House of Commons Hansard #42 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was highway.

Topics

Business Of The House

10 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among all political parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That the House shall take up the Private Members' Business scheduled for today from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the House shall adjourn at the conclusion of Routine Proceedings later this day.

Business Of The House

10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed in such a fashion?

Business Of The House

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should establish a National Highway Policy in partnership with the provinces to ensure the long term viability of our national highway system in light of the nature of our country, our geography and our culture which demands a consistent and uniform highway system.

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand before the House today to debate Motion No. 102. I would like to point out that this is the last private member's motion of the century. I brought this motion to the House two and a half years ago and I always wondered why it was held up so long. I now know why. The best has been kept until the last. What a way to end the century by talking about a new highway system to lead us into the new millennium.

My motion is very simple. I call on the government to establish a funding program to restore and improve the national highway system. It has truly fallen into disarray over the last few years with no funding program in place, no long range planning, no planning at all and no arrangement for the provinces or anyone to plan ahead.

The present situation we have for funding highways in the country, which needs highways so desperately, is a very ad hoc system. Currently, the Department of Transport and the parliamentary transport committee estimate that it will take $17 billion to restore our highway system. This is not to improve it but just to restore it and make up for the money that has not been spent on the highways over the last seven or eight years.

It is agreed that approximately 38% to 40% of our national highway system is now in a declined situation, which is not up to standard and not acceptable. Seven hundred and ninety bridges on our national highway system have been identified as in need of major strengthening and repair. There are no current funding programs available. This is the situation we presently have in the country.

The old policy we had up until approximately 1993-94 was a program where the federal government would sign agreements with the provinces on an ad hoc basis. They would negotiate them one-on-one and come up with a 50:50 program to fund highways in some provinces but not do the same thing in others. This was very inconsistent and very short term with no long range planning. It did not allow the provinces to plan for communities, traffic patterns, or to take advantage of our free trade programs and everything else that we have established in the country and that are so important.

What is wrong with not having a highway funding program? I want to hone in on Atlantic Canada for a minute because it is a true example of what can happen without a highway funding program.

In Atlantic Canada, with no money to build highways and no program, the provinces got creative and established toll highways in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. These two provinces target the traffic from other provinces for revenues to their coffers. A lot of people have complained about these toll projects. It is not just a matter of paying the toll. Part of the deal for both the highway in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is that the legislatures in their respective provinces passed legislation to prevent people from using public highways that ran parallel to the toll highway. Even though the taxpayers pay for these highways, they cannot use them. They are forced onto the toll highways by legislation even though these are provincially and federally funded highways that were built decades ago. This is very offensive to the people. This is not only offensive to the people and to me, but also to all three auditor generals. The auditor general of New Brunswick, the auditor general of Nova Scotia and even the Auditor General of Canada have taken exception to these things.

The auditor general of Nova Scotia was the first to point out the problems. He blew the whistle on the Nova Scotia toll highway when two ministers, one federal and one provincial, transferred $26 million from the federal-provincial highway program to their own ridings. I will not go into the details, but the auditor general blew the whistle and forced them to put the money back into the highway fund.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:05 a.m.

An hon. member

Was that Dave Dingwall?

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

It was Dave Dingwall, and Ritchie Mann who was the minister of transportation in the province of Nova Scotia. They transferred these funds in a very inappropriate manner and the auditor general of Nova Scotia blew the whistle.

The federal auditor general has also blown the whistle on toll highways. The auditor general has written a whole book on the highway program in general but on the toll highways in particular. It goes on and on and lists different things that were done and not done and that should not have been done.

Here are a couple of comments the auditor general made. “Transport Canada has failed to exercise the controls entrenched in the agreements under which these investments were made. We found that it has failed to discharge the leadership responsibility to co-ordinate information for the government on federal highway spending overall”. In other words, the federal auditor general said that it was chaos. He honed in particularly on the toll highways in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Just two weeks ago, the auditor general of New Brunswick joined the auditor general of Nova Scotia and the Auditor General of Canada. In his report he accuses the provincial Liberal government of New Brunswick of not even giving adequate consideration to options or anything else, that it just dove into this toll highway system for entirely political purposes. The auditor general has listed a long range of failings in the New Brunswick highway deal.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:05 a.m.

An hon. member

Wasn't that Doug Young?

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Yes. The report of the New Brunswick auditor general, Daryl Wilson, yesterday leaves little doubt that the former Liberal government painted itself into a corner with the Moncton to Fredericton and Moncton to Saint John toll highway deal by failing to explore several alternative options. Again, when there are no federal funding programs, no national standards and no set of rules to follow, the provinces will get creative.

We have two inappropriate deals in Atlantic Canada, one in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick. Again I say, this is not only me finding fault, it is all three auditor generals. There are no more auditor generals to find fault with it. Everyone of them have found fault with these programs. That is what happens when we do not have a federal funding program.

The problem is really serious now. It is getting to the point where action has to be taken. Two years ago, the minister said that highway refunding was a top priority for him, but he has done nothing about it. As I said earlier, 38% of Canada's national highway system is now deemed in need of major repair, estimated at $17 billion.

Why do we have this problem? For one thing, highways do not deteriorate on a straight line basis. They stay solid for some time. When they start to deteriorate, they deteriorate quickly. If they are not maintained, they will go beyond the point of no repair and then must be replaced. Because there has been very little maintenance in the last five or six years on highways in Canada, we find ourselves with some very serious problems.

Another reason is that there has been no funding program for the last five years. I believe the last programs were signed by the Conservatives. I am not sure of that, but I think that is exactly right.

The next government policy that has caused these problems is the policy to reduce the number of trains that take heavy freight and heavy tariffs from coast to coast. By reducing the train routes and tearing up short lines all over the country, it has forced traffic and goods onto the highways. This means bigger trucks, more trucks and more damage to the highways. That is another government policy that has built on this.

Another one is simply that the international truck traffic has tripled in 10 years, up 300%. Again, that means more trucks, bigger trucks, more damage, worn out highways, rutted highways, broken highways and unsafe highways. Although I talked about Atlantic Canada a lot earlier, this is not only Atlantic Canada. I have just picked a couple of highways that are particularly infamous for their problems.

Quebec highway 75 from Quebec City to Chicoutimi is an example of a very dangerous highway. This highway has not been fixed and instead of fixing it, they have increased the policing to make sure people go real slow because the highway is deficient, not adequate and cannot handle the traffic.

In Alberta, highway 2 south and highway 1 east, which was designed for much less traffic than they experience now, cannot handle it.

Then, of course, there is the infamous highway 401 in Windsor where there have been so many tragic accidents. Even in the new territory of Nunavut, there is no road link and no highway system at all. This is an issue that goes coast to coast, involves every province and every territory.

When I was first assigned the duty of transport critic, I wrote every minister of transportation in every province and asked them what their number one problem was. Every single one of them who answered said that highway funding was the number one problem.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:10 a.m.

An hon. member

Potholes.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Potholes, right. Potholes on the road to the millennium.

The auditor general also agrees that it is the number one problem. He confirmed that it will take $17 billion to restore, not improve, our highway system to a standard that is acceptable.

Two years ago, the minister laid out highway spending as his number one priority. It has not happened. Nothing has happened. There have been Department of Transport studies and even Federation of Canadian Municipalities studies. A couple of years ago, the transport committee wrote a very indepth report stating that the highways needed a great deal of repair.

It is interesting that even the Liberal members of parliament, about a month ago, wrote a report called “Catching Tomorrow's Wave”, calling for government investment in highways. They condemned toll highways. These were written by Atlantic Canadian members of parliament. I do not know where they were when the Liberals were building these toll highways, but we did not hear anything from them then. Now they have discovered that those highways are not good for the economy and are not an appropriate way to fund highways.

Our number one competitor in the global economy has recognized the problem. The United States has just recently identified and dedicated $36 billion only over six years to improve the system.

Where we are is that we do not have a system at all. Our system is in disarray. Our highway funding system was abandoned years ago. Our competitors are getting ahead of us and that is where we are.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:10 a.m.

An hon. member

Where's the gasoline tax in this?

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

My proposal is very simple and it does involve the gasoline and diesel tax. It amounts to dedicating 15% of the gas and diesel oil tax to a highway funding pool. This pool would be available to the provinces on the condition that they match it dollar for dollar. In this way, it is user pay because the taxes are only paid for by the people who buy gas and diesel oil. It will leave 85% for the Minister of Finance to put in general revenues. It will allow long term planning by the provinces so they can plan five, ten and fifteen years ahead and know they will have funding available.

A tax of 15% on gas and diesel fuel yields about $700 million a year. If that is matched with the provinces' equal contribution, it would come to about $1.4 billion a year to go into highways. Spread over 10 to 12 years, that would restore our highway system, our bridges and our main transportation system to the level it should be as identified by the auditor general.

It would not mean any new taxes. It would provide safe highways. It would make us globally competitive and would certainly address our transportation needs. User pay is politically acceptable. It is a great plan. It is nice and simple. I advocate this as my proposal.

Before I close my remarks, I wish everybody a merry Christmas and a happy new year to the staff, all members of parliament here today and all citizens watching on television.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:15 a.m.

Thunder Bay—Atikokan
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the issue of national highway policy.

The motion by the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester is another indication of the importance that Canadians attach to our national highway system. Indeed, the concern about Canada's surface transportation infrastructure is shared by all. Ensuring the mobility of persons and goods across Canada is critical to the quality of life for individual Canadians and to maintaining Canada's competitiveness in the global economy.

Historically the highway system has played a major role in the development of the Canadian economy. The recent Speech from the Throne credited our highway system, along with other achievements such as the national railway, the postal system and national cultural institutions, for providing the foundations for our quality of life.

The Prime Minister also touched on this aspect in his response to the Speech from the Throne. He mentioned that Canada has been characterized as a triumph of will over geography and economics. This is indeed true of Canada's surface transportation system. The building of the Trans-Canada Highway and the railway system are the most obvious examples.

Highways are indeed the backbone of Canada's transportation systems. Highways, roads and streets play a vital role in Canada's internal trade and international commerce, from the initial shipment of raw material to the delivery of final products to the market.

Studies show that highways support about 90% of all intercity passenger trips and 75% of Canadian freight shipments by value. Approximately 4.5 billion vehicle kilometres of this travel occur on the national highway system.

The importance of transportation to our industrial sector is indisputable. In particular, transportation represents a large portion of the export costs of traditional Canadian commodities; for example, 45% for coal exports and 30% for lumber exports.

We all know that highway infrastructure is very costly to build and maintain. We also are aware that the existing system is deteriorating rapidly and that rehabilitation costs will continue to rise the longer we delay our efforts.

