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 children.

Topics

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, that was quite an interesting speech. I would like to highlight a couple of points my hon. colleague made.

He said “We have done this” and “We have done that”. “We have balanced the budget. We have reduced the deficit”. I would remind him that it is the hardworking Canadian taxpayers who have done that work, not he himself or his government. It is the taxes that have been wrung out of individuals, to the tune of $6 billion from people making $20,000 a year or less, that have balanced the budget and reduced the deficit, not the Liberal government.

The member also mentioned that Liberals are the defenders of health care. They are the slashers and burners of health care. They have cut over $21 billion from health care and social services since 1993 and have reinvested, their code word for spending, $11.5 billion. That is $8.5 billion less in funding than when they took over in 1993. How can this member boast of his government's accomplishments when it has slashed and burned the health care system that he says he is defending? How can he do that?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member must have missed what I said. I did point out that every Canadian participated in the recovery of this country. I would like to point out to him that if those steps had not been taken in 1993 we would not be at the position we are at now. Certain measures had to be taken to get rid of the deficit, to start to pay down the debt and to make the economy buoyant again. It was not painless. I can assure my hon. friend, who will probably never experience this, that hard decisions are hard decisions. However, they have been made and they work.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Reform

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight something that was not mentioned in the member's presentation or in the throne speech and that is that there was very little about agriculture and what help needs to be given to that area.

What was mentioned in the throne speech were two things that could very much threaten agriculture and add more burden to our farmers. One was to implement the Kyoto protocol, the proposed carbon tax and the increased input costs that would result for farmers. The other was endangered species protection legislation, something everybody believes we should have, but the approach the new environment minister has taken is a heavy handed approach that will not work and does not include the co-operation of all people.

I would like the member to comment on those two aspects that could seriously further harm the agriculture sector in this country.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the hon. member that the steps that have been taken by this government are helping the Kyoto protocol and agriculture at the same time. Maybe the hon. member does not know that since the biomass-derived ethanol program has been put into place nearly $500,000 of private investment has taken place across Canada, and farmers produce the feedstock for that ethanol production.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Independent

John Nunziata York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the 15 years that I have had the privilege to sit in the House of Commons I have listened to a few throne speeches and it seems to me that what we ought to be considering is putting an end to throne speeches. I question the value of speeches from the throne. I know it is part of the Canadian tradition, but expectations are high. People expect everything to be put into a throne speech, that the government is to outline in great detail its plans for the future. In reality, most Canadians are completely tuned out to this whole debate because they realize it is laced with partisanship.

I would like to ask the hon. member whether he believes that throne speeches are of any real value to Canadians from coast to coast. Would he not agree that instead of beginning a new session of parliament with a throne speech that it would be far more advisable to begin a new session of parliament with a budget so that there would be a specific plan on the table in which Canadians could engage in a real debate about the future of Canada?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting proposition. However, I would like to point out, and I am sure my hon. friend would agree, that when the legislative process starts it has to start with something, the vision. The purpose of the throne speech, traditionally, has been to present that overall vision to the House and to the people of Canada. Our system of government is a constitutional monarchy, so we have a speech from the throne and everyone knows in which direction the government wants to go.

If we had started without that there would be no vision. We have been accused from time to time of having no vision at all. I would like the hon. member to remember what it would be like if we did have some vision.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I understand the impatience of some hon. members with antique customs. The speech from the throne is a remnant of the 17th century constitutional struggles, down to that knocking on the door by an official to demand that the commons come to the lords and hear the speech from the throne. Antique customs are preserved, and you know this very well, Mr. Speaker. You sit in that very uncomfortable chair which you have inherited from many generations of people overgrown on roast beef and port wine and various other things.

Let us face it, there are traditions. The value of the speech from the throne today is simply that it gives a larger vision of a governmental program that necessarily will be computized when we have those financial figures, when we know how much of a surplus there is and the battle over the distribution of it can be carried down to the details.

This could be upset, but it is generally agreed that if there is a surplus, and we think there will be a very considerable surplus, as a result, as hon. members might say on this side, of government policies, it will be split at a principle of 50% for tax reductions and amortization of the external debt, and 50% for social programs.

This is something that my constituents have strongly favoured. They have also asked that tax reductions extend to the working middle class who are very capable of creating the jobs, more perhaps than any other section of the community. That is something I will be working on for my constituents. I think it is a necessary part of our program of creating jobs.

