culture. I was delighted to see the cultural sector as a specifically designated area in which to improve our physical infrastructure. I say so because as a member of parliament from the city of Toronto we are looking at wonderful infrastructure projects. In the city of Toronto plans are under way to build a new state of the art opera house.

In Winnipeg the Manitoba Theatre Centre, at 41 years of age and Canada's oldest English speaking regional theatre, is in desperate need of repair. This need has also launched a private sector campaign to refurbish its two buildings.

This theme brings new hope to a request by the cultural community to restore funding for the arts in general and infrastructure matters in particular. More important, this commitment to improve physical infrastructure for culture appears to be a direct response to recommendations 32 and 33 of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage report entitled “A Sense of Place, A Sense of Being: The Evolving Role of the Federal Government in Support of Culture in Canada”, which was tabled in the House of Commons in June.

These recommendations call upon the Government of Canada to re-establish a capital fund and a long term financial strategy to deal with Canada's deteriorating cultural facilities. I applaud the government for its quick response to the committee's report.

In the section of the Speech from the Throne entitled “Canada's Place in the World”, the government stated that it would act like like-minded countries to reform and strengthen international institutions such as the World Trade Organization. It also specifically noted that it would work to develop a new approach internationally to support the diversity of cultural expression in countries around the world.

This commitment is a direct endorsement of the report of the cultural industries sectoral advisory group dated February 1999 wherein it was recommended that the government champion a new cultural trade covenant, a new international instrument that would lay out the ground rules for cultural policy.

In addition, this commitment to a new approach internationally to support the diversity of cultural expression also is a direct response to recommendation 29 of the report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled “Canada and the Future of the World Trade Organization: Advancing a Millennium Agenda in the Public Interest”, tabled in the House of Commons in June.

Recommendation 29 specifically calls upon the government to pursue the policy alternative contained in the cultural SAGIT report for a new international instrument on cultural diversity. Again I applaud the government for its quick response to the report and for the commitment to implement this recommendation.

In conclusion, I am proud to be a member of a government that not only has a vision but has strategies for all Canadians as we enter into the 21st century. The Speech from the Throne provides us with a blueprint to build the 21st century but, as the speech unequivocally states, we will build the 21st century together. All Canadians, every citizen, every government, every business and every community organization, have a part to play.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of time for the hon. member and I appreciate her commitment to the arts. It is very heart warming.

However I would like to know what the member thinks about what the federal government actually does with its so-called investments, that is to say wasteful spending in arts and culture. What does the hon. member think of the quarter of a million dollar investment of the minister of heritage in Bubbles Galore ?

Does she think the federal government's cultural agenda should include producing pornographic films? What does she think about Hanging the Dead Rabbits ? Does she think that is an important investment in the cultural future of Canada in the 21st century? Does she think that is necessary to defend our cultural sovereignty?

A few years ago, in part through a federal grant, the Vancouver Art Gallery exhibited something called Piss Pope, a picture of the Holy Father submerged in a jar of the artist's urine. That was another expenditure by the federal government of our tax dollars.

We could go on and on and on about the kind of absurd, disgusting, wasteful excuse for art which the government finances. How does the hon. member apologize for that?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the opposition member has reported some instances of what he calls wasteful expenditure. I must say that I see any kind of expenditure in our art and cultural industries as an investment. It is an investment in our national identity. It is an investment in our cultural sovereignty. It is an investment in who we are and what we are.

Everyone does not have the same taste but culture and art is a wide-ranging sector. It gives us a sense of place and a sense of being, as the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage so eloquently put it. I recommend to my hon. colleague that he actually take a look at that report and at the recommendations made by that committee.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, there must be many Canadians who voted for the Liberal Party that are feeling pretty embarrassed right now that the member would stand to defend the disgusting display of art or excuse for art that was just talked about by my colleague from Calgary.

The Liberal member stood to defend spending on that trash that she refers to as art and a good investment. She owes Canadians a huge apology for her confirmation that taxpayers dollars were spent on that kind of disgusting culture and art, as she referred to it. She probably owes an apology to some of her colleagues that were not very pleased with her response to the member from Calgary.