The challenge before governments is to ensure a proper balance between a safe and efficient surface transportation system versus other competing government priorities. We need to acknowledge that significant benefits can be gained from such strategic investments.

The council of ministers responsible for transportation and highway safety commissioned a multi-year national highway policy study in 1987. This study established a national highway system, which accounts for approximately 24,400 kilometres of Canada's existing highways.

The study also concluded that the estimated cost of upgrading this national highway system amounted to approximately $14 billion in 1992.

In June 1997 a federal-provincial-territorial working group, again under the auspices of the council of ministers for transportation and highway safety, was formed to update the 1988 national highway policy study. The new study, entitled “National Highway System—Condition and Investment Needs Update”, was released in December 1998. The study found that federal-provincial-territorial governments had invested over $8 billion in capital improvements in the national highway system since 1988 and that annual expenditures on the system were currently twice the levels reported in 1988.

The study concluded that despite a doubling of annual expenditures in the last decade, and correction to some of the deficiencies of the system, the condition of the national highway system had not improved significantly. When measured against the same standards used in 1988, the length of the system judged to be deficient had increased by 30%.

The cost of correcting the identified current deficiencies of the national highway system was estimated at $17.4 billion in 1998, an increase of over $3 billion in less than 10 years.

In support of increased funding to rehabilitate the national highway system, the study provided an indication of the benefits that would accrue from an upgraded highway system. Over a 25 year horizon, the expected present values of benefits of the highway system investment program were estimated to exceed $30 billion, comprised of $22 billion in travel time savings, $5.8 billion in highway safety improvements, $2.9 billion in reduced vehicle operating costs and $1.3 billion in network benefits.

Reduced congestion and improved highway conditions could be expected to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents by up to 247 per year and injury accidents by up to 16,000 per year.

Improving the national highway system would also be expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 236 million litres per year.

The study further indicated that a review of literature and international experience provided strong evidence that investment in highways can generate significant productivity growth and support economic development.

Although they have jurisdictional responsibility over most of the national highway system, the provinces and territories have indicated that their governments cannot fully fund the repairs and improvements that are urgently needed. They have asked the federal government for financial assistance to help preserve and develop the existing highway system. This is something which I know the Minister of Transport has been seriously studying.

At the recent annual conference in Quebec City in August, premiers and territorial leaders called on the federal government to initiate an infrastructure improvement program in which highways would be a major component.

The August 11 communique enunciated six principles for an infrastructure investment program. The premiers and territorial leaders indicated that infrastructure investment should be flexible enough to address other transportation priorities, such as trade corridors, border crossings, intermodal facilities, urban transit and intelligent transportation systems.

In his August 11 press release in response, the Minister of Transport welcomed the agreement by the premiers and territorial leaders on the development and maintenance of a strong infrastructure base, with transportation as a key component. He indicated that the development of a strategy to renew Canada's national transportation infrastructure in a sustainable fashion has been a top priority for him.

The minister agreed that governments should look beyond the rehabilitation of key highways of national significance. He also agreed with the need to address other transportation issues, such as those identified by the premiers and territorial leaders.

Discussions concerning highway investments have also taken place at the federal level. In June 1996 the Standing Committee on Transport received a reference from the House of Commons to study the economic relationship, efficiencies and linkages among transportation, trade and tourism.

Recognizing that highway transportation will remain the dominant mode in support of Canada's economic activities, the committee chose to focus primarily on the renewal of our national highway system and its relationship to trade and tourism.

In its final report, submitted in February 1997, the Standing Committee on Transport recommended that the federal government make a long term commitment of at least the current level of annual federal expenditures on highways to finance a national highway renewal program.

Members on both sides of the House know that the issue of tolls has been a major concern for the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester. I would like to inform the House that a great deal of work has been done on this issue this past summer.

Officials from Transport Canada have been exploring with their provincial and territorial counterparts the terms and conditions of a proposed highway toll policy that would be applicable when the federal government contributes to a particular highway project. If and when federal highway funding becomes available, the minister would be prepared to outline a policy on tolls.

As the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester is aware, the recent Speech from the Throne announced a five year infrastructure program to improve physical infrastructure in both urban and rural regions across Canada. The Speech from the Throne clearly identified transportation infrastructure as a component of this program, but it is too early in the process to speculate on details. What is quite evident is that the $17 billion needs of the national highway system are far in excess of what the federal and provincial governments can collectively address.

Furthermore, when combined with the needs for other infrastructure programs, such as roads, bridges, transit, sewer, water, tourism and so on, funding requirements for the entire system are really significant.

Both the Speech from the Throne and the Prime Minister's speech in response stressed the need for collaboration as the issues facing our diverse society grow in their complexity. The Prime Minister stated that the role of a national government today is to represent the future to the present. It is to focus on those areas where it can make a real difference.

The development and maintenance of a strong basic infrastructure, as well as a knowledge infrastructure, is a key component of a competitive economy for the 21st century. All aspects of the infrastructure plan must be well planned to meet the needs of the modern economy.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 102, presented by my hon. colleague from Cumberland—Colchester.

I appreciate the sentiment of my colleague's motion, but I really do not think it goes far enough. It views our highway system as a parochial system. Going into a new century, we have to look at what is really needed, and that is a seamless, integrated, continental transportation policy. Canada has to be a player in the development of that policy. There is no doubt that highways are a key component of this integrated transportation continental system.

I am a little concerned. Once again we have heard the parliamentary secretary speak about the studies; the years of studies that governments, provincial and federal, have been doing. I believe that Canadians want us to stop the studies. We have all the information that we need. Let us get on with improving our highway system.

Our Trans-Canada Highway is the counterpart for the American interstate highway program. The commitment that the U.S. federal government has made to its highway program is in the neighbourhood of $218 billion over six years, and it is financing the program through gas taxes.

In our country the government does not transfer the revenues that are collected through gas taxes to the transportation system, to the highway system and to the users, the people who pay the tax to the system they use.

We are talking about commercial traffic, which has increased, as my colleague has said, 300 times or 30 times or 3 times. The number is irrelevant. The system is gridlocked because of the increase in commercial traffic. It is not only commercial traffic; it is also tourist traffic. In Canada we encourage tourism. It is one of our largest industries. Tourists must be able to access those things that we are selling. There is growth in commercial traffic, there is growth in tourist traffic, and the government is studying the issue.

We need to talk about reality. Government last year collected $4.5 billion in gas tax, but it spent only $150 million on highways. That is 3% of the revenue that was generated.

Our current highway system is dilapidated and dangerous. When polled, 83% of Canadians identified safety as the number one issue when talking about the national highway system. They feel that their personal safety is at risk when they travel our national highways. That is a shame.

We only have to look at Highway 17, which is 30 miles west of Ottawa. It is part of our national highway system. It is called the killer strip because of all the fatal accidents that happen at the point where the lanes go from four to two.

In February 1997, when considering the national highway renewal strategy, the transport committee found that upgrading the system would reduce traffic fatalities by 4% and prevent an additional 2,300 personal injury accidents. If we were to transpose that into our health care system, the savings would be astronomical.

The report states that every dollar invested in safety related road improvements would save $2.70 in crash costs. That is not in health costs; that is in crash costs.

For six years the government has been talking about infrastructure, but rather than putting money into our transportation infrastructure it chose to put the money into such things as recreational facilities like bocce courts.

Now I ask, how does a bocce court give a foundation to the economic well-being of our country? It is nice to have those recreation facilities and they are needed in communities, but the priority of the federal government should not be in recreation facilities. It should be in maintaining and improving our national highway system which leads into a continental highway system and which increases our economic output and the economic stability of our country.

Highways are not just pavement. They are an integral part of our economy and the continental economy we have developed through the free trade agreement and NAFTA.

It is getting to the point where the government can no longer delay. I was at a conference in Niagara. There was great concern over the congestion in that part of Ontario that services the free trade agreement and NAFTA commerce over the Ambassador Bridge, the Peace Bridge, Fort Erie and all those areas. The gridlock that is occurring in that part of Ontario around Toronto, Sarnia and Windsor is starting to create not only hazards but delays and congestion that costs all of us consumers money.

It is also costing the environment. When trucks are lined up trying to go over a bridge or trying to get from point A to point B , they are idling and putting a lot of emissions into the air. I would think that from an environmental point of view improving our highways would certainly be advantageous.

Part of our transportation system also includes urban areas. That congestion in urban areas has to be dealt with as well. Highway 401 is one of the busiest stretches, if not the busiest highway in the world. Traffic has increased dramatically, especially the truck traffic, but the infrastructure has not increased or changed at all.

A person can now drive from Toronto to Miami and hit only 14 stoplights. Thirteen of them are in Windsor. If we could spend some energy on trying to get that flow of traffic going, I am sure the economic benefits to our country would be enormous.

The government announced in its throne speech that it was finally going to do something, but it is talking about spending the next year, 2000, talking to the various players and the provinces before it actually does anything or spends any money. That is not good enough.

It is time that the federal government sat down with provincial and municipal governments and worked out an integrated, seamless, transportation policy that includes all levels of government and the various modes of transportation. We need to think planes, trains and automobiles as well as ships and put them all into one transportation policy. We need to figure out how they can enhance each other, how they can be made more efficient and how they can operate on a continental basis rather than on a country basis.

That is why we in the official opposition are calling for the federal government to work with the provinces, the municipalities and the private sector, as well as our NAFTA partners to plan, to implement and to figure out some way of funding a seamless, integrated continental transportation system for the 21st century.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois on Motion No. 102 put forward by the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester.

First, I want to say that this motion should be deemed admissible only if it is agreed that Quebec would oversee the new policy being promoted in the motion.

Quebec has a comprehensive transportation policy with very specific priorities and goals. Members may remember the meeting of Canada's premiers held in Quebec City last autumn and hosted by the premier of Quebec, Lucien Bouchard. The premiers unanimously agreed to ask the federal government to start reinvesting in a national highway strategy. They did not ask the federal government to intrude in areas of provincial jurisdiction but only wanted Ottawa to do its share where the national highway system is concerned.

Some of the highways in my area of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean lead outside our region. I am referring to highway 175 as well as highway 169 in the Parc des Laurentides. I have often put questions to the Minister of Transport in this House and I have sent him letters asking him to reinvest in this national highway.

Since 1996 the Canadian government has refused to renew the strategic highway improvement program. In Quebec, half of the costs of this program were covered by the province and the other half by the federal government. Ottawa did not renew its financial contribution.

Like the former Quebec transport minister, Jacques Brassard, and the current Quebec transport minister, Guy Chevrette, I have asked the transport minister again and again to renew the program. Each time, the Minister of Transport's answer was that we needed a national agreement. There was national agreement at the last meeting of the premiers and leaders of the territories.

I do not understand why this government always ignores every region's concerns about the infrastructure necessary for regional development.

