House of Commons Hansard #178 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.

Topics

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of being part of the Canadian delegation to the funeral of King Hussein of Jordan.

According to my calculations, from the time the PMO was notified until the start of the ceremonies, and taking into account the nine hours of flight time between Ottawa and Jordan, there was still nine hours leeway.

How can the Prime Minister explain that, with nine hours to spare, he could not have got from Vancouver to Ottawa, when a flight normally takes about four and one-half hours?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, according to the information provided by the Canadian forces, it was impossible.

I do not know how the hon. member does his calculations, but I know that I needed two hours to get to Vancouver, another five to Ottawa, and then thirteen to get to Amman, plus the seven hours of time change. All together that makes considerably more than the 22 hours there were between the time the King died and the start of the ceremonies.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will explain my calculations.

I was at Repentigny at 8.30 a.m. on Sunday when I was told I had to be in Ottawa for 11 a.m. to get the flight out. That being physically impossible for me also, I asked if the flight could be held until 12.30 p.m. I was told it could. And I am not the Prime Minister.

How can the Prime Minister explain that it did not occur to him to have the flight held for another hour or two to allow him the time to get to Ottawa to join us, since our flight arrived at Amman a good three hours before the start of the ceremonies.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, my office was informed that it was impossible to make the necessary arrangements Sunday morning to allow me to get from where I was in British Columbia to Ottawa in time to catch the flight to Amman.

The decision was not mine. This is what was decided by those who were responsible, who acted in good faith. They concluded that it was impossible, and I could not get to Amman. It is as simple as that.

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

February 10th, 1999 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, we had a very serious situation on Parliament Hill today. The Prime Minister refused to meet with a delegation of Canada's homeless. He preferred a more heavy-handed approach: the homeless need shelter, throw them in jail; the homeless need help, bring on the riot squad.

Why did the Prime Minister refuse to meet with homeless people? Why was the RCMP brought in instead?

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services has offered to meet with them. He is the minister responsible for this problem in the government. He sent a note and he organized a meeting with one member. He was willing to meet with a delegation of the protesters. Apparently they are not available this afternoon to meet with him.

We are very preoccupied with this problem. It is a very difficult problem involving the provincial, municipal and federal governments. The minister made a statement yesterday showing all the activities that the government has has taken to move forward.

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister knows perfectly well that he was asked 35 days ago for this meeting today. His minister offered to meet with those protesters after they left town.

Instead of meeting with them and listening to their desperation, instead of responding to their pleas, the Prime Minister brings in the riot squad.

Will the Prime Minister admit he was wrong? Will he accept the challenge of the homeless, to meet with them on their terms? Has the Prime Minister got the decency and the guts to do that?

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, we all know today is Wednesday and sometimes we run over a little in our words. It is not a question of any of us having courage in this House. I will permit the hon. Prime Minister to answer the question.

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the New Democratic Party likes to use extravagant words in the House of Commons, as she is doing now.

I would have appreciated last week if she had had the good sense of respecting the tradition of the New Democratic Party and stood in the House to defend the charter of rights.

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gilles Bernier Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, in 1990 the current finance minister chaired a task force on the homeless. He promised a Liberal government would hold a national conference on the homeless and provide more money for social housing.

Nine years later, like so many other broken Liberal promises, all the task force recommendations have been forgotten.

Given that the number of homeless Canadians has skyrocketed since this government took office in 1993, will the Prime Minister commit today to new measures to reverse this serious problem?

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, let me continue to read the list I started yesterday of the things the government is doing in housing for the homeless.

Over $12 million from RRAP will be targeted to upgrade an estimated 1,450 units for those at risk of becoming homeless.

The Government of Canada and the city of Calgary are currently planning the use of the additional 1998-99 RRAP funds and loan insurance to support the development of rooming houses for the homeless and low income Canadians. CMHC will be hosting a national housing research commitee discussion group on the homeless—

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Tobique—Mactaquac.

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gilles Bernier Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, what the minister is talking about is not enough for the Canadian homeless. I know the Prime Minister always likes to speak to his homeless friends.

Why did the Prime Minister not speak to the homeless people this morning who travelled to Ottawa to meet with him today, although it is a great day for skiing?

Did the Prime Minister discuss homelessness with the premiers last week? If not, when will he meet with other levels of government to devise a comprehensive plan to solve this serious problem?

Homelessness
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, last year I announced the extension of RRAP. The government put in $250 million. Last December the government put another $50 million in the program to help the homeless.

Some of the provinces are participating, some are not. If they would participate we would have more money to do more.

Maybe the hon. member should speak to some of his Conservative friends like Mike Harris in Ontario who are not participating.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, last night the Prime Minister was quoted on this sad situation with the king: “The army told me they could not take me there so I could not go”.

I am asking the Prime Minister to prove that, to file the logs here in the House from the plane that was waiting for him in Vancouver to prove his story now.