The Speech from the Throne outlined the three main areas of our policies on the government side as we go into the new century. One is, as I say, the work on tax reduction and the amortization of the debt. The second is spending on health and social programs. The third, and I will say a few more words on this, is the investment in knowledge as the key to the next century.

My first assignment as a member when I was elected was to get $167.5 million from the finance minister, who had just inherited in 1993 a $42.8 billion budget deficit. How does one make the argument? I had to go to the rounds of my colleagues and ministers and explain that there was a thing called pure research, that it did not necessarily bring results tomorrow, but five or ten years down the line it opened jobs and industry. Pure knowledge can be translated concretely into factories, into production and into the creation of skilled jobs. We won that particular battle.

It was easier to do it than in relation to some of the things we are doing now because, of course, education, research in a strict sense, on old fashioned constitutional views, is outside federal power. However, once we made the case and demonstrated that the federal government would provide the leadership, I think we were on our way. We were very tired of giving money to provinces for education and research and finding it being used to build highways into the never never land that had no ending and no beginning.

Education is our investment in the future. I take great pride in the achievements, in the centres for excellence, in the centres for innovation and in the culmination of scholarships for the 21st century. Of the professorships there will be 1,200 immediately and 2,000 afterward.

The actual idea was put forward by the president of the University of British Columbia and by the recteur de l'Université de Montréal. The idea was “arrest the brain drain”. In certain areas like biochemistry, particle physics, pharmacology, and I could go on, we lead North America. We have world standards, but we run the risk of losing our best and our brightest. These two university presidents put forward the idea of linking this to the centres for innovation that would be presided over by the former president of the University of British Columbia, Dr. Strangway.

This is the idea. Look at the rave headlines from around the country with the president of the University of British Columbia saying it is the answer to the drift in science; it makes us world leaders in science. I see the president of the University of Toronto saying that it is clearly a magnificent blow in favour of science, in favour of research and a recognition of the fact that knowledge is the key to the next century and it is the key to creating jobs, creating skilled jobs for young Canadians. We are very proud of this.

I would pay tribute to caucus, my own and those of opposition parties. I did an informal poll in the last parliament and found that 50 MPs had colleges or universities in their constituencies and 18 or 20 had been professors or teachers. That is a powerful lobby and a group that has brought this emphasis on knowledge, on the investment in knowledge as the key to the new century.

The Speech from the Throne covers many things. I have highlighted the quest for knowledge and the investment in learning as the key to the next century. There are several other matters that I will touch on very briefly, such as hands across the border. I had a letter today from American Senator Voinovich. We are moving more and more to removing that barrier with the United States, those irritating delays in customs and elsewhere for Canadian citizens. This in spite of some pressures put on us in terms of problems in controlling our own entry to Canada from elsewhere. The movement is there. It is part of the Speech from the Throne. It is part of the exchanges between the Prime Minister and President Clinton.

We have built on the record in the difficult area of reconciling our tradition as a country that receives people who want a better life. There are the boat people we have taken in the past. There are the Vietnamese admitted by a decision of a Conservative government. That community is one of the best communities in terms of low rates of unemployment and investment in new job creation.

I look at the Ismailis who came here in 1971 under Prime Minister Trudeau, and the people who came from Cyprus when it broke up. We have a commitment to receiving people who have the talent and the will to make a better life.

There are aspects here that are in terms of our international obligations. There is nothing inhibiting the Canadian government under international law from applying appropriate controls to our immigration for speeding up the process of determination of refugee claimants. These are in part touched on in the Speech from the Throne. They will be fleshed out in concrete legislation. I ask all members to address that in the future.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

As it is 2 o'clock, we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Chancellor Robert S. K. Welch
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Walt Lastewka St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to congratulate the chancellor of Brock University on a very special honour. On Saturday, October 16, the Faculty of Education building will be named after the chancellor, Robert S. K. Welch, in recognition of his contribution to Brock University. Chancellor Welch has a long history of public service and deep roots in the Niagara community.

From his first years on the St. Catharines Board of Education, Chancellor Welch rose in provincial politics to head the education ministry and later to the position of deputy premier of Ontario. His many years of service were acknowledged when he was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 1994.

The naming of the faculty of education building is a way for Brock to honour a man who has given so much of his time and energy to the institution over the many years.

I join with students, faculty and friends to honour the important work of Robert Welch and the dedication he has shown for education in Niagara and in Ontario.