Many years ago, this government stopped subsidizing the railways. What happened? An increasing number of heavy trucks travel our highways. Heavy trucks crowd our highways. Access is more difficult and there are fewer opportunities because our system was not really designed to handle the effects of globalization, as I said, in the Parc des Laurentides.

This government withdrew its financial support for railways, airports and shipping. What happened? All major firms are now shipping their products by truck.

Highways are under provincial jurisdiction. This government withdrew from an area where it should have been working with the provinces.

I think the proposal is the obvious solution but I encourage the member to demand that the government let the provinces implement the agreement, which is part of his proposal.

We will have to stop thinking that the government has the authority to intrude in all areas under provincial jurisdiction. Ottawa needs to understand what the provinces expect from it. It collects taxes in each and every province, so it needs to contribute to highway improvement.

I must say that I will support the proposal provided the provinces are in charge of its implementation. I hope the government will listen to us. In 1998, all provincial transport ministers submitted a five-year proposal to the federal Minister of Transport. It was a comprehensive proposal whereby, over a five-year period, the federal government and the provinces would have invested $16 billion in a joint national highway building and improvement plan.

Once again, the government, through the Minister of Transport, told the provinces that they would have to talk to their finance ministers and their premiers. It is always the same old song we get from the government through the Minister of Transport.

As we move toward the new millennium, the government is bragging about the astronomical surpluses it is expecting after slashing transfers to the provinces and bleeding the middle class dry. It has refused to index the tax tables. It grabbed the EI surpluses, which actually belong to workers and employers.

I think the federal government must start acting and stop prevaricating constantly adding new conditions to the legitimate and justifiable requests of the provinces and the population of this country.

I hope this motion will serve as a wake-up call to the government, whose ears must be stopped up. I think it is normal and that the provinces ought to have full jurisdiction. Then and only then will I be able to support the motion of my hon. colleague.

I want to take the opportunity to wish all my hon. colleagues in this House and everyone listening to the debate a happy new year and a very pleasant holiday season.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, I commend my hon. colleague from Cumberland—Colchester on his motion. Numerous members have talked today about the substandard highways we are dealing with and about the disrepair of our highways, that it is going to take $17 billion to bring them back to where they should be. For example, there should be four lanes when the traffic warrants so we do not have the killer highway that is just outside of Ottawa.

There is no question that people nationwide realize there is a problem. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been pushing to have dollars go into a national highway policy as well as into assistance with other infrastructure and highways throughout the country. The government has failed to do that.

This is another area in which the government lacks any vision whatsoever. It lacks any sound vision as to where Canada should be going. It is literally letting the nation fall apart in front of us with the underfunding of health care, the underfunding of education, with the EI surplus where dollars have been taken away from the EI fund and from the unemployed, those not able to get enough work. Money has been taken from the Canada pension plan. The government sings its praises on a wonderful surplus but fails to put anything back into the country.

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester indicates it would be done with the partnership of the provinces. I do not think there is any question that if we are going to have a nation where the people can go from one end to the other, whether it be north, south, east, west, in any direction they choose to go, they need to feel comfortable and safe when they are travelling our highway system. They want to know that when they go through Saskatchewan there will be safe roads, that when they hit Manitoba they can continue on the same. They do not want to hit that provincial boundary and say, “Now we are going through New Brunswick, we are going to hit a toll highway, we are going to have to pay for it and my taxpayer dollars have already done that”.

They want to know that highway is safe. In order to not pay to go on that highway they will have to go on an unsafe road.

Canadians deserve to feel safe throughout the country, and they have in the past, but over the last 10 or 15 years it has gradually deteriorated. The point I want to make in that regard is it started during the time that the party of the member for Cumberland—Colchester was the government of the country. It failed to put funding in place as well. I do not want him to feel that it is all hunky-dory and rosy on his side over there and just blame it on the other side because they are both at fault.

Both those parties have failed when they had the opportunity to ensure that funding was there. If they want to use the gas taxes, by all means let them do it. In the past my party and I have not supported dedicated taxes. However, government time and time again does not put dollars into services and infrastructure. Then we start to think that we need legislation which says the government has to put money there. It will have to do that. It has failed to show Canadian people a true commitment to providing for the country, to ensuring that the dollars are going where they should be going.

Canadians do not argue about paying taxes. I do not know about the people here, but if I pay my taxes and education is there, health care is there, and we have decent roads and decent services, we will not hear Canadians complaining. They do not mind paying for what they get.

We all work hard and we do not want everything for nothing. We will pay our taxes but we want services in return. When our money goes to the federal government and we do not get it back in any kind of service that is when we get disgruntled. That is when we get parties like the Reform Party saying “Scrap the taxes. Scrap everything”.

What did the hon. member from the Reform Party say? No money is to go into recreational facilities. Can hon. members imagine putting no money into recreational facilities? It is common knowledge that every dollar spent in recreational facilities for youth in our communities will save $7 in the future on problems that may result from children not having somewhere to go and getting into lives of crime because they do not have things to do. When they become adults a good number of them will end up in jail because they did not have enough things to do when they were younger. This blanket statement of no funding for recreational facilities is wrong.

We need a cohesive country where we have dollars supporting all these different programs: infrastructure, recreational facilities, highways and post-secondary education. We need funding in all those areas.

Although I commend the hon. member and support his motion, I wanted to make those points. We had a much similar debate just a few weeks ago with the suggestion of dedicated taxes. As I said, the problems are there. There is probably about a $17 billion cost to improve our national highway structure. We certainly need a national highway policy and we need a national transportation policy. There is no question. We heard it all here today. With all of us knowing it, surely some good can come out of the discussion we have had over and over again and we will see the government make a real commitment to the country.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, this is the last day of the 1900s and to end it in Private Members' Business with a discussion on roads is one of the most significant moments in this parliament, because this parliament has demonstrated throughout this century that it is one of the finest political institutions in the world and one of the most democratic.

With the permission of the member for Cumberland—Colchester, I would like to make a few remarks that pertain more to the end of the millennium than they do to roads. Some years ago I found myself alone travelling in Tunisia and I came across a ruined Roman city in the mountains, right on the edge of the mountains in Tunisia, next to the desert. This city probably had a population of about 20,000 or 30,000 and it was far more dramatic than Pompeii.

For those Canadians who may have travelled in north Africa, they will know that the Roman ruins and Roman cities are very well preserved in north Africa. One can actually walk down the streets of these cities and feel as though one is back 2,000 years, because the streets are there, the shops are there and the aqueducts are there. The only thing that is missing is the people.

I point out that 2,000 years ago the world was not that much different than it is today. In fact, there are eerie coincidences between the state of the world 2,000 years ago and the state we find the world in today. I point out that at that time, the time of the city that I walked through, Rome ruled the world. Rome was the superpower and from Rome it ruled all the civilized world. Roman culture was everywhere.

I point out that we have the same type of situation now, 2,000 years later, when we have another superpower, the United States, that not only is its political influence felt everywhere but so too is its cultural influence. That was precisely the situation that existed 2,000 years ago.

Indeed Rome was known for its military might. Not only was it tremendously far advanced in the military technology of the day, in the type of weapons the Roman soldiers used and the catapults and the other kinds of siege weapons that the Romans had developed, but it had a tremendous martial spirit so the quality of its soldiers was what basically kept the peace in the world of 2,000 years ago.

We cannot help but be struck by the parallel that the United States again has a similar military power, an all pervasive military power. Yet we have to remember that pervasive military power has been tested, as it was later in Rome, in places like Yugoslavia and Somalia.

What has been found, as was the case 2,000 years ago, is that all the military technology in the world does not save a nation when it has problems with its soldiers losing the esprit de corps, shall we say, and that happened in Rome. We see that again happening in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia where despite all the technology the Americans and the United Nations, if you will, were not able to control the type of independence movement that occurred in these countries. Indeed, that is precisely what happened in the Roman world.

Then we had a kind of global free trade 2,000 years ago.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order to ask a question of relevance here. If this individual is speaking on a national highway's program, I fail to see the connection.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I understand the hon. member's point of order but, as the hon. member said earlier, he has the contentment of the member for Cumberland—Colchester to deviate a bit from the subject.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Wentworth—Burlington, ON

I am sorry that the Reform Party takes such an attitude when this is a very historic moment. I will go quickly through it.

Two thousand years ago global free trade existed. It is what we had in the Roman world, tremendous prosperity because based on Rome the entire world was in a situation where trade was centred on Rome and Rome became very wealthy but prosperity existed all around the Mediterranean rim.

I suggest to you, Madam Speaker, we have precisely the same situation now. We remember what happened to Rome. Eventually global free trade in Roman times collapsed. I suggest to you, Madam Speaker, we have to remember as we go into the next millennium that what we see before us in terms of global free trade is only temporary. We should be worried as Canadians and people of the world of the consequences when eventually global free trade collapses in this world in this millennium. We will see it, I am sure, in the coming years.

We also have the parallel of climate change. Two thousand years ago in the Roman world in north Africa the desert was green. Of course the reason why the cities are empty in north Africa is that there was a major climate change that occurred after the year 2000.

Finally is the parallel and so singular between 2,000 years ago and today is the fact that 2,000 years ago there was a vacuum in religion. There was a vacuum in organized religion. They accepted gods as being set aside for the rationalism of Hellenistic Greece, of Aristotle. We know that the world as it existed then had fragmented into cults and we know then that led to the foundation 2,000 years ago of two great religions, because 2,000 years ago was the birth of Jesus Christ and a few centuries later Muhammad arrived on the scene and we now, 2,000 years later, have two great religions of the world.

I just wanted to take note that we are entering into the new millennium. It is an exciting new millennium and I think that this country of all the countries is the best suited for it because we leave this century stronger than when we began. I believe our democracy and this parliament has demonstrated with the civility of our debate, even in the independence questions, that we are a model to the rest of the world and that we stand the best chances—

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, again we have switched Speakers. I welcome you back to the chair. I want to say how pleased and honoured I am to be sponsoring the last private member's motion of the century. It is even called Motion No. 102. Highway 102 goes through my riding, which is kind of coincidental.

The hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington questioned whether his speech was relevant. He was talking about the roads of 2,000 years ago. I thought that was relevant because a lot of the time when I am on the highways in Nova Scotia they feel as if they are 2,000 years old, considering the condition they are in. That is why we are here today to talk about a federal-provincial funding program for highways.

As a coincidence, in my previous presentation I talked about toll highways. While I was speaking, the new premier of New Brunswick, the honourable Bernard Lord, announced that he agreed in principle with the highway development company, Maritime Road Development, the company of former minister Doug Young. They have agreed in principle to take the tolls off the New Brunswick roads which is a big step, considering the auditor general's reports both federally and provincially are against this concept. That leaves Nova Scotia with the only toll highway left on the Trans-Canada Highway.

