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 transportation.

Topics

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

December 17th, 1999 / 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”.