Chancellor Robert S. K. Welch
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

The Speaker

I very rarely add anything to statements made by members, but I know Mr. Welch and it is an honour well deserved. He is one of the truly great people of that part of the country.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, we support that as well.

This week, as most Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving Day, Canadian farmers had little to celebrate. Devastated by conditions beyond their control, farmers have been hit by the worst farm income crisis in recent memory and they have been abandoned by this government.

This year thanksgiving did not make it to the farm. What did make it to the farm were record high input costs, record low commodity prices, increasing U.S. protectionism resulting in unjust tariffs against Canadian producers, bankruptcies that are erasing the next generation of family farms, and misguided and inadequate Liberal government contracts.

It is time to reform aid programs to deliver assistance to farmers in need. It is time to give farmers the freedom to market their products as they choose. It is time for a government that will stand up for the farmers at the international trade table.

Canadian farmers need help and they need it now. Farmers, and indeed all Canadians, need and deserve a government that will stand up for them and not this timid, tired government they have now.

Hazardous Waste
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the past five years hazardous waste imports from the United States into Ontario have nearly tripled. Such imports include explosive chemicals, solvents, arsenic, mercury, benzene and other substances that can pose a threat to public health and the environment.

Regulations in Ontario are such that United States companies find it cheaper to ship their hazardous waste to Ontario rather than dispose of it at home.

The federal government has signed the Basel convention and therefore has a responsibility for the safe disposal of hazardous waste coming across the border. Therefore I urge the Government of Canada to exercise its authority under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and set strict conditions on the imports of hazardous waste into Canada so as to ensure an environmentally safe disposal.

The Late Ross Hall
Statements By Members

October 14th, 1999 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with regret that I rise to inform the House of the passing of Ross Hall, a talented leader who died October 11 at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby.

Ross was a member of the Ontario legislature for the riding of Lincoln from 1975 to 1981 and chairman of the provincial caucus, mayor of Grimsby, and a Niagara councillor from 1982 to 1988. He was an active and dedicated leader of the community. He was a member of Trinity United Church, the finance chairman of both West Lincoln Memorial Hospital and Grimsby and District High School Board, as well as a member and vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees of Brock University.

He led by example and treated all with a sense of respect and understanding. His character was best described by his daughter, Trish Hall, when she said she will carry always the important lesson and advice her father once gave her: maintain your friendships; call your friends.

Our community has truly lost a model citizen. He will be missed. I ask hon. colleagues to please join with me in offering our sympathy to Ross' wife Alison and his family at this very difficult time.

The Late William Kaye Lamb
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Paul Forseth New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to commemorate the passing of William Kaye Lamb, librarian extraordinaire, who organized our nation's history as founder of the National Library of Canada.

Born on May 11, 1904 in New Westminster, British Columbia, he died August 24, 1999 in Vancouver at 95 years. He was an author and taught history at UBC. In 1934 he was appointed B.C. provincial archivist and in 1940 became UBC chief librarian.

Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in 1948 appointed him dominion archivist. Lamb then created the National Library and drafted the National Library Act of 1952. He proposed Canada's National Library and Archives which opened in 1967. Before retiring from the National Library in 1969, he oversaw the first computerized library catalogue in the country.

In his last days, a chief joy was sending out his trademark typewritten memos to fellow scholars. Though work took him all over the world, a piece of him will always be in Ottawa. He will be remembered as a British Columbian who was a great builder of Canada.

Auto Pact
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the World Trade Organization issued an interim ruling ordering Canada to scrap the auto pact, the latest casualty of the Liberal government's liberalization at any cost trade policy.

The auto pact is a model of fair managed trade providing auto manufacturers with duty free access to Canadian markets on the condition that they make significant investments in Canadian jobs and communities.

The auto pact has played a key role in the creation of family supporting jobs in the manufacturing sector. Auto companies working within the rules of the auto pact employ eight times as many workers in Canada as those who do not.

The Liberals say they care about the auto pact but it was these same Liberals who negotiated the rules which the WTO is now using to kill the auto pact. It was these same Liberals who assured Canadians that the auto pact would be safeguarded.

It is incumbent on the Liberals now to find a way to uphold the principles of the auto pact and support Canadian jobs. It must appeal the WTO ruling, rethink its uncritical and simplistic commitment to free trade, and failing all this, develop equivalent policies that reward auto manufacturers for investing in Canadian jobs and communities.