During some of the comments I was thinking that there should be a caution sign at the beginning of any toll highway in Nova Scotia for politicians that reads tolls can be hazardous to our health. In New Brunswick the Liberals put tolls on the Trans-Canada Highway and they were soundly defeated in the next election. In Nova Scotia the Liberals put tolls on a highway and in the next election they were soundly defeated. In Nova Scotia there were 11 federal Liberal MPs before the last election and they were all defeated. A government should be very careful before it puts tolls on highways in Canada.

I want to come back to the point that we definitely need a highway funding program. We need a national transportation system program that the provinces and all parties involved can use for long range planning; predicting the future; planning their communities, their routes, safety issues and certainly pollution issues; and planning all other things that are appropriate.

As I said in the motion, because of our geography it is of the utmost importance for Canada to have a proper transportation system, especially a national highway system. It should be a priority, as the minister has said over and over again, but he has not done anything about it.

In closing this debate we urge the minister to make it a priority and actually do something about it because there is a total vacuum of transportation policy with respect to our national highway system.

I thank all colleagues from all parties for participating in the debate. I really appreciate it. We have heard some excellent debate and some excellent ideas. I wish one and all a merry Christmas and a happy new year and a great century.

National Highway Policy
Private Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The time provided for consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. The order is dropped from the order paper.

Canada
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, as we prepare to close down, I would like to wish a happy holiday to all the people of Canada.

In particular, I would like to invite the sovereignists to take the time to reflect, more specifically to reflect on this opportunity and privilege we all have to live in such a great country, such a free country, a county with so much to be shared, to reflect on the reality, recognized the world over, of Canada's strengths: economic, social and cultural.

My wish to the sovereignists is that they may open their eyes and realize, finally, that our freedom is a treasure, one we must guard jealously, for fear of losing it forever.

I wish the sovereignists a happy holiday season.

Festival Of Eid Ul-Fitr
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, since early December, Muslims in Canada have been fasting during this month of Ramadan, a month of blessing marked by prayers and charity.

I have had the honour of joining in the celebrations over the years. The Muslim community has made a tremendous contribution in enriching Canada. Their involvement with other Canadians in academic, professional, artistic and cultural sectors is what has helped make Canada the number one country in the world.

Ramadan ends with the Festival of Eid Ul-Fitr which means breaking the fast. Eid is celebrated after the sighting of the new crescent on the previous evening. As Eid falls in January and the House of Commons will be closed, I take this opportunity on behalf of the Leader of the Official Opposition and members of the Reform Party to wish all Muslims “Eid Mubarak”.

I would also like to extend to all Canadians season's greetings, and on the dawn of the new millennium, our best wishes.

Dr. Wilbert Keon
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness we learned yesterday that Dr. Wilbert Keon resigned as the director of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Dr. Keon was born and raised in my riding in the beautiful town of Sheenboro. He followed his brother's footsteps in the medical profession and is today a world renowned heart specialist.

We have all met people who have been helped either by Dr. Keon himself or by the skilful team he helped train at the heart institute which he founded. In my own family, Dr. Keon operated on two of my brothers, one as recently as last June.

To Dr. Keon, his wife Anne and his family, we offer our support in this difficult time.

Dr. Wilbert Keon
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, I very rarely intervene but I agree with you wholeheartedly. Dr. Keon is a treasure to us in Canada. I hope that he will not give up his responsibilities and will keep going working for us here in this country.

Family Service Canada
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to share with Canadians the great work being performed by the fine group of people at Family Service Canada.

As an advocacy group, they work with service agencies, governments, corporations, unions and parents. Together they are developing a strong and lasting commitment to ensure the well-being of our children. They also work to provide important information on leadership, training and resources to meet the changing demands of our constituents.

Every year one way in which Family Service Canada draws attention to the needs, achievements and diversities of Canadian families is through National Family Week. The United Nations has declared the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace. This will be the theme used by Family Service Canada to celebrate the coming National Family Week.

I ask all members to support the wonderful work of Family Service Canada.

Wilmot Township
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, today it is an honour for me to rise and advise my colleagues of a significant event in the township of Wilmot located in my great riding of Waterloo—Wellington in the heart of Ontario.

The residents of Wilmot township will celebrate its 150th anniversary in the year 2000. Wilmot township holds a special place in my heart and my family's history. I was born, raised and still live on the family farm, my ancestors having first settled there in 1827. I also served there as a municipal councillor and as mayor of the municipality.

The 150th anniversary celebrations will include the opening of the Oasis in the Centre Park. This park will be located on the site of the original town hall where in 1850 my great-great-grandfather served as the first Clerk.

Not only will the park commemorate the history of the township by providing a place to reflect on the rich heritage of the township, but also the park will serve as a place to contemplate the yet unwritten history of the next millennium.

I would ask all my colleagues to join me in this great celebration and applaud the township of Wilmot on its 150th anniversary.

Volunteers
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise with my heart filled with gratitude for a large segment of our society that contributes in a significant way to this being the best country in the world in which to live.

I am referring to caring, compassionate individuals who unselfishly donate their time, their energy, their skills and often financial support to support worthy community endeavours. It is this group with representatives from every segment of our society who create a meaningful spirit of community.

When people help people without expectation for remuneration, we are witnessing the purest form of brotherly love. I am referring to the countless number of volunteers we find in every community from coast to coast to coast.

On behalf of the government and my fellow colleagues in the House of Commons and all Canadians, we wish them the very best. May the spirit prosper and prevail.

Birds Of A Feather
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, at the Calgary Zoo today the environment minister will be pointing out some endangered species that are moving toward extinction, particularly in Calgary. He will likely be pointing out that the dodo bird is gone but a related species, the Joe-Joe bird, is also nearing extinction.

The Joe-Joe bird, sometimes called the Clark, is more comfortable nesting in the capital region, but it has recently attempted a migration to the west. Strange, self-destructive behaviour is unique to this bird particularly in the west. The top down feeding approach of the Joe-Joe bird means it can never contact the grassroots which is so essential for nourishment in the west. The future does not look good for the Joe-Joe bird.

I hope the environment minister does not fail to mention the great similarity between the Joe-Joe bird and the gobbling Grit goose. The Grit goose is like the Joe-Joe bird in that its behaviour threatens its survival. The Grit goose takes from others and overeats to the point where it cannot move and eventually dies from its own weight. Surprisingly, the eggs that are laid by the Joe-Joe bird and the Grit goose are so similar that we cannot tell them apart.

Perhaps some endangered species are not worth saving. The loss of these two might actually help the Canadian environment.

Gm Plant In Boisbriand
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, General Motors of Boisbriand has just been awarded the prix Grande mention in the major manufacturing category. This prize was awarded by the Quebec department of industry and commerce.

To quote the mayor of Boisbriand, “This award is a tribute to the efforts of the 1,500 men and women who work in this plant to provide the consumer with a truly top quality product”.

Yet imagine, these skilled workers are likely to end up jobless before long, because the plant is scheduled to close down within months, despite the efforts of the Government of Quebec.

Will this situation finally strike a chord with the federal government? Given the human and economic aspects of the situation, and the fact that public funds have been invested in maintaining these jobs, I again strongly urge the federal government to assume its responsibilities. Time is of the essence.

Holiday Message
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, the holiday season is a time when Canadians gather to renew the cherished bonds of family and friendship; to look back on the year and indeed the century coming to a close; to look ahead with anticipation to the new year and the next millennium that beckons. Most important, it is a time to reflect on our many blessings as a people and our nation.

Let us be thankful for our prosperity, our matchless natural beauty, our rich diversity, above all, our sense that we are truly a family and that Canada is our home. No matter where we live we care about each other and work together. That is our proud history and our bright future.

May the goodwill of the season inspire us to embrace both the challenges and opportunities ahead with spirit and enthusiasm, to keep a special place in our thoughts for those of our Canadian families who are less fortunate and to reach out to them during the holidays and in the year to come.

House Of Commons
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the official opposition to thank the staff of the House of Commons for their hard work and dedication to this institution.

We are all charged with the responsibility of protecting and promoting the Canadian democratic process. Each of us plays an important part on that team. I would like to thank the clerks, the librarians, the translators, the cleaning staff, the postal workers, the security guards, the bus drivers and especially the food services staff who try to ensure that we are eating right when we are so far from home and sometimes work such crazy hours.

I would like to make special mention of four ladies from the Centre Block cafeteria who are always out for their morning smoke at 7.15 a.m. when I come in. Lise, Adele, Nicole and Carole never fail to brighten my day with their good nature and cheery dispositions.

I wish all of the staff and their families a joyful and restful holiday season. Their hard work does not go unnoticed. I ask all members to join with me to show our appreciation.

Holiday Message
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Carmen Provenzano Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, today marks the last day of sittings of the 36th Parliament for this century and millennium. This extra special holiday season is therefore an appropriate time to give thanks for our country, for all of the bounty, benefits and privileges of the good life that we as Canadians enjoy.

As the member for Sault Ste. Marie it is also appropriate to give thanks for all of the forces that have shaped my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, for all of the efforts of the many people who have grown our city into an extraordinary community. I particularly recognize one man, an American, whose efforts grew the population of Sault Ste. Marie from 3,000 to over 30,000 in just eight years. Francis H. Clerke established a steel mill, paper mill, power plant, street car system and much more. These are the industries our town continues to depend on to this day. May his spirit take up permanent residence in our city and may his can do attitude infect the future generations of the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie.

Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël to all.

Holiday Message
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, on this last parliamentary day of 1999 I would like to share with the House the dream that I and my colleagues have for the new millennium and for the century about to begin.

We have a dream that someday soon and the sooner the better, human beings will abolish all nuclear weapons and indeed all weapons of mass destruction.

We have a dream that poverty at home and abroad will be eliminated and that someday human beings and human community will be valued above all other values and not be always secondary to the profit strategies of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals.

We have a dream that humanity will repent of the ways in which we are now cruising complacently toward planetary ecological disaster and that creation will in fact be preserved for endless millenniums to come.

It is from such dreams that one derives the will to carry on the political struggle and New Democrats commit ourselves to do just that.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity to wish all members of the House a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let us pray that the Y2K anxiety proves to be unfounded and that all goes well on January 1, 2000.

Bill C-20
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, like all the people of Quebec, the people in the riding of Lotbinière are outraged at this latest attack by the federal government on the democratic institutions of Quebec.

Bill C-20 resembles the unilateral patriation of the constitution in 1982. The same federal politicians have once again decided to thwart democracy in Quebec. But nothing will prevent Quebecers from continuing their pursuit of sovereignty.

In 1918, the Right Hon. Joseph Napoléon Francoeur, the MLA for Lotbinière at the time, already had what the people of Quebec needed. In his now famous motion, he said “This House is of the opinion that the Province of Quebec would be prepared to agree to break away from the Confederation set up in 1867 if, in the other provinces, it is felt that Quebec is an obstacle to the Union, and to the progress and development of Canada”.

Hockey Tournament
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Wayne Gretzky's recent retirement may have left a significant void in the NHL but there are plenty of Burlington and area youngsters willing to step up and fill his skates. After all, Gretzky made his mark as a skinny 10 year old offensive sensation in Burlington's Golden Horseshoe Invitational Hockey Tournament.

Hotels and restaurants will be packed as Burlington plays host to the 32nd annual tournament this December 27 to 30. With 105 entries, triple A players in all divisions will have a chance to strut their stuff in some tough competition.

Over 200 volunteers have been preparing a wonderful welcome for teams from Canada, the United States and even a team from Finland. Local arenas will be packed with supportive parents, happy fans and joyous children.

And everyone wins. Profits are put back into sponsorship for the teams and participants are eligible for a Golden Horseshoe Invitational scholarship.

This tournament is an important part of the holiday festivities in Burlington. I wish all participating teams the very best of luck in the tournament. Have fun, play safe, play well.

The Economy
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, on this the last sitting day of the House of Commons in this century, it is time to reflect on the issues that face Canadians.

We have an unemployment rate that is 70% higher than that of the U.S., the highest personal income tax in the G-7, the second highest corporate taxes of the OECD, the highest personal debt rates in the history of our country, and the fastest growing personal debt rates of any country in the G-7. Personal disposable income has dropped 8% in the 1990s and has increased by 10% in the U.S.

Why is the finance minister off to Berlin this week to chair the G-20 meetings when there is so much repair work to be done here at home?

Canadian Forces
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Whitby—Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite all members of the House of Commons to welcome home 1,300 Canadian forces personnel who during the past six months have been making an important contribution in Kosovo. They include members of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Lord Strathcona's Horse and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.

The men and women of these units have worked hard to create a stable and secure environment in Kosovo. They have delivered humanitarian aid, restored public services and helped to re-establish civilian institutions.

Our well-trained professional military has made a significant contribution to international peace and security. CF members have also touched the lives of thousands of Kosovars by building schools, houses, medical clinics, upgrading roads, providing de-mining assistance and helping to provide the essentials of life, such as medical aid, food and fresh water.

I am sure all members of the House join me in offering congratulations on a job well done. Seasons greetings to CF members, their families and Canadians everywhere.

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Amazingly, Mr. Speaker, one-third of all the donors to the Prime Minister's 1997 campaign got federal government grants, loans or contracts.

But the case of Fermco Industries is particularly interesting.

Fermco gave more than $6,000 to the Prime Minister's campaign and to the Liberal's campaign. Even though the company is in a Bloc held riding, the Prime Minister's office intervened to ensure it got a transitional jobs fund grant.

Other than $6,000 in donations, why would the Prime Minister's office intervene in the local affairs of the Bloc member?

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, earlier this morning, the federal government announced almost three quarters of a billion dollars in assistance to alleviate homelessness and help prevent homelessness. The program is working in co-operation with the other levels of government.

I do not know why the hon. member did not get up and congratulate the government for this initiative instead of making these useless insinuations and innuendoes. It just shows how bankrupt his party is of any real interest in helping Canadians.

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are wondering why the Deputy Prime Minister did not get up and answer the question. Let us try again.

Fermco's TJF grant came through despite strong objections by senior human resources officials. The Prime Minister's office did an end run around normal procedures and ensured that a major donor got a just reward.

The Prime Minister, of course, says that he was just trying to create jobs. However, is it the common practice of the Prime Minister to intervene on behalf of all TJF applicants or just when they donate thousands of dollars to his campaign?

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the common practice of the government is to work with communities with high unemployment to ensure that they have the opportunities that the rest of Canada has to benefit from the successes of our great country.

Is it right for us to invest in communities in Quebec to ensure the their citizens have opportunities to work? It is. Is it right for us to invest in communities in Atlantic Canada to ensure their citizens have opportunities to work? It absolutely is.

Is it right for us to invest in communities in northern British Columbia to ensure that citizens of Canada have opportunities to work. It is, and we will continue to do so.

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, two non-answers and the government is asking the questions when it is supposed to be answering them. Let us try again.

The Prime Minister has a pretty impressive investment plan going. If a company wants federal government money, all it has to do is donate to the Prime Minister's campaign. It does not even have to be in his riding. There is a 33% chance that the company will hit the jackpot and, boy, are the rewards sweet.

Fermco donated over $6,000 and ended up with $200,000 in a TJF grant despite the fact that a senior official had strong objections.

I ask the Prime Minister, is there a threshold on the amount a company has to donate or will the Prime Minister bend the rules for any size donation?

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

We have heard the unwarranted, sleazy slur typical of—

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

I ask the hon. Deputy Prime Minister to stay away from words like sleazy on a day like this.

Government Grants
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Herb Gray Windsor West, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will stay away from the word, but it is still an unwarranted slur. It is unjustified to suggest there is any improper link. The hon. member should not be saying things like that because they are wrong and unwarranted.

I am sure the Prime Minister wants to do the right thing for every part of Canada, including Quebec, including ridings held by the Bloc and including ridings held by Reform members. That is why he is the Prime Minister.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, we hit one nerve, let us try another one.

Premier Harris sent the Prime Minister a letter today forcefully highlighting that payroll taxes are going up January 1. These tax hikes will cost 22,500 jobs in Ontario alone. I will quote from the letter. It says “Canadians are entitled to keep more of the money they earn”.

Why is the government hiking payroll taxes on January 1?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, this is exactly what we have done. When we took office, EI premiums were at $3.07 heading to $3.30. We have cut them six times since then. They are now down to $2.40. This is progress and we will continue.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, Premier Harris says that the taxes are going up January 1, and that is true. The chief actuary said that it was not the feeble little $2.40 that these guys are talking about, but down as low as $2.

Will the government listen to Premier Harris and the chief watchdog, the actuary of Canada, or will it give a millennium present to Canadians: another tax hike on January 1?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, we are the ones who cut the EI by over $5 billion a year. We cut it, but not as Reform wanted, which was for the employers only.

Talk about the presents, here are the presents: GDP up 4.7%, consumer spending up 4.8%, business investment up 11.3%, exports up 15%, trade surplus at $7.8 billion, the current account is in surplus. I could go on, but it is not even Christmas.

Referendums
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec government has always recognized the rights of the Quebec anglophone minority and of aboriginal peoples.

It has also always said that it would negotiate in good faith with Canada once sovereignty got the necessary support. That being said, the only possible interpretation of the democratic principle is that of 50% plus one.

Will the federal government not have the constitutional obligation to negotiate with Quebec once this support is obtained, if more than 50% of Quebecers support sovereignty?

Referendums
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Bloc Quebecois leader for his question in this last question period of the millennium, because it gives me an opportunity to quote Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a great philosopher, a great thinker of democracy who has had a tremendous influence on the last third of our millennium. He said “The more important and serious the issue, the closer to unanimity the prevailing opinion must be”.

Referendums
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, one would have to look at all the applications of Rousseau's philosophy. He also advocated a private tutor for each student, instead of schools. There is a bit of utopia in all this. Is the government telling us that we would need unanimity?

I would like to hear the minister tell us why the democratic rule of 50% plus one, which applied to Newfoundland in 1948, would now be rejected in the case of Quebec?

Referendums
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois leader misunderstood me. “The more important and serious the issue, the closer to unanimity the prevailing opinion must be”.

This is not the unanimity rule, it is simply the fundamental rule, the fundamental democratic principle that guided the supreme court when it said that a clear majority would be required to create an obligation to negotiate something as serious and important as secession.

Referendums
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, if unanimity is important, certainly there is no unanimity in this House in favour of the minister's bill, far from it.

Furthermore, questioning the rule of 50% plus one is a position that the minister will not be able to maintain for long, because it is contrary to the democratic tradition in Quebec and in Canada.

Could the minister tell us how his government could give greater weight to the losing votes in a referendum, by claiming that there were not enough winning votes?

Referendums
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if 50% plus one were the only way of defining democracy, does the member realize that the Reform Party would then be right, that 50% plus one should apply in all circumstances, including the case where more than 50% plus one, and very probably much more than 50% plus one, of Northern aboriginal populations were to vote to stay in Canada? They would then have the right to stay.

That is what he is saying, because the 50% plus one rule is supposed to be sacred and entrenched. But it should apply for everyone, not just him, but everyone.

Referendums
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us go back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was also a musician and I hope that the minister will be listening to some music over the holidays because music has a calming influence.

Would the minister now agree that he should be aware that, come what may, the future of Canada depends above all on respect for the rules of democracy and that he should therefore, in 2000, go back to strict respect for the 50% plus one rule, in the absence of any other rule in the Constitution of Canada?

Referendums
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, when France's Prime Minister Jospin was asked, in the presence of the Premier of Quebec, whether a Canadian province could separate with a vote of 50% plus one, he first replied that it was not up to him, as the Prime Minister of France, to answer such a question.

Second, he said “You know, 50% plus one is not a principle. Democracy is a principle”.

Candu Reactor
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, many Canadians were concerned some weeks ago when the Prime Minister uncritically dismissed the concern that many Canadians have about the selling of a Candu reactor to Turkey.

Given the fact that we have a virtual moratorium on building nuclear reactors here in Canada, why do we insist and why does the Prime Minister insist on exporting a technology that we have already rejected any further here at home, and, in particular, selling it to a country which is earthquake prone and therefore much more at risk from having nuclear reactors?

Candu Reactor
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Algoma—Manitoulin
Ontario

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is a well known fact that Canadian nuclear technology is the best in the world. If approval is given for the sale of a Canadian reactor to Turkey, it will be located in a safe location, a long way from any of the difficult locations where there have been earthquakes. I am very confident that the very best results will take place.

Candu Reactor
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that earthquakes in any part of Turkey would threaten nuclear reactors in other parts of Turkey. If this technology is so good, why are we not using it ourselves anymore? Why is it that we have a virtual moratorium on building nuclear reactors in this country?

It is a bit like the way in which we now sell insecticides and pesticides to other countries which we have banned in this country. Why do we continue this unethical behaviour of trying to con other countries into buying technologies that we will not even use ourselves?

Candu Reactor
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member ought to go back to the drawing board with his question because he has his facts wrong. We have not banned the use of our Candu technology in Canada. As the hon. parliamentary secretary has said, it is the most advanced in the world. I do not know why my hon. friend is not willing to recognize this achievement in Canadian science and research and development.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, Premier Harris is right. The federal government is planning on taking $560 million from the workers and employers of Ontario.

Why is this government, during a season of giving, preparing to take more from Ontario workers and employers, some $560 million? Why is the government playing Scrooge in this the Christmas season?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I would simply remind the hon. member that the increase in the CPP was agreed to by Ernie Eves and Stockwell Day.

Having said that, I am very pleased to be able to take this question on behalf of our finance minister, the minister who has already cut personal income taxes by 10%, the minister who put forth Canada's six point program for reform of the international financial architecture, the minister who was appointed head of the G-20.

All Canadians can indeed be proud of the global role of international financial leadership played by our government.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is cold comfort to the 22,500 people who will lose their jobs in Ontario, according to the C. D. Howe Institute, because of this payroll tax hike. Will the government listen to the premier of Ontario, stop this tax hike and save 22,500 Ontario jobs?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, if the member wants to talk about jobs, there have been 760,000 new jobs created in Canada over the past two years and over 1.7 million since this government took office.

With the Reform Party in free fall and with the Tories unclear about even a clear question, it is absolutely no surprise that on Canada's political highway the united alternative is nothing but road kill.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Ontario court of appeal in the Bavinski decision stated that there must be a new trial when the key crown witness recants or, in other words, gives false evidence. In a similar case, the Hache case, the Nova Scotia court of appeal came to the same decision. In both Bavinski and Hache new trials were ordered.

Patrick Kelly has been in prison for 16 years based on the testimony of a witness who now says that her evidence was untrue. Why will the Minister of Justice not use her power to order a new trial for Mr. Kelly, or at the very least refer his case to the Supreme Court of Canada?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Erie—Lincoln
Ontario

Liberal

John Maloney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kelly's section 690 application was referred to the Ontario court of appeal. In May of this year the court, in a two to one decision, responded to two questions on the reference by advising the minister that none of the new information presented to the minister would be admissible on appeal. I appreciate that the court of appeal examined the facts very carefully and presented reasoned judgment.

Further submissions have been received by Mr. Kelly's counsel and they are presently being considered by the justice minister and the department, and a decision will be made fairly and objectively in the near future.

Youth Criminal Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice is telling Canadians that her proposed changes to the young offenders law will make young lawbreakers more accountable for their crimes. The youth sentence for crimes such as manslaughter and aggravated sexual assault is now a maximum of three years. The minister wants to reduce that to a maximum of two years, plus one year in the community under supervision. That is probation. Most Canadians would see that as less accountability.

Is this really getting tough on violent crime? Where is the increased accountability in releasing violent offenders from custody earlier than they are now?

Youth Criminal Justice
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Erie—Lincoln
Ontario

Liberal

John Maloney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the primary purpose of the new youth criminal justice bill is the protection of the public. We are doing this by accountability, fairness and rehabilitative measures.

Many factors go into a decision. In the new bill the government is proposing that adult sentences may be applied to children younger than 16 and 17. In this case an adult sentence may be applicable in the situation.

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, the speech by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs on the conditions for recognition of the next Quebec referendum has added far more to people's confusion, rather than dispelling it.

How can the minister seriously claim that the Quebec National Assembly retains its freedom to draft the question of its choice, when, in the same breath, he is saying that, if the question is not to his liking, he will not follow up on it?

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Yes, Mr. Speaker, there is a whereas clause in the bill indicating that the legislative assembly of a province may ask the question it wants of voters in a referendum, absolutely whatever it wants. But it will take more than just any question to bring the Government of Canada to a negotiating table in order to address breaking apart a country and stripping from one-quarter of the Canadian population, the Quebecers, their entire connection with Canada.

Only a clear question which would lead the people to clearly state their desire to cease to be part of Canada could justify such serious negotiations.

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the minister not admit that, under the pretext of clarity, he is expressing with this bill his intolerance of Quebec's undertaking and is sowing the seeds of confusion, by setting the conditions for the next referendum in advance, when he has absolutely no business setting such conditions?

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Speaking of clarity, Mr. Speaker, here is something very clear that was said by the Premier of Quebec on October 19, 1999 and will enlighten this House “According to what we have just learned from a political science expert who has studied the matter, partnership represents a seven or eight percentage point gain in popular support”.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week I was in Manitoba with the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food listening to the farm community pleading for help from the federal government. Yes, there really is a farm disaster. Even the United Church of Canada and the Manitoba Interfaith Council are helping in this crisis. This plea for help is not being heard in Ottawa. One billion dollars sits idle in the AIDA program.

Will the food producers of this country have to get their food from food banks down the road?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows very well that the government put forward nearly $1.1 billion in a two year program. It was estimated at the beginning that an amount of that would be required as a result of the 1998 business year and, therefore, with the targeted approach that everybody asked for, it would go to producers in 1999. As a result, in the 1999 business year the remainder of the money would go to the next year.

I can assure the hon. member that all of the money will go to the producers.

Housing
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Paul Forseth New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, leaky condo owners in British Columbia are desperately looking for help. The Liberal silent seven in B.C. are not heard because they are embarrassed by the party's eastern mindset.

The Minister of Public Works and Government Services has offered $75 million in loans, but at high bank rates. The federal government is legally culpable on this one, along with others. The province of B.C. is doing its part and many municipalities are doing what they can.

Why is there helpful disaster relief for Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, but nothing for British Columbia? When will the minister show leadership, do what is needed and help rescue thousands of homeowners? When will the government do its share?

Housing
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Mississauga Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, CMHC has spent over $1 million on research and information to address the leaky condo problem through publications, educational programs and seminars. It has offered the $75 million at reasonable interest rates and it has not been taken up by the Government of British Columbia.

I will repeat what I said before. Bureaucrats have warned the Government of British Columbia about its ridiculous policies on these condos. One person said: “My concerns stem from what appears to be a blind pursuit of energy conservation to the complete exclusion of all else, jeopardizing both the health of occupants and structural integrity”. This was written by Mr. Currie in 1991 in a letter to the housing minister of B.C.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development, who was appointed six months ago, set up all kinds of partisan committees to look at the glaring flaws in the employment insurance program.

Can the minister assure us that she will soon announce corrective measures to provide an adequate income to the unemployed when they are between jobs?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we are focused on making sure that Canadians do have opportunities to work. We have good job numbers. We have the lowest unemployment rate in almost two decades. We have the lowest unemployment rate since the early 1970s for women. We are focused on making sure that all Canadians benefit from the ever increasing and improving economy.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, among those hardest hit by the minister's program are seasonal workers who, whether the economy is doing well or not, are temporarily out of work every year.

Could the minister assure us, before the Christmas holiday, that immediate measures will be taken for these workers who, since 1997, have been getting poorer and poorer because of the Liberal employment insurance reform?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I have spoken with seasonal workers, both in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. When I speak with them their interest is to find alternatives for themselves and their children. They understand the importance of seasonal work, but they also want to ensure in their areas that there is a diverse economy, that there is a bright future and that their children can remain in their areas and be able to contribute to the broader Canadian success.

Transport
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

The national highway system is a network of primary roads that provide for interprovincial and international trade and travel. All, not part of Highway 97 in B.C. qualifies as being part of the national highway system.

When will the Minister of Transport designate all of Highway 97 in B.C. as being part of the national highway system?

Transport
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Thunder Bay—Atikokan
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the hon. member that last year, and even this year, the leaders of each province and territory met regarding this problem. They have identified 24,400 kilometres in the current national highway system.

The leaders of the government in that province have clearly specified which kilometres will belong to the national highway system.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, hardly any farmers qualified for the government's recent aid package. The government has not protected them against foreign subsidies that are killing family farms in Canada. Today the environment minister will announce new endangered species legislation.

How can Canadians believe that the government is going to protect farmers from losses under this new law when it has not protected our farmers from foreign subsidies?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Burlington
Ontario

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is kind of a convoluted question. However, I think the essence of it is the fact that farmers in this country are doing a fine job and are working very hard to protect species.

We believe that protecting species is everyone's responsibility and that no one should bear an undue proportion of the burden. There will be compensation for people whose livelihoods are affected by protecting a species.

My read is that farmers are working very hard and they will continue to work with us to do the right thing.

Social Transfers
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the report by the Liberal majority on the Standing Committee on Finance does not include any recommendation to restore social transfers to the provinces, in spite of the consensus among all the finance ministers of the country and the priority given to this issue by the public.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Does the Minister of Finance, who has always had a say in the report by the Liberal majority on the Standing Committee on Finance, intend to also dodge the issue in his upcoming budget and thus continue to contribute to the crisis in Canada's health sector?

Social Transfers
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I should remind the hon. member that in our last budget we allocated $11.5 billion to health.

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, as winter is approaching, and this is the last day, we hope, that the House will be sitting this year and this millennium, I would like to know what the Government of Canada is doing to help with the homelessness crisis in this country. Do we have to wait until the next millennium?

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Whitby—Ajax
Ontario

Liberal

Judi Longfield Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, before I respond, I want to thank my colleagues on the government side of the House who have worked so hard and so long with the Minister of Labour, who is co-ordinating the federal response to this issue.

I would also like to point out that this morning, together with her cabinet colleagues and members of caucus, she announced a $753 million investment. Three-quarters of a billion dollars will be directed toward the public to alleviate the homeless situation in the country.

The government is addressing the situation. There will be $305 million directed toward a new program, the supporting community initiatives program, which will work with our partners in the provinces, in municipalities, and with NGOs to support best practice and to get the best bang for the buck.

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, once again we see an unco-ordinated Liberal government that fails to integrate a science based approach with the environment.

Last week the fisheries minister said that we are going to manage oceans in a way that will stop people who pollute the oceans. That means going after municipalities which put raw sewage into the oceans.

Since the environment minister does not classify raw sewage as pollution, why does the fisheries minister?

The Environment
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the fisheries minister knows that every situation has to be addressed on its own merits and its own conditions.

He is working with the municipalities. He is working with the Ministry of the Environment in order to come up with the best solution and the best way to treat this very important issue.

The Crown
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government is continuing its sneaky underhanded policy of sidelining the crown as the symbol of Canada's—

The Crown
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The Crown
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Calgary Southeast.

The Crown
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government is continuing its underhanded policy of sidelining the crown as the main symbol of Canada's sovereignty and history.

Last month the government surreptitiously removed the crown from the uniforms of customs officers and removed pictures of our head of state from customs clearance areas, replacing them with the man who would be king, the Prime Minister.

Why does the government not just fess up and admit that these changes are part of its hidden republican agenda to scrap the crown?

The Crown
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if that is the last question of the millennium for the hon. member, I am really wondering why he does not have anything else to ask.

There is no such intention on the part of the government. Obviously the Revenue Canada agency has been created. Obviously the logo of the agency and everything else that goes with it have been applied to uniforms and all other property of the agency in question. For the hon. member to suggest that there is a so-called surreptitious attempt to do away with the crown is nonsense.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, new numbers released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information show that Canadians are paying more and more out of their own pockets for health care.

What are they paying it on? They are shelling out for much needed drug coverage and for home care. Both are expenses which the government promised to address by way of national programs.

In the 1997 red book the government promised a national drug care plan as part of the medicare system. Further, the Minister of Health said “I go so far as to say that home care is fundamental to saving medicare”.

Will the government finally live up to its commitment for a national home care and drug care plan?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has been working very closely with the provinces to initiate a pharmacare and a home care program that would be universal across the country.

Perhaps the member has the ability to convince her colleagues in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to buy into our process. We certainly would like to. The minister has already indicated that he would like to see it move a lot quicker, but without the provinces willing to help us in this regard we cannot get to where we would like to go as soon as we could.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it now seems likely that we will end this year and this millennium without a penny flowing to a single victim of hepatitis C. It appears that the hepatitis C compensation package has been put on hold once again and the government is not prepared to step in, stop the legal wrangling and flow the cash.

Is the government prepared to end this sorry chapter in Canadian history by paying before 1999 is over what it promised and by starting the new millennium with the commitment of fair compensation for all victims of hepatitis C?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, as the member is aware, these negotiations have been ongoing with the provinces for a number of years now. Once the provinces and the federal government have agreement then the money will flow.

Airports
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport. On August 27, 1998, the Department of Transport signed an agreement with the Halifax International Airport Authority which included the statement: “Transport Canada agrees to continue to be responsible for the pyritic slate runoff existing prior to the transfer date.”

I asked this question on Wednesday and the minister said there had been another agreement signed but did not answer my question. Why did the government renege on this signed contract with the Halifax International Airport Authority?

Airports
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Thunder Bay—Atikokan
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite aware of the fact that in this situation the government has been working very closely with the airport authority. An agreement has been made with the government and the process will continue until it is completely resolved.

Airports
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is not an answer. With all due respect, I want an answer. This is the fourth time I have asked the question. I simply want to know why the Government of Canada reneged on a signed contract with the Halifax International Airport Authority.

If the parliamentary secretary does not know, will he commit to report back to the House on why the agreement of August 27 was broken?

Airports
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Thunder Bay—Atikokan
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has clearly indicated that the government has reneged after signing a contract. I would like the full country to know, including the member, that the government never reneges on a signed contract.

Western Diversification
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—Assiniboine, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Secretary of State for Western Diversification which relates to WD's activities in Saskatchewan.

I know that his department is very active there, but could the secretary of state tell us about some of the things his office is doing in the great province of Saskatchewan?

Western Diversification
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification)(Francophonie)

Mr. Speaker, a number of examples come to mind. In the Canada infrastructure works program there was a federal share of $69 million; Synchrotron, the Canadian light source, almost $100 million; the Saskatchewan-WD partnership, $24 million; and the Moose Jaw base closure, another $4 million.

There are community futures development corporations in the rural areas. There are the women's enterprise centres. The operating and loans fund injects another $10 million. There is still a lot to do and we will do it.

Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, 16,000 Canadian Airline employees are being used as bargaining chips as Air Canada negotiates with the federal government. Air Canada apparently wants an airline industry where there are no government restrictions on its operations but plenty of restrictions on the creation of any serious competition.

What steps is the minister or his associate taking to protect the interests of the Canadian travelling public and the 16,000 Canadian Airline employees whose careers are in jeopardy?

Airlines
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Thunder Bay—Atikokan
Ontario

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I point out to everyone present that the hon. member was a very conscientious, dedicated contributor to the policy recommendations which came out of the transportation committee.

What is going on at the present time? There are ongoing deliberations between the private concerns and the competition bureau. When the entire process is settled we will share the information not only with the hon. member but with everyone else concerned.

Millennium Scholarships
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, my last question of this millennium is the following.

In the matter of the millennium scholarships, the federal government is in possession of the Quebec student associations' agreement with the Quebec ministry of education's proposal to ensure that they will have access to these scholarships.

Can the minister assure us that her government will give its agreement to the proposal submitted to the Foundation, as we find ourselves only 15 days from that new millennium?

Millennium Scholarships
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased at the entry point of the new millennium to talk about the millennium scholarships, to see that the Bloc has finally agreed that they are a very important piece of our partnership together, and to say that the foundation recently announced, in advance of its original timeframe, 70,000 grants to needy students across the country.

I have received on behalf of the foundation the suggestion from Mr. Legault in his proposal. I am glad to say that our officials are working to look at its details. I am very optimistic that we will be able to have an agreement with the Government of Quebec.

Housing
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, a number of homeless Canadians froze last winter. Another winter is here with hundreds of thousands of Canadians without homes or in substandard or inadequate housing. It took a year for the government to announce any funding to try to avoid deaths this winter. I hope it is not too late.

If the government is to avoid yearly quick fixes, we need a national housing strategy which ensures at least a $1 billion investment for the next 10 years to provide enough housing for all Canadians.

The economic spinoffs and social benefits of this housing investment would greatly reduce the overall cost. Will the government commit to this investment?

Housing
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Whitby—Ajax
Ontario

Liberal

Judi Longfield Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised in that $753 million is a significant investment on top of the $1.9 billion the government already spends on housing.

The member opposite would know that the situation with the homeless is multifaceted and multijurisdictional. The government is addressing the root causes and trying to alleviate homelessness. That is more than housing. That is access to appropriate care and a continuum of services. We are addressing the problem.

Correctional Service Canada
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, here is a whale of a tale. A coast guard ship was called off search and rescue standby, stripped of its helicopter pad to make room for a dance floor, and dispatched on a party cruise for Correctional Service Canada. The party was dubbed a special project, given its own special assignment code and cost close to $7,000 for such essentials as liquor and lobster tails.

During the cruise a fatality occurred in the waters off Newfoundland. Why were senior CSC officials tripping the light fantastic on the deck of a lifesaving vessel at the expense of taxpayers while potentially putting people's lives at risk?

Correctional Service Canada
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the minister has already made it clear that all the rules and guidelines will be followed in the future and this kind of use of coast guard vessels will not happen again.

The hon. member might want to check around in his own caucus to see if any of his caucus members have ever been on one of those trips.

Food Labelling
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question may be one of the last of the century and the millennium. It is for the minister of agriculture.

I have had many inquiries in my riding about what the federal government intends to do about the labelling of food derived from biotechnology or genetically modified products. What does the minister intend to do about this issue?

Food Labelling
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, we know this is a very important issue. The Canadian consumer wants to know. The Canadian consumer has a right to know.

That is why the government, the industry, the Consumers' Association of Canada, the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors and many other organizations are working with the Canadian Standards Council to put together a set of criteria which is meaningful, enforceable and can be used in labelling food.

That is an important step that has to be taken so that it is meaningful, credible and enforceable and supports the desires and needs of the Canadian consumer.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will ask the finance minister a question. If he changes the subject to talk about something else, I will assume that he has no reasonable explanation.

In our finance committee hearings a number of presenters called the excessive EI premiums a breach of trust. The act does not permit the minister to use EI as a source of general revenue. Why does the finance minister not just take the premiums down to $2.05 as recommended by the chief actuary?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member that the three commissioners were the ones who agreed that this was within the preamble and the precepts of the act.

Having said that, our government has taken EI premiums down from $3.07 to $2.40, a reduction of close to $5 billion a year. Unlike the Reform Party we made those cuts for the workers, not just for the employers alone the way it has advocated.

Institutes Of Health Research
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government has introduced a bill to create the Canadian institutes of health research.

The Bloc Quebecois has always been in favour of increased investment in biomedical research. In the case of the institutes of health research, however, the government has just created additional structures that will reflect its health research priorities.

Can the Minister of Health make a commitment before this House that no institute of health research will be designated in Quebec without its government's consent?

Institutes Of Health Research
Oral Question Period

Noon

Liberal

Bob Nault Kenora—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, anything that has to do with Quebec and the improvement of health care will be discussed with the province of Quebec.

Parks
Oral Question Period

Noon

NDP

Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The panel on ecological integrity of Canada's national parks will be creating a picture on the devastating effect of program review on national parks in this country. The situation across Canada has deteriorated from a lack of research and interpretative personnel to threats of a lack of buffer zones around our cherished national parks.

Will the Minister of Canadian Heritage commit the support from the cabinet and support our national parks in the new millennium?

Parks
Oral Question Period

Noon

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, undoubtedly.

Correctional Service Canada
Oral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister of agriculture and high seas hijinks wants to hallucinate further.

It is obvious that the demands for a $4 million jet are not enough for CSC commissioner Ole Ingstrup, he needs to hobnob on the high seas. The jet-setting Mr. Ingstrup is living the lifestyle of the rich and famous while taxpayers foot the bill.

The solicitor general must take responsibility for this lavish corrections commissioner. Did he know or did he authorize such a waste of taxpayers' dollars? And if public safety is such a number one priority as we have heard ad nauseam, what will the solicitor general do to ensure that this type of accountability occurs against such appalling folly?

Correctional Service Canada
Oral Question Period

Noon

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, since it will be Christmas very shortly, I would like to take advantage of this question to deplore once again the overtones of the lack of confidence from my colleagues toward the civil service in Canada. It is one of the most trained and dedicated civil services in the world. It is one of the most loyal civil services in the world.

I wish them and their families the very, very best for the Christmas season and next year.

Correctional Service Canada
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

My colleagues, this is the last question period in this particular session.

I wish all of you would take some time in the next few weeks to be with your families and to reinvigorate yourselves. In a specific way, I wish all of you a happy new year. I wish for this institution a happy new century. I wish for the Canadian people a happy millennium. Enjoy your time off.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, Del Hoffman and his wife Bev were killed in northern Mexico this week by four American bank robbers. The semi-retired couple were vacationing in Mexico. They were brutally murdered for their RV, credit cards and cash. The generous couple were also carrying clothing and bicycles for poor Mexican children.

Both Del and Bev were big-hearted loving people and their warmth was infectious. Their family and friends are devastated.

On behalf of my constituency and my colleagues in the House, I offer our deepest sympathy. Bev and Del Hoffman will be greatly missed.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, during question period the parliamentary secretary who answered the question with respect to the leaky condos in British Columbia quoted from a document. She said she was quoting a civil servant. I am assuming that this was some sort of an official document she quoted from, given that she cited a civil servant as being the source of the quote. Would she table what she was quoting from for the benefit of all of us who are concerned about the leaky condos problem in British Columbia?

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Yes, Mr. Speaker, a document will be tabled shortly.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

Noon

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege for which I have already given the Chair notice.

My question of privilege arises from news reports on Wednesday, December 15 in the Ottawa Citizen , Edmonton Journal and National Post each of which made reference to the report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans tabled Thursday, December 16 in the House.

I draw the Speaker's attention to the following quote which appeared in each of these newspapers cited. It stated:

To accommodate the treaty right the government should encourage native participation in the fishery through a program which provides native fishermen with a down payment on a licence and vessel and a competitive loan to cover the outstanding value of the assets purchased.

Each newspaper identified that statement as one section of the report.

I would draw to the Speaker's attention the recommendation section of the Reform Party's minority report as appended to the committee report. In that section there appears a quote on page 43 which is identical to the one I have read.

I further point out that even I as chair did not have access to that minority report until Thursday, December 16 and that appeared in the paper on Wednesday, December 15.

I would draw the Speaker's attention to the fact that in two of the newspaper accounts, the title of the report for which that quotation was supposedly extracted was provided to the media as “The Marshall Decision and Beyond: Implications for the Management of Atlantic Fisheries”. That title as provided to the media is of course the title of the report as tabled in the House.

Neither the title of the report nor the contents of the Reform Party's minority report were disclosed in any way by the committee in public session. Both of these were provided to the media without the consent of the committee and therefore in violation of the rules of the House.

It is my contention that providing the media with what was attributed as being part of the standing committee's report has violated the privileges not only of the members who dedicated themselves to the work of this committee but to all members of the House.

My remarks are not directed toward the contents which were contained in the Reform Party's minority report. My concern is that someone provided the media with that minority report and obviously implied that what they were providing was part of the committee's report. That was done, I would submit, intentionally and maliciously.

I conclude by saying that this unfortunately is not the first time a report of the standing committee on fisheries has been leaked to the media prior to its being tabled in the House. The difference this time is that there appears to be little doubt, in fact absolutely no doubt, as to the source of the violation of the privileges of the members of the House.

If the Speaker finds that I have a prima facie case of privilege, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, on this particular point that is being brought forward, I notice that no member is named in this question of privilege. As such, we cannot get any response from one of our members.

I have said a few times in the House and outside that the House itself and its members must look to each other with the type of respect so that this type of thing will not happen, as in any other leak of documents. Unless and until the procedural committee or indeed the House informs me as to what can be done about this generally, we have to rely on the members themselves to police themselves to see that this does not happen.

Once again, I appeal to all hon. members that if they are on committees and there are reports, that if they have possession of these reports they should not be releasing them until the committee that they are with approves the report so that it can be released hopefully in the House, but at least not prematurely.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, on the same question of privilege, I do not want to be too cute about it, but on the same day that we are talking about leaky condos, we call attention once again to the leaky parliamentary culture that we have here.

I just want to make the point that it is not just committee reports that are being leaked, that is reprehensible enough, but there has also been a persistent strategy on the part of the government to leak its own proposals before parliament gets to know about them. We get a kind of tit for tat culture here. It is not good for the institution. It is not good for anybody.

I just wanted to agree with you, Mr. Speaker, that everyone has the responsibility not to behave in this particular way, whether they are members of committees or whether they are cabinet ministers who leak things to the press before they tell parliament about it.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I see the member for Elk Island is on his feet. I assume he wants to add one or two sentences to this point and then I will close it down.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate this because I have been on the finance committee now for two years. I think every committee report has been leaked beforehand. Even the most recent one on the prebudget hearings was leaked the day before. The quotations in the paper said “a Liberal member who did not want to be identified said” and there were direct quotations from it. It is a great problem and I really wish we could solve it.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I see we have the support of the House. Now we just have to put it into action.

I suggest to the hon. member that the fisheries committee should inquire and report back to the House. The hon. member is on the committee but unless an individual is named in the House, then there is little that I can do as Speaker of the House.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to nine petitions.

Taxpayers' Bill Of Rights
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-411, an act to confirm the rights of taxpayers and establish the office for taxpayer protection.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill for first reading. It would create a taxpayers' bill of rights to more clearly entrench in law the rights to due process, and presumption of innocence on the part of taxpayers in the tax collection and assessment process, and also to create an office for taxpayer protection which would act as an ombudsman for taxpayers, especially those who cannot afford the services of tax lawyers to defend their legal rights.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-412, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (exemption from taxation of 50% of U.S. social security payments to Canadian residents).

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to reintroduce this bill. It was previously on the Order Paper in the last session of parliament. It seeks to re-establish tax equity for Canadian residents who pay taxes on social security payments received from the U.S. government. These taxpayers have been forced to incur an 85% tax increase as a result of the fourth tax protocol between Canada and the United States. There are seniors on fixed incomes who cannot afford this outrageous increase. This bill would rectify that problem.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Observance Of Two Minutes Of Silence On Remembrance Day Act
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-413, an act to promote the observance of two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day.

Madam Speaker, this is becoming a habit today. This is a bill which I introduced in the last session. It had been debated but was not deemed votable notwithstanding the fact that it has the support of the Royal Canadian Legion and all the veterans' organizations in Canada. We have also received the signatures of some 55,000 Canadians in petitions in support of the bill. I do hope this will be given proper consideration by the House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-414, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (allowances paid to elected officials).

Madam Speaker, I promise this is my last bill today.

This will probably not be a very popular bill in this place, but it will be popular among Canadians because it seeks to eliminate the special provision in the Income Tax Act which allows politicians alone, elected members of parliament, senators, MPPs, et cetera, to exempt the equivalent of a third of their taxable income from the taxes we impose on everyone else. It essentially calls for the same standard of taxation in terms of the laws that we impose on all Canadians. I think that this is in the interest of equity.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-415, an act to amend the Criminal Code (wearing of war decorations).

Madam Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to allow relatives of deceased veterans to wear on Remembrance Day at public functions or ceremonies commemorating veterans any order, decoration or medal that is awarded to such veterans for war services without facing criminal sanctions.

I draw to the attention of the House that the bill is exactly the same as the bill that was adopted at first reading in the last session of the House last spring. The only difference is that it now bears my name and that of the hon. member for Waterloo—Wellington.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I present petitions today with many hundreds of signatures, which are just the first instalment of more than 9,000 signatures that have been collected in Manitoba by the Campaign 2000 committee, the Campaign 2000 network and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg in the campaign against child poverty.

The petitioners remind the House that one in five children live in poverty, that on November 24, 1989 the House of Commons unanimously resolved to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000, and that since 1989 the number of poor children in Canada has increased by 60%.

Therefore, these petitioners call on parliament to use federal budget 2000 to introduce a multiyear plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions on exactly the same subject so I will just read it once.

The petitioners petition parliament to repeal subsection 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a petition with over 300 signatures calling on parliament to use the federal budget 2000 to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canadian children in conformity with the resolution which was adopted unanimously in the House of Commons on November 24, 1989 to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000. It is my honour to table this.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present. The first was signed by 25 people, who are calling on the House to recognize the contribution of adoptive parents and the costs they incur when they adopt.

The petitioners are calling on Parliament to pass Bill C-505 introduced by the member for Calgary Centre, which proposes a tax deduction for expenses related to the adoption of a child.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Madam Speakerm the second petition, which I am merely presenting, is signed by a number of people calling on the House to keep section 43 of the Criminal Code, and not to spend any more money on having it repealed under the federal Court Challenges Program.

I repeat that I am merely presenting this petition.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, I submit to the House today another several thousand signatures to be combined with the largest petition the House has seen, fourfold, of any other petition in the House. It deals with the issue of upholding the law around child pornography.

The petitioners are from across the country and are petitioning parliament, and indirectly the courts, to do everything possible to uphold the law to keep child pornography illegal in this country. This whole thing could have been avoided if we had moved on using part of the charter that allows us to use the notwithstanding clause.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Madam Speaker, my constituents of Waskesiu, Shellbrook, Debden, Canwood, Big River, Spiritwood and throughout the north, along with park enthusiasts in Saskatchewan and throughout Canada, are alarmed by the devastating effects of Parks Canada budget cuts.

The petitioners call on the government to provide adequate resources to maintain the Narrows Camp Ground in the Prince Albert National Park.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, I present a petition on behalf of some of the residents of Calgary concerning children and the way the government has not lived up to obligations regarding children.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I too am both honoured and distressed at presenting a petition from my constituents and those from surrounding areas on the issue of child pornography.

The petitioners are distressed at the inaction of the government to protect our children. They ask that the government take whatever measures are necessary in order to reinstate the law in that regard.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, my second petition has to do with taxes. I have 132 names, added to thousands, that are calling for this government in the next budget to give a substantial tax relief of at least 25% in federal taxes over the next three years.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a petition signed by 27 residents of the greater Montreal area, including the riding of Verchères—Les-Patriotes, which I have the honour to represent in this House.

The petitioners point out that rural route mail couriers cannot resort to collective bargaining to improve their salaries and working conditions.

All too often, these workers earn less than minimum wage and their working conditions are those of an era we thought was gone forever. By contrast, their private sector colleagues who also deliver the mail in rural areas enjoy the right to collective bargaining, like Canada Post employees.

The petitioners therefore ask parliament to repeal subsection 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act, which deprives rural route mail couriers of their right to collective bargaining.

It seems obvious to me that the government must take action as quickly as possible to end the discrimination that continues to exist against rural route mail couriers.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first is from my constituents in Nanaimo—Alberni.

They ask that parliament exempt from the GST the cost of spaying and neutering animals in order to reduce the overpopulation of unwanted dogs and cats.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition is from 577 constituents within my riding. They request that parliament enact legislation requiring manufacturers and growers to label genetically altered foods and seeds.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, I have in hand 400 pages with approximately 10,000 signatures to add to the hundreds of thousands of signatures of Canadians who are horrified by pornography which depicts children.

They are astounded by the legal determination that possession of such pornography is not criminal. It is amazing to me to see how these petitions keep on coming.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, the petition I am presenting today contains hundreds of signatures. The petitioners are asking for more freedom as it relates to harmless natural health products.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I am presenting a petition today which calls upon parliament to repeal section 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporations Act.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, Question No. 52 will be answered today. .[Text]

Question No. 52—

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Has logging in Canada caused the extinction of any species of flora or fauna of which the department is aware and, if so, which species have become extinct and what proof does the department have of their extinction?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

The Department of Environment is not aware of any species of flora or fauna that went extinct as determined by the committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada due to logging activities.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There has been consultation among the parties dealing with the previously considered request of the national defence and veterans affairs committee to travel during the month of January to four U.S. defence installations and on a budget approved by the liaison committee's budget subcommittee. I think there would be unanimous consent to approve that travel.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is there unanimous consent?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Pursuant to order made earlier this day, this House stands adjourned until Monday, February 7, 2000, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 12.28 p.m.)